By George!

From the transcript of last-night’s Lateline

——————————————————————————————–
TONY JONES: Except of course Al Qaeda, for example, would still have safe and quite prolific training camps and bases inside Afghanistan where they had protection from the Taliban.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, what was very interesting was that just before the war with Afghanistan the Taliban leadership actually offered to hand over the main Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, so they wouldn’t be invaded.

And of course that would have been a much cheaper and much easier option and we would have arrested them.

They would no longer be out there threatening the West.

They would be in prison or being prosecuted.

And the problem is that the US was absolutely determined to go to war, as indeed it was absolutely determined to go to war with Iraq and it seems to me that the need to go to war came first, the rationale for those wars came second and so they squandered the best of all possible opportunities to actually round up the leaders of Al Qaeda and some of the other terrorist organisations.
—————————————————————————————–

Considering the Taliban had from Sept 11 to Oct 7 to hand-over the Al Qaeda suspects. That’s not the way I recall it happening

Even Monbiot’s own paper, has a rather different chronicle of events.

Here Here Here Here Here Here Here and Here

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DeadED
DeadED
2022 years ago

I also saw that,
Whats really disturbing is that Tony Jones just let it go as if it wasnt total bullshit. Thats the seccond time ive seen him do that this week. The night before Saeb Erakat(PLO cronie) spewwed out some crap about how Abu Mazen had mananged negotiate a COMPLETE ceasefire from ALL factions for FIFTY days. And again Tony jsut let it ride.

Dan
Dan
2022 years ago

Just fyi, I’ve developed this a bit here.

Tony.T
2022 years ago

Absolutely! I saw that and also wondered why TJ didn’t follow up.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Monbiot has a damn short memory both as a professor of politics and a regular contributor to The Guardian.

He is dishonestly trying to revive the fiction that the Taliban’s offer to give up Osama Bin Laden was genuine and made in good faith. In fact is that the offer (hedged in multiple conditions as it was) was a complete sham and no intention ever existed to honour it anyway. Additionally, is is known that al-Qaeda played a critical role in keeping the Taliban in power and enjoyed special privileges in Afghanistan. After the fall of the Taliban, documents found in Afghanistan revealed the intimate relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban. As the Washington Post noted;
Contrary to earlier images of the group’s members as guests of the country’s Taliban rulers, recent evidence points to a more complicated relationship of power. Al Qaeda used bin Laden’s personal fortune and his ability to raise money abroad to buy independence — and, in some cases, impunity — from Taliban authorities, who badly needed the millions of dollars provided by the Saudi exile.

To the end, bin Laden’s foreign legions often remained inscrutable even to the Taliban. Mohammed Khaqzar, the Taliban deputy interior minister and the highest-ranking Taliban official known to have defected, compared the al Qaeda organization to a multilevel house. “We knew about what they were doing in the basement,” he said, “but upstairs there were rooms we didn’t know anything about.”

The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with little tolerance for deviation from its strict interpretation of the Koran, appears to have given bin Laden’s loyalists complete freedom.
Far from being honoured guests, al-Qaeda were the Taliban’s senior partner in Afghanistan. As the price of their continued financial and military support, they enjoyed status as the Afghan Untouchables and had significant input into Taliban policies.
“Other people were dictating to them, and they were just repeating the words,” said Mujahed, a history professor at Kabul University. “You can easily say they [the Taliban] were just the spokespersons for bin Laden.”

“In recent months, the Taliban lost control over themselves,” said another history professor, Abdulbaki Hasari, who appealed to the Taliban not to destroy the statues. “They were just controlled by these Islamic groups from outside the country.”

The al Qaeda forces had the run of the country, and wary Afghans cleared out of their way. When two Arab members of al Qaeda were thrown into prison for harassing a shopkeeper in Kabul, they were quickly released — and the senior Taliban official who dared order their arrest was removed from his position.

“Even the ministry of security didn’t have the ability to control them,” said Hamidullah, who was a personal assistant to the Taliban security chief, and like many Afghans uses just one name. “They were paid by the al Qaeda organization, and so anything they did the ministry couldn’t interfere with. . . . Even when an Arab walking around the city committed a crime, nobody was to ask him why he did it or arrest him. Nobody had the power to do this.”
The foreigners or “Arabs” were widely hated by both the Northern Alliance troops and ordinary Afghans as evidenced by the enthusiastic hunting down of their troops by Afghans after the fall of Kabul and the rout of the taliban.

As the Guardian’s sister publication, the Observer noted – soon after the fall of Kabul piles of documentary and physical evidence came to light that proved al-Qaeda’s complicity in the September 11 attacks, its plans to engage in more terrorism and the massive degree to which it had insinuated itself in the Taliban overnment to the degree where even the Pakistanis (the Taliban’s primary sponsors) lost their influence over them.
Other papers appeared to be copies of a letter bin Laden sent to Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, asking not to be turned over to the Americans and a reply granting his request. Both men cited religious teachings to justify their position.

…America’s case that al-Qaeda is intimately linked to the Taliban is also supported by evidence gathered since last week’s military campaign. In particular, papers also seen by The Observer reveal the efforts made by Pakistan to curb the Taliban’s support for terrorism even before 11 September.

The US used Pakistan last year to tell Mullah Omar that unless he handed bin Laden over to face charges of supporting terrorism he risked being the target of a US missile strike. The papers reveal the mounting panic among Pakistani officials, who found themselves unable to influence or contain the Taliban, or to block known Arab terrorists crossing the border into Afghanistan to join bin Laden’s organisation.

The papers, which include private correspondence between the leaderships in Kabul and Islamabad, were seen by The Observer in the chaotic hours following the flight of the Taliban from Kabul and after the sacking of the Pakistani Embassy, when files and papers were strewn over the street outside. They show that in the build-up to 11 September the Taliban brushed off messages from the US threatening to bomb them. They also reinforce the emerging evidence of how closely intertwined the Taliban was with al-Qaeda.

Earlier this year, Pakistan had protested to the Taliban because Arabs wanted on charges of terrorism had been given special visas to enter Afghanistan and even Afghan passports.
Another Observer article at the time reported that the documents demonstrated inseparable links between al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The notion that the Taliban seriously envisaged giving up Osama Bin Laden is laughable in light of current facts. The fact that Monbiot is willing to stoop to this sort of outright revisionism in order to make his point demonstrates the abject lack of substance to his arguments. For Tony Jones to let that blatant lie go through to the keeper untouched is a blot on his record as a journalist of record.

bargarz
2022 years ago

One of my links was messed up (piles of documents). it is here.

mark
2022 years ago

I seem to recall the Taliban offering to cough up OBL in exchange for being left alone, and on certain conditions. The US wanted their own conditions to be met, and didn’t want any truck with the Taliban’s.

We’ve all got experience with how memory can become corrupted over time. Perhaps Monbiot just remembers the Taliban offering to hand OBL over, without remembering why the offer was rejected/withdrawn/whateverthehellhappenedIdon’tremembereither. So it’s not like he’s deliberately lying.

‘Course, that doesn’t explain why he didn’t do a modicum of research before appearing.

bargarz
2022 years ago

I disagree (except for the modicum of research – that is true and unacceptable to boot).

Monbiot is a political science academic cum activist who regularly contributes to the media and think tanks. As evidenced by his continuing appearances, he remains a welcome guest on the media and holds the position of some sort of expert.

It would be reasonable to assume that he would be up to speed on the facts pertaining to the events that he pontificates about. So his efforts on a major current affairs show on our national broadcaster is not an example of someone with loose facts or mistaken memory.

His was an attempt to rewrite history in order to fit it into a preconceived political agenda. At the very best, it is blatant distortion and dishonesty by ommission. In a word, it’s lying.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Additionally, Monbiot made no effort to qualify his comments or to indicate he was unsure on certain facts. He was quite sure about the version of events he was selling.

bargarz
2022 years ago

And another thing (this is the last time, honest),

This goes beyond a simple case of confused recollections because Monbiot is using that version to buttress his fallacious reasoning of what the current outcome would have been (i.e. They would be in prison or being prosecuted).

That conclusion flies in the face of reality because regardless of your memories relating to the haggling/ultimatums between the Taliban and the US, we know know from the Taliban’s own documents that they never seriously considered giving up Osama Bin Laden – indeed they were incapable of honouring any such agreement.

Unless he’s been living under a rock since the fall of Kabul, Monbiot must know that. So to push his line that the offer was valid and would have (Monbiot was unequivocable here) resulted in prison or prosecution is a deliberate and first class fantasy.

He’s a liar.

Dan
Dan
2022 years ago

Barg:

“we know know from the Taliban’s own documents that they never seriously considered giving up Osama Bin Laden ”

How do we know that? I don’t think the stuff that you’ve cited is irrefutable in that regard. Holding on to an unjustifiable position might be dumb, but it’s not necessarily dishonest. Maybe he’s got some other bit of evidence that has convinced him. I think you make a pretty compelling case, but I’d leave open the possibility that Monbiot has some reason for believing what he believes. Without hearing his side of things, it’s hard to say. Whatever the case, you’re making all sorts of assumptions about what was or wasn’t in the minds of the Taliban, and what is and isn’t in the mind of Monbiot. You seem to think you’ve got your finger on the truth, and you might have, but I’m inclined to reserve judgment.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Dan,

You obviously haven’t read much of George Moonbat, or you’d have no trouble conclusively condemning him on the evidence Bargarz presented.

mark
2022 years ago

Good points, bargarz.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

an ungenerous post, imo

Rob Schaap
2022 years ago

From where I sit, Jones didn’t pick Monbiot up on it because it’s been public knowledge for years. The Taliban were negotiating to hand over ObL in ’98, but negotiations stopped when Clinton bombed ’em. They offered to deal before the bombing startedin October, and again a few days after the bombing started. Whatever the right and wrong of it, the US was not practising a war-as-last-resort ethos. ‘Course, suspicious lefties like me, who think Monbiot’s latest a wonderfully constructive effort in a broken world-on-the-edge, dare think they didn’t want their brand-name, all-legitimating arch-villain in the cage too early. They apparently coulda bottled up Tora Bora when ObL was trapped there a few weeks later as well – and didn’t.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Dan – I think my links and the many ones that Stephen provided put the topic beyond reasonable doubt that the Taliban were in al-Qaeda’s pocket. I also pointed that Monbiot’s assertions went beyond a simple case of misplaced memories – he made distinct and conclusive of what would have happened. To make these claims fit his hypothesis and to retain any logic at all, Monbiot had to ignore all the evidence that has since come to light. That’s taking partisanship to heroic levels.

If you are correct with the idea about Monbiot in that he may have access to special information that bolsters his argument, then I would ask why he has kept it such a secret. In this interview, he had a prime opportunity to reveal his special knowledge and chose not to. Until he does reveal it I’ll assume it doesn’t exist. So that leads me to conclude that Monbiot is peddling in conspiracy theories and historical revisionism.

mark – I wasn’t picking on you so thanks for not seeing it that way. :)

cs – I’m not sure how the comments are ungenerous. I’m referring to these specific and very partisan comments by Monbiot and not the bunch of his articles and opinions that regularly pop up at the Evatt Foundation’s website (a basic search pulls 39 instances of links openly attributed to him). His comments on Lateline place him in the same blinkered echo chamber relating to Afghanistan as Tony Benn and George Galloway. Although in hindsight, maybe that’s not being fair since Galloway and Benn seem to have backed off from their earlier polemics whereas Monbiot gamely struggles on with his version of history.

Rob – Your links are dead. But you’re right in that the facts have been public knowledge for some time now. But that doesn’t excuse Tony Lane for not correcting Monbiot at the time – or even seeking any clarification due to Monbiot’s divergence from established opinion. I doubt that an activist or political speaker from the other side would have received such a free pass from Lane.

You’re also right in that the US had been trying to get the Taliban to surrender Osama Bin Laden and/or crack down on al-Qaeda for a while. These talks had actually taken place on and off since 1996 and had been uniformly stonewalled for one reason or another. Blaming such failures on US bombings isn’t really telling all of the story.

In 1999, the UN Security Council drafted Resolution 1267 that called for the surrender of OBL following his indictment relating to attacks on US installations arounfd the world (especially the African embassy bombings). The Taliban refused and sanctions were then imposed on them by the UN (also see Resolutions 1333 and 1363).

In June 2001 and following warnings of further attacks by al-Qaeda, the US formally warned the Taliban that their sheltering of AQ meant that they would be held responsible for further al-Qaeda actions against US interests. The Taliban brushed off such a warning. Their spokesman claimed;
“All of Osama’s activities are under control in Afghanistan and he has no possibility to intensify his activities against any other country.”
Of course, we know how strict that chaperoning really was after September 11 and since the uncovering of swathes of documentary and physical evidence that confirmed AQ’s Untouchables status in Afghanistan.

As noted in my links above and also in Stephen’s many examples, the Taliban were not negotiating in good faith and eve nthen, many of their “offers” were merely to “discuss” the possible surrender of Osama… if only the ultimatums were revoked, if only the bombing would stop, if only support for the Northern Alliance was rescinded… I seriously doubt there are many open minded people who now believe the Taliban had the inclination, let alone the ability to surrender Osama bin Laden. As noted in the link above by an Afghan government figure – the Taliban and al-Qaeda were the different sides of the same coin. By the end, one could not exist in Afghanistan without the other.

Tora Bora and the lessons learnt from the war is another topic altogether and outside of the scope of Monbiot’s comments.

bargarz
2022 years ago

PS I just reread my comment and had better clarify. Dan, I’m not sinking the boot into you either, just answering your hypothetical.

cheers

Rob Schaap
2022 years ago

Sorry ’bout the links – can’t be arsed finding ’em again now.

So how do I make my links live on this channel? That “href=” stuff seems to work everywhere else.

Technoretardedly yours,

Rob Schaap
2022 years ago

And by the way, I don’t doubt that the Taliban and al Qaeda were pretty dependent on each other in Afghanistan. But I do recall stories that relations between elements of the two had deteriorated under US pressure (culminating in gunplay here and there) and am not at all sure the certainty of eviction from Kabul and Kandahar wouldn’t have swung it. Certainly quotes ascribed to a Taliban foreign minister and divers representatives in Pakistan were pretty unambiguous by the time the B52s were up. ‘Course, well probably never know if the Taliban were actually still able to hand him over by them. We do know Afghanistan was duly bombed flat and left to the tender mercies of contending militias.

If memory serves (and I will stand correction), Sudan seemed pretty committed to ObL’s continued residence when he was there back in ’95 – and then expelled him quite suddenly when Slick Willy put on his Really Grim face.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Bombing Afghanistan flat I will leave in the hyperbole box.

Yes, the Yanks fluffed a damn good opportunity to get OBL after it got too hot for the Sudanese government. The Sudanese were tying to improve their (deservedly) terible reputation and were at least recognised by more than two nations – unlike the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were the ones). AQ had nothing like the power over the Sudanese that they were later able to leverage against the Taliban.

mark
2022 years ago

<a href=”http://bargarz.blogspot.com/”>this page proves bargarz is a genius/idiot, eh?</a>

this page proves bargarz is a genius/idiot, eh?

Hope you don’t mind being made an example of, bargarz :p

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

Bargarz, congratulations on the look of your blog. I haven’t visited for a while obviously, but the old style was a bit of an eyesight tester.

bargarz
2022 years ago

mark – nah I don’t mind at all although that is one fine distinction I hope never to cross (you decide the direction) :)

Ron – my archives are FUBARed which I think is the template. I will be looking into fixing it soon or changing the template again.

24601
2022 years ago

From what I remember, Afghanistan offered to try Osama in Afghanistan if they were presented with evidence. This didn’t impress the U.S. so the war preparations continued. Then near the end (and after the war started), Afghanistan offered to hand OBL over to a western non-U.S. force (I think France was nominated at the time).

While I’m sure that AQ & the Taliban had links – it is not impossible to imagine that the Taliban would turn on AQ for self preservation (none of the links above disprove this). Even if it was unlikely – it wouldn’t have hurt the west to negotiate for such an outcome. How would it have hurt to pursue diplomacy for a further few weeks? Instead, they ignored it outright because the trial HAD to be in the United States. Apparently, the US is the only place with a fully functional justice system (nobody mention Guantanamao).

It is possible that Afghanistan had no intention of handing over OBL. It is certain that the US had no intention of gaining a diplomatic solution. America was angry and they needed a good killing to put things right… the request to Afghanistan was akin to the Hapsburg request to Serbia in 1914. They were never expected to comply and war was always the goal.

Having said that, war should not be judged on anything other than the costs and benefits. On that issue – a much larger post would be required.

Nemesis
Nemesis
2022 years ago

It always intrigues me that someone like bargarz will spend so much time and energy, carefully analysing all relevant microcosms of information, to support his (pre-conceived) conclusion that someone is a liar.

The very same bargarz is nonetheless entirely capable of glossing over the lies of those he follows so slavishly, with his eyes closed and ears plugged.

Maybe Monbiot is a liar. Or maybe he’s mistaken. Now tell us about Howard, Blair, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, etc. Their lies are deadly, mate. Their lies are something important enough to expend your one-eyed verbosity on. But you can’t do it, can you? You’ve lost your sense of perspective somewhere, and you are so dedicated to proving that your selected facts support your interpretation, that you cannot see the obvious truths. It is concealed from you as surely as the dark side of the moon.

Discrediting Monbiot? Whoop-de-frigging-doo.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Meh. And so we turn into this dreary old culdesac (again). Funny, I thought a topic about Monbiot would discuss (gasp!) Monbiot.

Nem baby, before dubbing me as Mr Weathergloss, try a fishing trip at my blog for approving links to the words of Howard, Blair, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush. You won’t find many despite your claims of my slavish followings. Just because I don’t share your taste of hitlist doesn’t mean I am by definition a creature of the Right.

If dogged pigeonholing is what really makes you feel better in branding me a “follower”, despite my well documented differences, then all power to ya.

Nemesis meet log.

Nemesis
Nemesis
2022 years ago

I read your log a lot actually. Not daily, but probably a couple of times a week. I think it’s one of the best around.

It’s probably why I hold you to a higher standard than most (eg Tim Blair et al). And why I get a bit peeved when your standards slip a bit. (I think this latest is such a slip).

I wish you would provide a comments facility on your blog, but doubtless you have your reasons…

(Most of your criticism of the gang of fools re Iraq appears to address their marketing skills as opposed to the substance of their false positions, in my view. But then I have not been following the blog for too long. Couple of months, I guess.

Monbiot? Who cares?

trackback
2022 years ago

Memory problem?

THEY don’t call him George Moonbat for nothing….

trackback
2022 years ago

Old habits die hard.

200 years ago Britain was sending its unwanted to Australia. Seems they are still at it with noted cretin George