For Episode 11 of the Scot Goes Popcast, I spoke once again to the journalist and anti-war activist Dr Yvonne Ridley, who was the guest on the very first Popcast at the start of the year. Back then I had asked her about her experiences as a prisoner of the Taliban in 2001, but it hadn’t occurred to me that the Taliban were just six months away from resuming total control of Afghanistan. For the first half of today’s interview, Yvonne gives her take on Afghanistan’s uncertain future under its new-but-familiar masters. She also has some forthright views on the way forward for the Scottish independence movement, which she shares in the second half of the interview. Here are some of the key points…
* She thinks the Taliban have matured since they were last in power, and that consequently there’s unlikely to be a repeat of the worst excesses, such as the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
* She explains that Afghanistan under western occupation was not the land of milk and honey for women that it was sometimes portrayed as, and that there’s a “low bar” for women’s rights in the country.
* She puts the case for women to stay in Afghanistan.
* She thinks America’s retreat from the conflict marks the end of western liberal interventionism to spread “freedom” and “democracy” at the point of a gun.
* She think marchers for Scottish independence should not just go back home at the end of the day and wait for the next march – they should stay where they are until the Scottish Government take action to bring independence about.
* She is not, to put it mildly, the greatest fan of the new Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, namely Patrick Harvie MSP.