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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I just want to, you know, ask you, you’ve listened to all, you know, the stories, you’ve heard what your former colleagues and retired military are doing. You came out pretty early against all of this. I just wonder what motivated you? What was the moment that caused you to write your statement in the press?
GEN. JOHN ALLEN, FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: Well, Christiane, it’s always good to see you and to be with you. This is a really important moment in our history, in the entire history of the United States, from my perspective. And I think the juxtaposition of the president depicting himself as a law and order president, depicting himself as an ally of the protesters, while literally just a couple hundred meters away on the other side of Lafayette Park, riot police are beating and driving American citizens who have peacefully gathered to protest massive social injustice that has been endemic in this country now for centuries, exercising their First Amendment rights, being driven with tremendous violence, actually, as the president is talking about being a law and order president and ultimately, the ally of peaceful protests and peaceful protesters. That image, that juxtaposition to me was absolutely horrific and that’s what caused me to begin the process of writing.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me just quote a little bit of what you wrote. It was called “A Moment of National Shame and Peril and Hope.” You said shame. The slide of the United States into illiberalism may well have begun on June 1, 2020. Remember that date. It may well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment. That is pretty dire. What exactly do you mean by the beginning of the end of the American experiment?
ALLEN: Well, we as a nation have always valued — and at the very soul of who we are, we’ve always valued the rights of the individual citizen. At the very top of that value chain for us is the capacity of Americans to speak their mind, to speak freely, to have freedom of speech, our First Amendment rights. And enshrined in our constitution is that amendment, is that capacity. And look, Christiane, we’re at a terrible moment in this country right now. 107,000 dead, going on 2 million infected. Over 40 million unemployed. Our economy in very dire straits. The killing of George Floyd, which is really just emblematic of centuries of racism in this country.
About This Episode EXPAND
Christiane speaks with former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense John Kirby and former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan John Allen about President Trump’s militaristic actions. She also speaks with Paul van Zul and Vincent Warren about what the U.S can learn from South Africa’s transition out of apartheid. Michel Martin speaks with Mark Bray about the president’s remarks on Antifa.LEARN MORE