Roger Waters engaged in a heated argument on TV, challenging a reporter’s position on world politics and war – but adding it had been a “pleasure” to debate with him.
CNN’s Michael Smerconish appeared to have set out to push Waters into controversial territory, although the musician is well-known for happily going there anyway.
The interview – which can be seen below – began with a question about the introduction to Waters’ This is Not a Drill shows, where he tells the audience: “If you’re one of those ‘I love Pink Floyd but I can’t stand Roger’s politics’ people, you might do well to fuck off to the bar right now.” Asked if he really wanted people to leave, the musician replied: “You never know; those people, if they sit in a community like my audiences… there is such a great feeling of communication in that room between me and the audience, and between us combined with all our brothers and sisters all over the rest of the world.”
He continued: “If This is Not a Drill has a message, it is that we have to communicate, one with the other.” That led Smerconish to say he didn’t always agree with Waters’ messages, but he countered: “I’ve only got one message: ‘Two strangers passing in the street / By chance two passing glances meet / And I am you and what I see is me.’ That is my message and that was on Meddle which was in 1970; and basically my message hasn’t changed – I recognize your humanity but I recognize all the Russians and the Chinese and the Ukrainians and the Yemenis and the Palestinians.”
The discussion turned to Waters’ labeling of U.S. President Joe Biden a “criminal” who was “just getting started” after he’d previously hammered Donald Trump during an earlier tour. Waters blamed Biden’s administration for failing to prevent the Ukraine invasion from taking place, saying: “This war is basically about the action and reaction of NATO pushing right up to the Russian border – which they promised they wouldn’t do when Gorbachev negotiated the withdrawal of the U.S.S.R. from the whole of Eastern Europe.”
When Smerconish argued that the United States had a role as “liberators” Waters responded: “You have no role as liberators… you got into World War II [because of] Pearl Harbor. You were completely isolationist until that sad, that devastating, awful day. … Thank God the Russians had already won the bloody war, almost, by then. Don’t forget 23 million Russians died protecting you and me from the Nazi menace.”
Drawing a comparison to the Russian view of the current East European conflict, Waters said: “Try to figure out what the United States would do it the Chinese were putting nuclear armed missiles into Mexico and Canada.” Smerconish countered that China was too busy “encircling” Taiwan to turn on the U.S. but Waters argued: “They aren’t encircling Taiwan – Taiwan is part of China and that’s been absolutely accepted by the whole of the international community since 1948.”
He went on to described allegations of China committing human rights atrocities on its own citizens as “bollocks,” saying that, unlike the U.S., “The Chinese didn’t invade Iraq and kill a million people in 2003.” He insisted: “You can’t have a conversation about human rights and you can’t have a conversation about Taiwan without actually doing the reading.”
Drawing the debate to a close, Smerconish said that when he read, he read Waters’ liner notes. The pair ended with a handshake as Waters laughed: “It’s always a pleasure.” Smerconish deadpanned: “Is it?”
The This is Not a Drill tour runs until Oct. 15.
Watch Roger Waters and Michael Smerconish’s Debate
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