Roger Waters took time out from his “This Is Not a Drill” solo tour to sit down with CNN’s Michael Smerconish this weekend for an interview in which the former Pink Floyd leader shared his controversial views on the origins of the war in Ukraine, Pres. Biden and China’s saber-rattling over Taiwan.
The outspoken 78-year-old rocker — who railed against twice-impeached former Pres. Donald Trump and denied suggestions that his support of a boycott against Israel was spurred by anti-Semitism during his pre-COVID 2018 Us + Them solo tour — continues to provoke on his latest outing. CNN noted that the tour includes references to police murdering Black men, a section where the singer pretends to spray the audience with a semi-automatic rifle and commentary on abortion.
Telling Smerconish that anyone who comes to his show is well aware of his politics — and, as the video before his show states, can “f–k off to the bar” if they’re not up for his message — Waters defended the opening sequence in which a video counts Pres. Biden as a “war criminal… just getting started.”
According to Waters, Biden is, “fueling the fire in the Ukraine, for a start… That is a huge crime. Why won’t the United States of America encourage [Volodymyr] Zelensky, [Ukraine’s] president, to negotiate, obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war?” he said, as Smerconish pointed out that Waters was blaming the country that was invaded, not the invaders.
That caused Waters to double-down as he added, “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 [Mikhail] Gorbachev negotiated the withdrawal of the USSR from the whole of Eastern Europe.” The men then got into a heated discussion about the U.S. entry into WWII, with Smerconish reminding the rock singer that America was seen by most of the world as a liberator.
Waters, who has frequently chronicled the devastation of the war that killed his father in Floyd and solo music, also pushed back on that. “You got into World War II because of Pearl Harbor,” he said of the surprise Japanese attack on a U.S. naval base in Honolulu that drew America into the war. “You were completely isolationists [beforehand]. Thank God the Russians had already won the bloody war by then. 23 million Russians died, protecting you and me from the Nazi menace.”
When Waters asked Smerconish to imagine what the U.S. would do if China put nuclear missiles on the Mexican and Canadian borders, the host noted that the Communist nation is “too busy encircling Taiwan as we speak,” a reference to the aggressive military maneuvers from China in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial recent visit to Taiwan.
“They’re not encircling Taiwan! Taiwan is part of China! That has been absolutely accepted by the whole of international community since 1948,” Waters said adamantly. “And if you don’t know that you aren’t reading enough…. You are believing your side’s propaganda. You can’t have a conversation about human rights and and you can’t have a conversation about Taiwan without actually doing the reading.” For the record, Taiwan has been governed independent of China since 1949, though the People’s Republic of China sees it as a break-away province and has repeatedly vowed to “unify” Taiwan with the mainland.
Smerconish pushed back, telling Waters that the Chinese are at the top of any list of human rights offenders. When the host suggested that Waters almost always comes down against the side of the West, the musician animatedly disagreed, responding, “The Chinese didn’t invade Iraq and kill a million people in 2013… Who have the Chinese invaded and slaughtered?”
“Their own,” replied Smerconish, seemingly in reference to the reported mass detention and forced sterilization of the Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities the Chinese government has undertaken in as part of what an international tribunal ruled a genocide. “Bollocks!” Waters responded. “Absolute nonsense!”
Watch Rogers’ CNN interview below.