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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  December 7, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

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♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. charlie: fareed zakaria is here, he's a columnist for the "washington post" and hosts the cnn program, fareed zakaria gps. he has the special on barack obama that premieres december 7 on cnn. fareed: barack obama's america was born with hope. >> people work crying in the streets. fareed: with history and with crisis.
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,> fragile financial systems likely to get worse before they get better. >> we were hanging on the edge of panic. fareed: health care hysteria. two wars. mass shootings. >> a gunman opened fire -- fareed: racial violence. >> if i had a son, he would look eyvon.r >> this guy is a racist. fareed: but barack obama made some big bets that paid off. troops came home. gays got married. enemies were vanquished. >> justice has been done. fareed: millions on health care. and sometimes tragedy gave birth to hope.
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>> when he sang "amazing grace" he channeled that as president and it was a profoundly important moment. fareed: but as a new era begins. mr. trump: your moment of liberation is at hand. fareed: what will remain? >> that president smiled and said i'm a black guy named barack hussein obama and i'm president of the united states. fareed: what is the legacy of barack obama? charlie: he also wrote an essay dedicated to the power of populism called "populism on the march: why the west is in trouble." i'm pleased to have you back on this program. fareed: a pleasure as always. charlie: let's begin with barack obama. what is his legacy? fareed: as an individual, he's tried to be the most consequential president since
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lyndon johnson. if you look at the ambition of obama's agenda, the reshaping of health care policy, the reshaping of health care policy, regulation of the health care sector, the rescue of the economy, the bailout of the auto industry, the shift in american foreign-policy, which is more than just a tactical one, it was a strategic one. the question is, he pushed for all those things as president, but in order to have a truly lasting legacy, you also need to build a political coalition under you. if you look at the two really consequential presidents, lyndon johnson and fdr, and reagan to a certain extent, they ended up with congressional majorities that lasted, particularly in johnson and fdr's case. obama was not able to do that. in fact what happened over , obama's watch is the democratic party lost heavily at almost every level.
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charlie: how did he cause that or how responsible was he? fareed: a very good question. some people say it's because he was not skilled as a politician in the way lyndon johnson was. that johnson had a way to extend his power through congress. i think there is probably some of that. he was personally a charismatic politician but not as good a party builder. but the bigger issue is america has changed a lot in the last 15 years and has changed in ways that have been propelled by globalization, immigration and multiculturalism. there was a backlash to that, and the democrats have paid a price -- been on the receiving end of that backlash and that force, that backlash was very strong and it was a backlash, let's be honest, to an african american president. you can see this backlash across the western world. it makes me think that force was too strong for anyone president to break, president
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but for a truly consequential legacy that would last, you probably needed that base. charlie: where is america in terms of its relationship to the world and the role of wants to play? fareed: i think under obama, it , but people clearer disagreed. he said at the start that he thought the united states was over invested in the middle east, a crisis prone area where investments would not pay off and over invested militarily in trying to in some way nation build in those areas or settle ancient disputes between the sunnis and shia's. so he wants to draw down from the middle east, pivot to the part of the world where the united states has a strategic -- charlie: can he do that with what is the nature of the relationship with china today?
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fareed: when he came in, there were 200,000 american troops in afghanistan and iraq. i think we are down to 14,000 or something. there has been a massive scaling back. while we have been able to decimate al qaeda and are doing -- people aresis -- that is the world we are in. small groups of people can do big damage. on asia, what they have done has been quite wise, a strategic relationship and dialogue with china. but most importantly, building up a life -- alliances and .haring them up with japan 10 years ago, the big debate in japan was should we ask the americans to leave? now they're asking us to build up. south korea, the philippines which has had a setback recently, but has been loathing -- moving in the right direction. the bigger question we now faces
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down a was a paring little of the american internationalist role, but still very engaged. still very much involved. think of the climate change accord which could not have , happened without american leadership. with trump, we have for the first time since the fdr and harry truman world, somebody who fundamentally seems to dissent from america as the upholder of the liberal international order that the united states created in 1945. a guy who says our allies rip us off. why are we engaged in this? why doesn't japan just get nuclear weapons and defend itself? those are bigger and fundamental questions. charlie: but do we know that is where he is in his own head because people are beginning to talk to him and they get a different impression that that was partly disruptive campaign rhetoric. fareed: with trump, we are mind
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reading. because we don't know. he doesn't have considered views, so you are trying to judge on the basis of instinct where he will go. but the instinct seems to have been pretty consistent in this regard. if you go back to the 1980's, he was a protectionist. he was taking out full-page ads in the new york times arguing the japanese are ripping us off. he has a very jacksonian impulse, which is the world's ripping us off. i don't think its fundamentally true. i think the american created order has been great for america. for 5% of the world population, we dominate the world economically, militarily and culturally. for most of the rest of the world, what they look at the extraordinary imbalance in power america has. but trump sees and thinks we're getting ripped off. no one is getting there -- no one else pays their fair share
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and that feeling seems to run pretty deep. but he may change his mind. his statements to date constitute the most significant departure -- the coherence would be jacksonian is him. charlie: america first? fareed: america first. our allies try to rip us off. the world tries to rip us off. if anyone tries to mess with us, we will bomb the hell out of them. we don't want to occupy any place. we want to stay in our fortress and bomb the hell out of somebody and come back. charlie: that brings me back to populism on the margins. " why the you called west is in trouble, not just the united states." fareed: if you try to understand this phenomenon, it's happening across the western world. you ask yourself what is it and lot of folks say it's about economics.
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but it is happening in suite -- in sweden, denmark and holland which are doing well economically. it's happening in germany which has maintained a strong manufacturing sector. people say it's because we abandoned them. the french provided enormous protections for their workers. the one common theme you notice in these countries is immigration and the backlash and response to it. one counterfactual to look at is the one country you'd do not see -- you don't see populism which , is an advanced industrial country going through tough and -- tough economic times is japan. what is the one thing japan doesn't have? no immigration. if you go through tough times economically, if you feel you are all in it together, if there is some coherence, it works. once you see the globalization of people, they look different, sound different and worship
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different gods, now they are in your town. that creates unease. charlie: let's talk about that in terms of europe. in the far right in europe, in germany, france, it is rising now in all of those countries. in some cases, it has been a presence there for a while. the essential ideal was, for them, a kind of far right nationalism, a rejection of all things foreign. in them that has been combined , with a connection with the loss of jobs, globalization, with all of those factors that have come together to represent one single grievance. fareed: in a sense, it is a backlash against globalization. the way i think about it, and i point out in the article that it has gone through four phases. you have the globalization of goods, services and capital. this is the fourth wave of globalization. of people.
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we were able to digest that are or worse and it's difficult to blame somebody. but then you get the globalization of people and now , you have someone to blame. the genius of donald trump was he realized the republican voters out there and many democrats out there, were not that interested in the republican party's core ideology of tax cuts and entitlement reform, expansionist foreign policy. they wanted to hear about mexicans, muslims and chinese people. the mexicans were taking their jobs, the chinese were taking their factories and the muslims , were in danger in their security. -- a danger in their community. on those issues, he was consistent. once you have someone you can blame, the ideology gets a certain charge it hasn't before. charlie: how will this play out in a trump administration? fareed: we will have to see how serious he is on those elements. if he is serious about it -- we
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all know donald trump is going to build a large enough wall that he can do a beautiful photo op in front of it. charlie: so there is a sense that down the road there will be a wall that he can stand in front of. fareed: the question is will he deport millions of people. if he does that, the agriculture sector will go into recession. will you really slap 45% tariffs on china, on american companies abroad?e their business charlie: let's take one small simple thing -- torture. here's a guy who talked about waterboarding and worse. he has one conversation with his new secretary of defense, who tells them you will get more out of people with a pack of cigarettes and candy then with all the torture i can recommend. all of a sudden he says i listen to this and rethought it. -- rethought torture. so look at somebody who has
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begun to understand the significance of where he is in the power he has. obama had a conversation and said he was pragmatic -- pragmatic. was a central point of president made about him. is he now going to look at the problem he faces and be a different person than he was as a candidate? although, in order to have some credibility with his base, he's got to make sure he communicates to them why he's doing it and hasn't forgotten his promise. fareed: the only honest answer i can give you is i hope so. i don't know. i don't think any of us really know. but there is a debate among those who staunchly opposed donald trump. how do you deal with a donald trump presidency? my view is very much you have to hope he will flip-flop on these issues, and he will be educated by people and learn more about whether it's climate change or the realities of immigration because we don't want him to , fail. if he fails, the united states fails.
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and you don't want to run some kind of experiment of having him do all these terrible things only to realize they are wrong. if you were to try to deport 11 million people, it would be a disaster. perhaps the result is he would become unpopular and learn through that bitter example. but you would have screwed up 11 million people's lives and the economy of the united states. that's a more expensive experiment that i'm willing to pay. i would rather he flip-flop on the issue. charlie: henry kissinger thinks he thinks of himself as a unique phenomenon with unique capacity. fareed: i think obama has a healthy ego. i think he thinks he smart but i think henry overstates it. i don't think that -- when you see obama interacting with real experts on subjects, what i am
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always struck by is obama is always asking questions. he's always asking questions he genuinely wants to hear the answer to. you've probably noticed this -- most politicians, when they ask you a question, they are simply waiting for you to stop talking and they will provide the answer. they will listen to you or -- for a section or two and then they will say what they think. obama doesn't do that. he asks questions that are genuinely designed to elicit information. i think he's very confident. maybe even cocky, maybe even arrogant, but he has a healthy appreciation for other people's intelligence and talent. i think that, where he seems to have a problem is he always feels like he knows what the best deal is for you and me. so he offers it and is frustrated if you don't accept it. charlie: i'm reminded of the fact that he also said don't do stupid stuff. that was one of the cardinal
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expressions of what he lived by as a leader of the united states. i mean he understood you can , cause huge repercussions if you mess up. and so his first obligation was , to not screw it up. fareed: i think that's exactly right. he thinks it takes a lot of discipline to say no. when people come and say we have this incredible military, let's send it off to do this. the ability to say no, to be disciplined -- and i think it is partly -- remember presidents always react to the president they succeeded. so he looked at bush and i think he saw in bush someone who could not say no to cheney and rumsfeld. who couldn't understand the that you can overdo it militarily. there is always a year and then
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and then yang. the idea that the united states can elect barack obama and then donald trump, there cannot be too greater opposites. charlie: your special is on tomorrow night. at what time? fareed: 9:00. i'm sure you will be riveted. we spent a lot of time with obama, valerie jarrett, tim geithner, everyone involved in the administration to have them re-create that feeling, particularly when it started. we were in the worst economic crisis than at any point since the great depression. think isand that, i , his single achievement -- even though he looks at obamacare and bringing the troops home, when the country was tottering there when he took power in 2009 come -- the crisis had been in 2008. the system -- in terms of rescuing the system, that single idea failed. fareed: i think we were very
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lucky because in six months, they had to make a series of hugely consequential decisions. if you look now compared to others, the united states has , in the last eight years, created more jobs than the entire oecd put together. japan all of europe, plus plus south korea. , i know it doesn't feel like that for some americans, but the reality is when you compare us to the rest of the world, what is striking -- charlie: the u.s. economy is healthy compared to rest of the world. thank you. watch fareed zakaria on cnn tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. eastern. back in a moment. stay with us. ♪
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♪ charlie: brendan iribe is here. he's the ceo of oculus. he cofounded the virtual reality company in 2012. it was acquired by facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. the oculus team built hardware and software with the intent to let people experience anything, anywhere with anyone. , on tuesday, they choose their latest offering, the touch and -- touch hand controller. it follows the launch of the oculus rift headset in march. i'm pleased to have brendan iribe at the table for the first time. welcome. brendan: thank you. tell me about virtual reality. when did it begin to get some
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sense of significance? brendan: we have been dreaming about vr for decades. it has been in science fiction , from early books and then into films and movies. a lot of people think of "the matrix" or the star trek hologram. we've been imagining this world but it never really has worked until the last few years. we finally got it to a place where it works. charlie: what happened to make it work? is it the quality of software? brendan: it actually is the hardware. computers have been getting faster. but to put on a headset, to put on avr device and have your brain tract to have that switch flipped where you believe you are there and you go from imagining being in a virtual world to your brain believing you are there, that took a lot of work, a lot of complex technology to come together and
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, for the first time, they came together for years ago. charlie: and it can make you believe you are in precarious situations and you can feel the fear of falling climbing around -- falling, climbing a mountain. you can feel the sense of climbing it, but knowing if you look down, you don't want to let go. brendan: your brain kicks in and instead of trying to imagine you are imagine -- you are somewhere and your brain saying imagine we , can step into that movie and your brain is saying we are on this cliff. we are this high up and you need to be careful. you are telling your brain, don't worry, we are just in the -- vr. but your subconscious kicks in -- charlie: what were you doing when you decided to create oculus? brendan: i was at other company and we were working on streaming technology for gaming. we were in the midst of being acquired and i got the chance to meet palmer lucky. and right when we met, and i saw
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the early prototype he was working on, we quickly came together within a few days, to cofound oculus. charlie: why the name oculus? brendan: palmer had picked the -- that name and he was excited about that name and the name wrist for the first product we were working on. we decided let's go out and create a kickstarter. kickstarter was brand-new at the time and it was a crowdfunding site to evangelize and get vr out to the mass market. it had never worked before. but now it did. charlie: many people believe virtual-reality is the next big platform. i think even zuckerberg has suggested it has that possibility. you agree with that? brendan: absolutely. when we first started, we were really focused on gaming and it was all about stepping into the game. as we marched along and work making the technology better, we realized it was going to be for
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a lot more than gaming. we would be able to teleport people to any destination on the earth. " people face-to-face with other people around the world. charlie: whatever the game is , you basically sit in front of your screen and are able to do things and make wings move and there's a game to it. but with a virtual you are on the playing field. brendan: you are first person. you are right in there. you feel like you have stepped through the game and it's all around you, 360 degrees. today, with touch launching you , look down and see your hands, so you really feel like you are fully immersed in that videogame. charlie: tell me what you mean by touch -- how your hands to be -- give you the capacity to manipulate within the field you are in. brendan: these are our touch controllers and these are fully tracked in six degrees of freedom.
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as you are moving these round, your hands are showing up in the virtual experience. so when you look down you see , your hands where they should be in the physical world, but you see them in the virtual rule -- world. you can pick them up and make gestures to people. charlie: where could this go to have a huge impact in terms of possible utilization of virtual reality? brendan: one of the next great frontiers we look at is virtual teleportation -- being able to teleport to other places around the globe. some as we start to scan in the earth and scan and popular places, important places like museums and the mayan ruins, different temples. now, for the first time, he will have people who can put on goggles and teleport in there. charlie: in terms of medicine, we were talking about this this morning. this can give you the capacity as a surgeon, i assume, to put
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you within a larger environment where you are doing microscopic stuff. correct me if i'm wrong. brendan: no, you are absolutely right. you can go down and shrink into someone's surgical procedure and get down there at this microscopic scale, and feel like you are in their with the cells and organisms and you can identify things. you can for education, for training surgery, imagine medical students in their dorm rooms as they are studying, could put on a pair of glasses and do simulated surgery again and again, all night long, they could run through dozens of procedures and continue to get better just in the dorm room. this will allow us to advance so much faster than we have been in the past with a textbook or a screen. charlie: if you talk to surgeons, they will tell you there's nothing like doing it and doing it that makes you a
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great surgeon. here, you can simulate the experience in part. someone said this -- it's an important step forward. virtual reality is not just a head step -- headset not just , about tricking your eyes. the more parts of your body you can for simultaneously, the closer you get to having those wonderful, immersive experiences. immersive experience and feeling true presence. its amazing. will this develop exponentially in terms of the velocity of change? brendan: yeah, i think we are right at the beginning. i call it the apple ii moment of vr. if you think about where we went to a keyboard and big monitor on your desk and now we have a super and everybody's hand all day long every day, it's many times smaller, house
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-- thousands times faster. if you look at where we are with vr, we will advance quickly and take a number of huge leaps to get down to just a pair of glasses that should be no bigger and weigh no more than regular glasses. it really should be invisible eventually. it will just become part of everyday life. it's going to take a while to we are not there today, it will take their a while to get. charlie: and the fact you sold the company to facebook. what does facebook give you? brendan: so facebook supercharged our investment into vr. facebook also has the biggest social network in the world. it has connected everybody. if you think about the ultimate goal for vr, we want to make the world more connected. and what is more connected than a pair of glasses that can bring everybody together face to face just like this? charlie: it is incredible. talk to us a little bit about the competition. other people are engaged in this. what will determine the winner? brendan: we are -- charlie: i'm not sure there's going to be one winner in the way we have four or five huge technology companies from google
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to apple to amazon to facebook. but will there be a winner? i mean, is there -- this is another development. hands. brendan: yeah, this is the first generation of vr input charlie:. if you believe is the next platform everybody wants to be , part of the next platform. brendan: absolutely. a lot of people do believe this is the next platform, especially mark at facebook. google now in a big way, microsoft is leaning in and a lot of big companies are starting to invest in vr because we all have this vision that it -- this is going to be, we are on the path to becoming this computing platform. it is in the early days. who is going to win? we certainly think we have a great shot at creating a great platform and creating the system, forrating solution. i think there will be winners in each generation.
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so we are in the very first generation of vr, and as the hardware is disrupted, if you think of the cell phone market, where we started with cell first phones, every time the cell phone leaped in hardware, where it got much smaller or imagine when you went from the keypad to the touch pad to the actual full keyboard, that moment where blackberry suddenly won, and then everybody said, blackberry has got this. out of nowhere came the all-in-one touchscreen. and there, you know there is iphone and ios and it looks like they are going to win, and now here comes android. we are in this first generation . i think there is going to be winners as we march along at -- and at some point, the hardware will mature, and we will get to the place where it doesn't advance. computers haven't changed for a a very long time now. it is a screen, it is a keyboard, it is a mouse. this is the first leap, but we are far from maturity.
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i think we are going to see several leaps before we get to a place where we say, now the hardware is kind of done. smartphones, the hardware is kind of done. it's not changing. so now there is two winners, ios and android. the pc when the hardware finished, it was windows and mac. when the hardware finishes in terms of maturity, there will probably be two dominant operating systems in vr. charlie: the interesting thing is once you have dominating , systems, i assume there will be a rush to create applications for the system. brendan: absolutely. there is already a rush. as you see -- charlie: somebody will show you for real -- virtual reality in surgery almost every human , endeavor. brendan: this should affect every industry over the next few decades. it will start in gaming and entertainment. there will be some smaller abuses in education medical, , architecture, simulation but
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, quickly this will affect every industry. charlie: i should take note of the fact that you just gave a whole bunch of money to the university of maryland, your alma mater for the what? brendan: the computer science center. this is the building for students to come and learn computer science and innovation. that is something that is really -- i'm really passionate about. fostering early education in it is really important to me computer science, not just , programming as we have known it but really, bringing together hardware and software and this convergence of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, hardware engineering and great software engineering. that is what made oculus possible. it wasn't just a team of software programmers. this was a team of hardware engineers that had to build the physical device. we had to crack the code and we had to crack the hardware on how to make the display in optics so i convinced your brain. -- it convinced your brain.
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it was going to bring together all of these different disciplines into one place and have this open lab. in many ways, it is like bringing silicon valley to maryland. does the goal of it. charlie: it's great to see you. congratulations. brendan: thank you so much. ♪
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♪ charlie: viet thanh nguyen's
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here. his debut novel, "the sympathizer" won the pulitzer prize in for fiction. 2016 it examines the vietnam war through the eyes of its for the vietole cong. he's been critical of past depictions of the war and has called hollywood the unofficial ministry of propaganda. the guardian described the sympathizer as a bold imagining private andwoven public legacies of the vietnam war. the memory of the war was also a finalist for the national book award. i'm pleased to have this author for the first time on this program. welcome. viet: thank you so much for having me. charlie: tell me the sense of how you came to write this. was it -- viet: it is because i grew up in the united states as a refugee. i was born in vietnam, but i came here when i was four and grew up well aware of how americans thought about their vietnam war.
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and what that meant for me as a vietnamese person was the -- was to know that the american side of this totally excluded the vietnamese experience. i grew up with the enemies people who were always talking about the war. charlie: and they all felt like there since of how it impacted and changed their life was not reflected in the american experience. viet: absolutely not. they feared their histories would be forgotten. the vietnamese refugees in the united states had fled from vietnam. they knew their stories were going to be erased in vietnam and then they saw americans were , not interested at all in with -- what the south vietnamese had gone through. they feared their children would go and forget them. that was the environment i grew up in. charlie: this is a multi--- there are many answers to this question but in essence, what was it about their lives? was it the totality of their lives was not there or was it one part of their lives? viet: i think it was about the totality.
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they had lost the war, lost the country many of them lost family , members, identities, prestige, all of that was wrapped up in what it meant to be a refugee in the united states, and that witness your children being americanized and growing up in a way that was radically different from what they had imagined their lives to be. all of that became centralized around the fact that the particular story of the vietnam war was being told differently than how they had experienced it. charlie: but this is also your story as well. viet: partially. it's not autobiographical but it is part of my story. when i say my history, i mean both the vietnamese experiences and the american experiences because i grew up with both. i wanted the novel to be an intervention into how the vietnamese and americans were remembering this history. charlie: did writing come easily to you, or was it a hard-earned craft? viet: a very hard-earned craft. [laughter] the sympathizer was actually a real pleasure. it was an amazing experience. but before that i spent 15 years , struggling with a short story collection, and that was a
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really horrible experience for the most part. charlie: but out of that suffering comes comes ability. ,viet: yeah, and i didn't know that. 15 years of hanging my head against a wall writing these short stories, and then when it came to the novel, i felt free and liberated, as if this was the right form for me after all this time. charlie: by this title --? viet: the narrator of the novel, the protagonist is a man who sees every issue from both sides. as we learned from the first line of the book, he is a communist spy in the south vietnamese army and was educated in the united states. sympathize with everybody. he is able to and of course as a , communist, he is also potentially labeled as a sympathizer. so that word has two meanings for the narrator. and so, the theme of sympathy, what it means to not only sympathize with the people we love and we care for but to sympathize with our enemies, that's what he struggles with throughout our entire story. charlie: i want to read the
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first part. i just love it, having seen it. spook apy, a sleeper, a , man of two faces. perhaps not surprisingly, i'm a man of two minds. i'm not so misunderstood mutant from a comic book or horror movie, although some have treated me as such. i'm simply able to see any issue from both sides. sometimes i flatter myself this is a talent. and although it is admittedly one of the minor nature, it's also probably the sole talent i possess. at other times when i reflect on how i cannot help but observe the world in such a fashion i , wonder if what i have should even be called talent. wow. how long did you struggle for that line? viet: that took about three months. the summer of 20 -- charlie: spy, sleeper. viet: i knew the novel would be driven by the voice of this narrator because it was all from his perspective. so i knew it would be crucial to nail down that opening line. when i found that line, i knew this was going to be the voice for the novel.
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charlie: but then, back to the question of why the sympathizer? ,viet: because this war and probably all wars deeply divided people. people were not able to sympathize with the people they disagreed with, whether it was americans versus americans, when it came to war versus antiwar movement, communist vietnamese and anti-communist vietnamese, there was a lack of sympathy on all sides. you need a lack of sympathy to fight a war for various reasons. my narrator's talent and tragedy is that he actually can sympathize with the enemies he is spying with. that allows him to be a great spy, but it also sets him up for a great tragedy. charlie: are you surprised at all by how vietnam has turned out? viet: i think yes. i mean, we have seen the alternative path in cuba. charlie: i just returned from havana two days ago. viet: with cuba, they had a charismatic leader who stayed
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alive. in the case of ho chi minh, very charismatic leader but was dead in 1968. he had been out of power by the early 1960's. charlie: he was what is interesting on the comparison. clearly there is a line that ho chi minh came to the united states for help in his national war, his war of nationalism. his war was about nationalism. viet: yeah. charlie: rather than being a communist war. viet: it is going to be one of the great mysteries we will never figure out. charlie: it would be a mystery if the united states had been receptive to him. viet: he was clearly a communist, but he was also a nationalist and a pragmatist as well. the people who succeeded him were hardline communists, that is where the country turned out the way it did. the irony is those hard-line communists eventually turned the country into a capitalist country. that is what you see when you go to vietnam today. charlie: and because they realized that was a superior economic model? viet: they tried to implement
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the soviet and chinese collectivist model, and it was a disaster. so they had no choice. but to turn to the next thing, and they were following china. china was already going in that direction. so that is one of the great ironies, one of the great surprises of history. it's now a sort of state run capitalism in these countries. charlie: having just been in havana after fidel's death, i said to my friends, there are two questions, one, what might have been -- and we don't know the answers, and where it might go now. --er fidel, role will leave years.ll leave in two but will cuba go the way of vietnam? viet: i think it is very hard for them not to go the way of vietnam because now there are economic and local relationships with the united states and this is what happened with the anon.
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we established relationships in 1994 and 1995 and after that, it was basically over, because that is how the united states would have one the conflict. it would have introduced the capitalism and dollar and tourism and all of this. if cuba opens its doors in that direction, those influences will be transformative on cuban society. charlie: what is it you don't like about vietnam today? viet: the weather. [laughter] viet: it is like hot very hot , and humid. i don't like traveling there for that reason. no, i think that whenever a country is undergoing transition like this, and it has been in transition for several decades some great things happen like , people are less in poverty than they were 20 or 30 years ago, but bad things happen. the wealth gap is enormous. there is a class of climbers and strivers, there's the kind of problems you think would happen with excessive profit. that is happening in vietnam as well. it is still restrictive. there is no free speech, there's limited freedom of religion. charlie: they have chosen
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economics to focus on, not politics. viet: that would be one way. they've chosen not to focus on political transformation. change: yes, economic yes, political change no. viet: the debates are, should we be hard-line communist -- charlie: china is a bigger enemy than anyone. [speaking simultaneously] viet: they are trying to negotiate with china. charlie: [indiscernible] viet: it is a very long and complicated history, a thousand year history of colonization. on the one hand they know they have to placate china. china was an ally during the vietnam war, and they don't want to give too much away. charlie: it was so big, huge and rich and powerful. viet: they want to remain independent, and they want to maintain good relations with china, but it depends on how far china wants to push its dominance over the region. charlie: because you are so steeped in this, what do you think the vietnam war did to us? viet: to americans? charlie: yes. viet: i think it was a larger
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part of a larger transformation in society. you already have the civil rights and the black power movement, and then the vietnam war just blew up all of these tensions. not only did you have pro-war and antiwar americans, it all exploded. the very fabric and identity of what america was supposed to be, all wrapped in not just with racial conflict and class conflict -- charlie: in terms of where we have just seen the political election, obviously it is about jobs and the establishment and about the system and government. a protest because there comes this sense that there is no place for me, or i'm losing my place, and things are worse rather than better. in the sense of that meaning, evolution and change because of the vietnam and civil rights and the cultural revolution of the 1960's? viet: yeah that's a 20th century , view of what is happening
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today. the changes that have started to be implement it with the 1930's and so on, all the social changes undergoing in american society, the vietnam war just made it very visible. and for the last two decades the , right has been trying to reestablish the order that the vietnam war disrupted. charlie: the "new york times" called the war a very literary war. you know what they mean? viet: a lot of books written about it. charlie: exactly, but how does it offer so much material? viet: i think all wars -- charlie: the civil war, the revolutionary war, iraq and afghanistan. syria is doing it. viet: it will be a literary war. writers need time. life, death, sex, politics, betrayal, manhood rituals, all these kinds of things, all of this is wrapped up in what happens in a war. it takes writers some time to
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process it. we had enough time with the vietnam war, now we are having time for the iraq and afghanistan for veterans to start writing about that as well. charlie: it is true. you see a series of books coming up with different people and different experiences. viet: it took decades to process. it took me two decades, three decades to figure out what was happening. charlie: you talk about the industry of memory. what is that? viet: well, we like to think that our memories are all equal, sort of a democratic notion, but in actuality, certain groups ' memories dominate over other groups and those are the groups that have control. hollywood is one example. publishing is another example of that. this is why the united states lost the war in vietnam it won , the war in memory because it controls the industries like hollywood that the vietnamese don't control. that's why when people think about the vietnam war, they think about how hollywood has remembered it. charlie: are there great books
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and written -- great books written and movies about the vietnam war from the vietnamese perspective? sorrow,ese books are which is by any degree a great book. people don't know about it. people don't know about it because the publishing industry in vietnam doesn't have the same reach that the american publishing industry does. charlie: so we don't know. are there movies made in vietnam? viet: there are a lot of movies made. a lot of them are not that great. unfortunately that's one of the , ironies. the industry of memory means the u.s. the military power of the , u.s. is matched by its power to make movies. vietnam can't make movies like "apocalypse now." charlie: what is interesting about this as well, we have just seen in last five years the chinese making a huge investment in hollywood. not only because it gives them
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an opportunity as an entrepreneurial effort, but also because of the power of movies , and the fact they have a huge market in china. viet: it is soft power. china recognizes this. the u.s. sort of exports a certain image of itself all over the world, and china recognizes that. charlie: from genes to music to everything. viet: it has been an enormous influence all over the world. even in vietnam. i tell people in vietnam, they have seen "apocalypse now" also. that is how strong the impact is. charlie: in terms of the people in vietnam today, i mean, how their curiosity is about culture from the west? viet: a lot of it, but i think it is primarily driven by economics. the young people want to make a living.
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they can see through these cultural industries, advertisements, film, tv, all the riches and wealth of china , and they want that. culture is a part of it as you want to wear the right fashion and drive the right car, but it's driven by economics. they are the generation that came after the generation that sacrificed and even suffered horrible things. they don't want to deal with that. they want to catch up to the rest of the world. charlie: "apocalypse now." [laughter] [speaking simultaneously] charlie: of course not, but because you talked about it. viet: i brought it up myself. charlie: you did. viet: i saw it when i was a young boy, 10 or 11, and it made a huge impact on me in a negative way because it's a powerful work of art. but it is a powerful work of art partially because it silences the vietnamese people. as a young boy growing up, i was both american and vietnamese, and i was completely split in
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two by my experience of watching that movie. as an american, i see it through american eyes and i'm rooting for the american soldiers, and then they kill vietnamese people. at that moment, i think, am i american or am i vietnamese? am i the one i'm supposed to identify with or am i the one that is being killed? that has driven me partly to write "the sympathizer." charlie: but it really is one more example of how hollywood has defined our sense of history. viet: yeah, and i teach a vietnam war class. my sentence that come take it are all born in the 18 -- 1980's or at this point. 1990'sor even 2000, so shocking. but their history, the war is defined through stereotypes and through the one or two movies they might've seen. even if everyone knows hollywood shouldn't be taken seriously, people still take hollywood seriously because that is what they have access to. social: it is also a access point. look at how many people write about politics and because
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culture is so prominent, their culture is from movies. viet: it provides us with a common language. even in an age of social media, twitter and all of that we still , go to movies. we think about world war ii and it is all defined by the latest generation idea, propagated by movies as well. charlie: you were very much influenced by "the land at the end of the world." viet: yeah, not many people know that book. it is a portuguese novelist, some portuguese fiction that won the nobel prize. it is about the portuguese war in angola, and i was influenced by the mood and the style. i read it in december 2011. it made me possible to come up with the opening line for the sympathizer. charlie: do you think of yourself primarily as a writer? viet: i do. but for me that means different things. it means that i write fiction, nonfiction, scholarship and to me, all of these are related. i don't compartmentalize them , but each of these things
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other. -- these things inform the other. charlie: they clearly do. viet: "the sympathizer" is fiction. it is a story. hopefully it is entertaining but it is informed by all the scholarship i have done as well. charlie: and deeply influenced by history. everything your character thinks is a product of his own observations of the history around him. viet: and he himself is a writer, two thirds of the way in. we find out two thirds of the way through the book that he's writing a confession to a communist interrogator. so ironically even though he's on the side of communism, he has been captured by communists and they are forcing him to write this story. it is sort of a mirror, but i think of him as a tortured writer, literally. to a much more exaggerated extent that i am. charlie: what is the next book? viet: the next book is called the refugees, it is a short story collection coming out in february. it is the short stories i was telling you about, the i was ones writing for 15 years. those are the stories about the lives of the attorneys refugees. charlie: the book is called "the
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sympathizer" by viet thanh nguyen. they are in paperback. thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪
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