tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg April 12, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin with our continuing coverage of the events in syria. the trump administration has accused russia of an attempt to confuse the world about who is responsible for last week's chemical attack. the u.s. maintains there is no doubt the syrian regime was behind the assault, which provoked america's retaliatory airstrikes. the charge of a cover-up comes as secretary of state rex tillerson is on a visit to moscow where his goal is to convince the russians to stop backing bashar al-assad. u.s. airstrikes have revived the
debate about president obama's legacy on syria and the trump administration moving forward. at a press conference this afternoon, secretary mattis says isis remains the target. joining me is tony blinken, the former deputy national security adviser for president obama. joining me here is bret stephens, a columnist for "the wall street journal." i want to begin with a column that got a lot of attention. it is called "the price of obama's mendacity." there's always this debate about the wisdom of barack obama's decision to forgo a similar strike in 2013. that's the beginning. the end says," mr. obama and his advisers will never run out of self justifications for their policy in syria. they can't out run responsibility for the consequences of their lies." >> after president obama,
president putin, and john kerry went through the agreement for syria to ban the stockpile of chemical weapons, information began to emerge that the syrians were cheating on the agreement. it started filtering out in 2014. the wall street journal had a front-page story on the fact in 2015. in 2016, jim clapper even acknowledged it to a congressional committee. throughout the entire period, however, leading figures of the obama administration, including the president, secretary of state, and susan rice kept insisting that the obama administration, that the deal had gotten 100% of the chemical weapons out, creating an illusion -- which, by the way,
the trump administration seemed to share -- that assad had been defanged of its most dangerous weapons. what we have seen in northern syria is that was untrue. and that he maintains the stockpile. i have to ask mr. blinken, how is it that the obama administration kept saying that 100% of the weapons, without qualification, when they knew from their own sources that it was not the case, that assad was cheating on the deal, that he maintained the stockpile and the ability to use it. charlie: the second part is the russians should have known, and what is their complicity? bret: of course the russians were complicit. one of the things that is most disturbing is you have russians on these airbases where the weapons are being stored. the question about russian
mendacity isn't even interesting. the russians lie. what disturbs me is the ama administration offered a story which simply wasn't true, but which they should have known, or did know was not true. tony: first, i very much admire a lot of what you have written in defense of the truth, but here i think he is barking up the wrong tree. let's rewind the tape. we faced this horrific situation in 2013 with this chemical weapons attack in syria. we were prepared to use force. we went to congress to see if we could get authority. that got bogged down. then the russians came in and decided to broker a deal by which the syrians declared all the chemical weapons they had, which they had never done before, agreed to give them up and destroy them in a verifiable way. they declared 1300 tons of chemicals and infrastructure. a year later, the group charged with monitoring the destruction
of the chemicals said they had destroyed the declared weapons. here's where the discrepancy is. we knew all along, and we said publicly, repeatedly, we were concerned there were gaps between what they declared and what they actually had. we went repeatedly to the u.n. and the russians to press the syrians on those gaps to make sure we got everything we could. but if you go back and look at virtually all the statements, we were referring to the declared capabilities, and we raised concerns. here's the thing. imagine if we had not done this deal. we could not have struck the chemical weapons. that would have created a chemical cloud that would have poisoned the people we were trying to protect. instead, we were able to get everything we know about that was declared out of the country. every single country in the region was better off. israel had been giving gas masks to its people before the deal,
afraid of the strategic attack by syria. after the deal was struck, they stopped that program. they told our ambassador that what we achieved was far more effective than had we actually used force against airfields. if we hadn't done that deal, 1300 tons of chemical weapons would still be floating around syria, not only in the hands of the assad regime, but potentially the islamic state, al-nusra, and other terrorist will groups. are we manifestly better off because we did it? yes. bret: the imperfections of this deal are becoming apparent in the deaths of innocent victims. but look, the president said, we had 100% of the weapons. he didn't say we have 100% of the declared stop and by the way -- stockpile, and by the way, we have concerns. i don't remember. you probably don't remember the president going to congress and ringing alarm bells that the
-- that bashar al-assad was in violation of the agreements. john kerry said 100% of the weapons -- every now and then you would hear second-tier administration officials raise alarms and use the word declared, which is a lawyerly way of acknowledging these discrepancies. but can anyone say that they seriously remember a major theme of the obama administration's second term was pointing to the discrepancy between what was declared and what we knew about? mr. blinken might be right that getting out those tons of sarin and other poisons was worth the price, but there's one argument to be had about the wisdom.
i think it was a very unwise deal that sent a signal that american red lines were useless and prevented us from carrying out retaliatory strikes once we knew that assad was violating the deal. what i'm questioning is the honesty. the simple fact is the obama administration cannot say with a fan -- straight face that nobody noticed it was trumpeting the discrepancy between what assad was supposed to have done and what he actually did. the administration allowed the deal to be violated. the question is why. i would love to hear mr. blinken talk about this. i suspect it is because you are achieving a deal with serious patron state, a run -- iran, was so important that it did not want to rock this boat. that is an allegation that has been aired in the atlantic and other publications. i would love to learn more about
the influence of the iran deal, thatmportance of reaching deal for obama had on his unwillingness to expose the extent to which assad was violating the deal. tony: apples and oranges. one had nothing to do with the other. there's no relationship with what we did in syria and the ongoing support for that agreement, even if we try to close the gaps and find discrepancies, and doing the iran deal. that's the truth. i come to this proposition. don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative. our choice was to use force, not strike any of the chemical weapons, and instead use diplomacy without firing a shot to get far more of the chemical weapons out then we could have had we used force. that's a good deal.
bret: it's not. you had an option to destroy the syrian air force. you had an option, even if the chemical weapons were not destroyed, to destroy the means by which assad would be capable of delivering those weapons, and later, weapons like barrel bombs, chlorine gases, responsible for a level of destruction that i think is so vast that the u.n. has stopped counting how many people are dead in syria. that is also the consequence of the refusal to act in syria. you are suggesting that our only military option would have been some deadly, dangerous chernobyl type event on syrian airbases. when we just showed, what the trump administration just showed, it's possible to destroy the means of delivery without putting civilians at risk by destroying those weapons.
i think it is such a shame that four years ago 100,000 deaths ago, the obama administration failed to act that way. tony: as you know, bret, early on in the were, before they used to is the air force, 90% of syrian aggression was coming from rockets, shells, mortars, including chemical ammunition. had we taken them out of the sky, they would go back to that. then we would have had to stop that. it would have drawn us in further and further. it is reasonable to say we made the wrong judgment and we should have gone in, but that was the judgment we made. it would not have stopped them from using chemical weapons. charlie: isn't that the heart of the weapon, the president did not want to be drawn into the civil war? tony: i think it is. but the specific issue in 2013 was chemical weapons.
a norm that was violated, a norm that was established after world war i, and as horrific as everything in syria was, this went a step further and violating something the international community said could not have been -- happen after world war i. bret: you failed to do so. the president made a clear military threat which he failed to honor, and it caused consternation in the region and around the world. a created the perception that president obama was a guy, who in the event of the use of chemical weapons, would give an eloquent speech and find some kind of face-saving solution. charlie: let me bring this to where we are now. the former ambassador robert ford was a guest. here's what he said. >> my own sense is that the war in syria was already finished, and assad won. we are not going to get into a
new erect kind of four or a new afghanistan kind of war. the civil war -- there may be some fighting for a year or two, deposition will not give up but they are not going to win. assad is going to win. bret: first of all, i'm not sure i agree with ambassador for that if assad remains in power that the fighting stops. so long as assad remains in power, sunnis will rise up to oppose him. he's not that strong, even with the help of the russians. what i am convinced of is that as complicated -- and anthony is right -- as complicated as syria is, there is no solution in syria while he remains president of the country. tony: here's the challenge, if i could. how do civil wars and? -- end? we have looked at this intensively.
one of three ways. either one side wins and i'd agree with brett and disagree with robert ford. second, the fight to exhaustion. that will happen eventually. historically it has taken 10 years. we are in year seven of this war. third, they negotiate with -- and here's where the judgment comes in. there are legitimate differences in judgment. third, some kind of outside intervention that combines some element of military force and diplomacy. a legitimate criticism of the administration is there may have been moments when we could have married more leverage to the diplomacy, but no one, not the russians, not the iranians, not us, not any outside patrons, where willing to go in to win the war for one side of the -- or the other. that did not happen and it will not happen. bret: we keep insisting syria ought to remain a unitary state.
we insisted yugoslavia emerge as a unitary state, people would be fighting there today. it makes no sense for anyone to contemplate the future of syria in which there is one syrian state. why? as long as it's one syria, it will always be a zero-sum struggle for power. it will be one side winning and the other side losing. that needn't be the case in syria. you could have an alawite state centered around the coastal cities, kurdish lands could end up -- charlie: led by bashar al-assad? bret: all allied states led by anyone other than bashar al-assad. that should be a condition. you should be able to take part of the kurdish areas and create
another autonomous zone protected, as we protected the kurds in northern iraq, all thanks to a no-fly zone, thanks to american limited military intervention. charlie: that is a long-term solution. but you seem to agree with general mattis, the first star get -- the first target is to eliminate isis. bret: isis is evil incarnate, but it is not the kind of strategic threat to the united states or our allies in the region that assad is or will be if he remains in power and creates a nexus between tehran, damascus, beirut with hezbollah, and moscow. charlie: people continue to say you cannot have another station unless you have leverage on the ground. where is leverage on the ground coming from? tony: i think we do have leverage now.
part is the result of the strike that the trump administration took. the question is, are they prepared to use it? charlie: is that the history on strikes like this? that these one of strikes create that kind of shift in behavior, or -- tony: you are right, one-off doesn't. you have to have a strategy. it has to have all the elements associated with a strategy including a clear diplomatic play. i hope that is what the administration is coming to. bret may be right that ultimately there will be some kind of partition, but let's not kid ourselves on how challenging that would be. there's also a possible kurdish autonomous region. our friends in turkey are not going to be enthusiastic about that. it won't be easy to do anything there. you will have statements -- statelets at each other's throats repeatedly. you will have some controlled by isil or the nusra front. it may well be that that is
where this goes, but we should not under its underestimate how challenging it will be, and how imperfect that will be. bret: as we contemplate a variety of imperfect solutions, let's not lose sight of the fact that what we have now is almost like a hurricane sandy in place, selling destruction in syria and chaos among all of its neighbors. you now have repeated isis attacks in turkey. you know how jordan straining under the weight of more than one million refugees. you had the implosion of the state system in the middle east. russian power entrenching itself once again. the refugee crisis. all the while, we are saying, this is hard and difficult. what's even more difficult is the consequence of inaction.
i want to ask, john kerry, anne-marie slaughter, senior figures in the obama administration, have both come out and praised the strike. why do you think they are praising it if they weren't in fact dissidents within the obama administration of the policy that you guys ultimately pursued? there was a lot of unhappiness inside the obama administration for the failure to act in 2013 and for the absolutely hands-off policy based on the bugaboo, as you put it, we put one toe in, and the whole body is in the water. charlie: and also the idea of leverage, because kerry was not successful in the negotiation with the russians.
they had no leverage and he frequently made that but my point. understanding is you said you supported the strike, but now is the time for diplomacy? they had no leverage and he frequently made tony: yes. i came out immediately, at a lesser level than john kerry or others, in support of what the trump administration did. it was the right thing to do. question is whether there's followthrough, whether there's a way to use this to make progress. on the syrian civil war. that is the big question before us but again you have to look at , everything in the context of its time at the moment. going back to 2013, the decision before us was whether to strike, not hit the chemicals, not destroy them, or do the diplomacy, which we ended up doing, and get rid of the declared stockpile of chemical weapons. every country in the region is better off, and everyone is better off, as horrific as things remain. as bad as syria is today, syria with 18 hundred tons of chemical weapons in the hands of the islamic state and assad would be even worse. charlie: was there no way you could do both, get rid of chemical weapons and maintain the option of the airstrike?
theuse of the violation of red line? tony: here's the question. it is a decision and question before anyone faced with these kinds of situations. you take a strike, and then the target not only doesn't respond that keeps on with bad behavior. everyone says ok, better take another strike. he still doesn't respond. he continues with the bad behavior. better do it again. and again and again. pretty soon, you are caught in a cycle where you don't control the escalation, then you wind up getting drawn further and further in. anyone was responsible has to factor that in. bret: let me ask you, let's assume you are right and getting those 1300 tons of chemical weapons out of syria was worth the diplomatic bargain, was worth the racing the red line. -- erasing the red line. but then there's an expectation that the declared stockpile is
the real stockpile and that violations will be punished. you had three and a half years to punish violations. at least two of those years you knew that assad was violating the deal, and yet nothing was done. my question is why not? tony: two things. first, there are two kinds of violations. one is a question of whether there were gaps between what they declared and held onto. we were pushing on that every day. we were working through the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, the u.n., and the russians. the syrians made four amendments to their declaration over that time acknowledging more stuff they originally said they didn't have. we thought we were getting at it that way. imperfect, but we were making progress. the second question is the fact that even after the agreement, they continued to use chemical weapons, but not sarin. they used chlorine. it is complicated. chlorine in and of itself is not
a prohibited weapon. it is permitted by the chemical weapons convention. we were pressing on that too. it is of a different nature. than sarin or vx. bret: i guess my misgiving is when you use the word complicated. that is complicated may be from the standpoint of lawyers dealing with international legal niceties. it's not complicated from the standpoint of the people in villages and towns underneath chemical bombs being wiped out in full view of the world while an american president decides he's not going to do anything about this because of the possibility that action and health consequences. -- entails consequences. tony: there wasn't an action. there was action that you think was misguided, and that is a perfectly reasonable argument. the action was unclear. there was a diplomatic enforcement of getting chemical weapons out. that is what we did. we had significant success.
we got the declared weapons out. we got 1300 tons out. we know that. we know syria would be a more horrific place today if they were still there in the hands of the islamic state, nusra, and the assad regime. all the countries in the middle east, syria would be a more dangerous country. there was a result. there was progress. it is profoundly imperfect, but here's the point that i acknowledge. any of us who had any responsibility for our foreign policy during this period will have to live with the fact that we didn't and the syrian war, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of syrians are dead. that's also on our watch, and on the watch of syrians, and every neighbor. it is on the watch of iran and russia. he there's plenty of blame to go around.
as the leading country in the world, we should take the share of it. where i do disagree with you is, question judgments, absolutely. let's have that argument. but talking about mendacity, you are looking in the wrong place. bret: history will judge. charlie: on that note, thank you for coming. great to have you here. ♪
♪ charlie: tina brown is here. she is a founder and the elf tina brown live media. last week, she hosted the eighth annual women in the world summit in new york. it featured women of impact and the men who champion them. this year's participants included hillary clinton, u.s. ambassador nikki haley, canadian prime minister justin trudeau, and the president of planned parenthood, cecile richards. here's part of the interview with hillary clinton. >> what does it say about the challenges that one faces with women empowerment, that misogyny won with women voters? hillary clinton: well, i am currently writing a book -- [applause] hillary clinton: yes. i spent a lot of time wrestling with this. as you guess, i thought about it
more than once. [laughter] i don't know that there is more than one answer. in any campaign, there are so many different crosscurrents and events, and some have greater impacts than others. it is fair to say that certainly misogyny played a role. that just has to be admitted. why and what the underlying reasons were is what i'm trying to parse out myself. charlie: tina brown also recently wrote an op-ed for the "new york times." in it, she writes, " women who took steady and linear progress for granted are experiencing an unfamiliar sensation, a scary, wary feeling of real and present danger." i'm pleased to have tina brown back at this table.
this was the eighth summit. how has it changed? how is it different? tina: it's very interesting. this year it was so muscular, so on fire, because there was a real sense that this year is so important here in the u.s. to eight years ago when i started it, it was a tiny little summit in a small hotel. since then, it has excluded. at the time it was about giving a platform to women all over the world who never had the chance to tell their stories, so that we can understand the challenges they go through, which are a contrast to the challenges we go through here. education, child marriage, all these things that are very different. now, the energy this year was much more about a muscular sense that things are changing. it was like a great awakening, in a sense.
the same people who come year after year thinking how terrible it is over there in some other country, and now we think, we have to protect freedoms here. charlie: it is muscular in a sense of resistance to the trump administration, and it has given a cause, and energy? tina: definitely. i also think it is a tipping point. for years and years we hard about the same old, same old. women's meetings about equal pay, about sexual harassment, about protecting women's reproductive rights. now people are finally thinking, wait a minute, this is getting old. it is not changing. obviously massive breakthroughs have happened, but look what has happened at fox news. the sexual harassment is still rampant. look at what is happening at uber. at google, suddenly you find the women are being paid less than the men. there are so many things that you wonder what it will take to change.
there's also a new kind of feeling about being more tangible about progress. there was a wonderful discussion about advertising and the constant objectification of women, which is really vulgar, and really demeaning. we had the head of png's managing, talking about changing advertisements. charlie: when you started this, you said this is my inner journalist rather than my inner feminist. tina: yes. the other great thing about women in the world is it really consolidated us as a news organization. this is really the news through the eyes of women. for instance, the two amazing doctors in syria, remarkable heroes.
all the stories we had in syria, all the stories we had on the stage were new and timely. we had the sexual harassment story, the syrian story, we had hillary clinton, the major newsmakers. nikki haley as well, and memorably said that we don't do soft power. that's the other great thing we showed, that women in the world is a news organization. that is exciting to me as a journalist. charlie: when hillary says there was misogyny in part, do you think it was a significant contribution? tina: she certainly admitted there were wet -- multiple reasons she did not win the election. she did say it is not just about misogyny, it would be giving herself a free pass. but i think everyone acknowledges, and she acknowledged on stage, there's no doubt about it, it is a way harsher light for a woman in the public eye.
she has been through that again and again. she has had 30 years of being treated in that misogynistic way. the unforgiving light that a woman has when she runs is really still very chronic. she talked about that when she left the state department, she had a 65% approval rating, but as soon as she was a candidate looking for power, there is a real animus for a woman who is grasping for power, it becomes a threat. it becomes, you are ambitious in the wrong way. charlie: what is attractive in men is not attractive in women. tina: yes. nicola sturgeon, the wonderful minister of scotland, said the same thing. she said she was really dismayed at the misogyny which she was being attacked. outrageous abuse and trolling, much of it we know from hacking
and russian intervention, but it was struggling to see. she said that this kind of attack is meant to crush your spirit. she said that she drove them crazy because she would not be crushed. for that, i think she will always be a tremendous role model. she said for women who want to run, toughen your skin. she is an example of someone who really had to toughen up. charlie: you are writing your memoirs. just publishing a diary? tina: i went to my diaries thinking it would be the fodder for history throughout the 1980's that i lived through. i had 250,000 words of journals that i kept all the way through "vanity fair," through those eight and a half years, through
the pre-iphone era, when we had more time in the evening. i realize that shaping it and re-editing it, adding to it, made a really entertaining real-time gallop through this crazy time when i was editor, and the roaring 1980's, the reagan era, the whole crazy atmosphere of conde nast, when it was a sort of court of louis the 14th -- the stuff you look at now in the media, you think, how could that be? is very amusing as a period piece. it was also the voyage of a young woman who arrived. charlie: vanity fair was in a bad place. tina: yes, the second editor in six months. i was called in to be the doctor from london. i had just turned 30. it is a story of a kind of
battle to save "vanity fair," and also my adapting to the u.s. a lot of it is my collision with new york and america, and being completely baffled everything. it started with a taxi on my way from kennedy airport into manhattan. i'm in the backseat, and dr. ruth is giving sex advice on the radio. charlie: and she still is. tina: i was absolutely gob smacked. [laughter] what is this? what am i listening to? it is really fun. charlie: let's talk about hairy, for a moment. i was touched about how you talked about sir harry evans, whom you married when you were very young.
tina: he is in my diary, of course. he's a great feminist. he would never have called himself a great feminist, but he loves strong women. very often people say, how does your husband feel? the answer is thrilled. he loves strong women. charlie: how did he contribute to your success, other than you knowing he supported you and he was there for you? tina: for starters, my professional mentor in every way. charlie: he was the king of london journalism. tina: he taught me how to write a caption, how to do a layout. he taught me how to crop a photo. he was my tutorial. also, he's got great judgment. he's a fantastic journalist. he has a strong, moral sense of
what journalism is. he has always been my touchstone. when i wonder if i should publish something or not, he's always the incredible judgment behind me, and just a passionate believer in me. my career has had its ups and downs. >> i tell you what, i really enjoy my editor, tina brown, when she was so much younger. charlie: how did that start? >> she went to oxford when she was 16. a famous literary agent sent me clippings and said, you should read these. they are very funny. i didn't read them. another sign of my neglect. i was too busy. i read them one morning and i got so alarmed, they were so good, and i let this stuff linger in my briefcase. i called up the number and i
said, "could i speak to tina brown?" i asked her to come to the office, because we were so impressed. could you come in today? she said she can't come in because she was getting dinner to her husband. and i said, are you tina brown that just graduated from oxford? and she said, no, that's my daughter. [laughter] so she came to america, she met s j, theodore white, and wrote marvelous articles. charlie: you wrote an op-ed called, "what is next for women?" has the movement stalled? tina: i have no doubt that the women's movement has stalled until just recently.
charlie: and what recently have indicated new energy. tina: yes. i believe hillary's loss motivated a huge surge of feminist energy in a way that falling off cannot. i do think women felt a slap in the face strong insult. charlie: a very qualified candidate. tina: the best woman in the view of many had been beaten by the worst man. how did it, thou that a woman who had been a senator, a secretary of state, wildly qualified, a first lady, ready to go, could be beaten by somebody who -- my answer is multiple, but i think a massive insecurity that took over, and the ability for trump to communicate.
there's no doubt that his ability to boil down everything to these slogans was tailor-made for the reality tv eight. one of the issues i always felt is that had a message and no strategy, but hillary had a strategy and no message. charlie: that is partly true. tina: i think she knew what she wanted to do -- charlie: there was no narrative. tina: i also think, unfortunately, you have to be entertaining these days in order to win. i think if you are running for office, forget it if you can't he and entertaining. in today's era where attention spans are so short, you have to get people to watch. you have to get people to pay attention. charlie: and boy did trump do that.
tina: he really is himself like a low information voters. what we see in trump is the result of absorbing fox news. it is true that trump and his audience has eaten the same kind of toxic diet, if you like, in which they all convince themselves of this delusional otherworld going on in which there's blood in the street, marauding mexicans, all of these outdated views about what china is doing. it is all coming out of a kind of toxic media diet. i believe that trump truly believes everything he says in that regard, because that is what he has feasted on all these years. charlie: what do you think of the syrian decision for the airstrike? tina: i think it was a good decision. i'm sure he was horrified by the images, but i don't think that's what it is. i think myself that general
mattis, mcmaster, those people really wanted to do this for some time. i think there was this may for a long time about inaction on the dissmay for a long time about inaction on the part of obama, and i think that feeling built up. i think trump doesn't really have a strategy. i think it's all about pushing the right buttons at the right time. charlie: someone said one airstrike does not make a strategy. tina: it does not. i hope it is not just about the photographs. i don't think one should be cerebral about everything, many things are unacceptable. the worst thing is to announce something is unacceptable and do nothing about it. i was in favor of the strike. i do want to see a strategy going forward, because simply having a strike and not talking about it again is not a strategy. charlie: he has not yet spoken. it's interesting. i don't know why that is. tina: it is mysterious.
how nice. i'll be right there. and the butchery begins. what am i gonna wear? this party is super fancy. let's go. i'm ready. are you my uber? [ horn honks ] hold on. don't wait for watchathon week to return. [ doorbell rings ] who's that? show me netflix. sign up for netflix on x1 today and keep watching all year long. ♪ charlie: philip gorski is here. he is a professor of sociology and religious studies at yale. his new book is called "american covenant: a history of civil religion from the puritans to
the present." david brooks calls it essential reading. i am pleased to have him at the table. welcome. this is the story, some say, of a struggle between two traditions. philip: it is a struggle between even three rival traditions for thinking about the meaning of the american project. charlie: what do you mean by the american project? philip: that's exactly what's at issue. three different visions. one that sees the united states as a christian nation, another that sees it as a secular democracy, and a third, the one that i'm defending here, a combination of sacred and secular values. charlie: and this is, as you have pointed out, it is not like
a third way, it is different than the confrontation -- conversation that took place with tony blair or bill clinton in america. philip: i think it is an essential way in which the american project has proceeded for most of our history, and i don't think there is a mushy middle, and averaging out of two different positions. but it has its own logic and coherence. charlie: tell me about religious nationalism. philip: religious nationalism is the idea that to be a full citizen of a particular nation, you have to belong to a certain religion. in the case of the united states, that typically has meant christian nationalism, although some accommodations have been made for other faiths. most religious nationalism, including american religious
nationalism, tend to think about history as a cosmic struggle between forces of good and evil. they place the nation on the side of the good and its opponents, internal and external, on the side of evil. in other words, they think the line between good and evil runs between people in groups rather than running through them. charlie: how much do they take that from their own religion? philip: it's interesting. i think features you find in religious nationalism throughout the world, but when you think about christian nationalism as developed in the united states, the key sources have been two. one is apocalypticism, a belief in the end of the world and a literal interpretation of how it would happen, a literal interpretation of the book of revelation in particular. it also draws on the jewish scriptures, in particular the
idea of a conquest of conquest of kingdom. a nation has to struggle, blood has to be shed, has to be sacrificed to an angry god. charlie: but that is not all of christianity. philip: absolutely not. i think that is the dark side of it. charlie: you think religious nationalism is the dark side of christianity. philip: i do. one of the biggest message i'm trying to get across is to help secular people understand religion doesn't poison everything, any more than secularism purifies everything. i want people to understand there's darkness and light in both secularism and religion. charlie: when you talk about secularism and secular democracy, what are we talking about? philip: there's a kind of secularism which is perfectly reasonable in which almost all americans accept, that we
characterize with the phrase separation of church and state. most of us recognize that too much mixing between church and state is not good for the state and not good for the church either. and we, for the most part, respect that. when i say radical secularism, i mean a much more combative position than that. a little bit like what i just described, the idea of religion poisons everything and secularism cleanses everything. what you have to do is create this hermetically sealed barrier around public life, and you can't let any religious symbols, religious talk, religious dahlias into that without polluting the public space. charlie: you don't believe that? philip: i don't believe that. i think it leaves behind the best of our traditions. charlie: what makes america? philip: there is a good kind of
american exceptionalism and a bad kind. the bad kind is the united states is completely unique and above all other nations, it is without sin, without blemish. the problem with this kind of exceptionalism is it refuses to face up to the mistakes that are part of our past. there's another kind of american exceptionalism, although it is not usually called that, which i'm completely happy to affirm. that is the idea that this is a unique experiment in democracy. an attempt to make a nation of nations and a people of peoples. this is something which many political philosophers thought would be impossible. that you could only have a republican form of self-government. charlie: is this because of the genius of the founders? they were geniuses, but imperfect geniuses.
philip: i agree with you. they were imperfect. charlie: but they had a sure sense of the purpose of the nation they wanted to establish. philip: i think that they did. i think you can find in a way that they thought about the nation something like this tradition that i'm talking about here. i think one of the most interesting discoveries i made in writing and researching the book was the importance of the idea of a hebrew republic. this is the idea that monarchy actually was not given to the israelites as a gift, but was given to them as a curse. why as a curse? because it is conducive to idolatry. it is the kind of government that befits a corrupt people and not a virtuous people. the founders thought that republican self-government was a
kind of government that suited a virtuous people, although they knew that virtue was fragile. benjamin franklin's famous remark, what kind of government do we have, a republic, if we can keep it. charlie: if the commitment to the betterment of the nation is hard to do, because of the nature of what it is and the nastiness of what it goes -- what goes on, and secondly because it is such an invasion of self? philip: i think that has dissuaded a lot of good people from going international politics. hopeful signs i see are reengagement of folks on the local level. i see quite a bit of that. i've never seen as much local activism in my lifetime as i've seen in recent months. that, to me, is helpful. charlie: i will tell you another
hopeful sign, according to a night been told. -- i've been told. millennials has a higher sense of service and a higher sense of wanting to be engaged in some public way than the generation before them. you would know that, because you are on a university campus. philip: yes, that is my experience, too. in a sort of ironic way that the economic crisis in 2008 has made some of them really reassess and think about whether making a career and making money are really the only our most important things to be pursued in life. many of them for this reason are really determined to do something that contributes to the greater good. charlie: thank you for coming. philip: thank you so much for having me. ♪
mark: i am mark crumpton. you're watching "bloomberg technology." president trump welcomed jens stoltenberg to the white house today. the president, who had been critical of nato during the campaign, took a different approach. president trump: the secretary-general and i agree that other member nations must satisfy their responsibility to contribute 2% of gdp to defense. if other countries pay their fair share instead every line on -- instead of relying on the united states to make up the difference, we will all be much more secure. mark: the president added that nato was no longer "obsolete." secretary of state tillerson says that relations between the