tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN February 22, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EST
that's it for 360. thanks for watching. tonight, chaos in libya. is strong man moammar gadhafi's regime about to come to a crashing end? his son remains defiant. >> we will never give up libya. we'll fight for the last inch to the last -- >> hundreds reported dead as unrest spreads. >> i think it's high time for the world to step in and tell this man to stop killing. >> what comes next? brutal crackdown? >> we are expecting real
genocide in tripoli. >> or resolution? >> the libyan people have broken the fear. we will not back down. >> why this could be even more significant for the u.s. and for you for what happened in egypt. this, the special live edition of "piers morgan tonight." good evening. we start with breaking news tonight from new zealand where the city has been hit by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake with multiple fatalities. but first the latest from libya. it's difficult to be honest to know what happened there tonight. the mobile phones and the internets have been shut down or slowed down. but today libya's government released war planes and helicopter gun ships on people. >> i'm not in france or in venezuela. i'm still here.
>> a brief but extraordinary statement. and i want to begin immediately with ben wedeman tonight in eastern libya. ben is the first western television reporter to enter and report from inside libya during this crisis. ben, what's going on? what can you see? what do you know? >> reporter: well, what i can see, piers, is that the eastern part of the country seems to be under the control of anti-gadhafi forces. as we were driving in from the egyptian border, we did not see any soldiers, any army, anybody representing the government. in fact, at the border, there were no formalities whatsoever. we did see sort of large groups of young men with shotguns, with ak 47s. they seem to be the power in this part of the country. and what they're out there to try to maintain order, but apparently they're also
concerned that the libyan government will strike back, will possibly, they're worried, drop paratroopers into this area, may launch more air strikes on to the eastern part of the country. so there's a good deal of excitement that they've been able to kick gadhafi's forces out of this part of the country. but there's a profound concern that they don't have firm control of the situation on the ground yet. piers? >> ben, we've been following you, obviously, around the middle east as this crisis has developed egypt to now into libya. the key difference to me here is that you are looking at a regime that has made it clear publicly they are going to get as bloody as it takes to maintain their power. and we could see a different situation to the one we saw in egypt, couldn't we? >> reporter: absolutely. and this is what libyans will tell you. they'll point to the case of egyptian president hosni mubarak
who did at a certain point crack down on his opponents. but after 18 days of largely peaceful protests, he was willing to step down. nobody in libya is under any impressions or illusions that moammar gadhafi is going to go like that. the worry is that he is going to use everything at his disposal. his air force, the few remaining forces that are loyal to him. mercenaries to crack down, to try to reestablish control of this country. the worry is that this is sort the romania all over again. this is a regime that's going to go down fighting until the bloody end. piers? >> ben, you're one of the only journalists in there right now. what do we actually know about what has been going on against the people? we're hearing lots of rumors and
speculations. reports coming out from various places suggesting that fighter jets have been firing on the people at the behest of gadhafi. do you have any evidence of that? did you know if this was true? >> reporter: what we're hearing from people here is that, indeed, that was the case in tripoli. and there have been occasional air strikes on the eastern part of the country. but just as the world is suffering from this news blackout out from libya, within libya itself, they have the same problem. many of the satellite news channels are blocked. for instance, the arabic signal is being jammed here. the official media is absolutely worthless in terms of conveying anything that approximates the truth. so a lot of it is by word of mouth. the local cell phone system,
just making a call from libya -- one part of libya to the other does seem to be functioning intermittently. that's how some of is this information is circulating. but until you actually see it with your own eyes, it's really hard to say what is going on. >> ben wedeman, you've done an extraordinary job to get inside libya. please stay safe and continue to report for cnn as these developments continue. joining me now on the phone is adam in tripoli tonight. for his safety, we're not using his last name. adam, tell me right now what's happening in libya where you are. >> well, currently, or the past couple of days? >> well, currently first, and then maybe give me an overview of what you believe is the bigger picture here. >> well, today was a day almost like any other day except due to last night's protests, there were a couple of pieces of debris, things in the road blocking mercenaries from
getting through into neighborhoods. army was brought in. we're not sure what the time, they were flown in via helicopter. they set up with all kinds of semiautomatic and automatic weapons including rpg. they dispersed protesters in the green square anti-regime using force. let's see, they have been using aerial tactics along with men on the ground to disperse and shoot indiscriminately into crowds along with mercenaries which we're told will be brought out at night kind of in an indirect way. once again, indiscriminately. but the libyan people have taken upon themselves to barricade themselves in homes, minnesota have gone out into the streets and put makeshift barricade check points, making sure that people can't get through, just fly through and spray the area
with bullets. >> how many people do you think are getting killed here, adam? >> it's tough to say, honestly, because you hear a lot of numbers. but we get phone calls in from friends and people we know saying, you know, even driving through neighborhoods, we'll see people setting up, the libyan people have a traditional way to set up a -- kind of a funeral procession the day after someone dies. and you'll see them scattered around town. and so i could easily say it's in the tens -- around maybe 200. from, you know, estimates i can gather. >> adam, it's quite obvious from colonel gadhafi's statement tonight that he's planning on going nowhere. his son has promised bloodshed right until the bitter end if necessary. what's been the reaction of the libyan people? do they have the persistence, do you think, to go through with this? >> i truly believe they do, piers. they are united.
despite what they've made to believe. we are all united against having him and his family in here ruling us as they have been for the past 42 years. you know? he has been hoarding wealth, distributing to the very, very select few. and everyone else seems to be bearing the brunt of poverty as well as, you know, lack of education and health care. i mean, these are things that have gone on for centuries. sorry, not centuries, decades. and it's reached a critical breaking point to where enough is enough, you know? especially with the power that we've drawn from the egyptians and being inspired. along with the oppression, it's bottled up to this point where we know we can do it. benghazi is free, as far as we know, along with the rest of the east side. and we have such hope here. tripoli's never come out in numbers like this before. they are serious about getting -- and the brutality he's
showing is making them dig in their heels even harder. they are not ready to move. >> extraordinary scenes, adam. please stay in touch over this week, i'm sure we'll want to speak to you again. and i appreciate you taking the time to do this. >> it was my pleasure, mr. morgan. has the white house been caught offguard by the chaos in libya? here to talk about the political picture in this country is my colleague wolf blitzer. this is pretty dramatic stuff, isn't it? egypt is one thing, but that was relatively peaceful. what we're about to see in libya, i suspect, could be a lot more blood thirsty. >> at least in e justice department, they decided not to kill fellow egyptians. it suspect if given the order, and they probably already have, they won't be that reluctant to kill fellow libyans. and there could be not just hundreds but thousands of dead people.
and the most frustrating thing is what will the world do about that if there is a blood bath in libya? are they just going to let this happen? or is there some sort of international effort that can stop that kind of killing? we don't know what's going to happen. but it's a frustrating moment. and i'm sure the president of the united states is as frustrated as anyone. >> if you're president obama and watching these scenes roll out like the predicted domino effect, part of you must be excited that freedom and democracy is breaking out in this way. another part must be terriied by the implications. >> terrified because you don't want thousands and thousands of people who are peacefully protesting, want a change in the government, 42 years of gadhafi is enough for these people. and if these people are going to be brutally killed whether by war planes or helicopters, gunfire, then, you know, it's going to be an awful situation. it's going to underscore -- the
changes are dramatic throughout africa and the middle east right now. and i suspect this is only just the beginning. the next six months or a year is going to see even greater change. >> if you're an american watching this, what should you be thinking? >> you should be thinking, first of all, the young people who are going to die. that's awful enough. because a lot of innocent people, young men and women are going to die. and some not so young. just people who want to see that change. but you should also be thinking, libya's a huge oil exporting country and the price of oil's going to go up if that's shut down, if there's instability in that part of the world. you know, there are a lot of strategic military, humanitarian aspects of this conflict. and all of us have to watch it and wonder what's going to happen. >> so you're at the white house, and some say you should be, wolf. if you're at the white house and making the call here, if this all kicks off in the way some fear it may and we're seeing widespread attacks on the people of libya, should america intervene?
>> i don't think america should intervene by itself, but it wouldn't be out of the question to see an international coalition to get together to try to do something to stop the bloodshed. i remember in the '90s when i was the white house correspondent for cnn when bill clinton went to rwanda and acknowledged -- look, i had received the reports about the slaughter of the genocide that was going on in rwanda. i was in the oval office, i didn't do anything. and it was the biggest regret i had. and he told that to the people of rwanda when he was there, and it was an emotional moment. i suspect that president obama does not want to have that kind of moment. if he knows that there are thousands of people who are on the verge of dying. i don't think he wants to be -- he doesn't want that to happen on his watch. but i don't know what the u.s. has limited capabilities, obviously. but the europeans are a lot closer. you know, you're from there. what are the europeans going to do? >> i think it's a fascinating dilemma for all european governments right now. because it's spreading fast.
it's on our doorstep. big calls for these politicians right now, isn't it? >> there's enormous ramifications for the people of europe, southern europe, italy, but all of those countries are going to watch this. and i suspect they're going to be very, very angry. >> wolf, thank you very much. >> thank you, piers. "new york times" columnist nick kristoff joins me by phone. what is going on in the middle east? what's your overview? what we're seeing is the domino effect that people predicted. where will this go next? where will it end? >> well, you know, if i knew, boy, i'd be in that next spot. i don't know. but what is striking is the way it's now sending not only through -- through the middle east itself, but beginning to see it as far away as zimbabwe today, or venezuela, albania and china.
and the demonstrations there seemed to attract as many security people and journalists as they did authentic demonstrators. >> you've covered this region for a long time, these are fairly unprecedented scenes. and it seems to me that the news agenda will be dictated by the response. if we can believe these reports, the fighter planes being ordered to bomb their own people. that's a major escalation, isn't it? >> oh, it's huge. but there is something that is important here. at the end of the day, you've had these brutal governments kill their own people for years and years and years. one of the things that first made me interested in this area, as a backpacker, a student, i went through syria in 1982 right after the president had used everything in his disposal to kill about 30,000 people there.
but what is different now is not only the social media that creates an accountability and let the word get out, but also the -- the way this does spread and just ripple beyond. and i think that that truly is a difference. you're also beginning to see peer pressure from arab governments not bolstering each other's authoritarian regimes, but striking back at them. what moved me today was egypt set up field hospitals at the libyan border to help libyans who managed to get out. >> i saw the yemeni president describing it as an influenza throughout the middle east. this is very contagious what is happening. >> it's fascinating. but, you know, instability like this, aspirations have always been contagious.
after all, the american revolution helped lead to the french revolution. 1848, you had this just freeing spread across europe. and i think that now we're seeing the same thing. and it's not only in the arab world, although it's most manifest there, but in other parts of the world, as well. >> and tell me, nick, finally, if you're an american watching this program tonight and anxious about what you're seeing and hearing. how worried should americans be? is this not essentially just a march for democracy and freedom? shouldn't we be encouraging and supporting what we're witnessing here? >> we should. but, you know, sure, there are reasons to be anxious. things can go wrong. if you think about the 1989 revolutions in eastern europe, romania was a mess for several
years, so was albania. but at the end of the day, we just can't side with these authoritarian regimes. static is not the same as stable. and i think it's especially incumbent upon us to side with people power over the kinds of regimes that we've been in bed with all these years. we need to be on the side of the people who are getting shot, not those who are doing the shooting. >> nick kristof, thank you very much indeed. >> it's my pleasure. when we come back, more on the huge earthquake that's rocked new zealand today. and a deeper look at moammar gadhafi, the iron-fisted dictator who has ruled libya for decades. breaking news out of new
breaking news out of new zealand. multiple fatalities after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city of christchurch earlier today. deaths reported at several locations and two buses crushed by collapsing buildings. joining me now on the phone is kim savage. what has happened today? how bad has this earthquake been? >> reporter: yes, we're getting reports out of the city of christchurch, which is in the south islands of new zealand. what we do know is there was an earthquake just before 1:00 this afternoon local time here, a 6.3 magnitude quake around 5 kilometers deep. a quake not too far away from the main city of christchurch. some people here describing it as worse than the quake that struck the same area in september last year.
that was a 7.1 quake. but already, we're seeing television reports and we're getting reports here in our newsroom of some serious damage to the city. buildings collapsing, people trapped in buildings, and many injuries. we're also getting reports of multiple fatalities that we can't say at this stage, just a number of people who have died in this quake. what's going on in terms of the city itself, the airport is closed, so no one's able to get in or out of the city. cell phones down, so as you can imagine, we're struggling to get information about what's actually going on down there. and the -- our government here has activated a civil defense center in the capital. thus raising the emergency level to a level three, which is the biggest level for a regional disaster of this kind. so just to -- just to sort of describe to you the magnitude of this and just how significant that is.
that is a very high alert level. our prime minister, he has -- he is actually on his way to christchurch. he will be making his way. he might find it difficult, but he will be there to see the situation for himself. >> kim savage, thank you very much. and our thoughts are with all of the people in christchurch. we're seeing very difficult pictures from that scene. and clearly there's going to be a death toll, we just don't know how big it is at the moment. but we'll come back to that story before the end of the show. now back to libya. we want to talk about moammar gadhafi. who is he? and what are his secrets to the regime? let me start with you because you're a member of the former royal family there. what are you hearing from your sources in libya? >> well, what i'm hearing is that gadhafi is using air force,
using helicopters, bombing tripoli. the people are without water, without electricity. of course as you know, there's no telephones that are functioning. and now he's imploring to use air force on benghazi. what we are really asking the world to do is there is a united nations resolution that dictates that the leader is committing genocide against his own people, then the world must act. and a former dictator of libya, moammar gadhafi is committing genocide against his people, innocent women and children. >> let me turn to you, jamie smith, what is colonel gadhafi capable of? what we know about the atrocities he's committed in the past, this is a whole new ball game here. how far will he go?
>> well, good evening, mr. morgan. he is a very pragmatic man. he's a survivalist, and we've seen over the years where he has responded to the bombing in 1987 when president reagan attacked. and his personality changed. his tactics shifted. and in this case, his regime, he is -- he is trying to hold on to power. he's going to go to just about any lengths he can to hold on to power. and there's that difference here between what is going on in libya versus what is taking place in egypt and what took place in tunisia, in that those states were the military. in libya here what we're seeing is that the military arguably does not have the capability to oust mubarak. and what you wind up with then is if mubarak steps down or if something happens to him, then you wind up with a regime, but there is no alternative.
because the concept of regime change assumes that there is some coherent choice that is an alternative to the regime in power. you don't have that in libya. and so that creates a vacuum, and that creates then, the opportunity for groups like al qaeda like the lifg to step in. and now you've got an islamist entity that has stepped into a power vacuum, similar to what happened in afghanistan and iraq and in somalia. and so, you know, it's very important that -- >> yeah, i was going to say, jamie, knowing the man. when i asked how far would he go, what is the potential end game here? if the people do rise up against gadhafi, would he turn on them in the way that saddam hussein did to his people once? would he use chemical weapons? how bad would it get? >> well, i believe we've heard his son say that we're going to go down to the last bullet.
and what we've seen so far -- we've seen bombing raids against military installations in order to prevent the weapons on those installations from falling into the hands of the opposition. and, you know, the helicopters have reportedly been attacking protesters in selected areas. you know, they're -- they're capable and they are going to -- they're going to kill their people. and the difference is because the military here is following gadhafi's orders. the military in tunisia wanted him out. he's not going to go away. >> you've met gadhafi, what kind of man is he? private when you meet him? >> just like every other politician. very charming and very likable, somebody who presents himself as knowing everything that's going around.
it's a totally different picture, of course, than you see politicians dealing with the situations they are dealing with in public as erratic as they may be. jamie hit the nail on the head when he said that there is no military. that there is a vacuum that's going to happen if the regime changes that. there is another element to this whole situation that is the tribal element in addition to the islamist element. the regime in libya is is built like yemen, saudi arabia, and jordan. that is an alliance of tribes against bigger tribes against smaller alliances of other tribes. even if gadhafi decided to give up power, which is highly unlikely, that means his tribe is going to fight until the end. his sons could fight until the end, his tribes could fight until the end. that is the threat of civil war. the islamists taken over the lifg as part of the kentucky and
part of an more organized element than al qaeda is right now, the mother al qaeda is right now. started to establish many emirates in the eastern part of libya. i just hate to see this country falling into the civil war or the threat of the islamists taken over the country and controlling the 1 million barrel oil a day the 1 million tons of gas or whatever that is and having a terrorist islamist from the oil-rich country. >> excuse me. >> it is a very -- >> can i come in? >> gentlemen, thank you. >> may i come in? >> yes, you may. >> first of all, there is an incorrection here. the military are not with gadhafi. he has only the mercenaries with him. and there is no islamic republics. this is incorrect. there will be no vacuum. libya has went through this in
the past. and the people of libya have stepped up, and they have said with congress where they have done a constitution, and they have gathered around the forces, and it is not correct, there will never be a vacuum in libya. and gadhafi is going to go. libya will not be under any islamic republic, it will be a democratic regime. libyan people will not allow anymore, somebody to rule them by rule of thumb. they are going to have a choice, and there will be a democratic libya, a free libya, where the libyan people will control their government, decide what kind of government they want. and there will be no vacuum and no islamic republics. >> i'm going to have to leave it there, thank you very much. and to the other two gentlemen, thank you very much. to many americans, the most unforgivable thing of gadhafi is his bombing of pan am flight in lockerbie, scotland.
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many americans' feelings about moammar gadhafi can be summed up in one word, lockerbie. they'll never forget his responsibility for the terror attack that blew pan am flight 103 out of the sky. from the organization of families of pan am 103, victoria lost her husband, and paul lost his daughter. and they join me now. victoria, what is your reaction to what we're seeing coming out of libya and the potential beginning of the end of gadhafi's regime? >> well, i applaud the libyan people for uprising and trying to get rid of this very oppressive, brutal leader. it's time that his regime ends and that they can live in a country where human rights are -- and also democracy are being upheld. >> and paul, what is your reaction? >> well, colonel gadhafi has killed in addition to 270 on pan
am 103, which is second only to osama bin laden on terrorist attacks, he's killed thousands of others, and now setting up to kill thousands of his own people. it's time for him to go, and i think it's time for president obama to declare that we are with the libyan people. we do not stand with this regime. and if he does not stop the violence, there will be serious consequences. >> victoria, he was returned to his home in august 2009 and remains alive. what is your view of that decision? >> well, he allegedly had terminal prostate cancer, but 19 months later, we know that he's alive and well. i think that we had a basic
trading of -- of justice for oil in that situation. i think that both the u.s. government and the uk government decided not to pursue justice and hold megrahi accountable because of all the deals on the table at the time. >> paul hudson, do you think you will ever as a collection of families who went through this appalling ordeal -- i actually knew somebody who died in the lockerbie crash, and so i know a little bit about the awful pain you must have been going through. do you think you'll ever get any kind of peace or justice? >> i think now there's a very excellent opportunity for the full truth to come out. he was a key to unraveling the conspiracy. i think if the gadhafi regime falls, many chips will fall and we will find out not only the
full details of that, but perhaps the involvement of syria and iran in this incident. >> what do you think -- if you had the chance to talk to gadhafi now, what could he do or say to make the situation any better for you as -- as a group of families who'd been through this appalling ordeal? victoria, is there anything he could do now? >> well, justice has been denied to all of us. and we know that megrahi didn't act alone. and he's the one who ordered the terrorist act not only on pan am 103, but as paul mentioned, brutal attacks on hundreds of people. and, you know, the truth has to come out and justice cannot come out without accountability. and we have a wonderful opportunity to see all of this unfold right now.
we have a better chance of finding out what happened aboard pan am 103 and what provoked the bombing of pan am 103, and what our government's involvement was in all of this. we have a better chance now than we have had in 22 years. >> i certainly think -- >> what -- paul, i was going to ask you, what do you believe? -- what do you believe prompted the attack on that flight? >> well, we don't know for sure. but the most likely scenario is that it was ordered by iran in retaliation for the bombing of libya in 1986 by the u.s. and also by the accidental downing of the airbus. iranian airbus that previous summer. >> victoria, you were the only family member who turned down the compensation that was offered by the libyans. why did you do that? >> well, it was the terms of the
-- the settlement had been offered to the families as a no-fault settlement. and i felt it was important that if libya was not responsible for the murder of my husband, then they shouldn't be offering compensation. but if, in fact, they did, that they should admit that they did that and apologize and then talk about restitution. >> victoria, paul, thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. >> thank you. coming up, gadhafi, public enemy number one? or a necessary evil? important phone call i made. when i got my medicare card, i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too. medicare is one of the great things about turning 65, but it doesn't cover everything. in fact, it only pays up to 80% of your part b expenses. if you're already on or eligible for medicare, call now to find out how an aarp...
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how worried should the u.s. be about the chaos in libya? joining me now is john hanna, former security adviser. and former ambassador to gambia. what do you make of what we're seeing in libya tonight? wall of your experience, where do you see this going? >> well, i think the bottom line is that this regime is doomed. and the only question is how it goes. how much bloodshed there will be, how much chaos there will be. and it seems to me that the united states is a day late in really getting aggressively involved in trying to get an international solution to this problem before things get much, much worse. >> i mean the reality of libya is that we don't really know what's happening there at the moment. there's no access for most journalists. there's no images coming out, really, which are remotely current.
this could get very, very nasty very, very quickly. given as you say that america may have been slightly slow off the traps with this one. what can they now do? what can the west do collectively to try to get involved? >> it's absolutely crucial that president obama now come out and state very clearly that the united states is on the side of the libyan people in this fight. to rally the international community, at least the civilized world to that -- to that call for action. to do so preferably through the mechanism of the united nations security council. and then to back it up with real teeth, that is to threaten this regime with political isolation, including a possible prosecution of gadhafi and an international tribunal unless this violence stops immediately and this regime exits.
>> ambassador cohen, let me ask you about what is happening here with gadhafi. do you think that he will go? if he doesn't, what should we do about it? and if he does go, where would he end up? >> i wouldn't take it for granted that the regime is going to crumble. he is absolutely ruthless, but at the time of 9/11 he had a threat from islamists and totally wiped them out. and he has tried tribal troops in his army and security forces, especially from south of the country. they don't care about killing people who live in tripoli. they just -- so he might just get away with it. and i agree with mr. hannah, we shouldn't allow him to get away with it. we should do what we can to stop this and maybe i would begin not only with the united nations, but to try to prevent him from retaking benghazi. it looks to me from reports that the benghazi people have taken over. we should not let him take it back.
>> well, i mean, it's all very well, i guess, sitting here in america saying if he doesn't go, we have to try and force him. he is a ruthless dictator. he's already said through his son that they'll do anything to stay in power. however bloody it gets. what can america actually do about this physically? could you see a situation, ambassador, where we sent any troops in from america? could you see president obama ending up doing that? because the military unlike in egypt clearly isn't in control. >> i don't see american troops going in there. i agree with mr. hannah, things should start with the united nations and there should be a collective approach. and if this uprising is stopped through absolute killing, i think it has to be very tough economic and political sanctions. the sanctions that were put in place from 1986 to -- to the end of the '90s were very, very effective. and gadhafi really suffered from that.
>> john hannah, there is a debate, as with all of these dictators as to whether they are necessary evils. how would you position gadhafi? >> i would say that there was clearly for a long time several decades gadhafi was something of america's public enemy number one in the middle east. he was the man who opened his country, his wallet, his arms to revolutionaries and terrorists from around the world. in 2003 after saddam had been deposed, gadhafi decided he needed to come in from the cold so he wouldn't be next on america's list. he gave up his nuclear program, renounced terrorism, cooperated with the united states at least partially in fighting al qaeda. and therefore, he did become at least an important player in assisting american strategic interests. >> john hannah, ambassador
cohen, thank you both very much indeed. >> you're welcome. coming up, the environmental impact of depriving the world of freedom and democracy. al one, we get double miles on every purchase. so we earned a trip to vegas twice as fast! [ brays ] and since double miles add up fast, we can bring the whole gang. is caesar home? we get double miles every time we use our card, no matter what we're buying. thank you! thank you very much! [ garth ] it's hard to beat double miles! if anyone objects, let them speak now or forever hold their... [ bleats ] [ male announcer ] get the venture card from capital one. money magazine's best rewards card if you aim to rack up airline miles. what's in your wallet? cannonball!! [ clang ] [ woman ] my house wants me to live here for a long time. [ man ] my retirement savings have places to go. [ male announcer ] plans...dreams... they're important to you. [ woman #2 ] our girls should focus on their future, not ours. [ male announcer ] but you can't overlook the possibility
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what will the chaos in libya do to the oil prices and the world economy? the ceo at pacific investment management company and the chief oil analyst for the oil price information service. mohammed, let me start with you, what are going to be the economic impacts? we've seen oil prices surging in the last few days. where do you see this developing? >> in the long-term, piers. it's good news to build the economy in the sense -- in the short term it's bad news, bad news because it will push inflation higher and it will
push growth lower. it's what economists call stagflation. you get that because taxes are going up, these geo political uncertainties is reducing animal spirits so people invest left. let's not forget over the last few days, what was a relatively peaceful process has become more violent and, therefore, more unpredictable. okay for the long term, in the short term, bad news for inflation and growth. >> would you agree with the assessment? >> i'd agree with it in the short term. we're looking at some things that can damage the consumer psyche. since friday we've gone up about $8 a barrel. we pay about $1.1 billion as a
country right now for gasoline each day. we saw what happened when we paid 1.5 or 1.6 billion dollars a day back in 2008 and it wasn't pleasant. >> mohammad, you suggested it could be a good scenario to elearn from this. the dooms day may be that libya literally goes up in flames. gadhafi refuses to surrender and we see appalling bloodshed. if that was to happen, it could have a negative impact on the american economy, couldn't it? >> it is a risk we should take seriously. in terms of the human suffering that would be associated with that scenario. that scenario that you described is one where oil prices go significant higher and, therefore, we found that we are undermining a growth process that's just taking hold in the u.s.
the unrest has spread from tunisia to egypt and now libya fuelled in large part by social media. where it will go next? rafi, good to see you again. we're seeing it again aren't we? it's rolling out like dominos as people predicted. how important has the internet and social networking been in libya compared to the other uprisings we've seen? >> i think the fact that the country shut down the internet and telecom within the country shows that it was very important. i think internet is about 5% pe trace in the country so it's still very small. in africa, it's mobil phone is one of the first countries to
achieve 100% penetration. which means every person in libya has at least one or two phones. so i think that is one of the more key roles that i think social media whether through sms or social media. it's unclear if twitter is pay playing a role in this. >> how do you see this developing around other parts of the middle east? i mean, people say to me, don't exaggerate the impact of social networking. this would have happened anyway. and in prove ya air raz, we've seen domino effects with revolutions before.
it's not necessarily just because the internet exists? >> where does social media end and where does mainstream media begin. i think you and your journalists are using social media. the people who are watching tv are using social media to amplify that. so i think as we've talked before, i think the role is more amplification, the role is more trying to get the word out of those countries. and you're seeing what i call transmission of hope from one country to the other started with tunisia, egypt, now libya, now yemen. you're also actually seeing some of this translate to other parts of africa, whether it's zimbabwe, cameroon or some other countries that are in there. i think the role that social media is having is transmission
of hope across these lines. >> and i was in china recently, there was a huge clamp down being attempted by the authorities there on young people using social networking. they're all getting around it very easily, using foreign proxies on their cell phones and so on. what are you hearing about china, whether we can see similar upize risings there fuelled by the internet and social networking. >> i think the key is not the fact that this jasmine -- china's jasmine revolution failed. people at least have this hope that stuff can happen there. i think the government is very savvy in terms of censorship. but if it seems people are trying to use these tools to organize these protests. i think a few things that can happen is the fact that they can try to at least address those