tv Book Discussion on And Then All Hell Broke Loose CSPAN March 19, 2016 9:15pm-10:01pm EDT
and prose. before we get started, can you you all hear me in the back? just a few housekeeping things, this will be a good time to turn off or silence your cell phones. also after the event please help us by folding your chairs, we would be grateful. we have microphones on either side, just right here this evening if you could step up with your questions that would be great because we are recording this event. you can also watch it in a few days on our youtube channel. i'm very pleased to welcome richard angle this evening to talk about his new book, and then all hell broke loose. i am guessing you recognize that richard as the chief or correspondent for nbc news where he reports regularly from a variety of places mostly in the middle east, much of the time with things exploding in the background. we are especially glad to have him here in this more sedate
environment at least for an hour or so. this is the story of two decades of reporting in the middle east, beginning with a stint in stint in cairo when he went after graduating college college with two suitcases and $2000 with the idea of becoming of foreign correspondent. in this book we learn about his education as a young reporter, how it went from picking up freelance work to winding up reporting for an major news. this book is much more than a memoir, he offers a analysis of the current situation in the middle east which i heard him tell diane this morning, i have never seen worse. the review called it out personal account, lucy, alarming overview of where the middle east has been and where it is heading. before i ask you to help me welcome richard, i just just want to tell you that not surprisingly he has a claim to
catch at the end of the plane to catch. so we may cut this short so everyone can get their books signed. so please help me welcome richard angle [applause]. >> first of all, it is an absolute pleasure to be here. i cannot remember seeing so many people in a bookstore. that is is encouraging on so many different levels. so buy this book, by all of the books, keep the industry going. so as you just heard this book is about the middle east, i am at the middle east 20 years ago. i graduated stanford university in 1996 and the idea was that i was going to go to a place where i thought there'd be a lot of news, the middle middle east seem like a good choice.
i was going to start on my way and i was going to become a grape or correspondent or at least a working foreign correspondent. so i moved to cairo, i really looked at the map. i had the map of the middle east in front of me and i thought where my going to go? saddam hussein is a in iraq, not too many options there, syria, syria, jerusalem lots going on but probably oversaturated market to cover. and i thought egypt and its egypt so even if it doesn't work out i'm in egypt which is great. so i packed up a few suitcases and took some money and i arrived and rented an apartment there. i had an incredibly rich experience people untran. people were welcoming to me, they, they wanted me to convert to islam constantly. they would bring me to their homes, they would be me things, i was never ever alone. while that can be tiresome after
a while, it was a great way to get familiar with the culture, learn the language and in a matter of months i was having very incorrect but basic conversations in arabic because i had no choice. when you are living in an apartment where everything is broken and you need to communicate and there's no water and it's 1,000,000 degrees outside, you have to learn to talk to people. so i started reporting for local newspapers and them for international radio and then pieces for newspapers. really i have been doing it ever since. it has been 20 years now. i still live in the region, i'm very rarely back in the states, i'm here i'm here couple of times a year to see family and encourage you to buy this inexpensive, readable book. but i am back the states very infrequently.
i have been living there now for 20 years. there is a thesis in this book, having looked at the region for this long and it is a model, like all theoretical models it is flawed, you can pick holes in it, you, you can find reasons why it doesn't work. but i like to think of it as a way to understand the middle east right now. the model that i chose and what the book is based around, at least in my mind, is a row of houses. if you think of a row of rowhouses, houses on the coast somewhere they look beautiful from the outside, they, they look like they had been there forever but they are rotten inside. no one has taken care of him, no one has open windows, put in dehumidifier apparatus, it is just crumbling.
in the middle east when i arrived it was a little bit like that. there is a structure in place, the big big men ran the region. the assad family labarre, qaddafi, saddam hussein, it was established and it was locked in place. like these old rowhouses it was a lot of appearances and on the inside it was tremendous rot. the rot was ignorance, nepotism, corruption, religious tensions that were kept at bay by strongman activities that was carried out by saddam hussein. like in these old houses, you contain the rot to but if you do not open the windows or doors, if you don't spend money on it, you also make it worse. that was the situation, a very fragile paradigm. you can put your finger through the wall and instead the united states put its shoulder through the wall of iraq and started the sequence of events that we are still really living and
experiencing to the state. eight years of direct military action started to destroy the status quo. it started to unleash all of the rot in the demons that have been pent-up within it. then the very soon-to-be eight years of the obama administration, we saw inconsistent politics. they're supporting the of revolution in egypt and then days later's not supporting bahrain, and is supporting the military in libya and then not supporting it in syria. so kind of zigzagging through the middle east. the combined effect of these two, of eight years of military action and very soon-to-be eight years of zigzag, on least all of the rot that was in and the old system as we knew it, the the middle east that i arrived to in cairo is broken. the middle east rice it today i have never seen it worse is a
period of chaos. i think isis isis is the physical embodiment of that chaos. if you continue this model you can just speculate on where it might go from here. i think what we may see next is a series of strongmen reemerging themselves. i think egypt is probably the first example of that. i think there will be more to come. i think the people of the region are going to embrace this, but they should be very careful of what they wish for because after periods of chaos as europe saw in the last century when chaos breaks strongmen and dictators, really bad things can happen. i think that is what is coming. i think there'll be a tendency for strongmen and we will see how it goes. i think our government and other governments around the world will probably reach out and embrace these leaders.
it does not have to be a binary choice. it does not have to be chaos or dictators. but after the chaos i think were going to reach back, i hope one day if there's people in this room web influence, maybe they can help you find a third path and guide the region to some place where you have leadership and you have responsible governance but it does not have to be saddam hussein's iraq. so that is the framework of the book. but i tell it or my eyes, through the people i know, through the places i have i have lived in the characters i meet along the way. and the thesis i just argued i tell over 256 pages of anecdotes. i hope that you get to follow along on this journey that has been a 20 years journey so far of arriving in the middle east, not really knowing what i landed into, trying to become a journalist and then moving along in the process and just watching all hell breaks loose.
and it has broken loose. you have to see how comes. with that preamble, i would love to take some of your questions. is questions. is there anything specifically you have in mind, i was told to ask you to approach a microphone if can. so while you are doing that i will take this opportunity to thank you once again for coming. also for reading books that i wrote and other journalists and authors. [applause]. >> having been literally part of that world for nearly two decades when you arrive there those men and women who are born in the early nineties, we look at an entire generation of young people who are now in their 20s today, what hope to see for these people that have been part of this turmoil, what can be done globally to help them? >> thank you. the reason i worry worried that we're going to see strongmen arise is because the new generation has lived for the last 15 years or so in a period
of terrible strife. they have been living the sunni shiite conflict, they have been living the arab, persian conflict, the persian - turkish turkish conflict, and sometimes the regional conflicts. they been living a conflict. it would be very easy for someone to come along and say, do you do you remember what it's like, given me all of your rights and i will make all of that go away. the other thing that is interesting as they is also a belief that is spreading in the middle east that the united states is responsible for all of this. now the u.s. is not responsible for the sunni-shiite conflict, this was 1000 years before the declaration of independence. we did not help create this but if you lived in baghdad and you been living there for the last 15 years or so, the memories of what saddam hussein was like are
receding. the reality of the sunni --dash shiite divide is daily and you can pick a date to when you remember that beginning in 2003. so you can see how they would make that mental association. when the americans came they created the sunni --dash she had divide but that doesn't really make any sense. >> high, once again thank you very much for being here. ever responding. i want to ask you about one of the strongmen and get your assessment of turkey. >> i see where you're going. the reassertion of their spear of influence. >> i got it. just for the sake of time because the promise turkey we
could do a whole week discussing turkey. it it is one of the most interesting complex. or dynamics. as a strongmen are trying to reemerge you are also seen the old empires trying to reemerge. when there is a breakdown of order, lots of people try to make a. russia is trying to reestablish a bizarre sphere of influence and decided the way to do that is through keeping an alliance and making alliance with some kurdish groups, with iran, russia, russia wants to spread its playing, the same way it has been called it neo -- he wants to reestablish the ottoman spear of influence. he has been trying to do that but with mixed success i should say. he has been blamed for reigniting a war with the kurds when a peace process was going quite well.
his goal of establishing a new world order in the middle east out of the chaos that was the old ottoman world, i think he and a few others around him are still trying to do that. he picked a big fight when he picked a fight with russia. that is limiting his project. so far the middle east is not lining up to stand behind him and rejoin the ottoman spirit of influence. he is still pushing the project in the agenda but with limited success. looking back, there is no way we are going to get through this whole line, but solidarity. >> once again, thank you for being here. i don't recognize you without your bulletproof vest on. >> the jacket itself. >> but much of what we know in this country comes from you from
the frontline. watching all of your interviews on nbc nightly news. >> that's a huge responsibility. >> but when you think of all the countries you been to and the information you have given us, i want to to pick your brain. you are respected journalist, we have lost much of our men, our resources by going to iraq and afghanistan and the damage it has done there is a must unbelievable the people we have killed with our bombs. so i'm going to go you may not want me to go but i'm gonna go there. we entered after 911. the two buildings were hit with planes and then comes down at 520 in the afternoon. there's some more stories of what were questioning, do you have any kind of information for us. >> about the 911 attack? >> yes. >> no, i really haven't studied it. i know the aftermath of the attacks but the answers that you seem to be looking for, i'm not the person who has those.
i have lived in the middle east dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. i was not in new york that day, wasn't in washington on a terrible day, was not in the midwest. keep asking that question, i just don't have any more to add to the debate. >> do you keep up with stanford football? >> yes i do. >> thank you very much. >> i honestly didn't know your name before this weekend and i read about the kidnapping of the nbc news team and yourself in 2012. in april last year it was retracted the story. do you recognize this as a false leg of operation, false leg being a group group that wants to make another group look bad and so they will disguise themselves as that group? in this case it was -- are you
interested in what role our own government has, john mccain, lindsey graham lindsey graham were two senators who are pushing at this time to arm and funded the free syrian army. wasn't the free syrian army responsible for this kidnapping and then rescue? >> okay. so there are two questions. one, just make it a little more clear, three years ago or so i was in syria with the team of close friends and colleagues. unfortunately we were kidnapped. where held by a masked gunman masked gunman who loaded us in the back of a truck and moved us from place to take place. while we're there the whole time including several arabic speakers believed these were
regime loyalists. they were people who were shiite militia, we believe that by the way there acting, by what they were telling us, by the way they are behaving. it seemed very credible. we got out, we got out of this horrible experience alive, everyone on our team made it. then we moved on with our lives. a couple of years later we got a tip and they said there may be more there, the people that grabbed you you may want to look again at that. so we did we spent about two months digging back and trying to find out who and where and it was complicated because a lot of people had been killed and it's very hard to know frankly and it goes to how complicated the situation remains in syria were loyalties in syria are often not what they seem i think in all
likelihood there are thugs they were posing as regime so in case they got out that we would know who they were. do i think this was a conspiracy with the u.s. politics involved and lindsey graham's and all this, no, i don't think so. i think so. i think was much more local. >> thank you. >> hello, thank you for being here. i am at current defense reporter in dc's correspondent. correspondent. it seems much of the success in your career to the fact that you do not just parachute in somewhere, you are in a region long before other reporters arrived. so my question to you is,. >> if i were you, where to go. >> i would get out of this town. if you want to be a foreign correspondent, by dennis by
definition you have to before. i would look at the world and this is what i tell other journalists, think about what the world is going to look like in 20 years. so i took a gamble. if the middle east had been a boring dud, i would not be here right now. i would have had a very uninteresting career, nobody would have cared would've cared and nobody would buy the book. if it were 1986 when i left, i probably would would not have gone to the middle east, i would've gone to poling, moscow, or somewhere else. but it was 1996i was looking at the map and i was thinking, the middle east is probably going to be east is probably going to be the story of my generation, so i would say to you, go home, think about it for a couple of days and what is
going to be the story of the next 20 years. maybe it's not the middle east, maybe its environment. so therefore you should go to a place where you think the environment is going to be most impacted. put yourself in a place like the great wayne gretzky go to the place where the puck is going to be not where it is now. >> would you say maybe africa there's a lot of investment there. >> i think africa is interesting. frankly the collision of environment and urbanization are going to define the next generation. i'm not sure what the next 20 years going into the middle east, you may have missed it. in the last ten or 15 years, there are two major american ground wars in the middle east. one which did not go particularly well. hundreds hundreds of thousands of troops cycling through there. as a foreign correspondent are you going to be do better in the next ten years and get more action than that? probably not. i doubt the 100 first division
is going to be deployed in baghdad again. i could be wrong, but i don't anticipate another iraq style war. so look at the map, think about the different pieces and the figure out where you want to be. maybe it's africa, it's africa, maybe it's an invention environmental story, maybe as the the zika virus and some of the other horrible things that are happening in nature as we warm up this planet. maybe that is the story of the next 20 years. years. i do not know. >> thank you. >> but it is a fun experiment to think about anyway. >> wine helps. [laughter] and then once you thought about it and you came to the soup will be utopian vision, more wine helps. i take that advice every day. >> i met you several years ago in afghanistan, i like to say i am happy to be standing here in
front of you stateside and that we are both hearsay. i appreciate your service and i think you before you thank me for my because you're an unsung hero. >> now i have to thank you for yours, thank you for your service. you have to give me that chance. >> chance. >> my question relates to strategic tool the politics. we generally go to the military ever time anytime there's an national crisis we look to the military. we did well using economic power and diplomatic power with iran, what can we do better diplomatically to not engage foreign leaders but to engage the people? >> and thank you very much. thank you for your service. it was up in the past valley? >> warnock province. >> which is one of the most dangerous, frigid, but also beautiful parts of afghanistan.
where we out there together in the vehicle broke down and we had to move the tote? i was not there for that but i had lunch with you and you utilize my mask the week that you're there. >> thank you. >> i was the family holding onto everywhere that you are saying. >> well thank you for loading that i hope it we returned it to you. the problem with american diplomacy and engagement as you said is the u.s. continues to retreat and continues to go deeper and deeper into castles. art and diplomatic enclaves castles. oftentimes it is not the diplomats who are running the show, it is they're security officers who determine who they can meet, when, and for how long.
that is a problem. we're losing contact. you cannot just listen to people's communication and read their emails from behind the walls of a castle. you the castle. you lose contacts, you lose the texture. i don't know why the united states does not have an effective cultural integration prop program. the former u.s. consulate, right in the center of the city is a soho house. rented out for profit. next door there is my telling cultural telling cultural center that shows italian movies, you can come in, take a telling language classes, there's a french institute that has parties, festivals, almost every night. there is one from holland, the u.s. does not do anything. we generally stay close or behind these walls and have meetings that get put online as they get leaked and get put on wikileaks and things like that. i i think they need to try to engage more. staying in the castle doesn't serve our national interest.
i don't know why we don't have a vigorous cultural outreach program. an american study center. they don't really exist. we used to have them. to get into a u.s. diplomat you have to wait in line, you cannot even approach it really. i think that other outreach -- if someone goes to istanbul and their welcomed and are watching a couple of movies and have pizza night, something simple like that. if your local kid from the neighborhood you can actually change your impression of a country over time. if you do that every day think it means something. >> did lawrence of arabia influence your career? the man, the myth, the movie? >> the man, the the myth, the movie, the legend? yes. when i moved out to the middle
east i was a kid, i moved out and i wanted to do this when i was very young boy. i was 13 years old, ice with with my family. we are in morocco. we are at a hotel which was an glamorous hotel. i was about 13, i was sitting on the steps whenever my mother to come out. she. she comes out well-dressed, she puts herself together, jewelry, clothes, she sort of from another era. i was waiting there in front of this grand hotel and it was a horse carriage and right in the center of marrakesh. i had the international -- in my hand which doesn't exist anymore my mother came down the steps in a cloud of perfume. she said, you should work there someday, space in paris. and i said okay. there is. i will be in paris, i'll be i'll be in my office with my typewriter and my
cigarette and the i will write the next great novel. that is what i wanted to do. so was i just lawrence of arabia, it was the whole romantic idea be in an exotic place in doing something exotic. it has not always been that romantic but i still like the concept. >> is your mother a fan of greta garbo? >> i will have to ask her. >> thank you very much. there is a flare. if your not having fun doing it then there's easier ways to make a living. >> you spoke earlier strongmen dictators coming out of some of these revolutionary situations. another option might be the installation of a puppet regime. we go in and find our cells in these wars often claiming to be bringing democracy to this area.
is there any realism in that in terms of country after country syria, or libya, or any of them? and how is that taking shape? >> there are two sort of questions in there. will there be attempts to or by other governments or powers to put in their own puppets? absolutely. will they succeed? not sure. i'm not sure that every would be strongmen who is proposed by regional government or proposed by his own government is going to survive. some are going to be bumped off, somewhat, somewhat make it. this will be a work in progress. the other question is, can there be democracy in the middle east? i hope so. i hope they're not people are people, i think it is going to be hard in the next. because they have had such a recent traumatic experience that i think they're going to be running away toward stability. can can there be democracy?
of course. there is the same people we are. they don't want want to live under an oppressive society. >> we can't build it for them. it as a whole another layer of rejection and makes it difficult. >> is someone who has been getting use to you for a long time, not a very old age already, i am wondering where'd you get your news from? other sites or blogs that are lesser-known that you might recommend question xp mac you're not going to like that answer. >> you just have to read a lot. you have to look at social media, read newspapers, read books. you have to read. the thing that i tell people the most is, read. i read a lot of books on the middle ages and the crusades. my pet project of my, it's a passion. a lot of what i do actually is a religious studies.
it's the middle ages and the crusades in a new place, and a new time, with new weapons. the more you can read, the more you can fill in the picture. i collect books. i read a lot of very old and bizarre, antiquated books. i find them interesting and illuminating. that would be the key thing. there's no blog, no tweets, tweets, no facebook post, noel made of that that is the answer. the more you can read, the more you can read real books, the more you want to know about the subject the more you read. >> hi, i spent a little little time in iran and the middle east. i find your analysis realistic, you might think the book anatomy by revolution which is basically
every time you revolution the aftermath of dictatorship. i'm wondering it seems like there's no middle space. it's going to be hard to have some democratic reforms where there is that repression from this government. i'm wondering if the emphasis should be more of is a part of the iranian revolution is there's no vibrant middle class. >> education in the middle class. >> you need people to have a little money in their pocket. if if you're desperate you don't have a lot of choice. if you don't have any knowledge because you have been deliberately miss educated by a government, you are easily manipulated and take whatever you're given. long-term it's education and economic empowerment. >> and what about for businesses and everyone. >> we think there is possibility for that happening. i ran since you brought it up is a very interesting case right now. i was just in iran. i just got
back a few days ago from iran. i went there to see about the implementation. the iran deal that was recently agreed to, there is an implementation a few days ago. that means they would find that iran had met its obligations and money should start flowing, sanctions should should be lifted. that process is already underway. i was there and i was talking to people who are very excited about change. i met a young woman at the stock exchange, it's not bigger than this room really. it's a few pushbutton phones and this young very energetic, english speaking stockbroker tell me she is running to work in the morning, she's that excited. she can't wait to get to work because she thinks the market is going to go through the roof and things are going to change.
so you have a lot to people like her and i met other people in the market, and the bizarre who are talking about how they're going to be tourist, banking, they're going to be able to put their goods online and sell them on ebay and all of these things that they have been denied. so they were very excited about entering or returning to the world of economics. but then you had the regime which had a vested interest and does not really see things change. it wants to have economic opening but with no political change. is that possible? you have have the society betting it's not possible. there's an open that door little bit and you're not going to be able to close it again. then people are saying were going to open a door little bit and we are going to make sure that it does not open any wider. who wins? i have no idea. have no idea. that is one of the fascinating ideological and physical point attention in the region right
now. >> thank you. >> three more questions. >> just a comment. you just said that education and economics and economic opportunities was the answer. >> at the answer to create a modern society to allow a real democracy to work. if you're always living hand to mouth or with a gun to your head, you do do not have a lot of choice. >> i wanted point out that it's bernie sanders message. [laughter] >> luckily i do not have to deal with any domestic politics i'm not even going there. we have so many people spending all day long talking about the. >> i wanted ask about the future of islam and its struggle between the more modern forces and the islamic once. if you believe that islam will become, whether the moderates will try to out power this months question xp mac the short
answer is yes, i think they will. i think isis is fairly short for this world. i do not think it's going to win. i think it has it is a losing strategy. i think it is unpopular. i like to think of isis as a virus within the middle east and a virus within islam. like any virus, you have a cold sore, it's inside you all the time, but when you are weak and broken down and sick, it comes out and manifests itself. it then becomes contagious to use this disgusting example. but that's a little bit like isis. it is they are, it is manifested itself, it has become contagious because the body around it is weak. i think eventually the body will become stronger and isis will recede into the dark, it is the id of the middle east if you will. the dark recess of his mind that it does not really want to acknowledge. so there have been moments of
fanaticism and all religious groups. in islam as well and generally history moves on and destroys it. they have a physical place that's the difference here, they're so much chaos in so many competing interests that are allowing them to have that space because nobody else can agree to a unified policy to fill that void. you would think, how much more odious can you get than isis? you think that if we can agree on anything we can agree on destroying isis but the world somehow cannot. the russians have an agenda. the people that are near isis are afraid of that but it's bigger politics. it is is the russian agenda, is the turkish agenda, it's the iranian agenda, it's the american confused and inconsistent policy there.
it's the iraq war, there are so many different reasons that would explain why there is this a black hole in the region that is being filled by this toxin. >> thank you. >> sorry sorry to have brought up cold sores, i didn't mean it but that's what you think of. >> so it looks like i might be the last thing between you and your plane here. >> not going to sign some books. >> i thought the concept that after the civil war you also come out stronger but think it seems grounded more in european history then in the 20th century than what we actually see his in the islamic world. if you think about you have somalia, libya, lebanon, syria, all of these conflicts where at the end of the war of the civil war you do not end up in a place were there's a dictator but rather odd shaped borders and present conflicts. and nonstate actors in charge.
>> the state system and since this is the last question i will thank you all first. we think of the state system and it has been around in europe for a long time, the system is relatively new to the middle east. it existed in an empire system. the ottoman empire and before that the caliphate were more like the roman empire. they were large empires that were run from the center but really if you are out in the provinces you ran your own affairs. in the modern state system with estates, flakes, borders, uniforms, national anthems, was really carved up after world war i. in the region it is relatively new. frankly since world war i it has been relatively unsuccessful in the middle east. the state system state system has not worked very well for the
region. if you look at the state system, you had the mandates for a brief period after world war i, you had a few decades of mandates, mostly ruled by the u.k. and france. then after the european countries decided that world war i was not enough, you had to commit suicide again with world war ii, the united states stepped in and became the overload of the state systems for a few decades. that the united states decided to the last 20 years of action that we are going to destroy that system. so i think we are at a pivotal time. it has not happened yet where the old state system has been torn apart the the way it has been torn up part right now and it has been reduced to something quite new, almost like going back to the days of 1919 where there is just been a chaos, no nationstates anymore, these
anti-seed and conflicts that were always there have emerged to the forefront. so is a european model? they have had nationstates longer. so were in a new phase. so with that, you can chew on that on your trip home. thank you very much. i will sign will sign as many books as i can. [applause]. [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] >> here's a look at some of the authors recently featured on book tvs afterwards. our weekly
author interview program. michael eric dyson explored how race has impacted the obama administration. washington post columnist argued that the republican party's adoption of a cold water conservative principle is driving away moderate voters. former nsa and cia director michael hayden recalled the decisions he made as a director of both agencies following the events of september eleventh. on the coming weeks, nancy cohen nancy : on the challenges that women face in politics and the potential of a female president. that will explore the history of a voter fraud and suppression. also coming up former congressman talks about the guiding principles he follows in his professional and personal life. this weekend, former bush - this this department john you contends that executive power has gone beyond its constitutional limits under president obama. >> i think the story of the obama administration has been
the expansion of the united states, of the federal government as a whole, when we look at the media and sometimes we see eruptions, signs here and there, lots of cases but the real story is just how large the government has grown over the last seven years. we might see it in cases like the obama care statue, we might see it in bailouts here and there. it's a story that's in almost every subject area where the federal government asked today. >> afterwards airs on saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 9:0. you can watch all previous afterwards program on our website, booktv.org. >> book tv tapes hundreds of programs to the country all year long. here's a look at some of the events we'll be covering this week. on monday where at the new york
historical society for the presentation of the guggenheim prize awarded to the best in military history. then on tuesday from her studios in washington d.c., chuck will be a guest on our author interview program, afterwards. mr. senghor will discuss his 19 years in prison and weigh in on reducing the prison population. on wednesday, history and civil engineering professor henry will examine america's infrastructure at regulator bookshop. >> ..