tv Writing About War CSPAN May 22, 2016 9:15am-10:30am EDT
way, 140 character app that makes $500 million a quarter and that is considered an abject failure that wall street. that is a failure and the company has to become a video advertising and where it goes twitter. so what i want to do is figure out what could they have done and what could we do to have a development path that leads to something other than just magnified this imperative, which is driving us up anyway. >> we have a very special program for you this evening. not one, but three very fine authors, all journalists all season and intrepid war reporters. they have written memoirs and are here to discuss their experiences in afghanistan,
syria and other conflict zones. first that i far right is janin di giovanni, newsweek's middle east editor and contributing editor at "vanity fair." at the start of her journalistic career, janine covered the first intifada in the 1960s good since then, she has reported on turmoil in civil conflicts throughout the middle east and beyond. in her latest book, "the morning they came for us," she chronicles the root series in seven different if she provides a vivid picture of a ravaged nation experienced by citizens. among them, a nun, dr., musician and student. their stories convey realities from the pervasive spoke to the hunger, to return of such previously vanquished diseases
as typhus and polio. next to janine is someone, chief correspondent for "the sunday times." christina's introduction to conflict reporting also came in the late 1980s, but in pakistan and afghanistan. her journalism has since taken her far and wide including assignment in brazil, south africa, zimbabwe and iraq. the 9/11 attacks, she has spent quite a bit of time in afghanistan. she cowrote i am a law love and her new book, "farewell kabul," highlights the errors and miscalculations made by the united states and allies in the war in afghanistan and argues that the world has been left
more, not less dangerous since 9/11. our third author is cam barker, whose book the taliban and shuffle about her reporting in afghanistan and pakistan served as the basis for the recent movie "whiskey tango foxtrot," starring tina fay. kim's first reported jobs were papers in indiana and washington state after joining the "chicago tribune" in 2001, she ended up going abroad and spent five years in 2004-2009 as the south asia bureau chief based in new delhi and islamabad. she now writes for "the new york times." a times review of her book called it both hilarious and harrowing, two contrasting adjectives that also sum up the frequently mixed experience of war reporting. moderating discussion by this
impressive group of panelists will be mary jordan. herself a pulitzer prize-winning journalist with the "washington post," mary was based abroad for 14 years in tokyo, mexico city and london and she is currently covering the presidential campaign. you need that foreign experience. [laughter] she told me as we were walking in the she just interviewed donald trump today. you might want to ask about that. anyway, we are sort of heading off track, aren't we? marries most recent book, which she cowrote with her husband, kevin sullivan, also at the "washington post" is titled hope, the memoir into cleveland and chronicled the torment of the women held captive in a home in cleveland by ariel castro.
it is a gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our panel. [applause] >> i really feel like i had dinner at three different nights star restaurants tonight. it's impossible to do justice to the careers of these three women, but we are sure going to have fun trying. [inaudible] the estimate to brookings. as a testament to love the work that you've done i'm very proud. i'm going to ask first before we get into other things how did this happen?
others want to run facebook. why did you want to go forward? >> well, i never wanted to be a journalist. i was an academic and i was doing my masters degree in comparative literature in russian and french literature, completely different. i wanted to be a professor in right novels and literary criticism. one day i saw a photograph of an israeli soldier buried in a teenager alive with a bulldozer of sand and the article was about a human rights lawyer who was a jewish holocaust survivor, who was one of the few israeli lawyers than defending palestinian and military court. and it was providence. i flew to israel. i matter. she took me under her wing and i feel like i went through a door
that i could never go back again and never finished my phd. she said to me if you have the ability to give a voice to people who do not have a voice, you do not have an obligation. this is haunted by injustice and that i could as a journalist have some condos in pass. the war in bosnia came and that opened a whole other scenario for my colleagues and i could >> did you grow up knowing? [inaudible] >> i always want to write. i want to have adventures, but basically i became as a result of an invitation to a wedding and what happened after i left
the university of work has been in turn. one day they went to the south asian politicians and couldn't go. he said why didn't you go to this once, so i went and sat next to somebody who is secretary-general of the pakistan people and he asked me if i would like to interview that began monday in an exile at the time. i said yes. the day that i went was the day that she announced her engagement so the department was full of dallas. she was very good at turning particularly men. she went back to pakistan. i went to work as a trainee for a british tv company that they
were doing shows in things like that. one day i came home from work and there was this absolutely beautiful old inscribed indication and it was to benefit weddings in pakistan. of course i went. it was just the most amazing introduction to pakistan. it was like something out of arabian nights. they go for a very long time. they're very colorful and each evening after the ceremonial event, there were discussiodiscussio ns about how to take on pakistan's military and all of her colleagues were people who had been tear gassed, imprisoned in the most dangerous thing i ever had to deal with was finding my way home after missing the last train in london. i was fascinated that came back and then i'm going to live in pakistan and everybody went to talk to, other foreign entities that were not interested in
pakistan and nothing's going to change. but we are interested in afghanistan because why don't you go and cover that? so being 21 i agreed and the last story i ever did as a man who turned his car back to france like it is going forward when it was going backward. i don't think it was a great loss to british tv. >> we will go back to israeli because he went on to many other places. tell us how your story is equally different from these two. >> i always knew i wanted to be a journalist. ever since i took a journalism class and i thought, what a great column. the whole idea that i could get out of class until my friends out of class and ask questions and write about it just seemed like the greatest job in the world. so i'd never thought about being a foreign correspondent. we didn't travel anywhere.
i grew up not the richest person in the world whenever he fared went to canada coronet. we said local to wyoming and montana. after 9/11 i was the "chicago tribune" and there were other people volunteering to go and be with the these desks sort of an yacht added this person would go try it. i kind of felt not that i want to be aware correspondent, busy as i could could cover the biggest story in the world. i didn't know that i would end up falling in love with it and end up staying for so long. but i did actually volunteer for going overseas when i heard that they were going to try to send my women overseas because we haven't tried out a lot of women. at one point i went out with a female friend and i both wanted to cover 9/11 and we counted the number of men who had been sent out the number one in 10 to 17 men and one woman. i wanted to also true that a woman could do it.
i was trying to figure out how i could distinguish myself from the other female volunteers when i heard they were looking to send my women overseas. i don't speak any foreign languages. i hadn't even been to europe. i went in with the biggest argument i had, which was i introduced myself and that i'm cam barker, mr. reporter. i am single and childless and therefore i am expendable. i did say that. he laughed and i said i go anywhere you want to send me. he was like you're ready to go to pakistan. i called my parents that i'm going to pakistan. why on earth would anyone send you to pakistan. turns out they were wrong. i work for a month later. >> when i got posted first to tokyo, i called my mother and it was a big deal. my mom does so now, what did you do wrong.
but they reduce something camera to do a bit of flavor for how she writes. afghanistan felt more like home than anywhere else in the region. i knew why. afghanistan seemed familiar. it had jagged blue and purple mountains, big skies and bearded men in pickup trucks stocked with god and hate for the government. it was like montana. [laughter] just on different drugs. let's go back for a second. at one point she's talking in the book, the phone rings. taliban calls that the wrong time. how do you balance kind that he had to stand up comedy? >> this is on c-span. just ask me the question we've ever gotten.
i think any journalist, just like when you're a police officer, emergency room doctor. anybody has to go trauma. use dark comedy to deal with horrible things. just because you're in a war zone and people are being killed doesn't mean you stop living your life and people stop having small moments. laughter is a way to bring people together. i guess it's also because my dad really propping up watching m*a s*h. we didn't go to church every week. i was like i hate that show. the war that lasted a couple years of the worst lasting 25. it's almost like i read one of the first authors i read this kurt vonnegut and absurd the whole idea of dark comedy being
a good way to talk about lawyer and there used to be a tradition until there is no more draft and once the draft staff the draft staff comment like this whole idea now that everybody doesn't know his going to war, you can't make jokes. you can't talk about how people really live over there. it is all this reverence for the idea of war and everybody fighting all the time, which is just not factual. >> through humor and was like you could picture you there and get your giving us so much information. i think that's why the reviews have been through the roof about your book. i have have to ask, what with tina fey like? >> she is serious. i think i'm actually funnier. no, i'm kidding. tina is really incredibly generous. i didn't spend a lot of time with her, but they ended up filming the movie because i
think there are two kinds of actors. the ones who like to spend a lot of time with somebody and inhabit them and the ones who like to take a character and make it their own, almost like you don't want to spend any time with that person. we just had a long lunch, which i remember complaining about high heels really. and then she told me a story that was really funny and is proud of myself that i couldn't remember for the life of me with the story of ice. i said something that made tina fey laughed and i don't member what it buys. i'm sad she was really kind to me. during the whole process, every single time she was on a late-night show,, she would mention my name and my book, the original title by name. i think my publisher was thinking the movie that has her face on the cover and it's called "whiskey tango foxtrot" would end up eclipsing the taliban shuffle because of the movie. because she mentioned it so much, it started selling on all the time on amazon.
i can't say enough nice things about her. she's a very large supporter of women and i really benefited from that. >> let's go back. it used to be there were not that many were correspondent that were female. right now the washington post has quite a few and a lot of other people do too. melissa rubin, pulitzer for the "new york times" covering afghan women. it is very different. let's talk about how the woman in a war zone affects reporting. [inaudible] >> there are very few women and the women in the field, in my case in the middle east were very friendly to other women. i think because of the soap additives, so mail, so driven that there was a great sent to competition. i think now it's radically changed. i've asked this question over and over again demanded women
report in different ways? it's very in visual. i'm a human rights reporter. i go in the field i spend a lot time with people, and i'm a terrible script reporter or sensationalist reporter. i'm not good at going and getting -- finding the mother of the last great in sierra leone or something like that. i need to spend a long time. we were talking earlier about the war in bosnia. bosnia was the watershed on at the changed reporting in our generation. basically our generation's vietnam. it is a time when a small group of us were very, very committed to effective policy and we thought we were not going to let this genocide happened on our watch and we stuck it out. we lived in sarajevo during the siege that the people. we were sniped, shelled, starved, didn't have food,
didn't have water. yet we did something that i'm very proud of and i feel like everyone in that war and that war and covered that war feels that a change their lives forever and their style of reporting. we all felt very committed. that's why you want to drive syria home right now that it's a slow-motion genocide, very similar to sarajevo that we were calling out must be stopped, the world must pay attention to it. now i live in paris and coming to america for the past two weeks on the spoke to her, i'm amazed by how little attention it's getting. there are people being slaughtered. and a lot the last week hospital where i work, alcoa's hospital committee on the pediatrician was killed. the first responders, the waythomas were the bravest people in the world. we are not the bravest people in the world. they are. they did people out of the rubble. five of them were killed.
the gynecologist who delivers the baby's bliss killed in aleppo. you're traditionally has more interest. i do understand that, but i else that ink cereus seems so remote, but so did half the and there is a genocide of 8000 men and boys. they said it would never happen again and it's happening now. >> let's get back to some of the atrocities because jeannine spoke is just harrowing. she spent a lot of time with different people and indelible images of really horrible things that happened. back to the question about two women bring something to correspondents, especially that you wouldn't get otherwise? there's been lots of talk about women. are they different are they untrendy debris sent david and
the were correspondent? >> yeah, women and men report quite differently. no reporters focused much more on the actual fight, the bang bang if you like. i can tell a difference between incoming and outgoing, but i can't really tell you very well what kind of weapons are being fired. what i focus on is the people behind the lines, the people who are living the war. when you see one on tv, it looks like everything is fighting. when you actually go to the country as commander in millions of people still living their lives, trying to educate their children, trying to feed them and protect them and is generally tend to be the women. women focus on map war. i spent most of my career in the middle east and in most countries impossible for male
reporters to go in to the women's quarter. so i am getting access to gravesite in a way a lot of my male colleagues or not. >> my husband, kevin sullivan spent a lot of a lot of time in four countries. even the coffee shop, the women are ones that come in and on the other and of course he felt cut off from a lot of the women. it is clearly an upside to have women reporters there. what are the downsides? are there downsides? >> you know, you get this question all the time. i've never reported as a man so it's difficult. >> i feel somehow you could. [laughter] >> it's difficult for me to say but different. sure, there are downsides because, you know, when you are living over there, you've got to be careful with what you are doing. it's been books written like
emergency sex. during wanted me to talk about that. you really couldn't live like that if they wanted because you have to be really careful. >> the emergency part -- >> it is a book. it has nothing to do with anything else. nothing actually that happens. you don't have to worry about it. a book that came out. you have to be really protective of their reputation in a way i don't think milk journalists had to. you always have to be careful who you are going out with, what time you came home because you were working with afghans a lot of the time and you had to make sure they wanted to protect you. therefore you must have this obligation to refute the idea of being this western buddhist woman. outcome up a lot of times. it came up in pakistan, india and afghanistan. all of us where you think you're
being friendly to people and then you start getting phone calls in the middle of the night. you can turn your phone off because your editor is my call. they call during ramadan at 4:00 in the morning. it's like i love you. you are like things but i need some sleep. you couldn't turn your phone off. its irritations like that. irritations have been grabbed in public. i read a lot about the fact. i'm tall. i'm five-foot 10 and i didn't punch out a lot of guys because they got your two dead and i would just start punching them. that was dangerous. obviously my guy didn't like that because he would get in trouble for that. i found out that grab it happened equally in so i don't like it. >> how did they react to the punch? >> they did like it. [laughter] >> manages ran away? >> yeah. and then there was funny.
the prime minister of pakistan by admin iphone. all of us have had similar experiences. after the book came out, this is really unprofessional. i don't think you're allowed to be off the record when you are hitting on somebody. i think that is on the record. i also felt that writing about that stuff shows up be a very religious man in public. behind the scenes, this is okay to behave this way with women. >> at the moment. everyone says the difference, i was presented when they say women cover orphanages and hospitals and then cover war because i've done a lot of front-line staff. i'm not interested in god, but i've done a lot of military work.
the moment it really changes for me personally was when i had a child is not true to life completely because i know my male colleagues have children some of them is to say that you are entering the club where you're going to read bedtime stories by satellite phone. this is a risk saying this, but for women it's very different because we carry the child, we give birth and there was this extraordinary bond. i'll never forget when my son was six old, my old paper, the times, which is not the most sensitive paper in the world to women, my editor liberal they sent me back to iraq where he had been living for two years covering saddam and the invasion and the water. i was still breast-feeding and i didn't want to go and beg them not to send me that they use their claws in my contract to send me. they said we've got a war reporter that will go to war. there is nowhere that says i'm a war reporter. i'm of course on it.
i'm a senior foreign correspondent. send me to paris or brussels or some thing. and they went mia's foreign desk was a macho little thing. the guy who is running the office said today he wanted to go do something incredibly dangerous first day i got there would've amounted to two lines in a story that was being fed in from washington. i said no and i heard him on the phone cap claim to some of his friends, going di giovanni blaster nerve now that she had a baby. it was so awful, and i remember getting on the phone and calling my husband and crying and they said that's a good thing. is that a good thing lost your nerve? you were supposed to be afraid. you can be the last person in the middle of bombs flying. you've got to feel like a human being.
>> after you had your baby, what changed? did you stop doing it things? >> of his personal because before that i worked in africa for years and years and i was very happy to embed with militias in sierra leone and ivory coast in an immense putting myself at great risk. i suddenly got afraid in a normal way. >> you have been in serious several times. >> i know. it is a conflict they because as you got older, this sounds very selfish and some people might think i'm irresponsible and i would not be able to arc with you about that. i feel what i do is much more of a calling him a scent than i really believe in what i do. i think it is hugely important that there are reporters that bear witness to atrocities and human rights violations. without asset without our eyes and ears on the ground, we don't get a view, a window into what's
happening. you know what is happening in a lather right now? you don't. i felt in some way i had to make this breach. i can't say it's been easy. >> story by story. pick that up because that happens all the time. you balance work and life. it is one thing to balance work, life, family when you are an insurance person in pittsburgh. but if you are trying to manage risk and go into just about the world's most dangerous basis, which all of you have been repeatedly, how do you balance is this story worth it? you have a son, two and a family. >> it's very difficult. i obviously went to if you are a child or mother, you have to think about that first. i don't go to places right now
that i'm going to be in crazy risk. one of the things you learn about this job is actually the less dangerous things that happened to me being ambushed urbina and suicide bombs are places which were supposed to be dangerous. it's actually very difficult to plan this. you can be blown up in brussels, paris, anywhere. you know, it is i think difficult to balance. i definitely, since i have become a mother 16 years now, i am not sure careful where i go and i think you feel a bit different because you meet others who are going through terrible things, whose children are being attacked and you can identify with them much more than when you weren't a mother. it is very hard sometimes to live with that.
>> all the others in war zones that are trained to keep their families together. they are so impressive, women trying to raise children in the middle of war. >> friends at the state department are escaping from very different places. so this expendable, how do you feel about danger? >> i was a chicken. i did need to have a kid to value my life. i love the argument that you're somehow changed as if your life is not before that. how important is your life? pretty important to me. probably the most important thing to me. i have parents and i also more importantly have a fixer and the driver and for me after what happened to a tall brick shone even his his head was cut off
after they kicked out of him and the italian journalists were kidnapped by the taliban and the journalist was released and left behind and was killed. i was like we don't need to do those things if you feel like they are dangerous, farouk. i wasn't the sort of person who's like i'm going to go in the middle of the countryside and meet the taliban. those reporters are great. they're probably better reporters than i am. i was happy to go to jail in the patella dan who had just been arrested. blast mac because they had been arrested. and i was happy to have them come to meet me inside cities at hotels. there is a string of times where friends of mine and going to meet the taliban. i like ender to make a kidnapped. it would have been. >> as a case-by-case thing they'll have to deal with. it's a good point. if the story is the same when you talk to somebody behind ours
it's very different. if you want to be eyewitnesses, janine will talk about sometimes you can't. >> i think what is interesting is all of you, different streaker why you went there. then you got there and you got hooked. i just want to read a passage from christina's book towards the end of her book called for never leaves you. november 2014, of course in the end i went back. i missed afghanistan with the yearning that i could not explain. i had an adorable house in washington with the rocking chair on the porch and the white picket fence were everyday k-kilo school bus to collect my son just like the american movies. i had a great job in wonderful friend. get part of me was somewhere
else entirely dreaming of pomegranate pits, shining red as rubies. if i drove through rock creek park with their breakdowns, the scent of times reminded me of the mountains him a big american house i had a walk-in wardrobe, shelves piled with silk scarves in bright colors like magenta pink and peacock blue, each one with the memory. he went on from there about how you had to go back because it was just always in your senses. if you miss it in the village voice drinking green tea and listening to fantastic stories of ancient views. i never remembered the badness. so was it that you -- is still a child earth? i mean, a lot of bad things happen. you lost friends, colleagues, people you knew in you kept going back. >> i think when you keep going to the same place over and over again, it's not a story.
you don't think of it as an issue. you think about other people you knew and what's happening to them and you want people to know about it. something i feel angry about is the way people would accept things that the war in afghanistan is over because we declared it over a couple years ago. more people than any year of the war and what makes the most angry is the situation for women. you remember when the taliban, the discussion was now we are going to make women free. laura bush and people gave radio addresses and talk about it. actually, we encourage women in afghanistan to do all sorts of things would've never otherwise done. run for office, become security guard, which is good.
now we bless those people behind it we are not protecting them. they stood up and have done things that were not traditional in their culture and now they are being targeted and we are not there to help them. i think we have the moral responsibility to do something about that. i feel really passionately that we shouldn't forget. >> once you are so deep in the story you feel a responsibility to let the world know. inside six book, it was touched by this one passage in janine spoke. when my son was born shortly after the american occupation of iraq, i was unable to cut his nails. it was visceral rather than rational reaction. i would pick up the tiny baby scissors and look at his translucent angers, clean and pink as seashells and fearless though i was rich. i had a vision of an iraqi man i knew who had no fingernails.
and then it goes on at length about the man who used to come into your office in iraq who had been tortured in all his nails taken off and how every time. it's incredible. like you started saying you met these people, state close to them and wrote horrific things. so what drives you? syria right now is just about the most dangerous place on earth. we've all lost friends there. are you going to go back? >> well, i feel very committed to it and i also feel last week after opcodes hospital was bombed, the attacks on medical workers absolutely horrific. i feel the need -- and it's not a poll. it's interesting because they do have friends who are addicted to war. they like the adrenaline.
they like the fact that they are taken out of their ordinary, boring day-to-day lives or we have to pay bills and drive kids to school and they very much live in the moment because you're trying to stay alive. i don't think i was ever like that. for me it was much more about something martha joe horn said, which was you have one more that you fall in love with it the rest is responsibility. and now i've fallen in love again. i do feel very committed to it in the way i spend so much time with. a lot of what i do is i write about human rights violations. so rape and torture. the only way you can do it is by spending huge amounts of times that people are gaining trust. you can get a quick story get out. you need to sit with them for weeks. i have spent months in kosovo
working with just one village of women that had bid raped. they did a very kind of quantitative research and gathering data. and it's heartbreaking. i once learned in a first aid class if someone never gets hit by shrapnel, you can't pull the piece of whatever it is out of their body because they will bleed to death. you have to stanch it and sustain it. i feel often when i'm interviewing someone who's been deeply traumatized, you can pull things out. you have to set and wait and listen and gradually the story emerges. or might not. they might not want to talk to you. >> cleveland has been held in the basement for 10 years. >> you just need patience. >> were going to go to the ideas
for some questions. if anybody has any questions they can raise their hand. >> we have someone here in the front. >> evening. you mentioned earlier and others refer to it as reaction to your stories and the change that it could be faxed or not. in bosnia it took before force the world to act. is that what it takes, a huge incident like that where is the reporting being ignored until that moment occurs? >> the consequences on been intended or not. >> we live in bosnia and rwanda with humanitarian intervention and it was much more a time of
empathy and compassion. we have a very different administration right now. most of us to write to affect policy in some way. that is our role essentially to shine the light in the darkest corners. whether or not we can do it in reach policymakers is kind of beyond us. ultimately that is their goal to give resolutions made in international law to be honored and accountability. that is the main thing i work for. i do want these guys to rape and torture and kill and murder to have impunity. i want them to end up seeking are getting justice served to them. that's the real reason. >> it's not always geared towards policymakers. vietnam is a classic example of telling the public what was happening on the ground. enormous rolls the war correspondents have is to that,
even if l. a policymakers are not listening, the public is. >> one of the problems now is because so many many wars over the last few years of iraq, afghanistan, syria, libya. it is difficult to actually shop people anymore. i think people are tired of the bill and wish it would all go away. frankly, afghanistan and the u.k. is almost no coverage now because i think people or newspapers are battling because there's so many wars going on. it's become much were dangerous to cover them. one is to knowledge e., which has made it a lot easier so we can file stories on the top of the mountain or the middle of the desert. when i started out, afghanistan
didn't have a telephone system. i was going into afghanistan for weeks, only been able to call back mr. is when i went back to afghanistan. is it's a difficult thing to do because you are dictating a long story. you've got someone at the other man's name is there much more of this? so that site has become a lot easier. the technology. the other side that has become much harder is that it's become much more dangerous. they become targets and away we weren't learned when i started out. we find it very frustrating that there are places that we can go to because it's become so dangerous and that is something i never thought i would say 10 or 20 years ago. i just can't go there because it is too dangerous. >> also because it's changed so much in the last hundred years
as we've been going to the source and there's so much information out there. it's not like people feel like they have to read the entire "washington post" or the near times are sunday times to get their news. they pick and choose what they want to read. oftentimes you have stories out there. i remember when there's a controversy of bombing in europe and pakistan in people complaining no one was covering the way they were in europe. somebody studied readership of the stories they're actually done. nobody read the stories about the bombings in pakistan because people don't care. that's the biggest challenge we face right now it's everybody only one to read stories that reinforce their own political believe in cover areas that interest them. we're never going to go back there as you would read everything.
yet the woman in the friend who reads everything. >> high. sorry. 2009 to 2011. i'm interested -- should i repeat what i was saying? i actually lived in fear from 2009-2011. is interested and i visited bosnia as well. talk more about the public's reaction to what was going on at the time. and if you see the reaction now morris thinks that raises them and if this -- if this is a matter more of geographic distance and separation. and when syria can learn from postwar bosnia. in looking ahead to transition
state what kind of weapons can we learn from that? >> two really good questions. when i'm supporting syria so i worked work for "the sunday times," which i that point i was battling against princess diana and prince charles to get in the paper. seriously. i have this horrible foreign editor who he just said people are bored by this. .. they couldn't find me and i
would just disappear and go off and investigate and go towards and investigate the rape camps. it was usually frustrating. your question about racism is so interesting because while bosnia was happening and we felt we were being ignored, even though sarajevo if there were flights was only three hours from london pipeline, the rwandan genocide was breaking out in 1994 year by the time i foreign desk sent me there, it was made. and it started in april. and i think one of the reasons that it was not come not only covered probably by the genocide was allowed to continue, was because there were so few journalists of their who could then get there. i think had they been there, i don't think 1 million people would have been killed. i think in some way they could have been halted. lessons learned. we should talk after leaving because i just wrote a thesis
for the fletcher school about the lessons learned from bosnia onto the syrian war. mainly us hope and pray they don't partition serially. we see what a disaster bosnia is now 25 years after dayton. it stop the killing but it's contribute to the rise of nationalism, sectarianism that never existed before. i don't want to say that happen to syria. but we can talk after. >> i guess my question is, how do you get dizzy and/or what you want to see? the fact is there's just a bunch of reporters like on the government to were and it wasn't, i guess, how to get to see both sides in a war without subjecting yourself to like huge personal risk? >> you only are everything a fragment of what's going on. you can't ever see the war in general. like i was saying afghanistan,
when you came back to write a story, you were pretty well informed and. these days because of technology we are expected right immediately. and so you can only really genuinely report on where you are at that particular time. you don't know what's going on elsewhere. and exactly the war in iraq when i came back i was in southern iraq and then went to baghdad, and i felt like i missed some of the war by being there because everyone wants to do some editing all these things on tv ever talk about this stuff. i did know anything about it. its dangers when journalists try to generalize about places when actually they can't say much more than what they are seeing. there's a big debate about embedding with troops, i mean, if that's the right thing to do. i used to be against doing that because something should go as
an independent, the war in iraq i was there, what we would call the unilateral, where you were not attached to anybody. that reported on your country's troops and what they are doing is part of the story. the important thing is to try to do both sides, same with syria. if you can do with the receipt and see what they are sure that you can also go independently into rebel held areas or other areas, then you're getting and much more balanced picture. it's difficult to do that. often countries don't let you go and if they know you have reported with the fighters speak what you think about embedding? >> i embedded. i feel the same way that christina did, or does now but i always feel like, i hadn't done the unilateral stuff that i didn't go in very many embeds. of what i may be six to eight com,something like that over the five years i lived over there.
>> how long were you with the -- >> a week or two, but i found, i realized pretty good when i went out on one in bed, and this guy said to me, and neither should you take your photographer with you. photographers by the we love it when you say your photographer. because it applies like they are your pet. [laughter] so this could be sure to take a photographer with you when you go to the bathroom and i because there are only three women on the base. i said, you're not going to see not going to send me an year ago are you, if you think of going to fix an issue on the basic going to the bathroom at night. i found a lot of times i talk to a lot of folks in the military like when i would hang around them longer, duties and women out on the more dangerous missions? would you send it out to the most dangerous area at that point? they just sort of said, ma we might seem to do but we wouldn't send on the more dangerous patrols. because we worry, and its large
women were in the military, want to protect you as opposed to like the male reporters or photographers, they sort of feel like it's up to them if they're going to go. so i could see his point. i think like when i went out i got stories of these guys who teltold me about broken marriag, about the fact they had not seen the kids in so long, about more what it was like of these constant deployments. and then, of course, i wrote a story that after the story where guys kept telling me that they were not locked and loaded, you know. they ended up getting moved to another more dangerous place because of what they had told me. you know, the main guy in my story ended up like getting on up in an ied explosion and losing his legs. i didn't find out until after i came back. and i wonder if i'd known about that when i was over there if it would've maybe pull my punches more because i think that is a danger. when you're on a train to, that
you want -- you were on a train to come you like them so much that i was to make sure i just am going to do this historic or i'm not this historic or i'm not unaware but what if we likes me afterwards. and i can't deny what i found that i we came back that it don't really horrible obviously. even though, you know. >> so what do you do about that? the consequences of reporting. how do you deal with that? >> i think you're asking to go to syria, damascus, to get visas to the regimes of which the "new york times" suggested, to be honest initially in the beginning of the war i got five or six. it's paranoid making. it's not dangerous the way it is to go on the other side through turkey or through lebanon with the opposition but you are incredibly paranoid. when you are with the government minders or, especially syria them whenever you work in a regime or i was just in iran or i was in egypt last week.
there's a different kind of danger and that is that you're going to be taken away and put in prison. or killed in the place were security services have absolutely no qualms about taking foreigners, like the italian student who was just killed in egypt, and killing you. you do, you're not in danger of bombs and sniping but it's quite spooky. i think probably the most spooked i've been in a long time in damascus, knowing that i was being bogged and followed and everything there was being read. it's very unnerving. >> a very clever part of the book, when she talks wer of takg $100 taxi ride from beirut to damascus, kind just to set it in the readers mind that it is pretty close and yet you cross the border and everything changes and it gets pretty dangerous pretty quickly. and yet it's right there in the center of everything. >> different kind of danger.
>> it's amazing where christina talks all these people that are in the news. christian has basically ended every single one of them, and they have this wonderful personal touch. the way you describe things and also to put yourself in. and kim's genius, she's talking about boyfriends calling and she's like you know i would rather go to afghanistan. >> what was i thinking? >> you didn't mean that guy but how did he take that? >> i mean, that guy speak with dj name him, lasting? >> like we are still friends. [laughter] i mean, i got buy-in from evidence in the book. they knew what i was doing. i'm supposed to be the foil for america going into this country that it knew nothing about it i'm supposed to come off as naïve and arrogant, just like america does.
unit, farouk is supposed to be afghanistan come in in the beginning but at a certain point gets a sense i'm going to leave so it's going to get as much money as he can, you know? who could blame him? >> we have time for one more question. >> kim, you brought up just as heller before. there's a scene in catch-22 when the pilots are talking and one themselves up want to have a long life. the other one asks why. the other one answer to what else is there? i imagined the three of you know full well what else is there. for this review for that, for the risk or for frankly the apathy of your readers or your editors, have you ever thought about stopping? have you ever thought about know, this isn't worth that? there something else to do? or no, you kept going? >> i mean, i stopped. i might go back. i could see going back and if you like everyday i make the
choice to stay here and it's a difficult choice to me because i miss being in afghanistan. i miss being in pakistan. i miss living in the middle of the story and having conversations at nine that are about the future of countries. and feeling like you're actually seeing a country changed and watching a democracy get built. i miss that feeling. but i decided to see if i could live a normal. as normal as any journalist, and i'm a metro reporter now in new york, you know? that's what i do. we will see how long that lasts but for right now it's working. >> i think the wars don't end. one of the i could in my book is we don't know how to end wars anymore. i wish afghanistan could in socket can go there on holiday with my son. i wish the other places i cover would end. you asked if i ever saw the stopping. when i had my son in 99, i did think i was going to stop doing
what i was doing. i write a book some of kind of books as well. and so i thought i would start. i had six months off from a newspaper to research the book, and my husband is portuguese and we moved to portugal the day before september 11 to start writing this book. the first day i started writing was september 11. i got a phone call, and often wonder if it had not been afghanistan where bin laden was, what i have gone back? if it had been in iraq or somewhere why did not the same background, but afghanistan because it's like my first story and i care so much about, it was almost like to first love affair i think. there wasno way i wasn't going to go back. also i've been angry that people have forgotten about it after the russians left. so there was no thought of not
doing it. >> i think about stopping every day, and what else i could do. and one thing i did do was in 2014 i went to work for the u.n. for you because i've spent my entire career criticizing and going after the u.n. and taking them to pieces. and i just thought i wanted to work for the u.n. refugee agency which is probably of all of them the best of a lot. on the syria crisis. i wanted to see from the perspective on also want to gain more insight into going deeper with research or the year after that i was given a fellowship from the fletcher school of law and diplomacy to do another degree in international law. i did that because if you like if i'm going to spend my life researching human rights i need to have a basis in law in which i gained from the field but i needed to go deeper. i just graduated in march, and i think all the time, you can
connect to work for a bank? can i go work for morgan stanley? connector work for the british government, the french government, the state department? i am in no way addicted to being in the field but i do feel that we have skills that we've gained over the years that are important and they are also vital. i think that we have something that we need to contribute. at the same time we need to stay alive. i was in grozny when it fell to russian forces in 2000 was the closest i've ever come to dying, and my husband at the time said to me, the best journalist is the one who gets out alive to tell the story. and it's true. we are without fluid nothing if we get killed or if we are maimed. so it's that constant -- were not insane. we are not crazy. we have a role and i think we do it well.
and i think that, martha kilbourne dated until she was well in the '90s. i don't want to be in my 90 doing it but i think there is something we do that's quite noble. >> janine and i am making it sound like -- actually you have fun, too. that's what kim really described so well. you wouldn't keep going to these places they follow was was misery. a week ago i was at the most wonderful kurdish wedding on the border between turkey and syria. all those people had fled syria, had terrible stories, didn't know when they would see their home again. but they had fun that night. they really made a lot of effort to enjoy the wedding so that children, dancing and music. unit, you could forget just for a few hours the misery of what was happening to their home just
less than an hour to drive away. and i think one of the weirdest things that ever happened to be in which bothersome to me, they could find a mine was killed in pakistan, and i thought how is pakistan going to survive this? there were riots in her home province and people talk about pakistan breaking up and all of this, this apocalyptic stuff. and i arrived at the airport and got a taxi driver, and journalist mentors as a taxi driver what's going on. and he said, it's very grim everything is very bad. so i said yeah, the death and everything. he said to me, no, we have no discos. i said, what? he said to me we don't have any discos in pakistan. >> i was 14 years a foreign correspondent and is so true what they say. it's all about high highs and low lows. when you come back after all
these high highs you kind of forget the low lows. and for you guys, and even myself, we've lost colleagues who have gotten killed. the lows are low but the highs are superhigh. at some point you come back and your kind of happy to just do the middle to but it's never like it is when you are abroad, right? [inaudible] >> talk a little bit about the value solidarity. particularly among women. because you really exemplify that camaraderie and that sisters in arms and talented guy think exists when one works
overseas. >> still very few of us women in the field doing this kind of work. so i think it is very important that we need to stick up for each other and that there is solidarity between us. i was a bit surprised by janine sang at the beginning that she didn't find that because i have always found other women -- [inaudible] >> and i think, you know, as a woman correspond, as a mother is when other women attack you for what you do. because it isn't easy. >> i mentor young women all the time now because i wasn't mentors because there weren't other women who supported me. now i have young women. i try to make them, i would never say to someone all the time young people safety become
is a would become a journalist? i say yes, absolutely. it's the greatest job in the world. i do think there is solidarity, absolutely. >> everybody. we all watched the movie. they were saying hey, is that tonya vanderpool, is that based on meeting? and i said no, because you are not that pretty. [laughter] and also, you are nice. unit, because it's like we just had this group of people and some of them are in the audience who all just help each other and we would always make sure that everybody was taken care. you talk about stories. i just felt, i would've done anything and i would still do anything to help the female reporters i worked with over there. what's nice is like we had that you're sort of come you're sort of, you can call it whatever but you in this sort of the zone where you will be friends for life. we barely met each other over their but like i think we've got
all the similar sort of come she was saying answers, that's what i usually say, you know? but also between different news organizations, dangerous places people really to bond together. it great question about solidarity. because when you're out there, in a way norm and special interest and there's a lot of competition, in many ways disappears. [inaudible] >> all right. we have one less question and then we can stay and talk. >> thank you. i'm not entirely sure how to ask this question but i want to follow up on a couple which you may. what i would not pay more attention to what's going on in aleppo russia said we're really, so much of this conflict out that it just rolls off of us. it kind of does. one of the reasons i was looking forward to tonight i figured
collectively your expenses are amazing, and they are, for those of us who are trying to keep up the are so many different players and somebody different conflicts, and then the extra players can russia, china, europe, saudi arabia. it all seems pretty hopeless. and so i'm just curious. i mean, he said the highs are the highs and the lows on the lows. where is there hope for all of this is somehow or other get sorted out how or what is your sense of this? >> it is, it is incredibly complicated and don't feel ignorant because i literally have to come and i've studied the middle east for 25 years, to sit down and progress at the markers and and try to put things on maps and identified who is finding it. there's a thousand militias fighting on the opposition, on the syria opposition right now. that's not even taking into the international players, russia, russia, qatar, saudi, iran,
turkey, egypt, goes on and on, the u.s. all i can say is that wars are due and. they eventually did and when the battle come when the players on the battlefield become exhausted. and at this stage now it is getting a. i don't think syria ago and a 17 year war like lebanon. i do think that it would eventually come to a head in one way or another. i just wish it would be sooner rather than later and we don't have to wait it to be 400,000 at the in 1992 we started calling out and we had to wait until the end of 1995 with 8000 men and boys were killed. i don't and we want to wait until there's a genocide. and i think president obamaade a decision, every tactical decision in 2013, that he did not want to get engaged in a third middle eastern war because he was elected on a platform to get out of wars.
doing that policy of nonchalance has had a great cause, and that was the rise of isis. they didn't come out of nowhere. they have been around and it's the result o of the failure in iraq and it's the result of our own policy of not paying enough attention. if not crisis on the ground in 2012, why was everyone why was the world so surprised when those will finally fell? so i think in some way we have to have accountability as well. -- mosul. we allow our compassion to become fatigued and it's always a very, very dangerous thing for us to become complacent in. i think that's what i write what i do. i believe want people to be upset, should the. it's not easy to read that it's the truth and i think it's important. that we digest it. >> we care about what's happening now, so actually you contract i suspect to the jihad
in afghanistan against the russians with our focus was defeating the russians in the cold war and we didn't care how we get it so we brought people from arab countries who were criminals or gangsters are some of this and encourage them to come and fight because our only interest was defeating the russians. i think that's one of the things i find hardest in the job, that you keep saying this same mistakes over and over again and if you like don't we ever learn? look at afghanistan, iraq, libya. every single one, the easy thing is removing the regime. that's not difficult with our militaries, but what do you do then? with each one would not have a plan for what to do afterwards. but just to go back to your question, it's really complicated and its so-called located we are on the same side as some countries in one place and the different sides to them in other places.
the reason i keep doing this is the way you find hope is in the people. i am endlessly amazed at how people in the midst of all these difficult situations still keep really focused on, in particular, trying to educate their children. and i was lucky enough to work with malone the honorable. she is so inspiring. she risked her life ain't able to go to school for the sake of other children to go to school. and when you meet people like that and you can tell their story, it makes it all worth it. >> last word, kim. >> i don't think i could do this job if i didn't feel hope. even for afghanistan. i will give an entire hour speech about how things are going horribly in afghanistan, and someone will say and should which is pull everybody home? know, you've got the wrong point. i feel like what you are saying is exactly the same sort of
things, like we do have a chance there and there have been improvements better, just the very fact of having cell phone coverage in afghanistan about the internet, having tv stations that do reality tv shows are afghan women now feel so empowered that they would come rock out. this one woman on international women's day, afghan starker i watched her perform and i was like you are the bravest feminist i've ever seen to those are positive things happening. i think you try to hold on to those ahmed chalabi if we just walk away now and we don't give the country stability enough for the next generation to take over, would be the biggest mistake. and also look, it's today. we're looking around saying the world is falling apart. look at 30 years ago, 60 years ago. you can go back for generations. world war ii was no picnic. we just happen to know more about it now because of the internet, because of all the news. i guess i would you say there is hope in every place you're
looking at. >> well, it's a long, important and complicated discussion about where america and britain and the western world goes with syria, what their obligations are, in afghanistan and pakistan. but tonight i felt was a very special night to talk to three women, i kind of look behind the news and the people. you guys have done an amazing job with these three books. janine says, writing to shake things that. their books shake things up, their stories. and i'm grateful that like the kind of helpless no who you are a little bit and kind of why you do what you do and thank you. [applause]