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tv   Writing About War  CSPAN  May 22, 2016 7:45pm-9:01pm EDT

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oklahoma we're hearing a lot of things about his organization that tend to make me think he is on the right track with the exception of i was ted is purple although these are very read states to know how he is pulling in those swing voters. >> you are only working in the republican party? >> the organizational level is therefore ted cruz rubric -- rubio is decent of course, strong is the variable the republican party had messaging he is very punchy and doesn't necessarily offered detailed substance he just talks about this my commitment and people are responding to
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that in the primaries so it is interesting to see how that will work out if he is the nominee disease which to a ground game that is described or stay at that 30,000-foot level to see if he can bring in the people through the messaging and celebrity. >> the new book is called the 2 million voters who will elect the next president. booktv on c-span2.
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where you want to send me. i called my parents to say i'm going to pakistan. they said no you are not it turns out they were wrong and i went four months later >> when i was first in tokyo
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it was the big deal at the time my mother said oh know what did you do wrong? but i will review what kim wrote in her book seeking get a flavor how she writes afghanistan felt more like home than anywhere else in the region and i knew why the sound seemed did familiar with jagged mountains in big sky's and men in pickup trucks with guns with hate for the government. [laughter] it was like montana but just on different drugs. [laughter] so let's go back for a second at one point she talks in the book the phone rings so the taliban lease calls at the wrong time so how did you balance the the headings with the comedy?
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[laughter] >> this is on c-span you ask me the hardest question. [laughter] i think any journalist just like a police officer or emergency room doctor anybody has to go through a trauma you use dark comedy to deal with a horrible things just because you were in a war zone where people are killed a dozen minya stop living your life or stop having the small moments and laughter is a healer to bring people together. . .
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once the draft stopped it's like this whole idea that now that everybody doesn't know somebody who goes to war, you can't make jokes, you can't talk about like how people really live over there. it's this reverence for the idea of war and the whole idea that everybody is fighting all the time, which is not factual. >> through humor it was like you could picture you there and yet you were giving us so much information, and i think that's why the reviews have been through the roof about your book. congratulations. the movie just made. so what is tina fey like? >> she's serious. i'm actually funnier. i'm kidding. kidding, tina. tina is it really incredibly generous. didn't spend a lot of time with
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her before they filmed the movie because there are two kind of actors, the ones who like to spend a lot of time with somebody and inhabit them and then the ones that take a character and make it their open, almost like you don't want to spend time with that person. so we had a long lunch, which i remember complaining about high heels, and then she told me a story i told was really funny, and i was proud of myself and i couldn't remember what the story was, so i told something that made tina fey laugh and i don't know what it is. then when i was on set she was kind to me. during the whole process, every single time that she was an laying-night show she would mention any name some my book, the original title by name so my publisher was thinking that the move very tie-in about her face on the cover and called "whys city tango foxtrot" would eclipse the taliban shuffle because of the movie, but
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because she started mentioning it all the time taliban shuffle sold a lot. she is a supporter of women, and i really benefited from that. >> let's go back, there's -- used to be there were not that many war correspondents that were female. right now the "washington post" actually has quite a few, and a lot of other people do, too. and melissa reuben won the pulitzer for "the new york times" covering afghan women. it's very different. let's talk about how being a woman in a war zone affects reporting. >> there were very, very few women, and the women that were in the field in my case in the middle east, weren't very friendly to other women. think because it was so competitive, so male, so driven, that there was a great sense of competition. i think now it's radically changed, but i do think other -- i've been asked this question
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over and over again, do men and women report in different ways. i think it's very individual because what i do, i'm a human rights reporter. i go into the field. i spend a long time with people or on a certain story. i'm a terrible scoop reporter or sensationalize reporter. i'm not good at going and finding the mother of the last brit in sierra leone, but i need to spend a long time, and i think that we're talking earlier about the war in bosnia. bosnia ya was the watershed moment that changed reporting in our generation, think. it was basically our generation's vietnam. and it was the time when a small group of us were very, very committed to affecting policy, and we felt that we were not going to let this genocide happen on our watch, and we stuck it out. we lived in sarajevo with the people.
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we were shelled, starved, we didn't have food or water. but yet we did something that i'm very proud of and i feel like everybody that was in the war and covered the war feels it changed their lives forever and their style of reporting and we all felt very committed. that's why i want to drive syria home right now. it's a slow-motion genocide, similar to sarajevo. now i live in paris and coming to america on this book tour, i'm really amazed how little attention it's getting, that it's -- there are people being slaughtered. in aleppo last week, the hospital where i work, the only pediatrician was killed. the first responders, the white helmets, the bravest people in the world, we're not the bravest people in the world. they are. they go out and dig people out of the rubble.
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five of them were killed. the gynecologist who delivers the babies was killed in aleppo. i think europe there's more interest -- this is an election year for america and i do understand that. i also think syria seem so remote but so did bosnia, and then there was a genocide of 8,000 men and boys, and we said it would never happen again, and it is hang now. >> go back to atrocities because janine's book is harrowing. she spends a lot of time with different people and you kind of can't -- indelible images of horrible things that happened. but back to the question -- do women bring something to correspondent reporting that you wouldn't get otherwise? there's been a lot of talk about women are -- are they different? do they bring something?
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there is reason we knee diversity in war correspondents. >> i thick women and men report quite differently on war. i think that male war reporters focus much more on the actual fighting, the bang, bang, if you like. i covered war for 28 years and i can tell the difference between incoming and outgoing, but i can't really tell you very well what kind of weapons are being fired, where i focus on other people behind the lines, people that are living the war. actually when you see war on tv, when you see syria or places on tv, it looks like everything is fighting. when you go to the country, there are millions of people still living their lives, trying to edit could their children, trying to feed them and protect them, and those generally tend to be the women. so, i do think that women focus on that more, and i spent most of my career in the middle east
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and it's impossible for male reporters to go into the women's quarters. they aren't getting access to both sides in a way that my male colleagues are not. >> my husband, kevin sullivan, spent a lot of time in war countries and he said in places the coffee shop, men on one side and women on the other, and he felt cut off from the women. so it's clearly an upside, especially in muslim countries to have women reporters. there are downsides, kim? >> you know, it's -- i get this question all the time. never reported as a man so it's difficult for me to sort of -- >> i feel somehow you could. >> difficult for me to sit there and say, what is different. but, sure, it's like there are downsides because i think with a personal life you're living over there you have to be really careful with what you're doing.
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and there's been, like, books written, like emergency sex and all these stuff. noreen wanted me to talk about sex over there. right. and you really couldn't live like that as a woman because you head to be careful -- >> this is c-span so i don't know what to do with the emergency part of this. >> it's a book. it's a book. nothing to do with anything else. >> i thought it was something -- >> no, nothing that actually happened. don't have to worry about it. as a woman you had to be protective of your reputation in a way i don't think mail journalists had to. you always had to be careful who you were going out with, what time you were coming home, because you were working with afghans a lot of the time and you want them to protect them so you had the obligation refute the idea of being this western loose woman, and that would come up a lot of times. came up in pakistan and in india, came up in afghanistan. comes up for all of us. you think you're just being friendly to people and then you
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start getting phone calls in the night and you can't turn your phone off because you editors might call, and they're calling during ramadan, it's 4:00 in the morning and it's like, i love you. you're like, thanks, but i need some sleep, and you couldn't turn your phone off, and so it was irritations like that. irritations of being grabbed in public, of -- i write a lot about the fact that -- i'm tall, 5'10", and i did punch out a lot of guys because i got irritated and would just start punching them, and that was dangerous. obviously, like, my fixer didn't like that because he was the guy that would get in trouble for that. and i -- the grabbing happened equally in india and pakistan, so i don't like it when people -- >> how did they react to the punch? >> they didn't like it. >> then they just ran away? okay. >> i was like -- then there was
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like all this stuff with, you know -- it's funny because i write about sharif in the book, the currents prime minister of mosquito and buying me an iphone, and all of us have had similar experiences and after the book came out a guy on twitter said this is unprofessional because all of that hitting on you stuff was off the record. i'm like, don't think you're allowed to be off the record when you're hitting on somebody. i don't. i think that's on the record, and i felt like writing about that stuff shows the level -- i'm going to pretend to be this sort of very religious man in public and then behind the scenes i think this is okay to behave this way with women. >> everyone always says difference between men and women. i always resented when they try to say women cover orphanages and hospital and men cover war. i've done a lot of frontline stuff. i'm not interested in guns but
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have done a lot of military work. but the moment that really changes for me personally was when i had a child, and that just drew the line completely because i know me male colleagues have children and some of them used to say, now you're entering the club where you're going to read bedtime stories by satellite phone. but i do think -- i'll go -- this is a risk saying this -- for wimp it's very different because we carry the child, we give birth, and there was this kind of extraordinary bond, and i'll never forget when me son was six months old, my old paper ex-the "times," which is not the most sensitive paper in the world for women, my editor deliberately sent me back to iraq, where i had been living for about two years covering saddam and the invasion and the war, and i was still breast-feeding and i didn't want to go and i begged them not to send me, but the used a clause in the contract to send me and said we have a war reporter that won't go to war. i said there's nowhere that says
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i'm a war reporter. i'm a correspondent. i'm a senior foreign correspondent. i'm not a war reporter. send me to paris or brussels or something. and i went, and my foreign desk was quite a macho little scene, and the guy who was running the office said to me -- he wented flow do something incredibly dangerous the first day i got there and would have amounted to two lines in a story being fed in from washington. said, no. and i heard him on the phone cackling to some of this friends going, -- di giovanni lost her nerve now that she has had a baby. it was awful. remember talking to my husband and crying and crying, he said it's a good thing? isn't it good a thing you lost your nerve and you're afraid? you're supposed to be afraid. you can't be the lost person in the middle of bombs flying you. have to feel like a human being.
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>> was that after you had your baby, what changed in did you stop during certain things? >> i think for me it was person. i very much felt suddenly -- disthat i worked in africa for years and years and year and was very happy to imbed with militias in sear ya leone or the ivory coast and spent months putting myself at great risk, and i suddenly got afraid. in a normal way. didn't want to get injured. >> you just had been in syria several times. >> i know. it's a really conflicting thing. as he got older i realized that my -- this sounds very selfish and some people might think i'm irresponsible, and i would not be able to argue with you about that. feel like what do is much more of a calling in a sense, and i really believe in what i do, and i think it's hugely important that there are reporters that bear witness to atrocities and human rights violations, and without us, without our eyes and
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ears on the ground, we don't get a view, a window goo into what is happening. do you know what is happening in aleppo right now? you don't. just felt that in some way i had to make this breach, and it's been really hard. can't say it's been easy. >> and it's story by story. pick that up. that happens all of the time. all of us. you balance work and life, but if you're -- one thing, work, life, family, when you're an insurance person in pittsburgh, about if you're trying to manage risk and going to just about the world's most dangerous places, which all of you have been repeatedly, how do you balance? is this story worth it? you have a son, too, and a family. >> yeah. i mean, it's very difficult. i think i obviously want to feel responsible for a child if you're a mother. you have to think about that first. and so i don't go to places
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where i know that i'm going to be in crazy risk, and i think one of the things you learn about the job is actually the most dangerous things that ever happened to me, being ambushed or being in suicide bombs, have often been in places which weren't supposed to be dangerous. actually very difficult to plan this, and we see these days you can be blownup brussels in paris, in anywhere. so it is, i think, difficult to balance, but i definitely, since i've become a mother, 16 years now, i am much more careful where i go and i think you feel a bit differently because you meet mothers 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.
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so, it is very hard sometimes to live with that. >> -- in war zones trying to keep their families together because they're so impressive, women trying to raise children in the middle of war. >> a friend at the state department, all skyping from dangerous places yesterday. how did you feel about -- about danger? >> i didn't need to have a kid to value my life. i love this argument you're supposed to somehow change after you have children, as if your life is not important before that. and, like -- >> how important is your life? >> probably the most important thing to me. and i have parents and i also more importantly have a fixer, and a driver, and for me, after what happened to -- in
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afghanistan when he was -- when his head was cut off after they were kidnapped. him and hill journalist were kidnapped by the taliban and the journalist was released and ajma was left behind and was killed. was like we don't need to do those things if you feel like they're dangerous farook. i wasn't going to go out in the middle of the countryside and meet the taliban and those reporters are great, probably better reporters than i am. i was happy to go to jail and meet the taliban who had just been arrested. because they had been arrested. and i was happy to have them come to meet me inside cities at hotels, because there was like a string of times where friends of mine -- i'm going to meet the taliban, and i'm like, and you're going to get kidnapped and it would happen. >> there is a case-by-case thing we all have to deal with are and it's a good point.
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the story is the same when you can talk to somebody behind bars it's very different. if you want to be eye witnesses -- >> host: indian will talk about it -- sometimes you can't put a value on that. >> i think what is interesting is that for all of you, different things trigger why you went there then you got there and you got hooked. want to read a passage from kristina's book, kurds the end of her -- towards the end of their work, called "war never leaves you." november 2014. in the end i went back. i missed afghanistan with the yearning i could not explain. i had a house in washington with the rocking chair on the porch and a white picket fence, where every day a yellow school bus came to collect my son just like in the american movies. and i had a great job and wonderful friends. yet part of me was somewhere
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else entirely, dreaming dreaminf pomegranates, red as ruby. if if drove through the park with me roof down the scent of pine reminded me of the mountains. in my big american house i had walk-in wardrobe, shelves piled with silk scarves in bright colors, each one with a memory. and you went on from there about how you had to go back because it was just always in your son -- you missed sitting on the village floors drinking green tea and listening to fantastic cal stories of ancient feuds. i never remembered the badness. is it that you -- is it like childbirth? you kind of -- could lot of bad things happened. you lost friends, colleagues, people you knew, and yet you kept going back. >> when you keep going to the
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same place over and over again, it's note the story. you know the people there you don't think of it as an issue or you think about the people you know there and what is happening to them and you want people to know about it. one of the things i feel very angry about at the moment is the way that people would sort of accept things from politics that the war in afghanistan is over, because we declared it over a couple of years ago. in fact, more people were killed in afghanistan than any year of the war, and what makes me most angry is the situation of women. when the taliban were toppled, the discussion was, now we are going to make women free, and laura bush and jerry blair and people gave radio addresses and talked about it. actually, we encouraged women in afghanistan to do things they would never otherwise have done, run for office, become security
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guards, things, which is good, but now we have just left those people behind and we're not protecting them, and they stood up, and have done things that were not traditional in their culture, and now they're being targeted and we're not there to help them. think we have a moral responsibility to do something about that. so, i feel really passionately that we shouldn't forget that. >> once you're so deep in a story you feel a responsibility, let the world know. so, in janine's book she writes these images of things and i was touched by this one passage: when my son was born shortly after the american occupation of iraq, i was unable to cut his nails. it was visceral. irrational reaction. i would pick up the tiny baby scissors and look at his translucent fingers, clean and pink as sea shells, and feel so i would retch. i had a vision of an iraq man i
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knew who had no fingernails. and then it goes on at length about this man who used to come into your office in iraq, who had been tortured and all his fingernails taken off, and holiday every time he saw your baby -- how every time you saw your baby and it's incredible. like you started saying, you met these people, stayed close to them and wrote horrific things. so what draws you -- i mean, syria right now is just about the most dangerous place on earth. we have all lost friends there. are you going to go back? >> well, i feel very committed to it, and i also feel that last week after the hospital was bombed, the attacks on medical workers, i find absolutely horrific. and so i feel the need, and it's not -- it's interesting because i do have friends who i would say are addicted to war and clearly are taked. the like the adrenaline.
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like the fact they're taken out of their ordinary, boring day-to-day lives where we have to pay bills and drive kids to school they good into a war zone where you very much live in the moment because you're trying to stay alive. i don't think i was ever like that. i think for me it was much more about something martha said many years ago, which was you have won war that you fall in love with. the rest is just responsibility. and i think, again, bosnia did that to me, and now syria, i have fallen in love again. and i do feel very committed to it in the way that the people i've spent so much time with, and a lot of what i do is i write about human rights violations, the rape and torture, which is very hard to report, and the only way you could do it is by spending huge amounts of time with people and gaining their trust you. can't just fly in, get a quick story, and get out. you need to sit on the floor with them for weeks,
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sometimes -- i've spent months in kosovo working with one village of women, an entire village that hand been raped and i worked with human rights watch so we did a very kind of quantitative research and gathering data. and it's heartbreaking. i once learned in a first aid class if someone ever gets hit by shrapnel, you can't pull the piece of whatever it is out of their body because they'll bleed to death. you have to staunch and it sustain it. and i feel often when i'm interviewing someone who has been deeply, deeply traumatizeddor, can't just go in and pull things out of them. you have to sift and wait and you his -- sit and wait and listen and gradually the story emerges, or might not. they might not want to talk to you. >> the famous story we wrote about the girls in cleveland who had been held in the basement for ten years. took a year before the youngest one would start talking.
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>> you just need patience. >> we're going to the audience for questions and i want you to -- if anybody has -- they can raise their hands and we have a mic out there. we have someone here in the front. >> good evening. you mentioned earlier, janine, and others referred it to, as reaction to your stories and the change it could, fact or not. bosnia, took -- bit of forced the world to act, and has there been -- that what it takes, huge incident like that, or is the reporting being just ignored until that moment occurs? >> let's talk about the consequences intended or not of reporting. it's a good question. either intended or not. >> humanitarian intervention anymore. we loved in bows nia and rwanda
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were the times of humanitarian intervention and much more a time of empathy and compassion. we have a very different administration right now that -- and i think most of us do write to affect policy in some way. that is our role essentially, to shine a light in the darkest corners. whether or not we can do it and whether or not we can reach policymakers is kind of beyond us, but ultimately that's our goal, to get resolutions made and international law to be honored and transitional justice to happen and accountability. that's the main thing i work for. don't want these guys that rape ander to tour and -- and torture and kill and murder -- i want them to pay. i want them to end up in speaking or getting justice served to them. think that's the real reason. >> it's not always geared towards policymakers but like in vietnam, the classic example. it was geared toward telling the public what was happening on the ground. but an enormous role that war
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correspondents have is to let -- even if capitol hill or policymakers are not listening, the public is. >> i think one of the problems now is we have had so many wars over the last few years, iraq, afghanistan, syria, libya people are immune to this. it's difficult to actually shock people anymore or -- i think people are tired of it all, and wish it would all go away. frankly, afghanistan and the u.k. get almost no coverage now because i think people -- newspapers rattling because there's so many wars going on and it's also been much more dangerous to cover them. there's two big changes since i started out. one is the technology, which has made it easier so that we can file from -- stories from the top of a mountain or the middle of a desert. when i started out, afghanistan didn't have a telephone system,
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so i was going into afghanistan for weeks and only able to file my are sos when i went back to pakistan. then then there was no direct dialing. i was dictating to copymakers in london, which is quite difficult. dictating a long story and you have someone saying to you, is there much more of this? so that side has become easier, the technology. the other side that has become much harder is that we -- it's become much more dangerous. we have become targets in a way we weren't when i started out. i find it very frustrating that there are places that we can't go to and report from because it's back to dangerous, and that is something i never thought i would say 10 or 20 years ago. just can't go there because it's too dangerous. >> i think it's also the nature
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of the news business has changed so much. in the last 10 or 15 years, as we have been together through the wars and so much information out there, and it's not like people feel like they have to read the entire "washington post" or "the new york times" or the sunday times to get their news. this pick and choose what they want to read. so a lot of times you have stories that are out there -- i remember when there was a controversial ore bombings on day in europe and pakistan at the same time and there was people complaining that no one was covering the pakistani bombings the same way they were covering the ones in europe, and it turns out like somebody studied readership of the stories done and nobody read those stories that were done about the bombings in pakistan. so people don't care. and that's i think the biggest challenge we face right now, is that everybody only wants to read stores that reinforce their own political beliefs, and that cover areas that interest them, and the way that the newspapers used to be -- we'll never go back there -- you would read everything.
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>> the woman in the front row reads everything. >> hi. sorry. i actually lived in syria from 2009 to 2011, so, gentleman mean, any question isn't particular for you but i'm interested in -- okay. should i repeat what i was saying? okay. i'm a writer and editor and i lived in syria from 2009 to 2011, and i was interested in -- i visited bosnia as well and was interested if you could talk more about the public's reaction to what was going on to bosnia at the time, and if you see the reaction now more as a product of latent orientalism or latent racism or a matter of geographic distance and that kind of separation, and then what syria can learn from post war bosnia.
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i wouldn't call it post peace bosnia, but looking ahead to a transition state, what kind of lessons can we learn from that. >> two really good questions. the first one, when i was reporting sarajevo i worked for the "sunday times" which i was battling against princess diana and prince charles. seriously. and had this horrible foreign editor who took -- he just said people are bored by this. people are bored by this, and came to one point -- remember romeo and juliet in bosnia, a muslim and serb who ran away to get married and were killed on a bridge, and he wasn't interested because princess diana had done something and didn't run the story. then it became the icon of sarajevo so a real struggle and very frustrating but i think we just felt like we're going to keep going, we're going to keep pushing it. they would send me from london and they'd sigh you're going for six weeks and i wouldn't come home, and those days there
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weren't cell phones so they couldn't find me, and i would just disappear, and go off and investigate the rape camps, but it was hugely 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 by plane, the rwandan genocide was breaking out. it started in april and i was there in may. i think that one of the reasons that there -- that it was not not only covered properly but that the genocide was allowed to continue was because there were so few journalists there who could then get there i think that had they been there, i don't think a million people would have been killed. i think in some way it could have been halted. lessons learned. we should talk after the event
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because i have -- i just wrote a thesis for the fletcher school about the lessons learn from bosnia on to the syrian war. mainly let's hope and pray they don't partition syria because we see what a disaster bosnia is now, 25 years after dayton. it stopped the killing but it's contributed to the rise of nationalism, sectarianism, that never existed before and i don't want to see that happen to syria. but we can talk after. >> i guess my question is, how do you get to see in a war what you want to see? the fact is there is just a bunch of reporters in syria on a government tour, and it wasn't dangerous for them at all, but i guess how do you get to see both sides in a war without subjecting yourself to, like, huge personal risk? >> i think you are only ever seeing a fragment of what is going on you. can't ever see the war in
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general. like i was saying, afghanistan years ago when you went for weeks and weeks, when you came back to write a story you were pretty well-informed 68 these days because of technology we're expected to write immediately and report. and so you can only really genuinely report on where you are at that particular time. you don't know what is going on elsewhere, and in fact during 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 watched it at home anded a seen all these things on tv and were taking about this stuff and i didn't know anything about it. and i think it's dangerous when journalists on the spot try to generalize about places when actual live they can't see much more than what they're seeing. there's a big debate about imbedding with troops and whether that's the right thing to do, and i used to be against
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doing that because i thought you should go as an independent in the war in iraq. what we call unilateral, you weren't attached to anybody, but actually that reporting on your country's troops and what they're doing is part of the story, and i think important thing is to try to do both sides, same with syria, if you can go with the regime and see what they're showing but you can also go independently into rebel-held areas or other areas, then you're getting a much more balanced picture. it's difficult to do that. often countries don't let you go in if they know you have reported with the fighters. >> what do you think about imbedding? you imbedded. >> yes. i imbedded. i feel the same way that kristina did, or does now. but i always -- like i hadn't done the unilateral stuff before, and i didn't go on very many imbeds. maybe went on six to eight, something like that, over the
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five years i lived over there. >> how long were you with any -- >> a week or two, but i found -- i realized pretty quickly when i went out on one imbed and the guy said to me, at night be sure so take your photographer with you -- photographers love it when you say, your photographer, because it implies they're your pet. but they say be sure to take your photographer with you when you go to the bathroom because there are only three women on the base, and i just was -- i said, well, you're not going to send me anywhere if you think i'm going to face an issue on the base going to bathroom at night, and i talked to a lot of folks in the military about the -- when i would hang around them longer do you send women out on the more dangerous missions? would you send me out to the most dangerous area at that point, and they just sort of said, we might send you there but we wouldn't send you on
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their more dangerous patrols because we worry that -- it's largely men who are in the military will want to protect you as opposed to like the male recorders or photographers, they feel like, it's up to them if they're going to go. i could see his point. i think that, like, when i went out on imbeds i got stories of the guys who we tell me about broken marriages, the fact they hasn't seen their kids in so long. about more like what it was like to have these constant deployments, and then of course i wrote a story that after the story where guys kept telling me they were not locked and loaded, they ended up getting moved to another more dangerous place because of what they had told me, and the main guy in my story ended up getting blown up in an ied explosion and losing his legs, and i didn't find that out until after i came back. and i wonder if i'd known about that when i was over there if it would have made me pull my
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punches more on imbeds. it's a danger you going to do stories you want the troops to like because you're with them so much. and so when i was there i always tried to make sure i just am going to do the story i see here and not worry about whether anybody likes me afterwards, and i can't deny that when i found that out every came back, i felt really horrible, obviously. even though -- >> what do you do about that? the consequences of reporting. how do you deal with this? >> particularly about syria, which damascus -- to get visas to the regime side, which "the new york times" just did, it's actually to be honest -- initially in the beginning of the war i got five or six. it's really paranoid-making. it's not dangerous the way it is to go on the other side, through turkey or lebanon but you are incredibly paranoid, and when you're with government minders or -- especially syria.
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whenever you work in a regime. i was just in iran or egypt last week. there's a different kind of danger and that is you're going to be taken away and put in prison or killed in a place where security services have absolutely no qualms about taking foreigners like the italian student 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 to a long time in damascus, knowing i was being bulged and -- bugged and followed and every e-mail was read. it's very unnerving. >> janine did a smart thing. she talks about take $100 taxi ride from beirut to damascus, just to set it in the rather's mind 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.
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>> a different kind of danger. >> i think all three of these books -- it's amazing where kristina talks about people in the news. kristina has interviewed every single one of them, as all you guys have and they have this wonderful personal touch and the way you describe things, and also to put yourself in and -- kim's genius, talking about boyfriends calling and she's like, i'd rather go to afghanistan. i was wondering do -- you didn't name the guy but how did he take that? >> that guy? >> did you name him? >> he was -- [inaudible] -- i'm supposed to come off as likeable and supposed to be the foil formeter in this country eye. supposed to come off as naive and arrogant and just like
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america does, and farook is supposed to be afghanistan who is like, in it in the beginning but at a certain point gets a sense i'm going to leave and is going to get as much money as he can. who could blame him. >> one more question. >> kim, you got joseph heller and there's a scene in catch-22 when the pilots are talking to each other and one of them says i want to have a long life and the other one asks why, and the answer is, what else is there? i imagine the three of you know full well what else is there. that there's no guarantee for a long life. so, for the three of you, whether for that, for that risk, or for frankly the apathy of your readers, or your editors, have you ever thought about stopping? no, this isn't worth it anymore. there's something else to do, or, no, you just kept going. thanks. >> i stopped. i might go back. i can see going back.
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i feel like every day i make the choice to stay here, and it's a difficult choice to make because i miss being in afghanistan. miss being in pakistan issue miss living in the middle of the story and having conversations at night bet the future of countries, and feeling like you're actually seeing a country change and watching a democracy get built. miss that feeling. but i decided to see if i could live normal. as normal as any journalist is, and i am a metro reporter now in new york. and that's what i do. and we'll see how long that lasts but for right now it's working. >> one of the arguments in my book is we don't knoll how to end wars anymore. i wish afghanistan would end so i could kind of go there on holiday with my son. i wish libya and iraq and the other places i cover would end. you asked if i ever thought of stopping.
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when i had my son, in 1999 i did think i would stop doing what i was doing. i write books, other kinds of books as well as this war book. and i -- so i thought i would stop. i had six months off from my newspaper to research a book, and my husband's portuguese and we moved to portugal the day before september 11th, so we start writing this book, and the first day i started writing was september 11th, i got a phone call and i often wonder, if it hadn't been afghanistan, where bin laden was, would i have gone back, if it had been iraq or somewhere which i didn't have the same kind of background. but afghanistan, because it was my first story, and i cared so much about, almost like your first love affair, i think, and there was no way i wasn't going to go back. i was angry that people had forgotten about it after the
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russians left. so there was no thought of not doing it. >> i thought about stopping every day, and what else i could do, and one thing i did do is in 2014 i went to work for the u.n. for a year because i've spent my entire career criticizing and going after the u.n., and taking them to pieces, and i just thought, wanted to work for the u.n. refugee agency, which is probablily of all of -- probably the best of the lot. on the syria crisis itch wanted to see from that perspective and also wanted to gain more insight into going deeper with research, and the year after that i was given a fellowship from the fletcher school of law and diploma to do another degree in international law, and if did that because i just feel like if i'm going to spend my life researching human rights i need to have a basis in law in which i had gained from the field but i needed to go deeper. and i just graduated in march,
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and i think all the time -- can i go work for a bank now? can i go work for morgan stanley? can i work for the british government, the french government, the state department? in 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're also -- they're vital, and i think that we have something that we need to contribute. at the same time we need to stay alive, and after i -- i was in grosni when it in fell to russian forces in 2000. the closest i've come to dying mitchell 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're worth absolutely nothing if we get killed or maimed. so it's that constant -- we're not insane. we're not crazy. we have a role, and i think we
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do it well, and i think that martha did it until she was well into her 90s. don't want to be any 90s doing it but we have -- there is something we do that quite noble. >> actually, you have fun, too. that's what kim really describes. you wouldn't keep going to these places if all it was was really misery. a week ago i was at a most wonderful kurdish wedding on the border between turkey and syria. all those people there had fled syria, had terrible stories, dental 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, to show their children the kurdish dancing and music and you could forget just for a few hours the
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misery of what was happening to their home, just less than an hour's drive away, and i think one of the weirdest things that ever happened to me, which brought this home to me. after benazir was killed in pakistan, she was a good friend of mine itch thought how pakistan going to survive this and there were riots and people talk about pakistan breaking up, and i arrived at the airport and got a taxi driver and journalist notoriously always ask the taxi driver what is going on, and he said, oh, it's very grim, everything is very bad. so i said, benazir's death and everything? and he said to me, no. we have no discos. and i said, what? and she said, we don't have any discos. in pakistan. >> i was 14 years a foreign correspondent and it's so true what they say. it's all about hi highs and low
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low -- guen-hyes high highs ands and you forget those high highs and low-lows and we have lost colleagues and gotten killed and the lows are low but the highs are super high. and then at some point wowom back and you're kind of happy to just do the middle. but it's never like it is when you're abroad. right? [inaudible question] -- camaraderie. the answer to every question you reference meeting other people, like the wedding -- [inaudible question] >> you two really exemplify that camaraderie and that sisters in arms mentality that i think
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exists when one works overseas. because there are still very few of those women in the field doing this kind of work, and so i think it is very important that we stick up for each other and that we -- there is solidarity between us, and i was a bit -- didn't find that because i have always found other women -- [inaudible question] >> -- i think the most upsetting thing as a woman correspondent as a motheres when other women attack you for what you do, because it isn't easy. >> i wasn't mentored because there weren't older women that supported me, and my -- now i have enters all suburb intern al the time, young women, i try to make them -- i would never say
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to someone -- i'm asked is worth it becoming a journalist? i say it's the greatest job in the world. so i think there's solidarity. >> watching the movie, friends of mine are saying, hey, is that based on me? and i said, no, because you're not that pretty, and also you're nice. and because it's like we just had this group of people and some are in the audience actually, who all just helped each other and we would always make sure that everybody was taken care of. talk about stories. i just felt -- i would have done anything and i still do anything to help the female reporters i worked with over there. and what is nice is when you have that, in this -- you're sort of -- you can call the bubble or whatever but you're in a zone where you will be friends for life, and we didn't even --
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we barely met each other over there but i think that we have got all the similar -- she was saying answers and i was like, that's what i usually say? also, between different news organizations, in dangerous places people do bond together and it's a great question about solidarity. when you out there, you do -- in a way normally imbed -- especially this town there's a lot of competition, and in many ways it disappears. [inaudible question] >> one last question and then we can stay and talk. >> thank you. i'm not entirely sure how to ask this question but i wanted to follow up on a couple of points you made. why are we not paying more attention to what is going on in aleppo? you said we're inured to some much of this conflict that it rolls of of us and it does.
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one reason i was looking forward to tonight, collectively your experiences are amazing and they are, but for those of us that are trying to keep up, there are so many different players and conflicts and then the external players, russia, united states, europe, assaulted diaabe a -- saudi arabia, and all seems hopeless you. said the highs and the highs and the lows and the lows. where is there hope for all of this to somehow or other get sorted out or what is your sense of this? >> it is incredibly complicated and don't feel ignorant. i havesided the middle east for 25 years, i have to sit down and draw graphs and put markers and try to put things on maps and identify who is fighting who. there's a thousand militias fighting on the syrian opposition and that's not taking into account the international players.
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russia, saudi, iran, turkey, egypt, goes on and on. the u.s. all i can say is wars do end. they eventually do end when the battle -- when the players on the battlefield become exhausted. and at this stage now it's gearing up dish don't think syria will go into a 17-year war like lebanon. think it will come to a head. i just wish it would be sooner rather than later and we decent have to wait for it to be 400,000 people dead because that is what your question -- in 1992 we started calling out for and it we had to wait until the end of 1995 when 8,000 were killed. so i don't want to wait until there's a genocide. and i think that president obama made a decision, a very tactical decision in 2013, but he did not want to get engaged in a third middle eastern war help was
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electioned on a platform to get out of wars, and doing that policy of nonchalant has caused the taliban and isis and the result of the failure in iraq and the result of our own policy of not paying enough attention. if i saw isis on the ground in 2012 why was the world so surprised when mosul finally fell? i think in some way we have to have accountability as well because we are -- we allowed ore compassion to become fatigued and that's vary very dangerous. want people to be upset, shook up. it's not easy to read but it's the truth and i think it's important that we digest it. >> decisions we care about what
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is happening now so actually you can track isis back back to thed in afghanistan against the russians when focus was feeting the russians and in the cold war and we didn't care how we did it. so we brought people from arab countries who were criminals or gangsters or -- and encouraged them to come and fight because our only interest was defeating the russians, and i think that's one thing i find hardest in the job you keep seeing the same mistakes being made over and over again, and you kind of feel 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 wife our -- with our military, but what do you do then? in each one we haven't had a plan what to do afterwards, so, just to go back to your question, it is really complicated and it's so complicated we're on the same side as some countries in one place and on different sides to
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them in other places. the reason i keep doing this is that where you find hope is in the people. i'm endlessly amazed 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 malala on her book, and she is so inspiring. she risked her life to be able to go to school, and for the sake of other children to go to school. when you meet people like that, and you can tell their story, it makes its all worth it. >> last word, kim. >> i don't think i could do this job if i didn't feel hope. even for afghanistan. and i'll give an entire hour speech about how things are going horribly in afghanistan, and somebody will say, well, what should be -- should we send everybody home? no.
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you have the wrong point. what you were saying was the same thing. we do have a chance there, and there have been improvements there, just very very fact of having cell phone coverage in afghanistan, having the internet there having tv stations there that do reality tv shows for afghan women now feel so empowered they will do presentation -- things with their care and rock out. this afghanistan star i watched her performance and if thought you were the bravest feminist i've seen. so there's positive things happening and you try to hold on to those and the whole idea if we just walk away now and don't give the country stability enough for the next generation to take over, would be the biggest mistake, and also, it's today. we're looking around saying the world is falling apart, the world is falling apart. look at 30 years, 60 years ago, go back generation. world war ii was no picnic. we just happen to know more about it now because of the internet, because of all the news.
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so i guess i would just say, there is hope in everyplace you're looking at. >> it's a long, important, and complicated discussion about where america and britain and the western world goes with syria, what their obligations are, and afghanistan and pakistan, but tonight, it was a very special night to talk to three women who kind of a look behind the news, and the people. you guys have done an amazing job with these three books, and as janine says, shaking things up. the book shakes things up, her stories and i'm grateful that tonight you kind of helped us know who you are a little bit and kind of why you do what you do, and thank you. [applause]
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c-span, created by america's cable television companies and brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. afterwards is next on booktv. former inmate, shaka sing honor discuss his time in prison and his life everywards in his book "righting my wrongs" he was sentenced to 40 years in prison at the age of 19 for second degree murder and is interviewed by paul butler, author of" let's get free: a hip-hop theory of justice." >> much respect, my brothers. this brook, "righting my wrongs" is everything. it's visionary, and it's even funny. so, i want to


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