tv Charlie Rose PBS April 12, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight we take a look at what the trump administration did in syria and compare it with what the obama administration did when it decided to take a deal and not engage in an airstrike. joining me, bret stephens of the "wall street journal" and tony blinken, former deputy, national security advisor and deputy secretary of state. >> any of us w had any responsibility for our foreign policy during this period will have to live with the fact that we didn't end the syrian civil war, and we'll have to live with the fact that, as you rightly said, hundreds of thousands of syrians are dead. yes, that is on our watch. it's also on the watch of the syrians. it's on the watch of every single neighbor of sir. i can't it's on the watch of iran and russia. there is plenty of blame to go around and, as the leading country in the world, we should take our share of it. but it wasn't for want of trying
to do the right thing, making the best judgments we could. maybe they were wrong, history will judge. but where i disagree just to come back to the start of this is question us for our judgments, absolutely, let's have that argument, but talking about menacity, you're looking in the wrong place. >> tina brown, create of "women in the world." >> for years and years, we keep hearing about the same old same old. there have been women's meetings forever about pay, about sexual harassment, about, you know, protecting women's reproductive rights but now finally people are thinking, wait a minute, this is really getting old. it's not changing. all the massive breakthroughs have happened but look at what's happening at fox news, the sexual harassment is rampant. at uber, let's took what's happening at google when you find the women are paid less than the men. there are so many things that you kind of wonder what is it going to take to change?
>> rose: we conclude with philip gorski, his book is "american covenant: a history of civil religion from the puritans to the present." >> one of the p big messages i'm really trying to get across in this book is to help secular people understand that religion doesn't poison everything. as the late christopher hitchens said any more than secularism purifies anything. i want to help people understand there is darkness and light in both secular as a man and as religion. >> rose: tony blinken, bret stephens, tina brown and philip gorski, when we continue. >> and by bloomberg, a provider
of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with our continuing coverage of the events in syria. the trump administration has accused russia of an attempt to confuse the world about who is responsible for last week's chemical weapons attack. the u.s. maintains there is no doubt that the syrian regime was behind the assault which provoked america's retaliatory airstrikes. the charge of a russian coverup comes as secretary of state rex tillerson is on a visit to moscow where his goal is to convince russians to stop backing president bashar al-assad. the u.s. airstrikes have revived the debate about president obama's leg is i on syria and the trump administration's policy moving forward. at a pentagon press conference this afternoon, secretary of defense jim mattis says i.s.i.s.
remains a top priority for the united states. joining me now from washington tony blinken, the former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor for president obama. here in new york, bret stephens, foreign affairs columnist for the "wall street journal." i am pleads to have both of them on this program. i want to begin with a column that's gotten a lot of attention certainly in terms of people i know who care about these kinds of issues called the price of obama's men dasty where you talk about the the debate to have the wisdom of obama to forgo a similar strike under similar circumstances in 2013. said mr. obama will never outrun justifications for their actions in syria and can't outrun their lies. >> after john kerry engineered
the agreement by which syria was supposed to relinquish its stockpile of banned chemical weapons, information began to emerge pretty quickly thereafter that the syrians were cheating on the agreement. it started filtering out in 2024. the "wall street journal" had a front-page story on the fact in 2015 and in 2016 jim clapper former director of national intelligence acknowledged it to a congressional committee. throughout the entire period, however, leading figures to have the obama administration -- of the obama administration including the president and secretary of state and national security advisor susan rice kept insisting that the obama administration, that the deal had gotten 100% of the chemical weapons out, creating an illusion, which by the way the trump administration seemed to share, at least in its first few months, that assad had been
defanged of his most dangerous weapons. what we've just seen in northern syria with the sarin attack on this village is that that was untrue and that he maintains the stockpile, and i have to ask mr. blinken, how is it that the obama administration kept going on saying 100% of the weapons without qualification, when they knew from their own intelligence reporting and in fact publicly available sources that that was not the case, that assad was keating on the deal, that he maintained this stockpile and of course the ability to use it. >> rose: the second part is the russians should have known about this and there was complicity. >> of course the russians were complicit. one of the things that's most disturbing about this attack is you have russians on the same air base, it seems, where these weapons were being stored. but the question about russian mendacity is not even interesting. the russians lie. i don't think any of us would raise an eyebrow about that.
what distushes me is why the obama administration offered a story about this deal which simply -- wasn't simply true but which they should have known or did know was not true. >> i very much admire a lot of what bret has written recently in defense of the truth but here i think he's barking up the wrong tree. let's rewind the tape for a second. we faced an horrific situation in 2013 with a chemical weapons attack in syria. we prepared to use force. we went to congress to see if we could get the authority to do it. that got bogged down in debate. the russians came in and decided to broker a deal by which the syrians declared all the chemical weapons they had which they had never done before, agreed to give them up and destroy them in a verifiable way. they declared 13 tons of chemicals. a year later the o.c.p.w., the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, said they had in fact destroyed their declared weapons, and here's
where the discrepancy is -- we knew all along and said publicly, repeatedly we were concerned there were gaps between what they declared and what they actually had and went repeatedly to the ocpw, to the united nations, to the russians to try to press the syrians on those gaps to make sure we had gotten everything we could. but if you go back and look at virtually all the statements, we were treferght the declared capability they had and repeatedly raised concerns about the gaps. imagine we had not done this deal, we could not have struck the chemical weapons. that would have created the chemical cloud that would have poisoned the people we were trying to protect. instead we were able to get the everything we knew about that was declared out of the country. every single country in the region was better off and said so. israel had been giving gas masks to its people before the deal afraid of a strategic chemical attack by syria.
the they said what we achieved strategically was far more effective than if we had used force against not the chemical weapons but the airfields and airplanes. if we had not done the deal 13 tons of chemical weapons would have been floating around syria and not only in the assad regime but the islamic state and nusra and other various groups. was it a perfect deal? no. are we manifestly better off because we did it? yes. >> the imperfections of the deal are apparent in the deaths of innocent victims in northern syria. but, look, the president said we got 100% of the weapons. he didn't say we got 100% of the declared stockpile and, by the way, we have concerns. i don't remember -- and you probably don't remember -- the president going to congress and ringing alarm bells that bashar al-assad was in violation of the agreements that covered him.
john kerry said 100% of the weapons. now, every now and then you would hear second tier administration officials like samantha power raise alarms and use the word "declared" which was a very lawyerly way of acknowledging that they knew that there were these discrepancies. but does anyone watching this show, can anyone say we seriously remember that a major theme of the obama administration's second term was pointing to the discrepancy between what was declared and what was -- what we knew about? now, mr. blinken might be right, that there's an argument to be had that getting out those 1300 tons of sarin, vx and other gas and other poisons was worth the price. but i'm -- and i say this explicitly in the article, there's one argument to be had about the wisdom. i think it was a very unwise deal which sent a signal that american red lines were useless and that also prevented us from
carrying out retaliatory strikes once we knew that assad was violating the deal. what i'm questioning here is the honesty. the simple fact is that the obama administration cannot say with a straight face that, except in press releases that nobody noticed, that it was trempting the disprep si between what assad was supposed to have done and actually did. the administration allowed the deal to be violated and the question is why. i suspect and i would love to hear mr. blinken talk about this, i suspect it is because achieving a deal with syria's patron state iran was so important to the obama administration that it did not want to rock this particular boat, that's an allegation that's been aired not simply by me but in "the atlantic," other publications. i would love to learn more about the influence that the thinking about the iran deal, the importance of reaching that deal for obama had on his unwillingness to expose the
extent to which assad was violating his commitments. >> first of all, the iran deal was a good deal, it was the right thing to do. but apples and oranges, one had nothing to do with the other. there is no relationship between what we did on syria and our ongoing support for that agreement, even as we tried to close the gaps and find the disprepcies, and doing the iran deal, period. that's the truth. look, i come back to this basic proposition -- continue compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative. at the time the choice before us was to use force against the will of congress and apparently against the will of the american people, we were in the midst of that debate, not strike any of the chemical weapons given the danger that would have represented to the people we were trying to protect, and use diplomacy without firing a shot to get far more to have the chemical weapons out than we could have had we used force. that was a good deal and put us in a materially better place. >> well, it's not because you had an option to destroy the
syrian air force. you had an option, even if the chemical weapons were not destroyed, to destroy the means by which assad would be capable of delivering those weapons and later, by the way, after 2013, weapons like barrel bombs, chlorine gases, responsible for a level of destruction that i think is so vast that the u.n. has stopped counting how many people are dead in syria, and that's also the consequence of the refusal to act in syria. so what you're suggesting is that our only military option would have been some deadly, dangerous chernobyl type event on syrian air bases. what the trump administration of all administrations just showed is it's quite possible to destroy the means of delivery and therefore neutralize the threat without putting civilians at risk by destroying those weapons. i think it's such a shame that, four years ago, 100,000 deaths ago, the obama administration failed to act that way.
>> rose: tony. as you know, bret, early on in the war, before they started using their air force, 90% of the victims of the syrian regime's aggression were coming from rockets, shells, mortars, et cetera, including those filled with chemical emissions. had we been able to take the entire air force out of the sky, and we can certainly debate that proposition, they simply would have gone back to that. then we would have had to stop that. that would have drawn us in further and further. it's a reasonable argument to say we should have gone in whole hog, but that was the judgment we made and that would not have stopped them from using chemical weapons. >> rose: isn't that the heart of the matter that the president did not want to be drawn into a civil war in syria? >> i think that does go to the heart of the matter, but the specific issue before us in 2013 was chemical weapons. a norm that had been violated, a norm that was established after world war i, a sacred norm that went beyond syria and has or
risk as everything that happened in syria was, this went a step further in violating something that the international community said simply couldn't happen after world war i. it was important to uphold that, norm, and we did it and did it diplomatically. >> you failed to do so. the president made a clear military threat which he then failed to honor, and that caused consternation in the region and around the world and frankly created the perception that president obama was a guy who, in the event of the use of chemical weapons, would give an eloquent speech and find some kind of face-saving solution. >> rose: let me bring us to where we are now. robert ford, a former ambassador, was a guest on the show last night and here is what he said. >> my own sense is the war in syria that involves bars bars is basically finished and assad won. so we're not going to get into a new iraq kind of war or a new afghanistan kind of war in syria. >> rose: the civil war is
essentially over? >> essentially over there. may be fighting for another year or two. the opposition is not going to give up, but they're not going to win. assad's going to win. >> rose: assad's going to win? first of all, i'm not sure i'm going to agree with ambassador ford that if assad remains in power that the fighting eventually stops. in fact, i think, as long as assad remains in power, sunnis will rise up to oppose him. he's not that strong, even with the help of the russians. what i am convinced of is that, as complicated -- and anthony, by the way, is right -- as corchlcated assyria is, there is no solution in syria while he remains president of the country. >> here's the challenge -- if i could -- how do civil wars end? we've looked at this intensely. one of three ways. either one side wins, but, as i agree with bret and i disagree with robert ford, i don't think that's likely to happen anytime soon, whenever one side gets the
advantage the outside patrons of the other side come in and prop them up. second, they fight to exhaustion. that will happen eventually except historically, at least, it's taken ten years and we're now in year seven of this war and there are multiple parties involved, not just two. and here's where the judgment comes, in and there are legitimate differences in judgment, third, some kind of outside intervention that comintines some element of military force and diplomacy, and i think a legitimate criticism of our administration is there may have been moments when we could have married more leverage to the diplomacy. but no one, not russians, not the iranians, not us, not any of the outside patrons were willing to go in on our own enough to actually win the war for one side or the other. that was not going to happen, it's not going to happen. >> part of the problem with our thinking about syria is that we keep insisting that syria ought to remain in the end game a unitary state. if we had insisted that
yugoslavia emerge from its wars as a unitary state, w- probably would be fighting there or people would be fighting there today. it makes no sense for anyone to contemplate a future of syria in which there's one syrian state. why? because as long as it's just one syria, it will always be a zero-sum struggle for power. it will be one side winning and the other side losing. that needn't be the case in syria. there is a perfectly credible case that, in a messy way, you could have an alawite state centered and the coasting cities, the me mediterranean she of syria. >> rose: assad led -- alawite state led by bashar al-assad. >> led by any other than bashar al-assad or the assad family, that ought to be a condition. you should be able to take part of the kurdish areas and create another autonomous zone protected as we protected the kurds in northern iraq, by the
way the most successful experiment in nation building in the middle east, all thanks to a "no fly" zone, all thanks to american limited but decisive american military intervention. >> rose: that's a long-term solution but you seem to be agreeing with general mattis who said our first strategy is to eliminate i.s.i.s. >> i think that's a mistake. i.s.i.s. is a terrible -- look, i.s.i.s. is evil incarnate, right, but i.s.i.s. is not the kind of strategic threat to the united states or to our allies in the region that assad is or will be if he remains in power and creates an axis between tehran, damascus, beirut with hezbollah and moscow. >> rose: people continue to say that you cannot have negotiation, tony, unless you have leverage on the ground and where is leverage on the ground coming from? >> well, look, i think we actually do have some leverage now in part due to the strike
president trump took and they are prepared to use that. >> rose: is that the history of strikes, whether the clinton administration or where it is, that these one-up strikes create that kind of shift in behavior or shift in -- >> one-off -- no. charlie, you're right, one-off doesn't. you have to have a sustained strategy and it has to have all the elements that you formerly associate with a strategy including a clear diplomatic play and i hope that's what the administration is coming to. but, look, bret may well be right that ultimately in syria the solution will be some sort of partition but let's not kid ourselves about how difficult that would be. you mentioned among the other pieces of the puzzle a possible kurdish autonomous region. the friends in turkey won't be enthusiastic about that. you will have statelets that are at each other's throats repeatedly, you will probably have an area controlled by i.s.i.l or the nusra front, so
it may well be that's where this goes but we shouldn't underestimate how challenging it would be to get there and to say the least how imperfect that solution would be. >> but as we contemplate a variety of imperfect solutions, let's not lose sight to have the the fact that what we have now is almost like a hurricane sandy in place sowing destruction in syria and chaos amongst all its neighbors. you now have repeated i.s.i.s. attacks in turkey. you have jordan straining under the weight of more than a approximately refugees. you've had really the implosion of the state system in the middle east, russian power entrenching itself once again. as we contemplate the refugee crisis, all the while we're saying this is difficult, but what's harder and more difficult is the consequence of inaction. i want to ask tony quickly, john kerry, ann marie slaughter,
senior figures in the obama administration have both come out and praised this strike. why do you think they're praising it, if they weren't, in fact, dissidents within the obama administration of the policy that you guys ultimately pursued? there was a lot of unhappiness inside the obama administration for the failure to act in 2013 and for the absolutely hands-off policy based on the bugaboo that, as you put it you put one toe in and the next thing you know our whole body is in the water. >> rose: and also there is the idea of leverage, they thought you needed leching because kerry was not success 1/2 the negotiations with the russians because they had no leverage, i mean he frequently made that point. but tony my understanding is you said you supported this strike but now was the time for diplomacy. >> well, yes, i came out immediately at a lesser level than john kerry or others in support of what the trump administration did. it was the right thing to do, and the question now is whether
there is follow thru, whether there is a way to use this to make progress on the syrian civil war. that's the big question before us. but you have to look at everything in the context of its time and the moment. going back to 2013, again the decision before us was whether to strike, not hit the chemicals, not destroy them or do the diplomacy which we ended up doing and get rid of the declared stockpile of queaches. every country in the region is better off and actually everyone is better off as horrific as things remain because as bad assyria is today, syria awash in 1300 tons of chemical weapons in the hands of al quaida, in the hands to have the islamic state and assad would be an even worse catastrophe than it already is. >> rose: was there no way you could do both, get the chemical weapons out of because of the agreement, and then maintain the option of the airstrike because to have the violation of -- because of the violation of the red line? >> charlie, here's the question, and i know bret is sensitive to this, too, and it's a decision
and a question before anyone faced with these kinds of situations. you take a strike and then the target not only doesn't respond but keeps on with the bad behavior, so then everyone says, okay, better take another strike, he didn't respond. he still doesn't respond, he continues with bad behavior, more barrel bombs. so better do it again, and again and again and again, and, pretty soon, you are caught in a cycle where you don't control the escalation and you wind up getting drawn further and further in. anyone who is responsible has to at least factor that concern in. >> but let me ask you -- let's assume that you're right and that getting those 1300 tons of chemical weapons out of syria was worth the diplomatic bargain, was worth erasing the red line. okay, but then there is an expectation that the declared stockpile is, in fact, the real stockpile and that violations will be punished. you had three and a half years to punish violations.
at least two of those years you knew full well that assad was violating the deal and yet nothing was done. and i guess my question is why not? >> well two, things, bret. first, there are two kinds of violations. one is the question of whether there were gaps and discrepancies between what they held and what they heldn to. that we were pushing on virtually every single day but we were working it through the prohibition of chemical weapons, the u.n. and the russians. the syrians made four amendments to their declarations over time acknowledging more stuff than originally they said they didn't v. we thawed we were getting at it that way. imperfect but making progress. the second question and a legitimate one, is the fact that, even after the agreement, they continued to use chemical weapons but not sarin or vx, they were using chlorine, and it's complicated they say because chlorine in and of itself is not a prohibited chemical, as used as a weapon is prohibited by the chemical weapons convention. we were pressing on that, too.
it's of a different nature than sarin or vx but still the use of a chemical in war. >> my misgiving is when you use the word "complicated," that's complicated maybe from the standpoint of lawyers dealing with international legal niceties. it's not complicated from the standpoint of the people who are in the villages and towns underneath those chemical bombs being wiped out in full view of the world while an american president simply decides that he's going to stand by and do nothing about this because of the possibility that action entails consequences. >> there wassen inaction. there was action that you think was misguided or is the wrong judgment and that's a perfectly reasonable argument to make. the action was very clear. there was a diplomatic enforcement of getting the chemical weapons out. that's what we did, and we had significant success with that. >> but you didn't get them out. and as a result of that -- well, again, we got the declared weapons out, we got 1300 tons out, we know that.
we know syria would be a far more horrific place today if the 1300 tons were there in the hands to have the islamic state, nusra as well as the assad regime. we know with all the country in the region starting with israel, syria would be a far more dangerous country than it is today. so there was a result, there was progress, and it is profoundly imperfect. but here's the point i very much acknowledge, any of us who had any responsibility for our foreign policy during this period will have to live with the fact we didn't end the syrian civil war and we'll have to live with the fact that as you rightly said hundreds of thousands of syrians are dead, yes, that is on our watch. it's also on the watch of the syrians. it's on the watch of every single neighbor of syria. it's on the watch of iran and russia. there is plenty of blame to go around, and as the leading country in the world, we should take our share of it. but it wasn't for want of trying to do the right thing, making the best judgments we could, maybe they were wrong, history
will judge. but where i disagree with you to come back to the start of this is question us for our judgments, absolutely, let's have that argument, but talking about mendacity, honestly, bret, you're looking in the wrong place. >> history will judge. >> rose: on that note, thank you so much. great, bret, to have you here. thank you, tony, pleasure to have you on the broadcast. >> thanks, charlie. thanks, bret. >> rose: tina brown is here. she is a founder and c.e.o. of tina brown live media. last week, she hosted the eighth annual "women in the world" summit here in new york. the three-day event featured women of impact and the men who championed them. this year's participants included hillary clinton, u.s. ambassador to the united nations nikki haley, justin truedeau and president of planned parenthood lucille richards. here's an excerpt from an
interviewwell nicholas chris to- kristof. >> what does it say about misogyny with women voters. >> i am currently writing a book write spend -- ( cheers and applause ) -- yes, i spend a lot of time wrestling with this. as you might guess, i've thought about it more than once. ( laughter ) i don't know that there is one answer. let's be clear. i think there -- you know in, any campaign there are so many different cross currents and events and some have greater impact than others, but it is fair to say, as you just did, nick, that certainly misogyny played a role. that just has to be admitted. why and what the underlying reasons were is what i'm trying to pars out myself.
>> rose: she also wrote an op ed, after historic march, what's next for women. she says women are experiencing an unsettling sensation, a scary, wary feeling of real and present danger. i'm pleased to have tina brown back at this table. welcome. >> good to be here, charlie. >> rose: first about the "women in the world" summit. this was the eighth one. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: how has it changed? how is it different? >> very interesting. this year, it was so muscular, so on fire because there was a real sense that this year it is so important here in the u.s. to get galvanized. eight years ago when i started it, it was a tiny little summit in a small hotel, and since then it's exploded. at the time it was really about giving a platform to women all over the world who never have a chance to tell their stories so that we can actually understand the kind of challenges that they go through which are in full contrast to the challenges that we have to go through here, how to get an education, honor
killings, child marriage, all of these things which are so horrendous in many cultures that are very different from ours. now what we're seeing, and the energy this year was much more about a muscular sense that things are changing here and it was like a great awakening in a sense so that the same people who had been coming year after year thinking how terrible it is over there in some other country are now thinking we have to protect our freedoms here. >> rose: so in a sense of becoming muscular because in the sense of resistance to the trump administration has given -- >> yes. >> rose: -- has give an cause, an energy, a purpose? >> definitely that, but also a tipping point, quite honestly, charlie, because for years and years we keep hearing about the same old same old. you know, there have been women's meetings forever about equal pay, about sexual harassment, about, you know, protecting women's reproductive right. it's but, like, now people will finally thinking this is really
getting old. eth not changing. obviously massive breakthroughs have happened, but look what happened at fox news, the sexual harassment is rampant. look what's happening at uber. look what's happening at google when you find the women are paid less than the men. there are so many things that you kind of wonder what is it going to take to change. and then again there is also a lot of new kind of feeling about being more tangible. there was a wonderful discussion about advertising and the constant objectification of women ads which is really vulgar, really demeaning quite often which goes on. a panel of p&g's marketing were talking about campaigning around advertising where you don't get applauded for making women demean and debased. >> rose: when you starred, you famously said this is my inner
journalist rather than my inner feminist. >> absolutely. i think this year the other great thing about women in the world is it consolidated us as a news organization because the world is as important for us as the women. this is news through the eyes of women. that's why we did -- for instance the two amazing doctors who worked in syria who came on to your show afterwards, remarkable heroes. >> rose: in syria. and all the stories on the stage. we had the sexual harassment story the syria story, we had hillary clinton, we had the major newsmakers, justin trudeau, nikki haley and she said we don't do soft power which is kind of a quote that's going to last a long time, i think. i think that's the other great thing we really showed is women in the world is a news organization and that's exciting to me as a journalist because that's what i always wanted. >> rose: when hillary says there was misogyny, in part, do you think it was a significant
contribution? >> she certainly admitted there were multiple reasons why she lost this election and hillary would be the first to say and did say this is not just about misogyny. that would be giving herself a real free pass. i think everyone acknowledges and she acknowledged on the stage that there is no doubt about it that it is a way harsher light for a woman in the public eye and she proved that again and again. she's had 30 years really of being, you know, treated in that misogynistic way. the unforgiving light that a woman has when she runs is really still very chronic. i mean, she talked about, which is absolutely true, that when she left the state department, she had some 65% approval rating, but as soon as she became a capt. looking for power, grasping for power, there is a real animus not just amongst men but women for a woman seen to be grasping for power. it becomes a threat, it becomes
you are ambitious in the wrong way. >> rose: so what is attractive in men is somehow unbecoming in women. >> that's right, and absolutely true with hillary. nicholas sturgeon, the feisty minister of scotland said the same thing and said watching the campaign she was dismayed at the kind of misogyny at which she was being attacked, outrageous internet abuse, the trolling. much of it we know now because of hacking and russian interventions but it was pretty ugly to see. what hillary said, this kind of attack is meant to crush your spirit and she said i made them crazy because i will not be crushed. she said, she would always be a tremendous role model to women. she said women who want to run toughen your skin. you going to have to toughen up. she is an example of how someone who's really had to toughen up in her life. >> rose: do you believe scotland will become independent?
because as brexit already talked, scotland will leave. >> very interesting. sturgeon has been a scottish influence from the moment she won, she lost the first referendum as we know. it's certainly true scotland is looking at it again. that's not what they voted to be a part of. they wanted to stay a part of europe and still do. they say, listen, now, we voted to stay with the u.k. but only because we thought it was part of you were, not now. so i think that there is going to be another major push for it, whether she will win, i don't know. >> rose: you are writing your memoirs and they perhaps have completed them. it's about the "vanity fair" years. >> it's actually my diary from those years. >> rose: just publishing a diary? >> it's very interesting, i went to my diary thinking this is going to be the fodder for the '80s, the time i lived through. >> rose: so did i. i have 250,000 words of journals which i kept all the way through "vanity fair," all
the way through the eight and a half years in that pre, you know, iphone era when we all had more time in the evening, and i realized shaping it and reediting it and adding to it and contextualizing it made a really sort of entertaining real-time gallop through this crazy time when i was at "vanity fair," the recording '80s and the reagan era and the glitzy, crazy atmosphere of condi at the time when she was sort of a louie the 14th and everything was lavish and stuffy and you look at it in the media and think how could this be but it's very amusing now as a period piece -- >> rose: but house of it then? it was a voing of a young woman who arrived from london. >> rose: "vanity fair" was in a bad place. >> on its second editor in six months, and i was called in to be the sort of magazine doctor
from london and i just turned 30 and i had already, you know, turned around one other magazine and i was brought in as a lost hope and i was a story of a battle to save "vanity fair" and my sort of adapting to the u.s. a lot of it is about my collision with new york and america and being baffled by everything. it starts with nee in a taxi on my way from kennedy airport to manhattan. i was in the back seats and dr. ruth was giving sex advice on the radio. >> rose: still is. i was gob smacked. i never heard of anything like. this i thought, what am i listening to? get me out of this car. so it's really fun stuff. >> rose: we'll talk about harry for a moment. i was touched about how you talked about sir harry evans.
>> the great sir harry. >> rose: whom you married when you were very young. >> yes, indeed. he is, of course, in my diary as my great supporter all the way through and he's about to publish a wonderful book of his own in may called "do i make myself clear." he's a great feminist. he would have never called himself that but he, is he loves strong women, and very often people have said to me, how does your husband feel? you're doing all the successful things, the answer is thrilled all the way through because he loves strong women. >> rose: how did he contribute to your success in a sense other than you knowing he supported you and he was there for you? >> right. >> rose: that's a big part of it. >> absolutely. well, for starts, my professional mentor in every way. >> rose: he was the king of london journalism. >> he taught me how to write a caption, do a layout. he taught me how to crop a photograph. literally, he was my tutorial all the way through, but also he just has great judgment. he's a fantastic journalist.
he has a strong moral sense of what journalism is. he's always been my touchstone, you know, when i haven't known should i publish this or not, you know, he's always been the incredible judgment really behind me. and just a passionate believer in me, if you like. he's had his ups and downs. and we have so many laughs. >> i tell you what, i really enjoyed tina brown when she was much younger. >> rose: let's talk about that. how did that start? she was working for you? >> no, no. she went to oxford when she feels 16 and a famous litter riagent who died fairly recently sent me clippings and said you should read these by this woman, they're in the new statesman and private eye and they're very funny. well, i didn't read them. another sign of my neglect. i was too busy. so i didn't read them. >> rose: the crossman diaries, everything. >> i read them one morning and got so alarmed, they were so
good and i let this stuff linger in my briefcase. i called up the number and i said, could i speak to tina brown? speaking, she said. i said, oh, would you come into the office and see mr. jack because we're very impressed with your articles. could you come in today? i'm sorry, i can't come in today because i'm giving dinner to my husband. husband? she's only 20. how precocious can you be. i said, are you tina brown? she said yes. i said, are you tina brown who just graduated from oxford? she said, no, that's my daughter. ( laughter ) she came to america and met all these people and wrote marvelous articles for the sunday "times." >> rose: turn to the "new york times," you wrote an op-ed that said what's next for women. has the movement of whatever it is stalled in your judgment? is that the word you use, stall? >> i have no doubt that the women's movement had stalled
until just recently. >> rose: and what recently happened has given it new energy. >> yes. i really believe hillary's loss motivated a huge surge in feminist energy in a way that her run did not. >> rose: was it because of hillary's loss or because of trump's victory? >> both. but i do think women felt suddenly a kind of slap in the face, strong insult that, in a sense -- >> rose: an imminently qualified candidate -- >> yes, the best woman, in the view of many, had been been beaten by the worst man. how did it come about that a woman who had been a senator, a secretary of state, who had been wildly qualified, first lady, absolutely boned up, really, you know, ready to go, could be beaten by somebody who still hadn't held half these positions. >> what do you think the answer is? >> my answer, is you know, multiple, but i think a kind of massive insecurity that took
over an ability for trump really to communicate. there's no doubt about trump that his tweeting and his ability to communicate and boil everything down to these slogans was tailor made for the reality tv age. one of the issues i always felt was that trump had -- you know, had a message and no strategy and hillary had a strategy but didn't have a message in the sense that you could not boil down that hillary stood for. >> rose: that's partly true. i think she knew what she nted to do -- >> rose: there was no narrative. there was no strong narrative that said this is what it's about. >> but i also think that -- unfortunately, i mean, you've just got to be entertaining these days in order to win. i think that if you are running for office, forget fit you can't be an entertainer because, in today's era where attention spans are so short, you have to be able to get the people to watch. you have to get people to pay attention.
>> rose: and boy did trump do that. >> what's really interesting about trump, too, is he really is himself if you like a low information voter. what we see in trump is the result of 20 years of imbibing and absorbing fox news. >> rose: right. it's true that trump and his audience have eaten the same kind of toxic diet, if you like, in which they've all convinced themselves of this delusional other world that's going on in which there is blood in the streets and marauding mexicans and, you know, all of these outdated views about what china is doing to them, it's all coming out of a kind of toxic media diet, and i believe that trump truly believes everything that he says in that regard because that's what he's feasted on all of these years. >> rose: what do you think of the syria decision for the airstrike? >> i think that was a good decision. i'm sure he was horrified by the images, but i don't think that's really what it is. >> rose: you think he had a strategy, a plan?
>> i think myself that mattis and mcmaster and the people who really know their stuff have wanted to do this for some time. i think there was great dismay amongst the community for a long time about the inaction in syria. >> rose: on the part of obama? on the part of obama and i think that feeling had really built up and i think that, you know, trump doesn't really have a strategy, i don't think. i think it's all about pushing the right buttons at the right time. >> rose: one airstrike does not make a strategy, someone said. >> it does not. i hope it's not about seeing photographs about killed babies. i don't think we should be cerebral about everything. i was absolutely in favor of that strike. do i want to feel there is strategy going forward because simply being a motive having a strike and not talking about it again isn't a strategy. >> rose: he has not yet spoken. >> not yet. >> rose: it's interesting.
i don't know why that is. >> it's mysterious. but i think we've all spent a lot of time trying to pars out what he means. >> rose: come back after you finish the memoir. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: finis philip gorski is here, professor of sociology at yale. his new book is called "american covenant: a history of civil religion from the puritans to the present." david brooks the "new york times" columnist calls it essential reading for this moment. i am pleased to have philip gorski at this table. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: tell me what -- this is a story, some say, of a struggle between two traditions. >> it's a struggle between even three rival traditions for thinking about the meaning of the american project. >> rose: what do you mean by "the american project." >> what do i mean by "the
american project"? >> rose: yeah. that's exactly what's at issue. three different visions, one that sees the united states as a christian nation, another that sees it as a secular democracy, and a third, the one i'm defending here, which sees it as a combination of sacred and secular values. >> rose: and this is, as you ever certainly pointed -- as you have certainly pointed out, this is not like a third way. this is different than the conversation that took place at the time sterling in britain and the coming of tony blair and some of the political direction that bill clinton took in america. >> yeah, i don't think it's the third way. i think it has been the central way along which the american project has proceeded for most of our history, and i don't think it's just a mushy middle, you know, an averaging out of two different positions, but it's a position that has its kind of own logic and coherence.
>> rose: tell me first about religious nationalism. >> well, religious nationalism is the idea that to be a full citizen of a particular nation, you have to belong to a certain religion. in the case of the united states, that typically has meant christian nationalism, though some accommodations have been made for other faith. most religious nationalism, including american religious nationalism, tend to think about history as a cosmic struggle between forces of good and evil and they place the nation on the side of the good and its opponents, internal and external, on the side of evil. in other words, they think that the line between good and evil runs between people in groups rather than running through them. >> rose: how much did they take that from their own religion? >> it's interesting. i think these are features you find in religious nationals and
throughout the world and in very different traditions, but when you're thinking about christian nationalism as is developed within the united states, i think the key sources really have been two. one is apocalypticism, a belief in the end of the world and a very literal interpretation of how that's going to happen, a very literal interpretation of the book of revelation, in particular, but it also draws on the jewish scriptures and in particular on the idea of a conquest of canaan, that the nation has to struggle against its enemy, that blood has to be shed, has to be sacrificed to an angry god. >> rose: but that's not all of christianity. >> absolutely not. i think that's the dark side of christianity. >> rose: so you think the religious nationalism is the dark side of christianity? >> i do. i think one of the big messages i'm really trying to get across in this book is to help secular people understand that religion
doesn't poison everything. as the late christopher hitchens once said, any more than secularism purifies everything, i want people towns there is darkness and light in both secularism and in religion. >> rose: when you talk about secularism and secular demock circumstances what are ewe talking about? -- secular democracy, what are we talking about? >> i think there is a type of secularism that's reasonable in which most all americans accept that we characterize with the phrase "separation of church and state." i think most of us recognize too much mixing between church and state is not good for the state or the church either and we for the most part respect that. when i say radical secularism, what i mean is a much more combative position than that. a little of what i described as this idea religion poisons everything and secularism
cleanses everything and what you have to do is you have to create this hermetically sealed barrier around our public life and you can't let any religious symbols, any religious talk, any religious values into them without polluting the public's -- >> rose: but you don't believe that? >> i don't believe that. i think that that is -- leaves behind much to have the best of our traditions. >> rose: what makes america? is it this we're talking about? >> this is a good kind of american exceptionalism and a bad kind of american exceptionalism and the bad kind is the united states is completely unique and above all other nations. it's without sin, without blemish, and the problem with this kind of exceptionalism is it refuses to face up to the mistakes, the transgressions, the bad things that are a part of our past. there is another kind of american extensionalism, though not usually called that, which i'm completely happy to affirm
and which i think many americans affirm, and that is the idea that this is a unique experiment in democracy and an attempt to self-government is that. >> rose: they were genius us but imperfect geniuses. >> yes. >> rose: they had a sure sense of the purpose of the nation they wanted to establish. >> i think one of the interesting discoveries i made in writing and researching the book is the importance, the idea
of the hebrew republic, this is the idea that monarchy actually was not given to the israelites as a gift but was give ton them as a -- given to them as a curse. why given the to them as a curse? because it reduces to idolatry. it's the kind of a government that befits a corrupt people and not a virtuous people, and the founders thought republican self-government was the kind of government give ton virtuous people though they knew virtue was fragile. benjamin franklin's remark, what kind of government do we have, sir? rep, if you can keep it. >> rose: are we doing something so that the commitmento the betterment of the nation is hard to step forward to do, a, because of the way it is, the nature and the nastiness of what goes on, and, secondly, because it is such an invasion of self?
>> i think that has dissuaded a lot of people from going into national politics. i think the hopeful finds that i see are reengagement of folks on the local level, and i see actually quite a bit of that. you know, i've never seen as much local activism in my lifetime as i've seen in recent months, and that, to me, is a very hopeful sign. >> rose: i'll tell you another hopeful sign, according to what i have been told, millennials have a higher sense of service, a higher sense of wanting to be engaged in some public way, than the generation before them. you would know that because you're on a university campus. >> yeah, that's my experience, too. i think in sort of an ironic way that the financial crisis of 2008 and the economic fallout of
it has made them reassess and think about whether, you know, making a career and making money are really the only or the most important things to be pursued in life. i think many of them for this reason are really determined to do something that contributes to the greater good. >> rose: thank you for coming. thank you so much for having me. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
kacyra: it kind of was, like, the bang that set off the night. rogers: that is the funkiest restaurant. thomas: the honey-walnut prawns will make your insides smile. [ laughter ] klugman: more tortillas, please! khazar: what is comfort food if it isn't gluten and grease? braff: i love crème brûlée. sobel: the octopus should have been, like, quadripus, because it was really small. sbrocco: and you know that when you split something, all the calories evaporate, and then there's none. whalen: that's right.