tv PBS News Hour PBS September 18, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: republicans scrambled to contain the damage from a secretly recorded video. in it, mitt romney tells big donors nearly half of americans believe they are "victims" who deserve government support. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight, we examine the substance, the politics, and the fallout from romney's remarks. >> woodruff: plus, we launch our election year tour of swing states. ray suarez starts us off in nevada, hit hard by the mortgage meltdown.
>> suarez: the housing crisis is still very much on voters' minds in this battle ground state. when the presidential candidates come here. they hardly mention it. >> ifill: then, we turn to the flare-up in tensions between china and japan over uninhabited islands in the east china sea. margaret warner gets an update. >> woodruff: and jeffrey brown talks with former u.n. chief kofi annan about his new memoir and his role as syrian peace envoy. >> as one of my predecessors said, our objective to prevent humanity from going to hell. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: investing for the future, we're helping to bring these new
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today over statements he made four months ago. his subjects ranged from income taxes and dependency on government to peace in the middle east. and they stirred new criticism of the candidate. for mitt romney, the challenge was to get back on message and contain the damage from remarks he made at a private fund raising dinner in may. on monday the liberal magazine mother jones released video that shows romney dismissing supporters of president obama. >> 47%. people will vote for the president no matter what. 47% are with him. they depend on government. they believe that they are victims who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them. >> woodruff: the republican nominee goes on to say that obama voters don't care about his plans for tax cuts. >> these are people who pay no income tax. 47% of americans pay no income tax. our message of low taxes doesn't
connect. he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. that's what they sell every four years. so my job is not to worry about those people. i'll never convince them. that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. >> woodruff: romney's reference to the 47% who pay no fedeal income taxes draws roughly on data from the nonpartisanax te policy center. the group's analysis further shows more than a quarter of americans pay payroll taxes without incurring income tax liability. her groups paying no federal income tax include elderly people on social security. and households earning under $20,000 a year. but romney's remarks sparked a furor that goes beyond the numbers in question. recognizing that, he spoke to reporters late monday in costa mesa, california. >> it's not elegantly stated. let me put it that way. i'm speaking off the cuff in response a question. i'm sure i could state it more
clearly and in a more effective way. than i did in a setting like that. >> woodruff: at the same time, romney did not apologize or back away from his broader point. >> this is ultimately a question about direction for the country. do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more benefits or do you believe instead in a free enterprise society where people are able to pursue their dreams? >> woodruff: and this afternoon in an interview on fox news, the candidate came back to the issue. >> i believe the right course for america is one where government steps in to help those that are in need. we're a compassionate people. then we let people build their own lives, create enterprises. we believe in free people and free enterprise, not redistribution. the right course for america is to create growth, create wealth not the redistribute wealth. >> woodruff: president obama made his first dment on the furor appearing on late show with david letterman. he said anyone who wants to be president has to work for
everyone, not just for some. and white house press secretary jay carney weighed in as well at a morning briefing. >> setting aside, you know, what governor romney thinks, i can tell you that the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on social security are irresponsible or victims. >> woodruff: the obama campaign also highlighted romney's comments in a new web video. it said it featured man on the street reaction. >> i don't think everybody is ever looking for a handout. i think that we all want chances and opportunities. >> woodruff: the episode drew comparisons to 2008 when then candidate obama remarked at a private fund-raiser that people in depressed areas of the midwest, quote, get bitter and cling to guns or religion. that statement came in the middle of the democratic primary
season, giving mr. obama time to recover politically. for room knee the timing is is more problematic. with election day now just seven weeks away. and he could face questions about other statements from that may fund-raiser as well. at one point he jokedded that it would be helpful to his electoral prospects if you were a latino. in another he said palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace. >> ifill: for more on the numbers and the politics, i'm joined by roberton williams, an economist and senior fellow at the tax policy institute. his 2010 tax study was the source of the 47% number. a 2011 follow-up showed a slight down tick to 46%. and nancy cook, budget and tax correspondent for the "national journal." welcome to you both. bob williams, i'm very curious about this number, this 47% number. is it an unusually high numb?
is it something that's grown, has shrunk? >> it's a lower number now than it was a few years at the height of the recession. 2008, 2009 slightly over 50% of americans paid no income tax. that's because the recession put people out of work. it lowered their incomes. we also had tax provisions that helped stimulate the economy. >> ifill: who do we think these people really are? we saw how judy broke down some of it. but are these people who honestly are not paying anything in tacks or they're just not paying income tax smz. >> the story is half true. it's true about the income tax but it doesn't address the other taxes people might face. 60% of these people pay payroll taxes because they're working. they pay the taxes to support social security and medicare. they're likely to pay state sales sales taxes, local taxes and federal excise taxes. so they're not paying nothing at all. they're just not paying income tax. >> ifill: when the candidate makes the comment dependency and
he's talking about people who are relying on government. are they talking about social security, medicare, medicaid, tax credits? mortgage interest deductions? >> it's really hard to tell exactly what he was speaking to. he was talking about dependency. do you mean when we grow old and we start collecting social security and medicare, is that what we're talking about? are we talking about the temporary assistance for needy families? are we talking about food stamps? we have a whole pan plee of programs that help people when they need the help. if we look at the way the tax system works, we have some people, about half the people who pay no tax just because they're plain poor. their incomes are so low that the personal exemptions zero out. the other half of people benefit from special preferences built into the tax system. tax credits for children, low-income workers get earned income tax credit. high-income people benefit greatly from low tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
everybody from throughout the... it's just to the low-income or moderate-income may be zeroed out. >> ifill: this 47%, whether it was 50%, is this a sustainable number for us as a society to have that number of people who are not liable for income taxes the question of whether certain people are paying or not paying is not the issue at hand. what really matters is we need to cut our spending. we need to raise more taxes to bring our budget into balance. and if that means more of us paying taxes, that's the way we'll have to go. but we do need more revenue. we do need to cut spending. >> ifill: nancy cook, you wrote in national journal this is not a new argument that's been made especially in conservative circles, especially that kind of explosive word he used about victimhood. >> yeah, the victim word is you in. i think it was really jarring to aate low of liberal voters but the idea that, you know, there's this huge swath of people that don't pay federal income taxes and that's a problem has been,
you know, a big talking point in conservative circles for some time. in the senate, senator orrin hatch has talked about it. senator jon corn in. there's a joint committee on taxation study that came out a while ago back when the recession was more in its full throes that really talks about how the majority of people don't pay federal income tax so it has been used as a talking point to talk about the importance of limiting the size of the federal government and also interestingly as a issue of tax fairness, they say, you know, if rich people are paying more and more taxes, poor people should be paying more as well. >> ifill: which takes us to mitt romney's response this afternoon in that interview he gave on fox he used the word redistribution multiple times. what was that about? >> well, what he's really talking about is he's trying to make the case that obama, through the tax code, is trying to, you know, redistribute wealth and tax the wealthy more. what he sort of is glossing over is the idea that the tax code really been anies lots of people through these breaks that bob is
talking about. and it benefits people at different points of their lives. so students get tax breaks for student loans. elderly people get tax breaks on medicare and social security. you know, the stimulus bill had tax credits for people. people get tax credits for working families. if you have children. so there's all these things that the tax code incentivizes and it really doesn't just go to poor people as his comments indicated. >> ifill: in a purely political sense, if it's possible to make anything purely political or apolitical, who does this argument design to appeal to? and who does it alienate? >> that's one of the most interesting things is that this is really an argument that plays no the base. i feel like, you know, he said at a fund-raiser in the spring. before the general election really took hold. that's something that appeals to conservative voters. but at this moment in the general election when he's trying to win over independent voters, many of whom take advantage of these tax breaks that he's talking about that
been fit working families, you know, that's a really alienating statement for him to make. >> ifill: except i didn't see any sense this afternoon in his interview when he talkd about redistribution and attributed that sentiment to the president, i didn't get sense of him backing away from that even though we are now in the fall campaign. >> he doesn't seem to be backing away. didn't apologize last night or today. he's not questioning the validity of the video. he's trying to pivot back to this message that the campaign has tried to stay on about the economy and the state of the economy and calling into question president obama's record on it. the only problem is that the campaign constantly sort of slips back into these other arguments whereas if they kept the focus just on the unemployment number and the state of the economy, they may have been more successful. >> ifill: i want to ask you about the appeal of this argument or the non-appeal of this argument to senior citizens in particular. you took at the polls. mitt romney is doing much better than barack obama when it comes to senior citizens. does this argument work against
him? does i it a target of opportuni, a vulnerability. >> it certainly seems to politically. senior citizens do benefit from this. it really sort of falls in line almost with the argument that democrats are making about paul ryan and social security and how he'll dismantle that. it makes the republicans seem like they're a little less sympathetic to this group. >> ifill: i don't know if you could even say whether there's a connection between what the beneficiaries how people benefit from these kinds of programs and how they might vote. >> i don't know if we know anything about that. what i can tell you as an economist is who is benefiting and who isn't. most of the benefits from the tax code go to wealthy people, preferential tax rates on capital gains and dividends which means high-people can pay very little tax. those are the big ones. the small ones are the ones that benefit these low-income families who, because they're poor, low-income, can be moved completely off the tax rolls by these tax breaks. but the big... the rich guys are
the ones that get the big benefits. >> ifill: back to the politics of this. the trickle-down politics of this i guess because i notice that at least the senate, the republican nominee for senate came out and said i had nothing to do with this. she distanced herself and flat-out disagrees with mitt romney. is there a potential for trickle-races on this issue? >> certainly. scott brown also, you know, the senator from massachusetts against elizabeth warren, also very quickly distanced himself from that this afternoon. in the senate races the democrats have been really using representative paul ryan, the vice president shall nominee's budget plan as a way to, you know, really hit mitt romney and paul ryan saying that they'll dismantle medicare. so i could see this comment really coming into play... them using them to say they want to tax low-income people. >> ifill: does paul ryan's tough budget make it difficult for mitt romney to back too far away
from an argument like this? >> it certainly does because a lot of the spending cuts that representative ryan has proposed would fall on low-income people. he wants to block grand medicaid. he wants to block grant food stamps. these would turn the funding over the states and completely change the scope of it from an entitlement program to something with limited funding. that would mean that fewer people could take advantage of it. >> ifill: going to be a very interesting argument to watch play out. nancy cook from national journal, roberton williams from the tax policy. thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. thank you. woodruff: look for a comment from romney's remarks. my interview with bob woodward will air soon. there's more politics coming up, with a look at the battleground state of nevada. also ahead, the disputed islands in the east china sea, and former united nations secretary general kofi annan. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the battle over
a voter i.d. law in pennsylvania has taken a new turn. the state supreme court today ordered a lower court judge to review his decision that upheld the law. if he finds that voters cannot easily obtain a photo i.d. and will be disenfranchised, he must strike down the statute. otherwise, it stands. similar legal battles are under way in several other states. a federal judge in arizona has cleared the way to enforce a centerpiece of the state's new immigration law. effective immediately, police who stop people for other reasons will have to ask about their immigration status, if it seems in doubt. the u.s. supreme court upheld the provision last june, but opponents made a final bid to delay it. nato leaders today defended scaling back joint operations with afghan forces as "prudent and temporary." the decision followed attacks by afghan soldiers and police on coalition troops. nato secretary-general anders fogh rasmussen said the announcement proves the afghans are "already capable of operating on their own." and white house spokesman jay carney said the u.s. remains on
track to withdraw most troops by the end of 2014. >> the policy of gradually turning over security to afghan forces continues. and that is part of a broader strategy that will result in more american troops coming home and afghans taking more and greater responsibility for the security of their nation. and that process continues. >> sreenivasan: some british lawmakers warned that scaling back joint operations with the afghans could undermine the transition. there was new violence today over that american-made film that disparages the prophet muhammad. a suicide car bomber in afghanistan struck a mini-bus carrying south african aviation workers, killing at least a dozen people. militants said it was revenge for the film. and in peshawar, pakistan, hundreds of protesters rallied outside the u.s. consulate there and fought with police.
>> we, the muslims, never insult any religion of the world including the usa. our way is jihad as per the islamic instruction of our prophet, peace be upon him, and the u.s. is interfering in our country exploding bombs. now christianes are insulting our prophet who is the messenger for the whole world. it will lead this country towards hell. >> sreenivasan: also today, al- qaeda's branch in north africa called for its supporters to wage new attacks on u.s. diplomats. the government of pakistan has agreed to reopen a corruption case against president asif ali zardari. the country's supreme court had demanded the move for months. zardari faces allegations that he and his late wife received millions of dollars in kickbacks from swiss companies in the 1990s. at the time, bhutto was prime minister. the swiss have said they will not pursue the matter while zardari remains in office. the opposition leader in myanmar, aung san suu kyi, was welcomed to washington today. she had been under house arrest for years by a military junta
that has since given way to a reformist government. today, suu kyi met with secretary of state clinton. she voiced support for easing u.s. sanctions against the former burma, but she called again for all political prisoners to be freed. wall street struggled to get ahead today, as stocks were mostly flat. the dow jones industrial average finished the day with a gain of just 11 points to close at 13,564. the nasdaq was down about a point to close at 3177. an early leader of the environmental protection agency has died. russell train passed away monday at his farm on maryland's eastern shore. under president nixon, he helped create the e.p.a. in 1970 and became its second administrator. he also played a major role in pushing through landmark laws, including the clean water act and the endangered species act. russell train was 92 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: and we come back to the presidential race, and the start of our tour of swing states this fall. the two campaigns are neck and neck in nevada, battling for voters in a state that is still
reeling from the housing crisis. ray suarez has our story. >> suarez: albert is a maintenance man at a las vegas casino. when he came to this country from cuba 30 years ago, his goal was to buy a house for his wife and children. in 2006, he made that happen. >> this was my dream. i worked two jobs, no vacation. finally i get the savings to give the downpayment for the house. >> suarez: he paid $395,000 with $100,000 downpayment. the nevada economy was booming. jobs were plentiful thanks to a sustained burst of commercial and residential construction. just two years later, the bottom fell out. housing prices plummeted. new construction stopped. and more than 60% of las vegas residents found themselves underwater, holding mortgages
bigger than the value of their properties. his house was suddenly worth less than half of what he paid. on top of that, his wife lost her job. so you were underwater. >> i was underwater. suarez: if that kept on going that way, would you have lost the house? >> yes. i definitely would have lost the house if that kept going. >> suarez: but he heard about a government program called the home affordable modification plan, hamp. the obama administration launched the program in the spring of 2009. it requires lenders to work with distressed homeowners to bring their mortgage payments down to one third of their income. >> i almost going to lose my house. thanks to the president with that program to help the homeowner, you know, the underwater houses, i saved my...
i'm happy. >> suarez: albert, you give president obama credit for saving your house? >> of course. of course i give the credit. if it was not for him, i lost the house. >> suarez: he say that's just one of the reasons he plans to vote for mr. obama in november. but the president rarely mentions those programs during his frequent visits to this battle ground state. last week in las vegas, the only reference he made to the nevada foreclosure crisis was to talk about how it was caused by the policies of his predecessor, george w. bush. >> he's mis... his misguided policies led to the biggest recession we've seen since the big depression. innocent americans in nevada lost their home, their jobs, their savings. we are still fighting to recover from that. nevada got hit harder than most. but here's the thing.
i don't think the best answers for today's new challenges are old sales pitches. >> surprisingly there are undecided voters still. >> suarez: university of las vegas political science professor says the president has good reason to avoid talking about his mortgage relief programs. while about 1.2 million people have benefited from them, that's far less than the 4 million families the president hoped to reach. >> a lot of programs that they've really pushed in nevada haven't really done a whole lot there. so does he get points for trying? at the end of the day you still have people who are underwater, people who can't move. you have, you know, the distressed properties, people walking away from them. undercutting the value of other people's homes. as you sense there's just a general frustration out there. >> suarez: for his part republican presidential nominee mitt romney has been quick to capitalize on that frustration. >> today nevada unemployment is
over 12%. home values have plummeted. and nevada's foreclosure rate is the highest in the nation. i've walked in nevada neighborhoods, brighted by abandoned homes, where people wonder why barack obama failed them. well, mr. president, nevada has had enough of your kind of help. ( cheers and applause ) >> suarez: nevada may have already lived through the worst of the housing crisis. it's far from over. there's still sellers who can't find buyers. buyers who think if they wait just a little bit longer, prices will go down even further, and by one estimate, another 250,000 houses still facing foreclosure. >> i don't think there will be an issue. it's under 15,000. they are getting financing >> suarez: jim brooks is a las vegas realtor who says he sees firsthand that the president's efforts to stop the foreclosure crisis were a failure >> the restraints and the guidelines were so restrictive that less than 10% of our clients even qualified before we
even sat down to have a meeting with them. i was involved with a few personal cases where a client would and should qualify for the money and the banks just weren't forced to release it. there wasn't a whole lot of regulation on the money that was handed out to the lending institutions. >> suarez: brooks says he'll be voting for mitt romney this fall partly because he thinks romney has a better sense of how the marketplace works. >> romney's approach of letting it just... let the flood gates open and let it take its course, i believe that would have worked better than what we had >> suarez: last fall romney told the las vegas review journal's editorial board he didn't favor government intervention into the he e crisis. t obama administration has hammered that point in radio adt going after romney and his running mate >> here's what romney told the review journal. >> don't try and stop the foreclosure process. let it run its course and hit the bottom >> and paul ryan? housing going to have to hit bottom before it comes up
>> romney and ryan would just let home values bottom out. ryan voted against efforts to help responsible nevada families refinance. >> suarez: romney has altered his position in ng saying rdoese favor some action to avoid foreclosure, but his ads are light on specifics >> but this president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took officee >> nevada is is not better off under president obama. the housing crisis and mass foreclosures have devastated nevada. the romney plan for nevada, mitt romney will eliminate obama's excessive regulations, cut taxes for small businesses, improve education and job training, and create over 100,000 new jobs for nevada. >> house has not gotten a lot of attention her here because you basically have one party that doesn't have a plan, the other that has a plan that doesn't work all that well. the consequence, even though
it's the elephant in the room or whatever that saying is, you end up with a situation where neither party really wants to talk a whole lot about it >> basically it's a permanent setback for some of these families >> suarez: that's exactly what frustrates howard watts. that's why he hasn't decided who he'll vote for in the fall. last month his father was forced to short sell the home he had purchased in 2008. the value had dropped from $200,000 to $80,000. when he could no longer keep up with his payments he turned to the federal programs for help >> my dad tried to get in on programs like h.a.m.p. and h.a.r.p. and was denied because at the end of the day they could choose whether or not he got in. there just hasn't been enough relief for the homeowners in nevada and across the country. >> suarez: his father's former house sits in a neighborhood that resembles a ghost town. been abandoned by their owners. other lots sit empty.
never developed beyond the poured concrete driveways. watts works for the progressive leadership alliance of nevada. his organization wants the government to take much stronger action, giving troubled homeowners money to help buy down the principal on their loans >> principal reduction is a huge opportunity to help fix the negative equity in the market, put more money back into nevada's economy and into other economies across the country. but that requires taking an extremely aggressionive stance against the banks. i think that that's what we should do. that's what's just. the banks are the folks that got us into this mess in the first place. >> suarez: but in an election year which has seen both candidates avoid talking about specific economic plans, especially ones that will cost more government money, it's unlikely either candidate will propose any aggressive solutions in these final weeks of campaigning. >> woodruff: between now and election day we'll be visiting
other background >> woodruff: between now and election day, we plan to visit other battleground states, including north carolina, colorado, florida, and ohio. >> ifill: and we turn now to asia, where a land dispute has revived longstanding tensions between china and japan. margaret warner has more. >> warner: chinese police stood three rows deep today keeping crowds of protestors at bay outside the japannese embassy in beijing. the demonstrators brandished posters of the founder of china's communist state. others set japannese flags aflame and lobbed eggs and plastic bottles. officially the protest marked a 1931 incident that triggered japan as' invasion and occupation of china. but the immediate spark was a land dispute in the here and now. it involved five inhab initted islands and three reeves in the
east china sea known as the diaoyu in china and senkaku in japan. the waters are rich inng fenhiis grounds and promising oil and gas deposits and close to important shipping lanes as well. last week japan reignited the long smoldering issue when it bought the islands from private japannese owners. the chinese responded by sending patrol ships into the waters around the islands. drawing objections from tokyo. >> well, there are no doubt that the senkaku islands are an integral part of japannese territorial land and international law so i deeply regret that the chinese government vessels have intruded into japan's terltial sea space. >> warner: then over the weekend large protests erupted in chinese cities targeting japannese embassies and businesses. in some places they turned violent. major japannese companies, including toyota, honda and
cannon temporary closed operations and urged their japannese employees to stay indoors. yesterday the chinese government moved to tamp down the demonstrations, stepping up police presence and announcing arrests. but then reports surfaced of two more japannese activists landing on one of the islands. chinese activists had done the same in the past month. and today chinese media released images of more than 20 chinese fishing vessels arrivingate at the island, a move the foreign minister defended in beijing. china is no longer a victim of bullying. china will not see its territories violated. the japannese purchase of the islands will not get in its way. we urge them to take seriously the chinese people demands, correct their mistakes, stop their violations and get back to the consensus with china and negotiate >> warner: amid the tensions u.s. defense secretary leon panetta was in japan yesterday
and china today. in japan, he urged caution on both sides. >> it's in everybody's interest, it is in everybody's interest for japan and china to maintain good relations and to find a way to avoid further escalation. >> warner: today after meeting with panetta, china's defense minister refused to rule out any options in dealing with japan >> in the future, we will continue to follow very closely the involvement of the situation with regards to this disputement we reserve the right to further action. that being said we still hope for peaceful and negotiatedded solution to this issue. >> warner: secretary panetta continues his three-day visit to china tomorrow. for more now, i'm joined by douglas paal of the carnegie endowment for international peace. he's a former national security council and state department official specializing in asian affairs. and james fallows, national
correspondent for the "atlantic" magazine. he has lived in, and written extensively about, both japan and china. gentlemen, what are we to to make of this? we've seen these passions erupt suddenly over these tiny islands? >> there's an immediate cause for this. it's the anniversary of this controversial episode in chinese history. there is a dispute over the islands themselves but something that's really impressed me over the last 20 years of going to china is is how the level of anti-japanese opinion if anything has gone up. as world war ii has receded into the past the governments' fanning of these resentments seems to have increased. genuine young people popular resentment comes out in times like this >> warner: there seems to be real rage in the streets. what do you think explains it? >> well, there are very strong statements coming out repeatedly from the chinese government saying that japan has stepped across important line involving chinese sovereignty. sovereignty is the issue in the last 150 years in china.
people naturally will respond to it. there are probably also some efforts to reflect the satisfaction with the current government in the way it's handling thing. hidden messages in these protests. carrying the picture might very well suggest the current leadership is not as strung as mao was. >> warner: jim fall owes, is there the same kind of anti-chinese feeling in japan >> it's not a symmetrical relationship at all. china, of course, has many ten times more people than japan does. it's just only recently overtaken its g.d.p., and there is this burning regleptment in china of having been occupied by japan, a memory that is kept alive all the time. japan for its part, most people have much less awareness of the pacific war and their invasion of china that is if anything suppressed in japannese public memory. there is not the same sense awareness of giving. also japan is a more developed society.
it doesn't have these people running through the streets protesting at embassies in the way we're seeing in china now. >> warner: are you all saying that you think the chinese government has actually encouraged this? that it's something a little too hot for them to handle? >> it's a combination of both. on the one hand we have a position to protect. it's a political season both in japan and china. most notably in china. most there are not going to be out patriotized by other people or criticized for not being nationalistic enough. that conditions the atmosphere for the official response. then there are people in the streets. you can either let them run wild and pay a price for that. they can't do that. they're trying to hold that back under some control. you can try to lead it and run ahead of the crowd. this happened several times in chinese history in the past. sometimes governments have stumbled trying to do that. this government seems to be stabilizing the situation. >> warner: so what's at stake economically here in this sort of trade and investment relationship between these two
countries? it's big, isn't it? >> a tremendous amount. i think as secretary panetta was saying, everybody will lose if this gets out of control. china has obvious both economic and strategic relationships with the u.s. but also with japan. you go to any factory in china. it's good to export to the u.s. and europe but the machine tools are from japan. there's very, very tight relationship between these economies. it is sort too important a situation for either of them to let really get out of control >> warner: you've been involved, doug paal, in trying to encourage and facilitate investment in china and asia. are japannese businesses, do you think they could possibly think twice about their investments in china? >> they will think twice. they've made a big bet on china as the platform for their industrial production because japannese costs and populations are going in opposite directions. and so china has got... japan has a big $80 billion plus investment and a $345 billion trade relationship >> warner: by investment you mean there are factories there?
>> factories... warner: selling and making and selling? >> right. they're big in chinese market as well as using it as an export platform for other markets including our own and japan >> warner: jim, do you think... i'm sorry. >> i was just going to say we're seeing things about china that reflect the difficulties it's still having as emerge ing from the modern state. the crowd of people running through the streets to the governments both encouraging and being somewhat fearful of this nationalit sentiment. we're seeing editorials in the last day or two urging people to sort of ratchet it back down. violence is not an answer >> warner: you said you've noticedded in all your years going about how much more virulent the anti-japanese sentiment is. give us one example >> for example, if you talk to college students who are 18 or 19 years old whose grandparents might have suffered under japannese oppression during world war ii, they will talk about how they burn with hostility about what the japannese did to them. it's as if you found people in israel right now being mainly
angry at germany which is not the main sentiment in israel right now. it's a real conundrum. >> warner: the u.s., of course, harelationships with japan and china. is that a factor in all of this? >> well, i don't think the chinese want the u.s. to be a factor but the u.s. is the ally of japan. and the united states has policy for longstanding that despite the fact that these territories are disputed, japan administers them and will support the defense of those islands in a crisis. the u.s. is in the game. what's been interesting is in the last couple of days, as your lead-up showed, secretary panetta has gone to japan first, showed our important alliance strength and still managed to go to china and have what is on first notice a pretty solid visit, a constructive visit with the chinese. they make their points about japan but they're making very positive points about deepening and strengthening the u.s.
military-to-military relationship, something both washington and beijing have agreed they needed to do. >> warner: where is this headed? it looks at the moment as if it's backing off. i think all sides have an interest is not letting it become a genuine crisis. it's also a reminder to the united states of why it is seen as important by many nations in asia that we stay as a balancing factor in the military relationship there >> warner: china doesn't like that >> they would prefer it to having japan arm itself. so everybody resents the u.s. presence but is more comforting than the most obvious alternative >> warner: do you have a prediction? >> i think it will calm down but the issues will be simmering for some time. all the territorial maritime issues that are taking place now are of a peace. the political process is still playing out in china. the leaders there want to contain the damage to themselves but they don't want to be so suppressing of popular opinion that they're seen as opposing popular will on the issue of sovereignty >> warner: or out of touch.
doug paal and jim fall owes, thank you. >> woodruff: next, seeking peace in syria and around the globe. jeffrey brown talks to former u.n. secretary general kofi annan. >> brown: kofi annan's first career u.n. staffer to rise to head the organization has spent more than 40 years dealing with one international crisis or another. and the problems of bringing the international community together to deal with them. he tells that story in a new book "enter jennings: a life in war and peace. "from the young man in newly independent ghana to a nobel peace-prize winning secretary general of the united nations to most recently his role as a special envoy to syria. the mission, one that failed, of finding an end to that still unfolding drama. as he makes clear in his book and when we spoke yesterday at the council on foreign relations in new york, the organization and the world continued to be
haunted by the tragic failures of the 1990s. the collapse of the peace keeping mission in somalia and the starvation and killings in the civil war, the genocide of at least 800,000 people in rwanda that occurred as annan writes "under the gaze of the u.n. peace keeping operation." and ethnic cleansing in bosnia including the massacre at u.n.-designated safe areas >> in all these cases, part of the reasons for failure perhaps was the true nature of the crisis. the resources that would be required and exaggerated expectations of what the u.n. troops can do >> brown: particularly in cases where it becomes a civil war, right? >> exactly. brown: it becomes clear in the book especially as you look at this period that you took these failures personally >> yes, i took it personally in the sense that often we saw the
human suffering. you saw the traumas that people livedded through and wonderd what it would take to move us as a humanity to help in these dangerous and sad situations. you cannot see the conditions on the ground and not feel it intensely. as one of my predecessors said, our objective is not to take people to heaven but to prevent humanity from going to hell. that's a tough job. it's something you do every day. you have to wake up every day ready to start again. >> brown: you're saying that governments have not done a good job of explaining to their citizens the risks or the... or even the role of the u.n. as a peace-keeping institution? >> that's part of that. also w as the u.n. have to take some of the blame because we have not lowered ex-peck takeses, creating the impression we are here to save people.
even when we have very limited resources. we have to be very clear with the population and the countries we enter what we can do and what we cannot do >> brown: let me turn to syria. you served as a special envoy. you forgedded a proposal that was never carried ow. you left expressing great frustration about the syrian government, the opposition and notably the international community. >> i think we knew the syrian situation was complex. there were lots of divisions. particularly on the side of the opposition. we also know that there were divisions in the region that we needed to try and bridge. but above all i told the council members it's a tough job. i'm going to try... it can perhaps be done if you stand united and work with me in putting sustained pressure on the protagonists or the parties to come together and seek a political settlement.
they all indicated they would. they supported it and was endorsed by a security council resolution. but there was more passive support. >> brown: did that surprise you? to some extent. but i kept working hard with them. they all signd on on the 30th of june. i expected them to come to new york and endorse it through a resolution. they came to new york and started fighting on other issu issues. they put forward resolutions with the russians and the chinese vetoed which i knew they would veto because they had told us in geneva they would. in the process they dropped the ball on the substance. yet at the end of the day, they're going to need that political settlement to resolve the issue. i don't see a situation where one side will win militarily and there will be peace and quiet, a
clean victory >> brown: you expected them to come together. they clearly did not. you used some rather undiplomatic language, i think. criticizing finger pointing and name calling in the security council. he felt angry? >> i was disappointed. i was, yes, you can say i was angry. because people were dying. you know, these divisions in the international community... the syrians... but we have enabled it by the divisions between us. >> brown: but this goes back to the larger argument of your book. the whole history of the peace keeping much dois it suggest the "washington post" columnist david ignatius citing syria's situation and in context of your book and he says it suggests the u.n. today is bootless. >> when he said it's bootless, it can be both ways. boots on ground which we don't have.
and >> brown: literally bootless and then the question of do they have power to do this? but the u.n. power comes from concerted action of the governments. you will notice in the syrian situation, it was fine when i was doing the work for the others. everybody hiding behind me and saying we support so-and-so. and at the same time they were criticizing the u.n. and the envoy. when i stepped back, they had to confront the issues themselves directly. suddenly i noticed that report changed. the press asking where are the member-states? what are they doing? and suddenly you hear them talking about russia, china, the u.s. and france. but until then, it was a special envoy who has not done this or the u.n. has not done this >> brown: did you use the expression "hiding behind me"? is that how it feels sometimes
>> sometimes it feels that brown: the countries and others are hiding behind... >> we have a scapegoat role if you wish and an alibi role. when one side is desperate and doesn't think you can do anything about this and understands that something must be done, that something usually leads to the u.n. you dump it on the u.n. and as the member-state you've done something. those incompetent people in the hundred are not delivering. and my predecessor used to say the letters s.g. does not stand for secretary-general but scapegoat. >> brown: but it leads to the question after all these years that you document in the book and up to syria whether the whole notion of the international community and peace keeping is basically a noble failure. >> i wouldn't say it's a noble failure. we've had some successes.
it can be improved. i think the peace keeping can do quite a lot. if they are given the right funding for the commensurate resources to get the job done. what is required is that to ponder the questions i have raised and for the member-states to ask themselves what sort of reforms are needed >> brown: the new book "interventions: a life in war and peace." kofi annan, thank you >> thank you very much. >> ifill: and for a fresh take on a painful period in this country's history, we turn to tonight's episode of the "american experience." it examines how the enormous loss of life in the civil war-- about 750,000 men were killed on both sides-- forever changed the way americans view death, war, and the sacrifices made by our military.
the documentary is based on historian drew gilpin faust's book, "this republic of suffering." in this excerpt, she describes the aftermath of the battle of gettysburg, where more than 7,000 men died. e battle in july and people were still putting pepper mipt oil on their faces when frost comes in the fall because the stench of the dead bodies is still in the air.hi the month after the battle that my asthma of death and loss and decay is hanging over that town, how could people live through that and not be transformed? >> something new in the american experience would now begin to arise from the fields of gettysburg. as in the days, weeks and months following the battle,heiny pennsylvania town now became the
setting for one of the greatest collective efforts to honor the dead. in the history of the republic. though no formal policy or appropriation for burying the dead would emerge during the war itself, the year before congress had passedded measures giving the president and the war department the power to purchase land near battlefields. as circumstance and public health concerns dictated. often adjacent to the overflowing military hospitals. but the burial ground that now began to take shape south of gettysburg, one of five federal military cemeteries created during the war for the dead of a particular battle. would go far beyond the practical needs of disposing of dead bodies. not long after the battle with financial help from every state in the union that had lost men in the engagement, a local lawyer named david wills oversaw
the purchase of 17 acres in the town which were soon taken over by the federal government. in october, contracts were let for the reburial of union soldiers on the new ground. at the rate of $1.59 for each body. one month later in november 1863, a host of tig any taries from boston, philadelphia, and washington including president lincoln himself journeyed to gettysburg to dedicate the new soldiers' national cemetery there. lincoln's brief but soaring remarks, like the new burial ground itself, with its rows of identical graves radiating symmetrically and democratically around the cemetery's central focus marked a seismic shift in governmental attitude and policy towards the dead. one that said that the dead were no longer simply the
responsibility of their famili families, that they and their loss and their meaning belonged to the nation. tteburg address istt a statement about finding the redemption in the dead.. but we need to that in that cemetery that day, half those coffins weren't even buried yet. graves were still open. this was a place of death, mass death. where lincoln tried to craft this statement of so, what does it mean? it is a kind of statement that if this war has purpose, if all these dead have died for something meaningful, then it means we are going to redefine this country. in effect, the gettysburg address is saying, the first republic just died here.
it's being buried in those graves. we together now have to rebuild it. we have to remake it. we have to win this war first. and then remake it. >> ifill; "death and the civil war" airs later tonight on most pbs stations. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. republicans scrambled to contain the damage from remarks by mitt romney that nearly half of americans believe they are "victims" who deserve government support. for writing off a big chunk of the country. and this evening the chicago teachers' union voted to suspend the strike and resume classes ahead of a vote to ratify a new contract. last night, we aired a story about climate change, and we posted an additional interview with anthony watts, a climate skeptic. tonight we've added much more. hari sreenivasan explains. >> sreenivasan: watts said temperature data from weather stations was flawed. we've posted a response from the national oceanic and atmospheric administration in its entirety,
saying records of the surface temperature in the u.s. can be trusted, and that there is definitive proof of the climate getting warmer. spencer also added excerpts from other interviews that he did for the story, including comments from dr. richard muller and his daughter elizabeth, who researched the topic. that's on our home page. also, we point to much more of our coverage on climate change with links to several of the stories we've produced in the past. plus, tonight's edition of "frontline" follows rebel fighters in aleppo, syria, during the bloody month of august. find a link to "the battle for syria" on our web site. all that and more is at newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at myanmar's pro-democracy leader, aung san suu kyi, as she receives congress' highest civilian honor. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you onlin and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: nl
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