tv Charlie Rose WHUT April 28, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
>> charlie: welcome to our program. the question tonight is there a new evolving obama foreign policy as a consequence of the arab spring. we talked to ryan lizza of the new yorker magazine. >> if the united states has gone to militarily intervene in another muslim country, it should really do it in a way that downs plays our involvement. it should do it in a way where they were pushing from the back. they were pushing the actors in front. so we want the arab league to support the intervention and the arab league did. we want the un to support the intervention which the obama administration got to do. that is my understanding of leading from behind means, means that the united states doesn't
have to beat its chest. >> charlie: with the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the civil war in april, we talked to jon meacham about the three-volume history of the civil war by shelby foote. >> what he did was take history that is too often a series of dates and a series of names, and make you feel it. and at its best, that's what great history does. >> charlie: we conclude this evening with christy turlington who is a famous model and has become a health advocate and has a new documentary film about maternal death in child birth. >> the day my daughter was born was one of the greatest days of bu life. it also became the scariest. wh the care i needed,
too many women don't. out of hundreds of thousands of women that are dying each year, 90% of those deaths were preventible. ask that give me some hope that surely we could be doing a better job if 90% are preventible. so i should have delved in to understand and to explore and figure out some solutions. >>harlie: ryan lizza, jon meacham and christy turlington what we continue. >> we need a hero we all can root for who beats the odds and comes out on top. that this isn'tust hollywood story line, it's happening evey day all across america the every time a storefront opens or a for a real her support small business. shop small.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. the drawn sweeping the middle put a spot on obama's foreign paul z is there an obama doctrine. has events or strategies shaped it. the administration influences a person's decision and his thinking. president obama announced today chiedges to his national security team. the shuffling was prompted by the secretary of defense robert gates at the end of june. >> we have the defense department with general petraeus at the ci; crosswalker -- i will
look to them and my entire national security team for their counsel, continuity and unity of effort that this moment in history demands. >> charlie: secretary gates who is now one of the longest service defense secretaries in u.s. history spoke about his service. >> my highest priority from my first day in office has been to do everything i could for our uniform minute and women in harm's way -- men and women in harm's way to help them accomplish their mission, to come home safely, and if wounded, toet them the best possible care from battlefield to home front. i've done my best to care for them as though they were my own sons and daughters. and i will miss them deeply. >> charlie: secretary robert gates talking with the president today. joining me now is ryan lizza, he sponnt rshth nee "wrek" y the "new yo. his piece in ctheurrent issue
the consequentialist how the arab spring remade obama's foreign policy. i'm pleased to have ryan on this program for the first time many welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> charlie: what do you make of this? what does this appoint, these appointments to defense and petraeus to cia, crocker to afghanistan. >> the first thing is when he becomes comfortable with people, he likes to figure out a way to reassign them and keep them on his team. he does this on other relevant's besides foreign policy. the other thing to say robert gates leaving is significant because there you had the sort of purest realest on the tame. someone who is the deputy national security advisers in the first bush administration. that voice, i don't know who is going to take up that position now. it all has implications for
hillary clinton and robert gates on a lot of issue over the last couple years. they went to the national security council meetings. the two of them being there was very powerful and very difficult for other players. >> charlie: that was more often true than not. >> more often true. actually clinton and gates advisors both told me they can't be on a single major issue the two of them disagreed on until intervention in libya. the other thinking that says to me is, the cia director going to run the pentagon. it tells you about the involvements the cia has had in wars, in our recent military campaigns. one of the things the obama advisors emphasized over and over again with me is that this idea of rebalancing, we have these huge military footprints in iraq and afghanistan and they
are very intent on reducing those military foot prints. they're intent in reorganizing our military for future wars and fighting counterterrorism and using smaller footprints. >> that's the part that took place in the obama administration. it was said at the time by president biden who was strongly advocating not a current insurgency was a counterterrorism strategy. if you're going after al-qaeda do that, don't fight a war. >> the afghanistan contradicts some of the larger principles that the obama administration has outlined about how they want u.s. foreign policy to look in a few years. so they talk a lot about rebalancing. they talk a lot about the u.s. being overstretched militarily in the middle east, devoting too much diplomatic time and attention to the middle east. and what we really should be
doing is reorienting our foreign policy to asia and the pacific. well, surging 30,000 troops into afghanistan countered that strategy as a lot of people out. similarly getting involved in libya could certainly contradict that strategy. in a sense they keep getting if you can in this regional word but they want to unstick the united states. >> charlie: it is said with respect petraeus very much expanding the special operations in afghanistan which is kind of the war of the future i suspect they're talking about. and secondly, that annettea had used the aic in a kind of a para military way. so those two strains of the same thing are becoming awe scentant. what the cia has done and of fan stan -- you're absolutely right about that. one thing i will say about
petraeus going to the cia. there has not been a good track record for the generals and admirals in this administration taking on civilian roles. jim jones, obama's first national security advisers was not an affected national security advisers. >> charlie: why not? >> well, i mean he had a very strong deputy who is now the national security advisers. >> charlie: but strong in a sense he understood the way washington is. >> exactly. and jim jones didn't. remember he came from a general to the washington bureaucracy is a big shift. you're not necessarily ordering people to do things, you are fighting turf. you're in a political battle. >> charlie: and you never consistently won. >> exactly. and i remember interviewing rahm emanuel once. sometimes there's intention between the national security advisers and chief of staff because they are both big voices in the whitehouse. he said that's why i've got tom
dawnland and jim jones as deputy. i've known tom dawnland all my life and if there's any problems i've got tall here. tom became extremely respected, he knew all the plairdz, he's a workaholic. he's got strong ideas. >> charlie: take us through the evolution of this president in terms of whatever philosophy he had about america's role during his senatorial life and all during the campaign which was a rather short time, to being president in his first two and-a-half years. how it has evolved and where it is now and what shaped it. >> the thing to remember, you always have to remember this about barack obama, in my first meeting with him, he was overseeing a hearing in the spring of 2004 about the danger of a plastic toy called the yo-yo water ball. now this guy's involved in three wars. so how do you get the yo-yo
water ball -- that's basically what the piece is about. and look, he started thinking seriously about foreign policy obviously as a senator and running for the senate. and that was a point in time in the democratic party where there was a big disruptive debate about foreign policy, where this consensus, this liberal international consensus that had taken shape at the end of the clinton administration had really lost credibility in the minds of a lot of people because a lot of people thought that humanitarian intervention idealistic foreign policy had been used and cooperated by the neo conservatives and george w. bush and used to serve the iraq war. you had a lot of folks who thought the democratic party finally had a solid foundation for a foreign policy, and it really gets out of the ashes of the iraq war, it starts to look very bad.
and so there's an effort in the democratic party to do something new, and one direction you could go is in a purely realist direction, concentrate on the interest of the united states, play down. >> charlie: define america's national security. >> exactly. play down the hectoring about democracy which a lot of people in the middle east associated with military venturism. that's the direction that appealed to obama, i think it partly appealed to him because he was thinking about running for president. and he obviously knew hillary clinton would be his opponent and that kind of foreign policy would put her aside for the iraq war and would look very good. he pulled the iraq war. he has a realist direction. he pulled out people like the national security adviser, sort of the reigning realist of the democratic party. during the campaign he makes some comments that really push him in that direction.
he talks about how george h.w. bush's foreign policy is very appealing to him and he admires. >> charlie: what does he admire. >> he has said he admired the way the first bush handled the collapse of communism. and the changes in eastern europe. he had said that. he praised skullcrofnational se. at one proint in the campaign he actually says my foreign policy is a return to the foreign policy and he kind of mixes some ideologies here because it's a return to kennedy, to george h.w. bush and even in some ways ronald reagan. he was really hinting that a modesty, modesty in foreign policy, he's down playing of ideology and a down playing of adventures in the world. and that helped him, i think, both politically but it helped him. both were associated with the
catastrophe in iraq. so with that authority he gets into office and what does this mean? he has, he faces a country and the world where the united states is militarily overstretched in the middle east. economically in very dire stratits. the -- you're not going to do that if you're hectoring prudent about demonstrate democracy. he reemphasized china. >> charlie: he wanted to be the first specific president. >> exactly. and in the middle east, if you want to restart the peace process between israel and the
palestinians, you need mubarak and you need the other rulers in the region to help with that. so you're not -- >> charlie: that's where he had moved to. >> that's where he had moved to. the best example of course is -- and he isn't that video message in his first year, to not just the iranian people but to the regime himself. he acknowledges this is, this regime is in some sense is legitimate. and that was the way he was going to, by engaging them in the sense legitimizing, that was the way you were going to stop the weekly program. >> charlie: so there are fascinating examples of people who had an influence. and he's reaching out to people, you see. over the long course of this to brezinski and other people like that. there's a four hour lunch with samantha power who was at the white house national security
council and along with susan wright and others who had some influence in terms of stopping the possible slaughter by gadhafi. >> the issue here is the uprisings in the middle east. that's this freight carrier of american foreign policy is churning here in response to these up risings in the middle east. it's no longer tenable to have a foreign policy that emphasizes state to state relationships because these states are all becoming illegitimate. it's clear to everyone how illegitimate they are. that's why the subtitle is how we made this foreign policy. now i think it's unfair, i think the conventional wisdom about how a certain group of advisors pushed obama into intervening libya is not quite right. at the end of the day the president makes the decision, right. i think what's important about it is one, he overall gates on
the decision. >> charlie: gates defined libya as not national. >> he said publicly not in our vital interest. i think that decision suggests a certain amount of growth in this president, getting a little more comfortable in the job. gates and his level of experience saying don't do this. you know, that's -- >> charlie: where was secretary clinton. >> clinton is pretty well known, was calling for intervention. >> charlie: from the beginning. >> from early on. but what happened was, there was a lot of confusion about, remember everyone was calling for a no fly zone, right. so i was with them on these trips. she was going and meeting with her counterparts around the world trying to figure out who was in the fly zone and who wasn't and what it actually meant. what she told me is she would go into these meetings especially with arab leaders and she says gates tells me the first you go
into a fly zone is to bomb libya, bomb their air defenses. we don't want america bopping in another eastern country. these a little period where the united states wasn't doing anything. there was a period of diplomacy going on in educating other actors about what intervention would mean and what kind of intervention was necessary to help the situation. >> so if you're defining obama's foreign policy today, there is this expression that comes out of your article leading from behind. >> yes. >> you hear it over and over and over. what does that mean? >> it turns out this is a phrase that nelson mandela used. so if you're going to criticize, obama's -- now this phrase has come out, obama's been criticized for it. if you're going to criticize it, you have to reckon with the fact someone is a pretty well
respected leader like mandela, adopted it as his own model. i think it applies to libya what it means is very specifically if the united states is going to militarily intervene in another muslim country, it should really do it in a way that down plays our involvement. it should do it in a way where we're pushing from the back, we're pushing other actors in front, so we want the arab league to support the intervention and the arab league -- we want the un to support the intervention which the [ obama administration. that means the united states doesn't have to beat its chest. >> charlie: this is reflected in libya because you made the humanitarian instinct to stop a massacre. but then quickly said this is a very short period of time for us, we're going to the back and we'll leave it to the french and the brits to do. >> yes.
although we see there is the problem because a lot of the cape -- capabilities to do something. >> charlie: under this new obama doctrine what is the next action. >> that's the problem with the libya intervention you have a very clear case of satisfying this city that's on the cusp of being perhaps raised. so the president is presented with this option reporting the pieces until he had an intelligence briefing about the situation on the ground and he was given the options. and in a sense that's an easy decision, saving benzagi. it gets much harder after that. >> charlie: that's air power. >> yes. one thing to point out is has lost in a lot of coverage. the option on the table for intervention in libya was a no fly zone. the whole world is calling for a no fly zone.
french and uk pushing obama into this, no fly zone. even the rebels. there are no planes being used to you a tack these guys, they're in teedges. so obama goes to dinner and he says we'll come up with some military options that does something with the situation. he comes back and they presented hm with some more robust options. now he has to tell his u.n. ambassador, go to new york and get the security council not to awe daunt a no fly zone which everyone was close to being for but all necessary means military intervention in libya. if that's leading from behind, those results are fairly impressive. >> charlie: if you brought a mandate. my sense is that, you know, that this is a president hu really wishes we didn't have of gaffe stan and iraq because he really does want to focus on what he
thinks is the issue of the future, which is america's presence in asia and the extraordinary change in that country and especially with china. >> yes. we don't get to choose, do we. >> charlie: does he have a strategy for that. that's part of the foreign policy strategy. >> i think they do. >> charlie: it can be kicked to whatever we've learned about him and the way he thinks from the middle east. >> what we're really talking about is this rebalancing goal that they talk about disengaging to a certain, the tent in the middle east, reengaging in happen. a lot of that has happened. they've done a lot of quiet work rebuilding alliances with south korea and japan and vietnam is very important to this administration. india, really elevated the relossship between the united states and india. >> charlie: first they did it with -- >> exactly. so tom friedman has called this
sort of containment light strategy. in other words really enhancing relationships with the countries and circling china. what happened on the policy on china took a u turn halfway through. obama like every president came in and said oh we're going to fix this relationship. we're not going to be as rocky, we're not going to be as confrontational with china. and what his china advisorsznód me was that that was interpreted by the chinese as weakness. and it's very important moment about halfway in when hillary clinton does a speech in hanoi and it's an obscure issue of the south china sea. and she makes a very big speech and says the united states has a role in the south china sea.t%o this is a big deal to the chinese. since then our policy with china has been more confrontational. of the example of how your view of the world never survives the
actual reality of president. >> charlie: what is it actually. you lay it out and you quote a lot of insiders talking about the president so what kind of blow back do you get from the whitehouse, not only what they said but what others said. >> i haven't gotten much blow back from folks i talked to. the most, you know, it's a bit of rorahact test. this shows us the weakless obama we thought. other liberals have said and there are e-mails that said this is why i supported this guy for president, this piece shows that he adapts when his strategy isn't working and it shows that he's not george w. bush. so look, this is the first chapter, right. we're only in year three and the beginning of year three. whatever we describe as the [ obama doctrine today will be
different in a couple years. >> charlie: and you have an obama that says himself that he understands unless the nation has a stronger economy the national security suffers. >> that's a pretty important point when you get into the wheels and deals and debates. if you want a really idealistic foreign policy, if you want america outñi there spread are r ideals, pushing democracy in other countries, no country can do that if it's not economically strong. i think that explains a lot of this realist in that first year and-a-half or two years. >> charlie: this month we remarked the 150th anniversary of the start of the civil war. it was one of the costliest and deadliest wars in american history. random house is rereleasing a civil war a narrative by the late shelby foote. it's being replushed with aal collection of new essays edited by john jon meacham. i'm pleased to have the executive editor at random house back at this table.
welcome. >> thank you sir. >> charlie: why this? >> it's the americanñi iliad. shelby foote. >> charlie: he's the american homer. >> that's exactlyñi right. you connected the dot. just can't keep them down. you know, he wrote 1.5 million words about the war. it started out as bennett search, the great random house chiefton asked him to do a brief project for the end of the war 1954. it was going to be 18 months tops. 19 years later and 1.5 million given, longer than decline and fall, you have this remarkable novelistic treatment of the war that i think is the best account of.sdv what it must have felt like to have fought. >> charlie: that was his seen just. he took you to the battle feed. >> it was the smell of the gunpowder, it was the food they had to eat, it was the weather on the battle fields.
>> charlie: you also suggest that he was sort of the four runner of the new journalism. >> i think he's uncredited author of it, i do. tom wolf, obviously much much more prominent that that. he was the first big novelist to write big non-fiction in our time. there are issues with the books. clearly he was a white southerner. he wrote from that perspective. he rote during the civil rights movement, so it was a little more informed by a sense of the moral issues of the time. but what he did, i think, was take history that is too often a series of dates and a series of names and made you feel it. and at its best, that's what great history does. >> charlie: his great hero
was william faulkner. >> the book was mississippi. faulkner was the great god from mississippi and he really wanted to be faulkner who summed it all up in requieu. he's writing it through nashville. everything, this is foote's great line to ken burns. everything we are or will be goes back to the civil war. and in that marvelous phrase, i think in the first ken burns told me in the first eight or nine minutes of the taping of the filmingñi of foote when fooe
said it's the crossroads of our being. i think it's the greatest single homerric tag to the war. >> charlie: so the civil war defined us the kind of country we would be. someone said in the revolutionary war we created the country and the civil war we defined what kind of country it would be. >> yes. and i would say a memory frame and look at the expea asian and a sinewy struggle with. the twin original sins in the country i think were slavery and the removal of native americans. and the civil war was the great fire to use lincoln's image that we came through the fiery trial. and if it had gone the other way, if ourñi native region had won, lord knows what would have happened.
we would have become i think añr playground for european colonial mowers. we would not have been the country we were to fight the second world war. we wouldn't have been the country we were to fight the cold war. >> charlie: we owe a lot to lincoln. >> i guess weso3 owe everythingo lincoln ultimately. >> charlie: what about robert e. lee, what will history say about them. >> he's great for a biography because he's so encrustedñr in myth and legend and sort of this, i'd argue the now kind of gentleman aura. these a sense he struggled to defend the nation or defend virginia and he thought virginia was his country and all that. i think the truth is more
complicated. i think that he represented i think one of the least attractive aspects of the southern character in those days, and to some extent in these, which is this old cavalier kind of sense that in fact the south is the true descendant of the great english aristocrats. whenever you explain you are an aristocrat you probably not. >> charlie: we're talking about virginia. >> chapter line in virginia. >> charlie: what is it that shelby foote said something is not fact until you love it. >> the historian has a powerful essay in this little book about that exactçó issue.
he's in cello, one of the great books in our time. i think what she's getting at is of course she quoted robert that said that the civil war is our felt history and i think that continues to be true. particularly for southerners, 600,000 casualties, people my age could still find the nabals in the yard. it is very real, it is very present. but there's a difference and annette is brilliant on this. the difference between memory and history and she makes the correct point that a legitimate criticism of foote is that his history is perhaps overly informed by memory, by the myth of the war as opposed to what historians are charged with doing, which is assessing the facts and telling the story clearly, but also rendering
judgment. and i'd argue maybe not annette that it's the rendering of judgment that becomes the most important moral test of history. not so that we can feel superior to guys who screwed it often in the past but that we might be able to figure out how they got out of this mess or that mess and how that might hip us get out of or own messes. >> charlie: here is the late shelby foote on this program talking about the literary genius of abraham lincoln. here it is. >> he was a true literary artist. his use of the word based mainly on the bible but on other things. he's one of the great american writers. the writing is so good that i as a mississippi schoolboy was required to memorize the getty'sberg address. if myho% late grandfather has bn successful in his attempt. but i was required to memorize
that simply because it's so wel written. >> charlie: if you write history are you a historian by definition. >> good question. i think so. >> good question. ht exploded across america. [laughter] hearing that. >> charlie: from the academy. >> from the academy. i think so. if shelby foote's thought a historian, what is he. at the a biographer? not really. >> charlie: the novelistic quality that he brought was the simple fact that he wanted to tell the stories of the lives of the people who are on the ground. that was the war he wanted us to appreciate, feel. >> he wanted us to understand in the way homer did. homer told the story of the great war of the ancient world through the lives of the leaders and of the men, right? i mean, we don't get a great political disposition about the
causes of the trojan war in the iliad. what do we get? we get the rage of the achilles, we get the body of hector. that's a great story, that's great history. clearly there are the issues about whether something is overly novelistic and therefore you wandered into invention. props the better word for what foote did is cinematic. because novelists -- you see it, you feel it. >> charlie: i got you. he used words to create a visual impression. >> a raw gusty day. he took, there are no footnotes. >> charlie: no, none. >> he didn't have a secretary or even an editorial assistant. this was one guy over 20 years
slaving away. they look like his handwriting looks like a monastic scroll. it's remarkable. and he would type it. and walker percy was a good friend in his adulthood and they would correspond about it. and he would, i think most writers have moments like this. there's a stray line in a letter, i killed lincoln off at noon today. he spent so many years with him. and then so he lived in that way. and i think that's, you know, the war was so complicated. there are many battles i didn't understand until i read foote. and there are, you know, i know a lot of people who will tell you that the sweep of the war which wasn't a to b to c, it was all over the place as you know.
i didn't really understand. >> charlie: here is foote at this very table talking about abraham lincoln not his literary quality. here it is. >> it's always difficult to talk about a genius was so much of it can't beaccounted for. there's no question he's our greatest president. i have no doubt about that at all. >> charlie: because this. >> his skill at political maneuver, they alws talk about slick willie amused me. slick willie reported going to school is one of the slickest that ever lived. >> charlie: slickest in what way. >> he could maneuver around people. he cld doing i can't do and i' bet you can't. he had a man sitting there talking to him andaw the man had a very low opinion of him. lincoln would not make a move to disabuse him of that notion until the time came to use it against him and he would close
in. >> charlie: biography. you've written franklin and winston. you've written andrew jackson, you're working on george bush, you're working on thomas jefferson. what is it you look for and how do you know you've got it? >> i write these books because i find the drama of the frail flawed sinful imperfect man or woman finding a moment or two of transcendence where you overcome and use those frailties for the greater good. >> charlie: so george bush was 41. >> he was 4 1. he of the last gentleman. >> charlie: it's a great title. >> thank you. he is that and it's not to romanticize or sentimentize a bit because gentleman have their
rough edges. he was a politician. he went into politics in about 1962. >> charlie: was he born to it? in other words was he a natural? >> you know, he thinks he was. he thinks -- >> charlie: most people wouldn't think. >> no. in fact he's very funny about that. he has talked to me about people say i'm not a good campaigner, i always thought i was better at it than they thought. which tells you a lot right there because he wouldn't really bother to disabuse them. he had a series of aids over 40 or 50 years who all said things like george, foregod's sake don't say inculcate. that's jim bakker's story. but he was always the guy on the ballot wasn't he and he i think was driven absolutely by a sense of service, came from his father, came from his mother.
but he was also driven by the rawest kind of competitiveness which was to be the captain of the team, to be number one. to be president of the united states. and if he had simply wanted to serve he could run a service kitchen. >> charlie: what you're saying about bush 41 was that he had this competitive instinct. >> yes. >> charlie: sort of camouflaged by the fact he was the last gentleman. >> yes. and that one of the reasons he's such a complicated figure. one of the reasons i think he has been, he's had moments of articulation that have not been all they could be, to put it in its own stilted way. i think he hears these two voices in his head. >> charlie: stuff and
competitive versus civil and ... >> gracious. they use to call him half half. whoever was with him would give him half his food. he was always, always, there are thousands of people who think they are george bush's best friend. and they're probably all right. >> charlie: as we're looking at president obama, more than anyone else makes references to george bush 41. >> yes. gave him the medal of freedom which was very interesting. he's very interested, obama's very interested in bush 41's experience because when you think back at the 89 to 93 period, the things that president bush did that basically defeated him in real time, the tax deal in 1990 in which he raised taxes in order to balance, put us on a path to a balanced budget. not going all the way to baghdad
and then his unemotional response to the fall of the wall and the end of communism, we now know all three of those things to have been right andñi to have paid off. and he paid in real time a political price for arm though things. and in each case he knew he would. when he raised taxes in 1990. he knew that that could cost him the election. and obama knows that story. my point is that he was going to pay the ultimate political price to do the right thing. that is a story and obama thinks in stories, that is a story that is very appealing to a president in real time who is paying all these incremental prices because maybe -- a one-term president maybe somewhere down the road somebody's going to give the medal of freedom because they realize you did the right thing.
>> charlie: thank you for coming. >> thank you sir. >> charlie: christy turlington is here. she is a mother, a long time health advocate, a model and now a director. her film no woman no cry follows four women in now different countries. it presents the challenges that pregnant women face which too often result in death. here is a look at the film. >> she was at the clinic for a full day and night. there are only four beds. the nurses needed to make room for other patients arriving. she had no choice but to go home. it's a five mile walk.
>> [speaking foreign language] >> charlie: i am pleased to have christy turlington at this table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you. >> charlie: tell me how you got so involved in this subjecting that we ought to know about this subject. >> it's a pretty personal reason i got involved. i had a complication when i delivered my daughter grace seven and-a-half years ago. a complication that was easily managed in a on in new york city but one i learned shortly thereafter was the leading cost of maternity worldwide and that's postpartum. the care i wanted and needed wasn't enough for me i wanted to
understand more why women were not getting that care. i learned out of the hungtz of thousands of women were dying, 90% of those deaths were preventible. that gave me some hope that surely we could be doing a better job that's 90% preventible. so i delved in to understand and to explore and figure out some solutions. >> charlie: when did it become a film. >> it became a film i guess about a year after i deliveredded grace. i went back to travel around the world and i was pregnant the second time. by being pregnant and by visiting a rural community in l salvador which is where my mom was originally. i visited a group who were using this opportunity to educate and give a little personal care in that situation. and it was there really that i looked around and i thought if i was here when i had my complication with grace, i would have been dead. i definitely would have been dead. and i think that was the moment
where i thought this is the issue i want to really focus on. but the film then came out of the the idea that people felt so disconnected to women around the world, women in the west. and i thought this is some of those universal experiences, pregnant and child birth. if i could help to bring these stories into the homes of women who might not feel that connection that we could actually come together and help to make some solutions. >> charlie: you chose tanzania, guatemala, bangladesh and america. we saw i guess janet, is that her name. >> yes. >> charlie: from tanzania. how did you choose these stories? what was it you were trying to tell by the selection of these women and these stories. >> well i really wanted to show this was a global problem. maternal mortality is a problem that in most countries they face it to some degree. the highest burden of course is in africa so i chose tanzania mainly because it's one of the top 11 countries with the highest rate of mortality in the world and also because it's a
country that's primed to have success. the president there has been very vocal as a leader amongst the african union on this issue and so i thought this is a country that's high burden but also a political well peace in order. but i looked to address barriers in each of those territories, each of those regions. and obviously in tanzania the lack of human resources is a problem but the fact there are rural areas like janet. >> charlie: within five miles and the clinic was inadequate. >> if you don't inhose scenarios where you have a complication, if you don't have access to emergency obstetric care, they can't really do anything for you. they can refer you and there's a whole other problem which is transport. >> charlie: in bangladesh there was monica. >> monica, yes. she's an amazing woman. we found her through a program in bangladesh. it was a program that dealt with the urban slums there in daca. they had an amazing program
where they created like clean birth huts. this is a population where they deliver outside of a facility. it's traditional to give birth at home. but monica 's situation was one in trying to understand this cultural barrier, cultural and social, you know. you don't have a lot of freedom as a woman in certain soatsz. this is the largest, fourth largest muslim community in the world. and to really get under that and understand why she's making decisions or not making decisions was a fcinating experience. >> [speaking foreign language] >> monica lived in slum in the nt city. shs prnant with her second child. i remember talking to women when i said why don't you give birth outside the home. because there are soil risks. and what about complications. the first thing this many would looked ame and said do you know what w pray, we may may
allah never take a woman outside to give birth. it's accepted culturally and socially. >> there's a lot of pressure in this culture to have children and there's so much shame associated with the way you get to that state. at the moment she's pregnant she's sort of shunned and made to stay in the home and her community and embarrassed to be seen in the state of pregnancy, which is quite ironic. >> charlie: and you chose america because of insurance questions. >> well i fell it was important to look at america not only because i live here and because i had my children here but alsoe doing so poorly in undeveloped countries. at the time of the film when we finished, we were going first and we actually have gone back.
that was a shocking fact and in fact when i show this film around the world, people are most shocked by the u.s. the fact that one in five women do not have insurance, that soil women fall through the cracks in the state of being pregnant. >> charlie: this is a country where there is more income, more percentage of the gdp spent on healthcare than any other. >> exactly. by far. so that's a shocking fact and the fact that so many women e put at risk. there's no general reporting even when it comes to reporting maternal death. there's no consistent structure to do that. there's actually a new act that has been introduced by chairman conyers from michigan. it's a beautiful act because it's called the accountability,
the maternal health accountability act. it's one of those things that will help to make sure there is a consistent way to review these and to look at them and try to prevent them looking at disparities and healthcare. there's disparities in health and women who access health here in america. >> charlie: why you. >> i've always had a real desire to make a difference and have some sort of impact. i tried my best and whatever opportunities i've had to do that. but i really felt like this is one of those issues that at the time that i became aware of the statistics, there was not a loti of conversation on this topic. and i felt that it needed to be out there talking about it and i was willing to do it. i had the time, i had the resourcesçó to bring to the tab. i've gone back to school as well. i'm getting a matters of the public health at columbia university. i'm at a time in my life where i
can contribute in a meaningful way to this issue and i have been and i felt the sort of satisfaction of being able to contribute and i see how hungry people are for the tool that i made in the film and how useful it is in those different dialogues that happen at so many different levels. and it gives me so much, i don't know, encouragement to do more, to continue to do what i can and to try to inspire others to try to join in this movement. >> charlie: what's everymothercounts.com. >> i was finishing up the film and editing process last year for tribeca. i didn't want people not just to feel or be aware but i wanted to give them things to do for this information. so i created everymothercounts campaign and website so people could go there and get the next level of information and education and also some options that they could take actions. i think it's people when they feel they want to do something and it makes you feel
overwhelmed and you don't have that ability to do that. this side is really created to give and provide those kinds of options and actionable stuff so people can contribute in a meaning until way. that the might be recycling your cell phones and they go into the hands of healthcare workers. things that are really needed and any of us have the ability to do and partake in. >> charlie: what's the dream, then? >> well the dream is to make an impact. i really, i wanted this film out in 2010 because it was very important. >> charlie: the tribeca film festival last year. >> it was the first year that maternal health was on the agenda so i really wanted it to be out then because i thought if i can use it to the best of my ability to the next five years for development goals, mbg5 is the one having this progress. so to be able to use this, to use my advocacy efforts as a way to make some he had way towards those goals. and in some countries there has
been some progress but in 147, there hasn't. and the u.s. is part of one of those, the 23 countries that have really fallen behind. so yes, to do all that i can in the next couple years to make some impact. >> charlie: it's a different kind of success. the other kinds of success you pay in terms of modeling and other books onoga and things like that. is it a different satisfaction. >> absolutely. i mean, to think that you can actually make some impact in the well being over the lives of women and children and their families as a result, not just for today or for tomorrow but for generations that come, there's nothing more meaningful that i can imagine to participate in so it's incredible to think that that's even a possibility. i feel that we've already made progress, tremendous progress by sharing these stories, by illuminating them, by getting people to talk about the issue that really has been under reported and not known very widely. i think we can do so much more.