tv Dateline London BBC News February 5, 2017 2:30am-3:00am GMT
donald trump and the hugely controversial travel ban. should the president be welcomed in britain? and parliament votes to begin the process of leaving the european union — but what kind of europe will be in existence in some two or three years‘ time? my guests today are jeffrey kofman, who is a north american journalist, mina al—oraibi, who is a commentator on arab affairs, maria margaronis of the nation, and michael gove, who is a times columnist and conservative mp. if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck — it's a duck. so donald trump's ban — and it is a ban, although apparently temporary — clearly targets people from some mostly muslim countries. the result — demonstrations around the world and political convulsions in the united states. is this a political masterstroke however, saying to trump supporters, you wanted something done about islamic terrorism, well, here is something? or is it — as domestic and international critics believe — shambolic and counterproductive? i would suggest it plays to his own strengths and people who vote for him. it depends where you sit.
if you're a trump lover, go for it, donald. i think what we've really seen in the first 15 days of the trump administration is what you see is what you got. there are no better angels here, the trump we saw in the campaign, a businessman, who was a tv celebrity, is the trump in the white house. he is impulsive, he is a bully and he will have his own way, until he pushes it too far. it is just not clear where this takes us. i think it is very easy, if you are not an ardent trumpite, to think this is a really dangerous road he is taking america down. on the people who voted for him. those people in business who are like him will also see this week, although it has fewer headlines in the united kingdom, that he is planning perhaps to roll back on regulation, on basically the quote red tape that is tying up wall street. how do you reconcile that with the little guy, who he claims to speak for, when he is going to give more power to the titans of wall street?
thejob, i mean, something like that. we shall see. listen, i think that the real takeaway of these first 15 days is, in my eyes, this is a real test of the resilience of the american democracy. and perhaps, certainly in our lifetimes, it is the biggest test. can the separation of powers, can the checks and balances of that brilliant constitution that began in 1789, can they keep this man in check, so that he doesn't become an autocrat? what do you think is made of it in arab countries, because there are which have been targeted? and others which seem to broadly welcome what has been called in other places a muslim ban, a targeted ban on certain muslim countries? it has been interesting. of course, the seven countries including in this ban haven't once had one of their citizens actually being responsible for a terror attack in the us. it doesn't make sense. the name of a muslim ban or not.
especially in iraq and syria and iran, there are non—muslims who are nationals, so clearly it is notjust targeting muslims and the most populous muslim countries are not targeted, but the reason we are calling it a muslim ban is that is what trump promised. he said, we will have a shutdown on muslims entering the us. the gulf has strategic reasons for being excited about donald trump because of iran and because of the reality that iran felt much more emboldened during the obama regime. i think there are two issues at stake — the strategic interest, strategic interests for the us is to have iraq stable and strong, and this particular ban on iraqis who see themselves as really having a wedded destiny with the us and making sure they can defeat is in iraq are banned. this includes army generals fighting on the front line against is who have their families in the us because they transferred them there for safety.
that makes no sense. and then, for the gulf, it doesn't affect them, so they are ok. you turn on the moral impact. ithink, again, i hold dual citizenship, lam iraqi and british. i think it for the countries who have dual citizens who would benefit, and therefore i think there is something to be said. can we accept that trump or others — and we have to admit in the us the visa programme was tampered with from under the days of obama — treat citizens of the eu, for example, as two different classes of citizens? that is problematic because it stabs at the heart of what nationalism and citizenship means for people in europe. it has been a busy two weeks
for donald trump, hasn't it? it has been a busy two weeks for donald trump and a nervous two weeks, i think, for all of us watching. he is careful to play to his bases at the moment. i think the financial deregulation is for those i saw in washington in the inauguration going to the ball, it's there for the rich who support him. i think the muslim ban is for, you know, his more working class audience, who i think so far are happy. the things we haven't heard about so much, in this country, are the fact that he had the ceos of fiat and chrysler in. he had small business leaders in. he said to the car manufacturers, you make your cars here or we will slap tariffs on them. that plays well. is that alliance between the wealthy trump supporters and the not so wealthy holding? but on the kind of global picture, do you think that donald trump has in his head the possibility
of a war with iran? i have to say yes. i am not sure whether it is in donald trump's head or steve bannon‘s head. his chief adviser. who holds some very strange ideas, you know. there is this book that he likes about the cycles of 80 years — we have an apocalypse that remakes the world. i think we are really facing the dismantling of the post world war ii order, initially. and i think that is, that is the thing that is most frightening to me. michael? i think there is a lot of truth in that. steve bannan, he is essential to understand the white house. he has compared himself to thomas cromwell, to henry viii's machiavelli. it tells us about steve bannon's style. he regards him as a court
intriguer and it tells us something about trump. he is is a president who thinks and will behave like a monarch. one of the striking things, i think, about trump is, if you think of a liberal position, he will always take the opposite. so a liberal position on migration, he is against it. a liberal position in the middle east. he sides with the regimes which are defiantly illiberal, with egypt and saudi arabia. saudi arabia sees in him a potential ally, because he's pro—fossil fuels and hostile to iran, so you can see that there is an ideology at work there. it is not the sophisticated ideology of previous holders of his office but it speaks, as we have heard, to particular constituencies in america. but, if he is a monarch, he is a 15th century henry viii rather than queen elizabeth ii. we have had a reading from a judge in washington state saying his actions are unconstitutional.
in some respects, to try to understand him, even though he has deliberately invited comparison with the populist nationalist president of the 19th century, andrewjackson, he is less like previous presidents and more like a monarch. and warwith iran? it is not unthinkable, which it might have been a while ago. his first foreign policy in the middle east, stated in his interview in the times and repeated, ithink, given what happened in the phone call last week with putin, is to deal with islamic state. i think his supporters will want him to see, will want to see him to do something which deals with islamic terrorism. we had an assault in yemen which went badly for him and for the people involved, but i think that his first item of business in the middle east is to be seen to be winning,
his famous phrase, against islamist terrorists in the shape of isis. michael, you have given too much credit. i don't think there is a strategy. it is shoot from the hip. his interaction with the australian prime minister is an example of that. hanging up on him and tweeting your indignation... it is fine to shake up the old order but, to do it that way, what does that accomplish? i guess, if you are playing to your base, maybe beating up australia is a good thing, i don't know. the other thing that i think does come out of this, and talking about iran, china, is that these are new, uncharted waters, to use the cliche, and i think what you are seeing with a lot of world leaders who would normally stand up with indignation is, let's watch where this takes us.
i think the point that michael was raising about terrorism... let's be clear, al-qaeda is not the same as is. what happened in iraq and syria that led to the rise of is is not the same as what is happening in yemen. it is dangerous if we start to think of the us as taking this broad brushstroke of saying, ok, where are the bad guys, and we willjust strike at them, it will be a success. we saw the first very unfortunate attack in yemen, which led to the killing of civilians and us army personnel. it is dangerous if they are going to take... it is clear there are those sitting in the white house that are looking at the middle east through this very, very naive or very crude approach of pulling out the bad guys and terrorists. it could backfire when it comes to syria. in syria, it is more complicated. you see the relationship between trump and putin is very good. it helps to have moscow and washington try to sort out the issues, but not in the way that will look at all opponents of assad are is and can die.
do any of you think he should not be invited to the united kingdom? i think he should not have been invited. he should not have been. having been invited... now it is difficult. does it have to be a state visit? it could be an official visit. i thought that theresa may's trip immediately to washington was humiliating and, i mean, ifelt embarrassed. what should she have done? you have views on it, but what should the prime minister of the united kingdom do, when there is a new democratically elected president of the us? she should wait. we are getting into a whole other can of worms. she wins with trump because he is anti—eu. as the eu tries to beat her up, she has trump on her side. i agree there is an impetuosity to trump, which means sometimes he doesn't act on his own and certainly not in america's broader interest.
because of that, i think it was a good thing for the prime minister to go. the day after she left washington, the baltic states and polish government thanked her for securing from the president a guarantee of support for nato. in terms. he said he pledged ioo% support for nato. can we trust that? you can't say he shouldn't be invited to the united kingdom. if he is, there will be people who like america, want to see a strong transatlantic arrangement,
and really worry that here is going to be the queen and the president of the us that many people in britain dislike, and it puts the queen in a difficult position. she will do herjob and it will fine. i think the queen has had to welcome into her home all sorts of people who, if she were a normal citizen, she might not have wanted to invite. she will do it with grace and dignity. are you going to be working at the foreign office as a diplomat? what do you think? it is difficult to disinvite somebody. it doesn't have to be a state visit. say this is an official visit. there is an important relationship, and again we have to remember in trump, he is not everything that america holds. america is not entirely trump, when he comes on a state visit, it is him being feted. he doesn't need to be feted. there will be massive demonstrations. there will. it was like when george bush came in and london was in shutdown. imagine what it will be like when trump comes in? he may end up playing
golf in balmoral. this was an early invitation. i don't think it has happened before that a us president has been invited in the first two weeks. it smacked of desperation, really. ok, let us move on. britain voted to get out of the european union — more details to follow. that is the continuing refrain from the government, as the prime minister tried to encourage more european spending on nato. but, with discontent about migration across europe, could we be witnessing the slow unwinding of the schengen zone, of the euro, and perhaps even of the eu itself? do you think... i mean, it is going to be a traumatic year. we have elections in all kinds of places, we have far right candidates who might win, who knows, and people who are really opposed within holland, within france, particularly, france in particular, to the eu itself. i think that the foundations will shake as never before but i suspect that the principles of the direction europe has been taking will remain,
so i think in france, because of the implosion of the conservative candidate in a corruption scandal, we are likely to have marine le pen in the final two, against probably macron. i suspect he will win. he is very strongly pro—european, but marine le pen will put in a strong showing. that will really challenge the direction but not fundamentally change it. somebody will happen in the netherlands. maria, from the greek perspective, the crisis is not over. there are rumblings from within the trump administration that... the euro is a german racket. a way of keeping german exchange rates low. yes, i wouldn't get too excited at the latest greek crisis.
i may be wrong, but there seems like a recurrence of a set of old symptoms. the imf has never believed the greek debt is sustainable. the european commission for political reasons will not, you know, reduce the debt, and the imf according to its rules can't be party to this. if we can hold on until september, and if angela merkel gets reelected in september, as we hope she will — at least, i do — then i think things will kind of rumble on. there is a lot of uncertainty in the greek government too. they have been sending out contradictory signals. that is not new. what about the bigger point? surely many greek people are not liking the trump administration but thinking it is a racket. it has been a racket. you know, europe has, as we know europe... it is not necessarily a sustainable racket for anybody, but the current sort of international crisis could go one of two ways for europe. europe is under threat, you know, it is like jokers to left and clowns
to the right. it is, we have trump on the one hand, putin on the other, interested in dismantling the european union, supporting illiberalforces in europe, and i think geopolitically this could be a moment when europe has to come together to resist those forces — you have erdogan as well, where mrs may went immediately prime minister may and president trump, i would say absolutely no way! so it is very hard to make predictions, but i would say,
absolutely, it's going to be a roller—coaster and there are going to be even greater schisms in society emerging. there are those who see the ills of the eu as being greater than the merits of the eu. i would argue that what we have in europe, and having had peace at the heart of europe for over 70 years, should not be ignored or taken for granted. i think one of the issues has been complacency, whether it is in europe that we may disagree but there is peace. that is a hard one and the eu has been instrumental this. sometimes it is hard to believe that the eu has won the nobel peace prize. i think what happens in the us affects liberal democracies round the world. we will see this push for illiberal force, nationalism with an ugly side rather than patriotism coming up. that will affect europe and how it goes forth. so elections are a...
but what happens after elections, we saw the brexit referendum here and there were huge divisions in society. nobody has worked out saying, how do we still live together and how will brexit work for britain's identity going forward? of people going out to vote as being against immigrants or being against what eu policy stands for? but the migrant question is at the heart of a lot of it, as it was with brexit. people are fed up with austerity and they look around and they see a society that is changing rapidly and that produces discontent. whatever the compassion was maybe a few years ago, towards syria, there is compassion fatigue, even in previously liberal countries. you see a problem of absorption, countries resisting, how to absorb massive changes in their pluralistic society.
i think, to pick up what mina was saying, when we look at 2017, ithink, be prepared for the unexpected, and i don't know what that is, but when you have bans on muslims, citizens from seven dominant muslim nations from the united states, that is a propaganda victory for anti—western, anti—america muslim forces. that means there's potentially something or there are many things brewing that could unsettle us in terrible ways. we saw the louvre attack this week, which fortunately was thwarted. this is is a man who governs by playing to our worst. he tweets out, "jihadists in paris". six muslims killed in quebec city... not a word.
by a white nationalist, canadian, and trump says nothing. i mean, you know, this is glaring. this is a man who is playing to our worst. i think there is a thing in the middle east — if you are a young muslim citizen in the middle east and you see an autocratic ruler, whether in egypt, saudi or in the gulf, saying this ban is right, it will only drive a sense of rage towards those rulers — wealthy, insulated, pro—american, not standing up for your muslim brother. i agree, whatever the intent — and america has the right to control its border — what it risks is handing a propaganda victory to those who want to radicalise, not unite. they weren't necessarily saying the ban is right. nuance is important. what they are saying is it is a sovereign right. we have done it and they are doing it because, as we were saying
earlier, it was understandable. they weren't saying it is right, that is what should happen. gets the approach of these autocrats, i mean, what is wrong with this picture? but also the fact that he would, you know, decide that syrian refugees have to be stopped indefinitely and there is no clarity. people have created a life for themselves in america, holding green cards, not knowing if they can go or not. there is this thing of, we will clarify and make exceptions even though they are people who... it may be... i hate to use the word clarifying — polarising might be a better word, but not in the way we imagine. i am sure thatjustin trudeau is more popular in canada for differentiating himself from trump, and i suspect in france macron may benefit by becoming the anti—trump, more
than anyone else. i was going to make that point. supporting macron, supposing the netherlands, supposing we have another few years of angela merkel, the eu itself will still have to change, not just because britain is pulling out but because of the resentment. the eu has deep problems, the way the euro has worked is a deep problem. we have had this meeting in malta with, rather than talking about the refugees who are already in europe, you know, european countries promised to resettle 60,000 people in september 2015. they have ta ken 10,888. we had three deaths in the camp in lesbos from the conditions and cold. they are discussing another very difficult issue, which is what to do about the people drowning in the mediterranean, of how do we protect borders, not what do we do about these people, and that is where rage
and resentment and justified anger build up. what we are missing in that picture — and i think you paint accurately, having spent time — is no—one is watching the source. and global policy right now, the geopolitical order is ignoring the anarchy in libya. you want to stop the flow, restore order and governance in libya, but nobody.... but the trump critique is, you threw a rock into a hornet‘s nest. the trump view is it is the result of people like the british and the french governments attempting to virtually signal and create a new regime in libya. there was a... i supported the intervention. people in america who support him
would say the lesson of intervention is it makes things worse, not better. i want to second the point. where is the source, why are people having to leave? partly because of failures in policies and failures in countries that we can't deny. targeting the citizens of those countries won't help matters. and a final point — if anyone talks about a war in iran, talk about more refugees. that's it for dateline london for this week. you can comment on the programme on twitter @gavinesler and engage with our guests. we're back next week at the same time — make a date with dateline london. goodbye. hello, there, good morning.
we are continuing to miss the very worst of the weather this weekend. we've seen this area of cloud here run just to the south of the uk, bringing with it some damaging winds and very heavy rain across northern spain and france. another area of cloud following in behind, we've got diffeneqt—sertf 7 ,. h 7