tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg August 18, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
♪ >> from our studios in new york, this is charlie rose. charlie: president trump continues to weather the following of his defense of white nationalists from charlottesville, virginia. his comments put him at odds with top military business leaders and members of the republican party. he dismantled two business advisory councils after a series of resignations. he insisted via twitter that it was sad to see united states group history ripped apart by the removal of monuments. joining me now is robert costas. he is the moderator of washington week on pbs.
tell me where you think this is in the context of the week we have seen? robert: it is another week of upheaval in washington with the president's embrace of these confederate symbols, the statues of the past is in essence a return to his base that he remains an outsider, this antiestablishment figure. it comes with moral outrage from democrats and even some republicans. yet he sees it as part of a broader strategy encouraged by stephen bannon to turn away from the political norms that have guided this country for so long, to embrace racially charged politics. charlie: this is a decision from him and steve and primarily? -- steve bannon primarily? robert: he has been betrayed as this puppetmaster behind the scenes, but my sources inside the white house tell me this
decision to embrace confederate statues on public ground is a decision driven by the president himself, a president who sees his approval ratings shrinking. he sees his legislative agenda stalled. at this crucial moment in the summer of his presidency, he is turning to his base, turning to racial tensions and racial politics that are inflaming our national conversation. charlie: does he have some sense of what he is engendering when he does this? robert: it comes just days after the tragedy in charlottesville. these kinds of words from president trump, the barrage of tweets we saw about confederate statues on thursday, it shows a recognition by the president -- or lack of recognition about the consequences of handling the presidency in this way in such a fraught time for the country when race is at the fore.
a longtime trump ally on thursday said the president has abandoned the moral authority of the take command of the country at times like these. charlie: where are the people around him? let us talk about john kelly. robert: my colleague and i have a story in thursday's washington post about general kelly. what a difficult time it is for him. we spoke to a lot of people in general inside the white house. they say he is trying to bring order to the white house, to have a new process of how information gets to this president, making sure calls are routed through him before they get to president trump. yet as he manages the white house, he is struggling to manage the chief. he is reshaping the staff but not reshaping the chief. he stood there earlier in the week as the president had this pinball game of the press conference from topic to topic. disgruntled, frustrated.
charlie: what about gary cohn, his economic advisor in the white house? robert: every person close to him says he was disgusted by the president's remarks on tuesday. this embrace of both sides when it comes to white nationalists, or neo-nazis who protested in charlottesville. he is a national economic director. he is leading the policy shaping on tax reform and infrastructure. a former president of goldman sachs. he has personally been affronted by some of the president's comments. yet, he has not yet resigned. he is someone who sees himself as possibly someone who is a new chairman of the federal reserve should that slot open. he is staying there in part because of that and because he sees a chance to change policies. he has not yet met the threshold for stepping down. he could be close to it. charlie: and then there was the family. starting with ivanka and jared
kushner. robert: ivanka trump and jared kushner, senior advisers to the president, have been on vacation until thursday. they have returned now to be with president trump. they, too, are alarmed. thatwere a part of aides issued a statement to not save what he said when he was pretty equivocal about the whole episode. too, have been unhappy with the president's incendiary term. jared kushner, ivanka trump, gary cohn so often called moderate influences. no one except president trump dictates what he does. charlie: back to steve bannon. there have been people projecting he might be -- not only because of whatever advice was given the president issues , that the president's rhetoric went way too far, but it
engaging in a fight with h.r. mcmaster. somewhere suggesting his time at the white house was in trouble. robert: he is on thin ice, to say the least. bannon joined the campaign in august 2016. former head of breitbart news. you see him ever since day one in january navigating a white house that never really saw him as a natural fit. he has always clashed with jared kushner. kushner sees the world as an internationalist, someone who is ok with international institutions and alliances. he wants to see the president move in a more moderate direction. bannon is against all of that. he has been one of the lone voices in the wake of charlottesville saying, let the president go out there and fight the media. let him go and say there are all -- there are both sides of the argument. charlie: where is the republican party? you hear bob corker saying what
he said, you hear the speaker saying how incensed he was about what happens in charlottesville and the idea of white supremacists and neo-nazis and others being given a voice and some say emboldened. does the party have any influence? robert: the party is facing its own crossroads. do they desert trump or not? they have a september that will be an immense challenge. they face a debt ceiling, a budget. they have to find a way to get a border wall funded. that is one of the president's main priorities. tax reform, infrastructure, they have to find out how they tackle all these issues. do they abandon these issues and -- abandon the president and hope for the best in 2020 or no? they have to think that despite of their own detachment of how the president handled charlottesville, he still has a grip over their own voters. they break from him and could
face a cost in their own states. charlie: north korea is still there. steve bannon said in his interview that the idea of a war against north korea was insane. it would never happen. that was not an option, he said. here is the president talking about theory and fire, trying to create some sense of reckoning by the north koreans that the president is committed to them not having nuclear weapons. and here is bannon saying, war is not an option. robert: bannon is part of the more noninterventionist group in the white house. unlike mcmaster, with whom he has clashed on policy. when it comes to afghanistan, since thousands of more troops to stabilize the region. when it comes to north korea, don't option -- don't rule anything out. then is against that kind of -
is against the kind of hawkish intervention. what bannon said to the american prospect is the truth that he finds threat private conversations that no one wants to have the blood of 100 million people in seoul on their administration. just look at the pentagon. they have not begun to do the things you would expect to see if war was on the horizon , at least imminently. charlie: people began to ask this question. his donald trump fit to be president? whatever that word fit means, behavioral and psychological worries about him in terms of what he might do if he felt like he was losing support. do you hear the voiced among the kinds of people you talk to about where we are at this moment in our history? robert: you hear even in the white house and the administration. there is a real heartening when they saw general kelly become chief of staff.
they hoped he and rex tillerson and secretary of defense jim mattis could be forces that kept to the president in line from having directions -- having eruptions on the world stage. when it comes to whether he is fit to be in office, there are certainly many questions being raised by democrats and republicans. what we are watching is the unraveling of the norms that always defined the american presidency instead of being this moral authority in times of crisis, the president is turning to his base. this is so alarming for people who follow history, who follow the presidency, to see the presidency being redefined. and not abiding by those norms. charlie: and he takes pleasure in the notion he is doing that because he campaigned to be a different kind of president? he was going to clean out the slump and do all kinds of things about past activities and norms. robert: he does.
i have seen this on the campaign trail when i have interviewed then candidate trump many times . he is so outside of the right-left dynamic. he is an instinctive populist who loves to fight, loves controversy. this is the way the presidency in this country is now being governed, by an instinctive, 70 plus-year-old populist. charlie: where do you think it is going? will it simply get more intense as the way the president retorts, the way he has from charlottesville, suggesting that he is not becoming more in the mode that general kelly and others had hoped he would be. more disciplined, more on message, more easily not distracted. robert: the question, when does it end? when i am in the briefing room, this question always comes up. when does this chaos end?
when does president trump decide to calm down and move in a more moderate or normal direction? the answer, it may be unsettling, there will be no as long as trump is president of the united states. i covered him for too long to have this expectation that anything can change, because he relishes the chaos. he sees disruption as power. that is not changed since he was inaugurated and talked about american carnage. you see him in august 2017 embracing the carnage on the american stage. people have this wish in the press and both parties that it will somehow turn away, the fire will be put out. it will not. charlie: thank you for joining us. we will be right back with dr. henry kissinger. his analysis of north korea with some ideas he think the united states might consider. back in a moment. ♪
♪ charlie: dr. henry kissinger is here. he served as secretary of state and national security advisor under president nixon and ford. he is a recipient of the nobel peace prize. i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. dr. kissinger: pleasure. charlie: you're looking good and i assume feeling well. that is a heavy title there,
"how to resolve the north korean crisis" because every government that i can remember is trying to do that. how do you do it? dr. kissinger: it is a way to approach solving it. the basic point of the article is that the major threats to our foreign-policy has been on the to threaten north korea with consequences and on the other ask china to help us. two this threat is not fully effective because the north koreans spent decades of oppressing their people and depriving them to build these weapons. so they are not going to yield to threats very easily. charlie: threats of sanctions
and the like? dr. kissinger: it is going to take tremendous physical threats. on the other hand, china helping us, they are not there to help us. they are there to help themselves. but the point of the article is we are at a moment when the interests of america and china coincide. we don't want the nuclear weapons in north korea because of many reasons. the threat it might represent to us and others. the chinese do not want nuclear weapons in korea because if those weapons remain, other countries in asia are sure to build nuclear weapons of their own.
like japan, south korea, vietnam, and other entities might be tempted. so then the whole area will be nuclearized of these countries will be in tensions with each other. that would be an extremely dangerous situation, of which china would be a greater target even than the united states. moment we are at a when it is conceivable that if we continue our pressures and if china uses its influence and pressures, then the north koreans might substantially reduce their nuclear threat. but in the end de- nuclearization need to be did
method. charlie: they came down to mar-a-lago and talked about going light on trade if in fact they would use their influence to with china. was his approach wrong? dr. kissinger: with the implication that we would help with trade as they helped with china. this looks like a commercial proposition, as if they are in business to extort economic progress. the problem for china would be if north korea gives up nuclear weapons, it gives up the only significant achievement to this point and it might therefore lead to either collapse of the regime or great unrest, and it will lead to a period in all of korea of major judgment. what i think the chinese need
visualize the we evolution of north korea after the denuclearization has been achieved. we have not had an adequate discussion of the consequences of our objectives. i believe that with that discussion, a joint policy with china could make much greater progress. charlie: the fact is that general mathis and secretary of said we do not want to change the regime. we just want them not to use nuclear weapons. there is no threat from the united states. dr. kissinger: no, we don't want to change the regime. but if the regime collapses or disintegrates, we will not mourn it. the consequences of a disintegrating north korea right
at the border of china with the possibility of many refugees. that is something that preoccupies china. charlie: you are also preoccupied by the idea of a reunification of the koreas, north and south, which would somehow evil into one more nation in the area who may be opposed to them if the south koreans dominate a unified south korea. dr. kissinger: i think a unified korea is something that may be less dangerous than a divided korea, one of which has nuclear weapons and starts pressing for its objectives. the possible unification of korea should be one of the subjects that will be discussed not only with china but also
with south korea and japan. charlie: can you sit down with -- i'm askingient as a diplomat -- tell me what your fears are and i will tell what i want and what i need and what my fears are? dr. kissinger: i think the better way would be to send some private emissaries to the chinese and say, here is our notion of the evolution of the region if things continue as they are. that some military clash by somebody is inevitable on the present course sooner or later. the way we can remove the danger and a bubble the danger of nuclear weapons is to come to an understanding. the kind of pressure that will
be applied and secondly the political structure that we will recommend to the world to support after it. then to put that forward in some channel. a formal charlie: what do you think the chinese would accept? what kind of proposal? dr. kissinger: this is speculation on my part. i think the chinese would live with the united korea, that it remains part of the american alliance but with limitations in north korea of high-performance weapons and deployment close to the chinese border, but a korea that is otherwise unified. charlie: and you think it is best to do this behind the
scenes with an emissary in private to create conversation? dr. kissinger: there has to be a formal negotiation, but it is helpful if there is enough of a philosophical kind of dialogue so that each side understands how the other views the problem and what it is likely to do. charlie: they have had lots of conversations from one administration to the other. george w. bush, barack obama, bill clinton. dr. kissinger: there have been lots of conversations, and i am familiar with many of them. those conversations are usually why you should help north korea.
there has rarely been a formal conversation of the future of northeast asia, partly because for a long time, north korea was considered an integral part of the chinese and the communist world until about one of the most significant events that happened that we couldn't notice. until about three or four years ago, north korea was handled inside china out of the communist party, not out of the foreign ministry. it was considered an adjunct to chinese policy. i think it is only in the last few years that the chinese leadership has begun to understand that the north korea nuclear program is not something that is likely to fail.
but something that could be operational and is growing strong enough to affect the balance in asia. charlie: and could be effective within a year, the recent estimates suggest. dr. kissinger: i think speed has surprised everybody. the conduct of the north korean government, assassinating the half-brother of the leader at a malaysian airport. spreading poison. many similar things -- charlie: in fact, killing some of his father's advisors. dr. kissinger: yes. five of the six pallbearers at his father's funeral have disappeared. charlie: five of the six
pallbearers? dr. kissinger: and one of them, the uncle that helped put them in office was publicly disgraced and was executed. so it is another regime where you don't want to entrust possession of nuclear weapons. the key point is many people would say, why don't we just accept it? because we have lived through the chinese and russian nuclear weapons. charlie: and the pakistanis and others. dr. kissinger: yes. but here is a country that has proliferated its nuclear weapons already. when they are still in an incipient stage. they have made some of the nuclear materials available to syria several years ago, and
they have given some of their engines to iran. this is a proliferating regime. most believe that if they survived this period, not as a regime but with nuclear weapons that then the spread of nuclear weapons into south korea and japan becomes highly probable. charlie: as i understand from south korea,-- japan, china -- should they be brought together in this? this should be a conversation that takes place with anybody that has an interest in the region. dr. kissinger: yes. i believe an initial conversation with china is
probably the best way to proceed -- charlie: a bilateral conversation? dr. kissinger: informal or conceptual. in which we tell each other as honestly as we dare what our view is of the evolution and what is important for the peace and security of mankind. it is the question of bringing down a regime. it is a question of producing a world in which the use of nuclear weapons will become conventional -- or could become conventional and the catastrophic impact of so many missions -- so many nations. therefore, the ideal would be if north korea could be induced dashed by induced i mean significant pressures to give up its program.
not, a reduction of its , allied to a brief but i'm not happy with the idea because it maintains the present situation. and if you think the north koreans would have achieved this by brutal insistence and condemnation of the security council and of the opposition of ,hina and the united states that means world order would be shaken badly. charlie: does a preemptive attack to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon capable of delivering to the united states have so much cost that it
is unacceptable as an alternative? that is exactly what we said to the iranians. it is unacceptable for them to have nuclear weapons. that is what we are saying to the north koreans. dr. kissinger: i have been of the few that we did not hear from the european union -- hear from the iranians enough from the agreement that we did. that agreement at least delayed the event of their nuclear capacity, and it was positive from that point of view. a simple freeze agreement right after they had launched an intercontinental death would test wouldtinental legitimize all their efforts, keep them in the same capacity, and not make any progress toward what really we know needs to be done. if this threat continues, and if we cannot control it, even in a
country that is condemned by most of mankind, by most of the established countries, then we have lost any control of other programs that exist. charlie: do you consider kim jong-un a rational leader? dr. kissinger: he was at a prep school in switzerland. there were all kinds of reports of how normally he behaved. the korean regime has maintained itself by practicing a degree of terror that is unprecedented even among many of the dictatorships. every house has a radio, which they cannot shut off so the
regime talks permanently to the subjects. they have a system of concentration camps and of human abuse that is extraordinary. they have kidnapped at least 100 japanese because they needed teachers of the japanese language and they have achieved a degree of brainwashing their population so that some of the refugees from there find it hard to adjust to the free countries charlie: charlie: that the escape to. charlie: is that of equal mine, a rational mind, or both? dr. kissinger: it is of necessity.
it is all beyond human experience that one would say it is substantially a rational -- irrational. dr. kissinger: does a president -- charlie: does a president who talks about fire and fury contribute to reflect that? dr. kissinger: all of us who practice diplomacy would have chosen different language. on the other hand, we would have said to give a very sharp warning to north korea that they are playing with fire when they threaten the united states. and when they say the only use of the icbm that they contemplate is against the united states and when they talk of dropping missiles around
guam, i understand that a president wants to issue a very sharp warning that things could get out of control. the dilemma of nuclear weapons is to make such a threat credible you have to show you are going to the edge of what a rational calculation would be. i would not have recommended that language, but i would have recommended an effort like this. ♪ got you outnumbered.
♪ charlie: what is your assessment of china today in terms of xi jinping on the eve of another chinese party congress coming up in october and november in terms of his leadership and his global vision? dr. kissinger: china has two huge challenges. they are a country with thousands of years of history and, therefore, it is -- there is a sense of continuity unique
among the countries of the world. they now have to undergo a significant reform program for their own economic necessities. the reform program, to some extent, should order some of the major reforms that we have made in the last generation. it should attack them of the institutions, especially in the economic field and in the economic practices. that is a huge challenge. to this, they would prefer not to have to have an international crisis. they know a confrontation with the united states would sap -- zap so many resources, that their economic dreams could not be realized.
on the other hand, in this thousands of years of history, they have thought of themselves as a country whose majestic concept and skill of activities was symbolic for major parts of the world and they consider themselves as a kind of center kingdom. they have to find their international place in the world in which for the first time in their history is equaled by at least the united states. there are no longer alone, no matter how great their effort. how you create an international system, the concept of international system in a society that historically has
thought itself unique. the chinese did not have a foreign ministry until the end of the 19th century. the foreign policy as we know it was conducted by something called the ministry of rituals that classified each country by the decree of its dependency on china. so china has reformed its economic system and deal with the concept of international order in which they can play some of the historic role. but not a central role exclusively that they had before.
they are face to face with another country, namely us, which also thinks of itself as exceptional. what we do it more on a missionary basis and they do it more on april arm its racist -- more on a performance basis. to have a dialogue over the years with the american president and the chinese president has a certain frustration. the american president thinks the normal position of the world is the stability and if it is a problem. the chinese president thinks the solution of any problem is an admissions ticket for another problem. therefore, the chinese resident is taking of a process --
president is thinking of a process. and the american president is thinking of a deal. the american president negotiates for what brought him into the conference room. good intentions. charlie: having known all of them from zi and mao-- xi and mao, how does he compare to previous leaders of china? in vision and reform and capacity to have his way? dr. kissinger: first of all, he was in a different period. each leader you mentioned represented one face of mao-unified china.
overcoming the effects of tiananmen and making it part of the international system to try to bring some quiet to a. -- to a period of turmiol. this is a man who is moving toward a position to see if he succeeds will be comparable to mao. charlie: if he moved to where he wants to go, he will be compared to mao in terms of his influence on society? dr. kissinger: yes, because he is trying to make the society that he inherited after decades of turmoil and put it on a basis
of what he calls the two dreams. the first stream goes into effect through soon in 2021 when china reaches a level of the poorer european countries. the second one is at the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the people's republic in 2049, china by his vision will be at least as strong as the strongest other nation in the world. charlie: therefore, why doesn't he want to do all he can to make sure north korea is not a disruptive factor in the region? dr. kissinger: i believe this is his intention. this is his goal.
i believe he would reason that way, that they could be a leader in the region. they cannot do everything and particularly at the same moment, he is now facing the 19th party congress, which is an event that occurs every five years. it represents some degree of legitimization and leadership changes. there will be almost certainly significant leadership changes that will occur in the next two to three months. charlie: they will select a new
premier? and who is on the standing committee? dr. kissinger: the standing committee is so organized that five of the seven members have to retire because of age limitations. charlie: there is a talk -- dr. kissinger: some of them might be able to stay, but that would be such an unusual event that it would signify a rising influence for that exception. but anyway, that is what he seems to have to deal with. in my experience, he is extremely thoughtful but also extremely strong. he was one of the victims, he and his father, of the cultural
revolution. they had to live in a cave for many years. the cultural revolution victims came through it hardened. he is formidable. but i believe that he is trying to find a notion of a peaceful world that is compatible with chinese values and compatible with coexistence with the united states. it will be a tough road. charlie: at the same time, assuming leadership as a global role and in terms of other places. dr. kissinger: he made a speech last year, which was a sketch of
world order that on the economic side was quite compatible with a route-based system. charlie: that was a time in which populism was red hot in the notion was who would step forward to defend globalization and globalism? dr. kissinger: ironically, it was china that started the communist state. charlie: one thing that ever changed is the believe in the supremacy of the communist party. dr. kissinger: absolutely. charlie: you have been part of the conversation in america for a long time. are you more worried about the country today than you have ever been? not only because of domestic issues and our president, but the world he lives. dr. kissinger: no, i am worried because in over half a century now that i have been some way participating in, i have never seen a situation in which the united states had an opportunity for world order, but i have also not participated in a situation in which a country seemed so
divided and so unable to find a common thread. charlie: on one hand, there is enormous opportunity for the u.s. to use it superior economy, technology, universities, range of issues -- dr. kissinger: and to contribute. what we really need in the world today is the idea of peace and world order, which dominated the previous centuries. it is being undermined by a succession of a people. a leadership in the direction of such a goal would give the united states extraordinary opportunities and is quite
compatible and expressive of our history and of our values. charlie: is the president capable of that leadership? dr. kissinger: i used to say i am hoping for an augustinian moment. saint augustine, in his early life, followed a pattern that was quite incompatible with later on, when he had a vision and rose to sainthood. don't expect the president to become that, that is an conceivable. when you realize the peace of the world and the future of the world depends on you now so that
much of what is here today falls away, i think that is a unique aspect of the american presidency. charlie: is this president losing the opportunity as a cause of his behavior? dr. kissinger: there are things that happens that i didn't like, but i have not ever joined this because i have seen what happens when a president collapses. i still hope we will do the things that need to be done and i think can be done, some of which nothing that has been done in korea precludes an anyway what i have indicated as a desirable -- no, i think it is possible that what i have described can be done with an existing framework of policy.
charlie: are we had a moment in which a new world order will be built? is this because of changes that have happened in the past five years? are we looking at a moments were clearly there is a demand for the creation of a new world order because of changes in the geopolitics of the world? dr. kissinger: people may not even know yet what they want in a clear enough way. the leader of this country can bring it to other countries.
i thought process, they can produce it. many centuries ago, in the 17th century, europe armed 70% of its population with conventional weapons. and after 30 years with ++establishing the principles of sovereignty and self-determination and so forth. know the imagined when it started -- at the end of the 30 year period. that is not just america alone that can do it, but we can play a defensive role. charlie: and we have enough respect and power to do it
because of our history and what we did after world war ii, because of the role we have played since world war ii. there is still that opportunity for america. by being the one country that that's out of the paris accord, fighting the country that goes to the g20 and is hesitant to endorse article five, all of those things. dr. kissinger: yes, an attempt to move in the direction i described. charlie: are you optimistic? dr. kissinger: i'm hopeful.