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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 28, 2010 10:00am-11:00am EST

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love to see that, but i wouldn't feel comfortable at this time to go to cuba. >> we have been talking with l ando the. jo >> "seagull one: the amazing true story of brothers to the rescue" thank you both for joining us at the miami book fair. former british prime minister tony blair recounts his time in office. ..
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>> it has become the best-selling autobiography in the united kingdom and become a bestseller here in the united states as well. mr. blair explained that though a memoir by its very nature is retrospective, his book is also an attempt to inform future and current thinking. in this behind-the-scenes account of his years in office and beyond, mr. blair describes his role in shaping our recent history. charting the ups and downs and addressing the issues and complexities of our global world. today we have an opportunity to listen as mr. blair engages in a conversation about these and many other issues with his friend and colleague, former president of the united states and chairman of the national constitution center, bill clinton.
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on behalf of the constitution center, it is an honor to present these two international leaders who have shared the world stage during key events in each of their political lives. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming tony blair and bill clinton. [applause] >> now, i've promised to keep any comments and questions brief because we have so many issues to cover in the next hour beginning with this: based on both of your experiences in northern ireland and the middle east, what are the essential elements to being an effective
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peacemaker? [laughter] >> i want to tell you i'm going to commit the truth here. i probably shouldn't do this, but when we were on the way in here i said, tony, you just came out with a book, i want you to go first because i want you to sell more of the books. it's very, very good, the week. and he's thought about all this in an organized fashion more recently than i have, so i'd like our guests to go first and then fill in the blanks. >> yeah. i thought you were going to say when we thought about the peace process and what is the most important thing, you kind of looked for a moment and said, blind luck. [laughter] which is more or less, in a way, what we have in northern ireland. i mean, it was -- when we went to do the good friday agreement, i'd actually originally thought that we would be there for a day. we get the agreement signed, and
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actually i had to go, in fact, to go and see the spanish prime minister the next day. so i'd literally planned my whole diary on the basis we'd get this deal signed, and everyone said, look, we've done all the preparatory work, you come in and sign it. well, i got there and four days later i emerged. and it was, in a sense, luck that we got into such a hot house atmosphere that in the end people began to feel it was more embarrassing not to do the deal than to do it. and we, you know, if i had two sort of lessons out of peacemaking certainly so far as northern ireland is concerns the first that you've got to create a basic framework old principles on which -- of principles on which they can all agree, right. >> this after that -- after that there will be a long period of negotiation and implementation, but you've got to get those basic principles agreed, and in
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the case of northern ireland the two principles were the principle of consent, in other words, northern ireland remains part of the u.k. so long as the majority of people want it, and then in return for that equality and justice between unionists and nationalists, between protestants and catholics. so there was a basic framework of principle that we got people attracted to. the is second thing is, frankly, never give up, you know? never give up no matter how difficult it is, no matter how hard, just keep going. and we used to have this phrase, if you can't soft it, manage it. but don't not solve it and not manage it. just one final thought, actually. when i finally got to spain, the spanish prime minister had actually had my family -- because i was supposed to be going out with my family, they'd been staying with them for three days, and i hadn't been there. so i finally get there and go into the room, and there he is sitting down at the breakfast
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table with my mother-in-law. [laughter] and she says to me as we come in, no need for you to be here. [laughter] i said, what have you been talking about? oh, just gibraltar. [laughter] so as i remark in the book, i think she may have had as good an answer as anyone else. [laughter] anyway, but let me just say one thing. throughout that whole northern ireland process, there was someone who was sitting or standing by the phone throughout, and it was president clinton. and i can tell you the way he picked up on what the internal politics were of that situation thousands of miles away, and i think there must have been some of those late night calls where i wasn't making a great deal of sense. but he played an absolutely critical role that, honestly, i think it's one of the few times i've had the chance to say this to you. without your intervention, actually, we would never have achieved that peace in northern ireland, and so from me to you,
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thank you. [applause] >> the only thing i would add to that is i think that both the people and the leaders who had to live with the consequences of any peace agreement had to at least be open to an agreement before anything that any of the rest of us can do will work. and then i think it's a combination of doing what tony said, getting the principles right and then getting the things that flow from that once the both sides in the irish debate accepted the principle of consent or majority rule and minority rights, they moved rather quickly to share decision making and shared economic benefits. and a special relationship for
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northern ireland with the irish republic even as it remained part of the u.k. so i think it's, i think that's important. but i also think it really matters if there are outside forces that can have a positive impact because the people negotiating need them or trust them in unusual ways. so, for example, obviously the british prime minister and the irish prime minister could have a big impact, and i could simply because of the size of the irish diaspora and the longstanding involvement of the irish in america with irish politics back home. but i still think you've got to give a lot of credit to the people who were involved, the irish themselves. all the party leaders within northern ireland who wanted desperately to do this, and to the public that was well ahead of the political leaders in saying we are sick of all this fighting.
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the other thing, i think, that is important for places like the u.k. and the united states to do if we're trying to make peace is to paint a picture of what it would look like after it was over so you make the strongest possible argument that it's in the interest of the parties to make compromises and hold their nose and do whatever has to be done to get there. and you do that by minimizing the risks and maximizing the benefits of peace. and this is something tony's still working on, obviously, representing the quartet in the middle east. but we've got to paint a picture of what this is like at the end of the road, and they have to know someone will be there to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. because, believe me, if they made an agreement day around tomorrow, we'd have two or three years that'd be pretty rough sailing, i think. >> yeah. i think one thing that the president was just saying there that was really important is the parties have to want it.
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i, obviously, reflect a lot about this now being out with the middle east peace process, and last night i was actually in jerusalem. and here's the thing that i think's quite interesting about conflict resolution, and i know this may sound an odd thing to say, but sometimes they want it, but it's not very obvious that they do. and sometimes they believe that they want it but are absolutely certain that the other side doesn't. you know, one of the things that i do constantly now when i'm talking as i was yesterday with prime minister netanyahu in israel and earlier in the day with president abbas is that sometimes, in fact many times, us raciallily -- israelis will say to you, look, we want peace, but the other side doesn't. or palestinians will say, you know, of course we want peace. how could we not? but the israelis aren't serious
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about it. and one of the functions of the people from outside -- because in the end the peace, ultimately, ultimately, can only be made by nose inside the -- those inside the process -- but one of the functions that comes in from the outside is, in fact, as i say to be persuaders of the good faith of the other so that you're able to go in there and say, look, i'm talking to these people. i know that they want peace. and so sometimes they want it, but they aren't sure the other wants it. and what you, therefore, get is a cry is sis not so much of a process, but a crisis of credibility or confidence in the other side's good faith. and, you know, this -- sometimes people say to me about the northern ireland and the middle east peace process what are the similarities? well, the differences are very obvious. but one of the chief similarities is that when we first came to deal with that northern ireland peace process, you know, every time the
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unionists would say to us, well, of course we want peace, but they don't. and the republicans would say, you don't understand. we've always wanted peace, but the other side don't. so the important thing, i think, is to try and create the framework within which the other, the other side can explore the good faith of the people they're dealing with. >> just one more thing briefly. i want to compliment you in your pre-prime ministerial years here. it also really helps if you're trying to broker a peace that is full of risk if there is generally bipartisan statesmanlike support for it. when john major, your predecessor, was in office and they got that statement in december, you remember, of '92 and some things happened there, you know, before you came in
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office. we struggled along will and finally got a cease fire in '95. you could have canned that whole deal, and you didn't. and i think that made a huge difference, and i think it made it harder in turn for the torieses when you became prime minister to undermine your position because you put the interest of the country and the interest of the irish ahead of any short-term political gain you could have made. i think that, that is profoundly important. >> just one final thing on this topic. i think the other thing is that sometimes becomes a moment when peace is possible because the circumstances that surround the conflict have changed. now, i think in northern ireland when the republic of ireland
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economy started to become, you know, this go ahead is celtic tiger economy and so on and, you know, i used to grow up as a british person i used to make jokes about the irish and all the rest, but they were considered -- you know, people in northern ireland often looked down on those in the south. and then suddenly the south of ireland became this extraordinary, vibrant, dynamic culture society. that changed the, that changed not just the atmospherics north and south, but britain and the republic of ireland were both in the european union, we started to think as two sovereign countries, look, let's try to solve this thing. we've got other things to think about in our relationship. and i think today in the middle east there is a similar, different but similar thing going on which is i actually believe today a majority of the arab countries surrounding israel and palestine, today they
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actually know they have got a fundamental strategic interest in peace. and can so i think there is a conjunction of circumstances there that if we're clever about it, can be an external pressure that agitates towards peace as well. >> i completely agree. that's the one thing in the middle east along with the performance of the fatah government in the west bank that is much better than it was ten years ago when we almost got an agreement. we had a lot of -- excuse me -- arab leaders giving me those private atta pois, you know, but -- boys, but they were a little bit afraid that if they came out four square for the peace agreement that i offered, that the israeli government accepted under then-prime minister barak, that their own street would revolt. now i think they're far more worried about iran as the
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adversary, and they want a strategic military, political and economic partnership with israel. that's the first thing. and secondly, many of these countries haven't general -- genuinely embarked o on their civilization efforts. it's just not a sustainable position. so i agree with that. i think that this' the most hope -- that's the most hopeful thing, really, that the arabs desperately want this done and are really prepared, finally at long last, to give's reel what it has always -- israel what it has always asked for which is not some cold peace in the middle east, but a genuine long-term partnership. >> terrific. from a regional conflict to internal political conflict. each of you pioneered third way politics. how did that impact your time in office, and what do you think of
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the rewe cushions -- repercussions today? >> i think he pioneered it, i followed it. i still believe in it, actually. i still think that -- you know, i don't know how the debate is over here, but almost particularly after the economic crisis the big debate in europe at the moment, in my country in europe, and it's really in and around the state -- okay? -- and what people say often is, well, look, especially after the financial crisis the state back in fashion. and, you know, my view has always been that in late 20th century/early 21st century politics if you provide people with the choice of a minimalist state, they're going to choose minimalist state. but that's not the only choice. and where we looked when i came into goth very close -- government very closely is the idea that the purpose of the
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state is necessary, that it should be strategic and it should be empowering, and that then has a series of consequences. it leads you to education reform, health care reform, it leads you to welfare and the famous words being a hand up, not a handout. it leads you to a sense of society that is about responsibility as well as opportunity. it leads you to a belief in society and community, not just in the mechanisms of the state for individual advancement. and i think that essential third way politics was sometimes, i think, wrongly thought of as splitting the difference, you know, between left and right. it was never about that for me. it was about taking basic progressive values and applying them to a new world. and i think the irony of it is that that is even more necessary today, and it's even more necessary for a very simple reason; because of the way people lead their lives. when i say to my colleagues in
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europe or in the u.k., you know, they say, well, maybe you went too far with all the reforms. i say the issue is whether i went far enough, frankly, because of the way the world's changing, right? i look at my children and the lives they lead and the choices they make and the technology they use. you know, just when we got our, i got my ipad, okay? i'm hopeless on technology. i think you're quite good on technology, i'm hopeless at it. anyway, i get my ipad. i phone up my 10-year-old son, leo, and i say i've got this new thing, t called an ipod. he says, yeah, of course. how many applications this has t got, and what are they? [laughter] he's going to grow up in a world that's so different and the nature of that because of technology, because of information is going to be -- and here's where you've got to choose your words carefully -- it's not more individualistic in
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the sense you don't need the bonds of society and community and a sense of fellowship, but it is more individualistic in one way which is that people will lead their lives expecting to make choices, expecting that their relationship with government, for example, is active and not passive, and not just sitting there and being prepared to accept whatever government gives you. and if government can't reform and change and become more enabling and more empowering and actually, you know, a partnership between government and the citizen, then people say, well, government stands in my way, o get it off my back. so my view was always that that's where the right wing came in the because they said, look, what these people want to do is take things away from you and give it to the state. and then the state usually wastes your money and makes you pay too much tax and all the rest of it. so for me that progressive third way politics that president
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clinton really pioneered was it was a great kind of liberation for progressive politics, in my view, and i still think it's absolutely relevant today, and i think, frankly, there would be many more progressive parties in power today in europe if they were following it. you probably don't, you may not remember this, but just after i got elected and you came into downing street and you came into the cabinet, and it was just one of those, you know, fabulous moments because we were all new ministers, right? as i say in my book, i'd never actually been in power before at all. i'd never been -- we'd been out of power for 18 years. i'd never even been a junior minister or, and suddenly i was prime minister, and that was true of all the cabinet. so we were completely new to it. and in comes president clinton who by then had been, won his second term and so on and just gave us this, i think you spoke for about 10 or 15 minutes and
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just gave us a perfect sort of strategic compass for what we should do as a government. very cleverly, i may say, weaving in our campaign slow begans. [laughter] -- slogans. which i thought was a great -- i thought, he can't really have read them, but somehow or other he had. but it was one of those, you know, i still think that third way politics is the right way forward, actually. i really do. it's maybe not, you know, quite so fashionable over our way at the moment, but i think, you know, my final reflection is this, that progressive people always win when they're at the cutting edge of the future, and they always lose when they become a different form of conservativism and can't handle the future. >> yeah. i think if, first of all, that's about as good as i can do, what he just said. i thought it was great. but if you want to see how tony was, how he came to this, it's
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an incredible moving -- at least to me moving -- passage in the beginning of the book where he talks about his father and how his father came out of a poor background and became a member of the conservative party in the u.k. because he thought once you had made it, you had to be there because the purpose of the labour party, essentially, was to build a big state to redistribute income. and what gave birth to the third way in america was that as much as anything the democrats kept getting beat because people saw us as the party of big government and our own political base very often was more concerned with means than ends. we basically said what does it mean to be a progressive or a liberal or whatever you want to call it this terms of you want to build the middle class, you want to reduce poverty, you want to provide, essentially, the tools that are necessary to build a good life like an education.
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and you list all those things, then you say we've been fighting as if only way to do it is the way the done in the industrial age when the world was dominated by big top-down corporations and big top-down government. and we have to go from entitlement to empowerment. that's, essentially -- and if we don't and we have to have accountability this spending of money -- in the spending of money and responsibility for people who get opportunity that's tsaed by the government. and i found that i was being -- even today i read that i'm being excoriated by people, one of the television commentators on one of our liberal cable channels said i was the best republican president the country ever produced which would come to quite a surprise from the republicans, half of whom still think i'm a closet communist. [laughter] but what she meant by that was i didn't necessarily follow their,
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the conventional wisdom's means. i said, what do you mean? the welfare reform reduced rolls by 60%, and then we had a brief recession in 2001, and people who moved from welfare to work were actually slightly less likely, not more likely, to be let go in this recession. we had 100 times as many people move out of poverty in those eight years than the previous 12 years because we had the earned income tax credit, not because we had another traditional anti-poverty program hiring people. so i just think that what, on the other hand, you can't say from that you don't need a state. one of the things the financial crisis shows is that all systems tend to run to excess. when they're going full throttle. so the most successful societies, without exception, are always those who have a
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strong private sector which is by definition continuously modernizing or people go broke, and then a government which is not by definition continuously modernizing, so somebody's got to keep prodding it to change. but it doesn't mean you can forget the lessons of the tulip boom and 17th century holland. you've got to still have, you know, reasonable rules. and i think that -- is so i'm with tony. i still think this third way thing workings. if you think about the life we live now, let me say he now has a project that i wanted to do and couldn't with my foundation where he goes around, and his foundation works to help governments in poor african countries, let's say, develop capacities. how are you going to have a tax system, how are you going to run your education system. we build health care systems and economic projects, but he actually goes in and works inside out with the government.
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why? because he knows you need a strong government, but also essentially in these poor countries you don't need to the waste any money, you need to be effective. and there's no accident that rwanda has quadrupled its per capita income in the last decade, because they have focused on private sector growth but having effective government. and i think, i think that's -- i still think we're right about that. i think people, particularly if i think the people on the right say government is the enemy and we don't need it are wrong, particularly in this economic time. and i think people on the left could say the only way to deliver services or solve problems is with a bigger state are not always right and are more often wrong than right. >> yeah. so, so the left criticized you because you weren't left enough, and the right criticized you because you won the elections. that's really -- [laughter] that's really unfamiliar, that. [laughter]
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you see, i think the reason -- i'll just finish on this point -- the reason why i think third way politics is right and the interesting thing about politics is i think the funny thing is that people are usually far ahead in analysis of the politicians. they don't say it like that, and they don't analyze it like that, but actually they were in a third way position a long time, in a sense, before politics was. and they were in that third way position for a very simple reason, they could see that the excesses of the past and the capitalist system needed strong social provision. but they also could see the 20th century drew to a close that they were paying taxes, that government was spending a lot of money, and they wanted it accountable, they wanted it
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efficient. and they also thought, look, i'm prepared to pay for people who are in need but, frankly, i expect someone who's given something also to have some responsibility for using what they're given, okay? so i think the interesting thing about third way politics is that i think certainly back home in my country and in europe the constituent is si often in the media is quite limited. because they tend to fit into very traditional left-right categories. but actually the constituency in the country always bigger because they think, they think like human beings. they think instinctively. and i always used to think that however difficult it was to try and get policies through -- and anybody who's ever made reform and change knows how difficult it is -- you always actually have a constituency for reform and change amongst people
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because most people, sensible people recognize that you require the existence of the state there to help do the things that only the state can do. but they also expect those that are running the state to do the most effectively, most response by, most accountably and with the best value for money. and, actually, if we kind of keep that in our minds as progressive politicians and start from the perspective of people and then build our policy out from that, we're more likely to get to the answer. and i think it probably will be a third way world. >> mr. blair, your book includes a terrific, almost nostalgic story about the last time that you were refused a table at a restaurant. i think it was the day before you became opposition leader. and -- >> bad italian, actually. let me down. >> would you all talk about what the pressures of political life
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are like and how you deal with those pressures? >> well, i have, actually, a section in my book that rather unusually deals, actually, with alcohol and political leaders. [laughter] and, you know, saying i was kind of worried because you do when you get to my age that, you know, you've just got to be careful with it. although my description of how i had a gin and tonic before dinner and a couple of glasses of wine. there was a member of my cabinet who said the other day when asked about my drinking, he said, look, where i come from in dallas go we give more than that to the canary. [laughter] i was, also, actually, a real
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stickler for holidays, i would take holidays. and i think, you know, the pressures of political life are enormous and particularly enormous now, frankly. you live in a 24 hour a day, seven day a week media world. and the decisions are tough. i mean, i don't know, i always thought they rested on your shoulders, i think, easier than mine, but, you know, particularly with, i mean, not just with life and death decisions i had to take over war and peace in iraq and afghanistan, kosovo, sierra leone and so on, but just the day-to-day business of it, it's tough. and sometimes, you know, you're like anybody else, you want to get the job done and everything, but you're a human being. and i always think, you know, i was very lucky, actually, having a young family growing up in downing street because my kids were teenagers, really, when i first came into downing street which had its challenges.
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[laughter] but also had its tremendous advantage of keeping my feet on the ground when, you know, i shut the flat door on downing street at the end of the day, it actually was a tremendous relief to go back into the family and talk about things that were incredibly important within the family but, you know, weren't really important outside of that. but i think it's, you know, sometimes -- and particularly today where the political debate can get very harsh nowadayses -- i mean, you see some of the things over here today in your political discourse and, it's pretty tough language being kicked around. and, you know, back in my place as well, too, i think it's sometimes important, i mean, look, the society for think -- sympathy towards politicians is probably a very limited and small group of people. [laughter] but what i tried to do in the book, actually, is say, well,
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this is what it's like from a human perspective, these jobs. and believe it or not we don't come from mars, we're human beings. so that's what i tried to do, successfully or unsuccessfully. and i tried to make it very much a human account of what it's like to be an ordinary human being dealing with extraordinary things. >> i think you, first of all, nearly everybody who gets one of these jobs, in my experience, really does in america whether a republican or democrat, they basically try to do what they think is right. most of the politicians that i've known over the last 35 years contrary to their current reputation and what's being said about them in the current campaign were honest, hard working people who were pretty smart. once in a while you meet a dishonest person, not often. once in a while you meet a lazy
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person, not often. once in a while you meet a dummy, not often. and yet they're all going to be called in some variation dishonest, lazy and dumb as a post. and so what you have to do is to learn how, first, you have to mentally challenge yourself to take this criticism in so that you can take it seriously but not personally. if you take it personally, you'll get your feelings hurt, you won't be able to hear it, so if it's legitimate, you won't adjust as you should, and if it's illegitimate, you won't be able to slough it off as you should. and i think a part of that is not giving up on your family life, trying to be there for your kids, taking vacations with your family. but a part of it for me, at least, was i gave -- when i
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became president there were only 50 sites on the worldwide web, and the average cell phone weighed 5 pounds in 1993. [laughter] and so we didn't have e-mail. so i gave 50 people that i had known mostly all my life my zip code. and i had a special one drawn up. only 50 people had it. none of them were famous, none of them were wealthy, they were people i grew up with. and they would tell me if i looked like an idiot to the local gas station attendant, and these people and their kids wrote me for eight years and just kept our relationship alive. that helped. i think being with your friends helps. but i will say this, most of the mistakes i've made in my life -- you can't do this job well if you don't have a pretty ferocious work ethic. but most of the major mistakes i've made in my life i've made when i was too tired to lift my arm above my shoulder, and a lot of people will tell you that.
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so the trick is i had to go back and totally reorder my whole when i realized one of the reasons we weren't going to do well in the congressional elections of 1994 is i'd lost the ability to really connect with the american people, and i was goggle-eyed tired all the time. but i had to use the time late at night to read because i was determined to go home and have dinner with chelsea and hillary every night. so i'd block out an hour or two a day just to have to rest or to do whatever had to be done, changed my whole life. i know it sounds funny, but little things like that can change your whole life, and i suspect it's not true just of politics. >> no, for sure. i mean, the one bit of pressure i never, ever got used to, however, was prime minister's questions. [laughter] >> i used to call and rag you about that all the time. i watched him on television once a week, prime minister's questions. >> occasionally, people in america say today, oh, you must miss that prime minister's
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question time. i think, what? [laughter] it's like asking someone who was investigated by the spanish inquisition on the rack if they'd like a stretch. [laughter] it was sort -- the most terrible, terrible time. the one person who could do it, incidentally, you could have done it. there's a time i'll tell in the book, actually, because what you really need is you need to be very fast on your feet because that is an unforgiving place. and what you don't see when you watch prime minister's questions, they cut out a lot of the abuse, right, that's coming. because they're only a short distance away, okay? just a few feet away. and when you're standing at the dispatch box, the other front bench are just the whole time they're just keeping up a banter of abuse, basically. god, he looks awful today. what's wrong with him? [laughter] and they do, his fly's down, all that sort of stuff. [laughter] so, it's, you know, you're
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trying to answer your questions and all the rest of it, but i remember when we were sitting, i went to see, i went to see the president in the oval office, and i was the leader of the opposition, and this was just before your 1996 election. existence bob dole -- against bob dole. so i went to see you, and it was a big moment, right, because the leader of the opposition, he's the president of the united states, so it's, you know, did you get in to see him properly, and how'd it all work out and everything. and, of course, the british media were all turning up hoping for something to go wrong. anyway, i sat in those chairs that you do trying to look generally statesmanlike sitting with the president, and i remember the british media all came in. they used to kind of rush in like a great clutch, you know, the journalists. they'd all come in, and they'd shout questions. one of the british media shouted at president clinton, he said, do you think you're sitting next to the british prime minister?
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and that was a really difficult question because if he said, no, i was kind of -- that's me gone. if he said yes, he was interfering with a british election, right? so he thought a moment, he said, i just hope he's sitting next to the next president of the united states. [laughter] and i thought, that's someone who could get through prime minister's questions. [laughter] >> that actually raises the next question. there's been a lot discussed, and it's increasing, about the special relationship between great britain and the united states. how would each of you describe that? >> well, here's the thing, because there's a lot of talk now that, you know, certainly over our way and particularly in a sense after my time in office
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being very close to president bush and president clinton, you know, standing with america after september 11th, in afghanistan, in iraq and so on. and, you know, sometimes it's presented almost as if let me speak from the point of view of the british prime minister, as if this is about, you know, you've got to keep in with america, and o on. and, of course, america, it is important for all countries to have a relationship with the world's superpower. but actually for me it was always, too, about a bond of values and beliefs, a shared way of life, and actually, you know, you can be sort of a bit prissy or dismissive of that, but it matters, and it means something. and, therefore, for me the alliance between britain and the u.s. was a matter of strategic national interest. you know, sometimes people in america are very kind, they say,
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thank you for what you did for america, and i say, well, actually i did it for britain. and it's important, that, because the relationship still matters. now, what is often said over my way today is, yes, of course the american relationship's important, but power is shifting east. so growing up the relationship with china or with india or with brazil, indonesia, you know, the new powers that are emerging and have emerged in some cases. my answer to that is for a country like britain is in those circumstances where you do have these emerging powers and, you know, the single biggest thing i've noticed since leaving office is that this shift of power to the east is there, it is emphatic, and it will change the whole course of the 21st century. but in those circumstances what i say is even more important to have the relationship with america, bound as it is by ties
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not just of national interests, but of values and beliefs and convictions. and also same true of the european union because the other thing people would say to me in britain during my time in the office is, you know, yes, fine, we're fine with american relationship, but, you know what the british are like with the french. [laughter] you know, why are you so keen on the european union? and my answer to that was perfectly simple: in the 21st century there aren't pig -- big and small european states. france, germany, u.k., italy, we're all small compared to the countries that are emerging in the world today. if we band together in the european union, we can be stronger individually. so when you go to china or india, and can this this is the reality, and you say i'm the british prime minister, but i'm also a key player in the european union, they're going to
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listen a lot more than if you say, well, i'm britain. don't you remember us? this we used to have an empire. [laughter] it's not the way the world works anymore, and it's very, very hard for countries. because i think, we've discussed this recently, but one of the things i think is really difficult for can countries today is every country's got to decide what its place in the world is. what's its narrative about itself. where does it stand in this extraordinary shifting, geopolitical landscape. and for me the u.k./u.s. relationship remains relevant. it's not a -- and an important part of our interest. it's not a tie of sentiment, it's not something that's had us day, you know, we talk about churchill and roosevelt and all those times. it matters. and it mattered to me when i was prime minister in a very modern way. now, a lot is written about the relationship between britain and
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america and britain standing shoulder to shoulder with america, but i remember the conflict in kosovo when ethnic cleansing was going on on the doorstep of europe, and the truth is without america and without president clinton coming in support of the action, we couldn't have handled that. 85% of the assets in kosovo were your assets, and that was an extraordinary courageous decision, actually, because i think it's fair to say there wasn't a great groundswell of opinion pushing you to do this in the u.s. quite the opposite, in fact. a lot of people in the u.s., perfectly naturally, were saying, come on, this is thousands of miles away, it's the europeans' problem. tell them to go and fix it. so that relationship mattered at that point in time dramatically and made a real difference to people's lives. and whatever the problems in the balkans today, the balkans is in far better shape than it had been for 100 years or more as a
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result of that strong transatlantic relationship. so my very, very strong, passionate view is that this is not some special relationship in inverted commas that's a matter of emotional sentiment that's connected with the past, it's something that is living and breathing now with a relevance to today, with are ale vns that -- with relevance to tomorrow, and we should keep it, and we should preserve it, and we should be proud of it, and we shouldn't give it up. >> i 100% agree with that. you -- one reason that i was so elated when tony won is that i thought that both the u.s. and the united kingdom had some formidable changes, challenges facing us, and we needed to modernize our own countries if we were going to be strong enough for our relationship to
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matter to other people in the 21st century. i still believe that. i think, basically, you know, i spend most of my time in places like haiti now and poor places where they don't have any systems. countries like ours that have been around a long time, little long in the tooth, we have systems that resist change. and i wanted to modernize it because i thought that on the record ever since the war of 1812 we've been pretty close. and it's worked out pretty well for the world. i don't think you can cite examples in the, say in the 20th century when it hasn't worked out well. people can argue about iraq, and we'll know one of these days. but on balance it's been a good thing for the world because we're not imperialists anymore, and whatever we do we do partly because we have a capacity most
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other countries don't. but we have to have an alliance that's economic and political in order for the military to make a lick of sense. otherwise it's just kind of a floating, isolated element out there. i think it's really important. and the thing i think is interesting is how it has transcended the personalities. you know, hillary and i felt comfortable with cherie and tony, i loved being around their kids, i love being around their kids whether they're around or not. it was a personal thing. and it was awkward when i became president and john major was there because there had been this big story that at the request of my predecessor's campaign, he had had an intelligence service rifling through the files of the british passport office to see if i had ever tried to give up my american citizenship. that was one of the things i used to read in the tabloids about myself all the time. so the british press was mortified when i became president that somehow this would destroy the special
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relationship. i didn't dare tell them the truth which was that i was elated for them to be rooting around in my passport files because i knew they were wasting time and money and getting me closer to election day. [laughter] and i couldn't be, i could have cared less. i thought it was the most colossal waste of time and resources i'd ever heard, but i wasn't mad about it. i realized that i had to be hypercareful that there seemed to be five degrees' difference in my position and the u.k.'s position before tony became prime minister because, oh, back to the passports controversy. which wasn't true. eventually, i had a good relationship with major. and then we had a wonderful partnership that involved kosovo, the aftermath of bosnia, the irish peace process, our ongoing efforts in the middle east, lots of other things. and then when president bush -- there was this made-for-tv movie
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that was on the other day about the relationship between he and me, there were factual inaccuracies. one of the things i told him i was going to get mad at him if he got along with george bush. that's factually untrue. i wanted them to get along because it was important for our countries. they made a great relationship. you can agree or disagree with their policies, but the fact that they held it together in an extremely contentious time is worth something, and you will see that as we go along. in the next five years, there'll be some other example where david cameron and barack obama who had nothing to do with all the stuff we were doing, they'll have to do something together that no one else can do, and as long as that's the case and as long as at least nobody thinks we're trying to loot their countries or being imperialists and that if we make a mistake it's a mistake of the mind, not
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the heart, then people can even disagree with us and want this special relationship to survive. i think that is the key thing. nobody is right all the time. nobody. and these decisions are flying at you 90 miles in a highly-contentious atmosphere. we just need for people to know that we wish them well, and that when we bring our power to bear together, we do it because we think that the world and the next generation of children will be better off. and i think as long as we do that, this special relationship will be relevant for at least 50 more years and for all i know beyond. >> i think this will be the last question, we're running out of, running out of time. when you all speak to each other and look at the world, is there one trend or one single aspect of what's happening now across the world that you look at as
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the most important either for good or for ill? >> i think there are probably two for me, and one of the things that's a little shocking, actually, i find this particularly out in the middle east now is how much more i understand about it than i did when i was in be office as prime minister -- in many office as prime minister. and i think one major trend is this issue to do with extremism and how we handle it. and, because it's based on a perversion of the peaceful and proper version of islam, but it's there, and it's powerful, and it's not, i'm afraid, going away. and i think that it is not simply the actions of the extremists that are important, but there is a narrative that they have developed that is a reach that, in my view s too broad. and this issue that i dealt with
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when in office that president obama's having to deal with now, i think, is -- i'm afraid it's going to be with us for some time. and i think what i understand now is that the roots of it are very deep, there are genuine powerful religious cultures at work. and one of the reasons i started a foundation about religious interfaith is because i genuinely believe that the 21st century is unlikely to be a century of fundamentalist political ideology, but it could become a century of conflict of religious or cultural ideology. and i think bringing people together in an era of global sietion, respecting difference is a vital part of today's world. and that is one trend that i notice that is there and needs to be counted. the second is the shift to power to the east. you know, every time i go to china or to india i'm just amazed by what is happening. and i think for us, america and
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europe, for centuries we've been the dominant powers and to get in our own minds clear the sense of partnership that is now going to be necessary because we will no longer be dominant in the same way is very, very important. but as i said a moment or two ago, strangely what it means to me is not that our relationship, america and europe, is less important, but it's actually more important because in that emerging world we need to have the power to be able to shape it or at least be partners on equal terms with countries that are going to far exceed ours in population. as i often say to people, if you just think about china today growing in population terms every year by roughly the same amount as the u.k., you start, you know, china will build more power stations in the next ten years than the whole of europe's built since the second world war. you get a sense of the sheer scale of what's happening. so those are the two trends that i identify, and if i had any
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other thought, it would be about, you know, i write this in the book, actually, that one of the things that's interesting to me is, you know, some people in our country at least they talk about the younger generation and, you know, do they care in the same way and so on and so forth. they're not as idealistic as we were in the '60s and '70s. i actually have enormous faith in the young people today. some of the people i've got working for me in africa are absolutely superb. i'd like to finish by saying one other lesson that president clinton taught me, and it actually was a very important lesson of international diplomacy. i don't know whether you remember a summit that we went to in if a far-off country, and one of the things that sometimes happens at these global summits is that they like you to dress for the evening dinner in their traditional costumes. right? and we were in this place, and i
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remember going to my room, and i was kind of new prime minister, wasn't quite sure how to handle it. anyway, we had to wear a shirt which was one of the traditional shirts at this particular place. and there were three shirts on the bed, and the first one was absolutely hideous. [laughter] and the next two were worse. [laughter] with the third being the most hideous. right. so i choose the bad one but not as bad as the rest, and i put it on. i go along to the dinner, the first person i see is president clinton on, and he's got the third, he's got the worst on. [laughter] i go over to him, and i say, bill, ha shirt is terrible -- that shirt is terrible. [laughter] and he says, yep. i said, well, why have you got it on? he says, well, let me tell you something. you see, when i'm wearing this shirt and my folks back home see me on television, they'll think
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there's that nice mr. president having to be good to all those strange foreign people. he said, but when they see, your folk back home see you in that shirt, they may just think you chose it. [laughter] [applause] >> well, i think the most important thing -- i agree with tony about the rise of the east, and i agree with him about the younger generation. i think it's the most amazing group of young people, and there is a global community thanks to the internet of younger people who share common interests and common knowledge in ways that would have been unthinkable. 10-year-olds can now find out and absorb and process information that you used to have to spend two years in college to get ahold of. but i think the most important thing today is the struggle,
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unresolved, between the positive and the negative forces of our global interdependence. and the fact that no one has the monopoly on power, influence or information they once had. the chinese state is too strong to suit most of us, and the russians sometimes suppress nongovernmental options and do things we -- options and do things we don't like, but nobody controls it all. witness the tweeters in the iranian election who, you know, made us all feel what we did. but there's a story today in the paper that's truly gripping, and i wish every american would think about it, about the incredible role the united states is playing in helping the narco traffickers and their violent gangs in mexico in their attempt to destroy the mexican state and take over northern mexico. because we insisted, i believe wrongly, on repealing the
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assault weapons ban. and now all of these gun stores there are selling to people that are cutouts, people they know good and well are cutouts, 50 caliber assault weapons so that the narco traffickers are better arms than the mexican army and police, and they're mowing them down. keep in mind, those people are up there dying trying to keep cocaine out of the bodies of america's children. that also is interdependence. so there are all these positive and negative forces, and they are constantly at war everywhere, hard to organize, hard to direct, almost impossible to control. and hard to calculate what the long-term pluses and minuses are of making a sacrifice today, do you sacrifice today or try to manage and kick the can down the road kind of decision he had to make a few years ago. i think those are the great questions of the 21st century.


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