tv Writing About War CSPAN August 13, 2016 3:00pm-4:16pm EDT
>> thank you, give us a second to redo the stage, the registers behind you. take some toilet paper. [inaudible conversations] >> c-span created by america's cable television companies brought as a public service by cable and satellite provider. >> we have a special program this evening. not one but three very fine
authors, all journalists, seasoned intrepid war reporters, they have written memoirs, in afghanistan, syria and other conflict zones. first, janine, janine di giovanni, newsweek's contributing editor at vanity fair. at the start of her journalistic, the first palestinian intifada in the late 1990s. then, reported on turmoil and conflicts in the middle east and beyond. her latest book, "the morning they came for us: dispatches from syria" she chronicles the war in syria. the ravaged nation experienced
by its citizens. a doctor, musician and student, their stories convey the realities of modern urban warfare from the pervasive smoke to the hunger, the return of previously vanquished diseases as typhus and polio. next to janine's christina lamb, chief foreign correspondent of the sunday times. like janine, the introduction came in the late 1980s, in pakistan and afghanistan. her journalism has taken her far and wide including assignments in brazil, south africa, zimbabwe and iraq but since the 9/11 attacks she has spent quite a bit of time in afghanistan. she wrote i am a lela and her
new book, "farewell kabul: from afghanistan to a more dangerous world," highlight the errors and miscalculations made by the united states and its allies in the war of afghanistan. and argues the world has been left more, not less dangerous since 9/11. our third author is kim barker whose book "whiskey tango foxtrot (the taliban shuffle mti): strange days in afghanistan and pakistan" about her reporting in afghanistan and pakistan served as the basis for the recent movie whiskey tango foxtrot starring tina fay. her first reporting job with papers in indiana and washington state, after joining the chicago tribune in 2000 when she went abroad and spent 5 years from 2004-2009 as south asia bureau chief based in new jersey and islam about. she writes for the new york times. a times review of her book called at both hilarious and
harrowing, two contrasting adjectives that sum up the frequently mixed experience of war reporting. moderating discussion by this impressive group of panelists will be mary jordan, pulitzer prize-winning journalist with washington post. she was based abroad for 14 years in tokyo, mexico city and london, she is currently covering the presidential campaign. you need that for an experience. >> war reporting is easier. >> she told me as we were walking in she just interviewed donald trump today. and we are getting off track. mary's most recent book which she cowrote with her husband,
kevin sullivan is titled hope, internment of two women held in cleveland by ariel castro. please join me in welcoming our panel. [applause] or smack >> i really feel there were three different 5-star restaurants. it is impossible to do justice to the careers of these three women but we will have fun trying, one of the great news men of our times, a journalist,
to working. i am very proud -- before we get into other things, how did this happen? they want to run facebook. why would you want to go? >> never wanted to be a journalist, i was an academic doing my masters degree in comparative literature. completely different and wanted to be a professor and write novels and literary criticism. i saw a photograph of an israeli soldier burying a palestinian teenager alive with a bulldozer of sand. the article was about human rights lawyer, a jewish holocaust survivor one of the few israeli lawyers defending
palestinians in military court and it was providence, i met her, she took me under her wing and i felt i went through a door i could never go back again, couldn't finish my phd. and people who do not have a voice, i have an obligation, and doing the war in bosnia, opened a whole other scenario for my colleagues and i. >> did you grow up knowing for 28 years -- pardon me.
>> never -- i always wanted to write. i loved writing and wanted to have adventures that basically as the result of an invitation to a wedding, what happened, i started after -- i worked as an intern, when they a foreign editor was going to -- and going on about india. sat next to the pakistan people's party which is part of the party and to interview anyone living in london in exile. the day i went there is the day he announced her engagement, the apartment was full of flowers, we got on very well.
she was charming, particularly men, she went back to pakistan and i went to work as a trainee for the british regional tv company and all of the things like that. came home from work and there was an absolutely beautiful gold inscribed invitation on my doormat. it was amazing introduction to pakistan, like something out of the arabian nights, very colorful and each evening after ceremonial events there were discussions how to take on pakistan's ministry, all the colleagues who had been teargas and tortured and imprisoned and the most dangerous thing i had to deal with was finding my way
home. i was fascinated so i came back to london and going to live in pakistan and everybody i went to talk to said we are not interested in pakistan, nothing is going to change but we are interested in afghanistan because the russians are there so why don't you go cover that? being 21 i agreed. british television, a man -- like it was going forward or backward, don't think there was great loss. >> host: you went to many other places but tell us how your story is equally different from these two. >> i knew i wanted to be a journalist ever since i took a journalism class, what a great
con, pull my friends out of class for that question and write about it, seemed like the greatest job in the world. never thought about being a foreign correspondent. i grew up not the richest person in the world, we never went to canada or mexico growing up. after 9/11 happened, i was at the chicago tribune and other people were volunteering to go, and you see them empty out and this person would try it, not that i wanted -- i wanted to see if i could cover the biggest story in the world. and to volunteer for going overseas, to send more women overseas, because we haven't tried a lot of women. at one point i went out with a female friend who wanted to
cover the number of men sent out and the number of women and it was 17 men and one women. i wanted to prove a woman could do it so i was trying to figure out how to distance myself from other female reporters who might volunteered to send more women overseas. i don't speak any foreign languages, haven't even been to europe. i went in with the biggest argument i had which i introduced myself and said i am kim barker, metro reported, i am single and childless and therefore expendable. i did say that. he laughed. i said i will go anywhere you want to send me. get ready to go to pakistan. they said no you are not, why would anybody send you to pakistan? turned out they were wrong. i went four months later.
>> when i got posted to tokyo it was a big deal, in the 90s, what did you do wrong? let me read you something kim wrote in the book and you will get a flavor for how she writes. afghanistan is like being home more than anything else in the region. afghanistan seemed familiar, had jagged mountains, and bearded men and pickup truck stocked with guns and hate for the government. it was like montana. just on different drugs. let's go back for a second. at one point she is talking in the book, the phone rings, calls at the wrong time, how did you
balance beheadings with this comedy? >> this is on c-span and asked the hardest question. any journalist when you are a police officer and emergency room doctor, anyone who grows up in afghanistan or pakistan, used comedy to deal with horrible things. just because people are being killed doesn't mean you don't stop living your life and people stop having small moments and it is a way -- it is because my dad brought me up watching mash, we didn't go to church, we had to watch mash, i would like i hate that show. this war only lasted a couple years and the show is lasting
25. it is also like i read one of the first authors i read and loved was kurt vonnegut and then joseph keller, and absorbed that whole idea of dark comedy being a good way to talk about war and what happened over there. there was a tradition of that. and once the draft stopped, this whole idea that everybody doesn't know somebody who goes to war, you can't make jokes or talk about how people live over there. there is reverence for the idea of war and the idea that everybody is fighting all the time. >> through humor, you could picture you there and you were giving us so much information. congratulations. the movie that was just made, what is tina fey like?
>> she is serious. i think i'm actually funnier. i am kidding. tina is incredibly generous. i didn't spend a lot of time with her but they ended up filming the movie because there are two kinds of actors, the ones who spend a lot of time with somebody and inhabit them and the ones who like to take a character and make it their own. just had a long lunch which i remember complaining about high heels, we complained about high heels, i was proud of myself, couldn't remember what the story was. i told something that made tina fey laugh, during the whole process every single time she was on a late-night show, and the original title by name, the
publisher was thinking you could tie in, with end up eclipsing the talent and shuffle because of the movie but because she mentioned it so much the talent and shuffle started selling out on amazon. i can't say enough nice things about her. she has been generous and a supporter of women. i really benefited from that. >> it used to be there were not many war correspondents who were female but the washington post has quite a few and a lot of other people do too. the pulitzer for the new york times covering afghan women, it is very different, talk about how being a woman in a war zone affects reporting. >> there were very few women and the women that were in the field were not friendly to other women because it was so competitive,
so mail that there was a great sense of competition. it has radically changed. to men and women reporting different ways? it is very individual. i'm a human rights reporter. i am a terrible scoop reporter or sensationalize reporter. finding the mother of the last brit in sierra leone. i need to spend a hard time, the war in bosnia, the watershed moment changed reporting. it was the time a small group of us were committed to affecting policy and we felt we were not
going to let genocide happen on the watch. and with the people, we were sniped, shelved, we have food and water. we did something, everyone in the war, changes their lives forever and style is reporting. i want to drive syria home, it is a slow-motion genocide. the world must pay attention to it. i live in paris, coming to america on this book to i am amazed how little attention, people being slaughtered in aleppo last week, the hospital where i work, the only pediatrician was killed, the
first responders, the white helmets were the bravest people in the world. they dig people out of the rubble, 5 of them were killed. the gynecologist who delivered the baby was killed in aleppo. this is an election year for america and i understand that. syria seem so remote but so did bosnia, and it would never happen again. it is happening now. >> it is harrowing. she spent a lot of time, and horrible things -- and
correspondence, and lots of talk about -- are they different or do they bring something or bring diversity? >> they were quite differently. i think they tend to focus much more on the actual fighting, actual bang bang if you like. i can tell the difference between incoming and outgoing, i can't tell you very well, i focus on other people behind the lines. when you see war on tv. there are millions of people still living their life, to see
them and protecting, they tend to be the women. they focus on that or. it is impossible for male reporters to go into women's quarters. i'm getting access to both sides. >> and don't cut off from a lot of the women and in muslim countries who had women reporters there. are there downsides? >> you get this question all the time. >> i feel somehow he could.
>> there are downsides. with a personal life, be careful with what you are doing, there are books written like emergency sectional and all that stuff. wanted me to talk about sex. >> this is a follow-up, i don't know what to do with that. the emergency part of this. >> nothing to do with anything else. >> don't have to worry about it. the book that came out -- as a woman over there you have to be protective of the reputation. be careful who you are going out with. a lot of times you make sure they wanted to protect you and -- you had this obligation, it
came up a lot of times, in pakistan, india, afghanistan, you think you are being friendly to people and you get phone calls in the middle of the night, can't turn your phone off because your editor might call, they call during ramadan at 4:00 in the morning and it is like i love you and thanks, but i need some sleep, you couldn't turn your phone off. irritations like that, of being grabbed in public. i write a lot about the fact that i am tall, i am 5 foot 10 and punched out a lot of guys because i got so irritated and i would start punching them and that was dangerous. the guy who was getting in trouble for that -- grabbing happened equally in india and pakistan. >> how did they react to the punch?
>> they didn't like it. >> they just ran away? i was like -- there was all this stuff -- i write about the current prime minister buying me an iphone and i'll of us had similar experiences and after the book came out i had a guy on twitter who was like this is really unprofessional. all that hitting on you stuff is probably off the record. i don't think you are allowed to be off the record when you are hitting on somebody. that is on the record. i felt writing about that stuff shows the level of i'm going to pretend to be the sort of very religious man in public but behind-the-scenes i think it is okay to behave this way with women. >> everyone says the difference between men and women i always
resented when they say women cover orphanages and hospitals and men cover war because i have done a lot of frontline stuff. i'm not interested in guns but have a lot of military work but the moment the really changes for me personally was when i had a child. that changes the things completely. my male colleagues have children and they need to say you are entering the club where you will read bedtime stories by satellite phone. it is a risk saying this but for women it is different because we carry the child, give birth and there was an extraordinary bond and i will never forget when my son was 6 months old the times which is not the most sensitive paper in the world to women, my editor deliberately sent me back to iraq where i had been living two years covering saddam and
the invasion and the war and i was breast-feeding and didn't want to go and begged them not to send me but they used a clause in my contract to send me and they said we have a war reported that will go to war, nowhere says i am a war reporter. i'm a correspondent, senior foreign correspondent, send me to paris or brussels or something. and i went. my foreign desk was a macho little scene and the guy who was running for office said to me he wanted me to do something incredibly dangerous the first day i got there, two lines in a story that was being fed in from washington and i said no and heard him on the phone cackling to some of his friends, going janine di giovanni lost her nerve now that she had a baby. it was so awful, crying and crying but said that is a good
thing, a good thing you lost your nerve and you are afraid. you are supposed to be afraid. you can't be the last person in the middle of bomb flying. >> what changed? you stopped doing certain things? >> i worked in africa for years and years and was very happy to be with militias in sierra leone, putting at great risk. i didn't want to get injured. >> you had just been in syria several imes. it is a conflicting thing. as he got older i realized -- some people think i'm irresponsible and would not be able to argue. what i do is morea calling in a
sense and i believe in what i do. it is hugely important that reporters bear witness to atrocities and human rights violations, and we don't get a window. i just felt in some way i had to make this breach. it is not easy. >> you balance work and life. work, life, family balance when you are an insurance person in pittsburgh but if you are trying to manage, all of you repeatedly, how did you balance? you have a son too and her family. ..
you can identify with them much more than when you weren't a mother. it's very hard sometimes to live with that. >> yesterday was mother's day. all of the mothers in war zones that are trying to keep their family together. they're trying to raise children in the middle of war. >> our friends are escaping from very dangerous places yesterday. how do you feel about danger. >> i was a chicken. i didn't need to have a kid to value my life. how important is your life? probably the most important thing to me. i have parents and more
importantly had fixer in a driver. when he was there and has had got cut off. the journalist was released and left jamaal behind. i was like we don't need to do those things if you feel like it's dangerous. i was of the sort of person that said i was good to go out and meet the taliban. i was happy to go to jail and meet the taliban who had just been arrested. because they had been arrested. and i was happy to have them come meet me inside cities at hotels there was a string of times where friends of mine would be like i'm to go meet the taliban.
it would happen. it's the case-by-case thing. it's a good point. if the story is the same but if you want to be eyewitnesses sometimes you can discourage else. i think what's interesting as for all of you different things triggered why you went there then you got there and he got hooked i just want to read a passage from christine is a book that is towards the end of her book. it's called ward never leaves you. in november 2014 of course in the end i went back i missed afghanistan with a yearning i could not explain. i have an adorable --dash make an adorable house in washington. a white picket fence where
every day a yellow school bus came to collect my son just like in the american movies and i have a great job and wonderful friends. get yet part of me was somewhere else entirely dreaming of pomegranate tips. if i drove three the park. it reminded me of the mounds in my big american house i have a walk in wardrobe. the shelves are piled with silk scarves. each one with the memory. and you went on from there about how you have to go back because it was always in your senses. i never remembered the bad bits. so is it like childbirth. >> a lot of bad things
happened you lost friends, colleagues and people you knew yet you kept going back i think it's not a story you know people there you don't think of it as an issue where you think of all of the people that you know there and you want people to know about it. one of the things i feel very angry about at the moment is the way that they are accepting that the war effort in afghanistan is over because we declared over a couple of years ago. more people were killed in afghanistan than in any year of the war. it's a situation with women there. you remember when the taliban the discussion was how every going to make women free. and people gave a radio addresses and talked about it.
actually we encouraged women to do things they would never had done become security and do all sorts of things which is good but now we've left this people behind and were them were not protecting them and they stood up and have done things that were not traditional in their culture and other being targeted and were not there to help them. i think we've a moral responsibility to do something about that. i feel really passionately that we shouldn't forget that. and once you're so deep in the story you feel a responsibility let the world know. in her book she writes these images of things i was touched by this one passage in her book when my son was born shortly after the american occupation of iraq i was unable to cut his nailsit was this rule rather than rational reaction. i would pick up the tiny baby
scissors and look at his fingers clean and pink is seashells and feel as though i would retch. i have a vision of an iraqi man i knew who had no fingernails. and then it goes on at length about this man who used to come into your office in iraq who have been tortured and all of his fingernails taken off. and how every time you saw your baby it's incredible like you started to say. you met these people stayed close to them and wrote his horrific things. what draws you in syria right now is just about the most dangerous place on earth. we've all lost friends there are you going to go back. >> i feel very committed to it and i also feel that last week after the hospital was popped the attacks on medical workers i find absolutely horrific and so i feel the need and it's
not a pole. i do have friends who i say are addicted to war. they like the adrenaline. they like the fact that there taken out of their ordinary boring day-to-day lives where we have to pay bills and they go into a war zone where you very much live in the moment because you try to stay alive. i don't think i was ever like that. i think for me it was much more about something martha said many years ago which was you had one more that you fall in love with the rest is responsibility. i think again bosnia did that to me. and now syria i've fallen in love again. and i do feel very committed to it in the way that the people i've spent so much time with in a lot of what i do is i write about human rights violations which is very hard to report and the only way you
could do it is by spending huge amounts of time with people and gaining their trust. you can just fly in and get a quick story and get out if to sit on the floor with them for weeks sometimes i spent months in kosovo working with just one village of women that have been raped. i worked with human rights watch. we did the quantitative research and gathering data. it's heartbreaking i once learned in a first-aid class that if someone ever gets hit by shrapnel you can't pull the piece out of their body because they will bleed to death you have to stanch it and sustain it. i feel often when i'm interviewing someone who has been deeply traumatized you can't just go in and pull things out of them you just head to sit and wait and you listen and gradually the story emerges or it might not.
>> the story we wrote about the girls in cleveland it took a year before the youngest one would start talking to go to the audience for some questions and then i do want if anyone has a question we have a mic we have someone here in the front. you mentioned earlier and others have referred to it the reaction to your stories in bosnia it took that before it forced the world to act is that what it takes a huge incident like that or is the porting being ignored until that moment occurs. >> it's a good question.
either intended or not it's like that. they were more of the times of humanitarian intervention. it was a time of empathy and compassion. i think we have a very different administration right now i think most of us do right to affect policy in some way that's our role essentially to shine a light in the darkest corners but whether or not we can do and whether or not we can reach policymakers is kind of beyond us. ultimately that's our goal. and accountability. that is the main thing i work for. i don't want these guys that rape and torture and kill and murder to head impunity. i want them to pay i want them to end up in getting justice served to them. i think that is a real reason. >> and it's not always geared
towards policymakers. it was just telling the public what was happening on the ground. even if capitol hill or policymakers are not listening that the public is. i think one of the problems now as we had had so many wars over the last few years people are a bit mirrored to all of this. it's difficult to actually shock people anymore. i think people are tired of it all wish it would all go away. and frankly afghanistan to in the uk gets almost no coverage now because i think people are battling because there are so many wars going on and it's also become much more dangerous to cover them to big changes since i started out. one is a technology that has made it a lot easier so that we can file stories from the
top of the mountain when i started out they didn't even have a telephone system. i was going into afghanistan for weeks and only been able to call back my stories when i was back to pakistan. even then there was no direct dialing. i was dictating to copy takers in london which is quite a difficult thing to do you have someone at the other and saying to you is there not more of this. so that site has become a lot easier the technology the other side has become much harder. it's become much more dangerous. we have become targets in a way that we were not when i started out. we find it very frustrating that there are places we can go to and report from because it's become so dangerous and
that something i never thought i would say. i just can't go there because it's too dangerous. the nature of the news business has changed so much in the last ten or 15 years. there's just so much information out there it's not like people feel like they have to read the entire washington post or the new york times to get their news. they pick and choose what they want to read. a lot of times of stories that are out there there was people complaining that no one was covering the pakistani bombings. it turns out like someone studied readership of the stories that were actually done and nobody read the stories that were done because people don't care. i think that's the biggest challenge that we face right now. everyone just wants to read the stories that reinforce
them. and that cover areas that interest them. you would read everything that's how they used to be. >> hi. i lived in syria from 2009 to 2011 my question is for you but i'm interested i am a writer and editor and i lived in. i business -- i visited bosnia as well. can you talk more about what was happening to bosnia at the time and if you see the reaction now more as a part of the latent racism and if there a matter of geographic distance in a kind of
separation. an equally what syria can learn from postwar bosnia. in looking ahead to a transition state what kind of lessons can we learn from that? >> two really good questions. when i was reporting i worked for the sunday times which at that point i was battling against princess diana and prince charles to get in the paper. i have this horrible writer who just said people are bored by this he came to one point they ran away to get married and were killed on a bridge. he wasn't interested because princess diana had done something and didn't run the story. he became the icon of sarajevo. it was a really big struggle. i think we just felt like organ keep going to keep
pushing and what i would do they would send me from london -- london and they would go for six weeks. in those days there weren't cell phones so they can find me and i would just disappear and go off and investigate it was hugely frustrating your question about racism. it's so interesting because while bosley was happening and we felt we were being ignored even though sarajevo was only three hours to london by plane. by the time my foreign group set me there. it have started in april. i think one of the reasons that there were not only covered properly that it was allowed to continue was because there were so few journalists there who could then get there. i think that have they been
there i don't think a million people would have been killed i think it could've been halted lessons learned. we should talk after the event i just wrote a thesis for the fletcher school about the lessons learned from bosnia onto the syrian war. lets hope and pray they don't partition syria because we see what a disaster bosnia is now. it stopped the killing but it contributed to the rise of nationalism. but never existed before. i don't want to see that happen to syria. >> my question is how do you get to see in a war what you want to see because the fact is there's a bunch of reporters on a government to her and it wasn't dangerous for them at all. how do you get to see both the sides sides in a war without subjecting yourself to huge
personal risk? >> you're only ever seen a fragment of what's going on. like i was saying when you went for weeks and weeks when you came back to write your story you are pretty well-informed. these days because of technology you're expected to write immediately and report. so you can only really generally report on where you are at that particular time. you know what's going on elsewhere. in effect during the war in iraq i was in southern iraq and i went to baghdad i felt like i have missed some of the war by being there because everybody that watched it at home and have seen all of these things on tv and were talking about this stuff and i didn't know anything about it. and it's dangerous when they tried to generalize when actually they can't say much more than what they're seeing.
there's a big debate about embedding with the troops. whether that's the right thing to do. i used to be against it they were attached to anybody. that reporting on your country's troops and what they're doing is part of the story. i think the important thing is to try to do both sides. if you can go with the regime and see what they are showing but you can also go independently and into rebel held areas and other areas then you are getting a much more balanced picture. it's difficult to do that. often they won't let you go in. and what do you think about embedded. >> i feel the same way.
i always i haven't done that you don't lateral set before. and i didn't go on very many. i went to maybe six to eight or something like that over the five years i lived over there. >> helen rhee which -- how long were you with them each time. >> a week or two. the sky said to me at night be sure to take your photographer with you they love it when they say your photographer it implies there your pet. be sure to take your photographer with you. there's only three women on the base. i said your neck and in a send me anywhere if you think i'm gonna face an issue on the base. i found a lot of times i talked a lot of them in the military about when i would hang around them longer do you send women out on the more dangerous missions would you
send me out which is the most dangerous area at that point. they discern of said we might send you there but we wouldn't set you on the more dangerous patrols because we worry it's largely men who are in the military will want to protect you as opposed to the male reporters they feel like it's up to them if they're to go. i can see his point. when i went out on embeds i would go when they haven't seen their kids in salon. more what it was like to have these constant deployments and then of course i wrote a story that after the story where guys kept telling me they were not locked and loaded the ended up getting moved into a to a more dangerous place because of what they have told me the main guy in my story ended up getting blown up in an explosion and losing his leg.
i didn't find that out until after i came back. i wonder if i had known about that when i was over there if it would've made me pull my punches more because i think that the danger when you're on one that you're gonna do stories that you want the troops to like. you're with them so much. when i was there i always try to make sure i'm in its gonna do the story i see here. i can't deny when i found that out afterward that i felt horrible obviously what do you do about that. the consequences of reporting. how do you deal with that. >> i think you are asking about syria which to get visas to those it's actually to be honest initially in the beginning of the war i got five or six it's really
paranoid making. it's not dangerous in the way it is to go on the other side through turkey or lebanon with the opposition. but you are incredibly paranoid and when you're with government minders are especially syria. whenever you work in a regime where i was just in iran or i was in egypt last week. there is a different kind of danger and that's can be that you will be taken away and put in prison. were killed. they have absolutely no qualms about taking a foreigners like the italian student who was just killed in egypt. and killing you you are not in danger of bombs and sniping but it's quite spooky. the most i have ever been in a long time it's very unnerving. a very clever part of the book when she talks about taking $100 taxi ride the kind of just a set justice set in the readers mind it is pretty
close and yet you cross the border and everything changes. it gets pretty dangerous pretty quickly and yet it's right there in the center of everything. >> i think all three of these books is amazing where christina talks about all the people that are in the news. they have this wonderful personal touch the way you describe things. and to put yourself in she's talking about boyfriends calling and she's saying i'd rather go to afghanistan. you didn't name that guy but how did he take that. he was we are still friends. i got get buy-in from everybody in the book. i was supposed to be going
into this country. i'm supposed come off as naïve and arrogant just like america does. on a certain point there's a sense of to leave who could blame them. you brought up joseph heller before. when the pilots are talking to each other and one of them says i want to have a long life. the answer is what else is there. i imagine you know full while there is. there's no guarantee for a long life. whether for that risk or for the apathy of your readers or your editors you ever thought about stopping. know this is it worth it
anymore. no heavy just kept going. i stopped. i might go back. i could see going back and i feel like every day i make the choice to stay here and it's a difficult choice to make because i miss being in afghanistan. i miss being in pakistan and having conversations at night that are about the future of countries i decided to see if i could live normal on my metro metro reporter now in new york. as i do. we see how long that lasts. for right now is working. >> we don't know how to end wars anymore. i wish afghanistan would end.
i wish they would do that. you ask if i ever thought of stopping. when i have my son in 99 i didn't think i was gonna stop doing what i was doing. so i thought i would stop. i had six months off from a newspaper to research a book and my husband is portuguese. the day before september 11 i got a phone call if it hadn't been afghanistan when i have gone back if it had been iraq or somewhere where i didn't have the sink in the background but afghanistan because it was my first story and i cared so much about it
there is no way i was not get to go back. i was actually angry that people forgot about it. there is no thought of not doing it. see mac i dig about stopping every day and what else i could do and one thing i did do in 2014 i went to work for you --dash like the un for a year. i spent my entire career criticizing and going after the un and taking them to pieces. i wanted it to work for the un refugee agency. i wanted to see from that perspective and i also wanted to gain more insight into going deeper with research in the year after that i was given that to do another degree in international law. i did that because i felt like i really need to have a basis in law in which i had gained
from the field but i needed to go deeper. i just graduated in march and i think all the time can i go work for a bank now. can i go work for morgan stanley. the french government, the state department. i am no way addicted to beat in the field but i do feel that we have skills that we've gained over the years that are important and also vital we have something that we need to contribute. at the same time we need to stay alive and after i was in grassy when grozny when it fell to russian forces in 2000. it was a closest i have ever come to dine. the best journalists is the one that gets out alive to tell the story. it's true.
we are worth nothing if we get killed or maimed. it is not constant we are not insane or crazy we have a role and i think we do it will and i think that she did until she was well into the '90s. i don't want to be doing it in the '90s. but there is something that is quite noble. you have fun also. and that's what kimberly described. you wouldn't keep going to these places if it was less of misery. all of those people have terrible stories and didn't know when would they would see their home again. they made effort to enjoy the wedding.
with dancing and music and you could forget just for a few hours the misery of what's can happen to their home. less than an hour's drive. one of the weirdest things that ever happened. i thought how are they going to survive this. and there were riots. and people talk about pakistan breaking up. i arrived at the airport and they await the taxi driver. he said it's very grim. everything is very bad. and he said to me we have no discos.
you to really exemplify that camaraderie that the sisters and arms mentality that exists overseas. >> i think most of those doing this kind of work it is very important that we stick up for each other that there is solidarity between us. when other women attack you. >> i mentor young woman all the time.
now i had interns all the time. i try to make them do that. it is the greatest job in the world. i do think there is solidarity, absolutely. >> you watch the movie. is that based on me. i said no because you're not that pretty and also your nice. they just all helped each other you talk about stories i would have done anything and it would still do anything to help them and what's nice is when you have that.
it is kind of. one of the reasons i was really looking forward to that collectively your experiences as are amazing. there are so many different players and conflicts. and in the external players. it all seems pretty hopeless. i'm just curious you said the highs and hose -- highs and the lows of the lows. what is your sense of this? >> it is complicated. i literally had to i studied the middle east for 25 years. your spirit to sit down and drop graphs. and try to put things on maps. and identify who's fighting here.
and that is not even taking it to the international players. turkey. egypt goes on and on. i can all i can say is that wars do end. at this stage now it's gearing up. i don't think it's going to go into a 17 year war. i think it will eventually come to have. i just wish it would be sooner rather than later. that is what your question is earlier. we have to wait. and of the on the we want to wait.
he did not want to get engaged in the third middle eastern more because he was elected on a platform to get out of wars. it is a result of not paying enough enough attention. why was the world was so surprised when they finally fell. i think in some way we have to head accountability as well because we allowed our compassion to be fatigued and that is always a very dangerous thing for us to become complacent and i think that's why i write what i do. i want them to be shook shut up. it's not easy to read but it's the truth.
i think it's important that we digested. you can see them against the russians. and we didn't care how we did it. so we brought people other countries who were criminals or gangsters and encourage them to come and fight because our only interest was defeating the russians. i think that's one of the things i find hardest in the job. you keep seeing the same mistakes being made over and over and you feel like don't we ever learn. everything single one the easy thing is removing the regime is not difficult with our militaries what do you then. we haven't have a plan for what to do afterwards.
just to go back to your question. it is really complicated and were on the same side the reason i keep doing this is the way you find hope in is in the people i'm endlessly amazed at how people in the midst of all of these difficult situations still keep really focused on trying to educate their children i was lucky enough to work on her book and she is so inspiring. if she risked she risked her life in order to go to school and for the sake of other children to go to school. and when you meet people like that and you can tell their story it makes it all worth it. i don't think i could do this job if i didn't feel hope.
i will give entire speech on how they are going horribly some will say shouldn't we just pull everyone home. i feel like what you are saying is the same sort of things. there had been improvements there. just the very fact of having a cell phone coverage. have having the internet there had having tv stations that do reality tv shows where they now feel so empowered that they will do presentations with their hair and rock out. i watched her performance and i was like you are the bravest feminists i've ever seen. there are positive things happening there. i think you try to hold onto those. if we don't actually give the country's stability enough for the next generation to take over but today we are looking around saying that the world is falling apart look at 30
years ago. you can go back through generations and world war ii was no picnic. we does happen to know more about it now because of the internet and all the news. i guess i would just say there is hope in every place you are looking at. >> at the long important and complicated discussion about where america and the in the western world goes with syria but tonight i think it was a very special night to talk to three women and a look behind the news and the people you guys had done an amazing job with these three books. writing to shake things up. i'm grateful that tonight you kind of helped us know who you are a little bit and kind of why you do what you do and thank you.