Skip to main content

tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  June 20, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

12:00 pm
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with the lead story in the "new york times" today. it is the story about 51 american diplomats who have protested the obama administration's policy in syria and urge more aggressive action. talking about this story, richard haass and nicholas burns, both formerly of the state department. >> this is a big story and it's a big deal i think for a couple of reasons, charlie. number one, we've had this dissent channel since the vietnam war. we want to encourage our career diplomats to be encouraged to speak up when they feel they need to. what they're speaking about is the enormous frustration inside the u.s. government. i think in many circles in new york, washington, other places, over the president's policy in the middle east. >> rose: and the story of
12:01 pm
brexit, which is the departure of great britain from the european union, a vote that takes place next week. the story has been compounded and troubled by the tragic assassination of a young member of parliament in her history. we talk to john micklethwait about the brexit vote and the tragedy on the streets of leeds. >> and now you have the murder of jo cox. >> a tragedy completely unforeseen. and the strange thing about it is, throughout this entire campaign, we had sat there always imagining if there was a terrorist incident or something very ugly happened, it might be something involving muslim extremism, anything like that, which would probably help the leave people, in this case probably because the person who killed her seems to be someone on the other side shouting these words like "britain first." the conventional wisdom is that probably will help the site.
12:02 pm
the british have a record of not liking extremism. >> rose: we conclude with cass sunstein, a law professor and highly-regarded legal expert. his new expert is called "the world according to star wars." >> i think what the movies got at were there were these myths and religions and multiple cultures that spring out of people's minds as well as traditions and george lucas gets at them and gives them the all american trips. >> rose: the 51 diplomats protesting american policy in syria asking to do more, the brexit vote, and the terrible death of a member of parliament in great britain and cass sunstein talking about "star wars." all of that when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by the following. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following:
12:03 pm
>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin with the conflict in syria this evening. 51 mid to high-level state department officials signed an internal memo protesting u.s. policy in syria. the letter calls for targeted military strikes against the assad regime. it says that a strategy of diplomacy first cannot succeed if damascus is not pressured. secretary of state john kerry advocated a more aggressive approach to syria but president obama thus far resisted wading
12:04 pm
deeper into the conflict. joining me richard haass, president of the council on foreign relations, former director of policy planning for the state department. nicholas burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs, professor at the harvard kennedy school and visiting professor at other great universities. the "new york times." 51 diplomats in dissent, strikes on assad, breaks with obama, the memo saivmentd big story? >> it is, for a couple of reasons. number one, we've had the dissent channel since the vietnam war. we want to encourage our career diplomats to be creative and speak up when they see something they disagree with. it's a viable channel. richard and i have worked on this over the decades. what they're speaking about is the enormous frustration inside the u.s. government and i think in many circles, in new york, washington, in other places over 's been entire risk averse in
12:05 pm
the middle east. as i understand it, reading the article, these people aren't saying we should put a big american land army into syria, that would be catastrophic, but i think they are suggesting, and i certainly believe, we've got to play our traditional role. it's mainly a diplomatic leadership coalition role that we organize turkey and the arabs and use the forces in the middle east, russia, iran, syria -- >> rose: but you are arguing while president obama has had foreign policy successes, the middle east has been a failure? >> i think his policy has failed in the middle east. here's why it's important to the american people. strategically this crisis in syria and iraq because the united states units the two countries in violence, it's important for our long-term economic, political and military interests in that part of the world, because look at the neighbors of syria, israel and lebanon and turkey and iraq and jordan and this war that has killed several hundred thousand
12:06 pm
people and made 12 million of the 22 million syrians homeless is now metastasized in most of those countries and the fact that we vacated our normal diplomatic role and allowed the russians to play the lead role i think is a big mistake. >> rose: we'll come back to the policy. you used to run the dissent channel. >> the whole idea was to encourage vices advocating policies that were not the adopted policy of the administration or the department of the day coming out of vietnam, was used during bosnia and the fact it's used now is not a surprise because what the president has done has taken american policy pretty far in one direction, it's been extremely risk averse and in one way we paid a price for a president in some ways did too much in foreign policy. george w. bush in iraq will be critical in history for what president obama has not done in syria repeatedly, the gap
12:07 pm
between rhetoric and policy and what he deans in places like libya. >> rose: when you say that, am i wrong in believing i've heard you say before, we have to be very careful about our commitments in the middle east, we have to be very careful, and i see lots of risk in doing many of the things that critics of the syrian policy want us to do. >> absolutely. and i think one of the lessons is you don't want to go in with a large military footprint, hundreds of thousands of people, you don't want to go in to change society. i don't think our policy should have people in syria riding our federalist papers in the translation. that's not something the united states should smith commit itself to. t, there has to be a connect between what you do diplomatically and what you do on the ground. president obama paid a repeated price for the disconnect. john kerry, i don't know care how many miles he puts in, he cannot succeed if there's a gap between what he's trying to
12:08 pm
create through diplomacy and what's happening on the ground. >> rose: i'm not a diplomat, but at the same time putin came in, supported assad, assayed gained ascendcy of territory and influence and toughened his negotiating position because he had a better military position. >> sure, the fact iran and the russians have come in, have shifted the balance of power on the ground, so no surprise assad has stiffened his position, no surprise these talks aren't going very far. the waysic thrust, we can argue the military details, but the basic thrust saying the united states has to be prepared to do more militarily both missile cruz strikes and indirectly through australiansing people to create a context where diplomacy has a better chance of working. that seems to be foreign policy 101. you get into trouble when your ambitions are great than what you're prepared to do and that's why this administration has
12:09 pm
gotten into trouble. >> rose: the administration's original purpose was to get out. >> for more than five years, there has been a gap between america's stated aims and america's preparedness to actually act. >> rose: so looking at today, 2016, in june, what is possible? i mean, let's assume that there is a reevaluation for lots of reasons and that this has impact, and they're not talking about 200,000 american forces or anything like that, they're talk about strikes, it seems to me. what's possible and can they really achieve anything significant that will affect the balance by strikes? >> well, let me start here -- i think john kerry is right that, ultimately, this huge conflict in syria where the society has been blown apart, riven by territorial ideological factions is going to end at the negotiating table, but i don't think it's going to happen this year, because the negotiations have now come to a halt. why? because the syrian government
12:10 pm
will not negotiate with the opposition because they want a total victory over the opposition and the russians are backing them and i think the russians are stringing us along. so what's possible this summer is for the united states to say we're going to use the our power in "the nations" to get humanitarian quarters, food, medical supplies into aleppo and into the aggrieved cities where thousands, tens of thousands of people are starving, number one. sometimes you have to threaten in diplomacy. >> rose: you do. i think what we should do is threaten and say we're going to establish turkey, n.a.t.o. countries safe havens on the jordanian and turkish borders to protect refugees and you will not come into that zone. >> rose: and if you do we're at war? >> no, i think russians would respect it, as we've respected
12:11 pm
russian air power. neither of us want a war, but we haven't exercised that leverage, and the reason i'd start there before airstrikes is the large problem is, of the 12 million syrian homeless, more than half the population, 7 million are homeless inside syria. it is the most profound damaging humanitarian conflict in the world today and we have been silent on this and taken in 2,300 syrian refugees. historically -- >> rose: everyone else has taken more. >> every administration has taken at least half global refugees since 1945. >> one is to take innocent people and encourage refugees to come back. you need an air cover over it and ground forces in a humanitarian effort. we'll provide air, the, too would provide ground. >> rose: peshmerga would be there. >> they have other goals, but
12:12 pm
that's the second area which is what are you going to do to change the military balance. i'd say combine targeted strikes on syrian military forces, send more american special forms to assist local arabs, you want to give them more arms. we have been unwilling, for example, to provide them with air defense weapons. let's provide them with serious air defense weapons so if russians or others want to go to afghanistan, they're going to have to take sphroord risks. only if we do that do we have a chance of improving negotiations. even if syria and iran and russia don't want to negotiate, we will improve the situation on the ground. it seems to me the united states has to be prepared to help others, to do more itself, and either you get a better negotiating outcome, but if not you still get a better situation on the ground and that to me is complementary to create humanitarian zones or corridors. this stabilizes the situation,
12:13 pm
may not be an answer to syria. >> rose: what's the tragedy to take out assad? is it to take him out militarily? is it to have some leverage so you can negotiate with him, which he doesn't see now, so he basically within the last ten days said i want to regain all of syria. >> i don't think we can be kingmakers in syria when we have no american embassy there and very few other people on the ground. what we can do, however, as richard suggests, and this was plausible in 2014, 20 13-rbgs you could come back to targeted airstrikes to take away assad's capability top use air force to use barrel bombs, terrify civilians and drive them out of major cities. that was the purpose, as i understood it, of the red line in 2012 and '13. we should have, not go after assad and take him down because then you have responsible for the chaos that ensues, but weaken him. i think we never will get back to effective diplomacy unless
12:14 pm
you build up the opposition, give them the arms they need, the defensive weaponry they need and also go after assad's air force. >> rose: but let me ask this question -- this is the state department, these are our seasoned diplomats who feel the u.s. is not using diplomacy like it has in its history and using it to gain leverage. where is the military in this? is their opinion the same as these diplomats? >> the most important thing to say about diplomacy and this administration is it's white house centric. the fact you have the state department doing this is a sign of how much is controlled out of the white house. so the state department has lost a lot of strength of its voice. the military is professional. they'll send more special forces do, more trainers and air attacks. i think they're totally comfortable with that. >> rose: do they have the opinion if asked to do a lot more they would which would make a lot of difference and by that we do not mean sending in 200,000 extra troops? >> that's the most important thing and they think about the
12:15 pm
readiness. they tend to get uneasy when you ask them to do more for political reasons than military. military knows how to take territory and destroy things. they get nervous when they say we want you do do more to influence decision-making because that's coercive force. the military likes clear-cut missions. if you tell us to take out 25% of mr. assad's air force, aye-aye, sir, we can do that. here's what it will take and here's the cost and so forth. that's the sort of thing that i believe that we should be doing and, again, it seems to me it stabilizes the situation on the ground, it may actually tee-up diplomacy to go forth and move people against assad at some point. we want to change the political calculations ideally of some people in damascus where they see assad as a liability. >> rose: but there is also this -- putin expressed this to me with his conversation with
12:16 pm
him in moscow, let's assume you get rid of assad. what do you have there and what are the possibilities and are we going to look at i.s.i.s. roaring down the main street of damascus? >> well, that was the argument nt assad to go without andn't aftermath prepared for. we learn the hard way in iraq, libya and other places that you need a day-after plan. but we've had lots of time and we have lots of time. assad is not going to disappear in an afternoon. you're not going to talk about a strike to "take him out." you're talking about promote ago political dynamic so if it's something in the alawite community, a transitional government, what you're not going to have is elections and everyone getting together again. my guess is you're looking at a syria not a national country in any sense of the word of decades to come but a syria of parts. in the mean time, we could stabilize that, slow down the
12:17 pm
civil war and come up with a post assad leadership in the alawite part. for me that's a realistic near-term goal. >> rose: my assumption is the russians would not be necessarily against that. >> the russians -- here's where john kerry has been correct and visionary, this is going to end at a negotiating table. the rurchtions i think would not be averse to this kind of solution if their own interests could be protected. they want a foothold in syria, so you have to help them get there. that's what diplomacy is about. the way to do that is have weight on your side and be physically present. we are fighting an air campaign against islamic state in syria and iraq. the islamic state is a pernicious group. i support the air campaign. we're doing nothing against another actor, the syrian government that is more destructive. the idea that you're trying to arrive at a positive conclusion
12:18 pm
eeventually in syria with air power through the islamic state but refuse to act against an equally powerful and pernicious actor, doesn't make sense and that's where either this administration or the next one has to go. >> rose: what has this dissent accomplished just where it is now? we're having the conversation, it's in the front page of the "new york times." >> it's brought syria back in r people like you in thisople, program, that there are tremendous consequence force united states if this continues to go the wrong way from a humanitarian strategic perspective. when you're on the front page of the "new york times" and remind people how, in this particular case wrerks failing in our effort, it does concentrate the minds of all of us to think of other ways to be successful. >> it also says the obama administration has seven months to go. you can't just run out the clock. there is still time to have a serious policy change, so you don't leave what is a total
12:19 pm
mess. >> rose: do you think the president is motivated to do that at all? >> based upon what i've seen in terms of his actions, what i've seen in terms of the conversations with you, with jeffrey goldberg and others, no. i think what he wants to do is put this in a box on his desk that's too hard and leave it for his successor. what i like about this dissent cable, it puts pressure on him, the fact we're having this conversation, the people in whasht will be talking to him, forces him and the inter-agency staff to confront this issue. it won't go away. >> rose: i pulled you way from a conference in the council on foreign relations. thank you for coming. we'll be right back. stay with us. >> rose: we turn to print, brexit and the death of a member of parliament. jo cox, a member of british parliament died yesterday after stabbed yesterday in leeds.
12:20 pm
thomas mair was arrested in connection with the crime. he is called a dedicated supporter of the national alliance and american neo-nazi organization. the killing occurred one week before referendum on whether print should leave the european union. police are also investigating whether the suspect shouted "prin"-- "britain first." it's a party that favors leaving the e.u. >> both the leave and remaining sides stopped campaigning in respect for cox. we are joined by john micklethwait, current editor-in-chief of bloomberg news. where was this heading before this terrible murder took place. headin--
12:21 pm
>> it seemed to be heading increasingly for leave. one of the best pollers in britain finally just announced he no longer thought it pretty likely that romaine was going to win and leave seemed to be doing better and cameron seemed to be unable to change the discussion and all the attempts, what they call project fear, saying if you leave europe, it will be a disaster, those didn't seem to be getting through at all and the british people seemed to be saying, we have been through this and it will be okay. and then this changed it. >> rose: the people who supported ar romaine were of wht demographic? >> the demographic is the big
12:22 pm
difference is the old will come out and vote but the young, there is always other things going on, and people were increasingly worried about whether the young would come out. and in the background, you have one other thing in raver ray main, which is why people genuinely thought remain would do well, if 10% of people are undecided, you go for the status quo and think i'm not being convinced i want to change and take this step into the dark. that was still the best card the remain people had but they were slipping behind in the polls. the leave people, depending on how you measure it, had a 3, 4-rbgs 5% lead, sm something biller than that, sometimes. >> rose: momentum. momentum as well and you could see it among the tory high
12:23 pm
command. the conservatives, a split with probably the majority saying they wanted to leave, the labor party traditionally remain led by the most far left leader they've had for a long time but he, interestingly, came from that weird bit of the labour party which is against the european union and he's never been a great supporter, is what is described as a tepid supporter. for the remain campaign to work, they wanted the labor voters to come out and the young. the labour was led by a man who in his speeches said theine union is a disaster, badly run and full of ghastly people that try to inflict capitalism on you. i probably stay with it. that actually wasn't probably the best-selling line. >> rose: but there are lots of people who made powerful arguments including you that this would have a terrible
12:24 pm
impact on the british economy, on the european economy, on the global economy. >> very much. so i think there is arguments there. the difficulty for the people saying, look, watch out, were, to some extent, people exaggerating what the pockets were, but because you never quite know what they're going to be, you're caught either way, it is entirely possible if britain does vote to leave which is still a distinct possibility, if britain votes to leave next week, i think the united kingdom could well split up. >> rose: scots will say goodbye. >> the scots will almost certainly vote to stay in. it's possibly even if the whole thing votes to stay in, it's quite likely the english will vote to go out, so that schism reemerges, and then inside the european union, if britain goes, you begin to set off earthquakes
12:25 pm
there because you look at the germans. one hand they're saying please stay to the british because they're deeply worried about a european union who doesn't include a reforming country in it. you have the french, the dutch already talking about having a referendum if the british leave. you have the problem if the british leave, it comes apart. the problem is that's the difficulty of what seems to be the fear factor. >> they argue too much for the fear factor? >> that and in some ways i always thought that was legitimate. if you're the people arguing let's keep it how it is, i think it's reasonable to point out the the other side is taking a huge step into the unknown and the markets show this. you look at the market and the markets, the slightest sign of britain leaving the european union and the markets get very frightened. >> rose: and now you have the murder of jo cox. >> a tragedy completely
12:26 pm
unforeseen and the strange thing about it is throughout this entire campaign we had sat there always imagining if there was a terrorist incident or if something very ugly happened it might be something involving muslim extremism or anything this case, because the person who killed her seems to be someone on the other side and shouting these words like britain first. the conventional wisdom is that probably will help the remain side. the british have a long record of not liking extremism. they don't like things. >> rose: revolutionary colonies and things like that. >> if you look at it, the people who are at the front of the leave campaign as boris johnson who makes jokes and nigel as well, the more it looks nasty and fundamentalist, the more possibly the british people will
12:27 pm
go against it. that's the fundamental wisdom. the betle markets and financial markets have both rallied a bit which the horrible thing is at events like, this completely tragic, all the politicians on both sides of suspended campaigning, so there's no one trying to milk -- >> rose: suspend for how long. i think people would start again on the talk shows t tomorrow. >> rose: so people look at this and say this is horrible. you know, this m.p. killed in broad daylight, stabbed, shot, her assailant, they think, captured. >> yes. >> rose: and everybody says, wait a minute, everything has to stop. >> yes, i think, to be fair, one, it's very shocking, particularly in the context of british people aren't used to these style of shootings and stuff. it feels odd, in this case with a bizarre kind of homemade gun. that's one side of it. the second side is i think it
12:28 pm
did actually hit all politicians. m.p.s are used to wandering around their constituencies. there was an element. just before it the record had gotten extremely fierce on both sides. on the leave campaign, they had produced campaigns basically saying we're going to get flooded by migrants you won't have anyone left. on the state side, george osborn ratcheted it up, the chancellor and part of the remaining crew, saying we might have to raise your taxes immediately after you vote to leave. we may need emergency budgets. both sides were squabbling and suddenly this thing happened and sort of a burst of civilization came through. >> rose: did you get the idea she was a well-liked member of parliament. >> yes and pro-european. >> rose: which plays into this. >> i think cameron's reaction is completely genuine. and he and jeremy corbin have
12:29 pm
paid tribute together. both sides coming together doesn't mean the leave people also denounced it. i think people united in the way politicians sometimes are when something that could happen to any of them happens to one of them. but underneath there's no doubt that the serious upony, the serious people who have either wanted to leave this project, you know, that there are people who spent years campaigning to leave the european union and now everything has been thrown up by this one instant and, so, there's an element whereby the whole thing is stopping. we haven't seen polls which take account of this and my guess is it would probably pull it back. >> rose: pull it back sufficiently. >> that's what people think. a bit like the rise of donald trump in every single way people have found this very difficult. tony blair last week for bloomberg, the interesting thing is you had a man fantastically
12:30 pm
good at winning elections in britain, won three elections in landslides. it's obvious, his ability to talk to cosmopolitans, slightly left of interest, pro european, progressive britain, is being upset about this because the people who are voting leave, it's not just a small group of men in blazers. >> rose: right. it's a lot of people just saying they're fed up with migration, all the things like globalization you've tried to sell me, i just want to get on with my life. >> rose: why do they think that's only a european union problem? >> i think the european union crystallizes a lot of these problems in the same way as here in america. trump supporters there look at issues. migration is an issue which is a cipher for a lot of other things. the european union, that's a direct tie to migration because the european union laws allow
12:31 pm
cheapers workers from the eastern union to come if and they have migration and ton terrorist act. and the european union and everything else is the project run by elites and in quite a decent way. one of the reason why the european union was set up, it was set up by elites terrified by populism in the '30s so they were never be very good at the democracy thing and that's another reason not to like it? what i>> rose: what is the difference in the way britain and the united states treats guns? >> enormous. if you own a gun in britain, you have to be visited by the police every two or three years and they check whether you're sane, they ask you questions, you have to get a character reference, i could use you, and you have to do them repeatedly. it's a totally different thing. >> rose: assault weapons? guns which are designed to kill people are much less
12:32 pm
popular and used and, as a result, the police don't carry guns and so on, it's one of the oldest arguments. what's interesting in europe is the orlando shooting does seem to have set that off again. it's become another what's strange about america debate. >> rose: john micklethwait from bloomberg news. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: cass sunstein is here, a law professor at harvard from 2009 to 2012. he worked for the obama administration, head of the white house office of information and regulatory affairs. he's also a prolific writer, authored more than 40 books, a columnist for "bloomberg view" and currently the most cited american legal scholar because he's written so many books. his latest book a "new york times" best seller called "the world according to star wars." "star wars," a movie. it is "new york times" best
12:33 pm
seller, currently number one on the post-best certainly wrist. pleased to have him here at this table. welcome. >> pleasure to be here. >> rose: i'll begin with the introduction. the human race, he says, can be divide into three kind of people, those who love "star wars," those who like "star wars" and those who neither love nor like "star wars." i have read parts of this book to my wife emphasizing those to me which seem especially fun. one night she responded with some combination of pity and exasperation -- cass, i just don't love "star wars." you say in parentheses, i knew that, i guess, but somehow i forgot. there you go. what is it about "star wars"? which is what this book is about. >> that's what i spent many months on. i think what the movies got at was there are these myths and religions and multiple cultures
12:34 pm
that kind of spring out of people's minds as well as traditions and george lucas and the saga gets at them and gives them kind of an all-american twist. >> rose: right! all about freedom of choice under difficult conditions. so he makes new and kind of modern and something that really resonates in america but elsewhere, that's what it is about "star wars." >> rose: but help me understand this, have you been in love with "star wars" since you saw your very first frame or movie, or did you come to this at some later point in life? >> i think i was in infatuation with towards from the first two minutes and then it kind of fell to intense liking, and the love started in the last jeer. >> rose: how did the love start? >> i have a little boy who was
12:35 pm
taken by "star wars." i thought, why have these movies become the saga of our time and how did this genius, george lucas -- >> rose: why does it appeal to such a wide spectrum of age groups? >> completely. you can see people who are four, five, six, people who are eighty and ninety and some of the 80-year-olds are crying from nostalgia and some of the 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds have awe in their eyes, so you can connect generations, tiny ones to very old ones. >> rose: why is it magical? i think it's the stuff of dreams and nightmares. every little kid is kind of scared of a darth vader and there's an image of someone who is big and frightening and potentially cruel and every child has a dream of maybe a woman if you're like leia who will take care of you, or if you're a child, the idea of a
12:36 pm
gentle, befine, all powerful mentor like obi-wan kenobi, that's the stuff of childhood. >> rose: but there is also a dark side. >> absolutely. so every kid, i think, is scared of grown-up anger and power, but also every kid is scared even more of his or her own anger and power, that that temptation each of us has, i think even at a very early age to do bad things because it's what we want to do, that's something that is attractive but also terrifying to a child and to see it is cathartic, in the old sense, on the screen. >> rose: you say fathers, freedom, attachment, redemption are the core of the saga. >> right, the four deepest themes. >> rose: freedom, attachnt, fathers, redemption. >> right.
12:37 pm
so to speak of freedom, what the movies say and what the evil doers in the saga say, respect, the path you go, it's up to you. if you want to be a good person tomorrow, or if you want to go back and save your buddy who's at risk even though you're a rogue and a smuggler, you can choose to do that. >> rose: that's biblical. it is a biblical idea. i think the way it resonates in "star wars" has a theme that is modern, it has to do with our specific culture, and the freedom idea is very closely connected with redemption because even if you're the worst person in the galaxy as darth vader almost was, you can be the one who restores balance to the force and save your soul. so that idea of redemption, i think for all of us, whether or not we've done something really terrible, we can choose in a moment to make amends with someone who's wronged us or whom we've wrokd. so the connection between
12:38 pm
freedom of choice at every instant and the potential for redemption, that's kind of the beating war of the "star wars" saga. >> rose: can i understand this without knowing lucas had a tumultuous relationship with his father. >> lucas, you mean? >> rose: yes. the vast majority of people who've seen the towards movies know little or nothing about george lucas' own personal struggles with his dad and they did get together. so it's not necessary to know the biographical background, but it does, i think, enrich our understanding of how the tale became possible to know that his father could be a difficult guy. >> rose: you also suggest that everything much is destined and prophesied, there is also the power of agency. >> the movies are calling on an old religious theme that destiny kind of knows where the arc of
12:39 pm
the universe is going and it's in control, and some of the most powerful and most wise figures in towards speak for destiny and prophecy. >> rose: right. but the movie rejects that. yoda, who is focused a lot on prophecy, says difficult to see the future is. >> rose: i know. with his cadence. and there is a sense that the individual agent is the one who is ultimately in charge, not the prophecy. >> rose: you also suggest and it's fascinating that there are certain prisms you can look through -- buddhism, terrorism, technology. >> all of them are there. so darth vader is -- >> rose: and more. absolutely. christianity is there. freud is very much there. luke skywalker loses his mother and false in love with someone older who says you will always be a little boy to me, from's a
12:40 pm
freudian eco. there's echo of the christ tale. there is a political theme of republicanism and the word is republic about vigilance against authority and that reading is there. there are crazy readings all over the internet, and though crazy, often ingenious and often lends itself to multiple interpretations. somehow this cartoonish saga is able to have sufficient richness that, like shakespeare or james joyce, you can go a lot of places with it. >> rose: have you talked to j.j. abrams about this? >> i have told him, i put him on notice that there is a book coming, but i think the last thing he needs is to be questioned by a law professor about what his intentions were. so he knows about it, but -- >> rose: and what about george? >> i've talked to him about
12:41 pm
american foreign policy, not about this book. >> rose: how could you resist? i think he goes about his life and probably a lot of people ask him what did you mean with -- >> rose: including moi. yeah, i met him at large party and i think someone mentioned i was writing a book on "star wars" and i think that did not make him extremely excited about talking to me. but he was informed i worked in the obama administration and worked on some of the surveillance issues -- >> rose: and all of a sund had an interest. >> and he wanted to talk about that. >> rose: yeah. ehe's a person of great focus and kind of presence, and that probably helped make him produce these amazing movies but also helps keep him a very curious person. >> rose: he's a great friend of mine and endlessly fascinating. he loves formula one racing. his politics are beyond capitalism, even though
12:42 pm
capitalism has been hugely generous to him, hugely. and, you know, he's just one of the most fascinating people. and when you walk around any city, any country, they all want -- they bring these pictures out. some of them, they're going to sell because he signs them, put them on the email, because he's such a huge figure on, you know -- >> i went to taiwan in 2015 to meet with the constitutional court and the then president and the person who was certainly going to be the new president, as she is, and this was a policy and law visit, but everyone wanted to talk about "star wars." this was taiwan. so i went into the big book store in taiwan and the first thing i saw was "star wars" characters. so the global reach of the saga attached to the power of the tale in attaching to myths of multiple cultures. >> rose: what's the connection between human behavior and
12:43 pm
culture? >> well, culture often produces scripts that create kind of background music for our own behavior. so if we have a culture that has tales in it of, let's say, heroism of particular kinds of rebellion of particular kinds, our behavior will often be responsive to those scripts. not that it will determine what we do. we might create scripts of our own, but the tale of the american revolution is obviously an important factor in the behavior of so many americans of multiple different kinds. martin luther king much more recently is kind of background narrative for many of the things that have happened in the united states in the last ten years even. >> rose: does a nation need myths? >> i think so. it certainly needs stories. it needs things that are iconic to organize aspects of reality that are other wise potentially
12:44 pm
chaotic. so you need something makes that disorder recognizable, and whether it's a myth or an historic fact or a religious conviction or a novel or a set of movies, cultures greatly benefit from those. >> never have a one-to-one correlation do they? >> always a degree of interpretation. the "star wars" movies which are subject to five reasonable interpretations and five zillion unreasonable ones, so whether we understand the american revolution or what we think the cold war was about, how to understand mccaratyism even where we have a pretty good consensus on that was a dark tale. >> rose: sure. but there are multiple different renditions, so facts can be turned into two or three or a dozen narratives. >> rose: how did george lucas change as he went along writing
12:45 pm
"star wars"? >> well, i think he changed most interestingly in the prequels which i think are underrated. >> rose: yeah. he got, it seems, more interested in history's arc and the personal tales of individual characters remained important to him, but the prequels have a lot to say about how democracies fall into authoritarian systems, and while that's in the original stories, that kind of global political tale is something that lucas seemed to be seized by, and i think they are an interesting and, in some ways, very shrewd though cartoonish picture of what happened. >> rose: there is a lot of christianity here. >> no question about it. >> rose: how is it expressed? well, the beautiful scene at the end of return of the je jeds a scene of salvation about souls
12:46 pm
where darth vader tells his son he wants to see him with his own eyes. that itself had some biblical resonance. after that, luke says, i'll not leave you, father, i have to save you. and annikan, the father says, you already have. that's very christian, and it's about salvation of souls, and in the end, of course, you see his force go, so to speak, and he's in the "star wars" equivalent of heaven. he gets there. >> rose: and the fear of loss as an emotion. >> movies are intriguing about that, so there's a theme that the wisest person in the films nominally yoda presses which is a fear of the past or the dark side, this is a buddhist theme, that if you're afraid of loss, then you're going to be full of hate eventually and you will go to the dark side. i think that has psychological truth both for individuals and
12:47 pm
tie rants that fear of loss is often a source of where they -- >> rose: fear of loss of power? >> loss of power or loss of someone you love or loss of status, and all of these are in the saga. but what is actually the victorious concrete is that, fear of loss is what it means to be a part of a human big. if you fear a loss because you care about a friend, sibling or in the end a family member, that's the way to trying to side. in the end, the saga is deeply non-stoic. it says that the depth of attachment is the thing that's going to make you do the things that will get you to the right place. >> rose: we talked about mccarthyism, and i don't want to make the similar late -- sim,
12:48 pm
but at the same time could we look at the sequel and see things in america that would give the major political party to someone unlikely? thinking of donald trump. >> i think we have things in our culture that are tremendous safeguards against authoritarianism. one is we have a constitutional structure which is proved robust across multiple challenges of individual persons and global. so we have a framework which is very tough on would-be authoritarian. we also have a deep cultural commitment to individual liberty on the one hand and to self-government on the other hand, and to overcome these is really, likely hard. i think it is fair to say that whether you are hopeful about mr. trump or very skeptical about mr. trump, he does pose a challenge to long-standing
12:49 pm
traditions. >> rose: so he may appeal to some strain in you but, at the same time, challenge some values in you? >> well, i think in terms of american values as we've come to understand them, and this is pretty universal now in our country, some of the things mr. trump has said are, let's say somewhere between fatal inconsistency and severe tension with those values, i think that is not unfair to him. >> rose: where is the tension? well, the idea in our culture that you don't discriminate people based on their religious convictions. that's kind of bedrock now. of course, national security is also bedrock. but we typically resolve that tension in a way that's respectful of religious pluralism even when it comes to control of our borders and with respect to our legal system, the fact that someone had a parent who came from another country, that's not in our culture
12:50 pm
indicative of bias or prejudice. so -- >> rose: if you have someone who banned political reporters from "the washington post" at his rallies. >> that's not normal. i think it is fair to say that this is challenging to some of our commitments. >> rose: you quote yoda, difficult to see, always in motion is the future. >> ain't it the truth? both for individual lives and for our country. >> rose: lawrence casden. it's the biggest adventuremaking you could have for your own life and it's true for everybody, it's infinite possibility. >> casden was coauthor of several of the "star wars" movies and his choice of absence of planning is at the heart of
12:51 pm
the tale that lucas and casden tell. >> rose: i just have to do this -- here wit are the table f contents episode one, i am your father. episode two, the movie no one liked and expected flop becomes the defining work of our time. episode three, secrets of success, was "star wars" awesome, well-timed or very lucky? episode four, 13 ways of looking at "star wars," we talked about christianitychristianity. fathers and sons, relationships can be reformed. and destiny is about agency. rebels, why empires fail, why resistant fighters and terrorists rise.
12:52 pm
episode 8. constitutional episodes, free speech, sex equality and same-sex marriage as episodes. episode nine, the force and monolith of magic god and humanity's very favorite tale. episode ten, our myth, ourselves. why "star wars" gets to us. that's the book. >> that's the book. >> rose: and i was going to look at it because it's in the other book, what is it that makes you tick? >> well -- >> rose: is it the law? well, i like thinking about how our legal system can be improved and how it got to the majestic place it now is, that it got there because to have the genius of james madison and alexander hamilton, did it get there because of the constant work of we the people?
12:53 pm
that's something that helps make me tick, at least. i like thinking a lot about how our government can be made to work better within our constitutional framework, how can we make our institutions thrive. >> rose: i want to show a couple of clips here, one is of george lucas who i said is my friend here. i want to look at clip number two, this is george lucas on this show describing his religious beliefs in the story of "star wars." >> the whole thing in "star wars" was to take, again, ideas, psychological ideas from social issues, political issues, spiritual issues and condense them down into an easy-to-tell story of those stories. the force basically came from, you know, distilling all of the
12:54 pm
religious beliefs, spiritual beliefs, go all around the world all through time, finding the similarities and then creating an easy-to-deal with metaphor for what religion is. >> rose: smart man. and he put a lot of that material in a form that could be accessible and be appealing to people who have very different convictions about religion and the human spirit. >> rose: as of early 2016, not that many months ago, the "star wars" fran chide earned about $32 billion. of that amount 2.65 billion from box office, 2 billion from books and about 12 billion from toys. the total exceeds the gross domestic product of about 90 of the worlds nations including iceland, jamaica, armenia, laos
12:55 pm
and gaum. the book is called "the world according to star wars," cass sunstein. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
12:56 pm
>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. >> rose: coming up on charlie rose, the vice president of the united states joe biden talking about american foreign policy about american foreign policy and more.
12:57 pm
12:58 pm
12:59 pm
1:00 pm
anno‚ô™ncer: a kqed television production. sbrocco: and everybody sopa! all: opa!


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on