tv Charlie Rose PBS December 7, 2016 12:00am-1:01am PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, fareed zakaria talking about barack obama's legacy, the rise of populism in the west and donald trump's foreign policy. >> america has changed a lot in the last 15 years and changed in ways that have been propelled by globalization and immigration and multi-culturism. there was a backlash to that, and the democrats have paid a price -- you know, have been on the receiving end of that backlash. i think that force, that backlash was very strong. it also was a backlash, let's be honest, to an african-american as president, and you can see this backlash across the western world. so it makes me think that force was probably too strong for any one president to be able to break, but for a truly consequential legacy that would last, you probably needed that
political base. >> rose: also this evening, virtual reality with brendan iribe, the c.e.o. of oculus. >> we're right at the beginning. i usually call it the apple 2 moment of v.r. and if you think about where we went from apple 2 with only a big keyboard and monitor on your desk, and now we have a supercomputer in everybody's hand all day long, every day, that's hundreds times smaller, thousands of times faster. if you look at where we are with v.r., we'll advance very quickly. we'll take a number of huge leaps to get down to just a pair of glasses that should be no bigger, weigh no more than regular glasses. it really should be invisible in your glasses eventually and it just will become a part of everyday life. >> rose: we conclude with viet thanh nguyen. his book, "the sympathizer," won the pulitzer prize. >> it's part of my history.
the vietnamese and american experiences, because i grew up with both, and i wanted the novel to be about how the vietnamese and americans were remembering the history. >> rose: when we continue. >> 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: fareed zakaria is here. he is, as you know, a columnist for "the washington post." he also hosts cnn's international affairs program fareed zakaria g.p.s. in a new primetime special he
explores the legacy of barack obama premiers december 7 on cnn. >> barack obama's america was born with hope, people were crying in the street. >> so help you god. with history and with crisis. fragile financial system to get worse before it gets better. >> financial. hanging on the edge of a cliff. >> healthcare. why don't they take the healthcare being forced down our throats? >> two wars, mass shooting. a gunman opened fire with bullets blocked by the killer. >> racial. if i had a son, he would look like treyvon. >> this guy is a racist. but barack obama made big bets that paid off. >> welcome home!
troops game home. gays got married. >> americans lived up to the promise of liberty and justice for all. >> enemies were vanquished. justice has been done. millions sought healthcare ( chanting ) ♪ amazing -- >> and sometimes tragedy gives way to hope. >> when he sang "amazing grace," he channeled that as a president, and that was a profoundly important moment. >> but as a new era begins. your moment of liberation is at hand. >> what will remain. the president just smiled, said i'm a black guy named barack obama and i'm president of the united states, and i feel lucky every day. >> what is the legacy of barack obama? >> rose: fareed also wrote an essay in the november issue of foreign affairs dedicated to the
power of populism, called populism on the march, why the west is in trouble. pleased to have him back on this program. welcome. >> pleasure as always. >> rose: let's begin with barack obama. what is his legacy? >> i think his legacy, as an individual, he tried to be probably the most consequential president since lyndon johnson. if you look at the ambition of obama's agenda, the reshaping of healthcare policy, the reshaping of energy policy, the regulation of the financial sector, greatest reregulation since the '30s, the bailout of the auto industry, the shift in american policy which was more than tactical, it was a strategic one. the question is, he pushed for all of those things as president, but in order to have a truly lasting legsy, you also need to build a political coalition under you. so if you look at the two really consequential presidents, lyndon
johnson, f.d.r. and reagan, to a certain extent, they ended up with congressional majorities that lasted, and particularly in johnson and f.d.r.'s case. obama was not able to do that. in fact, what happened overall, obama's watch as the democratic party lost heavily at almost every level other than the presidency. >> rose: how responsible is he for that? >> a very good question. some people say it's because he was not skilled as a politician in the way that lyndon johnson was, that johnson had a way of being able to, you know, to extend his power through congress. i think there is probably some of that, that he was personally a very charismatic politician but not as good a party builder. but i think the bigger issue is america has changed a lot over the last 15 years, and it has changed in ways that have been propelled by globalization and immigration and multiculturalism. there was a backlash to that, and the democrats have paid a price, you know, have been on
the receiving end of that backlash. i think that force, that backlash was very strong. it also was a backlash, let's be honest, to an african-american as president, and you can see this backlash across the western world. so it makes me think that force was probably too strong for any one president to be able to break, but for a truly consequential legacy that would last, you probably needed that political base. >> rose: where is america in terms of its relationship to the world, the roll it wants to play? >> i think that, under obama, it was actually clearer. i think there were just people who disagreed wit. but he said very clearly at the start that he wanted -- he felt that the united states was overinvested in the middle east, the crisis-prone area where investments would not pay off, and it was overly invested militarily in trying to, in some way, nation build in those areas or try to settle disputes
between sunnis and shias and things, and, so, he wants to draw down from the middle east, build up, pivot to where the united states -- >> rose: what's is the relationship with china today and how has it improved because of it? >> i would argue there is no question, when he came in, there were 200,000 troops -- american troops in afghanistan and iraq. i think we're down to about 14,000 or something like that. so there has been a massive scaling back. while we have been able to decimate al quaida and i think we're squeezing i.s.i.s. to the point that -- there is a wonderful article in the "new york times" saying i.s.i.s. essentially crumbled. >> rose: we're beginning to ask what's the next i.s.i.s. >> and that's the world we're in, small groups of people can make big damage. in asia, what they've done is i think generally quite wise which is a strategic relationship and dialogue with china but importantly building up alliances and shoring up with
japan where ten years ago the big debate in japan was should we ask the americans to leave, now they're asking us to build south korea, the fill phones which had a -- the philippines which had a setback but is moving in the right direction, australia we have bases. that was sort of a parring down of the international role. with trump, we have for the first time really since the f.d.r. and harry truman world, somebody who fundamentally, you know, dissent or seems to dissent from america as the upholder of the liberal international order that the united states created in 1945, a guy who says, you know, our allies rip us off, why are we engaged in this, why doesn't japan just get nuclear weapons
and defend itself? that and those are much bigger and more fundamental questions. >> rose: but do we know that that is in fact where he is in his own h head because people are beginning to talk to him and they get a different impression that that partly was disrupted campaign rhetoric? >> trump as you know, we're all mind reading because we don't know. he doesn't have considered views, long articles or speeches he's ever given about any of these things, so you're trying to judge on the basis of instinct where he will go, but the instinct seem to have been pretty consistent in this regard. if you go to the '80s, trump was a protectionist, taking out full-page ads in the "new york times" saying the japanese are ripping us off. he thinks the world is ripping us off. i think the american created order has been great for america. >> rose: since 1945. from 5% of the world's population, we dominate the
world. i think for the most to have the rest of the world, what they look at is the extraordinary imbalance in power that america has. but trump sees it and thinks we're getting ripped off. you know, nobody else pays their fair share, and that feeling seems to run pretty deep. but you're right, he may change his mind. but his statements to date constitute the most significant departure from american -- >> rose: but the world view. it would be a kind of jacks jacksonism. >> rose: america first. the world tries to rip us off and if anyone messes with us we'll bomb it. we'll stay in our fortress and bomb the hell out of somebody and come back. >> rose: that brings the
november-december 2006 issue of foreign affairs magazine talking about why the west is in trouble not just the united states. >> the phenomenon is happening across the western world, almost every western country, and you ask yourself, what is it? a lot of people say it's all about economics, but it's happening in places like sweden, denmark and holland which are doing well economically. people say it's the loss of manufacturing jobs. it's happening in germany which maintained a strong manufacturing sector. people say it's because we left these people, abandoned them. the french provide enormous protections for their workers. so the one common theme that you notice in every one of these countries is migration, immigration and the backlash and the response to it, and one counterfact chiewl to look at, the way to make this point is the one country you don't see populism which is an advanced industrial country that is going through very tough economic times and has for the last two
decade is japan. what is the one thing japan doesn't have? no immigrants. so even if you go through tough times economically, at least if gether, that there is somen it coherence, it works. once you start seeing what i call the globalization of people, these people who look different, sound different, worship different gods, now they're in your town, that creates the unease. >> rose: let's talk about that in terms of europe because, in the far right in europe, germany, france, rising now in all those countries, in some cases it's been a presence there for a while, the essential idea was for them was a kind of far right nationalism, a rejection of all things foreign. now that's been combined with a connection, i think you're saying, with the loss of jobs, with globalization, with all of those factors that have come together to represent one single grievance. >> in a sense what is happening
is a backlash against globalization, but the globalization, the way i think about it in that point in the article, it's gone through four phases. you've had the globalization of goods, of services, of capital, and this is the fourth wave of globalization, of people. and it turned out, we were able to digest better or worse the first three waves because it's all abstract and difficult to blame somebody. but then you get the globalization of people. and now you have someone to blame. so if you look at donald trump's campaign. the genius of donald trump was that he realized the republican voters out there, many democrats out there were not that interested in the republican party's core ideology of tax cuts, deregulation, entitlement reform, expansionennist foreign policy. they wanted to hear about mexicans, muslims and chinese people. the mexicans were taking their jobs, the chinese were taking their factories and the muslims were endangering their security
and, on those issues, he was very consistent, and once you have someone you can blame, you know, the ideology, in a sense, gets a certain charge that it hasn't had before. >> rose: so how will this play itself out in the trump administration? >> we'll have to see how serious he is on those elements of it because, if he is serious about them, i think we all know that donald trump is going to build a large enough wall that he can do a beautiful photo op in front of it and say i built it. >> rose: your sense down the road there will be a wall that he will be photographed in front of. >> the question is will he really deport millions of people? if you do that the agriculture and industrial sectors will go into recession. will you slap 35, 40% tariffs on countries that take their business abroad? >> rose: let's take one simple small thing, torture. so here's a guy who we talk
about, look, waterboarding and worse. he has one conversation with his new secretary of defense who tells them you will get more out of people with a pack of l the torture i can recommend. all of a sudden, he said, i listened to this and i've rethought torture. i mean, we're looking at somebody who has begun to understand the significance of the power he has, as obama had a long conversation with him about, and obama came out saying he's very pragmatic, was the central point that the president made about him. is he now going to be -- look at the problems that he faces and be a different person than he was as a candidate, although, in order to have some credibility with his base, he's got to make sure that he communicates to them why he's doing it and he hasn't forgotten his promises? >> i think the only honest answer i can give you is i hope so. i don't know, i don't think any of us really know, but there is a debate among people who staunchly oppose donald trump on how to handle a trump
presidency. in my view, it's very much you have to hope that he will flip-flop on these issues, that he will be educated by people like mattis, that he will learn more about, you know, whether it's climate change or the realities of immigration because we don't want him to fail. if he fails, the united states fails, and you don't want to run some kind of experiment of having him do all these terrible things only to realize they're wrong. you know, so if he were to try and deport 11 million people, it would be a disaster, and the result is he would become unpopular and learn through that better example, but you would have screwed up 11 million people's lives, you would have screwed up the economy of the united states. that's a more expensive experiment than i'm willing to pay. i would rather he flip-flop on the issue. >> rose: henry kissinger says he thinks of himself as a unique
phenomenon with unique capacity. is that part of your own judgment of him? >> i think obama has a very healthy ego and very smart but i think henry overstates it. when you see obama interacting with real experts on subjects, what i am struck by is obama is always asking questions. he's always asking questions that he genuinely wants to hear the answer to. one of the things that i notice about most politicians is when most politicians ask you a question, they simply wait for you to stop talking and they will provide the answer. they will then say, well, what i think, and then will answer their own question. obama asked questions that are genuinely designed to elicit information, what he wants to learn from. so i think he's very confident. you know, maybe even cocky. maybe even arrogant. but he has a very healthy appreciation for other people's
intelligence and talents. i think that where he seems to have a problem is he always feels like he knows what the best deal is for you and me, so he offers it and he's frustrated if you don't feel the same. >> rose: at the same time i'm remind of the fact he also said don't do stupid stuff. that was one of the most cardinal expressions as what he lived by as the leader to have the united states -- as the leader of the united states. he understood you could cause huge repercussions if you mess up. >> right. >> rose: so his first obligation was to not screw it up. >> i think that's exactly right. i think he says it takes a lot of discipline to say no. when people come to you and say, the united states, we have this incredible military, let's send it off to do this. the ability to say no, to be disciplined, and i think it is partly -- remember for instance always react to the president that they succeeded. so he looked at bush, and i think he saw in bush somebody
who couldn't say no to cheney and to rumsfeld, who couldn't exercise the discipline of recognizing that sometimes you can overinvest in places, you can overdo it militarily. there is always a certain, you know, ying and yang. trump is -- the idea that the united states can elect barack obama and then donald trump is -- you know, there could not be two greater opposites. >> rose: it's a great country. your special is on tomorrow night, wednesday night on cnn at 9:00. >> 9:00. i'm sure you're going to be rev rev -- rivetted. we spend a lot of time with obama, everyone involved in the administration, to have them re-create, particularly that feeling that started, remember when we were in a worse economic crisis than any point since the great depression. >> rose: and i think that is probably his single achievement,
even though he looks at obamacare and can look at bringing the troops home, in the end, that's probably what he, when the country was tottering, when he took power in 2009, the crisis had been in 2008, you know, the system in terms of rescuing the system, that single idea prevailed. >> i think we were very lucky because in six months they have to make a series of hugely consequential decisions and, if you look now compared to others, the united states has in the last eight years created more jobs than europe, japan, south korea put together. it doesn't feel like that to some americans, but when you compare us to the rest of the world, what is striking is how healthy it is. >> rose: the u.s. economy is healthy. >> yes. >> rose: watch tomorrow, fareed zakaria, the legacy of barack obama at 9:00 p.m. eastern, cnn.
back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: brendan iribe is here, c.e.o. of oculus. he founded the virtual reality company in 2012, acquired by facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. the oculus team builds hardware and software with the intent to let people experience anything, anywhere with anyone. on tuesday the company introduced its latest offering, the touch hand controller. touch follows a lunch of the oculus rift virtual reality head set in march. pleased to have brendan iribe at the table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: tell me about virtual reality. where did it come from? you know, when did it begin to get some sense of significance? >> so we have been dreaming about v.r. for decades. it's been in science fiction from early books and then into film and movies and a lot of people think of v.r., they think of the matrix or the star trek,
so we have been imagining this world of v.r. but it never really worked till the last few years. we finally got it to a place where it works. >> rose: what happened to make it work? the quality of software? >> really a lot of it was around hardware. software has been getting better and computers faster tbowrks put on a v.r. device and actually have your brain tricked, to really have the switch flipped where you believe you're there, you go from imagining being on a screen to actually your brain believing you're there, that took a lot of work. that took a lot of complex technology to really come together and for the first time it came together four years ago. >> rose: and it can make you believe that you're in precarious situations. you're on a roof, looking down and can feel the fear of falling, that kind of thing, or climbing a mountain and you can feel the sense of being able to climb it, but knowing if you look down that you don't want to
let go. >> exactly. your brain kicks in, and instead of you trying to imagine you're somewhere and trying to convince your brain, hey, imagine we're in that movie and we could step into that movie, suddenly your brain is saying, hey, we are on this cliff and this high up. you need to be careful. and you're telling the brain, no, we're just in v.r. but when you look down -- >> rose: yeah. yeah. >> rose: but what were you doing when you decided to create oculus? >> so i was at another company, and we were working on a streaming technology for gaming, and we were just in the midst of actually being acquired at that time, and then i got the chance to meet palmer lucky, and right when we met, and i saw the early prototype that he was working on, we quickly came together, within a few days, actually, we came together to found oculus -- >> rose: why the name okay lulls? >> palmer picked the name oculus early on. he was excited to know about
that name and the name rift for the first product we were working on. so we decided to create a kickstarter. kickstarter was brand new at the time and a crowd funding site, to try to evangelize and get v.r. out to the mass market. it never worked before but now it did. >> rose: in fact, many people believe virtual reality is the next big platform. >> yeah. >> rose: i think even zuckerberg suggested it has that possibility. >> yes. >> rose: you agree with that? absolutely. when we first started, we really were focus opened gaming, and our kickstarter was all about step into the game. as we marched along and were making the technology better and better, we suddenly realized this was going to be a lot more than just gaming. we would teleport people face to face with other people around the world. >> rose: when you're gaming, you sit in front of the screen
and you can make things move and there is a game to how well you do it, your dexterity and everywhere else. but on virtual reality, you're on the the playing field. >> you're first person, right in there, you feel like you stepped into the game. through the screen. you're now in it and it's all around you, 360 degrees. today with touch launching, you look down and see your hands so you feel like you are fully immersed in that video game or virtual reality. >> rose: tell me what you mean by touch, how your hands give you the capacity to manipulate within the field that you're in. >> yeah, these are our touch controllers, and these are fully tracked in six degrees of freedom. so as you're moving these around, your hands are showing up in the virtual experience. so when you look down you see the hands where they should be in the physical world but you see them in the virtual world. you touch things, pick them up,
make gestures to people, wave to people. >> rose: where can this go to have a huge impact in terms of the possible utilization of virtual reality? >> so one of the next great frontiers we look at is virtual telteleportation, being able to teleport around the globe. so when we scan in museums air the mayan ruins or different temples, you have people who can put on a pair of goggles and teleport in there. >> rose: in terms of medicine, we were talking about this this morning, noradal's sister is a surgeon. this could give you a capacity as a surgeon to put you in a larger environment where you're doing microscopic stuff. correct me if i'm wrong. >> no, you're absolutely right. you can go down and shrink into
somebody's -- in a surgical procedure, you can get down there at this microscopic scale, but it will feel like you're in there with the cells and organisms and can identify things. you can also for education, training surgery, imagine if medical students in their own dorm rooms as they're studying can put on a pair of glasses and could do simulated surgery again and again and again all night long, they could run through, you know, dozens of procedures and continue to get better, continue to get better, all in just a dorm room. you know, this will allow us to advance so much faster than we have been in the fast, just off textbooks or screens. >> rose: if you talk to surgeons, they will tell you there is nothing like doing it and doing it and doing it that makes you a great surgeon. >> that's right. >> rose: and herous simulate the experience in part. someone said virtual reality is not just a headset, not just about tricking your eyes. the more parts of your body you can fool simultaneously the closer you get to having those
wonderful immersive experiences and feelings, true presence. immersive experiences and feeling true presence. i mean, it's amazing. so will this drop almost exponentially in terms of the velocity of change? >> yeah, i think we're right at the beginning. i usually call it the apple 2 moment of v.r. and if you think about where we went from apple 2 with only a keyboard and a big monitor on your desk, and now we have a supercomputer in everybody's hand all day long every day, you know, that's many times, hundreds times smaller, thousands of times faster, if you look at where we are with v.r., we'll advance very quickly. we'll take a number of huge leaps to get down to just the pair of glasses that should be no bigger, weigh no more than regular glasses. it really should be invisible in your glasses eventually and will become part of everyday life.
now, we're not there today, it's going to take a while to get there. >> rose: and the fact that you sold the company to facebook. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: what does facebook give you? >> so facebook supercharged our investment into v.r. facebook also has the biggest social network in the world. it has connected everybody. if you think about the ultimate goal for v.r., we want to make the world more connected, and what's more connected than a pair of glasses that can bring everybody together face to face just like this? >> rose: that's incredible. talk a little bit about the competition. i mean, other people have engaged in this. what will determine the winner? >> well, we're -- >> rose: i'm not sure there is going to be one winner in the same way we have four or five huge technology companies from going toll apple -- from google to amazon, apple, microsoft to facebook. but will there be another winner, this is another development, hands.
>> yes, this is the first generation v.r. input with touch controllers. >> rose: because if you believe it's the next platform, everybody wants to be a part of the next platform. >> absolutely, and a lot of people believed this was the next platform, mark and facebook and google is in it in a big way and a lot of companies are starting to invest in v.r. because we all have this vision that we're on the path to this becoming the next greatest computing platform. but it's very early day. who's going to win? we certainly think we have a great shot at creating the big platform and being one of the dominant operating systems and full systems, full solutions. but i think there will be winners in each generation. we're in the very first generation of v.r. as the hardware is disrupted, if you think about the cell phone market where we first started with cell phones, every time that the cell phone market leaped in hardware where it got much smaller or imagine when you
went from the keypad to the touch pad to the actual full keyboard, the moment where blackberry suddenly won and then everybody said blackberry's got this, then out of nowhere came the all in one touchscreen. and there's iphone and looks like they will win and here comes android. so i think we're in the very first generation. i think there will be winners in each generation as we march along. at some point the hardware will mature and get where it advances a lot. the screen doesn't change now. this is the first leap but we're far from maturity. i think we're going to see several leaps before we get to a place where we say, hey, now the hardware's kind of done -- smartphones today, the hardware is done, it's not changing. now there is two winners, ios
and android. when hardware finishes, i think there will be two dominating systems for v.r. >> rose: and the interesting thing is once you have dominating systems, i assume there will be a rush to create applications for the system. >> yes, absolutely. there is already a rush. >> rose: yeah. so as you see -- >> rose: somebody will show you how to use virtual reality in surgery, somebody will show you how to use virtual reality in almost every human endeavor. >> that's right. this should affect every industry over the next few decades. it will start gaining in entertainment. there will be smaller uses in education, medical, architecture, similar -- simulation, but quickly this will start affecting every industry. >> rose: i should take note you just gave money to your university of maryland m.d. for what?
>> the computer science center. this is the building for students to come and learn computer science and innovation. something i'm passionate about that's important to me is fostering early education in computer science, not just programming as we've known it but really this bringing together hardware and software and this convergence of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, hardware engineering and great software e engineering. that's what made oculus possible. not just a team of software engineers, it was a team of hardware engineers that had to build the device, crack the code and we add to crack the hardware on how to make the display on optics to convince your brain, and it was the combination of these things coming together. so this new computer science center will bring together all these different disciplines in one place and have this open lab. in many ways, it's like bringing silicon valley to maryland, the goal of it. >> rose: great to see you.
congratulations. >> thank you so much. >> rose: viet thanh nguyen is here. his debut novel, "the sympathizer," won the 2016 pulitzer prize forviction. it examines the veem war through the eyes of the narrator, a mole for the vietcong with the south vietnamese government. he's called hollywood's unofficial minister of propaganda he is called bold. the book's non-fiction companion nothing ever dice, vietnam and a memory of the war was also a finalist for the national book award. i am pleased to have this author for the first time on this program. welcome. >> thank you so much for having me. >> rose: tell me, in a sense, how you came to write this. >> i grew up in the united
states as a refugee from vietnam. i came here when i was four. i grew up knowing how americans thought about their vietnam war. what that meant for me as a person is to know the american side totally excluded the vietnamese experience. i grew up with vietnamese people who always talked about the war and their feelin history would be forgotten. the vietnamese refugees in the united states fled from vietnam, had been defeated, they came to the united states and learned americans were not interested at all in their stories and thought the children would forget the stories. that's the environment i grew up in. >> rose: there are many answers to this question, but in
essence, what was it about their lives? was it the totality of their lives was not there or one part of their lives? >> i think the totality. st the country.he war, but they many lost family members, property, identity, prestige. all of that was wrapped up in what it meant to be a refugee in the united states and witness their children to be americanized and growing up from what was radically different from what they managed their lives to be. all of that was centralized around the fact that the particular fact of the vietnam war was told different than how they experienced it. >> rose: this is your story, too. >> partially. >> rose: but it is your story. it is a story because as part of my history. when i say my history i mean both the vietnamese but also the american experiences because i grew up with both and i wanted the novel to be an intervention into both how the vietnamese and the americans were remembering this history. >> rose: did writing come easily to you or was it a hard-earned craft? >> were hard-earned craft. ( laughter ) "the sympathizer" was a
pleasure. it took two years, was an amazing experience but before that i spent 15 years struggling with a short story collection and that was a really poor experience for the most part. >> rose: but out of that suffering comes ability. >> yeah. i didn't know that. you know, 15 years of banging my head against a wall, writing these short stories, and then when it came to the novel, i suddenly felt free and liberated as if this was the right thing for me after all this time. >> rose: why this title? well, the narrator of the novel, the protagonist, is a man who sees every issue from both sides, that's what we learn from the first line to have the book. he's a communist spy in the south vietnamese army, educated in the united states. so he's able to sympathize with everybody and, of course, as a communist, he's also potentially labeled as a sympathizer, so that word has two meanings for the narrator. so the theme of sympathy, of what it means to be able to not only sympathize with the people we love and care for but to simple these with our enemies,
that's what he struggles with throughout his entire story. >> rose: i'll read the first line. "i am a spierks sleeper, a spook a man of two faces. perhaps not surprisingly i'm also a man of two minds. i am not some misunderstood mutant from a comic book or horror movie, although some have treated me as such. i am simply able to see any issue from both sides. sometimes i flatter myself that this is a then't, and although it is admittedly one of a minor nature, it is perhaps also the sole talent i possess. at other times when i reflect on how i cannot help but observe the world in such a fashion, i wonder if what i have should even be called talent." wow. how long did you struggle for that line? >> that took about three months. >> rose: i am a spy, sleeper -- >> i knew the novel would be driven by the voice of this narrator, often his perspective, so it would be crucial to nail
down that opening like. it took me all summer 2011 experimenting with different things, but when i found that line, i knew this was going to be the voice for the novel. >> rose: back to the question of why "the sympathizer." >> well, because this war and probably all wars deeply divided people, and people were not able to sympathize with the people they disagreed with, whether that was americans versus americans when it came to war versus the anti-war movement, whether communist and anti-communist vietnamese or american-vietnamese, there was a lack of sympathy on all sides and you need a lack of sympathy to fight a war for obvious reasons. my narrator's talent and tragedy is he can actually sympathize with ten mishe's spying with. it allows him to be a great spy but sets him up for great tragedy, too. >> rose: are you surprised at all about how vietnam has turned out? >> i think yes. i mean, we've seen alternative path in cuba, for example.
>> rose: right two, days ago -- >> with cuba, they had a charismatic leader who stayed alive. in the case of ho chi minh, very charismatic, but did by 168 and out of power by the late '50s, early '60s. >> rose: clearly there is a line that suggested ho chi minh came to the united states for help in his war of nationalism. his war was about nationalism rather than being a communist war. >> this is going to be one of the great mysteries we'll never figure out. >> rose: it might have been different if the united states has been receptive to him if he came and said -- >> he's clearly a communist, but a nationalist and pragmatist as well. the people who preceded him were hardline communist. that's why the nation turned out the way it is. the hard line communists turned
the country into capitalists, that's why you see what you do when you go to vietnam today. >> rose: because it's superior? >> they tried the model before but had no choice to turn to the next thing and they were following china. china was already going in that direction, so that is one of the great ironies and surprises of history is that it's now sort of a state-run capitalism in these two countries. >> rose: having just been there after fidel castro's death, i said to my friends there, two questions, one, what might have been -- and we don't know the answer, as you said we don't know about vietnam and where it might go now -- you know, after fidel and rauúl is going to leave in two years, so there will be no castros in power, although there are people who say they will uphold the castros, but are cuba go the way of vietnam? >> i think it's very hard for them not to go to the way of vietnam because there are now
economic and political relationships with the united states. this is what happened in vietnam, too, with the u.s. reestablished these relation information 1994 and '95, and after that, it was basically over, because that's how the u.s. really won this conflict, that it's able to introduce capitalism, investment, tourism, so if cuba opens its doors in that direction, those influences will be transformative of cuban society. >> rose: what is it you don't like about vietnam today? >> the weather. it's hot. it's very hot and humid. i think whenever a country is undergoing transition like this and has been in transition for a couple of decades now, some great things happen like, you know, people are less in poverty than 20 or 30 years ago, but some things happened. the wealth gap is enormous. there are climbers and strivers. there are the problems you think with excessive profit, that's
happening in vietnam, too and it's a politically restrictive country, so no free speech, limited freedom of religion. >> rose: you've chosen economics to focus on not politics. >> they've chosen not to focus on political transformation. >> rose: no political changes. no, very moderate political change. the debates are shall we be hardline communists or sort of -- >> rose: but china is a bigger enemy than anybody. >> yeah, they're terrified of china. trying to negotiate with china. >> rose: is it terror or -- it's a thousand year colonization china enacted on them. they know they have to placate china and china was an ally during the vietnam war, at the same time they don't want to give too much away. >> rose: they don't want to be dominated by china. >> yeah. >> rose: china is so big and rich and powerful. >> they want to remain independent and maintain good relationships with china, but depends on how far comien wants to push its dominance over the
region. >> rose: because you are so steeped in this, what do you think the vietnam will give to us? >> the americans? >> rose: yes. i think it's part of a larger transformation. you have the emerging movement of black power in the '60s and the vietnam war blew up all these tensions. not only did you have pro war, anti-war americans, but americans questioning -- >> rose: all exploded in the '60s. >> it exploded. that was fabric and identity of what america was supposed to be, not all just wrapped in racial conflict, but -- >> rose: in terms of what we've just seen in terms of a political election, obviously about jobs and the establishment and the system and about government, a protest because the kind of sense that there is no place for me or i'm losing my place, and things are worse rather than better, you know, in a sense had some beginning of evolution and change because of
vietnam, civil rights and the cultural revolution of the '60s. >> yeah, and i think we're living in a 20th century view of what's happening, the changes in the '30s, all the changes undergoing in american society, vietnam made it very visible and now for the last two decades the right has been trying to reestablish the order that the vietnam war disrupted. >> rose: in a review of your book, the "new york times" called the vietnam war -- or vietnam an enduring literary war. >> books were written, fiction, journalism. >> rose: but does it somehow offer so much material -- the civil war did it. the revolution war did it, iraq afghanistan did it, syria is doing it. >> it's going to be the literary war. >> rose: because life death and -- >> life, death, sex, politics, betrayal, manhood rituals, these
kind of things, all hoff this is wrapped up in what happens in a war, but it takes writers time to process it. we had enough time for the vietnam war for that to happen, now enough time for the iraq war for the veterans to write about that as well. >> rose: uh you see a series of books and people. >> a decade to process what happened there. took me two decades, three decades to try to figure that out, what's happening. >> you talk about the industry of memory. what's that? >> well, we like to think that our memories are all equal, sort of a democratic notion, but in actuality, i think certain groups of memories dominate other groups, and those are the groups i controlled over the industries of memory. hollywood is one example, publishing is another example of that. this is why even though the united states lost the war in vietnam, it won the war in memory because it controls these kinds of industries like hollywood that the vietnamese don't control. the vietnamese won in their country, they can't win
globally. that's why when people think about the veem war they think about how hollywood remembers it. >> rose: but are there are great movies and movies about the perspective of the war in vietnam and saigon and -- >> by any degree a great war novel of the world, not just vietnam, people don't know about it with that particular war as it's focused, people don't know about it because the publishing industry in vietnam doesn't have the same reach as the american publishing industry does. >> rose: movies made in vietnam? >> yeah, there are a lot of movies made, a lot are not that great. unfortunately, that is one of the ironies. you know, the industry of memory means that the u.s. -- the military power of the u.s. is matched by its power to make movies. vietnam can't make movies like apocalypse now. >> rose: what's interesting about this, too, is we've just seen in hollywood over the last sort of five years chinese
making a huge investment in hollywood. not only because it gives them the opportunity as an entrepreneurial effort but also because of the power of movies and the fact that they have a huge market in china, and they -- >> once the u.s. exports a certain kind of image of itself all over the world, china recognizes that. it's been an enormous influence all over the world. i go to vietnam and tell people i'm working on the vietnam war, it makes a strong impact. >> rose: in terms of the people in vietnam today, i mean, how much of their -- how much of their curiosity is about culture from the west? >> a lot of it. but i think it's primarily
driven by economics. the young people want to make a living -- make see through these cultural industries -- you know, advertisements, movies, tv shows -- all the riches and wealth of china and the west, and they want a part of that. >> rose: they want their own car phones and everything else. >> because culture is a part, you want to wear the right fashion, drive the right car, but it's driven by economics. they're the generation that came after the generation that sacrificed and suffered horrible things. they don't want to deal with that. they want to catch up to the rest of the world. >> rose: apocalypse now. ( laughter ) >> can't go anywhere without talking about that movie. >> rose: of course not. i brought it up myself. >> rose: you did bring it on yourself. >> i did. i saw it when i was a young boy3 of ten or eleven and made a huge impact on me in a negative way. it's a powerful work of art but it is partially because it silencesilences the vietnamese . as a young people growing up i
was both american and vietnamese and i was split if two by the experience of watching that movie and i always wanted to respond to it. >> rose: it mr. in two? i'm seeing it through american eyes, rooting for american soldiers, they kill vietnamese people and at that moment i think, am i american or vietnamese? am i the one i'm supposed to identify with or the one being killed? and that dilemma has driven me partly to write "the sympathizer." >> rose: it really is one more example of how hollywood has defined our sense of history. >> yeah, and i teach a vietnam war class and my students take it, they're all born in the '80s or '90s, at this point. 2000s now. shocking. their knowledge of the war is through stereotypes and the one or two movies they have seen. people still take hollywood seriously because it's what they get access to. >> rose: it's also their
reference point. look how many people write about politics, because culture is so prominent, their cultural reflections are basically from movies. >> and because that provides us with a common language. even in this age of social media and twitter, we still watch movies. we think about world war ii, it's all defined by the greatest generation idea which is propagated by movies as well. >> rose: you wrote land attend of the world. >> that's a novel about portugal's vietnam war except in angola. that was the novel i read in the summer of 2011 that made it possible for me to come up with the opening line for "the sympathizer" stho you think of yourself primarily as a writer? >> i do. to me that minus different things. >> rose: what does it mean? i write fiction, nonfiction,
scholarship, and all of these are related to each other, i don't compartmentalize them, but each of these things inform theouter. >> rose: they clearly do. yeah, the sympathizer is fiction, a story, hopefully entertaining but also deeply informed by the scholarship i've done as well. >> rose: and by history. yeah. >> rose: everything your character thinks is a product of, you know, his own observations of the history around him. >> and he himself is a writer as we found out -- we find out the way he's writing the confession, we find out two-thirds through the book he's writing a confession to a communist interrogator. he's on the side of communists, captured by communists and they're forcing him to write the story. i think of him as a tortured writer, literally, to a much more exaggerated extent than i am a tortured writer. >> rose: the next book. "the refugees" a short story collection coming out in
february, the collection i was writing for 15 years, about the lives of vietnamese refugees and the people they intercept with. >> rose: when you look at the migration crisis we have in europe, what do you think? does it connect with anything in your own experience? >> well, i think that people look at the current refugee crisis and insist it's different than other -- >> rose: it's people being driven out of their own land. >> yes, and i think that's not new. whenever that happens, other countries don't want these people. so when the vietnamese refugees first came to the united states in 1975, the majority of americans did not want them. now when americans look at syrian refugees, they they we don't want them because they're different than the refugees that came before including the vietnamese and they forgot 40 years ago they didn't want the vietnamese. >> rose: has that been assimilation? >> for the vietnamese, i think so. there is up ups and downs, but that's why i'm more optimistic
that we should be taking in more refugees, syrians or otherwise, because the conditions are not fundmently different. >> rose: thank you for coming. thank you for having me. >> rose: the book, "the sympathizer," viet thanh nguyen, now in paperback. >> it is. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
♪> you're watching pbs. this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. trump tweet trips boeing. the aircraft maker is caught offguard and its stock stumbles briefly after the president-elect says cancel an order for a new air force one. how business must adjust to a new negotiator and chief. the high court speaks. in a victory for prosecutors, the supreme court broadens the lines for what can constitute insider trading. the biggest jobs challenge. it's not the migration of manufacturing jobs to foreign lands. it's automation, and artificial intelligence. it could kill not only factory jobs, but millions in the service economy, as well. those stories and more tonight on "nightly business report" for tuesday, december 6th.