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The Wars of the Future; China-U.S. Relations; Mexican Drug War
Aired February 7, 2010 - 14:02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: This week, new threats and new battle zones. I'm Christiane Amanpour. The next war: Will it be in outer space, cyberspace, or at the polar icecaps?
And Chinese checkmate. U.S.-China tensions spill over in the most unusual way.
VICTOR GAO, DIRECTOR, CHINA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I see a lot of dark clouds building on the horizon, and I think it is time for great wisdom in Beijing and in Washington, D.C.
AMANPOUR: And how bad can it get, as Mexico's drug war spirals out of control?
JORGE CASTANEDA, FMR. MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: What's ridiculous is for us and Mexico to shoot ourselves to stop marijuana from entering the U.S. and, 100 miles north, it's sold legally in Los Angeles.
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AMANPOUR: But first, as the U.S. and other countries fight a war against terrorism, they are already thinking about the new generation of wars, as CNN's Chris Lawrence explains from the Pentagon.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Militaries around the world are redefining what national defense needs to be to deal with threats most people haven't thought of.
(on-screen): So where will the world be fighting in the future? The Pentagon says potentially in the global commons, three areas that are entirely ungoverned...
(voice-over): ... outer space, the open seas, cyberspace, even the north and south poles, all areas that China and Western governments are eyeing strategically.
DR. DAVID FINKELSTEIN, CENTER FOR NAVAL ANALYSES: Since both of our militaries are going to be using those global commons, strategic theorists start talking about how those global commons become potentially new battle spaces.
LAWRENCE: Actually, China analyst David Finkelstein says, Washington, London and Beijing have less to fear from each other than from independent, borderless threats, like the Somali pirates who hijack multinational shipping lanes.
FINKELSTEIN: So there's a low-tech example of the global commons being threatened, not by a nation-state, but by non-state actors, which is why failed states have to be watched.
LAWRENCE: For years, the U.S. and other nations have kept outer space off-limits.
MAREN LEED, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Space shouldn't be weaponized, and space shouldn't be an area for combat, and the fact of the matter is, it's a vulnerability.
LAWRENCE: No one is predicting the kind of conflicts seen in the film "Avatar," but defense analyst Maren Leed says, as satellites become more crucial to national security in daily life, they've become targets.
(on-screen): So how do nations deal with the threat when they can't even tell where it came from? In other words, like a rocket or missile, attacks in cyberspace challenge the very ideas of assigning blame or retaliation.
LEED: Where is the national border in cyberspace? What do you do if it's a teenager in London?
LAWRENCE (voice-over): The Pentagon is calling for greater cyber expertise.
LEED: They still have a long ways to go, but the rest of the government is even further behind.
LAWRENCE: Leed says right now most governments can't even define a cyber attack. Was that security breach just a probe or an intrusion? While they're trying to figure it out, weapons systems in key industries like finance and transportation may not be safe from attack.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.
AMANPOUR: Joining me now is the former U.S. national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Thank you very much for joining us.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Nice to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Tell me about the new threat, the new enemies. Do we have to redefine that?
BRZEZINSKI: I think we have to redefine the nature of the enemy because the context -- the security context -- the global security context in which we find ourselves is now fundamentally different.
In the past, for example, when I was in the White House, the threat was concentrated and very lethal. The enemy could destroy the United States in hours. Today, the threat is much more widespread, much more diversified, but not quite as lethal, so it's more complex.
AMANPOUR: So you -- when you say "lethal," you mean the Soviet Union and the -- and the nuclear weapons?
BRZEZINSKI: Exactly. You know, the Soviet Union, in case of a central war with the United States, could kill roughly 80 million Americans in six hours.
BRZEZINSKI: Today, that threat is not very likely. But instead we have a lot of threats, ranging from terrorists to rogue states to unpredictable events, and that makes it the defense issue more complex, even though it is somewhat rather less lethal.
AMANPOUR: And also, the talk, certainly in this defense review, about needing to be aware of cyber, of space, of the high seas, does the U.S. and is the U.S. now, do you think, positioned to deal with all of that?
BRZEZINSKI: The United States is better positioned to deal with all of that than any other country, because we still have bigger resources. We have a highly sophisticated technological capability.
But -- but -- and that's a very important but -- I think we have to realize that to be effective in dealing with these threats, we have to be also effective in mobilizing the support of other states. And we have neglected that in the course of the last decade.
AMANPOUR: So let's talk then about cyber threats and their implication on geopolicy. We just heard and we're just sort of in the midst of this mess, really, between the U.S. and China, particularly over the Google, over a potential hacking job into Google. That's a cyber threat, correct?
BRZEZINSKI: That's correct. And it's a very complex one, because one of the problems associated with it is that we don't quite really know who's doing what and why. Are these hackers, for example, from China working for the Chinese government, or are they working for some private business? What are their motives? That's one illustration of complexity.
In many cases we don't even know where the cyber threats originate from. That's another complexity. And while these are very serious threats -- and it will be very costly and difficult to offset them -- they're not as lethal as the Cold War was at its highest and most dangerous peak.
AMANPOUR: So how does one offset them, do you think? How do you combat that? I mean, not necessarily technically, but in terms of geopolitics?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I think it's a combination of two things. The Quadrennial Defense Review addresses most of these issues, and it suggests that we have to have a very broad front of responses. We have to have technological capabilities, for example, to trace hackers, to offset hackers, and if necessary, selectively -- and maybe even quietly -- retaliate.
But in addition to that -- and that's terribly important to bear in mind -- we have to have a foreign policy that mobilizes support for us and limits, isolates those who oppose us. And I'm afraid, for the last few years, we were doing the opposite.
AMANPOUR: Do you think the U.S. is caught up enough in mobilizing allies and has a foreign policy that could limit the damage?
BRZEZINSKI: I think President Obama pointed that way with his speeches and so forth. But I have the feeling that because of domestic problems, he has run out of steam, and I don't know really how determined he is to resume what he started doing so well, which is to engage the world constructively.
AMANPOUR: But that doesn't sound very positive, does it, run out of steam?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, it isn't encouraging, but, you know, if you look at the headlines and if you follow what is happening, there are some reasons for concern. The United States does give the impression, increasingly, of being gridlocked politically.
AMANPOUR: And how -- how do you fix that? You've been there before in terms of being in the administration, having to deal with these kinds of issues. How does one fix that?
BRZEZINSKI: In our system, which is really a system of cross-checking limits and the counter-forces, the only way to fix that is through presidential leadership, the president persuasively going to the country directly, mobilizing the support, taking on some difficult foreign challenge, and prevailing. And he can only do that by taking some risks and really providing effective leadership.
AMANPOUR: Give us an example of what particularly you're thinking about right now. What challenge right now?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I will give you two. I think Iran is obviously a challenge. And here I think the president should persevere in the course in which he embarked and not abandon it prematurely, because I think the complexities of the internal Iranian situation give us some room for maneuver and perhaps some basis for expecting an eventual partial accommodation, perhaps.
The other one clearly is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which revolutionizes, radicalizes the Middle East, and maximizes the number of enemies the United States has.
AMANPOUR: And what sort of grade would you give this administration on those?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, rhetorically, A; in terms of performance, B, B- minus.
AMANPOUR: Let me just move back to one of these new threats, outer space. Is that something that can be militarized, should be militarized? Do you have concerns over that issue?
BRZEZINSKI: I think we ought to avoid an arms race in space. I think that's connected also with the desire gradually to limit the number of nuclear weapons. We have to be able somehow to impose limits on those aspects of the arms race that pose the greatest danger of massive collective lethality.
So I think it's important to try to limit the degree to which the space is militarized. But at the same time, there's no doubt that we have to have the capacity, for example, to shoot down incoming rockets, to take satellites out of space. And we have to have the capacity, as I said to you earlier, to retaliate and not only stop, for example, hacking.
AMANPOUR: Zbigniew Brzezinski, on that note, thank you so much for joining us.
BRZEZINSKI: It's good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: And as the world's armies prepare for cyber war, go to our Web site, amanpour.com, to find out how some hackers are actually legally working with governments around the world.
And next, the year of living dangerously. China's looming challenge to the United States, that's when we return.
AMANPOUR: For the first time, China is threatening sanctions, not against a rogue state, but against the United States. Tensions have been rising over the Internet, over Tibet, and over a $6 billion U.S. arms package to Taiwan.
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MA ZHAOXU, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): The U.S. conduct severely harms China's core interests and China-U.S. ties. The cooperation between China and the U.S. on international and regional issues will be unavoidably affected. The U.S. bears the entire responsibility for this.
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AMANPOUR: Trade frictions are rising, as well, as President Obama also ratchets up the rhetoric.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The approach that we're taking is to try to get much tougher about enforcement of existing rules, putting constant pressure on China and other countries to open up their markets in reciprocal ways.
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AMANPOUR: Earlier, I spoke about all of this with former Chinese government official Victor Gao.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, President Obama -- at least from the Chinese perspective -- had a very pleasant trip to China earlier this year. Why all this incredible tension right now?
VICTOR GAO, DIRECTOR, CHINA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: First of all, I think any deterioration in the relations between these two countries will not be good for China, it will not be good for the United States, and it will not be good for world peace and development. Therefore, I think we need to do whatever we can to improve the relations.
AMANPOUR: Well, then why has China taken the unusual step of saying that it's going to slap sanctions on U.S. firms and cancel military engagements and visits and the like? Why? Why do that over Taiwan, which the U.S. has been sending weapons to for the last several years?
GAO: You know, from the Chinese perspective, this Taiwan situation is of utmost importance to China's national interest, because China considers Taiwan to be a part of China.
Therefore, China views the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan -- unprecedented in the level of sophistication -- as a major kind of a step to upset China's national interest. Therefore, I think China has the justification to be very unhappy about this. And China has taken very unprecedented steps of imposing sanctions upon those U.S. companies which are involved in the arms sale to Taiwan.
AMANPOUR: But, Mr. Gao, why is it so much more sensitive for the Chinese this time around, rather than previous arms sales to Taiwan? We understand the sovereignty and the political issue, but why take this unprecedented step right now?
GAO: In terms of the level of sophistication of the weapons, the Black Hawks, the anti-aircraft missiles, et cetera, these are all very sophisticated weapons. The United States imposes sale of such weapons to China by its sales all these weapons to Taiwan.
On the other hand, I think the United States is asking for China's help across a whole range of issues, from Afghanistan to North Korea, to Iran, from climate change, et cetera.
Therefore, China gets a very mixed signal. On the one hand, the United States needs China's help; on the other hand, China is hurt because the United States displays a complete disregard for China's fundamental interests.
AMANPOUR: What do you think can -- can be a next step? Because President Obama is going to meet the Dalai Lama, as all the U.S. presidents have, and this time China has taken a very, very strong and harsh tone to him, the China Daily saying that it was a pathetic idea, saying that it was the "audacity of shame." Why get so upset over these issues now?
GAO: Because China is getting very mixed signals from the United States. On the one hand, USA needs China's help. China is now the largest creditor nation to the United States. Just imagine if China buys less of the Treasury bond or stops buying the Treasury bond for a couple of months, what it will mean for the national interest of the United States, but also for China, because China itself will be hurt if China takes such extraordinary measures.
Therefore, I think both China and the United States need to understand each other's fundamental national interests and avoid doing anything to hurt each other...
AMANPOUR: Well, some have suggested that 2010 is the year, quote, "Obama gets tough and Beijing gets nasty." Do you think that there will be a major trade war breaking out?
GAO: I hope not, because a major trade war between the two largest economies of the world, what does that mean for world economy? What does it mean for the recovery from the financial crisis? Therefore, I think neither China, nor the United States can afford a trade war. We need to be real champions of free trade.
I see a lot of dark clouds building on the horizon, and I think it is time for great wisdom in Beijing and in Washington, D.C. And I think it really calls for a better understanding, greater level of transparency, and I think they need to open up new channels of communicating with each other.
AMANPOUR: What do you think the dark clouds will mean? What consequences, do you think?
GAO: Well, you know, the very unprecedented, extraordinary step China has taken to impose sanctions on those U.S. companies is one of them. China is on the receiving side of sanctions for many years in the past. And even as of today, China does not treat economic sanctions as an instrument of foreign policy, but apparently they are now cornered. They have to resort to this particular instrument in this particular case.
And, also, I mentioned the Treasury bonds. I hope Beijing will not take any action to stop buying the Treasury bond for a short period of time, because the consequences of that kind of extraordinary measures will be, again, very damaging, both to China and to the United States.
AMANPOUR: And, Mr. Gao, thank you so much again for joining us.
GAO: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And we put some of this to two former U.S. government officials with very different views, of course, on U.S.-China tension.
DAVID ROTHKOPF, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I think it's time for a new kind of a doctrine. During the Cold War, with our principal rival, we had a zero-sum approach. They lose; we win. That's not the case with China.
We need to develop a kind of doctrine of interdependence where we realize that we are interconnected in so many ways that every bit of leverage we feel here they feel there, and vice versa, and -- and, you know, consequences in one area have effects in completely different areas.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think, Victor Cha, in terms of them flexing their muscle because of their -- rather, their economic strength right now?
VICTOR CHA, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: Well, you know, I think there's always this fact that everybody puts out about how much of a creditor nation China is to us, but the thing we have to remember is, that is a mutual hostage game. I mean, the Chinese do not do better by suddenly dumping a bunch of U.S. Treasuries to try to teach the United States a lesson. That would have a tremendous effect on their economy, as it would on our economy.
AMANPOUR: And coming up next, another growing security challenge to the United States right on its doorstep.
And looking back and listening to a time when the world seemed less complex.
AMANPOUR: All the new threats to global security make many people nostalgic for the good, old days when the biggest danger was MAD, or mutually assured destruction. You heard Dr. Brzezinski say that, in those days, the Soviet Union could have wiped out 80 million Americans in just six hours.
It's very bad, but country music singer Billy Cerveny misses the time when things were black and white and everyone knew the good guys from the bad.
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BILLY CERVENY, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER (singing): One, two, three. I'm alone late at night, and I don't like what I see. Extra, extra, hear all about it right there on my TV. Al Qaida's on our doorstep. Iran is getting bombs. Iraq is still a mess, even though we got Saddam.
And I grab this here guitar, because I never knew how much I missed the USSR, and I'm begging please, dear Mr. Gorbachev, please rebuild that wall. If we'd known how good we had it, we'd have never let it fall. And no offense to all you mullahs, but the Cold War, it was cooler. Oh, we had it all. Mr. Gorbachev, please rebuild that wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: One man's lament to yesteryear. And to enjoy the full video of "Dear Mr. Gorbachev," go to our Web site, amanpour.com.
And up next, the war right on America's border. That's when we return.
AMANPOUR: Funerals in the world's most dangerous city, Juarez in Mexico, mourning for some of the young people killed in a recent massacre as the country's drug war escalates, and CNN's Rafael Romo explains.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were here, teenagers enjoying a soccer game and a party, when at least a dozen armed men closed off the neighborhood and busted in, killing at least 16 and wounding 12 more.
Relatives rushed to the scene, only to see their loved ones bleed to death, including this grandfather of one victim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was holding my grandson in my arms when he died. The paramedics arrived and realized there was nothing they could do.
ROMO: Yet another unexplained slaughter in Juarez, across the border from Texas, now widely called the murder capital of the world. Drug violence last year claimed the lives of more than 2,600 in this city of 1.5 million people. Most were victims of drug trafficking in a war between competing cartels.
It's not yet clear if this weekend's victims were, too, but witnesses say the gunmen arrived in seven SUVs with tinted windows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): A group of armed men arrived at the site of the party. They blocked the streets and exits and opened fire against the partygoers.
ROMO: The violence in Juarez is rising. Two hundred and thirty have already died this year, despite a military crackdown. President Felipe Calderon last year deployed 7,000 troops and 2,000 police officers to Juarez.
FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): I know that in many parts of Mexico criminals continue to harass, threaten, and practice extortion against many Mexican families. For that reason, we will continue to combat all criminal groups in the country without distinction.
ROMO: Now Calderon's government claims significant victories against drug cartels. In December, powerful drug baron Arturo Beltran Leyva died in a shootout with the Mexican military in central Mexico. And last month, police captured Teodoro Garcia Simental, one of the most brutal drug lords and leader of the Tijuana cartel.
But many say the human toll of President Calderon's war on drugs is too high.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I very much doubt that we can speak about success when we're having 7,000 deaths every year. At this pace, we're going to end up having more killings than they have in Iraq.
ROMO (on-screen): By some estimates, 450,000 Mexicans are involved in drug trafficking, which generates about $20 billion in sales every year. Those profits rival the auto, tourism and oil industries.
(voice-over): That means the drug business is deeply woven into Mexican society, raising the question, can Mexico rip it out without tearing itself apart?
AMANPOUR: Dramatic facts, dramatic statistics there. And that was CNN's Rafael Romo reporting.
And joining me now, Ruben Beltran, who is Mexico's consul general here in New York, and Jorge Castaneda, Mexico's former foreign minister.
Thank you both for joining me. Let me ask you first, since you represent the government here today, militarization, is it working? Look at this map we have. Maybe we can get an overhead shot of it. There seems to be a spreading of these cartels all over the country, whether it's up here, whether it's here, here, here, six large concentrations all over. So what's working about the strategy, Mr. Beltran?
RUBEN BELTRAN, CONSUL GENERAL OF MEXICO IN NEW YORK: I would say the following. On the one hand, we are facing a fragmented enemy, and they're becoming more and more violent since we are being successful to disrupt their activities and their actions. And what we're witnessing right now is maybe the peak of those -- of that violence.
And one thing is for sure. We are in crunch time. And let me just assure you that the Mexican government is not going to relinquish its duties to confront organized crime, and that's what's happening right now. And what is happening is, also, they're using their military, because you are at the same time reconstructing the police corps.
And by using the military, we are able to tackle and disrupt these activities. That's why they're becoming more and more violent.
AMANPOUR: So do you buy that, the sort of -- they are being tackled, therefore, they're becoming more violent?
JORGE CASTANEDA, FMR. MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think the ambassador and the government's stance at the beginning of President Calderon's term made sense.
AMANPOUR: Which was?
CASTANEDA: It was -- early 2007.
AMANPOUR: But you mean the militarization.
CASTANEDA: The fact that the number of deaths is a symptom of success, almost three-and-a-half years on, 17,000 deaths later, 900 just in the month of January, the highest level ever, it's hard for me, quite honestly -- and I think for many Mexicans -- to accept that the more deaths we have, the more successful the strategy is, after three-and-a-half years now of the strategy.
AMANPOUR: So what's wrong with the strategy?
CASTANEDA: I think what's wrong with the strategy in the first place is to have taken on the cartels so quickly when they began. They should have thought it through more clearly. Who do they want to take on first? What are the assets the government has? Does it have a police force?
Ambassador Beltran says very rightly that this government, like the previous two, was trying to reconstruct the police force, which means we don't have one. So, well, you've got to figure that out.
Is the army really up to this? Does it know how to do this? Is it used -- is it trained for this? Does it have the weapons, the intelligence, the software? It doesn't. I think President Calderon rushed into this, and now we're paying the consequences.
BELTRAN: I will contend that the military is perfectly trained to do these kind of things. And on the other hand, which is the alternative? Are we going to raise the -- the white flag? Are we going to surrender? Are we going to surrender the ability of the government to look for the rule of law and secure the rule of law?
I don't think there's no other alternative. The monopoly of force -- use of force pertains to the state, and the state is the one who should use the force to secure the -- the -- the stability of the country.
AMANPOUR: Now, one of the officials in Juarez is basically saying that they've left Juarez totally alone, there's a total absence of authority, this despite the fact that the army is there, also saying that the people of Juarez are not necessarily predisposed to cooperating with the army. So are -- are -- is that strategy working?
BELTRAN: I do believe it is working, and I -- I do believe strongly - - one thing is for the Mexican people to fear violence. Everybody would like -- we would all like the violence to diminish or disappear. But that's not realistic at this point.
AMANPOUR: But you used to be consul general in some of these border - - border states, in Arizona, in California. The current U.S. secretary of homeland security was also governor of Arizona. Here's what she said in regards to the weapons flow your president, Calderon, blamed for this violence.
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JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It's a significant number of the guns used in this -- in this wave of violence in northern Mexico, absolutely come from the United States. That's why part of our plan is increasing the number of agents who are going to inspect southbound vehicles. That's why we're sending technology to the border that will allow us to scan or do noninvasive X-rays to see whether cars are carrying assault weapons, other kinds of weapons that are now flowing into Mexico to fuel these drug cartels.
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AMANPOUR: I know you -- you, obviously, agree with what she's saying.
BELTRAN: Well, Secretary Napolitano is absolutely right. In order for Mexico to be successful in this war, we need the increased cooperation with the United States to stem the flow of cash, both cash, weapons and ammo from the United States to Mexico.
AMANPOUR: What's wrong with that...
CASTANEDA: I flew to San Diego from Mexico City last week and crossed from San Diego back into Tijuana where I had a speech to give. And someone drove me.
There was not the slightest inspection of any car crossing from north to south on the U.S. side or on the Mexican side, a year after Secretary Napolitano's statement, March 25, 2009.
AMANPOUR: So why not?
CASTANEDA: There were not -- because they can't do it, Christiane. It's too expensive. The local communities don't want it. It backs up queues all the way, hundreds of -- tens of miles north, the same way as in the south. They're not going to do it. This has been a full year now.
Is it desirable? We could argue about whether it's desirable. I'm not sure it is. But I am sure that they're not doing it. That's a fact.
AMANPOUR: All right. So if they're not going it, here's another thing that the president said, President Calderon. "We sit right next to the biggest drug consumer in the world."
CASTANEDA: Well, Christiane, why is it practically legal in Los Angeles, 100 miles north? There are 1,000 public legal dispensaries of medical marijuana in Los Angeles, more than public schools.
AMANPOUR: So what are you saying, that it should be legalized in Mexico?
CASTANEDA: Of course it should be legalized in both countries, but what's ridiculous is for us in Mexico to shoot ourselves to stop marijuana from entering the U.S. and, 100 miles north, it's sold legally in Los Angeles. What's the logic of that?
AMANPOUR: But the thing is that, to be fair, that's only one -- one sort of very limited area in the United States.
CASTANEDA: Well, California is not that limited. It's kind of big.
AMANPOUR: It's big. It's big. But as you know...
CASTANEDA: And it's all...
AMANPOUR: ... there's a big debate in this country about precisely...
CASTANEDA: I know, but I also know California's a big state and a leading indicator state.
AMANPOUR: True. But can you imagine legalizing cocaine in Mexico?
BELTRAN: ... different story, and that deserves a separate discussion. But let me tell you a couple of things that former Secretary Castaneda is leaving out.
He knows very well that there are very well identified corridors in several areas of the -- of the -- of the border that could be tackled and more efficiently surveilled.
BELTRAN: And that's decidedly -- because there...
AMANPOUR: By who?
BELTRAN: By the U.S. authorities and the Mexican authorities.
BELTRAN: I wish they -- they are doing it. If you look at...
BELTRAN: ... to look at the figures that DHS released recently, which is showing increasingly bulk of cash seized at the border, a lot of ammo and weapons seized at the border. That's one thing.
And the other thing is that Dr. Castaneda, former Secretary Castaneda, is leaving out another concept. He is discussing only the problem of marijuana in California, whereas when we're discussing -- when discussing...
BELTRAN: ... there are other -- other...
CASTANEDA: There are other drugs...
BELTRAN: ... substances that should be considered.
CASTANEDA: ... but marijuana is right there, 1,000 -- more than the number of public schools in Los Angeles.
BELTRAN: And what about the amount of marijuana being grown in the United States, in California?
CASTANEDA: Exactly. That's why they should legalize it.
AMANPOUR: So you basically think that the narcotrafficking would come to an end if it was all legal?
CASTANEDA: Well, you can't do everything overnight, but you can start with marijuana. The DEA says -- I don't know if the Mexican government agrees with those figures -- that 60 percent of the Mexican cartels' profits come from marijuana.
If we start with that, that's a big chunk. We can't do everything overnight. The government is right on that. And we can't do it in Mexico if the U.S. doesn't do it at the same time. President Calderon is right on that, too.
But what we're not doing, I don't think, is pushing the Americans to go in that direction, and we should.
AMANPOUR: All right, we're going to continue this after a break. We're going to talk about lessons learned from Colombia, also in Latin America, also fighting the drug war, when we return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Think how loud it would sound if everyone said no at the same time, and that's how loud you should say it when you're offered drugs. So, on the count of three, let's practice saying no. One, two, three...
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That was First Lady Nancy Reagan 25 years ago urging children to say no to drugs. Her husband, President Ronald Reagan, had first declared the war on drugs in 1982. It had some impact in America at first, but drug use started climbing again in the mid-1990s.
And joining me again to discuss the issue of Mexico is consul general here in New York Ruben Beltran and the former foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda.
Thanks again for joining me. So we were discussing the -- the drug cartels and where they are. I suppose the obvious ones are here near the border. There are some down here and some here. Is it all border-related? Or are there other reasons for it?
BELTRAN: In my view, there are -- for instance, take the -- the -- the ones here in the state of Michoacan, here.
AMANPOUR: Yep, right here.
BELTRAN: That will be the access to some substances coming from Asia to produce crystal meth or other kind of substances. This is one thing, also for some of the cartels located in other -- other parts of the country.
On the other hand, there are some cartels in the state of Sinaloa which are big producers of -- of marijuana over there. So that's also the reason.
So, in fact, you have these fragmented groups which some of them are tempted to control the access of some substances, the access of weapons, and also the corridors that will let all these drugs coming into the United States.
AMANPOUR: And yet Mexico has a robust economy. It has...
BELTRAN: ... economy in the world, yes.
AMANPOUR: It has a robust tourism infrastructure. How does all this exist together?
CASTANEDA: Well, so far, it exists -- it has existed quite well over the last 40 or 50 years. It's gotten a little more complicated the last couple of years, among other reasons, because networks like CNN and, quite rightly -- there's nothing that one can pick an argument with -- are showing a country that says itself it's at war.
And this is my main criticism of the Calderon administration. Why make such a big fuss about this?
CASTANEDA: Why not just do it if you have to?
AMANPOUR: But, I mean, when...
CASTANEDA: But to go on television every day, you say we're a country at war, these statements that you just read from the president about -- about Juarez, who wants to go on vacation...
AMANPOUR: So why do you think he's saying it, then? Why is he saying it?
CASTANEDA: ... to Mexico, Christiane?
BELTRAN: But, on the one hand, I would say it's just not a P.R. thing, the president make an announcement that he's at war or not. I think that -- that he's rallying the communities, he's rallying (inaudible) behind him. It's a clear pattern (ph).
And we are, on the other hand, a very robust democracy. You said we had midterm elections last year. Almost 40 million Mexicans voted. This year, we have 12 governorships at stake. The Mexicans are going to vote, since it's a very robust democracy, as well.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about this, because we've seen in other countries how the rising narcotraffic, in fact, starts to affect the political system, the corruption, the bribery, the whole issue of politics and justice. Do you -- are you concerned, for instance, that that could happen in Mexico, that the very democracy could be -- could be weakened?
CASTANEDA: I think it could happen. And, as a matter of fact, this has already been present in Mexico for 30 or 40 years. It's not that the cartels are corrupting public officials, police officials, the army. President Zedillo's anti-drug czar turned out to be a drug czar, and he was arrested in 1988. He was a general. He was thrown in jail on a D.A. tip- off. This is not that new.
The Colombian example is an interesting one, Christiane. And I know we're going to move on to that...
AMANPOUR: Now, Colombia, further down, obviously, down there...
CASTANEDA: ... because I think it's very interesting.
AMANPOUR: President Uribe has been fighting his own drug war.
CASTANEDA: He has. And he has been very successful in reducing violence, kidnappings, extortion, bombing attempts, the guerillas, the paramilitaries. The acreage of cocaine under cultivation and cocaine in Colombia today is the same as 10 years ago. It hasn't changed.
AMANPOUR: Which means?
CASTANEDA: He didn't go after the cartels. He didn't go after the production. He went after the collateral damage generated by the drug trade.
AMANPOUR: And that's -- and that's what you think...
CASTANEDA: That's been very successful, I think, which we should do in Mexico, yes.
AMANPOUR: Why not?
BELTRAN: Again, I think -- I think former Secretary Castaneda is again leaving out some things. The war -- the Colombian war against all these drugs started two decades ago, on the one hand.
Second, the circumstances are completely different. Here you have a guerilla embedded with drug trafficking. It's a completely different situation.
And, thirdly, there's a large chunk, a portion of the territory of Colombia under the control of the guerillas and the narcotraffickers. That is not the case in Mexico. Mexico has secured all its territory and never lost a territory to the control of the drug lords. A very different situation.
And President Uribe has had some successes, of course. Nobody can deny it. But the -- the -- the war -- the Colombian war against drugs started two decades ago.
AMANPOUR: Where are the people on this issue, on President Calderon's plan?
CASTANEDA: In general, the country -- people support the president's war on drugs and support the military's participation in it. But, for example, in Juarez, they don't. They are fed up with it. All of the polls show that they don't feel more secure, they don't feel safer, and they're not happy with it.
AMANPOUR: How long does your president -- how long does the president have to -- to try this strategy?
BELTRAN: President Calderon announced at the very beginning of his administration, as former Secretary Castaneda was mentioning, that this process would take years. And maybe it would not take only his administration. It will be a multi-administration effort. And he said that, most unfortunately, it's going to take lives, it's going to take a toll of lives, and I think that the country is ready for that.
And as Jorge Castaneda was mentioning, there's a strong support of the Mexican population before the army intervention and the support of the -- of the (inaudible)
AMANPOUR: Ruben Beltran, Jorge Castaneda, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.
AMANPOUR: And we took your questions for Consul General Beltran on Facebook, Twitter, and on amanpour.com, and now we have a webcast with his answers, which is on our Web site.
Next, our "Post-Script." The softer side of diplomacy, as tensions rise between the United States and China.
AMANPOUR: Now for our "P.S.," an update on the epic journey of two ambassadors back to their ancestral home. Giant pandas Tai Shan and Mei Lan, two of the most popular residents of the Washington and Atlanta zoos, have arrived back in China.
Panda diplomacy dates back to President Richard Nixon's visit to China nearly 40 years ago. While the president was meeting with Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Beijing, his wife, Pat, went to the zoo to see the giant pandas, and this laid the groundwork for generations of them to be sent on loan to the U.S., where they've been huge hits, drawing millions of visitors, and even a mention in the State Department briefing this week.
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PHILIP CROWLEY, ASSISTANT U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We certainly wish a safe journey to Tai Shan, as he departs the United States, you know, for China. He is a dual citizen, you know, U.S.-born, of Chinese parents.
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AMANPOUR: Pandas have a notoriously difficult time reproducing in captivity, and so now, as a condition of their original loan, these two have returned to China to take part in a special breeding program.
And that's our report for this week. Thanks for joining us. Goodbye from New York.