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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Japan's Radiation Extremely High; Fresh Violence in Libya and Bahrain
Aired March 16, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, nuclear nightmare. The U.S. government says a radiation leak at reactor number four at the Fukushima plant is even worse than thought. Shell-shocked Japanese crowd into shelters wondering what's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AKIHITO, JAPANESE EMPEROR (Through Translator): I am deeply concerned that the current nuclear plant situation is critical.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: While a handful of heroic power plant workers risk it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he's replied by e-mail indicated a serious situation. He told her to take care of herself because he won't be home for awhile.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And my special report from the Middle East.
Tonight's show comes from here, Israel. What's extraordinary when you come here is the proximity of everything. To my right is Ramallah. To my left is Jerusalem. Just a few miles separating these feuding neighbors.
Even more extraordinarily this may well be the calmest place in the whole of the Middle East right now with the rest of the region exploding in revolution. A perfect time to come here and debate the prospects for real peace. A lasting peace.
I'll talk to Tom Friedman of "The New York Times" and David Remnick of "the New Yorker" about Benjamin Netanyahu under pressure.
And breaking news on new violence in Libya and Bahrain tonight.
This is a special edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT live from Israel.
You're looking at Jerusalem's old city wall. It's 3:00 a.m. here and a peaceful scene. But tonight unrest continues to sweep the Arab world. We've now seen turmoil from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya and Bahrain.
We're in Israel getting a close look at what this may all mean for the peace process here. But I want to begin tonight with the breaking news on the other big story of the day, Japan, and here with that is my colleague Anderson Cooper, who is in Tokyo.
Anderson, what's the latest and in particular from the news of the Fukushima plant, there seems to be an escalating danger there this evening.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN'S AC 360: Well, there's been a clarification at least of the problem from the U.S. government who basically said that the problem is worse than the Japanese government has been letting on, has been saying in their public statements.
We're just getting in new video right now of helicopters dropping water by the reactor. I'm not sure -- I can't tell if it's dropping water directly on to one of the reactors or several of the reactors or if they're just bringing water nearby that's then pumped by trucks.
I would assume it's being dropped by helicopters and if that is, in fact, happening that's a very alarming development because what we learned from the U.S. government today is that some of the spent fuel rods in one of the reactors have actually been exposed, that there actually is no water covering them.
There's supposed to be 20 to 30 feet of water over them at all times in order to try to keep them cool. If they have been completely exposed and all the water has evaporated or boiled off that is extremely alarming news. That means radiation is being released and they would be trying to drop water from helicopters.
That's really kind of a last resort. It was something that they had proposed yesterday, attempted and then aborted.
Radiation levels were so high around the plant they had actually, as you know, Piers, pulled out some of the workers who were there trying to fight fires and also pour water onto these spent fuel rods.
If -- whether -- the fact they're dropping it now from the air, maybe they're still also trying to pump in water from the ground, from fire trucks, and pump in seawater but this is just an attempt to get some sort of a handle on one of the multiple problems at this plant.
And, Piers, there's a growing lack of confidence in the public statements being made by the Japanese government tonight. At this point the Japanese government still seems to be getting all their information from this private company which is running this nuclear plant.
That's an extremely worrying situation. We have no idea the accuracy of the information that's being handed out. And the U.S. government now has come forward and said things are much worse and actually should have a larger evacuation zone. They're recommending that no Americans be within 50 miles of this nuclear plant.
U.S. military personnel who are trying to be involved in search and rescue and relief operations up in the north, they've been told not to be within 50 miles of that plant as well.
That's farther away than the Japanese government officials have said. They have a 20-kilometer evacuation zone which is about 12 miles and have told people in an additional 10 kilometers to just stay indoors.
So, Piers, there's a lot of conflicting information but the bottom line is this is an extraordinarily -- this is a catastrophe. The question is how much of a catastrophe is it? The prevailing winds we're told right now are still pushing anything that is released out toward the sea, we believe, but again information all is coming really in the end from this private Japanese company.
And that is what concerns a lot of people here because this is a company which in the past has a history of misleading the public, Piers.
MORGAN: Anderson, it's a very worrying situation and I appreciate you giving us that report. Please stay safe. I know that you've got more dramatic breaking news on this coming in your show later.
But I want to bring in now Dr. Sanjay Gupta who's also in Japan.
Sanjay, you heard what Anderson was saying there. Obviously part of the problem here is knowing what to believe, isn't it?
With your knowledge of radiation, what do you think is actually happening here? How much is seeping out? Do you have any way of knowing?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is interesting, Piers, just how difficult information has been to get. You know, in the first -- there was almost this attitude of nothing to see here, folks, just keep moving and then all of a sudden a couple of days ago there was a distinct change in tone.
It was from nothing to worry about to radiation levels have gotten high enough to affect human health. So they also -- let me just give you another quick example, Piers.
For some time they were saying the radiation levels had reached 400 millisieverts. Now most people don't know what that means. A day later they said actually we were wrong on that, it's 400 microsieverts which is a thousandfold difference in overall readings.
That's just a couple of examples, Piers, of how difficult it is to get information.
What we can say is this. Radiation levels are higher than normal. Much higher than normal. Behind me the air in Tokyo, 20 times higher than normal. That in and of itself sounds alarming but keep in mind that even at 20 times normal radiation levels still not high enough to cause an impact on human health.
Anderson and I are both wearing devices like this, a dosimeter, basically measures the radiation that we're being exposed to and also alarms if we're exposed to any particularly high levels of radiation it will sound an alarm.
But those workers, Piers, that you're just talking about in the plants, it's just amazing work. I mean they know the deal. This is what they do. They know that the radiation levels are high. They know they are getting exposed. They know they have to stay to try and control the situation.
It's just remarkable that their fight goes on even at that great risk to their own health, Piers, we know that for sure.
MORGAN: In fact, many journalists have been moved out completely by Japan. Do you feel in danger where you are now?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I think that we have to deal with the scientific facts here. I mean let me put it to you like this. A couple of things, you know, we're all getting a certain amount of radiation living our lives every single day.
Piers, you as a television news person in the studio, you're getting a certain amount of radiation per year. Because of where we are right now, that same amount of radiation that we would get in one year we're getting in a few weeks. That's what it means to have higher than normal radiation levels at this level.
It's not going to cause an impact on health necessarily but it's certainly of some concern but I think the whole idea that people are moving -- I think that there's data available to help inform those decisions and that's what we're trying to collect.
MORGAN: Sanjay, again, please, you stay safe, as well. It's an extraordinary moving story. It's extremely worrying.
I want to bring in now "The New York Times'" nuclear expert Matthew Wald.
Matthew, I'm sure you've heard there, Sanjay and Anderson talking about what's going on with this plant. Clearly a pretty desperate situation, isn't it?
MATTHEW L. WALD, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's desperate but Sanjay is correct, it's confused. The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the chief U.S. safety regulator, said today that his people in Tokyo had figured out that there was no water in one of the spent fuel pools.
Now I've soon pretty much identical spent fuel pool at an American plant. You get the rods down at the bottom and 40 feet of water on top of that and that keeps them cool and shields you, but if they are unshielded the radiation field will be so large that it would give you a lethal dose in a very short period, probably a few minutes. If this is true there's also some risk that those rods will not only overheat, they don't heat up as fast as the ones in the reactors because they've been out for longer, but they'll not only overheat but they could catch fire. And there's enough energy in the fire to drive the smoke high up and send the stuff over a long distance.
So this is indeed difficult and worrisome if true. And it would make it very difficult to continue to do work on the other reactors. You could end up with fratricide. You could end up with a problem at one reactor causing you to have to abandon the others.
MORGAN: I mean, Anderson was referring earlier to reports that there were helicopters actually dropping water.
MORGAN: Onto these reactors. What did you make of that?
WALD: Well, the building has been blown away the secondary containment on a couple of these places so you could in theory drop water in. In ordinary circumstances if you interrupt the cooling on a spent fuel pool it will take days before it boils and days before you'd have a real problem.
They reported early on that one of these pools had been damaged in the earthquake and it's up in the air, meaning it could have a crack, it could drain. You could in theory put in more water. The downside is if you drop water from a great height you can rearrange the racks of fuels inside and you could get a -- in theory a nuclear reaction in the pool instead of the reactor, so this is not without risk.
If they're doing this to get water in the pools they've decided that the risk of doing nothing is higher than the risk of dropping water.
MORGAN: And Matthew, finally and very quickly, is the situation worse tonight than it was last night?
WALD: Yes. If it is as described that they've got a pool with no water in it it's substantially worse, yes.
MORGAN: Matthew Wald, thank you very much indeed.
WALD: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: And turning now to the shocking violence in the Middle East today, I want to bring in Arwa Damon who's in Libya tonight.
Arwa, tell me what's going on right now in Libya.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been pretty intense fighting in the city of Ajdabiya around 100 miles, 160 kilometers to the west of the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.
We actually tried to get in there earlier and we were stopped in an opposition checkpoint, told quite simply that the fighting was too intense.
Eyewitnesses telling us that air strikes began at around 9:30, 10:00 in the morning, that there had been and has been a sustained and heavy artillery bombardment. One person saying that pro-Gadhafi forces had set up sniper positions and yet another talking about the increase in civilian casualties, saying that an entire family had been killed.
A few hours later we were in front of the courthouse in Benghazi walking alongside a group of women, marching, carrying a sign. The message on it very simple. How many Libyans are going to have to die until the United Nations can take action?
And that, Piers, is what people here really want to know. They fail to understand how it is that the international community can see the images of what is happening in Libya and not feel a more urgent sense to try to bring about an end to this bloodshed.
MORGAN: And, Arwa, turning quickly to Bahrain. There were reports that Saudi forces have been engaging tonight. What do you know about that?
DAMON: There have been reports that Saudi forces have been involved. This, of course, a very controversial move especially given the fact that Sunni majority Saudi Arabia now deploying troops into Shia majority Bahrain. Of course Bahrain being ruled by a Sunni family.
These forces coming in under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council, coming in saying that their intent is to try to protect the population. What is of great concern, of course, is that does not appear to be the case, but as we have seen since the protests in Bahrain began some time ago is that both the Bahraini authorities and now of course concerns that Saudi troops do not hesitate to use violence against civilians.
This has been a trend that we have been seeing in these uprisings in the Middle East. As these regimes try to cling to power so many of them have resorted to violence. We see these populations trying to stand up for what they say is freedom and democracy, turning around not really seeing the international support that they want to be seeing.
Many people saying that it is now the time for global leaders to decide which side of the moral spectrum they're going to lie on, not just here in Libya, not just in Bahrain but in all of these places where we're seeing these types of popular revolt, Piers.
MORGAN: Arwa Damon, thank you very much indeed.
Coming up, what Hillary Clinton told Wolf Blitzer about her future in politics.
MORGAN: Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit to Tahrir Square in Cairo, site of Egypt's revolution. She's in Tunisia tonight and CNN's Wolf Blitzer has been traveling with her and joins me now.
Wolf, before I hear from you, this is the "Jerusalem Post" with a very impressive picture of you with the secretary of state. It's made a big noise over here, your interview. She was in a very forthcoming mood, I thought, and quite revealing about a number of issues.
Let's start with what she said about Libya in particular.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN'S SITUATION ROOM: On Libya the secretary said the United States is basically not going to take any military action by itself. The United Nations Security Council she says will have to ask.
She said, look, there's a lot of problems potentially in Libya. She insisted that Gadhafi will not win when all is said and done, even though all the indications are he's moving very quickly right now against the opposition. But she pointed out that, look, there are a lot of problems around the world. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I get up every day and I look at reports from around the world. We have violence in Cote d'Ivoire. We have violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We flare-ups of violence in many other parts of Africa.
We have a lot of problems that are crying out for resolution, but not every one of those can be unilaterally addressed by the United States. That is why I think President Obama's been absolutely correct in saying Gadhafi has lost legitimacy to govern.
If there is to be any action taken against him to try to help the opposition and to protect the civilians, it must be authorized by the international community.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And she suggested that with the Arab League, Piers, now saying that they would support a no-fly zone over Libya, perhaps, perhaps Russia and China would not use their vetoes at the U.N. Security Council -- U.N. Security Council to block a resolution.
We'll see what happens. In the meantime, though, Gadhafi is moving very quickly.
MORGAN: And Wolf, what did she have to say about the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, because it seems to be getting ever more dangerous?
BLITZER: Yes, it's a catastrophe and she says it's minute by minute. So far she's not recommending that all U.S. diplomats and their family members and other Americans including military personnel, and there are tens of thousands of American troops in Japan, leave the country, although as we know, there are efforts under way now to remove people from the immediate vicinity of these power plants.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I believe based on the feedback I'm getting from our experts because I'm not a nuclear expert. I don't pretend to be. There was a lot of confusion as there would be in any disaster. I mean if you're hit first with an earthquake and then you're hit with a tsunami, and then you're trying to figure out what's happening to your nuclear reactors, it takes some time to get a handle on that.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She also said, Piers, that it would be a good idea to rethink the whole issue of nuclear powered energy in the United States. I pressed her on that because she is a former U.S. senator. She's got some strong views but she was pretty outspoken.
MORGAN: And I thought one of the most revealing parts of your interview, Wolf, was when you asked her directly if she would continue to work in the government after this term. And she was pretty forthright in her response.
BLITZER: She was amazingly forthright. I said to her if President Obama is re-elected will you serve a second term as secretary of state. She gave me a one-word answer, no.
I then asked her, would you like to be secretary of defense, because Robert Gates is going to be leaving relatively soon we're told. She said no.
I said would you like to be vice president if Joe Biden decides -- for example, he doesn't want to be vice president for whatever reason? She said no.
And then finally I said, would you like to be president of the United States once again? Would you like to run in 2016? And she said no.
So she gave me four no's, categorical no's. She was rather blunt saying she wants to serve out her term as secretary of state. But that's it. Doesn't want to stay in the government even at these other -- at these other levels.
MORGAN: I mean, it strikes me, Wolf, she would be a huge loss. She's done a pretty good job for the country and is still relatively young.
What's behind it, do you think?
BLITZER: It's a good question because her job approval numbers in our latest CNN -- CNN poll, she's -- two-thirds of the American public give her favorable ratings. They think she's doing a good job. And I can't tell you how many people have been tweeting me or e- mailing me saying in 2016 they would love her to run for president once again, but she says she's not going to do it.
She was categorical. She says she's got the best job right now. She'll finish her term but she said that's it and she's ready to move on.
MORGAN: Well, I think you and I, Wolf, both know that no rarely means no in this kind of politics in this kind of situation so I guess we should watch this space.
BLITZER: Yes, I guess we should, because people can always change their minds.
MORGAN: Wolf Blitzer, thank you very much, indeed.
When we come back, Tom Friedman on the shocking violence in Bahrain and Libya tonight.
MORGAN: Tonight in Bahrain and Libya violence is escalating as regimes in both countries fight to survive the wave of revolution sweeping the Arab world.
Tom Friedman spent a lot of time in the region. He's a columnist of "The New York Times" and the author of "Hot, Flat and Crowded." He joins me now.
Tom, I've got to start by asking you about the four "The New York Times" journalists covering the fighting in eastern Libya who have been reported missing. What are your thoughts? Do you have any latest news on that?
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, AUTHOR, "HOT, FLAT AND CROWDED": Well, I really only know what we've put out on our Web site, Piers, and obviously, you know, I'm extremely worried for my four colleagues.
I was just in Cairo working with some of them. You know they were caught up it seems in the most dangerous kind of battlefield situation you can be in, covering a battle in a town that was changing sides between rebel forces and government forces, and you can only hope they're either incommunicado or in the hands of -- that they're safe somewhere or in the hands of people who are going to look after them and release them very soon.
So we're all worried, we're all praying for them. That's really all I can say right now.
MORGAN: Well, we certainly share those concerns and prayers with you and your colleagues.
Moving on to the situation generally, Tom, in the Middle East, you've covered this region for over 30 years. Can you quite believe what you're witnessing here? FRIEDMAN: No, I really can't. I certainly, you know, am not surprised about this democratic uprising, but no one really could have predicted the timing of it and the fact that all of the dominos or virtually all of them would start falling at the same time.
It's almost impossible to get your mind around. I was reading our paper yesterday or the day before online and at the bottom I had to search at the bottom of the front page for the story that Saudi troops had basically invaded Bahrain.
I mean something that would have been a six-column headline, you know, on any normal day. So what I think people need to understand, though, Piers, is that to put it in American baseball terms, we're still at the top of the first inning with this process. We're just at the beginning.
Stability has left the building. And we're in for a long period of instability there. The question, will it be instability that kind of has a positive slope that leads to an Indonesia/South Africa kind of democratic transition? Or will it be one that has a negative slope that looks for, you know, god forbid, like a Somali or Afghanistan situation.
So that's really the two choices we have before us but stability has definitely left the building in that part of the world.
MORGAN: I mean what is fascinating to watch in the region is the different way that these various leaders/dictators are conducting their battles as these rebellions rise up. I mean Mubarak went quickly and relatively calmly. He didn't turn on his people the way many expected.
Gadhafi has gone a completely different way and has stated, I'm going nowhere, I'll do whatever it takes, and he's now been mercilessly bombing and killing his people to stay in power.
When you talk about the dominos, are they very different kinds of dominos we're seeing here or do you detect a common thread?
FRIEDMAN: Well, the common thread is the aspiration of Arabs of all ages to want to run their own lives in a world where they can increasingly see how other people are living and see just how fracture behind they are.
That's the common domino. But underneath it, you basically have two categories of states here. You have what I would call real countries like Tunisia and Egypt. These are very old countries with largely homogenous populations where it could be basically all the kids against dad. You know all the people could easily come together and unite against a tyrannical leader.
Elsewhere throughout most of the rest of the region, you have what are really tribes with flags. In Libya, it's tribes in the east around Benghazi against, you know, Gadhafi and his tribal allies.
In Bahrain it's a Sunni minority, 30 percent of the population ruling over a Shiite majority. And so these are all going to play out very, very differently.
MORGAN: But let's move on to Bahrain and the position of the Saudis here. Do you think there's any danger the House of Saud could fall?
FRIEDMAN: You know, I don't want to make any predictions that the whole Saudi regime is going to fall but this is what I think is important to keep in mind, Piers. What happened in Egypt, what happened in Tahrir Square brought together three very unique and powerful forces.
One, this was a homegrown revolution. It wasn't done by America. It wasn't done by CIA. It wasn't done by Russia. This was by Egyptians for Egyptians, number one.
Number two, this was based on universal principles. These are people who wanted freedom, dignity and the right to run their own lives. It wasn't about down with Israel or down with America. It was about up with Egypt and up with me.
And lastly, this revolution in Egypt has a missed narrative. Over 400 of these young people died in Tahrir Square fighting for this opportunity. They've lost more kids in Tahrir Square fighting for democracy than the Egyptian army has lost in 27 years.
You put together a homegrown movement based on universal principles with this kind of myth narrative of fighting for democracy and dying for it, and you put it in Egypt, which is the center of the Arab world, and you have a very powerful force.
And that's why I wrote at the time, this is not Las Vegas, what happens in Egypt does not stay in Egypt. And as long as what happens in Egypt has an upward, positive slope to it, you are going to see this spread. What form it will take in other countries I can't predict. How and whether it will shake or crumble regimes is impossible to say.
But this will not be contained.
MORGAN: Tom, we're going to take a short break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about where I am right now, Israel, and how it should respond to this turmoil all over the Arab world.
MORGAN: Back now with "the New York Times'" columnist Tom Friedman. I'm here in Israel. And there's definitely a palpable sense of vulnerability and fear, as well as some excitement about what they're witnessing all over the Middle East and these countries we've just been discussing.
Would you share that concern or would you be excited? What should they be feeling in Israel? Is this opportunity or could this go horribly wrong for them?
FRIEDMAN: You know, I think it's very understandable, Piers, that they would feel exactly the mixed emotions that you're describing. A relationship -- bedrock relationship between Israel and Egypt, the foundation of the Camp David Peace, which has been the foundation of Israeli security policy, in some ways its economic growth.
It feels like it's imperiled. It's not come apart yet. But Israel is legitimately concerned about that. At the same time, Israel has said for so many years you really can't make peace with These Arab dictatorships; they have to become democracies. And only when they become democracies can you really make a stable peace with them.
Well, that's what we hope, but it has not happened yet. We are in the process of witnessing. And so I understand that Israelis would be looking at this current moment with mixed emotions.
MORGAN: If you were sitting down, as I am, with Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow, what would you ask him?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I don't think he'd talk to me, but good luck. I -- you know, basically -- you know, I think it's how do you see the world around you? Because as I see it, what's happened to the Middle East and what's happened to Israel's predicament in the Middle East is -- is unprecedented and really requires a whole strategic rethink at several levels, Piers.
Let's start at the highest level. So a whole swath of countries that surrounded Israel, that have been living in some ways outside of history for the last 50 years -- that is isolated from the world's biggest trends by tyranny, the Cold War and oil -- are really coming into history. And it is going to be a turbulent, turbulent time.
And I think in this turbulent time, it is of vital Israeli interest to get out of their story, if Israel can, OK. Try to get out of their story. Israel is not the cause of this turbulence, OK. It was not the spark for it. But that doesn't mean it cannot be drawn into it.
Get out of the West Bank. Get out of East Jerusalem. Settle the problem on the basis of the -- President Clinton's peace parameters. Build the highest wall you want, but get out of their story, because their story is going to be in turbulence.
Second, with Egypt in particular, Israel has enjoyed peace wholesale with Egypt. It had peace with one man, Hosni Mubarak, and he delivered the whole country. As Egypt democratizes and if it is successful, Egypt is going to have to have peace retail. It's going to have to have peace with 80 million Egyptians.
And, therefore, they are going to have a say much more in the quality of Israeli/Egyptian relations. And that's why I think it's vital for Israel to do everything it can to test -- I have no idea whether the Palestinians can organize themselves, you know, for a peace treaty. They're divided too.
But I know this, Piers: that at a time when Israeli Jews are demographically heading for a situation where they will be a minority to Palestinian Arabs in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, it is in Israel's vital interest to test -- to test and then test again whether it has a Palestinian partner for a secure peace, especially at a time when the Palestinians have what I believe, and I think many Israelis would agree, are the most decent and responsible Palestinian leadership they've ever had.
MORGAN: Finally, Tom, and briefly, if you don't mind --
MORGAN: -- what about President Obama's position on all this? He seems to be taking a slightly detached view of all these events in the Middle East. Is that the prudent course of action?
FRIEDMAN: Well, there's two things I would say. One, regarding Egypt and al these revolutions, there was an impression out there that Obama had a save Mubarak lever in the Oval Office and he was just too stupid to pull it. There was no save Mubarak lever, OK.
Once this started, as I said, stability left the building and there was no way we could save -- only Mubarak could save himself. And it was too late.
As far as the peace process is concerned, I would love to see it start with Israel putting a real peace plan on the table or the Palestinians. But if they are not ready to do that, if they're too paralyzed to do that I would certainly encourage the president of the United States to put a peace plan on the table, and really catalyze a discussion among Israelis and Palestinians; this is it, folks; this is the only way forward.
Whoever is ready, basically come hither. We're happy to help. Otherwise, you're really on your own.
MORGAN: Tom Friedman, thank you very much and I hope we get very good news on your four colleagues very soon.
FRIEDMAN: Thanks very much, Piers. And thanks for having me.
MORGAN: Coming up, pressure on Israel's prime minister; what will it take to get peace with the Palestinians. I'll ask the "New Yorker's" David Remnick.
MORGAN: David Remnick is the editor of the "New Yorker." He has a controversial piece on Benjamin Netanyahu in the latest issue. And he joins me now.
David, let me start by reading one of your quotes in this piece. It says "in the midst of a revolution in the Arab world, Netanyahu seems lost, defensive and unable or unwilling to recognize the changing circumstances in which he finds himself." What are those changing circumstances? DAVID REMNICK, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, clearly Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a new map in the Middle East. He's facing a potentially new Egypt. Libya is going to possibly be worse than it was. Lebanon and Hezbollah is a very difficult place now.
There's no question that Israel faces profound challenges. My problem -- my difficulty with Netanyahu is I just have not been convinced over the years that he is going to be able to transcend the ideologies that he grew up with and that he's shown all along in his politics.
And Israel needs to do this. It needs to find a way to make peace with its neighbors. And that has to be a two-way street obviously, with many partners. But it needs also finally to end this occupation of the Palestinians after 44 years. It's a very, very difficult thing. But it has to happen.
MORGAN: Well, I'm going to put these very points to him in my interview with him tomorrow. What I would say possibly in his defense, in terms of the wider Middle East region and what's going on at the moment, is that no one really knows where these countries are going to end up, in terms of who is in charge. And I would imagine that he's feeling on behalf of Israel pretty vulnerable.
You have their great ally Mubarak in Egypt gone. You have Jordan teetering. You have Saudi increasingly in apparent chaos. You've got Gadhafi maybe wrestling back power, which in itself is dangerous. And this looming cloud of Iran and its tentacles almost everywhere. You can hardly blame him for wanting to see how things play out, can you?
REMNICK: Piers, let's take Egypt first. We've said that there's been a cold peace with Egypt for a very long time. And we notice with great alarm at first for some people, with me with joy, that the slogans on the street of Cairo were not anti-Israeli. They were not anti-American.
There's no overpowering sense that the Muslim extremists are in charge, are going to get elected. And Israel has every opportunity to continue this peaceful situation with Egypt, which is a nation of 82 million people. So there's real opportunity there. It's not -- it's not just a matter of anxiety.
There is no question that there are myriad challenges faced by Israel. And Iran may be challenge number one, difficulty number one. But Israel has lots of strengths going for it. We know where this ends. But it has to end. And each side is going to have to make painful concessions. And there's no question that there are incidents all along the way that stand in the way of peace and of a settlement, like the murders over this past weekend.
But it has to happen, because Israel is facing newer and greater difficulties as it goes forward. And not having a settlement with the Palestinians is going to lead to a real dead end.
MORGAN: I mean, you reference there the horrific murders of that family last week at the hands of a Palestinian. If you're Benjamin Netanyahu, what do you say to your people, not just about that incident, in terms of an appropriate response, but also in terms of this cargo ship which was seized apparently carrying a load of weapons to Gaza?
REMNICK: There's no question that any prime minister would have to speak first in the tones of grief and even anger about a horrific murder that we saw in the area. And there's no question that the capturing of weapons on their way to Gaza, on their way to Hamas is not the first -- it's -- there are many such incidents of capturing weapons headed toward Hamas.
These are terrible symptoms of something that has been going on for decades and decades. And you cannot just speak to the symptoms, however horrific they may be or however troubling they may be. They happen on both sides. And it's been going on forever.
You have to get at the root problem of what's going on here, which is an extended occupation of the Palestinians. Israel is hurting not only the Palestinians by extending this occupation, but itself. Its extremes are getting more extreme. Society is getting more and more isolated from the rest of the world.
Its relations with the United States, whether we want to admit it or not, are growing more strained.
MORGAN: Well, David Remnick, I will put that to him tomorrow. Thank you very much, indeed, for your time.
Coming up, America's Mayor Rudy Giuliani on his recent meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
MORGAN: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani knows all about leadership in the face of disaster. So what does he think about what's happening in Japan? Rudy Giuliani joins me now.
Rudy, what do you make of these appalling scenes in Japan?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Well, of course, like everyone, I'm shocked by what happened and I feel terrible for the Japanese people. I've spent a lot of time in Japan, probably traveled there 20 times in the last seven, eight years. Did some work there, security work. So I know Japan really well, particularly Tokyo.
My heart goes out to them. The nuclear situation is one that I hope they're able to get under control and keep it under control, because a lot rests on it, including our ability to expand nuclear power as one of the only ways in which we can deal with posing environmental issues and the need for additional energy all over the world.
MORGAN: In terms of how they have dealt with this disaster so far, do you think they've been doing the right things?
GIULIANI: You know, I can't say because I'm not there. If I could make one recommendation, I'd recommend they put one person in charge that could speak to this, could let out a -- and continue to give a consistent message and a credible message about what's going on, so that people tend to have confidence in that one person, whether it's the prime minister or somebody that the prime minister designates.
One of the things lacking is a person in charge of this, or at least from the point of view of our being able to perceive it. There may very well be someone in charge, but we're not seeing that as we react to it.
MORGAN: One of the most extraordinary things about this whole terrible time for the Japanese has been the remarkably calm and stoic way that the people have reacted to the triple blow of earthquake, tsunami and now this nuclear situation. Have you been as stunned as the rest of us by the way they have handled this?
GIULIANI: No, because I know them well. As I said, I've been there somewhere between 15 and 20 times in the last five or six years, have a lot of friends there, business relationships there. These are enormously disciplined people. And if God forbid, this had happened anywhere, this is a country that can handle it.
But they're getting pushed to the point -- it's really remarkable that they can handle it as well as they do. When you see the long lines of people lining up for water, no riots, no disturbances, no looting in any of these cities. Boy, you've got a heck of a population in Japan.
And they are enormously careful about nuclear power. They're more sensitive to nuclear problems than anyone, for obvious reasons. And therefore, I'm hoping that they're going to be able to get this under control.
MORGAN: Moving to the Middle East, Rudy; I'm here in Israel about to interview Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow. You met with him recently for an hour, I believe.
MORGAN. What is going through his mind with all this? Obviously, he's got the ongoing internal wrangling with the Palestinians. But there's a much bigger picture at play now, isn't there?
GIULIANI: Prime Minister Netanyahu is a remarkable man. He's very strong, very single minded in the right way. If you were in his position, what you would be concerned about is Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Those are the two -- you know, the two areas that have to remain stable from the point of view of Israel.
He's watching it very closely. And I'm sure he's getting his security forces and defense mechanisms ready for the worst possible situation. And I hope it doesn't happen.
MORGAN: Do you think that President Obama should be more forceful now in terms of the Palestine and Israel position? At the moment, it seems everyone's eyes are being moved away from the crux of that problem.
GIULIANI: I've been surprised how inconsistent President Obama has been throughout this. The whole situation in Libya baffles me. Here we have a president that comes out and says he wants to see Gadhafi removed, and then when a no-fly zone is recommended, and the French want to do it, and the Arab League wants to do it, he doesn't want to do it.
Well, before he made that announcement that he wants Gadhafi removed, he should have thought through the next step and the next step and the next step. And inevitably that's going to lead to a no- fly zone or possibly some military intervention.
So either he should have not said that, or he should have been willing to back it up. Now he's got the United States in a secondary or tertiary role, with France, England, the Arab League out ahead of us. I don't like to see America in that role. I think it's not good for us, in terms of how our allies are going to rely on us in the future.
MORGAN: How damaging would it be should Gadhafi win his battle, having murdered tens of thousands of his people by the time this finishes?
GIULIANI: Piers, from the outside, right now, it looks like Gadhafi every day is solidifying his position. This is not a period of time in which the president has a lot of time to think. This is a period of time in which we need a leader who can act.
We may have already past the time when you can do anything effective, because the president doesn't seem to be able to make a decision. He made an announcement a week ago that Gadhafi should go. And now he's been contemplating, you know, while Sarkozy has been very forthcoming and very strong. And Cameron and the Arab League.
MORGAN: Rudy Giuliani, thank you very much.
GIULIANI: And good luck and say hello to the prime minister.
MORGAN: I certainly will. I certainly will. Thank you, Rudy.
And more from Israel tomorrow night when I interview Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But for now, my colleague Anderson Cooper live in Japan.