CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Christiane Amanpour

Aired June 22, 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: Christiane Amanpour has single-handedly changed the image of foreign correspondents -- from a guy in a trench coat, to an intrepid, utterly fearless woman.

She's reported in every one of the world's hot spots and now not hotter than Washington. Tonight, Christiane Amanpour --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, ABC'S "THIS WEEK": This is tough and extreme duty and we take it on for a reason. It's because we believe in it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: What drives her --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: We were not going to stand by and allow those lies to be told.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A story she's risked her life to get.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

AMANPOUR: Christiane Amanpour, CNN, with elements of the Galilee division in west Israel.

It's dangerous. It's getting dangerous and much more dangerous frankly from when I started to today.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MORGAN: And the challenges of female reporters in the danger zone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: We do have to be careful. Women do have to be careful.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Christiane Amanpour for the hour.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Christiane, watching you come back into this studio just now was like almost the queen of England returning to meet her subjects. The sort of warmth and adoration that was thrown your way there, it was really quite touching. How was it for you?

AMANPOUR: Well, really touching and fantastic. These are people who I worked with all my career.

And I'd obviously dispute the word subjects. We're a team. I've always been a team player. I believe strongly that television -- that all our medium is only a team operation.

You can't do it. It's not a one person operation.

So, I have a great amount of affection, admiration, respect for the people in the studio, the people in the field, and that's what sustained me all of my career. You know, in some of the hardest times, whether it's in the field, whether it's taking on challenges, now sitting behind the anchor desk, it's about the teams we work with as well.

MORGAN: I mean, it's typically modest of you to say this. Of course, you were at CNN right from the start, actually, was there for all the great stories. To many people you are one of the great faces of CNN over these years.

Do you ever feel a slight sadness you're not here anymore?

AMANPOUR: I love my family at CNN. They're still part of my family. I am very, very aware of the dramatic history of CNN, and the dramatic impact that it's had all over the world.

Remember, when Ted Turner created it 31 years ago, he did something completely revolutionary, he made not just 24/7, but international 24/7 news. And he made people have a different relationship with their world, with information. And he was so far ahead the curve.

So, for me, to have started my career in that kind of environment is something that you never forget, that you never move past, that you always, you know, keep with you. And I feel that we've been on, you know, this amazing global ride together.

So, of course, I miss my family at CNN. But it's very interesting to move on right now, and I think acquire a whole new set of ammunition in my holster. In other words, I'm doing things that I've never done before, domestic American politics, policy, talking about the economy, talking about, you know, presidential politics, the kind of thing that I only viewed in terms of how it affected the world out there. So, I'm learning a whole lot. I've got a wonderful new team, new friends over there. But you never forget your old friends either.

MORGAN: You'll always be one of us, Christiane. I don't care what you say.

AMANPOUR: Well, it's always nice to be back. Thanks for having me as a guest.

MORGAN: Any time, as you know.

What was it that made you become a journalist?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, I had an amazing opportunity because out of really a hellish development in the world, and that was the revolution in Iran back in 1979, not only did it fundamentally change the region, changed Iran's relationship with the United States and the rest of the world, it had a personal effect for all of us as well.

It changed our lives. It turned everything that we knew upside- down.

MORGAN: Because you were there, you're half Iranian.

AMANPOUR: Exactly, exactly. I grew up there.

MORGAN: You're born up in Britain, but you actually grew up in Iran.

AMANPOUR: Precisely, I grew up in Iran. I -- my family was close to the shah. We didn't do politics. It was a one-party system. Many people call it a dictatorship. It was not a pluralistic democratic system.

But I grew up kind of blind to all of that. I didn't really understand. I wasn't political. My brain didn't really kick in until I was about 20 and the revolution happened.

So I was about 20, as I say, old enough to understand what was going on, to be fascinated and horrified in terms of what it was doing personally.

But there, I decided that I want to do was cover these kinds of world-shaking events and try to make sense of them. As I was trying to make sense and process it, I decided that's what I wanted to do with my life. And so, from that I said, well, journalism could be a way to do it.

And then I took all the steps that I needed to take.

MORGAN: What is the art of being a good journalist? Not just an ordinary journalist, or even -- in fact, take it a step further, to be a great journalist, what does it take?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think to be a journalist takes a fundamental commitment, a fundamental pursuit of truth, and to be curious and to admit that you don't know everything, that you're not trying to put your stamp on the world, that you're not trying to say this is right or that is right.

You're not trying to be political. You're not trying to be ideological. You literally try to uncover more and more information in order to make sense of the world and to impart it as best you can.

I think that in order to be willing to stand out and uncover the uncomfortable and the uncomfortable truths, you have to be willing: (a), to put yourself in harm's way, if that's what it takes; but, (b), you have to be prepared not to be liked.

If you want to be liked and loved and adored and kept inside a club, and be one of us, you're not going to be good. You're just not going to be good.

MORGAN: What I've always liked about your style is it's -- I wouldn't say confrontational, but you've never shied away from being opinionated. I feel we've always got this quaint idea about CNN, that it doesn't have opinions.

What it doesn't have is partisanship, which is a very different thing from having an opinion.

And whether it's been in Bosnia or about Rwanda or any of these big issues, you've never been afraid to speak your mind, to take sides, if need be, if you see a genuine inequality in terms of a defensible position between the sides, you'll take a side.

AMANPOUR: Well, I think you highlighted something very important there. You talk about opinionated and then you talk about these fundamental massive crimes against humanity that I've been covering.

And I think that there are two different standards for us. I don't believe that I'm opinionated when it comes to ordinary stories. But I do believe that by force of being confronted with it, in very formative years, being in Bosnia, for instance, when a genocide was happening, I was unable and unwilling to say that each side is equally guilty.

I was not going to say that the sniper I saw in the hills targeting a child, targeting a woman, targeting an innocent and defenseless civilian was -- had the same point of view as the victim. I was not going to draw a false moral equivalent.

And for that I took flak. People then erroneously said that I was taking sides.

MORGAN: But you also -- never mind flak, you also made a difference. And I want to play you a clip. This is from a question that you asked President Clinton in 1994, which had a genuine affect on him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: As leader of the only superpower, why has it taken you, the United States, so long to articulate a policy on Bosnia? And do you not think that the constant flip-flops of your administration on the issue of Bosnia sets a very dangerous precedent?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been constant flip-flops, Madam. I ran for president saying that I would do my best to limit ethnic cleansing and to see the United States play a more active role.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Madam? Wow, he was annoyed.

AMANPOUR: He was very angry with me, and I couldn't go anywhere after that without people calling me "Madam."

(LAUGHTER)

AMANPOUR: Every interview I did, the subject would say "Madam."

MORGAN: You see, but that moment, that exchange to me summed up the Amanpour brand. It was fearless, it was provocative, and it was based on an absolute sense from you that justice was not being done here, that America has a duty to get involved and to stop shim- shamming around, whatever you want to call it.

AMANPOUR: Well, I did believe that. And that was based on three years, four years of watching this war unfold and seeing that actually very little was being done. And the fact of the matter is, the United States, the president was frustrated.

And very shortly thereafter, not because of my question, but because of the way policy and politics in that region was developing, they did take a much tougher stand.

And as you remember, in Srebrenica, in 1995 when there was this colossal massacre, the worst in Europe since World War II, 8,000 Muslim men and boys slaughtered, President Clinton gathered an alliance, bombed the Bosnian Serbs, their military capability, and then with Richard Holbrooke, launched the Dayton Accords and forged a peace which lasts to this day.

But the point is: they were unable to deal with the situation at that time. The United States was not projecting its leadership at that time. It was trying to rely on Europe.

Europe is -- you remember, you were in England at the time, did not want to step up, and kept telling the world that this was just centuries of ethnic hatred, these -- this was all sides were equally guilty.

It was not. We were not going to stand by and allow those lies to be told.

MORGAN: You've said before, and I found this fascinating, that one of the more shameful period in your life as a journalist, and you applied it to yourself, CNN, to other news networks around the world, to all media, was Rwanda.

Tell me why.

AMANPOUR: Well, again, Rwanda came around that time. In fact, it was in 1994, in a period of some three months. The Hutus of Rwanda slaughtered nearly a million Tutsis, genocide, pre-industrial genocide. This wasn't gas chambers, this was clubs and machetes.

And the world did not intervene. The United States didn't, the United Nations didn't. Nobody wanted to do it. They thought they couldn't.

I don't believe that. I think actually intervention could have worked.

And you've seen that President Clinton, the then-head of the United Nation peacekeepers, who became the U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and many leaders, spent a long time apologizing for that.

But I think what happened there was that there wasn't this critical mass of journalists there telling the story, because many, many other things were happening. Bosnia was happening. There was a good news story happening in South Africa with the election of Nelson Mandela.

There was O.J. Simpson and the trial here in the United States.

And all of that deflected attention.

So, what you had in Rwanda was the opposite of what we managed to achieve in Bosnia in the end. In Bosnia, by force of the attention, I think we made it impossible for democracies to continue to look away.

In Rwanda, by lacking the attention, by not being there in a critical mass, I think we also bear a part of the blame for not having been there en masse and forcing that terrible genocide into the public sphere.

MORGAN: How deeply -- how deeply do you feel that?

AMANPOUR: I feel it very deeply, like everybody does. Like everybody who was involved, whether it's President Clinton or many of the other world leaders. I feel it very, very deeply, because I believe in the power of this medium.

And I believe that when you use it, you can really be effective, when you use it right. And also, when you don't use it, when you miss the boat, it can have catastrophic consequences. So I do feel it very, very deeply.

MORGAN: Biggest regret of your career, would you say?

AMANPOUR: You know --

MORGAN: I mean, I'm not blaming you. It had nothing to do with you, but -- AMANPOUR: Of course, you're not blaming me, no. And we were there. But not as forcefully as perhaps we could have been, and, as I say, in a period where there was so much distraction.

MORGAN: If you had your time again, knowing what --

AMANPOUR: Yes. I would have been there much earlier, of course.

MORGAN: You would have been, yes.

AMANPOUR: Of course, of course. Of course, yes. I mean, there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And to this day when we talk to the president who is still president now, Paul Kagame, you know, he still holds that over all of our heads, even though he's moved on, even though Rwanda has become very successful in many of the indicators that show a successful country.

Politically, it has still got a long way to go. But health, the economy, the environment, putting women in positions of power -- it's really got an amazing sort of throw-weight in that part of Africa.

But even he says, "Don't you lecture to us, you who let us be killed like this."

MORGAN: They don't forget, right?

AMANPOUR: No. And you can't forget. That's the point. You mustn't forget.

MORGAN: Let me take a short break, I want to come back and talk to you about what the reality is like for you being a woman on the frontlines, so few have done this. I wouldn't dare.

AMANPOUR: Many have, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Christiane, I've got this theory about all foreign correspondents. You're all a bit crackers. I mean, there's no other reason why you would constantly put yourselves on the firing line.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, Piers, you're not the first one to have said that we're all a bit crackers or we're all war junkies, or we're all adrenaline junkies. I think some of that is true because, obviously, without adrenaline we wouldn't survive. You know, the old fight or flight? We wouldn't survive. So, we need to have all of the resources we can draw on.

However I think that most of us are drawn to this not just because of the adventure, but because we really believe in it. You know, it's just too hard to do it if it's just -- that we're crackers. It's too hard because it takes amount of stamina. It's dangerous. It's getting much, much more dangerous, frankly, from when I started to today. It's just terrible. If you look at the statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists, I'm a board member, we see every year, not just more journalists being killed and wounded, but now, the leading cause of death amongst journalists around the world, foreign correspondents and journalists around the world, is deliberate.

That means people are killing us. That is our leading cause of death.

MORGAN: When you saw what happened to Lara Logan in Tahrir Square, for example, what did you think of that?

AMANPOUR: Well; look, it's clearly an appalling thing to have happened. I mean, it's appalling. I think it's every woman's nightmare.

I am, you know, grateful that nothing ever like that ever happened to me. And I've spent my whole career in the part of the world covering those kinds of events and much worse.

So, I think and I hope that it was one of those rare instances of appalling violence that we won't see repeated again. But we do have to be careful. Women do have to be careful. I think that --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Men also, though, you know, attacked a lot.

MORGAN: Yes, well, I mean, Anderson Cooper was beaten up when he was there as well. I mean, obviously these are volatile situations you're usually in.

Do you think it's a help or a hindrance being a woman on the front lines?

AMANPOUR: I've always said throughout my career that it has been a great help being a woman. I said it's like being a man only better. You know, why? Because the truth of the matter is, after a millennia of socialization, men are still more inclined to be polite to women in the first instance. In other words, doors open.

And then they can slam, but once you've got your foot in the door, it's better than not having your foot in the door, right? So, I have found that it has been a great advantage, even in places like Saudi Arabia, where you have to put on the whole garb, even in places like Iran -- especially in places like Afghanistan or very conservative Muslim societies where, frankly, they won't let you go in and talk to the women, who often have the most important stories, if you're a man.

So, being a female correspondent, having a female crew with me, has been an amazing door-opener, and an amazing advantage. So, I wouldn't trade places for the world.

MORGAN: What has been the single closest moment you've come to being killed? AMANPOUR: I would say in Bosnia early on, I was in the hotel. One morning, I woke up to the sound of incoming artillery, which I'd quickly learned to identify. I tried to fling myself out of my room. The door was locked. I didn't hear the sound anymore and I thought maybe I was dreaming it.

But then a few hours later, a lot of my colleagues came, and banging on my door, "Christiane, Christiane, come and look what's happened." And sure enough, this huge -- I mean, it was a Howitzer, it was like .105 millimeter shell, had come into the room a couple of doors down and destroyed the room.

It hadn't exploded. If it had exploded, I wouldn't be sitting with you here today. And the whole floor would have been taken out. So, I still have that shell and it's a reminder of how --

MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE)

AMANPOUR: I certainly did, and it was darned difficult to take out of Sarajevo because it's jolly heavy. But nonetheless I did. And every day I touch wood, especially when I'm asked these kinds of questions, that I've managed to, thank the Good Lord, survive, because so many of my friends haven't, and so many of my friends have been injured.

And it's a -- you know, this is -- this is tough and extreme duty. And we take it on for a reason. And it's not just because we love heroics or it's not just for self-aggrandizement, it's because we believe in it. It's because we believe very strongly.

MORGAN: How do you assess, when you're in the front line there and an incident like that happens, how do you assess danger?

AMANPOUR: Yes. It's an intangible. There are obviously major steps that you can take, just purely sensible steps that you take.

And, frankly, after several of our colleagues were wounded in the early years of Bosnia, our collective organizations did several things. They gave us bulletproof vests. They gave us bulletproof vehicles.

However, I think that the years on the road, years in danger, gives you -- you develop a sixth sense. You develop how far to push it, how far to pull back. And it came into -- very useful for me in Egypt, actually, this time around in Tahrir Square.

As you remember, there were a few moments where horse -- you know, the camel-riders, for instance, and that whipping up of anti- foreign fervor.

MORGAN: I mean, could you actually believe what you were seeing there?

AMANPOUR: Yes -- oh, you mean in terms of the revolution?

MORGAN: Well, not the revolution. I'm going to talk to you about that in a moment. That day where these guys stormed through the square, like something out of the medieval era.

AMANPOUR: It was -- it was crazy. I used those two days, which were of most danger in the square, to actually go out. And that's when I came across President Mubarak.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, the great advantage you had, which is infuriating to the rest of us, because we never get near these people, when Amanpour rides into town, is that you're so visibly well-known to these characters. You've interviewed them over the years.

So when it came to who is going to get to Mubarak, I could have answered the question before we even started. It was always going to be you.

How do you do it? How do you get in with these guys? Very quickly, because --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Well, you've now set the bar very, very high. I never thought that I'd come anywhere close to him. Everybody was obviously trying to see him. And he wasn't making -- giving any interviews.

But I did go to the palace to interview the vice president. It was an exclusive. And as I arrived, we didn't know where we were going. I thought, oh, my goodness, I've been here before. I know this is the palace and this is where Mubarak has been in the past.

So, I asked whether he was there.

And they said, yes. And I went to see him. And it was an amazing --

MORGAN: It almost sounds casual, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: It was. That's the point.

MORGAN: As simple as that?

AMANPOUR: It was. But it could have failed as well. They could have said no. So, I was lucky. I was lucky.

But also, I guess, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: -- I've been doing this for 20 years.

MORGAN: As you're being led through to meet Mubarak, and you know the entire world's media wants to get to this guy, and you're about to do it -- I mean, do you still get that rush --

AMANPOUR: Yes, are you kidding?

MORGAN: -- that you've always had? AMANPOUR: Oh, my goodness. I mean, I was just -- all my synapses were firing and I was thinking, I wish I had camera that we could actually do an interview with. He didn't want to do that. So, I said to my producer, run, come with me and bring the camera, the still camera.

So that's what we did. I mean, we took pictures. We talked to him. I talked to him for about 20, 25 minutes. And afterwards, I asked him if I could report what he had said. So, I went outside, scribbled everything down. And then we did.

And it was situation of great pathos, actually, because I had seen him at the height of his power. And here he was telling me that he understood what the people were saying. That he knew he had to go. He wanted to do it in a way that saved face to an extent.

And I think many people in the region were quite stunned that he was told to leave in no uncertain terms by the United States without so much of a -- as an acknowledgement of what he had done as an ally, as an ally of Israel, as a keeper of the general peace.

MORGAN: I think it's a fascinating point. I want to hold it there and come back and discuss that more. And talk to you also about the biggest international story of the year so far, and there have been quite a few.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my special guest, Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, it's just an amazing year for news. And when I joined CNN, I thought it would be a nice little cozy settling in period. And boom, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, bin Laden and so on.

I mean, my gut feeling would be that bin Laden's death is the biggest news story. You might have a different view.

What do you think?

AMANPOUR: Well, obviously it's a huge news story. I mean, after 10 years on the run, it's amazing that he was caught. And the way he was caught and killed was very efficient and very James Bond. I mean, it was pretty amazing.

And it will have a lasting impact, even though they've just announced that his deputy, Zawahiri, is going to become the leader, and is vowing revenge, I think people don't think that Zawahiri has the same charisma, the same organizational capacity. But I think we all have to be on our guard because they do want to do something big and they're looking at the 10th anniversary, which is in this coming September.

But I do think that that has in its own way plays right into this Arab Spring, because I think that what's happening, and the polls back this up, and our experience on the ground backs this up, that bin Laden-ism is dying. That fundamentalism and extremism is less and less of an attractive quality to the young people of that region.

And that if you go from Tunisia to Tahrir Square to Syria to Libya and Bahrain, people are not talking about al Qaeda or about militantism, they're talking about freedom. They're talking about dignity. They're talking about progress. They're talking about the economy, about having a job.

And so, I think that what we're seeing right now is a huge positive opportunity. I know many people here are worried about it. I know people look at the challenges. I know people are looking --

MORGAN: Well, like you said, they look at you --

AMANPOUR: -- at the blood (ph).

MORGAN: Well, they look at you and say, here's somebody who was in Iran when the big revolution went down there. And many people, probably fairly tritely, because the history is not the same, they look at what's happened in the Middle East and think, here we go again. We're getting rid of these despotic figures who have been running the show for years, and replacing them with the unknown.

And the problem with the unknown is you could end up with what we now have in Iran. And they're worried that this could happen in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. I mean, you're the best person to ask. What do you think about it?

AMANPOUR: I think that that worry is understandable but a bit overwrought. I think that for sure Egypt is not Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood are not the Ayatollahs. It's a big Sunni world versus a Shiite world. And the two are very different.

I think, very importantly, as I say, the people in the streets were not wanting to, you know, overthrow their leaders violently, as al Qaeda had demanded, as bin Laden and Zawahiri had said. They didn't choose that track.

They chose peaceful protests. And we should be embracing that, jumping on it, figuring out how to help it and how to guide that towards fruition.

On the other hand, there are Islamic groups in many of these countries, and people are concerned about it there, and here. My opinion, having been in Iran and having been to many of these places -- my experience says that because there was no opportunity for any kind of political activism in any of these countries -- they were dictatorships. They were closed. There was no real unions, no real civil society, no political parties.

So where did the activism happen? In the mosque. I feel that while there are spectrums on these Islamic groups, from more moderate to less, that inevitably just after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, when many of the new parties were sort of communist-light -- I believe that many of the new parties will have an Islamic flavor.

But I don't believe that that necessarily means that they are against the West, that they are aggressive or militant. And I think that's what we have to keep our eye on, and help the political parties.

MORGAN: Yes. It's funny you say that. I remember in Tahrir Square, when we were doing lots of coverage on that. And I kept asking, is there any anti-Americanism in the air? And there was hardly any.

AMANPOUR: There was none.

MORGAN: It was not about an anti-West thing. This was about, you know, a rising populace of young people who are better-educated, had access to social networking around the world, communicating with other people, and knowing there is a better life out there, and thinking, I'm not going to get it here unless we do something.

And that's a very, very different thing --

AMANPOUR: It's very different.

MORGAN: -- from some kind of religious uprising or --

AMANPOUR: It's very different. The mosque wasn't invoked. Anti-Israel sentiments weren't invoked, anti-United States sentiments. We didn't see U.S. and Israeli flags being burned in Tahrir Square, or in Tunisia or elsewhere.

And so it started, and let's hope it continues, despite the fact that I also am worried about if one is not very careful, how these Islamic groups take advantage of what is going on and what their actions will be.

I think we have to accept that people deserve their rights. People deserve their human rights. It's enough, already. We've been asking since 9/11 at least, when will the moderate Arab voice, the moderate Muslim voice be heard?

How many times have you heard people saying that? Why aren't the moderates talking? Well, now they're talking and they're shouting. And we need to be on their side.

MORGAN: Hold that there. I want to come back and talk about what I think was one of your finest hours.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Now, Christiane, I want to play you one of my favorite moments from your many great interviews. This is your interview with Colonel Gadhafi.

AMANPOUR: Ah.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLONEL MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): They love me, all my people with me, they love me all.

AMANPOUR: But if they do love you --

GADHAFI: They will die to protect me, my people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Everybody loves him!

AMANPOUR: Oh boy.

MORGAN: Baffled.

AMANPOUR: I mean, you could see I had a bit of a smirk on my face then. If they do love you, then why are they protesting against you, Mr. Leader Gadhafi?

You know, people in no matter what line of work who are used to being adored, looked up to, never said no to, generally isolated and kept in a cotton wall bubble, are going to have a pretty tenuous grasp on reality.

So in that regard, he has a pretty tenuous grasp on reality.

MORGAN: Well, what he has shown is he has a pretty strong grip still on his country, because at the moment he is still in power.

AMANPOUR: No, he doesn't. He has a strong grip on himself. And what's happening here is that he is trying to survive a pretty fierce NATO bombardment. And he is not supported by as many people as he would like to be.

But, you know, how do you get him out? I think some creative solutions are going to have to be found to get him out.

MORGAN: How do you feel about what many see as a hypocrisy in the way we've -- we treat these despots and dictators, whether it's Saddam or bin Laden or Gadhafi, Mubarak. They have all, at various stages, been allies in some capacity, and then they've become the most evil people on the planet?

And, you know, there are observers that look at all this and say, there's no consistency to the way we deal with these people.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, you know, it was quite easy to go after Gadhafi, because even though in recent years he has sort come in from the cold, he was never somebody that the West was very comfortable dealing with.

Saddam was never somebody, you know, anybody was comfortable dealing with, except during the Iran-Iraq War, when they sided with him.

Syria, I think, is something that we really need to look at very carefully. This is a terrible, appalling thing that's happening in Syria. And we, the press, are not being allowed in. Some people are trying to do their very best, but it's very, very difficult. And I think --

MORGAN: How many battles, honestly, can the West wage here?

AMANPOUR: Well, nobody is thinking that they can actually do a military intervention at the moment in Syria at all. But there is potentially a lot more diplomacy, a lot more gathering of all the allies together to make some meaningful pressure.

But look, the question -- and I interviewed Bashar Assad, and at the time, everybody thought and they still continue to say -- not right now, but up until very recently -- that this was a man who was going to reform Syria, bring it out of, you know, his father's very tight dictatorship, and make it much more reformed.

It just hasn't happened. And I asked the king of Jordan a few weeks ago on my program, do you think that he's still a reformer? Is he actually calling the shots in this appalling crackdown on the people there?

And he said, yes. He said, I think he's calling the shots. He's firmly in charge. And he's not yet willing to call for a national dialogue and try to resolve this.

Many people think that it's too late, there's too much blood being spilled. And many people think he's going to eventually fall. It's going to be long and bloody.

MORGAN: But this is a very different kind of situation to what we're talking about with, say, Rwanda, where a million people get slaughtered in genocidal period, a very short term.

What you're seeing here all over the Middle East are a kind of organic civil uprising. And there is an argument that we should all just stay out of these, that these are forms of civil war, and that really, if it was happening in America, would we appreciate people coming in, telling us how to lead our lives, run our businesses?

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you know, it's apples and oranges, Piers. It's not civil war. It is people rising up for their own rights. It is people like you and I, who have never been able to express themselves freely, who have never been able to choose their own leaders, who have spent a lifetime under the boot of oppression that has been very, very heavy, and finally heeding the calls of the West -- or the aspirations of the West to stand up and be counted.

That's what they're finally doing. They deserve all our support. The civil war fear comes from the leaders who use that, saying, that, oh, "apres moi le deluge," right? "After me, catastrophe," so support me, and otherwise I'm going to show you how catastrophic it's going to become.

But the point of this is that this is an amazing opportunity that presents obviously some challenges. There are ups and downs. They are being dealt with differently by their own leadership. But I think this calls for real creative global diplomacy, real creative global diplomacy to get them out.

MORGAN: If you're Barack Obama -- if you're Barack Obama, you've got huge, huge pressure now, domestically. Everybody is clamoring for an end to wars which are incredibly expensive, and investment back in America and all things American.

It's very hard to tell these people who have lost their homes and their jobs and their livelihoods, you know, we are going to go around to the Middle East and spend yet more billions sorting out what in most cases they might see as civil war in various guises.

AMANPOUR: Well, again, I don't think the United States is saying that, by any stretch of the imagination. And, as you can see, the United States is not that thrilled with being involved in Libya.

Secretary Gates said that he didn't particularly want to do it. The military didn't particularly want to do it.

But I feel that all of these things are also domestic politics, because they're all vitally important to the United States, not in a day-to-day way, but in terms of how their influence and how their interests play out.

MORGAN: They will have an impact.

AMANPOUR: A big impact, not just a marginal impact. This is a vitally important part of the world for the United States.

MORGAN: Hold that thought. We have another break. Come back and talk to you about domestic politics, which is your new area of expertise.

AMANPOUR: Or of learning.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my special guest Christiane Amanpour.

How is Barack Obama doing as president? You're now the Washington queen.

AMANPOUR: Hardly, Piers. That would be news to -- inside Washington.

MORGAN: You're queen of everywhere you go, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: No, I'm having an amazing time learning all about this side of the political spectrum, whereas before, I was doing all the reporting on how America affected the world and continues to do that.

But it's very interesting to see now, from a Washington point of view and a domestic point of view, what goes into policy-making, politicking, all of that. And particularly now that we're in a political year, in an election year, it's fascinating to see.

And I think as everybody has been saying, it's going to be the economy. I think that has been a truism throughout politics, whether it's here in the United States or around the world.

And so I think what he does is going to rise and fall on what these indicators are now and leading into the election. Of course, everybody is looking at employment. It affects so many millions of people in this country.

MORGAN: Who do you see as the Republican candidate, though? We've had a big debate again recently. Who do you see beginning to emerge as a serious contender?

AMANPOUR: Well, the polls show that Romney -- or at least, the latest one -- is in the closest head-to-head competition with President Obama. And so we'll see how that plays out.

The debate that CNN carried in New Hampshire was really interesting. It's the first time you have seen all seven of the currently declared candidates on the stage, with Michele Bachmann declaring right there and then on stage.

MORGAN: Is Sarah Palin the great elephant in the room here, in a sense that if until we know what she's doing, the whole Republican system in abeyance, because she carries such a popular vote?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, I don't know about abeyance, because -- and I'm not sure about such a popular vote. If you look at the polls, that's not what actually they say. But she has a lot of influence and she absorbs a lot of the media oxygen.

So, yes, in terms of attention, she gets a huge amount.

MORGAN: Are you a fan of hers?

AMANPOUR: Some people talk about whether she would be -- you know, take away from Michele Bachmann and vice-versa, because they're both very similar and have very similar constituencies. Although if I could say so, Sarah Palin is more the elder statesman in the Tea Party spectrum of politics, because she was there first. But Michele Bachmann is also very much devoted to that and has a big constituency and runs the House Tea Party Caucus.

So I think that that is going to be very interesting. It's going to be very interesting to see whether there are women who become serious contenders and go the whole way. I think it's all fascinating.

MORGAN: As someone trail-blazed "girl power" in the media --

AMANPOUR: Girl power?

MORGAN: Girl power, yes --

AMANPOUR: I would say -- go ahead. MORGAN: What would you call it?

AMANPOUR: Confidence power, proficiency power?

MORGAN: Nothing sexist, in other words.

AMANPOUR: Nothing sexist.

MORGAN: It was The Spice Girls that coined that phrase.

AMANPOUR: Yes, well, that's fine. That's fine. If I could dance as well as them.

MORGAN: Let's call it confidence power.

AMANPOUR: There you go.

MORGAN: But the reason I said girl power is that I'm sure a lot of your instinct is, great to see women at the top of their profession, like the Sarah Palins, Michele Bachmanns. And yet my instinct would also tell me that ideologically and politically, you're about as far removed from what they're saying as it could possibly be.

AMANPOUR: Well, the truth of the matter is -- and this is where it gets very dangerous having assumptions like the one you've just put forward. I am not an American. I don't vote. I don't have an ideological bias. I actually have a lot of both.

I believe in a lot of liberal policies and a lot of conservative policies. And I remember -- I don't know why I'm saying this, but I remember my first democratic vote was for Margaret Thatcher in England. And the reason was because of the way the British government at the time was dealing with Iran.

And they were selling out what I considered my homeland and the people who I had grown up respecting.

But also, and you probably remember in the '70s, we had untrammeled union power, do you remember?

MORGAN: Yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: We had no electricity, no hot water. And I remember that being part of my -- you know, my formative boarding school years.

So you make your decisions based on how you judge certain aspects of life. Having said that, of course I would like to see more women shattering the glass ceiling, of course.

In the United States, it's only about 20 percent of Congress that's women. A lot of the people who are in various offices were appointed after their husbands died, for instance, or ran for their husband's seat.

I think there is so much power in this country that women hold and is waiting to be unleashed, that I would like to see much, much more of it in public life. And it's not just for some nice "Kumbaya" moment or nice "Kumbaya" feeling.

It's not about women leading the world and bashing men, no. It's about parity. It's about diversity. It's about enough already, we need equality.

And the figures show in every line of work, in every line of work, that when women are in senior positions of power or authority or business or whatever it is, the results are good if not better.

MORGAN: Well, I want to go now to -- after this break, to two men in positions of power, the two men in your life.

That will get them tuning back in.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Christiane, there are two men in your life, which in normal circumstances would be quite complicated. But this, of course, is your husband and your son.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

MORGAN: And you're an amazingly close family, given the ridiculous schedules you all must have. Tell me about domestic life for the Christiane Amanpour world.

AMANPOUR: Well, I think every mother knows -- every working mother knows that it's a major challenge to balance work and parenthood. And it just doesn't get easier, no matter what kind of job you do. And I do a bit of an extreme job which takes me away for periods of time.

But I guess I am so committed to my child that I do -- every non- working moment, I try to be with him. So I do all of them, take to school, bring back from school, do the after-school stuff, always hanging around.

I don't believe in quality time versus quantity time, I think kids absolutely need quantity and -- obviously quality is good. But it's a great passion for me.

MORGAN: Has your view changed? Because I read a great quote that you told Oprah Winfrey, that you had this terrible dilemma when you first gave birth to your son, which was almost this kind of wonderful notion that you could just take your baby around these war zones.

AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.

MORGAN: Have a sort of armored diaper.

AMANPOUR: That's right. I talked about Kevlar diapers and baby growers. I guess I was naive and overcome by the desire to be with him all the time and not to be away from him. But, of course, it wasn't logical. It wasn't safe. It wasn't the right thing to take him to these war zones.

But, look, another great lady, Jacqueline Onassis, once said, if you mess up raising your children, nothing else matters, no matter what else you've achieved or accomplished. And I strongly believe that. And I'm completely committed to my son and being the best mother I possibly can.

MORGAN: And your husband is a pretty special guy.

AMANPOUR: He is --

MORGAN: James Rubin.

AMANPOUR: -- an amazing guy, because when I -- he's there all the time, and particularly when I'm not there. And he is really the perfect husband and the perfect father.

MORGAN: I mean, he's not an archetypal house husband, because he does too much work.

AMANPOUR: Well, he's not a house husband. Yes, exactly.

MORGAN: But he has been there for you when he has needed to be in a way that's quite remarkable.

AMANPOUR: Yes, exactly. And as a result, my son has a fabulous relationship with his father. And we know all of the facts, all of the figures show us that when children, you know, have and are lucky enough to have both parents, how they flourish.

And I'm delighted to say that he's a wonderful boy. He's bright. He's compassionate. He's gorgeous and loving, and naughty, but who doesn't want that?

MORGAN: Like his mother.

AMANPOUR: Like his mother.

MORGAN: And finally, it would be remiss of me not to ask you about Katie Couric, who is coming to ABC. Are you excited? Are you --

AMANPOUR: Absolutely.

MORGAN: Are you threatened? I mean, do you --

AMANPOUR: Oh, please.

MORGAN: -- news divas will have a bit of a --

AMANPOUR: Oh, please. I've taken, you know, sniping from the very best of quarters overseas. But Katie and I are really good friends. She started -- well, one of her major beginnings was at CNN, around the same time I started there.

So we've known each other for more than 20 years. So it's great. MORGAN: Christiane, it has been a great pleasure. You've been one of my journalistic heroines. To sit down with you and have this hour with you has been really fascinating.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, it has been a pleasure to be back. Nice to be on your show.

MORGAN: Any time. I've been instructed by everyone to say, if you want to stay, like, permanently --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Thank you for coming.

AMANPOUR: You know how I feel about CNN.

MORGAN: I do. And they feel the same about you.

That's all for us tonight, now "AC 360."