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President Bill Clinton: A CNN Special Townhall

Aired September 24, 2014 - 21:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight, a CNN Primetime Special, President Bill Clinton on the United States striking Syria.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think that success is not guaranteed.

BURNETT: Plus race relations in America in the wake of the Ferguson shooting.

CLINTON: I think our big problem today is we don't want to be around anybody who disagrees with us.


BURNETT: And the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice scandal, why it's personal.

CLINTON: I know a lot about this subject. I kind of grew up in home with domestic violence. And God I hope that it works out all right for -- I hope he really is OK and he never does it again.

BURNETT: That's all ahead. President Bill Clinton: A CNN Special Town Hall.

Good evening and welcome to tonight's program. President Bill Clinton: A CNN Special Town Hall. I'm Erin Burnett.

The U.S. is at war tonight, striking Syria in the fight against terror. At the first meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton challenged people around the nation in the world with these words and I quote him. "I think that all of us have an unprecedented amount of power to solve problems, save lives and help people see the future. 10 years later, can that vision be fulfilled?"

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome again, President Bill Clinton.

And we also want to hear from you, our audience at home, please go to CNN's Bing post website. That's where you can respond to tonight's conversation in real time and I want to get started. President Clinton, the question this moment for country is a very important moment and a momentous moment as we're dealing with the threat from terrorism.

Do you think the risk from ISIS is as significant a threat as al-Qaeda under Osama bin Laden? CLINTON: Well, I think it's quite significant and it certainly threatens to change the whole landscape in the Middle East, redrawn national boundaries, crash national governments and we know they're killing a lot of innocent people who don't agree with them. They ran the Christians out of Iraq who've been there since the dawn of Christians and they butchered those Syrian soldiers and, you know, we don't agree with the Syrian government but their soldiers, their uniform personnel and thought with rules of war and of course, they like to decapitate people on the Internet.

So I think that strategy that the President has adopted as a chance of succeed. I support him of what they're doing.

BURNETT: And the President say -- just speaking at the U.N., said that he think -- in the strongest words he has used yet, spoke about the need for force and I wanted to play a brief clip of what he just said with the United Nations this morning.


BARACK OBAMA, CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENT: No God condones this terror, no grievance justifies these actions. They give me no reasoning, no negotiation with these brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.


BURNETT: The President said that this morning. The New York Times in a large full page to head has now said that the strikes in Syria are in quote, "Bad Decision". Are they right?

CLINTON: They say its bad decision? No, I don't think so. I don't think they are -- I think that success is not guarantee. I think what ISIS was trying to do was to sucker us into putting a lot of soldiers on the ground so they could shift the blame from themselves to us, for all the violence in the area. And what we learned repeatedly is that when the Sunni tribal leaders who are not militant and not twisting Islam for their political objectives are willing to fight they can reclaim their country, and we should help them do it but it's a fight we can win for them.

BURNETT: I'm curious though, you know, the airstrikes in Syria, they weren't interesting as ISIS they were against the group that frankly the American public haven't even heard of until speech last week by the director of National Intelligence, a group called Khorasan. And some of the members we find out actually include people who are part of the core plot in the 9/11 attacks. The country of course thinks -- told that core al-Qaeda has been decimated but then you have a group that includes people who were part of core al-Qaeda...

CLINTON: Well, the point is you can't...

BURNETT: ... are we still fighting the same people?

CLINOTN: No but some of them survive. Nobody said we ever had 100 percent kill rate on that. The -- look, we're living in a time when information technology and other forms of technology has led to a big dispersal of power. And we're basically in a race in the world to define how we're going to relate each other. And it's the contest of our time and we can't expect total victory through any military remains, which is why if governments are required to spend more time to stop bad things from happening, the rest of us have to spend more time and money and effort to make good things happen.

BURNETT: So ISIS, obviously you have supported, I mean the rebels in Syria, you're wife supported this. The President is now actually saying that he's willing to do that. The question is have for you though is, is it worth a risk? Is it worth a risk as everyone admits even the administration that some of those weapons will end depth in the arms of people who want to kill Americans?

CLINTON: Well, they reached the judgment that it is and I would -- one thing we know will happen, if we don't help people who are trying to create an open inclusive secular society, they will lose. If we do help them and they lose anyway, somebody will get their weapons but I don't think that will massively change the balance of power. Anytime you do anything, it might not work. We don't have 100 percent in control.

You just make a judgment over whether it's more likely that not work, presidents made that judgment in the case of trying to arm the Syrian -- Syrians like Iraq and like Lebanon are very diverse country. And they're either going to live and work together or they're going to be dominated by somebody like ISIS. It's worth the gamble I think to try to make it work.

BURNETT: 20 years ago after the O.J. Simpson trial, you gave a speech. It was a lengthy speech on race. It was moment that is important in your presidency. You talked about race and policing and I just wanted to play a very brief clip of what you said in 1995.


CLINTON: Let's not forget, most police officers of whatever race are honest people who love the law and put their lives on the lines so that the citizens they're protecting can live descent secure lives and so that their children can grow up to do the same.


BURNETT: There was unrest again in Ferguson last night, the nation waiting for an indictment from the grand jury. Do you think there has been a rush to judge the police officer who shot the unarmed black teen in Ferguson?

CLINTON: No. I think the local authorities and the Justice Department had taken over the case. What do we know? We know that the young man was unarmed. We know there was some kind of altercation with the police office. We know when he was trying to get away he was shot. We know he had two bullets in the head. We know somebody made some sort of mistake. We don't know what that was.

The grand jury is hearing all the known evidence but any time you have any kind of situation where people are in trouble, there is likely to be a mistake made and there could be a crime committed, and I think that's one of the reasons it's so important that police officers be in a model that favors community policing.

I worked hard to put more than 100,000 police on the street and the crime rate went way down but reports of abuse went down where they're walking the streets, involved in the community. As you notice, the most interesting thing to me about Ferguson was when the governor put the African-American state trooper who was from that area in charge of overseeing the situation and communicating with the folks in the community, things got better.

You can't have a community that's more than 2/3 African-American. Where only one in six city council people are African-American, and where only 3 out of 50 plus police officer were African-American. You got to have some effort to have ties to the community. If you -- now, things will still have and then they have to be deal with according to what the facts are and what the law requires. But things were badly out of luck before this happens.

BURNETT: So do you think that racism has gotten worst in this country over the past few years and this -- we spend this highly (inaudible) Ferguson and then just a bit go back there of course with the (inaudible) case. There was so much anger that surprised a lot of people that there was so much anger in this country.

CLINTON: No. I don't think it has gotten worst but I think that we're playing with it with its darker possibilities with things like the standard ground laws telling people that we'd be safer if everybody care and (inaudible) around and standard ground states which opens the prospect of like -- an unarmed woman who was killed, you remember, standing on somebody else's porch not really long ago?

I think we've enhanced the risks by changing the environment because -- basically because it seems we bought NRAA's theory that it would be all safer if we -- everybody in these audience had a gun that was a concealed weapon. And then if one of them felt threatened by another, they could stand up right here and stand their ground.

There's been a lot of unsettling in the world since the financial crash, a lot unsettling in the world and into all these foreign developments. And, I think that we couldn't be surprise that this gentleman incident occurred, the Trayvon Martin case are -- and some of these other things but I don't think there's been an increase.

I actually think we are less racist, less sexist, less homophobic than we used to be. I think our big problem today is we don't want to be around anybody who disagrees with us.

And I think that in some ways, it can be the worst silo of all, be holed up in.

BURNETT: Intolerant, tolerance.

CLINTON: Yeah. Now, it maybe that people disagree with this or this proportionally have a different race or different religion, living in a different section of the country. But I think that's what's really at the root of many of our problems today.

America is still with all of our problems, in the best position, big country in the world to take advantage of the 21st century. But we can't do it if we keep majoring in the minors.

BURNETT: President Clinton, thank you but please stay with us.

Next, President Clinton on the Ray Rice scandal and the biggest lesson he had learned in the last 10 years of the Clinton Global Initiative.

And later Matt Damon with a very important question for the President.


BURNETT: Welcome back to President Bill Clinton: A CNN Special Town Hall.

In 2005, President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative. Over the past 10 years, CGI says, it has touched the lives of more than 400 million people around the world.

At CGI you have spent years trying to make a difference get people to work together. Now that you have 10 years to look back, what is the thing that you are most proud of that you have done?

CLINTON: That we are operating in a way that is very different from the way politics operates in so many part of the world.

When we started 65 percent of our commitments, involved partnerships that involved the company and an NGO, people that were otherwise politically and socially different. Today, 91 percent of them do.

The CGI commitments that have at least one company, at least one NGO although many hadn't have dozens are actually outperforming their stated goal when they've formed the partnership.

So, we're creating a network of cooperators. And if you look all around the world wherever there is inclusive cooperation, good things are happening, where there's people spend their time fighting and emphasizing, you know, division, good things are not happening, this is not rocket science, its simple as one, two, three.

And, what I wanted to do, I actually thought there might be no need for CGI after 10 years because I naively thought -- based on what had happened in the 90s that we were winning and we keep winning. It turned out we have more of a fight on our hands and I wish we did.

BURNETT: How do you measure? I mean, one thing I've noticed with CGI is so -- a company will come forward and say, hey I'm giving -- I was reading in a catalogue the other day West Elm, they sale home products.

CLINTON: I love West Elm.

BURNETT: Yup, right?

CLINTON: They're one of our partners. They...

BURNETT: They're one of your partners.

CLINTON: They source from Haiti, they source from African countries and worked, they're going great. They've helped us....

BURNETT: So they said $35 million or something we're giving and it's...


BURNETT: ... it was very interesting. They were being, you know, they were publicly very proud of it but I was wondering how you measure.

So its one thing if someone says, all right I'm going to donate this money but then how do you know that the money measurably does X?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, you to have see if they did what they said they do.

And then you have to determine if what they said they do work. We actually got talent here. The big data company in California did a wonderful service for us. They evaluated all of our commitments going back to the beginning of CGI.

They said about 42 percent have been totally completed. Another 40 percent are on -- in the process of being completed. They said that just under 12 of staff reporting so we took them off the books and didn't count many achievements or anything.

About 6 percent had failed who -- of people that really tried to succeed. So we're going to now spend the next year analyzing this as a case study.

BURNETT: The failures.

CLINTON: They tried and they didn't. And then we discovered that about two-thirds of them actually met a 100 percent of their stated goal in terms of impact. And more than 75 percent -- excuse me -- almost 80 percent did 75 percent or better of what they intended to do.

So -- and we get better at it. One of the things that early on -- I remember our first meeting, a guy contacted us and said, I want to give away $100,000 and I want to do it in the North East and I don't want to be made a fool off. I mean that's how elementary it was. And he wind up...

BURNETT: Bizarrely specific at the same time though.

CLINTON: And he wind up giving it to an environmental activist and a part of the box (ph) it was the lowest income of congressional district in the country who was trying to create green space and it work like a charm. Now the guys built a global NGO.

They're active all over the world. He and his wife have done unbelievable work.

So I've seen all of these grow and when I have learned again is that we -- I just try to create a network and there were people who can get together and figure out what to do and how to increase their impact. And believe it or not the people would come here are serious about it.

There are very few sure commitments. People really think about it, before they say, I'm going to do this. I think about, can I do this and how am I going to do it?

And we had gotten much better at CGI. Thanks to all the young people who worked here and spending all year long helping people make commitments and helping people keep them.

BURNETT: I was trying to get to the bottom of the difference between what you're doing now and being in government. And one of the things that I came upon was actually related to be NFL crisis that's been having, was your act the balance against Women Act back in 1996 that you passed? Part of that act, I was not aware of this until recently, but it was the domestic violence hotline. And that actually was created by you?

CLINTON: That's right.

BURNETT: And it's a powerful thing that hotline.

I found out recently that during the Ray Rice scandal -- it was huge surge on in the call line, it couldn't answer all the calls. Last year, 77,000 calls to that hotline went unanswered because they didn't have the funding. And I was thinking about you and -- how much that must frustrate you? And whether you can make more of a different saying what you're doing now then in government where you can pass the law, but you can't always fund it and you can't always enforce it.

CLINTON: Yes. Harry Truman once said that a lot of his job was kind of, to persuade people of doing what they should without him asking them in the first place. That's true. The frustration I often had as president, I tried to really get good people to run from the cabinet on there, but here, the difference is -- I give you an example.

Not this summer but last summer I went to -- I took my annual trip to Africa and I went to Zambia where we're training healthcare workers. Now, if I've gone to Zambia as president, I would have never got and out Lusaka, I will spend all time in meetings, I would have signed agreements saying we we're going to help them build their healthcare system.

This time when I went -- I got to go out into the rural areas and go to a village where I saw the practical impact of public health worker. We convinced everybody to put all their washed dishes up off the ground. We convinced the village to move their latrine 50 yard away from where everybody was. We did basically -- they redesigned their village for public health and sanitation. I could do that sort of thing now.

So you have two things. President Obama has deal with incoming fire, right? When you run for President nobody say what you going to do about ISIS, did they? And a number of other things, what about Superstorm Sandy, what about -- so I can decide what to do and do it.

And secondly, I can be dealing (ph) with (ph) more detail and I like that. So that's the difference you have, less power but you can have concentrated impact. And I like it. I like it.

BURNETT: We're going to take a brief break. On the other side President Bill Clinton will be with me to talk about the NFL scandal. And why the Ray Rice crisis is so personal. That's next.


BURNETT: And welcome back to our prime time Special Town Hall with President Bill Clinton.

Since we talked about the NFL, I have to ask you. Are you football fan, you're a football fan?


BURNETT: Have you change at all, your viewing habit as a result of the Ray Rice scandal?

CLINTON: No, but partly because I've -- until the playoffs, I'm always more of college football fan then pro. But, I know a lot about this subject. I grew up at home with domestic violent. And -- God I hope that it works out all right for -- I hope he really is OK and he never does it again. Sometimes, people don't, but it's rare. And I think what bothers everyday is that that, that seems that the NFL diminished the importance of it early on.

And I think, this time I got to think football made a mistake for the players themselves to minimize the impact of concussions, which by the way may lead to more domestic violence also. I'm not that -- not in the Ray Rice case, but I'm just general. I think that people who are rich and popular because of athletics, or entertainment, or any other thing like that, they shouldn't be held for an impossible standard they shouldn't be exempted from the general rule that we can't get away with abusing people because of our position.

So I think the NFL is, you know, trying to get it right now and I hope to do.

BURNETT: When you talk about -- that you personally went through this. The debate in NFL now is zero tolerance policy and the owner of the Baltimore Ravens and we shouldn't have zero tolerance policy because it may encourage someone to come forward who weren't actually domestically abuse because they basically want to extort players. That was the -- the argument he made the press conference the other day.

Do you believe the NFL should have a zero tolerance policy?

CLINTON: I don't know, I think... I think there should be consequences for domestic abuse in every case they know about. What the consequences should be? It should be determined by the facts. Is it the first time? How serious it was? And they need to, you know, whether they like it or not if they think that it's -- that they have a disproportionate amount of it in the NFL, they had to figure out how deal with it.

But, you know, I hated it because among of other things -- because I know a lot of those players who are good husbands and good fathers and they do a lot of work that we do here, you know, dispense hearing aids in Africa and South America with Larry Fitzgerald and (inaudible) and a lot of other people.

And I think it's really important that people not judge the whole league based on this, and that we wait and see what happens in this case, he's been suspended and there'll be some -- and later happen again or it won't, people make the judgments, mistake they did or they don't, but they obviously are going to have to deal with this. And also, you know, there are all these different -- in the Peterson case it's a different kind of case. They got to decide what to do about that.

So we're going to see -- but I think that -- I think it's a healthy thing that the country is come to terms with this. You know, Joe Torre who was just was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was such great baseball coach for the Yankees, grew up in a domestic abuse situation and has a charity that I used to support every year. I use to raise all the money for what he did in a golf tournament, and I used to play in it.

And he really struggled nightly to give people to come to term for this. And year in and year out, he never gotten a publicity for what he's trying to because it was associated with some terrible incident where we had a video that brought to everybody else what everybody who's ever been in a domestic situation knows happens all the time, all the time.

And look, I'm not minimizing what happen on the elevator I'm just telling you that everybody is ever been in of the situations has seen it over and over and over again. So I think we need to try to figure out how to make something good to happen out of this. And how to encourage people whose temperatures are rising and to realize there are people, good people who lose their self control and their partner should leave them because they can't help them and they're going to do it over and over and over again. But, there could be help and we needed to offer early intervention, that hotline needs to be answered all the time.

BURNETT: Well, the NFL is paying for it now, five years unlimited funding.

CLINTON: I think that's a good thing. But because -- you know, we should be trying to help people get beyond this and then if they can't there should be consequences. But in terms of zero tolerance there should be -- no incident should be ignore because if you do that it just gets progressively worst based on my experience, I think gets a mistake to ignore it.

BURNETT: President Clinton, thank you but please stay with us because we're going to be back in just a couple of moments joined by Queen Rania of Jordan and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And Matt Damon wants to talk babies with you.

CLINTON: He's got a lot of him.


BURNETT: And welcome back. I'm Erin Burnett with President of the United States Bill Clinton and we are joined by two people he knows extremely well. Her majesty, Queen Rania of Jordan has been with Bill Clinton from day one of the Clinton Global Initiative, day one, literally 10 years ago, and John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco, a global technology company. Please welcome all of our guess Queen Rania of Jordan and John Chambers.

And before we begin again, I just want to remind all of you watching this, be sure to go to and join our conversation. All right, I have to say, I just said 10 year -- you've been together since day one and since this is a celebration of sort of 10 years of CGI I have to show, I found the panel, there you are and you both look much better now than you did then. But you have been together since the very beginning.

Queen Rania, why has this been something that from the very start you were willing to commit to and willing to build something with President Clinton?

RANIA AL ABDULLAH, QUEEN CONSORT OF JORDAN: Look, President Clinton I think has attended many conferences all over the world and he relay understands the power of discussion. But I think from the very beginning he wanted this to be much more than a talking job. It brings unlikely partners under the same roof to collaborate on issues whether it's a government or NGOs or civil society of corporations and the insistence on a measurable commitments I think has made all the difference.

BURNETT: And you -- President Clinton, you bring up Jordan as one of the most important countries in the world in terms of your actions but also right now, a country that desperately needs the investment in health -- or world peace.

CLINTON: You know, we started about three months ago. I got about 30 people together at the fourth (ph) foundation with King Abdullah and the senior government officials and they had -- before that they spent six months working on a plan for what they would like to do, to build infrastructure, to create jobs and opportunities and improve education and health for Jordanians and for the refugees.

They're trying to do with a lot with a lot of refugees not in camps. And so, we had about six commitments already but I think before this is over we'll see the total effect of this CGI in benefiting Jordan. I just take we take -- we should never take good behavior and good government and good ideas for granted. King Abdullah did something that the world needs to reprise right now. Several years ago, he got the leaders and the major schools of the Islamic thought together and they all issued a statement saying that terror is nowhere sanctioned in the Koran. The killing of innocents is nowhere sanctioned. We've gone almost, no, no Islam because it was something good happening not something bad happening. So that the only thing we read about is some craziness going on when ISIS decapitate somebody.

And look, I don't want to minimize that. I think it's awful and I think we had to do something in retaliation for it, but you got to spend sometime helping the people who are making good things happen.

BURNETT: And you're part of -- the comment you made about ignoring challenges that are parallel. You're talking John about -- I believe Queen Rania will give me the number as we go through this, but 600,000 plus refugees in Jordan. So many of them are children but now are not at home. Who were now are not having the infrastructure, the support, the love, the care, the culture, the education, anything that they would have had.

So, without helping, without investment what are they going to grow to become?

JOHN CHAMBERS, CISCO CEO: Well, we all know if you don't have a job, you're going to be in depth in and very undesirable end results. But I want to echo to President's comments about Queen Rania and King Abdullah. We worked together for almost 15 years. We've done Jordan Education Initiative many years ago, 17 multinational, 17 Jordanian companies, 10 NGOs, made a huge difference.

We are completely all hand Mr. President in terms of the refugee camps and how do you connect technology there in a way that it will bring education in healthcare.

CLINTON: The same versus my exhibit A for the speech I gave it in the opening, you know. He's been a life longer Republican. I've ruined his reputation.

CHAMBERS: Absolutely, very true.

CLINTON: God only knows what damage I've done to him. But the point is, every time we have conversation we start with end in mind and 90 percent at a time we come up with something we agree on.

And that's I think the ultimate answer to a lot of this divided America. We -- you going to start with end in mind. And then all the differences, it's become relevant because debates enrich with the purpose of coming to a conclusion, even though I'm sure I've hurt him in a all the way.

CHAMBERS: Don't (ph) be, it could be even worst because we had Hillary speak at ourselves making the other day in front of 20,000 people and she was kind enough to let me interview her and she wouldn't let me tell the questions ahead of time and Mr. President, just like you and I've done, I asked a really tough questions. And afterwards I had bunch Republicans coming up and say John I'm not sure we can beat her.

And so I'm in real trouble now.

BURNETT: You know it's interesting on that question. You know, before this all started -- I mean, your mom and I know you're about to have new one in your family and of course I had to show the President a video and my little guy.

CLINTON: Unbelievable.

BURNETT: And I was thinking, you know, I haven't baby proofed my apartment yet, which is some sort of child abuse. I'm sorry, he's 10- months old I haven't done to get.

You have a big project ahead of you. Is your (inaudible)? Are you ready for that? I mean, you've got to...

CLINTON: I just want to live to be a grandfather, that's been my goal for several years now -- one thing at a time.

CHAMBERS: It is the neediest thing you do, having been through it and I've got two grand kids and it's everything you hear and better.

BURNETT: Matt Damon actually has a question that touches on this issue but also on a very serious issue. You're talking about the water but here is Matt Damon.

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: OK, President Clinton I want to put you and hold your feet to the fire. Its 2014, when we'll we realize the day that everybody on planet earth can access safe drink of water and experience the dignity of the toilet? How do we get there?

And a follow-up question, are you excited of being a grand father?

CLINTON: Matt has four children. I told him that if you kept going he would single-handedly move America off the (inaudible) of just being barely at replacement level birth rates.

Yeah, I'm excited. I'm out of control.

Here's what I think.

BURNETT: That's how you say it.

You didn't look very exited.

CLINTON: You have no idea. Anyway, I just -- everyday I get up and I say, you have to remember whose child this is.

Do not interfere. Be there when you're welcome. Be loving but not judgmental. And I'm trying to train myself.

Anyway, look he asked a very important question. Here's what I think. I think water and sanitation should be made more explicit in the next round of millennium development bills.

I personally hope that we will replace some millennium development goals. I think it would have been great.

We're not going to meet them all but we are going to meet the goal for reducing extreme poverty. We are going to meet most healthcare goals, maternal mortality is down, infant mortality is down, we're making real progress.

BURNETT: All right, on that note, thank you so much.

When we come back -- one thing President Bill Clinton calls his hero. Also with us actress Ashley Judd and Prime Minister Tony Blair on whether the United States is a bully.


BURNETT: Welcome back to CNN Special Town Hall with President Bill Clinton.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is also an original member of CGI. Zainab Salbi has also been with CGI since the beginning. She is the founder of Women for Women International and also with us is Ashley Judd, celebrated actress and long-time humanitarian activist fighting poverty and gender and inequality.

Please welcome all of our guests tonight.

BURNETT: As partners of CGI obviously you're dealing with a group that is uniquely American in some ways because it's President Clinton and he's trying to make a difference around the world. It's global but yet it's American.

And Prime Minister, I wanted to start with you because of your unique perspective on this obviously being British. With something President Obama said today about the goal...

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: (Inaudible) unique perspective.

BURNETT: Right ...

But something President Obama said today about -- essentially America's role in the world and I wanted to play that for you. Here was the speech at the United Nations.


BARRACK OBAMA: We believe that right makes might. The bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones and that people should be able to choose their own future.

And these are simple truth but they must be defended.


BURNETT: It's an interesting thing and I'm going to be curious on your view on this too, when you hear that. That people say, yes that is right. And so many people agree with that and the so many people around the world say wait a minute the United States talking about bullies?

BLAIR: Yeah, they do say that. And I still think their sentiments are really important. And I still think it's important in the United States defends those positions around the world because the world needs it.

And, you know -- I always say to people that, you know, when you wield the most significant power in the world, you know, people are going to criticize you and attack you and resent you for it.

But, you know, when I think of the nations who could play that role in the world, I still right now is there's someone from Britain and from the European side of the water, I want to see America strong, I want to see a standing up for the values that it -- at its best it represents because the world needs those values. And, you know, I see the work I do around the world you have to sure. Americas I got to goals like every other nation but just best it all for something extraordinary, it does defend those values.

And, you know, most people if they were free to choose to live by the same value system, would probably choose it. In fact every time they're given the chance and choose it they do.

BURNETT: And Zainab on that point, you've been dealing with issues in Iraq for along time. How does United States walk that line? Because there are many people there do not see the United States as a liberator, as a country that has helped them, they see it the opposite.

ZAINAB SALBI, FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL: Well Iraqis have a love-hate relationship with the United States. It's not a hate-hate relationship at all. Partly because they see United States as someone who did liberate them from Saddam Hussein and the oppression of Saddam, but then they would expectations at pursuing back.


SALBI: There expectation that the U.S. is going to come and help us still the country and help us get liberty. Women for example thought that they're going to get 50 percent of representation in the Iraqi government and their rights are going to be, you know, protected and that is not what happened.

The U.S. engagement with Iraq was -- and unfortunately feel is that of a military one. And unless and this necessary and this missed the point, you know, destroying ISIS is a necessary the thing to do. But it is not the long-term way of dealing with it. We need to understand the underlining reasons of what's happening in the region.

BLAIR: Look, I think what's going on within the region is basically a battled between -- what I would call the forces and modernity and the forces of extremism. And at the heart of this is, the way the world works today is people connecting with each other and respecting each other across the boundaries of race, and faith, and culture. And within the region, you have young populations you had bad systems of government and you frankly have the perversion of religion that has translated into form of the extremism that this destabilizes countries not just in the Middle East, is not just in Syria and Iraq at the moment. Look at Yemen. Watch Libya really carefully, in my view that is very dangerous situation.

BURNETT: As dangerous as Syria (ph).

BLAIR: Right. And then you go into the Northern part in Nigeria, you see this across the belt of Sub-Saharan Africa just in the last days the major problems in Xinjiang province of China, and in the far east. So, this is in my view one essential battle. And the values we should be defending are those of open-mindedness of tolerance.

And in particular, what I've been trying to say is, you know, you may have to take -- will have to take military action against people like ISIS. But in the end, you've also got to root out in the education systems of the world, this teaching religious prejudice and you got to replace it by the teaching of religious respect. Respect for people whatever faith, background they come from, is that -- in the end, for those young populations in the Middle East and elsewhere, their only future is to be open-minded towards others who are different.

BURNETT: And one thing that education system still teach is (inaudible) view of the world, actually this is something you have taken on passionately and with great conviction. You said and I want to quote you, "Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both men and women participate. It is subtle, insidious, and never more danger then when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it".

You had me there because that is what we're seeing, we're it around the world, we're seeing it right now with the NFL and the reactions to domestic violence right here in United States.

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS AND ACTIVIST: By the way, if anyone else is wondering how I fit this picture I am too. It's been a really extraordinary hour in a half. I appreciate you teasing that out and it's something that I discovered myself as an undergraduate because on the one hand I was becoming intellectually and emotionally and seriously (ph) empowered.

On the other hand, I saw myself doing things which I was later ashamed whether it was in terms of -- objectifying myself. And really the greatest objectification I ever experience is between my owned two ears, you know, of course girls and women needs to be educated. If they're not healthy, they don't go to school. It has to start with our definition of masculinity. And what boys and men are thought about masculinity.

And a great instrument for that is the economic empowerment of girls and women, because, hey the language might be a little crass, but when a woman becomes economically useful in her home, the dynamic of power shifts. At first initially, there could be violence and resentment and don't

get uppity, but also that economic variability about increases the wellness of the family transforms in our personal relationships and that's ultimately how communities and nations are improved.

BURNETT: Before we go I have to ask again this issue that I know I'm a little obsessed about, but its government versus the private sector and it's what is better to live, OK? What's a better way to make a difference? And like President Clinton you've been on both sides.

Do you feel you can do more now that you could that you're a prime minister?

BLAIR: No, I don't think you can do more because you don't have the government thing behind you. But I think you are free to concentrate on what you really want to concentrate on whether it's, you know, if you're prime minister or a president, what comes in on the entry, you don't often get to decide. I actually spend nine months of my premiership dealing with foot and mouth disease, which wasn't really what I came into politics for.

You get to choose what you deal with today, and in some cases you have more influence although you have less power. So -- and I think -- I love being -- and federal government, is government -- I don't know about government really.

You know, it's a necessary but it just moves to slowly. When you take this Ebola thing, I mean, how slow we be to get the international governments and institutions to work on this. This is -- anyway that's the frustrating thing.

BURNETT: Very well, on that note, thank you so much all of you for being with us. And thanks to all of you for being with us tonight. And of course, a special thank you to President Bill Clinton. And thanks also to you at home for participating in tonight's conversation online.

I'm going to have the results of our exclusive poll tomorrow night on Erin Burnett OutFront. Good night.