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Tony Blair on Tackling Islamic Extremism; Sarah Silverman Shines Light on Depression in "I Smile Back"; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 10, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair tells me that to eradicate ISIS you you've
got to go all in and he opens up about the pain of the Iraq War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I feel a huge amount of challenge and pain about the situation that we've experienced since 9/11,
which is still the worst terrorist atrocity the world has seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And what's politics without satire?
My interview with the comic genius Sarah Silverman as funny woman gets a big nod from Hollywood's Screen Actors Guild.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Tonight we're tackling terrorism on all fronts, from alarming arrests to high alerts to the evolving military strategy against ISIS. The U.N.'s
European headquarters in Geneva has now beefed up its security as the Swiss say they've received a precise threat.
A source tells CNN the police are hunting for five suspects as a broader part of investigations into last month's Paris attacks.
While in Australia, a 15-year-old high school student is among five people charged with conspiracy to plan a terrorist attack against Sydney,
allegedly against government buildings.
Well, few politicians know more about taking on terrorism than former British prime minister Tony Blair but equally few are as tarnished by the
Iraq War hangover. Still, Blair says the West and his Middle East allies must go all out to defeat what he calls ISIS and its modern form of
fascism. He joined me here in the studio to talk strategy and I asked him whether he accepted that both the U.K. and the U.S. remain so scarred by
the Iraq War debacle that they've kept a hands-off Syria policy.
AMANPOUR: Tony Blair, welcome to the program.
You've said that you support ISIS being defeated by all means necessary. Right now, there's an air campaign against ISIS with a little
bit of ground forces.
Is that enough?
Is that all means?
BLAIR: It probably won't be enough and we have to defeat them by whatever means it takes to defeat them and defeat the whole idea of this
so-called caliphate. And they've got to be defeated completely and defeated in Syria and Iraq and Libya and other places that -- where they
Now, actually as a result of what the Americans in particular have done in these last weeks, there has been a stepping-up of the support for a
ground campaign and you need a combination of airstrikes and a ground campaign. It doesn't always need to be our people or our so-called boots
on the ground.
But you won't defeat people like ISIS unless you're engaging with them on the ground as well as by air. And indeed the coordination between those
two parts of the operation is, of course, extremely important.
AMANPOUR: So you mentioned, in the United States, obviously there's been testimony. Ash Carter, the Defense Secretary, has been before
Congress and he got quite a lot of people, both on the Republican side and the Democrat side, to say, well, we kind of have all come to the conclusion
that we need to put ground troops there.
But people accused him and the administration of being too timid, of not going far enough, of not having a strategy.
Do you think that's true, that the United States, Britain, the coalition, doesn't actually have a strategy yet?
BLAIR: Well, I think we've got an objective that's very clear and I think we're developing the right strategy to defeat it.
And by the way, every time America steps up the support on the ground for the air campaign, it becomes immediately more effective.
So, look, it's very simple to me: you have to defeat ISIS and you have to defeat them by whatever means is necessary because that is an
important part of defeating this whole wider ideology.
So wherever they are and by whatever means, we have to make sure that we obtain the objective we set ourselves.
And it's not -- it's not that we have to, as I said, always have our boots on the ground or tens of thousands of forces, but we have to have
sufficient capability and sufficiently strong and effective capability that they are constantly under attack, being pushed back, until they can finally
be driven out.
AMANPOUR: It has to be said that many in the United States are saying now and here obviously, that because of the debacle that was Iraq and the
post-Iraq mess basically, that the West --
AMANPOUR: -- is scarred, that the people of Great Britain, the people of the United States, the President of the United States, are presumably,
you know, politicians all over Europe, they're scarred by that. And that's why they haven't done the kinds of things you're suggesting now and that
others have suggested as well.
Do you accept that?
BLAIR: I accept, of course, that the experience we went through post- 9/11 with Afghanistan and then Iraq, of course, we live the lessons of that and the pain of it.
On the other hand, it's important that we learn from that experience and don't become incapacitated by it because, since Afghanistan and Iraq,
we've had Libya, a partial intervention and Syria, effectively until recently, not much Western intervention.
Libya today is a problem for the whole of that part of Northern Africa, indeed leaching across into the Middle East. And Syria is really a
catastrophe, which has not just cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, but has got the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Ultimately we need to get to what I would call a new foreign policy synthesis, if you like.
So if people think, well, the problem with the first period of policymaking is we were intervening too heavily and probably we didn't
fully understand the depths of the forces we were up against at that point in time, we've also got to learn the lessons of the reaction to that.
AMANPOUR: When you see and when you say what you're saying, when you see what we're faced with, we citizens of the world are faced with today,
this, as you call it, fascism, these innocents who are slaughtered in Paris or in San Bernardino or in Beirut, the people who were killed on the
Russian plane and, and, and, and.
Do you feel pain?
Do you feel a sense of responsibility that people still point to what you did and what Bush did and they say never again?
We are not going there.
So lives are being lost because of what you all did.
BLAIR: Right, but I think at some point we've got to --
AMANPOUR: No, it's just a question.
BLAIR: Yes, sure, I understand, but at some point we've got to --
AMANPOUR: Do you feel that pain?
BLAIR: I -- I've -- I feel a huge amount of challenge and pain about the situation that we've experienced since 9/11, which is still the worst
terrorist atrocity the world has seen and came before any foreign intervention.
And, you know, when you've got Boko Haram in Nigeria and across parts of sub-Saharan Africa, you've got other groups, Al-Shabaab, you've got
groups in Central Asia, groups in the Far East. You know, at some point we've got to realize we didn't cause this problem. We got caught up in it.
And we're caught up in it now -- and really what I've been trying to say to people is that when you learn the experience, not just of
Afghanistan-Iraq but of Libya and Syria, certain lessons are very clear: intervention's tough. Partial intervention's tough. Not intervention is
So the answer is it's going to be a long, hard fight but you have to deal with the broader ideology that gives rise to this fanaticism, not just
AMANPOUR: Well, you say a long, hard fight, but the question is, is the real fight taking place?
I want to play for you a part of an interview I did with the former deputy CIA chief Mike Morell. Just listen to what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE MORELL, FORMER DEPUTY CIA CHIEF: It's not that it's too late, Christiane; it's that it's too little. We need to train ground troops in
very large numbers if we're going to be able to take back territory from ISIS in Syria.
And what I fear is that we're going to be successful in Iraq, we're going to have a hammer in Iraq, but no anvil in Syria. So the ISIS guys
are just going to go across the border into Syria and they're going to have a safe haven in Eastern Syria, where they're going to be able to continue
to plot and those plotting -- and that plotting will include plotting against us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, they're actually prophetic words because that was a few months ago and this is exactly what has happened.
So how does this fight have to be waged?
You know, we've been told, oh, there aren't any moderates. We can't, you know, train up the moderates.
Oh, we can't put out a no-fly zone; that's way too dangerous.
Oh, we can't put ground troops.
How do you win this fight?
BLAIR: Well, we can do some of those things. I mean, we could've and the -- I said this, I think, three years ago now. We should've built a no-
fly zone, a safe haven for the opposition to congregate, for the refugees to go.
AMANPOUR: So you think Obama has the wrong strategy?
BLAIR: Well, I think if you want a strategy that genuinely eliminates this so-called caliphate, you are going to have to not merely have the
ability to strike by air, but you have to have the ground force capability.
Now, it can be done supporting local forces but you have to have it there. You have to provide for the Syrian opposition, because the root of
this problem is what is happening in Syria.
But it's -- what Mike Morell is saying there is absolutely right. We've got to get in our heads if this is a battle we really are determined
to win, we've got to will the means as well as the end.
AMANPOUR: So what do you make of the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, his vote against the intervention?
And in general where he's taking the party, not just on this issue but in general?
BLAIR: Look, it's --
BLAIR: -- no great secret. I mean, I'm -- I disagreed with him on Syria, of course I do. And in particular I disagree with the "stop the
war" people, who -- you know, they're talking about stop the war in Syria, aimed at Britain. I mean, there is a war in Syria. And I'm not aware of
the demonstrations as being outside the embassies of those countries that are actually waging it.
And you have a situation where here is a saddened -- you know, if you just think of the numbers of people that have died being barrel-bombed,
starved into submission, subject to brutality from the regime and we barely had any protest against it.
So, no, I -- look, it's not a great secret. I don't agree with his politics on these issues at all.
AMANPOUR: And all of this that you're talking about, the fallout has entered the presidential race in the United States to the point that Donald
Trump, who's leading still the Republican pack, has said "Ban all Muslims," "No refugees," all of that kind of thing.
And he's still rising in the polls.
BLAIR: But this is the important thing for the center ground to be, as it were, muscular enough in the solutions we put forward that we don't
leave the ground to those who are putting forward demagogic solutions that, A, by the way, would alienate or rob the necessary allies within the Muslim
world and, B, be deeply inhumane and unfair.
But if we don't -- this is not a problem for America simply but across Europe -- if we don't put forward what people in our countries think is a
coherent, strong, deep-based response to this terrorism, then they will become more insecure, more anxious and more prone to fall for the rhetoric
of people who are exploiting this situation.
And that's why it's so important to do this, because, you know, this problem is not going to go away. We're going to face terrorist attacks in
Europe, I think for a virtual certainty, and those attacks, by the way, that may happen in Europe, they're happening on a daily basis across the
AMANPOUR: Including here?
Do you fear it's going to happen here?
BLAIR: Well, there's got to be a risk, of course there is. And, you know, of course they will try and target countries like this and we're
going to have to take our own measures here.
But we also have to realize that this problem originates in the Middle East. It's why it's important that we remain fully engaged in the Middle
East. And it's important why we realize that if you want to destroy these terrorist organizations, you've got to destroy that broader ideology that
gives rise to them.
And if you look at the education system, for example, of countries around the world, there are millions of young children, day in, day out,
being educated to a view of the world that is hostile to those who are different, that is narrow-minded, that makes them completely unfit for the
modern world that works through connectivity.
You know, we've got to get to these basic deep-rooted problems. I've been talking recently about a global commitment on education, where
countries agree, as part of their global responsibility, to reform their education systems, to root out cultural prejudice and religious prejudice
and promote tolerance.
My worry is today we just -- the strategy isn't -- it's not strong enough or comprehensive enough yet.
AMANPOUR: Tony Blair, thank you very much indeed.
BLAIR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we'll have more of my interview tomorrow. Blair talks about having to testify before Parliament on Libya. And he says the West
needs a reality check about Russia's real role in Syria.
Next, though, from a former world leader to a new leading lady. Comedian Sarah Silverman tells me about the movie role that's catapulting
her up the Hollywood hierarchy.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
In the United States, female comedians are taking the silver screen by storm. Amy Schumer stars in "Train Wreck" and just today won a Golden
Globe Best Actress nomination.
And another very funny lady, Sarah Silverman, also today won a Best Actress nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. But she's keeping the
jokes out of her film. It's called "I smile back" and Silverman plays a mother in a downward spiral of depression.
(VIDEO CLIP, "I SMILE BACK")
AMANPOUR: It's heavy stuff and we talked about taboos, for instance, about depression, we talked about Hollywood women and politics as well in
this divisive presidential year.
AMANPOUR: So you've now done a major motion picture and everybody is raving about your performance. They're talking about Oscars. But it's
also really raw and really quite brutal, about depression, amongst other things.
SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN AND ACTOR: Yes, I was able to use my own experience to an extent, kind of the bones of depression.
I was put on 16 Xanax, four Xanax four times a day, when I was 14 years old.
She really lives entirely in anxiety, in that state we all get in occasionally of what if, what if I never write another joke, what if I
never fall in love again, what if, what if?
We tell ourselves horror stories and that's anxiety. And she exists in that space in her head.
What if I ruin my kids?
What if I pass my genes on to them?
What if I abandon them?
What if I.?
And there's no space for anything else. I think that so many people, they think of self-loathing and being self-deprecating as some kind of
modesty and it really isn't. It's self-obsession. There's no room for anything else.
AMANPOUR: There's something about exposing taboos, you said, that makes them not taboos anymore.
"Darkness cannot exist in the light. And when you put light on things, it changes what they are."
SILVERMAN: Yes. It goes back to Mr. Rogers, if it's mentionable, it's manageable. And I think as soon as you --
AMANPOUR: -- you know what, you've just put your finger on it; if it's mentionable, it's manageable.
SILVERMAN: Yes. If you look at all the things that were at one time taboo and aren't anymore, the change is that it became a topic of
discussion, that it became something we spoke about.
I mean, if you look at the trans community, these people always existed. They just were living in personal hells where they couldn't
expose themselves. And what it took was -- and it continues to take -- is that it just becomes a part of a conversation, you know. And then it's not
so crazy anymore.
AMANPOUR: There's that and there's obviously this ongoing gender gap in all sorts of ways and you have said or at least you act with your comedy
as though comedy would be a remedy to that.
And I just want to play a skit that you did on the wage gap.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVERMAN: Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap. Over the course of the working years of her life, that's almost
500 grand. That's a $500,000 vagina tax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK, vagina tax, it's funny.
I mean, do you think that actually comedy can knock down these taboos?
SILVERMAN: Yes. Yes. I think so. I think comedy has always played a big part in not just in pop culture but in the way we see history, more
of a mirror to society and more of a reflection of -- an honest reflection of history than history a lot of times.
AMANPOUR: You obviously saw the -- inspired by you apparently -- Amy Schumer taking a very comedic approach to the idea of age, women aging in
Hollywood and she did that classic video, last eff-able day. We're just going to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY SCHUMER: In every actress' life, the --
SCHUMER: -- media decides when you finally reach the point where you're not believably (INAUDIBLE) anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you know?
Who tells you?
SCHUMER: Well, nobody overtly tells you. But there are signs.
You know how Sally Field was Tom Hanks' love interest in "Punchline?"
And then like 20 minutes later, she was his mom in "Forrest Gump?"
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or you might get offered a rom-com with Jack Nicholson, where you're competing with another woman to (INAUDIBLE) him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I just had an audition for Ms. Claus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're kidding me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I read for that part.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I read for that, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, who got that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: J-Lo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what about men?
Like who tells men when its their (INAUDIBLE) day?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honey, men don't have that day, never.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is hilarious. You cannot get enough of watching that.
And each time, it's like, oh, really?
SILVERMAN: It is so great.
Well, and I don't think that's something that most people thought about, especially not -- especially outside of show business and now it's
on people's radar, you know. It's good.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you're 44.
Do you feel the wall of that age?
AMANPOUR: Hey, I'm much older.
Do you feel the age wall coming at you?
Can you believe -- I couldn't believe that Maggie Gyllenhaal at 37 was considered too old to play the love interest of somebody who's 55 years
old, for heaven's sake.
SILVERMAN: Oh, yes. I've lost parts. And for me, it's -- I don't chalk it up always to like the only reason I lost this because I'm my age,
I mean, I'm not a movie player. But I've lost parts to be like the love interest of a 50-year-old man to women in their early 20s.
AMANPOUR: But do you worry that the age thing is going to hit you?
SILVERMAN: No, because I'm funny. And I feel that if you can complain -- and it's good to point out things that are unfair -- but
nothing beats just being undeniable. And so I go that route.
AMANPOUR: You do go that route. But you also are serious because you've joined an activist group, urging women leaders to really stand up
for the rights of women and girls. You're taking it beyond the comedy, beyond the stage, into active politics.
SILVERMAN: Yes. That's -- well, that's just always been a part of my life; everyone in my family is an active citizen. I grew up in a house
where my mom's jewelry box was just filled with pins, political pins, "Question authority" and "Maybe the government should fund education and
the military should have a bake sale" for their -- all those pins, "War is unhealthy for children and other living things."
And my dad raised us to be -- to know that paying taxes is an honor and to be a part of this great country, where we don't let anybody starve
or go cold or -- and we chip in for the roads to be paved and all these things.
He always kept the outside doors open and the vestibule heated for homeless people to sleep in. And that's just the way I was raised. It's
not like something I'm doing with my celebrity.
But I am doing it with my celebrity because I can reach more people. And I care about stuff as a citizen. I love this country and everything's
so confusing these days.
AMANPOUR: It is confusing.
But what about for you?
Will you do more movies now?
SILVERMAN: Sure. What have you got for me?
SILVERMAN: What do you got, Christiane?
AMANPOUR: Well, listen --
SILVERMAN: Your life's story?
AMANPOUR: Yes --
AMANPOUR: -- oh, my goodness.
Sarah Silverman, thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, more smiles, a welcome antidote to some of the darkness this year and the Nobel goes to the quartet from
Tunisia. Imagine having to hold a country together in peace and freedom and against all odds -- next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we live in a world where the good guys don't always finish first but, tonight, imagine they do. Actually they do;
the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, and the committee cited their far-reaching work to promote
democracy and tolerance in the first of the Arab Springs.
It seems an age since almost exactly five years ago the fruit seller, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire and lit the flames of hope in Tunisia
and throughout the Arab world. As we've reported even tonight, it hasn't worked out so well for most of the Arab world.
But in Tunisia, there still is hope, as the winners told our Jonathan Mann.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WIDED BOUCHAMAOUI, TUNISIAN QUARTET: We shouted in one voice, people want dignity, people want jobs and people want freedom.
ABDESSATAR BEN MOUSSA, TUNISIAN QUARTET (through translator): The prize is not for us today. It is for the Tunisia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me
on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.