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Aid Convoys Reach Besieged Syrian Cities; U.S. and China Set to Kick Off High-Level Talks; Imagine a World. Aired 11-11:30p ET
Aired June 1, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: a vital lifeline as the first aid convoy in nearly four years reaches the besieged Syrian suburb of
But can peace and security ever be delivered?
My interview with former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We won't have peace until we have more leverage for those talks. So, frankly
speaking, I feel like the talks are a charade. And Russia's role is actually in orchestrating the charade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD (voice-over): Also ahead: Trump, trade and the trouble with China -- an exclusive interview with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK LEW, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The U.S. and China have the two largest economies in the world. The global economy will either do well or badly
depending on how well our economies do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the program. I'm Clarissa Ward in for Christiane Amanpour.
They are sick, they are starving and, today, they are finally getting a little help. U.N. convoys entered the besieged Syrian neighborhoods of
Daraya and Muadamiyat this afternoon, delivering desperately needed food and medicine during a 48-hour cease-fire.
The delivery could not be more critical, especially in Daraya, where forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have kept out aid convoys for nearly
four years. The mayor of Muadamiyat welcomed the help but made clear it is not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
mayor of Muadamiyat (through translator): The convoy includes relief items, flour and medicine for the medical center. The convoy will be
entering for three days.
The first convoy will include 4,500 food baskets followed by 4,500 more food baskets. And today there are 9,000 bags of flour and they will be
followed by another 9,000 bags of flour.
The quantity is good. It's acceptable. But we need the aid to be continuous and permanent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: The U.N. has said it wants two things to happen before peace talks can resume: more aid delivery and less violence. But with more than 20
people killed in regime strikes in Idlib just yesterday, the prospects are not good.
Evelyn Farkas was the top Pentagon official on Russia policy until November. She joined me earlier to discuss the deadlock in Syria.
WARD: Evelyn Farkas, thank you so much for being with us.
Let's start out by talking about the political talks that are supposed to be starting again in Geneva. No date has been given yet. The giant
festering wound of Syria continues to be a huge problem for the whole international community.
What do you see as Russia's role in this?
FARKAS: I'm really upset about this whole thing about talks and talks about talks. And it is a diversion at this moment. I know that they are
well-intentioned people. My government obviously is very well-intentioned, wants to get to peace.
But these talks that we're having are not going to get us to peace because of what's happening on the ground and because of the fact that the United
States and our allies on our side of the table, sitting opposite from Russia and Syria, do not have sufficient leverage to actually have those
talks mean anything, come to anything.
We won't have peace until we have more leverage for those talks. So, frankly speaking, I feel like the talks are a charade and Russia's role is
actually in orchestrating the charade.
WARD: You talk about -- let's start with this point of not having any leverage.
What do you mean by that exactly?
Why does the U.S. have so little leverage in Syria right now?
FARKAS: The Russian objective is to support the Syrians, to keep Assad in power. And that's what they're doing and we are not doing anything to stop
So, militarily, they are moving ahead and Palmyra looks great because, oh, OK, they kicked out ISIS, right?
But the reality is no, they consolidated more territory for Assad. That's what it's all about. Don't let the Russians fool you and the world with
their rhetoric about fighting terrorism. They are not fighting terrorism, they are defending Assad.
That ultimately will leave them to have the strongest position at the negotiating table and maybe even to say Assad should keep control of all of
FARKAS: -- if we aren't able to push back, either militarily or in some other way. Some other way could be sanctions or it could be something
But we are not working hard enough. We haven't come up with enough leverage to actually get Russia and Syria incentivized to make a
compromise. Right now they'll come to the peace table and they'll say we want what we want. Well, we don't have the leverage to fight back and say,
no, actually, you have to get what you want minus this and to compromise.
WARD: I recently was inside Syria in these rebel-held areas and we were seeing relentless bombardment, particularly of civilian infrastructure
courthouses, hospitals. You spent a lot of time in Russia.
FARKAS: Do you think there is any sense of embarrassment or shame about the way in which this military operation is being carried out?
Well, I think if the Russian people understood there would be shame and embarrassment. But they don't get to see the truth on their television. I
mean, it's all filtered. It's very much what the government wants to serve them.
The Russian military, number one, they don't have a lot of precision weapons so part of it is technological or some of it's the equipment.
But the other part is that they, frankly speaking, don't care. Their objective is not to save civilian lives. And they don't factor it in the
way that we do. And so we can say what we want. The Russians -- you know, we obviously protested and the international organizations have all said
this is a war crime, that a lot of them are -- recent bombings have been war crimes. In Aleppo, the hospital, et cetera.
But the Russians just say, "Well, it wasn't us. We didn't do it."
And sometimes they will point the finger at the Syrians or they'll just deny it point-blank. And -- but the Syrians on the ground, if you read the
newspaper accounts, they say, well, we can tell which planes are Russian and which planes are Syrian and we know they were Russian in some cases.
WARD: Even if we had more leverage, isn't it fair to say that this is just an impossible situation in Syria?
FARKAS: No, nothing is ever impossible. Sorry to interrupt you but I find that oftentimes it's the excuse that people who are winning right now will
use to keep everybody out and keep everybody from doing more. They will say, oh, it's impossible.
You know, Bosnia, well, those people, they have been fighting each other for centuries. We can't change that.
Well, yes, we can and we did. So it's a similar situation.
And the Russians, they are using the same playbook that Milosevic used in Bosnia. You heard me talking about seizing territory and then going to the
negotiating table to try to get the international community to agree that they can keep the territory. They did that in Bosnia. Milosevic did that.
The Russians are doing it with the Syrians now in Syria.
Same thing with this, oh, it's intractable and it's impossible. The more you make it seem impossible, the more likely it is that your opponents --
and in this case the United States and our allies -- will throw up our hands and, OK, say we can't handle it.
WARD: So the way so handle it, you believe, is to get some type of a no- fly zone established, some type of a safe zone?
FARKAS: That's one part of it.
WARD: But you heard the arguments from people in Defense in the U.S., who say, well, to establish any kind of a no-fly zone, it would be costly, it
could be dangerous.
How do you respond to those?
FARKAS: Well, so I had a conversation with Christiane on her show -- on this show months ago and I said we did it in 1991. We did Northern --
Provide Comfort, Operation Provide Comfort in Northern Iraq. And it worked.
The problem for the military is, of course, it costs money. It's an operational tempo, so meaning they have to keep people and equipment
cycling through and keep doing, keep maintaining a humanitarian zone.
In this case, of course, you have active fighting so it makes it harder. You have Russian aircraft, Syrian aircraft. So there are risks but,
frankly speaking, I think it's our responsibility.
WARD: Is there a chance that you just escalate things even more?
FARKAS: I don't think with the humanitarian zone. I don't. I do not think so.
WARD: So let me ask you, with regards to what Russia -- we know what Russia's stated goal is. We're fighting terrorism.
As I have seen on the ground first-hand, I would say more terrorists are being created than killed, certainly.
But give me a sense from your perspective, what is Russia's objective here?
FARKAS: Russia's objective is to keep Assad in power. Russia, first of all, they want to keep their influence in Syria and in the Middle East.
They have Tartus, the port, as you -- as we all know; now they have an airbase that they more recently set up to -- since September, to fight with
the Syrians in the air.
They don't want Assad taken out by Western or international force, by military force because Putin sees that in very personal terms. If the
international community can intervene in Syria to take out a non- democratic, despotic, brutal leader, then he is paranoid.
And he thinks he might be next. It's -- you can't compare the two; nevertheless, he's fighting to defend a principle which is basically he's
fighting against the U.N. right to protect. The fighting is going to go on, unfortunately. And that's why I think -- you know, I hate to say I
call for more fighting --
FARKAS: -- but we need to put more military pressure on the Russians and the Syrians. Without that, they are not going to compromise, unless we
come up with something clever like more sanctions that we implement, not just with our European allies, but also with our Middle Eastern friends and
WARD: We heard from Dmitri Peskov, who is the spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin. He said that there's no cooperation essentially between
the U.S. and Russia on this issue of fighting terrorism in Syria.
You have talked a lot about the ways in which the U.S. could have more leverage.
Is there also a sense that the U.S. and Russia need to sit down together and find more common ground on this?
Can common ground be found?
FARKAS: OK. So now I want to pull my hair out because when I went into government in 2012, the Russians were talking about cooperating with us on
counterterrorism. We said, great, let's cooperate on counterterrorism.
Every time we went with them to make that a reality, not just talk, a reality, how do we do it, military-to-military, they would disappear. They
would go away. Even in the run-up to Sochi, when it was on their territory and you would think they would want to be on the safe side and cooperate as
much as possible with everybody, they disappeared.
So I -- the Russians constantly are saying they want to cooperate with us on counterterrorism. But when the rubber hits the road or when we're ready
to have the rubber hit the road -- and we're ready all the time. You heard our president, the highest levels of U.S. government, we're ready to
But the Russians, there's nothing behind their rhetoric.
WARD: Evelyn Farkas there, on a conflict with repercussions spreading far beyond its borders.
Now, in France, leaders are responding to a U.S. warning about more possible terror attacks.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pulling out all the stops to keep the tourists coming in a promotional boom inviting visitors to a destination full of
surprises and happy encounters.
And after the break the U.S. Treasury Secretary is hoping for some happy encounters on his trip east. An exclusive interview on America's
continuing pivot to Asia -- next.
WARD: Welcome back to the program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: Yes, the world's most populist nation has certainly become an issue on the campaign trail in America -- and with good reason. The super powers
are often at loggerheads over everything from territory to trade policy. Those issues are certain to come up at the eighth Strategic and Economic
Dialogue, the tradition started by President Obama.
Leading the economic talks, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, when Christiane spoke with him in an exclusive interview, he told her the entire global
economy depends on the U.S. and China.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Secretary Lew, welcome to our program.
JACK LEW, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Good to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Secretary, you're soon going to China for the Strategic and economic Dialogue. Now its GDP has been growing fairly robustly; I suppose
people are reassured by 6.7 percent in the first quarter.
AMANPOUR: It's still slow, slower than it's had in 25 years.
What is the impact on you in the United States?
LEW: China's in the middle of a very difficult transition and the decisions they make will have a lot to do with the long-term strength of
China's economy, which is of importance to the global economy and it's of importance to us.
If China sticks to its reform plan -- and that means opening its markets, letting market forces be much more determinative of allocation of
resources, letting foreign businesses compete, if China sticks to its reform plan of shutting down inefficient excess capacity, including
reforming state-owned enterprises, then China should have a very stable future economically.
If they don't stick to the reform path, it's not good for China's economy and it's not good for the global economy.
We've used the Strategic and Economic Dialogues over years to join these issues, both on a bilateral basis in terms of making sure that U.S. firms
have access in a fair way to China's economy but also to help look at the issues of how China's economy and the reforms there affect the global
economy and what that means in terms of China as one of the two largest economies of the world.
AMANPOUR: Do you have to do a better job of explaining to those who believe the promises or the threats to slap trade tariffs, for instance, on
China or whatever, that that actually, far from benefiting them, may throw the U.S. into another recession?
LEW: We have to demand fair practices in terms of exchange rates. And we have to defend the ability of American companies to do business overseas
just as other countries, firms, want to do business in the United States.
I think the idea of cutting us off from either the global economy or China's economy would lead to less growth, less jobs.
The U.S. and China have the two largest economies in the world. The global economy will either do well or badly, depending on how well our economies
do. There is a connection in that way between our economies that will exist with or without trade agreements.
And one thing that we have made very clear, if we don't negotiate trade agreements, that won't stop others from making inroads. China's not going
to step away from other countries in Asia or even from continents like Europe and in the Western Hemisphere. China will be developing markets and
we won't be if we don't have trade agreements.
AMANPOUR: Donald Trump on trade says we are like a third world country. He describes your country, the United States, as being a third world
country on trade, saying that America makes the worst trade deals ever.
How do you, as Secretary of the Treasury, respond to that?
LEW: I'm not going to comment on any specific comments being made in the political season.
But I would say that, if you look at the details of what's in TPP, for example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it has high standards in labor
practices, high standards on environmental practices, health standards.
What we would do -- when we approve TPP, it'll bring the rest of the world up to a higher standard, which we already meet. That means that we'll be
Now if the rest of the world has lower standards, that's bad for all kinds of reasons because it actually matters if, in a global environment, others
are polluting more than they should.
But it also means that their products are cheaper than ours because they're not putting the same controls in.
We are pressing forward to bring global standards closer to American standards. And we're already seeing, even in the period before the
agreement is approved, countries making progress on issues like labor standards.
So I think the facts speak very clearly that trade agreements like TPP move policy in the right direction and make the U.S. more competitive.
AMANPOUR: How concerned are you by the signs of growing hostility in China to Western firms doing business there, whether it's Disney, whether it's
I mean, there is this trend.
LEW: Our, you know, case will continue to be that there has to be fair access to China's markets. There can't be unfair impediments to
And there has to be a respect for intellectual property so that, when you bring your innovations to China, it doesn't become a one-time sale so that
they then take the intellectual property and produce on their own.
I think we've made progress in these areas. I think as China's economy does slow and they work to grow their consumer economy --
LEW: -- and their service economy, there are opportunities for more competition from U.S. firms in areas where we are the leaders in the world.
And we're going to continue to make the case for that access.
At the same time, in a time of slowing economy domestically, they have to resist the temptation to protect their markets in a way that keeps others
I think that would be, in the long run, bad for China's economy and it would be damaging to the bilateral relationship, which is important not
just to each of us but to the global economy.
AMANPOUR: Talking about the bilateral relationship, again, Donald Trump has threatened 45 percent tariffs on China. The Chinese finance ministry
has said, you know, that would violate World Trade Organization rules. And he called Trump "an irrational type."
I mean, the question is, do you think there's a risk of a trade war if these policies are implemented?
LEW: I believe that these issues of fair trade are very important. I've spent much of the last 30 years working on these issues to try and make
sure that our policies protect the ability of American firms to compete and do not create unfair barriers that hurt American workers.
I think we've made a lot of progress. But there's more work to do. That's one of the things we'll be discussing when we go to China for the Strategic
and Economic Dialogue.
The answer to the challenge that we hear from Americans who are concerned about trade is for us to make sure that we succeed in opening markets, that
we succeed in making sure that American firms and jobs have the opportunity to compete that they deserve.
AMANPOUR: And do you think China is serious about allowing the market to determine the currency?
You know, everybody's concerned that it's deliberately devaluing its currency for its own competitive advantages.
LEW: The issue of currency has been a big issue between the United States and China for many years. We have made clear to them that it is
unacceptable to intervene to gain unfair advantage in trade.
We've made real progress. They have made it a commitment to move in an orderly way to a more market-determined exchange rate. They've been
keeping that commitment.
And they're in the difficult place now where they're trying to manage between a dollar that is stronger than a lot of other world currencies.
And they have to worry about where they are vis-a-vis other world currencies as well.
We're going to keep an eye on what they do and hold them to their commitments. But I think we've made great progress here. I think they
understand that it is a serious issue that could damage our bilateral relationship if they are seen as intervening in a way that gains unfair
But we will not relent in making the case. And we will keep a careful eye on how they behave going forward.
AMANPOUR: Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Lew, thank you very much indeed for joining me today.
LEW: Good to be with you, Christiane.
WARD: While Jack Lew heads to South Korea, somewhere north of the border is pushing into U.S. politics. North Korean state media giving a full-
throated endorsement for presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, praising the, quote, "wise and fair-sighted candidate."
But as Pyongyang's media come out for Trump in the U.S., Trump is coming out against the media. It's all part of a dangerous trend in a world we
imagine -- next.
WARD: And finally tonight, imagine a world where freedom of speech can be a death sentence.
In his latest press conference, presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump took aim at those sitting in the front row for doing their jobs with a
promise to continue these attacks if he's elected president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I find the press to be extremely dishonest. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest, like this sleazy guy right over here.
He's a sleaze, in my book.
You're a sleaze because you know the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this what it's going to be like --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- with you as president?
TRUMP: Yes, it is.
You think I'm going to change?
I'm not changing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: And while journalists have been drawing the ire of Trump, in Turkey, President Erdogan has rounded on another of his critics, in this case a
beauty queen, the former Miss Turkey getting a 14-month suspended sentence for sharing a poem on Instagram that referred to a corruption scandal,
breaking Turkey's defamation laws.
Eighteen hundred people are facing similar suits for defaming the president.
And while insults and lawsuits are unpleasant, the new Filipino president- elect, Rodrigo Duterte, the so-called "Punisher," has taken things even further, saying some journalists deserve to be murdered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT-ELECT, THE PHILIPPINES: Just because you are a journalist, you're not exempted from assassination if you're a (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: The Committee to Protect Journalists has urged the president-elect to retract the statements, warning they, quote, "threaten to make the
Philippines into a killing field for journalists."
Well, that's it for our program tonight. And remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and on
Twitter @ClarissaWard. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.