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Uncertain Times for Europe; Iraq Then and Now; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired July 5, 2016 - 14:00 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: uncertain times for Europe as it faces Brexit fallout and a resurgent Russia. Ahead of this
week's NATO summit in Warsaw, my exclusive interview with the former commander, General Breedlove, on beefing up the NATO alliance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, NATO: I do believe Mr. Putin understands strength. I think that we should begin dialogue from a
position of strength.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Also ahead, as Baghdad reels from its worst bomb attack since 2003, we remember the woman who helped establish modern-day Iraq almost a
Plus: the painter-pioneer who pushed the boundaries of American art. The extraordinary life and works of Georgia O'Keeffe, coming to London for the
very first time.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
"An enduring existential threat," that is how NATO's former top general describes Russia and says the alliance must recognize that President Putin
only understands strength.
General Philip Breedlove, who handed over command two months ago, gives us a frank assessment today of the West as well, saying that America and its
allies are currently not adequately prepared to take on overt Russian aggression nor the hybrid warfare that Russia conducted in Ukraine.
It comes as NATO, which has stepped up training exercises, prepares to deploy new battalions on its eastern front and holds its annual summit in
Warsaw, Poland, which is where General Philip Breedlove joined me for an exclusive interview a short time ago.
AMANPOUR: General Breedlove, welcome to the program.
As former NATO commander, what would you like to see come out of this Warsaw meeting?
GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, NATO: A strong statement, a strong commitment to the unity of the alliance, a continued strong
resolution to our Article 5 requirements.
Those two things, especially in the face of what's happened in the E.U., are incredibly important to show how solid this military political alliance
called NATO is and how solid our commitment going forward is.
Then I don't want to assume but I believe there will be discussions about how we make changes from assurance to deterrence. And part of that, I
think, is, again, capitalizing on decisions that were made before.
We need to increase the overall readiness and responsiveness of the entire NATO force. Increased readiness and responsive is a strong signal of
deterrence moving forward.
AMANPOUR: Just to pick up, Article 5 obviously states that attack on one is an attack on all when it comes to NATO.
You mentioned the fallout from Brexit.
BREEDLOVE: That's correct, collective defense.
AMANPOUR: Britain is the most powerful military in Europe. Obviously it's still part of NATO.
But from your vantage point, from a NATO vantage point, how does it affect NATO?
How does it affect security for the continent, now that it's out of the E.U.?
BREEDLOVE: So, Christiane, I fall among the camp that does not see a huge downside. Again, Britain, as you said, is an important, huge part of our
NATO alliance and plays a big role in our expected position in enhanced forward presence, plays a huge role in the Mediterranean.
All around the places that we find our forces, Britain is there and a big part of it.
AMANPOUR: Well, in a recent article you have said that Russia poses, quote, "an enduring existential threat to the United States and its
That's dramatic, an "existential threat," all these years after the fall of the Soviet Union. And you've said that NATO and the U.S. military are
unprepared to respond to overt military aggression from Russia.
Explain why not.
BREEDLOVE: We are not positioned correctly right now with our forces. And it's a myriad of different forces we need to consider: those forces which
are forward all the time, those forces that would rotate forward and, as importantly as the forces, the pre-position materials that we need --
BREEDLOVE: -- forward, so that forces can rapidly fall in on those pre- position materials in order to constitute a capable force quickly.
AMANPOUR: I have to ask you about some leaks that have come, leaks of your own e-mails, particularly to try to reach General Colin Powell. The
website, dcleaks, has recently published a series of them.
And in the e-mails you appear to be asking General Powell for advice on how to convince President Obama to take on Russia more aggressively.
What's going on there?
What were your frustrations?
You were trying to get more assertive U.S. action?
BREEDLOVE: Well, Christiane, first and foremost, let's talk about the frustration right up front, the frustration that a nation state would hack
into a private individual's e-mails and then use those to put out there for political or military gain in the diatribe.
I think that's an important thing that needs to be discussed, the fact that the hacking happened and now the fruits of that hacking is being used to
shape a narrative. I think that's an important part of what needs to be discussed.
As far as the content of the e-mails, I think what you see is a commander doing what commanders ought to do. The words that you used to shape what I
was trying to accomplish in some of those e-mails are, I don't think, correct.
What you see is a commander reaching out to learned individuals and asking for advice about how to maneuver through a very tough situation.
At the time our nation and other nations in NATO were trying to decide the shape and type of aid that Ukraine would be given and I was making my
military voice heard through the military chain.
Of course that is just one voice. And so as that voice was being considered up the chain, I was reaching out to several individuals to help
me understand how to best engage the leadership in Washington, who had to make the tough decisions.
AMANPOUR: But General, you know and I know -- because we've seen it over and again from the Obama administration -- they resist very, very strongly
any idea or any desire to be more, whatever word you want to use, assertive, aggressive, interventionist, active. We've seen it over Syria
and we've seen it -- certainly I know you've been frustrated over Ukraine.
Was that your frustration?
And how do you answer some critics already, who've said that some of your descriptions of the Russian military posture may not have been totally
accurate and more designed to create the kind of response you wanted from the administration?
BREEDLOVE: Well, Christiane, that subject has been talked about a lot. It's really kind of old news.
But the bottom line is the numbers that I was using back during those discussions were numbers that were provided to me by my U.S. and my NATO
intelligence forces. And so some of those numbers played out quite accurately later, as we knew more and more about what was actually going
Remember, that when the little green men first went into Crimea, everybody said they're not Russians and they're not here -- and they were. And then
when they went into Donbas, people said this is not an invasion and these are not offensive forces. And we found out they were.
So the truth of what actually happened sort of played out over time.
AMANPOUR: In general, I believe you believe and many others that President Putin understands strength. That is the way that you have described the
best way to deal with President Putin.
Do you think that that was a message lost on the administration?
BREEDLOVE: Well, I don't think the message was lost. I think that all things were considered and the administration took the decisions that they
took, based on the framework of how they wanted to approach the problem.
I think that let's at least pay a little credit and give credit where it is due, in that this message of Mr. Putin understanding strength has played
out well and continues to increase from Wales now, I think, to Warsaw, as you see the contributions and force and capabilities that we are returning
I do believe Mr. Putin understands strength. I think that we should begin dialogue from a position of strength.
AMANPOUR: So do you think, then, that what you're saying has been borne out, particularly since President Putin posted a public message yesterday
to mark American Independence Day?
And he said that he wanted the U.S. and Russia to resume a positive relationship, to work jointly on issues.
BREEDLOVE: I would celebrate the fact that at least he's beginning to talk about it.
But here's what I have also said, that this dialogue must start from a position of strength. In other words, we need to increase our
But also this dialogue needs to start from a position of good behavior. Some things need to change in Ukraine. Some things need to change in
Syria. So good behavior will engender the conversation that we need to have.
AMANPOUR: On that note, General Breedlove, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.
BREEDLOVE: Thank you, Christiane. It's good --
BREEDLOVE: -- to talk to you again.
AMANPOUR: Well, you just heard that General Breedlove does not expect Brexit to affect Britain's military contribution to NATO.
But, of course, the vote to leave the E.U. has caused the biggest-ever peacetime shakeup in British domestic politics. With David Cameron on the
way out, the race to replace him as prime minister is under way. And joining me now to discuss this is CNN's political contributor, Robin
Oakley, live from outside Parliament.
So, Robin, a load of Tories vying for David Cameron's position; today they've whittled a few out or they've brought out some numbers about who's
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Christiane. At last, we have one small step forward in closing the political vacuum at the
head of British politics.
We've had the results of the first round of the Conservative leadership election, which will indeed be the prime minister, whoever wins this
election. Theresa May, the home secretary, 165 votes out of the 330 Conservative MPs, that's exactly half the MPs backing her already.
Then in second place, Andrea Leadsom, one of those who campaigned against Britain's continued membership of the European Union; in third place,
Michael Gove, 48 supporters to Andrea Leadsom's 66; in fourth place, Stephen Crabb, the pensions minister, probably a younger Conservative,
putting down a marker for a future leadership election.
And the man to be eliminated tonight is Dr. Liam Fox, former defense minister, who scored only 16 supporters in this first round contest.
Now they go on every Tuesday and Thursday until it's reduced to just two, Christiane, and then those two are presented to the 150,000 Conservative
members in the country, who will then make their choice of the person who will be Britain's next prime minister -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So you have Theresa May, who's well known as home secretary. She's held the job for six years and she's considered, by all accounts, to
be a very sensible and capable pair of hands. She's way ahead amongst MPs.
How might that shake out when the vote actually comes?
Because it's not the MPs who vote, right, for the actual leader?
OAKLEY: Yes. That's the very interesting point. And we have to remember that the last three Conservative leadership elections, the person who has
led the first round voting among the MPs, has not been the person who's got the job at the end of the day.
Theresa May has a lot of experience but of course she was on the Remain side in the European referendum vote and a lot of the Conservative
activists are strongly eurosceptic.
Andrea Leadsom may be, in a sense, more representative of them but, of course, Andrea Leadsom has the handicap that, well, in 2013, she was still
a supporter of the European Union.
Add to that, she's only got two years of experience as a minister. Many Conservatives, I think, will be a little bit nervous about putting in the
job in Number 10 Downing Street for massive negotiations with the European Union somebody with only that amount of experience.
And also Conservative members, I think, will have some worries about how closely she was involved with UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party,
which is a rival both to the Conservatives and Labour, during the course of the referendum campaign. And UKIP's backer, main financial backer, is
urging UKIP supporters to get Conservatives to support Andrea Leadsom.
AMANPOUR: That could be very tricky indeed.
Robin, thanks very much, from Parliament, out there in, you know, in a week and more of the most extraordinary politics this country has seen for
decades. Thank you so much.
So as a female candidate leads the race to become the United Kingdom's next prime minister, we look back at another British woman who helped shape Iraq
into an independent nation 100 years ago. Next, "Letters from Baghdad," a new film mapping out the work of diplomat Gertrude Bell. Parallels in
Iraq, then and now.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
A series of terror attacks has turned the end of Ramadan into a bloodbath across the Muslim world, even near the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia,
where the Prophet Muhammad is buried. Baghdad was the most deadly, with around 220 people killed in bombings over the weekend.
Iraq is still a divided and very violent land 13 years after the Iraq War, which overthrew Saddam Hussein, a war that was meant to bring real
democracy, peace and prosperity.
Two filmmakers have decided to go back almost a century, when Iraq was created by new borders drawn after World War I.
The new documentary "Letters from Baghdad," tells the story from the extraordinarily perspective of a British woman, Gertrude Bell, who helped
make it happen. Some of the parallels are staggering.
I started by asking the directors, Sabine Krayenbuhl and Zeva Oelbaum, what led them to her story when I spoke to them recently.
SABINE KRAYENBUHL, FILM DIRECTOR: When we first read her biography, we were fascinated by the fact that here was this woman, who was clearly more
influential than Lawrence of Arabia, was a contemporary of his and whenever we talked, we didn't hear about her, didn't know about her.
And we liked very much that she was at a time when no other woman was in this same position, in a position of power.
AMANPOUR: In what way was she more influential or important than Lawrence of Arabia?
ZEVA OELBAUM, FILM DIRECTOR: Well, she lived in Baghdad for almost 10 years. She worked in the Arab bureau in Cairo, helping to gather
information about the Arab tribes and relationships.
Then she moved to Iraq. She actually was responsible for giving Lawrence her maps and her tribal notes, which allowed him then to do the Arab
AMANPOUR: That is so interesting. And, of course, she was there; it's about 100 years or so ago at the birth of the nation, Iraq. I want to play
you a little clip from your film, where she talks about something that was as much of an issue then as it has been today in post-2003 Iraq. Let's
just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILDA SWINTON, ACTOR, "GERTRUDE BELL" (voice-over): In the light of the events of the last month, there's no getting out of the conclusion that we
have made an immense failure here.
We had promised an Arab government with British advisors and had set up a British government with Arab advisors.
It's difficult to be burning villages at one end of the country and assuring people at the other end that we really have handed over
responsibility to native ministers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is extraordinary; actually slightly chilling, as one who has covered the 2003 Iraq War, to hear her talk about sovereignty and
occupation in the same way that they're talking about it today, that it -- the British failed to do what they should have done, which is hand it over
Did that strike you as well?
KRAYENBUHL: Yes, absolutely, the contemporary relevance couldn't be more acute.
On one hand, they were -- she absolutely wanted self-rule for the Arab people but I think the biggest mistake that they made is they just did not
include them in the process.
AMANPOUR: You talked about, Zeva, how --
AMANPOUR: -- she gave all her notes to T. E. Lawrence and, perhaps because she was a woman, she failed to take the full credit for what was going on.
Let me play you a little bit of her words through your film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"BELL" (voice-over): I've just got mother's letter on December the 15th, saying there's a fandango about my report on the civil administration in
Mesopotamia. The general line taken by the press seems to be that it's most remarkable that a dog should be able to stand up on its hind legs at
all, i.e., a female write a white paper. I hope they will drop that thought of wonder and pay attention to the report itself, if it will help
them to understand what Mesopotamia is like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Describe, though, how frustrating it must have been for her, as she says, not to have been taken seriously over these reports that she was
giving to the government.
OELBAUM: Well, she was also a born in an era where she was both modest and very proud of her accomplishments but, on the other hand, she didn't
understand why her reports were not taken just as seriously as any man's because what she was saying was significant. It had gravitas and it's what
they needed to know.
KRAYENBUHL: At that moment, she was sort of pushed to the side more and more. And I think ultimately that led to her downfall in a certain way.
AMANPOUR: And it is sad. I mean, she was pushed aside in the books and the film obviously tells us that she ended up taking her own life. Just
describe how that came about.
OELBAUM: Well, she had become marginalized by the colonial office with the high commissioner that she was very close to, Sir Percy Cox, left and a new
high commissioner came in, along with a lot of young British officials, who did not take her seriously.
And that affected her and she became very depressed. And she was also a smoker for 40 years and she was ill at different times. And so she did
take an overdose of sleeping pills.
AMANPOUR: When she died, she was 58 years old.
OELBAUM: Very young.
AMANPOUR: Yes, 98 years ago practically.
AMANPOUR: Sabine, Zeva, thank you very much for joining me.
KRAYENBUHL: Thank you.
OELBAUM: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: As we know, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Tomorrow, Britain's long awaited inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War will finally be made public. So tune in for the verdict on Tony Blair and the
regional fallout that continues from that postwar chaos.
Now NASA scientists are looking to the heavens for clues about the origins of life itself and celebrating some good news from more than half a billion
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): So they were thrilled because, after great scientific endeavor, the Juno probe has successfully begun orbiting
Jupiter, which is by far our solar system's biggest planet. And it's expected to send back data that could help scientists figure out how
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine the art world without the extraordinary work of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Her painting, "Jimson Weed," broke the canvas ceiling for female artists when it fetched a staggering $44.4 million at auction in 2014. Now that
canvas is part of the largest retrospective of her work outside the United States.
For decades, O'Keeffe has had a cult following at home yet no private collector here in the U.K. owns her work. She makes her debut tomorrow at
London's Tate Modern museum.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): O'Keeffe's name almost always comes up because she set the mark. She set the bar that her art and her will were
so grand that you can't wish her anything other than to be as strong as she was. She was an amazing woman.
This painting sold for $44.4 million and, within an hour, we understood, we had just set a record for a woman painter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we can look to Georgia O'Keeffe as being a foundational figure of modernism, a pioneer in the arts. And the fact she
was a woman, to have forged her path and a career at that period of time, now 100 years ago, is really remarkable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's really at the pinnacle, I think, of achievement for women artists. Of course, there are still glass ceilings to break in
the arts for women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: O'Keeffe is a hero even today because of the life that she lived and because of the choices she made for her career. Always
her art was at the lead of all the choices she made in her life.
AMANPOUR: An extraordinary painter, who depicted what she saw near her home in New Mexico. The exhibition opens tomorrow.
And that's it for our program tonight. You can always listen to our podcast, see us online and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for
watching and goodbye from London.