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Assad: Syria Chemical Attack "Fabricated"; U.S.-Russia Relations at "Low Point"; Girls as the Leaders of the Future. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 14, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:10] JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Jonathan Mann. This is "CNN News Now."

A North Korean military spokesman says any provocation by the United States will be met with what he calls a merciless response. That's just the

latest sign of rising tension amidst speculation Pyongyang may mark a national holiday this weekend by conducting a nuclear test.

U.S. and Afghan officials are now assessing the damage in Northeastern Afghanistan after the U.S. hit an ISIS tunnel complex with one of its

biggest non-nuclear bombs. Afghanistan says 36 militants were killed, but in an online statement the terror group said it suffered no casualties.

Russia's top diplomat hosted his Syrian and Iranian counterparts in a show of unity following U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airbase all maintained

it was uncalled for. The U.S. launched dozens of Tomahawk missiles in the aftermath of a chemical attack that has been blamed on Syria.

Christians are marking Good Friday, one of the holiest days on a Christian calendar. Worshippers in Jerusalem took part in the way of the cross

procession marking the path Jesus took as he walked to his crucifixion.

That's your "CNN News Now." AMANPOUR is next. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, ducking, weaving and denial. The Syrian President Assad claims the chemical weapons attack was 100 percent

fabrication. That as intelligence agencies from Turkey to Britain to the United States all confirm the regime's poison gas attack while the U.S.

secretary of state meets Assad's main ally, the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tells me history might have been different if his own boss had enforced his red line.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY AND DIRECTOR OF THE CIA: There's no question that, I thought that -- I thought President Obama, once

he drew that red line that they should not use chemical weapons, should have in fact followed through. I think that would have been important.


AMANPOUR: And later in the program, teaching girls to be leaders, not just likable. The award-winning Nigerian author Chimanda Ngozi Adichie and her

manifesto for raising the feminists of the future.


CHIMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE, NIGERIAN AUTHOR: I think that there's gender imbalance everywhere in the world. And lots of it is infuriating to me

because it's about injustice.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to this special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.

This week, the rift over Syria deepened. The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to Moscow where in the end he did sit down with President

Putin. A meeting described by the Kremlin as quite a constructive talk. But in a lengthy presser, Tillerson and his Russian counterpart aired

serious disagreements.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think the perspective from the United States, supported by the facts that we have, are conclusive that

the recent chemical weapons attack carried out in Syria was planned and it was directed and executed by Syrian regime forces.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): As quite evident, this topic, with regards with the differences of opinion, Russia

insist that there needs to be an objective investigation.


AMANPOUR: But at a very same time, the United Nations, Russia vetoed a resolution calling for precisely that investigation.

President Trump announced on Wednesday the Pentagon is looking into possible Russian complicity in covering up the chemical attack.

And at the end of the week, damning new evidence as the U.S. military reveals that it has communication intercept of Syrian military and chemical

experts talking about preparations for the Sarin attack.

President Assad continues to deny saying in a heavily restricted AFP interview that the attack was a fabrication.

So what next for Syria, for U.S.-Russia relations.

The former U.S. Defense Secretary and Director of the CIA Leon Panetta joined me for crucial analysis right after the press conference with

Tillerson and Lavrov in Moscow.


AMANPOUR: Secretary Panetta, thanks for joining us.

PANETTA: Nice to be with you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: You heard a very, very long and wide ranging, all encompassing presser between Secretary of State Tillerson and the Russian foreign

minister Sergey Lavrov.

What was the headline for you? Obviously, they talked about Putin in that meeting, having re-established the deconfliction lines between the

militaries, but what else did you feel stood out?

[14:05:08] PANETTA: Well, I think there's kind of a good news/bad news story here. The good news is that, you know, that Putin was willing to sit

down with Secretary Tillerson, look each other in the eye and talk through obviously the issues that concern both countries.

The bad news is, there's nothing new here. What I heard from Lavrov is that basically the same positions that the Russians have taken with regards

to the chemical attack that it wasn't the Syrian's fault. That they are not going to take any position with regards to helping to bring Assad down.

As a matter of fact, they'll stand by him, continue to stand by him. And the old talking points about Libya and other areas in the Middle East that

they've used before. So I just got a sense that both Russia and the United States are very much in the same positions that they've been in for a

period of time here.

AMANPOUR: Let me just play you the little crux of the sound bites between the two of them that illustrate what you just said and we'll talk a little

bit more about it.


TILLERSON: Well, I think the perspective from the United States, supported by the facts that we have, are conclusive that the recent chemical weapons

attack carried out in Syria was planned and it was directed and executed by Syrian regime forces.

LAVROV: As quite evident, this topic, with regards with the differences of opinion, Russia insists that there needs to be an objective investigation.


AMANPOUR: So there they go again, as you say, nothing really new there. So the question is, what is the future then of a relationship, a reset

relationship if possible, between the two countries?

PANETTA: Well, I think that's -- you know, that's going to be determined in these next few months as each side is kind of feeling each other out.

They're like two boxers in a ring trying to determine just exactly how hard a punch they're going to get from one side or the other, what they're

really going to do.

I do think that the United States has some leverage here in this relationship. We've shown that we're willing to use military action, if

necessary. We have the high moral ground with regards to what happened in Syria. We have evidence to establish what the Syrian government did. And,

frankly, the responsibility here in large measure still rests with the Russians.

They were responsible for putting that chemical agreement together, and obviously they failed to enforce it. So I think we have some leverage

here. Whether we're able to use it in these next few months to really make a difference remains to be seen.

AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you about that? Because obviously it was under President Obama's watch, who you served, in various high level positions.

And President Obama made a big deal how not following through on the red line and the use of force allowed him to actually negotiate and engineer

this chemical weapons deal.

Do you think, though, that given what's happened just now, perhaps it wasn't wise not to use military force, and the chemical weapons deal was

not as good as the administration -- Obama administration told the world that it was?

PANETTA: Well, there's no question that I thought President Obama, once he drew that red line, that they should not use chemical weapons, should have,

in fact, followed through. I think that would have been important. And it's true that they did negotiate an agreement, but clearly that agreement

did not get rid of all the chemical weapons. And the Russians have not effectively enforced that.

So we are now at a stage where Syria obviously still has chemical weapons. They still have the potential to use those weapons. And I think the most

important position for the United States is that we do not want to see those kinds of weapons used again, and we will do everything we can to

prevent that from happening. And hopefully the Russians will help us in that effort to prevent the use of chemical weapons, period.

AMANPOUR: I do want to get back to the bigger picture because your former colleague, acting director of the CIA Mike Morell, has written as you know

an op-ed in "The New York Times" in which he's basically positing that Putin right now with every move and every maneuver is testing the United

States, testing this new administration and that the president, not just Secretary Tillerson or Ambassador Nikki Haley or the others, that President

Donald Trump needs to get up and address the nation and make it very, very clear that the national security interests of this country demand a certain

line taken to Russia and to put those lines to Russia to let them know what's crossable and what's not.

Do you agree with that?

[14:10:00] PANETTA: Well, I think it's very important that in dealing with Putin, and I am one who believes that you can deal with Putin. But you

have to deal with him from strength. You can't deal with Putin from weakness. And I think it's very important to make clear that there are

lines, whether it's the Ukraine, whether it's Crimea, whether it's Syria, whether it's chemical weapons, that there are lines that the United States

will not allow others to cross. And that we are firm about that. That's the message that has to be sent to the Russians.

And if they believe that we will, in fact, act, then I believe there's room to try to hopefully find some kind of negotiating approach to the future.

But if they think that the United States is weak, that we don't have a clear message as to what our strategy is going to be in that part of the

world, then I think they'll continue to take advantage of it.

AMANPOUR: Well, what about North Korea? I mean, is there any role for both countries to play there? They had talked about the battle carrier

group "Carl Vinson" which is in the Pacific near the Korean Peninsula right now.

Secretary Tillerson said this is just routine operations. It's always there. Read nothing into its current deployment. And Lavrov said, well,

you know, denuclearization has to happen but by negotiation and that, you know, we cannot have any military action taken over this situation.

What is your prediction?

PANETTA: My prediction is that the United States has to continue to show North Korea that we are not backing off from making clear to North Korea

that we will not accept any kind of aggressive behavior on their part. And so we have to continue to strengthen the defences of South Korea, of Japan.

We have to continue to maintain a strong military presence there. I think we ought to be ratcheting up the sanctions against North Korea. And very

frankly, the key country that we have to deal with here is China.

I'm not sure that Russia has as much influence on North Korea as China does. And China is the one that's going to have to continue to put

pressure on North Korea to see if we can find a diplomatic way to try to resolve these issues.

AMANPOUR: And do you think President Trump can get that from President Xi? Apparently, President Xi made no commitment to President Trump over the

North Korean issue. No specific commitment.

PANETTA: You know, with my experience in dealing with President Xi, I think he does, in fact, recognize what a threat North Korea constitutes.

Not only to that region, but to China, as well, frankly, in terms of destabilization.

So I think that while they want to maintain a relationship with North Korea, they also understand how unstable and unpredictable that leadership

is. And it is in their interest to try to continue to pursue some kind of diplomatic effort here, to try to get North Korea to negotiate these issues

as opposed to continuing to engage in provocation, which I think could lead to a miscalculation and the potential for war on the Korean Peninsula.

AMANPOUR: These are very troubling times. Secretary Panetta, thank you very much for joining us.

PANETTA: Nice to be with you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And from staring down Russia to a standoff in the heart of Wall Street, the fearless girl statue has won the hearts of many New Yorkers for

standing up for women's rights in that bastion of male dominance. But the artist behind the charging bull, she is facing down there, is not

impressed, arguing that it corrupts the artistic integrity of his work and he's mulling action to move her along.

Coming up next, she's encouraging us all to raise our children, girls and boys, as feminists. My interview with the best-selling Nigerian novelist

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. How do we move towards a fairer world? When we're boys and girls have equal rights and opportunities. A

new feminist manifesto by the award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says that it starts by teaching our daughters that they

matter just as much as boys do.

Already, a literary sensation since her novel "Americana" explored what it means to be black in America, she went viral with her TED talk on why we

should all be feminist, which Beyonce famously included in her song "Flawless" and printed on T-shirts last year.

I started by talking to Chimamanda who divides her time between Nigeria and the United States about the new global reality brought on by Donald Trump's



AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program and thanks for joining us from New York.

CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

AMANPOUR: So this is a moment where all sectors of society, including artists and writers, and everybody are sort of reacting and laying down

their own markers to the political upheaval that we're seeing in the U.S. and all over the world. You have written a very big article for the "New

Yorker" magazine, basically saying now is the time.

What do you mean by that exactly in this context?

ADICHIE: Because I grew up in Nigeria and having grown up there, political uncertainty is not unfamiliar to me. I grew up during the 1980s where we

had coups. But the U.S., I think, hasn't quite had to deal with the kind of political uncertainty that I think happened with the election of

President Trump.

And my essay was really about how it's now time for people to find new ways to talk about politics, to push back, to stand up for what is true and what

is right. It's really not the time to make excuses or to hold onto this idea of optimism. It's time to maybe be a bit more realistic and also time

to accept that difficulty is part of the reality of political life.

AMANPOUR: And I want to move on to one of your most famous works, "Americana." Because you do live in the United States now. But you are

Nigerian. You come from a black country, and yet you said you never experienced really what it meant to be black until you came to the United


ADICHIE: I think in some ways it's because everyone in Nigeria is black. And so we didn't really think actively of race as an identity marker. And

when I went to the U.S., I suddenly realized that race was this identity that was thrust on me.

But what's interesting I think about race is that it's not that I have dark skin, which I actually find quite glorious. It is instead that having this

skin comes with assumptions, that people who look at people with skin like mine and make assumptions about their ability, about what they should and

shouldn't do, and that's why it is a problem.

AMANPOUR: Well, listen, you are right. It is glorious, so I second your comment there. But, you know, you came to the United States as a 19-year-

old university student and you see that there are huge race relation problems. Obviously much has improved, but there are still dramatic race

relation problems and some of them exacerbated by the current campaign.

What is your take on the state of race, so to speak, in the United States right now?

ADICHIE: I think that race is America's original sin. And it's not surprising that it remains a problem. Actually, sometimes I find it

surprising that some people find it surprising that it remains a problem.

I do think, though, that the political leaders can set the tone that one uses to talk about race.

[14:20:00] I think that President Obama was wonderful at setting this tone in which racism did not disappear, but it wasn't overt. I think what's

happened with this administration is that they've set a tone in which casual racism has become OK in a way. And because you have the leader of a

country who himself sort of engages in casual racism, I think that's the same for Mr. Jimmy (ph) as well, and so the political leadership can set

the tone. And I'm not very encouraged about the tone that's been set in this country.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's for race. What about for feminism and the respect of women? You have even before this election, in fact, way before this

election, you gave a very famous TED talk about feminism. I want to play some of it and then talk to you about what you said and what your manifesto

is today.


ADICHIE: We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much.


You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man.

If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, you have to pretend that you're not, especially in public. Otherwise, you will

emasculate him. But what if we question the premise itself. Why should a woman's success be a threat to a man?


AMANPOUR: I mean, there's so much to unpick there, Chimamanda. Were you angry? Are you trying to persuade people? Are you trying to knock people

over their heads? What do you think needs to be done to resolve this situation, which is still a situation when it comes to gender equality?

ADICHIE: All of those things. I am angry, and I think everyone should be angry about the state of gender. But I also want to persuade. I want to

talk. I want to have conversations. I think that there's gender imbalance everywhere in the world. And lots of it is infuriating to me because it's

about injustice. It is so unjust that so many people, who make up half the world's population, don't have the access and opportunities that they


But at the same time, I don't think that it means that all men are evil or terrible. I think that privilege means often that one is blinded. I dream

of a world where we no longer need feminism because it will be redundant.

AMANPOUR: And you have actually taken another step and you've written sort of a new feminist manifesto. You've called it "Dear Ijeawele" or "A

Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions."

ADICHIE: I wrote it because it started actually as a letter to a friend of mine who had just had a baby. And she asked me to tell her how to raise

her baby girl a feminist. And so I started to write down the things that I think we can do differently in raising girls.

I think a lot of this also applies to raising boys, but not all of them. It's very important that we live in a world that gives women room to be

full people, rather than having them be defined solely on very narrow, domestic terms. And also the idea of rejecting likeability.

I think that young girls everywhere in the world are raised to make themselves likable, by which I mean that I think it's wonderful to be

polite and to be civil. Everybody should be. But I think girls are raised in a particularly insidious idea that they have to cater to the egos of

men, sometimes you have to pretend not to be as intelligent as you are. And you can't be too forward.

AMANPOUR: I want to know your take on Hillary Clinton, who, you know, is one of the most professional women in all of American politics, the most

experienced. And yet there was this likeability thing that kept getting thrown at her.

ADICHIE: I remember thinking when I was read all this coverage about her, why we had to keep hearing about whether or not she was likeable. Why was

that even a subject? Why didn't we hear that about her male opponent? I think women who seek power or women who have power make people

uncomfortable. And so we find ways to judge them in ways that we wouldn't judge men who are seeking power or men who have power.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, thank you so much indeed for joining me tonight.

ADICHIE: Thank you very much. It's been lovely.


AMANPOUR: This week, America celebrated its press, big and very small, with the Pulitzer Prizes. The jury rewarded the tiny family-owned

newspaper, "The Storm Lake Times," circulation 3,000, for editorial writing that confronted the state of Iowa's most powerful agricultural interests.

An excellent reminder that great journalism can come in all different sizes.


[14:26:30] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, Germany rallied around football team Borussia Dortmund this week after the team bus was targeted in a

series of explosions on the way to play in the UA for Champions League quarterfinals against Monaco.

Former Barcelona player Marc Bartra was injured during the attack. But amidst all these chaos, imagine a world of solidarity through sport.




AMANPOUR: That cheering you just heard wasn't coming from Dortmund fans, though, it was instead emanating for supporters of Monaco, cheering their

opponents in the German stadium after news of the explosion spread. And the fraternity amongst fans didn't end there.

When the match was delayed by a day, some Monaco supporters were left in a lurch having nowhere to stay in the German city. That is when Dortmund

devotees opened up their homes, making the host nation into real hosts for one night only. Using the #BedsForAwayFans to help people who had no place

to stay as they awaited the rescheduled game. While Monaco ultimately won the match, fans from both teams were united in their rejection of terrorism

and their love for the game.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.