Return to Transcripts main page


A Gamble For Peace With The Taliban; A Russian Spy Drama In The Era Of Putin. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 28, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, in a last-ditch gamble to end the Afghan war, the Afghan president has proposed to recognize the

Taliban that's between fighting the government for 16 years. I ask the former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel whether it can work.

Plus, my conversation with the Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence about her latest film "Red Sparrow". She also tells me that she too has been treated

in ways which, today, we would call abusive.


JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: I mean, I had to deal with being young and having executives or higher up putting their hand on my legs and not

feeling like I could say please don't do that.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Could Afghanistan's newest political party be the Taliban? It's a shocking thought, especially after 16 years of war. And in the last year alone,

10,000 Afghan civilians killed or wounded.

The Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has called the Taliban terrorists in the past, but today, in a bid for peace, he made an unprecedented offer - to

talk to the group without preconditions.

He also offered a slew of sweeteners. The removal of sanctions and the possibility of the Taliban forming its own legitimate political party.

Afghan civilians are desperate for peace, but is this the way to achieve it. The Taliban right now have the upper hand on the ground. They control

large swaths of land and they're consistently committing brazen acts of violence.

Just last month, a suicide bomber in central Kabul killed 100 people.

As President Obama's defense secretary, Chuck Hagel is all too familiar with the challenges posed by Afghanistan and he joins me now to talk about

this development from Washington. Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, obvious first question. What do you make of President Ashraf Ghani's offer to the Taliban?

HAGEL: It's truly the only wise course of action that the president could take. If you look at the dynamics and the realities that face Afghanistan

today, and you noted a couple, but now we're in our 17th year, the United States, in Afghanistan.

Only some kind of a diplomatic solution is going to break this. And I think the way that President Ghani has approached this is exactly the right


Does it work? Will it work? How will it work? We don't know that. You don't get those answers upfront. But I think it's important that he engage

as he has laid out in a very clear away, the beginning of that engagement, because there's only one solution and that's a diplomatic solution.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, obviously, it begs the question as to why this has not happened in the past. It is true that President Obama tried that. It's

true that the AfPak process tried that under President Obama.

But it's also true that, two years ago, Afghan Taliban controlled only 7 percent of the land there. Today, it's something like 17 percent. They're

active over 70 percent of the country. They hold the upper hand. What is the government going to get?

HAGEL: Well, depending on how this breaks down, what the government will get, first, hopefully, an initial ceasefire, then another stage of probably

power-sharing in order to bring this to some kind of peaceful conclusion.

When you go through the inventory of the problems, and you just noted another one, the areas of Afghanistan that the Taliban now control versus

what they controlled a few years ago, but you add to that, corruption in the current government, defections in the military, record poppy production

- again, I go back to my point, there is no other way out of this. There is no military solution here.

And at some point, the United States is going to say enough is enough. We've never been in a way this long. And I think Ghani understands that.

And I think this approach is the only legitimate, wise, responsible course of action to take.

AMANPOUR: Let me just play you one of the latest things President Trump said about talking to the Taliban. And this was in the aftermath of the -

as I said, a brazen attack. They used an ambulance to set off a suicide bombing, killed 100 civilians in the heart of Kabul. Listen to what

President Trump said after that.


[14:05:16] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't want to talk to the Taliban. We're going to finish what we have to finish. What

nobody else has been able to finish, we're going to be able to do it.


AMANPOUR: So, look, Mr. Secretary, you said there's no military solution. It is America's longest war. The president, though, potentially voices

concerns of some amongst the military. What do you think the uniformed American military will say about this, having fought them for so long,

having lost so many of their own?

HAGEL: Well, I can't speak for the American military. I can tell you, when I was secretary of defense and when I was United States senator, I was

in the first congressional delegation that arrived in Afghanistan in late January 2002 after our invasion.

And so, I've been back many, many times either as United States senator or secretary of defense, and I can tell you, it's the military of our country

who has had to bear the brunt, the casualties, the wounded, back and back and back.

And it's like any other conflict like this. It is complicated. It has many facets and dynamics. The military can't fix it. The military has a

role in it, of course. But only some kind of strategic diplomatic objective can work our way through this.

Is it going to be perfect? No. But our situation there - the Afghan situation is very bad. It is getting worse. Do we think truly that we can

fix this by a so-called win in Afghanistan? I was in one of those wars in Vietnam that we were going to win. We didn't win.

You don't win these kind of things. It's up to the people. It's up to the other voices there. We can help. We can facilitate. We can be part of

the process. Absolutely, we need to be. We should be. I think we will be.

But this bravado about, well, we're going to finish the job of the military, I don't know if the president has got ideas of putting tens of

thousands of troops more in Afghanistan. We tried that. We're in our 17th year. Things haven't worked out very well with that course of action.

AMANPOUR: Well, so it's a cautionary tale because, obviously, if we move to Syria where there's another massive spike right now, a massive

humanitarian disaster unfolding in Eastern Ghouta as the Syrian regime tries to pound that place into submission, America does have boots on the

ground, it does have units that it's backing, local units that it's backing.

I know you were pretty much a critic of President Obama's not meeting the redline and not doing more there. How do you see that ending?

HAGEL: Well, again, there are different dimensions and dynamics and histories there in Syria versus Afghanistan, but there are some


And one of those similarities is our option going to continue to be the continued destruction of Syria and the slaughter of the Syrian people and

the exiles that are fleeing putting pressure on all those countries.

And this is a region of the world that is in more trouble, in more turmoil than ever in the history of the Middle East. You've got dysfunctional

governments. You've got non-functioning governments. So, how then do we try to resolve this?

Well, 2,000 American troops in the north of Syria isn't going to fix this problem. Turkey is in. Russia is in. You know all the players in this.

I think - again, I go back to some strategic diplomatic objective where America can play a role in this. Is it going to be perfect? No. Is it

going to have to include the major powers in this? But, mainly, the people on the ground who live there. They've got to be a part of it.

This thing could go on and on and on for years and years. There will be nothing left of Syria. There's hardly anything left of Western Iraq today.

Look at Libya. Look at Yemen.

Is this where we all want to go? Or should we try to be a little smarter here and come up with another approach. And I think that is the one thing

that is very similar to the situation in Afghanistan. There is no military solution in Syria.

AMANPOUR: And very quickly, we've got about 30 seconds left, what should President Trump do to discuss with President Putin how to resolve this in


HAGEL: Well, great powers engage. Engagement is not appeasement. Engagement is not surrender. We're the greatest power on earth by any


We should take the initiative. We should reach out. We should have - President Trump should reach to Putin and the great leaders and set out and

talk this out.

How do we fix this? Do we want to continue to slaughter people and destroy parts of the world? If that's where you want to go, Mr. Putin or Mr. Xi

or whoever the leader is, then that's an option.

[14:10:02] But I think we're all better than that. It doesn't work to Russia's advantage to have a Middle East destroyed or certainly China,

certainly not the United States. Find common denominators, and that's how we've structured a world order after World War II. Mutual common


AMANPOUR: Secretary Chuck Hagel, thank you so much for joining us today. And, of course, that world order put the United States and Russia in a very

clear position vis-a-vis each other.

So, that leads to our next segment where they say life imitates art. And if that's true, "Red Sparrow" starring Jennifer Lawrence and opening this

weekend in America and around the world could hardly be more timely.

Here's a clip from the film.


AMANPOUR: So, that's Lawrence portraying a young woman coerced into becoming a sparrow for the Soviet Union, a real-life role in a once upon a

time Soviet program that weaponized female spies.

It is a movie for our era and she is an actress for our times. As you'll hear, Jennifer Lawrence is outspoken on everything from abuse that she

suffered to contemporary American politics.

She joined me here in the studio recently as she was promoting the UK release along with director Francis Lawrence - no relation - who has also

directed Jennifer in the blockbuster "Hunger Games" franchise.

Jennifer Lawrence, Francis Lawrence, welcome. What about this story - it's a part of a trilogy. I think it's the first part of the trilogy in the era

of Putin's spies. And the last one is going to be called the Kremlin's candidate.

What about this story at this time grabbed you?

J. LAWRENCE: Well, what's interesting is we started making the movie three years ago. So, we knew that it was exciting. We knew that it was

unique. It was dramatic, but was it really relevant.

And then, a year into making the movie, the Russia election with the US, all of that broke. And we're like, well, it's relevant.

AMANPOUR: What did you think when that was happening? I mean, did you think, wow, we're sitting on a gold mine here.

FRANCIS LAWRENCE, DIRECTOR: No, I mean, I certainly didn't. I didn't set out to make a political film in any way. I mean, I was really drawn in by

the character that Jen plays and her journey.

I'm really drawn to isolated, lonely characters. I'm very lonely. Yes, very lonely. Lonely journeys. And I also love survival stories. And so,

the character, to me, was a really unique way into the story.

So, it was a strange thing. We were actually in Hungary at the time during the elections. And to see this kind of news breaking and to see that the

movie started to feel more and more relevant and more topical, but was still never intended on making a political film.

J. LAWRENCE: It's not a political film. The plot is fictionalized. The characters are all fictionalized.

AMANPOUR: And the character, tell me about your character.

J. LAWRENCE: She's a fascinating character because she's an antihero. She's an unexpected hero. She didn't ask to be put into this world and

she's also not - she is a very flawed human. She's manipulative. She's cunning. She has moments of rage.

So, I thought that this was - it's a very unique drama because it's not really talking - we're not exposing the glamorous side of espionage. It's

very brutal. And what goes behind somebody living a double life.

AMANPOUR: And it's also very - in part, highly sexualized, right?


AMANPOUR: I want to play what's quite a shocking clip from the movie, which really just is so raw. And then, we'll talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take off your clothes. Your body belongs to the state. Since your birth, the state nourished it. Now, the state asks something in


You must learn to sacrifice for a higher purpose. To push yourself beyond all limitation and forget the sentimental morality with which you're



AMANPOUR: It's pretty brutal. How did you feel doing that?

J. LAWRENCE: The preemptive anxiety is so much worse than the actual reality. I had had a good year to prepare mentally for what I was going to

do because we talked about it extensively when I read the script because I knew that there was only one way to do it.

[14:15:00] We wanted to - we really had to go all the way if we were going to make this movie. So, I was either going to be comfortable doing the

scenes or something else should do it.

And so, I had a year to mentally prepare. The worst part was the night before. I didn't sleep at all. But then, when I got there, everybody is

so professional and so nice and they really do an amazing job of clearing out the sets and I was perfectly comfortable.

And afterwards, I felt empowered. I still feel empowered. And I can actually watch that scene.

AMANPOUR: Tell me what you mean by empowered.

J. LAWRENCE: I have just had a lot of insecurities when it came to sexuality and nudity and my body and I have just been carrying them around

for years. And I thought - when I read the script, I loved it so much.

And I thought, if I don't do it and if I say no and I miss out on a chance of working with Francis again and doing this movie that I love, it's almost

all of these insecurities and fears win. And so, I felt like I got something back.

AMANPOUR: And when you were doing this and as you finish the film, et cetera, I assume it was before the #MeToo movement, before this whole

revelation started in October. So, you weren't talking about - that wasn't part of the conversation at that time?


J. LAWRENCE: No. It wasn't, but I feel like this is a perfect movie that we need right now. I think that, in all of our test screenings with women

and also just for me, I find it incredibly empowering and also opens up the conversation for the difference between consent and not consent.

I had a choice. I'm an adult. I made a decision. I knew what I was doing. And that's really the end of the story there that you aren't

comparables. I think it's important to open up that conversation.

AMANPOUR: I just wonder because, obviously, in the research, I've been reading some of the issues that you brought up in the past. And you

mention that one of your early experiences with a female producer, I think it was, was almost identical to this. Tell me that story.

J. LAWRENCE: Yes. I had a hard experience on a movie where basically the producers were trying to illustrate to me that I was overweight, but I

wasn't. And a part of that was having me do a line up with women who are much thinner than I was.

And we had pieces covering our private parts, but were essentially naked. And then, I was told to use the photos as motivation for my diet. So, it

was dehumanizing in a different way. I didn't feel - I was more - I don't know, mentally brutal.

AMANPOUR: And that was a woman.

J. LAWRENCE: Yes, it was a woman.

AMANPOUR: And I saw your face as she was telling that. So, you probably heard it many, many times. It is extraordinary when you think that that

kind of conversation can still be happening.


AMANPOUR: That people in your position can actually still do that to people like Jennifer.

F. LAWRENCE: Well, hopefully, that'll change now. I mean, that's, I think, the great thing about people coming out and telling the story, is I

think there'll be great change.

But what I think it shows, and one of the reasons we made the movie, is these things have been happening for a very long time. And so, those

ideas, the idea in our movie are not new.

I think what's new is the bravery of the people coming out and speaking about it and the movement that she is involved in to make the change.

J. LAWRENCE: Yes. Well, in creating a society that is supporting people who are coming forward - 97 percent of sexual abuse allegations are true.

There's a 3 percent that isn't. And I feel, over the past, we've focused on the 3 percent and it's been so easy to say, oh, well, she's lying.

But if we create a community where survivors can come forward and talk, then there's going to be change, then there's going to be no way of going


AMANPOUR: Are you a survivor? Are you a MeToo-er?

J. LAWRENCE: When I hear the harrowing stories of the victims of Harvey Weinstein and when I hear - I don't feel right putting myself in that exact

category. I was certainly mistreated. I was definitely treated in a way that I think now we would call abusive.

I mean, I had to deal with being young and having executives or higher up putting their hands on my legs and not feeling like I could say, please

don't do that.

But, no, I don't know. I don't know.

AMANPOUR: But as you say, both of you, the floodgates have been opened now, that you can talk almost about everything, the extremes of sexual

abuse and harassment and the kind of things that young girls are going to be looking at - looking towards you.

You are the millennial icon. And they're going to hear this story about how you were shamed when you're a perfectly beautiful woman into somebody

making you have a diet. What would you say to the young girls who listen to you all the time and the young men who hang on your every word?

J. LAWRENCE: I mean, you have to know who you are and you have to know your worth and you have to know what's worth it and what isn't.

I mean, if you're doing a physical role - I mean, when I was doing the "Hunger Games", I did a lot of training. It was a really physical role and

I had to be in good shape.

There's a difference between getting in shape for a movie and being mentally abused and told that you're fat.

[14:20:10] A lot of people lose weight for movies. They gain weight for movies. That's all OK. But that's a very different thing than shaming

basically a teenager into losing weight.

I mean, when we were doing "The Hunger Games", it's not like we told any teenagers that they should lose weight.

F. LAWRENCE: Yes. In fact, Josh Hutcherson had to lose a bunch of weight because he had been starved in the movie and we did it with visual effects.

I didn't want him to be unhealthy. I would never ask that of somebody.

AMANPOUR: I wonder what you think - people like you, all the men in Hollywood can really help change this. Obviously, it's not just going to

be the women. It has to be the men in all our professions. Where do you think it should start in Hollywood?

F. LAWRENCE: Wow! I think it can start on a lot of fronts. As somebody that employs people, I would say creating the safest environment is


I always try to do that. I will continue to do that. I would encourage other people to do that, so that people feel respected and safe and

comfortable and can enjoy their work as they should.

I think one is to continue to tell stories about women. I think one is to hire women in front of and behind the cameras as much as possible, so that

there can be a collaboration in terms of point of view in storytelling.

AMANPOUR: You used to -

F. LAWRENCE: I would also say - sorry - that I think that we also need more female executives out there in the world that are calling the shots

and hiring people like me or hiring other female directors.

I felt very lucky. The chairman of our studio is a woman. The president of the studio is a woman. The creative exec is a woman.

AMANPOUR: So, that's a good environment. She's a woman. I'm a woman.

F. LAWRENCE: But that's really, really rare.

AMANPOUR: And you were splashed over the headlines a few years ago for another sort of moment of activism when it was shown with the Sony hack

that you were not paid equally to your male co-stars in "American Hustle".

Has time changed that? Are you now satisfied that you are fairly and equally paid as a woman?

J. LAWRENCE: It's something I'm still diligent about. And I think I look for full transparency in all of my negotiations.

I think a few years ago - I think when I wrote the essay, it was more about my mentality because this is an issue that - my problems aren't necessarily

relatable to everybody, but it is. Pay inequity is an issue across the globe.

I was more interested in my own mindset of why I didn't think that I deserve to be paid equally. At that point, I had won an Academy Award. I

had led movies to be number one at the Box Office and why I thought I didn't deserve to be paid equally than the men or that I didn't think that

it was possible.

Of course, I asked. Of course, I pushed. But I didn't want to push too far. And I think a lot of that has to do with opportunity. If women or

people of color don't have the same opportunity as white men, then it's harder for them to walk away from a job. It's easier for them to just take

a role. And we lose the negotiating power.

AMANPOUR: Clarify for us. Are you taking a year off? Are you taking a year out? There's some chatter in these - atmosphere that you're retiring

for a year. Is that true?

J. LAWRENCE: No, no, no. I mean, I won't be on a set. for a year. I still have a lot of things in development. And that's normal for actors to

take - which is probably not for me because I run (ph) two franchises.

But I won't be on set for a year. I still have projects in development. I need to be focusing mainly on an organization I'm a part of, represent as,

probably traveling around, just trying to get young people engaged politically on a local level.

AMANPOUR: And what exactly is it? Is it about democracy? Is it about women's rights?

J. LAWRENCE: They all kind of fall under the same umbrella. The more I started to educate myself on our country and on our democracy, the more I

learned that everything that I care about from pollution to public healthcare to public education, immigration, it all falls under the

umbrella of corruption.

Nothing can really change in our country if the 0.01 percent can buy off votes. And so, we elect these officials into office and they're

immediately fundraising and working for the people who got them there, which aren't the American people.

So, trying to find ways that we can create fundraising for campaigns that don't just come from a very small part of America because, without that,

we're not going to ever have a full democracy.

So, I think that young people are the answer.

AMANPOUR: You both must have been, I mean, heartbroken, but also incredibly impressed by the number of young people who have actually been

mobilized by the shooting in Florida. That must be incredibly heartening.

J. LAWRENCE: Exactly. And they are educating themselves and that's the greatest power that they can get because, right now, so many lawmakers are

in the pocket of the NRA that it doesn't matter that we don't feel safe as American citizens and the children don't feel safe going to school.

[14:25:06] Laws won't change because of the way our government is built. So, these children doing this and taking a stand, this is the only way that

real change is going to happen in our country.

AMANPOUR: Let's just talk again about "Red Sparrow" which is about to come out. It's about the patriotism, right? It's sort of also about

patriotism, loyalty to the state, how do you feel about that message today, given our political situation?

J. LAWRENCE: I think that what spies do, what the CIA does, what the FBI does is selfless and it's patriotic. I think they risk their lives for our

country and most of them go their entire lives without being known. Even after they're dead, people don't know what they've done for our country.

It's very selfless.

My character, specific story, is she's forced into a situation where she has to decide between caring for her ailing mother and her allegiance to

her country.

F. LAWRENCE: Or is it in allegiance to herself? That's the fun of the movie.

AMANPOUR: That's the question. And do you - obviously, you've talked to a lot of CIA people. I mean, you've done a lot of research. Did you ever

find evidence of a CIA-led red sparrow or cyber program?

F. LAWRENCE: You know what's interesting is I had heard a story. So, this was a real program that existed in Russia in the 60s and the 70s. I'm

not so sure it exists now, but I had heard stories that the Americans had tried a sparrow school of their own, but that it didn't work because of the

sort of Eastern European views on sex were very, very different, and so they were much harder to blackmail, which I found really amusing that

somehow there is something very like - yes, sort of puritanical about the Americans. Like, oh, no, my family can't know I've done this. And the

Russians didn't really care.

AMANPOUR: Jennifer Lawrence, Francis Lawrence, thank you both very much for being here.

F. LAWRENCE: Thank you.

J. LAWRENCE: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.