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Israeli Voters Deciding to Reelect Benjamin Netanyahu; 50 People Killed in Tripoli. Protesters Killed in Sudan; Chaos in the Middle East; Peter Millett, Former British Ambassador to Libya and David Kirkpatrick, New York Times International Correspondent, are Interviewed About Middle East. Security as a Campaign Theme; Richard Clarke, Former U.S. Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, is Interviewed About President Trump's Border. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 9, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
As Israel votes, Egypt's president goes to the White House and strong men rule across North Africa. We speak to a former British ambassador and the
"New York Times" reporter who wrote a defining account of the Arab Spring.
Also ahead, as President Trump purges top Homeland Security officials, I ask Former Counter-Terrorism and Security, Richard Clarke, about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deep in my heart, when I see this landscape, I think there's a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The effect of climate change on the Himalayan glaciers. Our Hari Srinivasan sits down with the veteran filmmaker and mountaineer, David
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
All across the Middle East and North Africa today, citizens have democracy on their minds. But leaders are only talking security. From Israel to
Egypt, Sudan to Libya, elections, protests and violence show the turmoil that's roiling the region.
In Israel, voters are deciding whether to reelect the self-styled Mr. Security, their hawkish prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The issue is
central to his campaign and to that of his opponent, the centrist retired general, Benny Gantz.
After the promise of the Arab Spring, Egypt has opted for security over democracy and the retired general and President Sisi is in Washington today
basking in the Trump administration's warm embrace.
In Libya, a renegade general closes in on the capital Tripoli with air strikes on the only functional airport. Nearly 50 people have been killed
in just three days. And in Sudan, several protesters have been killed in escalating anti-government rallies. But some soldiers stepped in to
protect protests from government forces.
So, what are we to make of all of this? Joining me here in London are Peter Millett, the former British ambassador to Libya and Jordan and the
"New York times" correspondent, David Kirkpatrick, who follows the region closely and is the author of "Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and
Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East."
Gentlemen, welcome both.
To be honest, the title of your book is precisely what we're talking about. But let me first ask you both about the warm welcome that president and
former general, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is receiving in the White House.
As an ambassador, what do you make of the embrace now of these increasingly authoritarian leaders who are dominating the landscape?
PETER MILLETT, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO LIBYA: Oh, the role of the military in the Middle East is fundamental to all of those countries. When
you look back at the Arab Spring, when the dictator left Tunisia, the military filled the vacuum. When the dictator left Cairo, the military
filled the vacuum. In Libya, the dictator fell, there was a vacuum and there was nothing to fill it.
Now, we have a strongman, a military person, but his approach is very narrow-minded, it is only about military power, not about politics, not
about economics. I think that's the weakness of that approach. Unless you can tackle political issues, political and social reconciliation, have a
military hierarchy and tackle economic reform and jobs for young people, then military power is not actually the long-term solution.
AMANPOUR: You're talking about regional problems, but you're specifically now talking about General Haftar, right?
MILLETT: Yes. I was talking specifically about him but I think there's a more general issue there for other countries in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: Now, I'm going to come back to him in more detail because you've met him and you know him and we want to know what you think his aim is.
AMANPOUR: But of course, he is supported, David, by General Sisi of Egypt, president, and President Sisi is supported by President Trump and they're
very pleased with the way he's going. From what you know about Egypt, where is that country going, and what does Trump's embrace mean for them?
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you know, it's interesting. There have been many times when American officials
or Western officials have said a pure authoritarianism, an autocratic government with contempt for institutions is actually a recipe for
instability, and that's what Sisi has brought. That's not what he's getting out of this trip to the White House.
What he's trying to do now is push through changes to the Egyptian constitution that would allow him effectively to be president for life.
He's traveled all the way to Washington to get a moment with Trump where he can say to Egyptians back home, "Look, I've got the approval of the
Americans, they're on my side, let's push this through and I will rule you forever."
AMANPOUR: I think we might, in fact, have a little bit of sound of reporters asking the president about this. Let's just play it.
We don't. But what he did say when people asked him whether he supports this president for life constitutional change is that, "I think he's doing
a very good job." He didn't directly answer that.
But given what we've seen of former U.S. presidents, their policy has always been to support the leader of Egypt or elsewhere. These are their
allies. What does it mean for the West if you suddenly find yourself agreeing, supporting, a president for life or the takeover by a general of
what the U.N. is trying to make a civilian government in Libya? What does it mean?
MILLETT: And I think it means for the political process in a country like Libya, we have values as well as interests. And I think if our values mean
that a military takeover in a country like Libya is not something we're going to be able to accept easily nor would, I think, we see it as a
successful solution to the problems of that country. We can't afford for Libya to become a failed state. We've seen the problems of migration,
we've seen the problems of terrorism which created in a country. There's only a couple hundred miles from the borders of Europe.
AMANPOUR: Yes. We mustn't forget all those boats that come across.
MILLETT: And I think if you have increasing lawlessness, which is likely to happen with the current military campaign, then I think the migration
flows and the growth of terrorism, we will see Libya increasingly being seen as a failed state.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of the General Haftar? I mean, you've met mean. I mean, is he competent? Is he able to take over? Why is he even
trying? Where does he get this backing from?
MILLETT: He's a 75-year-old general. And I think he does see himself as the savior of Libya in a way that the old President Nasser of Egypt saw
himself as the savior of the Arab world. I think he sees himself through that prism. And therefore, military power comes first. He will take over
in Tripoli and he will solve the problems of the country.
AMANPOUR: But the thing is, the U.N. was building up a civilian government that the world recognized.
MILLETT: Yes. I think he's made a serious miscalculation, because I don't think he can succeed and I think he has thumbed his nose at the United
Nations. He launched this attack when the secretary general of the United Nations, Antonio Gutierrez, arrived in Tripoli. You don't get the
secretary general visiting your country very often.
Gutierrez went to Benghazi and Haftar basically told him he wasn't going to stop. Now, that suggest to me, he's not interested in the U.N.'s political
efforts. He believes he can win and I'm afraid I think he's deluded.
KIRKPATRICK: You know, I must say, as bad as that is, I think you have understated the severity of the problem. Because realistically, although
Haftar, everyone would agree, he has not shown himself to be an effective strongman. The alternative right now, ruling Tripoli, is a gang of thugs.
There is absolutely no real law there and it's a kind of criminal syndicate.
AMANPOUR: The Government of National Accord?
KIRKPATRICK: The people -- the Government of National Accord is a kind of figure head, a front. The actual power on the ground is a group of about
four militias who have formed a kind of cartel to divvy up the spoils of corruption in the capital city. And that's the --
AMANPOUR: So, what you're saying, Haftar will be welcomed as a liberating hero or as a law and order hero?
KIRKPATRICK: Well, we don't really know what the people of Tripoli would ask for if they could. Right now, the only people whose voices count are
the men with guns and they fall into two camps, Haftar, there would be strong men, or the currently corrupt lot that are presiding over Tripoli.
AMANPOUR: But, David, sort of dig deep for us because, again, you've written a book on Egypt, you've traveled around the whole of the Arab
Spring, I mean, just explain for our viewers the irony of how military dictatorship was briefly interrupted for a re-imposition of military
dictatorship or authoritarianism or whatever you want to call it, but military control, the --
KIRKPATRICK: You're talking about in Egypt?
AMANPOUR: Egypt and many places. Yes.
KIRKPATRICK: I think what we're seeing now, it feels almost like an echo with the uprisings in Sudan, threatening Bashir, with the uprising in
Algeria, throwing out Bouteflika. And then, with this contest in Libya, it's almost like we are rehashing the question of what that history really
meant. Is the lesson of the Arab Spring that people, when they come together, can throw out their dictator or is the lesson that if you
question the autocrat, you question the ruler, you end up with only chaos and misery? And that is still -- there's no clear meaning there and that's
still being fought out across the region today.
AMANPOUR: And how do you think it's going to play out? I mean, you both must look at this very, very closely. I mean, is it an Arab Spring 2.0? I
mean, Sudan was left behind last time. Algeria was left behind last time. Is it going to start up again? What do you think?
MILLETT: I don't see it starting up as a sort of regional movement in the way it was in 2011 and that great sense of expectation, because I think a
lot of people have learned that that sense of expectation was misplaced. But I think there are some serious underlying issues, particularly economic
issues, especially population growth and the problem with employment, I think those are going to continue to bubble away.
And the sort of frustration we saw in Jordan last year with the middle classes, basically, saying, "We're graduating our young people but there
are no jobs for them. We don't like this. And you want to tax us more, we don't like that either." I think those underlying issues still need to be
tackled but I don't see it as a regionwide movement.
AMANPOUR: What is your considered opinion as to why a region with so many natural resources and human resources is -- finds it impossible to create
the jobs for its people?
MILLETT: I think part of it is lack of investment, part of it is corruption. And the interests of many of these military groups, they have
a vested interest in the status quo within the economy and are not prepared to take the sort of economic risks that private sector businessmen would
take. And there's a big dependence on the public sector and a lack of focus on investment through the private sector.
AMANPOUR: And as you were saying, they control a huge -- the military are huge chunk, the majority of the economy. David, again, what should the
U.S. be doing as it looks at the region? Because it looks like -- I mean, let's face it, the Obama administration, David Cameron's British
government, the Government of Nicolas (ph), all of those people who went in to dislodge Qaddafi in the uprising in 2011, they didn't finish the job.
And so, they have no, you know, major laurels to fall back on. And now, this administration has come in with a much different view of this region,
or am I wrong?
KIRKPATRICK: Certainly their view is -- the view of the current administration is diametrically opposed to what it was under the Obama
administration. I mean, the Obama administration thought better governance could satisfy the needs of the people and be a path to lasting stability or
at least it was worth a try. This administration thinks, as you said, security first, we should find our enemies and crush them and worry later
You know, each of those arguments is internally coherent and far be it from me to say what is going to be the most successful. Over time, however, it
has seemed like these countries are -- that are ruled by small cliques that control military force and use it for self-enrichment, they are unable to
meet the needs of their people and it has not yet been a recipe for stability.
AMANPOUR: I want to play a soundbite from the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, about Libya and, you know, everybody's sort of playing the
blame game about who lost Libya first, second, third. And of course, the Russians are still very upset about the whole U.N. resolution back in 2011
that led to the U.S. and its allies basically intervening to get Qaddafi out. This is what Lavrov said recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We do not stand for anyone saying who is guilty. The reason for the Libyan crisis
lies in what NATO did to the country in 2011. Since then, it has turned into a failed state. Let's call things by their own names. It became a
black hole where the terrorists marched to the south. Weapons are smuggled and illegal migrants travel to the north. I think it's counterproductive
to judge one side while excusing the others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that's the basic Russian line. But just talk us -- talk to us about how Russia, in this sort of chaos, is beginning to very, very
carefully entrench itself back into the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: There's Syria, there's Libya.
MILLETT: Yes. We all know the Russian role in Syria. And I think their role in Libya is to play a role. It's as much if not more to do with
Russia and Russia in the United Nations, Russia in the Middle East, than it is to do with Libya. I don't think they have a radically different policy
They have supported the United Nations, they've supported the Security Council resolutions, Security Council statements, but it's important that
they are there and being seen to be there. And no doubt, they will be looking for energy contracts and military supply when the arms embargo is
lifted. But I don't think they have a radically different policy from the other -- from most of the rest of the countries and the permanent three.
AMANPOUR: But do you think that they have a -- I mean, there clearly is a sort of difference of opinion between, I don't know, the Western
democracies and Russia as to how to resolve these issues, whether it's in Syria or whether it's in Libya.
MILLETT: It's very convenient to say that NATO made a mistake. And that resolution was adopted by the Russians as well. You know, they --
AMANPOUR: And they regret it to this day.
MILLETT: They know what all necessary measures means.
AMANPOUR: Why do you think they keep saying that you all sort of tricked them?
MILLETT: I don't see how they were tricked. I mean, Mr. Lavrov was the ambassador in New York. He knows what all necessary measures means.
[13:15:00] KIRKPATRICK: I think they find it very convenient as they court other players around the region. I mean, they are very actively trying to
make friends in Cairo, in the Persian Gulf, in Saudi Arabia, and this message of the West ruined Libya and it's all their fault, that's a very
popular one in Cairo right now.
And so, the game that they're playing in Libya, which really amounts to printing money for General Haftar to pass out or because there's a lack of
currency, lack of liquidity inside Libya. This game they're playing is part of a larger regional strategy to extend their influence and get back
into sort of the competition.
AMANPOUR: And at the expense of the United States' influence.
KIRKPATRICK: Of course.
AMANPOUR: So, what do you say, then -- I mean, then, is it inevitable that an American president would at least try to, you know, stay close, shoulder
to shoulder to Egypt even though there's massive violations of human rights, massive violations of democracy and press freedom?
You yourself were turned back, I think, last month as you tried to get in to do some reporting or in February?
KIRKPATRICK: Yes, that's true. I certainly was. And what happened to me is not nearly as bad as what happens to a lot of Egyptians. You know, the
American government has often said, "Well, Russia may try to replace us but they don't have the resources. They can't possibly be the source of
support. We're not worried about their courtship of Egypt."
On the other hand, you know, I think that the Trump administration does see a real value to trying to maintain its friendship with Sisi over there.
AMANPOUR: And does that have something to do with this whole idea of a regional anti-Islamic front against Iran? Do you see that? I mean, Egypt
is friendly with Saudi Arabia which is friendly with the Gulf states which is friendly toward Israel which is not friendly towards Iran.
KIRKPATRICK: Well, now you're talking about the world of grand strategy as seen from the Persian Gulf. And what those countries, Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates in particular would like to put forward subtly at first and then increasingly and publicly is a grand alliance with Israel,
with the United States, possibly with Russia, all against Iran. And I think this is welcome in Israel as well.
And to a certain extent, we've seen some sympathy with that from the Trump administration. You've probably followed their recent actions.
AMANPOUR: A lot of sympathy. I mean, it's almost like they're leading this new realignment in the Persian Gulf.
KIRKPATRICK: Well, they're not unhappy with it.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of it from a former ambassadorial perch in this region, this sort of Trumpian realignment of U.S. strategy?
MILLETT: I think it's very risky. Certainly, as far as Libya is concerned, fortunately the Iran element was never sucked into the issue to
do with Libya. But if you look at Jordan, if you look at the Gulf more widely, I think it is distorting policy in a way which is not going to be
AMANPOUR: Jordan, next door to Israel, one of the only countries as well as Egypt that has a peace treaty with Israel. Today, the elections. We've
been talking about strong leaders, security leaders, people portraying themselves as, you know, it's either me or the deluge, so to speak.
What do you think will be the outcome in Israel, let's say, if Benjamin Netanyahu is reelected for the peace process, which is very close to
MILLETT: There is no peace process at the moment. And I think if Netanyahu is elected, it's unlikely there will be so. There's a lot of
worry in Jordan now, especially if Netanyahu's declared aim of annexing settlements, that would be severely damaging to the stability of Jordan and
to the figurehead, King Abdullah, is going to find that an extremely difficult development to deal with.
AMANPOUR: What recourse do they have? If the United States supports -- I mean, already the president, President Trump, has supported the unilateral
annexation of the Golan Heights.
AMANPOUR: And yes, they're talking about, certainly Netanyahu's talking about, maybe annexing some settlements. What is the recourse from the Arab
MILLETT: Very, very difficult. And Jordan, for example, is dependent on financial support from Washington. They don't want to -- they can't afford
to reject that. Therefore, they can't afford to criticize Washington's policy very severely.
AMANPOUR: So, all these years after Arab Spring 1.0 and all these years after Oslo and the peace process, what are you looking for out of this
election in Israel?
KIRKPATRICK: You're talking to the wrong guy. I have no expectations one way or the other. I just read the polls like everyone else does.
AMANPOUR: In terms of the region though, what do you think is the -- where will the U.S. be going? I mean, we're all talking about the Jared Kushner
peace plan. Do you have any sort of instinct of what that might be? I mean, even from what we've read --
MILLETT: From what I've read, it's not going to be something the Palestinians are going to be able to accept, therefore it's not a deal. If
it's only satisfies one side, it can't be a deal. A deal needs to be agreed and negotiated between two sides.
KIRKPATRICK: It seems like the more realistic achievement of that deal or proposal or whatever it is, is not an agreement with the Palestinians as
such, but it might be a path towards -- a step towards getting the Persian Gulf kingdoms to recognize Israel. That's something Israel has long
KIRKPATRICK: They're saying to Kushner and the Americans, "Look, if you get the Gulf on side here, if you get the Saudis working with us, well,
that will help with the Palestinians." But certainly, for the Israelis, that's a goal in and of itself and that's something that I think the world
is moving towards.
AMANPOUR: And to just sort of button this up then, back to your country of expertise, Sisi comes back from his trip to the United States, what's next
KIRKPATRICK: Well, in all likelihood, he'll push through these amendments to change the constitution and he will then be allowed to stay in power for
the rest of his days. They still have not quite finished putting out the simmering insurgency in the North Sinai and it's hard to say that they have
solved their economic problems either. So, he has -- he's bought himself quite a job to do for the rest of his life.
AMANPOUR: You know, many people point to Sisi, of course, being a best friend because he's so allied to Israel and so, you know, close to Prime
Minister Netanyahu in terms of allowing a lot of intervention in the Sinai.
I mean, Sisi portrays himself as this great anti-terrorist bulwark but clearly not enough to prevent Israel from coming in and striking from --
you know, terrorist bases from the skies.
KIRKPATRICK: You know, that is an amazing thing. It's true, after all the wars that Egypt and Israel has fought, Sisi has turned around and said to
the Israeli government, the Israeli military forces, "Please go ahead. Come into my territory, carry out your air strikes on Egyptian soil,
because it will help us solve our common problem of these Islamist extremists who are opposing me."
It is really that, in and of itself, signals a real transformation in the dynamics of the region. And as you were saying before, it is very bad news
for the Palestinians. They have really lost their friends in the Arab states in a way they have not in the past.
AMANPOUR: It is a remarkable situation. And just one last word from you on Libya. What do you think is going to happen? I mean, already the U.N.
is desperately begging for a cease fire for sort of a National Reconciliation conference.
MILLETT: Well, the U.N. has just postponed its National Reconciliation conference, unfortunately. So, the most likely scenario is prolonged civil
war, I'm afraid, and continued suffering and -- I mean, the strike on the airport yesterday was, again, a humanitarian crime according to the U.N.
So, I don't see Haftar winning. I don't see him being defeated but I see continuing conflict.
AMANPOUR: I mean, this is extraordinary, continuing civil war. This is where we started after the fall of Qaddafi and it's taken all these years
to try to tamp that down.
AMANPOUR: And the world has no recourse against a renegade general?
MILLETT: The -- we don't have tools. We can issue statements. The statements, he ignores. The only tool that the international community's
disposal is sanctions and I don't think that's going to be a scenario which the Security Council is going to accept.
AMANPOUR: Not even sanctions?
KIRKPATRICK: And yet again, it may be a step darker than that because not only is the international community, meaning the West, not active trying to
enforce security on the ground, some of allies of the West, including the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, are actively supporting Haftar even as he
goes in the face of the U.N.-backed government.
So, regional players are continuing to stir up trouble inside of Libya, and in a way, aggravating the conflict and the crisis.
AMANPOUR: And just quickly because we're turning to border security next. But I mean, as we started saying, this has been ground zero for the mass of
hundreds of thousands of people getting on to these flimsy boats and coming West.
MILLETT: Those numbers have reduced in the last --
AMANPOUR: But do you think -- no, but I'm saying, could this aggravate it?
MILLETT: I think if you've got more lawlessness and civil unrest, then, you know, the organized criminals who want to profit from this and the
migrants who don't want to stay in Libya will try and to do that again.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Millett, David Kirkpatrick. Thank you, David Kirkpatrick. Thank you very much indeed.
KIRKPATRICK: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, whether North Africa or North America, security is a campaign theme. For President Trump, that means the border with Mexico.
Senior Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is warning him not to fire any more top officials from the Department of Homeland Security. He's already
forced out the secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, apparently for not tracking down hard enough. The head of the secret service is on his way out too.
And insiders fear others may follow.
Here's what the president said in the oval office today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- cleaning house at DHS, what would you like to achieve with the new leadership?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, I never said I'm cleaning house. I don't know who came up with that expression. We have a lot of great people
over there. We have bad laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Kirstjen Nielsen implemented some of the White House's harshest policies, including separating children from their parents until a
national uproar ended that.
In recent days, Nielsen reportedly started pushing back against the president's demands like, for instance, closing the border at El Paso,
Richard Clarke is the former national coordinator for Security Infrastructure, Protection, and Counterterrorism and he's joining me now
Welcome back to the program.
RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER U.S. COORDINATOR FOR SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM: Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: What do you make, Richard Clarke, of the president firing all these people on the sort of security area, the Department of Homeland
Security? What impact does that have on basic security?
CLARKE: Well, the president had a temper tantrum because all of his desired solutions to the border problem of asylum seekers turned out to be
illegal. And when he instructs the secretary of Homeland Security or individual officers at the border to do things that are illegal, they
refuse to do them, which is actually quite commendable.
But the president doesn't have a process for getting a solution that works. And when people say, "You can't do that because it's illegal," or the
courts say, "You can't do that because it's illegal," he doesn't know what to do. And so, he has his temper tantrum and he fires people. That makes
it even harder for the Department to deal with the problem that does exist on the border.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk about the problem that does exist and the issues that Kirstjen Nielsen was pushing back against because of their questionable
legality. So, tell me what issues particularly are not allowed and what is the real problem at the border?
CLARKE: Well, the law says, and it's very clear, the law says that if someone from Central America comes to the border or illegally crosses the
border and comes into the United States, and then says to a DHS official, "I am seeking asylum," they have to be allowed into the United States until
their asylum claim can be adjudicated, and the president doesn't like that. He'd like to stop them from coming in. He'd like to force them to sit in
Mexico and wait for their hearing date. But the law says otherwise.
Rather than going to Congress and trying to strike a bargain and change the law, he's been telling DHS to ignore it and the courts have ordered DHS to
obey the law. And we had the extraordinary scene the other day of the president himself going to the border, talking to individual DHS Homeland
Security agents at the border and instructing them to disobey the law.
AMANPOUR: Well, as if from your ear to my soundbite, let us play this soundbite from the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's a colossal surge and it's overwhelming our immigration system, and we can't let that happen. So, as I say, and this is our new statement,
the system is full. Can't take you anymore. Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, it's illegal immigration, can't take you anymore.
We can't take you. Our country is full. Our area's full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore. I'm sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, that is what he was saying when you were talking about he was -- he had told border security just not to let them in and to
tell that to the judge.
CLARKE: Well, he's also wanted to separate children from their parents among the asylum seekers, and the courts have told him he can't do that
either. So, he has these temper tantrums, he reaches out to people. If they won't disobey the law and do what he wants, he fires them. And it's
getting to be a pattern that throughout our government, we have important positions, not just in Homeland Security, but important positions,
including the secretary of defense, that are not filled by people confirmed by the Senate.
This is flouting the law and the system of government that we have that is based on the notion that people running senior agencies in the government
have to be confirmed by the Senate. The president's getting around that by firing people and not nominating replacements. He has an acting chief of
staff of the White House, an acting secretary of defense. Now, he has no one running the Department of Homeland Security at the moment. And I'm
sure he'll have someone acting there for months on end.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you because you've been, obviously, looking at this and examining it and when you were in government, you know, acting on all
these security issues for a long, long time. Let me just go through two or three points that were raised by the president, soundbite that we played
and by what we've been saying.
First and foremost, there are a lot of people in the United States who do believe that the country is full and there is no more room for -- and right
now, the numbers have ticked up significantly over the last couple of years. So, on that issue, what is the -- what are the facts?
CLARKE: Well, the facts are that we do have a temporary rise in the number of asylum seekers to a very high level. The facts are also, however, that
when they get their hearing, almost all of them are turned back because they don't have a legitimate claim to political asylum based on incredible
fear of harm. They have more of an economic claim to asylum.
And so, when they get their hearing, they are typically in very large numbers rejected and sent back home. And it is also true that when they
are told to show up for the hearing, almost all of them are showing up, so I'm not sure that the problem is as great as the president would make it
The country isn't, by any means, full. By the way, we have almost no unemployment. There are many places where we would like to have people
working in agriculture, for example, where we can't find them, working in construction where we can't find them.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you another question on that. Because threatening to close the border was an element of the president's policy
and resolution of all of this. And of course, you know, Mexican authorities talk about it, U.S. authorities, even the Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell said that that would have a catastrophic effect on the American economy.
Apparently, some 6 million American jobs depend on cross-border trade and with Mexico. Apparently, $20 billion is brought in by Mexican tourists and
other expenditure from that side of the border every year. Even on an economic level, it would hurt the United States to close the border.
CLARKE: It would be devastating. Christiane, on 9/11, I ordered the border closed, the U.S.-Canadian and the U.S.-Mexican border closed for the
day and that had an enormous effect. The manufacturer of automobiles in Michigan stopped because the flow of spare parts across the border stopped.
You can't close the U.S.-Mexican border. It would have a devastating effect on the economy. But what you're seeing here is the absence of a
decision making process. There is no process where options are weighed, analysis is given, legal opinions are given, and the president is told this
is what you can do, this is what you can't do.
He doesn't like process. He likes making it up as he goes along. And so he says one thing one day and then two days later, he says, oh, I changed
He said I'm going to close the border. Two days later, it was, I'm going to close the border a year from now. What we're seeing is a president who
doesn't know how to govern and no one --
AMANPOUR: Except -- sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you. And no one?
CLARKE: No one is stopping him.
AMANPOUR: Well, here's the thing. His supporters love that he sticks with this border and immigration rhetoric and action because that is what got
him elected. That's what he believes, that's what they believe, and that's what he keeps going back to.
And we understand, I mean, who knows, really, what's going on, but that he was upset, that he wasn't getting all that he wanted from his current DHS
secretary, that his more hardline advisers, people like Stephen Miller and others were, you know, thinking that what they wanted to do wasn't
happening fast enough. And so we're lashing out at the department.
I just want to know what you make of this, because you brought it up, about the child separation policy. This is something that Kirstjen Nielsen
oversaw. And now we're hearing that there may be a new sort of version of that called a binary choice where immigration officials are looking into a
plan that would give migrant parents the option of remaining detained as a family or agreeing to separation so that their children would not remain in
Have you heard about that and is that even workable? Is it allowable under the law?
CLARKE: As I understand the law, it's not. And if they try to do that, courts will probably take 24 hours to stop them from doing it.
You said his base likes what he's doing. But in fact, I think one of the reasons they lost control of the House of Representatives last November in
the election were Republican women in the suburbs who were appalled at the administration separating children from their parents at the border.
That's hurt the Republican Party. It hasn't helped them.
AMANPOUR: So, the president was asked, I think, directly about reinstating this -- what they call the zero-tolerance policy, the separation. And he
said he had no plans to do that.
But let's talk about a broader issue. Because Mexico does seem to be cooperating with the United States, Mexican officials say this all the
time, that they're doing exactly what they're meant to be doing with their [13:35:00] side of the border.
But the issue is Central America. And recently, we've seen caravans coming up, we know it's for all sorts of reasons, whether it's violence,
corruption, gangs, and even climate change hurting their economic livelihoods.
And the president recently said that they would cut off aid to that area of Central America known as the Northern Triangle. What -- I mean, just
explore that issue with us and what would happen if aid was cut off.
CLARKE: Well, it's cutting off your nose to spite your face. The last four American generals who were in charge of U.S. forces in Latin America,
yesterday issued a statement saying that this is a ridiculous and counterproductive move.
First of all, the aid to Guatemala and Nicaragua and Honduras doesn't go to the governments. It goes to the non-governmental organizations in those
countries, to stop the immigration, to create economic circumstances and security circumstances where people would be willing to stay there.
So, cutting this flow of aid doesn't punish the governments because it's not going to the governments. It doesn't solve the problem. It makes it
And our military people who have been down there running our forces in the region for years know that. They've said that. But the president doesn't
get advice from people like that. He gets advice from people like Stephen Miller, his White House assistant, who has absolutely no experience.
AMANPOUR: Richard Clarke, on the bigger immigration problem and if you want to solve this issue of caravans and others, I spoke to Congressman
Will Hu rd last week, a Republican congressman, and he said it shouldn't be about cutting aid. It should actually be about a Marshall plan for that
region. Just listen to what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP WILL HURD (R-TX): This is not just an American problem. This is not just a Mexico problem. This is a problem for the entire western
And we need the western hemisphere to start thinking about what is the equivalent of a Marshall plan to deal with these root causes in the
Northern Triangle because trying to solve this problem with 1950s asylum laws in the United States is not going to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean given that immigration is such a massive issue, what do you make of that idea of a Marshall plan as part of a solution?
CLARKE: Well, people throw terms like Marshall plan and moon shot and Manhattan project around loosely, but what is correct is that the only way
to stop the migration from Central America is to give the people of Central America a reason to stay there.
And that means economic development and it means a security environment, neither of which is going on right now. And any rational president with a
decision making process that was anything approaching normal would by now have come to the conclusion that you have to go to the source of the
problem and deal with it by talking to the governments of those three countries and coming up with a multilateral, not just America, but also
Mexico and others, a multilateral aid program to improve the economic and security conditions in the Northern Triangle. That's the solution and it's
a solution that he's going in the opposite direction of.
AMANPOUR: Well, we'll continue, obviously, to follow this closely. It's such a massive issue. Richard Clarke thank you so much for being with us.
Now, one of the key drivers of global migration, including from Central America, as we've discussed, is, of course, climate change. And one man
wants to show how quickly our world is changing.
A great American mountaineer and filmmaker, David Breashears, has made his career climbing Mt. Everest. It is the world's highest mountain and he
worries about what he's seeing there just as climbers push the limits of their bodies. David Breashears says we are now testing the very limits of
our earth and he tells our Hari Sreenivasan what the glaciers are telling or rather how the glaciers are telling this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: So you have been to the top of the world five times and now you're focused on helping us figure out that the
view is changing from the top. What's different?
DAVID BREASHEARS, MOUNTAINEER AND FILMMAKER: Everything's different when it comes to the glaciers and the ice up high in the mountain and the snow
cover. It's -- I first went to the Himalaya, I was 23-years-old in 1979 and climbed a 22,500-foot peak. And if I was to go back and climb that
peak again today, I would see a dramatically different snow and ice cover.
SREENIVASAN: Now, you're focusing on something called "Match photography". What is that?
BREASHEARS: Match photography is where I find an old photo point, say from an early explorer, mapmaker, cartographer and they were the first to
capture images of the glaciers. Say George Mallory in 1921 or another photographer, Vittorio Sella, in 1899.
[13:40:00] I find that photograph in an archive, I make a print of it. I go to the spot, the photo point, at least try to find it and capture the
same image with that time span in between.
SREENIVASAN: Is it easy to get to that same spot that that photographer stood at?
BREASHEARS: Sometimes it's -- sometimes we can find it fairly quickly. One photo point took us multiple efforts. It's a photo point near K2 in
the Karakoram range of Pakistan.
And we were absolutely astonished at the difficulty of the terrain the photographer, Vittorio Sella, and his team of porters had climbed on. Not
only did we have the problem with the terrain, we had problems with the weather, and we waited in camp after we found the location for 13 days on
the glacier to capture the same image he had captured in 1909 and we were there in 2009.
SREENIVASAN: How significant is the change that you are able to see from the picture that was taken 50 years ago, 100 years ago, to what we're
BREASHEARS: The change is dramatic. When you see the match photos of Cho Oyu and the north side of Everest and the south side of Everest, anyone
looking at these photos can see the change.
What we're really thinking about is the future change and what a recent report from ICIMOD, an organization in Nepal that studies these types of
things said that by 2100, we expect to lose 80 percent to 90 percent of the mass of the 19,000 glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region.
SREENIVASAN: So what are the consequences of losing 80 percent to 90 percent of the mass of glaciers?
BREASHEARS: Well, this is an imperiled ecosystem. The high mountain Alpine ecosystems are fragile. The glaciers are telling us something.
They're under tremendous stress. They're under tremendous pressure. They're not getting enough snow. The temperature is warming, and there's
black carbon being deposited on the snow.
So what affects that ecosystem affects the livelihoods of over 230 million people who inhabit the region and there are manifold reasons how this
effect plays out to hearty mountain people. They are very adaptable and resilient by their nature but this is -- and they tend to be somewhat
poorer than the rest of the people down the river. And they're going to suffer the consequences of this stress on the ecosystem first.
SREENIVASAN: We're going to take a look at a video that you have. It's a compilation of different images around Everest. Tell us what we're taking
a look at.
BREASHEARS: We're flying right towards Mt. Everest. That's the black pyramid on the left. We're passing Mt. Pumori on the right and we are
about to cross this ridge and fly right over base camp.
The peak on the right is Nuptse. The peak in the middle is Lhotse. We're looking down on the Khumbu Icefall and we're working our way up into the
The route to the top of Everest goes straight up the middle of the ice field in the middle and traverses to the left in that saddle, the cold
between Everest and Lhotse. So we're looking at it right now. That would be the high camp at 26,000 feet.
And now we're going to turn around. We're looking at the route now from -- on the right-hand skyline, from the high camp to the top and now we're
flying back down the Western Cwm, the route of our ascent.
Right now, many hundreds of climbers are gathered there for the spring climbing season and we're flying back out over the Icefall. In the
distance is Cho Oyu, the world's sixth highest mountain. And so we've just seen four of the world's highest mountains.
SREENIVASAN: Nobody's ever seen that video before. How did you get that? How did you make that video?
BREASHEARS: That was a lot of work.
BREASHEARS: It was. And it was quite expensive. What it was, was we flew six cameras, still cameras in the nose of a helicopter, mounted outside of
the nose of the helicopter.
SREENIVASAN: It's hard to do. Helicopters don't usually get --
BREASHEARS: Well, we took time. We flew the helicopter quite high, let's just say, a lot higher than we were supposed to and in the winter.
But those six cameras cover 230 degrees and I was firing those cameras every second to two seconds and that compilation of thousands of images can
be -- [13:45:00] can produce something like that. And therefore, we can create our own flight path and fly through it.
SREENIVASAN: If I'm looking at that and say, well, what's the problem with what he's describing here? Everything looks fine. There's a big old
glacier with a tongue right there. There's ice fields that people are still walking up the mountain.
BREASHEARS: Oh, the mountain's changed a lot since I first climbed it --
SREENIVASAN: How so?
BREASHEARS: -- myself in 1983. Well, what we can't see from that elevated position and what you can see from glacier works oblique ground base
photography, the wasting of the glaciers, the vertical wasting of the glacier, the horizontal wasting of the glacier.
It's a different -- much different place from what I climbed on in 1983. Most of what we look at, most of the accumulations of glaciers are from,
really, 22,000, 21,000 feet on down. That's where we're seeing most of the effects of warming and deposits of black carbon on the glaciers.
SREENIVASAN: People are going to look at some of these photos and say, listen, where's the science behind this? OK, there's a photo here and
there's a photo at the same place 50 years later.
Is it the same season? Is it the same climate at the same time? How do we know that these changes are long-term and are happening?
BREASHEARS: That's for the scientists to decide. And I follow the science very closely, and over 350 researchers at ICIMOD. International Center for
Integrated Mountain Development in Katmandu published a recent report and their science is very good.
I use the images around the world for a Glacierworks exhibit called "Rivers of Ice, Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya". And that starts a
conversation, the big gap, from, say, 1899 to when I re-photographed the same place 110 years later.
Now, let's carry the conversation further. The glaciers are melting. Some of the melt rate years ago was through more natural causes.
Now, it's greatly accelerated and what does that tell us about the future? Glacierworks and the work I do is mostly used for education and exhibits
and to help start a conversation about adaptability and resilience.
SREENIVASAN: You probably made, in my opinion, the greatest IMAX film that I've ever seen and it was about Everest. But you also ended up documenting
one of the biggest tragedies that have ever happened on that mountain. What did you learn about, just, people as you were watching this happen in
front of you?
BREASHEARS: That was a very difficult year for everyone, 1996. And we ended up with this film that really we hadn't expected it to be so
successful. But what you saw was the best and the worst of people, and you also saw -- I saw the best and worst in myself.
SREENIVASAN: People who might not remember, what happened then?
BREASHEARS: Well, it's the year that's known as "Into Thin Air" based on Jon Krakauer's book. And what happened were a couple of teams climbing
very high on the mountain got caught out late, climbing too late. And at that same moment when they were very vulnerable, they were overcome by a
fast-moving storm that was not forecasted, that was -- came out of a different direction than we normally expect.
And in that night, eight people froze to death and some were severely frostbitten. One gentleman lost both of his hands to frostbite eventually.
And it was just complete chaos on the mountain during the storm.
And it was something that we had never really seen on Everest, a mix of guiding, a mix of professional climbers, a mix of clients who are less
experienced, all within a couple of hours -- within an hour, really, in the dramatic fight for their lives.
SREENIVASAN: It was basically a traffic jam up there.
BREASHEARS: It was a traffic jam. Nonetheless, they -- this was above the south summit at 28,750 feet. Nonetheless, the guides could have turned
people around at their 1:00 turnaround time.
SREENIVASAN: But everybody is too close. They want to get to the top. They've put so much effort.
BREASHEARS: It's very hard to do. But three people turned around of their own volition and they all lived.
At one point, you got to look at the tug that mountain exerts on you and all that -- all the time, effort, [13:50:00] pride, money, training, and
then -- because this causes us to engage in something very interesting. I happened to teach this in leadership lectures, presentations, and it's the
willful disregard of negative information.
Where, at that moment, where you are close to being in extreme peril, you're high on a mountain, you're vulnerable, you have 300 feet left to go,
you're tired, you're dehydrated, you're exhausted, you're hypoxic, perhaps.
That's when you open your mind to negative information. Meaning, negative information says this is not going to work out well. Let's turn around and
And there's also hope springs eternal, right? We're going to get to the top. Everything's going to be OK.
SREENIVASAN: I'll win the lottery ticket. It will happen for me.
BREASHEARS: Yes, yes. But as I like to say, hope is not a plan, you know?
SREENIVASAN: Are there systems in place now to prevent that kind of tragedy from happening again?
BREASHEARS: On Everest?
BREASHEARS: No. None at all. It's all up to the quality of the guiding. It's up to the quality and experience of the clients.
You know, there's climbing skills, but also how they perceive success versus failure. I've known people who have turned around 300 feet from the
top and you might not get that feather in your cap but that was a true success.
SREENIVASAN: But you get to keep wearing a cap.
BREASHEARS: Yes, that's right. And you keep all your fingers and toes.
SREENIVASAN: It gets to a point where it seems like, if I write a check, people will practically carry me up that mountain. I mean most of the
folks don't recognize that mountaineering at that stage, huge amounts of equipment are being hauled by other people on your behalf. It's not just
you and a backpack anymore, right?
BREASHEARS: It hasn't been that way for a long time. The early British expeditions had hundreds of porters. The successful British expedition in
1953, it was run by Colonel Hunt. It was almost a military operation.
I think what changed the most -- for me, I was on the mountain in 2014, I was at base camp, near base camp, when a collapse above the Icefall killed
16 people. And then I was there during the earthquake.
And so I've been on the glacier doing work for Glacierworks when there's 1,400 people arrayed on that glacier. When I was there in 1985, we were
one team. We were 38 people.
And I've been able to go to the mountain many times and fulfill something I wanted to do in life and to make films. I don't know what to say about
people who have the same feelings. They just want to get to the top.
What I would say is it's the hard work of having the skills to look after yourself without a guide that really make that climb worthwhile. At least
SREENIVASAN: How much have your films done to increase the level of interest in the number of people that go climb this mountain now?
BREASHEARS: I didn't need to see an IMAX film. I saw a photograph to go to Everest. And what I think is that the tug of Everest is so strong and
there's this ineffable kind of calling from this mountain that people really can't describe, but you see them there.
You see people from all walks of life. And it's just astonishing that that word "Everest" lights up their eyes, brightens their face with excitement.
And when -- there are 15,000 trekkers headed to the region this spring, and many of them are going to the Khumbu Region for one reason. They're not
going to climb Everest. They just want to see it.
SREENIVASAN: Because it's there.
BREASHEARS: Because it's there and it's the highest mountain on earth, 29,028 feet high. So I've had my role in it. And -- but I don't think I
SREENIVASAN: David Breashears, thank you so much.
BREASHEARS: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
[13:55:00] AMANPOUR: Fascinating, the everlasting lure and the respect for Mt. Everest.
But that's it for now. Remember, you can listen to our podcast at any time and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Instagram and
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.