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U.S. and Iran Insists Neither Wants to Go to War; Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), is Interviewed About U.S. and Iran War and About his New Book, "Sacred Duty"; Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), is Interviewed About U.S. and Iran War. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 15, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're looking for Iran to behave like a normal country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As U.S. rhetoric against Iran heats up, we ask whether the Trump administration is building a path to war. Tom Cotton and Tim Kaine,
senators from both sides of the aisle, join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON, AUTHOR, "LET LOVE HAVE THE LAST WORD": The thing that has kept me most solid, most hopeful, and most peaceful, incented (ph) is love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Oscar-winning rapper and actor, Common, opens up to our Alicia Menendez about his new memoir, "Let Love Have the Last Word."
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Both the United States and Iran are insisting that neither wants to go to war and yet, there are some worrying signs. The State Department today
ordered nonemergency diplomatic personnel to leave Iraq and administration officials say they suspect Iran was behind some mysterious sabotage attacks
on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, an allegation Iran steadfastly denies.
It comes a week after the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier to the region to "respond" to any attack by Iran or its proxies. According to the new
"New York Times," the acting U.S. defense secretary has drawn up new military plans that would involve sending 120,000 troops to the region.
Here's what the president had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you planning to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East in response to Iran?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it's fake news, okay? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we're
not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, the Iranian president is urging his people to stand strong in the face of what he calls psychological warfare from the United
States. It all does look and sound a lot like the rhetoric coming out of the George w. Bush administration before the disastrous Iraq War.
Senator Tom Cotton is a close ally of the president's and a steadfast hawk on Iran. He's a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and he's just
penned a new book called "Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery." I spoke to him from Washington.
Senator Tom Cotton, welcome to the program.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Thanks for having me on, Christiane. Thanks for your interest in "Sacred Duty."
AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to ask you about the book and also how it dovetails into quite a lot of the news of the day and some of the -- you
know, the issues that the U.S. is grappling with right now.
So, first and foremost, "Sacred Duty" about Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Why did you choose this subject for your book?
COTTON: Christiane, I know that Arlington holds a special place in America's soul. I can see that all the time in the Senate, Arkansans come
to visit me, they stay in the nation's capital for a few days to see the sights and Arlington is almost always their favorite destination, or when I
travel around the country and meet new audiences the question I get most about my background is my time at Arlington. For anyone, whether they're
an American or a foreigner who comes to Arlington and walks up the hill to the tomb of unknown soldier and sees those young soldiers from the Old
Guard performing the changing of the guard, it's just an unforgettable moment and the kind of honor that we show to our fallen heroes really is an
expression of love that our nation has for them.
And it's the Old Guard that is entrusted with that sacred duty, to show that reverence and to demonstrate the love that we have for all who have
defended our nation, especially those who have fallen in the defense of the nation.
AMANPOUR: It is a truly amazing place with so much spirituality and so much history and so full of importance for the past and the present and the
future. And there as it stands, you know, looking across from the Lincoln Memorial, it's quite dramatic.
You have a history there but you also have been deployed in two of America's current wars, I mean, they're still going on, in Iraq and
Afghanistan. And you said at one point that, you know, you conducted 20 funerals per day at the height of when you were at Arlington. Tell me
COTTON: That's right, Christiane. Between my tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I served with the Old Guard. I was in Charlie company, we had
primary responsibility for military honor funerals in the cemetery. We would do, as they still do, up to 20, 30 funerals as day. Many of those
are veterans of past wars, like World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
But unfortunately, and especially in those days, in 2007, we also performed funerals for soldiers who had just fallen on the battlefield in Iraq or
Afghanistan. And that's an image and a moment that doesn't leave you whenever you're standing in the [13:05:00] fields of Arlington and you see
parents grieving for the loss of a child or a widow or small children losing their husband and their father. It really brings home the sacrifice
that so many of our fellow Americans have made for us over the years so that we might live in freedom.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder whether, you know, given that you've seen this close up and that now you're a policy maker, you're a senator, does that
experience, not just being deployed, but also the funerals, does it have an effect on you in terms of the idea of committing more American forces to
war? I mean, I obviously speak at a time when there's a lot of saber rattling, a lot of ratcheting up of rhetoric from the administration to
Iran and vice versa.
COTTON: No doubt, Christiane. There's few people that want to see war less than the soldiers who have borne the burdens of those wars. And for
us at the Old Guard, we didn't only perform military honor funerals in Arlington National Cemetery as I describe in "Sacred Duty." we also had
responsibility for what's known as the dignified transfer of remains at Dover Air Force Base, that's the port of entry for our fallen heroes when
they're killed overseas.
And two or three dozen times in 2007, 2008, it was my duty to lead a casket team accompanied by an army general flying on a black hawk helicopter from
Washington up to Dover Air Force Base and I was the first soldier on that to that aircraft to inspect those transfer cases and to help carry them off
the aircraft. And when you've seen that kind of sacrifice up close, you know the stakes of ever committing our young men and women to combat
Sometimes it's necessary to defend our nation and protect our freedom and our interests, but it's images that you can never forget whenever you're
back in Washington making those kinds of decisions.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm curious, because I'm really trying to get to grips with where the U.S. is right now in terms of is it ratcheting up and preparing
for war with Iran? Will the president do what John Bolton has apparently requested and that is approve 120,000 troops to go to the region.?
Obviously, we know that the aircraft carrier is moving towards the region. And we hear today that the United States has called for all unessential,
nonessential personnel to leave the embassy in Baghdad, in Iraq. How do you read that? I mean, is that a precursor to conflict?
COTTON: The Islamic Republic of Iran has been in a face-off with the United States for 40 years now. And, Christiane, you were around to report
probably in the 1980s and the last two years of the Reagan administration when that conflict turned hot in the so-called Tanker Wars in the Persian
When I served in Iraq, one of the most deadly weapons that we faced were roadside bombs that were manufactured in Iran and then smuggled into Iraq,
more than 500 American soldiers were killed at the hands of those Iranian bombs. And now, we have seen credible indications that Iran may be
planning to strike either through its own forces or through its proxy forces in the region against the United States personnel or our allies in
That's one reason why Secretary of State Pompeo withdrew nonessential personnel from Iraq earlier today. It's one reason why the president has
deployed that enhanced military presence. A carrier strike group, more bombers, the patriot anti-missile defense system.
We don't want a military conflict with Iran. We want Iran to change its behavior and rejoin the civilized world. But there should be no mistake
that if Iran provokes the United States with an attack, we will strike back ferociously.
AMANPOUR: Can I just go through this step by step? As you know, you have talked about intelligence that shows that Iran is stepping up its threat,
but the deputy commander in the anti-ISIS fight based in Iraq, a British major general, has said that there, they haven't seen any step-up of threat
by Iran or its proxies in that area. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GEN. CHRIS GHIKA, DEPUTY COMMAND, U.S.-LED ANTI-ISIS COALITION: There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and
Syria. We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in.
But as I say, we see no -- we have no part of Iran in our mission. We are monitoring the Shia militia groups, I think you're referring to, carefully.
And if the threat level proceeds to go up, then we'll raise our force protection measures accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to that, Senator? And I just wonder whether -- I mean, look, you of all people are well placed to know what
happens when intelligence is not as solid as the administration might complain -- might suggest. For instance, what happened in Iraq, we all
know what happened there and you were deployed there. Are you concerned that the intelligence that we're now being told exists may not be as solid
as they think it is?
COTTON: Well, I think it's always right, Christiane, for civilian [13:10:00] leaders to probe the intelligence they receive from our
intelligence professionals. But I have to say, the intelligence that we've seen on the Senate Intelligence Committee does show a heightened threat
throughout the region, whether it's the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force, which we rightly designate as a foreign terrorist
organization just a couple weeks ago, or the proxy forces like the Shia paramilitary forces in Iraq or the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
That British general and I may have a different kind of interpretation of that threat or how severe that threat is, but I can only say that on the
Senate Intelligence Committee we've seen in recent days heightened reporting about potential threats to U.S. personnel and our allies in the
Middle East and we take that very seriously. Again, that's one reason why Secretary of State Pompeo took the precaution of removing nonessential
personnel from Iraq, to ensure that there are not Americans who are in harm's way unless it's absolutely necessary to defend our interests in the
AMANPOUR: I mean, look, Senator, we know and you're well known for taking quite a hardline position on Iran. And you've talked about the U.S. policy
there should be regime change. You've said that if the U.S. goes to war, it would be "easy," there will be the first strike and the last strike and
that's it, the war will be won. Do you really believe that?
COTTON: What I mean, Christiane, is that we're not going to provoke a war with Iran. It will be Iran that provokes any kind of military conflict.
And if they take the first military strike, we will take the last military strike because we have a devastating advantage in military capability
This is what happened in 1987 and 1988 when Ayatollah (ph) was threatening the shipment of oil tankers through the Persian Gulf. President Reagan
reflagged all those tankers and provided them naval escorts and they faced devastating losses. They learned the hard way then not to provoke the
United States. I hope that doesn't happen now, but the steps that the president has taken such as deploying an additional carrier strike group or
deploying more bombers are prudent efforts to deter any kind of military conflict before Iran decides to act.
AMANPOUR: So, this is the reaction of Iran's ambassador to the U.N. to these allegations. I mean, they deny it, obviously, but this is what they
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: These allegations are being heard by certain people in Washington who whisper in president's
ears and some of the people in our region, which are called B-Team, Bibi Netanyahu, Bolton, Bin Zayd (ph) and Bin Salman, these people are spreading
these lies in order to provoke, in order to prepare the ground for conflict in our neighborhood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You've heard the Iranians, including the foreign minister, develop this term, the B-Team, which the initials to all those he believes
are ginning up what they think is an attempt to provoke Iran.
As far as we can gather, the president, President Trump does not seem to be eager to go into another war. I mean, he talks about how Iraq was a
mistake and other such issues. Are you concerned as some people say that he may be being dragged into that arena by people like John Bolton and
others who have a much more hardline view and perhaps, even yourself because I know you talk to the president a lot about Iran?
COTTON: Well, Christiane, any president, to include this president, ought to be reluctant to commit our troops overseas, only when it's in our vital
national security interest and they ought to exhaust every effort to avoid military conflict while also protecting our security and our interests.
All of that said, presidents sometimes have to make that decision. This president has made it in Syria. President Obama made it in Libya and
Afghanistan. President Bush, obviously, on Iraq and Afghanistan, both. You could go back to George Washington. Every president has to make that
decision. Every president should be reluctant.
Ultimately, however, advisors advise and presidents decide. So, I have no concern about the advice that the president is getting, because he's
ultimately the one that is elected by the American people to make those decisions for us. That's true of this president, it's true of every
president before him.
AMANPOUR: You know, Colonel Wilkerson, Larry Wilkerson, who was a close aide, second in command to Secretary Powell, in the run-up to the Iraq War
and was there, right there helping him, you know, so-called provide the proof to the public of what the Bush administration said was weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq, which we know wasn't the case.
But he says, you know, "I should have resigned. I just -- you know, I regret that I was part of this rush to war." And obviously, there are
opponents, political opponents who are now putting out ads and reminding Americans of what happened back in 2002, 2003, including sort of mash-ups
between President Bush's justifications and today, President Trump's language. Let's just play this for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We know that Iraq [13:15:00] is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use
terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.
TRUMP: The Iranian regime continues to fuel conflict, terror and turmoil throughout the Middle East and beyond.
BUSH: Many nations are joining us in insisting that Saddam Hussein's regime be held accountable.
POMPEO: Iran will be held accountable.
BUSH: The danger is already significant and it only grows worse with time.
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: This is a threat to the region and a threat to the world, and it gets worse day by day by day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How do you feel, listening to that, when we know that the rhetoric about Iraq ended up not being correct?
COTTON: Well, Christiane, there's no doubt that intelligence assessments were incorrect in 2002 and 2003 and that the state of Saddam Hussein's
nuclear weapons program, that wasn't only an American failure, that was a failure of the Intelligence Services of almost every one of our allies in
Western Europe and in the region.
Now, that happens at times because nations go to the greatest lengths to conceal their capabilities with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
That is, again, one reason why it's always right for civilians to probe the intelligence reports we receive. But in some occasions, you simply have to
look with your own eyes.
Just in the past few days there have been Norwegian and Saudi Arabian tankers in the Persian Gulf that have been damaged. That's not just a
report or an assessment or analysis, that's reality. If American troops or our embassy or allies were attacked with rockets or mortars in Iraq, again,
that wouldn't be an assessment or a guess, that would be a reality.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the nuclear deal because you famously, in the midst of the negotiations, did write a letter, you got a load of
Republican senators to sign on telling the Ayatollahs that, you know, "Don't do these negotiations because, you know, another president can undo
it, basically." And you were prescient, obviously. Another president has undone it or pulled out of it, anyway. Why does that make the world safer?
Why does that make the U.S. safer and U.S. personnel in the region safer?
COTTON: Well, Christiane, first, I wish I had not been prescient. I wish that our opposition to the deal that President Obama was negotiating had
empowered him to get an even better deal that could have been enshrined in a treaty with a two-thirds vote of the United States Senate and actually
stopped Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
But what we've seen over the last four years is it only emboldened Iran. They made very minimal commitments related to their nuclear program but
they used the additional cash they got from the United States as well as the economic growth from sanctions relief to further support instability in
the region. Supporting terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah or surging into Iraq or supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen or paramilitary
forces in Iraq.
Part of the problem with the Iran nuclear deal is that it was only a nuclear deal. It didn't take account for all of Iran's malicious
activities. Over the last year, we've taken several steps to do so, re- imposing sanctions. Just recently, imposing sanctions on all their exports of oil without giving any relief to nations that were using them up to now.
That's a commendable step that the administration took to get Iranian oil exports down to zero. It has the potential to take Iran's economy from
where it was at recession levels to depression levels.
We've rightly designated the Revolutionary Guard Corps as what they are, a foreign terrorist organization. So, we have Iran on the back foot right
now. The way we had them six or seven years ago when a bipartisan majority in Congress first imposed all those sanctions.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe, then, that regime change should be the policy of the United States?
COTTON: Well, ultimately, the United States does not want to govern 80 million Iranians. We want 80 million Iranians to be able to govern
themselves and to live in peace and stability with their neighbors. What we fundamentally seek is a change in the behavior of the outlaw regime in
Now, it's been 40 years that the Ayatollahs have been governing not just as a nation state but as a revolutionary cause. So, color me skeptical that
they're going to change their spots. But ultimately, what we want to see is a change in behavior and of Tehran so they're not continually
undermining United States interests and threatening our allies and ultimately the United States itself.
AMANPOUR: Senator, can I make a hard turn to domestic policies. In the State of Alabama, the state legislature passed a very, very draconian anti-
abortion bill that does not even make any exceptions for the cases of rape or incest. I know that the bills in your State of Arkansas are also pretty
What is your reaction to this? I mean, is it really -- do you believe that women should not have the choice if they've suffered terrible violence like
rape or incest?
COTTON: No, Christiane, I haven't seen the Alabama bill. I haven't followed that closely since I'm not from Alabama. But I do say that I
think we should protect every innocent human life. I think we should focus too where we have common ground. As medical science advances, we are able
to save more and more premature children, for instance, that are born in the NICU. Medical science now is [13:20:00] pushing the frontiers of life
outside of the womb back to 21, 20 weeks or even earlier.
I think we can all agree that if a child is viable outside the womb, we should protect it. Likewise, many people agree that we should have
exceptions to abortion laws for terrible tragedies like rape and incest. So, I think we should try to find common ground on this sensitive question
where we can.
AMANPOUR: Senator Tom Cotton, thank you very much for joining me, and you are the author of the latest book "Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at
Arlington National Cemetery." Thank you.
COTTON: Thank you, Christiane, and thanks for your interest in "Sacred Duty."
AMANPOUR: Well, joining me now with no doubt a very different view on Iran is Virginia's Democratic Senator Tim Kaine. He sits on the Foreign
Relations Committee and the Armed Services Committee and he was also Hillary Clinton's running mate in the 2016 election. And he's joining me
now from Capitol Hill.
Senator Kaine, welcome to the program.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Thank you, Christiane. Good to be with you on an important topic.
AMANPOUR: Well, I just wanted to get your reaction. You heard Senator Cotton, who basically is attributing the attacks on tankers in the Gulf to
Iran, although Iran's denied it, and you've seen what we've been describing as the sort of ratcheting up of the American rhetoric and movement. How
are you reading all of this?
KAINE: Well, Christiane, I wrote a piece in the "Atlantic" in July of 2018 when President Trump ignored the advice of Secretaries Tillerson, Mattis,
head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joe Dunford, our allies, the International Atomic Energy Agency and pulled out of a diplomatic deal that
was curbing Iran's nuclear program.
I wrote a piece that the president is in danger of blundering us into a war with Iran, and I believe that very deeply. The pulling out of the deal,
the designation of part of the Iranian government as terrorist organization, the ratcheting up of sanctions, the bellicose explanation for
things that are somewhat routine like the deployment of the USS Lincoln and a whole series of other things, I think this president, by casting aside
diplomacy is raising the risk of unnecessary war.
And now, we see reports that they're contemplating 120,000 troops into the region. I represent a very profoundly pro-military state. I have got a
child in the Marine Corps. I will tell you it would be idiocy for the United States to get involved in another war in the Middle East right now.
And especially, it would be wrong if the president were to try to start or initiate it on his own without coming to Congress.
If he can't convince Congress, that should tell you something. It's not in the national interest but he's showing every sign that what he wants to do
is act unilaterally to the point of not even giving us briefings yet about this intel that they're bandying about from the White House.
AMANPOUR: Well, I wanted to ask you about that intel. But first, let me just repeat to you your own tweet, "Donald Trump is taking steps that I
fear are leading us to an unnecessary war with Iran. That chills my blood. Let me be clear, I am going to do anything I can to stop him from
sidestepping Congress to start an illegal war." What can you do?
KAINE: Well, there are a number of things that we can do. For example, we're working on the defense authorizing bill right now. We might be able
to take steps in there to put up some guardrails so that the president can't act unilaterally.
And second, we always have the option, as we showed recently with respect to the president's putting American support behind the Saudi prosecution of
their interests in the Yemeni civil war, we have the opportunity to put a motion on the floor to force the United States to withdraw from
hostilities. That is guaranteed a debate and vote where everybody gets to go on the record and declare whether or not they are for this war or not
and if that -- if the president tries to get us into hostilities without Congress, you can be sure we will have that debate and vote in the floor of
the Senate and the House, and that's the way it should happen.
AMANPOUR: You heard Senator Cotton say that you guys in the Senate, particularly on the Intelligence Committee, but I'm sure on some of your
committees as well, that the intelligence is there and if we knew what you all knew, then we'd understand how serious the threat is. And yet, I
played him the soundbite from the general there, the British general who is deputy anti-ISIS commander who says they have seen no step-up in threats or
they have no evidence on the ground there that Iran or its proxies are stepping up their threats to American personnel.
KAINE: And Christiane, we have heard that and we're also hearing grave concerns expressed about the intelligence even from members of the
administration. So, here's what I will say about it, the White House hasn't yet really briefed us [13:25:00]. It's unusual to order all
personnel to leave Iraq, nonessential personnel.
Normally, an administration would come up and brief Armed Services and Foreign Relations, we're going to have to take this step and here's why
they haven't done that. I have heard that a small group of leaders and ranking members of committees might get a briefing this afternoon and that
the full Senate might get a briefing next week.
But we're very late in this process for us to still be waiting for briefings. So, when we do get the briefings there are going to be two
questions. One, what is your level of intel about elevated risk of danger from Iran? And second, if there is such an elevated risk, is that activity
initiated by Iran or can it be explained by Iran being provoked by the United States?
It was the U.S. that withdrew from the diplomatic deal. It's the U.S. that's imposing sanctions. It's U.S. leaders that are talking about regime
change in Iran. It's the U.S. that's talking about how many troops we need to put into their neighborhood, not their troops into our neighborhood.
So, part of the question that we have to ask when we finally get the briefing, we should have gotten weeks ago is whether an elevated threat
level is attributable to Iran being provoked by the United States.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of what Senator Cotton said, that president might not need an extra vote or extra permission from Congress because he
has been able to, you know, continue the activity in Syria that was started, obviously, by President Obama, the anti-ISIS activity, and conduct
what he considers, you know, appropriate military intervention without -- under current existing approvals.
KAINE: That position by Senator Cotton, look, I respect Senator Cotton as a public servant in many ways, but his suggestion that the president should
be able to take us to war with Iran without a Congressional vote should frighten anybody, especially people who have taken an oath to support and
defend the constitution. The constitution says it's Congress that makes the decision to declare war.
And Christiane, why does the constitution say that? This is one of the clearest parts of the constitution and it was put into the constitution
because of a realization that executives will often overreach in getting into war and that what you need to have, if you're going to order troops
into harm's way, is a public discussion about what's at stake. And if, after that discussion, the Article I branch votes on it and says, "It is in
the national interest, we need to do that," that is the green light to suggest, "OK, we're going to order our troops into harm's way."
But for a president to say, "Well, I can do this without Congress," betrays a lack of confidence they can convince Congress. For a member of Congress
to say, "Mr. President, do it without us," that often displays a lack of backbone. I don't want to have a debate and be forced to vote on it.
I would love to have Tom Cotton stand on the floor of the Senate and make his case for why he thought war was a good idea and make his case for why
he thought war against Iran would be easy and I'd like to stand up on the floor and say, "War would be a bad idea," and the suggestion that it's easy
is wrong and then let's have that debate not on CNN. Let's have the debate on the floor of the United States Senate and in the House.
And if I lose, if there are the votes there that suggest war is a good idea, then the president has legal authority, but trying to bypass the
debate and the vote is very, very troubling.
AMANPOUR: Do you think -- I mean, why do you think this is happening? Why do you think all these things we've just been seeing, you know, what you
were just correctly called, a routine deployment that's been dressed up as a particular deployment of the aircraft carrier and the strike force and
this unusual announcement about nonessential staff and the -- whether it's correct or not, the president said it wasn't correct, but "The New York
Times" saying that there's a plan from John Bolton to send 120,000 troops. What do you think they are really trying to do? Because Iran thinks
they're trying to provoke them into a -- into some kind of reaction and use that as a casus belli.
KAINE: Well, and I deeply worry about the same thing. Why is this happening now? There's probably a number of reasons, Christiane, but here
would be one. The president had a Secretary of Defense, Mad Dog Mattis, who was a hawk on Iran, but he told the president as secretary of defense,
the Iran deal is working on the nuclear portfolio, not everything, and it serves America's national interest. And we also had a Secretary of State,
Rex Tillerson, who had the same position and we had a National Security Advisor, General McMaster, who had the same position.
Now, we have a Secretary of State in Mike Pompeo who has a long track record as a member of Congress in talking about the need for regime change
in Iran. When the nuclear deal was on the table, he said, "Look, we could wipe out their nuclear weapons arsenal with 2000 airstrike", suggesting
that we should use military action as a preferable option to diplomacy.
So we now have in John Bolton, the national security advisor, somebody who has a long track record of talking about regime change and the need for
military action against Iran. We have a secretary of state who's in in the same philosophical camp. And we have a secretary of defense -- acting
secretary of defense who does not have the gravitas or the experience of General Mattis who hasn't particularly weighed in on this.
So, I view this as a fundamental change because what I considered the really smart national security members of the president's team who could
look at this situation and say, a war in Iran right now would be idiocy, we should stay in the nuclear deal, they've all been fired. They've been
replaced with people who have years-long records of talking tough.
And I think that's why this president, who said we should be out of wars in the Middle East, who said the Iraq war was a horrible idea, that's why he
and others are now moving closer and closer to it. Maybe it's bluff talk, but I can tell you this, when the military families in Virginia whose sons
and daughters have been deployed many times over the last 18 or 19 years hear the president talking or his team talking about 120,000 troops or
maybe we'll put in more than that, it is psychologically terrorizing to them to hear that kind of language thrown around loosely.
AMANPOUR: And I can see you getting very, you know, very concerned about this. And I wonder whether you think even if this rhetoric and these troop
movements and diplomatic personnel movements, even if that was a continuation of a, you know, their doctrine of maximum pressure against
Iran, do you think that it will work as a bluff and it will work to get Iran to somehow come back to the table to get a better deal? Let me just,
while you're thinking about that, play you what Iran says about this tactic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The policy of maximum pressure and the offer of dialogue are mutually exclusive. They
cannot expect Iran to accept an offer under pressure.
The policy of maximum pressure is creating problems for the Iranian people, we cannot accept a dialogue based on coercion, based on intimidation and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean how do you react to that? That's the Iran's ambassador to the United Nations.
KAINE: Well, I think that there is -- look, Iran's doing a lot of bad things that we need to counter. We just shouldn't have reopened the door
to allow them to go back to enriching uranium when we were effectively limiting it.
Here's what I think about this. The past is prologue. So let's look at the situation in Iran back in 2011. One of the best speeches about Iran
that I ever heard given was given by Bibi Netanyahu at the United Nations and I believe it was in 2011. And Christiane, it was the famous speech
where Bibi drew the bomb.
KAINE: It was kind of the wily coyote bomb and that got a lot of attention. What got less attention is something very wise that he said in
He said -- he thanked the assembly members for joining together in the sanctions campaign against Iran, but he said, "But we have to be honest,
the sanctions campaign has hurt Iran's economy but it hasn't slowed down their nuclear program. In fact, in some ways, it may have accelerated it."
And he was right about that.
When you -- this is often the case in one-on-one relations and in international relations. If you go hard at somebody and you put on
pressure, there is a great tendency of somebody to then stiffen their back and resist.
And so, in the earlier iteration, the maximum pressure campaign did hurt Iran's economy and that ultimately led to a reason for dialogue but it
accelerated their nuclear program. So if that's what happened in the past, then the U.S. scrapping a deal that they were complying with, they had to
limit uranium down to a sub-weapons level, they had to get rid of much of the tonnage of uranium they had, they had to give up on plutonium
production, they had to allow intrusive inspections that they weren't allowing before, these were requirements that went for 10, 15, 25 years and
The agreement to inspections [13:35:00] were permanent. They had to do all that that they weren't doing before, and it was the U.S. that tore that up.
So I tend to agree if you want dialogue, then don't blow up dialogue and don't blow up a diplomatic deal and then think returning to pressure will
get you a deal.
Furthermore, think about the broader effect, Christiane, on North Korea. The president is trying to find a deal with North Korea. If he gets one
that's a third the deal that President Obama got with Iran, you know, he would tout it as Nobel Prize worthy. But if the U.S. was willing to tear
up a deal with Iran that was working, what incentive does that give North Korea to enter into a deal with the United States?
And I made this argument in July of 2018. I said if you walk out of the deal with Iran, you're not only going to return us to an arms race in the
Middle East where nations like Saudi Arabia will start trying to get nuclear technology, which they are, possibly creating missile programs,
which they apparently are. You're not only going to create an arms race in the Middle East, you are also going to make it harder to get a deal with
And you see what's happened, despite two summits. North Korea has not taken a single step toward denuclearization and you have to wonder whether
part of the reason is their belief that a deal with the United States would be torn up by the United States.
AMANPOUR: It really is a grave, grave moment. Senator Kaine, thank you so much for joining us.
KAINE: Absolutely, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And we turn now from all of this drama to the vulnerability of fatherhood. The Oscar Winning musician and actor, Common, real name Lonnie
Rashid Lynne Jr. is best known for his Hollywood performances and chart- topping hits.
But in his new memoir, "Let Love Have the Last Word," Common documents his struggle to become a better father to his daughter and how he found the
strength to speak out about his own childhood abuse. He spoke to our Alicia Menendez.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you so much for being here.
COMMON, AUTHOR, LET LOVE HAVE THE LAST WORD: Thank you for having me. I'm honored to be here.
MENENDEZ: So your memoir is out right now. The title is, "Let Love Have the Last Word." What does that mean?
COMMON: I really believe that that concept and practice and title, I chose it because it's so much going on in the world, people talk every day about
the pains and the anxiety and the depression, and the divisiveness that I just learned that the thing that has kept me most solid, most hopeful, and
most peaceful incented is love, and the practice of that. So, this book is about me working on myself.
MENENDEZ: One of the ways in which you are working on yourself has to do with your daughter. I mean your relationship with her forms the core of
this book. Why did you choose to go there?
COMMON: My relationship with my daughter is really a good journey in practicing love because it's a great example for me of ways where I thought
I was doing the right thing and doing a good job at it but somebody else has another perspective.
MENENDEZ: She had a lot of disappointments.
COMMON: She had a lot of -- she had disappointments. She had hurt. And I thought I was, you know, doing a great job as a father, a good job as a
I knew I wasn't perfect but I knew that I was giving her the love that she needed. But she saw it a different way and that's what this book really
started with that story or starts with that as part of the crux is because it is the example of, like, oh, I'm loving you in the best way I can but if
that other individual who happens to be my daughter is not receiving that in that way, then I have to honor that.
MENENDEZ: What were her core complaints?
COMMON: Her core complaints were that I didn't fight for her in certain situations where her mother was giving me resistance. That I didn't --
like it was hard for her to see me when I was dating women if I was with another, you know, they had kids. To see me with someone else's kids was
very tough on her.
And also, you know, she just said, man, I was gone a lot. And I had to tour and be on different -- be in different places to even provide. And it
was -- it's the real balance of understanding being able to do that and also making sure you're at those -- you're there for someone.
MENENDEZ: She's grown now. How old is she?
COMMON: Twenty-one. She's graduating college.
MENENDEZ: So that's a lot of life for her, a lot of career success that has happened for you in that time. In some ways, I felt reading the book
like there is a cautionary tale about the price of fame and the price of success.
COMMON: I don't think it's one or the other, to be honest. I don't think that you can't pursue your dream. In fact, I encourage parents [13:40:00]
and people to be kind and loving to yourselves to follow your dreams.
Because in fulfillment of that, you'll be better to not only your child but you'll be better to everybody around you because you're being better to
yourself. I see so many parents that have been through situations where because they were having a child, they just gave up their passion.
And I don't know -- you know, I know it's difficult economics when it comes to I could pursue my passion and, like, still have, you know, time for my
child and make sure that it's, you know, they're being cared for if I'm not -- I understand that it struggles even just in the practical parts of that.
MENENDEZ: Well, because that's true for you too. I mean you had a lot of years of hustle before you actually hit commercial success.
COMMON: Oh, man, yes. I mean, it's -- it was, you know, it was years where I'm like, OK, how am I going to pay for this mortgage, this car note,
my daughter's tuition?
You know, the seasons of entertainment, you know, like sometimes you're just in the forefront and things are flowing well, and then sometimes it's
not. So I had those experiences to do that and the actual challenges of being able to take care of your family is one thing and then also saying,
man, I have to be there, you know.
And for me, it was like I was thinking that some of those important moments, I was never going to miss, but it's the in-between moments too and
those small moments that you still also have to find a balance to make sure you're there for.
MENENDEZ: Part of writing a book about a topic as personal as love means you also had to go deep with yourself.
MENENDEZ: Unearth childhood memories, childhood traumas. Can you tell us what happened to you?
COMMON: What occurred in the book that I talk about that occurred in my life was when I was around the age of 9-years-old and I was molested by a
family friend. And I talk about it and I talk about it in the way that I recognize that it was something that I had tucked away in my memories for a
long time and didn't even think about it, didn't -- it really didn't exist for a long time.
And it came to surface when I was doing a film that was called "The Tale" that was about sexual abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talked about the relationship but this is a grown man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was important to me and I'm trying to figure out why.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON: And I recognized it. It was like, wow, this happened to me. It wasn't -- I have to be clear, it wasn't like an ongoing thing. It was just
And you know, acknowledging that incident was important for me because as I write in this book, I write this book for the healing of myself and for
others and I want others to be able to feel safe to be in a space to open up to themselves and say -- and figure out like if there's some things that
they want to deal with, that they've been through that's caused trauma in their life to be able to be, like, man, I'm going to work on this, I'm
going to heal myself from this.
So yes, I talk about it with the hopes of healing and forgiveness, to be honest. And I feel like this is the conversation that you don't hear a lot
from a black man, you don't hear from men sometimes, especially the way it occurred.
MENENDEZ: Why? Why do you think that is?
COMMON: Because in culture, it's -- men are -- we are taught to be like not as open or vulnerable. And within that conversation, you can feel some
type of shame by telling that story or feel that you may get shamed about it.
MENENDEZ: That means something about you, that it happened to you.
COMMON: Yes, you can feel that and you feel that the ongoing thing, it could be something that people talk about that you don't really necessarily
want to always be identified by that. So you feel afraid to talk about it.
MENENDEZ: It's a part of the book I would love for you to read. It's on page 185.
COMMON: All right. Thinking back, I should have gotten up from the bed and ran out of the room, but I felt a deep, sudden shame for what happened
and for what he kept trying to make happen. As if I had brought it all on myself.
I didn't want to say anything to anyone and hoped that he would just leave me alone and go to sleep, which eventually he did once I fought back enough
that he knew I was not going to touch him at all. [13:45:00] Nothing else happened.
The rest of the trip went on as planned. Everyone seemed happy, having a good time. I remember putting on the best face I could, but I was distant.
Perhaps as distant as another planet feeling elsewhere within my own body.
Ashamed of myself, and struck into silence, I said nothing to Brandon, to Ski, to my godmother, to no one. Most certainly not to my mother.
MENENDEZ: So what I want to know, now that the story is out there is how has your mom responded to it?
COMMON: My mother has been very open and caring. She -- you know, it's obviously something that she didn't know about it and she wants to make
sure that I'm all right.
She knows it exists in so many facets of life because my mother is a teacher or former teacher, principal, and a great one at that. So she has
had students who have experienced this from the neighborhoods that she taught in and was principal in.
So, she -- it wasn't as shocking, probably, as some would think, but she definitely just listened to me and asked was -- how was I feeling about the
subject and I think she started processing it for herself. So, you know, my mother is one of my greatest supporters, definitely, one of my best
friends, if not, my best friend in the world. So you know, she's going to be there for me.
MENENDEZ: And your daughter?
COMMON: My daughter, she first found out about this, this situation, from a song. I felt this song was my way of sharing the story with her and then
we could talk about it. And when she heard it, she just took the headphones out of her ears and said, this really happened to you?
And I said, yes, it did happen. She was like, does grandma know? Does anybody know? And I'm like, no, they didn't know but I did talk to her
about it now.
And she, you know, she said, wow, you're very brave for saying this, dad and, like, I'm really proud of you. She told me that just actually last
night that she was proud of me for going out and talking about this and that -- you know, that made me feel good.
And to me, the biggest hope would be with this and us even talking about this is that a child that has had -- experienced that will feel like
comfortable enough to talk to someone or feel strong enough or even if it's the word is weak enough, feel OK to talk to someone who, you know, if
they've experienced that.
MENENDEZ: A big part of your activism is present in your music. Just last year, you were at the Oscars for your song Stand Up for Something, which
you wrote for the movie Marshall. At the event, you took a stand and you spoke up about the NRA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON: Tell the NRA, they in God's way. And to the people of Parkland, we say, I say, sentiments of love for the people from Africa, Haiti, to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: What role do you see music playing in activism?
COMMON: Music is one of the most important roles because music gets the word out. It kind of is that subconscious soundtrack to the movement in
many ways because sometimes there's information in the music.
I found, you know, through a lot of the music that I have digested, I've learned so much. Like through hip hop culture from the '90s and '80s,
early, you know, mid-'80s, late '80s to '90s. I mean all that stuff planted seeds for some of the way I think and some of my consciousness.
And along with that, the Bob Marley's of the world, the Stevie Wonders, the Bob Dylans, the artists that speak up when it comes to social justice and
just society, music has been that thing, Marvin Gaye. To this day, "What's Going On" can speak to the times, right?
So -- but I believe, let me say this, that the component of action has to go after the music. The music is the call. Like it's like a coach
huddling us up. Like let's huddle, this is the plan. And then we got to go out and execute the plan.
MENENDEZ: Did your attitude about the connection between activism and your music -- I mean, the early days of your career, you're an underground
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON: The perseverance of a rebel, I drop heavier levels, it's unseen or heard, a king with words, can't knock the hustle. But I've seen street
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: And then finding commercial success. Was there ever anyone who said to you like it's been great that you've been an activist up to this
point, loved the socially conscious lyrics but now we're going to do this commercial thing?
COMMON: Well, it was a time where [13:50:00] early on in my career, the label that I was signed to were like, "Man, we need you to make some music
that will get to the radio. We're here to make money."
I was like OK, well, let me try to compromise in a way and make a record that I'm going to write from the heart and make sure the music is something
I think people will like. That didn't work.
That was an aha moment, a shift in the paradigm for me to know that truth resonates and I feel like I need to be true to self and not only my art but
just in anything that I do.
MENENDEZ: Well, it's run through your music. It also now has run through your acting career. I mean when you are pursuing roles, choosing roles,
how much of it is considering the message of the film and the message of the role?
COMMON: Well, I have to say, until I got to be a part of "Selma" --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reverend James Bevel.
JAMES BEVEL: How you doing, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm well. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON: I didn't know that I could really have that type of impact as far as acting would go, meaning being a part of films that did have some higher
purpose, you know. And now, that has become -- you know, that is like golden for me when I find a character or a role like the film "The Hate U
Give," I got to be a part of where it's really has something to say. It sparks a conversation.
That's what I feel like I owe as an artist, as an actor, it's like to at least be a part of art that sparks conversations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLOS: A lot goes through a cop's mind when they pull someone over, especially if they have to get into a pissing contest with the driver about
why they stopped him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: The Hate U Give, you also sort of forced the viewer to reckon with a person we don't often think about, which is the black police
COMMON: The black police officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLOS: So if I think I see a gun, I don't hesitate. I shoot.
STARR CARTER: Because you think you see a gun? You don't say something first?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON: You know, I had to come to reckoning with it also. Because with all the murders and killings of young unarmed black men and women, it made
me automatically have a certain position toward how I think the police treat us.
And I do think my position is valid because it's been proven with so many lives that are lost. But I also never thought about what a police officer
who is not caught up in that mentality, what their lives may be like.
And that was a real great examination for me for, you know, the dynamics of what it is to be a black police officer. It gave me another perspective to
at least be able to say, hey, when we come to the table and talk, we got to get -- it's an understanding we have to have, like we got to listen to each
other, because every police officer is not out there to kill, and every black kid is not carrying a gun.
So I think I wanted to just be a part of breaking that generalization and helping hopefully get people to the table.
MENENDEZ: Thank you so much.
COMMON: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: Common there and his memoir, "Let Love Have the Last Word."
Now, finally, in response to the devastating terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, Facebook has introduced a one strike rule to
combat extremism on its platform. As of today, any individual who breaks certain Facebook policies will temporarily be banned from using its live
Here's what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told me about this yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER, NEW ZEALAND: We are asking for cooperation and I think it's the least that can be offered in these circumstances.
I've spoken to Mark Zuckerberg directly twice now. And actually, we've had good ongoing engagement with Facebook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Of course, Facebook's policy, that change is only a small step from the social media giant, but had it been in effect two months ago,
Facebook says the Christchurch killer would not have been able to live stream his violent act.
The move comes as Prime Minister Ardern joins forces with the French President, Emanuel Macron, for a summit in Paris to push for the
Christchurch Call to Action. It's a nonbinding agreement against online extremism. Now, the U.S. says it supports the initiative but is not
formally joining it.
That's it for now. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.