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Tension Between U.S. and Iran High, Yet Both Don't Want War; Iranian Prime Minister Worried About Accidental Warfare; David Petraeus, Former Commanding General, Multi-national Force in Iraq, is Interviewed About Iran and Iraq. Congressman Nominates Jose Andres for Nobel Peace Prize; Jose Andres, Michelin Star Chef & Author, "Vegetables Unleased," is Interviewed About Vegetables and His New Book. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 21, 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)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Iran's foreign minister warns America is playing a very dangerous game in the Persian Gulf. General David Petraeus joins me. He
saw Tehran's influence up close in Iraq and why he doesn't think Trump will go to war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE ANDRES, MICHELIN STAR CHEF & AUTHOR, VEGETABLES UNLEASED: You need pragmatic, smart, business-like decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Superstar chef, Jose Andres, has made a name feeding the hungry in desperate situations. Now, he's trying to get us to see vegetables in a
whole new light just as the role of meat in climate change becomes more apparent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUKETU MEHTA, AUTHOR, THIS LAND IS OUR LAND: The whole debate around global migration today is fraught with staggering hypocrisy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What the West gets wrong about immigration. Professor Suke Tumeta speaks with our Hari Sreenivasan.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Just what is happening between the United States and Iran? Undoubtedly, tensions are high, the war of words continues to escalate, even though both
sides insist they don't want war.
On Monday, Iran announced that it had increased its uranium enrichment capacity while still adhering to the nuclear deal that President Trump has
pulled out of. It came as Trump tweeted that, "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran." After weeks of escalation and
criticism from Congress, the White House is finally briefing lawmakers today. The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tells CNN in an
exclusive interview today that he is most worried about accidental warfare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZARIF: Iran is not interested in escalation. We have said very clearly that we will not be the party to begin escalation, but we will defend
ourselves. Now, having all these military assets in a small waterway is in and of itself prone to accident, particularly when you have people who are
interested in accidents. So, extreme prudence is required and we believe that the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And in wrapping up the rhetoric on Iran, President Trump's most hawkish aides have pointed to Iran's growing influence in the region where
it often pits itself against American interests. That is nothing new as my next guest knows all too well.
General David Petraeus led troops into Iraq during the 2000 war, 2003 war and again during the 2007 surge. Later, he went on to lead the CIA and
he's now global institute chair at KKR, a major New York investment firm.
General Petraeus, welcome to the program.
DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE IN IRAQ: Good to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, I think the first question that everybody wants to know is what I sort of alluded to, is President Trump disposed to another military
intervention or conflict in the Middle East? And you have said that you don't think so. Is that correct?
PETRAEUS: It is. I don't think so. I think he's been quite clear about that. Now, that doesn't mean that the threat to do something very
significant were Iran to exceed a threshold beyond which the U.S. would have to take action, that is clearly there. But I don't sense that he is
eager to get into this.
I suspect there's been a lot of analysis of various options over the last few weeks and everybody has been reminded that Iran is several times what
Iraq was when we invaded in 2003, and it's four to five times -- that's in population, and it's four to five times the land mass of Iraq as well.
So, I don't think any real serious thought is being given to an actual invasion. Certainly, I'm sure, they're dusting off plans that I'm quite
familiar with, having also been the U.S. central command commander for some kind of punitive strike against Iran, but I don't think anyone is eager to
see that happen.
I think the real question is, are the 12 demands that the secretary of state of the United States issued last year, are they negotiable? I tend
to think that that is the case and I tend to think that Iran is going to start exploring opportunities, if not this year, then certainly next year,
as the currency falls further, it's already plummeted, as the economy continues to decline quite precipitously, and as inflation increases as the
U.S. is taken waiver after waiver away from Iran when it comes to the export of their major commodity, which is, of course, oil.
AMANPOUR: So, let me play this soundbite. We've already heard from Foreign Minister Zarif who's talked about a very dangerous game of special
interests in the United States seeking to provoke Iran [13:05:00] and that he's afraid of an accidental war. I'm going to get into that with you a
little bit. But first, in regard to what you just said that you think perhaps soon enough Iran will want to come back to the table, this is what
he said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZARIF: We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises. Because we talk to people, we did not believe that our nuclear
program, our nuclear energy program required us to provide any concessions or provide any confidence building measures. But we engaged, we acted in
good faith, we negotiated, we reached a deal.
What the United States is saying is that, "We make a deal, whatever we can get you in the negotiations through the deal is fine, whatever we cannot
get you, we'll come back to try to get you." This is not the way serious countries deal with each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, he has a point, right?
PETRAEUS: For serious countries don't engage in militia activity in countries around them. They don't try to Lebanonize Iraq and Syria and
perhaps Yemen the way that they Lebanonized Lebanon, in other words, build a very powerful paramilitary and then get substantial votes in the
parliament as well.
So, again, certainly, and I am very clear that Iran did not violate the nuclear agreement, which the U.S. is a party to in multilateral agreement,
I'm not sure I would have recommended leaving it. But I certainly have shared the concerns of this administration, which is a bipartisan concern
about the so-called malign Iranian activity, the effort to establish a Shia crescent, if you will, stretching from Iran through Iraq through Syria and
down into Southern Lebanon and Lebanese Hezbollah. And also, the very threatening missile program testing that they have been carrying out as
well, which threatens our partners in the region and obviously, our ally, Israel, also.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me then, you've obviously been paying close attention given your interest and experience in the region. You've seen this
escalation and people have described it, you know, foreign policy analysts, as one of the fastest escalation in terms of war of words, the rhetoric,
the moving of the "USS Lincoln" the carrier group, all of those things, anti-missile, you know, patriot batteries, et cetera.
It is pretty intense. And then also you see the rhetoric dialing back from the United States, then dialing forward again with just recently President
Trump, the latest thing he said after saying he didn't want a war, he said, "Well, if Iran does something, it will be the end of Iran." Just what is -
- what strategy, what tactics are at play here?
PETRAEUS: Well, I'm sure that there's some discussion about them ongoing still. Again, there undoubtedly was a discussion of those who perhaps want
to see something as enormous as regime change versus those that want to see regime behavior change, which is probably the more realistic possibility
given how extraordinary regime change would be and also, frankly, the fact that we have learned that not all regime changes end up with the hopeful
outcome for which we might wish.
But, you know, President Trump has a history of this, all the way back to when he was a businessman. If you read "The Art of the Deal," he says that
before you even sit down with someone across the table, with whom you'll negotiate, you punch the other guy in the nose. And he's doing that
rhetorically. Yes, he did that with North Korea, he's done that with some of our other partners with whom we have now achieved agreements. The
U.S./Mexico/Canada agreement was preceded by quite tough rhetoric as well. The build-up of forces is actually not even a restoration to rough -- to a
moderate amount of what we used to have in that region.
When I was the commander of U.S. Central Command, we had 250,000 U.S. men and women in uniform. This is much, much less than that and the fact that
we haven't had a carrier full-time was quite a significant withdrawal some year or two ago.
Again, these are prudent measures, I think. They put us in a position, if we have to carry out something that we have better defenses as you
mentioned, the patriot ballistic missile defense batteries and then also some additional bombers if it comes to that. But again, I don't think
anyone is intent on a true war.
My worry is that you have some trigger-happy rogue element, either in the Revolutionary Guards Corps, navy, or perhaps an Iranian-supported Shia
militia element in Iraq that triggers something from which there is an escalation.
And let me just note, by the way, I absolutely stand with Dr. Barham Salih, the president of Iraq, in hoping fervently that Iraq is not the soil on
which some kind of either proxy or actual conflict between the U.S. and Iran takes place.
AMANPOUR: So --
PETRAEUS: The land of the two rivers is in a good position [13:10:00] and it needs to be allowed to rebuild itself to restore basic services and the
rest in the wake of the defeat of ISIS.
AMANPOUR: So, how would you describe Iran's reaction so far in the year, because all of this has come to a head precisely a year after President
Trump pulled the United States out of this international U.N. sanctioned nuclear deal, it's not just a piece of paper between U.S.
PETRAEUS: Sure. Yes.
AMANPOUR: So --
AMANPOUR: -- Iran has said that it has reacted with "maximum restraint to the U.S. official policy of maximum pressure." So, do you buy that? I
mean, do you agree that it has not provoked? And how do you read the so- called American intelligence that has led to this? What is the intelligence? What is the story of the missiles on the boats that we were
PETRAEUS: Well, first, let me just say that I think you can characterize what Iran has done also as a maximum hope. What they have tried to do by
staying within the limits of the nuclear agreement, even though the U.S. departed it and reimpose sanctions, what they tried to do is keep Europe on
board and to give Europe a chance to develop some kind of economic work around to enable investment to continue and goods to be exported to Europe
And frankly, predictably, really, Europe has found this very difficult to do. Again, the dollar is the currency in which most trading takes place.
They -- companies in Europe essentially have a choice, they can either do business with Iran or with the number one economy in the world, the United
States. And I think the hopes that Iran and perhaps even some in Europe had for establishing some kind of trading mechanism have not borne out.
The intelligence, I think, probably, again, solid intelligence in terms of developing indicators or hearing indicators, if you will, of warning
orders. In other words, just, for example, perhaps the revolution Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, telling
the Shia militia commanders in Iraq to be ready in case something is needed.
The missiles on the boats is a little bit inclusive because reportedly they've been taken off the boats. The one rocket attack in Baghdad, again,
uncertain where that came from. Reportedly from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran- supported Shia militia but not conclusive and then the attacks off the four ships that were off to port of Agira (ph), that's actually outside the
Strait of Hormuz, of course, in the Gulf of Oman.
PETRAEUS: Again, not clear yet. Presumably, Iranian and that is what U.S. sources apparently have been authorized to share off the record. But
again, not that conclusive yet.
And I think frankly, what the president is trying to do is to say, "Hey, watch it. There is a threshold and if you cross that threshold, we're not
going to specify where, we've learned, I think, about red lines, but if there is a threshold that is crossed, then you could be in jeopardy of a
very significant attack in return."
AMANPOUR: What --
PETRAEUS: Iran does need to be very careful about that. Again, keep in mind, their economy is really plummeting. They're going to tighten their
belt, they're certainly not going to come to the table any time soon, but I suspect perhaps next year at some point in time, maybe interlocutors from
Oman who were very helpful for the United States and Iran during the early days of the nuclear agreement formulation, perhaps Switzerland, leader of -
- which was just in the White House the other day, some third-party that can enable some kind of discussion and then the rhetoric is dialed down, as
we have seen again in other cases where the president has sought to get an agreement.
AMANPOUR: So, I was going to ask you about that because you mentioned North Korea. You mentioned the sort of, you know, colorful rhetoric, you
said, you know, the president's style is to punch somebody in the face before actually coming to a negotiation and sitting around the table.
Well, you know, he tried that, obviously, with North Korea, and there was a massive war of words.
AMANPOUR: And there was a great fear globally that somehow it was going to go off the rails. Until it transpired into -- I mean, honestly, these are
the president's words, kind of a love fest between him and Kim Jong-un, but that in turn has not led to denuclearization, and has led to, in fact, you
know, even more tension right now to the point that the U.S. has seized a North Korean cargo ship earlier this month and today, the DPKR or the --
yes, DPRK ambassador in the U.N. said the U.S. "should deliberate and think over the consequences of its outrageous acts which might have on future
developments." I mean, how is this going for President Trump [13:15:00], though, this strategy?
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm not -- I am not endorsing this. I'm not supporting or suggesting that this is how diplomacy should proceed or the kind of
messaging that has been employed, I'm just describing a tactic, if you will, that has been employed by President Trump on numerous other
Now, in some cases, it has actually achieved results, I think, once the negotiators buckle down, the U.S./Mexico/Canada agreement was resolved
after some very harsh rhetoric, as you will recall, both during the campaign about Mexico and then after the president took office.
Some other cases where perhaps this may have worked a little bit as well, but some, as you note, North Korea most significantly, where that does not
have appeared to yield the kind of success that has been sought. Again, we will have to see as this unfolds how long Iran can keep tightening its belt
before the people are back on the streets again as they were spontaneously last fall in many, many cities in Iran. As you know, expressing their
displeasure with the situation in Iran at that time and that was before the most recent drop in GDP growth, the most recent drop in the currency and
also, the most recent rise in inflation.
So, it's going to get much tougher and the question is, can there be something negotiated, is Iran actually willing to discuss at all the so-
called -- and it is malign activity. Let's keep in mind, by the way, that we lost over 600 soldiers in Iraq to improvised explosive devices and these
explosively formed penetrators that were made in Iran and then given to the Shia militia that Iran supported and used against our forces and our Iraqi
AMANPOUR: You talk about obvious pressures that the Iranians are under because of the sanctions. They would say they've been under these
pressures before. And certainly, there is a lot of wishful thinking particularly in the United States about internal regime change by the
people. And I just want to play you something that the president's national security advisor, John Bolton, said about that but way before he
became national security advisor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: For the first time in at least eight years that I have been coming to this event, I can say that we
have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are
not going to change. And therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself. And that's -- and that's why before 2019, we here will
celebrate in Tehran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, that might have been overstated because it is 2019, the 40th anniversary of the revolution has happened and Bolton is not
celebrating in Tehran. Not to mention that he's speaking before a group known as the Mojahedin Khalgh, which has renamed itself which most people
believe is a very hard line Islamic group.
But do you think that Bolton still has that dream of regime change and might he be able to persuade enough people in the Trump administration? I
mean, you've seen this movie before. It happened, you know, in Iraq.
PETRAEUS: I don't see any similarity to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and this. To be sure, John Bolton may still dream of that, there
may be a few others who might have similar dreams, but the president has been very clear that he doesn't want war and that would take an enormous
invasion. The numbers are staggering, what that would require. And a vastly more capable force with a very advanced soviet air defense system in
Could we do it? Certainly, we could do it. But there's a lot of other priorities around the world. And again, this is about what Iran is doing
in the region and its threatening missile programs. And the question is, are they willing to negotiate about that or does it actually come to the
point that you have some kind of punitive action but certainly something well short of an invasion or a real intervention in Iran.
And by the way, you said that Iran has shown a willingness to do this in the past, to tighten its belt, and that is true but that was much closer to
the revolutionary days. That was almost, you know, a holy war, literally, between Iraq and Iran, and the fervor at that time sustained the people.
I'm not sure the citizenry of Iran at this point in time would be anywhere near as supportive if they continued down [13:20:00] this road without some
kind of sanction relief at some point next year at the least. Of course they could just keep tightening the belt, maybe even putting a new hole or
two in the belt to enable that and wait until November 2020 and see if they get someone in the White House in January 2021 who is more moderate on
Iran, but there's no guarantees of that, and they've got a long, long year- and-a-half prior to that.
AMANPOUR: That's right. And it really is hurting ordinary people, there's no doubt about it. Could I please ask you a completely different question
but put your former commander hat on? President Trump is discussing the possibility of pardons, pardoning certain members of the U.S. military who
have been accused of war crimes. You have probably heard the name of Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, he's a Navy SEAL, and he's been charged
with premeditated murder, attempted murder and a dozen other offenses including obstruction of justice and bringing discredit on the armed
forces. I mean, awfully he allegedly shot indiscriminately at civilians, killed a teenage ISIS fighter with a custom blade. I mean, it's really
awful the accusations about him, how he potentially posed with a bloody corpse. He denies all the charges. But should President Trump be
considering pardons of these kinds of alleged offenses that are under way right now?
PETRAEUS: Well, let me just start out by saying that -- as you will recall, in fact, I think you were in Mosul with us at some point in time
early on. And I remember as we were trying to determine how are we going to treat detainees, because we -- this is not something that 101st Airborne
Division had made great preparation for and all of a sudden, we've got a lot of people that surrendered or were captured. And we decided, look, at
the end of the day, let's just remember the law of land warfare, the Geneva Convention.
And let me tell you that wherever we have violated the Geneva Convention we have paid for it over time, whether it was Abu Ghraib, whether it was
enhanced interrogation techniques, which I have been against all along. I understand why they were employed when they were and I went through that,
obviously, when I took over the CIA.
But again, if you violate these norms, inevitably, you pay a much greater price for that than whatever it is you get from those particular actions.
And I would put that in this category. Again, that kind of discipline to adhere to the law of land warfare is very, very important. We have made it
a point not to sink not level of our adversaries, not to engage in barbaric activity, and that has been a very, very important north star for us as we
have carried out what are very frustrating campaigns against enemies who are often quite barbaric, who literally will blow themselves up to take us
with them in some cases on the battlefield.
So, again, I would keep coming back to that, certainly, and using that as our guide post as we go forward and realize that any deviation from that
or, again, pardon of action that clearly violated this or the uniform code of military justice could have some kind of significant downside when it
comes to the discipline in this force that is so extraordinary --
PETRAEUS: -- individuals who have raised their hand and taken an oath during a time of war and who I believe want to, again, adhere to these
kinds of norms because it is hugely important to us.
AMANPOUR: Okay. General Petraeus, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
PETRAEUS: Great to be with you again, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
And now, we turn from war and conflict to a war against waste by eating and living well. The Michelin starred chef, Jose Andres, has gained prominence
over the last few years for one-upping governments and aid agencies when the hungry need it most, whether in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mozambique, on
the U.S.-Mexican border and even in the American capital during the recent federal shutdown. His efforts even led a congressman to nominate the chef
for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Food, of course, touches every part of our lives, and ever more so as we become more climate conscious. Just on cue, Andres is out with a new cook
book for that most environmentally conscious of foods, veggies. It says called, "Vegetables Unleashed: A Cook Book." And Jose Andres joins me now
from New York.
Welcome back to our program, Jose.
ANDRES: That you know, Christiane. I'm very happy to be here.
AMANPOUR: Great. I mean, so I've given a long lead-in to the benefits of vegetables, but why did you decide [13:25:00] now and vegetables?
ANDRES: Well, we've been always talking about how good meat is, let's eat meat. The last 10 years or so, the conversation about vegetables is being
kind of the forefront. But still I don't think we're doing enough. On the menus, they are always the side dish. That's why a few years ago, I
decided to open a fast food called Beefsteak. It's a fast food restaurant where 99% of all the items are vegetables.
And this book is very much trying to close the circle. We need to do a bigger effort to try to move vegetables forward and make sure that they are
part of our lives, of our diets.
AMANPOUR: So, I wonder, do you do that because it's healthy for us, for our diets or is it also because of the environment? And let me just give
you some of these statistics that we have, because raising, you know, livestock, whether to eat the meat or to have the eggs and the milk,
apparently generates between 14.5 percent to 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That's the second highest source, according to
the U.N. and it's outpaces, you know, transport, all the kind of transport. So, what is the main reason you're doing this?
ANDRES: Quite frankly, it's all of the above. Number one, in my family, we are very vegetable centric family. We are very lucky to have a little
farm outside our home. We go to the farmers markets. But many people in America and many people around the world, they don't have this same simple
access to those vegetables that every family should be able to have access to and also, to be able to afford.
Sometimes, it seems that lately, to buy a burger, it's cheaper than to buy broccoli, and we have to end that. We have to make sure that families in
America and around the world, where they live, they have easy access to vegetables that the families can afford, so their families can be better
fed. Cannot be that in the process of being the richest country of the world like America, somehow, we are becoming more obese, less healthy, our
environment is suffering because the way we're growing the foods we eat.
So, we need to be making sure that we keep asking ourselves how can we make sure that in the way we feed ourselves we are able to eat better and
healthier and make sure that the environment surrounds us (INAUDIBLE) better. That's why I did the book, to bring recipes that are fun for the
families to cook at home. And in the process, we bring some questions. Are you thinking every time you are eating? Are you seeing the
consequences or the benefits that what you eat and the way you eat can have to your family and to the environment that is surrounding you?
AMANPOUR: I mean, you're definitely on to something, because very prominent people are in the same lane as you. I interviewed the film
director, James Cameron, and his wife, Suzy, on their -- you know, their push for more vegetables, and they have a doctrine called "One Meal a Day"
should be plant-based. Let me just play a little bit of the interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CAMERON, FILMMAKER & ENVIRONMENTALIST: While it's wonderful to buy an electric car and so on, you're only attacking a smaller part of the
problem. But changing our diet and our nutrition is something we can do instantaneously if we choose to do it. And so, it's the quickest way that
we have for grabbing the thermostat of the planet and turning it down. All it takes is the will, the desire to do it.
SUZY CAMERON, AUTHOR & ENVIRONMENTALIST: The thing that stuck more than anything is that one person having one plant-based meal a day for one year
saves 200,000 gallons of water and the carbon equivalent of driving from Los Angeles to New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is. The statistics are remarkable, the evidence is there and yet, the U.S. facts and figures say meat consumption last year,
2018, was close to its highest in decades. That's rich and poor. How do you change people's view of their lifestyles, their culture, their
traditions in this regard?
ANDRES: Well, we need to be attacking the issue from different angles. Obviously, my little contribution is a book like "Vegetables Unleashed,"
trying to make sure that we bring the talk to why we include more vegetables in our diets but then, going deeper. You had, you know,
Petraeus. It's a national security issue.
[13:30:00] Right now, we have many young men and women in America that they cannot join our military because they are obese. The school lunch began
after World War II because the military saw that young men were totally unfit to join the military. Sixty-seven years later, now, young men and
women cannot join the military actually because they are super obese.
So you see, food, vegetables, the right food is a national security issue. Immigration, why do we have so many people trying to come to America?
Because right now, climate change is making many of the farmers in Central and South America not having the same quantity crops and quality that they
were having before.
They are going poor. They are going hungry. Where are they going? To anywhere that is work and is richer and they hope they can get a free meal.
So as you see, the way we eat is way beyond the normal consequences that we see in the cities we live, has worldwide consequences. That is why
anything helps if we bring this conversation of quality vegetables forward.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. And you also mentioned immigration. You're wearing a t-shirt, "Immigrants feed
America." I know that you are a very, very, you know, strong on this whole idea of immigration rights and immigrants' rights.
And you are on the border right now with one of your mobile kitchens and you're helping the needy down there. But tell me about your t-shirt and
tell me what you're seeing on the border.
ANDRES: Well, when I say immigrants feed America, somehow this book, "Vegetables Unleashed," also kind of pays homage to the men and women that
everyday work under the sun, picking up the same vegetables and fruits that our congressmen and senators are eating every day.
But somehow, immigration reform ain't happening. Right now, we are subsidizing vegetables in America because many of those farmers are
undocumented immigrants, that they are not paid fairly what they should be making for their hard work.
At the end, yes, we go also to the border. Right now, we have a crisis. To me, it's not just -- it's a humanitarian crisis.
We have people, for example, in Tijuana where we are seeing many people that they are wearing their -- they're trying to come to America. Why?
Because in their countries, really, right now, they are not doing well.
So what's the best approach that America is going to have for national security? Making sure, like, programs like USDA, they invest money in
those rural areas surrounding America, creating some kind of belt of farming.
If those farmers do better in those countries that surround America, all of a sudden we will not have these same problems on the border that it seems
we are facing right now. So, you see, vegetables and investing in vegetables and having a culture of farming that we invest in people not
only in America but across the world is in the best interest, actually, of United States' national security.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder whether it might have an impact on this terrible crisis of waste. I have a sound bite here from a documentary called
"Waste". And it's about the massive amount of food that America throws away, that the rest of the world, the rich world, just throws away.
In some countries, it's 40 percent. In some countries, it's a third of food. I mean, it's a real disaster. Just listen to this from this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRISTRAM STUART, FOOD WASTE CAMPAIGNER: Food production is the single biggest cause of deforestation, the single biggest cause of water
extraction, the single biggest cause of habitat loss and biodiversity loss. One-third of all of that impact is going on to produce food that ends up
MASSIMO BOLTURA, ITALIAN RESTAURATEUR: Numbers are numbers. Eight hundred million people are starving. 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every
year. So we don't need to produce more. We need to act different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that was Massimo Bottura, the last one, the Italian Restauranteur. We need to act differently.
ANDRES: Totally. And what we forget sometimes is a very important word, distribution. Sometimes I've seen in first person that we had famine in
And actually in Europe, for example, in Spain in the Mediterranean, entire crops of oranges were being wasted because the farmers were not picking up
the oranges from the trees. Why? Because the price in the market was cheaper than the labor to pick up those oranges.
So we need to start coming up with smart ideas that can allow this production of food that sometimes goes wasted. Sometimes in [13:35:00] the
same farm on the same trees and that we can come up with smart ideas to make sure that that food actually, in moments of need, ends in the hands of
We require big leadership at the United Nations, at the governments of the world, rich governments of the world to make sure that not one kilo of food
will ever be wasted, especially when we have hungry people.
We need ideas. We need to be thinking different. And we need to make sure that we understand that providing food to the people that are hungry is the
best way to be investing in a better tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: Well, you're certainly doing your part. Jose Andres, "Vegetables Unleashed". Thank you so much indeed for joining us tonight.
ANDRES: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: Thank you, Jose.
Now, Jose has just spoken about the benefits of immigrants living and contributing to the United States. and our next guest says the west is
being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants.
Suketu Mehta is a journalism professor at NYU. He was born in India. He moved to New York as a teenager and in his new book, "This Land is Our
Land, An Immigrant's Manifesto", he explains why countries like the United States would benefit from accepting even more immigrants. He spoke to our
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: So this is not in any way like your previous book. I want to read out an early passage, you're talking about
rich countries here. "Having built up their economies with our raw materials and our labor, they asked us to go back and were surprised when
we did not. They stole our minerals and corrupted our governments so that their corporations could continue stealing our resources. They fouled the
air above us and the waters around us, making our farms barren, our oceans lifeless, and they were aghast when the poorest among us arrived at their
borders not to steal but to work, to clean their [bleep] and to [bleep] their men."
I mean, you look at the migration issue today through the lens of creditors and debtors, break that down for us.
SUKETU MEHTA, AUTHOR, THIS LAND IS OUR LAND: This is an angry book. I wrote this in response to the present emergency in this country and
And it begins with an anecdote that my grandfather told me. My grandfather was born in India and worked all his life in colonial Kenya and he retired
So he was sitting in a park in London one day, minding his own business, and this elderly British gent comes up to him and says to him, "Why are you
here? Why don't you go back to your country?"
And my grandfather, who worked most of his life as a businessman, said, "Because we are the creditors.
You came to my country, you took my gold and my diamonds, so we have come here to collect. We are here because you were there."
The whole debate around global migration today is fraught with staggering hypocrisy. The rich countries never asked anyone's permission when they
went into other countries. They never respected any borders.
And now they're asking these people whose futures they've stolen through colonialism, inequality, war, and climate change, they are asking these
people who are desperate and starving, who are coming not to rob and to rape, but to work, to do what all of us want, to make a better life for the
children, to send money back to their families.
They're asking them not to come. They're saying respect our borders, stay where you are, follow the law. And so the whole hypocrisy of this is what
really animated me in to write this book today.
And also, it's not just for the people who are coming -- I'm an American citizen. I have lived in this country for over 40 years. And I strongly
believe that in America, like in Europe, the fear of migrants is doing incalculably more damage to these countries than the migrants themselves
SREENIVASAN: What's motivating that fear?
MEHTA: So in my book, I break it down. As inequality rises in the world, today the eight richest people on the planet, they're all men, no surprise,
own more than half of the planet combined. So, in all of these countries, in the poor countries, as well as in the rich countries, people are angry
and they are looking for someone to blame.
And the elites in these countries, being no fools, know that the peasants will come for them with pitchforks and so they have to redirect their
outrage away from themselves and on to someone else. Who better than the newest, the weakest, the immigrants?
SREENIVASAN: You know you travel all over the world in researching this book. You meet families that are kind of on that migrant trail out of
Middle East and North Africa into Europe. Tell us about some of the people that you met.
MEHTA: I was in Tangier at the northern end of Morocco where you can stand there by the beachfront and [13:40:00] literally see Europe, the bottom of
Spain, a place called Tarifa, just across the Mediterranean. And I spoke to a young family from Guinea who had their first child.
And you know, Guinea has been bankrupted by essentially American hedge funds who have taken all their minerals, their bauxite. So there was no
life possible for them in Guinea. They were going to starve.
And they had come to Tangier to try to get into Spain somehow so that they could work and it was a mother, a father, and a newborn child and I held a
5-day-old baby in my arms. And they told me that they were going to try to get on a plastic dinghy, essentially, not even a lifeboat, like a beach
boat that your kids would play on.
And they were going to try to cross this very dangerous strait with their baby. They were going to drug this little child so that the child could
stay quiet during the voyage, and try to make it across.
And I feared for this baby's life. I told them not to drug the baby. And then I got to wondering, what was it that was motivating this family?
It wasn't that they hated Guinea. It wasn't that they hated their family or things like the trees or the cuisine of their native land. It's because
no life is possible in these countries and across much of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Devitrification has wreaked havoc on agriculture. Their minerals have been stolen. Their governments have been corrupted by the same multinationals
who come into these countries that replace the old colonial regimes and the original sin is really colonialism.
SREENIVASAN: You know, after this scene where you've spent time with this family who's negotiating passage across this strait, you talk about how you
could essentially board a ferry and be in Europe in three hours all because you have this little blue passbook. And you cite a philosopher, Joseph
Karnz (ph), the greatest inequality of today's world is that of citizenship.
Now you say in the book, you're not calling for open borders but open hearts. That sounds nice, but what does that mean?
MEHTA: Look, I'm not a policy person. I'm not a president or governor or -- I'm a writer. And the immigration debate around the world is a contest
of storytelling. There are these populists who seek to provoke people in their countries, whether it's Orban in Hungary or Trump in the U.S.
And their narrative of immigrants, of migrants, is that these people are coming here to take from us, that they are somehow not us, they are lesser
than us, and we need to keep them out. The narrative that I want to present because I've actually gone out and spoken to these migrants, as
Orban and Trump have not, is that they are people just like you and me.
They want what you and me want, a better life for their kids. They're coming here to work and they're coming here to either give their kids a
better life by bringing them here or send money back to them wherever they are.
If we can somehow look at the world from the viewpoint of these migrants who are coming into, whether it's the U.S. or Latin America, then I think
everyone benefits, because my book ultimately has a happy ending. And the happy ending is that when these people come in here, everyone benefits, and
this was the narrative that I really want to present.
The rich countries benefit because we're not making enough babies. Our old people need younger people to come in and work so that they can pay into
social security systems, to take care of a rapidly aging population.
The immigrants themselves benefit, their standard of living increases by an average of fivefold. And the countries that they leave benefit because
remittances are the best and the most targeted way of helping the global poor.
So if we replace this fearmongering narrative about immigration as, you know, this enormous threat to us, culturally, economically, with this other
narrative that people have always moved during the history of the world.
You know, in the 19th Century, a quarter of Europe emptied and made their way to the United States. And you know, until recently, we were very happy
about this. We thought of ourselves as a nation of immigrants.
Recently, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Service has removed the phrase, nation of immigrants, from its official logo. So we have to
come back to thinking of ourselves as a nation of immigrants because the evidence is incontestable.
Immigrants make our lives better in all ways. They commit less crime, they work harder, they pay more [13:45:00] into the social security system than
they get out of it, and they're also assimilating quicker, actually, than previous generations of immigrants.
SREENIVASAN: You know, those ideas don't seem to be winning elections right now besides Orbon and Trump. I mean you look at the Brexit Party and
the E.U. elections that are happening. You look at what's happened in Italy.
You look basically there's the rise of the far-right across parts of Europe. The other narrative that you're talking about seems to be
connecting with people in a way that yours doesn't.
MEHTA: That's why I wrote this book. It is connecting, again, because of inequality, because --
SREENIVASAN: That plays into the scapegoating.
MEHTA: Exactly. The majority of the populations in places like Italy, in Hungary, in Britain, in the United States, they haven't benefitted from the
economic boom of recent years. Most of it has gone not just to the one percent but the 0.01 percent.
And during the 2008 crisis, there was a bailout of the banks, and people felt that their futures had been stolen, but the elite have somehow
channeled this outrage away from themselves and on to the immigrants. So the narrative that seems to be winning, but there is a backlash.
So during the midterms, Trump tried to -- the Republicans tried to win by stoking fear of migrants. Didn't happen. The Democrats still won the
House and it's now got some of the most strongest pro-immigration voices in the House, people like Pramila Jayapal and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and so
there is hope possible which I saw firsthand.
I happened to go down to Raleigh, North Carolina where my brother-in-law, Jay Chaudhuri, a Progressive Democrat, was undertaking his first ever
political campaign for State Senate in North Carolina. And he was in a district that was 70 percent white.
You know, none of us gave him much of a chance, but since he was family, I went down and campaigned for him. My two sons went down and campaigned for
And we knocked on doors, and you know, my son had a gun pulled on him. I had a dog set on me, although it was a small dog, a poodle named Chewy.
"Chewy, Chewy, you get back here", the dog owner said. And he knocked on 10,000 doors and he took his message, which was about making the schools
better, and he won in a landslide and he is now the Democratic Whip in the North Carolina Senate.
So I saw what is possible in this country when an immigrant or an immigrant's son runs, you know, for State Senate in a Conservative state
like North Carolina. That if you -- you know, the truth has power. So a populist like Trump or Orban is above all a gifted storyteller.
And the way to fight a false narrative well told is to tell a true story and tell it better. And that's what my brother-in-law did, that's what
many of the people who are fighting the good fight on behalf of immigrants around the world are doing.
SREENIVASAN: You know you talk about -- there's a section in the book where you talk to a border patrol officer. His rationale is that many of
these migrants are frauds, that they've been coached on exactly what to say, dreamers are cutting in line. I mean a significant number of people
who went to the polls and elected the president agree with that. Does a nation not have a right to create a set of criteria on who they let in?
And I mean as the president says, what is a nation without borders?
MEHTA: I would like us to have a coherent immigration policy. We don't. It's really ad hoc and it's motivated by -- the nation's immigration policy
is motivated not by any sort of rational logic, any calculating about the costs and benefits, who should we let in, how many of them should we let
in. But it's motivated by fear and hatred and false storytelling.
SREENIVASAN: Isn't that something that Democrats have been charged -- in charge over a period of decades? I mean they were not able to come up with
a sound immigration policy just like Republican administrations weren't.
I mean, one of the arguments is always, listen, the drain on our resources right now, this first generation, they've come in, they're going to need
more public help, they're going to need hospitals and they're going to need public schools for their kids, where this life raft, this oasis and at some
point there's going to be too many people that climb on board and we're going to sink.
MEHTA: That's the popular narrative but if you actually unpack it and I've spent a lot of time speaking to economists and it doesn't really hold
water. We could let in triple the number of immigrants that we get in.
Right now, we give out a million green cards. If we give out three million, it really wouldn't make a difference. In fact, it would make the
Our giant northern neighbor, [13:50:00] Canada, they actually hired the consulting company McKenzie to show them how to increase their immigration
intake threefold. If we look at cities like Schenectady or Utica in Upstate New York, they actually welcome and solicit refugees.
Schenectady which was this down on its luck industrial town in Upstate New York decided to bring in 10,000 Guyanese people and the city sort of turned
around now. There's flourishing immigrant groups in places like Hamtramck in Detroit.
We have lots of land. We have lots of space in the country. But it's also true that we can't just bring in large groups of people, particularly in
areas along the border, and just throw them in there without services.
So there are intelligent ways to deal with this. One is an expansion of the earned income tax credit, which would help both the high school
dropouts who -- if there is an economic case to be made that segment of the American population suffers from increased immigration, it is these.
Also, another solution is to keep more people in high school. There could be a tax that, for example, tech companies who benefit by the H1B program
could pay and which could be redirected towards some of the border communities that bear the brunt of this influx.
So this tax could go to what's supporting hospitals and schools in these communities. There are intelligent ways of redistributing income. What is
not intelligent is to say we're going to put up a giant wall across the border and that's going to keep these people out because, you know, nothing
will keep these people out because they're so desperate and so starving that for some of them, it's literally a matter of life and death.
I remember speaking to a 23-year-old Honduran mother in a women's shelter in Tijuana and she had this beautiful cherubic 18-month-old boy. She was
going to try to go across and claim asylum because her husband had witnessed a gang murder so they were going to kill the entire family,
basically. The gangs had come to her and told her that they would take the boy when -- in a few years and just induct him into the gang.
And I said, listen, you're going to try to claim asylum but you know that they'll probably take your boy away from you. She said, "This is what a
mother's love is. I might never see him again but at least I know that he's alive somewhere and I have a hope of seeing him someday."
And that is better than having to put him in a box under the ground where I come from and knowing that I'll never see him again. And I thought if I
were a father and this was the choice I were faced with, I would do anything. I would climb any wall to get my kids to safety.
And I also thought, well, she is coming here because we were there because we put 1.8 million guns into Honduras during -- to arm the Contras. We
emptied our prisons and flooded the country with criminals. And now we buy the main product they have left to sell which is their drugs. We've
devastated the country. We owe it to them.
So there's a section of my book which calls for immigration as reparations. If there was any natural justice, the 1,600-acre bush ranch in Texas would
be filled with tents housing Iraqi refugees because we went in there, we mounted an illegal and unnecessary war. And as a result, the entire Middle
East is in turmoil.
Four million Syrians are on the move. Why? Not because they hate Syria but because climate change and this war have made it impossible for them to
live in their countries.
SREENIVASAN: Suketu Mehta, thank you so much for joining us.
MEHTA: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: That is a very profound look at the reality of immigration.
And that is it for now. Remember, you can listen to our podcast at any time and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can always follow me on
Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.