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Oil Prices Soaring High After Attack On Saudi's Oil Fields; Houthi Claims Attack On Oil Fields; Evidence Shows Iranian Weapons Used On Attack; Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, U.S. Navy, And Vali Nasr, Former State Department Official, Are Interviewed About The Attack On Saudi Oil Fields; Anxiety And Depression Skyrocketing Among Young Adults; Laurie Santos, Host, "The Happiness Lab," Is Interviewed About Mental Health Crisis; A Class On How To Be Happy; "Country Music". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 16, 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, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
A devastating attack on Saudi Arabia's oil fields leaves production hobbled and threats of retaliation. I'll look at the evidence and ramifications.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURIE SANTOS, HOST, "THE HAPPINESS LAB": The science of well-being is relatively simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What does it take to be happy? Dr. Laurie Santos taught the most popular class in Yale history. And now, she's teaching us the
psychology of happiness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I'm Johnny (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Ken Burns goes country. The documentary filmmaker puns (ph) into the heart and soul of America.
Welcome to the pram, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
World oil prices are soaring after an audacious attack on two critical Saudi oil fields. It knocked out half of that country's production
capacity which represents five percent of the daily global supply.
And while Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels claim they are behind the attacks, the United States is pointing at Iran itself. Meanwhile, Saudi
Arabia says it is still trying to figure out the exact origin but that so far "all practical" evidence shows that Iranian weapons were used.
President Donald Trump says America is "locked and loaded" and ready to respond. Iranian officials warn that the Islamic Republic is ready for
full-fledged war and they say there's absolutely no chance of a meeting between Trump and the Iran Iranian president, Hassan roughen at the U.N.
General Assembly next week.
So, the savors are rattling and the tensions are mounting in the Persian Gulf. Are they threatening to explode?
Joining me now to assess what to make of all of this, John Kirby, who is Pentagon's spokesman and assistant secretary of state for Public Affairs
under President Obama and is now CNN diplomatic analyst and Vali Nasr, also a former State Department official and Iran expert, now teaching
international affairs and Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Welcome to the program both of you.
Can I start with you, John Kirby, because you are very well-versed and very well-acquainted having been in the U.S. military? What do you make of the
evidence so far, and particularly these satellite images? Are they special U.S. satellites or are they commercial satellite images?
RETIRED REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NAVY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No, Christiane, these were commercial satellite images and they
don't -- they're not conclusive proof of anything in terms of anything of point of origin or even necessarily the kinds of munitions that were used.
That said, when you look at those images, a couple of things are very clear. One, extraordinary precision here. I mean, if you look at those --
on the tanks, the oil tanks where there's a hole in the tank and yet no explosive effect, meaning a very small payload in the weapon that was used,
that's pretty sophisticated technology.
And you also get a sense, secondly, that this had to have been a complex coordinated attack that is just beyond the capabilities of the Houthis. We
have not seen them ever do something on this level. And virtually, everything they have done in terms of attacking Saudi Arabia has been done
with Iranian support, Iranian intelligence targeting and weaponry.
So, all the fingers certainly do point to Iran in terms of culpability but in terms of specific actual assets that were used, I think the
administration needs to do a much better job providing evidence that would be conclusive, more conclusive than these images.
AMANPOUR: Now, again, you know the Pentagon and you're probably hearing the talk coming out of there and the talk about it that how come America,
the most sophisticated military with the most sophisticated intelligence, with obviously eyes on the region would not have detected any missile
launch. Because we're hearing it is not just drones, it maybe missiles included, as well. Why would they not have been detected a missile launch
wherever it came from?
KIRBY: Well, we don't know that they haven't, Christiane. I think it's possible that one reason you haven't seen more conclusive evidence or more
indications that things are being tracked is that there might be an interagency discussion here about not releasing information that would give
the Iranians a sense of our own sources and methods and our own overhead intelligence capabilities.
So, I think that's why they went with commercial satellite imagery yesterday to get something out there. And I think there's probably -- my
guess would be, just having lived this before, a very healthy robust internal debate inside the administration about how much more evidence can
they release and declassify without necessarily sacrificing our own intelligence capabilities in return.
AMANPOUR: And then, the obvious question, is what is done about it? But first, let me turn to Vali Nasr. You have worked in the State Department
on Iran and regional issues, you are a long-time expert on the nature of, certainly, this Iranian regime.
Firstly, do you think it was Iran or Iran via proxies and, if so, what is Iran's strategy?
VALI NASR, DEAN, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCE INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I think the -- more than likely it was from Iran or Iran encouraged
it. But I think focusing on whether it was from Iran or not misses the point of what is the message here that Iran is trying to send.
And I think the message is that Iran wants out of the economic sanctions. It's choking its economy. It wants a way out of it. After a year of
letting the Europeans negotiate somehow to create room for Iranian economy, they see that failing.
And I think they have made a decision that until and unless they make President Trump take Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf seriously, they're
not going to have the real conversation with the administration about lifting the sanctions. And I think they are trying to create a situation
in which the U.S. would see Iran willing and capable of disruption, maybe not of the entire global supplies but it can do a lot of disruption to
tourism, to business in the region, it can intimidate countries in the region and I think the goal is to get the message across to the United
States that Iran is willing to fight.
And if you don't want escalation in the Gulf, if you don't war, then you have to consider lifting sanctions very seriously.
AMANPOUR: But, Vali Nasr, isn't there something that could you say Iran is playing with fire in many different ways? I mean how many times can it
test and send this so-called message that you're talking about before there is some kind of response?
I mean, you remember in the summer there were all these tanker attacks. Didn't blow up the tankers. Didn't kill people but then nonetheless,
disabled and damaged tankers in the UAE and, obviously, took a British flag tanker. I mean, it's skating very close to the line when it comes to
sending a message.
NASR: Absolutely. I think it's a very risky strategy. Iran can miscalculate. It can end up in a conflict that it doesn't want and the
United States doesn't want. But consider this, that Iran doesn't have many options. If it wants out of the sanctions, if it wants sanctions relief,
it either has to get that diplomatically, which it didn't see a pathway to getting it. President Trump, for instance, said he wants to meet the
Iranian president but he's not willing to give anything to Iran in order to get that meeting.
So, if diplomacy is not going to bring sanctions relief, they're only left with one other option and that is escalation. And I think the way they
calculate is that even if the United States hits them militarily, they could also hit back again and then the U.S. will end up in this escalatory
cycle and still, the only way getting out of the escalatory cycle for the United States, ultimately, will be to give Iran sanctions relief.
You know, I mean, if somebody is determined to behave badly and to be disruptive, surely invading that country, the United States has to find
ways to buy Iranian cooperation. So, Iranians, they're actually playing a clever game here forcing the president essentially to consider that, OK,
you know, this is -- the current strategy is not working. If we want to get the Iranians not to keep disrupting, if we don't want to go to war, we
have to take -- put measures on the table which would get Iranians to desist.
Now, when that happens remains to be seen. It may not be in this round. It might -- we might have a few rounds of back and forth before we get
AMANPOUR: So, how does that sound to you, John Kirby? I mean, you've been in the military, in the Pentagon and you've been at the State Department.
So, you've seen, you know, diplomacy and you've seen force and you've also seen how Iran sorely tempted President Trump a few months ago and he backed
off at the last moment from a strike over these tankers. And he said -- because he thought that the amount of debts would be disproportionate to
what had happened. But what do you think now?
KIRBY: Well, I still don't think President Trump wants a war with Iran. I don't frankly think the Saudis want a war with Iran. I don't think anybody
wants it see this escalade beyond what it already has, and the Saudis have their hands full in Yemen, as it is.
Certainly, the president has military options short of outright war with Iran that he can employ. And one could be to just simply boost our
military presence in the region, try to do a better job at maritime security in the Strait of Hormoz, maybe include air defense systems
throughout there including Saudi Arabia's air defense.
There are deterrence activities visible, tangible, robust deterrence activities they could pursue short of conducting a strike. And I'm
guessing a strike of some nature is probably still on the table. But, again, if you did that, you would have to do it in a surgical precise way
that maybe it didn't have the intended effect that you wanted to.
I also think, to a degree, picking up on what was Vali said, the Iranians may have, in this case, might have overplayed their hand just a little bit.
You got the U.N. General Assembly coming up this week. It now -- if Trump is smart, he may be able to get more international support for his pressure
campaign than he has ever had a chance to get before.
When he announced the maritime security operation a few months ago, they only had three other countries willing to join them. Now, this is affected
the global oil economy in a way that Iran's oil attacks haven't in the past. Maybe he can use the General Assembly coming up next week to garner
and marshal more international support for some more robust economic sanctions regime on Iran.
AMANPOUR: John Kirby, let me just quickly go through, it's sort of relevant to what you're saying about options to the president short of, you
know, a full-scale war. You know, the president, of course, because the tweet has been out and about says, you know, Saudi -- oil supply was
attacked. Reason to believe that we know the culprit. He said, we are locked and loaded depending on verification. Waiting to hear from the
kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack and under what terms we'll proceed.
But later today we got his chief of staff to actually sort of kind of clarify the term locked and loaded. Let's play this sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locked and loaded sounds like imminent retaliation. Is that what we're expecting to see?
MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: You know, I think that the part of locked and loaded is a reflection that this administration
has advanced policies that make sure America is safer from these sorts of oil shocks. I think that locked and loaded is a broad term that talks
about the realities that we're also far safer, more secure domestically from energy independence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, John, that sort of plays into what you're saying, that locked and loaded could mean, you know, a variety of things.
KIRBY: I think that's right, Christiane. I think they're clearly trying to walk back the bombastic nature of Pompeo's tweet, you know, which still
clearly targeted Iran and then Trump's locked and loaded.
Look, I think it's important to remember that yesterday they had a principles committee meeting at the White House. Today, another principles
committee meeting at the White House. We haven't gotten confirmation that Trump himself sat in on this meeting. But that's a good sign, in my view
because this is not an administration that has very ably used the interagency coordination process to make major national security decisions.
So that they have had two and two days tells me that all the players at the table, not just the Defense Department, and that other options are being
debated and discussed. And, again, I think there's a menu that they could choose from. And, again, they should use this General Assembly coming up
as a vehicle to probably advance some of those.
So, I'm encouraged by the meetings and I'm actually encouraged by what Mr. Short said. It's no surprise to me that as a result of two principles
committee meetings he's out there saying, hey, look, you know, it's not just about military retaliation.
AMANPOUR: And of course, Marc Short, the vice president's chief of staff. Vali Nasr, let me ask you because there are somewhat conflicting messages,
as always, coming out of Iran. So, you have the more hardline Revolutionary Guards. Basically, as you heard me say, they say, we're
prepared for a full-fledged war. Then they say, everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000
kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles. That's the head of the Revolutionary Guard Aerospace Force.
So, that's pretty -- you know, they're giving a big warning about their capacity. And then on the other hand, you have what happened at the G7
when the foreign minister came, invited by the French president and all this behind the scenes, diplomacy by President Macron with President
Rouhani trying to de-escalate the situation. Put all that in context. And how real was the Macron initiative?
NASR: I think it was very serious. I think the Macron initiative was simply a de-escalation deal between the United States and Iran. And in
other words, Iran would stay within the nuclear deal and not threaten going outside of its parameters and it would also desist from causing trouble in
the Persian Gulf.
In exchange for which, it would get some sanctions relief. It was not a talk of a meeting where a major breakthrough, it was almost like a cease-
fire on both sides. Iran would get something for not causing greater risk to the international community. President Trump was not interested in the
He wanted a meeting with the Iranian president in New York. And the longer we went on, the more obvious it became that what Trump really wanted was a
photo op, not a deal that would de-escalate.
So, the Iranians decided to put pressure on Trump. They staged, I think, what happened with the attack on the refineries in order to sort of refocus
the United States on the imperative of a de-escalation deal.
I think one of the key issues here is that I think Iranians know that they cannot afford for the United States maximum strategy -- pressure policy to
just go ahead on autopilot because Iran would be the big loser there. They're trying to joule the administration to reconsider its options. I
mean, the principle meetings that we just talked about should not only talk about immediate response to Iran but they really should assess how does the
United States create certain degree of stability in the region and contain the fallout from the United States moving out of the nuclear deal.
And I think that's exactly what the Iranians want. And to that extent, I think they've succeeded. And they're not interested in just meeting Trump,
they're interested in sanctions relief and I think they're putting pressure on Trump to actually think very hard about this.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you both, first you to you, Vali, since you're there now. You heard in President Trump's tweet, we will wait to see what
the kingdom ascertains (ph), says, then we will proceed, we'll figure out, you know, how to do that together. Does that sound, as some critics are
saying, like a little bit outsourcing his response, his policy in the region to Saudi Arabia with all the dangers of that?
NASR: It could be read that way but I think, more than anything, I think he was trying to create time and more options for himself and not to
declare something from which then he would have to back away later on as it happened when Iran shut down the U.S. drone. So, I don't think it means
anything. And I think Saudi Arabia is under a lot of pressure because, ultimately, if this spills out, this is going to be fought between the
United States and Iran in the Persian Gulf, and I think the Iranians have shown determination to bloody their neighbors, if it comes to a conflict.
AMANPOUR: John Kirby, I see you shaking your head or rather nodding your head, you agree that President Trump isn't just saying, oh, we'll do what
Saudi Arabia wants us to do, he's just sort of trying to buy some time.
KIRBY: I do. I 100 percent agree with that. I don't agree with the analysis that he's outsourcing and then we're just waiting for Saudi to
tell us what to do with our military, I think that's preposterous. I think that's exactly right. I think he realize that some of his decision base
was closing down fast based on Pompeo's tweet and some of the things that they had done in the early parts of the weekend and they're trying to buy
back a little decision, space and time.
The only other thing I would add is -- about Iran's actions here and what I do worry about, and I agree with Vali on everything, but I do worry that
Iran is making it harder for Trump to find a way to comprise when they do these sorts of spectacular attacks.
I mean, just a couple of weeks ago he was saying, I would meet with Rouhani, and he was talking about potentially allowing loans to go forward,
to help Iran's economy. Now, with an attack like this, the Iranians are making it more difficult for Trump to find that middle ground because we
know he doesn't want war. They're making it very difficult on him.
AMANPOUR: I know. It is extraordinary. Even his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said that President Trump was ready to meet with President
Rouhani without conditions. Well, that's all off the table, at least, for the moment. So, we will see how this develops.
Gentlemen, thank you both very much for your expert analysis.
Now, if all this talk of war leaves you feeling anxious, you are not alone. Levels of anxiety and depression are skyrocketing, particularly among young
adults. Professionals call it a mental health crisis in America and here in Britain where a report today shows that after cuts in student health
budgets, students are being forced to wait up to three months for treatment.
Psychologist, Laurie Santos, is working hard to reverse these trends. Her class on happiness was the most popular course in Yale University's
history. So popular, in fact, that it was eventually cancelled because it was drawing too many students away from other academic offerings. Now, she
offers all of us a crash course version of her work. Her pod cast "The Happiness Lab" drops tomorrow.
And ahead of the launch, I ask Dr. Santos about the tools she gives her students to help them lower their daily stress levels.
Dr. Laurie Santos, welcome to the program.
SANTOS: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, you have this new podcast launching, "The Happiness Lab," but it's based on your class at Yale, Psychology and the Good Life. I
mean, one of the most extraordinary stats is that this has been the most popular course in the history, in the several hundred-year history of Yale
University. I mean, what do you attribute that to?
SANTOS: I think the reason that so many students like the course and tried to take it is that they just really don't like this culture that they have
on campus right now. This is the kind of thing that I see as a professor and head of college at Yale, where we're really in the midst of a mental
So many students are reporting that they're depressed and anxious and kind of feeling overwhelmed.
And I think the response to my class was that students are voting with their feet. You know, they don't want to feel so bad, like they don't want
to overwhelmed and stressed. And I think they're looking for scientific tips about what they could do to feel better.
AMANPOUR: What specifically you find from them? What makes them feel better? And Is it just life on campus or is it the whole sort of political
noise and social media noise that's part of our culture now?
SANTOS: Well, I think it's all kinds of things. I think one thing to know about what is happening with college student mental health is that the
stats are really getting worse over time. Actually, I make these graphs for students where I show them the statistics of things like anxiety and
loneliness and so on, and they're depressing because all the stats are just skyrocketing.
One of the scariest ones is that levels of depression have doubled in just the last nine years. So, in less than a decade, we have twice the number
of students on campus who are in really serious psychological distress, which is really worrying. But this question of why that is, is a bit of a
I'm sure, you know, political events in the world aren't helping, you know, the job market is not helping, but it seems to be something specific to do
with their behavior. It seems like the way they're behaving has changed. You know, they're interacting less with other students. They have less
friendships. They go on dates less. Like -- so, it seems to be part of their behavior, as well.
AMANPOUR: Did you come up with this idea for your course because of those feelings and that sort of cultural shift that you had identified or what
lead you to come up with this course in the first place that then became so popular?
SANTOS: Yes. I taught at Yale for the last 15 years. And so, I've seen these kinds of transitions over time. But for most of the time, I was
watching those transitions as a kind of a slightly distanced professor. I was watching it, you know, from the front of a classroom, right, not really
knowing what was going on.
But in just the last three years, I became a head of college at Yale, which means I live on campus with students, like I eat with them in their dining
hall, I hang out them in the coffee shop in the residential college. And that was when I really saw things up close and personal. I was kind of in
the trenches with this mental health crisis. And I saw just students who were, you know, so depressed it was hard for them to get up in morning. I
saw cases of students who were so anxious about their summer internships that they could barely function.
And I thought, this is -- first of all, this is what -- not what I expected of college student life. You know, I remember college back when I was
there in the '90s as being relatively happy. And so, it was kind of striking.
And the class came out of a goal that I had, which is that we need to do something about this as educators. We're kind of like -- we're not in the
position to really be teaching students if they're in the midst of this mental health crisis.
I think as professors we sometimes think we can teach students, you know, Chaucer and economics and things. But if the stats are right and 40
percent of them are too depressed to function and other two-thirds are so anxious that they can -- you know, that they're having panic attacks, you
know, we really needed to do something about it.
AMANPOUR: It just really does sound absolutely extraordinary. So, you talked about data and science and you now talk about in your class and in
your pod cast the science of happiness, you know, the psychology of positive behavior, the idea of behavioral change. So. what is it that --
can people learn to be happy? What are you giving them with this class and now, with this pod cast?
SANTOS: Yes. Well, the science of well-being is relatively simple. I mean, researchers literally go out and they find folks who report being
very happy and then they kind of try to figure out what are those folks doing, you know, what are the folks doing that are different -- that is
different than what the rest of us are doing.
And once they figure out those kinds of tips, they say, OK, let's do experiments where we force people who aren't so happy to do those behaviors
that kind of copy the behaviors of happy people. And what you find when you do that is that those people who weren't so happy before start to get
happier over time.
And so, we now have two decades of scientific work that is identified, exactly these behaviors that seem make us happier. And that the crux of it
though is that those behaviors aren't often the things that we expect, they're often the things that we're putting off to do other things,
thinking that those things are going to make us happy.
AMANPOUR: So, what was one of those unexpected, you know, areas that actually made people happy?
SANTOS: Yes. So, one of the most unexpected areas I find is the power of social connection, just literally spending time with other people and
trying to connect with them. I mean, we all know social contact is important but we forget that loneliness is one of the opposites of social
contact can be as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
We forget also that social contact can come from just simple connections with people we don't know very well, you know, a chat with a barista at a
coffee shop. Those simply kinds of things can boost up our mood much more than we expect. And this is the kind of thing I worry about a lot on
college campuses because loneliness is also one of these negative mental health statistics that's increasing on college campuses today.
Right now, nationally, about two-thirds of students say that they're very lonely most of the time. So, like, two in three students is reporting
feeling lonely. And I see why that is, which is that, you know, they sit in a dining hall with these big headphones on, you know, surf scrolling and
texting each other but not making contact in real life with actual humans.
And so, I think that's one of the big hints, is like, we just need to take time to chat with people.
AMANPOUR: Over here in Great Britain, there was a report on the radio and somebody suggested, you know, just make eye contact even with strangers who
you walk past every morning, just say good morning and see how it makes you feel and see whether that, you know, pierces that loneliness bubble.
And it's interesting because one of your pod cast episodes is basically called "Mistakenly Seeking Solitude," and deals with what's a very sort of
21st century obsession, the idea of convenience and impatience and, you know, even if it means like not interacting with anybody or especially if
it means not interacting with people.
And I guess I want to play a little sound bite from somebody who you spoke to about this and that is the person who created the idea of the good old
ATM. Let's play this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD WETZEL, INVENTED FIRST ATM IN THE U.S.: So, while I was in line, I thought, it seems to me a teller's job, mostly, is cashing checks and
taking deposits. So, I just got the idea that, hmm, I think a machine could do that. It just made sense that nobody wanted to wait in a teller
line like I did. So, it makes every customer happy to get in and get out and do some other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, kind of there you have it. I mean, that's Donald Wetzel. Probably proud of his invention. But it goes to the heart of less
interaction, less people, less connection, less talking.
SANTOS: And I think that's just the pattern that we see in technology, right. The ATM started this revolution of folks kind of getting out of
human interactions. We save a lot of time that way, it's true, and time is very important for well-being also. But all those little mini social
interactions that we have say, you know, waiting in a bank line or waiting to grab our coffee or even, you know, chatting with the telephone operator
when we're trying to order a taxi, those simple interactions are going away.
And the research subjects that loneliness is going up. And there's potentially like an important balance here where we do want to save some
time, but we also want to make sure that we're having these social connections in real life. They contribute to our happiness much more than
And I think that's really the crux, is that the problem when we design technology is that we have these mistaken notions about the kinds of things
that are going to make us happy. Like we often think like, oh, free time and just like efficiency, that's what's going to make me feel better. But
we don't realize that we need the social connection. And so, we don't build it in.
AMANPOUR: And when you tell your students that, is that a light bulb moment for them? Do they get it? I mean, on the one hand, this is the
most technological age.
SANTOS: Yes. I mean, you mentioned in the U.K. this idea of telling people, hey, smile at people, which in some ways is kind of astonishing
that we have to tell people in this day and age like, actually smile at the people around you, you know, this has to be a public service announcement
But I think technology is really interfering. There's some lovely work by the psychologist, Liz Dunn, who is a professor at the University of British
Columbia. And she has this study where she looks at whether or not just having your phone out affects smiling.
She does this in a waiting room where strangers are waiting in a waiting room together. And what she finds its kind of amazing. She finds that
people smile 30 percent less when their phones aren't around, even if they're not really doing anything on them.
And so, if you multiply that by say, you know, everyone walking around in London and the U.K. on the streets, all that less smiling out there, that
decrease in smiling is probably really affecting the connection that we feel with other people. It's probably affecting the ease with which we
start a conversation with somebody new.
These phones that we have in six billion pockets around the world are distracting us from the in real life connection that we often get with
AMANPOUR: What is one of the myths about happiness that you have discovered, the mistaken notions of what make us happy, like most people or
probably many people think that the more money they have or make makes them more happy?
SANTOS: Yes. This is an incredibly common one. You know, if you ask people who are thinking about leaving their job, what they would like in a
new position, usually they want more money, they want higher salary. And you want that not necessarily because you can buy more stuff, but at the
root of it, you think it's going to make you happy. You think it's going to allow you to do things that will improve your well-being over time.
And the answer from science is that that is true, if you're living below the poverty line. You know, if you can't put food on the table or a roof
over your head, it is true that getting more money is going to make you happy.
But for many of us, we're just at a place in terms of our salary where getting more isn't going to matter in the way we think. There is one study
by two Nobel Prize winning economists that looked at this in the U.S. and they tried to look at all different kinds of well-being measures, like how
stressed you are and how much positive motion you feel. And they plotted that across people's income.
And what you find is that at really low-incomes, you know, you are less stressed, you have more positive motion as you get more money. But all the
measures of well-being seem to level off.
And in the U.S. right now, they seem to level off at around $75,000.
And the idea there is kind of striking is that if you're currently earning $75,000 in the U.S. right now, even if I quadruple your salary, you're not
going to get any corresponding benefit in terms of those measures of your well-being, which is not what people predict. This is why people play the
lottery and ask for bonuses and so on but that's what the data suggest.
AMANPOUR: And yet you say one of the things that could make you happy with money is spending it on experiences and not just things. What do you mean?
SANTOS: Yes. So one of the reasons money doesn't make us happy is that we kind of spend it wrong. We often spend money on material possessions. You
know, we, like, really get excited about the new cell phone coming out or, you know, a new line of clothing or a new pair of shoes and so on.
And those material goods have a pretty bad future which is that those material objects are going to last for a very long time. And that means we
kind of get bored with them. We get used to them and we sort of adapt to the happiness that they give us.
That means that material goods don't make us happy as we could be. Experiences, on the other hand, something else you can spend your money on,
say, going to a nice restaurant to get a meal or going to a vacation or going, you know, out to the movies or concert, those kinds of events don't
last very long, and therefore, our psychological mechanisms, we don't have time to get used to them.
So people who tend to invest in experiences more than material goods tend to be happier. Apart from that they don't adapt but also experiences kind
of connect us socially in a way that material objects don't.
You can kind of get a sense of, you know, how this works, right. If I buy a nice new jacket, and I try to tell you about how awesome the jacket is,
you kind of don't care, right? You might even be thinking that I'm not such a great person or I'm really vain or something like that.
But if I go on like a really cool vacation, I'm telling you about all my incredible experiences, you don't get as jealous. You don't kind of think
I'm as vain because you can participate in those things. You can hear about them.
So another reason experiences are good thing to spend money on is that they allow us to connect with other people, better than material possessions.
AMANPOUR: And now the other thing, Professor Santos, is that I think people, and tell me if you agree, think that they have a preordained right
to happiness. That if they're not happy every single second of every minute of hour of every day, then there's something wrong with them.
I mean look at the declaration of independence. You know, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Is there just too much emphasis on it? And,
like, life is not all about being happy all the time.
SANTOS: Yes. I mean I think happiness is important. You know, we as a species have been obsessed with happiness I think since we could construct
the concept of happiness. We wanted happiness for as long as that.
But I think that we sometimes get the notion of what counts as happiness wrong. And I think one way we go wrong with the obsession with happiness
is that we're often focused on our own happiness.
You can see this even in the way we talk about happiness culturally, right. We have this idea of kind of treat yourself or self-care, right. The idea
is like me, me, me become happy.
And the problem with that isn't that, you know, happiness isn't a great thing or it's not important, the problem with that is that the way you get
to happiness is by becoming other oriented, it's by becoming the person who seeks out other people, the kind of person who does nice things for other
Happy people tend not to be as focused on themselves. They tend give more to charity. They tend to volunteer more. They tend to care more about
others, experience gratitude for others.
So in some sense, self-care is kind of a misnomer. Because if you really wanted to bump up your happiness, you wouldn't be focusing on treating
yourself. You would be focusing on treating other people and connecting with others and so on.
AMANPOUR: Well, there's this person who you've talked to who is really remarkable who puts this in real context. I think, also, it's part of what
you describe as putting happiness and life in context.
You talked to J.R. Martinez, who was hit by an IED when deployed in uniform in Iraq, and he was badly burned. And yet this is his response to whether
he's happy or not. Let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.R. MARTINEZ, WAR VETERAN AND BURN SURVIVOR: I can tell you right now that what happened to me is a blessing.
SANTOS: That's right, as a blessing.
MARTINEZ: Considering the fact that I was trapped inside a burning truck for five minutes, I'm fortunate to only have what I have. I have a lot of
friends and I know a lot of people that, unfortunately, have missing limbs, or, you know, are more scarred, you know, or disfigured.
So, you know, in that sense, I'm incredibly fortunate. This is who I am. Everybody that is like me, this is who we are.
I've been able to make a difference and I think that, to me, is more important than anything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's pretty amazing. This former Army infantry man.
What do you get from that, that we're very resilient or that it takes knowing, you know, as I said context to know that we can be grateful that
something even worse hasn't happen.
SANTOS: Yes. I mean I think the power of that is that it shows us how bad we are at simulating what would really make us happy. You know, if I gave
you a choice, you know, tomorrow you could be in a Humvee accident and be burned over three quarters of your body.
You might not go with that choice. You might say that's something if that happened to me, not only would I feel bad but I would feel bad for a really
long time. I would never recover. It wouldn't be good.
But then you have J.R. who has actually gone through that very experience and he describes it as a blessing. You know, it's made positive changes in
And as a psychologist, we see this time and again. We're just really bad at predicting how we're actually going to feel when different life
circumstances come up.
And that is related to resilience because it means that we're constantly avoiding these things that we see as really bad, that we assume if they
happened, you know, I couldn't handle it.
I couldn't handle that break up. I couldn't handle leaving my job. I couldn't handle that bad health event and so on.
But it turns out that, often, when it happens, we're much more resilient than we think. We kind of just pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and
And often we can sort of see the silver lining in a lot of these cases. We can realize, like, something worse could have happened.
We have this enormous resilience system. What researcher Dan Gilbert calls the psychological immune system that kind of kicks in and makes us feel
The problem is just like many lies of our mind, we don't know that we have this system in place. We don't realize how powerful it is. And so we
don't really use it to the best of its ability.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Santos, are you happy? And are your students happier after taking your course?
SANTOS: Yes. Well, definitely I'm happy. I have very good data on myself.
And it's not necessarily because I'm a happy person. I think when I started this enterprise of looking at the science of happiness, I actually
wasn't that happy.
But now I'm doing all the things that make you happier. I'm more social. You know, I take more time for gratitude. I take more time to kind of
think about the blessings in life.
In terms of my students, I get lots of anecdotal evidence that the students are, in fact, happier. I get letters telling me they changed their life.
I was just in the studio earlier and ran into one of my student's dad who says she still raves about the course and things that helped her. And we
have really great data from our online class suggesting that people who learn about the science of happiness and put these habits into their own
life can actually improve their well-being on standard well-being measures.
So I think it works, you know, if you copy what happy people are doing, you tend to get happier.
AMANPOUR: And on that happy note, Dr. Santos, thank you for joining us.
SANTOS: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And the podcast "The Happiness Lab" drops tomorrow, as we said.
Now perhaps, Professor Santos would agree our next guest topic can be central to our happiness, our experience of music. It does have the power
to help us through tough times and to bring us closer together.
Country music is a uniquely American art form and legendary documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, has turned his lens on those tunes now. In his new
series aptly named "Country Music", he explores the remarkable stories of the people and the places behind the genre.
And he sat down with our Walter Isaacson to discuss what he found the most surprising.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN CEO: So 18 years ago, you do jazz and now this. Is this a country music sort of a follow on your jazz thing?
KEN BURNS, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER, COUNTRY MUSIC: I don't think it's so much a sequel or a follow up than it is my curiosity about what music tells
us about who we are. And I think for the casual listener, country music must seem like light years away from jazz but they're really right next to
each other. They are mongrel American music that is to say made up of desperate parts to begin with but connected to each other.
The African-American influence in country music is profound. The banjos from Africa, the early mentors of, I mean, the early heroes of country
music had African-American mentors like Johnny Cash, like Hank Williams, like Bill Monroe, like AP Carter, and Jimmy Rogers was steeped in the blues
of the train crews that he saw in southern Mississippi, black train crews.
It's just an amazing story of who we are. Not just race but creativity and commerce and those tensions. Women are central to this story in all of
their musical forms seem to be fraternities that be grudgingly let women in.
It may be the case of country music now but it wasn't at the beginning. The original guitarist is Mother Maybelle Carter.
BURNS: And I mean it's emotion too.
ISAACSON: And you know when you talk about the ingredients, there's this wonderful clip you have. I think it's Marty Stewart. Let me show that
clip, if we may, and then we can talk about the ingredients.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNS: All of his children had come to the mother church of country music. It was almost like a badge of honor that you had to bring your culture with
you to the table.
That's why Bob Wills and his guys brought us western music. That's why Hank Williams brought the south with him from Honky Tonks.
Johnny Cash brought the black land dirt of Arkansas. Golden Rock brought music out of Kentucky blue jazz music.
Willie nelson brought his poetry from Texas. Patsy Cline brought her heartache from Virginia.
I mean, it was the most wonderful parade of sons and daughters of America that brought their hearts and their souls and their experiences and it gave
us a great era of country music.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNS: I think that at the rhyme and the rhyme attracted all of these people who came from different backgrounds and contributed, almost like
tributaries to a massive flowing river of country music. To me, one of the stories that's coming out of it is our strength is in them.
The fact we are always, whatever musical form, whatever any other form we are, a mixture of things that alloy when you try to say no, what's really
American is a one thing and if we pull this out, you pull out a constituent medal from an alloy and you are suddenly weaker.
And I think the great message of America and country music broadcasts this in every note and every song and every teardrop and heartache is that we
are all in this together. That there's only us and no them.
ISAACSON: You know that's one of the themes you always hit in your what is America type theme in your shows, which is it's a diversity. It's a mix.
And our strengths come from that, whether it's jazz or baseball or Vietnam even, and now this.
BURNS: Well, you know I think that there's a wonderful line at the end of jazz that Jeff Ward wrote in which he said this proudly mongrel American
music. I think that somehow we've gotten this misplaced -- it almost feels like we inherited it from royalty.
This idea that you should be purebred. I mean, we know that that breeds hemophilia among many, many other things. Our strength is in being this
mixture of things, this interwoven fabric.
And in the case of country music, the two central instruments, the fiddle, the Celtic fiddle, the European British Isles fiddle with the African
banjo, that's -- it's the -- our first episode is called "The Rub." It comes together.
And for a good deal of our history, that rub, that friction between black and white and the American south has produced any number of indignities.
But in the case of country music, which is not immune to those indignities, nonetheless, it's a net positive.
And the positive is, is that we get stronger when we're together. And so Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Bob Wills. All of them are doing
a variation on African-American things. Swing music, the blues, they're all there.
Hank Williams who is arguably the greatest of all country singers and song writers who nobody has ever written a better song than "I'm So Lonesome, I
Could Cry." He said that he learned everything he needed to know about music from Rufus Tee Tot Payne who's an African-American musician that
taught him his chops and took it from here to there so that he could be on with Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.
What a wonderful thing. Instead of just, you know, defaulting to our own little, you know, the way we are today, our own particular political or
social division, it's everybody's part of the same story.
ISAACSON: And you let the people tell their own tales sometimes which is one of your signatures.
BURNS: We thought we would have a lot of historians, and experts, and stuffs, and critics. We didn't need them.
We have one Bill Malone who I think at any point is going to break out into song and play an instrument himself or sing. And so it's interesting in
our first episode, before Willie Nelson and Merrill Haggard catch up to the story, the people who are narrating it are the youngest, the Marty Stuarts
and the Rosanne Cash is the people who felt that they couldn't legitimately have a presence in this music without learning who their grandparents were,
who their great grandparents were.
And that's the marvelous thing about country music. Nothing gets left behind. You know, even if you haven't had a hit in 30 years, you're still
part of the family.
ISAACSON: You start with the Bristol sessions, right, in 1927 or so. Explain why that's the roots.
BURNS: So in 1923, a guy named Ralph Peter is recording for the first time country artist. But it isn't until 40 years later that he comes back to
Bristol, Tennessee near Galax, Virginia where he's told a lot of his music is happening and if he really wants to get more people who can do this old
time hill country music, that will eventually be called Hill Billy music and that will eventually be called country and western and eventually be
called country, you better come there.
And he sets up in Bristol, Tennessee. Its main street has Virginia on one side and Tennessee on the other. He sets up on the Tennessee side.
And in the summer of '27, he records in separate sessions the Carter family and Jimmy Rogers. Now, Jimmy Rogers is from Southern Mississippi. He's
got the rogue, the scamp in him. He represents this great tradition, which you know is in jazz and in American life of Saturday night.
The Carter family represents the values of home and mother and family and church. Their Sunday morning.
This is the big bang creation. And the Carter family doesn't sound anything like Jimmy Rogers and vice versa. And even within them, there's
disparate tendencies and oppositions that are fascinating and then it goes on to embrace everything else. It's called the big bang.
ISAACSON: Some of the great characters come very alive to me. Merle Haggard has been one of my favorites. And if you don't mind, I would love
to show a Merle Haggard clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haggard was only nine years old when his father died from a stroke. Something he said later went out of the world that I was
never able to replace. To fill the gap, his mother encouraged his budding interest in music hoping it would keep him out of trouble. It didn't.
He ran away for a while at age 10 by hopping a freight train. Then ran away again at 14, hitchhiking all the way to Texas and back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ISAACSON: Tell me about the meeting between Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.
BURNS: So the first time-- Merle Haggard is doing 15 years in San Quentin. Not so much crimes but for escaping from juvenile detention centers 17
And he even is going to participate in the escape from San Quentin but the guy who's organizing it says, look, you can play the guitar, you can write
songs, you can sing, don't do this. And the guy gets out but he kills a cop doing it and ends up executed at San Quentin.
And Merle sees Johnny Cash play there and it's an inspiration. Gave him a chance to sort of look beyond himself.
He becomes a model prisoner and gets out in three years, becomes a ditch digger back in Bakersfield and then works his way up, and becomes this, you
know, Hollywood handsome, as someone in the film says he looks like Warren Beatty, and he cannot only sing but he can write songs that are amazing.
And then later on, he ends up on Johnny Cash's show.
And he's anxious because he doesn't think his fans know about his San Quentin days and he's worried this will derail his career or that some
newspaper or some magazine is going to find out about it. And Cash says well, let me tell them.
He goes why would do you that? He says because then no one else can own it. We can own it. So he tells and of course no one cares.
They can tell from the songs that he has that he's had these experiences in life and Cash does him this double favor of not only giving a boost to his
singing career but permitting him to put in his past but not out of his consciousness of his art this troubled beginning.
ISAACSON: The we can own it phenomenon seems to be central to country music in the sense that it's about heartbreak, it's about overcoming
struggle, and if we own it, we can control it.
BURNS: Country music is so close to the bone, Walter, that we disguise it. We say it's about good old boys and pickup trucks and six packs and hound
It's not. You know, the human condition is less. None of us get out of this alive.
And so the great art is trying to negotiate that difficult truth. Most of us run from it. And country music is about two four-letter words, love and
Particularly loss because this is the end of this human experience. And it does it magnificently because it distills in, as Harlan Howard said, three
cords, not complicated, but the truth, very complicated these things.
When Hank Williams sings "Hear that lonesome whipper will, he sounds too blue to fly, the midnight train is whining low, I'm so lonesome I could
cry", there's nobody on the planet that doesn't know what he's talking about.
The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky, and as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry. The first and the last verse of a
four-verse song that is just about as elemental as you can get.
And yet it's like Dolly Parton. I will always love you. I will always love. I will always love you is the chorus of her most popular song which
makes you and me think well, we can become country music stars.
Nobody has the guts and the courage but a Dolly Parton or a Hank Williams to understand this is what I'm trying to say. And when you hear the story
of why Dolly wrote that, and why she wrote that thing, it will elevate her version way beyond the pop version that Whitney Houston -- and not to take
anything away from Whitney Houston whose version still raises the hair on the back of my neck.
But when you now know the story behind why Dolly wrote it, and see her sing it, not only does a hair go up but the tears come down.
ISAACSON: Women play such a crucial role in the documentary and in country music. And part of the theme is that declaration of independence.
BURNS: Yes. So I think the thing is that country music comes down as sort of white, southern, rural, and conservative therefore patriarchy. From the
very beginning, women are central to the story in a way that isn't in jazz which is a fraternity.
In other places, women get barely let into jazz. Maybe Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and a few other people, that's about it.
ISAACSON: Big exceptions by the way.
BURNS: Big exceptions, right. They prove the point of what I think country does.
But Mother Maybelle Carter, the original American instrumental guitarist, she's right there. Sara Carter, her sister-in-law, a great singer.
You've got Rose Maddox of the Maddox Brothers and Rose, the most colorful Hill Billy band in the world. You've got Katy Wills. You've got Patsy
Cline and Loretta Lynn who in the mid-60s, the same year that the National Organization for Women is founded and women's liberation works its way into
the lexicon is singing don't come home a drinking with loving on your mind.
Or the pill. When Loretta does sing don't come home a drinking with loving on your mind which is talking about a woman's right to her own body,
spousal rape and abuse, women's rights, period.
Nobody in rock and roll or any other form of music is daring to bring up this topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA LYNN, SINGER: Do you write about life and true love and what was going on that day? That's the way I did it. It's just life.
I mean the songs are just life because I'll sing it or I'll leave it. And I never tell my husband who's doing what.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNS: And while she wouldn't call herself a feminist nor would her legion of friends, fans, they're subscribing to these issues that women have
always felt. And that's why I say when people look at this, they're not going to believe that this was more or less editorially done before the Me
Because the stories, the interstitial stories that we tell are about that executive, you know, who is a little bit too frisky and this person who
demands this before you get that and all the women passing on the secrets. Don't go see him alone without your agent. Don't go do this.
You know, and you begin to realize what we think is new, Black Lives Matter, say, or Me Too Movement, these are just, unfortunately, enduring
human issues that we're just struggling again and again and again.
ISAACSON: You talk about it being generally a white format. And one group that has been marginalized is African-Americans with the exception of the
few people like Charlie --
ISAACSON: You've got Wynton Marsalis who's in there talking about let's go to Wynton talking about it and then maybe you can address that issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WYNTON MARSALIS: The thing about (inaudible), Ray Charles, Charlie, two or three black people who were known to be in country music, they were
accepted. The musicians accepted them at a time when a culture did not accept them.
There's a truth in the music. And it's too bad that we as a culture has not been able to address that. That's the shame of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNS: Well, Wynton is about as close a person to me as anybody in my life. I love him like a brother.
And he says something else in the film. He said we all have an ethnic heritage, but we have a human heritage that is much bigger and art tells
the tale of us coming together.
There's African-American roots in this music, which is now comes down to us as mostly white. It's been interwoven and that's the great beauty of
country music is that it is always been not a one thing but a many thing.
And I think what Wynton understands is that where we get stuck is sometimes in these ethnic or cultural or political places and that art, in fact, one
of the responsibilities of art, is to show the universality of it.
And I can't think of anything that speaks more to those universal themes than we all experience than country music. And it does so directly and
with great art.
And, you know, there's a wonderful story in our jazz series, in which, of course, Wynton played a large role where Charlie Parker in the 1940s is
playing on 52nd Street, this new revolutionary music he's invented called b-bop.
But between sets, he's feeding the juke box with nickels and he's playing country music and he's playing Hank Williams and he's playing "I'm So
Lonesome I Could Cry." And the cats are going man what are you doing playing that? And Charlie Parker says, listen to the stories.
ISAACSON: Well, history gets us through tough times.
BURNS: It does.
ISAACSON: And so does music.
BURNS: That's the best thing.
ISAACSON: Thank you for being with us.
BURNS: My pleasure, Walter. Great to see you.
AMANPOUR: And as Wynton Marsalis said the truth is in the music.
That's it for now. Remember, you can listen to our podcast at any time and see us online at amanpour.com. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.