Return to Transcripts main page
Iran Mourns for Killed General; Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Weeps Over General's Death; Iran Takes a Significant Step Away from Nuclear Deal; What is the Next Step for Iran?; Mohammad Marandi, Chair of American Studies, University of Tehran, is Interviewed About Iran; Senator Chris Murphy (D- CT), is Interviewed About the Risks to American after Attack on Iran. Iraqi Parliament Voted to Expel U.S. Forces from the Country; Ayad Allawi, Former Prime Minister of Iraq, is Interviewed About Iraq; Australia Burning; Interview With Former U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 6, 2020 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
The new decade begins with a dangerous escalation in the most volatile region on earth. Across the Middle East, attempts to deescalate a crisis,
as Iran buries its assassinated military commander. We get the view from inside.
And backlash already in Iraq. Parliament there votes to expel U.S. forces. The former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, joins me.
Plus, we get the American perspective from Stephen Hadley, national security adviser to President George W. Bush, and Democratic senator, Chris
Murphy. Then --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our war. This fire is Australia's war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An uncontrollable blaze consuming Australia, the facts and political fiction behind these apocalyptic scenes with the nation's top
climate scientist, Tim Flannery.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And the world holds its breath waiting for retaliation from Iran, after it completes three days of national mourning for its top general and military
mastermind, Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. air strike in Baghdad last Friday.
In scenes unknown since the early years of the Islamic revolution, massive crowds turned out to mourn a funeral procession, emotions are charged, the
supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, did not hide his own as he wept over the coffin.
As anger rises, Iran has taken a significant step away from the nuclear deal that it negotiated with the U.S. and European powers. And the process
expect of avenging Soleimani's death has unnerved this tense region, which can ill afford another rule. To give us some perspective from within Iran,
I'm joined by Mohammad Marandi, a political analyst and Iranian academic.
Mr. Marandi, welcome to the program from Tehran.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI, CHAIR OF AMERICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Your family, I think, were out in this funeral procession and taking part in this explosion of national mourning and emotion. Just give
us a sense of what it actually is like on the ground. What did they sense out there?
MARANDI: Well, my family and everyone around me, they all said that it was extraordinary and that they had never seen such a crowd before. Some say
it was over 5 million people in Tehran. People were very angry and outraged. But during the prayers, they suddenly became very emotional,
especially when the leader was praying and weeping, the whole crowd, the millions of people, suddenly they fell apart. So, it was a very emotional
event, but it was also an event where people were extremely outraged by what the Trump administration had done.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you this, because clearly the next step is in Iran's hands. What will Iran do? We have had the general telling CNN that
there will be, you know, proportionate military retaliation. I just want to play a little bit of the interview that he gave to Fred Pleitgen and
then ask you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GENERAL HOSSEIN DEHGHAN, MILITARY ADVISER TO IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER (through translator): For sure, no American military staff, no American
political center, no American military base, no American vessel in the world will be safe. If he says 52 sites, we say 300. And they're
accessible to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: We'll get to the numbers in a moment, but what do you expect? I mean, you've lived this, you've watched the regime, you have seen the back
and forth during tense times between the United States and Iran. What will Iran decide to do that potentially is proportionate and manageable and
won't slide into accidental all-out war with the U.S.?
MARANDI: Well, the belief here is that Iran can't appease the Trump regime, because if they do, he will only carry out more atrocities, he'll
be killing more people. And therefore, Iran feels that the United States government under Trump has to be punished in a way where they regret what
What Trump has so far done is he's mobilized the whole country. The country is completely united. Everyone believes that this was an act of
war against Iran. And interestingly, another, I think, miscalculation of Trump, is that he also united Iraq, and that the outrage in Iraq is also
extraordinary because they also murdered a senior Iraqi military commander and war hero, who was key to the defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-
Muhandis, and he was the deputy head of the popular mobilization forces.
So, Iraqis are outraged. And since the Iraqi prime minister has also said in parliament yesterday that contrary to the claim that Trump made, that
the Iranian general, General Soleimani, was supposed to meet the prime minister to discuss a Saudi letter and to discuss bringing the two
countries closer to each other. This was a mediation effort by the Iraqi prime minister. The Iraqi prime minister said Trump knew about it and he
even encouraged it. So, the Iranians -- this has outraged Iranians further and outraged the Iraqis. So, what Trump has done is turned the Iranian
people and the Iraqi people against the United States.
AMANPOUR: Well, so let me ask you this because, you know, the last round of demonstrations and protests that the world remembers was a few weeks ago
when we saw anti-government protests on the streets of Iran, completely different to what we're seeing today in the wake of Soleimani's
assassination and his funeral procession.
We saw anti-Iranian protests in Iraq and Lebanon, in other such places where they wanted to get rid of Iranian influence and presence. Just
explain to viewers, are there quarters in Iran, those people who were demonstrating against the government not so many weeks ago, who are
secretly or quietly pleased with the way this is turning out?
MARANDI: What I can say is that overwhelmingly Iranians are extremely angry. And General Soleimani is a hero in Iran. He was a hero during the
eight-year war with Iraq. He survived numerous chemical attacks that Western countries provided to Saddam Hussein. He then supported the
Lebanese resistance to help expel Israel from Southern Lebanon. He supported the Palestinians.
And -- but more recently, the Iranians believe that in Syria and in Iraq, he basically stopped ISIS and al-Qaeda when Western intelligence agencies,
the Saudis and others were funding these extremist groups and they were approaching Damascus, he was sent to Damascus to prevent the fall of the
capital. And then later on, when Baghdad was about to fall, he went to Baghdad and personally commanded the defense of the city.
So, Iranians see him as a major hero, a towering figure, and people from all political walks of life, from all political factions, all walks of life
love him. He's very beloved. The anger that was directed toward the Rouhani administration a few weeks ago was basically about the fuel hikes,
something that the government deeply mismanaged. But I think the problem that the United States has, and I am sure that many in the political
establishment will not accept this, but the problem is that they try to understand Iran in a way in which they want Iran to be.
Iran is a country that has a high degree of legitimacy in the eyes of the public, as we've seen today, and Iraq people do not hate Iran, as we saw a
couple of days ago in the massive protests and the funerals in Iraq. I think the Americans have to start seeing the reality as it is, rather than
how they would like it to be.
AMANPOUR: OK. Very quickly, it is also very emotional. President Trump talks about 52 cultural heritage sites, obviously naming one for each of
the hostages that were held 40 years ago. In response, President Rouhani talks about the number 290. He says those who say 52 should also remember
the 290, those are the civilians who were killed when the United States mistakenly shot down a civilian airliner decades ago.
What does this mean, though, for the reform-minded people like President Rouhani and others who took a gamble and negotiated the nuclear deal with
the United States? I mean, today we understand they're pulling back even further. What does it mean for essentially the internal battle between
reformers and hardliners?
MARANDI: I don't think it's a battle right now. I think there's a consensus. Everyone has more or less concluded that you cannot talk to
this regime. You cannot talk to Trump. It's useless. He breaks agreements, he murders senior government officials with impunity and brags
about it. There is nothing that can be done with such a person and the Iranians believe that the Americans -- the Trump administration is
miscalculating if they think that the Iranians don't have the ability to strike back.
If, for example, there is conflict between Iran and the United States, those countries that have military bases in the Persian Gulf region, like
the United Arab Emirates, they will be seen as hostile entities and they will be struck just as the American bases there, just as vulnerable as the
United Arab Emirates itself is. So, if there is war, then the oil and gas installations in this region will be destroyed in the crossfire.
So, I think those people boasting in the United States about how powerful the United States is and that Iran cannot do anything, they should be a bit
more realistic. Iran is very powerful and Iran has very powerful friends across the region. The United States is in a very difficult situation now
in Iraq and across the board.
So, the United States had better change its policy and it suffered immensely because of the illegal war in Iraq. Iran is a completely
different story and Iran's allies are very powerful from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush to the Persian Gulf. Iran is a powerful
country and I think the Americans should be careful not to go too far.
AMANPOUR: Mohammad Marandi, thank you very much indeed. And we'll put that to my next guest. Thanks for joining us from Tehran.
MARANDI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, meantime, Republicans in the United States have remained mostly in lockstep with President Trump's unilateral action, but Democrats
say he violated congressional rules and procedures and put Americans at risk as we've just heard from Tehran.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a vote on a war powers resolution to limit President Trump's military actions. And now, I'm joined by the
Democratic senator, Chris Murphy, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Murphy, thank you for joining us.
I just wonder whether you heard the very forceful demand that the United States take in consideration, what Iran could actually do in the region in
retaliation? I mean, you heard what he said, that there's so many vulnerable U.S. and allied positions out there, and so much capability by
Iranian itself and its proxies in that region. What do you think is the risk to Americans today?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): It has been longstanding policy of the United States to take actions to try to deter Iranian aggression in the region.
That aggression has led to the death of hundreds of U.S. soldiers during the conflict in Iraq and they continue to support terrorist elements
throughout the region. And so, we need to remember, even at this moment, where there's going to be a lot of criticism of the president's actions
that we continue to need to have a strategy that understands that Iran is an adversary of the United States and they support dangerous elements
throughout the region that pose threats to civilians and to American forces and allies.
The question that we're asking today is whether or not the execution of Qasem Soleimani makes the United States safer. My contention is that it
likely does not. In fact, it will lead to a series of reprisals, more military escalation between the United States and Iran that will ultimately
get more Americans killed. And given that the president inherited a relationship with Iran in which they had given up their nuclear program,
they were not launching attacks against U.S. personnel, this is entirely a conflict of choice by this president. Iran's behavior cannot be excused,
but it didn't need to go no way.
AMANPOUR: So, the question is, I guess, the ball, as I said to Mr. Marandi, is in in Iran's court right now. We don't know what Iran is going
to do. But in your situation as members of Congress who believe in the war powers act and being notified, what is your statement today? What is your
realistic hope of being able to enact Congress's prerogative in this particular field, which is conducting war?
MURPHY: Well, first, let's make it clear, we're now talking on Monday afternoon, American time, and Congress has still not been briefed on this
alleged imminent attack that was about to be lodged against American forces that made it necessary to kill General Soleimani.
We apparently are not going to get that briefing until Wednesday. And I think it may speak to the relatively thin evidence that exists that there
actually was a set of exigent emergency circumstances that required this attack.
The Trump administration now absolutely has the obligation to come to Congress. If it wants to engage in continued military action against Iran,
for which there is no current authorization, they need authorization from Congress. And I hope that they will do that on their own. I doubt it, but
the process beginning in the House of Representatives this week to bring a war powers resolution before the House is necessary.
AMANPOUR: Senator, the president has said, and he's posted, these media posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should
Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the U.S. will quickly and fully strike back, perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is
not required, but is given nevertheless. Is that enough for you?
MURPHY: Well, the fact that the president is denying the legitimacy of the War Powers Act is very disturbing. He has not followed the War Powers Act
which requires him to consult with Congress before taking military action that hasn't been authorized by the legislative branch and he now seems to
be throwing salt in that wound by, you know, making a notification on Twitter.
Now, he has formally notified Congress of the actions that he took several days ago. I literally just came from reading that notification. There is
nothing in that notification that is classified or needs to be classified. And I joined Senator Schumer and others in calling on the administration to
make that notification public.
But the president, even if there is a series of emergency actions, doesn't have the ability to go around Congress for more than about 30 to 60 days.
He still has to come before us, even if there are ongoing threats. And my hope is that Congress will take our responsibility seriously. I know the
House is going to this week.
AMANPOUR: Just briefly, you said that -- I mean, you implied and you actually said that so far what you've been able to glean or understand is
that the evidence of an imminent threat is not as sharp or as clear as you think that they've claimed it was. Do you feel that some have said its
MURPHY: So, I have seen no evidence from the administration about this imminent threat, which leads me to believe that the evidence may not be as
robust as Secretary of State Pompeo is suggesting. It has now been, what, three or four days, and no information has been given to Congress. I can
tell you that that information is not contained in the war powers notification that is classified reading for Congress today.
And while I still remain open about hearing about information about this emergency threat that required this dramatic action to be taken, it hasn't
appeared before Congress yet, which begs the question as to how strong the information is.
AMANPOUR: And some have noticed that Secretary Pompeo has used all sorts of reasons from imminent threat, to hoping that there will be regime change
in so many words. And as you know, former national security adviser, John Bolton, in the immediate aftermath tweeted that he hoped this was the first
step towards regime change in Iran.
But I need to ask you a question about John Bolton, because in another instance, because of the impeachment crisis, and what he knows about
Ukraine and that famous call, he has now said that he would testify to Congress if subpoenaed. Will you subpoena him? Will it be a successful
subpoena to have him appear?
MURPHY: Well, the Senate can't subpoena without a consensus. And so, we are in the minority, Democrats. So, ultimately, we will need Republican
votes in order to issue any subpoenas for John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney or others. I am glad that he is now willing to testify. I wish that he had
been willing to do that when the House was making their inquiry. But it just underscores the absolute need to issue subpoenas, get witness
testimony, look at the documents that are sitting in the White House today that likely provide more evidence of this conspiracy to defraud taxpayers.
And this is just not going to be a trial. It is not going to be a legitimate process if Senator McConnell doesn't agree to actually go out
and try to produce witnesses and documents. And John Bolton's offer today to come and testify before the Senate basically closes the door on that
case. I think now everyone in this country can agree that the Senate needs to call witnesses and seek documents.
AMANPOUR: And getting back to this crisis with Iran, you have been very, very active on Twitter since the -- since it was apparent that this
assassination had taken place. You pointed call it an execution verbally and in your tweets. But you've also talked about the notion that President
Trump has publicly and doubled down on hitting back at Iranian cultural sites and things that have nothing to do with the case at hand.
And I was actually astonished hear a United States senator, yourself, write the following, an unstable president in way over his head, panicking with
all of his experienced advisers having quit and only the sycophantic amateurs remaining. It's pretty extraordinary that even in a situation
like this, even in the opposition, you would say something about a president like that.
MURPHY: Well, I think we have all seen this moment coming. The president has conducted himself in a reckless manner for the last year and a half,
essentially throwing out any norms that had existed around what we expect from presidents and their behavior.
It has become normalized because it's on TV every single night. His Twitter feed is exhausting. And so, we have come to expect that this is
just de rigueur for this administration. But we always fear that there would be a moment of international crisis. There would be a moment when
perhaps thousands of Americans lives were on the line and the president would make rash decisions. The president would make a series of mistakes
that would ultimately accrue to the grave detriment of U.S. national security. I truly believe that moment may be here today.
And I am further worried because all of the relatively sober-minded individuals like General Mattis who surrounded the president are all gone,
they have all quit because they can't work for this individual. And now, the president has relative amateurs by his side advising him, to the extent
he listens to any of this advice. This is a serious moment. It begs Congress to step up to the plate and provide some serious limitations on
I doubt Republicans are going to do that in this Senate. But it's our job to press for it.
AMANPOUR: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much indeed.
And these serious consequences already manifesting themselves after the U.S. air strike that assassinated General Soleimani, they are mounting
quickly. For instance, in Iraq, where the air strike took place and where the parliament has now voted to expel U.S. forces from the country.
Remember, Iraq is an ally of the United States. And President Trump has responded by threatening Iraq with sanctions if, in fact, they follow
through with expelling U.S. forces.
So, joining me now to discuss this is Ayad Allawi. He held senior post following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, including prime minister and vice
Welcome to the program.
AYAD ALLAWI, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, you have been there. You have been literally on the front line of the last U.S. war in Iraq.
AMANPOUR: And you saw it unfold and you've dealt with the consequences. First and foremost, how serious is Iraq's threat and its vote in parliament
to expel U.S. forces?
ALLAWI: I don't think it's very serious, really, because, you know, frankly speaking, we need to arrange rules of engagements. Unfortunately,
the government did not do the rules of engagements with the forces assembled to fight ISIS, including the United States, of course, forces.
And the rules of engagements have -- should have been very important to write down and to agree upon. This never happened really. And that is why
the attack four days ago on Iraq soil was, frankly speaking, undermining the sovereignty of the country.
AMANPOUR: So, you agree with the current leadership in Iraq that this violated Iraq's sovereignty?
ALLAWI: Of course. Absolutely. But also, the leadership in Iraq bear responsibility at the same time. I have told them long ago that they
should really write down rules of engagements and agree with the Americans on rules of engagement. What they can do and what can they -- should not
Unfortunately, this never happened. And I think this was a grave mistake that the Iraq has committee and as well as the Americans also.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think is the next step since President Trump has threatened to sanction your country? I mean, can your country actually
afford to be sanctioned?
ALLAWI: No, our country is very tired from the wars. And let me express my views also on what happened, not only on this occasion. But there have
been victims of American and Iranian confrontations. And the -- frankly speaking, what happened is the Iraqi people are suffering because of this
AMANPOUR: So, Iraq is being used as the battleground for this --
AMANPOUR: -- essential proxy war -- not proxy war but indirect war between Iran and the U.S.?
ALLAWI: No, no. This is a proxy. It is a proxy war. And unfortunately, Iran also played a very negative role in interfering in Iraqi politics and
confiscated the decision of the Iraqi people, in 2010 and now. And even Soleimani agrees. Soleimani told me once, I met twice with a group of
people and said, we are against you. I said, yes, fine, and I'm against you also. But why are you against me? I am defending my country and you
are an intruder in the country and you are trying to play with the results of the elections.
AMANPOUR: So, Iran was having a direct influence politically as well as militarily?
ALLAWI: Politically, absolutely, and militarily. And through proxies, of course. And that's why we tried and I go back to history in 2010, there
was a common objective between the Americans and the administration and the Iranians, to undermine the winners of the elections then, which was the
Iraqi and (INAUDIBLE) then. But this is history.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But let's just get -- well, it's very complicated and fraught history. But it started, at least, this chapter when Iran under
George W. Bush, Iraq -- the United States under George W. Bush --
AMANPOUR: -- invaded your country and defeated Saddam Hussein. Explain to our viewers why that was such a direct win for Iran, and how will this
proxy stuff happen? How they have so many networks around --
ALLAWI: Because I believe very strongly that, unfortunately, the United States does not have a post-conflict policy, what to do after the conflict,
military conflict with Saddam Hussein and overthrown Saddam Hussein.
And I'm trying to warn the Americans many times, over and over again, that really what we must do is not occupation, but we must encourage forces of
change inside Iraq to take action and to overthrow Saddam. However, the occupation happened and those came with the occupational (INAUDIBLE), Iraq
was a weak country.
Dismantling of the army, dismantling of the verification process and, you know, putting the Iraq on a sectarian issue and all of these made Iraq a
very weak country, and this was allowing Iran to intervene. And not only Iran, but other regional countries were players. I tried to solve the
situation when I called for a conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt to sort out the problems and to really regain the confidence of the region.
Because everywhere, they was expecting that they will be the next one in the list.
AMANPOUR: Do you think -- they were, they were all expecting that they would also be invaded by the United States. That was the fear around many
ALLAWI: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: But today, given the fact that the post-war situation was really badly managed after the invasion of Iraq, today, after this assassination,
do you see any room to seize the moment for the United States, for instance, or intermediaries, allies, to try to put forth a diplomatic deal
or some kind of diplomacy to contain the worse and actually make a roadmap forward?
ALLAWI: I think deal is very difficult to think of now. But de-escalation is very important. And then, if de-escalation takes place, then a roadmap
should evolve in the region, with the support of the security council, with the support of Europe and with support of other nations such as the Russian
But we -- I believe that both countries are not really genuinely wanting to confront each other militarily speaking. Either Iran or -- that's my
belief -- nor America. And this is maybe the road towards trying to de- escalate. Once de-escalation starts to take place and these statements are watered down, then one can work towards a roadmap, how to come out of this
mess and to create a region which is stable and secure.
AMANPOUR: You told me earlier that you met Soleimani several times.
AMANPOUR: Do you think the fact that he is gone as the Americans hope, this will be a deterrent to Iran, and it will end the level of interference
around the world or opposition to U.S. forces, interference in your country, you know, the influence that Iran has in that region? Do you
think his death will end that or mitigate it?
ALLAWI: No. Of course, the incident that has happened over the last four days and the problems that Iran is facing now and the problems with the
United States and with other countries, is really casting a very big question mark on the way that Iran is behaving and will behave in the
And plus, of course, you have to take one factor into consideration, the Iraqi people have risen against Iran and they don't want the Iranian
domination of Iraq. Demonstration especially in Shiite areas, in Baghdad and south of Iraq, and especially in the holy places such Karbala and
Now, we take pride with the Iraqi people, resentment of foreign intervention. Whether it's the Iranian or from anywhere else. This can
also be an influential factor in trying to water down the sentiments that are really now --
AMANPOUR: Very high.
AMANPOUR: If you had to guess, how do you think the Iranians will retaliate, knowing Soleimani, knowing...
ALLAWI: They will not retaliate directly.
They will retaliate by expanding their proxies and try -- asking their proxies to do whatever they -- but I don't think the Iranians now are ready
to retaliate in a way that will bring again an American...
AMANPOUR: We hope that's true.
ALLAWI: We hope so. We hope so.
AMANPOUR: Ayad Allawi, thank you very much, indeed, for joining me. Thank you.
ALLAWI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, remember the flawed U.S. evidence for the Iraq War?
There was, in fact, no WMD there, as the U.S. claimed back in 2002 and 2003. Ironically, though, in 2008, Donald Trump spoke to Wolf Blitzer,
arguing that George W. Bush should have been impeached for taking the country into Iraq.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2008)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the war.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Because of the conduct --
TRUMP: Well, he lied. He got us into the war with lies. And, I mean, look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally
unimportant. And they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense.
And yet Bush got us into this horrible war with lies, by lying, by saying they had weapons of mass destruction, by saying all sorts of things that
turned out not to be true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And President Trump wasn't president then. And now, though, he faces his own impeachment crisis and, of course, questions over the
strength of his evidence for Soleimani's killing.
I have been discussing this with Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley.
AMANPOUR: Stephen Hadley, welcome to the program.
STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Nice to be here.
AMANPOUR: Can we just start by admitting and just putting it out there that Qasem Soleimani was no angel, that he was the architect of malign
Iranian influence and mastermind of military adventures and responsible for the deaths of so many Americans and so much other negative influence in
But the question to somebody like yourself is, was the assassination of this personality at this time the wise choice for America, and what is the
route ahead? What is the next step?
HADLEY: That, of course, is the right question.
Why did the president do it? What they have said is, they did it to forestall imminent attacks on Americans. I think they also did it to try
to show, by a big move, by taking out Soleimani, to try to defer further Iranian action.
Iranian -- Iran, through one of its surrogate forces in Iraq, had for months been attacking U.S. targets. That's through Kataib Hezbollah. And I
think the administration wanted to send a message to the Iranian regime that this had to stop, or there would be consequences.
So, I think it was to prevent an imminent attack and I think it was also to try to send a broader deterrence message to try to halt an escalating set
of attacks on American forces in Iraq.
AMANPOUR: So, you agree, then, that this was the right thing to do?
HADLEY: Don't know. It will depend on how it goes. And in some sense, it's too soon to say.
There are a lot of people who have said this could be a disaster. It rallies the Iranian people around the Iranian regime. It may result in the
Iraqis kicking out American forces. It will result in Iran getting out of the nuclear deal, retaliating.
There are a lot of doomsday scenarios out there. They may come to pass. On the other hand, it is also possible that this will deter escalating
Iranian activity directly and through its proxies against American forces.
Second of all, it will put more pressure on Iran. It will make clear that this administration is willing to escalate militarily. There is likely to
be more sanctions and more constraints on Iranian oil exports.
And the problem for the regime is whether that hardship reignites the demonstrations that occurred in October and November in Iran that the
regime was only able to put down through very harsh military measures.
And the question is whether that kind of threat will force the regime to be pragmatic and to return to some kind of negotiations, where we would talk
about their nuclear weapons, their ballistic missiles, and also their disruptive activities in the region.
So it's too soon to say. Bold move. Could go badly. But there are also scenarios where it could have a positive outcome.
AMANPOUR: Can I just play a little bit about what Secretary Pompeo has been saying about the reason for this and what they hope, and this
particularly about influence of Iran in the region?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our partners in the region know what America did was a good thing. It reduced risk in the region. It reduced
the threat from in -- of instability that the theocrats in Iran have imposed on the Middle East for so many years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That's a little bit sort of what you have been saying.
AMANPOUR: But the question is, do the allies really think this is something they want to get on board with?
And are they -- do they believe that this will do as what you hope and what Pompeo hopes, that this will deter action?
I guess, what is the evidence from the past that this kind of action will produce what you want it to produce?
HADLEY: Well, Iran has, under pressure, been willing to make compromises.
And, of course, one of the most famous examples is when the United States accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner, and the supreme leader at the
time, Khomeini, decided that it was time to, as he said, take a sip out of the poisoned chalice and end the war against Iraq.
And I think the hope is that, if the regime feels threatened, that it's really at a dead-end with its policies, they will decide once again to
return to negotiations.
And it's interesting that, in the announcement that was made that the Iranians were going to move out and no longer observe the limits of the
nuclear agreement, the joint -- JCPOA, that they held the door open to returning to that agreement if there would be some relaxation of sanctions.
So, even in this difficult moment, the Iranian authorities are leaving the door open for negotiations. And the question is, is this an opportunity,
and will either the Europeans or our regional friends of allies, or perhaps even Vladimir Putin decide it's time for a diplomatic initiative to try to
get Iran, the United States and other countries to the table to talk about the current situation?
AMANPOUR: Those allies would say, apart from some in the Persian Gulf area, would say that actually that diplomatic sort of move happened under
the Obama administration, and there was a nuclear deal that did constrain at least the worst impulses that the world was afraid of about Iran, the
nuclear efforts, and that this was perhaps foolish of the United States and has led to where we are now, the unilateral withdraw from that deal, the
imposition of very severe sanctions, and the idea that there was no way to have a different kind of situation than this, with Iran sort of responding,
as you pointed out, militarily over the last -- cat and mouse over the last many months.
HADLEY: That's, of course, one argument.
The counterargument that people will make is that that agreement was imperfect. It did not really eliminate the risk that Iran would be a
nuclear weapons state. And it also failed to address other aspects of Iranian behavior, its ballistic missile program, and the kind of disruptive
activity that was spearheaded by Soleimani that you described so ably at the beginning of this segment.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, because I wonder what you think will be the Iranian response?
You have heard that one of the senior Iranian commanders spoke to CNN in an exclusive interview and said that: We will seek revenge. We have to. We
cannot stay silent. We will target military sites or site, and that in response to the president's claim that he would hit 52, including cultural
sites, they said, well, we can hit anywhere any time wherever we want.
What sort of response do you expect, and, more to the point, what sort of response can the United States live with?
HADLEY: We obviously don't know.
They have said that they will confine their strikes, at least initially, to military targets. They have, of course, a whole wide range of options.
They could do cyberattacks. They could do cyberattacks on the energy infrastructure in the region.
They could disrupt the flow of oil traffic out through the Straits of Hormuz. They have things they can do in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. So they
have lots of options available to them.
My guess is, and I think the administration's hope is, that, one, the attack on Soleimani, and, two, the statements by both the president and the
secretary of state that we will respond to either direct or indirect action by Iran by hitting targets in Iran, no longer in Iraq or elsewhere, that
that will deter from the kind of dramatic escalation that Iran is certainly capable of, and it will either deter any retaliation altogether, or will it
limit it to a level that does not really dramatically increase the military escalation?
Because I think the truth is that neither Iran, nor the Trump administration actually want an all-out offensive war, conventional war
between the United States and Iran at this point.
AMANPOUR: I mean, they might point the one that your administration launched against Iraq, and many believe the blowback is still being felt
even to this day.
And to the point, the evidence is obviously something that everybody wants to really be clear on, the evidence of this so-called imminent threat from
You were part of the effort to persuade Congress, to persuade allies, to persuade the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. You have
since apologized for that.
But don't you think the American people, the American Congress, the rest of the world deserves to know the precise evidence, that we cannot, the U.S.
cannot afford to deliberately or accidentally fall into another Middle East war on anything other than the most solid of cases?
HADLEY: Well, we do want to know the evidence of forthcoming attacks.
But what we do know is that Kataib Hezbollah for two months in Iraq had been escalating increased attacks on military facilities where U.S. forces
were housed, that, in the end of the day, at a strike south of Kirkuk, they killed a U.S. contractor, wounded three soldiers, and then two days later
assaulted and burned parts of the U.S. Embassy.
So the record of Kataib Hezbollah, clearly at the behest of Iran, increasing attacks on American personnel is absolutely clear. And there
was no evidence that that was going to stop. So, yes, we ought to know what the intelligence was, but we also have a record of escalating activity
that increasingly threatened our men and women in uniform.
AMANPOUR: It's a really fraught relationship, 41 years' long, and we wait to see where this next phase leads us.
Stephen Hadley, thank you very much, indeed.
HADLEY: Delighted to be with you.
AMANPOUR: And one of Iran's most powerful leaders and adviser to the supreme leader has warned that West Asia, as he called it, will become
another Vietnam for the United States.
Now we turn to the other crisis already shaping the 2020s, and that is the apocalyptic wildfires which are decimating Australian flora and fauna.
One expert saying that hundreds of millions of animals have probably been killed. Volunteers form the backbone of the desperate firefighting effort
to control these fast-moving flames.
The smoke is filling the skies above Australia and even reaching New Zealand.
Earlier, I spoke with Australia's chief climate scientist, Tim Flannery.
AMANPOUR: Professor Flannery, welcome to the program.
TIM FLANNERY, CHIEF COUNCILLOR, CLIMATE COUNCIL AUSTRALIA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: It is truly a tragedy to see what's happening to your beautiful and amazing country. And this has been going on for days, weeks. And, in
fact, as we know, it all started months ago.
Give us the state of play as we speak right now.
FLANNERY: Well, we have had around 17 million acres of Australia burned; 25 people have died in the flames.
The impacts on biodiversity have been truly horrific. Just on Kangaroo Island alone off the coast of South Australia, half of the koala
population, we think, has been killed, about a third of the koala population for the northern half of New South Wales.
And they are the species that are easy to count. So I think, unfortunately, that the impacts of this on our economy, on our biodiversity
and on just human lives will be with us for many decades.
And, sadly, it's not an end. These dry conditions look set to persist for several months yet.
AMANPOUR: So, why is it that it is so bad this time around?
FLANNERY: We have had the driest year on record, and it follows the previous year, which was very dry as well.
This year has been the hottest year on record, by quite a considerable amount, about one degree Fahrenheit. And those conditions, they're part of
the long-term trajectory of climate change, and they have conspired together with a windy season to produce these horrific fire conditions,
which have just gone on and on.
And I should tell you that this was predicted by climate scientists first in the early '80s. My own Climate Council has produced 12 reports warning
the government and warning the people of the escalating fire risk and danger in Australia. And, sadly, until it hits, very little is done.
AMANPOUR: Are you absolutely sure that this is climate change-caused?
FLANNERY: Yes, I am absolutely certain. The science is telling us this.
It's telling us that these extreme heat conditions we have seen this year might occur naturally once every 350 years. But once you add the influence
of the human-emitted greenhouse gases, we're likely to see those conditions every eight years.
And, of course, that number will decline. It will become more frequent as the buildup of gases continues.
AMANPOUR: You, as you mentioned, started the Climate Council for Australia.
And just put into perspective for us how your experience demonstrates the lack of seriousness that certainly this government, previous governments
have taken climate change, because you, if I'm not mistaken, have had to raise funds on your own for this very important scientific monitoring
FLANNERY: Well, that's correct.
I was Australia's climate commissioner for three years. The first act of the new Conservative government in 2013 was to sack me and my commissioners
and to take down our Web site.
But we felt that the work we were doing was so important that we really went to the Australian public and crowdfunded the entity back into
existence. And, today, we're larger and better than ever before, but courtesy of the Australian public, who understand that we need to
understand the science of climate change, we need to protect ourselves with good advance warning.
But the government so far hasn't been interested in this. And it is truly tragic. I can't tell you how it feels to me to wake up every morning
smelling the smoke of my country burning for month after month, and knowing that we could have done something about this had we started 10, 15 years
AMANPOUR: How is this affecting the current prime minister, Scott Morrison? Because he's never taken the science seriously. And I don't
even know whether he's agreeing right now that these fires are exacerbated because of climate crisis and climate change.
But how long can he persist in that policy and political stance, when the people, presumably people who also elected him, are feeling so angry? And,
obviously, we have seen these pictures of him trying to meet with people, trying to go to the scenes. And people have been heckling him. Many have
refused to shake his hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm only shaking your hand if you give more funding to RFS. So many people here have lost their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need more help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLANNERY: Sadly, Christiane, it's not just our prime minister.
We have a significant minority of Australian parliamentarians who are welded-on climate skeptics. And even if the seas were lapping at their
chain, and their hair was on fire as a result of climate change, I don't think they would change their mind.
These are people who are deeply committed to a particular cause, deeply committed to the burning of fossil fuels.
We have this thing in Australia called the revolving door. These people go in as lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry. They come out of the
revolving door as a minister in a Conservative government. And then they go back in again, and they come out on the board of a fossil fuel company.
The links are just so intense, they're so interwoven, that I don't think there's a prospect for change. These people, if we want change, we have to
vote them out and vote in a government that will take action.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's just talk about the possibility of trying to get change in a responsible government.
But to augment, to amplify what you have just said, Scott Morrison, your current prime minister, back in 2017, when he was treasurer of the nation,
actually held up a lump of coal. And we know that coal -- Australia is the biggest coal exporter.
But he held it up. And we have a little clip of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORRISON: This is coal. Don't be afraid. Don't be scared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The treasurer -- the treasurer knows the rule on props.
MORRISON: It's coal. It was dug up by men and women who work and live in the electorates of those who sit opposite, from the Hunter Valley, as the
member for Hunter would know. It's coal that has ensured for over 100 years that Australia...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The deputy prime minister...
MORRISON: ... has enjoyed an energy-competitive advantage that has delivered prosperity to Australian businesses and has ensured that
Australian industry has been able to remain competitive on a global market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What hope is there, when you have this kind of demonstration of, I guess, for a better word -- want of a better word, an addiction, a
national addiction, a political addiction to this fossil fuel?
FLANNERY: Look, sadly, it is a national addiction.
And the nexus between the fossil fuel industry and the lobbyists and the government is almost complete. It's not exceptional in Australia for a
federal government minister in charge of natural resources and mining to, when he leaves Parliament, go onto the board of a fossil fuel company.
It's a tragic situation, where self-interest is seeing such great damage inflicted upon the people and the nature of our country.
AMANPOUR: What about the people who are trying to fight this now? I mean, many people around the world won't fully appreciate that so many of your
emergency workers, the firefighters are volunteer workers. And they have had to put up with something that clearly is, as we see now, beyond their
What kind of help can be brought to them? And, again, we have seen this ad by the government, which has been set to pretty jaunty music, about the so-
called millions that they're spending, the attempt to help the emergency services.
That hasn't gone down very well.
FLANNERY: No, it hasn't, because it is important to spend that money to help people get back on their feet, to reestablish the economy, and to
protect our biodiversity in the wake of these fires.
But what the firefighters are really asking for is that the government make sure that their workplace, which is the fire front, is as safe as humanly
And what they see is that the government policy is piling on more emissions of carbon dioxide week on week, month on month, year on year, and that is
making the fire conditions that they will face tomorrow that much more perilous.
AMANPOUR: What is your realistic scientific, and economic, social, cultural view of these future prospects?
Because you have said, obviously, these kinds of government leaders who don't believe in it, who refuse to take the science seriously need to be
voted out. But the facts, including -- according to your council, your research has found that major Australian cities will experience
temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius by 2040 if the current warming trends continue.
At the same time, another operation, Climate of the Nation, reports that 64 percent of Australians said they want to see a target of net zero emissions
Again, people pressure seems to be active. And we have also seen the Greta Thunberg-inspired student strikes all over the nation over the last year to
Where do you realistically think perhaps that this crisis might provide a political and policy opportunity to mitigate this for the future?
FLANNERY: Look, I really hope so.
I hope that our prime minister can look Australians in the face and say he will do everything he can to reduce the problem at its source, to reduce
the burning of fossil fuels in this country.
It's all doable. I mean, Britain has virtually done away with coal in their energy mix now. We're still heavily dependent here in Australia on
the burning of coal through very old coal-fired power plants that, quite frankly, need to be retired.
But that's not the government policy.
What I think more realistically will happen is that we will hear some nice words, some placatory words. Some of the more extreme people might be
muzzled a little bit, but little meaningful action will happen.
That's been the pattern of the past. And I really fear this will continue. And it will divide our society, because people are deeply angered by the
betrayal of one government after the other on this issue.
So I hope for something better, but I really -- I can't see where it will come from.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, again, I have to ask you the existential question. So, what next?
Because, even as we talk, the biggest mine that Australia has ever dreamt up is currently being dug, a huge coal mine, which might very, very
seriously threatened, probably will, the Great Barrier Reef with all the runoffs and all the rest of it.
What is the hope right now? What is the way to stop this?
FLANNERY: That mine is not being dug yet. The ground is being prepared for it.
But the resistance that you see in the street in Australia against that mine is overwhelming, the number of people, even retired people, elderly
people, who are demonstrating in front of their banks to say, do not fund this mine. The economic muscle that's being pulled away from that now is
very considerable in this country.
The truth is that Mr. Adani could probably fund that mine himself. And if that is case, then we will be set up for one of the greatest environmental
confrontations that this nation have ever seen, because the anger in the community about this continued obstinacy to see the reality, to see that
those emissions are causing unbelievable misery on the ground in this country is infuriating.
And we are becoming a deeply divided country. It's one of the saddest things that I have seen. I hope for so much better for this beautiful
place that I live in.
AMANPOUR: Well, you just mentioned the name of the man who is funding the mine. We really hope that he listens to you.
And it will be very interesting to see how people whose lives are at stake and their well-being and their country react going forward.
Professor Tim Flannery, thank you so much for joining me.
FLANNERY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, these fires are provoking an outpouring of support from around the world, all the way even to the Golden Globes in California,
where, last night, Australia's own Russell Crowe skipped the Global Globes to focus on the fires.
And he asked Actress Jennifer Aniston to accept his award for best actor playing FOX News chief Roger Ailes in the Showtime series "The Loudest
This is what Jennifer said:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER ANISTON, ACTRESS: Make no mistake. The tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-change-based. We need to act based on science, move
our global work force to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that message getting out loud and clear, and Australia serving as an important reminder that we must all find a way to put
differences aside to come together globally to tackle climate change.
We have seen amazing leadership on this issue from young people the world over. And, like the school strikers and the activists here on this show,
we will continue to keep the issue front and center.
That's it for now.
You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across our social media.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.