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Europe Demanding Tech Giants How They Tackle Misinformation in Social Media; Facebook's New Oversight Board; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Co- Chair, Facebook Oversight Board, is Interviewed About Social Media; Slavery in America Still Felt During Coronavirus Pandemic; Nikole Hannah-Jones Wins Pulitzer for 1619; Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Price-Winning Journalist, is Interviewed About Slavery. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired May 20, 2020 - 14:00:00 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It doesn't hurt people. It's been out on the market for 60 or 65 years for malaria, lupus and other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In a pandemic, bad information can mean the difference between life and death. Can Facebook's new Oversight Board help staunch the flow? I
ask its co-chair, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In August 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans sold to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Slavery, it is America's original sin and the impact is still being felt in the coronavirus pandemic. 1619 Project creator, Nikole
Hannah-Jones, follows the thread.
And later, foreign policy guru, Richard Haass, explains it all in his new book "The World: A Brief Introduction."
And the handbag designer kitting out British medical workers.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
In the face of this determined virus when facts have never mattered more, a tsunami of rumors, hoaxes and conspiracy theories swamp social media and
make the way to presidential podiums. Which is why regulators here in Europe are demanding detailed information from tech giants on how they are
tackling the torrent of misinformation.
With the specter of government regulation looming, Facebook just announced a major new initiative to police itself. It's an independent, Oversight
Board to moderate the company's complicated and significant content decisions and it's backed by a $130 million trust fund to guarantee its
freedom and it's staffed with an array of league authorities, free speech advocates, journalists and a Nobel laureate from 27 countries speaking 29
My guest tonight, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is co-chair of this new Facebook Oversight Board. She was the prime minister of Denmark and she was also
chief executive of Save The Children International. And she's joining me now.
Welcome to the program, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT, CO-CHAIR, FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT BOARD: Thanks.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you because clearly, you're taking on a job that, you know, it's a little bit of a poison chalice. You know better than anybody,
Facebook has been a lightning rod for legitimate and persistent criticism. What is your mission? What is the mission of this Oversight Board, first
THORNING-SCHMIDT: Well, Facebook has given voice to millions of people across the world who would otherwise not have a voice. Facebook uses every
day to share videos of cats and discussions of politics, everything which is very good.
But we also know that there is a downside to Facebook, because Facebook can be used to spread speech that is hateful and harmful and deceitful. And
until now it has been Facebook itself that were to regulate which content gets to stay up on the platforms and which content gets removed.
Ultimately, this has been a decision for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.
In 2018, Facebook recognized that that was not a sustainable way of doing these -- taking these decisions and launched this idea of an Oversight
Board. An Oversight Board to consistent of independent members, we have an independent structure, so we don't have any obligation towards Facebook.
And a decision that we will be taking will be binding for Facebook and final. So, it is that independence and the binding decisions that Facebook
has to follow that attracted me to this Oversight Board because I agree with Facebook that Facebook should not be taking these very, very important
decisions on their own. And now, they are no longer doing that.
AMANPOUR: So, look. Let me just read a couple of commentaries and have you responded to them. As you know, Kara Swisher, she's one of the best tech
reporters around and she has written to this effect in "The New York Times," the Oversight Board has all the hallmarks of the United Nations
except potentially much less effective. It may be beyond the capabilities of anyone given Facebook and its founder and chief executive, Mark
Zuckerberg, have purposefully created a system that is ungovernable.
So, just respond to that because your jurisdiction is fairly limited. You can't deal with algorithms, you can't deal with all the stuff that, you
know, people have problems with. I mean, you're only at the beginning anyway going to be dealing with particular content that's already been
taken down and those people want it put back.
THORNING-SCHMIDT: Well, over time we will be dealing also with content that Facebook decides to remove that other users want to remain up and also
adds, of course. And over time, we will also impact, I think, Facebook's own community standards. The guidelines they use now to decide which
content gets removed or taken down. And that's also dealing with the algorithms, doing this.
Don't forget the way that Facebook takes things down, parts of it is human led because they have these content moderators across the world. Some of it
is led by algorithms. But we will also over time because our decisions take precedence and actually means that decisions that look like this or are
like this in the future will be taking the same way as we recommend to Facebook. Our decisions will be binding not only for that particular case
but they will also take precedence.
And means that over time, I also believe that this Oversight Board could challenge Facebook community standards And I want to say to all the
critics, everyone who's critical about this, absolutely, let's have the discussion about this but I do think we owe to ourselves to talk about what
else should we do, because it is not great that Facebook is having -- taking these decisions on their own. It wouldn't be very good if
governments were going to take decisions about freedom of speech issues because I can think of many, many governments that would to try to stifle
people's voice and take control of their freedom of speech.
And that's why we have to find something in the middle and that's why this Oversight Board comes in. And, frankly, it won't be perfect. We won't agree
with everyone. But it's the best option that we have right now and actually something that can happen right now.
AMANPOUR: OK. That's a pretty fair analysis from your perspective. I mean, you've got the good and the bad and the ugly all in that bucket there. But
here's the thing, one of your co-chairs, Professor Jamal Greene, of, as you know, Columbia Law, he said, I think one of Facebook's biggest problems is
that there's a lot of reasons not to trust it. So, there's a co-chair saying that. Obviously, he also believes that it's better to have something
rather than nothing at the moment.
But I guess I'm asking you as a former prime minister, Helle Thorning- Schmidt, do you believe that Mark Zuckerberg who pretty much runs an empire the size of a small state with billions and billions and billions of
dollars of income and, you know, 2.5 billion people in this state using Facebook, do you think if you come up with, I don't know, a serious
criticism that goes into maybe a business part of the empire, I guess, do you think he'll listen?
THORNING-SCHMIDT: Well, we have an independent trust fund governing our work and we also have very clear bylaws saying that Facebook has to
actually abide by our decisions. It's also in our founding documents. If you (INAUDIBLE) out the chance I've written for this Oversight Board. And
what I can guarantee you, Christiane, is that none of the 20 members who have said yes to be part of this endeavor would have that without the
independence from Facebook, without being absolutely clear that our decisions are binding for Facebook, meaning that they have to follow our
decisions. And also, the last part is that we will over time be able to impact Facebook's community standards.
So, I agree. I mean, there will be many reasons not to like Facebook and people have all kinds of issues with Facebook but the fact remains that
every day Facebook takes so many decisions about content, on Facebook and Instagram. And with this Oversight Board, they have asked someone else to
do it. And what I think we will gain is for the first time we will get access as users of social media to understand which kind of criteria are
used when a piece of content gets removed. What could be their considerations that you take?
And what is interesting about this is that every day we will have to find what is the balance point between freedom of speech and other human rights?
This is a difficulty every day when you remove or let content stay on a Facebook or Instagram. And for the first time, we will have more
transparent discussions about this and you could say that Facebook is socializing the responsibility of what content gets removed or stays up.
AMANPOUR: So, again, I mean, you come with a very illustrious backstory and obviously, elections are a big issue. This all sort of came to a head
after the 2016 election in the United States and the Brexit vote as well. Do you think you'll be up and running in order to affect any kind of
oversight before the 2020 election?
THORNING-SCHMIDT: Well, yes. Everyone else has been sent back by this health situation. We haven't actually met yet, the full board, and we are
building this board and we haven't looked at cases yet. And we won't be able to look at cases before the autumn. We have also said that we want to
spend 90 days maximum looking at cases.
So, I really can't guarantee that that will be the case, that we will be up and running. And we also have to remember, this is a global Oversight
Board. We are not focused on the American election. There might be things that is we can look at if we are up and running but we want to do this
right. And this is an Oversight Board to live for many, many years to come. And we know that we have to crawl before we can walk and we have a lot of
work to do. But we have chosen to announce the members even before we are ready to look at cases, which we won't be until the autumn. So, I can't
promise we'll be up and running for the American election.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right. So, I mean, I hear you. You have just been announced. Obviously, Facebook wants to do this rather than be regulated
from outside. Obviously, one of your -- one of the members, Alan Rusbridger, formerly editor-in-chief of "The Guardian" has said, we have to
be careful that this doesn't become a fig leaf for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. People like yourselves, Rusbridger, the Nobel laureates, big
professors, all these people are on this Oversight Board.
And I guess I want to ask you, OK, maybe it is not about the American election. But we're talking and we exist in a life and death situation
right now. And there was something really horrible that went viral from Facebook for a long time called Plandemic. It's a conspiracy about, you
know, what created the coronavirus, they talked about masks and this and that, I mean, just nonsense stuff, that was up there for a very long time.
And I'm bringing that up because, again, I just want you to answer this. An expert journalist from "Wired" has said, you, the board, can't say anything
about toxic content that Facebook allows and promotes on the site. You won't have authority over advertising or the massive surveillance that
makes Facebook ad so valuable It won't curb disinformation campaigns or dangerous conspiracies. There's no influence on the sorts of harassment
that regular occur on Facebook or, you know, Facebook-owned WhatsApp, won't dictate policy for Facebook groups where much of the most dangerous content
thrives. And most importantly, the board will have no say over how the algorithms work and thus, what gets amplified or muffled by the real power
OK. So, that is a lot to digest. But there's a lot of won'ts in there. How do you hope to navigate this reality?
THORNING-SCHMIDT: Well, a couple of things. First of all, we are not dealing with everything Facebook. I know people have very many criticisms
of Facebook and they will still be there and there will be still a role for regulators across the world to deal with areas around Facebook. So, we're
not dealing with all things Facebook. We are dealing with content.
And I don't understand these critics. And there was a lot of criticisms in here, some of them actually not true and I think they must know that is not
true. But is it better that Facebook takes these decisions about content or is it better this way where they have socialized these decisions to an
independent group of people who have no -- we have no consideration for Facebook's reputation or their economy? That's not our business.
Our business is to discuss where is -- where do you cross that line between someone's freedom of expression which we all believe in, that everyone has
to have freedom of expression, but same time, we don't anyone to hurt someone else's human rights. So, this is a cross we have to find. And until
now, it has been up to Facebook to do that. Now, it is up to the Oversight Board.
And I really fail to see how else we should have done it. I think the best (INAUDIBLE) be if the U.N. could set up an oversight board like this, but
they can't. So, this is a next best way of doing it and there will be many criticisms but I do think that everyone who criticized this has also the
responsibility to come up with something that is better and which can be happening here and now.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, clearly, you know, it is better something than nothing, which has been the case up until now and you certainly have your
work cut out for you. Can I ask you a slightly different question on the coronavirus leadership? You were prime minister of Denmark. You are
obviously a woman. Your successor is a woman and there's been a lot of talk about how well some of these female-led countries are doing.
But particularly, I want to ask you about Denmark. Just the leadership that went in fast and early, lockdown, guaranteed people workers. And now, are
reporting no deaths for the first time and are coming out of lockdown. Just your -- compare it, for instance, to what's happening right here in England
where you are right now.
THORNING-SCHMIDT: I think that the biggest structural difference between a country like Denmark and the U.K. where Denmark is, of course, a much
smaller country, is this old, old tradition of consensus and cooperation.
When the country was locked down, which it was a good week before the U.K., which obviously helped, that was done by a complete agreement by all 10
parties in the parliament. And now, that we are opening up in Denmark, it is also done by agreement by all the 10 parties. So, that actually means
they sit together, they discuss and discuss and don't agree. And then in the end, they find an agreement in the middle which is then the basis for
how the country's going to open.
And I think that consensus and with that consensus comes also a huge trust. That is what's missing in the U.K. where a lot of people don't feel that
they get consulted, that goes for political parties, but also for trade unions and employers. So, people are not part of these solutions. And I
wish that that would be much more solutions done by the whole society rather than just the government, and I think that is part of the big
difference. There might be something with a female leader, as well. Who knows.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know what, it is great. Thank God for your people that the death rate kept so, so low.
AMANPOUR: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us tonight.
Now, as for regulating Facebook, what we were discussing, a group of Democratic senators in the United States are going to be having some
conversations about it. But guess what, the prompter is not working so I'm going to carry on to our next story.
We're going to be joined now by Nikole Hannah-Jones of "The New York Times" who's just won a Pulitzer prize for an essay she did. She, of course, is
the leader of "The New York Times" massive project called 1619, which traced the origin of slavery to the United States and was put out there for
the 400th year anniversary of when the first slaves came to America.
So, Nikole Hannah-Jones, welcome to the program.
Let me just start by asking you, how did you feel when you heard that you won the Pulitzer prize for your magnificent essay?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, PULITZER PRICE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Thank you for having me on. It's hard to express with words when you are a newspaper, a
long-time newspaper reporter, like I am. That's the dream that you have held your entire career. So, it was very emotional experience and I was
just really gratified not only to win but to win for a project on the legacy of slavery.
AMANPOUR: So, the title was "Our Democracy's Founding Ideals Were False" when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true. And
your essay, this particular one, which is separate to the -- you know, to project that we were talking about, it is deeply personal. I mean, you talk
about, obviously, your family's experience. And I wonder, we asked you to read just a short-edited part of it that I found really moving and I wonder
if you wouldn't mind just reading this.
HANNAH-JONES: Sure. My dad was born into a family of sharecroppers on a white plantation in Greenwood, Mississippi where black people bent over
cotton from can't see in the morning to can't see at night just as their enslaved ancestors had done not long before. The Mississippi of my dad's
youth was an apartheid state that subjugated its near minority black population through breath taking acts of violence. Dad struggled to find
promise in this land.
In 1962 at age 17, he signed up for the army. Like many young men, he joined in hopes of escaping poverty. But he went into the military for
another reason, as well. A reason common to black men. Dad hoped that if he served his country his country might finally treat him as an American.
AMANPOUR: So, that is really -- I mean, it is incredible to hear an American say and you say about your father that he hoped finally to be
treated as an American. I guess just put that into context. What was the treatment of people like your father who had actually, you know, joined up
and served the nation?
HANNAH-JONES: I mean, for the vast history of this country, black people, though born on this soil, were not considered citizens. Supreme Court in
the 1800s ruled that black people, whether enslaved or free, could never be citizens of the United States. And when my dad was a child, he was born
into a country where black people were treated as second class citizens by law.
Where it was perfectly legal to tell black people that they couldn't attend certain schools, that they couldn't go to a public library, that they
couldn't use public facilities just simply because of the color of their skin, because they were designated racially as black.
So, he grew up in a country where, by law, we were not treated as full citizens and where black Americans still fight to be treated as full
citizens in the land of our birth. And so, he saw in every war that America has fought, black people have disproportionally signed up for the service.
And the hope is, is if you are willing to die for your country that perhaps you will earn the respect of full citizenship, and that's certainly one of
the reasons why my father joined the military and why to this day, of all racial groups, black people are the most likely to join the military in the
AMANPOUR: And very, very quickly, did he get the respect that he was looking for?
HANNAH-JONES: No. Of course not. Because despite every effort that black Americans have made to fight for our universal rights, to fight for
recognition as full citizens to this day, black Americans in many aspects of American life are treated as second class citizens. There is nothing
that you can measure in American life where black people are not at the bottom of every indicator of well-being and at the top of every indicator
of things that are negative in our experience. So, no. He never earned that respect and died still trying to achieve it.
AMANPOUR: And of course, this plays a significant and massive and frankly, shameful role in the disproportionate suffering of the black community and
other minorities in the United States right now.
Let me just read another little bit which is relevant from your essay. You say, more than any other group in this country's history, we have served
generation after generation in an overlooked but vital role. It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.
So, I want you to talk about that in context to what we now know and what we're seeing and what we're recording, that black Americans are dying
disproportionately in this pandemic.
HANNAH-JONES: Sure. So, we know that when this country was founded on these great ideals of universal rights and freedom, one-fifth of the
population lived in absolute bondage and the black population was enslaved. We also know that at that period the majority of people who lived in
America could not vote, which is the lynchpin of a democracy. Women could not vote. Black people could not vote. And native people couldn't vote. And
in fact, if you weren't a white person who owned property you couldn't vote.
But black people actually saw those words, those founding majestic ideals and fought from the revolutionary period really until now to expand the
idea of democracy and universal rights for all Americans. When you look at the legacy of reconstruction, which is the period right after the civil war
as well as a legacy of the civil rights movement, it was black people fighting for a broad expansion of rights for all marginalized groups, not
just for black Americans but barring discrimination in American life, legal discrimination against gender, against nationality, against religion. But
that's really been the role that black Americans have played.
When we look at what's happening with COVID-19, it's really unsurprising that black Americans are suffering the worst. Black people remain -- so,
the group of people who did not choose to come to the United States, a nation of immigrants with the exception of native people and black people,
we are at the bottom of every indicator. We are the most segregated, we are the most likely to live next to environmental toxins that cause the
comorbidities that lead COVID to be so deadly. So, asthma, hypertension, diabetes.
We have least access to quality health care. We have the highest rates of being uninsured. We are far more likely to be working in a public sector
and service jobs that meant that black people could not shelter in place. We have least access to level 1 trauma centers to treat us when we get sick
from these diseases.
So, in every way that COVID would -- that would cause you to be most exposed to COVID, to be become more sick by COVID and to then die from
COVID, black people are overrepresented. And the interesting thing is, you know, when you look at the United States, what sets us apart from every
western industrialized country that we like to compare ourselves to is that we have this stingiest social safety net. We don't have universal health
care. And 1 out of 10 black people in this country is uninsured.
We have really divested in our public hospitals and our public institutions. And this is also because of the racial lens that America
produces public policy. What the polling shows is the more support -- excuse me, the larger numbers of black people perceived to benefit from a
social support the lower the support becomes amongst white Americans. And so, when you look at the way that we differ from other countries, it's
largely because of our ongoing legacy of racism.
AMANPOUR: You know what, we have looked at the figures here as well. I mean, it's socioeconomic as well. But here, as you know, we have universal
health care, national health system here in the U.K. And the COVID mortality rates for black and other minority groups here are four times
higher than those of white Britons according to the Office of National Statistics.
You know, obviously, they're in the public facing jobs. But are you surprised that it's happening also in a nation that does have a welfare
net, a social security net, you know, the NHS?
HANNAH-JONES: No. I'm not because what universal health care does is ensure you get access to health care once you get sick. But it's all of
these other societal disadvantages and inequalities that lead black people to become more sick in the first place.
So, when we know that there are marginalized groups are, again, most likely to work in jobs when they couldn't shelter at home. They are working in
retail. They are driving the public transit. They are delivering the mail. They are working jobs where they are coming in contact with large group --
members of the public and they are more likely to get sick in the first place. They are also more likely to live in much more densely populated
areas, to live in apartments where there's people stacked on top of each other. So, there's many reasons why we would get sick from this in the
Once you're presenting at the hospital with symptoms bad enough that you need care, it's almost too late in some cases.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something that's slightly happier and good news, although, 89 years after her death? Ida B. Wells, the famous black American
journalist and activist along with all of you Pulitzer winners was given her Pulitzer finally 89 years after her death. And she's somebody who your
Twitter name is Ida B. Well, slightly different, slight modified. But you have a very, very, you know, strong feeling about her. Just tell our
audience who might not know about her why she is so important in the history of black America but also of journalism and to you.
HANNAH-JONES: Sure. So, Ida B. Wells was a woman born right at the end of slavery, orphaned at a young age who goes on to become one of the first
investigative reporters in the history of our country. And she began investigating the lynchings of black men.
At that time, white media pretty much accepted the narrative that black men were being lynched because they were committing crimes and particularly
raping white women. And this woman who was less than five feet tall, who was born, again, into slavery began to go into towns and ask questions and
really catalog these lynchings and the real reasons that lynchings were occurring.
She's one of the first data reporters. A lot of tools that investigative reporters use today, she actually innovated. She also was a suffragist. She
tried to push the Suffrages Movement to be inclusive of black women. She was a civil rights activist, one of the co-founders of the National
Association for Colored People known as NAACP.
So, really, she was a woman well ahead of her time doing the type of journalism and activism that you don't even see many women doing today. And
because she wrote about lynchings and because she was exposing the racial inequality in a country that pretended to be the most liberatory democracy
the world has seen. She was really maligned. She was maligned in my own newspaper which called her a nasty mulattress. And she was marginalized
within both the Suffrages Movement and the Civil Rights Movement.
So, for her to get this acknowledgement for her journalism and her role in history in the same year that I achieved the Pulitzer for the "1619
Project" is truly remarkable. She's been a guide for my career my entire life.
AMANPOUR: Yes. It is remarkable. I'm so pleased. So, really glad for Ida B. Wells. Really glad for you. Glad for you and glad to have you on. And
so, interestingly that Ida B. Wells' parent were lost, they died in the yellow fever pandemic in the late 1700s. So, really -- there are a lot of
connections with today.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, thank you very much for being with us.
And now we do live in a complex and interconnected world, where what happens in China or Russia or anywhere can impact the lives of those
thousands of miles away in the United States and elsewhere.
The former State Department official Richard Haass highlights this oft- forgot truth in his new book, "The World: A Brief Introduction." From climate change and counterterrorism to the current pandemic, Haass says
that we need to abandon rivalry and embrace global cooperation.
Here he is talking to our Walter Isaacson about how to get there.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And welcome, Richard Haass, to the show.
RICHARD HAASS, AUTHOR, "THE WORLD: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION": Great to be with you, my friend.
ISAACSON: So, what has this coronavirus pandemic taught us about how the world is interconnected?
HAASS: Well, as your question suggests, it's taught us that the world is interconnected in profound ways.
What begins in Wuhan clearly doesn't stay in Wuhan. It spreads far and wide and quickly. And this is not a one-off. This event itself was predicted by
many. Today, we're worrying about COVID-19. But the day will come, Walter, you and I will worry about COVID-23 or COVID-28 or some bacteria that
decides it's resistant to all sorts of antibiotics.
In the meantime, we had guys from Afghanistan who, on 9/11, attacked the United States killed, nearly 3,000 people. Climate change is essentially a
gathering, as well as daily, reality.
So, what this tells me is that globalization is real, it's unavoidable. What -- where there's choice is in how to respond to it. But I think the
corollary is, not responding to it is incredibly foolish.
We can be the ostrich and put the proverbial head in the sand, but the tide is coming in, and we are going to be washed away.
ISAACSON: You have just come out with a book, a really great book -- I loved reading it called -- "The World: A Brief Introduction."
What does that book tell us that's useful in figuring out how to deal with this coronavirus?
HAASS: Well, to some extent, it's a bit of a warning in the sense that it tells us that the world is so fundamental to our lives, and too many
Americans aren't up to speed or aware of it.
And in some ways, the book is meant, to use a strong word, something of an indictment of the American educational system, K-12, as well as too many
colleges and universities, where we're graduating all these people, but their education is woefully incomplete.
They're simply not prepared. They're not literate in the world that they're going to enter and that is going to be so fundamental to their future as
citizens, as well as simply as individuals, making career choices, business choices, investment choices, what have you.
So, I think it tells us, one, there's an enormous gap between what Americans know and what they should know. More broadly, I think it tells us
there's a gap in the world between the challenges that are coming at us and our foreign policy.
Isolationism is a dead end. Unilateralism is a dead end. We really do need collective approaches to collective challenges, but we simply haven't
gotten close to where we need to be.
ISAACSON: You have run the Council on Foreign Relations for a couple of decades almost. It has "Foreign Affairs" magazine, which is the premier
journal about international affairs.
And yet, as you just said, people in this country have become less literate about the world. Why is that?
HAASS: That's a question I scratch my head about. Partially, it's what I just referred to. We don't teach it. Or, if we teach it, we don't require
Indeed, that's what led to this book. I met this talented young man who's going into his senior year at Stanford. He was going to get a degree in
computer sciences. And what he hadn't studied, to me, was much more interesting than what he had studied.
The media, which you know, with very few exceptions, simply doesn't cover the world anything like it did when you and I were coming of age. I think
there also might be something peculiarly American in this.
We have a long tradition of isolationism. We're a continental country. We have gotten used to almost assuming our centrality in the world, without
much worrying about what others think or what the world could do to us.
So, I think that we, as Americans, in some ways bring certain traditions, almost baggage, because it gets in the way of an appreciation of how
important the world is. Too much talk about indispensable America, exceptional America. Not enough talk about the reality that we're only 4
percent of the world's population, maybe a fifth of the world's economy.
ISAACSON: In the past two decades, we have seen both in the United States and around the world a backlash against globalization, a backlash against
trade and immigration and other things.
Donald Trump tapped into that beef with globalization with his slogan America first.
How would you try to counteract that if you were going to argue against an America-first policy?
HAASS: Well, I tried with then candidate Donald Trump. And as history has shown, I clearly failed miserably.
He came into office with two very strongly held views. One, we just alluded to, the idea that trade has been rigged against us and seemed to -- it's
almost as if he were still running a business, and only looked at the cost side of the ledger and never at the revenue side of the ledger. But that's
part of it.
The other is almost writ large. He looks at the course of American foreign policy of the last seven, eight -- seven-and-a-half decades since World War
II, and, again, he only sees the mistakes and the costs, and he takes for granted the fact that there hasn't been a great power war, that the Cold
War stayed cold.
He seems to ignore the increase in living standards, seems to ignore the lengthening of the average lifespan, all that American influence has done
in terms of promoting democracy.
So, his view is very narrowly economic, very narrowly on the downside. So, when he talks about America first, it's based upon essentially his view,
which I think is seriously wrong, that involvement in the world has been an overwhelming net cost. I would see it as an overwhelming net gain.
And I think he doesn't often see the connections between what happens in the world, for better and for worse, and what happens here. As you say, in
many ways, he's a reflection of where a lot of the population is.
Unfortunately, my own view, it means often promoting or pursuing policies that are not in our collective self-interest.
ISAACSON: He's blamed China, the president has, for this virus and almost seemed as if we're going to get into a dispute with China over things.
Why do we need to be more careful, or do we need to be more careful about our relationship with China?
HAASS: I'm worried about where this is heading.
U.S.-Chinese relations were not great before the crisis. They were already deteriorating. And now they're -- the acceleration of the deterioration is
Look, there's plenty of reasons to be unhappy with China. How they have handled the outbreak of COVID-19 is one, their harsh repression at home,
how they have not honored the agreement with the British over Hong Kong, how they have militarized the South China Sea, how they have stolen
I get. It's a long litany, but -- and it's an important but -- I think we exaggerate to some extent China's ambitions. I don't think they're akin to
what the Soviet Union was. I think we underestimate some of their internal problems, the implications of slower economic growth, their environmental
degradation, the aging demography, how they have mishandled this -- this crisis.
And, also, we actually want their help in some issues. If we're worried about climate change or pandemics or North Korea, it would be nice to have
China in the boat rowing with us. We can tackle these challenges without them, but we're far better off with them.
I'd even say, imagine we were successful, Walter, in pushing against -- pushing back against China in every area. I would suggest we would still,
though, be vulnerable to the effects of these global challenges.
So, what this suggests to me is, we're at a moment in history where traditional foreign policy that places great power rivalry at the center is
simply out of date.
Yes, great power rivalry needs to remain part of American foreign policy. But we actually need a larger foreign policy for a global era in which
climate, pandemics, terror, proliferation, all these global manifestations, these are probably going to be far more profound in their effects on
American well-being this century.
ISAACSON: Your book about the world that just came out begins back in the 1600s, when the idea of the nation state arises.
How powerful is the concept of a nation state today, given all of the cross-border and international issues we have to deal with?
HAASS: Well, interestingly enough, the more there are these cross-border and other issues we have to deal with, the nation state fights back.
It's still the basic unit of account in international relations. It explains why so many groups who don't have their own state still want to --
still want to get one. It's the coin of the realm.
But I think a really interesting thing is going on in the field. In some ways, to me, it's the most -- it's the most interesting question now,
Walter. You hearken back to the 1600s, to the 17th century, the Treaty of Westphalia, and that was the birth of the idea of sovereignty of nation
And for the last nearly, what, 400 years, they have been the unit of account. And sovereignty, the idea that states don't meddle in each other's
affairs, don't invade one another, that's been a stabilizing development.
It was actually a big, innovative idea. But what's so interesting now is, we have reached a point where to ignore what goes on in another state
inside its borders can be dangerous to us.
I'm not simply talking about humanitarian issues, like -- like genocide. I don't mean to dismiss those. But look at what Brazil is doing. Brazil is
gradually destroying the rain forest. Now, you could say, well, that's on their territory. It's their right. But hold it. The rest of us pay the bill
for that in terms of climate change.
Or with 9/11, we learned, when the Taliban government in Afghanistan allowed terrorists, al Qaeda, to operate freely, 3,000 people here lost
their lives in a day. What happened in China this time obviously has implications for us.
So, we actually have -- we have reached the point where the question I would say for people in my business is, how do we try to preserve the good
sides of sovereignty? We don't want Russia continuing to do in Ukraine what it's done. But how do we take into account that we don't have the luxury of
a hands-off attitude anymore, because what goes on in virtually every country affects our welfare and our well-being?
And we're just beginning to wrestle with that, with what I would call a real intellectual and foreign policy dilemma.
ISAACSON: We have a very complex relationship with Russia right now. And, of course, President Trump and President Putin have their own complex
How would you get that back onto an even keel?
HAASS: Going to be tough, because Russia, under Putin, rejects a lot of the basics of how we think international relations ought to be run, the way
they have reacted in Ukraine and so forth.
We also can't walk back the clock. We could have a debate on another show about the wisdom, or lack of it, of NATO enlargement and so forth. I would
focus on the nuclear domain. That's probably the principal area where Russia is still a superpower.
It's the one area where the current world really reflects the Cold War world, where there's the two of us and then there's everybody else. The
principal nuclear arms control agreements are due to expire in February.
So, whoever wins this election, whether it's President Trump or Vice President Biden, is only going to have a few weeks to essentially decide
what to do.
I don't want to add an overlay or reintroduce strategic nuclear competition into this world. We have got plenty, and then some, on our plates.
After that, I don't know if there's an answer with Russia. I would -- I would be willing to spend time talking with them. I have never thought that
diplomacy was a favor we bestow on Russia or anybody else.
But I would be firm. I would be really firm about pushing back on their intervention, interference in our politics. And I would let Mr. Putin know
that, if he continues to do that, his own position, politically, would not be something that we would consider to be hands-off.
ISAACSON: To what extent do you think coronavirus is going to disrupt everything from supply chains, to European integration, and create a whole
Or do you think, once it's passed, we will be able to restore the type of globalism that we were trying to create 20, 30 years ago?
HAASS: Can I get give you an option three?
HAASS: I think what it's going to...
ISAACSON: Go for it.
HAASS: What I think it's going to do is reinforce trends that were already under way, but reinforce them, accelerate them, deepen them.
In Europe, for example, the whole momentum of the European project was essentially spent. Brexit was the most powerful manifestation of it. But I
think what's going to happen now is, we're going to see the pendulum swing away from Brussels, away from common European institutions, and towards
And there are times in Europe when you might -- people might get up and say, we want to advance the European project. Now they'd better focus on
Or in the area of trade, I actually think this idea of supply chain disruption is going to be quite powerful. I think you will see bipartisan
support for either diversification of external dependence or, more likely, calls for domestic manufacturing and stockpiling of critical materials,
just like we did, what, 40, 50 years ago with oil.
I think you're going to see a long list of elements. Could be certain technologies. It could be maybe things that go into medicine. And people
might say, we don't want to have to -- we don't want to be dependent on importing 80 percent of this drug from India or 90 percent of this drug
We don't know what could happen that would shut it off. Therefore, we have got to start producing it and stockpiling it ourselves.
And the question will be, how do you preserve the upside of open trade, if everybody, in the name of national security, starts doing that sort of a
So, I think it's going to be high on the agenda about how we manage this new balance between individual countries and the world they live in.
ISAACSON: If the U.S. continues to abdicate and distance itself from a position of world leadership, what will the new world look like after that?
Will China be the dominant player?
HAASS: I have given a lot of thought to that question.
And I think the word abdication is right. We haven't been replaced. We haven't been pushed out. We have simply shrugged our shoulders and said,
we're kind of tired of this role, and we want to put our feet up on the cushions here.
I don't think the alternative to a U.S.-led world is a China-led world. I'm not sure China has the ambitions. I'm not sure China has a model that
others want to emulate. Indeed, I'm sure it does not.
I don't see anybody else with the habits, the capabilities, the will to do it. I actually think, Walter, that the alternative to a U.S.-led world is a
My last book had the word disarray in the title. And that was already happening as the United States was pulling back from the world. And I
think, if we continue to, it'll happen in spades. The world will just get messier, and in two ways.
We will see more and more of the familiar kind of frictions between countries. We will probably see growing problems within them. And then the
gap between global challenges and global responses, already large, will get even larger.
And that is not a world we want to see. But that could be our future, if we don't do something about it.
The good news is, we can still do something about it. The question mark -- the question mark is whether we will. You have written so many powerful
history books. And the one lesson I take from my experience is, so little is inevitable. So much matters on what those who do have responsibility and
power decide to do.
So, the good news here is, we can see a lot of the future is yet to be decided. The bad news, though, is, it won't work out if we simply let it --
let it run its course.
ISAACSON: Richard Haass, thank you for joining us.
HAASS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Messy and challenging, indeed, right now.
But, finally, as the world, all it sectors in every corner continues to grapple with the pandemic, a number of fashion brands are stepping up to
help. High-end labels, like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and others have converted some of their garment and even perfume factories to make hand
sanitizer and masks.
Joining the efforts here in the U.K. is the world renowned handbag and accessory designer Anya Hindmarch. She caused the sensation, you might
remember, back in 2007 with her famous I'm Not a Plastic Bag project, which inspired many of us to say no to plastic.
Now she's designing a sort of handbag, but for our front-line heroes, and she's joining me now to explain.
Anya Hindmarch, welcome to the program.
ANYA HINDMARCH, FASHION DESIGNER: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: This is really a handbag for our times. Tell me about it. What is it called? What does it do?
HINDMARCH: So, it's called the Holdster with a D, like a holster, but with a D.
I had a call back in April from Professor Hugh Montgomery, who is the chair of intensive care of UCL and various other roles as well. And he said that
he had been working on something to help the sort of front-line workers in intensive care, which is a sort of a holster that takes all the things they
need for their daily work, so their glasses, their pens, their coffee money, and indeed now their phones.
And, because, actually, with scrubs, of course, things fall out of their pockets. And it means that they then can't have their phone with them. And,
actually, that's quite stressful their everyday life. They can't ring their kids and check in with their parents.
So, he asked if we could sort of expedite the design ideas and have it ready for the sort of the peak of the pandemic. So, we redesigned it, made
it work. And we sampled it and donated 400 to various ICU units across London and the southeast.
And the great news is, it's really worked. It's really helped them, I think. And it's also good for infection control and all the things that
they need when they're working the long shifts.
AMANPOUR: And how did you come up with actually that design? Because I think the professor said that he has had all sorts of like safari jackets
and pockets and multiple this and that.
But you're talking now doctors, nurses, front-line workers under layers and layers of PPE, when they can get it. And how does it actually -- how did
you come up with that particular design?
HINDMARCH: Well, I mean, there's such a beauty in function.
And I'm fascinated by function and organization. So, we listened to what their needs were, where they needed to have their various things, and, of
course, infection control and the various technical specs you needed to maintain safety for them and for the patients.
And we designed something very quickly. I think that's the beauty of what's happening right now. People are acting very fast. So, things like infection
control could have taken possibly months to get through in normal times, and people are coming together and collaborating and sort of moving
mountains, if you like.
And so it's really lovely to just jump on this and, frankly, privileged for us. I mean, I think we all feel that, even though we know we're doing our
bit by staying home, it feels -- it feels quite frustrating.
So it's a real privilege to be able to do something that helps.
AMANPOUR: And you have produced how many? And I think you're trying to get funding to do a lot more, right?
HINDMARCH: Yes, so we donated 400. And they were a great success.
We then had "The Times," "The Sunday Times," very kindly have come on board and donated another 1,500. We aim to try and give one to every front-line
worker in intensive care in the U.K, which is 30,000. We have started a campaign. And we have got today already to 5,000. They're 10 pounds each,
obviously no profit.
And it just really puts a smile on a nurse's face after a long shift. So, if anyone wants to donate 10 pounds for us to get to our target, we would
be incredibly grateful.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, 10 pounds in today's exchange rate is a little like $10.
I wonder. I mean, you are an international designer, and you have branches obviously in China, the United States, everywhere. Is this something that
is just for now? Or can you see it being of use in medical wards beyond? Is it just for now? Or do you think it could be something that actually, I
don't know, sells now and hereafter?
HINDMARCH: Well, we have actually been inundated, funnily enough, from all over the world from all sort of not only all sort of medical vets and
medics, doctors, dentists, everyone, but also florists and farmers.
I think we have obviously hit on the ultimate man bag, which wasn't really the plan. I mean, for now, our aim is to equip the amazing front-line
workers. I'm -- really, I'm passionate to try and get one to all of their hands, as much as anything, not only to help their day, but to put a smile
on their face. They deserve it.
But who knows? I think there is obviously a medical need for this, hence why Professor Hugh's idea was a good one. It's not today's issue, but we're
certainly going to keep an eye out to see what else we can do.
AMANPOUR: But, interestingly, you have been on the sort of cutting edge of design and issues that are important for our humanity.
I mean, you took on plastic in a very, very big way with that iconic bag in 2007. And they will -- everybody remembers lines, I mean, thousands of
people in line here in the U.K. waiting for that bag.
And then you changed. And you have done I Am a Plastic Bag.
Can you explain your environmental concerns, your design concerns, how all that melds, and what kind of a difference you think you and your industry
HINDMARCH: Well, I think the fashion industry can make a huge difference, actually, because I think that what we have is an amazing platform to
And the project back in 2007, I'm Not a Plastic Bag, was simply with an aim to raise awareness of the misuse of plastic and the amount of plastic going
into landfill. So, it was very simply trying to encourage people to reuse a normal cloth bag, and indeed awareness, we got.
I mean, 80,000 people...
HINDMARCH: And it became all around the world, went mad.
But we have just brought out, after two years of research, something called I Am a Plastic Bag, because when I did the last project, the phrase, when
you throw something away, there is no away, has been just rattling around in my head. The problem is far from over.
And there are eight billion tons of plastic on this planet right now. So, I think the conversation has moved on, if you like, to, how can we reuse what
we have got? How can we keep it circular? How can we keep things in circulation and avoid landfill?
It's not rocket science. But actually -- so, we have made a bag that is actually made from plastic bottles and coated in this amazing PVB, which is
actually an extract from windscreens, the plastic between the glass and windscreens that would have gone into landfill, to protect the fabric as
So, it's been quite a bit of engineering, but a feet of actually of modern craftsmanship in many ways.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess, in our final minute or so, do you reimagine a design world coming out of this pandemic?
I mean, we know that, like everything else, fashion has been badly hit by the lockdowns, by the fact that people aren't even splurging online for
fashion right now. So, there's a big hit.
Can you imagine a way that you and other designers and businesses like yourself can reimagine a way out of this, and perhaps even something that's
good for humanity or continuing that good work for humanity?
HINDMARCH: Well, fashion is always important, because it's about self- confidence. It's about making how you feel and obviously protecting craftsmen and skills, key skills as well. So it's an important industry.
I think the fact is, there's been a lot of waste in fashion. And it's been relentlessly about new, new, new. And that is not appropriate. The amount
of effort and energy and love that goes into creating things needs to be reflected in how long they're loved and worn and passed down.
I think fashion will come out with a very different timetable. I think it will respect seasons. It will deliver summer clothes in summer, winter
clothes in winter, not have this huge markdown schedule, which is crazy.
HINDMARCH: And I think it will really reflect on, obviously, a huge amount of work on completely resetting the timetable, which has been a number of
people in industry getting together to make it happen.
And so -- and, in addition to that, looking at waste and the circularity of materials, which is the other key thing, which is, frankly, quite easy to
So there's lots that can be done. And we can continue the amazing industry, but do it in a sensible and commonsense way.
And the circular economy was being talked about a lot in many quarters before COVID. And it's one of the things that you and others have talked
about, trying to get out of this hugely wasteful economy that exists right now.
Anya Hindmarch, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.