Return to Transcripts main page
Donald Trump Lays Out Foreign Policy; Al Qaeda Group Says It's Behind Dhaka Killings; Blogger Murders in Bangladesh; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 27, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): I'm Christiane Amanpour in Brasilia. Stay tuned to CNN in the coming hours for my exclusive interview
with President Dilma Rousseff, her first one-on-one since this entire impeachment crisis began.
And she's coming out fighting but can she hang on?
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST (voice-over): Hello, everyone, I'm Michael Holmes in for Christiane while she conducts that exclusive interview.
Coming up on the program tonight, U.S. Republican front-runner Donald Trump vowing to put America first in a big foreign policy speech. We've got
reaction from Foreign Policy Group's CEO David Rothkopf.
Also ahead: living in fear in Bangladesh. We speak to a blogger who has received death threats as a spate of horrific killings rock the country and
HOLMES: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the program. I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN Center.
Donald Trump telling the world today that, if he becomes president, America will be strong again. Fresh off Tuesday's five big wins, the Republican
front-runner laid out his foreign policy vision in Washington. And he did it with the help of something he rarely ever uses -- a teleprompter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster, no vision, no purpose, no direction, no
strategy. This will all change when I become president.
To our friends and allies, I say America is going to be strong again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And Trump also spoke directly to ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have a simple message for them: their days are numbered. I won't tell them where and I won't tell them how. We must --
TRUMP: -- we must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.
We are totally predictable. We tell everything. We're sending troops; we tell them. We're sending something else; we have a news conference. We
have to be unpredictable. And we have to be unpredictable starting now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right, I want to bring in David Rothkopf. He is the CEO and editor of the Foreign Policy Group, joins me now from New York.
Always good to have you on, David. First of all, Mr. Trump, of course, he has been described as an isolationist, aggressive, authoritarian. Even
President Obama says he's been having to placate foreign leaders.
What did you make of his speech?
DAVID ROTHKOPF, CEO AND EDITOR, FOREIGN POLICY GROUP: Well, I think his critique of U.S. foreign policy could be used to be a critique of his
speech. I think it was a mess. I don't think that it was coherent. I don't think that there was a central theme to it.
And I think that most of his major assertions lacked any kind of substantiation.
In fact, I would say that Trump, rather than presenting himself as perhaps a foreign policy realist, presented himself as a foreign policy fantasist,
where most of what he was selling was magical thinking.
I will talk to Russia; that will fix it. I will talk to China; that will fix it. I have a secret formula for dealing with ISIS; that will fix it.
In other words I think he thinks his foreign policy secret weapon is the power of his personality.
HOLMES: And as we pointed out, I think this was only his second speech as a candidate using a teleprompter rather than his usual freestyling that
we're all familiar with.
He's always been criticized for a lack of policy detail substance. We heard a lot of things today.
But did we get any of that detail?
What did we learn about his foreign policy?
ROTHKOPF: Well, I don't think we learned anything. I think the fact that he was on a teleprompter told you something, which was that his handlers
don't think he's up to speed on this; his pronunciation of some issues demonstrated he wasn't up to speed and some of his facts demonstrated that
they weren't actually fact.
You know, he talked about things that were happening in Libya that aren't actually happening. He spoke of a manufacturing trade deficit and
neglected to mention that we have a service surplus and so the deficit isn't what it was. He characterized the Obama administration foreign
ROTHKOPF: -- which is fair in a campaign but he was simply wrong about how he characterized it. So I think the purpose of the speech was to
demonstrate he had his arms around this and I think the consequence of the speech was to demonstrate he didn't.
HOLMES: Why don't we talk about a couple of specifics, then, issues?
First of all, NATO and a comment that he made. And let's play that and then have a chat about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In NATO, for instance, only four of 28 other member countries besides America are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP on
We have spent trillions of dollars over time on planes, missiles, ships, equipment, building up our military to provide a strong defense for Europe
and Asia. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense and, if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And yes, that's a pretty pointed thing. I saw a tweet from former U.S. diplomat, Nick Burns, reacting to that, saying, "Trump excoriates NATO
again, not realizing our allies magnify American power, not diminish it."
I'm wondering, what do you think NATO nations would make of his comments before and this as well?
I mean, he's doubling down on -- we could leave them.
ROTHKOPF: Yes, no, I think he's doubling down. I think he is once again demonstrating that he doesn't understand what an alliance is about and why
we have alliances, that the reason we've spent the money that spent on defense is actually to protect ourselves from threats and that we work with
the allies to help do that.
I think there's an irony in his speech, though, because he talks about how Obama let alliances fall to the wayside and harmed alliances.
And yet here he is, saying things that are actually going to make the alliances upon which we most depend more likely to falter, because I got to
believe that an ally listening to this is going, oh, my god, what do we have in store for us now?
HOLMES: You know, his positions and comments on everything from immigrants to Muslims to women and so on are well known. But I'm wondering what you
think about this.
Isn't the real story the fact that the things most people recoil from are resonating with a significant group of people, who listen to him and they
say, this guy, he's my choice for president?
Isn't that, in many ways, the real story about Donald Trump?
ROTHKOPF: Well, I think it has been so far. And I think that kind of approach works in something like the Republican primaries, where all he
needs to get is 40 percent or a little bit more than that in order to win.
But 40 percent of the Republican Party is only 20 percent of the electorate. He has negatives that are up over 60 percent. And so having
enough base to win the primaries is not the same thing as having enough of a base to actually win the election.
And I think people will demand more of a presidential candidate than just promises that he's going to go and make the world safe by virtue of the
fact that he's able to deliver, you know, powerful remarks and he once negotiated some kind of real estate deal in Atlantic City.
HOLMES: So it's not a winning support base but it is a significant number of people. As you've written, I think, too, win or lose, his supporters
are still going to be there, as will their anger. They're going to be a force in American politics. And, in many ways, his candidacy has given
voice to what some have called a dark underbelly of America society.
But it's a voice that shouldn't be ignored, should it?
ROTHKOPF: No, it shouldn't be because I think that it's very likely that these -- you know, Trump will disappear at the end of this year. He's not
going to win this campaign. Hillary Clinton's going to be the president.
But the voters will still be there, this big group of Americans, who don't trust the world, don't much like getting involved overseas, are going to be
there and be a force in American political life for some time to come.
They were a force when Sarah Palin was a candidate. And they were the ones who were supporting her. They've been a force and around for a while and
there are forces like that in Europe as well.
I think one of the interesting things about this was that, in the context of this speech, Trump led by saying that his policy is America first. This
was ill considered. It shows he doesn't really know anything about foreign policy history because, of course, the real America Firsters, the first
America Firsters, were in the 1930s.
They were the isolationists, who said we couldn't get involved in Europe, we shouldn't become involved in these things. And now, in retrospect, we
realize that these were these isolationist policies that actually exacerbated the problem of Hitler and ultimately led to the Second World
Being an America Firster was a mistake in the 1930s and it's a mistake in 2016.
HOLMES: Yes, the ones who did not want to get involved in World War II.
I'm wondering about the general --
HOLMES: -- and this happens around the world, it's not just in the United States but the simplification of politics and important issues.
And certainly in the case of Donald Trump, whether you think the media is complicit in his rise to popularity, the airtime he got, compared to other
candidates, and what many think is a lack of proper examination of his past.
ROTHKOPF: I totally think that the media is complicit in this thing. They let him play by rules they wouldn't let other candidates play by, where he
would do a phone-in to a show.
They didn't challenge his views. They talked a lot about his appeal but they didn't talk about whether that appeal was actually related to policies
that could be translated into action.
I think the media was a little cowed because what happened was they wrote him off early and then he kept being around. And so they said, oh, gee,
there's something going on here we don't understand.
And they didn't challenge him like a candidate needs to be challenged.
I don't think that's going to be a problem for Hillary Clinton. I think that she and her team are going to go and going to call him out every
single time he tries this. I know at 3 o'clock this afternoon they have got a call for their supporters, in which foreign policy professionals are
going to go and dissect this thing and demonstrate that this guy is not ready for primetime.
And so if the media doesn't do it, ultimately somebody else will and ultimately Trump is going to falter as a consequence.
HOLMES: Yes. Interestingly, I saw numbers today, that he, in sheer vote numbers, has more than Mitt Romney had in his campaign, more than John
McCain as well. And he's quite possibly heading for a record number of votes overall. I wish we could talk more; got to leave it there.
David Rothkopf there, CEO and editor of Foreign Policy Group, always good to get your thoughts. Thanks so much.
ROTHKOPF: My pleasure here.
HOLMES: All right. And from Donald Trump's view of what U.S. foreign policy should look like, we're going to go next to tensions in Bangladesh,
after the murder of an LGBT activist who worked for USAID, just the latest in a string of similar brutal killings.
We ask, what's next?
And what's being done?
When we come back.
HOLMES: Welcome back to the program.
They are living under the almost constant threat of death and authorities are being blamed for failing to protect them.
Bloggers and activists in Bangladesh have been the target of a recent spate of brutal and horrific murders. An Al Qaeda affiliate actually claimed
responsibility for the bloody killings of two men in the country on Monday, the victims, hacked to death in an apartment in Dhaka.
One of them was the editor of the country's first LGBT magazine and he also worked for the U.S. government agency, USAID. Dr. Imran Sarker is a
Bangladeshi blogger and secular activist. He has received death threats himself. He joins me now live via Skype from Dhaka.
And, Doctor, thanks for doing so.
We've seen reports of an actual hit list of people. In fact, there's been more than one in recent years in Bangladesh. Just describe for us how
serious the issue of Islamist extremism is in Bangladesh today.
DR. IMRAN SARKER, BLOGGER AND SECULAR ACTIVIST: Actually, there were some very difficult time right now. One by one, when the secularist activist,
blogger, publisher and (INAUDIBLE) --
SARKER: -- been killed, we saw our government is doing nothing. Well, they were just giving some speeches or briefing. In some cases, we saw
government somehow justified the killings (INAUDIBLE). We saw the killing Pillar Group (ph), especially over here in Bangladesh, the Pillar Group
(ph) have two faces, one in public front and another is underground front.
So finally saw government is supporting the public front and saying these are their friends. And the killers group that is underground groups, is
killing simultaneously and government is doing nothing.
And even in the last cases, when (INAUDIBLE) had been killed, we saw our minister, that is home minister, saying these (INAUDIBLE) like LGBT,
supporting LGBT or activities on gay rights, that is not supported in the society. I mean, that somehow justified the killers.
HOLMES: Yes. Exactly. And a lot of people have said there's been a tepid response from the government. And you know, as you point out, warnings, in
fact, from the government to the secular community not to agonize -- antagonize anyone from the home minister.
So the prime minister even -- and so you believe that that gives a form of implied impunity, if you like, to those who act in the name of Islam this
SARKER: Actually, absolutely true. They are giving that impunity and that deep-rooted culture of impunity is hurting us and this is very harmful for
this society. Right now, finally we saw the people are going to protest against injustice or this type of killing.
When we are fighting in the street, we saw our government is also even arresting people, those are critical of government or demanding justice for
the killings. So that's how the killers got that sense of security.
And they're doing operation with one or two in a day or in a week, they're doing more operation. We know -- we see the frequency of the operation
have rises and they're frequently viciously doing these killings.
HOLMES: Many bloggers, liberals, secularists have fled the country. They're in places like Germany and elsewhere.
Why aren't you with them?
Aren't you afraid for your own safety?
SARKER: Actually, I'm very afraid for the countries. Right now, the security, especially my security or individual security is not right now
important. We are just concerned about our national security.
When we saw, we the people of Bangladesh fought for our liberation and democracy and we're seeing -- we are going to (INAUDIBLE). We have no way,
without fighting these evil groups, especially the violent militants group, those -- that's why we're not leaving the country. And I think we should
have to be united to fight these evil groups.
HOLMES: Very briefly, I just wanted to ask you this.
Do you government is not endorsing Islamic extremism but they're afraid of fighting Islamic extremism, because there could be repercussions
politically for them?
SARKER: Yes, absolutely. That's because I can ask that of the interest of the government is because they're not cordial to (INAUDIBLE) killers.
Finally I see they're passing time and covering up one extreme by another. And we see. The killers even fled -- flew away and today even the law
enforcement saying the killers have already try -- already left the country.
Then actually, we have the question about whether the government is politically interested to bring these killers in justice or not. I have
the question. And I'm very worried, truly government is not cordial. So government have to -- first a big decision, whether a political decision,
they will bring these killers in justice.
HOLMES: And we'll have to leave it there. Imran Sarker, thanks so much, very brave man in the face of all of this, appreciate your time.
Tom Malinowski leads U.S. government policy on global human rights and democracy. He joins me now from the State Department.
And thanks for doing so. You have a staff member of a U.S. mission, an employee of USAID, hacked to death, just the latest, as we've been saying,
in a long list.
What is the U.S. doing about this?
TOM MALINOWSKI, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR: Well, as you said, this is the latest in a long line. There
have been about 3 dozen of these cases.
And Xulhaz, the wonderful young man who was murdered most recently, I think has really focused the attention of the government of Bangladesh and the
international community as to what's going on in Bangladesh.
We have offered --
MALINOWSKI: -- the government of Bangladesh in the past assistance in terms of investigating these crimes. The FBI has in the past offered that
We have reached out to folks who may be vulnerable, who may be at risk, and offered them direct emergency assistance to, if they so choose, to get them
to safety or to help them find safety within Bangladesh.
And we are talking to the government of Bangladesh at a very high level this week about what more we can do to support their efforts to bring these
people to justice.
HOLMES: And the thing is -- and that's admirable, what the U.S. might be able to do to help these bloggers facing death in their own country.
But the question really is what about the government?
What pressure are you putting on a government that, you know, one article on cnn.com says Bangladesh's leaders are coddling the killers and
chastising the dead.
And there's been, I think, one arrest after all of these killings. The accusation is they're encouraging it by inaction.
MALINOWSKI: I think that they are recognizing that this is not just a threat to a few individuals but it's a threat to the traditions of
tolerance and diversity that have characterized Bangladesh since its founding. It's a threat to everybody in Bangladesh who is working for
human rights, who is working for pluralism.
And, as such, I think that there is a -- I would say a new focus within the government of Bangladesh on the need to deal with this problem, not to
blame the victims but to go after the groups that have openly, brazenly claimed responsibility for these killings.
HOLMES: And Bangladesh, of course, historically secular. But you now have this battle between secularism and Islamism. John Kerry -- and you've
alluded to this -- John Kerry, the secretary of state, your boss, he said the pride with which Bangladeshis guard their traditions of tolerance,
peace and diversity, given these attacks and the much criticized official responses to them, do you think those traditions, tolerance, peace and
diversity, are being protected in Bangladesh by the government?
MALINOWSKI: I think those traditions are being attacked in what seems to be a depraved competition between Al Qaeda and ISIL to prove how terrible
they are. And I think this is a very high-stakes moment for the government and the people of Bangladesh.
This is a moment where people need to come together, despite the very real political differences that exist within Bangladesh, to stand up to a group
of people that are threatening everything that Bangladesh has achieved since its independence. And we will be there to support them as they do
HOLMES: But again, I've got to come back to the government. I mean, there have been a string of these -- this was happening back in 1999 -- but
there's been a string in the last year or two, an uptick.
Again, the government, there's no arrests, there's no prosecutions, nobody's being held to account. And in fact, you have got the prime
minister and the home minister saying things like, well, don't antagonize people by talking about atheism or talking about gay or LGBT issues. This
is the government saying this.
Is that the right attitude to be taking if you want to protect these people?
MALINOWSKI: The right attitude is to go after the people who are committing these crimes. Obviously, nobody should be blaming the victims.
The victims are everybody in Bangladesh who stands up for tolerance and pluralism and the rule of law.
There have been professors killed, there have been religious leaders from every single religious community in the country. It's not just against
people who are atheists or ultra liberal, whatever that may mean. It's a threat to absolutely everybody.
We are hearing from the government of Bangladesh a renewed sense of determination to go after those who are actually responsible. We have
offered our assistance. The time has come to act.
HOLMES: And a lot of people hoping to see that. I want to thank you for coming on, Tom Malinowski, leading U.S. government policy on global human
rights and democracy, thanks so much. And our sympathies for the loss of your staff member, of course, many other --
MALINOWSKI: Thank you so very much.
HOLMES: -- all of this.
Something completely different when we come back, as we imagine a great escape and a return for some of South Africa's most iconic animals. You're
going to want to catch this. We'll be right back.
HOLMES: And finally tonight, we imagine the world's animals making an unusual migration as South Africa's rhinos suffer from endemic poaching as
we have reported, a new initiative, trying to preserve them, 10,000 kilometers away in Australia. Wildlife activists hope to send 80 rhinos
down under as early as this year. Some are calling the project a kind of rhino safety deposit box.
What a good idea.
But while rhinos could be leaving South Africa for safer climes, another member of the nation's animal kingdom making a roaring return this week.
In the biggest-ever airlift of lions, 33 big cats will be flown in from South America. Rescued from Peruvian and Colombian circuses, almost all
have been declawed and many have broken teeth.
Once they arrive in South Africa, they'll be taken to a big cat reserve north of Johannesburg, where, after recovering and relaxing, they'll meet
one another properly for the first time and, hopefully, enjoy a comfortable retirement.
That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to the podcast, see us listen at amanpour.com and follow me on Twitter @HolmesCNN.
Thanks for watching, everyone. Goodbye from the CNN Center.