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China Opens Party Congress; Interview with Leon Panetta; Interview with Lynn Novick and Ken Burns. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired October 18, 2017 - 02:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, AMANPOUR, ANCHOR: Tonight, is the world order shifting? All eyes on China's Communist Party Congress and President Xi's
bold claims to center stage in world affairs as President Trump starts to exit stage left.
Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, Leon Panetta joins the program.
Also ahead, understanding the human cost of both sides of the Vietnam War, filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on their documentary making waves.
KEN BURNS, FILM MAKER, UNITED STATES: This is a very contentious subject. It's not settled here in the United States. It's not settled in Vietnam
and we wanted to at least be slaves to the facts.
AMANPOUR: Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I am Christiane Amanpour in London. As America turns inward, China is now
unabashedly going global. That was President Xi Jinping's message to his Communist Party Conference and to the world. This after President Trump
has spent his first year in office withdrawing America from international trade treaties, climate accords and threatening a major international
nuclear security deal with Iran.
President Xi declared today that China will no longer be shy abroad, telling his audience of millions that the flag of Chinese socialism flies
high and proud.
XI JINPING, PRESIDENT, CHINA: (Through an interpreter). It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater
contributions to mankind.
Openness brings progress while self-seclusion leaves one behind.
AMANPOUR: His speech lasted more than three hours beating even the Former President Jiang Zemin to count the minutes. He presented outsized
ambitions making clear his own Chinese dream will not be on the West terms.
Xi's first term in office has seen a consolidation of Communist power, his own power and a crackdown not only on corruption, but also on all forms of
Leon Pineda was a key actor on China for the Obama Administration as Defense Secretary and CIA Director during the so-called pivot to Asia and
he joins me now from California.
Welcome to the program, Secretary Panettaa.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR AND DEFENSE SECRETARY, UNITED STATES: Nice to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So are you slightly alarmed or is this just to be expected? I mean, we've always been told that the Chinese have been quite reluctant to
declare global domination so to speak. Do you think that President Xi took a major leap forward today?
PANETTA: I don't think there's any question that President Xi sees a vacuum that has been created by the United States. The United States under
President Trump has been withdrawing from the world, withdrawing from our trade agreements, withdrawing on our climate change agreements, engaging
now in an effort to undermine the nuclear agreement, so there's question that this kind of America first attitude that the President has had
represents a withdrawal of United States' leadership and into that vacuum, I think President Xi has made very clear that the Chinese are going to move
They are going to move forward on climate change. They're going to move forward with their economy. Obviously, his whole speech was dedicated to
greater discipline within China itself, so it appears that he is going to provide leadership for China that may make the 21st Century the century
belonging to China.
AMANPOUR: So what then would the world look like? I mean, American leadership has been one that has just been basically benign, you know
trying to export democratic values, human rights and the other kinds of things. And America has allies all over the world.
What does China have and what would a China, you know, China-led dominated world look like?
PANETTA: Well, what China has right now is a strong economy and if they are prepared to move in a global world, recognizing that we are a global
world, that it is a world in which we are interconnected financially and by trade, by security, by a number of factors.
Then China I think is recognizing the realities of the world we live in and unfortunately, I think what President Trump is doing is not recognizing
those realities. We are in a global world. This is not a time when the United States can withdraw in terms of leadership in the world, and yet
that's what's happening.
The real question I think is going to be whether or not China can sustain that. After all, they are a communist government. They do try to exercise
tremendous control. Will their internal stability allow them to assert the kind of power that President Xi is talking about? I think those are real
questions for the future.
AMANPOUR: I guess, other questions are, what does it mean for global human rights? We have seen President Xi remain committed to trade, to the
climate accords, to the Iran nuclear deal, but in terms of people's freedoms, in terms of exporting -- I mean, the kind of democratic political
pluralism, we saw again at the Congress that actually, there was no mention of any kind of political opening or any letup in the crackdown on any kind
of dissent there.
PANETTA: Well, I think that represents a real weakness in term of whether or not China can sustain world leadership. You know, the fact is that the
United States was a world leader because of our values, because of what we represented in terms of freedoms and liberties, the dignity of the
individual, the ability to self-govern and be able to enjoy democratic principles, I mean, that's what the United States was all about.
That's not what China is about. China is about pushing economic prosperity. I mean, they do have a strong economy. They can engage in
trade. They can make steps to basically go into areas involving climate control et cetera, so yes, they can take advantage of this moment, but I
think the real question is, how long can that be sustained with a country that really doesn't share the kind of values that the rest of the world
wants to embrace.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you to look inward to the United States at the moment, and particularly the White House, you know, there's a big sort of
crisis in the US today of how President Trump has dealt with widows and families of fallen soldiers and American veterans overseas.
He has been, you know, accused of being insensitive about one fallen soldier in Niger, how could that happen? And of course, as you know, he
basically raised a question about whether indeed President Obama had ever contacted families and that grew a furious outburst from former, you know,
the former attorney general who accused President Trump of lying about this issue?
PANETTA: I think this is all very regrettable. As a former secretary of defense, my view is that the focus ought to be on those who lost their
lives in the line of duty and the families that lost loved ones, that really ought to be the focus, not the President, not what past presidents
did or did not do, but on those who were willing to put their lives on the line.
And so I regret the fact that this discussion is taking place in this country because frankly, we are losing sight of the real principle here
which is that there are men and women in uniform that are willing to fight and die for our country, that's what we ought be focused on.
AMANPOUR: Well, Senator Pineda, you were once the Chief of Staff, what is this say about the internal workings of the White House, the personality of
the president? I mean, you've obviously been tracking Senator Bob Corker, what he's been saying that the White House is sort of like an adult daycare
center, we're not sure whether people are manning their ships. What does this mean? I mean, this is the highest, most powerful office in the world?
PANETTA: You know, I think the concern that I have and I think the rest of the world shares which is, is the United States going to operate by chaos
or are we going to operate by governing ourselves in terms of the issues that we confront?
And what President Trump right now represents is a great degree of chaos by his twits, by his comments, by the fact that he takes these steps to break
away from our responsibilities, whether it's climate change, whether its trade agreements, whether it's the nuclear agreement and doesn't really
have a strategy for how the United States is going to proceed. In some ways, he's thrown the ball to Congress and we're not sure what Congress
will or will not do.
So you know, we're at a time when there is a tremendous amount of confusion, unpredictability, this is erratic in terms of the position of
the United States, not only here but around the world and so I think, there is growing concern that we have a President who really doesn't recognize
the realities of the world that we're dealing with and the seriousness of the danger points that we're dealing with and the problems here in America.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it is worrying indeed. Certainly, as seen from this side of the ocean. Secretary Pineda, thank you very much for joining us and
when we come back, we'll look back to the days when China and the US faced off in a proxy war of sorts on the faculty over Vietnam. That war through
the eyes of filmmakers, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick and their 18-hour documentary, next.
Welcome back to the program. Fifty years ago, this week, a hundred thousand antiwar protestors marched onto Pentagon. A half century later,
the subject of Vietnam remains froth, even hard to talk about. But that didn't stop the acclaimed filmmakers, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick from taking
The two dove right in interviewing about a hundred ordinary people who lived it. They were US veterans, Vietnamese fighters, and of course
journalists. Ultimately, they delivered a sprawling and moving documentary about the shared human condition on both sides.
They join me from Washington after screening the Vietnam War at the Pentagon.
Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, welcome to the program.
BURNS: Thanks for having us.
LYNN NOVICK, FILMMAKER, UNITED STATES: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you first because this is such an epic, Ken, it's 18 hours of documentary. It's taken you 10 years, the two of you. You've
looked at I think, 1,500 hours of footage, 24,000 photos -- I mean, this is massive.
BURNS: Well, we wanted to get it right. This is a very contentious subject. It's not settled here in the United States. It's not settled in
Vietnam and we wanted to at least be slaves to the facts and then figure out how to then weave together the personal testimony of nearly 80 human
beings from North Vietnamese soldiers to American draft resisters and tell the whole arch of a very complicated story that isn't just a 10-year period
for Americans, but a much longer period, 30 years for Americans that we would suggest a much longer period for the whole world including the French
AMANPOUR: Well, it's interesting that you talk about the different perspectives. Lynn, I think you fought the good fight to bring in many
more Vietnamese voices and also it's notable that the "usual suspects" are absent.
NOVICK: Yes, but we found it was very important first of all to not make the mistake that Americans often make when talking about the Vietnam War,
which is only to talk about ourselves and that if we wanted to understand this extraordinarily important event as Ken was saying, we had to go to
We had to speak to Vietnamese-Americans in this country as well and we came to understand the war as Ken said, complicated and unsettled there.
There's many different points of UN perspectives about what happened and what it means and whether it was worth the cost and whether the country has
fully unified and you know, frankly, how terrible the war was for the Vietnamese. They lost three million in the North and South and they are
very reluctant to talk about it because it is so painful and because in their country, they don't speak about individual loss.
So to really hear people talk about what happened was a great privilege.
AMANPOUR: Let us play one of the sound-bytes, one of the segments of the interview. This is a Vietcong fighter and he's talking about essentially a
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): (Foreign language).
AMANPOUR: It is remarkable. I mean, he's talking about seeing the suffering on the other side and realizing that actually, we are all human.
BURNS: Exactly. The war is essentially obviously dehumanizing. It's necessary to fight the war to make your enemy kind of one dimensional and
that happens on their side about us and on our side about us and on our side about them, but what's so interesting is that time and time again, the
North Vietnamese soldiers or the Vietcong guerillas sound exactly like our US marine and Army fighters that we've also interviewed.
And when you get to that space, which is combat, the battle line, the front, you're talking about individuals experiencing the exact same thing
and they have the exact same emotional reactions to it.
AMANPOUR: We just played a little bit of the interview with the Vietcong fighter who talked about a shared humanity after what he witnessed with his
own eyes, and then you also have, you know, one of the American vets coming home and he describes how he has been met by his brother at the airport.
This is the rest of what he says.
KARL MALANTIS, VETERAN, UNITED STATES: He said no, I don't want you to get upset, but we're probably going in to get some trouble when we go outside.
I went, "Trouble? I just got back from Vietnam. What are you talking about?" I mean, I knew that there was unrest, but when we got in his car
to drive away from the terminal, we had to wind our way through protesters that were pounding on the car with the ends of their signs and were
snarling at me and pounding on the window and shouting obscenities at me. That was my welcome home to America.
I was just stunned.
AMANPOUR: So guys, that was Karl Malantis, a marine. Do you find that that feeling still lingers amongst the American fighters?
BURNS: I think so. I think there's a great deal of pain for a lot of different reasons, I feel that in a psychological, spiritual sense as well
as a physical sense that most of the soldiers came home alone and particularly ironic in the case of Karl Malantis who knew the war was wrong
and went anyway, he had a perfect exemption, the Marines had sent him to Oxford with a Rhodes scholarship that he could have easily sat out the war,
but he said no. He resigned that and went there to fight, to protect the men in his platoon even though he thought that the war was wrong.
NOVICK: You know, we also recognize the heroism of the protesters who took risks to fight the government and to stand up for what they felt was right
and to get the Army and the American military presence out of Vietnam when it wasn't going to end well and more people were dying for no good reason.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know.
NOVICK: And so there is a tremendous heroism in that.
AMANPOUR: And it's also obviously incredibly relevant and resonant today because protests suddenly is rearing its head again. Activism suddenly is
becoming necessary and happening across the United States right now.
So I guess, I want to ask you, you've spent years about World War II, about the Civil War, now the Vietnam War, what do you think is the lesson both of
you for what we see today in our increasingly polarized society especially in the US?
BURNS: Well, you know, I think, Christiane, you've hit the nail on the head here. I think a good deal of the seeds of the disunion and the hyper-
partisanship that we experience today had its beginnings in the Vietnam War.
When we made this film, we started in 2006, we weren't thinking, "Oh, demonstrations against the President. Asymmetrical warfare. President
accusing the press of lying. Accusations that a political campaign reached out during the time of a national election to influence that." But when we
finished the film, before by the way the Iowa caucuses, we suddenly realized we had a film that resonated rhymed in the present the way every
single film we've made has done and then it becomes incumbent upon us as viewers and as citizens and as you know, people in the world to begin to
understand the gift that a historical story can help you understand the present.
And I think there are so many parallels and similarities here, it might very instrumental in helping us sort of pull up the fuel rods of this
disunion that we experience right now.
One of the things is that that Vietnam isn't talked about very much in the United States because everybody is in their own hardened silos with their
own certain opinions, but they're opinions, not facts and if you spend 10 years trying to get those facts right, you have the opportunity to perhaps
melt the certainty of people left, right or wherever and begin to have the kind of conversation we've had.
Now, the film has been out in the United States. Broadcast has been done for a couple of weeks and the response has been extraordinary. I don't
mean high ratings, which we got. People are coming up to us on the street and saying, "My dad never talked about it. Now he is."
AMANPOUR: Well, boy.
BURNS: That's what you want to have happen.
AMANPOUR: Ain't that the truth. So many of the people who actually fought those battles never want to talk about it. Lynn, you guys have organized
free streaming with Vietnamese subtitles.
AMANPOUR: So presumably, they're watching it in Vietnam as well, what is the reaction and especially as they have always toned it as sort of a
glorious undertaking, a glorious victory.
AMANPOUR: And you did manage to get two people to admit a massacre of enemy civilians, two of the North Vietnamese.
NOVICK: Yes. Yes, well, you know, the response in Vietnam has been extraordinary so far. We're sort of -- we're getting it fully over the
transom, but millions and millions of people have streamed and are talking about the film and talking about the war and their memories of the war and
the country is still you know, somewhat divided that North and South, former winners and losers have never really reconciled because as you said,
the narrative of the war as this glorious struggle with no people in it and to understand the true suffering and what really happened and the brutality
on their side as well as our side and of the Vietnamese is sometimes shocking and deeply disturbing in some ways.
They've never really seen photographs of their own dead soldiers, and you know, we've seen endless photographs of bodies piled up. The body count is
so familiar to us, but they haven't seen those images before, so they are having to do some reckoning with the true cost of the war and one of most
beautiful things we've come across so far, several people have told us that watching the film, they have come away with the idea or the sense that,
while you know, they thought America was weak because we had a protest movement, because we were divided, but seeing how the country evolved over
the course of the war is impressive to the Vietnamese that America, we are willing to look at our past critically and to take you know, an honest look
at the painful experience and see what lessons can be learned.
And that many people in Vietnam hope that can happen there too. So that's very inspiring to us.
AMANPOUR: And amazingly timely and important right now, particularly the idea of understanding and hearing the story of the other. Ken Burns, Lynn
Novick, thank you so much for joining us.
BURNS: Thank you.
NOVICK: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, as one politician once said, "Never let a major crisis go to waste," so imagine the silver lining emerging from the
horrendous sexual abuse scandal rocking Hollywood. The Weinstein Effect, next.
And finally tonight, Hollywood is heaving under the weight of alarming and mounting accusations against Harvey Weinstein and others, and at least half
a million women all over the world in all professions have jumped on the social media platform to say, "Me too," and the twits keep mounting up.
So imagine a world where the times, they are changing and hopefully for the better. The abuse once an open secret is now just becoming open and women
along with some men are working to disinfect this poison in the workplace.
Lucasfilm's Studio boss, Kathleen Kennedy proposed a zero tolerance policy for her industry saying that, "Predators much come to feel that they cannot
count on power or wealth or fame to shield them."
At around the very same time, after shouts and whispers surrounding the Amazon Studios' chief, Roy Price, he is now resigned under fire for
allegations of sexual harassment and in France, their own take on the "Me Too" hashtag has taken off. "Balance ton porc" or dump your pig has gone
viral and the French government is also upping the ante debating legislation to combat harassment of women on the streets.
The government wants to make cat calls or yelling crudities at women in public a finable offense. Zero tolerance is suddenly going viral. It's
been a long time coming and there's still a long way to go in every profession. There have been many before them in Hollywood, but Harvey
Weinstein has opened the floodgates.
That is it for our program tonight and remember, you can listen to our podcast at any time. You can always see us online at amanpour.com and
follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.