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Interview with Madeline Albright; Julia Ioffe talks About Putin. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 12, 2017 - 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 ANCHOR: Tonight, how Donald Trump's America first policy is changing America's role on the world stage. The first woman to
become U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright joins the program. And trying to get into the mind of the Russian President Vladimir Putin,
Journalist Julia Ioffe on what he really wants.
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AMANPOUR: Good Evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with the global view. In a few days,
President Trump will unveil his new national security strategy and who better to speak about that than Madeleine Albright, America's former U.N.
Ambassador and the first female U.S. Secretary of State.
Right here in the U.K. a proposed working visit by the U.S. President is testing the resilience of the special relationship between America and
Britain. Also tonight, America is conspicuously absent form the Paris Climate Change Summit. Fifty world leaders there, President Trump is now.
So how does that impact American leadership?
Albright says this question gets more pressing with each passing day and she joins me form Washington to talk about it. Secretary Albright, welcome
to the program.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you first what you make of U.S. leadership today? And I'm asking because right now, in Paris, President Macron seems to be
relishing taking the lead. He has a whole climate summit going on and the only country not there is the United States, all the other world leaders
ALBRIGHT: Well I am very troubled by our absence in so many ways and obviously on the climate change issue itself where I believe we need to be
in the lead. And so for President Trump to have been really pulled - that he pulled out of this is stunning and that President Macron is doing what
he needs to do but now we see that the Chinese are trying to take the lead on climate change.
I think, just generally to you question, I still believe in American leadership and partnership and it is, I think very distressing to see the
United States absent in so many ways because I don't think the world works if the U.S. is not engaged properly and so I'm very troubled by our absence
at the moment. And others being able to fill the vacuum.
AMANPOUR: Can you assure Americans who may be doubtful that the deal doesn't harm them, should they think that it does?
ALBRIGHT: I think it does harm that we are not a part of a major international agreement. Generally, I have to say, Christiane, I'm
troubled by the fact that President Trump seems to feels that we're constantly the victims, that we have been taken advantage of, that the
world is making fun of us.
I don't think that is something that makes America great or America first. I think that it puts us on the back foot.
AMANPOUR: This seems to be a crisis in the current state department, Rex Tillerson seems to be undermined at every corner by President Trump and
also, his diplomats are busy - especially Korea foreign service, resigning, being fired, being given early retirement. The latest is a woman who wrote
a scaling letter to him, saying that he has no leadership and he too should walk out the door if he's not prepared to lead.
So, what is the danger of that, if the state department is about diplomatic solutions and we see all of the military afraid around President Trump, is
there a danger with that?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I have been appalled in terms of what's happening with the state department. First of all, that the budget proposed by the Trump
Administration was willing to cut 30 percent off the state department budget which wasn't very large in the first place.
That in fact, it's the military, Secretary Mattis who's been talking about the fact that is the state department doesn't function; he has to buy more
ammunition. The defense department is the most protective of the state department, even more than the secretary of state who when he went up to
Capitol Hill and the member of congress wanted to give him more money, said he didn't need it.
I've never heard of anything like that in my life. I do think that there is a way that this administration is treating diplomacy and I am appalled
by that and the fact that President Trump seems to believe that he is the only one who counts. So I think that it hurts America to be undermining
the state department.
And Christiane, I teach at Georgetown and I know that there are a lot of students there who are preparing themselves for a life in international
A lot of them wonder whether they should take the Foreign Service Exam. So, not only are we hurting the current diplomatic service, but we are
undercutting a pipeline of people that could represent America in the future. So, I think it's appalling, I hope that something changes on this
because we are weakening ourselves and what truly bothers me is President Trump is weakening America and as a proud and grateful American it is very
depressing to see what's going on.
AMANPOUR: The Secretary of State has been talking to the agencies employees today and basically said diplomacy is really slow work, but gave
a whole list of all the great stuff that they had done. What's your reaction to that?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I heard that he was having a town hall and that there was no press. So we have to figure out what he's really saying. I do think
that diplomacy is not something that kind of is fireworks and all kinds of things. You have to do work slowly, but you actually do need people to do
AMANPOUR: You were the first United States official to meet with President Putin when he first came on the stage, when he first became leader of
Russia. What immediate impression did you form and what do you make of the fact that he too like the Chinese is stepping all over America's
traditional patch let's say in the Middle East, in Syria and in those areas right now.
ALBRIGHT: The first time I met President Putin was at a meeting in Asia and he was very kind of small and unclear about who he was and what - tried
very hard to ingratiate himself with everybody. Then when I went there in 2000 to prepare for a summit it was very clear that he had begun to feel
how much power he could have. He is very smart, there's no question about that.
He was very well prepared, he did not have talking points and he took notes and he was very determined. Then when I went there with President Clinton
again very clear that he's smart and dedicated to the cause. I think as one studies him and I have is I think we can't forget who he is. He is a
KGB officer, he is very well trained and he has identified himself with a lot of Russians who felt that they had lost their kind of stature in the
world after the end of the Cold War.
And he is very tactical in terms of what he's done and he plays a we can very well. And I think that what he - we have seen in him in the last 48
hours is him taking a victory tour around the Middle East having been kind of let in to the process of being a partner in dealing with Syria and he is
going to take advantage every time again that we move back, he fills the vacuum.
AMANPOUR: You say take advantage I mean that was a Democratic administration. That was President Obama who allowed Vladimir Putin in to
that particular patch.
ALBRIGHT: Well I think there was an issue in terms of dealing with the chemical aspect of what Bashar Assad was doing and I do think that he has
taken advantage of that. I happened to of had a different view at the time, but I really do think that it is important to understand that the
Russians have wanted to have influence in the Middle East forever. And that they have regained it for a number of different reasons, but partially
I am very worried about what they have done in terms of weaponizing information.
They have put incredible pressure, not only on The United States through information giggling. They are also trying to do all kinds of things in
Central and Eastern Europe and in the Baltics and they are using information to contain democracy. They want to undermine our system and we
are dealing with somebody that knows how to deal with propaganda.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you because it's not just the chemicals as you know very it was at the U.N. general assembly during the Obama
Administration when Vladimir Putin announced to the world that he was going to get involved militarily in Syria and he was allowed to do that. More to
the point, do you think in retrospect President Obama should have called Putin out publicly and actually taken action against him instead of telling
him to quote cut it out when he knew or was getting intelligence that Putin was involved in precisely what you're talking about. The information wars
the interference in the American democratic system that was the chance to stop it at the source.
ALBRIGHT: I think that President Obama was trying very hard not to make it a huge political issue and I think that they handled that very well. What
I am concerned about in a different way is I do think no president comes in with a clean slate and President Obama was elected because of the tired -
the American was tired with the wars in the Middle East and that - that was not for us to be doing and the Iraq was a mistake.
And so, I think some of the points in terms of the Russian getting involved, initially in Syria and us trying to get out has a lot to do with
why President Obama was elected. I was disappointed in some - in many ways, in terms of, not doing more initially about what the Russians were
doing in Ukraine. But, I do think that there was careful analysis and every administration from knowledge takes a step that they happen to
believe is why they were elected.
It's what bothers me at the moment is in fact that the question is how - what is the overall strategy? And that, some of the actions being taken by
the Trump Administration are basically very at (hawk) and we don't know what the overall strategy is and those of us study this are waiting for the
national strategy to come out to see what President Trump really does think he needs to accomplish and why we don't know why who is carrying out and
how the policy works.
I think that we've been operating kind of one step at a time during the first year and I think that's been very complicated and hurtful to the
power of the United States. And, to securing what the American people need.
AMANPOUR: So now, I want to shift (lenses) slightly, shift gears. (The MeToo Movement), has swept the world, really right now, and it's having all
sorts of domino affects. You, very famously said you know, that there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.
And, you were lambasted for that during the last round of primary elections. Do you feel vindicated today?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I do need - believe that women need to help each other. By the way, everybody is kind of picking up this idea about a special place
in hell, the bottom line is everybody that is damned to hell, it's gonna be very crowded so they need to turn the heat up very quickly. I do think
that what is happening is that, women do need to support women, that I really do think that MeToo Movement is a very important one. And, where
the women are speaking and are being supported by other women and by some men, in terms of, trying to figure out what this power game is about. What
is happening? We cannot stop now. I think that it is an essential aspect now of looking at what's happening, not only in our society, but others
And, by the way, Christiane, so many women in our - in the developing world, various places, are treated terribly and we can't forget about that.
That this is not just about American women but also about women everywhere that are being raped or thrown out of windows or suffering in somewhere or
AMANPOUR: And actually, one way to make perfect sense of all this for the whole population including men, is to make it a part of dollars and cents.
More women in the work place, more gender equity, actually raises, every country's GDP. But I want to ask you, you've been at the table for a long
time, often as the only woman. What was it like? Did you ever feel you had to keep quite to, you know, go along to get along? I mean, what was it
like and how did you finally find your voice?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think part of what happened with me is it took me a long time to get my credentials together and I didn't have a full time job until
I was thirty-nine years old. I'd gone to get my Graduate Degree and taking caring of my children and done an awfully lot of volunteer work. So I
really was ten years older than everybody. And, I was the only woman in the room so the kinds of things against me were probably more subtle,
although equally, you know, they were irritating, in terms of being told that I was too emotional when I spoke out that we had to do something about
Basina or sitting around with them while they told most disgusting dirty jokes stories and trying not acting like a prude and just being
embarrassed. But, I wasn't - I, fortunately, was not harassed with the kinds of things that we are reading about now.
But it's not easy to be the only woman in the room and one of the reasons I made my statement, initially, about special place in hell, is that we need
to help to get more than one woman in the room. Get more women elected because it's very important to have that kind of support system and know
that the man__ I mean, I `m sure that so many of viewers know if you are the only woman you think you're going to say something in a meeting and
then you think well this is going to sound stupid, and then some man says it and everybody thinks it's brilliant and you're mad at yourself because
the men say, as Joe said, and I need to be in a meeting and be able to say as Christiane said so that there really is that kind of a support system.
So we do need to help each other.
AMANPOUR: And finally what is that pin you're wearing I always ask you, you always have some reason for wearing the pin on your lapel, what is that
ALBRIGHT: Well this is the colors for the suffragettes. This is my suffragette pin and I think that this is the time to really stand up so
that we can not only vote, but participate and be respected and not be victims of some kind of a power game.
AMANPOUR: Well I'm glad I asked you that. Madeleine Albright, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
ALBRIGHT: Great to be with you good luck.
AMANPOUR: And of course we are all waiting for that new national security strategy to be unveiled as I mentioned earlier. And we're going to dig
deeper into Russia now, where as we've just discussed President Vladimir Putin is coming off a victory lap through Syria, Egypt and Turkey; further
evidence of Russia's strategic prominence in the region. Even as demonstrators there burn American flags protesting President Trump's
unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol.
So how does Russia consistently outplay the United States, if it does, despite holding a weak hand? Julia Ioffe has a detailed expiration of just
that question in this month's Atlantic Magazine. Her article is called, What Putin Really Wants, and she is joining me now from Washington. Julia
Ioffe welcome to the program.
JULIA IOFFE: Thanks for having me Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So the first question is, what does Putin really want? You're on the spot now.
IOFFE: Well basically he wants what most tin-pot dictators want, he wants to stay in power another week, another year and he wants to not die at the
hands of an angry mob they his friend Muammar Gaddafi did so pretty much everything that he does is informed by this hunger to survive, to keep the
regime, the country together for another year, another two years and to avoid state collapse which he saw first-hand in 1991.
AMANPOUR: So Julia you were born I think in Russia and you have done an enormous amount of work on this subject. But I am actually stunned to hear
you call the head of what was a global superpower a tin-pot dictator. I assume you meant that -- you meant it?
IOFFE: Well here's the thing, he's smarter, he has a bigger country, a more strategic country, a country with more nuclear weapons, more resources
and it -- and with a history of being a global superpower, but the thing is that when you look inside Russia, it's really rusted through and it's not
that much better than it was in the late Soviet period. The economy is completely stagnant and for the last five years it was shrinking, so this
is an improvement to go to stagnation. The institutions of state -- of government are completely personalized and beholding to him; the courts,
the police, the army, the secret services, the political -- even the opposition political parties are on his payroll.
So the reason I call him a tin-pot dictator is that these are guys are all very similar and I think he identifies with them in this way because once -
- they're afraid of going and that after them comes the flood that the whole thing falls apart because it's so personalized. And in that way he
is very similar and he does very much identify with people like Saddam Hussein, like Muammar Gaddafi, like Bashar Al-Assad.
AMANPOUR: Well we are told.
IOFFE:.he wants to avoid their fate.
AMANPOUR: Exactly we are told that he wants a bubble to avoid that kind of fate and he thinks, and so we're told also, does Kim Jong-un, but let me
ask you because in your new article in The Atlantic, you say several things that America's strategic carelessness with regard to Russia has stoked
Putin's fears and pushes him to ever higher levels of antagonism and you also say that he does have a sort of a -- kind of a I don't know about
paranoid, but some kind of conspiracy theory complex about the West's aims towards Russia.
IOFFE: Yes so I think that the Americans, like the Russians, assume that the rest of the world is just like them and that everybody understands
their aims. So Americans can't understand how cynical Russians are, how deeply cynical people in power are and just every-day Russians are and
Russians can't understand how idealistic Americans are.
So when Americans say, "no, no, no. We're trying to spread democracy. We want these countries to develop. We want you to develop. We want you to
be a democratic country because it's better for you," they think that it's all a fig leaf for a regime change, and they saw it - they think that what
happened in 2003 with the U.S. ousting Saddam Hussein in Iraq that that's exactly what happened in the Arab Spring, that that's what happened in
Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004 then 2014, and Kyrgyzstan in 2005.
He just doesn't buy this rhetoric of democracy promotion and spreading our values which is why Putin and Trump have such a kind of idealogical
synergy. This idea that Trump has said, "we're not going to promote American values. We're just going to promote American interest." That's
music to Putin's ears.
AMANPOUR: Well you mentioned all those names. Those obviously are the former Soviet states arrayed around Russia right now, but I want to pick up
on what you just said as sort of similar synergy because I also wondered whether you picked out, for instance, what Madeleine Albright said.
President Trump's constant lament that America's being outsmarted around the world, that America's being laughed at, President Putin, as you've just
described, concerned about being somehow belittled by the rest of the world. Do you see a kind of similar mindset between the two?
IOFFE: That's an excellent point. Excellent point. I think Putin is obsessed with humiliation and with avoiding it at all costs, and I think
that one of the - this is - mind's far smarter than mine have described this moment when he's in Dresden in East Germany in 1989 and the Berlin
Wall is falling and protestors are outside the KGB Rezidentura, and he is - he doesn't know what to do with the protestors. He calls Moscow. Moscow
is silent. He's shoveling sensitive documents into a furnace in Dresden, and to him it was a moment not just of state collapse, which is tragic for
him because he's such a statist, but also of humiliation - of profound personal humiliation, national humiliation - and that is all tied up with
the ideas of the state of preventing its collapse.
And this - I think you're right and that they both kind of fundamentally see themselves as victims and their countries as victims, and all that
bravado-braggadocio is to kind of deflect that feeling of making people think that actually they're stronger than they are.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and it's extraordinary because they are the two most strong countries in the world, of course, including China. But let me just take
that a little bit further because I want to play a little devil's advocate here. Obviously you talk and you've written that we do know that Putin has
often said even in 2007 a world order controlled by a single country has nothing in common with democracy, and it notes the current order was both
unacceptable and ineffective. He didn't like the fact that the U.S. was the only superpower.
But don't you think he's actually been very successful in marshalling the rest of the world which also has a problem with America being the dominant
force including, under President Bush and now under President Trump. He has suddenly become the sort of savior of the world's outside of America
IOFFE: I don't know that he's become the savior of it. I don't think the Russians -
AMANPOUR: Well the standard bearer.
IOFFE: I would say the Chinese are more the standard bearers of that. They actually have a kind of infrastructure and an idea you can rally
around, and they're in these places building things, developing things whereas the Russians are more - they're doing this at a more rhetorical
level - kind of throwing sand in the gears at rhetorical level and at a tactical level, but they haven't been able to exhibit that kind
organizational, strategic vision that is necessary for that and they keep bouncing from one - one action and it's blowback to the next.
AMANPOUR: So would you say - we've studiously stayed away from the interference in the election, but I'm assuming that you would say that that
is one sort of payback that is Putin's reason for doing that? And I wonder when you talk about humiliation, what is next from Putin now that they've
been banned? I mean it's an unprecedented ban from the Winter Olympics because of this doping scandal, and of course the Winter Olympics are
really Russian Olympics.
IOFFE: Yes, so here's the thing. The Russians went into Syria in part to bring themselves in from the cold from the isolation from the Western World
which was brought on their heads after they invaded Ukraine. Then they found themselves, again, in the outhouse because of their interference in
the American elections, the French elections, the German elections, the Dutch elections. And now their in the outhouse again -- or sorry, the
doghouse again with the Olympic ban.
So, what I -- and Putin is up for reelection in March and the governments poll numbers are starting to sag. There needs to be a new rally around the
flag, something. So, the fear is among Russia watchers is that he has something else up his sleeve to make sure that he gets the right
percentage. Apparently the Kremlin wants 70 percent election results for him.
AMANPOUR: OK, Julia Ioffe.
IOFFE: So, the fear is that he will lash out.
AMANPOUR: .we will be watching to see what that lash out looks like. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
IOFFE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And a final note, New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, was my guest on last nights show. And she told me the allegations of sexual
misconduct against President Trump are credible and numerous and that he should immediately resign.
Then Trump Tweeted this in response, "Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to
my office "begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago and would do anything for them, is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very
disloyal to Bill and Crooked-Used!"
And this is how Gillibrand replied to that. "You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the
unfitness and the shame that you brought to the Oval Office."
That is it for our program tonight. Thank you for watching and good bye from London.