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Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg; Interview with David Sanger. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 18, 2018 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, CNN: Tonight, out of maximum chaos is a Trump doctrine emerging? I speak to the Editor in Chief of the Atlantic, Jeffrey
Goldberg, who took that very question to the White House.
Plus why cyber is the new weapon of mass destruction, my conversation with the New York Times National Security Correspondent David Sanger about his
new book "The Perfect Weapon".
Good evening everyone and welcome to the program, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. From the southern United States border to the ports of Spain to
Germany's seat of power, immigration is front and center.
After Italy closed its borders, hundreds of migrants on board the Aquarius ship celebrate finally finding a port in the storm in Spain. In Germany, a
row over refugee policy is threatening Europe's longest serving and most respected leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel.
And in the United States, the harsh spectacle of children being forcibly separated from their parents at the Mexican border is receiving criticism
from both sides of the aisle and from two very powerful women.
The First Lady Melania Trump has made a rare political intervention saying the United States should govern with heart. The former First Lady Laura
Bush, a republican, has penned a scathing column in the Washington Post calling the policy cruel and reminiscent of forced internment of the
Japanese during World War II.
Now this zero tolerance approach of the Trump administration is just one part of the Trump doctrine that we're going to delve into with my guest
Jeffrey Goldberg. He's the Editor in Chief of the Atlantic, he's been speaking to a number of people close to the president to ask them to define
what exactly what that doctrine is.
And Jeffrey Goldberg is joining me now from Washington. Welcome to the program.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ATLANTIC: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So Jeffrey, your title of your article has a pretty bold -- bold headline, "Senior White House Official Defines the Trump Doctrine: `We're
America'" and I'm just going to say rhymes with rich.
Were you shocked by that?
GOLDBERG: Was I shocked by that?
GOLDBERG: No, I'm not -- I'm not shocked by anything. I'm not -- I'm not really shocked by anything anymore. That -- that was one of the slogans
that people came up with for me when I was asking this question, if you could put into a slogan or a saying, something other than America first,
which we know obviously, and this is one of them that -- that came up.
This is a very high ranking official, and you know the attitude behind it is what's interesting, but there's two things (inaudible). The attitude
behind it, which is these kind of anti Obama sort of we're America, take it or leave it. You know, we're the super power, and you follow our rules or
you -- or you get off the highway.
And the second piece that was interesting to me was -- because this is their self perception, right, this is not necessarily how everyone around
the world views them, but this is their self perception.
So that's certainly not the attitude when Donald Trump is dealing with say Russia or with the North Korean leader about whom he is very kind and
deferential. So this is -- this is an interesting moment because they have different -- different approaches to different kinds of people.
AMANPOUR: But that's what I was going to say, so I mean is it a doctrine and I mean does the very fact that you say they're very different
approaches, for instance the allies in this equation get the, you know, it's our way or the highway, and the adversaries, the authoritarians get
the sort of kid gloves (ph) treatment.
So again, knowing that, viewing that, observing that, what do you think the doctrine is if there is one?
GOLDBERG: Yes, well I mean we do know -- I would just go back to one point for one second, the -- the -- the adversaries get kid gloves --- kid glove
treatments until they don't.
One of the things about Trump's approach to foreign policy and natural security issues, it's true about everything. There's no consistency on the
policy level. What there is, and this goes to the doctrine in question, is there is a level of consistency going back decades actually.
If you look at it, Donald Trump -- there are a number of things about Donald Trump that we know to be true. He -- he does have a soft spot for
the authoritarian personality. He's always expressed that kind of softness toward authoritarians, he's always believed that the United States is
robbed, is ripped off in trade negotiations.
He's been very, for decades now, he's been -- he's been -- he's been very dubious about alliances. He always feels that, you know, we should have
bilateral relationship, not multilateral alliances.
It's not, precisely, America, alone, or American isolationism, but he just believes that we're too entangled in an alliances, and then because we're
the richest player in these alliances, we're always raw (ph) -
GOLDBERG: So he does have a, kind of, quasi-isolationist approach.
AMANPOUR: Well, interesting, because the French Ambassador to the United States told me, that they assess it as a Jacksonian plus or minus,
whichever way you want to look at it, new policy, that is uni-isolationism, you know, a combination of unilateralism and isolationism. And I wonder,
whether that rings true in terms of, for instance, slapping tariffs on steel and other metals, on allies, and - and - and stopping tariffs on
China and where that brings -
AMANPOUR: -- the whole sort of sense, of (inaudible), too?
GOLDBERG: Right. I don't know if I would frame it - refract this to the prism of - of isolationism, so much, as just a broad mistrust, not
necessarily based in fact, as they're observable to most of us, but a broadness trust of our - of - of America's friends and a widespread belief
that - that no one really can be trusted. And with - with, again, like, a soft spot, in a way, for authoritarians.
The way he speaks about - about authoritarian leaders is, actually one of the most remarkable aspects of this presidency. You saw the way he spoke
about Kim. Tough guy, it has to be a tough guy, to be in a tough country, and we do bad things, too, and who are we to judge. You know, it's - it's
- it's the language that's - well, you know this better than anyone. You've covered foreign policy, as I have, for a while. This is
AMANPOUR: Yeah -
GOLDBERG: We're just not used to this, and one of the problems that - go ahead, sorry.
AMANPOUR: No, no, sorry. I agree. We watch it (ph) - we watch it (ph) and -
GOLDBERG: No, no, one of the problems - one of the problems of - right, right, but one of the problems here is - is that, people like you and me,
or everyone who watches (inaudible), we don't have a frame of reference for this kind of rhetoric and this kind of behavior, so we don't - we tend to,
just as the French Ambassador, understandably did. We're trying to impose preexisting doctrines and ideas onto the way he approaches the world, but -
but none of them is particularly adequate right now.
AMANPOUR: Right. Well so, I think that really does beg the question of, is that sort of ad hoc or as we call it the Chaos Theory. It's what his
people call it, the disruption, the chaos, the maximum destruction, as of which -
AMANPOUR: -- will come something new, potentially. But the problem is, and I'm going to read you a tweet that he sent out against one of our main
allies or one of America's main allies and that's the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The issue, here, are the facts. So I would just like to
He tweeted today, "The people of Germany are turning against their leadership, as migration is rocking the, already, tenuous Berlin coalition.
Crime, in Germany, is way up. Big mistake, made over Europe, it aligned (ph) millions of people who, so, strongly and violently change their
So there's so much to unpick there, but I think, don't you, that the voters and people should understand that there is - it's just full of
misstatements. For instance, new figures show a drop in crime, a 5.1 percent in -
AMANPOUR: -- Germany, over the previous year. The number of crimes committed is the lowest since 1992, from the very guy, the interior
minister, who is challenging Angela Merkel. This idea about violently changing their culture, it has kind of a tinge of that, you know, we don't
want to let foreigners in. So what I guess I'm trying to say is, how does -
AMANPOUR: -- doctrine emerge if the - if the thoughts are based on a misrepresentation of the facts?
GOLDBERG: Well, I mean, maybe - maybe, that is a - it's a fantasy doctrine. Look, it's a - it's a - it's a fantasy doctrine based on a
willful misreading of observable reality or reality, that you and I can observe. I mean, there's always some element of, you know, there is -
there - his base, in particular, is of set (ph) by demographic change in America, and he's projecting that out onto Germany, and he's warning his
Hey, there's this terrible thing going on in Germany, that you better watch out for, that it's not necessarily true, doesn't - doesn't matter to him
(ph). Remember - remember, his administration is uniquely untethered to empirical fact. I mean, I don't think this is a surprise to anyone -
GOLDBERG: -- but it doesn't - it doesn't matter. When he's corrected, he doubles down on the incorrect information. That, again, I go to this point
that, we're in a new - we're in new territory here, seems (ph) we have a president who doesn't even pay lip service to what most, of the rest of us,
would call observable fact.
AMANPOUR: So do you think we should have known better? I mean for instance Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution described Trump. This
is way back in early 2016 before the campaign really had started in earnest. I mean you know about a year before the campaign.
AMANPOUR: Quote "Trump loathes the liberal international order, and would work against it as President. Trump also dislikes America's military
alliances and would work against them. Trump believes in his bones that the global economy is unfair to the United States. And finally Trump has
an innate sympathy for authoritarian strong men".
So we've talked about the strong men. But all of these other things that Mr. Wright said in early 2016 have proven to - exactly true. This is
exactly what President Trump is demonstrating.
GOLDBERG: Right. Right, well that's the interesting thing here. Is that what we're so busy watching the ciaos, and the improvisation and the
spontaneous making a policy. And the whole reality show quality of this. But meanwhile under - under those waves, under those white cap waves, right
there's a remarkable steady understanding.
You could call it understanding or misunderstanding. But an understanding about the way the world it organized. And the way in which he does not
like the role of America in the world and wants to change that. I think so he's going to just keep driving and driving at these same points for the
duration of his Presidency, either the next two years or six years.
So there's nothing surprising. He's not going to suddenly like NATO. He's not going to wake up and say, you know what my natural allies are in the
EU. This is not going to happen.
AMANPOUR: And you mentioned NATO. Of course that's the next big summit on the agenda next month. And he will take this notion of why don't you all
pay up? You're due the two percent. And of course that is something that the Obama administration posited in the most serious way back in 2014.
AMANPOUR: So many American Presidents have said that. So I guess the question is what do you think is going to happen at the next gathering of
allies? And again in the unprecedented column, you know no matter what Trump thinks the words and the language he's used to address allies like
Justin Trudeau and others. I mean I don't want to repeat that language myself frankly.
GOLDBERG: Well here's something. You talk about the next NATO summit. Here's something that will be popular with many American's and not just
those who voted for Donald Trump.
Unlike Barrack Obama - Barrack Obama you're absolutely right. Thought NATO should pony up more money. It's fair share. And he said so in his very
polite Barrack Obama way. The way that we're used to hearing Presidents and leaders talk to each other of course.
What Donald Trump will do is say it rudely. He'll say it in their faces. He'll say it repeatedly. He won't give anybody any out. At the end of the
day maybe he's going to get NATO allies to pay their fair share. And he can come back to American and say look, you know politeness is overrated.
Being kind to your allies in public is overrated.
If I don't like these guy's I'm going to say so. I mean so I'm just, I'm not advocating or non-advocating for a position. I'm just saying this is
what might happen. And he might actually get something. Because if you're a NATO allies (ph) you're like, all right you know just to get this guy to
Or just to get him to leave me alone. Maybe we'll pay our fair share. But remember it's a very, very popular cause in America. To get NATO allies to
pay what American's think of as their fair share.
AMANPOUR: Yes. The next thing is - I mean we've talked about - we've talked about Obama and we've seen many of President Trumps tweets against
President Obama. But it strikes me that ever since the early 2000's American Foreign Policy and perhaps to an extent domestic. But we're
focusing on foreign, has been a series of massive pendulum swings.
If you take the maximum interventionism of President Bush, the wars in certainly Iraq which turned into a disaster, if you take the opposite of
President Obama, who's pendulum swang all the way over. To try to make up for the way America was isolated and disliked and disrespected after the W.
And now you take the pendulum swing away from Obama as President Trump says we need to be respected, rather than taken advantage of. Hence we need to
do everything against the - that Obama stood for. That's also part of what they were telling you in the White House. It's the F Obama doctrine right
GOLDBERG: Right, right, right. The Trump doctrine is whatever Obama didn't do or didn't believe. Sometimes it's not as more complicated - it's
not more complicated than that. And you're exactly right. America's had a bipolar foreign policy. Where either -- look the tragedy of the Bush
administration, you could argue, was that they overreacted to events in the Middle East.
The tragedy of the Obama administration, some people would argue is that Obama under reacted to events in the Middle East.
We were facing a choice between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Hilary Clinton probably was somewhere in-between George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Was gong to bring that pendulum back toward the center a little bit.
But now, we - a surprise, we got something completely different. The big question as you know are these swings becoming more dramatic--
GOLDBERG: Or will we eventually kind of come to some stability. I don't have any particular hope that these swings are going to become less
dramatically, there's not much evidence to - to suggest that.
So we're - we're in a unique situation in which the world superpower cannot decide for itself what role it wants to play in the world.
AMANPOUR: And I think that leaves a huge number of questions for America and for the rest of the world to try to figure it out. Jeffrey Goldberg,
editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
And let us turn now to my next guest, and put these questions -- some of them to him, David Sanger, National Security Correspondent in the New York
Times. Who was at the recent Singapore summit with North Korea, and he says, Donald Trump's unconventional diplomacy in fact extracted less from
North Korea than previous U.S. presidents have.
And in his new book, Sanger asks whether we are ignoring the real threat to (inaudible) democracy which is not nuclear, but cyber warfare. A decade
ago, there were only three or four nations with effective cyber forces. Now, there are more than 30.
The Perfect Weapon, his new book explores this new area of digital sabotage, disinformation and fear spreading. And he joins me now live from
New York. David Sanger, welcome to the program.
DAVID SANGER, NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT: Great to be back with you Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and the last time we were together was in fact in Singapore as we were reporting and absorbing and trying to analyze what was going on.
There is no doubt that many had a lot of hope and still do. But this may have shifted the calculus and shifted at least in physiology for now.
But I want to ask you, first, you say the president extracted less and came away with less than previous presidents.
SANGER: Well certainly on paper he did. The president's argument Christiane, has been that he changed the dynamic here by doing the meeting
topped out, basically bringing the two leaders together for the first time since the Korean War ended.
And you know, I give him some credit for that. I mean we've tried one method for the past three or four decades with just to have incremental
negotiations with the North Koreans.
If we would've give them a little bit of aid, get them to pull back on their weapons program, it usually lasts for something between a month and
three or four years, and then it collapses.
So the president's theory was actually get a situation of trust between Kim Jong-un and president of the United States and then work from there. If it
had been at that and the president had then come back home and said, this is a good start.
We have a relationship underway, and now it all depends on whether or not he actually turns his commitment to denuclearize in to some thing far more
concrete than North Korea's ever done before, than I think I'd be fairly optimistic.
Instead, the president showed up and then his usual salesman ship way, he said, there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Well, North
Korea's got the same number of weapons, whatever number that is and we're not certain.
It's got the same production faculties; it's got the same intercontinental missiles and the same regional missiles that it had, the same biological
weapons, the same chemical weapons. The threat has not changed at all; the mood has changed at least for a bit.
AMANPOUR: Yes, so let me ask you, because - jut to follow-up briefly on the conversation you just heard us having with Jeffrey Goldberg. President
Trump did today tweet about North Korea again in the context of the Obama administration's experience.
And this is what he said, if President Obama, who got nowhere with North Korea, nd would've had to go to war with many millions of people being
killed had gotten along with North Korea and made the initial steps towards a deal that I have, the fake news would've named him a national hero.
Again, it's all put in to the context of this obsession with doing everything and criticizing everything Obama did.
SANGER: It is. And look, there is a legitimate complaint I think, it's a criticism I make of the Obama administration, that they didn't do enough
diplomatically with North Korea.
They did not impose the sanctions as fully as they could. They made one diplomatic effort briefly and it fell part. They didn't do anything
particularly bold, they focused on Iran.
Now, I think the other thing that's maybe going on in President Trump's mind is that everybody keeps saying, and many people write - I've written
that, part of the test here is, he's going to have to get far more out of the North Koreans than President Obama got out of the Iranians.
And it would be a pretty remarkable thing to get North Korea, to give up 97 percent of all its nuclear fuel, and, of course, the North Koreans are much
further down the line. They have an actual array of weapons that the Iranians didn't. Inspection regime, in Iran, has been pretty good. We
have no idea what it would look like, so far, in North Korea.
AMANPOUR: You know, I'm still scratching my head, to figure out how the world is safer, having pulled out of a nuclear, you know, arms control deal
with the Iranians, on this issue, but I agree with you.
And the South Koreans have told me, you know, if President Obama, they said if he had spent a fifth of time on North Korea than he did on Iran, they
may have got further down the line, in lines of trying to tame North Korea -
SANGER: I think that's a very legitimate criticism of - I know, Jeff said, before, that the mistakes of the Obama Administration were usually mistakes
of caution and omission, and certainly, that is a big theme of the perfect weapon because you see it in a very big way, in cyber.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's what I wanted to get to. The perfect weapon is about, what you say, is a - is a more real and present danger than perhaps,
even the threat of nuclear warfare. So - so, you know, what do you expect as a - as the next frontier in this warfare? Do you expect, for instance,
North Korea to be using and continuing its cyberwarfare against the U.S., even in this conditions and do you expect Iran to launch a cyberattack on
the U.S., in retaliation for pulling out of the deal?
SANGER: Well, not just the U.S. but around the world. Look, cyber is not as powerful, in the initial instance, as a nuclear weapon, thank goodness.
You're not going to see one swoop, hundreds of thousands, of people killed, but it is a very useful weapon that, in some ways, is the opposite of
nuclear. It's stealthy, it's hard to figure out where it came from, and you can dial it up and dial it down.
And I think what, most Americans and Europeans, others, sort of miss, as we think about cyber is that, it's on a continuum, exactly the way every other
weapon, that you can think of, is on a continuum. You know, you've got handguns and you've got automatic weapons and you've got missiles and
you've bombs and so forth. In cyber, what we have are some weapons that are just for surveillance, some that go in and manipulate data, some that
are useful for information warfare, and then, out at the far end, the Stuxnet, kind of attach, which was the U.S./Israeli attack on Israel, you
SANGER: -- a cyber - I'm sorry. On the U.S./Israeli attack on Iran, pardon me, that, you have cyber weapons that can actually have a real world
effect, and then, in that case, they sped up or slowed down Iranian's centrifuges until they blew up.
You've seen other attacks like that, the North Korean attack on Sony Pictures, was like that, but in the information area, we've now seen,
thanks to the Russians, an entirely new array, and frankly, one of the messages, of the book is, we are no where near prepared for the new run of
that, either, in the midterm elections or the presidential election because we haven't stopped to learn the very big lessons that came out of that
AMANPOUR: I know, which is so troubling to think, that this has been warned about for so many years now, and people like yourself, who study it,
say, constantly, that we're still not up to the challenge, but let me ask you. You mentioned Stuxnet. Is there a Stuxnet, like, generation of
cyberwarfare to be had against the North Korean nuclear - nuclear infrastructure?
SANGER: Well, it's already happened and it's described, at length, in the book. President Obama, the one - one of the few things that he did do very
- in a very active way, against North Korea, was authorize a series of, both, cyber and electronic warfare attacks on their missile program back in
the days when they shooting off midrange missiles, the Musudan Missile, and they had a failure rate of 88 percent. They would launch these things, you
SANGER: You know, you'd see the headline. They'd go right into the sea. And the big question, as I dug back through that program and tried to talk
to people who familiar with it, what I learned was, the United States never quite figured out how many of those failures were because of the U.S.
program and how many were for other causes, that the North Koreans were bad engineers or they had bad parts or they had messed something up.
So, one of the oddities of cyber again, unlike nuclear is sometimes it's very difficult to measure effects, and this was one of those.
SANGER: And then, Kim Jong-un moved to a new generation of missiles, including the ones you saw last year. Some of which were intercontinental.
And whatever we were doing completely failed.
And it's hard to figure out if that's because the North Koreans figured it out, or that we decided - the United Sates decided we've been too obvious
and pulled back some.
AMANPOUR: Just - we've got 30 seconds left, but I want you just to weigh in on a proposal that you made in your group that there needs to be a
Geneva convention style containment of these - of these weapons. How likely do you think it is that any of these countries would sin up to that?
SANGER: You know, when the Geneva conventions happen, they weren't organized by countries, they were really organized by the Red Cross. And I
think this is an idea that Brad Smith of Microsoft has sort of put out.
And while it's got some flaws to it, one of the things I like about it is that it does not involve lengthy treaty negotiations that simply wouldn't
work in cyber. Because no one has the time to go past, negotiate the treaties, get them ratified, the technology moves too quickly. You need
something fluid that can get updated every year or two.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating. David Sanger, thank you very much, your new book The Perfect Weapon. And that is it for our program tonight.
Remember you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at Amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for
watching, and goodbye from London.