Return to Transcripts main page
Billionaire Philanthropists, Bill And Melinda Gates On Why They're Optimistic About The State Of Our World; He Called For Brexit, The Referendum That Took Britain Out Of The E.U. -- An Interview With The Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Aired: 2:00-2:30p ET
Aired August 15, 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, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Coming up, we are looking at some of our favorite interviews this year. In this edition, billionaire
philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates on why they're optimistic about the state of our world. Plus, he called for Brexit, the referendum that took
Britain out of the E.U. Now, he's looking at one of the greatest challenges of our time -- fragile state, my interview with the former
British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Good evening everyone, and welcome to the program, I am Christiane Amanpour in London. Forget about all the gloomy headlines, this is the greatest
time to be alive, so say Bill and Melinda Gates today in their foundation's annual let up. Looking at the big picture, they see a world that's getting
better and healthier.
Now, that may be hard to digest especially a scandal rocks even the philanthropic world, the British charity, Oxfam is still struggling to
contain the fallout after admitting some of its now fired workers operated what amounted to a brothel after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Bill and Melinda are calling for total transparency in their field. They also spoke out about the responsibility of today's tech giants and
persuading the skeptical Trump administration, the development and aid also help America's first.
Bill and Melinda Gates, welcome to the program.
MELINDA GATES, AMERICAN PHILANTHROPIST: Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: You know, I just want to holdup this letter. I don't whether everybody can see it, but it is a very hefty response to some of the
questions you get from the public, but you do start by saying that you're explaining what you do, but also how you stay optimistic given what you see
even in the worst and most difficult of times. So, if I could ask you just to say what good is happening out there?
M. GATES: Well, we are seeing the deaths of children all over the world come down, 10 million deaths of children in 2000, and now we are down to
five million as a world. I think that's something people don't understand that the world is getting better for kids. They're surviving, but if you
go to places like we travel in India and Africa, the kids are also starting to thrive which makes a huge difference.
AMANPOUR: And Bill, I assume that you and Melinda and your philanthropic sort of endeavor must have been a little bit shaken when you see what's
happened in the Oxfam orbit over the last several days. What do you think of those dangers, the idea of transparency and accountability and do you
think it is set to wide or is it just specific, do you think, to this one organization?
BILL GATES, FOUNDER, MICROSOFT CORPORATION: Well, I think Oxfam and other NGOs are out there doing phenomenal work. We have to be careful about who
they send out there and if they ever have any violations, they have to act immediately and be very tough on it, but the overall work of Care, Save the
Children, Oxfam, the people who go out there on the front line are really heroes.
And so, it is great in this case that they've seen something's wrong and they're moving aggressively to stop it.
AMANPOUR: Melinda, do you think that they've moved quickly enough? You could have people who just disapprove of foreign aid budgets and the like,
saying, "See why we shouldn't be doing it."
M. GATES: Whether Oxfam started early enough, I can't really answer. I don't know which facts they knew when. But I will say this, it is
important to clean it up because we all have to believe in these institutions that are doing this very important work on the frontline.
AMANPOUR: I want to address something, Bill, that you wrote in this letter. You both have written quite a lot, but you have written, "As much
as we try to encourage feedback, we know that some of our critics don't speak up because they don't want to risk losing money. That means, we need
to hire well, consult experts, learn constantly and seek out different viewpoints." Well, explain.
B. GATES: Well, in a lot of fields, like they get into the HIV vaccine, we are funding lots and lots of different approaches and if somebody thinks we
are missing something there or one of the approaches has no merit at all, maybe they're not going to speak up as much. So we have to create lots of
forms where people are open. We have to bring in many different voices. All we care about is getting that vaccine as quickly as we can and saving
in that case, millions of lives, and so you know, the smart people, we need all their good thinking.
AMANPOUR: You talk about wanting to save more and more kids, one of the questions that you say you're asked a lot which can sound quite cynical and
kind of cruel and cold is what's the point of saving all these children? Doesn't that just lead to over population?
AMANPOUR: I mean, that's a pretty difficult question and a point to take on. How do you answer that?
B. GATES: Well, the key point is that the best way of saving lives and reducing population growth is to get these vaccines out and help these
young children. There are no countries where you have good health and high population growth. When parents see that their first two or three children
are going to survive, then as a whole, they choose to have less children and so we were confused about this because unless you understand that
change in thinking of parents, it seems like common sense that if you save millions of kids, you're going to have more kids who will have more kids.
But in fact, that is completely wrong and it is what allowed us to feel so good about this amazing health work we get to do.
AMANPOUR: What would you say is one of the toughest or most, you know, prescient kind of questions that you've got. You've got this 10 that you
list and then you answer, which were the ones that surprised you the most?
M.GATES: There were certainly more questions this year about us working with this current administration than we've ever had before. We get those
questions all the time no matter which side of the aisle the administration is on, but I think just in the environment that's out there, the news cycle
is what's being said. We got far more of those questions this year.
I think the other thing that surprised both of us was how many people asked me about our working relationship, but don't ask Bill that question, so we
wrote about that in the annual letter just in case it is helpful to people.
AMANPOUR: You know what? I was actually going to get to that sort of towards the end, but you bring it up. So, Melinda, tell us and Bill also,
what it's meant to you to work together, how you divide and conquer the labor and how long did it take you, Melinda to sort of quote-unquote, "be
taken as a equal to Bill."
M. GATES: It's an expressed goal of ours that we -- first of all, we are equal partners of the foundation, so it is an expressed goal of ours to
make sure that people know and see that. And as I write I the annual letter, it took a bit of time quite honestly because when Bill retired from
Microsoft, which has been almost ten years ago and we were doing more visits together with Presidents and Prime Ministers, they could turn to him
first in the meeting and that's kind of natural in a certain way, but we had to just create some space and some time and let a little time go by and
then as soon as I would speak up, people would realize, "Oh my gosh, she's an equal partner here in this work."
But we would have these funny conversations at home like, "Well, wasn't that a little bit strange," and we'd just made sure we that we got over
that and now, I think we are seen as equal partners, and that's important because we are role modeling that for other couples, other businesses and
honestly, for our own kids, too, because we want this generation to grow up knowing that men and women are equal. They just are.
AMANPOUR: Bill, how weird was it for you? Because I mean, you were the CEO, you're the master of the universe, what was it like actually kind of
realizing that your wife was an equal partner?
B. GATES: Well, I've always benefited from having somebody who cared about what I was working on and can advise me. At Microsoft, that was Paul Allan
in the early days and Steve Ballmer. It's the best with Melinda because she knows me so well that if I am over energetic about something and/or
pushing the group too hard, missing out on something that she sees, you know, partners help each other do a better job.
We do specialize a bit some topics, I dive into; some of the science topics somewhat more. So we have different proclivities, but we have a common
goal and benefit from each other's perspectives.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess, you could have described Microsoft as tech Internet 1.0, and now you've got sort of the 2.0's with the Facebook and all the
other major, major platforms. It seems like they're having their day in the dog house right now rather than their day in the sun.
For both of you, how do you think that they need to restore their reputation? I mean, we are hearing -- obviously, you know what's been
going on with the interference in the elections, the use of social media as nefarious platforms, the fake news, the ripping apart of the social fabric
as even some of the people who founded these social media platforms say. What advice would you have for your successors?
B. GATES: Well, those are complicated issues. The tech platforms are now a type of media and the media business has always had to think about how it
balance view points and represents the whole spectrum. These companies deserve to be part of the public dialogue, the policies on what they allow
to go across our platforms, how they deal with privacy.
B. GATES: With their monumental success and profitability comes a responsibility to work with governments all over the world.
AMANPOUR: Back to the very important situation of how you deal with governments, particularly your own and the administration, you've talked in
your letter about dealing with all administrations and you have been in talks with President Trump and his people, too. How did this
administration in your area of philanthropy and foreign aid and development stack up, what do you say to them? What do they say to you?
M. GATES: We create peace and security with that foreign aid budget, so we are always advocating for that. This particular administration has been
more difficult in that arena. They proposed cuts -- substantial cuts in foreign aid, luckily Congress held up those budgets. But we are constantly
making that case for foreign aid and why it is so critically, critically important for the world.
AMANPOUR: So, Bill, President Trump has talked about America's first. How does America first jive with foreign aid budgets and development? Is one
at the expense of the other?
B. GATES: Well, I feel very strongly that even if you just look at the benefits to Americans that if you keep the world stable so that you send
our soldiers overseas less often. If you keep the rest of the world healthy, so pandemics aren't coming to our shores and making Americans
sick, if you keep those countries stable so that economically, they are buying our products and participating in the world's economy. That has
huge benefits to Americans.
Our participation in the international system has been a great thing for America and so, the discussion is if you interpret America first, as "Hey,
we don't want to export anymore or don't want them to be in the UN," a very extreme view of that, it would hurt Americans and so that discussion is
taking place and we can justify, I believe the modest portion of the budget that goes towards these goals.
AMANPOUR: Bill and Melinda Gates, thank you so much for joining us today.
M. GATES: Thanks, Christiane.
B. GATES: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Turning now to one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. That's fragile state, my next guest, the former British Prime
Minister, David Cameron, has been focusing a lot of his time on this issue since his own political career was brought to a dramatic end after the
Brexit vote in 2016 when the UK voted to leave the E.U. He called that referendum.
He has became Chairman of the new commission on state fragility, growth and development, which is unveiling some quite controversial remedies in
Washington tomorrow. And he recently testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about changing the whole premise of aid to fragile
nations, and I sat down with Cameron earlier this week before he took off for Washington and we talked about this as well as about those strikes in
Syria and how Brexit will define his legacy.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Cameron, welcome.
DAVID CAMERON, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF GREAT BRITAIN: Great to be here.
AMANPOUR: So can you just define for us fragility? What is fragile for the purpose of your report.
CAMERON: A fragile state is one that has been racked by conflicts, affected by corruption. One that is not really capable of delivering the
basic services like health and education that its people needs. It's often got a very divided society and as well as, obviously leaving people trapped
in poverty for generation after generation.
These fragile states have a huge effect on the rest of the world. They can be the source of problems, mass migration, sometimes terrorist training
camps, centers for people trafficking, so it's a real problem in our world and one that in many ways is getting worse and that's what this report that
I have been chairing for the last year has been looking at.
AMANPOUR: And there are several some might find them controversial points there, because you are not arguing just to keep giving aid and some say,
throwing good money off to bad, and nor are you arguing just to make a transactional relationship with countries.
For instance, one of the points you say is about elections and it is not necessarily the greatest thing to immediately have democratic elections
after a civil war, tell us why not because that would sound counterintuitive?
CAMERON: Well, first all, on the aid point, I am an enormous supporter of aid as Prime Minister of Britain, was the first G-7 country to achieve 0,7%
of gross national income growing in again, that was a promise we made to the poorest people in the world, the poorest countries in the world and I
am proud we kept that promise and it's paid for vaccinating millions of children against diseases we wouldn't dream of our own children dying of
it, educated children. It's helped to rebuild countries, it's made our world safer. It's lifted millions of people out of poverty.
I am not saying we should stop giving aid to fragile states. Our report is saying, we've got to do it in a different way. Now, one of the things we
do first with these very fragile countries is we completely over load them with priorities, and we need to strip that back and say actually, the most
important things are basic security and basic economics.
CAMERON: Can I -- am I safe in bed at night and can I put a meal on the table for my family in the morning? Now, what we are saying about
elections is controversial. We are saying, we are in favor of elections, we are in favor of democracy, but don't rush to the multiparty election in
some of these very fragile, very conflict affected states.
What you need to do is make sure there is genuine peace, genuine security, make sure there is proper arrangements for power sharing. If you go
straight to the election, you may find you get one person, one vote, but it might be one person one vote once. And one of the parties to the conflict
wins the election and then really overrides the system and you don't get the genuine democracy.
Because one of the points in our report is the building blocks of democracy, the rule of law, checks and balances, making sure no one becomes
over powerful, some of those basic freedoms, those building blocks are actually, in many cases more important than the actual act of holding the
elections, but we're not anti-elections. We just say, "Let's try and sort out the internal dynamics of these countries first.
AMANPOUR: I mean, just to sum it up, perhaps because as you say, after a civil war, the powerful are left standing, sort of the militias, the war
lords and it's not often, and if they get power immediately in a democratic election, then it is not quite the free and fair politically inclusive ...
CAMERON: That's right, you may end up -- I mean, arguably this happened in Iraq and with a sheer dominated government. Instead, what you want to try
and do with these countries and it's easy to say, and it's much more difficult to do it, what you've got to try to do is make sure you've got
proper arrangements for power sharing. Are you going to have an Iraq that will work for Shia, Sunni, and Kurd and Christian? Are you are going to
have a Rwanda that will look after both Hutus and Tutsis?
It's those -- trying to make sure there are checks and balances. There are ways of power sharing that are working. So, sometimes, it might be better,
our report finds to have a provisional government that can fix some of these things first, make sure you put those building blocks with democracy
in place and then go to the multi-party elections.
AMANPOUR: You said just to follow up on it, we are not going to come in with a whole list of priorities. I mean, one of the problems you will say
is the west come in and says, "We want this. We want this. We want to make you and our image." What do you want? You can't just give them the
aid. I mean, they must at least be able to govern and stamp out corruption and ...
CAMERON: I think the first thing is -- first, we've got to be realistic. Sometimes, we look at a country like Somalia, deeply broken and conflict
affected and problems with terrorism and migration and all the rest of it and the international community always says, "Right, we've got this great
plan to turn you into Denmark," you know, this model of democracy in a very short period of time. It's totally unrealistic.
So strip back the priorities. But most important of all, make sure they are the country's priorities, because in the end, fragile states only
become unfragile when they have capable governments, when they have legitimate institutions and crucially, when the people in those countries
look to those governments and institution and say, "Yes, they are mine. I am prepared to take orders from them. I am prepared to obey them. I am
prepared to work with this country."
So, it is very important that the priorities set are set by the countries and the governments themselves. Sometimes in the past, we've always
undermined the governments and the institutions of these country, all out of good intentions. But we need to change the way we do things, and that's
why this report is quite radical. We're saying, instead of telling you here's the money, here are the policies you must pursue. We're saying,
"No, let's scrap that. It's your plan, your priorities. We will help you. We will fund it, but ..." and it is a big but, governance conditionality.
If you waste the money, if you steal the money, if you can't show how the money has been spent, if there isn't proper audit, proper governance, we
won't give you any. And I think that's a very big change, and I think it's a very important change that our report suggests.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned the report actually has quite some startling figures.
CAMERON: Well, the big figure is -- what the world has agreed is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Those were the millennium development
goals, we pride to play a role in helping to put those together. But of course, we won't meet those goals unless we deal with the fragile states
because some of these countries, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Liberia, some of these countries are actually poorer than they were 40 or
50 years ago.
And so there is no prospect of tackling extreme poverty unless we tackle state fragility and the truth about our world today is that actually, India
or China with growth and development are lifting their own poor out of poverty, and by 2030, we'll find half of the world's poor will be in these
CAMERON: They'll be in the DRCs, the Burundi, the Somalis, the South Sudans, the Yemens -- countries which are badly fractured. So what we're
arguing for is very difficult. Because it's much easier to vaccinate a child or to build a school. It is not easy, but it is relatively
straightforward compared with building honest tax authorities and honest governments and tackling corruption, but it does not mean we shouldn't try.
AMANPOUR: Right, but the obvious question is are all of these governments which are feeling besieged today whether it is by immigration or refugees
or any number of populist politics, the economy, are they going to do it? Are they going to have the political will?
CAMERON: I think if we say to them we're going to start piling up priorities onto you, we're going to stop telling you what to do and how to
do it. We want you to come up with a plan to bring your nation together, to bring disputed parties together, to develop your country and we will
back you. I think is a far better prospect of long term success, and this applies not just to donor governments and DFID and USAID, it also applies
to the IMF and the World Bank and these big institutions.
Sometimes, they treat fragile states the same as they treat other countries. And if you take the IMF, it's pointless saying to the poorest
country in the world, "You've got to have the same sort of programs and the same sort of goals as some of the richest countries in the world."
I am the biggest enthusiast for getting rid of deficits and dealing with debt, but when you are dealing with a totally broken country, you've got to
start with are there roads to get your roads to get your goods to market? Are there ports where you can export your produce? Do you have electricity
and energy for your people to be able to start and run businesses? You've got to get some of the basics in place rather than these annual programs?
AMANPOUR: And talking about broken countries, Syria is obviously very, very broken, you were Prime Minister famously in 2013 when a similar
situation came up. Using chemical weapons and should the world respond or not? You wanted to, you took it to Parliament and they said no to you.
How much of a mistake was that? And do you agree with what the British Prime Minister did this time, not taking it to Parliament and striking
Assad's chemical weapons facility?
CAMERON: In fact what Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron and President Trump have done, I think the use of chemical weapon is absolutely abhorrent. We
cannot allow it to become normalized in our world that it's sort of part of the battlefield picture, and I think what they've done is right. I deeply
regret that Parliament didn't vote for similar action in 2013.
I think I know why a lot of people were so unhappy about what had happened in Iraq and they were so bruised by that. I remember talking to MP after
MP who said, "I quite support what you are proposing with respect to Syria, but I am so bruised by the experience with Iraq, I can't vote for it." And
that was a huge problem.
So, I think she's done the right thing. This is not about regime change in Syria, although God knows we need it. It's not about intervening in the
Civil War, it is about making a point that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about Brexit. Let me quote, "Peter Mandelson said that history will remember David Cameron simply as the Prime Minister
who took us out of the E.U. I don't think there'll be anything else. A man who took this tactical risk, which then turned into a strategic
blunder." And then you yourself were caught on an open mic in Davos basically saying that this was a mistake, Brexit, but not a disaster. It's
turned out less badly than we first thought.
Now, I don't know whether you are willing to put a value judgment on Brexit, but I want to ask you personally what you feel about your political
obituary if you like, being this. This being the first line of it.
CAMERON: Well, obviously people will make the judgment about my 11 years leading the Conservative Party and six years leading the country. I hope
people will look at the fact that when I became Prime Minister, we had one of the biggest budget deficits in the world and we reduced that radically.
We created over two million jobs, a million new businesses. We became the fastest growing country in the G-7. There was an economic record and there
are some other things I am very proud of, actually being the first G-7 country to keep its promise to the poorest countries and the poorest people
in the world. I think it is something to be prud of.
Honestly, Brexit is a huge event in our country's history. I don't regret holding a referendum, I think it was the right thing to do. I don't think
you can belong to these organizations and see their powers grow and treaty after treaty and power after power, going from Westminster to Brussels and
never asking the people whether they are happy governed in that way, but I have not changed my mind about the results of the referendum.
I wish the vote had gone another way. I think we have taken the wrong course, but to be frank, you know Britain is the fifth largest economy in
the world. It is a legitimate choice to try and be a friend and a neighbor and a partner of the European Union rather than a member of the European
Union and that's what the country has chosen. I accept the result.
I wish my successor well in the work that she's doing. I know, being Prime Minister, it is a hard enough job without your predecessor giving you a
running country, and that's why I haven't been giving interviews and the rest of it.
AMANPOUR: But for all the things you just said to me about the successes that you've done, the changes and the transformation, are you worried that
this will be what people will remember you for?
CAMERON: Well, I think people will make up their own minds. I obviously believe I was right to hold the referendum. I made a promise to the
British people, I kept that promise. The point I would made is that people say it is all about politics and of course, there's always politics
involved in these decisions, but there is also, I believe a fundamental problem that Britain had and Britain, we're seeing with the development of
the single currency and the beginning of decisions being made about us without us and we needed to fix our position.
I wanted to fix it inside the European Union, the British public chose that we would fix it from outside European Union, and I wish my successor well
with her work in being what I hope will be a good and friendly and close neighbor to the European Union rather that as we were -- perhaps, we were
slightly reluctant and sometimes unhappy tenant.
AMANPOUR: David Cameron, thank you very much. We hope to continue that conversation when you've written your book.
CAMERON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thanks very much.
AMANPOUR: And about those Syria strikes, of course, it was because the British Parliament rebuffed David Cameron's call for action in Syria in
2013, than in large part, President Obama decided against going to Congress and therefore, against enforcing his own red line on Syria's use of
And that is for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.