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Call to Arms on Climate Change; U.S. Pulling Out of the Paris Climate Agreement; What Happened to Jamal Khashoggi?; Ivo Daalder's New Book, "The Empty Throne". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 8, 2018 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Time is running out as stark new report urges governments and all of us to act now to stop catastrophic climate change, what you can do to fight back.
The architect of the Paris Agreement, Christiana Figueres, joins the show.
Also, ahead, what happened to journalist and Saudi critic, Jamal Khashoggi? Turkish officials claim he was killed after entering his consulate in
Istanbul. The Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, reacts.
Plus, Brett Kavanaugh and the politicization of the Supreme Court. My conversation with the leading conservative thinker, Robert George.
And then a much-needed antidote for our times. Comedian, Aasif Mandvi, talks about his play about Indian immigrants who come to New York to pursue
their American dream.
Welcome, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
We are living through extreme heat, floods, inundated coast lines right now. But U.N. experts paint a dire picture of those catastrophes on
steroid. In their most extensive warning yet, they are giving a call to arms, saying individuals and, of course, government have just over a decade
to take urgent and unprecedented action to prevent the earth's temperature exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius that would be beyond pre-industrial levels.
They now say that the world cannot afford to cross that threshold, not the previous 2-degree target. And the U.N. report also calls for an annual
investment of $2 trillion in clean energy. President Trump, as we know, is pulling the United States of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which more
than 180 countries have ratified.
And in Brazil now, Jair Bolsonarom, a far-right candidate on track to be the next president says he also plans to withdraw from the accord.
My guest was the lead U.N. negotiator for the landmark Paris Climate deal, Christiana Figueres, joins me now. Welcome to the program.
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, FORMER U.N. CLIMATE CHIEF: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, I found it really quite catastrophic to hear this report. Are you sort of depressed or energized by this dire warning we've
FIGUERES: Well, as you might expect characteristically for me, I'm actually quite energized because it really, for the first time, paints a
very, very stark contrast between two worlds that we are about to create.
So, it's -- many people think, "Well, half a degree is not big a deal." Half a degree makes a world of difference because it takes us to two
completely different worlds. And this is the first time that the IPPC, the scientists around the world, the climate scientists, have actually gone in
to that half degree difference and painted it, the contrast, very starkly for us.
AMANPOUR: The contrast is --
FIGUERES: I think that's a --
AMANPOUR: exactly what?
FIGUERES: The contrast is a world which if we could pass through the threshold of 2 degrees we are going for a world of more destruction of
infrastructure, more deaths of people due to climate -- due to air pollution, due to the destruction that will come, due to floods,
inundations, more --
AMANPOUR: Hurricanes and all those kinds of things?
AMANPOUR: And what about -- you said 2 degrees but it's 1.5, isn't it?
FIGUERES: Yes, but they're painting the picture between two worlds, right? One is the world that goes below -- that goes above the 2 degrees, and the
other is the world that stays around 1.5. That is a world that actually has more jobs, it has more economic benefit, it has 65 million more jobs in
a world where young people are really concerned about jobs, 65 million new jobs is very interesting.
AMANPOUR: So, that's a really interesting economic sort of --
AMANPOUR: -- opportunity.
AMANPOUR: That many of the climate deniers, if you like, always say, "Oh, no, it's too expensive in terms of economics."
FIGUERES: No, it's actually to the contrary.
AMANPOUR: It's the opposite?
FIGUERES: It's the absolute opposite. The discussion now is whether that 1.5-degree world is going to bring us $60 or $65 trillion in economic
benefits, that is the discussion.
AMANPOUR: So, when they say we have until 2030 to fix this and not let it get above that threshold of 1.5, that's quite a short period of time.
FIGUERES: Yes, 12 years is a short period of time. But we also have to see where were we 12 years ago? 12 years ago, frankly, renewable energy
was a pipe dream. Look at everything that has come through that pipe now, right? Now we have already 12 percent of all of the energy in the world is
already renewable and we're on track not only to double that every four years but actually to get to 50 percent of all energy by 2030 will be
renewable, at least maybe even more.
AMANPOUR: So, this is the good news. This is the positive spin --
FIGUERES: That' the good news.
AMANPOUR: -- on what we can do. So, actually, what must we do, first and foremost, as individuals? What can we do? I mean, they're talking about
trying to wean us off eating meat and all the other obvious things. And then what must governments do?
FIGUERES: Well, there is a combination, right? First, we have to ensure that the pattern that has been set by energy with renewable energy is
followed by every sector. We're not on track with (INAUDIBLE) with a restoration of degraded lands, we're not on track with protecting our
standing forests, we're not on track with smart agriculture. That whole sector needs to catch up quite quickly.
The same thing with heavy industry. So, how do we get those on track? We need a radical collaboration that would be, A, governments need to set an
even bolder signal than they set in Paris, infrastructure needs to be invested in so everyone in the investment community needs to shift their
capital very quickly into clean infrastructure, clean resilient low-carbon infrastructure. We need to have behavioral changes because we cannot
continue to eat meat that is animal based. We have to change to plant- based food. And of course, we need the corporate world to also shift itself over from where we are to where many of the corporates already are,
which is low-carbon services and products.
AMANPOUR: For instance, electric cars will become the norm rather than the exception as they are now?
FIGUERES: Absolutely. Absolutely.
AMANPOUR: And just to be clear for people who don't understand, don't eat meat because, is it the methane release into the atmosphere, is it because
of the water intensity? Why is that?
FIGUERES: Well, it's both. It's the methane but it's also because typically where you have animal production it has actually been possible
because you have deforested land. And so, the deforestation, both, is emitting but also, is actually degrading the land from the capability of
absorbing carbon. So, for many --
AMANPOUR: The forest we need to absorb that carbon and turn it into --
FIGUERES: But you also said electric vehicles, Christiane, and that's also, you know, the story -- honestly, the story of the year because just
three years ago when we thought about electric vehicles, we thought, "Well, that's a complete science fiction," right? Well, science fiction has
turned into reality.
You have every single major car company has now already announced that they are going electric, that their models are going electric. Some of them
have actually said, "We will turn all our models electric." And you have eight countries that have said, "We're banning the internal combustion
engine." Setting a date including India.
India has said, "As of 2030, no more vehicles that have internal combustion engines will be sold in India." So, you do see a huge shift.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you mentioned India and China. Every time we have this discussion, everybody says, the experts says, "Well, India and China and
those countries feel that it's their turn now. We in the West had the industrial revolution, we had the economic progress, we've done so much.
And now, it's their turn, these emerging massive behemoth economies."
What do you say to India and China when they say, "Oh, but it's not fair?"
FIGUERES: Well, the more important thing is what are they saying, and they're saying, "We actually want this transformation because it's better
for the health of our people." Indian citizens and Chinese citizens also want to breathe clean air. They don't want to breathe the polluted air
they have right now. So, they understand that it's better for the health of their people, they understand that it's better for their economy because
we're moving definitely into a decarbonized global economy where competitiveness is going to depend on the carbon content of your exports.
So, they want to be one step ahead of it. China is definitely leading in both renewables, both in solar and in wind.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's say is the the second biggest economy in the world, some people think it's giving the U.S. a run for its money right
now. The U.S. is still the biggest economy in the world, and President Trump is pulling the U.S. out of this deal.
Now, up until now, governors and mayors and others have said, "But you know what, we and the American people in our local level, we are committed to
Paris numbers." When I spoke to Governor Jerry Brown, not so long ago in New York, and he said, "Look," you know, and so did the U.S. Secretary
General, "we're close to the point of no return. And that without our government," said Governor Brown, the U.S. government, you know, "we're not
able to get to those targets that we want ourselves to get to." This is what he told me about the state of affairs in the United States right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY BROWN, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: Donald Trump has got his head in the sand. He wants to destroy the vehicle emission standards that California
and many other states are trying to implement. He's trying to bring back coal, a dying resource, and he's not making the investments in electric
batteries and zero emission automobiles and trucks that China is doing.
And all of this rhetoric about this China, I'm afraid American, if we keep following Trump, will wake up to find out that most cars in the world are
made by China because America went down a rat hole of oil and coal dependency that is no longer consistent with the way the world is now
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And he also says that California, the world's fifth biggest economy, will be carbon neutral by 2050, which is what the U.N. is calling
AMANPOUR: So, that's what he says. What countries do you look at and say, "Wow, they are doing a great job"? Others are not doing such a good job.
We just said Brazil maybe wanted to pull out of this thing, if Jair Bolsonaro wins.
What countries would you say the world needs to -- could look at as an example?
FIGUERES: Well, first, I don't think anyone is perfect, right, because this is all condition everybody is learning. So, I don't think that anyone
can be set up there as the perfect example. But I do think the efforts being made in China, on certain sectors, on closing coal, on investing in
renewables, on electric vehicles, on charging stations, all of that, China is actually doing quite well.
India is doing similar efforts. In Latin America, because you mentioned Brazil, I think Mexico and Chile and my own tiny Costa Rica stand out as
really very interesting examples of what smaller or even tiny economies can do because this is not a question of size, right. This is a question of we
are here not playing house anymore. We are here defining the history of humankind, and everyone needs to participate.
This is not about one electoral cycle. This is about how are we going co- create the future of this world for future generations. So, you cannot leave it, that responsibility, to a few individuals who have been elected
to positions of power for a short political cycle because from the perspective of mankind, four years is actually a very short period.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Unfortunately, as you say, you can't but you are. I mean, this is what's happening --
FIGUERES: No, no.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is. Because governments are being told they have to make these investments like $2 trillion plus every year in renewables and
the president of the United States, for instance, is pulling out of various already agreed things.
FIGUERES: yes. But that doesn't stop the economy of the United States. As we saw in California and Jerry Brown was the host of this fantastic
global climate action summit, the fact is that just because the president says that this is his ideological stand, which has no backing in economics
AMANPOUR: But they're rolling back carbon --
FIGUERES: They are rolling back but --
AMANPOUR: Clean water, clean air.
FIGUERES: But the states continue to move on. It is not just California, it's actually a whole host of states that are supporting California to
continue to move forward. It is a growing number of cities, it's a growing number of corporations who truly understand, yes, maybe this contributes to
global climate change, but more importantly, it's about their competitiveness. It's because as a corporation you want to ensure that the
day after tomorrow you're going to have investors who trust you, that you haven't lost the value of your assets, you want to have products that will
able to sell. And certainly, you want to have young people who work for you.
AMANPOUR: Let me just play -- you said haven't lost the value of their assets. I mean, if low-lying areas get inundated, that's a huge loss of a
huge value of a lot assets --
FIGUERES: And lives.
AMANPOUR: -- including -- well, yes, exactly. Lives being the most clear assets. I talked to Jacinda Ardern, who is the Prime Minister of New
Zealand, very, very committed to this. And at one point said that perhaps New Zealand is going to have to take in a whole load of climate refugees.
This is what she told me in New York about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Pacific Island Nations identified climate change as being the biggest threat we face, the biggest
threat that we face. But the message that came through really strongly for me as well was that we cannot give up. It cannot be the sentiment that
it's solely about now adaptation, that we still have a responsibility to try and ensure that wherever in the world an individual is living, that
they have the option of being able to preserve their culture, their language, their place, their land and simply conceding that sea also rising
and that they will be inundated as not the position that they want us to fight for. They want us to fight to try and reverse what we're seeing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, very sensible. Somebody who say what you -- you know, you often say, but all the way over the other side of the world, and she's
really talking about the small, not rich, not very developed nations.
What about, again, our powerful, rich governments, and I'm talking a lot about the United States, who maybe scientists are still debating whether
climate change is a hoax or not, not the scientist but people in government, et cetera, and say, "Well, hang on, you know, we can afford to
wait a little bit. Maybe these predictions won't be as bad as they're telling us now."
FIGUERES: Yes. I mean, the fact every time that we have a scientific report, it only gets worse and worse. It never contradicts itself. It
only goes into more detail and more scientific certainty. So, the trend on science is very, very clear. And this report that has come out actually
says it's the new scientific compass. There's no doubt about that. No doubt about that.
I think it's very important for people to understand that, yes, we may have for a certain period of time certain leadership, but that cannot establish
how we are responding to this as a human society. We all have the responsibility to share in this and we all have the responsibility to make
our voices heard, to see where our capital is, to see how we transport ourselves, to see what we're eating and accept individual as well
AMANPOUR: Well, the good news is it has been top news today, this new report.
FIGUERES: Indeed, it has.
AMANPOUR: So, people are incredibly energized about it and getting the word out. Christiana Figueres, thank you so much for joining.
FIGUERES: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
So, relinquishing its leadership on climate is just one of the ways the Trump administration is pulling the U.S. out of its traditional global
leadership role. That, in any event, is the view of a group of Republican and Democratic foreign policy analysts.
We've heard recently from Bob Kagan. And now, President Obama's former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, has published, "The Empty Throne:
America's Abdication of Global Leadership." We'll delve into that precisely with him as we start though with a potential consequence of this
stance. That is, the international mystery into the whereabouts of the Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, from consulate in Istanbul.
He went from adviser to the royal family in Saudi Arabia to a critic of what he considered Saudi Arabia's heavy-handed crackdowns at home and wars
abroad. He sought residence in the United States, where he continued to speak out and is a columnist for "The Washington Post."
America's usual support of Saudi Arabia has been amped up under President Trump, who has embraced Crowned Prince, Mohammad bin Salman. While Saudi
Arabia has denied anything to do with Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance and says that it's looking into it along with Turkish authorities. Turkey has
also requested a search of its Istanbul consulate after unnamed Turkish officer say the outspoken critic was killed inside.
Let's unpack all of this with Ivo Daalder and see how it might play into the theme of his book. As we have mentioned, it is called "The Empty
Throne." I've got it right here.
Ivo Daalder, welcome to the program.
IVO DAALDER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Nice to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, look, let me ask you, in a normal world, what would the United States public reaction be to the disappearance of a prominent
journalist and somebody who, at least for the moment, is living, working and residing in the United States?
DAALDER: Well, you would hope that the United States would, at least, start asking very serious questions about what was going on. But -- and
press the Saudis for answers. Normally, we'd also have an ambassador in Saudi Arabia, we don't, who could be part of the partial of making this
But clearly, when journalists are killed or disappeared, as happened also in Bulgaria, you would hope that the United States, the leader of the free
world, someone -- a country that upholds democracy, freedom, human rights would make this point number one, if not number one, number two on the list
of issues and raise it in Riyadh, raise it with Saudi ambassador and Washington. And so far, silence.
AMANPOUR: Well, they say -- they tell CNN they're doing it but it's so far not public. Again, how important is it to be public? You're a diplomat,
you're a former ambassador. What is the right way to try to get answers to these kinds of sensitive issues from your strong ally?
DAALDER: Well, clearly getting on the phone and having quiet conversations in order to see whether you can get an answer is one way to get it, but
we're not getting any answers. And so, having a more public face, making sure that people understand that this is very, very serious.
The British government has made statements, the French government has made statements, and why not the United States? Why aren't we out there and
saying, "We need answers to the very real questions." What happened to a man who walked into a consulate and was never seen again? This is the kind
of thing that you would hope the United States would take a leadership role on.
AMANPOUR: And again, the Saudi government, Saudi official has said, "We are very concerned. We have no knowledge and we're also are trying to
help." But there's a huge amount of suspicion because we're told that plane loads of Saudis including diplomats arrived in Istanbul at the same
time that Jamal Khashoggi was in the consulate.
They went into the consulate. He allegedly, according to their surveillance footage, did not come out. From what you know about having
been a NATO ambassador, and Turkey obviously is a member of NATO, what is the geopolitical fallout if the worst has happened, if he has been killed,
if the worst -- what the Turkish government officers are briefing on background turns out to be true?
DAALDER: Well, one is, of course, the relationship between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, already tense in many ways in part because Turkey is much
more closely aligned with Qatar and there is a major difference between the Saudis and UAE on the one hand and Qatar on the other hand.
And if the Turks now start to take this incident as yet another reason to oppose the Saudis, that will be a problem. But it's also a problem for us.
We can't live in a world, frankly, and accept that major partners of ours are going to go around and arrest and then execute without trial or
anything else dissidents who they don't like, and this is what the Saudis are now accused of doing.
We can't go back to having a normal kind of relationship with a country like Saudi Arabia. And by the way, this isn't the first time, of course,
that the Saudis are saying things and doing things that the United States is reacting to.
Remember, just a few months ago, a major reaction from Saudis in response to some criticism from Canada about the human rights record in Saudi Arabia
that led to the recalling of the ambassador, that led to the recalling of students, the end of trading relationships. And the only thing the U.S.,
remember, the leader of the free world, could say about its northern neighbor in major conflict with Saudi Arabia was this is a diplomatic issue
that the two countries need to resolve themselves.
We need the United States and we've had a United States for a very long time that tries to set an example about how one behaves in the world. And
that United States, unfortunately, is missing.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get deeper into that with "The Empty Throne," as you put it, regarding the United States and its global leadership.
First of all, I wanted to play you a bit of an interview I did with the Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir. It was not in
relation to this case because it didn't happen. But I asked him about Saudi arresting and cracking down on political activists including women
activists. This is what he told me about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADEL BIN AHMED AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: The notion that these were activists and they were arrested because they're activists is not
correct. The public prosecutor said that their charges are related to national security. Their charges are related to working with one
government. Their charges are related to working with people who seek to undermine the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Their charges were related to
trying to recruit people in sensitive positions in order to extract information from that and then pass on the hostile powers. And those
charges are being investigated.
Some of them have been released. Others will face trial. These were not about the human rights or seeking rights, these arrests were about national
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, portraying any kind of activism as a national security threat, what do you think is going on in Saudi Arabia right now? Because
the criticism by Jamal Khashoggi was off the embolden stance of Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the crowned prince.
DAALDER: Well, clearly, he's trying to consolidate power, and that's the nature of the system in which he is living. He, remember, was the deputy
crowned prince and that was elevated to become crowned prince. And since then, we've seen a whole variety of activities by MBS to try to consolidate
power. That's what we're seeing.
And every criticism, so it appears, of those actions are being met with very swift and very strong measures, including if -- what happened to Mr.
Khashoggi turn out to be true that a critic was taken into a consulate and killed as a result, without due process, without the kind of normal way in
which one would deal with political dissent.
AMANPOUR: Again, MBS as we call him, Prince Mohammad bin Salman, did say to Bloomberg at the beginning of this crisis, "We hear the rumors about
what's happened. He's Saudi citizen. We're very keen to know what happened to him and we will continue our dialogue with the Turkish
government to see what happened to Jamal there."
Let's get back to the heart of the issue because the heart is who will hold him accountable, what is the United States' role in furthering its
leadership, in furthering its moral role in the world, its economic role, its role of alliances and security around the world.
And you have concluded that it's an empty throne right now. America's abdication of global leadership. And as I said, you're not the only one.
You maybe Democrat leading, but former conservation who'd be ambassadors as well are writing these books as well.
So, what is your big totem around which build this theory, "The Empty Throne"?
DAALDER: Well, there's a concern and I think that's -- as you said, it's bipartisan and been around for a long time. The United States has occupied
a unique leadership role for the past 70 years and decided after World War II that it needed to remain engaged in the world to build collective
security alliances and institutions from the United Nations, to NATO, to our security relationship with countries in Asia, to open up the
international economic system, to open trade and foster as much free trade as possible, and to be a promoter, if not a guarantor of democracy and
freedom across the globe.
Democrats and Republicans have agreed on that strategy for 70 years. They have had difference emphasis at timed and some have been willing to use
more force in order to enforce that kind of leadership, others have been more willing to stress the importance of human rights. And there have been
all kinds differences among them. But the fundamentals were, the United States leads in the world. It looks at who can be followers.
We are no longer interested in leading. We're interested in winning. Winning is completely different. That is about beating the other side.
And this president, in particular, has been focused on winning against our allies, whether they are Canada, in -- as a northern neighbor, our allies
in NATO or in East Asia, and we're forgetting the role the U.S. has played.
AMANPOUR: But (INAUDIBLE) advocate, his people, his base, his -- the people who voted for him might think it's a great thing, for instance, to
be the first president to really hold China's feet to the fire on what he calls (INAUDIBLE). They might like winning. They might see that as
DAALDER: And if the issue is China, then the question is who is with us? Why aren't we spending more time to get the European Union, which by the
way, is trading quite a bit with China too, the Japanese, the Australians, the Canadians, the Mexicans, in a coalition to work together in order to
put pressure on China and to deal with what president brightly has said are predatory trading practices?
Why don't we build that kind of coalition which is what we used to do? And instead, what the president has done is put steel and aluminum tariffs on
the Canadians, on the Europeans, on Japanese. Even I f there is an agreement, which there was with these countries on certain trade aspects,
we still maintain tariffs. We're not putting them all together in the way we used to.
AMANPOUR: So, there are critics of the president you serve, Barack Obama, who said that he started this withdrawal, whether it was failing to cross
his own red line in Syria, whether it was pulling out troops unilaterally and too quickly from Iraq, which then led to the rise of Isis, whatever it
was, he began this disengagement.
Be that as it may, I'm interested to hear your comment. But you have also written that, you know, President Trump has this kind of strange view of
the United States as a pitiful, wounded giant. It's odd for people like myself who look at the United States as this superpower.
AMANPOUR: And many people around the world could never see the U.S. as a strange -- as a wounded, pitiful giant. But he does say that it's unfair,
we're getting, you know, rumbled by the rest of the world. How does he get away with that?
DAALDER: Well, I'm not sure because we are the most powerful country in the world. We are still the one which has the biggest military, that has
an economic advantage over many other countries, and we have something that almost no one else has. We have allies. We have 55 formal treaty allies.
The Chinese have one, North Korea. And the Russians have five, such (INAUDIBLE) Armenia.
This is not -- this isn't an advantage that the United States has, and we are underestimating how important the U.S. is to global stability and how
AMANPOUR: I also need to ask you, because a lot of people say, "Well, that's what American people want and their president is delivering."
However, recent polls say that Americans are, in fact, worried that the United States is losing allies and support for global -- their support for
global engagement is rising, according to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of America say international trade is good for the U.S., which is
different from four years ago when 68 percent said it was.
So, actually, people in the United States are reacting and wanting more engagement rather than more protectionism and less leadership.
DAALDER: The council on global affairs does annual opinion poll. We just released ours, similar results to what the Pew shows. It is remarkable.
Internationalism is something that Americans now are embracing. We have seen the highest percentage of American saying trade is good for creating
jobs, for consumers like them, for the, you know, American economy, support for NATO and for alliances with South Korea and Japan are the highest level
we've ever seen.
Americans want allies and believe that having allies in the U.N. on their side is something that is important for them to achieve their objectives.
We've finding Americans -- it's like oxygen. You only miss it when it's -- when you don't -- when you can't breathe anymore. And internationalism and
America leadership is something that Americans now desperately want because they see what it means when it's no longer there.
AMANPOUR: It's so interesting. Ivo Daalder, "The Empty Throne," thank you for much indeed for joining us.
DAALDER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, and we turn now from the bitter fight over Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the United States Supreme Court, which is being felt across
the pond here as well. The right of center "Financial Times" says that this has left the republic in a moment of acute danger. Pointing out that
justice was -- that a justice who was eventually confirmed 50 to 48 vote along party lines will effect EPOC rulings on climate change, gun laws, and
importantly, women's rights to make decisions about their own bodies.
So will the United States Supreme Court, long-viewed as a bastion of impartial justice, join the legislative and the executive branches in the
poisonous partisan sinkhole? Well, here to discuss is Robert George. He's Princeton's Professor of Jurisprudence, as well as director of the James
Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. And he's joining me now from New York.
Professor George, thank you very much indeed for being with us. So will, as I put it, will the current stage of partisanship that we see in the
legislative and in the executive branch which you've spoken a lot about follow itself into the Supreme Court? What do you think?
ROBERT GEORGE, DIRECTOR, JAMES MADISON PROGRAM IN AMERICAN IDEALS AND INSTITUTIONS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, the Supreme Court has already
literally divided. There is a liberal wing, a progressive wing, and a conservative weighing. Justice Anthony Kennedy, and before him, Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor were swing voters, sometimes voting with the left wing of the court, sometimes voting with the right wing of the court. They are
And it looks like there is a pretty solid but narrow five to four conservative majority on the court now. Now, for many years, during the
war in Iran, for some time after that, you had a majority liberal court. And the court waded into many big cultural issues, often without being able
to give a very good account of where or how to justify its positions by reference to the text or logic or structure or historical understanding of
And so the court in cases such as Roe versus Wade became a focal point of controversy in divisiveness and we got huge battles over Supreme Court
nominees. And it looks like that will now continue but ramped up by the bitterness and animosity among citizens coming out of this latest
AMANPOUR: So I just want to read you the tweet that came from the White House, from the White House Press Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders when
Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday. And she basically said, "Congratulations Judge Kavanaugh. Instead of a 6-3 liberal Supreme
Court under Hillary Clinton, we now have a 5-4 conservative Supreme Court under President Trump, cementing a tremendous legacy for the president and
a better future for America."
So I mean that goes a little bit to what you were saying about the previous decades of a more liberal court but it also is fairly pointed political
testimony from the White House. So when the presidential spokesperson goes political, you know, what must people be thinking? What do the people of
the United States think is going to happen in the Supreme Court going forward?
GEORGE: I'm not quite sure I understand the question, Christiane because Americans have long understood, at least going back to the New Deal and
really probably before that, that the Supreme Court is not immune from politics. Franklin Delano Roosevelt very carefully made his appointments,
people who would uphold New Deal policies of previous court.
The court that he inherited was striking down those policies. So he made an explicit political judgment as to who to appoint. And, in fact, prior
to getting those appointments, Roosevelt actually tried to pack the court, threatening the very ideal of judicial independence in an effort to
overcome the resistance of the court to the New Deal.
And we got the same thing in the 1960s. We got the same thing in the 1970s. This is not new to Americans. It's the more general atmosphere of
severe partisanship and polarization that I think makes this situation different.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk a little bit about that because you just said severe and it is. I mean everybody around the world, their heads are
spinning on what's happening. People believe that it's an unprecedented situation. I know you say it's not that new, maybe in the strict legal
sense that you're talking about but people have not seen anything like this for a long long time.
And I think you have said that what's happened is that there is, you know, it's a nation where citizens are not necessarily bound together by a common
ethnicity, race, religion, linguistics, et cetera. It's especially critical that we not view each other as evil or monstrous, even when we
have deep disagreements over very divisive issues. Expand on that for us a little bit because that's exactly what seems to be happening in the U.S.
GEORGE: Well, you quoted me accurately, Christiane. We are not a country whose bonds of citizenship are based on blood or soil or throne or alter.
We really are many different ethnicities, religious groups. We don't even have a deep common cultural history or linguistic background. [13:35:00]
We are many different types of people.
What binds us together is our commitment to certain fundamental constitutional ideals, the principles of the declaration of independence.
We've always said that that's what makes us an exceptional nation. But that means that we will only hang together as a nation if we recognize each
other despite our disagreements, sometimes profound disagreements, not as enemies but as friends. Friends who have disagreement but as reasonable
people of good will who don't always come to the same conclusions but who wish to be bound together as citizens.
Since we're not bound together by blood or soil or any of those other factors, race, ethnicity, religion, if we lose our will to be fellow
citizens, to live together in this democratic republic, we will fall apart. The republic will be lost.
James Madison in the tenth Federalist Paper warns the new citizens of the United States as they were considering the new constitution and its
ratification. He warned what has always brought down republics in the past. Wherever they've been tried is faction, faction, polarization. We
had it in a very severe way in 1800 and an even more severe way of course in 1860 and 1861 when we had our terrible civil war which almost brought
the republic down. We had it in the 1960s and we have it now again and anything could touch things off to make it even worse.
We've already had a shooting. Steve Scalise was shot in an attempt by a partisan to assassinate the entire Republican leadership of Congress. You
have people on both sides of the aisle, prominent people getting death threats. This is not a good situation.
We have had some violence in the streets. We could have more violence in the streets. This is a terrible situation. We need to take it very
AMANPOUR: Right. Well, I guess the next obvious question is what do you do about it because it is a terrible situation. And when the Supreme Court
suddenly becomes, again at this particular point as people are saying, suspects are being -- for entering sort of the political zone that we've
seen Congress and the White House over the last several years, people start to lose their faith.
And I guess I just point out, you know, some of those stuff I've been reading, the appointments for instance of previous judges, let's say Ruth
Bader Ginsburg and others, had only very few votes between them. They were appointed if not unanimously, well then not with the huge parties and
divide that we've seen over Justice Kavanaugh. And Kavanaugh who wrote that the court should be apolitical to live at this broadside during that
opening statement the other week. I just wonder whether you -- you can comment on it. I'll play it and you tell me afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent
pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars and money from outside left-
wing opposition groups.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean that was generally thought to be incredibly partisan. How does -- how do you recover from that? What do you do when you go into
the Supreme Court -- apparently tomorrow, he'll put on his robes for the first time and there will be, you know, cases that come before him. Does
he have to somehow make up for that broadside or not?
GEORGE: Well, what every justice has to do is to do his or her best to be nonpartisan, to be fair, not to be prejudiced but, of course, justices have
political views. And so long as the Supreme Court, Christiane continues to wade into big cultural, moral, political struggles, lacking any warrant for
doing so in the text, logic, structure, or plain historical understanding of the Constitution, we will get this kind of partisanship, we will get
partisan judges, we will get partisanship in conflict and controversy, in our confirmation processes.
If the Supreme Court stuck to the Constitution, played less of a legislative role, withdrew from that, let Congress and the state
legislatures handle legislation, stuck to its Article III authority, it would be much better for the nation and it would help to depolarize things,
at least a bit. We still have polarization but it wouldn't be nearly so bad. As long as the Supreme Court is making the final decision in great
big issues that people profoundly care about, controversy will find its way to the Supreme Court, we will be struggling on either side to get our own
partisans appointed to the bench.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, I laid out some of the controversial, huge cultural issues that are at stake, whether it's climate change, gun
ownership, obviously women's rights, Roe versus Wade but I'm interested to know what you think. Because, you know, since the beginning of this
millennium, [13:40:00] we've had, you know, cases like Bush versus Gore right down ideological lines in the Supreme Court, citizens united, the
landmark ruling in 2010 on campaign financing.
And, of course, women are very concerned and many many men that the next target of an ideologically divided court, a politically ideologically
divided court will be Roe versus Wade. And, you know, do you consider it setting all or do you think it's up for grabs by the Supreme Court?
GEORGE: I do think it's up for grabs, Christiane. And I would challenge you on your reference to women think and some men think. Women have minds
of their own. Women have different opinions. Some women are pro-choice, some women are pro-life. They caress passionately on the pro-life side,
whether they are women or men, as they do on the pro-choice side.
The real question is does the Constitution, by the fair interpretation of its text, subtlety abortion question or does it leave it to the legislative
branches. It seems to me quite clear that it's left to the legislative branches. But when the court stepped in to take control of the issue,
rather than permitting it to be handled by the normal compromises of democracy as it has been in most European countries, that guarantee
polarization and partisanship around that issue at the court.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, it's been a cultural struggle. So women and -- women have different views depending on their religious and other political
views. The majority I think are in favor. So it is going to be incredibly divisive again, this whole fight as we go forward.
And I wonder if I can just end by playing a sound bite from Elena Kagan just as this fight over Kavanagh's nomination was going through Congress.
She was, I think in Princeton as well where you are. I misspoke and said that you're in New York or Princeton. And she said the following about the
for, you know, to some moderation somewhere in the center of the Supreme Court. This is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: There has been a person who -- people who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way.
It's not so clear that you know, I think going forward, that sort of middle position, you know, it's not so clear whether we'll have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE: Yes, she's right about that. Justice Kagan is an old and dear friend of mine. I have great respect for her. We're on opposite sides of
the political divide but she's very wise. And what she said there is wise as well.
One of the things she promoted when she was dean at the Harvard Law School was viewpoint diversity on our campus. She wanted liberals, as well as
conservatives, conservatives, as well as liberals, and above all, she wanted -- and this is very much to her credit -- those on the left and
those of the right to recognize each other as reasonable people of good will who just happen to disagree, but who can learn from each other, who
certainly should listen to each other and engage each other, not vilify each other, treat each other as evil or as monsters.
We all have a lot to learn and it takes some intellectual humility and willingness to listen to the other person. And willingness to consider
that maybe even on issues we deeply care about, we could be wrong, that people on the other side might be right. So let's be adversaries when we
must because we disagree but let's also be friends, not enemies, not people who treat each other as evil.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is an incredibly important note to end on. So Professor Robert George from Princeton --
GEORGE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: -- thank you so much indeed for joining.
And now we turn to someone who is trying to bridge the yawning gap in America's new normal, the actor and comedian, Aasif Mandvi. He was born in
India, he was raised in the U.K. and he moved to the United States when he was 16, working in theater and television until his big break came with The
Mandvi is now going back to his theatrical roots, reproducing his 1998 one- man show Sakina's Restaurant. It follows a family of Indian immigrants in New York and it's being released also as an audiobook. Our Alicia Menendez
sat down with Mandvi at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village where his work is being staged.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks so much for being with us.
AASIF MANDVI: Oh, thank you.
MENENDEZ: So what is this play about?
MANDVI: Sakina's Restaurant is a story of Indian-Muslim immigrant family that owned a restaurant in Manhattan on Sixth Street, down in East Village.
The little story of the play is a young man from India shows up to be a waiter in this restaurant and his journey -- he's completely open excited
about being in America and he's like this, you know, wide-eyed kid almost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, hello. How are you? Oh my goodness. I made it. Here I am. Oh my God. This New York is a crazy place. Oh. But welcome.
I am the manager here. [13:45:00] OK. I'm not really the manager, I am the owner. No, no, no, I'm not the owner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANDVI: And then he, through the magic of theater, transforms into the different characters that inhabit this family that own the restaurant, the
mother, father, the daughter, the young kid, and the daughter's fiance. And through their journey, he discovers himself and he discovers his
American story as he experiences the nuances, the heartbreaks, the joys, the sacrifice of what it means to be an immigrant, about what does it
really mean to be an American.
So it's a little bit magical. There's real moments of heartbreak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you see me? Do you see you my life? Do you see my life since we came to this country? Can you imagine me? I was that
girl in India who was always on the go, movies, pier, museum, money to buy, and where have you brought me? Where have we come? To this cold country
where nobody talks to anybody?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANDVI: And I can't believe I wrote it.
MENENDEZ: Well, you wrote it 20 years ago.
MANDVI: I wrote it 20 years ago.
MENENDEZ: Performed it 20 years ago. I mean what is it like to now bring it back a little time later?
MANDVI: The play is pre-Internet, pre-1911, certainly pre-Trump, you know. And I thought does this play have anything to say now? And so I pulled it,
dusted it off, you know. That's how old it is. I literally have to dust it off.
But I read it again and I think it works almost as a piece of American -- of the American story. And what's interesting about the play is that it is
in a strange way more relevant today than it was 20 years ago.
MENENDEZ: How so?
MANDVI: Because the conversation about immigrants, the conversation about what it means to be an American, the conversation about who is allowed in
this country and who is not allowed in this country. The conversation around Muslims has blown up, has become a very different conversation and
Americans didn't even know what Muslims were --
MENENDEZ: They know now.
MANDVI: -- in 1998. Now, they very much now. And so that conversation about being Muslim, being an immigrant, being all those things is much more
at the forefront of our news cycle now than it was back then. And what Sakina's Restaurant does in some ways is humanize that story, that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you are too smart, huh? You think you are too smart. You think that you have become an American girl, think the
world should not care now how you behave, what you wear, how you dress, nothing, huh? You could always change the idea to your American friends,
laughing with all your American friends are saying, "My parents are introducing me to an Indian man." Nice, professional Indian man going to
be a doctor. How foolish of that. How foolish they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: Why does it have to be one person who embodies every role?
MANDVI: Because when I wrote the play, I didn't know any other Indian actors. There were only three of us and the other two were women. So I
was like I'm going to have to do-- I'm writing a play for all Indian actors meant to play all the roles.
MENENDEZ: You could have been rationale --
MENENDEZ: You could have taken it this time and adapted it to include more actors.
MANDVI: I could have but then I would have to deal with other people. The form is part of the storytelling and the transformation that Azgi, the main
character, who is the waiter, the transformation that he goes through and the way he transforms into the other characters and then comes out of them
and has another piece of the American story inhabiting him. That is part of the structure of the show.
So it kind of is a story about one man but his story is as he goes through different characters to arrive at himself of yet, you know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZGI: Hello. Sakina's Restaurant. Azgi speaking. Oh, Mr. Hakib. He's right here. I will get him right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. Sakina's. How may I help you? Oh, hello, Bob.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: South Asians deal with [13:50:00] two different types of stereotypes. Like minority, you're a doctor -
MANDVI: Yes, right.
MENENDEZ: -- manage capital rights. And then what I think many would consider the greedy, underbelly of America which are the working class jobs
that you explore in the play. I wonder what the feedback was from your own community in you portraying that additional element of salvation life.
MANDVI: When I wrote the play, I never wrote it for South Asians. I wrote it for America. I wrote it for white people because I was trying to tell a
story about my family and an immigrant experience that was related to my family. And I came from the very lower middle-class family. And so for
me, that was the immigrant experience, you know. My parents didn't come here with like doctorates, you know or -- so for me, like that story, so
true and personal
And, you know, when we did it 20 years ago, it was the only story that was being done about a South Asian family. The Indian people have never seen
themselves in American theater before, Indian-Americans and Muslim- Americans. I've never seen themselves portrayed in the American theater before. So it was the first time they'd ever seen it. And so I got a
sense that like people are showing up and going, "Wait a minute, this is our story."
And I think there's something in the play that everyone relates to like whether you're, you know, a neurosurgeon or whether you are, you know, a
cab driver. I think there is an element of the experience of being an immigrant, the experience that the core of dislocation identity, a sense of
what did you sacrifice, a sense of what America means, a sense of, you know, the hopes and what you have to give up for those aspirational things
that you want in America. All those things.
And it wasn't just South Asians. By the end of the run, when we get it, there were, you know, Greeks and Turks and, you know --
MENENDEZ: And you know what it means to be others.
MANDVI: Yes, the other. And they will come out to me and be like, "This is our story, you know." So that's what I feel is exciting about the show.
I think the show, it's not an intellectual experience, it's an emotional experience for people.
And I think that that's what I'm interested in finding out what happens with the 2018 audience when we're inundated with all of this dehumanization
of immigrants, what happens when you walk into a theater and you just enter an immigrant family and you end to that world and you understand the
nuances of why people come to America and what America means to the rest of the world or did or used to mean.
MENENDEZ: You left "The Daily Show" in 2015.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: America when it's -- it's quite a milestone for the Indian community.
MANDVI: Not a milestone, Jon, more like a beachhead.
JON STEWART: Beachhead? What is that? Sounds like a military invasion.
MANDVI: Well, damn right, it is. Wake up and smell the curry, Jon. Indians are taking over America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: Are there nights you're like, "What I would give to be on tonight"?
MANDVI: It's changed so much now. Like I feel -
MENENDEZ: Show me the political environment.
MANDVI: Well, the political environment, I mean it is kind of now a joke on a joke. You know all you could -- all you have to do now is go, there
it is, there you go. So I feel like it's hard. I think I don't know if it will be as much fun because I find myself much more just throwing my hands.
I always felt like on some level during "The Daily Show", we were preaching to the choir, you know.
But now that those divisions have become so clear and you just, you know, there's no talking, there's no conversation happening anymore. There's no
way to say like, "Hey, guys. Come on." I mean, you really -- you know, like because it doesn't matter.
MENENDEZ: To what do you attribute that?
MANDVI: It's interesting because, on one hand, you have a giant movement towards progressivism. You know, in terms of LGBT, in terms of immigrants,
in terms of -- and then the backlash of that is a kind of nativism, a kind of closing of borders. And Trump sort of represents that feeling of like
closing our borders.
Even now, he spoke to the U.N. and he basically said it's not about globalization, it's about patriotism and that is exactly the agenda. It's
like we don't -- suddenly America is shutting off from the rest of the world and that is a very different American than we've lived in the last
MENENDEZ: I think of you going from India to England -
MENENDEZ: -- to Tampa, Florida.
MENENDEZ: Of all places. So several displacements, learning to fit in.
MENENDEZ: And then on top of that, being an actor, being an actor being an actor who can embody serious basis, [13:55:00] funniest basis. When do you
get to just be you?
MANDVI: Ultimately, I'm a performer, I'm an actor. And an actor changes shapes and that's what I do. And that's when I'm the most comfortable and
the best at what I do is when I'm changing shapes. When I was in "The Daily Show", I was not shaped. It was a shape that I took on for those 10
years and was that person. Even though I always felt like that "Daily Show" guy who happened to have my name was actually not me, who I am. You
have to ask my wife. I don't know. She probably is confused as well as who she's going to bed with every night.
MENENDEZ: Keeps it interesting. Thank you so much.
MANDVI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Mandvi's play runs until mid-November and it will be released as an audio play on Audible.
And just before we go, make sure that you tune in tomorrow for my exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton. I'll be speaking to her at Oxford
University about why she thinks America's democracy is in crisis, about the Supreme Court, midterms, and a whole lot more.
That's it for our program. You can always watch online.
Thanks for watching now and goodbye from London.