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White House Rocked by Bombshell Book; Is the Art of Deal Hurting U.S. Diplomacy?; State of American Diplomacy. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 05, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the program. And here's what's coming up.
Explosive new revelations from the renowned Watergate journalist, Bob Woodward. Revealing chaotic Trump administration with a tumultuous foreign
policy. We dig down with the renowned diplomat Wendy Sherman. She helped negotiate Iran nuclear deal that Trump tore up. Her new book, "Not for the
Faint of Heart," spells out why the art of diplomacy can be more important than the art of the deal.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I am Christiane Amanpour in New York.
A deeply alarming portrait of the Trump's presidency has been painted by one of the world's most prominent political reporters. The acclaimed
Watergate journalist, Bob Woodward, depicts a trails of White House aides even hiding papers from a volatile commander in chief in order to protect
national security. It is just one sensational claim from his new book "Fear: Trump in the White House."
Under this administration, the art of the deal appears to be displacing the art of diplomacy, according to long time diplomat Wendy Sherman. The
former U.S. undersecretary of state was President Obama's lead negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal, President Clinton's policy coordinator for North
Korea, and often she was the only woman in the room where it happens. Her new book, "Not for the Faint of Heart," candidly takes us through
diplomatic resume, showing a tough negotiator can also be a human one with courage and persistence. And Ambassador Sherman joins me now here in New
Welcome to the program.
WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, we're going to dig into your book, but we're going to use your experience to ask you about these bombshell revelations. Actually, I
want to know from you, do they sound like bombshell revelations, what we've just said that Bob Woodward is reporting about the White House, to the
point that aides, you know, have been removing paper work, for instance to try to prevent the president getting out of a trade deal with South Korea?
That's just one of them
SHERMAN: Indeed. These are echoes of other books and other reporting we have heard about what the Trump White House is like. What makes this a
bombshell is the author. There is no one more credible than Bob Woodward in terms of making sure he's got the right sources, that it's well
documented to the point as reviewers have said of being absolutely boring in its detail.
I think what is very concerning is what you just pointed out in your intro and that is what this says to countries around the world about the
president of the United States. And quite frankly, it's very concerning and puts our national security at risk.
AMANPOUR: It is interesting that this book, I mean, he's an American political reporter talking about an American White House but it focuses
mostly on foreign policy and national security policy. So, the global impact of this presidency.
We know, for instance, that just before the July NATO summit that John Bolton, the national security adviser, essentially got the allies to sign
on before President Trump could get there and potentially up ended.
From what you know about foreign leaders, world leaders who are trying to, I guess, factor in the Trump factor, how are they dealing this now?
SHERMAN: Well, I think they're dealing with some difficulty. What has happened is the United States has isolated itself. The rest of the world
is sort of marching on without us. The fact that we have broken our major alliance with Europe, which you know extremely well, is of a great concern,
whether it is Iran or tariffs. We and Europe are on opposite sides of issues and we are throwing Europe in the arms of Russia and China.
One of the things that I discussed in the book, "Not for the Faint of Heart," is how carefully one has to do this process, how much consultation
goes on, how much gardening, as George Shultz, the Former Secretary of State used to say, "You have to do to make sure that you build
relationships so they are there for you during times of crisis as the world was with us for 9/11," which comes up next week. So, we are at a very
dangerous place for our country.
AMANPOUR: You're absolutely right. The anniversary of 9/11 comes up next week. And you write sort of the overarching theme of your book is that
we're sort of moving from the, at least in the United States, maybe around the world, from the era of the diplomat to the era of the autocrat.
SHERMAN: Indeed. When you have autocrats, they only deal with what's in front of them, everything is quite transactional, no sense of history, no
obligation to the future. And they, in fact, really are just sort of like that child who sits in the restaurant and tries to color through the puzzle
maze, they don't see as we discuss so often, you and I, about Iran's deal, the Rubik's Cube, that there are multiplicity of pieces and everyone has to
lock exactly in place. So, they look for simplicity when, in fact, the world is complexity.
AMANPOUR: So, let's actually talk about that because we have a beautiful image of the Rubik's Cube. You used to bring that up really regularly
during the Iran negotiations. So, let's just back into that for a moment.
You know, President Trump, we say tore it up, the deal. However, what he really did was pull the United States out, which may indeed result in it
being torn up. But give us, you know, the Rubik's Cube nature of what you mean. I mean, it's hundreds of man and woman hours of negotiations, it's
hundreds of pages of fine print.
SHERMAN: Indeed. And it's hundreds of negotiations, not just the one that people most know about. So, I only jokingly say that I negotiated inside
of the administration, I negotiated with Congress, I negotiated with Israel, I negotiated with the Gulf State, I negotiated with each one of the
partners in the negotiation, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, I negotiated with any world nation that cared about the deal. And oh, yes,
occasionally, I negotiated with Iran.
It is a very, very complex process to do it right. And although, I was engaged for it in four years, the Europeans had been engaged in such
diplomacy for nearly a decade. This is hard detailed work and I can't imagine that President Trump has ever read the joint conference of plan of
AMANPOUR: So, you know, I'm going to get to the possible consequences of this thing absolutely collapsing because Iran is now saying that, you know,
Europe has to do something to make it worth our while to stay in this deal. That's what Iran say. Iran, the supreme leader, is also personally calling
out one of your main interlocutors on this deal on the Iranian side who is the foreign minister, Javad Zarif. He is saying, "It was a mistake for me
to have even sent him these negotiations."
That's pretty strong language. What do you think is going on at the heart of this deal? Is it going to stay or crumble?
SHERMAN: I think it's very hard to keep it going because come the beginning of November the United States will reimpose it's secondary
economic sanctions, which means that anybody who does business with the Central Bank of Iran can't do business with American banks.
For large companies which have already left Iran, the Siemens, the Alliances (ph), Fujo (ph). all of them, they left because they care about
the American market more than they care about the Iranian market.
What Europe is trying to do is keep small and medium companies invested in Iran. Obviously, Russia and China don't much care about their
relationships. China has certainly a coupled relationship with the United States economically but it has its own financial resources, so it can find
ways to invest and certainly, to buy Iranian oil.
So, we have a lot to go here. The president has now -- the White House has said, there is going to be a U.N. security council meeting in -- during the
U.S. general assembly on September 26th on Iran. Iran sensibly will be invited. So, we'll see if we're going to end up having a tet a tet between
Rouhani and Donald Trump.
AMANPOUR: I mean, we have to mention that the White House says that President Trump is going to take the podium there. Do you think he's going
to do it to berate or to try to negotiate and drove (ph) Iran into the kind of deal that he wants?
SHERMAN: Well, I think what we've seen in all of his negotiations is both sides of that coin. So, it certainly depends on how he feels when he gets
up in the morning, what he feels like tweeting. We saw him barade and warn on Kim Jong-un of North Korea, we were going to have fire and fury. And
the next moment, he's giving him a hug, which, of course, signal to China they could back off the sanctions.
What I think the president does not understand, what I try to write about in "Not for the Faint of Heart" is not only the complexity of this but what
skillsets you need to do this kind of work and quite frankly, that we need in our everyday life.
AMANPOUR: So, I'd like you to sort of detail the skillset. But one of the skills appears to be from President Trump's view and actually, to be fair,
from President George W. Bush;s view because this is not the first time a U.S. president has ripped up and withdraw from a deal that you're involved
in, that Democratic presidents were involved in.
George W. Bush famously pulled out of the talks and negotiations with North Korea back in the early 2000s which led to the nuclear capability that they
have right now. President Trump, and at the time, George W. Bush believed that they would toss, that they could rip up these deals and make better
ones. That isn't the case, is it?
SHERMAN: That is not the case. And in fact, you know, when people talk about soft power, really diplomacy is about being tough and smart. Hillary
Clinton used to talk about smart power all the time, it's also tough power. You have to be ready to walk away, you have to be very clear about what you
want and go for it. But again, be ready to say, "No, not going to cross that line, not going to go down that road."
I think the best negotiators are the ones who have clarity, persist but also understand the stakes and that they have to work with others to get
AMANPOUR: What you do -- I mean, the subtitle of your book, and we have the book right here, is "Lessons and Courage, Power and Persistence." Does
the courage sort of mean the courage to stand up and understand you have to negotiate with your enemies and negotiation is not a sign of weakness or
not a sign of the opposite of courage?
SHERMAN: It absolutely means it's not a sign of weakness but it also means and a lesson I learned from my own parents who took a very strong position
on civil rights and cost them economically in terms of my dad's business is that courage comes with a cost.
You know, we all just watched the funeral of John McCain. And whether you agreed with him or not, and there were many times that I did not agree with
him and he didn't agree with me, he, nonetheless, had courage. He paid an enormous cost by saying, " I won't leave the Hanoi Hilton early. I am
going to stay with my colleagues." And what we're seeing, whether it's the Kavanaugh hearings that are ongoing today or whether the decisions the
president has to make, you have to be willing to pay a cost sometimes. And I hope that the Senate will understand the lesson that McCain tried to
AMANPOUR: And indeed, you tweeted about McCain when he died, real courage comes with a cost. Senator John McCain was always willing to pay that
price. Our best tribute would be for others to be willing to do the same for the love of our country.
What worries you in the absence of that kind of courage? What worries you about the conduct of foreign policy right now?
SHERMAN: What worries me the most is that we have a president of the United States who has no understanding of the world, no understanding of
how to conduct national security and foreign policy, the people around him, whether it's Woodward book or the earlier books that weren't seen as
credible but certainly are echoed in the Woodward book, that we have a president who's surrounded by people, who try to keep him from doing
terrible things but may not be able to do so.
And we have a senate at the moment that will not stand up to him because we are so focused on the immediate outcome of the electoral politics. Where
we need to get in this country is a place where we listen to each other, hear each other, we have the courage to stand up for our values as the
United States of America, not as Democrats and Republicans, but what makes this country the strongest on earth.
What Madeleine Albright taught me more than anything is that when you are sitting across the negotiating table, you're not Wendy Sherman, you're not
a woman, you're not, in my case, an American Jew, you're the United States of America, and that's a pretty damn extraordinary power.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk about the woman aspect of that skillset that you just, you know, delineating. Madeleine Albright famously once said that
there is a special place in hell recovered or should be for women who don't help other women.
And you have talked about being the rare woman often at the negotiating table for the most part. But why it matters to have more women at the
negotiating table? Why do you think it matters to bring that DNA into foreign policy negotiations, for instance?
SHERMAN: I think it matters because you always want to represent the full spectrum of who we are as people, and our experience as women is different
than the experience of men. One of the things I urged in the epilogue of the book and at the end is that everyone have an unexpected life because
mine certainly has been. I started out as a social worker in child welfare, I then went on to do electoral politics, helping Barbara McCloskey
become the first Democratic woman in the Senate.
And then I've had a 25-year career now in national security and foreign policy. Some of that was deciding to find by my becoming a mother, some of
that was decided and defined by just the opportunities presenting themselves I never anticipate it. And because of those experiences, I do
think I bring in authenticity.
There is a story at the beginning of this book about being at the end of this negotiation very exhausted, knowing that my plans were then going to
Harvard as a fellow, we're going to be changed because we had extended the deal. And I lost it and found tears streaming down my face because
somewhere along the line I discovered women weren't supposed to be angry. So, I cry instead.
And the Iranian sitting across the table from me didn't know what to do with me and it turned out to be quite effective as a negotiating tactic,
though I wouldn't suggest anyone use tears as a negotiating tactic. What it did teach me is that, when you bring your authentic self to the
negotiating table, it is a power of its own.
AMANPOUR: You know, I was going to ask you, because, of course, I've read about that incident and I thought, oh, my gosh. What a terrible thing to
happen, especially to a woman, especially in negotiations with these people who believe they are the world's best and wiliest negotiators.
SHERMAN: And all men.
SHERMAN: All men.
AMANPOUR: So, how was it being in a very much all men society as the Iranian society is, the patriarchy writ large? How was it being a forceful
American female diplomat?
SHERMAN: Well, to their credit, once they understood that I was going to be strong, that I was the United States of America, they took me on. I
think the incident that I just recalled where, out of anger, tears started coming down of my face, they were really -- didn't know what to do me. And
that was useful in itself.
I think you use everything you can during a negotiation. There was a point which I want to find some common ground with the Iranians and their lead
negotiator, (INAUDIBLE), had just had a grandchild, so had I, we shared photos. It made us human. It didn't change our national interests, it
didn't change our tough positions but it did make us understand each other a little better.
AMANPOUR: Which is so vital, the idea of hearing the story of the other. I think many people, certainly in some circles, a lot in the United States,
it's always a zero-sum game.
AMANPOUR: In order for me to win, you have to lose. That seems to be an idea that is just weak to give to negotiate but we've talked about that.
SHERMAN: Right. And indeed, you have to find some common ground with the people on the other side of the table and, in fact, even the people on our
side of the table with Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese. And at the same time, you have to leave the other side with enough power to make the
So, one of the things that President Obama understood, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and my entire team was that we had leave the Iranians with
enough power so that Rouhani could successfully implement the deal.
AMANPOUR: And faith?
SHERMAN: And faith. Indeed, and faith. Very important in negotiations everywhere in the world.
SHERMAN: So, as you see, the fruit of your labor, it took years, let's not forget, from 2013 until -- in fact,, I'm going to play a little sound bite
of what you said to me when this process sort of started when we talked via satellite from Geneva about the talks. Let's just play that for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Everyone at our roundtable understood that the stakes are high and we have to do everything we can to reach a diplomatic solution. There
are other options but a diplomatic solution is the best option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the best option you were saying then and people have said it since and most people around the world believe that the Iran nuclear deal
despite its flaws, despite its shortcomings was the best option to constrain a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program that you were
So, what now, if this deal collapses under the weight of the U.S. pulling out, what happens? Do we go back to threatening military force? What
SHERMAN: Well, that's an excellent question. It is totally unclear to me what the Trump adminstration's strategy is. They, in part, pulled out
because they said it didn't include all the nefarious and malign behavior of Iran in the region, which I agree, it's nefarious and malign. But I
haven't seen a strategy to deal with that nor have I seen a strategy to get Iran back to the negotiating table or to really punish Iran in a way that
would get it to change its behavior.
One of the things we know of sanctions, is sanction is creating incentive to get to the negotiating table but they don't stop bad behavior. When the
Europeans started negotiating in the early 2000s, Iran had 164 centrifuges. By the time we're on to serious negotiations with them, even with the most
egregious sanctions, they have 19,000 centrifuges.
AMANPOUR: A point that the Foreign Minister Zarif made over and over again, like don't try to beat us into the ground, meet us halfway and
perhaps we can get this done. We don't know where this is going from here.
But I want to ask you something that President Trump constantly talks about and his supporters constantly talk about. How can we gave them $1.7
billion of our money to free these hostages, we were hostages at the time, American hostages, they remain American citizens and other jewel nationals
in the Iranian jail right now?
AMANPOUR: What is the fact of that $1.7 billion that we're told went in bags to Iran and were sort of like blackmail?
SHERMAN: That had nothing to do with either the nuclear deal or getting the Americans out of Iran. What that was, was that, we have frozen Iranian
assets all the way back to 1979 when Iran took hostages for well over a year and probably costs Jimmy Carter his reelection and more to the point
horrific for those 444 days for the people who were held.
But, there had been ongoing negotiations at the (INAUDIBLE) about resolving those frozen assets. The United States was going to lose big time. And
they came to an agreement on $1.7 billion which they thought they could get done in a better way coincident with implementing the Iran deal and freeing
the American hostages.
So, it was Iranian money. It wasn't --
AMANPOUR: So, it wasn't American taxpayer money?
SHERMAN: No, it was not American taxpayer money. In fact, we haven't given American taxpayer money. And the reason that some American cash was
given was because we had a sanction against the U.S. dollars, so they couldn't get the dollars unless we provided them.
AMANPOUR: So, we've cleared that up once and for all hopefully.
SHERMAN: Hopefully. Doubtful but hopefully.
AMANPOUR: When President Trump, just before he had the summit in Singapore with Chairman Jim Jong-un of North Korea, you told me at the time that you
felt North Korea, Kim Jong-un was in the driver's seat.
Fast-forward now, all these months since the summit when President Trump basically said we have no nuclear problem with North Korea, that they're
going do this, that and the other. It seems that they haven't, that Trump himself has put the brakes on face to face negotiations. Where are we with
SHERMAN: Well, we're sort of where we are with Iran, without a policy, without a strategy. As you know, Christiane, I supported the president
doing the Singapore summit because both the president and Kim Jong-un believe they are the only people who decide anything.
Now in Kim Jong-un's case, that is true. In the case of the president of the United States, we have checks and balances but he doesn't believe that
or caught into that in any way. So, I said, well, maybe they could breakthrough in some way but only if there was a team, only if there was a
plan, only if there was a detailed way forward. Clearly there was not any of that.
And so, the president got his photo op and really took all the sanctions off, at least, psychologically for enforcing them because people saw him
hug, literally, Kim Jong-un. So now we are at a place where North Korea actually never committed to denuclearization. They think it means American
troops leaving the peninsula and us never having nuclear weapons anywhere in the area. We mean it -- they should get rid of their nuclear weapons
and their long-range ballistic missiles.
So, the president has now appointed an envoy, Steve Bigan (ph), who is a capable professional. But he needs a plan. And unlike the case when I
negotiated, I knew that President Clinton and President Obama would never pull the rug out from under me. I don't think Steve can count on President
Trump operating the same way.
AMANPOUR: You know, your book is one of quite a few that are coming out from President Obama's officials and administration officials. Some have
said, you know, trying to make sense of the world that were slightly more ordered when you were in power of the orderly diplomacy and all the sort of
classic diplomacy at a time when we are in a bit of a disruptive chaotic period and nobody quite knows which ended up.
Trying to make sense where we are. But there are also some funny anecdotes, Dan Pfeiffer, a former aide talks about how he split his pants
in the oval office and had to back out and be the hasty retreat before anybody could see it. And you talk about slamming your nose into a glass
door and breaking it. How did that come apart?
SHERMAN: Yes. Diplomacy is a very risky business for all of us. Secretary Kerry who also has a book just out broke his femur during this
process. But I was rushing into our delegation room at the PLA (ph) Cobourg where we were holding the negotiation, and the glass door to that
delegation room was usually open. This was about 11:00 at night and I was rushing to get to a secure phone, someone had closed the door, I don't know
why, I slammed right into it.
Of course. when you -- you're a mom, so you know that when a kid's nose breaks or get slammed, it bleeds a lot. And so, the guys who are around me
said, "Oh, call an ambulance." I said, "No, no. None of you are clearly moms. Just get me an ice pack." I did the call with Secretary Kerry, it
turned out I had broken my nose in several places. I went to a doctor in Vienna the next day. But the makeup --
AMANPOUR: They did a good job.
SHERMAN: They did a great job. And makeup is immensely helpful, we're very lucky in that regard.
AMANPOUR: That is amazing. I just like to know what would have happened if one your male colleagues broken a nose?
SHERMAN: Oh, I think they would have been in the hospital for days. I don't know.
AMANPOUR: And just as we end and wrap up, you know, you talk, you know, your upbringing, your parents, civil rights, and part of civil rights also
women's rights. What do you make of the huge historic number, unprecedented number of American women running for office in this 2018
election? It's the first time there's been such a surge since 1992.
SHERMAN: Right. I actually think it's fantastic. I was working at Emily's list at the time of the huge transformation in 1992 and I was
campaign manager, as I mentioned, for Barbara McCloskey when she became the first Democratic woman elected in her own right. So, I obviously think
this is fantastic.
And I have a young daughter who actually is a lawyer who works in the immigration law and runs -- helps to run the clinic at Boston University
and she is just besides herself that Ayana Pressley has won. It's very --
AMANPOUR: In Massachusetts?
SHERMAN: In Massachusetts.
AMANPOUR: Up ending, you know, I think ten-term --
AMANPOUR: -- 20-year congressional career.
SHERMAN: Right. Who was actually - and Mike Capuano was quite gracious last night in that loss. And I think he understands that there is a
generational change going forward. And quite frankly. when we all spend some days quite depressed about what's going on, I look at those young
Parkland students who are trying to register voters all over this country, I look at the women's march and I look at not only the women who are
running in this election but the diversity of people running this election and it gives me great hope and optimism for our country.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, "Not for the Faint of Heart," thank you so much for joining us.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com. and you can follow me
on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.