Return to Transcripts main page
Rape as Weapon of War; Interview With Former French President Francois Hollande; Interview With Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 28, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite the disturbing rhetoric coming out of the Kremlin, the facts are plain for everybody to see. We're
not attacking Russia. We're helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As Russia steps up its offensive in Eastern Ukraine, we examine America's changing reaction with national security
expert Evelyn Farkas and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder.
DASHA, RESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): He said that, if I don't undress, he will kill me.
AMANPOUR: A disturbing report on how some Russian soldiers are using rape as a weapon of war in Ukraine.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Putin only understands force. And he has military force on his side.
AMANPOUR: How Western leaders should stand up to Moscow's aggression and preserve the rules-based order. My conversation with former French
President Francois Hollande, who negotiated with Putin after he annexed Crimea.
AMY WEBB, FOUNDER AND CEO, THE FUTURE TODAY INSTITUTE: The technology that ultimately we may need to stay alive, we can't even have a conversation
AMANPOUR: "The Genesis Machine." Co-author Amy Webb tells Hari Sreenivasan why polarization threatens our ability to harness the future.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
As Russia shifts its strategy in Ukraine, so is the United States shifting its tone and upping its urgency. President Biden says he will ask Congress
for an additional $33 billion in aid, which is more than twice the amount he approved just last month.
Here's the president today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The cost of this fight, it's not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen.
We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meantime, the Kremlin is wanting countries against -- quote -- "pumping up" Ukraine with weapons, even as Moscow intensifies his battle
for the east.
Witnessing the devastating consequences of Putin's war firsthand today was the U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, toured bombed out areas near
Kyiv, before meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Earlier this week, the U.N. chief had a face-to-face with Vladimir Putin. His verdict? The war will continue until Putin decides to end it.
So, how to speed that up? Joining me, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder and the former Pentagon official Evelyn Farkas. She's now executive
director of the McCain Institute. Both served under President Obama.
To both of you, welcome back to the program, as we continue to try to drill down on what's happening next in this battle zone, this Ukraine. So the
premise is that, as Russia ramps up and changes its battle goals and its attacks on the east and the south, so too are the United States and other
Evelyn, from a military point. You were at the Pentagon. Do you think they are meeting the military needs of Ukraine right now, the U.S. and its
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, Christiane, first of all, thanks for the opportunity, as always.
I would say that we are getting close. So we are still not meeting their needs. Obviously, they're still being attacked daily by artillery. There's
no way for the Ukrainians to bring in assistance to civilians who are being bombarded. And the front lines in the Donbass area are still hotly
So the Ukrainians have made clear what they need, but it sounds like what we are doing now is increasingly and getting ready to send more of what
they need or perhaps exactly what they need.
AMANPOUR: And how long, Evelyn, do you think this is going to last?
Guterres said that this is not going to end until Putin decides it's going to end.
And I think the administration agrees with that and has decided that this has to end on the battlefield. We are not going to defeat Vladimir Putin by
convincing the Russian people to rise up against him. We are not going to convince the elites to force him out. The best way, the quickest way is to
defeat him on the battlefield in Ukraine, because make no mistake, this is not just about Ukraine.
If Vladimir Putin succeeds in achieving his objectives in Ukraine, he will turn around and the next morning, for breakfast, he will have Georgia and
Moldova. And those countries are not protected by NATO. And then he will start to challenge the NATO alliance. That is just the way he operates and
also part of his vision.
And so the administration, I think, has concluded that Ukraine can win, and that it is in our best national security interests to have Ukraine defeat
Vladimir Putin on the battlefield as soon as possible.
AMANPOUR: So, Ivo Daalder, let me turn to you, then, as more of the political arm of being ambassador to NATO representing the United States.
The U.N. secretary-general has just said in a press conference in Kyiv, while meeting with President Zelenskyy, that the U.N., the U.N. is
committed to supporting Ukraine.
What do you think of how this is going to be done in terms of NATO coordination and the political elements that all these different NATO
countries seem to be trying to juggle?
IVO DAALDER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, clearly, for now, the war is not going to end through a negotiation or some -- even some kind of
I think the one good thing about Secretary-General Guterres going to Moscow is to foresee for himself that Putin is committed to continuing the fight
for as long as he needs to, to achieve his objectives. And he's not interested in a political -- in a political settlement.
I think Ukraine long ago agreed with that and saw that that was the case. And now, importantly, as Evelyn just said, not only the United States, but
I think, increasingly, our European allies, have come to the conclusion that this is a fight that needs to be won on the battlefield.
And I think it's very important that, politically, we have now gone out and brought together a large coalition of about 40 countries, which met at
Ramstein Air Force Base earlier this week under the chairmanship of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to bring these countries together for a
long term commitment to Ukraine, in the first instance, to make sure that, in the next couple of weeks, which many of my military colleagues tell me
are very, very critical for Ukraine to hold the line, and then over the longer term to be able to push back.
And the kinds of weapons that not only the U.S. is shipping into Ukraine, but we are asking our allies to ship in, tanks, artillery, multiple-launch
rocket systems, combat aircraft, something that we haven't talked about for a while, but now are very much on the table, those are the kinds of things
that Ukraine needs in order to first stop the Russians and, second, push them back.
AMANPOUR: That's interesting. I have been asking a lot about the combat aircraft piece of it, because that is what the Ukraine defense military
chief, the intelligence chief, told me. And it's interesting that they may be thinking about that.
But can I also ask you both -- and, Ivo, can you just try to -- can you see the lay of the battle right now? What is the most precarious thing for
Ukrainians? Is it that they risk being encircled in the east? What is the most precarious battlefield situation for the Ukrainian forces right now?
DAALDER: Well, the most immediate threat that the Ukrainians face is indeed the encirclement of the joint operating force in the east, which has
Been holding off the Russians, not just for the past two months, but, frankly, for the past eight years.
And we are now seeing reports that the Pentagon just briefed earlier today that some of the Russian forces in Mariupol are indeed starting to move
north. And there is also an attempt from the north -- from the north to move south in order to encircle the forces that are there.
That's the danger, because, if the Russians are able to decimate that force, then they not only occupied Donbass, but they then also have the
capacity to push further, because this isn't about Donbass. This isn't about, frankly, a land corridor between Crimea and Russia. This is about
who controls Ukraine and then, once Ukraine is controlled by the Russians, who controls the rest of the former Soviet sphere.
And that former Soviet sphere goes a long way beyond even the Soviet Union, including in Eastern Europe. So that's why this fight is really not about
Ukraine or just about Ukraine. It's really about the future of European security, and thus of American security.
AMANPOUR: OK, so now let me play one of the things that President Biden said today.
And some of his other world leaders have similarly taken issue with the veiled or not-so-veiled threats that President Putin and indeed Sergey
Lavrov have been issuing over the last week, talking about potentially broadening their attack, warning NATO allies not to supply Ukraine, and
even talking again about this Third World -- Third World war, nuclear, et cetera.
This is President Biden's reaction to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: They do concern me, because it shows the desperation that Russia is feeling about their abject failure in being able to do what they set out to
do in the first instance.
And so, it -- I think it's more of a reflection not of the truth but of their failure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Evelyn, your reaction to that?
FARKAS: I agree 100 percent with the president.
This is actually a show -- it's designed to test in part our resolve and the transatlantic cohesion or transatlantic, transpacific, because we have
allies from the Pacific involved as well. And so I think that it does demonstrate weakness.
It demonstrates that Vladimir Putin is trying to also assess going forward how much assistance the Ukrainians are going to receive. And President
Biden has responded to this nuclear saber-rattling, thankfully, amazingly, with this huge package of assistance. It tells the Russians that all the
equipment we're giving the Ukrainians, all the advice we're giving them, all the intelligence we're giving them, this will continue.
And the Russians have to take that into consideration. Yes, right now, the Ukrainians are still somewhat vulnerable, because that equipment and
assistance isn't there. It isn't all there yet. So they're in a moment of perhaps most -- most vulnerable moment. Going forward, they will be
And this nuclear business, it's, frankly, not only irresponsible, but also doesn't make sense, because we have deterrence. We have nuclear forces also
at every level. If the Russians want to go there, then they will be signing their own death certificate. So, again, it's reckless talk, but also,
strategically, they have to understand that it brings everyone nowhere.
AMANPOUR: So I want to play another one of President Biden's bite.
Both of you have touched on the ramped-up deliveries. I just want to put it in his words, and then asked you, Ivo, to react to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We're providing Ukraine significant, timely intelligence to help them defend themselves against the Russian onslaught.
And we're facilitating a significant flow of weapons and systems to Ukraine from our allies and partners around the world, including tanks, artillery,
and other weapons.
That support is moving with unprecedented speed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the unprecedented speed, Ivo, is a thing to behold. I mean, everyone has spoken about that off the record, on background, on the
record. It just has never happened with this kind of speed before.
Talk to me about that. And let's just put it back into context of why Putin so badly miscalculated, because, under -- the last time he did this, what
were the failings, Ivo, of the political system that just didn't respond in any proper way to his 2014 invasion?
DAALDER: Well, let's start on the speed, which is truly remarkable.
And it just reminds us how absolutely critical the U.S. military capability is, not just in terms of the weapons, but in the logistics, in thinking
through, how do you get weapons from one place, ammunition from another place moved forward to the Ukrainian border, for Ukrainians then to take
that into Ukraine and onto the front line?
That's a huge logistical challenge. We see the Russians failing at that, we're really good at it. And EUCOM, the European Command, which is the top
U.S. command structure in Europe, is coordinating all of this. It is making sure that weapons and ammunition are mated up at the border, so it can be
shipped out, because having a lot of artillery without any shells doesn't help anyone.
And it really is quite remarkable what we have been able to do. And the Brits, by the way, another factor, very, very helpful on this. Clearly,
there is -- there was a miscalculation in 2014. And, clearly, there was a belief that you could still sort of talk with and deal with Vladimir Putin,
that he might have limited aims, that he might be upset about what NATO may or may not have been doing, and still upset by the fact that Russia and the
Soviet Union lost the Cold War.
But there was this belief that, with a little sanctions, you could do business with this guy. Well, you can't do business with this guy. That's
what changed on February 24, the realization fundamentally, not only in the United States, which I think changed its view as soon as we saw the kind of
intelligence that we started to release late last year, but our allies.
I mean, the Germans are now shipping heavy weapons to Ukraine. The Parliament voted today in large, large numbers to authorize that. We are
seeing Europe doing what it can to quickly cut off any reliance on Russian fossil fuels. These are momentous changes in policy that required the kind
of brutality that Vladimir Putin is displaying every day and his forces are displaying every day to mobilize.
AMANPOUR: So, Evelyn Farkas, Ivo just brought up also the Brits are doing a lot.
And the reason I'm focusing on that is because the British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has made a very significant speech talking about the
need to redefine what it means to have a world security order, or at least a European security order, that you cannot go back to the status quo ante.
And she's quoted, actually, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying that freedom must be better armed than tyranny. And she's laid out a whole sort of range of
ways in which to rewrite the rules of the road, which, as Ivo pointed out, Vladimir Putin has violated all the rules of the road, despite the West
trying to pull him in and integrate him ever since he's been in power and ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, frankly.
One of the things she said was that NATO actually has to be much better prepared to actually go on the offensive, if it has to, by deploying a lot
more around the borders for that eventuality.
What do you make of that?
FARKAS: Well, I -- she makes some excellent points, or at least you translate her points very well.
Look, we have had a number of significant failures, strategic and human rights failures. We can go back to the war in Syria, our response to Assad
and his chemical attacks on his people. We have failed to deter subsequent chemical attacks, including Russia's chemical attacks and Russia's use of
chemical and nuclear material to assassinate people.
We have failed to respond properly as an international community to genocides, which I think does come into play here, the fact that we did not
-- we were not able to help the Rohingya. I know it's a completely another part of the world. But, again, the international community has been weak in
the face of belligerent autocrats.
And so we do need to sit down and think about why they have gotten away with the bald -- what's the word I'm looking for -- basically ignoring the
Geneva Conventions, just this bald aggression, this disgusting, rough- riding over international law.
So the international law itself is not flawed, but it's -- but it has failed us. And so she has the correct call to action. And, certainly, with
regard to NATO, we do need to deploy and deter more effectively. And that means building up our own military capability, like it or not.
AMANPOUR: And, Ivo, also, the whole -- the whole issue of what you guys were somewhat concerned about, and certainly Evelyn brought it up, but
others have as well, the threats to go beyond. Would he, for instance, threatened Moldova and the lot?
I'm just going to play a little sound bite from the Moldovan foreign minister. Actually, it was about a week ago that I spoke to him. And since
then, there's been some reports of instability in the Transnistria region, where Russian troops are.
This is what he told me then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICU POPESCU, MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND FOREIGN MINISTER: There's not a single person on the European continent that feels entirely safe in
the last two months.
And in this sense, yes, indeed, we all have to factor in this dramatically worsened security situation and this dramatically worsened security
situation for Moldova, for our country.
At the same time, we see no reason as to why Moldova would or should be attacked. Of course, we have and are preparing for all possible scenarios
for the full spectrum of contingencies. We have been doing that for several months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So I mean, they're vulnerable. As Evelyn pointed out, they're not in NATO.
Do you -- are you concerned that, even in his rather enfeebled position, more so far, some of the failures on the battlefield, Putin would actually
think about moving elsewhere?
DAALDER: Yes, I'm very concerned, which is why this battle that is currently being raged in the east of Ukraine is so important.
A Russian general from the southern military district just the other day said the goal was not only to establish a land bridge to Crimea, but in
fact to cut Ukraine off of access to the Black Sea and to take Moldova. So they're saying it publicly.
I'm also concerned about the kind of rhetoric that is really now coming from Russia in the TV and the media. This is no longer just a fight about
the Donbass or Russian-speaking people in Ukraine or all the other nonsense that we heard from the beginning. This is now being displayed as a fight
between Russia and the West, between the forces of good and the forces of evil, in which the West are the forces of evil.
We hear the national security adviser, Patrushev, saying really outrageous things about what the West is like and why it is a threat to Russian -- the
Russian nation, the Russian people. And it is getting this kind of Cold War rhetoric almost that we haven't had for a very, very long time.
That's why it's important for Putin that he does not succeed in Ukraine. That's why we need to help Ukraine. It's why the package that the president
has put on the table and the ability to marshal our allies to do much, much more in support of Ukraine is so important, because failure in Ukraine
means failure everywhere else for Vladimir Putin.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and we are really hearing that now more and more from the leaders.
Ivo Daalder, Evelyn Farkas, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
Now, the atrocities of this war are still just coming to light, amongst them, a 16-year-old girl who says that she was raped by a Russian soldier
in the Kherson region.
She spoke to correspondent Nick Paton Walsh.
And a warning: The details, of course, are disturbing, but they are important to know.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): It's from these gentle shrugs of villages, lazy and clean, in the green
expanses of Kherson region that some of this war's ugliest crimes are being ragged into the light.
This is Dasha. She's 16 and was six months pregnant when, just over a month ago, Russian forces came to her village here. Her family were in the
basement sheltering from bombs, the cold, and the Russians shooting in the air, or at cars and legs, she said.
At dusk, they brought the children out to the kitchen to eat, where there were two soldiers, one drunk.
DASHA (through translator): He asked how old everyone was. There was a girl there who is 12 another one 14 and I, 16.
First, he called my mother into another room. He let her go quickly. Then he called for me. Then he started to shout. Well, first he started telling
me to undress. I told him that I will not and started shouting at me. He said that, if I don't undress, he will kill me.
WALSH: His sober colleague then came in and told the drunk attacker to stop, to no avail, and left.
DASHA (through translator): When I resisted, he was strangling me or he was saying that he'll kill me and he said: "Either you sleep with me now or
I will kill 20 more men."
WALSH: By then, night had fallen in the cold house.
DASHA (through translator): I just remember he had blue eyes. It was dark there. And I don't remember more.
WALSH: She heard the Russian say her attackers name was Blue. He was from Donetsk and had a criminal past. He tried to attack her again, she said,
until Russian snipers later came to help her.
WALSH (on camera): But still some of the Russian soldiers in that unit even were disgusted by what happened and tried to move her and part of her
family away to safety, and then began a process in which Russian soldiers seemed to try to get her to go back on the claim she'd made.
(voice-over): Two days later, she was taken to a Russian paratrooper commander, who she said began shouting at her, like her attacker had.
DASHA (through translator): He said he would to me the same as what the rapist did. I was so frightened, I started crying. He said it was a test
for him to check whether I was lying or telling the truth.
WALSH: It seems they did believe her, but the fate of her rapist remains unclear.
While we can't independently verify her harrowing story, Ukrainian prosecutors told us they have investigated the case and confirmed this
attack, which they said was a war crime.
But, like so much here, the question why is the one without a humane, palatable answer.
DASHA (through translator): If we hadn't gotten out to eat, he wouldn't have seen us, and then maybe he wouldn't have touched me.
We were told that he was going around the village looking for someone he could -- "a girl of easy virtue," as they said.
WALSH: There are lives here that you can see Russia has changed forever, but also those whose trauma sits beneath the surface and lives on.
AMANPOUR: It's just so awful.
Can you imagine an aggressor looking for a victim and blaming them, calling them a girl of easy virtue? It's just -- it's just so tragic.
Nick Paton Walsh reporting there.
And crimes like that highlight the desperate need for the West to stay united to force Putin to end this war. France is leading the way for
Europe. It's a position reinforced by the reelection of Emmanuel Macron and his immediate decision to approve the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
It's a drive supported by his former mentor and predecessor, Francois Hollande, a man who himself has negotiated with Putin.
We spoke in Paris earlier this week right after the election results.
AMANPOUR: President Hollande, welcome to the program.
HOLLANDE (through translator): Bonjour.
AMANPOUR: I want to start by talking about the war in Ukraine.
President Macron really did try to get President Putin to end the war. He talked to him a lot of times. He met with him. And it didn't work. Do you
agree with what President Macron tried to do?
HOLLANDE (through translator): Before war broke out, it was necessary to do everything possible for it not to break out.
As of today, any kind of dialogue or negotiation seems to me out of the question. Why? Because Putin only has one objective, which is to spread the
Donbass and to the south of Ukraine, and until such time as he's done that, there's no point.
What we have to do is to make sure that Ukraine resists and supply arms and to be ready that way to negotiate afterwards.
AMANPOUR: and what more do you think France, the U.S. and the Western allies should do to enable a negotiation, to make Putin understand?
HOLLANDE (through translator): Putin only understands force. And he has military force on his side.
And so long as he can control that, he will go through to the logical end. But if Ukrainian arms are capable of inflicting big losses, he might
actually come back on that position. So what we have to do is to supply arms, military equipment. That seems to me the right way for negotiations
AMANPOUR: So you have met Putin. When you were president, you have met him, I guess, several times.
Do you think -- I think some leaders are still scared that he will escalate, that he will, God forbid, use a nuclear tactical weapon. Do you
think Western leaders should be worried about that? Or have they seen enough?
HOLLANDE (through translator): Putin isn't frightened of war. He has waged war. Before invading Ukraine, he waged war in Georgia, and he let war break
out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
He believes that war is a good way of influencing the world and to take territorial advantage. So, Western leaders mustn't be frightened of war
themselves. That's the major point.
If you have got, on the one hand, a leader, in this case, Putin, who uses the threat of war, and, on the other hand, democratic leaders who are
frightened of war, sometimes, it's necessary to prevent another war breaking out. So there should be a good balance.
So, to come back to your question, Western leaders, when they lead -- when they meet to Putin, must to -- make sure that force is on the table and not
just fear, the strength of the force of the other side.
AMANPOUR: That's a very important point.
I was at the Normandy celebration, the 70th, in 2014 of D-Day, when you, the chancellor of Germany and Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, you were all
there. And you started to try to bring an end to this original invasion of his with the Minsk Accords. That started there.
Did you have hope then that diplomacy would work?
HOLLANDE (through translator): Yes.
Diplomacy, moreover, did work, because, thanks to that Normandy (ph) format, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France, could actually get the Minsk
agreement. But if we were able to do so, it was because Putin couldn't go any further. His army wasn't yet combat ready and he gave us to understand
that there wasn't any Russian army in Ukraine. It was just a question of separatists.
But of course, he had sent mercenaries into Crimea. And he fears that there would be much greater sanctions. Whereas in 2014, he yielded to this idea
of the Minsk agreements. Because he knew that the whole of Europe was against this threat. Eight years later, he thought that he had more force.
And so, he stationed Russian troops in Belarus and he also managed to get troops into Kazakhstan. And having done what he had done in Syria, he had
much more credibility.
So, in a sense, Syria was a kind of rehearsal for what he was going to do in Ukraine. So, I think that the diplomatic barter was the right one, in
2014. But it is quite clear, that now, Putin has moved on.
AMANPOUR: NATO. The unity has been exceptional. And they all say that Vladimir Putin has achieved exactly what he didn't want, NATO unity, more
countries wanting to join NATO. What would a Le Pen victory have done for NATO, and particularly this war?
HOLLANDE (through translator): The people who voted for Marine Le Pen weren't determined to leave NATO. The major motivation for voting her --
for her was to express their frustration or the neglect of certain regions or the whole question of disorderly immigration and security and safety.
But in no way was vote for Marine Le Pen about the international situation. It wasn't a vote to get out of NATO.
But she had won, she would have been confronted by that situation, of eventually having to come out of NATO.
AMANPOUR: So, now, let's talk about Emmanuel Macron. Did you always expect that he could win? Of course, he was your minister. And when you decided
not to run, he did. Just give me your impression of the man, the president, the mission.
HOLLANDE (through translator): Well, Macron, the man was intelligent and is still is and capable of bold initiatives. But he didn't have any
political experience. Five years later, he has acquired some experience. But he hasn't managed to build a political force behind him, which means
that this situation is much more fragile than you might think in the light of the results.
He obviously can manage to get a majority in the national assembly, but with desperate elements from the right and the left, he hasn't managed to
actually, you know, impose his authority on one particular party. Which means that behind this ability, there is a certain fragility. But, of
course, this is rather serious for the political French landscape. Because, you know, the center-right, which comes from the goal, and Chiraca and so
on. And they center left, (INAUDIBLE) myself, both of them have collapse, which means that the extreme parties are the alternatives to Macron, an
impossible set of alternatives.
He has been elected quite broadly, but he is confronted by these extremes. So, these risks, unless the judicial parties reconstruct, it risks the
extreme right or left coming to power one day.
AMANPOUR: So, there's two questions because of that issue. One is, how does President Macron, in a second term, answer people's needs? You know,
people voted for him. So, they didn't let Marine Le Pen, the extreme right, and as the Liberation said to save democracy. What does he have to do to
reward that vote and to meet the demands of the people who saw Marine Le Pen as the savior?
HOLLANDE (through translator): Emmanuel Macron has to reflect on the reasons for his reelection. The score which he got on the first round, and
the prospect of the extreme right coming to power. You also have to take into consideration, of course, the abstainers, the ones who didn't want to
vote, blank votes. And, you know, they are really rather predictable because they might actually join forces with the yellow vests, for example.
So, the situation is really quite fragile. So, I think that the problem that he has, is not to do what he's done before, but to come up with
something new and to concentrate, for example, on the climate issue, which is very popular with young people, but also to pay attention to social
justice, and look at institutional reform, and to make sure that the wheels of democracy are well lubricated.
So, I think that that is essentially what he has to do in this second term of office.
AMANPOUR: You have a lot of energy. You have a lot of advice and plans and ideas. Do you think you will ever run again? Because, you didn't get
defeated. You just didn't run for a second term. Some would say it was because the popularity levels were down, but nonetheless you chose that
HOLLANDE (through translator): Well, the presidential elections are only just finished. I'm not going to put myself up for the next one
straightaway. But, the idea of rebuilding the center left round the socialist idea of tomorrow, certainly, yes, that is something which really
does interesting me a lot.
AMANPOUR: President Hollande, thank you very much for joining us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, here in the U.S., the future is here with new technologies raising challenging new questions. Our next guest is award-winning author
and futurist Amy Webb. She co-authored "The Genesis Machine," which examines the world of synthetic biology. Webb sat down with Hari
Sreenivasan to talk about the potential and the concerns for redesigning our lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Amy Webb, thanks for joining us.
So, let's go to the kind of the biggest potentials that you see. I mean, you lay this out down in the book. You have a whole section on how we got
here, and I think that people are probably a little bit more primed to think about in the area of medicine, how this sort of synthetic biology is
going to affect them, especially coming after COVID, and hearing, at least, the race for mRNA vaccines and even if they don't understand it, they know
that technology had something to do with how much more efficient these vaccines are.
AMY WEBB, AUTHOR, "THE GENESIS MACHINE": So, you know, if you've had either the BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, you have synthetic -- you have used
synthetic biology. So, these are messenger RNA derived vaccines, that essentially deliver new code to your body. And the code is a set of
instructions telling the body to fend off this novel virus.
The easiest way to think about this, for me at least, is video games. If you've ever played a video game, like "The Legend of Zelda" or something
that involves fighting and a quest, you know, if you encounter a new enemy for the first time, you might have to tools but you don't have any idea how
to use them. So, you are very vulnerable. And once you have the instructions on how to use the tools, then you are, sort of, good to go.
Well, SARS-CoV-2 was like a new, you know, blob of bad stuff in the game, and the messenger RNA is a set of instructions that tells us how to
effectively fight it. What's so cool about this though, is that, it's a -- if we think of this as an instruction delivery mechanism, what else might
we deliver? So, already in the works are similar messenger RNA techniques for universal flu vaccines or even cancer. So, outside of messenger RNA
vaccines, though there is a lot more happening that includes genetic surgery to treating age as a pathology.
SREENIVASAN: What's happening when it comes to the price and technology and speed when it comes to synthetic biology?
WEBB: So, the best way to think about this, is the sort of the moment that the first demonstrations of the telephone happened. So, this is, you know,
the turn of the century. Alexander Graham Bell is in New York State, in Chikurin (ph) Hall, standing at a stage, demonstrating this new crazy
contraption. There is an audience assembled for this demonstration.
And all of a sudden, they hear the sound coming out from this machine, where they don't see anybody -- they don't see a physical person singing.
They are incensed. So, they go up on the stage. They pull back the curtains and demand to see the Wizard of Oz, right, singing into a little
microphone. And, when they realize there is no human there, that this thing really does work, you know, it sets the stage. It completely demolishes
their mental models.
It took a little bit of time to build the infrastructure, the telephone poles, the wires, the components, you know. But, within the first few
decades, there were transatlantic wires, which eventually led to an ecosystem, which gave birth to satellites, which gave birth to the
internet, which makes it available for you and I to be in totally different places having this conversation.
Today, if you try to put evaluation on the total cost of this entire telecommunication, this ecosystem, there is no way to do it. It just is.
The only way to calculate it, for real, would be to take things away and see what we would lose.
So, synthetic biology is at the Chikurin (ph) Hall stage right now. It exists. It works. And the ecosystem, the critical infrastructure is in the
process of being built.
SREENIVASAN: One of the sections in the book that you talk about in regards to how we could ease the stressors on our planet is how we create
food. Explain how that will work.
WEBB: Yes. Well, I'll give you a concrete example. So, commercial chicken farming requires lots of resources, feed, you know, it's a lot of work.
It's not great for the planet. It's not great for the chickens. And my question is, what if in a couple of years, we enjoy chicken wings, but
those chicken wings were never attached to a living, breathing chicken that required all of those resources?
So, here is how that would work. You would start with stencils from a heritage chicken. So, a chicken that's, you know, never been pumped full of
antibiotics or hormones, and feed that into what's called a bioreactor. You feed it amino reactions and all of the stuff that it would have had access
to inside the mother hen. And in a short amount of, time you wind up with tissue, edible tissue, that again, it is molecularly the same as something
that would have come off of a chicken but it requires fraction of the amount of time, very few resources and it's, in many ways, much healthier
than something you would've gotten on a commercial farm.
SREENIVASAN: One of the big implications, you talk about a lot in the book, is how synthetic biology is going to help us adapt to the effects of
climate change that, as a society, we are clearly not capable of stopping climate change, as we should. But how -- what are ways that we could be
altering ourselves or our future selves to live with where the climate is going to be like on this planet?
WEBB: We keep coming to the table over and over again, never aligning on a single thing, which is drastic, fast reduction in Co2. We should aspire to
that. But can we make room for other alternatives in the meantime?
So, if we use synthetic biology to edit leaves and enable those leaves to suck Co2 out of the air, Co2 is just a feed stock. And if they are
engineered to suck additional Co2 out of the air and excrete totally organic fertilizer effectively, you know, that makes a dent. There's no
silver bullet here, but this allows us to change our mental model, make a dent. And it also nourishes the topsoil.
You know, it's the year 2022, and we've created some existential threats that are just not going to go away overnight. And our current ways of
mitigating them are through punitive measures. I would like to -- for us to try something different, which is certainly to try to convince everybody to
stop damaging, right? But can we try some alternative solutions that help mitigate some of these problems?
SREENIVASAN: How would or could humans use this type of technology to adapt to climate change?
WEBB: So, again, I want to caution that this is not tomorrow, that we are some ways off. But what if we were open to the idea that small tweaks in
our -- you know, in our basic makeup would make us more resilient?
What if we had literally thicker skin and thicker fingernails, you know, that like some of our ancestors that gave us the ability to withstand
slightly colder or windier climate situations or warmer climate situations? The truth of the matter is that we have -- you know, we have created and
inherited now extreme weather events, and our bodies are not evolving as fast as the conditions around us.
So, we can either start making much heavier coats and just be willing to wear a lot of layers, or again, can we think of a future in which we are
allowing ourselves to adapt a little bit faster? So, that might mean changing our skin, changing our skin color, making ourselves more resilient
to certain pathogens before we are born, which means editing embryos, in order to be more resilient.
So, again, I think that there are some options, but they come with risks. And we -- one of the things we don't know is the longer-term impacts of
that type of genetic editing, there is also a huge risk with genetic privacy and making sure that our information is not being used by a third-
party without our knowledge. And of course, equity, none of these solutions are good solutions if they don't put all of us at the center, which means
we have to make sure that solutions are equitable and widely distributed to everyone, not just some wealthy few.
SREENIVASAN: If I can sequence my genome from $100, do I own it because it's me or does the company who is doing the sequencing have a right to it?
Does the government have an option to take a look at it, to rule me out as not a suspect in a case, so to speak?
WEBB: I think we keep coming back to this question with every modern technology that we talk about because we don't have clear answers in the
United States, that puts us in a very dangerous situation. There is no clear guidance right now on who owns your DNA, who owns your sequence and
what can be done with it and under what circumstances.
And that, I think, should concern us because we are seeing similar situations -- or we're seeing situations outside of the U.S. in places like
China where the government, the CCP, is forcibly extracting DNA from ethnic minorities, the Uyghur population in particular, and banking that in a sort
of national genetic database without informed consent and without any real understandings of how those data might be used.
In the United States, we do things differently. It is sort of an open free market. And so, anybody can give up their sample to anybody that they want
for the purpose of finding a long lost relative or your personal genetic makeup or whatever. But you need to be very clear on who else might use
those data and under what circumstances. I mean, this is a place where we really should not let the markets decide, I think.
SREENIVASAN: Are you optimistic that given how difficult it is for countries to have conversations about borders and about policies that we
can as humanity kind of come to the table and say, these are the things that we ought to use synthetic biology for together and these are the
things that we definitely cannot allow, approve in any way?
WEBB: We have no singular viewpoint on how to use any of this technology around the world. Unfortunately, science is drastically politicized and the
COVID crisis has exacerbated that. And so, here we are, you know, the technology that ultimately, we may need to stay alive, we can't even have a
conversation about it right now because it involves us having meaningful conversations about when life begins and what and how to use stem cells and
how to think about embryos.
And we've gotten to a point where we can't seem to come to a middle on -- you know, to have that conversation, let alone conversations about
vaccines. So, we're -- this puts us now nationally at a pretty significant strategic disadvantage. We have no long-term plan -- planning for science
or technology. This is going to have to be a ground up thing where we're going to have to decide that we want a better future, and therefore, we
were willing to come together to have meaningful conversations that advance us versus keep us mired in controversy and salacious, you know, arguments
back and forth.
SREENIVASAN: What are some examples that you have run across where there is legitimate concern about health and safety to populations because
synthetic biology can be manipulated for people for evil?
WEBB: Everybody that I know working in this place is exceptionally careful and is regulated. And so, I don't think that there is an immediate cause
for alarm. However, some researchers were curious to know if we are now designing organisms -- if we are designing in researching on computers and
that code is sent somewhere else to be synthesized, which is to say, that the code turns -- you know, we take the code and we create genetic material
with it and then, get those samples back in the mail. Is it possible that there could be malware, malicious code, entered in without anybody knowing?
And the answer, it turned out, was yes.
So, it is a strictly regulated process, but there have been vulnerabilities. And basically, they sent benign code and got potentially
really horrific genetic material back through the mail. When I discovered this and I started asking questions to folks about it, rare as the case may
be, the bottom line is that we are not prepared for something like that in the United States.
I talked to many different government officials in different departments, nobody knows. If something like that were to happen, we don't have a center
of cyber biological warfare, right? We've got cybersecurity. We've got bio security. But we do not have anything that combines the two, and we are
really not thinking that through. So, that is certainly of concern.
And listen, it is hard not to take a look at some of the research that has come out of China lately or some of the rhetoric that has been spoken in
China, and not think that they are intentionally experimenting right now to see if they can enhance parts of the population.
We are already seeing some experiments being done with regard to intelligence. And again, like, we barely understand how the brain works.
So, some of this research is dubious. But they have very different opinions and ideas around ethics and values and consent.
So, I think that there are -- I am sort of -- I am concerned that we are just not playing this forward. And as a result, something bad, at some
point, will probably happen and just -- we're not going to be prepared. We have time right now. We can prepare in advance by rehearsing the future,
but we have to actually do that.
SREENIVASAN: You know, you led to the book off with a rather personal story about your challenges of having a child. And I think it is one of the
things that people take for granted of all of the different complexities biologically that are there. But what do you think the future will hold for
families who might be in that similar struggle? Who are just trying to have a baby?
WEBB: I have been pregnant nine times, and I have one child. Some of those pregnancies are what doctors call chemical pregnancies, which I've always
thought was a really awful way to describe. It's just early-stage pregnancy. But we don't talk about miscarriage at all in the United States,
and it's not just the person who is pregnant that goes through it, it is everybody. It's their partner, it's their friends. It is an awful thing
when it happens.
You know, for some people, getting pregnant is very easy. And for many people, it is not. So again, can we introduce more control? Can we reduce
uncertainty? And I think the answer is yes. So, let's say IVF was a standard of practice rather than just something that is available to very
wealthy people who have the types of jobs that allow for IVF. Well, if that was the case, then you could create embryos, screen those embryos,
potentially perform genetic surgery on embryos and implant the one that was most optimize, the most likely to come to terms.
Well, then you would reduce a lot of heartache. You are not creating super children. You are just enabling a pregnancy to happen in a more controlled
environment. You know, I think we might look back a couple decades from now and think that we were barbaric for trying to have children naturally and
leaving so much up to happenstance and serendipity.
I hope my daughter, who is nowhere near the age to have children, but I hope a couple decades from now from now when she does that IVF is available
to everybody and that genetic screening happens to everybody, you know, and that this process is just better.
SREENIVASAN: All right. The book is called "The Genesis Machine." Author Amy Webb, thanks so much for joining us.
WEBB: Thank you, Hari.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, breaking barriers in space. NASA astronaut, Jessica Watkins, has made history as the first black woman to join the crew of the
International Space Station. She calls it an important milestone for both NASA and the United States. Together with three other astronauts, Watkins
kicked off her five-month tour when their SpaceX capsule successfully launched from Florida and docked with the Station 16 hours later.
The team of astronauts known as Crew-4 are joining seven others already on board, three of them Russian cosmonauts.
And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.