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Interview With World Central Kitchen Director Of Emergency Response Sam Bloch; Interview With Interview With Moroccan Interior Ministry Director Khalid Zerouali; Interview With Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense For Russia And The McCain Institute Executive Director Evelyn Farkas; Interview With "The West: A New History In Fourteen Lives" Author Naoise Mac Sweeney. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 11, 2023 - 13:00 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 try to "Amanpour." Here is what is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father and my mother, I have lost them here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In Morocco, a devastating human cost. The race to find survivors and harrowing stories of loss. We have the latest from there. And we speak
to those trying to help.
Are the people getting the aid they desperately need? I put it to one of the country's senior ministers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE Biden, U.S. PRESIDENT: We have an opportunity to strengthen alliances around the world to maintain stability. That's what this trip is all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- as the president wraps up trips to India and Vietnam, we look at the state of America's global alliances and its adversaries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOISE MAC SWEENEY, AUTHOR, "THE WEST: A NEW HISTORY IN FOURTEEN LIVES": This is a story which is doesn't match the fact that we have currently, you
know. It may have matched the facts that we had at the time the story was first written but, you know, we have more facts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- setting the record straight. Historian Naoise Mac Sweeney tells Michel Mac Sweeney tells Michel Martin why the story of western
civilization is much more complex than previously thought.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christian Amanpour in New York where the United States along with other world governments are offering help to
Morocco after a tragedy of unfathomable proportions.
It is the worst earthquake to hit that country in over a century. Striking close to the economic and tourist hub Marrakesh, but the epicenter and the
worst destruction is in the surrounding Atlas Mountains, isolated areas which are difficult to access.
Thousands are dead and thousands more are injured as rescuers race against time to find survivors beneath the rubble and reach isolated communities.
Whole villages have been crushed, historical sites damaged and many have lost everything. The military has now reached the worst hit area. The king
has declared three days of mourning.
Correspondent Sam Kiley is at a field hospital in the hard-hit village of Asni, and he has sent this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Asni, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces have established a field hospital in response to this
earthquake that has already killed some two and a half thousand people, similar number of them have been gravely injured. So, 2,500 people across
the country gravely injured.
But the problem in this location in Asni, at the bottom of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, is that people are going to be coming down off those
mountains seeking urgent medical assistance. And this is a highly sophisticated hospital that's been deployed around the world to the
Democratic Republic of the Congo to Jordan and elsewhere to deal with emergencies internationally.
But here, they are dealing with emergencies locally, obviously, but they have got radiology, they've got laboratories, they've got operating
theaters, they've got pharmacological tents and they've even got psychiatric helpers here.
And ultimately, though, the real problem is for the rescue services up in those mountains where the needs are gravest because the roads up there have
been cut. Helicopters are being sent into deliver aid, to try to pick up patients, to try to do assessments, to try to figure out how wide this
catastrophic problem really extends in this country.
There have been some amazing successes because this is still within the golden hours of three days when people buried under the ground have a
reasonable chance of survival. People have been pulled out in almost miraculous recoveries around the country, particularly in these very
And the doctors here have said that one of the really striking things for them is the importance of the psychological help because everybody
recognizes here that even after the end of the emergency response to this massive earthquake, the shock waves, the psychological shock waves are
going to be felt by this country for years to come.
Sam Kiley, CNN, in Asni.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, several nations have sent experts to join those desperate relief efforts. And private organizations like World Central Kitchen have
also rushed in, the brainchild of the celebrated chef, Jose Andres. It pioneered innovative ways to get food and water to the needy back when
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. I spoke to the director of emergency response in Morocco, Sam Bloch, as he was about to chopper
supplies high up into the Atlas Mountains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Sam Bloch, welcome to the program. Your organization is really experienced at this. But just tell me what exactly you are dealing with
right now. I see a chopper behind you.
SAM BLOCH, DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY RESPONSE, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: So, a lot of where the epicenter of the earthquake was, was really high up in the
mountains. A lot of small communities kind of (INAUDIBLE) at the side of mountains that are -- a lot of them are still cut off. A lot of landslides.
Access is just really the biggest challenge.
We've got a couple of these smaller helicopters flying that are able to land where nobody else is able to land. Little side of mountain roads,
things like this and bringing food and water in, but then, also, doing medical evacuations and evacuating people out.
So, they are really just running laps, nonstop. That's been one of the most challenging parts of this whole disaster, just the access and the
remoteness, the high elevation. We've also got quite a few teams going via land wherever they can, wherever landslides have not closed roads.
AMANPOUR: So, Sam, does that mean there is not a good internal transport network? Is it difficult to make these distances? And you have a
helicopter. Are the planes that can get to any central higher ground?
BLOCH: No, I mean, where the epicenter is, is really high up in the mountains. So, there's no airports in the region. Some of the villages are
over 5,000 feet in elevation. So, the helicopters really are the only way as well as some of our off-road vehicles with our ground teams that are
making it up into the mountains.
AMANPOUR: And have you had experience with such high elevation in an earthquake situation like this?
BLOCH: I can't say that I have. Some of the places where we worked in Turkey, we were working in Turkey and Syria after the large earthquake
there. Actually, some of the committees were high elevation above the snow line. So, yes, we do have experience in this.
AMANPOUR: And how do you think this is going to compare to Turkey and Syria? I guess I asked you because -- and I don't know whether this is the
case, but the way you described the epicenter seems to be it's less built up, less densely populated, maybe there might be less damage than in a
highly, you know, skyscrapers and residential buildings and all that concrete. I don't know.
BLOCH: No, you are correct. It's in a more rural region than what they say the Turkey earthquake was or say Port-au-Prince where we've also worked.
It's more rural. There are also, though -- earthquakes here are very rare. Very, very rare. So, I think this is one of the largest earthquakes to hit
this part of the world in quite some time. So, a lot of the architecture was really not designed for this type of seismic event.
AMANPOUR: Can you see any other government infrastructure in terms of relief working right now or are you and other NGOs it?
BLOCH: No, the government is. Their helicopters are flying as well. It's still very early days. The need is very spread out. So, yes, we are seeing
the government. I haven't seen any other international organizations here besides World Central Kitchen. I'm not saying they are not here. I just
haven't seen them.
But no, it's really the community taking care of itself and the government and World Central Kitchen.
AMANPOUR: So, we are hearing certainly from the reports that I've read that people up there have to pretty much use their own hands to scrabble and get
their loved ones out of the rubble and tried to do the best they can. What you think is the greatest need that somebody like yourself can provide? Is
it the food and water? Is it medicine? Is it first aid, triage? What is it?
BLOCH: Food and water, absolutely. We're going to be looking very quickly here, needing a lot of tarps. It is getting chilly up in the mountains. I
was just out in some very, very rural villages and they were saying how cold they are at nights. Yes. Food, water, always a priority.
We have also been taking medical evacuations out with the helicopter, as well as bringing medical teams in. So, you know, the medical needs are
getting met as well. But, you know, it's just -- it's so many small pockets and very rural areas that our teams are doing a really good job of. Again,
boots on the ground.
AMANPOUR: And where are you now? And what is your next stop?
BLOCH: I am just at the foothill of the mountains here. And the next stop, we've got about six different locations today. We're going to talk with the
pilot here before we decide which one of the committees we should restock first. Again, these are all communities with the helicopter that do not
have land access.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, I am going to let you go. Just what do you have in that chopper before I let you go?
BLOCH: Food. Ready-to-eat meals, sandwiches. Working with a lot of great local Moroccan restaurants as well as some of our team, making sandwiches
that people can eat straight away. And this is typically what we do in the beginning, very versatile, ready to grab an eat on the run. So, that's
what's getting loaded into this helicopter, as well as water.
AMANPOUR: Good luck to you.
BLOCH: Excellent. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Sam Bloch with the World Central Kitchen. Now, many survivors, as I said, have criticized their government for being too slow, they say, in
sending help. I'm joined now by the country's director of the interior ministry, Khalid Zerouali, for an exclusive interview, at least with the
Mr. Zerouali, welcome to the program. Can you tell us right now how much the government is doing? What sort of forces you've deployed? Who is taking
the need in these remote rescue operations?
KHALID ZEROUALI, DIRECTOR, MOROCCAN INTERIOR MINISTRY: Thank you so much for hosting this encounter. Let me just remind you that from the first
moment after the earthquake, his majesty, the king presided over a work session, during which he instructed all components of the state to work
swiftly for an action so that we can save lives, take care of the injured and find shelters to those who are in need.
The coordination today is done within the government. Of course, there is the ministry of interior, but they are all the other government ministries
in addition to armed forces. The ministry of health is also -- they want a lot of work so that we can take care of the injured and those who are in
need of health assistance.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Zerouali, we've heard that this is the first such earthquake in your region, in your country for perhaps more than a century. How
difficult is the challenge?
In our earlier report, we saw from Correspondent Sam Kiley, that the army has built at least that tent hospital location with all the, you know,
emergency first aid requirements. How difficult is it, though, to reach the epicenter which is in the mountains?
ZEROUALI: It is an exceptional situation. It's devastating earthquake. It's for sure. And the challenges today are linked to the nature of the
topography of the terrain. It's mountainous mostly. It makes it challenging.
But let me just remind you that the coordination that we have among all components of the government but also with other parties, NGOs also, it
makes it a lot easy to reach out to the population. It's not -- it's a complex operation. The national strategy management of crisis in Morocco is
coherent with best the practices at the international level.
We started with the assessment, the mitigation so that we can mitigate the impact of the earthquake on the population. We are now in the process of
intervention. A lot of operations, air support because the roads have been disrupted. About 100 air support operations to evacuate those who are
injured, to bring food to the population that were isolated.
Just to remind you also that the work that we have been doing so far aims to go towards the recovery, to leave the crisis as soon as possible. The
coordination is a big component. I remind -- just want to remind what has been done during the work session presided by his majesty, is that the
coordination is key element for success in crisis management.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Director Zerouali, do you have numbers right now? We've reported the latest, you know, in the 2,000s, nearly 2,500 dead and,
of course, everybody is very, very sorry that your nation has experienced this tragedy and loss of life. And perhaps the same number of injured. Can
you give us any updated figures? Do you expect it to go even higher?
ZEROUALI: As of today, we are 2,681 dead and 2,530 injured. Today, we saw less deaths. We still are working to make sure that nobody is under -- is
still under the debris. We are going towards maybe stabilization as soon as possible. But the figures I gave you are the ones up-to-date.
AMANPOUR: You know, you explained to me what the country is doing, the inter-agencies, what the king has ordered in terms of relief. But I wonder
whether you are used to hearing complaints from actual, you know, individuals who were caught up in it. As you've probably seen, there's some
on social media and there's one who I'm going to play for you right now talking to one of our correspondence. Let's just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMI SENSIS, PARENTS DIED IN EARTHQUAKE: We have no planification, only they have words. It's about (INAUDIBLE), only that we have words. That is
END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, man, we're told, lost both his parents, as he explained to our Correspondent Sam Kiley. And, you know, does he have a point that it's
been more than a century. There weren't the right planification, as he said, and it's so remote that it's all going too slowly.
ZEROUALI: As I said, we have a national strategy for crisis management. We start assessment, which is very crucial for the situation. Assessment is
the most important maybe phase in the crisis management. We -- then we moved to the mitigation so that we can save lives and take care of the
injured and give shelter to families and those who are in need.
Then we go full recovery. So, we have a strategy that is coherent with international best practices. I understand that sometimes the first moments
are very frustrating to the population. It is -- it's normal. The first moments of a crisis are very crucial and that's why we try to have the
optimal level of assessment so that we can move towards good results.
I don't think we are working blindly. You can see on the -- the results are up there. It is very difficult. It's not an easy exercise. But we have a
history in terms of crisis management. We have the doctrine, which is today, have been proved that it's a good one. Of course, it is not easy. It
is complex. But we are going safely, surely towards that recovery phase.
AMANPOUR: Director Zerouali, as you know in many parts of the West and other areas, when there's a massive national crisis tragedy, you know,
disaster like this, the president or the head of state, government goes and visits. I know you have said the king has had an intergovernmental meeting
with you all and he started like that. But I don't believe he's made initial address, unless you correct me. And I want to know whether he has
plans to go to visit the people in the worst affected areas.
ZEROUALI: The country -- his majesty from the first moments took a working session, because the most important now is work, not words. And his majesty
instructed us to work closely, to have an optimal level of coordination and sure -- and make sure that we have -- we take action swiftly to save lives
and take care of people who are in need.
It's time of action, not words. And we are working under the instructions and the guidance of his majesty. He's been working closely and he's been
following minute by minute what's happening on the field.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I understand that. I just wondered whether he had plans to visit the deeply affected areas and the people. Maybe you can answer me
that in the next question because are there countries -- can you tell me what countries you have accepted help from and can you answer the question
that's being reported that the government is not asking France because of political differences and the like? Is that -- is there any truth to that?
ZEROUALI: First of all, we have his majesty during the work session valued highly and appreciates the solidarity of friendly and Broadway countries.
But as I told you, coordination is key element in the crisis management. If it is done properly, we will succeed. It can be counterproductive. It can
even be fatal if it is not mastered and grasped.
His majesty values the action of friendly countries. But we are working today with -- we have teams from Spain, Qatar, Arab Emirates and the U.K.
They are already working on the fields. And if we need another assistance, we will request it.
His majesty stated during the work session, we -- as I told you, we are not working in a blind way. We have a strategy.
ZEROUALI: We have been working with the strategy for many years, for --
ZEROUALI: Since 2004. So, we have a method. We have something scientific working.
ZEROUALI: We will not jeopardize the strategy just to be kind to anyone.
AMANPOUR: OK. Let me --
ZEROUALI: For the other question, I don't think -- I'm the crisis manager. I'm not -- maybe it is a question to be asked in another sphere. But what I
can tell you that, if there is a need, we will take assistance from any other country, including France.
AMANPOUR: Just finally then, we focused on the high Atlas Mountains, the epicenter and your government has reached now, we understand -- the
military has reached the key town in the epicenter, Egil I think it's called. But can you tell me, because so many people around the world know
Morocco, so many people go for vacations there. Marrakesh is very, very, you know, popular, obviously.
Has Marrakesh and other urban areas been devastated? They have been hit and damage, but how bad is it?
ZEROUALI: The epicenter is where I am. Actually, I've been here for -- since the first moments of the earthquake. Marrakesh is 20 -- about 15
miles north of this site. It has been also hit but not as hard as here. So, I'm sure that life -- recovery will be rich in Marrakesh, in the State of
Marrakesh, and I don't think it will be a jeopardy to tourism. We are hopeful that Marrakesh regain its tourism reputation and brings more
AMANPOUR: Director Khalid Zerouali, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us from the interior ministry. Thank you.
Now, President Biden who, as I said, has offered help, he returns home today after a busy diplomatic trip. He landed back in Alaska to join the
rest of the country in tribute to the victims of 9/11 22 years ago. He was on his way back from South Asia where he was focused on shoring up
alliances and building up deterrence to China. After attending the G20 in India over the weekend, he then went on to Vietnam and sent a clear
personal message to Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE Biden, U.S. PRESIDENT: We are not looking to hurt China. Sincerely. We are all better off if China does well. If China does well by the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Both China and Russia were no-shows at the G20. So, is a new world order emerging? Let's ask the Evelyn Farkas. She's the former
Pentagon lead on Russia and Ukraine. Welcome back to the program, Evelyn Farkas.
It seems that President Biden kind of got the job done when he was in India and in Vietnam. A lot of pledges, a lot of visuals of shoring up that
alliance. How do you see it?
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA: Christiane, thanks for having me on again. I think that he has made
tremendous progress just in this short amount of time that he has been president in terms of shoring up in the Asia-Pacific component of U.S.
And I think he has evolved somewhat from the idea that these countries have to be out and out democracies as long as they are willing to respect human
rights and engage with the United States on improving human rights within their countries, they can become our ally. The most important thing, of
course, is standing up to China and Russia.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you quickly then about the sort of news image of the day, and that is the reports that we hear of the North Korean dictator,
Kim Jong-Un, planning to visit President Putin in Vladivostok, which is the site of regular meetings between the Russian leader and others in the
What do you actually make of that? How much of a threat is that in terms of alliances and adversaries to the United States and its allies?
FARKAS: Right. Well, I think it is important to know that Vladivostok is really an Asian part of Russia, just an hour or two flights away from
Tokyo, from Seoul, although you have to go around North Korea to get to Seoul.
I think this is interesting and really just makes Vladimir Putin look weak. I mean, if his strongest partner that he wants to tout on the international
stage is Kim Jong-Un, then he's really in a rough place. This is a country that relied on Russia for basic food aid, probably to some extent still
does. And they were never known for excellence in weaponry.
Of course, they've caught up a caught up a lot because of Russian help, because of probably Chinese help. But the fact that they are going hat in
hand that Russia is to Pyongyang for small arms and the equipment that they are giving them, again, is not very sophisticated, but the Russians in
exchange, at least what we know from the media, from media accounts is that the Russians are offering some technological assistance to North Korea,
which could be serious in terms of breaking sanctions, because there are U.N. sanctions on North Korea and arms trade with North Korea, but also in
terms of what Russia is giving up to the North Koreans, which also makes them, again, look weak.
AMANPOUR: So, that message was amplified to us by Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador in Japan, and you have pretty said what he said, that
it does, you know, beg the question of how strong Putin is if North Korea is the main arms supplier right now.
But -- so, you said the weapons would not be the most sophisticated and some are saying, you know, they obviously have a major surplus of
ammunition possibly because they haven't actually fought a way, the North Koreans, since the 1950s. But do you think it would have, given your
Pentagon background, a considerable game-changing effect in the Ukraine war, Russia war against Ukraine?
FARKAS: I don't think so, Christiane. I mean, first fall, when a when to North Korea, I went to the nuclear facility. So, I didn't look at their
armaments, expect for in the museum. But they are not known for having cutting-edge conventional weaponry. And as you've said, they have not
utilized them. They rely on other technology anyway to make these weapons. Countries who used to buy from North Korea included Egypt and others.
So, I don't think that Russia is getting much. It just shows you that they are lacking in people who will sell them the basic items because all the
other countries of the world are worried about sanction, which of -- with the exception of Iran, of course. But these are rogue countries that are
already under sanctions, so they have nothing to lose by doing trade with Russia. Every other country does have -- including China, does have
something to lose.
AMANPOUR: So, before I move onto China, I want to know whether your assessment is what we sort of gathered from the administration, writ large,
and maybe other NATO allies that actually China is the bigger threat right now, not Russia, to the international world order, notwithstanding a
terrible hot war, illegal war Russia is waging against a democratic and independent state of Ukraine.
FARKAS: Yes. I mean --
AMANPOUR: Do you agree?
FARKAS: I don't agree 100 percent with the way you phrased it, because I think the immediate danger to international order, to the International
Community, to the system that we have in place is indeed Russia. Vladimir Putin is using human rights violations to try to destroy the international
order, break the rules and, of course, wipe Ukraine off the face of the map.
If this -- actually, if gets his way, then China will be an even bigger threat to us. So, I believe that Russia is the immediate, urgent, you know,
first order threat. After we deal with Russia, then it's China. And, of course, simultaneously, we are still dealing with China as a threat, but
it's not as urgent and as immediate as Russia is today.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to dig down on Russia in a moment. But then, let's talk about President Biden's trip. First it was the G20. Then he went onto Hanoi
to meet with the president of Vietnam and to keep shoring up that sense of, you know, the Pacific alliance. He got -- there was some very good
statements that were made by both presidents out of that trip in Vietnam. Do you feel that the deterrent aspect of the Biden administration's efforts
FARKAS: Yes. And this was a key component of it because Vietnam is a critical country. It is a large country with a developed military, with a
great base that we have also been interested in developing with the Vietnamese to use for military and trade purposes. Of course, the Chinese
and Russians have had their eye on it.
The Vietnamese have always been a country that was proud and sought to balance between China and Russia. So, they have now added the United States
to the equation, I think probably recognizing, of course, that Russia can't stand up and won't stand up to China anymore. And so, they need another
power. And the United States offers trade benefits and a whole host of things that can help deter China.
Ultimately, I think India will wean itself off of the Russian weaponry that they have historically purchased to buy more sophisticated American
weapons. And so, again, I think this is a very important step in terms of solidifying deterrence towards China.
Remember, the reason we want deterrence is to discourage China from doing anything like what Russia is doing in Ukraine. No military adventurism. We
don't want another, you know, world war or another regional war.
AMANPOUR: And we don't want another war necessarily, you said world war, but a war of, let's say, NATO, the United States against China over Taiwan.
I wonder whether you think, that particularly during this presidential campaign, there is a sort of a pressure on the president, on the
administration as, you know, Governor Haley says all the time and other Republicans, get tough on China, you know, stiffen your spine, et cetera.
But the president was very clear, saying, we are not trying to contain China. We just want China to, you know, essentially play by the
international rules and everybody gets on a much better when that happens. How do you see it politically?
FARKAS: Yes. I think something like this trip, Christiane, does help the president change the narrative and have a narrative that can go head-to-
head with what's been the dominant discussion in Washington to include out of his administration until more recently, which was be tough on China.
You remember when the balloons, the spy balloons were over the United States territory, the administration was talking just as tough as Congress
was on both sides of the aisle. Now, the administration has refined its talking points. I don't think their policy shifted that much. But
politically, as you have said, they have shifted their talking point so they have a much more nuanced approach and I think they are going to --
policy, don't back China into a corner, just deter them quietly. Do the trade you need to do to keep the American economy strong, don't collapse
the global system, but deter China from taking any military advantage of the United States and its allies.
AMANPOUR: And he did say, the president, this weekend, just in case, you know, China didn't get it, the United States is a Pacific nation and we are
not going anywhere. So, sticking his own U.S. flag in the sand, so to speak as well.
So, now, let's move on to India then, the G20 summit where China didn't turn up but the premiere I believe did. Russia did not turn up. How do you
read the summit communique at first because of China, they weren't -- many not even -- Russia objections, they might not even have a joint communique
for the first time, then they finally did have one, certainly about that Ukraine war? So, that's is a little bit of a half victory, although Ukraine
was not thrilled with the extent to which it went.
FARKAS: I think, unfortunately, this just makes all of the countries that didn't take a stand with the United States and its allies look compromised.
And I think in the history books, they will not look good once Russia is defeated and people fully understand what Russia did to the Ukrainian
people and what they did before that to the Syrian people and to the Chechen people inside the Russian republic. So, I don't think history is on
Essentially, the fact that President Putin and President Xi did not show up to the summit, that puts some pressure on President Modi and the others who
were attending to make sure that it wasn't a complete loss for him diplomatically, right? Having those two leaders not show up isn't a good
look for the host. So, they wanted to make sure at least that there would be a communique.
It's in, diplomatic circles, seen as a failure if you don't have some kind of communique, some language that you all agree on. That's the way that it
has always been done. And so, this was essentially kind of a thank you to host this communique.
But the Ukrainians are absolutely right. There's nothing principled in it to, you know, whitewash what Russia is doing to the Ukrainian people. And
frankly, the cost that the people are facing in the Middle East and in Africa, in particular, because of the food shortages, because of the
Russian blockade of Ukraine.
So, they got a pass for sure, the Russians did. It just makes the countries that wouldn't go along with the stronger position look bad.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, they did have a much stronger position at the last G20 in Indonesia. You mentioned Africa and, you know, the obvious cost
they are paying because of the grain issue. But the G20, I believe, brought in the African union for the first time, expanding African presence and,
you know, center of gravity.
So, I guess that leads me to the next question. Do you believe, because of what is going on and the attempt to sort of deter whatever, isolate, you
know, China a little bit, there's some kind of new world order emerging? Let me just review from "The Financial Times," welcome to the a la carte
world. As the post-cold war age of America as a sole superpower fades, the old era when the countries had to choose from a prix fixed menu of
alliances is shifting into a more fluid order.
Do you agree that this is a new emerging era of geopolitics?
FARKAS: Things are shifting. I'm not sure that we know exactly whether it is going to be this kind of pick and choose a la carte option or not. I
think it is probably too early to tell whether you can be a country like Saudi Arabia that violates human rights but also be strongly militarily
allied, 100 percent militarily allied with the United States. That remains to be seen.
I will say, though, the fact that we are now wooing these countries, as are the Chinese and the Russians, actually feels a little bit more like the
Cold War. But because we have global trade, so far at least, nationalism has not taken over and shut down the global trade that we have enjoyed.
So, if that continues to be the case, then we are in a new phase. And that would be a good thing. I just worry that once you start having more picking
the sides, it could get dangerous. So, for example, with China, we have to maintain some level of trade with China because if we become completely
protectionist towards them, the economic community that we've established, our economic -- you know, all of our -- the kind of standard of living that
we enjoy will be put into jeopardy. Protectionism often leads to war, frankly.
So, we are in a different phase right now, but I'm not sure exactly where we are.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, on the immediate threat to Ukraine, as you said, I mean, literally 30 seconds, you said Putin has to be defeated there. Is the U.S.
and its allies doing enough?
FARKAS: We are never doing enough, Christiane. We can always do more. We need to provide Ukraine with more assistance now so that they can defeat
the Russians this season before the winter.
AMANPOUR: Evelyn Farkas of The McCain Institute, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.
FARKAS: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, the idea and the storied origins of western civilization have shaped most of history and politics as we know it. But our next guest
says the traditional from Plato to NATO understanding is misleading. Ancient historian Noise Mac Sweeney explains how it got that way in her new
book, "The West." And she joins Michel Martin now to correct the record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Naoise Mac Sweeney, thank you so much for joining us.
SWEENEY: It is lovely to be here. Thank you for the invitation.
MARTIN: You are a classical archaeologist. You are a historian of ancient era. Your book makes two powerful, and I think for some people, provocative
arguments. The first is that our general story about the history of western civilization is factually wrong. So, why don't we just start that and what
is this false narrative that we have all been taught?
SWEENEY: Well, the story that I think most people will recognize tells the tale of the origins of the West, the modern West as having its origins, its
roots in Ancient Greece and Rome. And from there, the idea is that western civilization is transferred into Central and Northern and Western Europe.
And from there, it gets transferred across the Atlantic, especially to North America.
So, this is the story of western civilization, and it is all around us. We see it everywhere we turn. But one of the things that I really wanted to
debunk in the book is that this is a story which is, it doesn't match the facts that we have currently. You know, it may have matched the facts that
we had at the time the story was first written but, you know, we have more facts now, we know more about the past, and that's simply not the way
culture travels or civilization travels. The real story is much, much, much more complex.
MARTIN: So, why does it persist. Why does it persist as the way we are taught this story?
SWEENEY: Oh, well, OK, that answers -- that question is kind of two answers. The first one is, is that the different bits of it are known but
we haven't put it all together. So, we know that Ancient Greek culture and philosophy and learning wasn't just inherited in Western Europe. We know
that it was very important in the medieval Arabic world. We know that Ancient Greek was still used as a language right until the 14th century in
Sub-Saharan Africa and Sudan.
So, we do know that it's a much richer set of cultural transmissions. It is just joining it up into one big overarching narrative, which we haven't
quite done. And when you asked why haven't we done that, why haven't we rewritten this big narrative, and that's -- I think it's because it's being
politically expedient for us not to. I think this is a narrative that fulfills a certain political function in western society and it has been
very convenient over the centuries to hang onto it because it bolsters western ideas of western supremacy, western identity, and western
MARTIN: And that is like the second point that you make very explicitly in the book, which is that this narrative, this false narrative has staying
power because it's been useful to those who want to dominate.
SWEENEY: Yes, absolutely. And I think this is not a shock horror moment. All historical narratives do this, right? That is why we tell history the
way we do because they may make sense to us and they help us to explain who we are today.
Now, the only trouble is, is that this narrative of western civilization, it does not really explain who we are today in the modern West in the 21st
century. I think it worked really well for the 18th and 19th century, when it was a really strong narrative. It began to work less well and well as
the 20th century went on its way. But now, we are in the 21st century, the modern West is not the same as the West of 1900. And we need to have
different origin stories.
MARTIN: So, here's the approach that you took in rewriting this narrative for the 21st century was to ground of your story in the lives of 14
historical figures. And obviously, I can't ask you to describe all 14 of them. But I wanted to ask, if we could put a couple and then, if you could
sort of describe your thesis through their lives. So, if you could start with the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, and how does he complicate our
notions about this sort of -- the inherent kind of whiteness of western culture and just kind of clear through line.
SWEENEY: Yes, no, absolutely. And I start with him in the book because we often look back to Herodotus, we sometimes call him the father of history.
And we often assume that he is the first originator of this clash of civilizations, the West versus the rest kind of narrative.
Very famously he wrote -- his big magnum opus was called "The Persian Wars," and it told the story of how an alliance of Greek city states fought
against the Persian empire. So, this book is often being read as a clash of civilizations story. But actually, if you delve into, first of all the
book, but also Herodotus' own life, you can see how that it's just not that simple.
So, Herodotus himself he is born in Halicarnassus, which is modern-day Turkey. He is Greek. He has got a Greek name. But he seems to be at least
half indigenous Anatolian as well. So, his father has an indigenous Anatolian name, his other family members who also seemed to be indigenous.
So, he's a kind of a mixed culture kid.
He ends up having to leave his home for political reasons. He is essentially a refugee and he winds up in Athens, which is kind of the
golden cosmopolis of the moment, and he is trying to make a living as a young writer. And he is doing really well in Athens. But very strangely, at
some point, he decides to leave Athens and live out the rest of his days in a small town in Southern Italy.
And, you know, a lot of people have asked over the years why would he do that when he is being -- the moment when he's a great successful writer,
why is he leaving? And I think the answer lies in what is happening in Athens at the time. So, Athens is the cultural capital of the Greek world,
but it is because it is drawing in wealth and richness and treasure from an empire, an empire of other Greeks.
And what -- the political rhetoric in Athens at this moment is one of increasing exclusionism, it is one of racial purity and it is -- they are
definitely trying to make it an uncomfortable environment for migrants to be in. And Herodotus, we can only imagine, must have felt that.
And then, when we know this about his life and then we go back to read his book, the history is what we find is not a triumphant story of the Greeks
defeating the cowardly eastern Asians, but actually, we see a much more complicated story where different groups of people are interrelated in
different ways, where it is almost ridiculous to draw stark lines between people because there are so many interconnections.
And actually, what Herodotus seems to be doing throughout the history is rubbishing the ideas of a clash of civilization. He's mocking it. He's
showing that it does not work and reality. And so, I think we have -- a lot of people have misread Herodotus over the centuries because of this.
MARTIN: That's so fascinating. What about Phillis Wheatley? I was so intrigued to see her included in your work until I read the chapter. So,
tell us why you include Phillis Wheatley, this -- well, you know, famous to some people enslaved African-American poet. Tell -- why does she does --
how did she encapsulate your theory?
SWEENEY: Well, I first came across Phillis Wheatley as an early classical scholar. I mean, she is known not just for her poetry but for the very
innovative way that she uses classic illusions, especially Latin but also Greek literature.
But to learn about her life, put every -- all of this into a very stark context, she obviously was born in West Africa around 1755 and she ends up
being enslaved and transported to Boston and there she is -- shows a great aptitude for language learning and (INAUDIBLE) in general, and so, she
learns Latin and Greek very quickly.
But by the age of 12, she's publishing poems in newspapers. And as -- she is a teenage literary sensation. Almost nobody can believe that this young
enslaved girl can produce literary works of this high-caliber. And to read her poetry really shows you the depth of her engagement with the idea of
the classical past and the western tradition.
And she is very clever about it. She draws upon it in very sophisticated ways but she also positions herself in a problematic way, too, that
inherited classical tradition. She is positive. She has mastered it. But at the same time, she feels excluded by it, and she draws comparisons between
herself and African Latin poet, Terence. And as peripheral -- both partial (ph) and peripheral to this literary tradition. So, she is really, really
interesting figure from this perspective.
And then, you find that even later in her life she wrote very painfully and evocatively about her own experiences being, in her words, snatched from
Africa's happy fancied seat. And writes about how the revolutionary movement in Boston at the time, she's caught up in the middle of it, how --
she questions how this can ever find divine favor while they continue to practice enslavement.
And so, she begins to speak out, finds her political voice, you know, as well as having a literary voice. But then, it's very sad that I (INAUDIBLE)
she has a very tragic end, dies in penury. And you do wonder how much of that is linked to her speaking out politically.
MARTIN: And there's one other person I wanted to ask you about, Tullia d'Aragona, who is a poet, a philosopher, and a famous courtesan of the
Italian renaissance. Why did you include her story in the book?
SWEENEY: She is another fantastic literary woman, which I was very excited to begin reading about. And because, again, she undermines what we think of
as happening in the renaissance. What we think of as a renaissance as being is a revival, literally a rebirth of classical and western civilization, a
rediscovery of the ancient world.
But actually, Tullia's poetry and also her letters are not like that. They have an awareness of a much wider world. So, she does right with classical
illusions. She writes very wittily and in a very sophisticated way, engaging with Plato and Aristotle on questions of philosophy, but she also
writes this wonderful epic poem, which like an adventure story about actually an enslaved young man who ends up becoming free and traveling the
world to try and find his parents, called Il Meschino, The Wretched One.
And he travels through Asia and he travels through Africa and he travels through to the wilds of Europe and eventually finds his parents back home
in Italy, of course. But all of these three continents are described in equally strange and weird and wild ways. And what Tullia shows us is a
world which is not divided into Europe and the West and classical culture on the one hand and the monstrous eastern and Africa on the other hand. We
have had elements of Christianity in all three continents. We've got elements classical Greek and Roman culture in all three continents. And we
have elements of barbarity in all three continents as well.
So, I think we have to reassess what we think of as the renaissance world view as a worldview which is much more global perhaps then we might have
MARTIN: The argument has been made for some time, and it's been made all around the world, that genius knows no continent. You know, that genius
knows no continent. Creativity knows no continents. What is different is, you know, opportunity and access, the ability to express it. And I'm just
sort of curious, like, why do the -- why should this even be a radical idea at this point in our lives?
SWEENEY: It seems like it's radical now because I think -- I feel, at least, the political discourse in especially in North America and in Europe
has become very, very polarized. And we seem to be retrenching ourselves at different ends of the political spectrum and unable to engage in dialogue
across the middle.
And so, terms like the West and the western civilization have either become terms for sticking up on a statute pedestal and lionizing and saying that
they are untouchable, for one side of the political spectrum. And on the other side of the political spectrum, they've almost become dirty words.
They are something shameful or something that we like to be denigrated.
And both of those things are clearly factitious (ph). They are strawmen. These are two strawmen. And so, if we cannot move past that, if we can't
get a more sophisticated, less two-dimensional strawman view of what western society and what the West currently is, we're never going to be
able to move forward.
MARTIN: But why do you think there's such an aggressive move now to uphold this specific view of, you know, western civilization? Not just in the
United States, but we see this in other, you know, western governments, this desire to kind of narrow the focus of history rather than broaden it.
Like, why do you think that is?
SWEENEY: I think it was just because we are at a critical juncture in kind of the balance of power globally where the West is no longer occupying this
unrivaled position of dominance, which it has had for the last couple of centuries. We've had the recent challenges of, well, Russia, especially
with the war in Ukraine, Russian aggression. But perhaps even more importantly is this rise of China, both economically and also politically
Now, wherever you stand on that, whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing in different parts of the world, it is something which is --
means that the world order is changing, that things are changing around the West, not just within China, but also China's interactions with the rest of
the world. And the West, therefore, has to rethink its position and what it fundamentally is.
In doing that, there are people who want to step back and retrench and maybe put their hands over their ears and say, it is not happening. The
West is what it always was. It can't change. It's never going to change. And there are some people who -- you know, who see the faults of the West
and wants to almost rip it to shreds. But there are also some people in the middle who are seeking to try and understand what the West is now -- and it
is not what it was 100 years ago, it's not what it was 150 years ago, it's not what it was even 20 years ago.
So, the kinds of identity we need in the West now are not the kinds of identity we need at the time that this idea of western civilization was
being promoted. We need something else and we need it now.
MARTIN: You say very clearly, that your book is not an attack on the West. Say more about that and why you made a point of saying that.
SWEENEY: I made a point of saying this because there is a school or a political corner which does want to critique the West and western
civilization saying that there's nothing good about it and it is all to denigrated, and acknowledging some of the horrors of the past in western
history. And I think we must acknowledge those horrors and we must come face-to-face with them.
But that does not mean to say that the West in the current world is something that you should give up on. Now, I am of the West. I live in the
West. I do have a Chinese mother and I have family roots in China. But I am of the West. And there are things which I cherish and value as -- which I
think are core to a modern 21st century western identity.
And in political debates nowadays around me there are -- it's obvious there are other people who see those things as call to West identity too, and
these are principles such as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, or we could debate which ones we want to include and
exclude. But the core values of the West, as I see it and as many people around me seemed to see it, are no longer racial or ethnic in the same ways
they were 100 -- or at least 70 or even 50 years ago.
And so, this new -- this current West, which we're now living into today is the West that I think we need to seek to understand and which we need to
find a new origin therefor.
MARTIN: Naoise Mac Sweeney, thank you so much for speaking with us today.
SWEENEY: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, revealing. And finally, tonight, we've had the World Cup finals, the U.S. Open finals, the tennis that is, and much more. But how
about this fierce competition in the Balkan State of Montenegro, where participants are taking slacking off to new heights, vying for the title
Now, in its 12th year, the contest began as a playful foil to the myth that Montenegrin's are lazy. The rules of the game are very simple, no standing,
no sitting and one 10-minute bathroom break as permitted every eight hours. After a record shattering 24 days of twiddling thumbs and staying prone,
only seven people have left in this bid to become the ultimate lay about. Well, that's one kind of competition.
And tomorrow, look out for my conversation with the award-winning novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Author of acclaimed works like "Americana" and
"Half of a Yellow Sun." We'll discuss her very first children's book, "Mama's Sleeping Scarf." And I'll ask the author how her daughter and her
parents inspired this leap into young literature.
That is it for now. Remember, if you ever miss our show, you can always find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And you can
always catch us online, on our website and all-over social media. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.