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Interview With Former British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace; Interview With Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Paul Krugman; Interview With "Mama's Sleeping Scarf" And "Amerikanah" Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Interview With The New York Times Magazine Contributing Writer Paul Tough. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 12, 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 "Amanpour". Here's what's coming up.
A reclusive dictator comes to Russia. But will Kim Jong Un's meeting with Vladimir Putin change anything for Ukraine or the world? My interview with
Ben Wallace who just stepped down as Britain defense secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: More than 700,000 people joined the labor force last month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- the real story about the U.S. economy. Noble Prize winner Paul Krugman lays out the dollars and cents for why Americans are wrong to feel
so down about it.
A claimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie brings us inside the world of her first children's book, "Mama's Sleeping Scarf."
PAUL TOUGH, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: There are now more than 2 million fewer college students on American college campuses,
under grands, than there were a decade ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- is college still wonderful it? Expert Paul tough tells Hari Sreenivasan why American teens are turning away from higher education.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
Kim Jong Un doesn't usually leave North Korea but for Vladimir Putin, he has. The 39-year-old dictator of the world's most reclusive country arrived
in Russia by special armored train today. A show of support for the Russian president who needs all the help he can get for his war in Ukraine.
The United States believes Pyongyang has sent artillery to Moscow and is warming that it should not make an arms deal. North Korea is thought to
have stockpiles of ammunition, not surprising, since it hasn't fought a war since the 1950s.
Here with reaction to this highly charged meeting and much more is Ben Wallace. He served as Britain's defense secretary for four years before
stepping down just a few weeks ago. Ben Wallace, welcome to the program. There you are in London by parliament. I wonder if you can tell me, are you
concerned about this meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin and how do you think and how would you think Britain feels it might change or
impact the war in Ukraine?
BEN WALLACE, FORMER BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I'm not concerned. In fact, it's another sort of indicator of desperation of President Putin. I
mean, to think that the Russian president has to go on bended knee now to beg for North Korean predominantly 1960's equipment shows the state he has
got himself into with his illegal invasion of Ukraine. I think -- you know, we have a saying in England, by your friends you shall be judged. And I
think it just shows that Putin's circle of friendship is an ever-decreasing circle.
So, I think at one level it's a slight sign of hope in the West that, of course, that's all who Putin has. And, you know, we should take some
comfort from that. There is a little bit of worry that, of course, when it comes to less sophisticated weapon system that are needed by Russian forces
such as artillery shells, of course, as you rightly pointed out in your introduction, you know, they haven't -- North Korea hasn't fought a war for
decades. So, of course, unleashing shells or dumb shells to the Russian army would, of course, be useful to them at the time.
But I think you can argue it's probably too late at the moment for Russia. And I think it's just another sort of -- you know, if that all President
Putin has to boast around the kitchen table with his friends is that my new friend is Kim Jong Un, I think the world will look at that and see that
he's now cozying up to a fellow isolated regime that's despotic and obviously isn't even viewed by China as a rational regime.
AMANPOUR: So, you just said a little late for Russia now or maybe it's too late for Russia, do you mean that it is on the backfoot and it's, as you
described, illegal war against Ukraine? Do you believe that the counteroffensive, as it is stocked right now by Ukraine, has a chance of
WALLACE: Yes, I do. And look, there's been a sort of whiff in the air with the media about questioning the counteroffensive. And I know you yourself
have been to visit Ukraine. Look, the counteroffensive has been a success. It hasn't gone necessarily as fast as people would like, but, you know,
they're -- by those people, they're not themselves in the trenches fighting the war.
The counteroffensive is moving forward. The momentum remains with Ukraine. And in all war and battlefield, what matters is momentum, and Ukraine has
maintained the momentum. They are gathering territory. They're defeating Russian armorer and equipment.
And while -- you know, for those people that always want everything over by Christmas, that's probably unlikely. It was never going to be the case.
They are still with the upper hand. And I think it's really important that we remember the what you see failing on Russia's battlefield is played out
in the hallways of power. It's why you saw Prigozhin's rather effort of a coup, it's why you've seen generals fired, it's why you see Putin running
off to see Kim Jong Un is that is the consequence of a faltering failing front line.
And I think, you know, Ukraine will have more advantages in winter. Their supply chains will be less. The cold will not affect them in the same way
because they won't have to bring supplies further afield. And one of the big circulations of Putin has fundamentally failed. The International
Community is as strong as ever.
Who would have thought you and I would have been an interview at the time that people are going to send F-16s to Ukraine? And I remember rouse about
18 months ago about whether people would send secondhand MiG-29s from Poland.
WALLACE: So, the International Community is strong, they're determined. And I am not only confident in the Ukrainian's ability to succeed, but I'm also
optimistic that they will do so and Russia will fail almost absolutely in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Ben Wallace, you're a former military man yourself. So, you know the lay of the land. You know the battle and what it takes. You're right. I
was there. And I did, you know, ascertain what you're saying, that, actually, the counteroffensive is going according to plan with what they
have right now. And they do not have the F-16s that you were just mentioning and they didn't have the long-range missiles that you, the
Brits, actually gave them first.
Do you think that this could have been accomplished better, quicker, with less loss of life, less disruption to the international world order had
those planes and those tanks and those longer-range missiles got there earlier?
WALLACE: Well, I'm not sure that getting there earlier. I think what you could say is, if Ukraine had been properly equipped and supported from 2014
or even before, I think what you would have seen is the deterrence in action. I think you would have seen Russia less likely to have taken the
action that it did last February.
I think once they had taken that action, it basically broke down into two phases. And the first phase was defense. And as we saw Ukraine defended
itself incredibly well, it out -- exceeded everybody's expectations, Britain, America, Europe. Everyone thought, you know, that Ukraine wouldn't
hold on for too long. It defeated a very, very large invading army.
And then, you get to the next phase, which is the phase of offense. The offensive that we now see. And inevitably, that was going to come at a
later date. So, I don't think that if everyone was lined up and was start line in February, it would have stopped it. I think if Ukraine had
militarily reformed, as it has now done and it had been properly equipped by the West, you know, years before, I think then that deterrent would have
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you -- I'm just going to swerve a little bit to Afghanistan, because, you know, obviously, you were in office when that --
you know, the Taliban took control. The president of the United States withdrew and therefore all you NATO countries withdrew as well, and we can
all see the result, obviously, of what's happening there.
I want to ask you one particular question that I hear from a lot of British military and former military, as well as U.S. military and former military
and special forces, they're still very upset that their colleagues in the Afghan National Army and elsewhere were sort of left to fend for
themselves. And they ask whether, like France, the U.S., the U.K. might have even brought these highly trained, by you, officers and experts into a
kind of Gurkha meaning or a foreign legion force? Was there ever any discussion about that?
WALLACE: Well, certainly in the United Kingdom, we've brought back over 12,000. And I think we're bringing back another. It will be the time it's
finished another 9,000 approximately of those specialists. And they are were called ARAP Cohort. And they are people who are the people that
directly worked with us, supported us and were trained by us or indeed were key elements of the, you know, Afghan special forces, et cetera. So, we
have brought them over. We have incorporated them, obviously, into the country given their lots of rights to earn and to work.
But, yes. You know, I think there was a discussion that sometime about whether or not you could have had Gurkha force in the U.K. I think question
there really would have been, you know, remember, they would still remain Afghan citizens and for what purpose? And of course, I think where they
can, obviously, they will come. Some of them will come into the armed forces. But ultimately, I think that was a decision at the time that that
wasn't an option we wanted to pursue.
But look, I think the other question, which are lot of us feel, is the point about being confined, you know, leaving our sort of friends and
allies was mainly the characteristic of that deal. The deal was a rotten deal, as I've said publicly before. Because what the deal did at the time,
it handed the Taliban victory. It was done in a way that, you know, it -- the only things the Taliban were really scared of were western air power,
western sort of intelligence and support alongside the Afghan army. Well, that deal committed the Afghan -- the western air power to stay on the
ground and western military to stay in their barracks, which basically left the Afghan armies almost entirely alone.
And secondly, at the same time, it insisted on releasing I think 4,000 to 5,000 senior Taliban people from prison. So, you -- the enemy got
everything it wanted and the rest is history. And I think we probably felt all along this was some rotten deal.
AMANPOUR: And I also want to ask you about Northern Ireland, because there's some very controversial legislation that is beings passed by the
House of Lords and probably due to come to law in the coming weeks. Ending investigations into crimes committed during the troubles.
So, it apparently will offer amnesty to paramilitaries former soldiers. The Irish government might challenge it, it's being condemned by the Labour
Party and others in Ireland. What can you tell us about that? And is that a sensible move to grant that kind of amnesty and end this process?
WALLACE: Well, look, first of all, I was a serving officer there in 1994 when they had the first basically cease fire. And look, ultimately,
(INAUDIBLE) agreement which was signed by both sides and supported fully by the United Kingdom government and the Irish government was about drawing a
line under the troubles, and within that, was a sense of forgiveness, whether we -- whether I found that comfortable or not. We released the IRA
prisoners, for example, in exchange for decommissioning of weapons.
So, there was a whole part of this process which was about putting the troubles behind us, recognizing that democracy is the way forward and not
the use of weapons and arms. And ultimately, you know, after many, many years, you know, it's been 1997 since the Good Friday Agreement, you know,
what's important is, if people want to come forward and want to engage with investigations, be they terrorists or ex-former security force personnel,
then they have potentially the ability to be effectively forgiven, to be given an amnesty.
If you don't come forward, if you're an IRA terrorist who refuses to cooperate, you will still be open to prosecution. So, it's not
unconditional. And secondly, it's not one-sided. It will be open to both, you know, those people who under investigation from the state and it will
also be open to those terrorists and paramilitaries as well.
And that's not comfortable as a former soldier. I don't want -- you know, instinctively, I would say that those terrorists whose killed my soldiers
should face justice. But I'm also interested in peace on the island of Ireland and peace in Northern Ireland. And if both sides and individuals
who contributed to those troubles and people under investigation wish to actually cooperate and give some sort of peace to the victims, and
remember, the vast majority of the victims were IRA and terrorist victims, I mean, in the thousands, the innocent killed by terrorist bombs, they
I think that's what we owe as part of peace. And we owe an honest and open discussion of what happened to their loved ones. And I think, you know, if
people are prepared to do that, after all these years and decades, I think this bill seeks to draw a line. But if you don't want to play that game and
you're a terrorist and you want to keep hiding the truth and you don't want to admit your role in murder or anything else, then you'll still be
AMANPOUR: And finally, I want to ask you because, you know, you've had an amazing job front row to history, absolutely crucial in the, you know,
British response to the Russian invasion. And you've chosen to step aside. And once, I think, you were quoted as saying, you know, after all these
years of going to bed with several phones, you know, on your bedside table you need to do something different.
Talk to me about that. Is it just wanted to do a different profession? Is it mental health? And I don't mean that in any sinister way. Life work
balance? Tell me about what it means to be a minister in that pressure cauldron.
WALLACE: Well, look, I think it's a lot of combinations. You know, I joined the army at 19. I served my country for a long period of time. I -- before
I was the defense minister, I was the equivalent, to your Homeland Security secretary. So, I was dealing with counterterrorism and organized crime and
cybercrime. And also, the (INAUDIBLE) poisoning at the same time as the security minister's job. So, I've done it over seven years.
You know, there wasn't a day that didn't go past where I wasn't dealing with something. And, you know, I remember as a former soldier, we all had
friends that did one too many tolls, you know, always just stayed on. There's always another toll around the corner. And I think there's famous
phrase either attributed to General de Gaulle or President Lincoln, which is, the cemetery is full of indispensable men. And I think it was time for
me, at the seven years sort of point, to move on.
I'm not standing at the election next year. And therefore, it's right that the prime minister has a defense secretary standing next to him who's going
to go through the election. And I thought it was the time and moment to go.
And, you know, I could do that partly because I know that the cabinet, the prime minister and the labor opposition and the liberal democrats and the
Scottish nationalists were all completely in full support of Britain's leadership and support to Ukraine. And that isn't going to change just
because I changed.
AMANPOUR: And that's an interesting point, because everybody worries and wonders whether the next U.S. election might change support for the war.
But you know what, thank you so much. It was great to talk to you with that perspective.
WALLACE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Ben Wallace, thank you very much indeed.
Now, here in the United States, worries about inflation, fears of recession, polls show the majority of Americans are feeling down in the
dumbs about the economy. But my next guest says that's a mistake. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says the real data is much sunnier
than what people are feeling. GDP is growing. Wages are raising. Inflation and unemployment are both below 4 percent. So, let's ask him now.
Paul Krugman, welcome back to the program.
PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST: Hi. Good to be on again.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, let me ask you because this is now becoming sort of blanket wave and rolling waves in the media and in the public narrative,
that somehow -- and I think you have put it absolutely -- you know, yourself, in your piece, I'm OK. But, you know, things look terrible. I'm
paraphrasing. Why is this happening?
KRUGMAN: Yes. Well, we don't fully understand. I mean, the striking thing, if you look at it, it's not just, you know, the economic data have been
surreally good. I mean, even optimists are just stunned by how quickly and how painless the inflation has come down. That we're -- you know, no hint
of a recession, at least so far, we never know, but know so far inflation not too far from, you know, the target of 2 percent and under 3 percent by
most measures. And all of that just achieved painlessly.
So, this is great. This is a Goldilocks economy. People say it's a terrible economy. But what's really odd is that people don't behave as if it's a
terrible economy. You know, we can talk about surveys which -- in which people seem to be relatively happy with their own financial situation or we
can just look at behavior.
People are out there with a lot of discretionary consumer spending, travel, hotels, restaurants, all of that is booming. So, people are acting as if
they're in good shape financially. And yet, they say, wow, this is a disastrous economy. Somebody must be a disaster for somebody. But not for
And you know, we don't really understand why this is happening. But, you know, and I can come up with multiple stories, but it is, I think,
important to point out there's a really profound and peculiar disconnect going on.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to ask you what the impact of that might be. But first, I just want to, you know, reiterate your point by using a graph that is
just published in "The Wall Street Journal," which is not necessarily a liberal progressive rag, is it? I mean, it's the -- you know, the bible of
the financial would recall, mostly slightly conservatively tilting.
And "The Wall Street Journal's" graph is very interesting, with a breakdown by party of how voters rate the strength of the U.S. economy. And you can
see after a dip where there was that, you know, 2020 hard time, or whatever it was, there's a dip there between 2022 and 2023. But now, it's going up
amongst both Democrats and independents, steadily up, but not, it's flatlined. Really, it's just been flatlined amongst the Republican and
those leaning Republican.
So, do you think this is all about narrative and politics or is it really that certain parts of the population feel, you know, economically deprived
rather than others?
KRUGMAN: OK. I don't think that there are people -- I mean, there are people who are hurting but they cannot to be the -- it's not what the polls
are capturing. I mean, we've just seen a big jump in child poverty because some of the pandemic aid programs have been withdrawn. But that's not --
you know, and that's real suffering, but that's not what these numbers are capturing.
A very large part of it is partisanship. And it just -- it's actually from a modern perspective. It's astonishing to go back to economic surveys from
the 1980s when we all seem to be living in the same country. When Republicans and Democrats had basically similar assessments of the economy.
These days, Republicans claim that the economy is -- you know, they're giving this economy a worse rating than the economy of 1980 when we had 7.5
percent unemployment and 14 percent inflation, right? It just doesn't make any sense.
And it's clear, there's a strong element of just tribalism partisanship. This is what people think they should say about the economy rather than an
Now, you know, you can make some -- oh, sorry. And it's also the case that people -- the polling says that people, especially Republicans, say that
inflation is rising when, in fact, it's falling. And you say, well, you know, but prices are up. Isn't that what matters? But back in the Reagan
years, when prices continued to rise, there was never a deflation then, people did recognize that inflation was falling.
So, something has changed. I don't know exactly what it is, is it just partisanship? Is there just -- were people just so shock by the disruptions
during the pandemic and the reemergence of inflation after a couple of decades when we really didn't think about it at all? That's a harder
question to answer.
AMANPOUR: And just to bolster -- well, not to bolster, to reiterate what you've just said, in terms of inflation, according to the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics, it's fallen to 3.2 percent per year. And wages are growing at 5.3 percent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
So, again, the disconnect is interesting.
Can I just swerve right into politics and ask you whether this is going to make people feel even more sort of in their silos? Kevin McCarthy, speaker
of the house, has today given the go ahead for, you know, house inquiry into impeaching President Biden.
You know, everybody's talked about the politics of his caucus that has forced him to take this position, the freedom caucus, all the rest of it.
But what do you think that is going to do to the national sense of malaise or otherwise, that on top of this narrative about Biden's age?
KRUGMAN: Well, actually, my -- nobody knows, right? And I'm not -- this is, in some ways, not my department. But in some ways, I almost think an
impeachment inquiry based on, you know, nothing, they basically said, we're going to impeach, now, we're going to look for a reason, that that might,
if anything, help the assessment of the economy, because the Republicans are unmovable.
The Republican -- you know, 92 percent of Republican primary voters think inflation is rising. These are people who are just living in near own
universe. It's not -- nothing is going to change their perceptions. But maybe by kind of emphasizing just how radical the Republicans are this
might cause Democrats and -- well, I'm not sure there are any real independents out there, but to the extent that Democrats are feeling a
little wavering, they might be kind of rally around, saying, you know, we need to be the party that is somewhat sane on these substitutes.
AMANPOUR: Let me end with a little bit of serious fun. The fun is your reference to Taylor Swift. And I believe you said, even if you aren't a
fan, you have to admit that she's the real deal, economically. Pointing out that, you know, both she, Beyonce, they're on billion-dollar tour
juggernauts. The "Barbie" movie racked up more than a billion dollars at the box office.
So, that is -- are women providing this -- you know, in a mega way, some of these green shoots that we're seeing or a lot of them to the U.S. economy?
KRUGMAN: A little bit. Although, it's a little bit disappointing that when you're talking about the United States, a billion dollars is not a lot of
money. It's -- the impact on U.S. DEP is, you know, positive. People have been joking if the economy should weaken, all Biden has to do is persuade
Taylor Swift to extend her tour, but that's not really.
But, you know, if you want to see where stuff that -- you know, odd stuff really moves things, the Danish economy is massively being impacted,
growing because Novo Nordis is producing these wave loss drugs. So, you know, "Barbenheimer" and Taylor Swift, that matters a bit, but a pill that
makes you lose weight, that's really good for the economy.
AMANPOUR: And how about Chinese economy that sort of underheating, cooling? How do you perceive that well? What will the data tell you about how it
affects the U.S. economy going ahead?
KRUGMAN: OK. The effect on the U.S. economy is rather small. The fact of the matter is that China doesn't buy that much from us. It hasn't accepted
a lot of U.S. investments, and we don't have much of a financial stake. So, actually, China is very worrisome. China is kind of -- you know, they've
been papering over their problems for a decade by creating this bloated real estate sector, and that's basically that they run out of room to do
that. So, that's really bad.
But the spillovers are really hard to -- and you can play with the numbers a lot and it's very hard to get big negative spill-overs. So, you know,
China is in big trouble. We might worry about what they do in response. Authoritarian regimes that, you know, do funny things when things are going
badly on the home front. But in terms of the economic impact, not a big worry for us.
AMANPOUR: Gosh. That is interesting because everybody is always, you know, portraying China as being, you know, fundamentally linked to American and
global economic health. So, very finally, do you see a major headwind coming towards the U.S. and to the western economies, to Europe?
KRUGMAN: Mostly not. If anything, some resource exporting countries might be hurt because China is a big purchaser of raw materials in the world. So,
there will be some negative on them. But, you know, it's an odd thing, despite being such a big player in world trade China just doesn't seem to
be -- I mean, we could be wrong, obviously. But as far as anybody can tell, China just isn't the kind of country where, you know, if it sneezes, the
rest of the world catches closed. It seems to be mostly that if it sneezes, it gets sick itself, and the rest of us kind of look on with some concern.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is a very -- that's a good slogan. Thank you so much, Paul Krugman, for joining us. Thank you.
And now, we turn to one of the defining voices of her generation, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her novels are celebrated as some of the best of
the 21st century. She's been named check by Beyonce, as we mention before. Dior has become a literally superstar -- she has become a literally
Now, the acclaimed author is turning her talents to a children's book. It's called "Mama's Sleeping Scarf," and it is a touching ode to her daughter
and to her parents.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, welcome back to the program. And you are in Washington this time we reach you. So, it's good to see you in the studio.
CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE, AUTHOR, "MAMA'S SLEEPING SCARF": And you, Christiane. Lovely to see you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you. Tell me then why now, you know, you sort of delve into the world of children's literature and life?
ADICHIE: Well, you know, I've often been asked why I don't write for children, and I would often say, half in gest, that my vision is too dark.
And I don't want to be responsible for traumatizing children. And then I had my daughter. And we started reading to her very young. And that's when
I started thinking, you know, maybe I could try and do this for her.
And so, there was this moment when she was still a baby, I'm carrying her, she reaches out and pulls my scarf off my head and it just felt to me just
this really beautiful special moment, very ordinary. I think one of the things about being a parent is -- especially when they're really young, is
that you're sort of -- you know, a moment passes and already you're mourning it, you know.
And so, I thought, why don't I try and sort of capture this ordinary beautiful moment for her, but also, for me.
AMANPOUR: And you do say that -- I mean, I read this, but explain it to me. Part of title of the book is an ode to your parents and the story is also
very much motivated by your parents and you having lost your parents in quite quick succession in the last few years.
ADICHIE: I think losing my parents, the way that I did, is just really completely shifted everything for me. And I -- it's still very strange and
difficult to deal with. My parents adored my daughter. I adored my parent. And so, I chose to write this book.
So, my name is on the cover but also, sort of a pen name, Nwa Grace-James. And my parents were Grace-James. And I kind of loved the resonance of, you
know, writing this book for my daughter and also writing it as a daughter. So, I wanted to celebrate the -- you know, the love they had for her and
the love I have for them. But also, how grateful I am that my daughter had a chance to know my parents, you know, and that she had a chance to think
of family as an extended unit. Because I really think that every child -- that children need a village. You know, children need something larger than
that sort of nuclear unit that we seem to have decided is the ideal.
AMANPOUR: I mean, don't we all need the village? I mean, I absolutely think so. So, tell me, what is your daughter's review of this book?
ADICHIE: Well, I have to say, the first draft that I read to her, she said it was boring. And this was very useful feedback because, you know, I'm not
used to children's books, and it's an entirely different thing. And it's not easy at all.
So, her feedback made me realize that I needed to sort of, you know, get over myself and be more direct. You know, I don't think children's books --
you're not supposed to spend your time reminiscing on anything, you're supposed to sort of get to the point. So, I went back, made edits and she
approves. She's actually, I think, fairly pleased with it.
AMANPOUR: And by the way, what age was she when she was busy editing your book?
ADICHIE: She's going to be eight. We were doing these edits when she was six and a half.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right. OK. We have another prodigy on our hands, in that case. But look, when you edited it, did you go back to any darker themes? I
mean, child friendly? Because you just said, you never thought because it was just -- you're too dark. And of course, your books have been taking on
some of the, you know, major issues, "Half of Yellow Sun," about the war in Nigeria, "Amerikanah," about, you know, Nigerian immigrants. And you also
written "Purple Hibiscus."
Tell me about your darkness and did any of it translate into "Mama's Sleeping Scarf"?
ADICHIE: Well, I hope not. I hope not. I mean, my vision for this book is that I hope it's a book that parents read to their kids and that kids read
and then sort of end up feeling just slightly happier. You know, I think of it as sort of bright and sunshiny.
But my darkness is -- I don't know. I think -- there's a sense in which writing fiction, writing sort of literary fiction, I think, requires a kind
of darkness. You're dealing with the world and the world is complex and obviously beautiful, but there's just so much dark in it. You know, I wrote
a book about the Nigerian-Biafran war, that's not an easy subject. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I want to go back to the idea of hair. Because the book is "Mama's Sleeping Scarf," and you just said that she took -- your daughter
basically removed it or pulled it away from you, you know, at night. And you've said that like -- I guess I think, and tell me if I'm wrong, that
African-American women, African women, black women, most all of them go to bed with a scarf on their head at night. Can you explain that for somebody
ADICHIE: Well, so most of the women I know. I think most black women. It's a scarf, sometimes it's something we call a hair net. But sort of our hair
is covered when we sleep. And in general, it's to -- sometimes when you have braids, it's to sort of preserve the braids. Sometimes it's to
preserve moisture, because natural black hair loses moisture very easily.
So, I've always had my hair covered to sleep. And it's very strange to me now to think about sleeping without a scarf on. And when I was thinking
about a title for the book, one of the things that -- you know, one of the -- that I thought it would be lovely to kind of make this thing that is
such an ordinary part of black women's lives familiar to everyone. You know, because I think that's -- literature can do that really well, which
is take something very specific about our lives and make that thing kind of universal and familiar for everyone.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. You also -- you know, you're not afraid to deep feet into politics, either commentating or, you know, holding people
accountable. And you've made it clear that you believe the current state of affairs in Nigeria is troublesome on the democratic front. And you even
wrote to President Biden in an open letter. The election had been not only rigged but done in such a shoddy shabby manner that it insulted the
intelligence of Nigerians.
So, again, this week, of course, the Supreme Court -- I believe it's the Supreme Court or one of the main courts upheld that result. What does it
say about -- well, tell me what troubles you?
ADICHIE: Well, we don't have enough time, Christiane. A lot of troubles me. But it was the appeals -- it was an appeal court. It's sort of an election
tribunal that upheld the elections. And I am actually in the middle of reading the judgments, and it is stunning how shoddy it is.
So, the elections were manipulated in the way that was very shabby and shoddy. And I think that this judgment is equally shabby and shoddy. I
hadn't expected it to be very thoughtful. But I'm shocked at how just -- how incredibly lacking in thought it is.
What worries me about Nigeria, a country I love, is that whatever we do today is our way of setting a precedent for what happens in the future. And
so, that's why I think it's so important to talk about the things that are wrong, because we are creating a kind of foundation for whatever will
happen in our future.
AMANPOUR: So -- but with that in mind then, how do you -- I mean, obviously, the president himself of Nigeria has denied any rigging. But the
State Department in the United States has backed up the February results, saying, this competitive election represents a new period for Nigeria
politics and democracy. You disagree. So, what do you think is down the road for Nigerian democracy?
ADICHIE: I don't know, honestly. But I should say that there's also European Union report based on people who are actually on ground during the
elections, which is very clear about how those elections were rigged and fraudulent.
I want to be hopeful about Nigeria's future, but it's difficult to be. Right now, I know that we don't have the final word because the Supreme
Court has not spoken. But I don't know that many people are very hopeful about that.
And so, you know, but the thing that's interesting about Nigeria is there's a sense in which one never knows. I mean, we've had such an interesting
history. And so, you never know. I choose to be -- to remain cautiously thoughtful. The one thing I should say is that young people across the
country have become galvanized. This election really made people sit up and pay attention. And I think in the long run, that's a good thing for the
AMANPOUR: And especially in Nigeria, such a massive powerhouse in Africa. So, Ngozi Adichie, thank you so much indeed for coming. Chimamanda, thank
ADICHIE: Thank you. Thanks, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, here in the United States, higher education is no longer seen as an advantage. Rather, many now see those huge tuition fees
outweighing the benefits. Since 2016, there has been nearly a 10 percent drop in students heading straight to college from high school. Author Paul
Tough recently investigated this trend. And he joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss his findings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Paul Tough, thanks so much for joining us.
Recently, you had an article in "The New York Times" magazine that was titled "Americans Are Losing Faith in the Value of College. Whose Fault Is
That?" You are pointing out, really to start off the piece, that students and parents are turning away from higher education. Why do you say that?
PAUL TOUGH, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Yes, really. Everyone is turning away from higher education. I mean, the main place that
this first came to my attention was in public opinion polls.
So, starting in about 2015, there was this sharp decline in how Americans were answering polling questions about college. And it kind of didn't
matter how they were asked. Do you believe in the value of college? Is college a positive force in the country? Is a college degree worth it?
People were really starting to change their answers in the negative. And that has continued up until today. Gallup Poll just came out a couple of
months ago continued to show a decline in what Americans are saying about college.
At the same time, the numbers are going down on campuses. So, college going. The undergraduate population peaked a little more than a decade ago.
And there are now more than 2 million fewer college students on American college campus, undergrads, than there were a decade ago.
SREENIVASAN: There has been, for decades, the notion that if you go to a four-year college, you will earn more over your life than someone who just
has a high school diploma. Isn't that still true?
TOUGH: Well, it is. The math has gotten more complicated over the years, but that basic calculation is absolutely still true. So, the economists
have this thing they called a college wage premium that shows how much more an average college graduate makes compared to a high school graduate. And
right now, college graduates are making about two-thirds more than high school graduates on average. So, yes. In it's most basic terms, the value
of a college degree is strong as ever.
SREENIVASAN: So, value versus, for example, I guess -- or I should say, if you compare wages to wealth, what happens?
TOUGH: That's where it gets complicated. So, I think two things have changed. One is, yes, that this idea of wealth. When -- there's economist
in St. Louis who I wrote about, found this new way to look at college -- the value of a college degree. And they looked at lifetime wealth. How
much, you know, your assets minus your debts would be. And what they found is that, in those terms, more recent graduates, younger people, people born
after 1980, college graduates were not doing much better than high school graduates.
And what they figure is that that has to do with debt. It has to do, first of all, just with the expense of college, which takes a big chunk out of
the assets of a student that goes to college. And the, a lot of students have debt pay back over a lifetime.
And so, on the whole, these younger people, the equation is not working out for them the way that it used to and they are not benefitting, in terms of
wealth, from a college degree the way that earlier generations were.
SREENIVASAN: So, give me a scale of how much more expensive college is than, say, when the parents of college going students might have gone and
what is factoring into like our decision-making process and what we think college was in terms of cost?
TOUGH: Well, the cost of college is extremely difficult to calculate, partly just because, you know, inflation goes up over time. So, people my
age, when they look back, say, everything used to be so much cheaper. So, some of it is that. There is definitely a significant increase in the cost
of college. It's risen about twice the rate of inflation over the past 30 years. But it's also -- the cost of college has also mode very complicated
by the fact that financial aid is so complex for so many families. So, the sticker price of college is almost always much higher than what families
will actually pay. But it's really difficult for families to understand exactly what that number will be.
On the whole now right now, it costs, with financial aid, about $33,000 on average for a student to go to a private university. And about $19,000 on
average for a student to go to a public university. But there's a huge amount of variation depending on what kind of aid you get, who you are and
where you're going.
SREENIVASAN: Because even state schools are expensive if you're, well, out of state.
TOUGH: Exactly. So, one of the numbers that really surprised me was that at the University of Michigan, if you're an out-of-state student, you may pay
a lot more than in-state student. Juniors and seniors, all in, including tuition and expenses, they're paying more than $80,000 a year as the
sticker price. That's a huge amount for a public college and it's much more than was true a generation or two ago.
SREENIVASAN: So, how much does the cost of college and the kind of debt load you might be under when you come out factor into this changing opinion
of whether or not college is worth it in America?
TOUGH: I think it has a huge impact. I think it really -- it probably is the underlying force. And I think there are a lot of things, cultural
facts, political facts that are making more people skeptical about college. But my sense is that the money is the big one.
The other factor that complicates the financial calculation is that college has just become more risky. So, it used to be that a college degree would
pay off fairly similarly for everyone. Everyone was benefitting a little bit from a college degree. Now, depending again on partly the luck of the
draw, partly where you go, partly what you study and certainly how much you borrow, there are some students who are benefitting tremendously from their
college degree. And there are others who aren't benefitting at all and who, in fact, are losing money in the gamble of going to college. And I think
that has just created this very different sense.
You know, when you go to high school, you don't think of it as a gamble, right? You just think, OK, I'm going to high school. This is what you're
supposed to do. I want to graduate. When you go to college, suddenly, you know, you're only a year older but you're suddenly in this incredibly
complicated and expensive academic game where some people are doing great and some people aren't.
And a lot of 19-year-olds don't have the mindset to suddenly be in this very competitive world. And I think for a lot of them, they feel like it's
just not a gamble worth taking, it just doesn't feel good to be suddenly thrown into this dog-eat-dog world.
SREENIVASAN: When you talk about gambling, there's an economist that you profile in this piece and he likens college to going to a casino. Kind of
break down the odds for us, or what kinds of games are we playing here? Because not everybody walks into a casino with the same number of chips or
the same probabilities.
TOUGH: Yes. So, this was an economist at the Federal Reserve named Douglas Webber. I should say that the casino analogy was mine, not his. I think he
didn't want to go on the record of saying college is a casino. But I'm happy to.
But what struck me in his numbers, he was the person that laid out these odds, and I just found it fascinating that -- and what he was able to do
was to figure out different factors in a student's life and how they played into those odds.
So, one of the things that he found is if you're going to college and you're certain that you're going to graduate, and you are paying zero for
tuition, you have a 96 percent chance of having higher lifetime earnings than a high school graduate. So, for those people, those are somewhat
imaginary people, there is no -- you know, there is no risk, right? For them, the college is working out the way that it always did.
The problem is about 40 percent of students who start college don't finish on time. And certainly, college is no longer free. So, the more you pay and
the higher your risk of dropping out or not finishing your degree, the worst the odds again. What he found -- he also found a real impact of what
majors a student takes if you study a STEM field, science or technology or math, you're much more likely to win in the casino.
But for everybody else, people who are taking arts, humanity, social science degrees, for them, even if they're spending only $25,000 a year on
college, they are -- their odds are 50/50, just a coin flip of coming out ahead of a high school graduate. And if they're spending 50,000 a year,
which a lot of students are, suddenly their odds are worse. Their odds are -- it's more likely that they're going to end up with lower lifetime
earnings than a high school graduate.
SREENIVASAN: You spent six years working on a book about kind of the inequalities in higher education. And I wonder, when you kind of looked
across the landscape, interviewing the experts that you did and the students that you spoke to, did you come out feeling like this just is a
system that needs minor tweaks or that it was much more kind of deep rooted?
TOUGH: I think it's much more deep rooted. I mean, the thing about higher education, when you spend the kind of time around it that I was able to do
when I was reporting, first the book and then this article, is that it does still have this incredible effect on social mobility, on the transformation
of young people, especially young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
But for the country as a whole, it is hard to argue with the idea that it is actually making us more unequal. It is leading to less mobility. It is
keeping us trapped in the kind of social divisions that we've been trapped in for a while. And changing that I think takes a really serious
reconsideration of, first of all, how we finance higher education, how we pay for it, but also, how we organize it.
You know, the idea that there are, you know, a very small number of colleges that everybody wants to go to, that are incredibly valuable and
incredibly expensive, that is just not very democratic. That does not create a system where everyone does well and where everyone supports this
institution. It creates a very competitive system where everyone is kind of anxious and mad all the time, where certain people are benefitting a huge
amount, but lots of others are just feeling constantly disadvantaged.
Lots of them are being disadvantaged by the system, but I think everybody feels insecure. It's true of a lot of things in American life right now, it
shouldn't be true of higher education. But increasingly, I think it does feel like an institution that's making us all more anxious and more
SREENIVASAN: You also point out that there are now cultural factors in America influencing how you feel towards college in a way that they didn't
exist along partisan lines, for example, 25, 30 years ago.
TOUGH: Yes. This was one of the interesting things that showed up in the polling data, which was beginning in about 2015, there was this real
divergence in what Republicans said about higher education and what Democrats said.
Democrats are not quite as enthusiastic as they were a decade ago, but their enthusiast hasn't tailed off too much. But for Republicans, it's
really fallen through the floor. The shift in how positive Republicans are about higher education has been massive since 2015. And so, I think that
partly has to do with everything we've been talking about with economic insecurity, with the sense of unfairness, but it also, I think, has to do
with this idea on right that colleges are institutions of the liberal establishment. And, you know, I think that that can be overblown, but there
are data that show that there's some truth in it as well.
College freshmen by about three to one say they are liberal over conservative. With college faculty, it's more like five to one. With
administrators who are facing students, it's more like 12 to one. So, it's not surprising if you're, you know, let's say, a rural conservative person
thinking about sending your kid to college, the sense that this is it not going to be a place where they and their ideas are welcome is not a crazy
And so, I think that shift is really undermining the whole institution. When institutions of higher education feel monolithically liberal, I don't
think that's good for anybody. I don't think that's good for liberals or conservatives.
SREENIVASAN: Give us an example of how other countries are dealing with the cost of higher education. What does it cost overseas to go to college,
especially considering the cost is one of those driving factors of whether we feel college is worth it in the United States?
TOUGH: So, yes, when I looked at numbers from other developed countries, there's a range. In some countries, in France, for instance, college is
free for students. In other countries, it's usually a few thousand dollars, $2,000, $3,000, $5,000.
I come from Canada. And I was there over the summer and talking to friends who have kids who are going off to college. And in some ways, it is the --
a very much sort of an alternative system to the United States. And that it's cheaper. It's not free, but it's cheaper, significantly cheaper. I'd
say less than half the price of college here. And part of that is because the government pays more. But part of it also is that there just isn't this
sense of there being certain like gold-plated institutions that everyone wants to go to.
There are a lot of really good colleges. There aren't a lot of, you know, low quality colleges. It's a much flatter system. And I think that not only
serves the country better, it also just changes the sense of public opinion. Because everyone is feeling like, yes, you know, you graduate from
college -- from high school. You find something that fits for you, whether it's a two-year degree or a four-year degree, and it's not a huge deal.
It's not something that you spend, you know, the last two years of high school freaking out about and then have loans that you got to pay back the
rest of your life.
SREENIVASAN: You know, when you see this trajectory happening, I mean, this is a relatively small period of time for public opinion to shift so
significantly. Where do you see this playing out?
TOUGH: When you look at -- not only the American past but at other developed countries or competitor nations, they do higher education very
differently. So, they all -- while we have been turning against college, they've been turning towards college. Their percentages of their young
people going to college have all been going up rapidly over the past 20 years. And a big part of that is that they invest in public university.
Tuition is much lower because the public bears a much larger part of the burden. And that's just based on this national idea in these our countries
that higher education is something that benefits everybody. And I think that used to be an idea that was widely held here, you know, when the G.I.
Bill, after World War II, we invested in all the G.I.s because we thought having lots more people go to college and graduate was going to benefit the
country as a whole, and it did. It created, you know, the post-war middle class and the great post-war economic boom.
And so, at this moment, I think we could make a similar decision and decide that we're going to invest in higher education that doesn't necessarily
mean four-year universities, it can mean all sorts of different types of degrees for different types of interest. But I think we could invest in a
public education, public higher education system that benefits everybody.
SREENIVASAN: What's worked? I mean, what is the best model for getting the education that you need to be competitive in the economy without stressing
ourselves out or your family finances?
TOUGH: Well, I think going to a public college is -- if you go to an in- state college, it's still a much better deal than going to private for most students. And to me, I think as -- I've got my oldest son is a high school
freshman. So, this is only a few years off for me. For me, I think, what I would think about differently as a parent than I would have before is you
really sort of have to think like a consumer.
And so, I think, in the past, parents have just thought, whatever the best college your kid gets into, that's the one you should go to. Instead, I
think you really have to take questions of tuition and debt into account. And you have be aware of the kind of data that these economists are coming
Going into huge amounts of debt to get a degree sometimes it's worth it, if it's exactly the right degree and you're sure you can pay it off. But
often, it's not. And so, I think a lot of families are becoming more sensible consumers of tuition and of debt. And I -- so, I think that is the
best advice that I can give right now to parents.
SREENIVASAN: Paul Tough, thanks so much for joining us.
TOUGH: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I'm sure for parents, that is very welcomed advice. And finally, tonight, a breath of fresh air, literally. Mark Dickey, an American cave
expert who became ill 10 days ago when he was more than 3,000 feet underground in Turkey has been pulled to safety.
Dickey suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding. And he lost three liters of blood while deep below the surface. More than 180 people from eight
countries, including his fiancee, Jessica Van Ord, took part in the efforts, delivering him food, water and even blood transfusions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK DICKEY, RESCUED CAVER: It is amazing to be above ground again. I was underground for far longer than ever expected with an unexpected medical
At one point in time, while I was waiting for Jessica to get back down with fluids, she made an insane climb of 1,000 meters out of a cave to come back
down, another 1,000 meters along with the support of Hungarians and Turkish cavers saved my life. And it was the rapid response the Turkish government
that got the resources to her. Just, what can you say? You saved my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A dramatic rescue with a happy ending.
That is it for now. If you ever miss our show, remember, you can find the latest episode shortly after 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.