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Interview With Former Palestinian Politician And Peace Negotiator Hanan Ashrawi; Interview With Kidnapped On October 7 Mother Of Romi Gonen Meirav Leshem Gonen; Interview With Deputy Head Of The Office Of The President Of Ukraine And President Zelenskyy's Chief Diplomatic Adviser Igor Zhovkva; Interview With The Economist Diplomatic Editor Anton La Guardia. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 31, 2023 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

A massive blast rocks a refugee camp in Northern Gaza. I speak to Hanan Ashrawi, former Palestinian peace negotiator.

Then, agony for the families of hostages kidnapped by Hamas. I ask one distraught mother about meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu.

And focus of Ukraine. Igor Zhovkva, Chief Diplomatic Adviser to President Zelenskyy, joins us.

Also, ahead, amid these bitter wars, America's position on the world stage. Hari Sreenivasan speaks to "The Economist's" diplomatic editor.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

And the news from Gaza is increasingly dire. An enormous explosion at the Jabalia refugee camp in Northern Gaza has caused many casualties, according

to Hamas authorities who blame the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF has not yet commented.

A doctor at the Indonesian hospital near the camp told CNN that hundreds of dead and injured have arrived at hospital. Before this incident, the health

ministry in Ramallah says that more than 8,400 Palestinians have been killed in this war, and every day Israel's siege is causing ever more

desperate hunger, thirst, and medical needs.

Israel continues to hunt down leaders of the October 7th attacks that killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians. The IDF says an airstrike

killed the commander who directed one of the harrowing kibbutz massacres.

The U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, has been asked about long-term consequences of fighting like what's happening in Gaza now. Here's what he



LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The things that you do on the battlefield could -- if you're not thoughtful about them, they could create

a resistance to your effort that lasts for generations. And so, there is an operational and strategic imperative to make sure that we're doing the

right things as we outline our objectives and prescribe our techniques about how we're going to go about this.


AMANPOUR: Joining me now from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank is the longtime Palestinian politician and peace negotiator, Hanan Ashrawi. Hanan

Ashrawi, welcome to our program.


AMANPOUR: So, can I ask you first please to comment on the news that is flooding social media with terrible pictures and what we've heard from a

doctor in Gaza close to the Jabalia camp.

ASHRAWI: Yes. It's absolutely heartbreaking. It's unconscionable. Six massive bombs were exploded on refugee camp, the most densely populated

refugee camp and the most densely populated area in the world. And the death toll is not known yet. Some people say, you know, 400, 500 and so on,

but you cannot tell because the whole several buildings have been turned into rubble, a whole block of side-by-side buildings have been totally


People are looking for them. People are looking for bodies. They're getting out just pieces and arms and so on of children, of women. These were people

who were in their homes and who were shelved and bombed so brutally, so deliberately, so systematically.

Until now, Israel has exploded 18,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, and that is more than the Hiroshima bomb.

So, what's happening now is just another escalation and a brutal massacre and a genocide that is ongoing and that the whole world is seeing and is

unable to do anything about it because it's Israel that's doing it. And it is a massive traumatic experience for all Palestinians because it is

reminiscent to a larger degree of the Nackba, of the disaster that befell the Palestinians when Israel was created as a result of a series of

massacres and dispossession and expulsion.


AMANPOUR: Hanan, you said deliberately, the Israelis have said quite categorically that they do their best to go after military targets. The

United States has urged them publicly over and over again to abide by international law, and you just heard what -- just before news of this

broke, in general, on Capitol Hill, Lloyd Austin was being asked questions. You just heard him say that these operations have to be done carefully

because into alia (ph), it will cause generations of blowback, generations of radicalization, bitterness against Israel and whoever else. Can you talk

to us about that?

ASHRAWI: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Because when he talked about we, we have to be careful about what we're doing and to try it out because when you use

the first person, plural, of course, you are in collusion with Israel that is committing more crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide. So,

you'll be very careful how you're advising, sending money, sending weapons and being partner with Israel and these crimes.

So, yes. I think what happened to the Palestinians in 1947, '48 is still remembered in the collective and singular memory of every Palestinian. The

massacres aren't forgotten, Deir Yassin, Kafr Qasim, Tantura, we remember the 500 villages that were destroyed, ethnically cleansed and so on. We all

remember them. So, in the collective memory of Palestinians under occupation or in exile or under Israeli apartheid, we all remember.

And that's why when Israel had the chance to make peace, it should have been very grateful that the Palestinians reached out to make peace.

Instead, they maintained their ethnic cleansing. They maintained land confiscation, building more settlements and actually victimizing the

Palestinians in every possible way with full impunity.

And now, with this, On Gaza, it is just so horrific, so unbelievable, so unconscionable that every single Palestinian, and not just Palestinian,

every single person with just an iota of humanity is shaken to the core. We see the hundreds of thousands of people protesting, marching in western

countries and everywhere in the world because everybody sees what Israel is doing. Not targeting individuals or targeting leaders, but massacring

Palestinians in a slaughter that is just aimed at killing families, women and children.

And we have seen -- look, this is close to 9,000 now, Palestinians that Israel has killed. 3,500 of them children, babies, infants, toddlers, and

2,700 women. Are these fighters? Are these Hamas leaders? It's unbelievable. And yet, it is still ongoing. So, I'm saying that if you

believe the Israeli version of reality, you have lost touch with reality.

Israel is doing this in plain sight, and it must be stopped. It's the impunity and the partnership with the West that still treats Israel as its

protege, as an extension of its colonial powers, as an extension of its of its colonial supremacy, white supremacy. This is what emboldened Israel and

this is what led Israel to believe that it can do whatever it wants to the Palestinians and get away with it.

AMANPOUR: Hanan --

ASHRAWI: Now look at what it's doing also to the West Bank.

AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to get to that, Hanan. Hanan, I was going to get to that. But first, just to be clear about Lloyd Austin. He was

actually talking about American involvement in Iraq and elsewhere. And the blowback that -- just to be clear about what his soundbite was about. But I

bet --

ASHRAWI: That involved -- certainly involved, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: But I'm just clarifying. I'm just clarifying. I hear what you're saying. I'm just clarifying. But I want to pick you up on the West Bank,

because President Biden has also said to the Israeli government, they have to be careful of what's happening on the West Bank.

So, from you, I want to know, because he said, this settler violence has to stop and people have to be held accountable. And so too has the national

security adviser, Jake Sullivan. So, what is the situation there? We know there's been an uptick in deaths of Palestinians and attacks by settlers

since October 7th.

ASHRAWI: Yes. Well, since October 7th, they've killed 125 Palestinians, they have wounded over 2,000. They've arrested 1,500 and more and they're

carrying out. And this was done by settlers and army, both. And there were incursions and bombings and selling and refugee camps also in the West



But what's happening here is that with this government -- I mean, look, all along, Israel has been systematically stealing land, building more

settlements, demolishing Palestinian homes, daily killing Palestinians with extrajudicial executions in the West Bank. But now, with this latest

fascist government, where you brought the -- brought in the bankers (ph) and smart riches of this world who are known as not just settlers but as

terrorists within the Israeli system, they are now decision-makers. They are arming the settlers. They are unleashing them on Palestinians.

Now, we have the olive picking season and they're going around shooting people, picking their olives. They are stealing all of harvest. They are

destroying the olive trees. They are burning people's homes. They are -- I mean, they're terrorizing everybody. And they're getting away with it

because not once was a settler ever held to account. Again, so, when you have lawlessness and impunity for a state, you absorb it internally.

AMANPOUR: Hanan --

ASHRAWI: And you have lawlessness and impunity within that state. The West Bank is undergoing a serious ethnic cleansing annexation program, which has

to be stopped immediately.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something? 1,400 Israelis were massacred on October 7th, and it turns out that all these polling show that the Palestinians in

Gaza, in fact, do not subscribe to Hamas, the majority of them anyway, and I don't know about on the West Bank. But what is the option other than

defeating Hamas, which is against your political -- you know, political agenda against the recognized Palestinian Authority's political agenda has

never done anything for the people of Palestine. What would you say? Is the alternative?

ASHRAWI: Well, I think had we had an active peace, had we had an international engagement to curb Israeli violations and Israeli violence

and so on, then that's the only way, not just to curb Hamas, but to bring about a logic of peace and coexistence. Instead, as I said, Israel was

allowed to maintain its impunity and its violence.

You know that Gaza was bombed five times before this latest thing. It is not revenge, that they keep bombing Gaza, they killed thousands before.

Gaza is a massive prison. Now, they were -- they are held without food, without water, without medicine, without fuel, without anything, these are

massive crimes that are allowed to take place.

So, if you continue with more of the same, you're going to get more of the same. You're going to breed more resentment, more anger, more hostility,

more revenge. The only way Israel can have any sort of security is if the Palestinians have their rights. That's the only way to be able to have

security within the region and peace and beyond.

But so long as Israel acts without any restraints or constraints or accountability and with full cruelty with the dehumanization and

demonization of the Palestinians, feeling that it can do anything it wants to them and get away with it, there will not be peace. So, they have to

understand, deal with the core issues, deal with the occupation itself, deal with the apartheid system, understand that Palestinians have equal

rights, that Palestinians have the right to their freedom, their dignity, their sovereignty on their own land and then you will have peace.

But so long as you think you can keep killing and massacring and shooting and destroying, you're going to have peace. Never. That's the wrong

approach to do it. That's a sure recipe for having more carnage and more bloodshed.

AMANPOUR: Hanan Ashrawi, thank you very much for being with us.

Now, it has been 24 nights since some 240 Israeli hostages slept in their own homes now passing their days in captivity and in fear, hoping that they

will somehow be freed and reunited with their families. 23-year-old Romi Gonen is one of them. She was kidnapped October 7th at the Nova Music

Festival. Her mother Meirav is desperate for her return and recently met with Prime Minister Netanyahu to insist that military action in Gaza take

into account the fate of her daughter and the fate of all the other hostages, and she's now joining me from Tel Aviv.

Meirav Leshem Gonen, welcome to our program. So, how are you living these days? You clearly have a terrible personal dilemma and crisis, and you see

your country is doing what it thinks it has to do to avenge what happened and to annihilate as they say are the terrorists. What effect do you think

that might have on the safety and security of your own daughter and the others?


MEIRAV LESHEM GONEN, MOTHER OF ROMI GONEN, KIDNAPPED ON OCTOBER 7: These are very difficult days for us since we have to understand that everybody

there, the 240 civilians, innocent civilians that were kidnapped either from their home or from this festival being -- truly believing that they're

safe and protected, and now, they're kidnapped held by terrorists that just murdered, massacred, butchered, raped 1,400 people that were -- you know,

they were doing nothing but living their life.

And this action now my government is taking to make sure they're doing everything to help those beloved ones that are now in Gaza, we asked our

prime minister to make sure that this action will not harm any of them. We asked them to make sure that everything they do, they will first think

about our beloved ones.

My daughter, the parents of somebody else, the kids of somebody, the sisters, the brothers. So, we asked them to make sure that any action that

needs to be taken will be -- will take into consideration the safety of our beloved ones. This is a difficult story what we are having now. Yes.




GONEN: Sorry.

AMANPOUR: What -- no, no. What did the prime minister say to you when you asked him? I mean, from our reading you and other members of the Hostages

and Missing Families Forum, which you've created, described, I believe, the beginning of the ground incursion as the most terrible of all nights, but

the prime minister said, this method might work to put pressure on Hamas to release the hostages. Can you tell us more about what he said?

GONEN: Well, he made -- he told us that he's making sure or the steps that are taken now by the army are -- well, we're talking about what the prime

minister, which I think you have to ask him better than me. I can tell you that he was asked from us very -- you know, we insistent on making sure

that he knows he has to take action to make sure they are safe.

And yes, he did say that all the action taken are in the prime of his -- you know, of his decisions, all the safety of our beloved ones, the

kidnapped there in Gaza. You know, we don't know -- I don't know where my daughter is. It's more than 23 days. I don't even count the days anymore. I

didn't hear what is going on with my daughter. Nobody saw her, nobody saw almost any of the kidnapped. But that was what the prime minister was

assuring us, that any action that is taken is taking into consideration that they are safe. They will be safe.

It's -- you know, it's a hard question to ask now that I'm thinking about it. It's a very hard question to ask and answer even. Because --

AMANPOUR: I know. Because sometimes the two don't --

GONEN: -- it's an unknown zone, nobody entered in, you know.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Can I ask you what kind of pressure it puts on you or how it makes you and I guess other families feel when they see these hostage -- so

called hostage videos released, like the three women who were -- you know, were shown on camera in the last couple of days, when you hear from the IDF

that they rescued a soldier hostage and when you see the other -- there are two women who came out last week, they were actually released, does this

make you feel hopeful? Does it make you feel more anxious? What -- how do you feel?

GONEN: Well, first it makes me feel happy. I'm happy for all the women that were taken out, were released. I think it's very good for their families.

I'm happy for their families. I know exactly what they've been going through these three and a half weeks. It's a nightmare to not know where

your beloved one is. And, you know, old people and sick people. And my daughter is injured. She was shot and she was bleeding once -- the last

time I spoke with her, that the last few minutes until -- before the -- you know, the terrorist came to the car and was shouting above my daughter's

head. She was wounded badly.


So, on one hand, I'm very happy for her -- for them that they have their beloved ones back. But on the other hand, I'm a little bit, you know -- I

wished it was my daughter. It's good to see faces of some of the kidnapped that are still there, but we know it's a sign of life. A proof of life is

something -- you know, basic -- so basic, a proof of life. Each and every one of us, especially us as mothers, just imagine how it feels when you

don't know anything about your daughter, what is going on with her. It's basic to have a proof of life.

And that's what I expect, to have a proof of life of my daughter, of all the kids there, 30 kids. 30 kids are there.

AMANPOUR: Meirav, tell me a little bit more about Romi. What was she doing? We know that she was at the party, the desert party. But what was her life?

What was her career? What was her -- who was she? Is she?

GONEN: She was a young woman starting her life. She was just -- you know, three years ago, she was out of the army and she was, you know, traveling

in South America to see life together with Gaya Khalifa (ph), which was killed, which was murdered in the same car. She was working as a waitress

just to save money for the next trip because she didn't want yet to learn, she didn't know what she wanted to do. She just -- you know, just was

discovering herself. She's vivid. She's a leader. She's -- you know, everywhere she will go, everybody -- she's right away in the center of


I have five kids. Romi is my third one. She's the glue. She's the light of the family. She's considered as the most beautiful girl in -- I have three

girls. She's considered as the most beautiful one. She -- she's energetic. She's so loved. She's so smart and resourceful. And we miss her. We miss

her a lot. We miss her energy. I don't hear her voice for three and a half weeks. I don't have -- you know, I send a message every morning and every

night to all my kids when they are not close to me, good morning and good night, and there is one phone, one WhatsApp chat which is always one thing

and nothing more.

I have to listen to records that I have just to hear her voice again. There is nobody that will tell me, hi, mommy. And it's so difficult. She just was

in the festival, just, you know, having fun, listening to music, dancing. It was in the morning, just the festival just started.

And you know, four and a half hours of talking with her on the phone while she was, you know, running away from the rockets first, and then trying to

run away with the car and then moving to another car when the shooting started, and then moving from bush to bush to run away from the shouts and

the shootings, and then trying to run away when a good friend of Gaya (ph) went back to rescue them, and they were trying to go back home from this

festival, and then the shooting, the last phone call at 10:14 when she called me and said, mommy, I was shot.

I don't think that any mother should hear that. That her beautiful, wonderful child has been shot, and she's alone in the car because Gaya

(ph), who is sitting in front of her, was already killed, murdered. Ben Shimony (ph), which was the driver, also was murdered. And together with

her was a kid, another kid that wanted to run away from this horror show. And he was also shot, and they both were bleeding, and I heard them very,

very scared.

She was telling me, Mommy, I was shot, I think I'm going to die. And I said, you're not going to die, you're going to still stay alive. And you're

going to treat your fear and you're going to treat yourself. And I was talking to her for almost 48 minutes.

AMANPOUR: Yes. I am --

GONEN: Trying to calm her.

AMANPOUR: I'm sure --

GONEN: And tell her how loved she is.

AMANPOUR: Meirav, I am sure those words are with her and your strength as her mother is sustaining her. Thank you for talking to us.

GONEN: Thank you. Yes.

AMANPOUR: and we wish you the best.

GONEN: Can I add another sentence, please?


We need the whole world to understand that what happened here is a massacre. This is a war against humanity. This is not -- this is terrible

what happened here, and the whole world should know because this can happen any other place, if innocent people, civilians are pulled out from the

houses, as it can happen anywhere. And I asked the world, not look away. Look at the pictures, see the pictures, see the faces, see the face of my

daughter and everyone else. And please, please help us. Please help to make sure they're back home, safe.

AMANPOUR: We hope the negotiations --

GONEN: Thank you very much. Thanks for that.

AMANPOUR: We really do hope for the negotiations. Thank you so much for being with us.

Now, America's top diplomat is testifying in Washington today, making the case that aid for Israel and Ukraine must go together. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken says, this is all one fight. Two democracies under brutal assault by actors determined to wipe their nations off the map.

Ukraine, now four months into the counteroffensive, is still battling for its survival, trying to make any gains it can against Russian forces. Igor

Zhovkva is Zelenskyy's chief diplomatic adviser, who's just returned from Malta, where representatives from dozens of countries met to talk peace.

Russia was not there.

Igor Zhovkva, welcome back to our program. You heard --


AMANPOUR: You heard us talk about the secretary of state and defense on Capitol Hill and the attempt to keep focus on Ukraine aid, despite

everything else that's going on. How are you coping? How are you reacting? How are you feeling about the ongoing attention for your war effort?

ZHOVKVA: That's very important, Christiane, which you mentioned, these efforts of the current U.S. administration to still secure enough support

for Ukraine. Because right you are, the fourth month of a counteroffensive, the six -- more than 600 days of war, and not only we are surviving, but

struggling back and, you know, winning back our territories.

And yes, for these, we need this same amount of support, which we enjoyed during the last year, not only from the U.S., but mostly from the U.S. And

it's very important for us to have this in the next year. And many thanks for the current administration.

And yes, we hope for the bipartisan support. When my president was in D.C. a month -- more than a month ago, he talked both -- to both representatives

of the parties in both houses and in every way or, like, let's put it like this, nowhere heard the denial to support Ukraine furthermore. So, this is

very important. We count on this on this support.

You mentioned Malta. This is also very important that it means, you know, the very difficult development on the situation in the Middle East. We are

talking about with representatives of 66 countries, 66 countries were present in Malta talking about how to bring peace to Ukraine, but not only

on the Russian conditions, not on by ceasefire or whatever, but uniting the civilized countries around the case of Ukraine, around the case of bringing

peace to Ukraine, according to President Zelenskyy's peace formula, which is about one simple thing, to deprive Russia from instruments on the -- of

the aggression other than on the battlefield, because on the battlefield, we're depriving them, we're fighting with them together with the support of

U.S. and other countries.

But in these extra sectors of food security, energy security, nuclear security, breach of the charter of view of United Nations, we need to unite

together, not only the western countries, but countries of the Global South, in order to bring peace to this part of the world.

AMANPOUR: So, you know, you mentioned bipartisan support and yet, the new house speaker, Mike Johnson, he's proposed cutting out Ukraine aid. That's

what happened on Monday. And this is what the Secretary of State Blinken said today.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Russia and Iran are working together to challenge our leadership, to hem us in globally, to pose a

growing threat to our own security as well as to that of our allies and partners. They've been partners in a devastating war in Syria. Now, we have

Iranian proxies firing missiles from Syria in Northern Israel. Russia could stop this, but it doesn't. Instead, to the contrary, its government is

hosting Hamas for talks in Moscow. Iran is sending UAVs to Russia to attack Ukrainian civilians. So, we're seeing the profound connections here.



AMANPOUR: I see you nodding, Igor Zhovkva. He said, we're seeing the profound connections here.

ZHOVKVA: Absolutely. I mean, you could not -- you should not be even, you know, a sophisticated expert when you see that the Hamas leaders are coming

to Moscow with an official visit and meeting the official representatives of Russia. Or when you see the further supplies of Iranian drones to Russia

and those drones hitting Ukraine.

So, you see this is interconnected and the enemy is the same. And we see that these two rogue states, which was mentioned by secretary of state,

Russia and Iran, are standing behind.

Look at the reaction of Russian experts at the beginning of the events in Israel, they were joyful. They were telling about, look, finally it

happened. You see, I mean -- and look what was happening in Dagestan, in Makhachkala, this is the result of Russian policy of hatred, of hatred

towards Jews. Now they are, you know, telling that it's Ukraine behind this. Absolutely bullshit and nonsense. Sorry for this for these words.

This is Russia policy of hatred towards Jews, Ukrainians, other nations. And this is what already has the implications on the internal policy. This

is a serious warning sign for Russia themselves. I mean, if they continue with this -- with such kind of the policy, they will get the result.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a quick question? Because some military analysts sort of see that all this sophisticated weaponry you're getting has

actually not managed to penetrate enough of the very lengthy old-fashioned defenses that the Russians have been digging. So, what would you say about

the actual battlefield?

ZHOVKVA: Well, the situation is not simple. It's difficult. It's complicated. Right you are. You remember, we had several major

counteroffensive last year around several important certain (ph) of Ukraine, like Kherson, like in the east of Ukraine around Kharkiv. And

certainly, Russian armed forces are getting lessons for them.

You're really the defending line is strong and complicated. And yes, this is not a Hollywood movie. You make it throughout one day or five days or

whatever. But right you are, as many weapons and ammunition that we are getting, as more sophisticated our armed forces are, as there will be much

more easier for us to get this breakthrough.

We will not stop. Ukrainian armed forces will not stop. So, Russians may not even dream about some winter pours, you know, to give them time for

regrouping. We are managing to have some very success in some areas. I will certainly comment this -- will not comment this in the press. Russians are

trying to make their own counteroffensive.

But look what are happening around Avdiivka. They chosen the city, you know, as their main object. But look, only within the last month, they lost

almost a brigade. Several thousands of soldiers around only Avdiivka, which doesn't have that significant importance, strategical importance as

(INAUDIBLE). So -- but, yes, they are outnumbering us in terms of manpower, et cetera, but we are outnumbering them in terms of skills, in terms of

sophisticated weapons, and in terms of our belief that we will win. We are fighting for our land.

AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. Igor Zhovkva, thank you so much indeed.

And we want to return now to Gaza. Ibrahim Dahman is a CNN journalist there. We've been bringing you his updates since he and his family fled the

northern part. He's now in Khan Younis, in the south, which is also under heavy bombardment. Here's another installment of his diary describing the

constant fear that he and his family live with.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST (voiceover): My family fled northern Gaza but we still don't feel safe.

What's wrong? Don't be afraid.

Every night, airstrikes hit Khan Younis.

With no sense of time, the days roll into one.

We pass the time by watching airstrikes.

There are too many to count.

This used to be someone's home.

Now, they're likely become one of the dead.

Strangers volunteer to search for their remains.


Food is scarce where we are staying.

We cook and share whatever we can.

We teach the children, too, so that if we are killed, they can feed themselves.

The thanks are filled with impure water. We try to keep our spirits up.

There is comradery in the chaos.

The explosions became louder this weekend as Israel expanded its ground operation, leaving us in a blackout.

Only Israeli phones worked, so some tried to keep a sense of normalcy.

All I could think of was my parents' safety and pray my family made it through the night.

But even in a war zone, there is light in the darkness. My wife is three months pregnant.

Just like our sons, this baby has the power to turn our fear into joy.


AMANPOUR: That's just one family trying to get through this fear and this catastrophe. And Israel says it is striking all parts of Gaza in its effort

to get Hamas. Just an update. The IDF has now confirmed an airstrike did hit the largest refugee camp, Jabalia, in the north.

And as we see from Ukraine to Israel and beyond, the world is facing serious series of challenges. And the United States is involved in all of


In a recent article, "The Economist" Diplomatic Editor Anton La Guardia argues the U.S. could be overstretched, and he gives Hari Sreenivasan the

view of America from abroad.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Anton La Guardia, thanks so much for joining us.

In a recent issue of "The Economist" you essentially laid out the case why you thought that American power is going to be tested and it may be on the

decline. So, sort of set the scene for us, if you can. What are the challenges facing the administration and Joe Biden?

ANTON LA GUARDIA, DIPLOMATIC EDITOR, THE ECONOMIST: Well, the administration has already been extremely busy trying to support Ukraine in

its war against Russia, you know, at the cost of tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment and economic aid and people were

already asking whether the U.S. and his allies had the wherewithal to deal with a contingency over, say, Taiwan.

Now, you have a crisis in the Middle East happening. So, this is a second war that the U.S. is involved in indirectly, but in this case, more

directly in that it sent two whole carrier strike groups to areas around the Middle East. And Asian allies noticed these things, that a lot of

hardware is going through to the Middle East and hardware that they would presumably like to see close to Asia.

But it goes beyond merely, you know, America's industrial base support the now three sets of allies, Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, at the same time, all

of which it is trying to arm into the kind of -- you know, to help them wage their own conflicts, or at least deter attack in the future.

And then, that in turn leads to the whole question of America's political polarization and the paralysis that you've seen in Congress until now

where, you know, money for Ukraine is extremely hard to come by and you've had the hold up over the speaker of the house which, you know, may now be

resolved, but we don't know whether money for Ukraine, for example, will be forthcoming.


SREENIVASAN: Assess President Biden's handling so far of the Israel Hamas war. He has been a staunch ally of Israel. He's taken the steps necessary

so that that is visible for the entire planet to see. As you said, he's moved to carrier strike groups into the region to let the region know that

the United States wants to minimize the outbreak of this war from getting further. But what does he have to do right now in how he postures with

Israel, but at the same time, tries to stop this war?

LA GUARDIA: He's got a very difficult hand to play. I think he is instinctively and emotionally close to Israel. So, he has embraced Israel,

hugged them close, to show that America stands behind Israel. And I think that comes from a deeply held conviction. He calls himself a Zionist.

At the same time, I think he's also trying to embrace Israel in a sense as a form of restraint to say, look, you know, as your best friend, I have

your best interests at heart. And I think that you need to keep this conflict within bounds, within bounds of the laws of war, but also within

political bounds so that the humanitarian suffering in Gaza is not deemed to be excessive. And you're hearing ever louder voices that the -- you

know, the sort of pain of the population in Gaza is reaching levels that are extremely worrying, not just in terms of waters, humanitarian supplies,

the plight of hospitals, and so on.

So, he is trying to buy the Israelis time, give them the opportunity to try and get at Hamas, but also make sure that it is done within bounds that are

politically bearable.

SREENIVASAN: Is there a risk here for the president in destabilizing the region further by taking the actions that he's taken to show this much

support for Israel, especially if patient starts to wear thin in the International Community that perhaps this response from Israel is

disproportionate already, but it could be much worse?

LA GUARDIA: If President Biden can show that he has moderated Israel's response then I think, you know, his embrace of Israel will be seen as a

wise thing to do. If however it becomes, you know, a terrible -- which is already a terrible humanitarian costs or an even worse -- imposes an even

worse humanitarian plight on Gazans and Palestinians and leads to even larger -- much larger loss of life, then there's a danger that the U.S.

will be tarred by the same brush, will become, you know, in a sense, complicit in the eyes of the world in what is happening in in Gaza.

I mean, needless to say, the United States is a big part of International Community and has a say, but it is striking that the western allies who are

so united on the question of Ukraine are more divided on the question of Israel and Palestine.

So, you had a U.N. council resolution, which was vetoed by the United States, was -- the United Kingdom abstained and France votes in favor.


LA GUARDIA: You don't see that kind of three way split over Ukraine, typically.

SREENIVASAN: Does this -- I've put into focus traditionally what has been the role of the United States as the mediator, the negotiator, the person

you can call. I mean, in one sense, I don't see the phone lines burning up everywhere else on the planet saying, hey, help us get out of this

situation. But at the same time, the day before he was scheduled to meet with the Jordanian leader and the Palestinian leadership, there was that

horrible rocket shelling at the hospital, which changed all the plans.

LA GUARDIA: I think it's telling the three Arab leaders felt able to shun the American president and basically say, please don't come. And it says

something about the strength of opinion in the -- on the Arab street that Arab leaders are worried about the demonstrations that were starting to

gather. But I think it also says something about declining American power and influence in the region.

Nevertheless, it is -- you know, the United States remains the only address in part because they're the only people who can really speak to Israel and

try to help Israel find a way through. And one of the things the United States needs to do is to help Israel think -- in itself, think with Arab

leaders, well, what happens a day after? Let's assume for a moment Israel is successful in evicting Hamas from Gaza, which is not an easy easy order,

but let's assume it's successful. Then what?


And history has shown that after previous wars, Hamas does come back. It has a -- it is a political movement and a social movement. And there is, at

the moment, no alternative power that is going to rule the Gaza Strip. And unless that part of the problem is fixed, then it's unfortunately likely to

lead to, yes, another cycle of violence.

SREENIVASAN: You know, the president tried to make the case to the American public to get Congress to fund both our involvement in the support of

Ukraine, as well as our involvement in the support of Israel, he wanted to try to tie those two things along with national security at home when he's

asking Congress for the money, he said, "Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common, they both want to

completely annihilate a neighboring democracy, completely annihilate it."

Is his plea getting through, especially to a new speaker of the house who wants to try to separate these different engagements?

LA GUARDIA: It seems that it's not getting through to him in particular. He would like to separate the bundles and they would like to vote in Israel,

which is extremely popular, and it's not entirely clear what they want to do on Ukraine.

On Ukraine. there is still a bipartisan majority that supports helping Ukraine against Russia, particularly, you know, as the counteroffensive is

stalling and a long war is in prospect. But it is becoming more difficult to get more money, particularly for Republicans. And the pro-Ukraine

Republicans are saying, look, let's have one big vote on Ukraine. Let's give them the money they need for the coming year. Let's not come back to

this again in an election year.

Whether they succeed in doing that is open to question. The rules of Congress are what they are. And it seems to me that, you know, a

substantial minority of anti-Ukraine Republicans, you know, do have, you know, some kind of veto over what the house does, which in turns means

that, you know, there is -- they have a veto on what Congress as a whole does.

So, you know, unless a Republic -- pro-Ukraine Republicans are willing to cross the aisle, obtain votes from Democrats on this particular question,

it's difficult to see how things really progress.

SREENIVASAN: The other kind of elephant in the room, if you will, is China. China seems to be the sort of third major international crises that

President Biden has to confront.

LA GUARDIA: Well, President Biden coming into office was hoping to have stable and predictable relations in Europe with Russia and to park the

Middle East in order to concentrate on the Indo-Pacific. And that's not the way it's turned out. He's got a major war in Europe, and he's now got a

major war in the Middle East to manage.

And the question is whether China is seeing a stretched America, will see an opportunity to, you know, act on Taiwan, whether in the gray zone or as

an overt invasion. The -- you know, it's not mechanical. A lot depends on the politics of what happens in Taiwan and the United States, both of which

have elections next year and indeed in the politics of what happens within the communist party, which are harder to divine.

Nevertheless, military strategists worry about a supposed window of vulnerability when China's military strength will continue to increase and

America's will not catch up until the 2030s when new investments begin to bear fruit.

In the meantime, there is a move towards helping Taiwan become more of a porcupine with more of the defensive weapons to hold off a potential

Chinese invasion. You've started to see some of -- some weapons being made available to Taiwan and there's new package of national security

supplemental funding that President Biden requested appears to contain money for Taiwan as well. But that's certainly one that is worth watching.

And I think for a lot of people, Americans in the Indo-Pacific every day that passes without a Chinese attack on Taiwan is a good day.

SREENIVASAN: Earlier this month, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, wrote in "Foreign Affairs" that the United States is

underutilizing or even undermining our alliances with other democracies. And I wonder if the United States has been able to reframe and adjust those



LA GUARDIA: It is true that America's alliances were put under great strain in the Trump years, and it is also true that the Biden administration has

invested a great deal of effort in bringing together its allies, both in Europe and in Asia, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been a catalyst

for that.

NATO is more compact than it's been for a long time. It has a renewed sense of purpose. Japan, Australia and others have also tried to help Europe

against Russia in the belief that -- or in the hope that in future, should there be a contingency in Asia, Europe will come to their aid in turn. So,

you're seeing this kind of network of alliances growing closer together. On top of which you've had this ad hoc patchwork of relationship.

So, I think on the alliance front, the administration has done a fairly good job. The question is whether the crisis in the Middle East, where the

U.S. takes a position that is somewhat different from that of most of its allies, will put a new strain on it. At the moment, I don't think it's a

problem, but it might become a problem in the future, particularly if it starts to have repercussions across the Middle East and so on. And you, for

example, get a flow of, you know, migrants from the Arab world into Europe.

The other way that this affect things is just, you know, the amount of attention America can pay to any particular set of regional problems. The

last thing to say is that administration came in with a very strong democracies versus autocracies mindset and worldview. It has somewhat

moderated that because it realized it needs the help of countries that are not necessarily democracies. For example, Vietnam, which is not a

democracy, but is a useful partner with which to counterbalance China.

So, I think you're seeing a more nuanced perception by the administration. So far so good, but there is still some way to go. And by the way, if

Congress were to cut off aid to Ukraine, that would put a huge amount of strain on relations with the Europeans.

SREENIVASAN: Given the dysfunction inside our own government over the past several weeks, and given how stretched the United States is in all of these

different theaters, I wonder what that says to countries that are our allies on whether or not we can be a partner that can be counted on?

LA GUARDIA: It is a worry around the world, among America's friends and partners. But it's a worry they can't do much about. So, their only choice

is to keep trying to work with the United States. It's easier with Joe Biden. It will be harder -- it was harder with Donald Trump, and it may be

harder again if he is re-elected.

So, sure, countries can try and hedge somewhat. You hear, for example, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, saying this is time for Europe to gain

some strategic autonomy because we cannot always rely on the United States. And indeed, what -- even under Joe Biden, there are still these sorts of

tendencies to sort of -- you know, for America to close in on itself, aid to Ukraine will may not always be forthcoming. Therefore, we must do more.

The problem, of course, is that Europeans are -- don't yet have the wherewithal to do it. Becoming more autonomous is a generation long effort.

And it is slow progress because they too have to trade off spending on defense and security against social spending and all the other problems

that they must confront.

So, it's difficult. It's easier and cheaper to do things together as allies, and it's harder to do it separate. And, you know, there are big

questions about whether Europe can do it given the lack of American leadership, you know, if American leadership were lacking, guidance and the

nuclear umbrella that the United States extends over a place like Europe.

SREENIVASAN: Anton La Guardia from "The Economist," thanks so much for your time.

LA GUARDIA: Great to talk to you.


AMANPOUR: That's our program. But we have a quick programming note. In addition to this show, starting on Saturday, you can watch the brand new

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