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Mounting Problems Test Biden's Presidency, Democrats Hold on Power; U.S Gas Prices Skyrocket As Global Energy Crisis Worsens; Netflix Executive Defends Dave Chappelle's Transphobic Jokes. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 10:30   ET



GEN. STANLEY, MCCHRYSTAL (RET.), FORMER U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN: You can do the same thing and get lucky. So, I'd ask people to first put a mature judgment on that.

I think the hard part here was President Trump's administration had signed the Doha accord, so President Biden was in a position of either abrogating a signed agreement or living up to it. And he actually lived up to it but just delayed it a bit. So, the decision to pull out was made. I don't think they really revisited that seriously. There was different opinions and I probably would have recommended that we leave some forces, but the bottom line is they didn't.

Coming out, however, if you string it out over a long period of time, theoretically, increase your vulnerability, particularly as the size of the force gets small. So, I think the concept was to try to do it quickly. I think they got surprised by how quickly the Afghan government and military collapsed and that caught them flat-footed. But then I think they actually recovered pretty well in terms of being able to secure the airfield and pull out. I mean, it was messy. There was no way it wasn't anything but a painful period. But I think we ought to be a little bit mature in our criticism.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: You mention how the quick collapse of both the government but Afghan security forces in particular caught the administration flat-footed. I wonder, do you believe that you and other commander who is served there failed to see that coming, failed to see that what we were attempting to create there and a force that could stand on its own, in fact, it couldn't stand on its own?

MCCHRYSTAL: Yes. I mean, I can only speak for my period. It was 11 years ago. I thought we could do it. I thought we could build a force, a police and security force, strong enough, matched by an acceptable enough government, legitimate enough with the Afghan people, to protect their sovereignty. Clearly, over time, it proved out that didn't happen, so from that standpoint, we could say I was wrong.

I still think it was the right approach. I think if you were going to try to give Afghanistan a chance, you had to give them an opportunity to build a force. I think that, over time, Afghans' confidence started to erode, pretty badly. It was eroding when I was there, but the reality was they always were looking to see if the United States was about to pull out. And we sent a number of signals to them that we were. And then with the Doha accords, clearly, where we set dates certain without involvement in the government of Afghanistan, I think the people of Afghanistan's confidence just fled.

SCIUTTO: Okay. Big picture, this is a book about risk and risk management. At one point you make repeatedly is that oftentimes that the greatest threat to a nation is the threat it poses to itself, right, in missing risk. You relate it, for instance, to Pearl Harbor, that the U.S. should have seen that attack coming. You relate it to the experience of a relative of yours who disappeared in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor.

I'm just going to quote briefly here. His nation ultimately posed the greatest threat to itself by failing to respond to a well-understood threat, but Latimore and American officials had at their disposal the dials to control their own response to risk, both failed to calibrate them.

Speaking to the challenges with our political system, do you see that same mistake playing out right now, not seeing the threat and not addressing it?

MCCHRYSTAL: I do. What I'd say is the greatest risk to us is us, and it's not really as much our failure to be able to predict threats, because we've always been lousy at that and we probably always will be lousy because there are so many way threats can arise.

What we can do is decrease our vulnerability to them. We can make ourselves stronger. If we look at COVID-19, COVID-19 was really not that big a threat. I mean, it was a known thing, and yet we dropped the ball because, internally, the things we needed to do to be resilient, we just didn't.

SCIUTTO: Another threat that we talked about frequently is the threat from cyberattacks. We're seeing it every day practically from China and Russia. But, again, you have an interesting point here in discussing risk because you say the greater risk from cyberattacks is not so much the technological capabilities of a Russia or China but our own weaknesses, how we would respond to them as a nation.

I'll quote from you, you say, if you turn off the electricity for 48 hours, we would see a tribal-like response of the kind we've only seen in zombie apocalypse movies. Wow. I mean, that's remarkable to read. Tell us why you believe it might play out that way if we were attacked in such a way?

MCCHRYSTAL: I think our vulnerability is extraordinary, if we talk about flashing red lights, because everything's connected. Recently, I brought a new refrigerator and it's on Wi-Fi. Now, I never send emails to my refrigerator so I don't know why it's on Wi-Fi. But the point is everything is connected now and much of it is weak.

And so the reality is because we had this connectedness we can't just guard our bank account because if our electricity goes off, our cell phone services goes out or power can't be delivered, society is going to seize up.


We need to pressure test American society for this and we need to do it in a big way and we need to do it soon.

SCIUTTO: Quickly, again, as I mentioned, a big message of your book about missing risk, was, again, in Pearl Harbor, we should have seen to some degree that attack coming. Do you see a similar dynamic today with the threat from China, typically a military threat from China, whether it be Taiwan or against U.S. forces?

MCCHRYSTAL: Yes. I think we're unlikely to see a Pearl Harbor-type attack, but it's clear that China intends to have some kind of pressure over Taiwan. They're already applying that pressure. So we ought to think right now what are we going to do to give ourselves the capability to deal with that? And that means militarily and diplomatically and in terms of alliances. And if we're not shoring that up right now, if we're so focused on China as the threat as opposed to our capability, I think we're going to find ourselves there (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: The lessons from history and the present day. Here is the Risk, A User's Guide. And it's meant to apply not just to governments but to individuals and organizations. General Stanly McChrystal, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

MCCHRYSTAL: Thanks for having me, Jim.

ERICA HILL, CNN NEWSROOM: Still to come, hard to find ice cream favorites, the skyrocketing cost of artificial Christmas trees, long waits for online orders, how supply chain issues are impacting your everyday life. You'll probably have few examples of your own. Let's take a deeper look, next.



HILL: This morning that pain that you are likely feeling at the pump may feel like it's getting worse by the day.

SCIUTTO: Gas prices are up. They're now at seven-year highs.

Joining us now is CNN's Pete Muntean. He is live from a gas station in Alexandria, Virginia. So, Pete, tell us what's behind this right now, what's behind the supply crunch?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you know, this is really going to sting for a lot of folks who got used to those low prices. Remember gas was about $1.77 a gallon during the depths of the pandemic, $3.15 for a gallon of regular here in Alexandria, Virginia, which is actually lower than the national average now, which just hit $3.28 a gallon, up eight cents in the last week.

And analysts say it's really the price of crude that is driving this, which just hit $80 a barrel for the first time in seven years. Analysts anticipate it will hit $85 or $90 a barrel by the end of this year. And AAA says we're really only starting to see the beginning of these prices spiking.


ANDREW GROSS, AAA SPOKESMAN: What people should know is this is not a shortage. People think, uh-oh, prices are going up, there must be a shortage. No, we have plenty of supply and there's plenty of oil. It's just that the price of that oil is going up.


MUNTEAN: What's so interesting is that this is typically the time of year when prices for gas are actually pretty low, between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, when the demand for driving drops. It was $2.19 on average this time last year. Maybe a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, but it really underscores that this is going to feel a lot worse for folks who got used to those low prices. Jim and Erica?

SCIUTTO: No question. It's quite a difference in a short period of time. Pete Muntean, thanks very much.

HILL: I want to bring in now Global Economist Megan Greene, she's a Senior Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School.

So, really quickly first on gas prices, as we just heard there from AAA, this is not about shortage. This is that the price of crude oil is climbing, highest in seven years, is going to continue to go up, gas prices going to be passed off to consumers for things that we order, obviously. How much is that gas price impacting everything else that we're seeing in terms of, you know, supply chain issues?

MEGAN GREENE, GLOBAL ECONOMIST: Yes. So, I mean, gas prices will continue to climb as demand surges as we go into a colder winter, and it's partly supply and demand dynamics but it's partly supply chain issues. And we're seeing supply chain problems across the board in terms of products stemming both from things going on in Asia and the U.S., so both sides of the planet. It's partly because of factory shutdowns in China driven by delta variant out breaks or now emissions targets requiring factories to shut down.

On the U.S. Side, the issue is much more with labor, so there is a shortage of long shore workers and truckers to actually get stuff off of shipping containers and into stores, onto shelves. And so we're seeing that as we reopen the economy and demand surged, firms haven't been able to keep up with production and also with shipping. So we're seeing these supply chain disruptions everywhere and they're driving prices higher.

HILL: So I think the big question for a lot of people then is how long does this last. I mean, is there an end in sight? Is there a solution beyond hiring more workers, which you have to find the people to fill those jobs?

GREENE: Yes. So, I think this is going to take a while, unfortunately. Don't forget that China is hosting the Olympics too, so they really want blue skies. And so we're going to continue to see factory closures there, which will continue to gum up supply chains. And that's enough to gum up the entire supply chain no matter where you're ordering from in the world.

So, I would expect this to last for another six months, certainly, could last beyond that. Eventually, we should be able to iron out these supply chain disruptions. And the upper pressure that we're seeing on prices, I think, should abate in the medium to long-term. But it means not only higher prices but it's going to take you longer to get deliveries. So, for those who are looking, you know, down the line towards Christmas, I would say start your shopping now.


HILL: I feel like we're hearing a lot of that. I wonder though too with all of the, you know, helpful reminders that maybe you should start your holiday shopping early, is there concern that that could lead to further issues by everybody sort of going out and gobbling everything up right now?

GREENE: Yes, if people go out in hordes, certainly, that would exacerbate the problems that we're already seeing. And it does pull some of the demand forward that we would see in the next couple months. But this is an issue that will play out over a couple months, not longer. So I think if you want to make sure that you have things in time, you need to consider that order backlogs exist and delivery times are much longer now.

HILL: We all just have to start planning better. We were so used to the immediacy of the last several years that we got used to.

I wonder, a lot of blame has been placed on COVID, but, obviously, what it also did was just expose some existing issues when it comes to these supply chains that we now, as a planet, rely on so heavily. Do you think this will lead to any substantive change to avoid issues like this in the future?

GREENE: I think it absolutely will. We had all adopted a just-in-time manufacturing model, which meant firms had really low inventories. And so that will change. Now, we realize we actually need to hold some inventories for these kinds of eventualities.

One thing that isn't changing as fast, as economists expected, is supply chain re-patterning. So we economists had expected that companies would re-pattern their supply chains so they were reliant on countries near them, so you wouldn't have global supply chains. And, actually, we haven't really seen that happen that much. We were finding now that we're still affected by things happening in China.

And so supply chains still are global and I think will continue to be just because that's the cheapest, most efficient way for firms to operate.

HILL: Although how efficient is it these days, right? That's the other question being raised. Megan Greene, I appreciate it. Thank you. SCIUTTO: Still ahead, why a Netflix executive says that Dave Chappelle's new comedy special does not cross the line on hate speech, this despite the outcry being heard from the LGBTQ+ community. We'll take a look next.

HILL: And there is a lot going on on this tuesday. Here's a closer look at what to watch throughout the day.



HILL: In an internal email to employees, a Netflix executive is now defending Dave Chappelle's new comedy special after comments in the standup were condemned as transphobic by some LGBTQ+ advocates and by a number of allies.

Now, CNN hasn't independently verified the email that was obtained by Variety and The Verge.

SCIUTTO: During the special, Chappelle made several jokes about transpeople. He also criticized so-called cancel culture, this around author J.K. Rowling, who was called a TERF for her comments, which challenged gender fluidity. Have a listen.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: I looked it up. TERF is an acronym. It stands for transexclusionary radical feminist.

I'm Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.


SCIUTTO: CNN Entertainment Reporter Chloe Melas has been covering this. Chloe, tell us what Netflix has been saying.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Hey, there. Well, listen, this is causing a lot of controversy with many people speaking out about this against Dave Chappelle's special. But in a leaked email from CEO Ted Sarandos of Netflix, he says, several of you have asked where we draw the line and we don't allow titles on Netflix that incite hate or violence. And they don't believe The Closer crosses that line. But many people, and also glad, they strongly disagreed with that.

HILL: A lot of people strongly disagreeing with that. And we're also -- Chloe, there are also these reports of a trans-employee at Netflix who publicly criticized the special, that that employee was suspended. What more do we know about that?

MELAS: Yes. Well, Erica, so three employees who work for Netflix have been suspended, according to a source close to the situation who spoke to me yesterday. One of those individuals is a woman named Terra Field. And there were some tweets criticizing the special and saying, you know, look, I work at Netflix and I do not support this. This is hate speech. And this goes against the transcommunity.

Now, Netflix though has released a statement saying that these employees were not suspended for posting anything on social media. It didn't have to do with that. Now, a source at Netflix told me that actually these employees supposedly, you know, crashed a high-level executive meeting, I'm assuming, to speak about this special that was virtual on Monday. But, again, we don't know the details.

But what we do know, Erica, is that many people are not satisfied that Netflix has not come out and released any sort of statement either way. This is a leaked email from Ted Sarandos, the CEO of Netflix, but we don't have them taking that stance publicly.


And that has a lot of people really upset, like, look, if you're going to say that it doesn't incite hate or violence, then come out and say that publicly. And Netflix has remained mum on that, but saying that these employees were not terminated or suspended with anything to do with what they tweeted about the special. But this is ongoing and a lot of people, you guys, are not happy with this or happy with Dave Chappelle right now either.

SCIUTTO: Chloe Melas, thanks so much.

And thanks to all of you for joining us today, just a little bit of news today. I'm sure it will be the same for the rest of the week. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HILL: I noticed that tends to happen between 9:00 and 11:00 Eastern. I'm Erica Hill. Good to have you with us.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.