tv Amanpour on PBS PBS July 20, 2018 12:00am-12:31am PDT
welcome to amanpour on pbs. tonight, the fallout from the trump/putin summit continues amid confusion and uncertainty over what the two world leaders really discussed behind closed doors. and what it could mean for the middle east. i'm joined by russian/american journalist marsha dillon. plus, my conversation with the head of the world trade organization, roberto azavedo about the fallout from a u.s. and china trade war. why trump's complaints can't be ignored.
welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour. the peace process has taken a perilous turn following a hugely provocative bill passed by israel's parliament. the nation's state law enshrines israel as the home of the jewish people and it downgrades the status of arabic, leaving only hebrew as the official language of israel. this was the reaction from israeli/arab lawmakers furiously ripping up the bill. critics say the law slams a nail into the coffin of the country's democracy and plunges a two-state solution into the abyss. meanwhile, the top u.s. general in the middle east says that he has received no specific direction, despite russia claiming that putin and trump have agreed ed td to cooperate
see syria and other issues. to discuss this and the ongoing fallout from the press conference between the the two leaders in helsinki are marsha. she's joining us are from new york and aaron david miller and adviser on the middle east. he is joining us from washington. welcome both of you to the program. before i get to the middle east development, i want to just talk about fast and furious movements from the white house trying to clear up and clarify what was said in that press conference. so let me read you this. in the last few minutes, the white house has said that it opposes any proposal for russians to question americans. now saying that president trump opposes president putin's proposal to question ambassadors or the human rights activists.
what do you both make of this whiplash that we have been seeing almost minute by minute since the monday helsinki press conference? aaron. >> i think it's cleanup time. i mean, through five administrations, i've never, ever seen anything quite like this. proposal by vladimir puti that actually would involve the united states agreeing to allow russian intelligence, law enforcement to interrogate -- but to interrogate a former u.s. ambassador. senior american officials scramble, including the general, to make sense of what occurred at the summit. usually, it takes a few days to get things straightened out. but this, i think, is an exercise in chaos. frankly, it would represent a really good scene out of a marx
brothers scene, if it weren't so serious. >> before i get to marsha, do you think this damage control now has set the record straight? you know, he is saying he does believe that the russians influenced the election, that he will not agree to president putin's proposal. do you think this sets it straight? >> no. all it does is confuse the issue further. you don't get a second chance to make a first impression on a world stage with vladimir putin. it's quite clear where the president's heart was. helsinki was the pure, unadu unadulterated donald trump. all of the old vulnerabilities, clinton server, e-mails, the legitimacy of his election, they were all on display. i think he structured this summit for himself. he wanted it with putin on the world stage dissing his european allies in the process. the president was quite honest
and faithful, frankly, to what he actually believed. >> so, marsha, you are in america but you know russia so well. you know the putin administration so well. what do you think president putin is thinking now? we will play a sound bite in a second. but what does he think while he is watching all of this? whose advantage does this play to? >> i think he is enjoying it at this point. i think that it couldn't have gone any better for him. but i just want to point out for a second what a strange exercise we are engaged in right now. we're trying to interpret something that is just on surd absurd on the face of it. we're trying to interpret it as though it were diplomacy. by virtue as somebody as president of the united states it becomes a kind of diplomacy. but we're observing total insanity. putin was for him just having the summit was already a dream.
all he needed to demonstrate was that he could get the president of the united states to sit down with him. the fact that he got him to basically become his accomplice in lying to the world public from the world stage was almost a bonus. >> before i play this sound bite play devil's advocate. we have heard from the russians that several issues were discussed, arms control, inf, things like that. we haven't heard any details from the american side. let us just say that this summit produced nothing more than an agreement to restart s.t.a.r.t. or not let it expire or reimpose the treaty. arms control, that's a good thing, right? >> we don't know that. i think saying that negotiations that are one sided -- the only person who came out with any
memory of the meeting is putin. that that can be a good thing is suspect. >> i'm going to play you this sound bite from putin who addressed diplomat and others today in moscow. we can both talk about it afterwards. let's play what he just said about what's happening as you call us trying to pass this instan i insanity, how it's playing out for president putin. >> translator: we see there are forces in the united states that are prepared to casually sacrifice russia/u.s. relations, to sacrifice them for their ambitions in the course of an internal political battle. >> aaron, has he got the measure of what's going on? >> i think he has. it strikes me this is a variation of the spider and the fly. except with the fly who is a willing accomplice to walk into
the web. i think mr. putin realizes now that mr. trump cannot deliver nearly what he may or may not have thought mr. trump was capable of delivering. apparently this wasn't lennon's term but the notion of useful idiot comes to mind where, in fact, mr. putin can on one hand gain the legitimacy that is -- that flows from a meeting with donald trump on the world stage, continue to attack america's political system and state and registration system in the run-up to our election and use mr. trump as cover in the process elevating his own role. i cannot imagine a sum that pmi produced less for the united states. you asked if it produced a resuming of arms control talks,
dialogue. i think that would have been useful minus what you saw in helsinki, that 45-minute performance by mr. trump and the fact that the russians continue without american pushback to continue to try to interfere and manipulate our electorals. >> it's hard to figure out where this is going next. one of the things that clearly has happened is that, of course, europe -- european leaders reacted quite strongly after the press conference. the german foreign minister tweeted that this clearly showed we can no longer rely, for our safety and security on the white house. he said the white house. we will have to create a new european security apparatus that can survive despite whatever comes from the united states. that's one thing. now they're beginning to get less panicky. they seem to have judged over the last several days that
nothing much happened in helsinki. that despite the claims from both sides, that nothing actually much happened. what do you think? >> well, i think that first of all, i want to go back for a second to the question of what putin wanted trump to deliver. i would argue a little bit with aaron's point that putin wanted him -- that trump turns out to be able to deliver less than he thought. putin doesn't want the united states to lift sanks. p putin doesn't want a better relationship. the situation is actually perfect for him. he mobilizes around this. he sanctions keep everyone in a state of tension. they don't affect him personally. they only -- the only bee in his bonnet is bill browder. what he wants is exactly what he gets.
he gets a constant state of hostility and yet he gets to divide and concur. this is the incredible part. he has succeeded in dividing donald trump from his own cabinet, from his own administration, from his own party with this summit. he has succeeded in dividing the united states from its traditional allies in western europe. it's absolutely extraordinary the kind of discord that he has been able to sow. nothing happened except words. but words are the weapons in which presidents generally deal. >> now, let us move on to this other issue of what happened in israel today and then the broader issue of what presidents trump and putin may have discussed about israel's security, syria and the rest. we just talked about the nation state bill. aaron tweeted, the nation state bill passes, formally making isra israel a preferential square.
the compelling reason to do this was? i guess that's the question. it slipped under the wire of this other geomrpolitical headline. it comes ahead of potentially the trump administration's peace proposal and after the moving of the embassy and the recognition of jerusalem as the capital of israel. what do you think the israeli government is playing at here with this? >> i think the effort to basically enunciate this and create what is essentially basic law. israel doesn't have a formal constitution. a nation state bill will take its place as one of the basic laws of the state of israel. to do so in a way which is very preferential, unmistakably clear that a jewish state takes precedence over a democratic one, which was one of the provisions that, frankly, was not -- was dropped from the
legislation, which would have basically forced the supreme court in cases involving democracy as opposed to jewish identity to basically look at jewish identity or jewishness as the higher standard. it's important to distinguish, israel has two palestinian challenges. it has the palestinian challenge of what to do with gaza from which it has withdrawn but has varying means of control and the west bank on one hand. so-called peace process. then it has the other challenge. the challenge of a national minority. the challenge of 1.2 or 3 million israeli/arabs, palestinian citizens of israel, arab/israels, how they choose to call them serviselves who are cs of the state and according to the declaration of independence, entitled to equality under the law. that is missing from the nation state bill. that's a critically important challenge. one additional point.
it takes time often formation m to -- for nations to sort through. in 1846, the united states was a very different place. blacks were slaves. women were disdisenfranchised. white males had only begun to get the franchise. we know the story of the native american. israel is grappling with this problem. the nation state bill creates a terrible frame of reference. it's unnecessary. it's provocative. frankly, it compromises what i think many israelis would like to see, which is a jewish democracy. >> a two-state solution. let me play this sound bite. it goes to the heart of israeli security. this is president trump speaking
about some kind of agreement he may have with president putin on this issue. >> president putin also is helping israel. we both spoke with netanyahu. and they would like to do certain things with respect to syria, having to do with the safety of israel. so in that respect, we absolutely would like to work in order to help israel. and israel will be working with us. so both countries would work jointly. >> can you unpack that? can you sort of toss that a little bit for us? >> my sense from that statement is that trump didn't quite understand putin. putin actually works very hard to make himself hard to understand. he drowns his facts and references and bureaucratic languages. we witnesses some of that at the press conference. i think that's what happened to
trump. i think he said he was concerned about the security of israel. i think trump was not prepared going into the meeting. i think he doesn't understand russian foreign policy in the region. it's complicated. he doesn't know its history. i think putin ran circles around him that resulted in this very general non-sense. >> trying to make sense of it, thanks so much for joining us tonight. as geopolitical tensions dominate the headlines, it's easy to forget that the u.s. and china officially have entered a trade war this month with tens of billions of dollars in tariffs on each other. china, in fact, accuses the u.s. of starting the biggest trade war in history while president trump's chief economic adviser says that he does not believe the president is interested in making a deal on u.s. demands to lower trade barriers. no issue was will as direct an impact on everyday americans and
chinese or the whole global economy. u.s. tensions with europe are no less severe. president trump attacks the yuf european union today for a fine against google for what the eu said were flagrant anti-competitive practices. quote, they have truly taken advantage of the united states, said the president. the director general of the world trade organization joined me from geneva to discuss the next step. welcome to the program. >> my pleasure. >> let me just start with a big sort of fine the eu levied against google. $5 billion in punitive levies there. of course, the united states president, donald trump, who thinks the world is taking advantage of the u.s., is saying this is more evidence of europe taking advantage of us. do you think this is true, taking advantage? do you think it's likely to set
off more tariffs? >> i think this whole episode actually demonstrates what we have been saying for quite some time. we need to update the rules of global trade. this is part of the trade scenario. we have in the particularly digital world, a whole range of new practices, new business practices, new challenges that are unregulated on a global level. these kind of different views -- the eu has privacy and content. the u.s. has different views. other countries have different -- we need to sit down and harmonize that somewhat. while we don't do that, these kind of instability and unpredictability will continue. >> let me just play for you something that's probably very, very familiar to you now, which is what president trump said about the eu when it comes to trade. >> we have a lot of foes. i think the europea union is a
foe, what they do to us in trade. you wouldn't think of the european union. but they're a foe. russia is a foe in certain respects. china is a foe economically, certainly, they're a foe. but that doesn't mean they're bad. it doesn't mean anything. it means that they are competitors. they want to do well and we want to do well. >> in the full light of day, several days later, he said foe but then he said it doesn't mean they're bad. it means they're competitors. where do you think this is going to lead? now we're talking about potentially tariffs on cars. we don't know where this is all going to lead between the united states and the eu. >> we're talking about a world that is changing very rapidly. we're talking about many different structural changes in the scenario. it's a completely different chess board that we have before us. players are adjusting to that. some are reacting in a more, let's say, active, even
aggressive way in trying to get others to realize that things need to change. other moare more reactive, slowg reacting. this is not going to change until we sit down and really look at the root of all those things and try to figure out a way forward. >> it sounds like you are endorsing what president trump says or understanding what he is saying. i assume you mean some are being a little bit more reactive and aggressive, that would be president trump, to try to re-establish what he calls fair i think what president trump says -- you may or may not agree with what he says. each one will have their perspective. what you cannot do is ignore what he is saying. i think the worst case scenario, where each one of us decides what is best and then takes action that will be disruptive, that will compromise global growth and that will at the end of the day be a huge cost for
everyone. >> let me ask you about the tit for tat between the united states and china. is that going to compromise global growth, the consumer in -- you know, in the united states, if the u.s. and china keep putting tariffs on each other? and how do you assess china's reaction? it's not being very rhetorical in public. it's not being blustery. it seems to be responding in kind. >> the first thing i think we have to realize is accept the fact that tit would not happen without tat. we said from the beginning that it was very unlikely that some measures that were announced early on would go on without a response. we all knew that. this is not surprising. where we are now in this tit for tat scenario is not a surprise to anyone. the question is, how do we avoid escalating even further? if we do, the costs are going to be big. we just saw an imf report that mentions that if the current
announced measures are implemented, just the current ones, forget future ones, we're going to see trade growth compromised by 0.5% annually in just two years, by 2020. that's $440 billion per year, the global economy is going to lose out. if we go out for a full-blown trade war and go back to more extreme scenarios, we can see recessions bigger than the one that we had after the financial crisis in 2008. this is serious. we shouldn't take this lightly. >> this is very serious. the way you put it is very serious. that's what everybody hopes won't happen, this kind of trade war that will punch a big hole in the global economy and punch a big hole in people's pockets. i want to -- you heard what larry cudlow has been saying. let me say a little bit of a sound bite and have you react to it. >> i do not think president xi at the moment has any intention
of following through on the discussions we made. i think the president is so dissatisfied with china on these so-called talks that he is keeping the pressure on. and i support that. >> he is definitely throwing the ball into president xi's court. is that the right place for the ball to be right now? >> it sounds like a negotiation. and that's what negotiators do. we want the other side to understand how serious the situation is. we want the other side to behave in a way that will move towards a solution. i think that's what everybody in the world wants. everybody wants to see, particularly in this bilateral tension between the united states and china, everybody in the world would like to see the two sides coming together and figuring out a way forward that would accommodate the concerns on both sides. now, that is not going to be easy. i've never seen a situation like
this be solved in a forte night. your role in the wto role, the report as you know is quite critical. the credibility of the wto is under threat. these are not being addressed in geneva, sticking to status quo modes of operating is a recipe for the institution's gradual demise. that's harsh and it's really actually throwing the ball in your court now. >> look, we in the wto are doing everything we can to help the situation, to mitigate the disruptions we see everywhere. frankly, it's not us that are going to change this. it's not me, myself. i can say whatever i want. i can predict all these doomsday scenarios, and they may all come
to pass. i'm not going to change this by myself. the wto is not going to change that by itself unless the players, the governments, the countries want to do it. the only way that we can help them change the path is by illustrating them and telling them, these are the consequences. this is what may happen. they're not going to listen to us. but they may listen to their constituencies. it's important that we talk to the private sector, to parliament, to ngos, to think tanks, to everyone that wants to listen. and we give them information that would allow them to have a conversation with the administration and then decide on the path forward. if the domestic constituencies do not speak up, if they stay silent, if we don't go anywhere, it's also their fault. very much their fault. so we have to have everybody speaking. anybody silent at this point in time is helping to aggravate a
trade war. >> are we in a trade war? the first shots have been fired. that i have no doubt about. whether we are going to end up in a skirmish or a trade war or whatever, it will depend on the next moves. i hope people think carefully about those next moves. >> director general of the wto, thank you for joining me from geneva. >> it's my pleasure. thank you for having me. >> a dramatic note to end our program tonight. that is it for our program. thanks for watching amanpour on pbs and join us again tomorrow night. >> you are watching
katty: you are watching "beyond 100 days" on pbs. one meeting with vladimir putin was not enough. president trump says he is looking forward to a second one. christian: for the russian leader that may be good news. he says several agreements were made in helsinki. american officials don't know what they are. katty: bill browder was mentioned in helsinki as someone mr. putin wants to question. the white house has said they won't accept that. meanwhile, mr. trump's head of homeland security says russia is a threat to all 50 american states and the u.s. should expect them to interfere in this year's election. christian: also on the program, the u.k.'s new brexit
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