tv Book Discussion on And Then All Hell Broke Loose CSPAN March 20, 2016 1:30pm-2:16pm EDT
to conserve the value to make this country exceptional in the first race. host a radio talkshow host and author translates "a nefarious plot" is his most recent book. >> when i tune in on break and come it is usually authors sharing your releases. >> watching the tv is the best television are breeders. >> they can have a longer conversation adult into their subject. >> booktv weekends bring you out there after all there after author of the work of fascinating people. >> and the c-span fan. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
[applause] >> hello, everyone. welcome. what a great crowd. thank you all for coming out. i am susan coll and on behalf of our owners and entire staff, i would like to welcome you to politics & prose. you can here? are we get started, you'll hear me in the back. if this could be a good time to turn off her silence or cell phone. also after the event you don't mind helping us by folding your chairs, we would be grateful. and we have microphones on either side. just write here this evening. if you could step up with your question, that would be great because we are recording this event. you can also watch in a few days on our youtube channel. i am very pleased to welcome richard engel this evening to
talk about his new book, and then all broke loose. i'm guessing you recognize richard is the chief one correspondent for nbc news where he reports regularly from a variety of places, mostly in the middle east and much of the time but they fixed loading in the background. we are especially glad to have him here and is hopefully more sedate environment at least for an hour or so. this is a story of his decades of reporting the middle east beginning with a stint in cairo where he went after veteran and college with two suitcases and $2000 with the romantic idea of becoming a foreign course on it. in this book would learn about his education as a young reporter, how we went from picking up freelance work to winding up reporting for a major news network, chronicling events throughout the middle east which in one case led to this kidnapping is area. this book is much more than memoir. he offers an astute analysis in the middle east of which i heard
him tell diane ramis morning, i've never seen it worse. his review is called the state of personal account, a list of alarming overview of where the middle east has been and where it is heading. before i ask you to help me welcome trend to come i want to not surprisingly he has a plane to catch at the end of the event. we are going to probably cut the q&a a bit short try and move everyone to get it signed. [applause] >> first of all, it's an absolute pleasure to be here. i can't remember the last time i saw so many people in the books are not as encouraging a so many different bubbles. buy this book. by all the books. keep the industry going.
so as you just heard, this book is about the middle east. i'm into the middle is 20 years ago. i graduated college from stanford university in 1996 and the idea was i was going to go to a place where thought there'd be a lot of news that the middle east seemed like a good choice. i was going to start on my way and i was going to become the great foreign correspondent for at least a working correspondent. i moved to cairo and i really looked at the map. i had a map of the middle east in front of me and i said when i going to go. saddam hussein's iraq, not too many options. serious, not much going on. jerusalem, yes lots going on, are probably oversaturated market to cover the israeli-palestinian conflict. outside egypt, okay. if it doesn't work out, we are doing egypt, which is great.
i packed up a couple suitcases and took a little bit of money, some savings and i arrived in rented an apartment there. i had an incredibly rich experience. people were very welcoming to me. they wanted me to convert to islam constantly. they would bring me to their homes. they would feed me things. i was never, ever allowed. while that can be tiresome after a while, it was a great way to become familiar with the culture and learn the language and in a matter of months i was having their incorrect, the basic conversations in arabic because i had no choice. when you live in an apartment where everything is broken and you need to to communicate and there's no water at the nine degrees outside, you have to learn to talk to people. so i started reporting for local newspapers and then for international radio and stringing pieces for news papers and really have been doing it
ever since. and it has been 20 years now. i still live in the region. i very rarely back in the states. i'm here a couple times a year to see family and encourage you to buy this inexpensive, readable book. but i am back in the states very infrequently. i've been living there now for 20 years. there is a thesis on this boat of a mucked up the region for this long. that's the model. like all theoretical models, it is flawed. you can poke holes in it. you can find reasons why it doesn't work. but i like to think of it as a way to understand the middle east right now. the model that i chose, that the book is out of based around is at least in my mind a row of houses. if you think of a row of row houses, old houses on the coast of where, they look beautiful
from the outside and they look like they have been there forever, but no one is taking care of them. nobody's opening the windows. nobody is putting into human defined apparatus yet just crumbling. the middle east when i arrived was a little bit like that. 20 years ago there was a structure in place. the big men were in the region. the assad family, mubarak, gadhafi, saddam hussein. it was established. it was a lot in place. the lake diesel rowhouses, with a lot of appearances and on the inside there is tremendous rot in the rot was ignorance, nepotism, corruption, religious tensions kept at bay by strongman activities in those carried out by saddam hussein. like in these old houses, you contain the rat, but if you
don't open the windows of the doors and spend money on it, you also make it worse. how is the situation that was very fragile paradigm. you could put your finger through the wall and inside the united states put its shoulder through the wall of iraq and started a sequence of events that were still really experience to this day. the eight years of direct military action started to destroy the status quo and unleash all of the rot, all of these demons with it. the very same to be eight years of the obama administration was sought in can this empowers these they were supporting the revolution in egypt and days later by rain and supporting the uprising militarily in libya and then not supporting it area. so kind of zigzagging through the middle east. and the combined effect of these
two, at eight years of military action and the soon-to-be eight years of zigzag and they shall at the rot that was then on the old system, but middle east i arrived too in cairo is broken and the middle east today by a set of never seen it of never seen it worse is that the period of chaos and i think isis is the physical embodiment of that chaos. if you continue this model, you can speculate on where it might go from here and i think what we are going to see next is a series of strongmen reemerging themselves and egypt is probably the first example of that and there will be more to come. the people of the region are going to embrace this. it should be careful what they wish for because after periods of chaos as europe has seen in this last century when following chaos, when people embrace
strongmen and dictators and fascists, really bad things can happen. that is what's coming. there's a tenant date for strongmen and we will see how it goes. i think our government and other governments around the world are probably reach out and embrace these leaders. it doesn't have to be at a merry choice. it doesn't have to be chaos or dictators. after that chaos we will reach back and i hope one day if there's people in this room who have some influence, maybe they can help find a third path and guide the region to someplace where you have leadership and you have responsible governance, but it doesn't have to be saddam hussein in iraq. so that is the framework of the book. did i tell it through my eyes. i talked to the people i know. i tell it to the places i've lived in the characters they meet along the way. the thesis i just argued that sell over 256 pages of
anecdotes. so i hope you get to follow along this journey that has been a 20 year journey so far of arrived in the middle east, not knowing what it landed into trying to become a journalist and moving along in the process and just watching "and then all hell broke loose" and you have to see how it comes. so with that preamble, i'd love to take some of your questions at this and it is typically you have in mind. i was told to ask you to approach a microphone if you can. so while you are doing that, i will just take this opportunity once again to say thank you very much for coming in for reading books that i've written and other journalists and authors. [applause] >> having been literally part of the road of the world from those two decades when you write fair,
those young men and women who were born in the early 90s, we look an entire generation of young people who are now in their 20s today. what hope do you see for these people that have been part of this turmoil and what can be done globally to help them? >> thank you. the reason i worry we are going to see strongmen arise is because the new generation has lived for the last 15 years or so in a period of terrible strife. they've been living the sunni shia conflict. they've been living in the arab persian conflict, sometimes the conflict between cities of regional conflicts. they've been living in conflict. it would be very easy for someone to come along and say remember what it's like. give me all your right and i make all of that go away. another thing that's interesting is that it's also a believe that is spreading in the middle east that the united states is on
football for all of this. the u.s. is responsible for the sunni shia conflict. we didn't kill the early catalysts. the thousand years for the declaration of independence. we did not help create this divide. if you live in baghdad and you've been looking at the last 15 years or so, the members of a memories of that saddam hussein was lake are receiving. the sunni shia divide his daily and you can pick a date to when you remember that beginning in 2003. see how they could make a mental assist the nation. but americans can agree that the sunni shiite divide even though that chronologically doesn't make any sense. >> hi, once again, thank you very much for being here and for responding. i wanted to ask you about one of the strongmen and the potential
strongmen and your assessment of turkey. >> i got it. i see where you're going. >> the reassertion that their sphere of influence. they met god, got it, got it. just for the sake of time because the problem is turkey we could do a whole week discussing turkey. it is one of the most interesting conflicts or dynamics. as for strongmen are trying to reemerge. you also see the old empires trying to reemerge. when there's a breakdown breakdown of order, and lots of people try to make hay. russia think is trying to reestablish desire sphere of influence and decided the way to do that is through keeping alliance with the charlotte thought and make an alliance with some kurdish groups, alliance with iran. russia wants to spread its wings.
everyone wants to reestablish the ottoman sphere of influence. he has been trying to do that. but with mixed success session today. he's been blamed for reigniting a war with the kurds when a process was going quite well. so his goal of establishing a new world order in the middle east out of the chaos with the old ottoman world. he and a few others around him are so trained to do that. but he picked a big sigh when he picked a fight with russia and that is limiting his project and so far the middle east is not lining up to stand behind him and rejoin the influence. he is still pushing this product on train project an agenda, but with limited success.
looking back, there's no way we are going to get through this whole line. solidarity to stay there. >> once again, thanks for being here. i don't recognize you without your bulletproof vest on. >> if the jacket is held. >> much of what we know in this country comes from you from the frontline, by watching your increase on nbc nightly news. >> is a huge responsibility. i feel terrible now. >> when you think of other countries dependency when the cd evenness. i want to pick your brain. you're a respected journalist i respect you. but we have lost much of our men, resources by going into iraq and afghanistan and the damage it has done their and the people we've killed. so where i'm going to go, to go, you may not want me to go. we entered after 9/11. the two buildings were hit and building seven comes down in the
afternoon. there's a lot more to the story that we are questioning our government and commission what happened that day. why did we do this? do you have any information for us? a mac about the 9/11 attacks? no. i haven't really studied. i know the aftermath of the attacks, but the answers you seem to be looking for and not the person who has those. i've lived in the middle east dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. i wasn't in new york that day. i was in washington on that terrible day. i wasn't in the midwest. keep asking that question. i just don't have anything more at the debate the debate. >> to keep up with them for a wall? yes, i do. thank you very much. >> i honestly didn't know your name before this weekend and i read about the kidnapping and of the nbc news team and yourself
in 2012. in april of last year, it -- do you recognize this essay false flag be in a group once to make another group and so they will disguise themselves as the group. in this case, it was the sunnis posing a shiite. is that right? >> that is right. is that it? >> if so, are you interested in what role iran government had of john mccain, lindsey graham for two senators are pushing at this time to arm on the free syria army. what is the free syrian army responsible for this kidnapping and rescue? >> okay. so there's two questions. one about -- to make it a little more clear, three years ago or
so i was inferior with the team of close friends and colleagues and unfortunately we were kidnapped and were held by masked gunmen who voted us into the back of the truck and moved us from place to place. while we were there, the whole time all of us, including several arabic takers believed that these were regime loyalists, that they were people who were shia militia and we believe that by the way they were acting, what they were time that, by the way they were behaving. and it seemed very credible. we got out. we got out of this horrible experience alive. everyone on our team made it. and then we moved on with our lives. a couple years later we got it dead and we said well, there may be more fair. the people who grabbed you, you might want to look again at them. so we did. we spent about two months digging back and trying to find
out who and where it is complicated because a lot of people have since been killed. i do think these people were probably a mouth like that, it's very hard to know frankly. it goes to the point of how complicated the situation is and remains in syria where loyalty is are often not what they seem and alliances are a convenience. in all likelihood they were bugs. they were people who wanted a ransom. they were posing as regime loyalists. so in case we did that we would know who they were. so is it a kind of a false flag writing an identity? yes. do i think this was a conspiracy with the u.s. politics involved in that they cram in all this? no, i don't think so. this is much more local. >> hi, mr. engel, things are being here. the current defense reporter and
firm correspondent. it seems that much of the success in your career is due to the fact he didn't just parachute in somewhere. you're in a region long before other reporters arrived. my question to you is this -- >> if i were you, where would i go? >> i would get out of the town. if you were a foreign correspondent for me by definition have to be foreign. so i would look at the world. and this is what i tell other sort of young journalists and aspiring journalists, think about what the world is going to look like in 20 years. so i took a gamble. if the middle east had been a boring dead, i would not be here right now. i would've had a very uninteresting career and no one would've cared and no one would be buying this book. if it was 1986 when i last, i probably would have gone to the middle east. i would've gone to poland or moscow or somewhere else.
but it wasn't. it was 1996 and i was looking at the map in thinking the middle east is probably going to be the story of my generation. so i would say to you. go home, think about it for a couple days. what is going to be the story of the next 20 years? maybe it's not the middle east. maybe if the environment. therefore you should go to a place where you think the environment is most impacted. put yourself in a place like the great wayne gretzky, go to bat the puck is going to be. now put the puck is now. they are politics are going to be over the next 20 years and then go there. >> would you say maybe africa? >> i think africa is interesting. frankly, the collision of environment and urbanization are going to define the next generation. i'm not sure the next 20 years is going to the middle east. you may have missed it. in the last 10 or 15 years, and
there were two major american ground wars in the middle east, one of which didn't go particularly well. hundreds of thousands of troops cycling through their. as a foreign correspondent are you going to do better in the next 10 years? are you going to get more action? publicly not. i doubt the 101st airborne division will ever be deployed in mass to baghdad again in our lifetimes. i could be wrong. but i don't anticipate another iraq style war. so look at the map. think about all the different pieces and figure out where you want to be. maybe it's africa. maybe it's an environmental story. maybe it is the speaker virus and the other horrible mutations that are happening in nature as a warm-up this planet. maybe that's the story the next 20 years. i don't know. >> thank you.
in that but it's a fun experiment to think about anyway. wine helps. [laughter] and once you've thought about it and come to this utopian vision, more wine helps. >> i take that advice every day. i met you several years ago in an endnote like to say i am happy to be standing here in front of you stateside and we are both your state. i appreciate your service in a thank you refer you thank you for mine. you're an unsung hero. >> now i have to thank you or yours. you have to give them the chance. >> my question relates to strategic tools of power. we generally go through military every time. anytime there's an international crisis, the military steps up or relate to the military. we did well using our economic power. we did well with diplomatic power with a man. what can we do better
diplomatically to not engage foreign leaders, but to engage the people. >> thank you very much. thank you for your service. the airborne is set in the pasha valley. >> wordnet province. >> one of the most dangerous i'm afraid jay but also sort of beautiful price of afghanistan. were we out there together in the vehicle broke down and we had to move? >> i wasn't there for that, but i had lunch with you. use a lot of my nods for the week -- >> thank you very much. to browse some equipment. >> which probably is the loud, thank you. >> i was holding on everywhere. >> so thank you for loaning us the equipment. i hope we returned it to you. the problem with american, not necessarily just diplomacy, but engagement as you said if the u.s. continues to retreat
continues to go deeper and deeper behind. our diplomatic enclaves or castles and oftentimes it is not the diplomats who are running the show. it is their security officers who determine who they can meet and when and for how long. that is a problem. we are losing contact. you can't just listen to people's communications and read their e-mails from behind the walls of the castle. you lose contact. you lose the texture. i don't know why the united states doesn't have an effective cultural integration program. in istanbul, the former u.s. consul up right in the center of the city is a soho house rented out for profit. next-door at various and italian cultural center that shows italian movies and you can come in and take italian language classes. a french cultural residue with parties and festivals seemingly every night. there is one of the holland u.s.
doesn't do anything. we generally stay cloistered behind these walls and have meetings to get put on mind as they get they can put on wikileaks and things like that. so i think they need to try and engage more because dave and the castle i think doesn't serve our national interests. i don't know why we don't have a vigorous cultural outreach program, an american studies center. they don't really exist. we used to have them. we used to have them. to get into a u.s. diplomatic facility now, you have to wait on line. you can even approach it and i think our outreach -- if somebody goes to a symbol, for example the mayor welcomed an watch a couple italian movies and have peaked tonight, something simple like that. if you're a local kid from the neighborhood, it can actually
change your impression of her time. if you do that everyday, i think it means something. >> yes. did lawrence of arabia influenced your career? the man, the myth, the movie. [laughter] >> yes. >> when i moved out of the middle east, i was a kid. i still sort of feel like a kid. i moved up to the middle east and i wanted to do this when i was a very young boy. when i was 13 years old i was with my family and we were in morocco l-lima linda h-hotel, which is a glamorous hotel. i was about 13 and i was sitting on the steps waiting for my mother to come out. my mother comes out very well dressed and put this all together jewelry and clothes and shoe sorter from another era. i was waiting there in front of this grand hotel and there was a horse carriage ride in the center of marrakesh.
had the international herald for june which unfortunately doesn't exist anymore. my mother came down the steps and a cloud of perfume and says you should work there one day. i said okay. there it is. there it is. i'll be in paris. i'll be in my office with my typewriter to my cigarette and a holder and i will write the next great novel. that is what i wanted to do. so was just lawrence of arabia? no, the whole romantic ethos of being an exotic place and doing something exotic. it hasn't always been that romantic. i still like the concept. >> is your mother a fan of greta garbo? >> i will have to ask her. thank you very much. yes, there is a flair. if you're not having fun doing it, there are easier ways to make a living.
this bill work in progress. your question is in the be democracy in the middle east. i hope so. people are people. i think it's good of the harder this next period because they have such a recent dramatic experience that they will be running away toward stability, but can there be democracy, of course. the same people we are. they don't want to live under oppression. it is a live under oppression. it is a look at it it is like for you but you read books, you
have to read. the thing i tell people the most is to read. i read a lot of books on the middle ages and crusades. it's my pet project, my passionproject, my passion because a lot of what i do is religious studies. it is the middle ages and crusades in a new place in a new time with new weapons. so the more you can read the more you can fill in the picture. i collect books, read a lot of very old and bizarre and antiquated books. i find them interesting and illuminating. that would be the key, there is no blog or tweet or facebook post or amalgamation of that that is the answer. the more you can read, the more you can read real books almost on any subject the
more you will learn about the subject you want to learn about. >> thank you. [laughter] >> i spent a little time in iran and find urinalysis sobering but realistic. ashis book called the anatomy of the vote should which is every time there is revolution the aftermath is dictatorship, and i am wondering, it seems like there is no middle space. it will be hard to have some democratic reforms whether is no repression from government and am wondering if the emphasis should be moron to five part of the revolution, no vibrant middle class. >> education and middle-class of the solution. you need people to have a little bit of money in their pocket. if your desperate you don't have a lot of choice. no knowledge because you
been deliberately miss educated by your government not easily manipulated and will take whatever you're given. long-term is education and economic empowerment. >> of the countries we see this? >> neuron since you brought it up is an interesting case right now. i discovered a few days ago. i went they're to see about the implementation. there was an implementation day the iea certified iran met its obligations and that process is underway.
i meti met a young woman at the stock exchange. >> banking and the but their goods online and sell them on ebay. they were very excited about entering the world economic community or returning to it, then you have the regime which has a vested interest in does not want to see things change. it wants to have perestroika without blossoms. and is that possible? after society isthe
deal with domestic politics. we have so many people who spend all day long talking about this. >> a want to ask a question about the future of islam and the struggle between the more moderate forces and islamist ones. if you believe islam overcome: the moderates will try to help our islam. >> ii don't think it's going to win. it has a losing strategy. i like to think of isi s is a virus within the middle east and islam. unlike any virus you have a cold sore. it is inside you all the time. when you we can broken down and sick and then it becomes contagious. but that's a little bit like
isi s. it is there and is manifested itself. and eventually the body will become stronger and they will receive into the middle east, the dark recess of its mind that it does not want to acknowledge. so there have been moments of fanaticism. they are allowing them to have that space. you would think. how much more odious can you get? you would think that we cannot agree on anything.
the world somehow cannot. the people who are near are afraid, but it is bigger politics, the russian agenda, the turkish agenda, the uranian agenda, the american confused consistent policy. the iraq war. so many different reasons to explain why there is a black whole in the region being filled by this toxin. >> thank you. >> sorry to have brought out cold sores. i did not mean it. >> it looks like i might be the last thing between you and your plane. >> no, i am going to sign some books. >> i find the concept that after civil war, it seemed grounded more in european history.
give somalia, libya frozen conflict. and nonstate actors in charge. >> the state system, and says this is the last question i will thank you all, but we think of the state system as relatively new to the middle east. the middle east existed in an empire system, more like the roman empire, large empires that were run from the center, but if you were in the provinces you ran your own affairs. the modern state system the
states and flags and borders and uniforms national anthems was really just carved up after world war i. it is relatively new frankly relatively unsuccessful. the state system has not worked well. and i think that is why if you look at the state system you have the mandates for a brief period world war i was not enough. the united states stepped in and became the overlord of the state system for a few more decades.
it hasn't happened for the old system has been torn apart. it's almost like going back to the days of 1919. these antecedent conflicts have emerged to the forefront. so is it a european model? europe had nationstates and nationstate systems longer. and with that, shoe on that on your drive home, and thank you very much. [inaudible conversations]
interest in working with afghan women. >> when the spotlight turned on afghanistan, american women, including myself, so women who are marginalized, left out, and the idea of the government that would for bid half of its population from being educated was shocking to americans, american men and women, but many people start -- started calling me to say, i wantsay, i want to do something, what can i do to help. one of my best friends from houston called and said, i used to be so glad i am not in your shoes, but now i'm not. reform the council and the various projects were thought of to support our sisters in afghanistan wh