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tv   Amanpour on PBS  PBS  January 19, 2018 6:00am-6:30am PST

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welcome to amanpour on pbs. tonight, my conversation with the former u.s. defense secretary, ash carter, as confidence in the united states hits record new lows, the global challenges it faces -- highs. plus, a rare show of unity, north and south korea agree to compete together at the winter olympics. what game is the north really playing? my exclusive interview with south korea's vice president of foreign affairs.
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>> announcer: amanpour on pbs was made possible b generous support of rosalynn p. walter. good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london with a global perspective. this was this weekend one year ago when donald trump officially took power, following his surprise election as president of the united states. the year has been a bumpy one, health care, media fights. outside the united states, it's no calmer. the president is facing serious threats and d a miscalculation could lead to all-out war. i spoke to the secretary of defense, ash carter. >> secretary carter welcome to the program. >> good to be here. >> on the eve of president trump going to davos, they put out a global survey saying the risk of military conflict is rising and
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it will sharply rise in 2018. what do you make of that? does that sound right to you? >> the principal place that that may be true is on the korean peninsula, elsewhere there's danger, but it may be a continuation of the past. we may see -- it's not highly probable, but never rule it out, is an incident on the korean peninsula. particularly the north korean military, sort of a doctrine to lash out if provoked. it has been that way as long as i have been working. and therefore, whether it starts with an incident between the north and south, whether it starts between -- with an incident between north korea and the united states, there's always a possibility there, and as you know, that is a war the likes of which hasn't been seen since the last korean war, or even world war ii. >> we're also seeing reports of live fire and para trooper
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exercises happening, to sort of maybe potentially prepare for a war. we're hearing about a bloody nose strategy whereby the united states might decide to take some kind of action. on the other hand we see that north and south korea seem to be getting together over the olympic games, and they're both going to, you know, put their athletes under a common flag, et cetera. where are we here? are we on the brink of war? or is tension deflating a little bit? >> i don't think tension is deflating, but i wouldn't say we're on the brink of war yet. i have definite views based on 25 years of dealing with the north koreans about what might work in the diplomatic area. and i understand, although i can't speak for them, that secretary tillerson and secretary mattis are working on a form of coercive diplomacy. they may work. i have experience for what has worked and not worked in the past in that regard.
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in the meantime, because that may not work, deterrents and defense are the first duties that i would have were i still secretary of defense. you do see exercises in which the troops are planning and preparing. we train against a number of contingency, and we certainly haveo train against the north korean contingency. if there's a real prospect of something going wrong, we have to be ready. there is a chance that negotiations could lead somewhere. that chance needs to be pursued. >> china said at a recent meeting in canada where secretaries of defense were gathered that in the north korea realm, and in the pacific realm, the united states is acting with a cold war mentality. you've got all these countries saying these things about the united states. but the very countries the u.s. kind of needs to help solve
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certainly north korea, can china do more? >> china likes to use that line. but with respect to north korea, the reality is that china, and, again, i've been at this for a long time with -- and talked to the chinese about it, has never really come through in curbing the north korean behavior. there are reasons for that that i understand. however, i think to pin too much hope on that is unrealistic. i think that the north koreans pay attention first and foremost to the united states. particularly as regards the military capabilities. i'm very pleased to see the progress between the north and south. including the olympics, and the decision to march in together, which they've done before. and all of that is good because it reduces the probability that something extraneous, like an incident on the dmz, or the sinking of a ship, like the chonan of a few years ago, will lead everybo inadvertently
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into war. but it's not going to do anything about changing north korea's behavior fundamentally, only the united states, i think can do that. >> just a quick thing about the olympics, apparently -- intelligence has seen plans, maybe afoot, in pyongyang, or somewhere there for a big military parade on the eve of the olympics, which is sort of pyongyang speaking out of both sides of its face. would you be surprised? >> no, i wouldn't be surprised at all. they will use this as the best theater they can. on the one handsh making nice to seoul, and on the other hand, standing strong, including to the united states. that is entirely predictable. that doesn't make it a bad thing that north and south are dealing with each other. but at the end of the day, the only thing that has worked historically, and this has been only for short times, but it has worked for short times over history, has been when the united states, south korea, japan, which we can never leave out of the equation that part of the world, and china have mar
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shalled their carrots and sticks into one pile and used it intentionally, used them intentionally with respect to north korea. we have sticks. we have very few carrots because we're not prepared to do anything for north korea. the chinese, on the other hand, have a wider mixture, as do the south koreans and the japanese. when we've put that all together and gotten all those instruments in a strategy of step by step coercive diplomacy, that wke i saw it worked in the 1990s twice. i know that during the bush administration, also around the 2005, 2006 period, it worked for a short period of time. it may work now. i certainly hope that's what my successors are doing. >> as we talk, turkey, a nato ally of the united states, is threatening to take military action because the united states has decided to support a defense force there, which turkey calls a terror force. help us through this.
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who's right, who's wrong? >> we needed to protect ourselves, and we needed to defeat isis. we did that -- our way of doing that strategically was to enable local forces to defeat iso, because that is necessary to have a lasting defeat. if we just go in and do it ourselves, we can -- and then somebody -- our experience has been that that is a very difficult thing to pull off. >> and that ticked off turkey? >> well, that led us, therefore, to find, identify and train and equip and help those who are willing to fight isis on our behalf. some of them are kurds who are associated with a group which has conducted terrorist operations in turkey. to that extent turkey does have a point. at the same time we have a point.
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we had to protect ourselves and now we have to sustain the victory, that means letting the people who live there rule in a way that is better than isis ruling. now, these kurdsctually live there. so the idea that they should govern is, i think, unassay labl, we do owe it to turkey that those kurds that are part of that syrian force we've helped don't turn their means against turkey, which after all is a nato friend and nato ally. although, in recent years, it's been different from other turkish leaders in my professional lifetime, which goes back a long time when turkey was a solid and stall wart ally. >> i want to put your former cabinet secretary hat on. and explain to the world and to americans, what do you think is going on inside the united states? there's a lot of rumbling right
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now. first and foremost, what if the government shut down? and how do you account for what president trump is saying, you know, they're going to devastate the military, and it's the democrats' fault and all the rest of it, address that particularly. >> we have had gridlock in washington for eight years. for almost every year that i was in the department of defense over the last decade we didn't get a budget. congress passes regulations for the department of defense, but they don't pass a budget. that's just the department of defense. and what does that mean? it induces such instability and incertnty. let me give you a few chafrms -- and waste. let me give you an example of waste. if you don't know if you're getting a budget, and you're a program manager responsible for getting some service provides, you may have to enter into a six
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month long contract rather than a year-long contract for that service. we all know that you pay more for a short-term, anybody who has a phone plan knows you pay more for a short term than for a long term. our program managers are driven to do things that are infesht. i'm just talking about the department of defense. i believe, christiane, that national strength and our future depends upon defense money, don't get me wrong, but i also believe it depends upon education, science and engineering funding, funding for the rest of government, the state department, law enforcement, the fbi, homeland securi security, infrastructure. all of these things are part of our future. if we don't have a budget the federal government can't act on any of that. >> you mentioned the state department. i wonder what you tell your international counterparts when
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you're traveling now, when you're going here, there and everywhere as you are right now, what do you say to them when we see reports that 60% of the state department's top ranking career diplomats have left? >> i don't say much about the u.s. state department when i'm overseas. i don't represent the state department or know. >> surely people must ask you what's going on. >> they tell me, because they observe themselves, they say that their colleagues are disspirited. there is no ambassador in this place or that. they have not been able to get a meeting with anybody in the u.s. government in the state department to discuss a matter of diplomatic consequence. i know from my colleagues who have served in the state department, including at the highest levels there, that they are worried about the brain drain here. remember, you accumulate in the course of a state department career, very deep knowledge of many parts of the world. you know people. you know how -- and you can work
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america's interests because you know a place and you know the people. we have interests that we need served, and we need professionals who can do it. you know, my wife always says when somebody says, well, we don't need washington people, she always says, ash, if i'm sick, get me somebody with a medical degree. if i'm in jail, get me a lawyer. so if you need diplomacy, you need diplomats, so i think it's quite concerning. i do not understand, in human talent management, it's -- it's so -- building talent takes so much time. and losing talent can happen overnight. and so if you're in talent management, any cabinet member is, i was a huge preoccupation of mine was were we going to have a quality all volunteer force? we have to work at that. it's a free country. people can do whatever they
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want. if you want the best you need to work at it. you can lose it so quickly. i am concerned about that. >> there's basically a new survey, that says the view of american leadership is at the lowest level, gallup says 30% approve of america's leader, dropped 20 points. that's not just a vanity poll or popularity poll, but it affects the ability of the u.s. to operate. >> one of the ways we get what we want is by getting people to share our views. power is important also, and as a former secretary of defense that was extremely important to me and that was my responsibility. but i also recognized that another way of getting what you want is getting other people to want what you want. that requires a kind of attractive nature to you. and so i think if we want to be able to stand against despotism in north korea, repression of
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the internet and basically communist economic practices, and any competitive practices in china, hacking of our election by russia, invasion of ukraine by russia. all of these things, it's important that we have those who are willing to stand with us, and that we retain o attractive nature. so i hope we don't lose that in e future. it's been not only something i've been extremely proud of, but i think it's a source of national strength. i always -- closing christiane on that, i used to tell our troops that i always heard from foreign leaders how much they liked working with the u.s. mail tear. i'd say that isn't only because of how awesomely capable you are, it is also because they like what you stand for. >> secretary carter, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. now my next guest is limb
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song nam. he's joining he amidst promising signs of a diplomatic fore on the korean peninsula, peace talks between north and south korea the first in two years, produced an agreement for the two countries to march together under one flag at the olympics. the direct talks seem to mark a split at the white house. president trump says i'm not sure sitting down will solve the problem. but as the u.s. makes contingency plans for war, the south korean government believes w, limb song nam joins me from new york. mr. vice minister, welcome to the program. >> thank you, thank you for having me on again. >> it's good to talk to you again. of course your issue is perhaps the most important issue. let me ask you first if you agree with secretary carter that one of the -- or the biggest concern in a year that may show a rise in risk of conflict i on
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your peninsula. do you believe that? >> well, i'm sure north korea will be one of the biggest security concerns for the year 2018, but i believe we are in a better shape than before because we are now taking advantage of the opening in the inter-korean relationship by having the north koreans come to the pyeongchang winter olympics, and at the same time engaging north korea in dialogue. >> when i described a promising fore, is that correct? am i going too far? do you think there is an actual diplomatic military fore beyond marching together and competing at the olympics? >> well, i'm sure the inter-korean dialogue we are having right now with the north koreans will contribute to creating an environment conducive to further progress in the inter-korean relationship. but at the same time we believe we should not be too hasty in
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reaching any kind of a conclusion regarding where we can go at the end of the day. >> so you also heard ash carter said that he supports the current administration's version of and plans for coercive diplomacy. does that meld with the south korean position? >> well, again, as ash carter has pointed out, i believe the defense and deterrents are the marria major pillar in playing the game vis-a-vis north korea right now. but the other game plan is enment and dialogue which we will be pursuing from now on. >> so we asked also, what game is north korea playing? let's go back to the extraordinary moment on new year day when the north korean leader kim jong-un gave this speech and offered that new -- sorry, that olive branch to south korea, while also saying that he had a nuclear button on his table and
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then of course he had president trump's response about having a bigger nuclear button. take us back to there. what was going on in the foreign ministry when you heard kim jong-un's speech? >> well, i think kim jong-un's speech can be read from many different perspectives. but number one, he was putting a lot of emphasis upon the importance of economic prosperity. and number two, after so many years of silence in the inter-korean relationship, he was offering the talks between the south and the north. and he was also making it clear the intention to come to pyeongchang pint pyeongchang winter olympics. all in all, we believe that the speech made by the young leader in pyongyang was a signal to korea, as well as the international community, that they are interested in talks. >> so just give us your best assessment. do you believe that the -- you know, pretty hard line the united states has taken, and
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even the very colorful tweets that president trump has used, including a number of insults to kim jong-un, and theve been flying back anforth between both capitals. do you think in a way this kind of new dynamic forced this speech on new year's day? yooung th do you think that could have played any part in it? >> well, when we had a discussion about this issue with our american counterparts, we have made it very clear that the strong -- has been -- the situation to go in the right direction. i'm sure when pyongyang makes the kind of announcement, as made by the leader in the beginning of this year, they must have looked at all dimensions related with their current situation, including the cost they are paying because of the sanctions in place. >> all right. so you think they're sort of taking it on board in a way. can i ask you about the recently
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concluded summit in vancouver? it was south korea, the united states, canada obviously, and many, many of your allies who supported you and fought alongside you during the korean war. but, of course, russia and china were not invited. and yet they're pretty instrumental to a solution. what did you achieve in vancouver? and do you think that those two countries should have been at the table? >> well, i think the vancouver meeting has a very -- a signal to pyongyang. number one, it has clearly indicated the willingness of the international community to keep the sanctions in place until the moment when pyongyang makes the right decision about their nuclear and missile programs. but on the other hand, the vancouver meeting also signalled to pyongyang very clearly that the eventual purpose of exulting sanctions and pressure upon pyongyang is in bringing pyongyang to the
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denuclearization talks. and everybody who was around the table in vancouver was interested in the diplomatic solution of the issue at hand. and i'm sure, while moscow and beijing were not around the table in vancouver, they must have paid attention to those messages out of the meeting. >> well, you know president trump in an interview this week has accused moscow of actually helping north korea skirt these sanctions. is that something you believe is happening? is that what moscow is doing? >> well, i'm sure the implementation of the u.n. security council sanctions is not in hundred percent perfect shape. there might be some loopholes, there might be areas we can do more. perhaps the russian cooperation might be needed from that kind of perspective. >> so that's a diplomatic way of saying russia should stop undermining the global pressure? >> well, i would rather say
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russia should be more forthcoming in terms of implementing the sanctions. >> got it, all right. so everybody wants to know whether this sort of olympic fore, this olympic spring is going to last beyond the olympics. do you think this momentum between your two countries that has legs beyd the games? >>well, i should tell you an english saying that goes a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. we just began to talk with north koreans, and it might be too earl to reach any kind of conclusion like the one you just presented. >> all right. so it's still -- that's still a work in progress. because as you know your japanese counterparts say, beware the north trying to cozy up while trying to buy time for their inevitable program. >> well, there can be many ways of looking at the north korean intentions. but if we look at the situation very objectively, as i indicated
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at the beginning of the program, the security situation on the korean peninsula, might be slightly better shape say than about a month ago because we have just begun to engage the north koreans in a dialogue. >> it's really important, and everybody clearly is very concerned about what happens and what transpires, particularly the people of hawaii not so long ago. i mean, what did you think? what went through your mind when you saw this false alert, and people in hawaii, you know, diving for cover just about, and former defense secretary william perry wrote it highlighted an emphatically genuine risk that human error or technological failure sor some fatal combination of both could result in a horrific nuclear catastrophe? >>well, i think what happened in hawai clearly shows the danger posed by the north korean nuclear programs. but at the same time i'm happy to know that through the
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inter-korean dialogue we have been able to revive the line of communication between the south and the north, which has been severed for a long time. so once again, keeping the line of communication open, and they're having them engage in a dialogue will be essential in restoring the peace on the korean peninsula at the end of the day. >> i guess, finally, what do you expect the mood to be at the olympics, the mood amongst south koreans and others when the north koreans come in, when they march under the unified flag? i ask, because there's a big uproar in your country already by uniting the hockey team, you know, some of the south korean hockey professionals say that's going to dilute your country's ability to be the best. >> well, there can be, once again, many voices, you know, free and open society like korea. but i would like to remind you what happened in the early 1970s between china and the united states.
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it was through the ping-pong games, through the chinese and the americans to lay the foundation for the normalization of the relationship. sports event could be a very useful opportunity for the two koreas to engage in a process of reconciliation down the road. >> well, that was the last word, and that was a very, very good last word. minister lynn somnang. >> thank you. >> thanks for watching amanpour on pbs. join us again tomorrow night. >> announcer: amanpour on pbs was made possible by the generous support of rosalynn p. walter.
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