MOYERS: It was a big week for experts what watch foreign affairs. Our own distinguished observers had an especially tricky time of it. They had to keep one eye on the UN where President Bush won support for more international collaborations in Iraq. And the other eye on another arena where empires also rise and fall, the Coliseum.
But that's known where I live as Yankee Stadium. Indeed, if my guests sound hoarse it's because both of them were there last night yelling their lungs out as the Mighty Yankees threw the Christians I mean, the Red Sox to the lions. For whom were they rooting? I should let them declare their bias. But here's one of them, Samantha Power, throwing out the first ball when her heroes, the Red Sox, played the Marlins on June 28th.
Samantha Power is founder of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard. A journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize last year for her book A PROBLEM FROM HELL about genocide in the 20th Century.
And Simon Schama. Simon Schama, a world-renowned historian, a best-selling art and literary critic and a distinguished professor at Columbia University not far from Yankee Stadium where he lost a bet and his heart last night. Welcome back to NOW. How did this happen that you became such a Red Sox fan that you got to throw out this ball?
POWER: Well, for me it started when I moved to this country as a kid, as an immigrant. And…
POWER: From Ireland and moved to Pittsburgh in 1979. And it was just as the Pirates were about to win the World Series, were about to go to the play-offs and then they would go on to win the World Series. And I had a thick Dublin accent and was wearing a tartan skirt for my Catholic school and black patent leather shoes.
And I quickly realized that if I could speak the language of on-base percentages, RBIs, inherited runner scoring people would be a lot nicer to me than they had been prior to that point. So I developed an obsession at an early age. And moving to Boston ten years ago, visited Fenway Park which is, you know, not the House of Doom like Yankee Stadium but the House of Grace and Goodness.
And, unfortunately, usually the House of Disappointment. And in visiting Fenway I just found myself everyday coming home from work teaching at Harvard. I would drive by the stadium and it was just an irresistible pull. So I started going to about 40 games a year which is not a good thing for your work life. But…
MOYERS: Why were you not pitching last night when Aaron Boone came up and…
POWER: You know, there are many who have asked. What you don't see from the picture of the first pitch is the actual trajectory of the ball. That would actually… that would answer your question, unfortunately. But I do think there is something about being in the human rights business that makes being a Red Sox fan also very, very compatible.
And you learn to deal with disappointment. And you still have to get up the next morning and do your job.
MOYERS: Yeah. And you started with cricket.
SCHAMA: Yeah, but I should say, you know, I am a British Jew. If you're Jewish you have to really be part of a persecuted minority. I just don't understand... a Jewish Yankee fan, a Jew who wins all the time seems to me a the worst oxymoron, you know? For God's sake, what have you got…
MOYERS: You talk about persecution and you…
MOYERS: I was for the Mets and I was for the Cubs then I was for the Red Sox. Now how much of a loser can you get?
SCHAMA: So actually it's our long association with you is the exclamations is an ongoing catastrophe really.
MOYERS: What did you think when you saw your first baseball game?
SCHAMA: It was like, you know, some enchanted evening. It was like kind of falling in love with a bad 1950s Technicolor musical.
It was graceful. I'd never seen anything like a well-executed double play. And, you know, it was love. What can you say? I didn't know it was doomed love, you know? That's the thing. Doomed love, my specialty.
MOYERS: But yesterday, to make this segue, President Bush won one more or less. He got this unanimous resolution through the Security Council in which countries say, "We support you. We are for you." But he lost in the Senate where he wanted the $20 billion to Iraq to be a grant instead of a loan. Now, was yesterday's victory at the Security Council symbolic or significant?
POWER: I think that it's symbolic of the better part of the world's desire for Iraq to get it together. I think that the resolution was in support of the Iraqi people rather than in support of the Bush Administration's approach as such. I don't think that the Bush Administration is going to have an easy time getting either money or troops from the countries who yesterday were willing to sign on. Russia, Germany and France have already said, "No go."
MOYERS: But Pakistan said, "We will not put any troops or money."
POWER: And one of the things we have to remember is that if you look back to the 1990s and a lot of the peacekeeping, nation-building missions that were undertaken, the reluctance of the states with troops that actually could perform, you know, noble and efficient functions, the numbers of those countries who actually would put troops forward is very, very small. We've always had this problem of people simply not wanting to go to dangerous places.
And none of the places, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, places where we had such a hard time getting peacekeepers, none of those places were places where the peacekeepers were... You knew going in that the peacekeepers were explicitly targets. You don't… it'll be very hard, I think, for any state to go back to their public… most of the publics regardless of what the governments were saying, most of the publics around the world, 70 percent or more, oppose the war, of course. I think it'd be very hard for leaders to get their publics to go along with basically buying into the kind of sacrifice that may be entailed by joining this effort.
SCHAMA: Yeah, I agree with Samantha. A completely empty paper victory of the kind which will be useful for spin doctoring going into an election campaign. Means absolutely nothing in terms of the burden that the American public, taxpaying public, is gonna be, you know, paying for essentially a kind of botched post-war effort so far.
And, look, you're the Prime Minister of the Netherlands or something actually. And, you know, you're being asked to provide money and troops and all the rest of it. And you're going to go to your, you know, your public and say, "Yeah, well, of course, we, you know, we didn't make this mess. But we're delighted to sort of help out here."
Obviously, you know, it's never really gonna happen. There is, I will say, a disingenuous aspect I think of the Europeans or the rest of the world issue. Because actually their conditions were actually being more, you know, cuddly about it all are the quicker transition to a speedy transition to full sovereignty or something like that.
MOYERS: Give it to the Iraqis…
SCHAMA: That seems to be very disingenuous actually. Because…
SCHAMA: Well, because I think anybody with half a kind of, you know, whit of historical understanding one knows that whatever we've done now, the most honest thing is to say we're gonna be there for five, ten years. And, in fact, actually I, you know, I think someone better tell the American public that as well. Not fool around with them saying, "Oh, well, there'll be a constitution."
Excuse me, you know, this isn't Madison or Hamilton we're talking here. In a year and then we wave goodbye handily timely for November 2004. The real thing is we need to be there and everybody who's gonna get into this needs to accept they're gonna be there for ten years. Or hello al-Qaeda, welcome to Baghdad.
MOYERS: But when you say the American people have to have that kind... they need that information and they need that kind of patience. How do you, as a historian and a scholar, take a small piece of information like this and lay it against that?
I mean, here's an Associated Press story a few days ago saying that Halliburton, the Houston company that has a no bid contract to restore Iraq's oil industry is billing the Army and the tax payers between $1.62 and $1.70 for the gallon of gasoline that it's selling to the Iraqis for four cents and 15 cents at the pump and it's getting this gasoline for 70 cents a gallon. I mean, this is quite a windfall. What does this do to support the effort in Iraq?
SCHAMA: There's an outrage. An absolute outrage. And, you know, any oppositional Democratic politician or Republican politician worth their salt ought to indicate its outrageousness.
Guess what? It's sacrifice time.
MOYERS: Halliburton's not sacrificing.
SCHAMA: Yea, and how they're not sacrificing.
MOYERS: Samantha, does it really matter? You've been looking at human rights for a long time. Does world opinion really matter? Isn't the President closer to the truth when he says it is better to be feared than respected?
POWER: Well, I think what his exact quote is it's better to be feared than liked. And I think I would say that it's better… you need to be feared when you do have an enemy that has hard power and is disposable even if it's of an asymmetric kind as we've talked about in the past. It's not traditional hard power. But ultimately these are people who are out to kill you.
You have to have the tools of policing, the tools of armed force. But to think that you can win a war on terrorism and to think that there is a definable end state to that war, it seems to me misses one of the central insights of the last half century which is the indispensability of American soft power. Soft power is the ability to make others want what we want.
And I think there's a major division in our country right now between people who think that we are under attack, our institutions abroad and us at home because of who we are. And those who believe and this is the Bush line which is that we're under attack because of our way of life, the American way of life.
You know, because we wear short skirts or because we practice multiple religions. That's who we are. We're America. We're free and thus people want to get us. That's a constituency in this country. They really believe that. And then there are others, and I put myself in this camp, who believe that some number of people do hate us for those reasons.
But that on the spectrum of anti-Americanism right now and certainly on the spectrum of those who are willing to strap, you know, bombs… put bombs into their backpacks is quite small. And that, in fact, what we really need to think about it, are the things that we do that engender resentment. And that not only drive people into terrorism but that make it very difficult to secure cooperation in law enforcement.
And these are things that are fixable. I mean, Colin Powell was just at Halabjah a couple weeks ago. Halabjah is the scene of one of the most ghastly chemical weapons attacks in the 20th Century. It was in 1988 with Saddam against the Kurds. 5,000 people killed in the most repulsive way could possibly die. Powell, in a very, very dignified ceremony goes to Halabjah to pay his respects.
Here's a moment where you have an opportunity to say, "You know what? We got it wrong in the '80s when we were aligned with Saddam." It was a mistake. These kinds of crimes were being committed and we, in fact, were aiding his regime. We were giving him $500 million a year in credits to buy American farm products.
We doubled our aid to his regime the year following this attack. You don't even have to get into that detail if you're Powell. But you can say, "We just… we got it wrong. We didn't sort of see straight. We should have taken these things more seriously at the time." Instead, the tendency is to pretend that history hasn't happened. And, frankly, to insult the Iraqi memory, Powell, of course, was National Security Advisor at the time of the policy, at the time of Halabjah, at the time of doubling American aid.
And yet the hope is that somehow people are gonna judge the merits and demerits of our arguments in the particular case at hand, the particular argument we're trying to win.
MOYERS: Let me show you a speech that Vice President Cheney made last week. A very aggressive speech before a very friendly, conservative crowd in Washington. And followed by the speech that the President made last night in California as he left for Asia. The themes are the same. Look at this.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS]
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I would remind the critics of the fundamental case the President has made since September 11th. Terrorist enemies of our country hope to strike us with the most lethal weapons known to man. And it would be reckless in the extreme to rule out action and save our worries until the day they strike.
PRESIDENT BUSH: In this new kind of war, America is following a new strategy. We are not waiting for further attacks. We're striking our enemies before they can strike us again. We have taken unprecedented steps to protect the homeland. Yet wars are won on the offensive. And America and our friends are staying on the offensive. We are rolling back the terrorist threat. Not on the fringes of its influence but at the heart of its power.
[END VIDEO CLIPS]
MOYERS: What are you hearing?
SCHAMA: I'm hearing a dangerously obtuse misunderstanding of what the threat actually is. The threat we face are not from states, they're not the sort which the 3rd infantry, you know, is the complete answer. Threats are men in basements with dirty bombs.
And the real argument that has to be made is that, you know, our preemption in Iraq has made it less easy for this kind of highly atomized nucleative Al Qaeda kind of operation to happen. The claim is that that's so. But it's demonstrably a claim that in my view it hasn't necessarily been proved.
There's something else too. There's a kind of, you know, testosterone driven quality really about find 'em, squish 'em, get the hell out. And if you actually are gonna be, you know, consistently preemptive we should be in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, you know, you go on and on and on. It is not a sensible policy. The sensible policy to protect ourselves is figuring out the hierarchy of the scary, the imminently dangerous and the truly bloody terrifying. That doesn't happen there.
MOYERS: One of the right wing architects of the invasion of Iraq, Richard Pearle, an advisor to the Pentagon, was quote by the AP just this week saying that Syria could well be the next target or might be the next target.
POWER: Well, I think when you're foundering the best defense is a good offense. I think part of what we're seeing is a kind of lunge. I mean, most people… Bush's popularity numbers went up last week and most people think it's because of this offensive so it's clearly having some effect on Americans. But I think what the only check on that kind of a doctrine, really of uninhibited devotion to hard power and commitment to preemption and this, what Cheney also earlier in the week called the Bush doctrine which was not only getting the terrorists but getting any states that shelter them or aid them in any way. I mean, as Simon said it sort of opens up a whole universe including many of our allies.
The only check on that because it has no limits built into it as it's articulated is America's overextension right now. So, my only skepticism about going after Syria is that we can't. We are utterly overextended. Already the murmurs from the military families, which is a very, very important constituency in this country, about, you know, wanting to bring their boys home. Can you imagine going into Syria when Iraq is undone, when Afghanistan is, you know, sort of descending into greater and greater chaos by the day?
SCHAMA: There's been a real aversion to reasonable limits, you know, and you think about the intelligent policymakers American policymakers in the 20th century, you know, in Roosevelt's, in Truman's time there was some sense of what you had to do and then what you can do and what you could legitimately do as well. This is so much about juicing the electorate, you know, juicing the constituency. It's incredibly irresponsible.
MOYERS: Earlier this week the President moved to local television anchors to get his message out. Look at this little piece of tape.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP]
ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning, everybody. I'm Roop Raj.
ANCHOR: And I'm Margaret Orr. Thanks for being with us. Well, in the news President Bush wants to set the record straight.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm mindful of the filter through which some news travels. And sometimes you just have to go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the people.
[END VIDEO CLIP]
MOYERS: He's going to the people through local television. Will it work?
SCHAMA: Tactically, a very smart move, I think, actually. I wish it weren't. But it is actually the sense in which the presence is extremely good on a folksy sort of level that often a media which doesn't want anything longer or more complicated than a one minute sound byte about "How bad are things or how good are things?"
That local news, you know, has to always trade-off, you know, a mugging in a city place with the rescue of a family of kittens or something. It actually… it's a very smart PR move. But that's not good for the country. I mean, obviously no politician is going to get elected saying, "I'm gonna bring you the maximum gloom and the maximum possible hard time." They're not. But actually we do need a lot of difficult truths.
MOYERS: Let's close on something very important to you. Amnesty International said thousands of people have been detained worldwide in the context of the war on terror, including several hundred… 600 or so being held at Guantanamo Bay. Arbitrary arrests prolong secret detention even, in some cases, torture. And that this is undermining international standards of human rights. Is that the price that has to be paid to thwart a shadowy, faceless peril?
POWER: Look, the balancing act between liberty on the one hand and security on the other is notoriously taxing, excruciating, impossible to get right. But the thing that we have to embed into our system to do the balancing act is some kind of adversarial process. And I think what's most disturbing about the detentions, especially those in Guantanamo, is the presumption that we have the capacity to kind of look out for both sides, that we have the capacity to internalize, in a way, the framers of this country put a Bill of Rights in place because they knew they couldn't trust themselves. They knew that the tyranny of the majority would run amuck of that the urgent would always trump the important.
In Guantanamo we are operating precisely hostile to that notion. I talked to a U.S. official the other day and he said, you know, he felt much better because he's been down… he talked to the interrogators in Guantanamo, the supervisors. And I said, "You know, great. What makes you feel so much better?" He said, "Well, I really think he's trying to hear both sides of the story."
We trust ourselves to be the check within the, you know, the operator. In lieu of putting somebody in place who might actually be able to translate, you know, articulate the needs and the justice claims of people who have been locked up, we are trusting ourselves to do the balancing act. And we know from history, you know, from a rich history, 300 years of history that this is very dangerous and that too many innocent people, I think, get left behind.
MOYERS: The paradox is that there have been some serious security breaches at Guantanamo Bay.
SCHAMA: If we're gonna do this we might as well have chaplains, you know, working for the Jihad.
MOYERS: Simon Schama, Samantha Power, next year in Fenway Park.
SCHAMA: Promises, promises.
POWER: So they say.