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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour and Company. Here’s what’s coming up.
Is the U.S. government under attack from within? And is what we don’t imagine the most harmful to our health? That is the alarming message of
“The Fifth Risk,” the new book by brilliant nonfiction writer, Michael Lewis.
Plus, from the United States to Europe, the rise of illiberal democracy. The E.U. accuses Hungary of targeting immigrants and the rule of law. I
put this to Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto.
And one year after a heavily armed gunman massacred 58 music fans in Las Vegas. Our Michel Martin talks to Larry Ward, a gun rights activist who
wants to see more guns in more places.
Welcome to the program. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
And today, we’re looking at how governments respond to crises, whether it’s in Indonesia where the death toll from the devastating earthquake and
tsunami is about 1,400 and aid is only just starting to reach the hardest area after six days.
Critics say the Indonesian government’s early warning system is woefully inadequate, underfunded and poorly maintained. And this week, reporters
have been on, the ground talking about how that made those poor civilians there sitting ducks. They simply weren’t warned about what was about to
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Trump administration is embarked on a systematic project of dismantling some of its the most critical government
functions, that is according to a new book, “The Fifth Risk,” by the best- selling write, Michael Lewis.
The book is a red flag, warning us of the dangers of apathetic government, unqualified or uninterested in anticipating and thus, being able to avoid a
whole panoply of disasters. And Michael Lewis joins me now from Washington to talk about all of this.
Welcome to the program.
MICHAEL LEWIS, AUTHOR, “THE FIFTH RISK”: Well, thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, it couldn’t be a better time actually because of what we see in the United States but also, we have a real disaster in Indonesia that
points out what happens when government institutions are hollowed out. I know you look particularly at the United States. But just tell me what you
mean by “The Fifth Risk”? How was that coined and what actually does it mean?
LEWIS: You know, I’ll tell you how it was coined. I started by — the story really starts with the Trump administration not bothering to engage
in a transition with the Obama administration. They were meant to have, you know, hundreds of people flooding into the Federal government after the
election to receive briefings that, you know, had been a year in the works, and it was essentially the best course ever created in how the Federal
government ran, waiting for them, and they didn’t show.
I mean, didn’t show to the point where they were like little finger sandwiches out on the table that didn’t get eaten and parking spots that
didn’t filled. And so, months — you know, I — when I have learned that this had happened a couple of months after the election, I went and started
wondering around the Federal government, asking like what were these briefings and could I have them and could I — just to find out kind of
what they didn’t know.
And what emerges is really a picture of a couple of things. One is, you can think of a government, in a lot of ways think of it, but the way I’m
framing it is it’s a portfolio of risks, many of them catastrophic, many of them kind of very long-term in nature, that are being managed.
And the White House — so, to get to the title, the White House had prepared a table top exercise to be engaged in between the outgoing cabinet
officers of the Obama administration and the incoming cabinet officers of the Trump administration. And they planned — they — what would happen in
the following instances, we’re going to scheme out how you’re going to react to pandemic, a terrorist attack of some sort, a natural disaster of
some sort and a cyber-attack.
And I was talking to the person who planned it. I said, “Well, if there was a fifth, what would you have done?” And she went blank on me. And I
thought, that’s the issue. The issue isn’t the pandemic or the cyber- attack or the terrorist attack, the things that are vivid in your mind and that you’re already kind of thinking about. It’s — there’s a whole —
there’s panoply of other risks the government manages that no one is paying any attention to and it can blow up in your face at any time.
And it’s sort of like the thing you don’t imagine is the thing that’s going to come and bite you. And they’re not imaging, they’re not — the Trump
administration is basically — they’re either actively dismantling the government in places or more commonly, just neglecting it.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, there are stats. And by the way, before I get to these stats about what you call neglecting it, these transitions that
you talked about, you mentioned just between Obama and Trump, but are they traditional? Doesn’t every outgoing and incoming are (INAUDIBLE) up until
know? Don’t they have those transitions?
LEWIS: They do. No, no. This was — I hope I didn’t make this seem more normal than it is. The — they’re actually — not only have they had them
in the past, laws have been past in the last five or six years that require the outgoing president to prepare meticulously and require all the
candidates of the major parties or the two candidates of major parties, I’m sorry, to prepare — to receive the government.
And so, what is expected is that literally, the day after the election, that there will be hundreds of people meeting with hundreds of people to
explain what is largely a technical matter. I mean, you’re go into the Center for Disease Control and it is not an ideological conversation, it is
when we had this outbreak of the Zika virus and this is how we dealt with it and why it didn’t become a pandemic. And this is — you know, you may
disagree with what we did but you need to know what we did because you’re going to be running this enterprise.
And they — Trump had actually — a transition effort in place because he was required to have it in place when he was elected. But the day after
the election, he fired everybody. He fired hundreds of people. And so, they didn’t have anybody to go in and learn about what they were going to
manage. And this is, I think — and this is the beginning of a lot of the problems that they have experienced and that they will experience.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I’m going to get to some of these, you know, who’s running some of these departments in a moment. But just to back up what
you’re saying, there are government statistics, “The Washington Post” track key administration appointments and notes that of the 709 of them that
require Senate confirmation, 361 have been confirmed by the Senate, 194 have been nominated and 152 have no nominee at all.
And then, of course, we do have these amazing pictures, for instance President Trump about a year ago cutting red tape. I mean, this is kind of
what he ran on, it’s kind of what he does and what he’s proud to do and what his voters apparently like.
But I do want to ask you to the point you make of neglect or disinterest, being unqualified, you remember very, very clearly, as everybody does, that
famous moment in a debate in 2011 when Rick Perry could’t remember the Department of Energy as one of the agencies that he actually would have
wanted to eliminate. Now, of course, he runs it.
Why is the Department of Energy so important? Give us an idea of what it actually, you know, determines.
LEWIS: So, it manages the stockpile of nuclear weapons, among other things. That’s the headline. I mean, the large part of — the bulk of his
budget is in assembling, testing nuclear weapons and also cleaning up nuclear waste sites. I mean, which is an enormous expenditure.
But think about this for a minute, the level of ignorance required to make the statement he made in a debate, that he wants to cut — he wants to
eliminate entirely the Department of Energy, clearly doesn’t know what it is. But — and he can’t remember its name. But he is the governor of
Texas at the time.
And the nuclear weapons that are being assembled under the Department of Energy’s aegis are being assembled in the Texas panhandle. And it is
amazing he doesn’t know any of this. And he — when he finally collides with it, this is what happens over and over and this isn’t just a Trump
phenomenon, this is an American governance phenomenon, that these outsiders who don’t know very much about the Federal government claim it’s wasteful
and lazy and filled with slow bureaucrats, and the minute they get to it and realize what it’s doing, they go, “Oh, my God. We can’t cut that.”
And that’s what Perry did.
LEWIS: Now, the problem was probably not here, the nuclear bomb is going to go when it shouldn’t go off, that probably the physicists in the
department have that under control. But there’s this whole other wing, which is essentially basic scientific research for the long-term future. I
mean, that most of the — like all — the entire solar power energy industry and the wind power energy has its start in research projects that
— in the Department of Energy, and that’s being totally neglected and Trump’s trying to cut it.
AMANPOUR: So, you make a lot of interesting points and some you’ll agree it happens, you know, between administrations no matter how they are. You
know, they’re neophytes, some of them are industry lobbyists who get appointed to various department heads, you’ve got people loyal to the
president who get appointed. I mean, it’s not that new although some of them you point out are quite egregious.
But what you mentioned there was this growing rift between government and the citizens and the fact that in many parts of the country, for instance,
on mayor basically said that when it comes to rural voters, sorry, I’m just trying to get the quote here, you know, that they just don’t want to be
credited with government — know, the mayor just didn’t want to be credited with, you know, some sort of lifesaving and important things that are
coming from the government even though it really helps.
LEWIS: So, this is — OK. This is another point that’s original with me but it’s a curious, curious feature of American society right now. That
the very people who are most dependent on the government have voted for a man who is most hostile to it.
So, rural American, one of the patterns in the last election was that the more rural the place, the fewer people there were, the more heavily it went
for Donald Trump. And there’s a department in the government, which I write about in the book, Department of Agriculture, which really could be
called just the Department of Rural because you drive around America, you drive through a small town and there’s a nice firehouse and a nice school
and water and power and all of that, almost all of that’s coming right from the Department of Agriculture. That is not something they built
And what happens is, the Department of — inside that department is a 200 and something billion-dollar bank that makes these loans to rural
communities. And when those people go from the Federal government with the million-dollar loan to build X or Y, the local politician will say, “Could
you please take that big check that says United States Treasury — or from the Federal government out of the frame because we don’t want anybody —
our people could hostile to the idea the government — of the Federal government being present here.”
So, there is — it is this juncture between what the people expect from and get from government and their feelings about the government. And this
about peculiar to Trump. This has been boiling in this country for a long time.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. And I just want to obviously — you know, that there will be people in the Trump camp and all of those people who want smaller
government and it’s a big rallying cry in the United States, particularly in the conservative wing in the United States. There is some pushback.
I mean, “The Wall Street Journal” of your book said the following, “Isn’t it likely that voters elected Mr. Trump precisely because he intended not
to follow the Obama administration’s precedents but to reverse them. Didn’t voters expect him to disrupt Washington’s business as-usual way.
Surely that is a more plausible reason, that incompetence, for why Trump people didn’t ask for briefings.” And then they add, “Maybe you’re
overrating the risk because Trump has been in office for almost two years and the government functions.”
LEWIS: Yes. He is — you know, the government will function for a little while. And the — no matter who is there because there’s a vast civil
service that’s in place. However, is the government — how well is the government functioning? And we have, whatever, 6,000 children in cages on
the border with Mexico in part because the government has lost track of whose — which parents belong to which child. The internal revenue service
just shut down on Tax Day because the computer system collapsed.
I mean, there — you can see pockets, you can see problems emerging. Now, the idea that this is some sort of systemic planned dismantling of the
government that’s going on, there’s nothing systemic or organized about it. If there’s a pattern to what the Trump people have done and who he’s put in
and who he’s nominated, it’s narrow financial interests coming into the government to exploit it for narrow financial purposes.
So, across the government, for example, and explain — please explain to me “Wall Street Journal” why this would be useful. The pulling down of data
from government Web sites, especially data related to climate change. I mean, that’s the fossil fuels industry speaking.
LEWIS: The National Weather Service, which is a critical, a critical enterprise. I mean, it’s like why we know hurricanes are coming and where
they’re coming. He’s put in charge of that or tried to put in charge of that, the CEO of a company called AccuWeather who has campaigned for the
last 20 years to try to prevent the National Weather Service from communicating with the American people so AccuWeather can make money doing
AMANPOUR: Oh, wow.
LEWIS: There is no — this is not — like — I mean, this may be an oxymoron, an intelligent libertarian movement, but let’s say there was such
a thing was possible, that’s not what this is.
AMANPOUR: So, let me remind everyone of your previous work that raised all sorts of alarm bell, “The Big Short,” around the financial crisis,
obviously. And also, reminder everybody that you used to be a trader. We have a lovely picture of you in your youth. But I want to play the
soundbite that’s quite critical from the move. Let’s just play that to end off with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: There’s going to be a bailout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they had to. Like paper markets with (INAUDIBLE).
CARELL: They knew.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cash would have (INAUDIBLE), they had to backstop this.
CARELL: They knew the taxpayers would bail them out. They weren’t being stupid. They just didn’t care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, because they are crooks. But at least we’re going to see someone go to jail. Right? We’re going to have to break up the
banks. I mean, the party is over.
CARELL: I don’t know. I don’t know. I have a feeling that in a few years people are going to be doing what they always do in the economy tax, they
would be blaming immigrants and poor people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, we have 30 seconds left. That was your Cassandra moment there. What do you take away from that related to today in “The Fifth
LEWIS: I think we’re living with the political consequences of the financial crisis. I think that the way this — that crisis was
internalized by the — not just the American people, but across the globe is that elites have essentially rigged the system.
And if you want to say — if there was any kind of piffy summary of the Trump movement, it’s an attack on elites.
AMANPOUR: All right. Really, really fascinating actually. You took on the Federal bureaucracy. Who would have guessed that would make such an
interesting book. Michael Lewis, thank you so much. Author of “The Fifth Risk.”
Now, if government workers inside the United States feel a little anxious and off-balance as we just been saying, many people I’ve talked to in
countries around the world are feeling much the same way. That’s because of the rise of so-called illiberal democracy and President Trump making no
secret of his fondness for those strong men leaders.
This phenomenon is especially and proudly present in Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He’s the populous nationalist who won a third
landslide victory this past April. And he, in fact, coined the term illiberal democracy.
He has locked horns with the E.U. leaders over his draconian immigration policies and clamped down on democratic intuition. In fact, earlier this
month in an unprecedented move, the E.U. parliament censured Orban’s government for breaching E.U. values and began a process that could suspend
Hungary’s voting rights.
Now, Peter Szijjarto is Hungary’s foreign minister. And when I spoke to him in New York, I asked him about his government’s affinity for the Trump
administration and vice versa.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, welcome to the program.
PETER SZIJJARTO, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you so much for the invitation. I’m honored.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you, you obviously have a close relationship with the Trump administration, would you say? Does your government support the
SZIJJARTO: Well, we are not American citizens, so I don’t think it doesn’t matter if we support him or not because it doesn’t make sense. But if you
ask me the question whether a political relationship is better currently compared to the Democrat administration, yes, it is better.
AMANPOUR: President Trump has an immigrant asylum and refugee program that seems a lot like yours. What do you make of the United States at historic
lows in their admission of refugees to this country, like 30,000 they put limits on? Of all the rhetoric that President Trump uses towards whether
it’s immigrants south of the border, the separating of parents and children, obviously his rhetoric to Muslim nations, to African nations, I
don’t need to repeat the slurs. But in general, how does your government assess that and evaluate it?
SZIJJARTO: What I can tell you is that we consider it as a matter of sovereignty, how a country deals with the issue of migration. We
absolutely respect if a country — if a nation would like to make the decisions about whom to allow to come to the territory of that given
country and whom not. We absolutely respect the rights of the nations to make a decision with whom they would like to live together and what kind of
country they want to be created of their own country.
So, that’s why Hungary make our migration policy, for example. Then we expect the same kind of approach towards us, to respect our decision.
Because we never judged countries with a different type of migration policy until there’s no pressure on us to follow them.
AMANPOUR: Now, the problem, of course, is that your migration policy is under the microscope, certainly within the E.U. to which you belong and the
E.U. has certain rules and regulations and policies of tolerance and asylum and acceptance, et cetera.
You have said that Hungary will never be a country of migrants. And your prime minister has talked about, for instance, he said this, “We don’t see
these people as Muslim refugees. We see them as Muslim invaders.” He’s talking obviously to the waves of Syrian war refugees and others who have
come in fear for their lives. He sees them as invaders.
He’s even alluded to an epidemic, a disease, that they could bring a disease or be terrorists, all of them, potential terrorists. This has
caused a huge amount of controversy and negative reaction around Europe and other parts of the world to your country.
SZIJJARTO: Look, our country has direct experience back from 2015, how these migratory flows look like. So, we don’t speak about this issue what
we have — as we had seen it on television or as we had heard from the news. We have experienced it firsthand.
As there were 400,000 illegal migrants marching through our country, disrespecting our rules and regulations entirely, disrespecting the way we
lived, occupying open and public areas, demanding issues which are absolutely not covered by international law.
These people came through at least four or five safe countries until they reached Hungary and then violated our border. My question is, what is the
legal or immoral ground for anyone to cross, to violate a border between two peaceful countries? These people came through Serbia, Croatia,
Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, all peaceful and safe countries.
So, it’s not a fundamental human right that you wake up in the morning, you pick a country where you would like to live in, like Germany or Sweden.
And in order to get there, you violate series of borders. This is not the way it should work out.
AMANPOUR: Let me just first try to get your feeling about this.
AMANPOUR: Do you agree that they are invaders? Do you have any respect for the international right to asylum and refugee rights?
SZIJJARTO: No. We comply with all —
AMANPOUR: First the invaders, are they invaders?
SZIJJARTO: Yes, yes. Actually, you see them, they come, they violate our border, they disrespect any kinds of regulations, they are not ready to
cooperate with your local authorities, they attack your police, they cause injuries to your police people. And the second part of your question, if I
may just — because I think it’s a very important question, that whether we comply with the international regulations, yes, we do. Absolutely and
AMANPOUR: Many of these people, as you correctly point out, were trying to get to other countries.
AMANPOUR: Hungary was a transit place.
AMANPOUR: They didn’t really want to stay in your country.
AMANPOUR: One of the big problems is that Europe had members of the E.U. refused a sort of quota system.
AMANPOUR: Refused — including your country.
AMANPOUR: Refused to take their fair burden sharing responsibility.
SZIJJARTO: No. I don’t agree with this part of the sentence.
AMANPOUR: Which of it, the fair?
SZIJJARTO: Yes. Because we took part in this. We have been taking part in the solidarity as we have been spending _1 billion in the last short
period of time on protecting the external border of the Schengen Area of the European Union.
And yes, we do not agree with the quota system. Because quota system is, number one, violating sovereignty of countries because it is you, you have
to make a decision whom you’re allow to come to your country. And number two, quota system is an invitation, is an encourage for further migratory
base. And this is something that we reject.
AMANPOUR: So, as I try to pursue exactly what your government is trying to be, your prime minister, Prime Minister Orban, has repeatedly said that his
main aim is to preserve “Christian Hungary” and you’ve said, “We don’t accept that multiculturalism is a value by itself.” Less than 2 percent of
Hungarians were born outside the country. It’s weird that kind of language. It’s very out of step with —
SZIJJARTO: No, it’s honest.
AMANPOUR: — the work.
SZIJJARTO: It’s honest.
AMANPOUR: It’s honest. OK. It’s honest from your perspective.
AMANPOUR: But what are you saying that anything other than White Christians into your country are not accepted?
SZIJJARTO: No one said that.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.
SZIJJARTO: No one (INAUDIBLE). Yes.
AMANPOUR: Excuse me.
AMANPOUR: Your prime minister did say it, a Christian Hungary —
SZIJJARTO: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: — deserve a Christian Hungary.
SZIJJARTO: Yes. Because we are — we have been a Christian country for a millennium and I don’t really understand why is it bad news that we don’t
want to change that and I don’t understand why is it bad or why is it unacceptable that we would like to stick to our history, to our culture, to
our heritage, to our religion.
You know, in this case, I can tell you that we never judged other countries which had different kind of policies. We never judged countries who said
that multiculturalism is more valuable than the homogenous society, for example.
But let — please, let’s leave it to certain countries, let’s leave it to us to make decision, whether we think multiculturalism is more valuable
than a homogenous society. I understand we don’t agree on that, but I respect that you have a different position and I’m not going judge you on
that. I’ll find you a very sympathetic person, independent from this. So, I will never judge you. But I expect the same that we think this way.
And please, let’s leave it to the sovereign decision of a nation, how it would like to continue its life in its own country. So, yes, we think that
a country sticking to its heritage, its culture, its religions is as valuable as another one which thinks that multiculturalism is better than
AMANPOUR: I fully understand what your prime minister and your government thinks. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of it and the underlying
facts. You claim to have an immigration problem or you don’t want these invaders, sorry.
AMANPOUR: Let’s put it — you don’t want these invaders.
SZIJJARTO: The illegal migrants, we don’t want, yes. Sure.
AMANPOUR: Your prime minister call them invaders.
SZIJJARTO: Yes, yes. OK. I agree.
AMANPOUR: Yet, you don’t actually have an immigration problem, you don’t have an asylum problem. You have a population of 10 million or so with
less than 4,000 refugees or people seeking to migrate and some of those seeking asylum. You don’t actually have a numbers problem and you haven’t
declared a massive crime problem or a terrorism problem
So, I guess my question is, again, why? What is the basis? Is it just cultural? Is it just fortress Hungary?
SZIJJARTO: Because if we did not resist or reject, then we would have these problems.
AMANPOUR: So, essentially, you, Hungary, are trying to be the firewall. Is that what you are saying?
SZIJJARTO: Oh, actually, we are protecting our border. We are complying with our obligations. Because, look, we are members of the Schengen Area.
You know Schengen Area?
AMANPOUR: Yes. That’s what I was going to get to.
SZIJJARTO: Yes. We are member of the Schengen Area. The Schengen quotes says very clearly, if you are a country located at the external border,
like we are, then you have to comply with the following obligations. Number one, you have to make sure that your border is only crossed through
the border crossing points. Number two, only with proper documentation. And number three, only during opening hours. And we have to comply with
that and we do.
AMANPOUR: B there are other E.U. rules that the E.U. believes you are in violation of, which go to all sorts of issues like rule of law, tolerance
and all sorts of things. The E.U. is currently proceeding with Article 7which could invoke disciplinary action and the suspension of some E.U.
membership rights. I mean, how does Hungary feel being sanctioned by the E.U. itself?
SZIJJARTO: We are not.
AMANPOUR: Well, they’re talking about it.
SZIJJARTO: We are not.
AMANPOUR: You know the process is ongoing.
SZIJJARTO: I have. Of course I do.
AMANPOUR: Well, what if you were then?
SZIJJARTO: I have — you know —
AMANPOUR: How would you feel if you were?
SZIJJARTO: I am among the very few ones, I guess, who read that report. It has 69 points putting allegations on Hungary. Out of each 13 points are
agreed upon by the European commission and the Hungarian government. Agreed, period. 19 are under discussion and 37 are just lies.
Now, the government of Czech Republic, the prime minister himself, and the government of Poland made it very clear immediately.
AMANPOUR: Well, they were like-minded.
SZIJJARTO: They would veto any kind of sanctions against Hungary. And you know that it requires a unanimous decision and you know that the same kind
of procedure is going against — going on against Poland currently and we will veto any kind of sanctions against the Polish (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: I’m going to get to that in a moment because —
AMANPOUR: — you’re all fairly like-minded in your policies.
SZIJJARTO: Yes, except for Europe.
AMANPOUR: But I just —
SZIJJARTO: Yes, yes. For sure.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I want to ask you a question first though about this immigration before go on.
AMANPOUR: I mean, we were all somewhat shocked and we reported it when in June of this year your country passed legislation which criminalizes
lawyers and activists who even seek to help asylum seekers. Anyone charged could face up to a year in prison. And of course, that legislation was
condemned by the E.U. and the United Nations. You’re here at the United Nations right now.
I mean, it is kind of shocking on a basic human level to punish ordinary activists, civilians, lawyers who want to help some of these poor people
who are fleeing in danger of their lives and security.
SZIJJARTO: You know the problem is that I’m pretty sure those who has written this statement on your paper have never read this law. That’s a
AMANPOUR: So, what is the law then? Do you not criminalize it?
SZIJJARTO: No, no. And people who criticize Hungary on such kind of issues, I always ask the question, “Man, have you read what you are
speaking about?” Because in this law — do you know what’s in this law? In this law it is said that if you promote violation of the border of
Hungary, if you promote illegal ways to come to Hungary, if you promote opportunities regarding asylum, which are against the law, which are
without a legal basis, then you face consequences because it’s a national security issue.
SZIJJARTO: And I wonder —
AMANPOUR: Let’s say somebody arrives in your country —
SZIJJARTO: And I wonder what would happen here in the United States if I or anyone else would promote the way of illegal entrance into United
States. Is that a crime here? Yes, it is. Yes, it is.
AMANPOUR: You’ve seen what happened at the border here and there’s a huge backlash and the president has to — has had to retract his zero-tolerance
policy, which was incredibly draconian and included separated.
SZIJJARTO: But if I come back to the source —
AMANPOUR: But I share — but I want to come back to something —
SZIJJARTO: But (INAUDIBLE) if I come back to source. So, this is the overall problem with the — with all the allegations on Hungary that you
put forward such kind statement. It has an impact.
AMANPOUR: I’m going to let you have your say in a second.
SZIJJARTO: And the problem is this is not in the law, you know.
AMANPOUR: I’m going to let you — I’m going to play a soundbite of what you said —
AMANPOUR: — on this issue —
AMANPOUR: — to the United Nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SZIJJARTO: It is obvious that the U.N. officials spreading these lies about Hungary are biased, pro-migration officials. But I have to tell you
that Hungary will never be, never be a country of migrants. We will always protect the security of the Hungarian people. We will never allow one
single illegal migrant to enter the territory of our country and we will always protect our own border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So in that regard, you addressed what you consider the problem with those who oppose you. I guess the reason why we’re really interested
in having you on is because you’re emblematic of what’s happening in parts of Europe right now. You just mentioned the sort of alliance between the
governments of Poland and Czech Republic.
SZIJJARTO: And Slovakia.
AMANPOUR: And Slovakia so half right and yourself, even though I misspoke. There is this growing phenomenon of a liberal democracy which is what your
prime minister coined that term. Now, that sends chills through the hearts of many people who believe that either democracy or autocracy. Tell us
what illiberal democracy is as you see it. Because the press, as far as we can see, are victims of illiberal democracy.
They get — in many parts they get pushed back on some of this tolerance in terms of migration. What is illiberal democracy and why is it a good
SZIJJARTO: Thank you very much for asking because I can explain what he said because it was pretty much mischaracterized and has been
mischaracterized. So what he said was that we are faced with a phenomenon that when it is not the liberals to bring on the election, then it is
immediately considered as not a democracy.
I give you one example. We won the latest elections in April. For the first time, it’s a constitutional majority, 49.6 percent of all the votes
went on us with a record turnout and the record support. Hundreds of thousands of votes, we have more than all other parties in parliament
together. So what was the reaction of European Union? For example, many many ministers in European Union Institutions that the Hungarian people are
not smart enough to make a decision about their own future.
That is what we call illiberal because immediately after, it’s not the mainstream liberals or anyone to win, then it’s considered immediately as
not a democracy. And my question is, why do you have to say the words in front of democracy? What you say about Christian democracy for example is
that (INAUDIBLE), then what we consider illiberal democracy —
AMANPOUR: But what is illiberal? Your prime minister —
SZIJJARTO: That’s what I said.
AMANPOUR: No, no. What is it? What is — as far as –
SZIJJARTO: It is —
AMANPOUR: How do you explain —
SZIJJARTO: It is a democracy, then it is not the liberal parties to win.
AMANPOUR: But you do act as if the opposition is somehow illegitimate.
SZIJJARTO: No, I don’t say that. I just say that you have to be balanced and you have to listen to the government as well, not only to opposition
when you dislike the government, you know.
AMANPOUR: One of the more serious charges and I’m afraid it is a very serious charge is anti-semitism. As you know, your prime minister has been
accused of stoking anti-semitism through the way he’s dealing with George Soros and his praise of the World War II leader Nicholas Horsley. He was a
After meeting Benjamin Netanyahu this year though, Prime Minister Orban pledged zero tolerance on anti-semitism in Hungary. Do you accept the
criticism? And are you going to enact zero tolerance on anti-semitism?
SZIJJARTO: We have announced zero tolerance on anti-semitism years ago and we practice that. And we are proud —
AMANPOUR: But do you feel the need —
SZIJJARTO: No, I tell you —
AMANPOUR: — to promise civilian, to Prime Minister of Israel?
SZIJJARTO: No. I tell you we are proud on our track record regarding anti-semitism. We are a country which has the biggest Jewish community in
Budapest in Central Europe. We are a country where the Jewish community has a renaissance in this cultural life. We are a country, we’re the
biggest synagogue of Europe and one of the biggest Catholic cathedrals of Europe are within walking distance. We are a country which is going to
host the Maccabi Games next year. We are a country —
AMANPOUR: Just to make sure what they are, they are the Israeli and Jewish Olympics.
SZIJJARTO: Yes, right, basically. We are the country that (INAUDIBLE) was born. We are —
AMANPOUR: That’s why people are concern.
SZIJJARTO: We are the country which put into the Penal Code that denial of Holocaust must be punished. And then putting such kind of allegations at
us is I think, you know, it’s much more than acceptable.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is. These are serious allegations. Do you regret then the government’s attacks and slurs against George Soros which looked very
much like they were using traditional what you call dog whistle, anti- Semitic terminology or is that just political? And because —
SZIJJARTO: I reject that.
SZIJJARTO: I reject that. We have —
AMANPOUR: But then was it political because he was supporting the opposition?
SZIJJARTO: No, no. We have a very serious debate to George Soros, a very serious one but this debate has nothing to do with his religion. This
debate has to do with the contradiction of the visions about the future of Iraq. [13:35:00] His vision about the future of Iraq is totally different
than ours. He would like to see Europe in a post-national, post-Christian phase.
You know, their borders don’t count, their national identity is pushed back, their migrants are being allowed at least one million a year. Our
vision is totally different. He called my prime minister a maniac. He called our country a mafia state. So my question is that if he attacks us
like that with money, good media, refunding opposition or at least NGO s in the country, why shouldn’t we have the right to react and say that no, no,
we have a totally different concept and we want our concept to win and not yours, Mr. Soros. And it has nothing to do with his religion, nothing.
AMANPOUR: So do you regret some of the terminology that was used then, whether it was directly from the government or —
SZIJJARTO: By whom?
AMANPOUR: Well, it was there —
SZIJJARTO: By whom? I can be responsible for the — for what we, the government — what we as a government has said and we don’t care about his
AMANPOUR: And finally, Hungary is a beautiful country. Budapest is a fabulous capital. You have world-renowned food, world-renowned culture,
music. It’s a great little jewel and it also stood up in a way that taught the rest of Europe, you know, against the Soviets and it was crashed at one
point. It just seems that things are getting way too authoritarian and people can’t figure out why this is happening in Hungary of all places
which should know better.
SZIJJARTO: OK. I can tell you one thing. I really do hope that you will make some time in the very near future and come.
AMANPOUR: I have been.
SZIJJARTO: I’ll ask you. I’ll ask you. And you will look around and you will see that this country is really developing. This country loves the
guests. This is not without reason that the number of tourists increase in a very rapid way. It’s a politically stable country. We have leadership.
We have a strong leader definitely which I look at as a value. We have a very strong mandate from the people.
Imagine, we have one free continuous elections with constitutional majority. I mean why do you consider it as authoritarian? It is very
democratic because we have not won these two first majorities in a lottery, we’ve only based on the view of the people. And please, don’t look at the
Hungarian people as if they were not smart enough to make a decision about their own.
AMANPOUR: Did I say that?
SZIJJARTO: No, no, no. Generally speaking, not you personally. How it comes that we spent eight years in office and then we won another landslide
victory than most votes ever? That might have a reason and the reason might be that the people are satisfied and the people want us to continue.
AMANPOUR: So given all of that what you just said, would you then agree with the description by the E.U.’s foreign policy chief when I just sort of
asked her about the rise of populism and nationalism across Europe and I was kind of including your country and others. I didn’t mention your
country but this is what she said to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEDERICA MOGHERINI, FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, EUROPEAN UNION: I wouldn’t call it a populist movement. I think we have to call things with their name.
It’s a far-right, extreme-right political movement, parties, traditional parties that have very little of unconventional and very traditional
extreme-right positions, not only Europe but other parts in the world as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Would you agree?
SZIJJARTO: No. I absolutely disagree. She is a far-left politician so I am not surprised her saying such kind of things. You know, we are a very
true Christian Democratic Party in Hungary with a very wide support. And I have to reject such kind of statements because they basically form out
against the people. Because with these statements, she portrays people not being smart in nature enough to make this —
AMANPOUR: No, no. She doesn’t say anything about not smart.
SZIJJARTO: I know her very well.
AMANPOUR: She says what they choose.
SZIJJARTO: I know her very well. And I have to tell that she’s far-left so I’m not surprised what she said. I’m not surprised.
AMANPOUR: I was going to ask one philosophical question.
SZIJJARTO: Please, please.
AMANPOUR: But I don’t think is going to go anywhere.
SZIJJARTO: Let’s try.
AMANPOUR: There is — one thing we can agree with I think is that politics have moved from the center and there are the extremes on both sides. And
it’s, you know, the question is how is that going to evolve because it seems like — I use the word tribalism because they even talk about
politics here, everybody in their tribes. Tribalism is not a pejorative. It’s just it is. It’s happening, isn’t it? It’s even happening in Europe.
SZIJJARTO: Well, what I can tell you is the following. That hypochristian political correctness have been around for too long time. And people have
a hunger for honest and straightforward speech. This is what I see in Europe. So if you put into consideration the last four national elections
in Europe, for example Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, you see that those parties gain the most support who were credible in what they said,
[13:40:00] who are credible in their track record and who got rid of these hypochristian political correctness and named things as they are.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Szijjarto, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
SZIJJARTO: I appreciate the invitation. Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: On that note, we go back to the United States where this week a year is marked since the shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people.
Then, of course, there was the Parkland massacre in February which led to mass protests led by the surviving students.
Our next guest tonight belongs to the camp that thinks the solution to gun violence is more guns. He is Larry Ward, the chief marketing officer of
gun crowd funder Gun Dynamics. He sat down with our Michel Martin.
MICHEL MARTIN: Larry Ward, thank you so much for joining us.
LARRY WARD, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, GUN DYNAMICS: Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: So let’s just start with Gun Dynamics. You’re grazing money to do what?
WARD: We’re helping gun inventors and gun manufacturers raise money to bring products to market. Really interesting products, new inventions in
the gun space.
MARTIN: And what?
WARD: We have a couple of — we have one we just closed. It’s a trigger for the ST1911. It’s an adjustable trigger, helps, you know, keep the —
MARTIN: Different people can fire it and be comfortable, is that it?
MARTIN: Like adjustable —
WARD: Absolutely. Right. Just adjustable triggers for the finger length. Our founder Larry Lopata took this to a crowdfunding platform and got
kicked off and they went to another crowdfunding cap platform and got kicked off. And eventually he, you know, I can honestly say we need to
build a crowdfunding platform for the guns.
MARTIN: So do your own thing?
MARTIN: So the goal, it seems to me, is to make more guns available to more people. Is that right?
WARD: Well, it’s to — this is actually to help bring gun technology and, you know, bring technology from an accuracy perspective, from a scope, from
hunting, from — you know, there are lots of different products. And, you know, quite frankly, the inventors don’t have access to capital to bring
these things to market.
MARTIN: So, you know, the reason I’m curious about why you say that is that there are what, some 300 million guns already in circulation in the
United States. So it doesn’t seem to me that there’s any shortage of guns here.
WARD: No, but there’s not a shortage of knives either. You know, occasionally you want to buy a new set of steak knives or there’s not a
shortage of cars but you buy a new car occasionally. So, you know, and there are people turning, you know, 18, 19, 20 who want to arm themselves.
So there’s always a need for having new, inventive, intelligent guns.
MARTIN: Most industries try to meet multiple demands of the market, particularly something like the auto industry, right. The auto industry is
always trying to come up with ways to make driving more fun and more sexy and more exciting but they also try to meet the demand for safety. I don’t
see your company doing that. I don’t see the industry doing that.
WARD: Of course —
WARD: No, no, no. That’s not true at all. I mean there — you know, there are — gun manufacturers go — as a matter of fact, if you know any
gun owner or people who manufacture guns or sell guns, safety is always on —
MARTIN: Safety for whom though? Safety for the shooter? Safety for the people around?
WARD: Safety for the shooter, safety for people who surround them. Part of the problem is you’ve got a lot of people with good ideas coming up with
different ways to bring products and services to market, whether it be recreational, whether it be hunting, whether it be safety, right. And
these — the banks and the financial institutions, particularly the bigger banks that have very liberal boardrooms are not giving them access to take
these inventions to market.
MARTIN: Well, give me a sense though of what sense of responsibility you feel to the rest of the public.
MARTIN: A lot of people in this country with lots of different points of views about guns, right. And you’ve got some people who feel really
strongly about their guns and feel that they’re an important part of their sense of self, their citizenship, their responsibilities. You’ve got other
people who are desperately afraid and really feel that something has kind of changed in this society where kids aren’t even able to go to school
without being, you know, without having to have like active shooter drills and being afraid of being shot. Do you feel any responsibility to meet
those citizens somewhere?
WARD: I would suggest anybody who’s afraid of guns should go out to a range, should learn how to fire a gun, should realize that it’s not as
scary as it looks. And that it can be held responsibly, it can be held lawfully, and it can be used to protect yourself and your loved ones.
MARTIN: We don’t take that approach to other things that harm people even if used correctly or incorrectly. Like opioids for example. I mean
opioids have had tremendous benefit to society but they also kill people. So we don’t just say, “You know what, this is a good thing. We’re going to
trust you to use it.” We regulate those things. We regulate all kinds of things that are a benefit to society that can also harm them.
WARD: But we don’t —
MARTIN: Why shouldn’t this be the case with guns?
WARD: We don’t have a constitutional amendment that says, “Opioid use shall not be infringed.” [13:45:00] We have a Second Amendment that is
there for a very very good reason that most people don’t truly understand.
MARTIN: Well, the Second Amendment is really — we can recite it together, shall we? You know, a well regulated Militia being necessary for the
security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. You belong to a Militia.
WARD: What it’s saying is we need a military to keep — we need a Militia to protect from invasion so it’s necessary for a free state. And the
second part of it is that’s why we need the citizens to have guns because it’s not just for, you know, for the military and for the state to have the
guns, for the government to have the guns, it’s for the citizens to keep the government in check.
You know, and for — if we, all of a sudden elect a tyrant, you know, and a tyrant goes out and starts acting tyrannical and taking away our other
rights and yelling people for political purposes or whatever it is, we have the right to remove that person by force. And we can’t do that if we don’t
have an armed society.
MARTIN: Is there any — I don’t know what word to use here. I’ll just use the word restriction on ownership or access to guns that you would be
prepared to accept?
WARD: Well, there are restrictions, you know. There’s restrictions on automatic weapons. There have been restrictions on those for, you know, a
hundred years, advocating that we overturn that. I believe that any gun that the government engages its citizens with, any weapon that the
government engages citizens with, the citizens have the right to own and possess.
And to this date, the American government has not engaged us with automatic weapons so I see no need for us to have automatic weapons. But I was
walking out here in New York City, a police officer carrying an AR15s and there’s nothing wrong with the American people using an AR15, a
MARTIN: I was looking at your Web site as I said is your newsletter as it were. And these are the recent headlines, Corporations are Diving into
Leftist Politics, Heavily Armed Illegals Cross the Border, Man Arrested in his Own Backyard. You know, most of the Go Fund Me sites that I look at
are like, “Hey, that’s great. Let’s put on this record.” Yours is very much, “They’re out to get me” like out to get you.
WARD: Well, of course, they are. The corporations are engaging leftist politics. Citibank recently released a policy that they won’t allow gun
purchases without a background check and try to advertise for a gun. Or on Google, on Facebook, on any kind of social media or Internet platform, 99
percent of them don’t let you advertise for guns or gun parts.
MARTIN: And yet somehow there are still 300 million guns in this country – –
WARD: Because there are still gun stores and they don’t know where to get them.
WARD: Right. But that doesn’t mean — no, that’s an unfair business practice, right. There are a lot of coffee shops but if only Starbucks
gets to advertise, is that unfair? That’s unfair. You can advertise gun control on Google. You can advertise gun control on Facebook and Twitter,
no problem. You can’t advertise for gun rights. You can’t advertise for gun parts or ammunition or anything else. So these businesses need to get
their message out to the people and that’s why Gun Dynamics.
MARTIN: Talk to me a little bit about yourself if you would. You’re from New York.
WARD: I’m from New York.
MARTIN: Born and raised?
WARD: Born and raised.
MARTIN: From Long Island.
WARD: Long Island.
MARTIN: Did you grow up with a gun in the house?
WARD: I did not. I actually grew up in — you know, Long Island, New York is not a big gun culture community.
MARTIN: So how did you get introduced to guns?
WARD: Well, you know what, I’m not an outdoorsman. I’m not a hunter but what got me interested in guns was the Constitution. You know, I started
looking at well, why is the second amendment here and it makes a lot of sense. We have to protect ourselves from an out of control government. We
have to protect ourselves from invaders. We have to protect ourselves from people who would want to do us harm. And, you know, guns are our tool.
MARTIN: Well, how old were you when you got your first gun?
WARD: In my 30s.
MARTIN: In your 30s.
WARD: Yes, moved out of Virginia.
MARTIN: So how come?
WARD: Why did I buy my first gun?
WARD: To protect my family.
MARTIN: If I understand it, you are a person — in fact, I think you claim credit for arming the teachers. At least that is a phrase, right.
MARTIN: As I understand the story that in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Am I right about that?
MARTIN: There was a —
WARD: There was a protest coming from —
MARTIN: Protest coming from —
WARD: And my office was in between the NRA lobby office and the RNC. And they were coming down the street screaming “Shame the NRA” two days after
Newtown and I lifted up my window because, you know, I have children, right. [13:50:00] And I don’t see school safety the way they do and
they’re screaming shame the NRA like they’re — you have signs with — you know, you have blood on your hands and stuff like that. I don’t see it
And so I lifted up the window and I screamed on the teachers because the only way to prevent the school shooting is to have armed guards or armed
teachers or armed principals. People who are — not everybody. You’re not mandating people but having people who want to be armed in a way to defend
their students, to be able to do it, not a gun free zone, to be able to defend and shoot. The principal in Newtown who bravely confronted the
shooter and was killed. If he had bravely confronted the shooter and shot him, it had been a different story.
MARTIN: So then, forgive me, because this is such an awful construction in a situation like that where there’s so much loss of life. So I’m going to
apologize in advance for our language. Whose fault was that?
WARD: Well, it’s the shooter’s fault. It’s the only person’s fault that is. You know, I’m not even going to go as far as to say that the
politicians who made it a gun free zone, it’s not their fault. It’s the shooter’s fault. It’s not a policies fault. It’s not a tools fault, it’s
the shooter’s fault.
MARTIN: You know, people make mistakes too but we don’t say, “You know what, there’s nothing I can do about that.” Like if an airplane crash, we
don’t say —
WARD: Right. But what we can do about it — there’s lots we can do.
MARTIN: How can this be safer?
WARD: So let’s make schools safer. Let’s reinforce the doors. Let’s have better security on staff. Let’s have armed guards. Let’s have places
where, you know, the school doors where they close the door and maybe it’s locked and reinforced with steel. There’s lots of things that we can do to
help protect kids in the future from this happening again.
MARTIN: So the bottom line is for you, Larry, you’re not willing to change anything about your lifestyle and your access to guns not, not just you
personally but others, people who agree with you, you’re not willing to do anything?
WARD: But in terms —
MARTIN: All the change needs to be elsewhere, outside of you? And I’m asking you as a citizen in this country —
MARTIN: — as a person who — you know, other people have a stake in the society too.
WARD: I say that gun control causes more deaths than gun — than actually gun rights and having the ability to defend oneself and one family and
that’s, you know, proven. In the areas that have the strictest gun control, we have elevated gun violence. Chicago is a war zone but regular,
you know, good, responsible citizens can’t get guns.
MARTIN: So, Larry, one of those kids who saw their friends get shot in Parkland, Florida, right, whether or not they’ve ever shot a gun before
because some of those kids have.
MARTIN: Their parents have guns for whatever reason. And you saw their friends get shot, are you really prepared to tell them that that is not —
that the level of mass shootings in this country is acceptable?
WARD: But it’s a personal story. I’m not crass. I’m not going to make somebody feel bad but there are gun rights folks that came out of Parkland
who are still talking about their right to defend themselves and talking about arming teachers and talking about, you know, commonsense gun rights
legislations, and other ways to protect kids in the schools.
And there are plenty of families from these incidents who see things our way. They don’t get their story told in the say — at the same level. So
I’m not going to tell David Hogg or any of his friends, you know, that their pain isn’t real because it is real and their emotions are real. And
I’d stand by their right to fight for what they believe in. But what I will say to them is, you know, open your minds and if you really truly are
interested in saving more lives, look at the other opportunity. Look at the ability to have an armed guard on campus and look at some other ways
that we can keep our school safe.
MARTIN: And what about you? Have you ever considered that they might be right? Have you ever allowed yourself —
WARD: Of course.
MARTIN: — to consider that they might be right?
WARD: Of course. I listen to both sides of the argument. And I’ll have this conversation so I have been thoughtful of the other side. The problem
is the logic doesn’t pan out.
MARTIN: What does society look like five years from now?
WARD: What I see right now, the fight that’s going to continue five years from now, is in the free market. And I believe that the only way to battle
the free market is with the free market and that brings us back to companies like Gun Dynamics. It’s not just going to be Gun Dynamics, there
will be other companies that are going to be out there to offer solutions to go around these big corporate monsters. And, you know, make sure that
they can provide their goods and services and their products and their inventions, bring them to the marketplace.
[13:55:00] MARTIN: Larry Ward, thanks so much for joining us.
WARD: Thank you.
MARTIN: Appreciate it.
WARD: Appreciate it.
MARTIN: Thank you for coming.
AMANPOUR: Interesting views to listen to.
As for what society will look like five years from now, perhaps our guest tomorrow is perfectly positioned to continue that conversation.
The massively successful best-selling author about what he calls our species’ dangerous evolution from man the tool maker to man the digital native.
For now, though, that is it for our program.
Thank you for watching ‘Amanpour and Company’ and join us again tomorrow night.