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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
America was the keeper of democracies, says former top diplomat, Wendy Sherman. But as the president bungles a global fight against coronavirus
and sends federal forces into U.S. cities, I ask whether American democracy is under threat.
Then was Sweden’s decision not to lock down brilliant or a fatal mistake? The public health chief behind that controversial approach defends his
And what if the world’s population rejects a coronavirus treatment? How to combat fear of a new vaccine, with expert, Professor Heidi Larson.
And later —
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JASON STANLEY, AUTHOR, “HOW FASCISM WORKS”: We have something that might look like a militia, a national police force, whose job it is to do the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As federal forces occupy some American cities, Author Jason Stanley asks, is this how fascism works?
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
President Trump plans to deploy federal agents to more American cities, over the objections of their mayors and governors.
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DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The cities unfortunately that are in trouble are all run by Democrats. You have radical left Democrats running cities
like Chicago and so many others that we just had a news conference, and unfortunately, that’s the way it is. I mean, that’s the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In Philadelphia, the district attorney calls this an election ploy. Larry Krasner is raising the stakes, threatening to file charges
against federal agents who assault anyone on the city streets.
Meantime, President Trump may be slipping into what many are calling a cold war with China, now ordering the government to close its consulate in
Houston. This is all raising questions about American as keeper as the world’s democratic order.
Wendy Sherman was U.S. undersecretary of state for Political Affairs until President Obama and a chief negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal. She says
Americans tell her they are in despair, as the world needs moral leadership from Washington more than ever now. Her book, “Not for the Faint of Heart,”
is available in paperback.
And, Wendy Sherman, welcome to the program.
So, your book is just coming out in paperback. And I just want to ask you given the way we’ve, you know, sort of talked about what’s happening on the
streets of America, when you see the deployment of federal forces in the world’s greatest democracy, what do you think this means for your country
and how does the rest of the world look at it, do you think?
WENDY SHERMAN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR PUBLIC LEADERSHIP, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Well, I think it’s quite concerning. It’s very interesting,
Christiane, and thank you for having me on this afternoon. I was talking with some folks in another country yesterday, and their view was that there
were riots going on in Americans cities all over our country. There are not riots in every city around the country. There has been a bit of an uptick
in some crime in cities, because we are in the midst of an economic downturn, we are in the midst of a coronavirus, we’re in the midst of
racial injustice and racial disparity both economically and in terms of health outcomes in COVID.
And so, when we see the president of the United States use federal forces to go into a city, most of us are just absolutely outraged and shocked by
it, because in the past there have been only two instances where this has happened. Once when mayors or governors — more likely governors — ask for
federal assistance, as quite frankly the Kansas City mayor did. He didn’t ask for troops to come in to help enforce. He helped — asked for federal
assistance in investigation of where all the guns are coming from that are fueling some of the murders in Kansas City.
So, this really undermines the federal system we have here. And what’s so curious about it is that the president around the coronavirus has said that
it’s up to the states to take control of the coronavirus. There isn’t going to be a one size fits all national response, but when it comes to what’s
going on in cities, mayors who are really connected to people in their communities, he’s got another point of view, and it is quite concerning
about the state of our democracy.
AMANPOUR: I think a lot of people do find that confusing. On the one hand, you know, saying it’s up to the states to decide what to do about
coronavirus and then on the other hand basically undermining or dismissing the governors of the states and the mayors in those cities and their
concerns. Of course, there is a path towards federal assistance to various states and cities, but I know it happens until different circumstances and
But what I want to ask you is this, you have written in the “USA Today”, today we are leaderless and voiceless from the White House, at home and
abroad, even as the voices of our citizens in the street here and abroad are loud and strong.
You know, you’ve had a decades-long career as an American diplomat representing America’s values around the world in negotiating some of the
most important deals for America. Just where is all of that right now when we talk about, you know, democratic leadership, you know, required and
democratic leadership and sort of coalition building, what many say abroad, sort of missing in action from the U.S.?
SHERMAN: Utterly missing in action. We saw the Trump administration signal withdrawal from the World Health Organization in the midst of a coronavirus
crisis. And quite frankly, that is just a really bad choice a many front.
For one, yes, the W.H.O. could do with some additional reforming, but you have to be at the table to make those things happen. Secondly, by leaving
the W.H.O., we’re leaving the leadership up to China, which is exactly what we don’t want to have happen. Third and very importantly, is the W.H.O is
really a network of medical services around the world, medical research around the world, and why wouldn’t we want to avail ourselves of the best
knowledge, the best information and bring our best to the table as well. That’s happened in multilateral organizations everywhere in the world.
And you know, Christiane, sitting in London, even given Brexit, you still have a security relationship with the rest of Europe. The Trump
administration has decided that Vladimir Putin is much more important to them than the European Union, than even London is, and the much touted
U.S./London Free Trade Agreement is nowhere to be seen.
So, the U.S. is really missing in action as leader. I think if we have a change in government in November, and I sincerely hope we do, because I
believe our democracy is truly at risk, I think we will seed a Biden administration re-enter all of those alliances. Yes, we will all want to
work together, everybody will have to do their part, but I think the world always works better when America is at the table, when we are bringing our
values, our leadership, our expertise and our capabilities to that table.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about that leadership and expertise part of it because, you know, there are many, particularly in the research and
scientific and some political allies here, abroad, so to speak, sort of bemoaning the — not just lack of American global leadership and
coordination in trying to find a coordinated way to combat coronavirus, not just the lack of it, but the actual undermining of it.
I mean, you mentioned pulling out of the W.H.O., but there are a lot of other ways that it seems the United States has just undermined global
solidarity. And you know, we see pictures of Secretary of State Pompeo just in the last two days, you know, wandering around in Europe and trying to
shake hands with his counterparts and they’re telling him, no, you know, take the elbow bump. I mean, it’s almost like, you know, not quite getting
Just tell me from your perspective, not just from the Obama administration but historically, what it means to have global solidarity in a crisis like
SHERMAN: We would not have achieved what we did in WORLD WAR I and World War II without global solidarity to fight against forces that were
adversaries to democracy, to freedom, to the world helping each other out. Without global solidarity we wouldn’t have been able to deal with other
pandemics that have come along, whether it was MERS, HIV/AIDS. All of these things were settled and solved because we all worked together.
You know, George Bush, a Republican president, I’m a Democrat, but a Republican president really created PEPFAR, which was meant to deal with
HIV/AIDS particularly in Africa. It was an extraordinary program that he undertook.
It made an incredible difference to the continent. It really moved forward the research and science on HIV/AIDS. So, today, we know that people can
get HIV/AIDS almost free of it, and certainly can live a full and complete life, even if it is within their system. So, when we work together, we get
extraordinary things done.
And, Christiane, we all know that China is reaching out as a competitor, as a challenger, as a confronter to the international system that was built
after World War II. And the best way to deal with that is to invest in our own technology, our own innovation, to work with our allies and partners to
build on that innovation and technology, to make sure that we maintain a seat at the table. And if you want to make sure that people are free, we
have to do it together.
AMANPOUR: So, on that issue, then, do you agree then with President Trump and the administration ordering the Chinese consulate in Houston closed
down? Because they do cite espionage and theft allegedly, a pattern of that, theft of research. Do you agree that there needs to be some gauntlet
laid down to China or are you concerned about what some are calling a cold war between the two nations?
SHERMAN: I think that closing down the consulate was an overreach. I do think action should have been taken. We do have counter-intelligence
capabilities. We may have had sent their diplomats home. We may have had made decision about some of the researchers that we were concerned about.
We have actions that we can take. So, I think closing down the consulate will only create a retaliatory action.
And because we are free and open society, China has many more ways into the United States than the United States has into China. So, every time China
closes down a consulate for us, they are really closing down much more than when we close down a consulate here. So, it’s not that I don’t think we
shouldn’t have taken some action. From what I know, I obviously don’t read classified information anymore, but from what we know, some action might
have been necessary, but I think closing the consulate was an overreach and in and out in our own national security interests.
AMANPOUR: So, the foreign minister said a couple weeks ago, it seems that if every Chinese investment is politically driven, every Chinese student is
a spy, and every cooperation initiative is a scheme with a hidden agenda. Basically, describing how the U.S. — they perceive the U.S. are treating
them. They have also vowed to retaliate. What do you think that might look like?
SHERMAN: Well, I think they may well close down a consulate or two that we have in China. They may ask American students, if there are any remaining
given coronavirus, to leave. They can take all kinds of actions that are not in our interests.
Look, you know, the relationship with China is going to be a complicated one, whoever is president of the United States. But in my own view, we have
to have a multifaceted relationship, one that begins with investments here in the United States, in technology and innovation and A.I., in quantum
computing. We can outcompete and out innovate anyone if we make the investments.
At the same time, we need to compete with China where we need to compete. We should challenge them in the South China Sea, with the horrible human
rights records they have, in the concentration camps for the most part pretty much for the Uighurs in China, for what they’re doing in Hong Kong,
for the possibility that we could find ourselves in a military confrontation over Taiwan.
So, there may be places where we must challenge, where we must confront, but there’s also a fee places where we should look to actually cooperate,
climate change being at the at the top of that agenda. Because quite frankly, without United States and China, India and some others doing what
is necessary, we will not be able to save the planet.
And obviously, back to a topic you had mentioned early on, when it comes to reentering or renegotiating or finding a better path with Iran, China will
certainly by a player. They are a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
AMANPOUR: As you know, they’ve just entered a fairly large and extensive deal with Iran, which is causing all sorts of criticism from the United
States. But I do want to finally ask you, because it was an issue so close to your professional time and energy and success, frankly, getting that
deal. There have been a number of explosions reported by Iran. You know, obviously earlier in the year it started with the assassination by the
United States of their, you know, senior military, Qasem Soleimani. Do you — are you at all concerned, are you hearing anything that leads you to
believe there might be some kind of hot war between the United States and Iran?
SHERMAN: It does concern me. Today, we have heard some of the leadership in Iran say that there needs to be further retaliation for both of those
explosions and for the assassination of Qasem Soleimani. The modulus, the legislator in Iran just made appointments of what I call the hard hard-
liners to positions in the modulus.
I think what is most disturbing about what the Trump administration has done is that I have no idea what the objective is. Sanctions are put on.
More pressure is put on. I don’t know what role the United States played, if any, in these recent explosions, but I don’t know what the objective is.
I don’t know what the policy is. The administration says it’s not regime change, but they can’t tell me what it is.
And so, we have tactics, but in my view, no objective, no strategy, and meantime, Iran has more centrifuges, more enrichment, more capability,
continuing support for Hezbollah and Hamas, more malign behavior in the region, more abuse of the human rights of its citizens, more Americans
imprisoned. So, I’m not sure what the Trump administration thinks it’s accomplishing, except bringing tremendous pain along with awful
mismanagement by the Iranian regime and abuse of its own people.
AMANPOUR: And Vice President Biden, who you advise, says that they will seek a different path to try to pull back from that dangerous confrontation
that you cite. Wendy Sherman, thank you very much indeed.
SHERMAN: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, compared with the United States, most of Europe has fared better in handling COVID and coming out of lockdown. And one country in
particular has drawn a lot of attention by being something of an outlier, sparsely populated Sweden did not order a lockdown or close its economy. At
first it looked like a successful gamble, but now that almost 6,000 people have died, much higher than any of its neighbors, it’s raising questions,
especially since the government also now fears that deaths could nearly double in the winter.
So, was staying open worth that loss of life? Sweden’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anders Tegnell is behind the country’s strategy and he’s joining me now
Welcome to the program, Dr. Tegnell.
So, let me first start by asking you to respond to that. You know, now, you and the government is suggesting that there could be a doubling of the
death count in the winter with the on-set of the flu, et cetera. Do you still stand by the strategy that everybody, you know, termed outlier?
ANDERS TEGNELL, SWEDEN’S CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Yes. I think that we still believe that this strategy has served us very well in many different
aspects. I know that the death toll is very high. It’s not extremely high if you compare us to countries like Belgium, Midlands or the U.K., which
are countries which in many ways have a much more similar epidemic than our neighboring and (INAUDIBLE) which are quite different in many ways when it
comes to the epidemic.
AMANPOUR: Well, we do have those comparisons. So, you’re right, that you are somewhere, you know, on the continuum under those countries, but above
certain other countries. The fact of the matter is, though, I guess you could have done something different, couldn’t you, to avoid that number of
deaths? Because while you point out the difference in these countries, compared to your immediate neighbors, who took a completely different
approach, your death toll is massively higher. Theirs is in the low 100s at best.
TEGNELL: Yes, but then you also need to realize that those countries are different — they have a different kind of population structure. And their
big cities is nowhere the size of Stockholm. Even Stockholm is nowhere the size of (INAUDIBLE). So, I think a more fairer comparison is really within
(INAUDIBLE) like that.
But even so, I mean, there is really no proof that the lockdown would have saved the people in the long-term care facilities in Sweden. We can see,
when we saw the problems for the long-term care facilities, we gave a lot of advice, a lot of other agencies getting a lot of advice. The number of
cases in our long-term facilities fell very, very quickly. And we now have almost no cases in our long-term care facilities anymore, which shows that
it is quite possible. We (INAUDIBLE) still to protect the long-term care facilities and people living there.
AMANPOUR: OK. But you know what? That’s interesting, because you did also say, when those terrible numbers out of the — I mean, 50 percent of the
deaths, if I’m not wrong, came from elderly care facilities. And you did say that certain things could have been handled better. Was that clearly
one of the things that could be handled better?
TEGNELL: Yes. I think that we really need — and I’m sure we will, when this is all over and already now, we are doing a lot in that area, think
about the quality of care in our long-term care facilities, seeing how that care, the security of these people can be improved, because we have shown
already that the security can be improved vastly already just by falling back and following the guidelines that were already in place.
AMANPOUR: So, what — I guess when you look at the future, when you predict these deaths could double by the time of the flu pandemic, by the
end of the year, what might you — I mean, you’re saying you’re not going to do anything necessarily differently. What do you think has sort of
worked for you? And you talk about Sweden being different, and I’m going to get to that in a minute, but what has worked?
I mean, relatively you do have a high death toll compared to your neighbors. Relatively, I don’t think you have immunity that you may have
hoped to have had even though you say herd immunity was not the strategy. And relatively speaking, you’re going to get double the deaths, which you
are predicting by the end of the year. So, what exactly went right?
TEGNELL: First of all, I mean, what we have not published is predictions. What we are now published is different scenarios for our regions and
communities to plan for, and I think that’s important to remember that. So, let me —
TEGNELL: These are not projections. These are just numbers that we need for planning. And we have said very clearly that the mortality rates we
have not invested a lot — analyze the scene, getting them right. We have invested a lot of time in — is getting the — when we get new peaks and
how those peaks would look, so that the health care services can plan better for them.
So, we don’t really believe that we’re doubling our death tolls, nowhere near it. And furthermore, as I said, we have now actually put the quality
in place in the elderly care homes in such a good way that now in spite of the still circulating virus, we have almost no cases in them anymore.
And already now, we see that the cases in Sweden are falling rapidly during the last few weeks. We have almost no introductions into ICUs anymore. We
have very few serious cases coming along. And our death toll is down so that we have no excess mortality in Sweden anymore, which I think you need
to look at because the way we are recording mortality in Sweden is a lot more stringent than in most other countries, which means that when we look
at the excess mortality and we look at the recorded cases of COVID-19, they’re almost exactly the same in Sweden.
In many other places, it’s 50 percent to 100 percent higher. So, it’s also not completely fair to look at mortality rates at this stage. I think
that’s something we need to look at much further in the future. But coming back to what —
AMANPOUR: What about injury rates? And I — let me just ask you just a question because I think everybody sort of now getting more information
about the damage that this can do, this virus can do, you know, even if you recover, you know, the long-haul damage, the damage to all sorts of vital
organs, the damage to blood vessels and the rest, lung scarring. What are you is learning about that?
TEGNELL: Yes. I mean, I don’t really collected the data on that so far, but what I hear from my colleagues at work in the intensive care is that
they have become a lot, lot better at treating these patients. The recovery rate becomes much highly stays, the time in ICU is also much shorter. So, I
think that is also something that we in Sweden and I think also in many other countries have been a lot better at.
And hopefully, that will also mean that the consequences — long-term consequences will be a lot fewer for people getting into ICU as of this
AMANPOUR: And finally, you’re still not calling on Swedes to wear masks, just like the country did not call on any obligatory measures to be taken.
A, why not on masks? And B, just explain briefly, finally, the nature of your relationship, the state with the people, and why this strategy worked
in — or was put into place in Sweden?
TEGNELL: Let me start with that because I think it’s important to realize that our strategy in many ways have given the same effects as much of the
lockdowns. We can look at the travel patterns in Sweden and our Nordic neighbors, and the number of travels diminished just as much in Sweden as
it did in other countries.
In Sweden, our flu season stopped abruptly because of the social distancing, also given effect on the flu. And I’ve talked to, among others,
on my British colleagues, and it seems like the effects of the voluntary lockdown that we institute in Sweden, in many ways, were quite close to the
legal lockdowns instituted in other countries.
So, I think the difference is not as big as many people will like it. And we managed, at that time, to keep schools open, which is incredibly
important for public health and the country. We have managed to, in many ways, keep the society more open, avoiding a lot of other negative effects
on public health in Sweden.
So, I think, in many ways, this has proven very successful. And we managed to do that with keeping the health care services in Sweden working with a
high level of quality. There was always free vets (ph), there was never anybody with COVID-19 who was denied treatment that they could benefit
from. So, I think that’s important aspects to remember.
AMANPOUR: All right. Dr. Anders Tegnell, thank you for joining us from Sweden.
And next, as coronavirus continuous its lethal spread in other parts of the world, governments and private companies across the world are racing to
develop a vaccine. It’s an extraordinary scientific effort and it is already showing promising results. But while the science leaps ahead, human
psychology could still be a major stumbling block, with fears that growing resistance to vaccines could impact the coronavirus battle.
Heidi Larson is anthropologist and leader of the Vaccine Confidence Project based here in London. And she’s joining me now.
Welcome to the program, Professor Larson.
Let me just ask you about psychology. Maybe you just can play off a little bit of what Dr. Tegnell said because it’s a very different psychology that
he was working with in Sweden than has been worked here or elsewhere. Just comment on that before we get into vaccine psychology.
HEIDI LARSON, DIRECTOR, THE VACCINE CONFIDENCE PROJECT: Well, we do find globally in our work that different cultures and psychologies, and also
different political states or epidemic states do way on people’s anxieties or fears or hopes, so it is a big factor.
AMANPOUR: So, what about rumors? You study rumors. And obviously, there’s so much of that happening around a vaccine right now. We know the figures.
We’ve heard that according to a recent study, 50 percent in American who have been asked wouldn’t take a vaccine. We’ve heard in Europe that the
numbers are pretty alarmingly high about vaccine skepticism. Talk to me about how that builds, what mobilizes that kind of fear and hesitancy?
LARSON: Well, we see it because we’ve been running polls across Europe and a number of countries over different waves, and those responses are very
volatile and they’re very reflective of the state of the epidemic. In the U.K. here in mid-March and into late March, when the numbers of deaths
related to COVID started going up, only 5 percent of the population in a representative sample said, we wouldn’t take a COVID vaccine, a new one.
Recently, it’s up to 14, 15 percent saying no, as people have seen the figures waning. And there’s places like France, 26 percent said they
wouldn’t take a vaccine. And that’s consistent actually with the background. France is one of the highest levels of skepticism in the world,
based on our global research, when it comes to vaccines.
So, there is also this background factor of populations that have trust issues with government or anxieties about vaccines. So, I think one thing
that will be telling is when there is a vaccine, one thing that people will do, will look around and decide, you know, is there enough of a pressing
threat for me to take the risk of what I — you know, when there’s a new vaccine?
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you’re an expert, and do you think that the people should understand that there’s enough of a pressing threat? I mean, Dr.
Fauci in the United States has said that’s his real — his big next nightmare, the idea of this hesitancy and even if there is a vaccine, even
if it is, you know, obviously, you know, good to go, that it won’t be taken.
LARSON: Well, I mean, he has a reasonable concern, but the fact is we don’t have a vaccine yet, which gives us time. And one of the big things we
have learned and work on, we’ve worked a lot around Ebola vaccine trials, for instance, and the introduction of Ebola vaccines. And we use every
minute in the development and trials to build community, consensus, to build community positiveness in situations which are otherwise — and this
was in Africa, which are otherwise quite hesitant.
So, we have time between now and, say, the spring to make people — not make — to build awareness and engagement. I think there’s two things we
are really hearing a lot in our social media listening and monitoring. People are very anxious. And some of the rumors were sparked by this Warp
Speed, fast — it’s going to be faster than ever.
That flags all kinds of anxieties about, it’s too fast. It can’t be safe. We need to be more — communicate better, why is it faster? The reasons are
actually good ones. We had a funding mechanism in place that we didn’t have at Ebola. And it was because of Ebola there was a funding mechanism.
We have new technologies that made it possible to characterize the virus very quickly, relative to previous years and decades. And, also, there’s
new technologies around how you can make a vaccine. That needs to be communicated better.
We need to explain not just, it’s fast, but this is why it’s fast, so people don’t feel like you’re just shortchanging an old process.
AMANPOUR: So, Professor Larson, is there a playbook? I mean, how would you advise the relevant government or agencies to do what you’re saying now, to
LARSON: Well, I think universities, health authorities, not just the health authorities, because, in a number of settings, part of the rumors
and distrust are because they don’t trust the health authorities or the leaders.
So, we need other voices that weigh in and help that understanding. There are — we’re seeing — we’re in an acute time of uncertainty at so many
levels. And I think that the social media is amplifying the anti and the alternative and the rumors because there’s not enough accurate information
filling that space, even information that says, we don’t know, but this is what we’re thinking and we’re moving in this direction.
How are we going to decide who gets one of these vaccines first? Well, this is what we’re thinking, and this is some of the issues with criteria.
But, somehow, we need to do that engagement sooner, rather than later. Employers, schools, COVID has affected everybody in society. There are a
lot of people who should be motivated for a vaccine. But we need to help engage them.
AMANPOUR: So, a lot more transparency, you’re saying, and a lot more effort in that regard, in the public communication of the step-by-step
So, let me ask you this, then, because the “Nature” scientific journal this week has said: “Vaccine hesitancy is a problem of dignity, as much as of
the abundance of falsehoods. Individuals want to have their choices respected amid growing distrust in authority.”
Let’s just explore that a little bit, because it’s not just the traditional anti-vax movement that is the issue right now. According to this, it
crosses racial lines, socioeconomic backgrounds, educational backgrounds, political affiliations.
The doubters, the hesitant are not a monolithic group. Is that right?
LARSON: That’s right.
I just have a book coming out this month, this week called “Stuck.” And it is with Oxford Press. And the chapter — one of the chapter is about
dignity. And it’s really — it’s so much about some of the same drivers that are polarizing society on a number of levels. And people feel like
they have been left out of the conversation, that science is the new dogma.
It used to be that science gave reason and separated from religious dogma. Now that seems turned around, where publics are feeling like science is
taking the public for granted, health authorities are taking the public for granted that just because science says so they’re going to line up.
And they’re saying, enough is enough. Where are we? Where our feelings? And feelings is a big part of this.
AMANPOUR: Many, certainly in the United States, many people in many parts of the world like to think of themselves as good people, as caring people,
and certainly caring about their neighbors and their communities.
Surely, a vaccine, if I take a vaccine, it’s not just for me. It’s to protect my community as well. Is that a missing piece of the communication,
that it’s is not just about me first, it’s about all of us?
LARSON: It should be more of the communication.
And I think, certainly, given the ubiquitousness of COVID — it’s not just one population group or it’s not just in one setting. It’s everywhere. And
I think that, certainly, as I mentioned, things like going back to school and going back to work, it’s about my colleagues. It’s about my
schoolmates. It’s about teachers. It’s about health centers.
And I think that’s another aspect, as you rightly say, that needs to be cultivated, that it’s not just about me or another person, which is true
with vaccines more generally, but, in the context of COVID, it’s more acute than ever.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because, again, you know, in many parts of the world, these rumors, these fears get started, they spread like
wildfire. Sometimes, they’re stoked.
You have a case study about the polio eradication effort in Nigeria and how that was thrown off-balance shortly after 9/11. Can you explain that?
LARSON: Well, that’s — it’s a real example of misinformation not being the problem.
This was between 2003 and 2004. Kano state in Northern Nigeria boycotted the polio vaccination. And it was a distrust. It was a distrust of central
government. A candidate from the wealthier Christian south won the presidency over a candidate from the north, which is a bit poorer, it’s
more Muslim, and that’s where Kano is.
But, in addition to that, it was — this was just on the heels of 9/11. And there was a perception — well, not just a perception, a lot of — there
is, the West was at war with Muslims. And they were, you know, why would they want to help us? There must be something in that vaccine.
Like, there’s no other vaccine. They come knocking on our door again and again with the same vaccine. Must be a contraceptive. Must be causing AIDS.
Couldn’t be right. It was a trust issue, a distrust issue.
And you could have given them all the perfect information. It wouldn’t have changed the story.
AMANPOUR: Right. Well, let’s hope that we can regain and reformulate that trust and do better communications, because I think we’re going to need
AMANPOUR: Professor Larson, thank you very much, indeed.
Now, as we were discussing earlier, President Trump is sending federal forces into more American cities, something that our next guest is deeply
Jason Stanley is professor of philosophy at Yale University. And his book “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them” tells the story of the
tropes that drive dictatorships.
And here he is speaking to our Hari Sreenivasan about why he’s concerned about paving the road to authoritarianism.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Christiane, thanks.
Jason Stanley, first, before we get into this conversation about fascism, how do you define it?
JASON STANLEY, AUTHOR, “HOW FASCISM WORKS”: Fascism is an ideology based on power, loyalty and fear of the other, where the other is defined
ethnically or in terms of nationality or religion, and the leader represents us.
SREENIVASAN: Now, you wrote this book a couple of years ago, and, at the time, the reception to it was somewhat expected, a lot of people saying,
you know what, this is too strong a word. He is taking some liberties here with how he defines it. It’s just an anti-Trump book, et cetera.
Now you have got this out in paperback. You have written a little bit more about why you were scared and concerned then. What is it about the present
moment that concerns you?
STANLEY: So, first of all, we have to bear in mind that you can have a fascist social and political movement in a democracy. And that’s what we’re
seeing across the world right now, in Brazil and the United States.
We’re seeing fascist social and political movements in democracies. And what you have to look for when that happens is the press to undermine the
democracy from within, to undermine its institutions and to create new institutions, fascist institutions.
Now, what are fascist institutions? The concentration camp is the classic example, a zone of lawlessness, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew our
attention to the detention camps on the Southern borders a while ago as potential examples of this, and then a militia, a sort of militia that is
the police, but not the police, that functions as a kind of weapon for national — ultra-nationalism, xenophobia, and in the service of the
And what concerns me now is that we have CBP and ICE on the streets of American cities, trained in an ideology of targeting non-citizens, now
directed at cities controlled by the political opposition, which are represented as lawless and an out of order.
And they seem to be fomenting, trying to foment violence and backlash in order to create this sense of a need for a powerful leader.
And so that’s what concerns me now, is that we have something that might look like a militia, a national police force, whose job it is to do the
president’s bidding. And that looks like an institution that doesn’t belong in a democracy.
SREENIVASAN: The acting secretary of DHS says, listen, DHS has been in the business of protecting structures, federal buildings 10 years ago,
yesterday, today, and we will tomorrow. We don’t necessarily need the invitation of mayors and governors.
STANLEY: So, the literature on fascism warns us about institutions that are designed originally to protect us from foreign terrorists, that are
involved in colonial wars, and then get directed domestically inside.
The Department of Homeland Security was developed as a reaction to 9/11. It was the ideology about protecting us from domestic — from terrorists, from
foreign terrorists. It’s an ideology directed toward towards colonial wars and protecting us from the backlash of colonial wars.
When you start to see that kind of institution, which well proceeded Trump, as you pointed out, but is no part of our American history, before very
recently, when you to see that institution being directed against domestic opponents, you have to become worried.
SREENIVASAN: Is there something different about the people that Border Patrol is used to dealing with vs. the people inside an American city?
STANLEY: What we have done is, we’re taking a group of agents who are trained to deal with non-citizens in objectifying and often horrific ways
and directing them towards American citizens who are engaged in largely peaceful protests, exercising their democratic rights, and, frankly, as
part of a political campaign.
So, this is really reminiscent of bad, bad moments in history, where you have a force, a quasi-military force that has no obvious domestic role
directed against citizens.
SREENIVASAN: There’s a college friend of mine who lives in the Portland area. And he has been so incensed by what he perceives to be the ineptitude
of local government and state government that — I remember this phrase.
He just said, when they go after the federal buildings, all bets are off.
And, to me, what was interesting was that there’s a certain seduction to a strong sense of order. I mean, we see this happening around the world right
now. It’s not limited to the United States. So, whether it’s — you want to look at Hungary or Brazil or India or the Philippines, there’s something in
us that seems to want chaos reduced.
STANLEY: So, fascism is lawlessness in the name of law and order. Chaos has not been reduced in Brazil, India, and the United States. Chaos has
been increased. What we have is lawlessness.
What these forces are doing in particular in Portland is they’re actually – – they’re actually making the protesters more angry. They’re — I think they’re provoking them and creating larger demonstrations and protests. And
they’re doing so intentionally, or, if they themselves don’t know it, it’s being — they’re being used intentionally to do that, because the
president, as part of his political campaign, wants to create a sense of chaos for the cameras for television screens.
So, what we have again and again in these regimes — and the Philippines is a great example — is lawlessness. When the police are shooting — shooting
poor people on the street, that’s not law and order. That’s lawlessness.
What we want is to treat people in accord with principles of justice and law and order. And what these leaders do is, they create chaos. They create
chaos, and then promise you that they’re going to deal with the chaos that they create.
But, in fact, the chaos is what they thrive on. And that’s what we’re seeing in Brazil, the United States, India, and the Philippines.
SREENIVASAN: In the context of what’s happening in Portland, you have got the mayor, you have got the governor, you have got mayors in lots of cities
that are pushing back.
Isn’t that a sign that our institutions are still strong enough to try and resist?
STANLEY: I don’t really like this talk of our institutions, as if our institutions are kind of like robots that walk around the country
independently of us.
No, we are our institutions. You, sir, are our press.
STANLEY: And I am our universities.
And unless the universities stand up and say, no, we’re not institutions of left-wing ideology, we are — we don’t — unless our press stands up and
say, no, you are lying, everything is going to fold.
Our mayors are doing what our mayors should be doing, which is standing up against the federal government that is seeking to weaponize an institution,
the Customs and Border Patrol, for an election. And the mayors are standing up for that.
So, I prefer not to talk about institutions, but to talk about people.
SREENIVASAN: How much of this plays into propaganda, the repetition, the othering, the alienizing of people who don’t see the world the way you do?
STANLEY: Well, that’s at the very center of fascist ideology, the friend/enemy distinction. It’s why Trump and Bolsonaro and Modi have — and
Putin have such great difficulties with reality, with COVID-19.
It’s because they see everything in terms of a friend/enemy distinction. And the whole idea of this politics, which well proceeds Trump in the
United States, is to say, my political opponent isn’t a legitimate opponent. My political opponent is a fundamental threat to the values you
And you might be an ordinary Christian conservative, an ordinary person who’s part of our democratic process, but these liberal elite — liberal
elites, they threaten your way of life, and you need a strong man to protect you.
And you show these terrifying moments of cosmopolitanism and leftists gone wild or whatever, and you represent that as a terrifying threat to people.
And then you say, you need a strong man here.
And this is a very familiar politics that does go back to the 1930s in Germany. You represent your enemy as a communist. I mean, good luck
representing Joe Biden as a communist. But that’s what you do.
And so you’re manufacturing dissent, because it’s that feeling that there’s no legitimate political opponent. Your political opponent is a traitor to
the country and your fundamental values. And that’s why you need a tough guy to protect you.
SREENIVASAN: Should we be concerned about our lack of concern, or, I guess, maybe the normalizing of chaos?
These — this kind of regime style, this kind of leadership style thrives on chaos. And I think we can all agree we have seen a lot of chaos. We
haven’t seen much order in the past three-and-a-half to four years. It’s a constant stream of people going in and out of the regime, a constant — the
new cycle has been reduced to half-an-hour from a couple of days.
A constant stream of people being replaced in the administration, so there’s no stability whatsoever, and everything is about scheming and
plotting, and we’re grilled to our intelligence screens. And that’s how it works. It’s entertainment. It’s showmanship. It keeps you constantly in
this fight-or-flight way, which feeds and give succor to leaders who represent themselves as war leaders, as, you know, there’s always an enemy.
There’s always — I’m always protecting you. It’s always a — it’s always drama and chaos. And people get addicted to that. And what we need is, we
need boring democratic government again.
SREENIVASAN: Does intent matter? I mean, are we ascribing too much genius to a five-dimensional chess player who’s crafting out this plot to have a
fascist takeover of our institutions?
STANLEY: So, it turns out what really takes genius and strength is democracy, not fascism.
How much genius and strength does it take to say, the immigrants are coming for your women, you have to protect your women? How much genius does it
take to repeat these old tropes of American racism that black men on streets threaten your wives and daughters?
That doesn’t take genius. That just takes repeating narratives that are deeply familiar.
I think what takes genius and what takes strength of character and intelligence is saying, OK, I want this, you want something else, let’s
compromise. That takes genius and strength of character.
The analogy we need to draw and is repeatedly done in the literature on fascism from Hannah Arendt to the Frankfurt School, is between a mob boss
and a fascist leader.
Remember, fascism is about — about loyalty and power. So the mob boss repeatedly puts their family members, friends and business associates into
positions of power, because any competent person is a threat to them. Reality is a threat to them. It’s all about loyalty.
So, how much of an evil genius do you really need to be to be a mob boss?
SREENIVASAN: Do we know have a system of checks and balances? I mean, wasn’t that the beauty of the architecture of this democracy or this
democratic experiment, that we have different divisions within how power is laid out in government? Can’t that stop it?
STANLEY: We have these institutions, but what happens is, they get hollowed out over time. It’s not like the institutions just exist
independently from us.
The institutions get hollowed out. You replace the heads of the institutions by loyalists, by friends, by business cronies. And then, over
time, the institutions become shells of themselves. And then you create new institutions, which perhaps never should have been there in the first
place, such as DHS and ICE, that play particular roles that you don’t want in a democracy.
SREENIVASAN: What’s to blame here? Is it the individual or all the systems that malfunctioned to get us to this point?
STANLEY: I place the blame on a faction of the Republican Party, perhaps spearheaded by Newt Gingrich in the ’90s, that said — that decided, as a
political tactic, to declare the Democrats to be illegitimate.
So, Hannah Arendt warns us of the danger of politicians who put loyalty to party over parties. And what she means is, we need to be aware of
politicians who have more loyalty to their political party than a multiparty system.
So, when you treat your political opponents as illegitimate, as really just anti-American, well, you’re paving the way for authoritarianism, whether
it’s communist authoritarianism or fascist authoritarianism.
And the Republican Party has — one faction of the Republican Party has long been doing that, has long been painting the Democrats as fundamentally
illegitimate. And that’s anti-democratic.
And it’s no wonder that you get a swaggering strongman who said, not only is there only one political party that’s legitimate; there’s only one
leader of that political party who’s legitimate.
SREENIVASAN: But none of that, if it goes far back as Newt Gingrich, the things that broke the systems aren’t going to be fixed if Joe Biden wins.
STANLEY: They’re absolutely not going to be fixed. And that’s what the Black Lives Matter protests are about.
We have discovered recently that we are putting an enormous amount of our money in city budgets into the police, rather than the problems that result
in crime, poverty, lack of jobs. We’re putting an enormous amount of our federal budget into the military.
We incarcerate a great — as large a percentage of our population as the Soviet Union did under Stalin in the early 1950s. We are the world’s
leader, maybe history’s leader, in terms of incarcerating our population, especially our black population.
Almost 10 percent of the world’s prison population comes from 40 million black Americans. So, we have this long history. We have failures of elites
that lead to politicians rightly being able to say, look, the system is rigged, the system is broken.
All those things, history teaches us, lead the way to regime collapse. So, we need to have a system that is more responsive to the people, that
doesn’t treat segments of the population as subhuman, as less than, as less worthy.
We need to get rid of the system of mass incarceration that can easily be extended to political opponents. All of these things are — and many more
problems, the widening economic inequality that enables a leader to come and say, I represent the people against the elites.
And until we do that, we’re always going to face this threat.
SREENIVASAN: Jason Stanley of Yale University.
The book is called “How Fascism Works,” now available in paperback.
Thanks so much for joining us.
STANLEY: Thank you so much, Hari.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, with what’s going on, on the streets, we have been exploring this theme throughout this program, a really important
And, finally, the Summer Olympics were supposed to start in Tokyo tomorrow, but, of course, they have been postponed to next year. South Sudanese
marathon runner Guor Marial had been dreaming of a medal after being the man without a country who ran under the Olympic flag in the 2012 London
Marial had literally run away from Sudan’s civil war and eventually settled in the United States. Now he’s joined the U.S. Air Force as a way of giving
back to the country that took him in as a refugee.
And a new documentary, “Runner,” chronicles his incredible and inspiring great escape.
Meantime, in Sudan, the former military dictator Omar al-Bashir went on trial over his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power and led to
so much war and death there.
That is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can follow me and the show on Twitter. Thanks for watching “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.