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Putin Pivots East; U.S. Calls Out China on Hacking; Euro Elections: Tilt to the Right?; Imagine a World

Aired May 21, 2014 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

If you are on the outs with the West, look East. That's what Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing anyway, shaking hands on a massive reputed $400 billion deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai. He'll be supplying China with natural gas for 30 years.

The contract is a lifeline for Putin after his annexation of Crimea and global backlash, including sanctions that a Russian economy is ailing, the ruble, the market and economic growth are all down.

Meantime, the clock is ticking for Ukraine; Russia is threatening to cut off its gas supply on June 1st, having nearly doubled the price. Moscow is now demanding that Kiev pay up in advance.

But it's not just Russia getting the cold shoulder from the West. China could find itself in a cold cyber war with the United States now that Washington has publicly indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges of stealing trade secrets on an industrial scale.

What does this all mean for the global world order? Well, who better to answer than Richard Clarke, who has 30 years' national security experience and serving three U.S. presidents. He was counterterrorism czar in the days after 9/11 and he served on the espionage review panel that President Obama set up after Edward Snowden's NSA revelations.

Now he's out of government; he's written his third torn-from-the-headlines novel, "Sting of the Drone," and he joins me from Washington.


AMANPOUR: Richard Clarke, welcome back to the program.


AMANPOUR: There is a major disagreement between the West and President Putin over Ukraine.

Today we have seen Putin sign what seems to be a lifeline, a long insurance policy against further U.S. sanctions. He signed a multi-hundred-billion- dollar gas deal that he's been salivating over, trying to negotiate for the last decade. Now they've done it.

Isn't he basically saying, here, West, you can just stuff it; I can do what I want and I've got other partners and other customers?

CLARKE: He's sitting on a huge pile of gas and oil; by stealing the Crimea, he has stolen the offshore areas which have even more oil and gas that have not been tapped yet.

And so for the foreseeable future, Russia is going to be the number two or three exporter of oil and gas in the world. And there will always be a market for them somewhere.

The fact that it's going to be China in part as a result of this deal today is just one of the many customers they're going to have, including Western Europe. Western Europe's going to continue to buy from them because there's not enough supply in the world for them to cut off Russia.

AMANPOUR: So how do you see this issue of Ukraine being resolved? And do you not worry that China and Russia are now sort of being forced into an increasing marriage of convenience and commercialism that could again be something that opposes in a significant way Western national security interests?

CLARKE: I think it's a little early to worry about Sino-Soviet, if you will, in the old Cold War phrase, rapprochement. They -- they're competitors. And China is also very much in a codependent relationship with the United States. Our economies are really intertwined.

So I think this is natural for Russia and China to have trade. The Russian and Chinese trade, even with this gas deal, will be a small fraction, very small fraction of the U.S.-China trade.

AMANPOUR: Let us talk about cyber war that seems to be breaking out between the United States and China.

China is talking about retaliating and I want to know why you believe it was in the U.S.' interest to make this very public indictment at this time.

What was the point of that?

CLARKE: Well, Christiane, the United States has been trying for many years to get the Chinese to stop stealing corporate secrets and giving them to Chinese companies.

And thousands of American jobs have been lost because of this cyber espionage that they do when they break into an American company, like U.S. Steel or Alcoa. And they give the information from that company to the Chinese company that is its competition.

We've raised at the presidential level; we've raised it at the Cabinet level. We have talks going on. But they're going nowhere. The Chinese deny they're doing it when they've been caught red-handed.

AMANPOUR: Do you worry that this could cause a retaliatory cycle?

And could it paradoxically injure the United States?

Could there be a rupture in military-to-military, you know, cooperation, for instance, between the U.S. and China?

CLARKE: Christiane, I actually hope it does result in escalation and tit- for-tat because we need this issue resolved. And we can't go on the way it's been. And this first step by the United States will undoubtedly result in an escalation of this issue. And we need to do that. We need to have this issue resolved one way or the other.

If the Chinese are going to keep hacking into our companies, then we're going to have to do something about it.

AMANPOUR: All right. That's from your point of view.

From the Chinese point of view, they make charges of hypocrisy, how can the U.S. have -- stand on the moral high ground, especially after the Snowden revelations. The ambassador said to me yesterday the U.S. has no credibility on this issue and I'd just like to play you a short clip of what he told me.


CUI TIANKAI, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I don't know how they can make a distinction between such activities.

How do they explain the attacks on Chinese companies, universities and even individuals?

Is that for national defense? Or is that for other purposes?


AMANPOUR: He says that you're doing it against all their targets.

CLARKE: Well, there's a distinction. He may not like it, but there is a distinction.

And that distinction is recognized by nations around the world; it's recognized by the WTO, the World Trade Organization, and that is governments are not supposed to break into companies in other countries, steal information and give it to their own companies.

Sure, the United States also hacks. It hacks for national security purposes.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, Edward Snowden's revelations show that the United States has hacked into -- I think it's called Hweibei (ph). It's hacked into other like trade negotiations.

Even in Europe people are saying, hang on a second. Is that really a distinction that can be made?

CLARKE: It's a distinction that has been made for years and the WTO, for example, says you're not supposed to do it.

The United States government by law cannot spy on behalf of private companies. We can't break into Airbus and give its secrets to Boeing. It's illegal; we don't do it. Other governments don't do it. China does it systematically in a wholesale way, brazenly, and it's resulted in the loss of thousands of American jobs.

AMANPOUR: Is the U.S. particular worried about this because of what General Dempsey said, the top U.S. military official said, and I quote, The United States does not have, quote, "a coherent cybersecurity strategy."

In other words is the U.S. concerned that they may be overwhelmed in a cyber war?

CLARKE: Oh, absolutely. The United States could easily suffer in a cyber war. We've also seen the Chinese do things like try to break into our electric power grid.

Well, there's nothing to steal in the power grid. The only reason they want to be there is that if there were some sort of crisis between our two countries, they could turn off the lights here in the United States.

We're not in good shape to defend ourselves against that kind of attack; we're not in good shape to defend ourselves against the kind of attack that occurs every day when they're stealing our corporate secrets.

AMANPOUR: I want to move onto the issue of drones and you yourself have just written your third book on this. It is a novel. But first I want to ask you about the breaking news.

The president is announcing and making public the administration's legal justification for targeting American citizens with drones.

CLARKE: Yes. What the opinion said was that if an American is overseas, not in this country, and if that American has taken up arms against the United States and joined an organization that is fighting the United States -- for example, if in World War II, an American had gone to Germany and put on the Nazi uniform and fought against American forces in Europe, could we shoot that American in the Nazi uniform?

Or would we have to stop on the battlefield and read him his rights and have a jury?

That's essentially the analogy that the administration is making, that there have been three Americans who have been killed by drone strikes.

One was intentionally targeted and that he was fighting against the United States. He was planning to kill Americans, plotting to kill Americans, training people to kill Americans. He'd given instructions to people who actually went out and did kill Americans.

Now the question is, I think the prior question, should you be using drones to kill terrorists?

Should you try to get them before they get you?

If the answer to that is yes, then the fact that that person might be an American who's in Yemen trying to kill us, the administration argues, shouldn't stop us.

AMANPOUR: So you obviously believe -- you were one of the fathers of the drone program when you were counterterrorism czar under George Bush's administration. You've just written this novel.

I guess in light of what you've just said, is this an ode to drones?

CLARKE: The novel is a thriller; that's the first requirement in writing it, is to make it an enjoyable read, make it exciting. Certainly not an ode to drones. It raises all of the ethical, legal, moral, political, even strategic issues around drones.

But it raises them in the course of a novel that puts the reader in the shoes of the counterterrorist, puts the reader in the shoes of the terrorist. It puts the reader in the shoes of the innocent person whose family, innocent family, has been victimized by a drone attack.

So in, I hope, an enjoyable novel, page-turner kind of summer reading, all of these issues are raised. And I don't think it takes one side or the other of the issues.

AMANPOUR: Richard Clarke, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

CLARKE: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And cyber attacks don't just happen between rival nations; eBay has just revealed that it was hacked two months ago and it's now asking users to change their passwords. The online auction site isn't revealing how many of its 148 million active accounts were affected and it says the password change is just a precaution.

But there are, of course, deep concerns about the theft of valuable information.

And after a break, we'll turn to the upcoming European elections.

Is the continent about to drift to a new far right? We'll explore when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Europe is heading to the polls in an election that could be a turning point for politics on the continent. Radical right-wing parties within the European Union are expected to win much higher repression in the European parliament than in years gone by. Far right parties are spread across Europe and the latest polls indicate that 12 out of 28 of them are expected to win seats. And that would mean a 20 percent rise in representation since the previous European parliamentary elections in 2009.

My next guest was a prominent voice in one of the most extreme of those parties, the Dutch Freedom Party. But after its leader, Kurt Wilders (ph), said that he didn't want any more Moroccans in the Netherlands, Laurence Stassen quit in protest and she's now brought her campaign across the Channel here to Britain, where she's running as a representative for Southeast England and she joins me now live from Brussels, which is, of course, home of the European parliament.

Ms. Stassen, welcome to the program. And let me start by asking you, it sounds a little bit dissonant that you as a Dutch woman, a Dutch politician, is running for a seat in England.

How does that work exactly?

LAURENCE STASSEN, EUROPEAN MP: Well, you know, it's not that ordinary at all, actually, because when Mr. Mike Netters (ph), from an independence from Europe, asked me to do this, I was actually very honored because you have to understand that Great Britain as well as the Netherlands are very similar in their views in what they want and want to achieve, namely to leave the European Union.

AMANPOUR: Well, you mean the far right parties in Great Britain, UKIP and this party that you're talking about. But before we get to that, explain to me why and how you suddenly saw the light of your own party, Kurt Wilders (ph). You quit in protest because he did, in fact, make a very unsavory comment and led a very ugly chant of "No more Moroccans."

Didn't you know this about him before?

STASSEN: Well, you have to understand; I'm an individual and I take my own decisions. And you have to know I'm a strong believer of that what something morally is wrong, then that will be political right. And you're right; his remarks about fewer Moroccans was the line for me. And you can't upset a whole group of people away who are innocent and working in the country.

AMANPOUR: So let me just push you on that, because you said that was the line for you. I've interviewed Mr. Wilders (ph) several times and he has not been shy at all about basically his very strident, unpleasant views about Muslims in general.

So, again, it's not new.

Why was it now that you decided to take this step?

STASSEN: Because he made these remarks and decided to put a whole group of people, even innocent people, away. And I talked to him and about two days about it, and I said to him, well, you made a mistake. You can't say this. So please apologize and better take your word back.

But he refuses. So that was for me to quit the party.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you about the party that you're going to join here because you were a very prominent member of your party in the Netherlands and you have come here not to join UKIP, but to join actually a breakaway leader from UKIP and a much smaller party.

Is that because you don't like UKIP, either?

STASSEN: No, that's because they are very similar in the way they're managing their party and it's all about one leader. And I don't believe in that. I think you have to cooperate with all your members and be a democratic in a party. So that was also one of the reasons why I left the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands.

AMANPOUR: So we're reading a lot about -- and I explained at the beginning in my introduction -- that there could be big gains for the far right parties in Europe this week. They start tomorrow, the elections.

We also hear that many of these far right leaders are sanitizing their message. They're no more, as one newspaper wrote, the jackboots and the -- you know, the unpleasant look. They're wearing business suits and looking respectable.

But I guess I need to know from you can you be a little ultra-nationalist? Can you be a little racist? Can you be a little anti-immigration? How do you clean up your act?

STASSEN: Well, yes, well, you talk about far right parties. I didn't consider my -- the Party for Freedom as a far right party. And I don't consider myself as an extreme individual. I mean, you need to have respect for the people who are living in your country.

But we have some problems, too. We had some problems, too, in the Netherlands about double passports (ph) and a lot of people are having criminal activities. You have to understand this.

The way white populist (ph) parties were because that's the word I would like to use, populist parties are becoming to increase and there probably will triple after the elections. They will be tomorrow. It's because the people in Europe are fed up with the European Union. And they want to reclaim the sovereignty back. And they want also have and say what we have to do in our own country.

So we have to bring the powers back to a national government and national member states and not be dictated from Brussels, from your press from Brussels.

AMANPOUR: Well, as I say, this could make a shift in politics on the continent.

Are you, as we have read and as we seem to be seeing from other parties, for instance, the French National front of Marine le Pen has suggested that there be a sort of coalition or a joining up a bloc with the party that you left in the Netherlands and presumably with other parties.

Is that what you see going forward, once these elections are over, that the right will form a sort of continental bloc on certain issues?

STASSEN: They will surely try to do this, I think. But we have to see; we have to wait what the elections are, the results from the elections are tomorrow. And actually I have to see how it's going because you all know that if you have three captains on a ship, because Marine le Pen will be probably the most largest party from the monascriban (ph), and you have Mr. Fetch (ph), which obviously is also a captain on a ship, they tried it before and it didn't succeed. So we have to see what they are going to do.

But it doesn't take away that we have to do something about reclaiming our sovereignty.

AMANPOUR: We talked earlier, previously the program tonight, about Russia and what's going on between Russia and the Ukraine and Russia and China right now.

And let me just quote you, Nigel Farage, who you just mentioned there, the leader of UKIP here in Britain, has recently named President Putin as the leader he most admired. He says, as an operator but not as a human being.

And Marine le Pen, who we've talked about, has also expressed her admiration for Mr. Putin in the past.

What do you think that will mean for European politics at this particular time if your parties, will they get closer to Russia?

STASSEN: I don't know. And I think personally it's very appalling to me that Mr. Farage calls Mr. Putin and sets him as an example. I don't know what is going to happen. Maybe they will, as I understood, that Marine le Pen's party already had very close ties to Russia. There's probably, yes.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, I don't know, Ms. Stassen, but you're here in Britain and you don't sound very far right. I wonder why you're not running with the Tories.

STASSEN: Why I'm not running with the Tories?



AMANPOUR: Don't you worry.

STASSEN: Can you repeat the question, please?

AMANPOUR: It's OK. We've run out of time.

Thank you very much indeed.

And there are, of course, lots of other candidates and parties standing in that same area, the southeast of England, for these European parliamentary elections. You can find a full list of their names at

And as tensions continue to ratchet up from Washington to Beijing to Moscow, a chill reminiscent of the Cold War, Britain's Prince Charles either put his finger on it or put his foot in it, depending on your point of view.

On a ceremonial visit to Canada, the Prince of Wales and the heir to the British throne reportedly compared Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent moves in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler's territorial ambitions back in the 1930s.

This should, of course, make for a fascinating follow-up conversation next month when Charles meets Vladimir in Normandy on the 70th anniversary of D- Day.

And after a break, one man who took on Hitler's death machine and defeated it, one child at a time. The inspiring story of Nicholas Winton, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, in this age of cyber warfare, it's easy to forget that a mere seven decades ago the systemic machine-like murder of millions in gas chambers and ovens coined the phrase genocide. Now imagine a world where one man stood up to that machine and saved the lives of hundreds of children.

Nicholas Winton celebrated his 105th birthday on Monday at the Czech embassy here in London. But even by centenary standards, it marked a truly extraordinary life. Back in the late 1930s, Adolf Hitler's storm troopers marched into Czechoslovakia and suddenly the Jewish population found itself on the Nazi hit list. Some parents were able to send their children to safety.

But for most, there seemed to be no hope; that is until a young British stockbroker named Nicholas Winton went to Prague and saw for himself the plight of the children.

He returned to London and began to organize evacuations, marshaling a team of volunteers to outwit immigration restrictions and arrange for British families to open their homes when other countries, including the United States, shut their doors.

For nearly 50 years, this modest man hardly spoke of what he had done, saving 669 children, most of them Jewish, from certain death. He's since reunited with some of those children, now all grown up, and many with children of their own.

And in 2003, Queen Elizabeth knighted him Sir Nicholas. And later this year, what's the rush when you're 105? The Czech Republic will award him the Order of the White Lion, its highest honor.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.