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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  March 6, 2012 1:00am-2:00am EST

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>> rose: bell come t welcome r program. tonight we look at the relationship between the united states, israel and iran. we'll talk about the meeting between the president and the prime minister of israel, with jeffrey goldberg and dennis ross. >> when the chips are down is how you mesh whether someone can be counted on and also as a renextion of whether or not they're trusted. when it took place the first place the prime minister called was the president of the united states. they talked a couple times that day. when the six israelis were trapped in the embattle embassyo and there was profound fear of a liverinlynching taking place tht person the prim minister called was the president of the united
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states. he placed those calls when the chips are down he assumed he would be. >> this is at hope bashar assad will be gone and iran will be more isolated. i don't think that day has yet come and i think this is the crux of the discussion between israelis and the americans now. it's not over the threat of iran. it's when do you actually deal with the threat. when will the world understand why you're dealing with the threat at the time you're dealing with it. >> rose: we continue this evening look at the new hbo movie game change with the authors of the book mark halperin, john heilemann, jay roach and the screen writer danny strong. >> i was 50 feet from the convention floor and it sent shifers ushifersshivers up my s. the softer things where she connected again. i saw her work those rope lines with species needs kids and she would be out there for hours and connecting with people, not just those special needs kids but
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with average republican voters in a way that was incredibly incredibly genuine and a top pop lulpop -- populous touch just le a regular person. they would say i like her because she seems like my next door neighbor. that's a quality you didn't buy, you can't learn, you can't teach it. >> rose: what to do about iran and the making of a movie when we continue.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with a look at today's crucial meeting between president obama and israel prime minister netanyahu. questions of whether israel might unilaterally strike iran's nuclear facilities has gained
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momentum. today president obama called for diplomacy. >> we do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue but ultimately the iranians regime has to make a decision. to move in that direction. a decision they have not made thus far. and as i emphasized, even as we will continue on the diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions. i reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment, my policy is prevention of iran obtaining nuclear weapons. >> rose: prime minister netanyahu reiterated israel's right to defend itself. >> israel must have the ability always to defend itself by itself against any threats, and that when it comes to israel's
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security, israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions. i believe that's why you appreciate, mr. president, that israel must reserve the right to defend itself. and after all, that's the very purpose of the jewish state, to restore substitute jewish people control over our destiny. that's why my supreme responsibility as prime minister of israel is to ensure that israel remains the master of its fate. >> rose: joining me from washington jeffrey goldberg he's the national correspondent for the atlantic magazine. in an extraordinary interview of more than 40 minutes he talked about president obama last week. and dennis ross, former special assistant to the president from middle east afghanistan and south asia and also understands iran very well has played a leading role in palestinian peace negotiations during the clinton and bush administration so i'm pleased to have dennis and jeffrey on this program. i begin with dennis. we know that the president will
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ask the prime minute stir to give him time to get, to seat impact of sanctions dennis. what does the prime minister want? i think the standpoint was to be comfort about the strategic objectives. i never felt he was going to come here and ask for something very specific and concrete from the president in terms of red lines because that would inevitably produce the president asking for a comparable commitment from him. and i dealt with every israeli prime minister over the last 30 years and the one thing that's very clear is they always wanted to preserve their decision space, they always want to preserve their freedom of action. i think when he wanted was to be certain where the president's coming from is where he's coming from the objective meaning this is about preventing iran from having a nuclear weapons capability not living with it. >> the prime minister has been clear as i think every american president has understood. israel retains the right to
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defend itself. when it comes to anything that's so fundamental to israel smtion security, and in this particular case you're talking about israelis perceive as a threat at the end of the day israel has to retain the right to be able to defend itself. it is not a small decision for an israeli prime minister to forego a military option when israel could be face an existential threat. so i think what he was doing was repeating the essential point that when it comes to determining what israel must do for its own security, that has to be an israeli decision and ultimately that can't depend upon anyone else. >> rose: one thing, jeffrey that i found interesting, some people believe that american intelligence, that american intelligence says there's no hard evidence that iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb. >> well, and i think there are a lot of ills ray lis israelis wht but what everyone seems to agree is that iran is trying to walk
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itself up to the point where it could rather quickly put together a nuclear device. and you know, this goes to the core of what might be the disagreement between the president and the prime minister. the president talks about having a nuclear weapon. that is a threshold that he doesn't want to run across. knelnetanyahu talks of course at nuclear capability. obviously we're a lot closer to iran having a nuclear weapons capability than we are to them having actually a nuclear weapon. so part of the dispute that's going on is about time tables and it's about the definition of what poses a real and immediate threat. >> rose: one of the time lines both parties see, both countries see in terms of capability versus an existing weapon that you could deliver. >> well, i don't think that the prime minister is under the illusion that the ey ayatollah,e lead of iran can snap his fingers and have a bomb
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tomorrow. the timetable he's worried about is the timetable for action. they speak of this as immunity. that israel might soon run out of time in which it could effectively operate against rashesiran's nuclear program. one of the reasons there's a dispute here is structural. the american air force obviously has greater capabilities than the israeli air force to go deal with this problem. for any number of reasons, barack obama is more relaxed about the problem than the prime minister because he knows from his own military experts that he can operate against this at a much later date than the israelis could. >> rose: is the fear the prime minister may have is that while the president may think that sanctions are working and leading to a positive conclusion that somehow the iranians will go past some red line. >> what the prime minister fears, what this whole meeting is about and what this whole
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episode about is this. he fears that the president or that the united states will say an iranian weapon is unacceptable, we don't want it, we're going to stop it. that's going to cause him to essentially subcontract out israel's defense to the americans. and then when it's too late, when it's too late for israel to operate against the iranian program, and them to find out that well barack obama maybe didn't really mean it. that's what the trust deficit is all about. >> i think they've narrowed that trust deficit some but that's his nightmare. that's the prime minister's nightmare that he's going to walk down his garden path and when he finds out america is not going to deal with it it's too late for him to deal with it. >> rose: dennis. >> i do think that the critical issue from israeli standpoint is very much the way jeff was describing it. number one, the big concern is that diplomacy not drag on so long that by the time in fact
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it's beginning to emerge that it's not going to produce anything, it's really too late for the israelis to act. and that i think is an essential preoccupation. the other preoccupation though goes to the heart of how israel deals with something that is so fundamental to its security. israel does not have a tradition of having somebody else take care of his battles for it. on the contrary the israeli ethos is very much governorred by the sense they fight their own battles. israel has never wanted this issue to be israel against iran, it has always wanted this issue to be the world against iran. so israel has to weigh give kinds of considerations right now. it also knows that we probably have more capability to inflict greater damage on and cep sent k the iranian nuclear program than the israelis do. do they want to subcontract out something that's so fundamental to them. would it not be better for the americans to do it than for israel to do it. will the united states in the
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end actually go ahead and do it. i think what jeff is talking about in terms of trusting whether we would, i think that issue is increasingly being addressed. i think there's much less question as to whether or not this president, if he says he's going to do it will actually do it. in the interview he gave to jeff where he says he doesn't bluff, i think that was a very important message. but i again, i link it to the other point. there was a presumption on the part of many people around the prime minister that at the end of the day there were enough people within the obama administration who are prepared to live with iran new clear weapons that that added to his disquiet. now the fact that the president is saying this is about prevention not containment addresses that concern. >> rose: tell me what people within the administration are willing to live with containment -- not others. >> no, i don't think they are. i think in the first couple years of the administration, i think there were clearly discussions about what are you
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trying to do, when are you trying to get it done and i think the issue, you know, es not surprising that there are those who have believed that containment was something that you could do because actually it's been applied to other cases when countries have nuclear weapons. but i think the president decided early on that in enact containment doesn't work in this case. this isn't the equivalent of the cold war. you will have countries acting on a hair trigger. if you have a nuclear arm middle east, a region that is characterized by conflict, then the risk of having a nuclear war is quite high. having that kind of arm's race in this part of the world given the volatility is one thing, having an arm's race in this part of the world on nuclear issues as to th adds to the con. but think about the proliferation more generally. here would you have had three administrations, clinton, bush and obama saying iran can't have this. you would have had six security council resolutions of the united nations saying iran can't
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have this and then they visit. the message it sends is that you know, the proliferation regime which is something that this president really wanted to strengthen, has been e mass calculated. >> rose: are you saying this president has decided it's better to have war with iran than it is to have a nuclear iran, and he's prepared to do that? >> yes that is his position. i think his position is it's better to resolve this through diplomatic means. if you look historically, there have been cases when the islamic republic when they say the price is too high they look for a way out -- talked about fighting a war with iraq for 20 years or longer. he said whatever it took. and yet when the revolutionary guard and-came to him in 1988 and he said we don't have the forces, he made the decision to end the war and it was the equivalent of drinking poison
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from a chalice. in 2003hamminy suspended enrichment at a time when the very army they couldn't defeat in eight and-a-half years we defeated in three weeks and they thought they could be next. so there is a record of when the pressure is high enough that they look for ways to relieve that pressure. and i think the logic of the administration is there still is time and space given now the fact that there are crippling sanctions being applied to affect their behavior. one last point on this charlie. the concept of crippling sanctions is an israeli concept. the israelis have believed that with the right kind of pressure you could change iran's behavior. so i believe they too share the idea of wanting to do this through diplomatic means. the question is, can it be done in a time where israel doesn't lose its own option to act. >> rose: rationality at the core of iranian decision-making. >> i asked the president this question, and i asked him, i asked him to place himself on the continuum. on one end of the continuum, one end of the spectrum is the prime
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minister netanyahu told me three years ago before he became prime minister he views iraned leadership being an apocalyptic cut and the chairman of the joint chiefs a couple weeks ago referred to the leaders of iran as are possibly rational actors. and he said the president came down more on the side of general dempsey. he says i know these people don't have the same values that i have, that we have. but he also said that he believed that they were assentable tassessable, they'rel looking for the end of days and the appreciate could actually work. they're interested, and this is a point he's made. or interested in the survival of their regime. if they understand that their regime is under threat, they might make decisions to prevent their regime from being under threat.
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and so i think that there's a pretty broad consensus in the american government, in this government that iran is susceptible to rational self interest. >> rose: but rational also goes to the point that you don't want iran's leaders to be like saddam hussein was and not believe that the americans would attack. >> well you know that's one of the, i mean a lot of people read that interview and said this is about a messaging to netanyahu primarily. i took it all so as messaging toward iran. he was signaling to the iranians and he signaled no signaled nowy strong language don't take this lightly. i am serious when i say that it is unacceptable to me and that you know and that i have a lot of military power at my fingertips. and more than that, he said to me and we talk board of director this for a little while in this interview. he said if you look at my record, when i believe that a profound interest, a national security interest is at stake for america, i will use force.
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and obviously he talks about al-qaeda. but there are other instances as well. and i think part of the messaging here is that to the iranians take us seriously, not only the iranians take us seriously. >> i think what jeff said is exactly right. this was not messaging for the israelis this was a clear message to the iranians as well. don't miscalculate, don't misjudge. when we say we're determined to prevent, this is not a slogan. >> rose: the bottom line was it's unacceptable for iran to have nuclear weapons or the capability and therefore if you're close to that and we believe that you will have that, we will attack you militarily. >> i think that is the message. and i would say, i know there's this distinction between drawn between weapons and weapons capability but let me try to frame it in the following fashion. if iran were to decide that they didn't want to put together a bomb finally or do a test, they don't turn the last screw, but they go ahead and they basically acquire 50 or 75 bombs worth of
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material and they then are able to overcome their tech collage cull material problems -- technological material problems for cept fuses they could put themselves in a position to confront the world with a fay awe cal --fate awe call me. >> rose: the iranians can look at libya and say look what happens. >> i think that's the argument that some make that the reasons they're not going to be dissuadeds bethey think what protect the regime is getting that capability. but i think the flip side of that is if they think the kind of pressure they're under is the kind of pressure that is actually going to put the regime at risk, then they have a profound interest in reducing that pressure. >> my impression of the president and the administration is not that they're waiting for a nuclear test in iran in order to say oh they have a nuclear weapon. i believe that if they gain intelligence, that iran has begun enriching to 9 0% or doing
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other things in terms of warhead building or delivery systems that that is president obama's red line. of course here's the thing. president obama is not going to tell us his red lines. he's not going to tell anyone his red lines. maybe he's communicated in certain ways to the iranians, look don't go past this point. but i think there's, i think there's not as much of a gap to echo dennis, there's not much of a gap as there appear to be on this question of nuclear weapon versus nuclear weapon capability. >> rose: so what do you make of the ayatollah saying it's against our religion to have nuclear weapons. >> that's an interesting moment because you know, i'm no expert on fough fatwas coming from theg clerics, but it provides, if they want, it provides a very dignified off ramp for the iranians. if they decide that the sanctions are indeed crippling their economy, if they feel their regime is threatened by these sangions. they don't have to come out and
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say look we're encompass ling under to the united states -- knuckling under to the united states. he can say that. he can be very proactive and say look, yes, the thing that we stopped our nuclear program, but we've never wanted a nuclear program because it's islamic. and i think president obama sees that as a possible off ramp in which the iranians can save some face. >> rose: dennis is changing the regime an off ramp? >> no. i think the separation's approach ha --administration's o change the behavior of the regime. the greater the pressure becomes, the more the regime may feel that it's under risk and therefore that's why they want to roots the pressure. in answer to the earlier question, i do think that if the supreme leader wants an explanation. then by saying this he could be providing it. you could have others reasons for doing it. bear in mind he issued a lot years ago against nuclear
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weapons. this is basically repeating this but making it, saying it now at what seems to be a more interesting time, it could be he's simply trying to say to the world, look we're really not pursuing this but the fact is the world doesn't believe them. so if in fact he's trying to lay the pretty can you tell fo prete wanted was nuclear power and the rest of the world saying you can't turn that into a nuclear weapons capability and there has to be fire walls built in against that. if you wanted civil nuclear power you can have it but you have to play by the rules, you have to reestablish the confidence of the international community and have to come into compliance with your obligations. >> one of the dangers of let's call it a premature preempt stiff strike could lead to an alternative which says for the defense of the islamic republic we have to embrace this nuclear
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weapons program. that's what people have to calculate. >> rose: tell me what both of you believe is a consequence of a strike regardless whether it's by the israelis, by the united states, some combination. >> it's context dependent. what i mean by that is if in fact crippling sanctions are applied and they don't change iran's behavior, if negotiations begin soon which i believe they will in the next month or so, and they don't produce anything after several months, then you have one set of implications versus if you don't have that context. if there's a military strike prior to the time that you create such a context iran is more able to present itself as a victim and keep it isolated, much harder to maintain the kind of sanctions we have right now. but if the context is one where it's clear that everything has been tried and iran brought this on itself, i believe that the implications are not, war always has unintended consequences and you can't be certain. but the idea that in fact the
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region is going to be up in flames, first i don't believe that. right now if you look at, if you were to pull most arabs in the middle east right now, who is the biggest bogie man of all, they would say behar bashar awe. iran is close to that. there aren't tears shed when their nuclear problem is set back. it seems as if the world doesn't sort of seek this out of an excuse but it came as a result of iranians continuing to defy the world and everything had been done to try to produce a diplomatic outcome and that simply wasn't possible. so context will have a very big effect on the consequences. >> rose: the president makes a point. look we've got something going on here now where iran's big ally syria is at a point of close to civil war and we don't know where that's going to go. there's no time to get engaged in some other action with iran that now we need to focus on
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syria. >> this president is a very deliberate guy as we know from any number of situations. and i think he says a sequence here. and part of that sequence is, and he says it's not a matter of if but a matter of when. ben bashar assad goes and that regime collapses iran will loose its own ally and lose a bridge to hezbollah. it's a strategic loser in this drama awe. it's more have you been al and as iran's adversary he wants to see a weaker and more vulnerable iran. and he doesn't want, he doesn't want a premature attack on iran that would create image of iran as a victim. so i think he sees the fall of the assad regime as something not to interrupt, let's put it that way. and then he sees a number of other issues in sequence before he himself reaches the point at
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which the military component becomes a viable option. >> rose: answer the question jeffrey that i asked dennis. what would the scenario be if there was a military attack regardless of how it's carried out and by whom. >> yes. well no, i mean it's all about the timing. i think military attack now would be seen as precipitous and aggressive. not only by many iranians, obviously, but by many people around the world. it would give iran the opportunity to claim the mantle of victim. i think russia and possibly china would completely break with the sanction regime. i think they would be able to rush then in the interest of self-defense in their own terms to rush their nuclear program assuming that the damage was -7b89 sn'tso enormous they can'. very few people expect that. it's all a matter of time. if it becomes stunningly clear, if the aiei, the people doing
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the inspecting and watching and all of the world's intelligence agencies that are watching this have reached the conclusion that iran is definitively going for a bomb. they've been lying for years when they say it's a peaceful nuclear program, that they've shown no interest in taking any of the off ramps that have been built for them. then i think you have a different circumstance. and then by then, you know, i think this is the hope at least, bashar assad will be gone and iran will be more isolated. and then the context is completely different for a strike. but i don't think that day has yet come, and i think this is the crux of the discussion between the israelis and the americans now. it's not over the threat of iran, it's when do you actually deal with the threat. when will the world understand why you're dealing with the threat at the time you're dealing with it. >> rose: how we will read the tea leaves that come out of this meeting that's taking place between the president and the prime minister. >> i think this was never going to be a make or break meeting. i thought it was always going to be a meeting that was going to
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be, focus much more on discussing the broad strategic approaches, the relationship of diplomacy to the strategic approaches. the question of time lines and what it takes to give diplomacy a chance and what are the indicators that it's either working or it's not working. that was always going to be in my mind what the thrust of this was. i do think coming out of this, the two sides in fact are closely aligned but then again i felt they were largely closely aligned even before. a lot of the noise that you're hearing is designed to again create a motivation to ensure that the kind of crippling sanctions that need to be applied are in fact applied and then get it implemented. could i just add one other point just going back on the earlier discussion. we both gave you an answer that made it very clear that context would have a big impact on the effectiveness of the use of force. that doesn't mean that if you use force the iranians aren't going to retaliate.
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they will retaliate. for them not to retaliate, they would reveal themselves as boeing a complete paper tiger not only to the outside but also to the inside. so they will resale ate. the questio retail great. what will hezbollah do. if assad is in fact going to disappear from the scene and syria has been the main conduit for weapons and it's not that syrians are a conduty conduit, s regime has provided a good deal of went rea to hezbollah. if they know their recent source of supply is in doubt, does hezbollah make a decision they go all out when rashes ask them to go out against the israelis. if you're israel you have to awe suit worst buawe -- assume the . sure there will be retaliation. rashes will do it against israel. they will push hezbollah to do it as well. they will go after soft jeushz targets around the world. one should assume remark is not
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going to be quiescent. that really needs to be part of the consideration. >> rose: if iran strikes israel, we're brought into it immediatel are we not. >> i think it depends. you know, the fact of the matter is, i think from an israeli standpoint, if they make a decision to do this on their own, they're not going to want to do it on their own and then immediately have to turn to us. that's not what's going to guide them here. again go back to the notion of the israelis having a sense we fight our own battles. we supply when it's necessary is one thing but bringing us into it is quite a different thing. >> rose: jeffrey. >> i differ with dennis a little bit on the consequential nature of the meeting. you know, it's not consequential in the sense that obama acquiesced to netanyahu or vice versa. i think it's consequential it's recalibrated their relationship
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a little bit. they've had some really bad meetings. you remember the lecture in the oval office. and i think, you know, while of course these are two leaders of two countries, they're not going to completely trust each other about anything. that's not the nature of the way this works. but i think that they've built some trust up and i think they both see themselves, see each other as in a slightly different light now and i think there's much better communication. one of the most remarkable things over this last period is the constant traffic between israel and washington. not a week went by without somehow level delegation going in one direction or the other. and this high level of communication is something that's changed and it's what paved the way for what i think is a consequential meeting, consequential because it's been so far at least it seems so different in sort of that they've got the ability to talk to each other. one of the most amazing things and this is where in my interview with the president he
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was more animated and more frustrated. he did this at the -- this is a guy who has stood up for israel. an objective analysis at the united nations, about the report, the floatilla, the egypt embassy. i think after a while even benjamin netanyahu who might be closer in outlook to sheldon adelson than a lot of pea many. i think netanyahu is short of finally observing this guy obama actually has done quite a bit for israel in the last three years. >> rose: do you agree with that dennis. >> i do but i would even take it a stitch further. a step further. there's a conventional wisdom about their relationship. but when the chips are down is how you measure whether someone can be counted on and whether it's a reflection whether or not it's trusted. when the floatilla took place the first person the prime minister called was the president of the united states and they talked a couple times 2459d day. when the statistic israelis were
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trapped in the embassy in cairo and there was a profound fear of a lynching taking place, the first person the prime minister of israel called was the fred o- president of the united states. if this is someone you don't think you can count you don't place those calls. he placed those calls because when the chips are down he assumed he would be there. >> rose: do the consequence for what happens depend on what is in netanyahu's brain and his sense of his place in history and the survival of israel. that's what will guide him. >> i think there's a lot of truth to that. this is a big decision for him in either direction he goes. but again i would just remind you of one important fact. all along, and this is true under his tenure as prime minister as well as prior to it, israel has always wanted this to be the world against iran not israel against iran. and. success ultimately the policy from the israeli standpoint will be what can be done to ensure that this program is
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fundamentally changed. and if in the end he decides that it's better to go the route of having the world do it meaning the u.s. do it if diplomacy doesn't succeed, then he's going to go one way. if he draws a conclusion that in the end he's not certain that somehow the u.s. will do it quite the way he thinks it needs to be done or will do it at the time he thinks it will need to be done thing he may decide something different precisely because his own self image of prime minister is caught up with the idea that his role is to be the defender of the jewish people, the secure of israel and the prime minister's responsibility to prevent a second holocaust. >> rose: final word to you jeffrey. >> it's an excellent, it's an excellent point. and let's take netanyahu out of this conversation. any israeli prime minister. look the country was founded after the holocaust and the rationale israel's existence is that the jews are not going to depend on others for their protection. and so even if this wasn't
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benjamin netanyahu the right wing prime minister even if it was a centrist or even a leftist prime minister, the same rules, the same ethos applies. and it's quite something for any israeli leader to basically say to himself or herself, you know what, i'm going to put my faith in the hands of these outsiders. granted, we're talking about the united states of america. israel's great protector and benefactor and ally. but it's still, it's a very very difficult thing to ask of any israeli leader to do that. which is why it remains highly plausible or rather plausible even in the short term that israel might openly decide to take action unilaterally because of this. i think the chances are somewhat less after this past weekend that something's going to happen in the short term but it's always there because of this,
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because of this independent ethos sniessments than. >> rose: thank you very much jeffrey, dennis. a pleasure. the 2008 presidential election was one of the most dramatic stories in american political history. game change the best selling book by mark hall person and john heilemann. game change leaves the reader with a vivid visceral sense of the campaign and a keen understanding of the paradoxes and contingencies of history. the book is now a hbo movie. here is the trailer. >> we need to create a dynamic moment in this campaign. or we're deed. -- or we're dead. >> we desperately need a game change. none of these middle aged white guys are game changers. >> so find a woman. >> i would be arne to be your nominee to the president of the
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united states. >> rose: joining me now the authors, mark hall person and john heilemann, jay roach the director and danny strong the screen writer. i'm pleased to have them here to talk about this movie which airs on hbo on saturday night of this week. so here's the question. this is the book. the book is about 2008, the presidential campaign. obama versus clinton. everybody raved about the book. so you pick out one particular story. >> right. >> rose: one three months in that story. >> yes. because the book is a great book with tons of great stories in it. and we had two hours. so i wanted to do a story that was compelling and captured the kind of sort of back room strategizing that i'm so fascinated with in politics. one of the things that hooked me about that story and we talked about earlier was the story of steve schmidt, are the guy who goes on 60 minutes and is the guy who was the lead proponent of putting on the ticket and says months later i wish i could
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go back and do it over again essentially. and i think, i'm interested in those rooms where those decisions were made and i thought that would be a compelling story. >> rose: 60 minute "60 minutea piece about the book. that was stewart that made it exciting. >> i was always fascinated about how did they get to that choice. why did they have to rush that so much. why was it kep secrete fo secreo long and then how did it feel when it seemed like a great choice for a while through those first couple speeches and how did it feel when it went off the rails a little built i thought it was a fascinating compelling story. again, there are a lot of great stories there. i just wanted something and we all talked about it too at least danny and i and hbo that could fit into a two-hour movie that would be that compelling. >> rose: what did you do danny other than write the script? [laughter] >> well first off i went out and i did 25 interviews of people in
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the palin mccain campaign and i got their stories. then i read any other source material i could find on the election. but the bulk of the script is game change kind of leap for beat of that section. >> rose: so you were looking to add to through the reflection and looking to see if it was the same as when these guys wrote the book. >> exactly. it was a couple years so people were willing to talk more about it as more time passed. there are a lot of anecdotes that we were able to infuse into the script. the goal is to bring as much reality and as much truth and dimension to the proa portrayals possible. and talking to the actual people, there's no better way to do that than talking to them. >> rose: how did sarah palin end up on the ticket even though it's been discussed on this table and written about in this book and now in the movie. >> the simplest way is it's clear in the movie expwook they needed a game changing pick. and senator mccain was determined to pick -- because he saw that as a game changing
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pick. a guy who was an independent al gore's running mate. as pour trid in the movie rick davis' campaign manager who was in charge of the betting process and sort of putting the list together for people to consider sat down and looked at every possible woman who might be on the ticket. >> rose: why did they go from lieberman to looking at every other woman. >> center mccain became convinced although he might get them through the convention even though the convention is made up of delegates than joe lieberman that the party would be broken apart. >> and when word leaped out that he was thinking about him, the writer interrupted and lost the element of surprised and mobilization of people on the right absolutely not, not to have al gore's running mate to join you on the ticket. they were left -- they did not have a rigorous betting process. they belted a few people but no one who was a game changing pick. rick davis sat down and started
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googling youtube women politicians and found sarah palin where she game a spectacular interview and other topics and looked good and sounded good. rick davis and steve schmidt became convinces she was a star, game changing pick and she addressed a lot of political imperatives they had and mccain was convinced every a five day period. >> one of the things that the movie captures so well is the way that they backed them inteefs thiinteefsthemselvesin . there was no way you could win. he needed to change the dynamic because obama had so much money, was a celebrity, was a star. it was a democrat year because so many people in the country had turned against george w. bush he needed to establish a maverick make in-roads with the female vote. all of these other candidates woody haralson in the meef says it's all these boring white gaze, they're not game changing picks. he's got five days.
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so 24e they had kind of messed around for months going through the process of vetting people who would never help him win and ended up suddenly having to make the biggest decision of mccain's political life with just a few hours of vetting. and then he had just not met her. none of them had met her until two days before they picked her. they never met her. he met her dinls o once at a din washington dc. but they didn't spend time with her. the staff didn't now how to pronounce her name. >> rose: if romney wins the nomination does he need a game changer. >> i think what he needs to do is to pick someone who is obviously qualified to be president. i think that's the first thing any smart presidential nominee does. and if he can find someone who is qualified to be president and a game changer, that's great. i think al gore is kind of the quintessential example of that. he was a game changer because it reinforced some of the things about bill clinton that people liked and added to it. so i think --
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>> rose: attractive forward thinking. >> new democrats and all that. i think of the people who might be considered somebody like chris christie could be considered a game changer but you got to pick somebody who is qualified and i think governor romney knows that. >> rose: he couldn't pick some general somewhere could he. >> if the general was instantly perceived to be qualified. i don't know if he would be perceived that way. i think out of the box pick like governor palin was or general petraeus could be would be exciting and if managed well could work. the problem in this case and again if governor romney picks somebody like that you got to manage it well. >> rose: is there someone that would excite the base help the ticket and be instantly recognized as qualified to be president. >> i don't know the answer to that and i will say to reinforce what mark said. one of these situations picking the presidential nominee where the substance and politics are in perfect alignment. the truth is all the talk about winning certain voter
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demographics. they don't vote for who the vice president is they vote for the top of ticket. people are judging your judgment. this is a big huge decision you're making. you're putting someone a heart beat away from the presidency. do we rate that choice. what does it say about you as the person at the top of the ticket who you pick. and so picking someone who is instantly credible, solves a political problem and appears so the right thing to do for the country. and i think to bring it back to the film it is one of the things that for some number of people was one of the most troubling things by governor palin selection is what did it say about john mccain that he was willing to pick someone who he knew so little about. forget about what you found out about her later. in that first couple days there were people who said this woman is a small state governor, for only 18 months. he doesn't know her. he spent a very brief time vetting her. is that irresponsible and there are focus groups around the country where people found where people were saying thing like he's a 72 year old man.
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cancer cares. this was not a responsible choice and that was the biggest political damage more than anything else, are that was the biggest political damage mccain suffered. >> rose: her qualification to be president is a heart beat away. >> correct. >> rose: what did we learn about her in this film also in this book that tells us how she was as a candidate and how she had the impact she did. >> well, i think we show very clearly she was incredibly charismatic person, fantastic speaker. those first two speeches, the roll out speech and the convention speech were excellent. buy think it alsi think it alsot have time to get ready. what i find compelling about the story was seeing how traumatic some of the sort of preparation phases were for her, particularly preparing for the debate. but al is h so for the intervie. >> rose: she didn't know what the fed was. >> she didn't know and she had
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gaps in some of the international affairs issues but it was al society emotional drain of not only being the mother with five kids and run off to rack iraq, a daughter, aw baby with down syndrome and having to kind of take on all the attacks she got right away. she now has to step up and take on a senator who is, you know, has three decades of experience and deliver some kind of body blow that's a knock out punch that's supposed to help them win in the general election. the pressure on her was so strong and i read those sections in the book and that's the stuff that i didn't see behind the signs. and it made me actually relate with her because i would be curled up in a ball if i was under that kind of pressure. so i thought i actually thought those revealed humanized her and made her more interesting. >> rose: give us a sense what you found out about sarah palin, who she is.
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>> she's a much more multidimensional person we've come to know in the press. she's gotten character to a certain point. and people really would take me through what she was like with her kids, what she was like with her husband. what was going on with her emotionally during this experience. and that at times, you know, there were sort of two sarahs. one that exsealed wildly beyond anyone's expectations and another one who would be sort of overwhelmed by all of the information that they're trying to impart on her in a very very short period of time. when you thank you to these people who lived with her basically for 60 days non-stop you really get to see what someone is much more beyond the character that we've kind of come to know. >> rose: tell me, who was the sarah palin that you knew in the book. >> the line dennis uses is actually one of her senior advisors used in the book on what mark wallace used to refer to, the two sarahs. she was, you know, you can't
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under, you can't overstate the degree of difficulty of what she had to do. and her capacity as a red light performer under this extraordinary scrutiny. i mean there are not that many politicians that i've covered who could do what she did at the convention and the movie shows that. it's just how much pressure she was under. the world was watching. people in the republican party were talking 12 hours before about how she might have to be kicked off the ticket. she got out there in front of the biggest audience of the world and gave a speamp that sense shivers up my spine. she was magnetting, electrifying and incredible. the movie shows some of the soccer things. i was in palin events, i saw her work those rope lines with special needs kids. she would be out there for hours and connecting with people not just those special needs kids but with average republican voters in a way that was incredibly incredibly genuine and populous kind of touch
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without even the bad traces of populism. just like a regular person you go out and talk to those people and they would say i like her because she seems like my next door neighbor. that's quality in politics you can't buy, learn, teach it. she has it, right. as jay said she had some sijt substantive deficiencies that were problematic and under later, under some of the pressure that she was under she sort of cracked. and again, you can't help but feel again when you see it on screen sympathy for her. but given the stakes involved, you know, when she cracked and then she later pulled herself together that it was primarily in the debate preparation that she mostly cracked, that was a really huge potential political problem for them. and again to her credit she managed to pull it together in the end and be so effective again we show in the movie. >> rose: where is she today, mark. >> she's still an incredibly force in the republican party. she gets an enormous amount of credit for inspiring the tea fetter and i think there's a fervent following she has as
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someone who is critical of both parties. and the ethos of saying wash doesn' --washington doesn't wory have the system rigged. the kind of ritter rick on the left and right. she's still a leading voice for that. not running for president. i don't know the answer to that. i think it's some combination of the normal reason people don't run. family considerations and a lack of fire in the belly to do it this time. but she still with make more news than anyone. the interest in the film is driven in large part by the fact that there's incredible interest her. she went to the c-pack convention leading the annual meeting in washington of dawn servives. all them, lots of governors. hands down she got the biggest reaction. >> rose: it was the best speech. >> judged by the audience reaction. there were other ways to judge a speech these are a group of conservative backers many of them young. it wasn't a close call.
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room was packed, not an empty seat and she, normally all the people left by then, and she still can give that speech to left people on that side of the political spectrum hear what they want to hear. i'll just say one more thing. one of the greatest things i think about the film is at a time where almost everything our politic is polarized and where sarah palin almost always when she comes up is a importantizing figure. let -- polarizing figure. the movie is not polarizing it's history of what happens and shows everything. >> rose: you want to say clear because some criticism that is an attack on her and there's some conspiracy and you guys are out to do damage to the republican party and to sarah fay lynsarahpalin and the tea p. >> it's not -- >> rose: you want to reject that idea. >> it's about the human experience of running for president. and what that's like to be in that situation seen through the eyes of an individual who has never been on the national stage in her entire life which makes
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for an extremely dramatic story. and i think it's what drew us to this story. >> rose: she is not buying that. >> it's true. >> let's be clear -- >> the vast majority of the critics those few that have been critical that have made a lot of noise in the last couple weeks haven't seen the movie. >> people don't want to fight but they wanted to see a brilliantly produced entertaining adequately written movie. [laughter] >> rose: -- compared to the book. >> -- that would be -- >> people shouldn't approach it as a partisan thing. >> rose: how should they approach it as a good story. >> good story well told about american history. >> it's about our political process. >> rose: the questions to ask are. >> is every contest a win at all costs situation, are there actually people say country first but you know, is it country first that takes such big risks rush that back do it
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so much in secret you can't figure out everything you need to know about a candidate. is the process so much a kind of reality show or a world wrestling federation which sometimes that's the question. >> rose: at the identify of the day steve schmidt is the star of this flism. >flism -- film. >> we've been talking about this doing some screening around the countries in liberal cities like boston and seattle. it's amazing when they're asked about palin's portrayal they felt more sympathy for her after the movying than coming in. steve and danny together did an incredible movie about operatives and strategists not about george b. bush and al gore in the 2000 recount. this has say a aw sarah palin an mccain. but the moral of the story is steve schmidt and you see the movie through the eyes of and is the one who pushe pushes for thk
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and has the moral reckoning with some of consequences and comes to this kind of resolution as he struggles through it. it's the most relatable person in the movie because he's not someone who is super famous in america and you look at him and you see exactly why he made the decisions he made and exact here what the consequences of them were and how he has to deal with the repercussions of that for himself. >> rose: even if he suggested an answer, how does he view it today steve schmidt. >> it's not what he did. i think you can't, he's now said he doesn't think that she was fit for the office and that he wishes he could go back and do it over again. he said that publicly. >> rose: isn't the more than that. has he elaborated on that. >> can't say i'm an expert on all of steve schmidt -- >> rose: i'm asking you for insight. >> i think the moment he did the 60 minutes interview there's an element of expeaating a sin that he feels he committed.
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the strongest thing for his portrayal of the movie first of all woody haralson is incredible in the movie a toured de force and stevie has come out and said the movie is just exactly how he lived the campaign. there was no one who knows more about what happened in that campaign than steve schmidt and he looked at it and said it was an out of body experience for him. it's like this is erie how much i feel like i'm having deja vu here. >> rose: that's what the four of you hope the audience will see that's the way the reaction should be. watching this movie and have a better insight in terms of what it's like to be in the middle of a political campaign for the highest office in the land. >> the script and the production are as good as you'll see in a political movie to understand what it's really like to get any campaign including in this historic one. >> rose: this saturday march 10th at 9:00 p.m., game change. thank you for joining us. captioning sponsored by rose communications
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