S1: Let me be explicit right now in this podcast. There’s some explicit language.
S2: It’s Monday, April 23rd, 2018, from slated to the gist. I’m Mike PESCA. And now the just presents the badgering of Bob Corker. Corker silver-haired soon to be ex senator, has been making the rounds of the talk shows to advocate for the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. Along the way, he’s been asked to field a couple of political questions.
S3: For instance, he says that he will vote Republican in the Tennessee Senate race. But because Corker has a good relationship with the Democratic nominee, a former governor, he won’t be actively campaigning in that Senate race. Got that? Okay, good. Then there was this other thing he did assert or perhaps suggested that President Trump might not run for president in 2020. To me, that seems interesting. I’d want to ask Corker about that. And so, too, apparently did George STEPHANOPOULOS on this week.
S4: Just on Friday, you said you kind of doubt the prez is going to run again in 2020. Why do you doubt that?
S5: Look, I you know, I was having this rhetorical situation of somebody trying to pin you down as to what you who you may vote for in 2020. I don’t know. I don’t know who’s gonna be running in 2020. I don’t know if the president will be running in 2020. So so it was really a set. You know how popular television is today? Today, George, it’s a gotcha situation. It’s really just pushing back against that.
S1: Yes. Pushing back against TV gotchas. I hate those gotchas. Trying to figure out, though, how would work in this situation. What’s the gotcha? Corker is a prominent elected official. He’s suggesting Trump might not run. How do you frame a gotcha question that elicits that statement? So what I did was I went back to the source interview because this must be a master interviewer work. In fact, it’s Alisyn Camerota of CNN. I will play a large chunk of this gotcha interview.
S6: Do you want to get to some news in the morning? And our Monita Rajpal is reporting about President Trump’s re-election bid that he has announced. Do you support today President Trump for re-election in 2012?
S7: Look, I you know, who knows whether President Trump’s either going to even going to run. Is going to run? Well, not surely. CNN is not taking for face value everything that comes out of the White House. All of a.
S6: But wait a second.
S7: The president, when he says he’s running for re-election, I have no idea whether the president runs for re-election nor what the field will be on the Republican side. So I think it’s way too early to to weigh in on who one might support.
S3: I know. I know. If you’re like me right now, you’re having mixed emotions. Sure. Bob Corker, Corker’s an adult and a successful public figure, and he agreed to this interview. On the other hand, how could he possibly withstand that level of gotcha question? Who among us could could stand up to that level of scrutiny? It’s like some dystopian nightmare and Camerada did not let up.
S1: You know, I just paused this interview for you because it was getting so unpleasant, that feeling that you get where maybe you’d want to turn off the podcast just because of the the advance psyops techniques of these gotcha questions. But now we got to rejoin it. Here is what Alissa Camerata asked immediately after that series of gotcha questions.
S6: But are you saying that you’re not sure that President Trump is going to run?
S7: Oh, I I I’m definitely not sure he’s going to run. He’s raised four million dollars. Well, I mean, four million dollars is a speck of sand in the ocean as it relates to these kind of things. And, you know, that’s a lot.
S3: Oh, stop. Just stop. Just as another human being on this planet, I cannot take this level of gotcha. My God, poor Bob Corker. So thrown, so disoriented, resorting to references of specks of sand in the oceans, clearly drops of water in the ocean. He’s disoriented. He needs medical assistance. What’s next? Allison Camerata, belly slaps, rectal feeding. Oh, no, wait.
S1: Those are the techniques championed by Mike Pompeo, which gets us back again to why Bob Corker was making the rounds on the shows to begin with to support Pompei, his nomination not to be waterboarded into explaining his curious remarks about Trump 2020. Not that there’s anything wrong with waterboarding on the show today. I shpiel about what can happen in the few seconds it takes to reload during a mass shooting. In fact, in Tennessee, the shooter was disarmed. During this time. But I’m going to help you by explaining why gun rights advocates tell us this actually can happen. But first, Ronan Farrow. He worked for the State Department in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was young at the time, 21, which to him is, I guess, middle aged. He had already graduated Yale Law School. He was on his way to being a Rhodes Scholar. Then he hosted his own TV show on MSNBC last week. You want to polar? Sir. And this week, he’s out with his new book, A Diagnosis of U.S. Foreign Affairs and the Cost of Letting Diplomacy Wither on the Vine. But that was all prelude to now what is surely the capstone to his somewhat scattered career trajectory. He is on the Jay.
S8: Ronan Farrow is an alarmingly adept journalist who just won the Pulitzer Prize. He’s an investigative journalist for The New Yorker. He makes documentaries for HBO. He has been an anchor and a reporter at MSNBC. And it doesn’t say host, but I was on your show once once and be saying you for tolerating my midday cable show.
S9: That’s your trial. You won your tour.
S8: I think you were trying to instruct the world on issues of war and peace. And now we should say your new book is War on Peace The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. Hello, Ronan. Thanks for coming in. Good to be here. Thanks, Mike. You were a diplomat. Can we say you’re an attache? Were you ever an attache?
S10: I don’t know that I was an attaché. I was briefly a State Department official.
S8: How they woo you to go into that line of work?
S11: I came to the government and Afghanistan and Pakistan specifically to work for Richard Holbrooke, who was, as we both know, this larger than life character who had made peace in Bosnia and died. As it turned out, trying to make peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan while I worked for it.
S1: And it was that it was a interesting, as you describe it, interview process that included you in an anteroom while he was taking a shower. This is like LBJ. This is this is like Robert CARO stuff.
S10: There are some colorful anecdotes that I think will turn people’s heads as they read this, one of which is Richard Holbrooke was famous for doing meetings in bathrooms. This was not a me too thing. This this was he was a scatterbrained and oblivious kind of guy when it came to other human beings at times, but incredibly brilliant, incredibly loyal. And so in the case of my job interview at the State Department, I interviewed with Hillary briefly and kind of her antechamber.
S9: And there’s me and a CIA guy that he was putting on his team. And, you know, in the eyes of Richard Holbrooke, every hire was like a momentous thing. Or he made you feel like that.
S10: Right. I mean, tremendous showmanship. And I was just a little rookie guy at the bottom of the totem pole. I had no business meeting with the secretary of state, but he did this very gracious thing. And then lobbying hardball policy questions about Taliban negotiations and assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan brought me from the State Department to his townhouse in Georgetown to the upstairs of his townhouse and proceeded to get in the shower, you know, and the jaw was doors sort of closed ish, but ajar and did not break the flow of questions, just sort of poked his head and said, like, I innocent, I going to take a shower. And there we were. And and it did lead to those years at the State Department. What was your brief? My brief was, you know, just talk to people on the ground live in Afghanistan. Well, no, we went back and forth.
S9: And look, the process of being an American official and visiting these countries is not a process of immersing in the culture and understanding what it is to live in Afghanistan or Pakistan, particularly when you’re in Kabul, in the U.S. embassy. You live in in Kabul right now. Right now.
S8: You know, every embassy that even wants to be outreaching is a fortress or a moat. And in Kabul, fortress.
S10: And my job was made doubly difficult by the fact that there were all these barriers. You know, you couldn’t just talk to people and you go from point A to point B, and it’s like a security detail on what they call a rhino, which is this sort of steel box you travel in that has little holes on the side that say, you know, break class and insert rifle here in case you come under fire.
S8: Just that alone, the vision of that gets in the way of diplomacy, gets in the way of outreach. Yeah. And it also ties into your overall theme that we’ve essentially even militarized our diplomats.
S9: Right. So strikingly, actually, in the last few months, there has been a push to have diplomats engage in arms sale transactions. This is like a formal initiative by the White House. And that’s part and parcel with the decimation of the State Department right now. We just don’t have negotiators and peacemakers anymore. And we’re shuffling them out as fast as we can and giving the work that they once did to non subject matter experts. And honestly, as often as possible, soldiers and spies.
S8: Yeah. When when Trump went to Saudi Arabia, his first foreign trip, which was unusual and the evidence of our great diplomatic relationship was this record setting arms sale that a lot of it’s not true. Was he kind of bet on the common exagerated it. But for that to be the emphasis as opposed to the fact that, you know, Saudi Arabia, as we speak yesterday they showed the Black Panther for their first movie ever. There are a lot of other things to emphasize other than see what great friends we are.
S10: We made an arms sale and in a sense, we have the benefit of historical lessons that we are refusing to learn. And a lot of the book is devoted to that. You know, the pattern you see is in the first terms of a lot of these administrations. There is this. Absence of diplomacy and then almost invariably there’s a realization too late. Yeah, that you need diplomacy, literally. The quote from Condoleezza Rice was We realized we needed a few diplomats in the second term. Clinton slashed the State Department budget and the U.S. aid budget by 30 percent, and that had disastrous results. It’s one of the reasons why we didn’t have adequate diplomatic capacity after 9/11. And we closed all these embassies and we shut down two government agencies that were related to very important foreign policy priorities. And you heard in Barack Obama’s rhetoric a commitment to that idea. You know, I quote him over and over again talking about how, you know, our might is not through our military in Egypt, Sherm. And a lot of people remember his legacy that way. And I think it’s instructive to realize that even in his administration, there was this phenomenon of the militarization of foreign policy and then an acknowledgment that that had been a mistake.
S8: As you point out, people might not remember this. He was as reliant on generals or almost as reliant as Trump was. I think he was deferential. Obama was I just don’t think he was confident early on.
S10: Very few politicians are confident in the face of the military industrial complex. And, you know, it’s viewed as a political win to support our generals in a way that it is not to support our dusty bureaucrats at the State Department. And that’s a fundamental misperception. There are huge problems with the State Department. It needs reform. It needs fixing. But this is a job of self-sacrifice and like, ah, you know, men and women in uniform, they are working very often in the most dangerous places on earth, but they’re not coming home to ticker tape parades. I’m careful in this book not to make it as black and white as, you know, like Pentagon bad and State Department good. These are both systems that have strengths and are necessary. And I think every sober minded person says we need both and probably necessarily the Pentagon has got to be a good deal larger. But what those people also say is this is way out of whack. This is way, way out of proportion. And we just don’t have the capacity left on the civilian side anymore.
S8: Well, one thing that I see that was made clear in the book is that our very best or sharpest or at least most opportunistic, already unbelievably cynical generals have seen and sensed that there is this more, that there is no diplomacy. And so they have sort of crafted themselves as not just a general, but a diplomat general. So this is something Petraeus does. And Mattis as the warrior monk. And it’s not to impugn their motives. There’s a lot of what they do because there is no diplomacy that we’re relying on the military to do it. But it also could, you know, a lot of the rest of us into a false sense of security. Oh, it’s OK. We’re getting our diplomacy from the army. And the army is now social workers. But as you point out, no, they’re not. They have guns.
S10: Right. It’s a completely different skill set. And what you lose when you shuffle off the diplomats is any kind of subject matter expertise. You know, there’s a chapter in this book about North Korea, and that’s been a long, fraught diplomatic journey with a lot of failures along the way, but also a lot of institutional knowledge gained. You know, we are not relying on our experts there or anywhere else. The Afghanistan situation when I was there is really instructive of this because we had a period of maximum military leverage where what the Pentagon was doing could have catalyzed talks. And now years later, I think there’s much more acceptance in the foreign policy establishment of the idea that you’re not going to win militarily in Afghanistan. You got to talk to the Taliban. There’s gotta be a political settlement. But at the time, it was verboten to even say that we weren’t allowed to say it publicly. You couldn’t suggest at meetings everything had to be done in secret.
S8: Yet you extracted a Taliban affiliated guy nicknamed a A-Rod. Yeah. And Holbrooke had to be very, very careful about. I mean, he could be a very useful guy to you. And he turned out to be, but he had to be very careful about publicly associating or embracing or even letting it known that he was affiliated with this operation.
S10: And the nexus of the Pentagon and the White House really put the kibosh on numerous attempts to jumpstart that process faster. And what a lot of the people involved say in retrospect is, yeah, we squandered the biggest window of opportunity. We had to have a political settlement. No one, I think, is suggesting that Richard Holbrooke could have waltzed in and fixed Afghanistan, but you could have had talks earlier and you could have maybe saved some lives and it could have had a tangible difference for the current situation in Afghanistan, which is yet more military escalation.
S8: So President Trump talked about withholding funding from Pakistan. What will that do other than embolden the Chinese?
S10: Well, so this is always the million dollar or whoever large the assistance package is question. Yeah. So the Chinese are nipping at our heels and actually, I think. The lesson about that the world over is we are ceding this space to China because as we are eviscerating our State Department, China is year on year spending more and more on diplomacy. And there is this stereotype for a long time in American foreign policy. You know, China is rapacious and they don’t give a damn about human rights. And there’s a lot of truth to that. But also what we’re seeing is in places where China was the rapacious interloper who aided and abetted the bad guys like Sudan, for instance. Now you’ve got a Chinese special envoy doing shuttle diplomacy and wanting, you know, big splashy PR gains from brokering a political settlement. They are filling our space really fast. Yeah.
S1: Here’s the thing that surprised me about Tillerson and your reporting bears this out. I assess that his actual worldview is within the normal range. He correctly regards Russia as potential enemies and he is against terrorism. And, you know, he probably has some misgivings about United States excess in terms of torture, let’s say.
S3: But I was really shocked by how motivated he was to cut staff at the State Department. That seemed to be the reason he got up in the morning rather than actually, you know, direct the State Department to achieve any policy goals.
S10: And that seems to be the source of bafflement for just about everyone. George P. Shultz at age 97, former secretary of state, who had also been in the private sector for years and years before stepping into that job, said, I don’t know if that was an order he got or what. But you can turn down a job. Yeah. And no one can quite figure out what he thought he was doing. You know, there’s the call to service and I and I spent a fair amount of time with Rex Tillerson, and I believe that he sincerely wanted to serve his country. But I can’t imagine what he thought he was accomplishing. So faithfully executing those orders. And he’s more candid than he’s ever been in these pages. You know, he says that he pushed back behind closed doors. Yeah. He says that he was inexperienced and maybe should have known. But didn’t you know early in his brief tenure in the job that you don’t go to the Hill and say, hey, senators and congressmen, don’t give me money? But to whatever extent he realized that that was the wrong approach. It obviously happened too late.
S12: So every secretary of state fights with every secretary of defense. Colin Powell talked about fighting with Rumsfeld. That’s normal turf wars. Tillerson pretty clearly points to not the secretary of defense, but Kushner as his major adversary. And you illustrate this by talking about a dispute that saw Saudi Arabia and a number of Gulf states cut off relations with Qatar, an important military ally. Trump issued a vociferous takedown of Qatar. That’s a contradiction of Tillerson. Tillerson tried to correct. Here’s my question. How much of Kushner’s decisions or motivations might be influenced by the fact that he was applying for a loan with Qatar essentially might be affected not just by a different world view, but by financial incentives and the fact that he’s in hock on 666.
S13: You know, a fellow reporter once said to me in the last couple of weeks, we’re not working on multiple stories. It’s all one big story. And, you know, it’s funny, the you know, I’ve been reporting on these, you know, secret election season payments through The National Enquirer to silence stories. You know, The Times recently reported on an we’ve done some reporting at The New Yorker on the meetings between David Pecker of The National Enquirer and the Saudis and the Kushner and Trump adjacent intermediaries who helped broker those introductions.
S10: I mean, this is all connected and absolutely.
S9: I think the questions being asked right now about corruption and Kushner’s affinity for the Saudis and other foreign interests are merited.
S12: This book, the majority of your experiences, your observations. It could all be written if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, almost all of it. There are specific parts about Tillerson. So how much worse has the Trump presidency and Rex Tillerson tenure at the State Department made? What you’re describing a lot worse.
S9: I don’t think this would be the same book if Hillary Clinton were in office. Look, this book is not always kind to Hillary Clinton either, but certainly, you know, she had a nominal commitment to the importance of having some diplomatic capacity. And we are at a time right now where the State Department is simply being wiped out. This set of events is not unprecedented in the sense that we’ve never toyed with sidelining our diplomats. We have and I gave those precedents of under Clinton, under Bush, under Obama. And the lesson has been clear each time. It’s a disaster for us. Yeah, but. We have never seen the kind of nosedive that we’re seeing now. We’ve never seen this. This purge of the diplomatic workforce and this complete surrendering of any effort to recruit the next generation of ambassadors. You know, you have Colin Powell in this book saying we’re mortgaging our future. This is gonna be hard to turn back. And I think we still can, but we gotta do it before it’s too late. And there is a lot of power in Mike Pompeo hands right now as he steps into that job.
S3: All right. Here’s my last question. Can you leave us with a fascinating pomegranate fact and why? You know.
S10: Well, I never mastered the pomegranate cultivation, be it the way Richard Holbrooke did.
S11: But good lord, he would know he was so invested in his last days in resurrecting Afghan agriculture. And just every day there’d be some moment where he’d cut me off and say with that faraway look in his eyes. What about the pomegranates?
S10: So much so that that Hillary Clinton started calling him Farmer Holbrooke.
S8: A war on peace, the end of diplomacy and the decline of American influence is the book. Ronan Farrow is the author. He writes for The New Yorker, just won a Pulitzer. Thanks for coming in, Ronan. Thank you, Mike.
S3: And now the schpiel when the shooter in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, opened fire on a Waffle House, killing four James four acted well, he reacted in a way that anyone else would judge to be heroic.
S12: But Shaw himself insisted was just a self-preservation instinct.
S14: Here he describes that moment is when I ran through the swivel door, hit him with the of a door. And then again, the gun was kind of jammed up and it was pushed down. So we were scuffling. And I managed to get him with one hand on the gun. And then I grabbed it from him, not do it over the countertop. I’m just a regular person.
S3: There was a brief opening. Shaw pounced. Leads to so many questions. How many lives did Shaw save? How much did the shooter’s insanity or incompetence allow for this opening? What would’ve happened without this pause? But there’s one thing we can’t debate, and it is the pause itself because of reloading or jam that did provide the opening and people lived as a result. This we have been assured by Wayne LaPierre of the NRA shouldn’t happen one round in the hand of someone is going to do or is too many.
S6: But how do you know when? Let me just jump in. I’ll give you the floor, I promise. But Adam Lanza, you know, his mother was a legal gun owner. And how do you know that this person, that his mother would not have obey the law and limited the magazine clip? And then Adam Lanza would have been limited to 10 rounds instead of 30?
S1: Well, yes, one round is dangerous in the hands of a madman. Actually, it’s not. It’s dangerous in the gun of a madman, but only one person can be killed by one round. I can’t believe I am explaining this to Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. Here’s a guy who loves telling non-gun people everything about guns. Like when? A few years ago on Meet the Press, he was played a clip of Joe Biden saying, tell me how it violates anyone’s constitutional rights to have a clip that holds 10 rounds instead of 30. LaPierre started listing calibers.
S15: Anybody that knows anything about firearms knows that they are fifteen. When she does a two to three cartridges for the very low end of the power spectrum of rifle cartridges every round. The deer hunters use is more powerful 243 to seventy 3 0 8 25 on 6 7. Mm.
S1: Okay. But wouldn’t 10 of these low low low power rounds rounds that are actually shot at very high speed, which leads to a deadlier impact on the flash than maybe a larger round wood. But anyway anyway physics, let’s not debate that, but just tell me how ten of these rounds at a time wouldn’t mean fewer dead people than 30 rounds at a time. Now here’s one of the parents of a child killed at Sandy Hook. He was on 60 Minutes and was asked this by Scott Pelley.
S16: Now, I’ve heard the argument made you can change these magazine clips in these rifles in a matter of two seconds. So what difference does it make?
S17: Well, I mean, there was one instance where it wasn’t two seconds and then a lot. Eleven kids to enter of a classroom. Tell me about that. It’s just the simple arithmetic. You have to change magazines 15 times instead of five times. You have three times as many incidences where something can jam, something could be boggled. You just increase the time for intervention to increase the time frame where kids can get out. And there’s eleven kids out there today that that are still running around on playground pretty much now at lunchtime.
S12: So I went back and read the final report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. It’s a little brutal, but I’m going to read it. Some of it’s, you know, teacher Victoria Soto, behavioral therapist Anne Marie Murphy, and 16 students were in room 10. The shooter entered that room. And again, using the Bushmaster rifle, killed Soto Murphy and five students. Four students were found dead in the room and the fifth was pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital. Nine children were able to escape from the classroom and survived either because they’ll stop shooting in order to reload or because his weapon jammed. The police also found two other children uninjured in the classroom, again, stopped to reload or jam. And then there was Gabby Giffords. Her attempted assassin used a handgun, not an AR 15, but with a large capacity magazine. Here is I’ll read a report of her attempted assassination. Patricia Mason, along with a 74 year old retired Army Colonel Bill Badger and two other men jumped on suspect and they give his name as he tried to reload his semi automatic Glock pistol.
S1: Again, this this is not supposed to happen. Here on the jest is an excerpt of me with a reasonable guest. Charles Cook of the National Review, a Second Amendment advocate. I asked him this question about a ban on high capacity magazines. Do you think in a mass shooting, just the fact of having to reload could slow a shooter down?
S18: I don’t. I read a lot. These Tick-Tock newspaper articles and I would not recommend doing that to anyone.
S19: And I don’t because again, it’s it’s not as if the shooters are in a war zone.
S18: They have all the time in the world. And fortunately, I mean, if you read the breakdown of the shooting at Pulse, which also happened in Florida, if you read the breakdown of the shooting at Virginia Tech, if you read the breakdown from from Parkland, Columbine, people, they shelter in place and unfortunately, they are setting targets. And there is all the time in the world to reload.
S19: I think there are certain instances in which it makes a slight difference. Firstly, if the gun is being used in a crowd that is fleeing. Yes, I can see that there are very few shootings like that, but I can see that. But generally speaking, I also think this is a red herring.
S3: I appreciated Cook’s acknowledgement that there could be situations where reloading could matter. In fact, he dismissed most situations. There are in fact, several dozen documented incidents where this happened. I just know about or told you about the most famous ones. And there are few, if any, incidents on the other side of the ledger. We’re a law abiding citizen. Using a gun in self-defense was able to shoot 10 shots, but not 30 to his or her endangerment. There is one big prominent example that gun rights advocates cite a few years ago. A Georgia man, Donnie Herman, was actually on a nine one one call with his wife as she was being attacked. So 9-1-1 taped it. He was giving advice to his wife. They’re all on the phone together. And CNN played some coverage of that incident.
S20: Shoot him again. Shoot him. Oh, no.
S21: Herman’s wife was armed with a 38 caliber handgun. They kept in a safe. She fired all six shots, hitting the intruder five times.
S3: The assailant, armed with a crowbar and shot five times, was able to flee. He got into his car, but bleeding and badly wounded. He crashed into a tree almost immediately. And that’s it. That’s the one actual example I could find that documents the danger of a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. By the way, there was no suggestion that the Herman family wanted a gun for self-defense of more than 10 rounds. And the proof is, if they had wanted that in the Georgia county where they live, they would have been allowed to own one. And this is the most widely touted case of the dangers of that ban. And the and the horrible side effect is that the assailant was repelled. Shot five times, almost died, but didn’t die. I guess we’ll all have to live with that. That’s the best case for high capacity magazines and the evidence that reloading saves lives. Well, that’s however many people didn’t die in Tucson and Sandy Hook and in Murfreesboro. I was struck.
S12: And I’ll leave you with this by a quote from one of the citizens who stopped the shooter who did murder six people while trying to kill Gabby Giffords. And first, there was a county sheriff who said this was one of the most heroic acts I’ve ever seen. She might have saved many, many lives. She is Patricia Mask. And she said, I’m no hero. I’m a bit embarrassed by the attention. No hero. So maybe she, like James Shaw, who grabbed the shooter’s gun at the Waffle House, aren’t heroes. Maybe they just saw an opportunity and took it. Because we can’t do much about the existence of guns in America. I’m left to just to argue for the existence of that one brief opportunity when there’s even a small pause in all the gunfire.
S2: And that’s it for today’s show up here. Vietnam made just producer wishes to avoid inquiries about Cuban dance music and other Cha-Cha questions. Marie Wilson, just producer, can’t tell you where Soviet apparatchiks vacation and frankly resents the Dacca question. Steve Lickteig, the senior producer of Slate podcasts. He has nothing of substance to offer about the largest city in Ghana and is disturbed by the Acura question. The geste. I’m busy. If you want to know about Obama offspring or Beyonce hey, alter egos or Borat. I reject all these Sosha questions to prove that. produ, Peru. And thanks for listening.