tv President Bill Clinton A CNN Special Town Hall CNN September 24, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
jean, we'll check back with you 11:00 p.m. east coast time. we'll have more on this story then. that does it for us, we'll see you 11:00 p.m. that does it for us, another edition of "ac360." up next, erin burnett's interview with former president bill clinton. >> tonight, a cnn prime time special, president bill clinton on the united states striking syria. >> i think that success is not guaranteed. >> plus, race relations in america in the wake of the ferguson shooting. >> i think our big problem today is we don't want to be around anybody who disagrees with us. >> i made a mistake. and the nfl's handling of the ray rice scandal. why it is personal. >> i know a lot about this subject. i grew up in a home with domestic violence. and -- god, i hope that it works out all right for -- i hope he really is okay and he never does it again.
>> that is all ahead. that is president bill clinton, a cnn special town hall. >> thank you. >> welcome to tonight's program, president bill clinton, a cnn special town hall. i'm erin burnett. the u.s. is at war tonight, striking in the fight against terror. president clinton challenged the world and the united states with these words, i think the united states have an unprecedented ability to save lives and help the future. ten years later, can that vision be fulfill ed ladies and gentlemen, please welcome president bill clinton. and we want to hear from you, please go to cnn.com where you can respond to questions in
realtime. and i want to get started. president clinton, the question for this moment is a very important moment, and a momentous moment as we deal with the threat from terrorism. do you think the risk from isis is as significant a threat from al qaeda under osama bin laden? >> i think it is quite significant. and i think it certainly threatens to change the whole landscape in the middle east. redraw national boundaries and crash national governments. and we know they're killing a lot of innocent people who don't agree with them. they ran the christians out of iraq that have been there since the dawn. they butchered those syrian soldiers, and you know we don't agree with the syrian government, but they're personnel and entitled to the rules of war. and of course, they like to decapitate people on the internet. so i think that this strategy that the president has adopted
has a chance to succeed. i support what they're doing. >> and the president today just speaking at the u.n. said he thinks in the strongest words yet, we need to have a show of force. >> no god condones this terror, no grievance justifies these actions. there can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. the only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. >> the president said that this morning. "the new york times" in a large full-page op-ed said the strikes in syria are a bad decision. are they right? >> they say it is a bad decision. no, i don't think so, i don't think they are right. i think that success is not guaranteed.
i think what isis is trying to do, putting a lot of soldiers on the ground so they can shift the blame from themselves to us for all the violence in the area. and what we learn repeatedly is that when the sunni tribal leaders who are not militant and not twisting islam for their political objectives are willing to fight they can reclaim their country. and we should help them do it. but it's not a fight we can win for them. >> i'm curious, though, the airstrikes in syria were not just against isis. they were against a group that frankly the american public had not heard of until the speech last year by the director of intelligence, a group called khorasan. and some of the members we learn are part of the group that plotted the 9/11 attacks. the core group has been told that al qaeda has been decima decimated. but you have a group that has been part of the core al qaeda. are we still fighting the same
people? >> no, but some of them survived. nobody ever said we had a 100% kill rate on that. look, we're living in a time when information technology and other forms of technology have led to a big disburpersal of po. and we have to find out how we relate to each other. we can't expect total victory through any military means which is why if governments are required to spend more time to stop bad things from happening, the rest of us have to spend more time and money and effort to make good things happen. >> so isis obviously, you have supported arming the rebels in syria. your wife supported this. the president is now actually saying he is willing to do that. the question is have for you, though, is it worth the risk? is it worth the risk as everybody admits, even the administration that some of those weapons will end up in the arms of people who want to kill
american insi americans? >> well, they have reached the judgment that it is. one thing i know will happen, if we don't help people who are trying to create an open and inclusive secular society, they will lose. if we do help them and they lose anyway somebody will get their weapons. but i don't think that will measurably change the balance of power. any time you do anything it might not work. we don't have 100% control. you just make a judgment over whether it is more likely than not to work. the president has made that judgment in the case of trying to arm the syrians. syria is like iraq. and like lebanon, a very diverse country. and they're either going to live and work together or they're going to be dominated by somebody like isis. it is worth a gamble, i think to try to make it work. >> 20 years ago after the o.j. simpson trial you gave a speech.
it was a lengthy speech on race. it was a moment that was important in your presidency. you talked about race and policing. and i just want to play a very brief clip of what you said in 1995. >> let's not forget, most police officers of whatever race are honest people who love the law and put their lives on the lines so that the citizens they are protecting can lead decent secure lives. and so that their children can grow up to do the same. >> there was unrest again in ferguson, the nation waiting for an indictment by the grand jury. do you think there has been a rush to judge the police officer who shot the unarmed black teenager in ferguson? >> no, i think the local authorities and the justice department have taken over the case. what do we know? we know that the young man was unarmed. we know there was some kind of altercation with the police officer. we know when he was trying to
get away he was shot. we know he had two bullets in the head. we know somebody made some sort of mistake. we don't know what that was. the grand jury is hearing all the known evidence. but -- any time you have any kind of situation where people are in trouble, there is likely to be a mistake made. and there could be a crime committed. and i think that is one of the reasons it is so important that police officers, in a model that favors community policing, i worked hard to put a model on the street, and the crime wave went down. but the reports of abuse went down where they were walking the streets involved in the community. if you notice the most interesting thing to me about ferguson was when the governor put the african-american state trooper who was from that area
in charge of overseeing the situation and communicating with the folks in the community, things got better. you can't have a community that is more than two thirds african-american. where only one in six city council people are african-american. and where only three out of 50-plus police officers are african-american. you have got to have some effort to have ties to the community. if you -- now things will still happen and they have to be dealt with according to what the facts are and what the law requires. but things were badly out of whack before this happened. >> so do you think that racism has gotten worse in this country over the past few years? i mean, there has been these highly publicized events in ferguson and a bit back there, there was the george zimmerman case. it surprised a lot of people that there was so much anger in this country.
>> no, i don't think it has gotten worse. but i think we are playing with it, with its darker possibilities with things like these "stand your ground" laws, telling people that we would be safer if everybody carried a gun around. and "stand your ground" states which opens the prospect -- like an unarmed woman was killed do you remember standing on somebody else's porch not very long ago. i think we have enhanced the risks by changing the environment. because basically -- basically because it seems we bought the nra's theory that we would all be safer if everybody in this audience had a gun that was a concealed weapon. and if one of them felt threatened by another they could stand up here and stand their ground. there has been a lot of unsettling in the world since the financial crash. lot of unsettling in the world since all of these foreign
developments. and i think that we couldn't be surprised that this zimmerman incident occurred. the trayvon martin case. or some of these or thither thi. but i actually think we're less racist and sexist than we were today. i think our big problem today is we don't want to be around anybody who disagrees with us. and i think that in some ways can be the worst silo to be holed up in. >> intolerant tolerance. >> yeah, it may be that people who disagree with us are a different race, religion, live in another section of the country. but i think that is what is really at the root of many of our problems today. america is still, with all of our problems, is the best country in the world to take advantage of the 21st century. but we can't do it if we keep
majoring in the minors. >> president bill clinton please stay with us. next up, the ray rice case, and what president clinton has learned on the global initiative. introducing a pm pain reliever that dares to work all the way until the am. new aleve pm the only one with a safe sleep aid. plus the 12 hour strength of aleve.
look back what is the thing that you are most proud of that you have done? >> that we are operating in a way that is very different from the way politics operates in so many parts of the world. when we started, 65% of our commitments involved partnerships that involved the company and an ngo, people that were otherwise politically and socially different. today, 91% of them do. the cgi commitments that have at least one company, at least one ngo, although many of them have dozens are actually out-performing their stated goal when they formed the partnership. so we're creating a network of co-operators. and if you look all around the world, wherever there is inclusive cooperation and good things are happening, whether it is people spending their time
fighting and emphasizing their divisions, good things are happening. this is not rocket science, this is decision one, two, three. i actually thought there might not be a need for cgi for ten years because i naively thought based on what happened in the '90s we were winning and we would keep winning. it turned out we have more of a fight on our hands and i wish we didn't. >> how do you measure? i noticed one thing with cgi, i read in a catalogue the other day, west elm -- >> they source from haiti and african countries, they're doing great. >> they said $35 million we're giving. it was very interesting. they were publicly very proud of it. but i wondered how you measured. somebody says they donate the money. how do you know the money measurably does x? >> well, first of all you have to see if they did what they
said they would do. and then you have to determine if what they said they would do worked. we actually got the big data company in california, did a wonderful service for us. they have evaluated all of our commitments going back to the beginning of cgi. they said about 42% have been completed and another 40% are in the process of being completed. they said that -- just under 12 have stopped reporting so we took them off the books and didn't count them with any achievement or anything. about 6% had failed of people who had really tried to succeed. so we're going to now spend the next year analyzing these as a case study. >> the failures. >> they tried and they did -- and then we discovered that about two thirds of them actually met 100% of their stated goal in terms of impact. and more than 75% -- excuse me,
almost 80%, did 75% or better of what they intended to do. so we get better at it. one of the things that -- early on, i remember our first meeting. a guy contacted us and said i want to give away a $100,000. i don't want to do it in the northeast. and i don't want to be made a fool of. that is how rudimentary it was. >> bizarrely specific at the same time though. >> and he wound up giving it to an environment activist in the part of the bronx that was the lowest industry in the country who was trying to create green space. and it worked like a charm. now the guy has built a global ngo. they're active all over the world. he and his wife have done unbelievable work. so i have seen all of this grow. and what i have learned again is that we -- i just try to create a network here where people can get together and figure out what to do and how to create an
impact. and believe it or not, people who come here are very serious about it. people think about can i do this, and how am i going to do it? and we have gotten much better at cgi, thanks to all the young people who work here and spending all year long helping people make commitments and helping people keep them. >> i was trying to get to the bottom of the difference between what you're doing now and being in government. and one of the things i came upon was actually related to the nfl crisis happening. was what was your act in the violence against women act, you created it. part of this act was the domestic violence hot line. that actually was created by you. and it is a powerful thing, that hot line. i found out recently, during the ray rice scandal, they couldn't answer all the 911 calls. last year many calls went unanswered because they didn't have the funding. and i thought about you and how
much that must frustrate you and whether you can make more of a difference doing what you're doing now, where in government you can pass the law but can't always fund it and can't always enforce it. >> yeah, harry truman was -- once said a lot of his job was persuading people to do what they needed to do. i tried to get really good people to run from the cabinet on down when i was president. but here, the difference is -- i'll give you an example. not this summer but last summer i went to -- i took my annual trip to africa and went to zambia where we trained the health care workers. now, if i had gone to zambia, i would have never gone out of the town, and would have signed health care agreements. this time i got to go out in rural areas and go to a village
where i saw the practical impact of public health workers. we convinced everybody to put all of their washed dishes up off the ground. we convinced the village to move their latrine 50 yards away from where everybody was. basically they redesigned their village for public health and sanitation. i could do that sort of thing now. so you have two things. president obama has to deal with incoming fire. right? when he ran for president nobody said what are you going to do about isis, did they? or a number of other things. what about superstorm sandy, what about -- so i can decide what to do and do it, and secondly, i can deal in more detail. and i like that. so that is the difference. you have less power but you can
have concentrated impact. and i like it. i like it. [ cheers and applause ] >> we're going to take a brief break. on the other side, president bill clinton will be with me to talk about the nfl scandal and why the ray rice crisis is so personal to him. ♪ there it is... this is where i met your grandpa. right under this tree. ♪ (man) some things are worth holding onto. they're hugging the tree. (man) that's why we got a subaru. or was it that tree? (man) introducing the all-new subaru outback. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. lots of them, right? but when you try to get one
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have our town hall with bill clinton. since we talked about the nfl, are you a football fan? >> yes. >> have you changed at all your viewing habits as a result of the ray rice scandal? >> no. but partly because i -- until the playoffs i'm always more of a college football fan than pros. but -- i know a lot about this subject. i grew up in a home with domestic violence. and god, i hope that it works out all right for -- i hope he really is okay and he never does it again. sometimes people don't. but it's rare. and i think what bothers everybody is that it seems that the nfl diminished the
importance of it early on. and i think -- just like i think football made a mistake for the players themselves, to minimize the impact of concussions, which by the way may have led to more domestic violence also. that is not in the ray rice case, but i mean just generally. i think that people who are rich and popular because of athletics or entertainment or any other thing like that they shouldn't be held to an impossible standard but they shouldn't be exempted from the general rule that we can't get away with abusing people because of our positions. so i think the nfl is you know, trying to get it right now and i hope they do. >> when you talk about that you personally went through this, the debate in the nfl now is a
zero tolerance policy. in the nfl, they say they should have a zero tolerance policy, but women may want to come forward because it would exploit the players. do you believe the nfl should have a zero tolerance policy? >> what do you mean -- i think there should be consequences for domestic abuse. nev in every case they know about. what the consequences should be should be determined by the facts. is it the first time? how serious? whether they like it or not if they think they have a disproportionate amount of it, then the nfl will have to figure out how to deal with it. you know, i hated it because among other things because i know a lot of those players who
are good husbands and good fathers and who do a lot of the work that we do here, you know, i've -- i've dispensed the hearing aids in africa and south america with larry fitzgerald and a lot of other people. and i think that it is really important that people not judge the whole league based on this. and that we wait and see what happens in this case. he has been suspended and there will be some -- it will either happen again or it won't. people either make the judgments, or they don't. but they obviously are going to have to deal with this. and -- also, you know, there are all of these different -- the peterson case is a different kind of case. they have to decide what to do about that.
so we'll just see. i think it is a healthy thing that the country is coming to terms with this. you know, joe torre, who just was inducted into the hall of fame and who was such a great baseball coach for the yankees grew up in a domestic abuse situation. and has a charity that i used to support every year. used to raise all the opponent for what he did, in a golf tournament. and i used to play in it. and he really struggled mightily to get people to come to terms with this. and year in and year out he never got any publicity for what he was trying to do because it wasn't associated with some terrible incident where we had a video that brought home to everybody elsewhere anybody who has ever been in a domestic abuse situation happens all the time. all the time. and look, i'm not minimizing what happened on the elevator.
i'm just telling you that anybody who has ever been in one of these situations has seen it over and over again. so i think we need to -- try to figure out how to make something good happen out of this. and how to -- encourage people whose temperatures are rising and who realize there are people, good people who lose their self control and their partners should leave them because they can't help it and they're going to do it over and over again. but it could be helped. and we need to opt for early intervention, that hot line needs to be answered all the time. >> well, the nfl is paying for it. five years unlimited funding. >> i think that is a good thing. because you know, we should be trying to help -- people get beyond this. and then if they can't, there should be consequences. but in terms of zero tolerance
there should be no if's, and it should be ignored. because if you do this it just gets progressively worse. that has been my experience. >> president clinton, thank you for joining us, we'll be back in just a couple of minutes with the british prime minister tony blair. and matt damon wants to talk babies with you. >> he has got a lot of them. [ cheers and applause ]
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welcome back, we have former united states president bill clinton, joined by two people he knows well. her majesty of jordan, and please welcome all of our guests, queen of jordan and john chambers. >> and before we begin again, i just want to remind all of you watching this go to cnn.com and join our conversation. you have been together since day one. and since this is a celebration of sorts of ten years of cgi. i have to show, i found the
panel. there you are. and you both look much better now than you did then. but you have been together since the beginning. why has this been something from the very start you were willing to commit and build with president clinton? >> look, president clinton has attended many conferences around the world and really understands. this brings key partners under the same roof to collaborate on issues, whether it is governments or ngos or civil society or corporations. and the insistence on immeasurable commitments i think has made all the difference. >> and president clinton, you bring up jordan as one of the most important countries in terms of your actions. but also right now, a country that desperately needs the investment and help for world peace. >> three months ago i got about 30 people together at the ford
foundation with king abdullah and with the senior officials. and before that they spent six months working on a plan for what they would like to do for infrastructure and create jobs and opportunities and improve health for jordanians and for the refugees. they're trying to deal with a lot of refugees not in camps. and so we got about six commitments already, but i think before this is over we'll see the economic benefit in helping jordan. i just think we should never take good behavior and good government and good ideas for granted. king abdullah did something that the world needs to reprise right now. several years ago he got the leaders of the major islamic schools of thought altogether and they all issued a statement saying that terror is nowhere
sanctioned in the quran. he got almost no notice, because it was something good happening, not something bad happening. so the only thing we read about is some craziness when isis decapitated somebody. look, i don't want to minimize, i think we should work against that. >> the comment you make about ignoring the challengines of th peril. 600,000-plus refugees in jordan, some of them are children who now are not at home. and who now don't have the infrastructure, the love, the care, support, the culture anything that they would have had. so without the help and investment what will they grow to become? >> well, we all know if you don't have a job you will end up in very undesirable results. but i want to echo the comments, we worked together for almost 15 years.
we have done jordan education initiative years ago, multi-national 17, jordanian companies, initiatives, we are completely in, mr. president, about the initiatives and the camps and connecting technology to bring the health care and work. >> this is my exhibit a, he has been a life-long republican. i have ruined his reputation. god only knows what damage i have done to him. but the point is, every time we have a conversation we start with the end in mind and 90% of the time we come up with something we agree on. and that is i think, the ultimate answer to a lot of this divide in america. you got to start with the end in mind, and then all the differences are irrelevant because the debate is enriched with the purpose of coming to a conclusion. even though i am sure, i have hurt him in a lot of ways. >> well, it could be even worse because we had hillary clinton
speak at our sales meeting the other day in front of 20,000 people. and she was kind enough to interview her, and she wouldn't let me tell her the questions ahead of time. and mr. president, like i have done, and after we were done i had a bunch of republicans come up and say john, i'm not sure we can beat her. so i'm in real trouble now. >> you know, it is interesting on that question, you know before this all started i -- i'm a new mom and i know you're about to have a new one in your family. and of course i had to show the president a video of my little guy. you have a big project ahead of you. you're going to have to baby-proof the white house. are you ready for that? you got the -- >> i just want to live to be a grandfather. that has been my goal for several years now. and one thing at a time.
>> it is the neatest thing you do, having been through it. and i have two grand kids and it is everything you hear and better. >> matt damon actually has a question that touches on this issue but also on a very serious issue you talk about with the water. but here is matt damon. >> okay, president clinton, i'm going to hold your feet to the fire. it is 2014, when will we realize the day that everybody on planet earth can access a safe drink of water and experience the dignity of the toilet. how do we get there? and a follow-up question. are you excited to be a grandfather? >> matt has four children. i told them that if he kept going he would single handedly move america off the dime of just being barely at replacement level birth rates.
>> yeah, i'm excited. i'm a pro. here is what i think -- >> that is how you say it? you didn't look very excited. >> you have no idea. anyway, i just -- every day i get up and i say, you have to remember whose child this is. do not interfere. be there when you're welcomed. be loving but not judgmental. i'm trying to restrain myself. look, he asked a very important question, here is what i think. i think water and sanitation should be made more explicit in the next round of millennium development goals. i hope personally we'll replace those goals. i think they have been great. we're not going to meet them all. but we're going to reduce the goal for reducing extreme poverty. we're going to meet both the
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please welcome all of our guests tonight. as partners of cgi, obviously you're dealing with a group that is uniquely american in some ways. because it is president clinton and he is trying to make a difference around the world. it is global, but yet it is american. and prime minister i wanted to start with you, because of your unique perspective on this, obviously being british, with something president obama said today -- something president obama said today about essentially america's role in the world. and i wanted to play that for you. here was his speech at the united nations. >> we believe that right makes might. that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones and that people should be able to choose their own future. these are simple truths but they must be defended. >> it is an interesting thing and i'm going to be curious on your view on this, too, when you
hear that, you say yes, that is right. so many people agree with that. and so many people around the world saying wait a minute, the united states talking about bullies? >> yes, they do say that. and i still think their sentiments are really important. and i and it is important the united states defend the positions around the world. and the world needs it. i say to people when you are -- the most significant power in the world, you know people are going to criticize you, attack you and resent you for it. but when i think of the -- the nation's who could play that role in the world, i still right now, as some one from britain and from the european side of the water, i want to see america strong. i want to see it standing up for the values at its best it represents because the world need those values. and you know i see in the work i do around the world. yeah, sure. america has got its faults like every other nation.
at its best it offer extraordinary. most people if they were free to choose to live by the same value system would probably choose it in fact every time they're given the chance to choose it they do. >> on that point. you have been dealing wither use in iraq for a long time. how does the united states walk that line? because there are many people there, do not see the united states as a liberator, as, a country that has helped them. they see it the opposite. iraqis have a love/hate relationship with the united states. not a hate lsh hate relati/hate all. there was expectations at pursuing that. expectation the u.s. is going to come and help us build a country. help us get liberty. for example they're going to get 50% of representation in the iraqi government and their rights are going to be protected. and that is not what happened.
the u.s. engagement with iraq was and unfortunately still is that of a military one. and unless at this point, you know, destroying isis is a necessary thing to do. but, it is not the long term way of dealing with it. we need to understand the underlying reasons of what's happening in the region. >> look. i think what is going on, within the region is basically a battle between, what i would call the forces of modernity and extremism. and at the heart of this is the way the world work tuesday. is people connecting with each other. and respecting each other across the boundaries, race, faith, culture. within the region-up have young populations. bad systems of government. you had a perversion of religion that is translated into a form of extremism that destabilizes countries not just in the middle east. syria, iraq, and look at yemen. watch libya, really carefully. might view that as a dangerous
situation. >> and then you go into the northern part of nigeria. you see this across the belt of sub-saharan africa. the latest in the province of china. the far east. this is in my view, one essential battle. and the values we should be defending are those of open mindedness, of tolerance, and in particular what i have been trying to say is, you know you may have to take, will have to take military acttionion like pe like isis. root out in the education systems of the world. religious prejudice. replace it by religious respect. respect for people. whatever faith background they come from. because that in the end for the young populations in the middle east and elsewhere their only future is to be open minded towards other whose are different. >> one thing, education system still teach, is a patriarchal
view of the world. ashley, something you have taken on. patriarchy is not men. a system, subtle. insidious, never more dangerous than when women passionately deny when they are engaging in it. you had me there. bah that is, what we are seeing. seeing it around the world. seeing it right now with the nfl and reaction to domestic violence here in the united states. >> by the way if anyone else is wondering how i fit in this picture, i am too. this has been a really extraed or hour and a half. i appreciate you teasing that out. it is something that i discovered myself as an undergraduate. on the one hand, i was becoming intellectually and emotionally and spiritually empowered. on the other hand i saw myself doing things which i was later ashamed. whether it was in terms of objectifying myself and really the greatest objectification i ever experienced is ben twe my own two ears. of course, girls and women need to be educated. if they're not healthy they
don't go to school. it has to start with their definition of masculinity. what boy and mens are taught about masculine team. a great example, is economic empowerment of girls and women. the language may be crass, when the woman becomes economically useful in her home, the dynamic of power shifts. at first, can be violence, and don't get uppity, and the increasing of the family transforms interpersonal relationships how communities and nations are improved. >> i have to ask this issue, government, versus the private sector, what is a better way to live, make a difference? like president clinton you have been on beth sides. do you feel you can do more now than you could when you were prime minister? >> no, i don't think you can do more. you have a big government machine behind you. but i think you are free to concentrate on what you want to concentrate on.
prime minister, president, what comes in on the entry, and you get to decide. i have spent nine months dealing with foot in mouth disease. which wasn't really what i came into politics for. you get to choose what you deal with today. and i think in some cases you have more influence, though less power. so, i -- trouble with government. government, government -- really. >> it is necessary. it moves so slowly. take this ebola thing. how slow have we been to get international governments and institutions to work on this. anyway, frustrate thing. >> on that note. thank you so much for all of you being with us. thank you all of you for being with us tonight. of course, a special thank you to president bill clinton and you for participating online. the results of our exclusive poll tomorrow night. on erin burnett out front. good night.
let's keep it that way. the 2014 4runner. toyota. let's go places. this is cnn "breaking news." good evening, i'm don lemon. i'm alisyn camerata. new air strikes targeting isis positions in eastern syria going after the money. u.s. and coalition war planes pounding oil installations isis uses to finance operations. >> britain's prime minister recalling parliament to seek per motion to gin the ajoin the air