tv Amanpour on PBS PBS April 25, 2018 6:00am-6:30am PDT
welcome to "amanpour" on pbs. tonight, he is being dubbed the trump whisperer. but how much influence does french president emmanuel macron really have over president trump as he makes his first state visit to washington? my interview with the paris bureau chief for "economist," sophie pedder. plus, the author who turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. acclaimed norwegian novelist karl ove knausgard on his latest work, a moving tale of family, truth, memories and what makes life worth living.
good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london. a very special relationship. that is how president trump describes his friendship with emmanuel macron as he welcomed the french president to the white house. they even exchanged kiss, held hands. and while trump continued to rail against the iran nuclear deal, he hinted that an agreement with france on this issue could be on the horizon. >> i think we've really had some substantive talks on iran. maybe more than anything else. and we could have -- at least an agreement among ourselves very quickly. i think we're fairly close to understanding each other. and i think our meeting, our one-on-one went very, very well. >> now, at the press conference later, president macron defended the current deal, but implied there could be add-ones in the future covering iran's ballistic missiles and regional influence.
>> translator: you consider the iranian deal the jcpoa, the one negotiated in 2015 with iran is a bad deal. for a number of months i've been saying that this was not a sufficient deal but that it enabled us, at least until 2025, to have some control over their nuclear activities. we, therefore, wish from now on to work on new deal. >> so what will that deal look like and what about the outstanding disagreements on other issues from syria to climate to trade and tariffs? and can the warm, personal relationship between the two leaders produce the results each one wants? joining me now from paris to discuss is sophie pedder. she is the bureau chief for the "economist" magazine, and she has just written a book on macron called
france." sophie, welcome to the program. it's a beautiful, sunny evening out there in paris, but is there any light? could you detect any light on what macron and trump were saying about the iran deal? >> well, i mean, first of all i think one has to be quite cautious when you hear these sorts of declarations being made, but it certainly looks like there is some kind of common ground that they possibly are finding on this. it's quite surprising. you know, macron has been very clear that he wants to try and persuade trump not to walk away from the iran deal. trump in front of macron was extremely rude, quite violently rude about the exists 2015 deal, and yet they were hinting quite clearly that they may be able to come to some sort of agreement. now what that really means in practice is difficult to know at this stage. macron talked about new deal and then talked about complementing the existing deal.
we've got macron coming to washingtoned on friday, and the british and the germans will also want to be involved in this. this is very tentative, quite surprising but potentially encouraging. >> uh-huh. so, you know, before we sort of drill down on that, while you were speaking we had pictures of the two up, and it is actually extraordinary to count and list the number of times they held hands, kissed, and generally played the sort of bromance card. i'm just wondering what you thinthe reaction in france to that is going to be? particular if there's nothg majorlsutantive that macron brings home? >> well, this is, of course, the big question. how tolerant is french public opinion of what macron is trying to do here? he is freshly elected. he was voted in last year. he is young. he's dynamic. the french like the fact he's
now putting france back on the world stage. he's turning france more book is a diplomatic player, which it hasn't been over the last few years. so they like that stat. at the same time, there is some skepticism about excessive sort of franco american closeness. traditionally, if you go back to the goal, they like to have their independence both from the u.s., and they like to display that kind of independence. they don't like an excessively on seek kwees relationship with america either. it all depends on the details, on what macron can get in return. i mean, this relationship itself is fascinating. you couldn't get two leaders who had more contrasting world views, and at the beginning i think nobody expected macron and trump to get anywhere in there sort of personal relationship. one is the, a brash former reality tv host. the other one, macron is a philosophy graduate.
he is really quite intellectual. he can recite packages from moliere by heart. this is not your typical, even for the french, this is not a typical leader. it's a very surprising relationship. i think at the moment the french view is let's see where he can go with it, you know? let's sort of indulge him. let's give them benefit of the doubt. let's see whether where le can take it. if he doesn't come back with something, that patience may be tested. >> so, sophie, clearly president trump believes and seems to see according to people who know him diplomacy and foreign relations based around the relationship he has with thes.leader and he has clearly choseno have a good relationship with president macron. and macron has clearly chosen to play into what he seize as what president trump needs in order to feel valued, like the flattery, whether it was the parade down the champ-elysees last year. i'm also wondering for macron,
he sees an opportunity, right? brexit, britain is kind of weakening the special relationship there, potentially, that trump doesn't have such a great relationship with merkel, and perhaps he can position france to be the main relationship with the u.s. do you think that's likely? >> i think that's exactly right. he see there's is an emptiness in terms of european leadership and even the last six months merkel has been building her coalition in germany. she's been very absent and even now she's back, she is a weaker, potentially weaker leader than she has been. macron stepped right into that void. i think he also probably feels there is a bit of an obligation, that europe needs someone to stand up for its values and its interests. and he sees that's something he could do. and the french, of course, they like that idea that france punching above its weight. they like sort of all the grandeur that goes with sort of projecting french power abroad. so i think that macron does see
all of that, but i think you're right as well in this idea that macron has kind of understood trump, i think, the idea that he responds to flattery, that he responds to, you know, a certain sort of power relationship as well. remember that knuckle-crunching handshake he gave trump last year at the nato summit in europe. the very first time they met and macron had study trump. he watched his handshakes on replay, on videos. he study him very carefully. so he had wanted to make sure he established that position of authority and power to trump, the same way he treats vladimir putin, for that matter. so that relationship is both one of sort of mutual flattery. i think they each know they've got something to gain, and i think a last point would be that macron really does genuinely think they have something in common. it's the idea they came from the outside to sort of win the presidency against all the odds, against the sort of political establishment.
and there is something of an outsider about them both. macron has said this to me in interviews earlier this year, that that is what makes -- forms the basis of his relationship with trump. >> right. he also said my relationship is with the president of the united states. i need to have a good relationship with the united states and the people of the united states elected donald trump. beyond this relationship, there are issues where they disagree. mostly around clear issues. climate, trade and tariffs. syria even, but i did think i heard president trump move a little bit towards the macron side when he said, yes, i want to bring american troops home from syria, but not before we finish the job. that seems to be a little moving towards what macron said which was, persuaded him to stay? >> well, i think that that's -- that's the hint i certainly heard at well. this is what macron is all about.
he knows that their starting points are extremely divergent on almost everything, all the issues you jt listed. and so he goes this knowing that they are polls apart almost on these things. but i think what macron is trying to do is sort of obtain in a way trump's wilder instincts. he wants to keep him inside the liberal democrat community. he wants to keep him listening to rational arguments. he wants him not to isolate him. he thinks the most dangerous thing of all with a leader like trump is to isolate him. i think, therefore, if he can sort of inch him back towards a more reasonable position on some of these matters, then he will feel he's achieved something. he's not going to win. he said this very clearly before in the past. you know, sometimes i convince him. sometimes i don't. sometimes he'll win. sometimes he'll fail, but he
wants to be seen to be trying. that i think if he can get some movement on syria, then he will feel he has achieved something. >> and back to iran. particularly given the new diplomacy with north korea. this is what he told me about the iran nuclear deal in the context of trying to bring north korea in to the -- you know, into the fold, so to speak. this is what he told me back in september at the u.n. >> north korea is a very good illustration of the what if scenario of the nuclear deal with iran. why? because we stopped everything with north korea years and years ago. we stopped any monitoring, and communications with them. so my position for iran is what president trump has to say, look at the situation on north korea. i don't want to replicate the situation with iran. >> so sophie, he seems to be
still saying that, but in slightly a different way. we should carry on with this iran deal, but then at some point in the future, add on the ballistics, the regional influence if they could. does that sound about right? >> that seems to be. listening to press conference, that seems to be what macron was suggesting. all the details about how this happened and in what sort of framework remain to be filled out. but i think the underlying principle is this is very much typical of macron. he is trying to find common ground. he is trying to find trump, a way of bringing trump back into the dialogue, not walking away from the deal, from the 2015 deal, finding some kind of a common ground and a way for trump to lose face and above all not allowing the most dangerous scenario of all to take place, which, you know, would be that the u.s. tears up that deal altogether.
>> sophie pedder, thank you so now, as you heard sophie say, president macron is incredibly cultured. he can recite long passages of french literature. and he does have an obsession with culture. and he has put it at the center of france's soft power. but in the literary world, genuine blockbusters are rare. and yet that is exactly what my next guest has produced. karl ove knausgard is a norwegian writer extremely well-known now because of his sixth volume autobiographical volume "my struggle" has taken his country and the world by storm. in it over 3,000 pages he dice sex his own life in almost excruciating detail, exposing family secrets along with his own fears and failings. now he has a new work. it's called "spring" and it's part of his seasons quartet. compared to the mammoth predecessor, this book is minute
but it is no less profound. ahead of its publication here in the uk, karl ove knausgard joined me earlier to discuss the book, and he said he's baffled by his extraordinary success. karl ove knausgard, welcome to the program. >> thank you. >> so here i have this little book. what made you move from that maximalist style to this? >> i wanted to do something completely different. so in my struggle series, it's very much about the eternal life and my internal turmoils. and they're shorter. >> did you feel you needed to get away from the turmoil of your inner world? >> yeah, very much. so. >> because it was too painful? >> it was painful. also that i have explored this. written about this. i found a style to explore it in. and you have to challenge yourself as a writer. you have to do something different, and this was the most
different i could think of. very, very little books. almost nothing in them, and the miniature books. >> why did you decide to do that? completely different from your first one? >> well, it is -- i'm very much trying to do things i am not able to do. things that are difficult. things that i don't know how will turn out. so i can't -- you know, to be a novelist the first thing is that you come to know how to write the novel. you have to invent the writing. then there is a sudden freshness to it, a sudden newness to it. i always try to do what i can't do. >> it's really challenging yourself and busting through your fears or insecurity? >> it's all kinds of things, and aces you haven't been before, ng and when you write about yourself that can be hard to find, but it is possible through writing. >> actually, you know what? you have a beautiful passage
there. don't you? can i ask you to read it? >> yeah, of course, yeah. exactly. what makes life worth living? no child asks itself that question. to children life is self-evident. life goes without saying. whether it is good or bad makes n difference. this is because children don't see the world, don't observe the world. don't contemplate the world, but are so deeply immerse in the world that they don't distinguish between it and their own selves. not until that happens, until a distance appears between what they are and what the world is, thus the questions arises. what makes life worth living? later, the world expresses -- its being, but we are not listening, and since we are no longer immersed in it, experiencing it as a part of
ourselves, it is as if it escapes us. >> it's really beautiful and really interesting, because you're asking these questions in the season's quartet. your second opus. >> yeah. >> but in the struggle, your first big launching work, you must have asked yourself what makes life worth living, right? >> yeah. >> i mean, you describe a really difficult childhood. you describe a very harsh father, authoritarian. you were afraid of him. you say even you were afraid if you put a cup in the wrong place or lost your sock or something what would his reaction be. did you ever think what makes life worth living? >> no. never. never, never thought of that until i became a teenager, and then kind of everything changed. looking at the world differently. because then you see yourself from the outside. >> your books have been a sensation all over the world. obviously in native norway, all over europe and in the united
states and everywhere. they're translated into many, many languages, and it really requires time and effort to read them. they're really long, and the great jeffrey ugenits said that, what did he say about you? he said that you have broken the sound barrier of the autobiographical novel. have you been surprised by the global reaction to that book? >> yes. that is to put it very mildly. you know, when i started to write this thing, it was so little and so small and so local, i thought no one would be interested in it, because it was about me, and my own life and nothing else. you know? so i expected nothing. i thought maybe the really interested persons will read it, but nothing. and then it just exploded. then i thought that's norway. that's because we're related somehow and they want to peek into another life. but then it happened in other countries too. and i'm still amazed. i was just up the street about two minutes ago and someone coming up reading the book,
wanting to relate to me and my life, and it's -- it's the dream of a writer. it's so fantastic. so i have to remind myself about it. >> how lucky you are? >> yes. >> but also what a vein you've tapped. why are they so fascinated by let's face it, the minutia, the laborious minutia of your every single second of life? >> that puzzles me, but i think the pattern in people coming to me, want to talk to me, they say one sentence about the book and then they start to talk about their own lives. this is kind of a vessel to get things up from your own life that you can think about and relate to. we are much more similar, that's experience througthis. we are mh more similar than we like to think were. >> maybe that's what people e ye the senswe're all alike at a time everything is being fractured? and fragmented. >> yeah. and even in a sense of being lonely, there is a certain togetherness. and you see that in literature.
it is in us, it is we, even though you are lonely and reading a book by yourself, still there is a connection. >> and you, part of your style, is memory, and minutia and you >> they said there i couldn't reveal family secrets and it is lies what i am writing. so it feels like an attack. like i was attacking them. which i did. and i think it is kind of a curse for a family to have a writer in its midst. but i could -- i didn't want to hurt anyone. but i could take the position, this is before it was published, ready to send it away. coy have said okay. and not publish, but it was
true. you were told by your family you made it up? >> yes. >> how did you resolve that? >> it was very strange, ve i accelerated??d i started have i exaggerated? did i make it into something? this was tormenting me. then i got a letter from one person that was with the ambulance that wrote me and said she was reading the book and realizing i was in that house. and she wrote me and said it was worse and that was the first time i was angry. >> angry at your family? >> yes. my version of my father's death was a lie, but it was my father's death, you know, very -- >> but memory is also really difficult. >> yes, it is. and that's also a subject in the book that's very, very important, because -- this isn't an objective version of the happenings in my life. it's how i remembered it and memories are deceiving us, that
we know. you are making things so that, who you want to be almost -- you know -- subconsciously you do that all the time. so this isn't a book about the truth. it's a book about trying to -- >> i have to tell you, i'm fascinated by that. because you're in opposition. on one hand you want to be believed but say it's not about the truth. it's about memories and memories are subjective. >> yes. >> so it must be a big conflict going on in your head the whole time? >> yes. and why i could be so incredibly wrong. it's over 3,000 pages. and there are several levels. one thing you see and understand when -- you understand it completely different. when you are 20. to capture that alive you have to have all these levels of different almost conflicting memories. >> but the idea of masculinity today is very current. >> yeah. >> what are your conclusions?
what is masculinity? what makes it not, quote/unquote, toxic? >> hmm. that's -- ah -- that applies to the novel. i remember i picked flower, i like flowers and colors, and i remember i picked flowers for my father and he just threw it away. boys don't pick flowers. that. >> kind of -- >> really? >> that was the '70s. but it's straight forward. you have to find your way in that too. >> can you hug other men? >> if they, you know -- do like that. >> if they initiate? >> yes. if not, i don't. >> is that a "you" thing or a viking thing? >> it's no one hug men when i grew up. it started when i was like, a liberal -- >> in school. >> yes. we started to do that, but i mean, i write that in the book about -- i never said to my mother that i love her. never said to my brother that i love him. they never said that to me so i don't say that. don't go there.
>> i feel a little bit like a -- like a cad for bringing up this criticism. because you speak very eloquently and a lot of people will understand a lot of the emotions that you're talking about, but to go back to the minute detail that you recount in the struggle. >> yes. >> you obviously have read some of the negative criticism. at least one. i know you don't read your reviews, but from the nation. >> are you going to do it for me? >> yeah, i'm going to do it for you. i did all the good ones. who cares? i kept wondering says this critic. why is he telling me this? who is he to think his life is worth this kind of treatment. i wasn't just bored i was angry about being bored. i felt my time was being wasted. >> well, i have sympathy for that critic. that was what i thought, i thank you, but what happened is an enigma and mystery.
>> we'll have to send this to the critic. that's a good answer. what's next on your agenda? >> i'm writing a novel now which is pure fiction, and i want to deal with something that is very difficult to deal with, has to do with very, very present and ah -- yeah. but won't reveal too much. >> you can't tell me? nothing about it? >> i won't reveal much. >> you don't want to? i won't push you. >> no. because i can fail and then if there is -- >> no. you can also publish it and it can be another sensation. we'll wait and see. karl ove knausgard, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you very much. and there he was. the novelist with the long view. before we go, let's take a moment to recall a real monument to change. 100 years ago this year some british women won the right to vote. thanks to the activism of this woman.
suffragettes like campaigner millicent forsyth. today she has broken into one of the toughest boys clubs of all. hers is the first statue of a female to join 11 statues of males in parliament square here in london. before the statue was revealed to the public under the watchful eye of britain's second female prime minister, theresa may. it's a double first because her statue is also the first in the square to be made by a woman. the award-winning british artist jillian wearing. and that's it for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour" on pbs, and join us again tomorrow night.