"My Brilliant Friend" by Elena Ferrante is the first of the mysterious Italian author's Neapolitan novels. The series tells the story of a life-long friendship between two working class girls in Naples. Critics have called Ferrante “one of the greatest novelists of our time.” Yet nobody knows her true identity. Join Diane and her guests for a discussion of “My Brilliant Friend.”
The United States and Libya agreed to cooperate to find out who was responsible for the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Protests over an American-made video mocking Islam spread to Yemen. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the U.S. to draw clearer “red lines” for a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. And in China, speculation grew over the absence of Vice President and expected next President Xi Jinping. Thom Shanker of The New York Times, Courtney Kube of NBC News and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy Newspapers.
- Courtney Kube national security producer for NBC News.
- Jonathan Landay senior national security and intelligence correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers.
- Thom Shanker Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times and co-author of "Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda."
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Libya says the chaos that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his colleagues was actually two attacks, one of which appears to have been planned. Anti-American protests over a video maligning the prophet Mohammad spread throughout the Muslim world. And President Obama rebutted Israel's request to set limits on Iran's nuclear program.
MS. DIANE REHMJoining me for the week's top international stories on the Friday News Roundup, Thom Shanker of the New York Times, Courtney Kube of NBC News and Jonathan Landay with McClatchy Newspapers. I hope you'll join us a little later in the program. Call us on 800-433-8850, send us an email to email@example.com, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning, everybody, it's been quite a week.
MR. THOM SHANKERGood morning.
MS. COURTNEY KUBEGood morning.
MR. JONATHAN LANDAYGood morning.
REHMThom Shanker, first Benghazi, Egypt, now Tunis lost -- four good Americans lost. We do not know how many others in these battles that are breaking out around the country. This morning the AP is reporting that there is a large cloud of black smoke around the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, stone-throwing protestors and police are waging a pitch battle. What in the world is happening here? Is it all because of this film?
SHANKERWell, Diane, the film was certainly the pretext, but it's not the only reason. What we see playing out in the streets of all these Arab capitals is the, you know, the execution of deep-seated animosities toward the United States. I mean, we can't forget the lesson of the Arab Spring, which the United States had supported many of the dictatorships that were their leaders for many decades. The U.S. is viewed as coming late to the side of the Arab street in overthrowing these dictators. So this film, this hateful film, is certainly a pretext for action. But what we're seeing playing out is examples of their feelings, their hatred, their frustration at American policy at large.
KUBEYes, Thom's absolutely right and it's -- one massive protest in Sudan and Khartoum today specifically was against the German embassy. There were several protestors and they were protesting some alleged graffiti on a musk in Berlin and they went from there, they planned to go to the American embassy, the police stopped them with tear gas and firing live rounds in the air to stop them.
KUBEBut Thom is absolutely right. You know, this is the Arab Spring was a -- this domestic grass roots movement and in the end this proves, number one, it's not over. But number two, the United States has very little control over where this -- what direction this goes in.
LANDAYI think that it's a little more complicated than all of that. Look, there were huge expectations that were generated by the overthrow of some of these dictators by people who were suffering already, extremely bad economic conditions. They were jobless, they had been oppressed for years and these expectations have not been met especially in a place like Egypt, which is still suffering serious economic problems.
LANDAYThere's been very little foreign investment in there, poverty is still rife there. I think also one needs to remember that, yes, there were already serious anti-American sentiments in many of these places. But in places, like for instance, Tunisia, you know, there were moderate Islamists who came to power. In Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood did not come to power and there are, you know, politicians tend to use situations, excuses, like this film to try and exploit that and improve their standing, their popular standings. So, I think, you know, I think, there are a lot of different factors that feed into this. And using anti-American -- and the depth of anti-Americanism, obviously, is also a major factor.
REHMIt puts all leaders in a difficult position. President Morsi is trying to wind his way through, Thom Shanker.
SHANKERWell, that's exactly right, Diane. President Morsi elected to be the new President of Egypt came out of the Muslim Brotherhood, the suppressed Islamist organization. He, like any domestic politician, has all these constituencies to satisfy. You know, this video is so hateful, that he couldn't possibly not criticize it. He has to talk to that part of his population who is outraged by this disgusting video.
SHANKERAt the same time, he was 48 hours late in remembering another constituency, the United States that gives his country billions of dollars every year. And President Obama himself called President Morsi in what we're being told was a tense 20 minute conversation. President Obama said, "Wait a second, violence, murder is wrong. You have to denounce that as well." And President Morsi only belatedly expressed specific condolences and said that violence is not the way for people in the street to express their outrage at this video.
REHMSo the U.S. is challenged by what's happening in the Arab world and spreading across the Arab world. How should the U.S. be reacting, Courtney?
KUBEIt's, I mean, it's really country specific. I think it, as interesting as it is, the fact that the United States gives Egypt so much money every year, billions of dollars. It's the number two nation that we provide money to in the world right now. But I think that that's presenting the biggest challenge for this administration right now, is what's going in Egypt.
KUBEAs Thom said, President Morsi, initially he put out a statement on Facebook about this when the protestors breached, not only breached the embassy compound, which the embassy in Cairo is like a giant fortress. To get in there, that was not quick and it was not easy and they were able to do it. So President Morsi, he did not come out and condemn this action. He didn't say, we as your host nation will protect your people, we'll protect your installation, which they are responsible for that primary security, the Egyptians.
KUBEInstead, he put a statement on Facebook and said, you know, well, I condemn this video. He didn't say anything about the protest. So it wasn't until just this morning he went on TV, state TV, and said, we have a responsibility, we must protect our friends and we must protect the people who are in our nation and their installation."
LANDAYAnd it's interesting that yesterday we heard from Secretary of State Clinton about the responsibility of leaders around the world when it comes to protecting diplomatic facilities. But also talking, speaking truthfully about that this video doesn't represent the United States. And those words, "responsible leaders" were picked up by both, by President Putin even of Russia who used that formulation as well.
LANDAYThe need for responsible leadership and so, yes, it's the responsibility for protecting these facilities, definitely, lies with local leaders and one of the other problems that really got the American government quite exercised was the fact that our supposed ally, President Hamid Karzai of Kabul, his first statement was to come out and denounce this terrible, awful video but say nothing about how, you know, it doesn't represent the values of his main foreign ally.
REHMAl Arabia is reporting that three people have been killed during the Sudan - U.S. embassy protests. Reuters is saying that U.S. drones are now flying over Benghazi and the airport there has been shut down. The Pentagon says protests in Afghanistan so far are peaceful and that they are gratified religious leaders have appealed against the violence, Thom.
SHANKERWell, the challenge is for the United States to do what it has to do from the law enforcement standpoint. You know, American diplomats were murdered so the U.S. has an obligation and the right to investigate but they can't be so heavy-handed as to sort of, you know, increase this view that Uncle Sam is stomping on this part of the world.
SHANKERYou know, Courtney and Jonathan and I have spent a lot of time traveling in the Arab world, the Muslim world, and Diane, your readers are -- your listeners are so sophisticated, but we do need to remind them that in this country freedom of religion and freedom of speech coexist much more peacefully. I mean, here you can go to a movie that makes fun of religion, makes fun of the church, makes fun of Jewish history.
SHANKERPeople accept that, even if they don't like it. You know, disrespecting the Islamic faith and the founder of that faith in that part of the world is simply an unacceptable thing to do and that may be hard for Americans to understand that murderous violence can come from that, but that's just the way it is.
SHANKERAnd these people also view America as such a powerful government, people in the Arab world have a hard time understanding that a film this hateful could've been produced by the free market and not by the U.S. government. That's another thing that's difficult to explain to them, how the free market works, that something like this can spring by itself with no U.S. government interaction at all.
REHMSo they look at a film like this and say America disrespects the Muslim world, it's not one person.
LANDAYBut it's not just the United States. Look, I was living in India when Salman Rushdie published the satanic verses and the Indian government banned that book because it saw the book as being derogatory of Islam and a potential spark for violence. So this doesn't just take place, you know, it's not just the United States where you have this kind of thing or the United States being looked upon as being sort of, you know, a place that disrespects Islam. You had the Indian government that came down and banned this book.
REHMWell, and of course, you are going to have the Department of Justice looking into the making of this film, exactly who was behind it, where the money came from. It is said to have cost some $5 million. People who have seen it said, how in the world it could of have cost that when its production values are so amateurish and so bad. We're going to take a short break here. When we come back, we'll talk about Israel and Iran and take your calls.
REHMHere's our first email this from Reban in Dallas, Texas who says, "I'm a Muslim American and while this movie while offensive and indeed inexcusable, I'm outraged by the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens. My question is, how could this have happened? The Libyan government, the Egyptian government must be held responsible for their lack of concern and respect for international law." Lots of people are wondering how these walls were scaled, how this kind of destruction could have taken place, Courtney.
KUBEWell, specifically in the Benghazi incident, I mean, that wasn't a fortified embassy compound. It was a smaller consulate in Benghazi. I really didn't have the same level of security that -- I mean, certainly that they have in the capitol. And it's still kind of unclear. The situation is relatively fluid about how this happened. It looks like it was a multi-tiered attack, coordinated attack that started out at the compound -- or at the consulate.
KUBEAnd that several hours later after those walls were breeched and the Ambassador was killed and the information officer, several -- about 30, I think it was, other Americans and Libyans who were at a safe house were then attacked by a second group. And the first attack was very coordinated. It had RPGs, mortars, armored vehicles. The second one was primarily small arms fire but two more people were killed, two security agents were killed.
REHMAnd we now have Reuters reporting that protestors set fire to the American school in Tunis.
KUBEI think that there's one thing that you have to point out in all of this is that this may be sort of the beginning of a new reality that we're facing in some of these countries here. And whether it was because of the Arab Spring, whether the Arab Spring was the beginning of it, they have -- we have these newly installed weak governments in many of these countries. In a place like Libya you have thousands of weapons that went loose when Gadhafi -- as soon as Gadhafi started to fall.
KUBEAnd many of the militias that took them over, they won't give them back. And they're still organized as bans. You know, eastern Libya remains a hotbed of extremism.
SHANKERWell, in fact, one of the reasons that Ambassador Stevens had gone from the Capitol Tripoli to the regional center of Benghazi was to work on the exact issue that Courtney just underscored. He was so deeply concerned about all these militias that were not under the central authority that he was out there to try to work up some sort of program to either disarm them or bring them back in.
SHANKERThere's a lot of question, Diane, about whether this attack was Al-Qaeda inspired or not. And the fact that it appears to have been a fairly well-planned coordinated attack suggests to some that it was Al-Qaeda inspired. Maybe or maybe not but there are any number of militia groups who fought Gadhafi who could've mounted the same attack.
REHMAt the same time I would remind all of you that if you recall the Arab Spring began in Tunis with one man.
LANDAYOne man, a vegetable seller who was unable to get a job, was in a conflict with the local police and set himself on fire. And this act boomeranged across the Arab world. One of the things about Benghazi, however, is that it was the seat of the opposition to the former dictator Gadhafi that was being held by the United States. Well, it's apparent -- or it seems apparent at least that Ambassador Stevens felt somewhat more -- somewhat secure there. There were no Marine guards.
LANDAYHe apparently only had one American security officer with him at the time, a man who actually lived, and that the embassy itself was protected by an outer ring of Libyans who were hired guards by, it looks like a British contractor. But also one of the Militias actually came to the rescue -- came to try and help relieve this attack. You know, there are a lot of details that we don't know.
LANDAYOne of the things that we don't -- one of the things though that seems to be apparent is that there was no protest outside the embassy when this took place. One of my colleagues who's there -- a reporter who's there talked to a guard who survived the attack. And he said there wasn't even an ant outside the compound and that about 150, 120, 150 people stormed at this place. The landlord, who we also spoke to, said the same thing, came from two directions firing RPGs and weapon -- and small arms and overran the compound pretty easily.
REHMSo we come to the question of how, going forward, U.S. installations can be protected. Fifty marines are going now to Libya. How much protection is that likely to provide, Thom Shanker?
SHANKERWell, it's as much symbolic and as a deterrent effect as anything specific. It's one of those things that when we watch movies and TV shows we always see, you know, those marines snapping off salutes at the front door. Just barely half of the American diplomatic installations around the world have Marine guards. It's not everywhere. And I know that the Pentagon and State Department are in discussions right now about exactly how to increase security in a time of constrained budgets.
REHMAll right. Let's talk about Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel calling on the U.S. to draw a clearer red line against Iran's nuclear program. How do you interpret, Courtney Kube, Israel's recent rhetoric?
KUBEWell, it started when Secretary Clinton was asked in an interview over the weekend whether the U.S. would set redlines or deadlines and she said no, absolutely not. Netanyahu came out and said -- or Prime Minister Netanyahu said, well if you're not going to set redlines than you can't set a red light in front of someone who is going to act preemptively. And then there was this whole diplomatic feuding back and forth over whether President Obama would meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in New York later this month at the General Assembly.
KUBEI mean, essentially...
REHMAnd he said no?
KUBEWell, the White House said it was a scheduling conflict but they later on said -- initially they said that Netanyahu had never even asked for a meeting. They later acknowledge there was a request but there was a scheduling problem. In the end it does not look like they are going to meet but that isn't...
REHMBut President Obama did call...
REHM...Prime Minister Netanyahu last night, Thom Shanker.
SHANKERAnd they had a very lengthy discussion about this. And what President Obama said, once again, U.S. policy is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, a nuclear device. That's a reasonable perspective from a country so many thousands of miles from Iran. That doesn't satisfy Prime Minister Netanyahu who wants to make sure Iran never has the capability to build a device. That's something fuzzier but Israel views it as an existential question.
REHMBut clearly there's division within Netanyahu's own government. His deputy has come out and said -- his deputy for intelligence and atomic affairs said that Netanyahu's call for a redline would really worsen the situation.
LANDAYThat's because redlines historically have been set and then broken. And when you break a redline, you know, that reflects on -- you know, that telegraphs a message well, they're not really willing to back it up. Beyond that there's a question of what kind of redlines do you set in Iran. And then again the question is how -- are you really going to enforce it with a bombing campaign? The real difference is there's no difference between the Israeli government and the American government basically on the assessment that Iran is putting in place the ability to make a nuclear weapon. Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has said this.
LANDAYThe real question is the timing, is the period in which they need to be able to do this. The Americans are looking at this and they're saying, you know, we have International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Iran at these facilities. There are other things that are going on that we aren't privy of in terms of monitoring what's going on. A new paper came out -- a new study came out yesterday by a bipartisan group of very prominent former national security officials from the United States, bipartisan, which came out against the idea of using military force.
LANDAYAnd what they did say was that, you know, there's quite a period in which we would know or have a pretty good idea that they're moving beyond where they are and actually made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon.
KUBEWhat's ironic about this too is that if Israel were to preemptively strike Iran it would probably -- it would barely set the program back, number one. It certainly wouldn't stop it but it would set it back. It would probably drive it underground and it would almost certainly cause Iran to kick out to expel the IAEA inspectors who have been allowed in who provide the only real tangible on-the-ground intelligence right now. So...
REHMAnd their latest report has said what, Thom Shanker?
SHANKERThat sanctions have not halted the program and that Iran is moving ahead to get the capability. But as Courtney and Jonathan said, capability is one thing, building a bomb is something else. The U.S. is drawing its line at the bomb. Israel says, what we won't know in time we have to stop the capability.
REHMThere a little pushing going on, is there not, on the part of Prime Minister Netanyahu. He knows he's got -- or feels he has leverage before the U.S. election rather than afterwards.
KUBEHe's -- I mean, Prime Minister Netanyahu is a smart international player. He knows that he has a few weeks left before the election where he can leverage the political environment to really pressure President Obama to try and commit to a redline. That's what -- I mean, that's what he really wanted to do to sit down with him at the U.N. General Assembly in New York later this month, was to sit down and say, I need a commitment to this.
KUBEAnd frankly, that's probably why the White House is pushing back and saying, oh we can't make it. The schedule won't work out. Because why would they want the president backed into a corner, you know, six weeks before the election?
REHMAll right. We've got lots of callers. I'm going to open the phones, 800-433-8850. First to Jacksonville, Fla. Good morning, Scott.
SCOTTGood morning, Diane. Thank you for your show. My thanks to all the commentators, both call-in and guests.
SCOTTThanks for taking my call. Great discussion. I've seen the video and laughed at its production value but I think, you know, the values I was raised with was that if somebody says something that's offensive to me or about anything that I value that I need to practice, you know, human restraint and not get into a fight about it, which is, you know, just common sense it seems like. And it seems like the violence is solely in the hands of the violators to another person's human being like in the U.S., you know, my rights and where another's physical person or property began.
KUBEI thought yesterday Secretary Clinton said it so perfectly. She said, we do not stop citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be. And I thought it's just such an eloquent and perfect way to put it. America, we value our freedom of speech and we vehemently protect it no matter how much we may disagree with it.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." To Tony in Winston-Salem, N.C. Hi there, you're on the air.
TONYHi, Diane. Thank you for taking my call.
TONYFascinating discussion. Just let me preface this by saying, you know, as an American citizen, and the gentleman had said, you know, this is the Muslim world, this is what happens, right. I understand that. I have Muslim friends in America. My girlfriend has a company. She works with Muslim speakers. And I fully respect, you know, their Islam and right for them to believe what they believe.
TONYBut just as the last caller said, you know, these explosions into violence time after time after time are becoming, you know, almost, you know, causing those stereotypes, number one. And number two -- you know, that Americans feel about the Muslim world because they're showing us that this is the way that they react to -- you know, to these instigations. And number two, in the last hour you had said, you know, shouldn't something be done about the posting of these kinds of videos?
TONYAnd I know that you're not eluding to, you know, whether we sensor information, because truthfully "The Diane Rehm Show" could be censored in the Muslim world just for talking about this, right? So, you know, to limit our freedoms or to respond to this to say, sorry, we -- okay, we see you're offended. We'll pull that video down. You know, I work in the media business for the last 30 years myself. You know, we just can't respond to every violent act by limiting our freedoms.
TONYBecause today I go to an airport and, you know, I have to take my shoes and my belt off. I mean, how much more are Americans going to accept to limit our freedoms based on these violent episodes? Now the gentleman said that we must understand this is how the Muslim world reacts. And I completely understand that because I watch it in the media over the last so many years that I've been in tune to these...
REHMSure, sure. Thom Shanker.
SHANKERRight. Well, thank you for the comments and, of course, I agree with what you're saying. One other way of thinking about it, not to explain it away or to excuse this horrible violence, but these cultures have been living inside a closed beaker bottle for decades. They have not had an opportunity to grow and mature. And this violence is sort of that infantile reaction.
SHANKERIt wasn't that many decades ago that here in the United States you had people putting hoods over their heads, burning crosses, hanging people in a grotesque example of religious and racial violence. But this county has evolved beyond that. I think that might be, one hopes, the better future of the Arab Spring.
LANDAYI think it's also important to point out -- and again, this is not condoning what's happened, but I think what we're seeing is a minority of people in these demonstrations who are fomenting violence and carrying out violence. I don't think you can generalize it and say, oh because there are these protests outside the American embassy -- violent protests outside the American Embassy in Egypt and this attack at Benghazi that this represents the feelings of all Egyptians and all Libyans.
LANDAYAnd, in fact, there were demonstrations in Libya after the attack on Benghazi, people holding signs saying, this does not represent us. We condemn what happened at your consulate. So we have to be very careful. We in the media tend to point our cameras and report on these violent acts. And that tends to be magnified as here's what's going on, what most Tunisians or Libyans feel. And, you know, that's a problem. I don't think -- I'm pretty sure that what's going on, at least the violent outbursts do not represent a majority of people in these countries.
REHMI certainly hope and trust that you are right. At the same time I think when American diplomats are killed in the process, it gives us pause. It gives us something to think about in terms of how we approach countries whose values in terms of blasphemy, for example, are regarded as so totally different from ours. We've got to figure this out in somehow new ways better understanding. Short break here. More of your calls, comments when we come back.
REHMAnd welcome back. Here is a question from Dante in Ohio who says, "I'm confused about the circumstances surrounding Ambassador Stevens' death. I thought he died as a result of smoke inhalation, not as a direct result of being murdered. Can you or your panel clarify?" That's my understanding as well. It was smoke inhalation.
LANDAYOur reporter in Benghazi talked to the doctor who treated -- who tried to revive the ambassador for about 45 minutes...
LANDAY...and yes, it was smoke inhalation.
REHMHere's another question, this one from Steve, "Was the attack in Benghazi based on intelligence? The militants knew the ambassador was there or was it simply really bad luck?"
LANDAYI don't think that aspect is known. I don't think, but he was so well.
REHMWe don't know.
LANDAYBut he was so well known in Benghazi. I don't think it's any question that people knew he was there.
REHMWhat had happened previously? There was an announcement to attack.
LANDAYThere was a video that was posted, I think, Monday night made by the now chief of al-Qaida based in Pakistan's tribal area, Ayman al-Zawahiri calling, acknowledging the death in a drone strike, a U.S. drone strike of his number two, a guy named al-Libi, the Libyan, and he called for attacks on American targets in Libya on the anniversary of 9/11. So it's very possible.
REHMHaving nothing to do with this film?
LANDAYAnd indeed, as I said, we've talked to two people in Benghazi, including a guard who was on the front of the embassy, as he's recuperating in hospital, who said there was no protest outside the consulate at the time of this attack. He said, as I said earlier, there wasn't even an ant outside and so there's a big question as to whether or not what happened, this tragedy in Benghazi, is related in any way to this video and may, in fact, have been, as Thom said earlier, related to -- had an al-Qaida link and was timed to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11.
REHMAll right. Let's go to, let's see, Grand Rapids, Mich. Good morning, Julie.
JULIEHello, could someone please speak to why the U.S. government didn't have increased security at consulates and embassies in the Arab world on the anniversary of 9/11? I feel there would be a reasonable consideration of possible violence.
KUBEYeah, I mean, Julie, in retrospect, I suspect there are a lot of people who are thinking the same -- asking that same question. It's sort of two-pronged. Thom mentioned earlier that there is this -- there's budget constraints right now and that's why there are not as many security people at places around the world.
KUBEIt's just the sad budget reality that we're facing. Beyond that, I mean, part of this is really a testament to Chris Stevens himself. He really -- he loved the Libyan people. He ate in the cafes with them. He spoke Arabic. He had been there for years. He worked with the Transitional National Council.
KUBEHe really got into the society there. He traveled with a small security package. So you can't also extrapolate that to every embassy, every installation in the Arab world, too. I mean, there certainly was a lot more security around the embassy in Cairo and the one in Afghanistan in Kabul. There's tremendous security.
REHMAnd some of his colleagues apparently told him he was nuts to go back to Libya again. But he felt so strongly about the people that he really wanted to support them. Let's go now to Phil in Hebron, Ill., good morning to you.
PHILGood morning, I just have a quick question for you. I've done some research on the internet on this and I can't get a straight-up answer. When we're talking about highly-refined material that Iran -- we're talking about a military-level bomb, be it a missile or whatever, where do we stand in relation to the material we would have to fill out in a massive suitcase bombs and deliver parcels or suitcases wherever they would like to deliver them?
SHANKERThat's one of Israel's concerns. When the Obama administration talks about they don't have a bomb yet and they're even further away from a delivery vehicle, what Israel says, you know, in this neighborhood you could smuggle one in. So your question is very valid and the idea of a small suitcase nuclear weapon is certainly a concern for those who live near Iran.
LANDAYCertainly they have the material to construct what's known as a dirty bomb which is not -- which is radioactive material, but not nuclear-bomb-grade material wrapped around a core of conventional explosives and it's detonated, you know, in a crowded place.
LANDAYThey have 20 percent pure uranium, highly enriched, well -- moderately enriched uranium that's nuclear material, but there's no evidence at this point that they've achieved the 90 percent enriched uranium that you require to produce a nuclear bomb.
REHMThe Associated Press is reporting that Sudanese police are firing on anti-film protestors climbing the wall of the U.S. Embassy there. Another foreign policy question, the vice president of China has been absent from the public view since the beginning of this month. What do we know about where he is, Courtney?
KUBEWell, we know more rumors than we do reality at this point, but Xi Jinping was -- he's tapped to be the next vice president. He's tapped to now take over for Hu Jintao presumably in October at the next Communist Party Congress.
KUBEBut he's been -- he disappeared about two weeks ago and no one has seen him. No one will talk about where he is.
REHMHe's missed three public appointments.
KUBEHigh-level appointments, including one with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and they were not given a reason. At this point, it looks like it's likely some sort of an injury, that he may have hurt his back. He has some sort of an illness and that they don't want to put forward any kind of -- project any sort of weakness for their new leader.
REHMWe have something which says that he may reappear in public tomorrow. We don't know.
KUBEYeah, this entire situation, this new decade, it's been a decade since they've had a new Communist leadership in China. They're about to have this new generation of leaders come in and it's really been roiled by scandal in the past couple of weeks.
KUBEOne of the other leaders was caught up in a terrible murder plot where his wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman. He's now implicated in it. He's lost his rank. So, you know, the Chinese Communist Party wanted this very fluid, easy transition to their new generation of leadership and it has been anything but.
REHMTo Cincinnati, Ohio, good morning, Maria.
MARIAGood morning. I was wanted to comment on the issues and the uprisings in Libya and all over the Middle East. I think that a lot of times we forget that their governments censor everything they see so there's a large possibility that these people are believing that our government sanctioned this video and that could lead a lot to the reasons why they are attacking, you know, the U.S. government and their embassies because they think this is just sanctioned by our government.
MARIAOn a relative note, I also think that in response to the first amendment rights and the freedom of speech, I think that that's true and that we don't want to censor our rights because of these uprisings. But at the same time, we can't yell fire in a crowded room and the guy that made that video was from the Middle East and he should have had some semblance that this was going to happen.
REHMOf course, do we know that for a fact, Courtney?
KUBEWe know very little about him. In fact, one man came forward and said he was the writer and director. He gave a fake name. No one could find him. Another alias came forward. He's believed to be a Coptic Christian, but the fact is this entire -- I hate even to call it a movie because it's not. It looks like something some teenagers made on their laptop in their basement. It's pathetic and amateurish and can't be. But that being said, we don't know who made it.
KUBEBut, you know, Maria makes a good point about the freedom of speech and it's something that we have to protect at all levels and it's a very delicate dance between freedom of speech and inciting violence and unnecessary, irresponsible rhetoric.
LANDAYActually, one of the things that's taken place with the overthrow of these dictatorships is a great deal more access to free information and free speech in many of these countries. The internet is, you know, it's a hard thing to control and we're even, you know, it's so hard to control that. We're getting video every day, masses of it out of a civil war in Syria, which has one of the most repressive governments in the entire region and yet it can't stop information flowing in and out.
LANDAYAnd so maybe once upon a time you had this, you know, control, serious control by regimes of information, but that's increasingly hard to do right now.
REHMAll right to Bloomington, Ill. Good morning, Tom.
TOMGood morning. Actually, I heard the person already say what I was calling about, the shouting fire in a crowded theater. That was Eugene Debs and he was a protesting a war and here in the U.S. we threw him in jail. And the judge had said, yes, you have freedom of speech, but you can't shout fire in a crowded theater, which was a long stretch from what he was doing, but it sort of applies here, I would think. It's a strong argument. It's hard to figure out which way was right on that deal.
REHMI'm glad you called, thank you. To Norwich, Vt., good morning, John.
JOHNOh, good morning, thank you. I was just calling wondering if there was any value in understanding the violence in the Islamic world, not to excuse it, but to make some sense out of it in comparing some of the countries where it's happened and where it hasn't. I don't have the background really to do it, but it seems to me that most of the violence is coming from Tahrir Square for years Autocratic and incompetent leadership has been exploiting the ignorance and the religious hypersensitivity of its populations.
KUBEYeah, you make a good point, John. Keep in mind a lot of these places, especially the ones we're talking about right now, Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt, brand new governments and in many of those countries, they're still relatively weak. They still don't have strong governance so, you know, that opens up this vacuum, this window for Islamic extremists who can invoke Islam and feed on the anger of the population to incite violence, to incite protests. So you make an excellent point.
REHMZbigniew Brzezinski has said on network television that the YouTube video that has so inflamed Muslims' hatred toward the U.S. had an operating budget of $5 million. The U.S. needs to identify where that money came from and why there is such a serious effort to incite that level of violence and discord against our country in the Middle East.
REHMI think that's a very valid point. We don't know if, in fact, that film did cost $5 million, number one. Number two, if it did, where did this guy, whoever he is, get this kind of money? Who is putting forward these kinds of dollars to somehow make hatred something that people can use to incite violence?
KUBEWell, there's one other element to this and some of the actors who were in this movie, they claim that this was not the movie that they made.
KUBEAnd it's very clear when you watch the clips that are online that some of the lines are dubbed over, specifically the ones where they name the prophet Muhammad. Allegedly in the actual movie, he was someone named George and they dubbed them over. So we don't know, number one, how much this cost, where the money came from or whether the people, persons, people, who gave that money knew what they were actually giving money towards.
KUBEThe actors, several have come out and just in horror that they were involved in this.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." To Edmond, Okla., good morning, Curt.
CURTGood morning, Diane, and the rest of the crew. Thank you so much for the show. I just wanted to comment on the previous segment. I wonder how hard down we've gone, as far as personal responsibility, when even the show's host is making comments like, that this film is responsible for four American deaths when the only people that are responsible for it are the ones that perpetrated the attack and a theology that believes that it can force its beliefs on anybody else.
REHMI think that what has happened has been linked to that film, but you're quite right, we do not know that it was indeed the film alone that may have incited the violence. There is so much more to be told here. Thanks for your call. To Houston, Tx., good morning, Layman, you're on the air.
LAYMANYes, good morning, Diane, thanks for taking my call. I really love your show. One quick point and that is Mitt Romney, a few days, a couple of days ago attacked the Obama administration for apologizing for what he calls American values.
LAYMANI honestly believe that this is not American values. I don't think it is American values to debase, denigrate and bastardize, excuse my word, a certain group of people or any society for that matter. You know, I honestly believe that this country is made up of very good people who are not only intelligent, but also with high morals and values and I honestly believe that it is just a disadvantage of the greater American society, including the four Americans that lost their lives, when a small number of people especially when public figures like Mitt Romney are sending the wrong message to the outside world about what American values are all about.
SHANKERWell, I agree completely and allow me please to quote one of my favorite political philosophers, who is Spiderman, who teaches this, with great power comes great responsibility.
KUBEVery true. I've not followed Spiderman's teachings, but I take your word for that. Yeah, I think Curt makes an excellent point. I suspect he's talking about the statement that came out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo initially when the very first breach of the embassy happened the other night, where they condemned the efforts by these "misguided individuals" to hurt the feelings of Muslims and that was criticized by the Romney campaign and it became a back and forth.
REHMAnd we now know that Reuters says the U.S. Embassy in Sudan says that all protestors have been expelled from inside the embassy compound in Khartoum. I want to tell our listeners that I'll be heading for Portland, Ore. on Sunday for a voice treatment. I have something called Spasmodic Dysphonia, which needs treatment from time to time.
REHMAfter that, I'll be heading out on vacation. I'll be back with you on October 1st and that is, of course, the first day of the Supreme Court's fall term. I'll look forward to being with you again then. Thom Shankar, Courtney Kube, Jonathan Landay, thank you all so much.
REHMThanks for listening, I'm Diane Rehm.
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