Investigations, Indictments, And The Political Future Of Donald Trump
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser talks investigations, indictments and the political future of Donald Trump.
The U.N. says the world is failing to contain Ebola in West Africa, stepped-up coalition airstrikes in the battle against ISIS on a Syrian border town and new concerns about sagging global economic growth: Please join us to discuss the week’s top international news stories.
MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us. I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane will be back on Monday. The UN says the world is failing to contain ebola in West Africa. The US led coalition against Islamic State Militants increases air strikes on a Syrian border town. And new concerns about sagging global economic growth. Joining me for the international hour of our "Friday News Roundup," Paul Danahar of the BBC, Jennifer Griffin of Fox News and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy Newspapers. Welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MR. PAUL DANAHARThank you very much.
MR. JONATHAN LANDAYGood morning.
MS. JENNIFER GRIFFINThank you.
PAGEWe invite our listeners to join our conversation later in this hour. You can call our toll free number. It's 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter. Well Jennifer, on Thursday, just yesterday, President Obama authorized the Pentagon to call up reserve troops, in addition to the troops that are already been authorized to go to West Africa to try to deal with this ebola crisis. What does this mean? Do we know how many people we're talking about?
GRIFFINWell, what this means, Susan, is that the President had to give an executive order in order to, in order to call up the reserve and National Guard, but it still falls under the 3900 troops that the Pentagon had already authorized. So, Secretary of Defense Hagel had announced, and the President had announced, that 3900 US troops could go to fight ebola in West Africa. Already on the ground there, 450 there, but they needed this execute order in order to move forward with some of the reservists who are the logistics experts.
GRIFFINThe engineers and others that they're needing. They're basically having to build the infrastructure. They have been working, since they got there a month ago, on simply building a 25 bed hospital in the capital. It has taken this long. They are supposed to begin building 17 treatment centers. They haven't even begun that because the rains are so bad. We talked to Major General Darryl Williams, who is heading the operation for the US military yesterday.
GRIFFINAnd they said, in some places, they're having to use machetes to go through the jungle. The rains have stopped them from doing much. They're having to start from scratch there.
PAGEYou know, that does not sound like the kind of urgent response that you might expect, Jonathan, from a situation that seems so dire there.
LANDAYWell, the UN has said, and experts have said, that the international response has lagged. And I think that there's no doubt that the UN, the WHO, the World Health Organization underestimated, for quite some time, the breadth of this disease, the urgency of this epidemic. And just the other day, there was a briefing to the UN Security Council from their -- from the UN's top expert, where he's saying that at the rate that the disease is now -- the outbreak is now proceeding, there could be as many, at least by the end of December, of 10,000 new cases a week.
LANDAYAnd that the world basically has 60 days in which to try and contain this outbreak.
PAGEHow has the world responded, Paul?
DANAHARThe world has been pretty useless. I mean, if you look back in March, MSF came out of West Africa and said, we've got to take this seriously. And their fears were played down by the WHO. It was kind of ridiculous, because what they were looking at was an ebola virus in countries that had been devastated by civil war. If you look at the reaction to this virus in places like Nigeria, where they've almost eradicated it because they have a functioning central government.
DANAHARIt may be a chaotic one, but it works. And how it's been treated in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea where you just don't have that infrastructure where you can build on a foundation to react to this. And because of that, it was obvious it was gonna go badly wrong. And the international community kind of sat back to see how bad it got before it got involved.
GRIFFINPresident Obama had to use the meeting on Tuesday where he was meeting with the 21 heads of defense ministers who had -- or defense chiefs who had come to Andrews Air Force Base to talk about ISIS. To try and rally international support for the ebola efforts. And he told the countries that they are not doing enough. Germany, England, Italy, others. They are saying -- they are pledging that they will do something, but they say they don't have transport and they don't even have -- they can't even get their health workers there.
GRIFFINThere's fear in Europe that people will be bringing it back to Europe. And so, they are really starting from scratch with this effort.
LANDAYAnd indeed, the need for resources is so dire that you've had private foundations now, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has stepped up with a pledge of 50 million dollars. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is now kicking in 25 million dollars. And it's going to take a lot of money, a lot more personnel, and perhaps more involvement by other countries beyond the United States and the UK, who have both now stepped up with military assets to try and bring this outbreak, at least contain it, to the epicenter.
LANDAYAnd not, and prevent it from spreading further. And that's one of the great fears. You know, the WHO now has sort of kicked into action somewhat and is now deploying teams to states bordering this epicenter. These three West African countries that are at the epicenter of this outbreak to try and at least get preventative measures into place and gear their health systems up to dealing with outbreaks, should they indeed experience, you know, that fallout from -- across border fallout from these three countries.
PAGEYou know, Paul, it's not as though that if the rest of the world does nothing, ebola will just be a problem in West Africa, right? I mean, this has all kinds of threats to the rest of the globe, as well.
DANAHARYeah, and I think the thing about it is -- ebola's broken out before. But normally in very rural areas, often in central Africa. And it hasn't got very far. You've got to basically be traveling around to really spread it. What's been different this time is it's got into the cities quickly. And therefore, it's spread quickly and you have, in places like Sierra Leone and Freetown, panic. Because people don't know what to do with the bodies. They don't know what to do with their relatives that are sick.
DANAHARAnd I think the really worrying thing now is even with all this extra aid coming in, what we're getting to a stage of is protecting the medical workers to send them back out again. It's almost like a kind of scene from World War Z where you have a military base with loads of barbed wire around it and people outside not being able to get in because the facilities are so limited to medical workers. You're going to see a lot of people dying, not being able to get treatment, but seeing treatment just over the fence.
PAGEThis is obviously a humanitarian catastrophe in West Africa. An economic catastrophe for those countries, as well. And I assume that then becomes a political catastrophe for those nations in West Africa that have been so hard hit, Jennifer.
GRIFFINWell, it's also a catastrophe -- the reason this has become a national security priority for the administration -- what it's been explained to us at the Pentagon is that if these countries become failed states, and they're on the verge of some of them becoming failed states, that also -- they can be a breeding ground for terrorism and for groups that want to take advantage of the kind of breakdown of systems. And so it really, it leads to other issues that they -- that AFRICOM and the rest of the military has been dealing with in West and northern Africa.
PAGEAnd it's not like this is the only public health, global public health concern we're gonna have, so the failure of the international organizations that are intended to deal with them has been pretty distressing.
LANDAYWell, yeah, and, I mean, look, there's been a reemergence of polio in Syria. And in Iraq. So, these agencies are already overburdened. They're now having to respond to this. And we're just going to have to wait and see, as I said, see how many other countries step up to try and lend a hand to containing this outbreak. And of course, the fear is that it's, you know, we've already had a few cases, several cases in Spain. You've had two cases here. And the fear is that, I believe I saw a projection that said, there's a 75 percent chance that it's going to emerge in France.
DANAHARI think one of things about this is it happened in Africa. And there is a bit of a temptation among the international community to kind of not get involved when it goes bad in Africa. When SAARS was going around Asia, everybody got really worried. We've got polio on the European border, everybody's really worried. There's a bit of a kind of attitude in Africa, in it all goes badly wrong, but it tends to stay in Africa. Their wars, their diseases. Let's only really get worried if it starts breaking out.
DANAHARThe problem now is this got into city centers. The city centers have airports. The airports carry people out. And that's why this is different this time.
GRIFFINAnd there is this whole debate, Susan. There are Republicans on the hill calling for closing off the border to -- and stopping flights coming from West Africa. The President has said that that won't stop people from flying to the United States. Because what they will just do is they will lie about where they've been, they will fly to third countries and it will spread that much faster. So there is this debate about whether you should halt commercial flights from West Africa. And it's really -- it's undetermined at this point.
LANDAYIn fact, it goes beyond that. You know, the new -- the UN's new human rights commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, had a news conference in which he expressed deep concern about the impact on human rights, on political rights, the crackdowns on containing this -- the outbreak could produce in places like -- in West Africa. Where there are concerns that they could criminalize the failure to report someone who's contracted the disease. And his point goes to what Jennifer was saying, and that is you then force people underground.
LANDAYAnd they hide the symptoms, they hide the fact that they've contracted the disease in order to get around these travel bans, in order to get around curfews, in order to get around, you know, these, these measures that are designed to try and contain the disease. And what you end up doing is actually seeing it spread.
DANAHARAnd the other thing about these particular countries is they have a culture that is very much driven by local traditions, local suspicions, you know, you remember in the Sierra Leonean War, people used to run around with amulets. It was basically witchcraft to protect them against bullets. So you already have a community that's incredibly suspicious of government, incredibly suspicious of the outside world and has a very firm set of beliefs about how to deal with issues on the ground.
DANAHARAnd these things are all clashing, because basically you don't have a government that works. You have very suspicious people and you don't have an infrastructure. And you have a really bad disease. It's kind of a worst case scenario.
PAGEYou could only imagine the desperation of families who are living there now.
GRIFFINI mean, remember, the NGO community deserves criticism, but remember, when this started and when this broke out in June, there were only two doctors per 89,000 people in the province of Liberia where it started. There were no labs to test for this and there were no ambulances to carry people.
PAGEWe're gonna take a short break. And when we come back, we'll talk about the battle against Islamic State and we'll take your calls and questions. Our phone lines are open. 1-800-433-8850. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. And with me in the studio Paul Danahar. He's the Washington bureau chief for the BBC. He's the author of "The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring." And Jennifer Griffin, she's national security correspondent for Fox News. She's the co-author of "This Burning Land." And Jonathan Landay, senior national security and intelligence correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers.
PAGEWell, Jonathan, Islamic State militants may be retreating from the border town of Kobani in Syria. What is happening there?
LANDAYWell, the fact is that the United States has been conducting more airstrikes to try and drive the Islamic State back from Kobani in Syria than it has against the Islamic State in Iraq. This Kobani, this Syrian Kurdish town near the Turkish border has kind of become almost a symbol of a measure of how successful the United States will be in terms of leading this air campaign against the Islamic State. I'm not sure that that's actually going to be true, that this could be a true measure.
LANDAYBut nevertheless, the word is that the Islamic State having penetrated to a great depth inside the town has been driven back. They are only reportedly holding a small piece of it now. They've lost control of the strategic hill that overlooks Kobani. And so it appears that at least for the time being it has been prevented from capturing Kobani and extending its control of territory along the Turkish border with Syria.
PAGESo Jennifer, does that mean that the airstrike campaign is working?
GRIFFINWell, look, the airstrikes only began seriously in the last week. In two days they carried out 41 airstrikes and that started to push the ISIS forces back. They also started coordinating last weekend, we've learned yesterday, with the Syrian Kurds on the ground, which they had been -- which the U.S. military had been reluctant to engage with because they are related to the PKK in Turkey which are on the terror list.
GRIFFINSo I would say that Kobani is frankly an easy case for the U.S. military to -- if you can't win in Kobani you really aren't going to win anywhere. But it also indicates how complicated the situation is because you have the Turks sitting on the sidelines unwilling to get involved because it is Syrian Kurds involved on the ground. And the Turkish relationship there is really the key development this week in terms of will they let the U.S. and others use their bases to begin going after ISIS.
PAGEWell, in fact, the U.S. -- I mean, U.S. officials said they had an agreement to use the base and then the Turks said, no, you don't.
DANAHARYeah, the Turks have been the real fly in the ointment over this. And they have been all the way from the beginning of this conflict because they couldn't make out what their police was because they didn't know what they really wanted. The problem they really have is that they don't think anyone's listening to them. They want a war against ISIS and a war against Assad. And what they see is the world saying, hang on, we're going to deal with ISIS. That's what we care about.
DANAHARAnd, of course, you know, America and UK are now saying, it's an ISIS first policy. That doesn't work for the Turks so they've been playing brinkmanship. Their problem was, the Western world and their journalists could see what was going on in Kobani. If it had been another 10K over a hill, we wouldn't have been saying so much about it.
DANAHARAnd everyone -- if you look back at the Americans last week, the Pentagon, the State Department were all saying, if it falls, it's just one town. It doesn't mean very much. But it became a big issue because it became symbolic of the failures that have been so far to do something sensible and serious in Syria to push back ISIS.
DANAHARSo it inevitably became sort of something that they had to do but it doesn't really tell us very much about what else they're going to be able to do when you get 20, 30K from the border.
LANDAYIn fact, I think this actually became sort of this point of contention between the Turks, their president, President Erdogan and President Obama in that Erdogan comes out first and says we're not going to do this and you have to go attack Assad as well and you have to create -- you have to support the creation of a buffer zone along our border with Syria where refugees can be kept. And I think, you know, the president looked at this and said, you know what, we're not going to listen to him and we're just going to go ahead and show the Turks that we can do this without them.
LANDAYAnd I think just one other quick point, you know, this question about U.S. use of facilities, there's no doubt that the Turks are allowing the United States to use quote unquote "facilities" in Turkey. And those would include the sort of joint operation center along the border, the CIA there. But contrary to what an American official said who was accompanying Secretary Hagel on a trip, it doesn't include the main American base -- military -- airbase in Turkey that's Incerlik. And I think the administration went to pains earlier this week to try and point that out.
GRIFFINWell, just to add to what Jonathan's saying, I think what -- it's become very clear that the Turks will allow surveillance flights to be flown out -- drones to be flown out of Turkey but not manned attack missions. And the really interesting thing was, why did it take the U.S. military and the coalition so long to get involved in Kobani? And it almost seemed at some point, Susan, as though they were waiting for the Turks to get involved. They were in negotiations. It seemed like President Erdogan had authorized the military to get involved. And then it became very clear that the army was going to stay out, stay on the border, not get involved.
GRIFFINAnd the only reason that the Pentagon got involved was because it was being televised on cable news frankly, on CNN and others. And I believe that that is what shamed them into -- they realized this would be a propaganda victory for ISIS if it fell. And so that's when they stepped up the air campaign this week.
LANDAYAnd I think that we may be on the verge of even more tensions in the U.S. Turkish relationship because now it's emerged that a very senior U.S. diplomat met with a representative of this Kurdish -- Syrian Kurdish party that is very, very close to the PKK which is on the U.S. terror list and is -- has been fighting for a separate Kurdish state in Turkey for the last 30 years. That is not going to make Mr. Erdogan happy.
DANAHARAnd look at this. I mean, the Turks did the same thing in 2003. I mean, the Americans only had to deal with them over invading Iraq. And at that last minute they messed it all up. So, I mean, it's not like they don't have form when it comes to dealing with America and trying to take action in the region.
GRIFFINAnd the other very interesting development is on the same day that the Turks said that the U.S. couldn't use their airbases, they sent their F16s to fire on the PKK, which they hadn't done in two years in Turkey near the Iraqi border. And it was almost to say, look, we have a Kurdish problem in Turkey. We know how to deal with it. And don't think that we're going to roll over on this issue.
DANAHARThe other big issue here is you have to look at what Turkey wanted. They wanted the Muslim Brotherhood to have a big role in a post-Assad Syria. And they've seen -- the Muslim Brotherhood who are their allies and Qatar's allies being rolled back to cross the region in Egypt, in Libya. And as far as they're concerned, when this all ends they're getting nothing out of it. All their investment they made in the Brotherhood and the FSA and all these other silly little groups that never really amounted to anything, they've gotten nothing out of it politically.
DANAHARSo they're now saying, look, if you're going to drive this, we want to know where it ends and what we get out of it. Because so far we can't see a horizon, in Turkey's point of view whether it's worth any investment.
LANDAYRight. And then...
PAGEBut what they see is a Kurdish state.
LANDAYRight. And then...
PAGEThey see 30 million Kurds getting a state.
LANDAYAnd in another sort of a front to the Turks, I think, in that regard, the United States has confirmed what we reported last month which was the United States has cut all relationships with this kind of Muslim Brotherhood-dominated opposition that the United States helped create that's based in Turkey and the command of the free Syrian army. And has been dealing through the CIA directly with, you know, chosen commanders and groups both in the north and the south of Syria.
DANAHARAnd that came out this week. I mean, (word?) was giving a press conference and he talked about how they're going to pull together elements of the FSA, which everyone interpreted I think correctly as saying the FSA, not that they really ever existed but under the umbrella group has been ditched. And then yesterday, Jen Psaki was saying, oh, no, no, he didn't really mean that, he didn't really say that. But clearly he did say that and he did mean that. And that's what's going to happen.
GRIFFINWell, it may also be the reason that when we asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who the head of the free Syrian army was or who the head of the Syrian opposition was, he didn't have a name.
PAGEObama, President Obama met with senior military chiefs from 21 nations this week. You mentioned that earlier, Jennifer, because they ended up talking a bit about responding to the ebola crisis. But it was really a meeting called to discuss the coalition strategy against ISIS, meeting at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. This was kind of unusual. Why did they feel it was necessary to have this meeting?
GRIFFINI think it was almost for domestic consumption here in the U.S. to show that the president was leading this coalition. It was a very public show. It was also a way to force the sometimes reluctant allies to come forward and say, okay, what are we going to do? Because right now all of the coalition members have quite a few caveats.
GRIFFINI mean, the European members are still not involved in airstrikes in Syria. They're not active in Syria. In the early days you had the Saudis and UAE and Qatar involved in airstrikes but now it needs to move to the next stage. What is going to be done in terms of ground forces? It was also probably a way to get Turkey involved and Turkey sent a lower level representative than the other coalition members.
DANAHARI think the thing to remember is that America hasn't wanted to lead during this crisis in Syria and it's allowed everybody else to go their own way. And now they're trying to herd these cats back together again and form them into something that America can lead. So they've got a bit of a problem in the sense that if you allow different groups and different aspirations to just run wild for two or three years, getting them back together again, if they come from the Middle East where they don't like each other very much anyway, is very difficult.
DANAHARSo you need a kind of PR exercise to say, look guys, we're all sitting around in the same room. We do mean business. But I'd love to have been a fly on the wall during that meeting.
GRIFFINIn fact, the only thing to come out of the meeting, as far as I can tell, is that they named the operation finally. They now call it Operation Inherent Resolve, which we had to wait a month for them to name. They had been reluctant to name it. We had been asking Pentagon officials about this and it almost seemed as though they didn't want to name it. They didn't want to own it. They didn't want a historical bookmark for it. And now they've named it and they've had this very symbolic showing out at Andrews Air Force Base.
PAGEDoesn't the slowness though to assume leadership -- I mean, if the United States doesn't lead frankly, no one leads. And kind of the absence of leadership, doesn't it just fuel the problem that they now have to address once you decide you need to pull the coalition together, you need to get involved?
LANDAYWell, I think that this is something that's been a long time -- if you're going to not just, as the president says, degrade and eventually destroy the Islamic State, and in particular create from the ground up, which is what we're now doing, a quote unquote "moderate" Syrian opposition force, you need places to train them. And we know that's going to take place in Saudi Arabia but I think they've been talking to the Turks about that as well. You need money. You need arms.
LANDAYAnd you need cooperation because you need these groups -- you need countries, like for instance Qatar, which has been backing fairly questionable groups in terms of their political -- I mean, their religious idea, Salafis extremist groups. You need them to stop doing that. You need people to come together on a common program.
PAGEI know Americans probably have the same reaction that President Obama seems to have which is a real weariness about getting involved in a military conflict in that neighborhood again. I'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're taking your calls, 1-800-433-8850. Before we do that, let's talk just for a moment about concerns, about global deflation. Paul, tell us about this. Why is this suddenly an issue for the globe?
DANAHARWell, we suddenly kind of work up during the week, you know, the stock market have gone down, which always upsets everybody. And no one could really work out what it was. Some of it was talk about the European economy was weakening, some was weakening, some was growth forecasts were down. It has got a little bit better. The U.S. industrial production has kind of pepped up a little bit and so we've seen a bit of movement.
DANAHARBut I think you can probably mix in some of that ebola. I mean, you know, you just have this kind of big uncertainty. And the thing about people in Wall Street is it's money. And so therefore they're not going to take chances. So you've got ebola, you've got ISIS, you've got a bit of uncertainty in Europe. You've got -- the American figures were looking a bit ropey. So what do you do? You just sell, don't you, I guess.
PAGEWell, and you also had oil prices falling to a four-year low this week. Jennifer, why are oil prices going down and does it tell us anything about kind of the state of the world?
GRIFFINWell, I think oil prices are at their lowest level in several years, $85 a barrel. That's down 25 percent since June when it was at about $112 a barrel. This is showing that there is -- the economies are slowing down. Demand is slowing down. This is one of the -- this is really the root of the jitters that you saw in Europe this week, their concerns again about Greece.
GRIFFINThe bond rate went to a -- went to -- the ten-year bond rate went to a high. That is not good. Fears of deflation, this tension between Angela Merkel and Germany and the austerity measures that they have tried to impose on the various economies in Europe. The tensions with France and Italy and others who say, look, we need some stimulus. Can the European Commercial Bank deal with this?
GRIFFINAll of this is leading to a lot of uncertainty as well as will Russia disrupt gas flow to Germany and others because of the Ukraine crisis? Putin is in Milan today for a meeting with Europeans and Asians. And that uncertainty is what is driving all of these jitters right now.
LANDAYI think that there's an irony here. You asked, you know, are falling oil prices reflective of what's going on in the world today? And in fact, they're not because once upon a time when you would've had two wars in the Middle East, you know, slowing economy in China, you know, the United States economy is still somewhat fragile, you have Europe which is still in the midst of an economic crisis, although it's dormant. It hasn't gone away. Usually, once upon a time, oil prices would go up. And in this case they have come down.
LANDAYAnd I think one of the major reasons is because there is a glut of oil. The United States is producing more than it ever has, a leading producer now and it's going to increase the amount it's producing. Libya and oil have come back on the market. And the fact is that the OPEC producers have not slowed down their production. So you have this glut. And that has contributed a great deal to...
DANAHARThere's a big of a conspiracy theory about that and that is that if the prices go down, then fracking becomes more expensive. And that may make people more nervous about investing in it. And fracking scares the pants off the Middle East because...
PAGENow, this conspiracy theory, who would be orchestrating this conspiracy theory?
GRIFFINWell, I think if you look at Saudi Arabia, their motivation right now is to keep their market share and to put pressure on Iran. And what's very interesting about these lower oil prices is that Russia and Iran need a high oil price. Russia needs $100 a barrel to balance their budget. Iran needs $130 a barrel. So they are under incredible economic pressure. The U.S. should be leveraging that right now for the Iran nuclear deal and for what they need to do to Putin to get -- with regards to Ukraine.
LANDAYBut this is also going to hurt Iraq. Iraq needs I forget how much a barrel but its budget is also based on the world price of oil. And so, you know, what you're seeing here is perhaps the beginning of this vicious cycle and where it's going to end. We have to wait and see but the markets have kind of stabilized now. The European Central Bank is now looking at measures to try kind of what the Fed has done here with -- by buying private and commercial bank equity. There's a major stress test that they're now doing on more than 100 European banks to see whether or not they have the assets to cover all the loans they've made.
LANDAYAnd you now have a division emerging in Europe between the Germans who, you know, the pro austerity driving the austerity measures that the Europeans have been implementing. And on the other side you have France, you have the European Central Bank and Italy saying no, we've had enough of austerity.
PAGEWe're going to take another short break. When we come back, we'll go straight to the phones and take some of your calls and question, 1-800-433-8850. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. With me in the studio for the International Hour of our Friday News Roundup, Jonathan Landay of McClatchy newspapers, Jennifer Griffin of Fox News, Paul Danahar of the BBC.
PAGELet's go to the phones, take some of your calls and questions. We'll start with Terry. He's calling us from Alexandria, Va. Hello, Terry.
TERRYGood morning. Good to have you on the line with me. I just wanted to comment on the beginning part of your program. I do not feel our Armed Forces should be used to go into a contaminated, very serious diseased country situation. If you look at our Constitution, it kind outlines, as does the National Guard Constitution, there are each state of what our troops are for. And it's not to become medical people. It's just very wrong. You give them money, give them know-how. Give them everything you want, private contractors, you name it. But you don't see all these other nations running in with their troops.
PAGEAll right, Terry. Thanks so much for your call.
GRIFFINTerry, the Pentagon has gone to great lengths to say that the troops that they're sending are going to basically be building infrastructure. They're not going to be treating patients. There are a few exceptions to that. There are two three-man teams from Walter Reed that are, these are Navy specialists who are manning some of the laboratories. But they are in full chemical biowarfare suits. And they are not in any danger in terms of contamination. But I will say you're touching on one issue and there is some frustration that I hear at the military level.
GRIFFINThat many of the troops who do feel like they'd like to be deployed to fight ISIS, and be those combat troops that are needed perhaps to call in air strikes in the fight in the Middle East, they wonder why they're being deployed to West Africa. However, the Pentagon says they will not come into contact with those who've been infected.
DANAHARI think the thing is that the West tried not to get involved. It sat back and watched what happened. And I think we've now got to a stage where either you go to the disease and sorted out, or the disease is going to come to you.
LANDAYAnd I think, I believe that the United States is not the only military that's involved there. I believe the U.K., the United Kingdom, is going to be sending something like 750 troops, a navy ship and some helicopters to also help out.
PAGENow, here's an email we got from Matt. Matt writes, I'm a military service member preparing to go to West Africa as part of our nation's ebola assistance mission. I've also traveled to West Africa. I'm very proud of our president for investing our people and resources in this effort. I would like to specifically address a comment just made by a panelist, about treatment centers turning into a scenario reminiscent of "World War Z." This kind of comment is exactly what our media outlets must avoid to preserve a sense of rational, informed calm.
PAGEThe average American, until recently, did not know where Sierra Leone was on a map or what ebola was, and is already primed to envision something from a movie. Do not add to this tension by drawing comparisons to a fictional zombie apocalypse. And, Paul, I think it was you.
DANAHARThat was me, yeah. Well, I've been to Sierra Leone, as well, and Liberia. And I saw what it was like when they were running the UN camps, the peacekeepers, and it was rather like that. They were basically locking themselves into little camps and trying to avoid getting dragged into a really messy war. So I see how badly things can go in Sierra Leone. The point was trying to make was that the people on the ground, the people who work for the BBC in the Africa Service, are saying to us the way this is going is they're moving towards an isolation type scenario there are, where they basically say, look, we can't cope with everybody.
DANAHARSo, guys, you know, try and do with it as best you can in isolated areas. But to actually, what they want to focus on are the medical teams because that's got to be the priority to send them back out again.
PAGEAnd let me just say thanks, our thanks to Matt for his service to his country and in this effort.
GRIFFINAnd it's interesting 'cause AFRICOM commander, General David Rodriguez, pointed out that if in the next few weeks or months they can get 70 percent of those infected into hospitals, into -- then they believe that they can start bringing the numbers down. That's what they're aiming for and that's why the race to build these hospitals and treatment units, so that you can isolate them from the larger part elation. And that's what the U.S. military is going to be involved in, not in the treatment of these outpatients.
LANDAYAnd that 70 percent number comes from the U.N. That's what they were told the other day, that within the next two months they've got to get a target of 70 percent of the people into treatment centers, as well as 70 percent of funerals being conducted where you don't have contact with the body, which is a tradition in that part of the world.
DANAHARAnd if you've got, if you've got 10,000 people a week, I think that was the statistic they were talking about.
PAGEProjecting for December, if it's not controlled.
DANAHARThen, you know, if you don't deal with it then you really will have a scenario where you've got people trying to kind of deal with just a tidal wave of deaths. Now, that would be incredibly difficult to manage.
PAGEFlorence is calling us from Burtonsville, Md. Florence, I understand you're from Sierra Leone yourself. Is that right?
PAGEYes. Well, thank you very much for calling "The Diane Rehm Show." What comment did you want to make?
FLORENCEWell, my comment to the show is that, like the panelists said it gives -- it threatens the security of the country and the outside world. And then people do keep the bodies inside, because people are dying of malaria, cholera, typhoid or other kinds of diseases. So my advice to the international world, if they're going to build up the center they should have a particular ward, or a particular section, that does triage and educate the people. And tell them, instead of keeping the bodies at home, if you are sick of any of these diseases come to us, we will treat you.
FLORENCESo then they won't get the fear of keeping the bodies in the houses. And, like I say, it threatens the security of outside world and other -- the country. because people do, when they don't have money and these Arab states would come and convince them and show them money, and then terrorists and all these things will grow in that part of the world. So that's my own take and that's my advice
PAGEAll right. Thank you so much for your call Florence.
GRIFFINI think Florence has a very important point, that education and public service announcements in these countries are going to be crucial in terms of getting a handle on this. There has been one bright light in the last week and, for the first time, the U.S. began testing a vaccine on human beings. It started up at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md. On Monday morning at 9:15, they injected 39 healthy volunteers with this vaccine. It came from Canada. It's the first time they've done this testing. This is a step towards making progress. It's going to be a long road but it is the first time they've tested a vaccine
DANAHARBut I think, also if you look at Nigeria which should've been a really, really bad case, if you look at the infrastructure of the country, has managed to almost eradicate the ebola.
PAGEAnd how did they, why were they able to do that when it proved to be impossible in these other, in the West African countries...
DANAHARWell, they were incredibly efficient at basically identifying everyone who may have been in contact with someone who died, and then, the people that may have been in contact with them, and then the people who may have been with them. They got to about 800-and-something people. And they just slammed them into isolation. And they kept them there for 21 days. They stopped them moving around. And as long as you've basically dealt with it within 21 days, and those people don't meet anybody else, it stops.
DANAHARAnd they were incredibly efficient. They were basically, what they did was they had a group of medical offices ready to deal with the different disease and they swapped them over. So they had a team ready and they just pounced and they dealt with quickly, and it's pretty much gone.
PAGEWe should put the Nigerian...
LANDAYNigeria also, they also have the function, a functioning health system...
DANAHARFunctioning public health.
LANDAY...whereas these other countries don't.
GRIFFINWe might need to send the Nigerians down to Texas Presbyterian.
PAGEIt was six months ago this week that we saw that terrible story about all those girls in Nigeria being taken away, kidnapped by an Islamic militant group. I remember it so well. I was on the news -- I was guest hosting the News Roundup that day and we knew nothing about the fate of these 200 girls. Today, just as we were coming on the air, reports of a cease-fire, an encouraging sign. Paul, what is happening?
DANAHARYeah, the Nigerian Chief of Defense Alex Badeh said that they'd reached a cease-fire agreement. Part of these discussions were going to always be about releasing these girls 270 schoolgirls. It's very difficult to know what it actually means on the ground. Does it mean that they have a cease-fire and then Boko Haram gives to hold the territory that they already have? And in return they give up the girls, they get back some of their soldiers. It doesn’t really tell us long-term where this conflict is going.
DANAHARI mean, Boko Haram of themselves identify themselves with people like the Islamic State. They're not exactly moderating and changing their stripes. So it's going to be a very difficult one to see where this goes. Is it going to be a temporary thing, the girls come back? And then will Boko Haram carry on doing the same things all over again?
GRIFFINThe problem is we've heard these kind of things from the Nigerian military and defense chief in the past. We have not heard yet from Boko Haram. We've not heard from this Abubakar Shekau. Is he alive? Is he dead? Is he in agreement that there is a cease-fire and that the girls will be returned? I think that I would treat this with skepticism.
PAGEWell, we don't -- we haven't forgotten the girls who were kidnapped. And we hope that they'll be able to come home at some point soon. Let's go to Tony. He's calling us from St. Petersburg, Fl. Tony, thanks for holding on.
TONYThank you for taking my call. My question is on ISIS. You were talking about, or the panel was talking about the air strike, the success they've had in Kobani. And I think that success is really, the combination of the Kurds really fighting alongside the U.S. air strikes to make that work and make that a winning situation. Why aren't we doing the same thing in Iraq?
PAGEYou know, Jon, that's a great question. Jonathan is nodding his head in agreement with you.
LANDAYWell, you know, the flaw that people have been, you know, going on and on and on about in President Obama's strategy is the lack of ground troops. Well, in Kobani there were ground troops. They were the Kurds, as you point out. In Iraq, there are also ground troops but they're not know of, in most places, of the caliber that are able to really capitalize on the much slower volume of American air strikes are going on inside Iraq. Don't forget, you had four complete divisions of the Iraqi military just collapse overnight when, in mid-June, when the Islamic State launched its offensive that swept through Mosul and then down to almost the doorsteps of Baghdad.
LANDAYA couple of days ago, I believe it was last weekend, the situation on the outskirts of Baghdad were so dire that the Iraqi military had to ask the United States to send helicopter gunships, to help their ground troops to fight back the Islamic State which was encroaching on -- in such a way that it was almost in position to launch artillery into Baghdad International Airport. And so, there's, you know, and let's not forget, Kobani is one small place where the fighters, the Syrian Kurds, have been fighting ISIS actually for quite some time in they're part of Syria. And so, there's a difference in the quality, I think, of both the ground troops as well as the scope of the fighting.
DANAHARI think there's a difference in quality probably also of the ISIS fighters. Many of those that are fighting in Iraq actually are Sunni, former members of the Iraqi Army that are so fed up with the Shia government, as they saw it in Baghdad, that they joined ISIS because they wanted to basically kind of liberate their own areas. You've probably got a lot more people fighting for ISIS in Syria that are perhaps less trained, they're kind of foreign fighters that are fighting with them there. They may not have all those lovely new American weapons that ISIS captured in Iraq.
PAGEI'm Susan Page and you're listing to "The Diane Rehm Show."
PAGEJennifer, did you have a comment you wanted to make on this?
GRIFFINWell, I think it's not so much that the Iraqi Armed Forces are bad fighters. It's that they are unwilling to fight along sectarian lines. So you're sending -- you are finding that the troops that they send out continue to retreat. So they just, ISIS just took over a very important training base in Hit in Anbar. We are hearing that Anbar is now almost 80 percent ISIS. And every time we turn around, we hear that the Iraqi Armed Forces are making a tactical retreat.
LANDAYAnd I think that's a really good point that, and that brings the other, to this other point which is perhaps the most proficient fighters on the Iraqi government side are Shiite militias trained and directed, in some cases, by Iran. And that stokes these sectarian divide in Iraq.
GRIFFINAnd they're carrying out, according to Amnesty International, their own abuses, kidnappings for ransom. And so, you are seeing a replay of the kind of civil war-like conditions in Baghdad that caused this crisis.
PAGEWe've been watching those pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. Just today, hundreds of Hong Kong police officers had a, began a surprise raid before dawn to remove barricades that the students and other protesters had erected. What direction is this protest going, Paul?
DANAHARI think inevitably it will slow down. The thing about Hong Kong is there was a flurry of couple of weeks where people in Hong Kong were on board. But this, slowly over time because it's a big industrial kind of area, I mean big commercial area. People are beginning to lose money, beginning to get frustrated. They began to lose some of the support of the people of Hong Kong. Plus, you've got to remember that China has got, seriously got its tentacles into Hong Kong politically and particularly in the business world.
DANAHARSo much money is made in Hong Kong because of the Chinese market. So it needed to have a real impact early. And the longer it's gone on the weaker the opposition have got.
PAGEWhat is it exactly that the demonstrators want to see happened?
LANDAYThey want Beijing to compromise on its plan for having free and fair elections in 2017 for the city government. They say Beijing, under the agreement that it signed with Britain for the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, agreed to have, you know, one man-one vote, one country-two systems where Hong Kong gets to have universal suffrage only. The way the Chinese government wants this to go is that they want the nominees for electoral pose, for the elections to be approved by and vetted by a government committee.
LANDAYAnd, you know, Hong Kong, people who have, are saying, at least the students and the Occupy Movement there, are saying no. We don't, we think anybody who wants to run should be allowed to run and shouldn't have to be vetted by Beijing.
GRIFFINPublic anger erupted on Wednesday when there was a televised moment, where a protester was dragged away in handcuffs. He was a rights activist and he was pepper sprayed and kicked on the ground. It seemed at that point, the next day, the leader of Hong Kong agreed to meet with the leaders of the protests. It seemed like there was a breakthrough. And then we heard that he said they, he would talk in principle with them, but that they, that China would still be vetting any of the, any of the nominees who are running in the 2017 elections.
DANAHARAnd what's been quite interesting about this demonstration is unlike in other parts of the world, during the Arab Spring, for example, although the students were seen as the face of it, most of the real hard-core groups were late 20s, early 30s. They were people that basically had not got anything financially rewarding out of the system in Hong Kong. And many, many of them were going on the ground and saying, you know, I've got nothing out of this so I want to see something. And that was driving it early on. Many of those people, they have gone back to their day jobs.
PAGEPaul Danahar of the BBC, Jennifer Griffin of Fox News, Jonathan Landay McClatchy Newspapers, thank you so much for being with us this hour on "The Diane Rehm Show."
DANAHARThank you very much.
GRIFFINThank you, Susan
PAGEI'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.
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