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Selling America to the world

April 18th, 2014
03:32 PM ET

From Kiev to Damascus, Moscow to Caracas, there are very few international conflicts and debates where the actions and position of the United States is not influential.

In Ukraine, the United States stands solidly behind the interim government, and slapped some sanctions on Russian officials after Moscow annexed Crimea.

But as Moscow continues to play out a similar drama in eastern Ukraine now, the nation and its neighbors want to know what the U.S. is going to do, if anything, to prevent any further land grabs.

The people of Syria of course have been asking that sad question for three years now; despite laying out a red line over chemical weapons, the White House has kept a hands off policy there.

And then there's the tricky question of how the United States stretches over the head of governments to reach the people in countries such as Iran and Cuba.

In a world increasingly consumed by a war of words and polarizing propaganda, the art of public diplomacy is paramount, and the new U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has his work cut out for him today.

Rick Stengel, who was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry this week, is actually a former journalist and managing editor of Time Magazine. He now steps into the powerful role of telling America’s story and laying out its foreign policy goals for the world.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke with Stengel on Friday – his first TV interview.

Click above to watch.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

The ‘degenerate’ art that Hitler hated

April 18th, 2014
07:57 AM ET

The use of propaganda and the willingness to re-shape history is hardly unique to the conflict brewing in eastern Ukraine.

In fact, the modern art of propaganda reached new heights, or depths, back in the 1930s by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, when they declared war on modern art itself.

An extraordinary exhibit at the Neue Galerie in New York is drawing huge crowds to see the kind of artwork the Nazis admired – hanging side by side with the kind they despised, what they called "degenerate art."

Acclaimed historian Simon Schama, author most recently of "The Story of the Jews," took CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on a tour, and offered a chilling reminder: First they came for the art, and then for everyone else.

Click above to watch.

Plus, with rare footage, Amanpour takes a look at back the 1937 Nazi exhibition of 'degenerate' art:


Rare footage of Nazi art exhbit

With rare footage, Christiane Amanpour takes a look at back the 1937 Nazi exhibition of 'degenerate' art.

‘Very few things’ Ukraine can do to keep country together, Putin ally warns

April 17th, 2014
02:57 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The Ukrainian government has little possibility of keeping its country from falling apart, a top member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“There are very few things the Ukrainian government can do now to keep their country together,” Vyacheslav Nikonov said.

President Putin on Thursday denied that there are Russian forces inside eastern Ukraine, but maintained his country’s right to intervene if necessary.

Nikonov warned that Russia would move in militarily if there were “full-scale civil war in Ukraine and government forces using artillery and aircraft against their own people.”


Russia's red line for intervention

Putin-ally Vyacheslav Nikonov says that Russia would intervene in Ukraine if there were "full-scale civil war."

“I would not expect that [to] happen,” he said, but added that the Ukrainian government is “not very adequate” and he is unsure “what are they going to do.”

“I would not see any restraint on the side of the authorities in Kiev. There are not just tanks, which are moving, but also artillery. And there are bombers, which are flying over the protesting people.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Kidnapping children for battle, from Nigeria to Uganda

April 16th, 2014
03:18 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

They come in the night.

Armed militants take young children from their beds, as they sleep: Young recruits for extremist causes.

It happened this week in Nigeria, when heavily armed Boko Haram Islamists kidnapped 200 girls from their boarding school.

And it has been happening in northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and other neighboring countries for decades – the work of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour covered Kony’s sick work 16 years ago, for 60 Minutes, when she reported on the abduction of 139 girls from their school.

She spoke with their teacher, Sister Rachele Fassera, who begged for the children’s return.

“He bent down and on the ground he wrote, ‘The girls are 139. I will give you a 109.’ He wrote, ‘I keep 30,’ Sister Raquelle told Amanpour at the time.”

“I knelt in front of him,” she said. “And I said, please give me all the girls. He said, ‘No.’ [crying] Then they started, ‘Sister, they will rape us tonight. Sister, will you come back tonight?’”

“That was the last time I saw them.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Nigeria • Uganda

EXCLUSIVE: UN issues stark warning against arming Ukraine protesters

April 15th, 2014
03:57 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“Whoever arms protesters can be held accountable for potential tragic consequences.”

That is the stark warning issued on Ukraine by the U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“What is at the moment, I would say, most important, it is to prevent arming of protesters and transforming them into paramilitary troops.”


U.N. releases report on Ukraine

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic.

Simonovic is the author of a new U.N. report, out Tuesday, that details the protests and incursions that lead up to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The report comes as worried residents and onlookers around the world shudder at the similarities between Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month and what is happening today in eastern Ukraine.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

The courage to imagine the other

April 15th, 2014
10:45 AM ET

By Lucky Gold and Christiane Amanpour, CNN

The showdown between Russia and Ukraine demonstrates how hard it is understand the story of “the other.”

The struggle over narratives dates back at least to the time of the Passover – which began on Monday – when Pharoah kept the people of Moses in bondage.

Now imagine a world where imagining the other could mean deliverance for warring sides such as Israelis and Palestinians.

In what may be a first, Mohammed Dajani, a Palestinian professor at al-Quds University in east Jerusalem, recently took 27 of his students to Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp in Poland.

The idea was to promote greater understanding between peoples.

And yet Professor Dajani was branded by many of his own people as a traitor.


Would a referendum vote end Ukraine crisis?

April 14th, 2014
05:49 PM ET

In Russia's parliament there was just one lone voice who stood against the annexation of Crimea. Now lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour a national referendum in Ukraine is the answer to the crisis.

Click above to watch the full interview.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Former CIA agent shines a light on a dark chapter

April 10th, 2014
03:28 PM ET

By Fred Pleitgen and Ken Olshansky, CNN

The great Roman philosopher and politician Cicero once said, "Laws become silent in times of war."

Many say the United States broke its own norms against prisoner abuse in its war on terror – undermining the U.S.'s role as a champion of human rights and the rule of law.

CIA operatives called things like waterboarding "enhanced interrogation methods." But the only adequate word to describe them is "torture."

A pending report on a senate investigation into the brutal interrogations has become a political football, with critics calling it "a partisan sham."

But Dianne Feinstein, the head of the senate intelligence committee, says it's vital to show that the U.S. is a country that makes mistakes, but also one that has the courage to deal with them openly.

In an interview with CNN’s Fred Pleitgen on Thursday, former CIA agent Glenn Carle – who worked at so-called ‘black sites’ – describes the moment the Agency became “caught-up in enhanced interrogation.”

Click above to see why he says there is “no debate” over whether the method works – it doesn’t.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Torture • U.S. Politics

In Egypt, case of trial by error

April 10th, 2014
02:58 PM ET

Filed under:  Journalism • Latest Episode

Russian Senator: West always thinks the worst of us

April 10th, 2014
02:49 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As pro-Russian unrest flares in eastern Ukraine, a Russian senator took his country’s case to the international stage on CNN Thursday, saying Moscow has a “very different” vision of the situation than the West.

“Of course somebody in Western countries maybe prefer to see just bad grace from Russia,” Andrey Klimov, member of the Russian Federation Council, said. “But the situation is quite different.”

“We are thinking only about peaceful exit from this situation, which now happened unfortunately in Ukraine.”


Russia defends intervention

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, speaks with Russian Senator Andrey Klimov.

Pro-Russian protesters are occupying a government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, demanding more independence from Kiev.

Some are concerned that after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the country may intervene in eastern Ukraine as well.

“Well, first of all, we are looking at this country as our neighbor country,” Klimov said.

In a telling exchange, though, Klimov emphasized the fact that Ukraine – a former Soviet republic – does not have a long history as a sovereign country.


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine
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