Oprah Talks to Christiane Amanpour
Oprah: I've noticed that when I'm abroad, I get more international news. Earlier this year when I was in the Oslo airport, I heard the total number of Iraqi deaths. That's not discussed in the United States.
Christiane: Iraq is not a foreign news story. It's an American story. Though it's difficult to report from Iraq because it's so dangerous, everything's at stake in this war. The success of the democracy experiment is going to live and die in Iraq; the success of combating terrorism will be proved or disproved in Iraq. For that reason alone, I believe the war should be on the front page of every newspaper every day and at the top of every newscast.
Oprah: When you're in Iraq, do you feel fear?
Christiane: Oh, yes. It's the scariest place I've ever been. You know that you're personally targeted. You also know you could get caught up in some suicide bomb that was meant for somebody else.
Oprah: At any time.
Christiane: Yes. I'm one of those people who believe that the Iraq war could have already been won. I was there when Baghdad was liberated. There was a real moment of opportunity when the people were thankful to the United States and so glad to see the back of Saddam Hussein. Because there weren't enough troops and allies onboard to pacify the situation immediately, there was a loss of authority. Then came an incredible orgy of looting and a basic breakdown of law and order. That sowed seeds of possibility among those who would do harm and cause mayhem. They saw that although the superpower was there...
Oprah: But there weren't enough troops.
Christiane: Which is why they took their chances. Now the reconstruction effort is hobbled by the insecurity. The people still don't have a properly functioning sewage system, they still don't have electricity 24 hours a day, and the medical situation is terrible. Doctors are fleeing because of the violence. It's all very sad.
Oprah: How do you see it ending?
Christiane: I honestly don't know. I hope for the best. I'm an Iranian. Saddam Hussein invaded my country. My family fought against the Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq War. My cousins fought on the front line.
Oprah: And your family eventually fled, right?
Christiane: We left partly because of that war. So I have no love for Saddam Hussein and his regime, as a human being and as an Iranian. Everybody in their right mind is glad to see the back of that man. We just wish the postwar had been better planned, that there had been more allies onboard and a way to win the peace. In conventional warfare, I believe America will always win the war. It's a superpower that no one can challenge. The real challenge is for the Unites States to win the peace. And it must win, because otherwise we're all at risk.
Oprah: How do you define risk?
Christiane: Several ways. There's the obvious: physical risk of your life. Every time I go into a scary situation, I weigh its worth—"should I or shouldn't I?" Then there's what I call intellectual risk. Do you tell the truth? Do you speak out? Do you push the limit with your bosses, colleagues, friends, and family? Do you stand up for what you believe is right? And are you prepared to live with the risks of doing that?