Kal Raustiala 0:04
Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Kal Raustiala, and I'm the Director of the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA. Today we come together as we do every year to honor the life and work of Daniel Pearl. Almost exactly 20 years ago today, Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan while working as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. A free and active press has been an essential part of American democracy since our founding. And as a journalist, Daniel devoted his life to seeking truth throughout the world. And he risked and ultimately gave his life in order to bring that world home to all of us. Today, we remember his work and we honor his legacy. I want to thank our partners, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, UCLA Hillel and the Annenberg Foundation for helping us make this event happen. And for this year is Daniel Pearl lecture at UCLA we're fortunate to have as our guest, someone who has long been essential voice in debates over freedom, tyranny, and our duties to others. Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher, filmmaker, activist, and the author of over 45 books, including The will to See, Dispatches from a World of Misery and Hope, The Virus in the Age of Madness, and American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville. In 2003, he published Who Killed Daniel Pearl. Levy's work as an intellectual and writer is uniquely intertwined with humanitarian activism. In the 90s, he was instrumental in pushing the West to intervene to stop the ethnic cleansing and atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia. In 2002, he was appointed France's special envoy to Afghanistan. Almost a decade later, he was instrumental in the intervention by NATO and Libya. And since 2015, he has worked closely with Kurds in their fight against ISIS, and produced two films about it, Peshmerga and the Battle of Mosul, which is the only first hand account of the fall of the caliphates capital. Most recently, as I'm sure we'll hear more about today, he visited Ukraine, and as push widely for stronger support from the west for Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression. We're honored to have Bernard-Henri Lévy, join us today. And we look forward to hearing from him on what I'm sure is a wide range of topics. But before we get to hear from him, as is our tradition at the Pearl Lecture, we have a few preliminaries. We'll begin with brief remarks from Rabbi Aaron Lerner of UCLA Hillel. Then Judea Pearl, Daniel's father and an emeritus professor here at UCLA will say a few words of remembrance. Following Professor Pearl, Bernard-Henri Lévy will give this year's Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture. And as he concludes, I will come on, I'll have a conversation with him, and then we'll turn to questions from all of you. So please use the q&a portal on the bottom of your zoom screen to submit your questions. And I will, I will pose those questions to him. Today's event is being recorded and will be available on YouTube and other platforms soon. So now let me please welcome on screen, Rabbi Aaron Lerner.
Aaron Lerner 3:07
Thank you so much Kal. One of my favorite things about working with college students is the chance to see how this newest generation of they're always 18 to 22 In my world, interacts with technology and approaches life's big questions. It will come as a surprise to some of you on this call that our newest students at UCLA seem somewhat less interested in telling everyone else what to do and how to think. Perhaps they're feeling fatigued generally, I know a lot of us are, are worn out specifically from the cultural war and online vitriol that has characterized their high school experience. Or perhaps they're genuinely engaged in pursuing the kind of higher understanding that college is supposed to promote. In any case, it's refreshing. Of course, this shift has not yet permeated the halls of power. In southern states, we continue to see efforts to tell people what they can and cannot do with their bodies, and which words they can and cannot say in the classroom. Of course, here in California curricular requirements now dictate the lens through which our students are to see the world. And we just witnessed a culture war literally, about covering our mouths. A special note, here in the UC system department to websites and other official channels continued to be used by certain faculty to promote their personal political beliefs. And that's in spite of the incredible efforts of Professor Pearl and other faculty and many others within the state to combat this new and pernicious problem. With all of that in mind, I'm hopeful and optimistic that this newest generation of students represent the positive change towards more openness and learning. Without further ado, and with great appreciation for you professor Pearl, and everything that you're doing to push these efforts forward. It's my honor to welcome you to turn on your camera and to unmute so that you can join us here today. Thank you all for joining us.
Judea Pearl 5:00
Thank you, Kal and Rabbi Lerner for introducing the event. And the speaker. And thank you all for being with us today. Friends and colleagues, and students, sponsors, supporters, all members of the UCLA communities for whom this annual event, an annual lecture has become a cultural landmark of shared aspiration and shared values. This year's lecture is special on two counts. First, it marks 20 years since that dreadful day. Where on February of 2002, when we were notified of Daniel's murder in Karachi, Pakistan. Second, it is the first to take place without the inspiring presence of Danny's mother, Ruth Pearl, who passed away a few months ago, Ruth was the driving force behind this annual event, from choice of speakers to preparing the invitation list. The theater just doesn't look the same without her. I'm very happy though that Danny's sisters, Tamara and Michelle are with us today. Before I introduce our speakers, I want to exchange a few words of remembrance with my son, Danny, the same word that they used on the first anniversary of his death 19 years ago. I said, you live in an extra ordinary life study and you died an extra ordinary death. You live the life that knew not geographical boundaries, with a spirit that knew no malice. Through words and music, you communicated joy, humor, friendship and understanding to many people. In many parts of the world. You found colors, where we saw all the gray, you held music, in what we took for noise. You saw people where where we read statistics. In your death, you held your head up high, higher than any of us can imagine. And you give us those precious words: I am Jewish, that have come to symbolize the right of every individual to assert his or her identity and seek the dignity of being different. This is your victory, Danny, the victory of the boldness with which you love humanity. It is a victory of every human freedom, forever suffering to be at large, forever daring the impossible. It is now my great pleasure and immense honor to introduce our speaker, my friend, my mentor, and my hero Bernard-Henri Lévy. A true champion of humanity whose life writings and journeys and movies so closely personify the spirit and legacy of Daniel Pearl. We first met at our home where he came to interview us for his book Who Killed Daniel Pearl. And we bonded immediately when he asked to see Danny's room, his books, his violin, and even his sucker trophies. Then, as the book came out, we will stand by the poetry with which he captured the essence of Danny's soul. There is the Danny he writes. I have read his articles, who even if he is proud of America, thinks that America and in general the West has an obligation to the world, owes the world something. There is a diehard humanist who in spite of everything he sees and has seen in his life continues to want to believe that man is not a predator to another man, but a brother, a kindred spirit. There is that face, he continues, there aren't that many in which our era can see itself without shame. Thank you, Bernard-Henri Lévy for honoring Danny, with your lectures today.
Bernard-Henri Lévy 10:29
My dear Judea, I want to tell you first how moved I am humbled and moved by your words. For me, our meeting in Encino California will remain in my memory, and in my heart till the end of my life. I remember so well, every second of Ruth's, and you're so warm welcoming. I remember every detail of our conversation of the child, a room of Danny and of all the tiny, therefore usually important informations you provided me that day. And I have such a great souvenir of Ruth. You know Judea, what I told you the very day we met about her. She reminded me the dearest lady in my life by her way of being her way of speaking of her beloved Son, you know that. We spoke of that the three of us. And it is such a distress and such sadness, that she is not here with us tonight to commemorate this 20th anniversary. So thank you, Judea. Thank you, Rabbi Lerner, thank you, all the friends of the UCLA and the sponsors who made this event possible. And salute, now good morning to the colleagues of Danny Pearl, who I suppose attend also this event his colleagues of this newspaper which since 20 years, I only call an homage to Danny, The Journal. For me, the Wall Street Journal being his newspaper, the newspaper to which he was dedicated, is only for me and always, and some of the colleagues of Danny know that well, The Journal. So salute to all of you. For me. It's it's an important event to celebrate this precise anniversary the 20th. Because I made an oath 20 years ago, when I wrote the book, who is which Judea just mentioned, when I engage myself in this long and difficult investigation, when I committed myself to put my feet in the footsteps of Daniel Pearl in Karachi, and of his murderers, in Islamabad, in Afghanistan and in other parts. I took the engagement, I've made the oath to contribute modestly, as much as I can, till the end of my own life to keep vibrant the memory of Daniel Pearl. I remember so well the day I heard his the confirmation of his death. I was in Afghanistan in the office of the then president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and he announced me the news and strangely enough I knew nothing about Danny. I never met him in his life of reporters, and in my own life of reporter of too, we never met. Nevertheless, when I heard the news that this brave young American Jewish reporter was dead. I received this news as a very strange, mysterious shock. The best on my shock. And I remember so well. I ask I meet Karzai. It was before the cell phones. When I only had a sort of big two wire telephone with me, which was not working. In most of places in Kabul, I asked for President Karzai to indicate me a place where my two Iock would work. I was conducted to the roof of the presidential palace with a group of American security persons and from the roof of the presidential palace of Hamid Karzai, I called my French publisher. And I told him, my friend, I publish already 20 or 25 books. My next book, I must tell you, I announced you will be entitled, Who Killed Daniel Pearl? My French publisher did not know at this time, a lot. And maybe hardly nothing about Danny. He asked me to repeat. I repeated on this stupid two wire telephone, which was half working, trying to trying to capture the satellite. I tried to explain to him what I knew of the story. And I remember so well. My this man, my publisher, Olivier Nora, telling me, Okay, be careful, be safe, but go on. Go on. It's your duty. You have to do that. And it's good that a French writer, the French intellectuals commits himself in celebrating the souvenir and Highness the grandeur of a young American hero. These days, I decided to devote the necessary time finally, it was one year to understand what happened. To understand why Daniel Pearl was abducted. Why he was tortured in such a savage way, and why he was killed. It was my first oath, my first Selma, my first promise to take the necessary time in order to discover as a second one to keep the memory alive, as long as I will be myself for life. So I devoted this year ago to Agba hotel in Rawalpindi. In the very room, where Danny met Omar Sheikh, who was the man plotting the kidnapping and responsible for his killing. I spent time going in Karachi, in the place where he was kept trying to breathe the air. Which he did breathe till the end, trying to catch the dark spirit of the place. I met some militants of the Lashkar EdgeRank V of the Lashkar e toiba of the race, a Mohammed those radical Islamist groups who gathered who assembled the forces who organized a sort of joint criminal venture, all of them 10s dozens of persons in order to torture and to kill this single one. And I soon understood that, for that, for so many forces having to gather for so many people having to be implicated for someone as important as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, being in the plot, because I assumed I, in January 2003, I discovered the implication of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the aim, the target the challenge should be very high. That it was not just a group of crazy radical Pakistanis, abducting and making an example to the rest of the world with just an American journalist. I very soon got the conviction, that behind this story, there was a huge story. And your story meant for me, that something of our future or something of the time in which we were entering into 2003 was at stake with this murder. And that in this room in this little house of the outskirts of Karachi where Danny was tortured. Something as the philosophers of my youth would have said, something of the spirit of the world was at stake, as Hegel. Why, who, and why Daniel Pearl was killed, who I very quickly discovered. I quoted the name of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it is at the end of the book, I had a meeting with him at the end, which was missed, finally, those who read the book know how and why. Who all the groups constituting the building what was just known since September 11, as Al Qaeda, all the same, all the cells, the building cell, the bricks of al Qaeda, who's center was not in the Middle East, by the way, which center was whose center was in Pakistan and Afghanistan. did co-allies themselves for this work of horror, and for this work of criminality. So who? Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Qaeda, and the Pakistani secret services. This is one of the things which I soon discovered, and we try documented in my book and which has never been denied by anyone. It was the close and deep and concrete implication of the Pakistani Secret Service's, secret services of a country which was supposed to be an ally of the United States of America. And which were secret services of a rogue state, I had all the proofs of the implications of implication of the ISI. Starting for the example I just evoked mentioned a few minutes ago, the very place where Danny met his murdered, Omar Sheik, this Agba Hotel, where I reserved and stayed at the very room when the meeting happened was a hotel completely controlled by the ISI, where the hotel which was point a place of rendesvouz a place of meeting for all the Kashmiri militants who were under the spell under the control of the ISI, and so many examples of that. So I reached very soon to precise conclusion about who. About why, my conclusion was very soon the following: because he was an American. And because we were entering in a time when being an American was becoming a crime. But time of the huge overwhelming anti Americanism, where every American guy was considered as legitimate target. He was killed number two because he was a Jew. And because Pakistan, who was, at the end of the day, not very familiar with Jewry, not very concerned with Israel and Palestine, the Palestine of Pakistan was at this time and still is probably Kashmir. This is their problem. They were not very familiar I met, during this long year, many Pakistani officials, many officers in charge of the so called investigation about the crime, I discovered that they had the very remote idea of what being a Jew meant. Nevertheless, we were entering in a time where at the scale of the world. Alas in the Muslim world, in particular, and I say, alas, because Danny Pearl was one of the Westerners, not only one of the Jews, but one of the Westerners who extended the most brotherly hand to the world of Islam. And to his Muslim brothers in South Pakistan, the salary of the world and in the world in general. We're entering in a time where the old anti semitism was taking new colors and was raging and infuriating himself. And he was a victim of that. And, of course, he was victim of the fact that he was a journalist and the great journalist, and in the case of what he was doing, at that time, considerable journalist. I tried during the second part of my investigation, the second part of the year 2002. I tried to rebuild the investigations in which Danny Pearl was involved when he was kidnapped. He made he was making an investigation about sort of spiritual master of Bangla then called Gillani. He was making an investigation about the shoe bomber, very famous at this time. But the conclusion I reached was that the article which would have been probably an intellectual bomb, and which he was not permitted to write, which he had to be prevented, at all means to conclude, was an article about a man called Abdulkadir Khan, sort of scientists, militant of a radical Islamist party, and who was the inventor of the Pakistanis, Pakistani nuclear, on whom Danny was investigating whether this sort of man who, with his right hand, was a great scientist, able to resolve the most complicated equations, and to be Pakistani Oppenheimer, and with his left leg, he was able to stand at the forefront at the head of huge demonstrations in Karachi, or in Islamabad, praising Pakistan for having the bomb, hoping Pakistan to break the nuclear taboo and hoping that Pakistan will use his weapon against the enemies of the the Muslim world of the jihad, and of the future caliphate. And my hypothesis, my conclusion, conclusion of the book is that Danny was working on the possible trafficking, of nuclear secrets, nuclear devices, between governmental organization in Pakistan, ISI and non governmental or charity organization in Afghanistan, who have, which were for large part under the umbrella of al Qaeda and of. So I reached the conclusion that Danny was killed, before he was about to write that, because he was the one who discovered the dirty game of Pakistan, with al Qaeda, that you were the one who was discovering that al Qaeda was not very well known at this time was not only an Islamist organization without territory, as it was said, by the experts at this time, but Al Qaeda did have a territory which was secretly and sometimes openly, Pakistan. So for all these reasons, Danny had terrible honor, to be called to become one of the huge symbols of our time. It is not given to so many human being to see all the forces of fate of a time, all the dark forces all the dark tendencies of an epoch, to gather over its head, to make a sort of under aura, in a sense, but also to provoke hell on them. Danny Pearl died because he was a symbol of the best of America, the symbol of the best of the West, because he was the symbol of the highest values of which the Jews try to embody, sometimes with success, sometimes they fail. This is human condition. And because he was the embodiment of a West, which was at the same time, lucid, seeing the danger, able to characterize it, to name it under the other side, trying his best to prevent the world to prevent the clash between civilization to prevent the war with the radical Islamist when declaring to the Democrats of all countries of America, of Europe and of Muslim world and to prevent it at all costs. Danny Pearl died, because he was the embodiment of all of this. And because he was partly unwillingly, of course, he was the best of us. Nobody wants to be the best. People try to do their best to do their duty of humanity. Then he did more to incarnate and more and this is why we are celebrating his memory today. As for myself, I just want to tell you, before answering the question and remarks, which are which you are going to make, I just wanted to say to conclude what I said this morning in a in one of these social networks in my substack. I just wanted to say that I did a lot of things in my life. I wrote a lot of books. I made a movie and so on. One of the biggest sources of pride of my life. I'm 73 years old now, one of the highest sources of pride, maybe the highest source of pride of my life, is to have met Danny, after his death, to have done my best to enter in what I thought was his heart, and to have written this book in homage to his greatness, this for me, if things had to end, tomorrow would probably be the biggest source of pride of my life. That's why I'm, again, so happy to be here for this special anniversary.
Kal Raustiala 36:04
Thank you so much for your remarks and for joining us very late where you are, I believe in Morocco, am I right?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 36:13
No, no, but okay.
Kal Raustiala 36:16
Okay, for some reason, I had been told that, but in any event, I'm sure it's late. But we're really appreciative to have you here. So let me ask you, just to start off, you just now refer to Danny Pearl as the embodiment of the last and described a number of forces, deeper forces that lay behind his murder. And so now with 20 years passing, how do you see those forces differently today? So some of the issues you raised around religion and nationalism and other issues in the region? Obviously, we're in a very different place with regard to Afghanistan, for example. So I'm curious, you can go anywhere you like with this. But what do you see as the most consequential changes with regard to those forces?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 37:07
unless the consequential changes is that the things are worth today. In Afghanistan, we gave back on a silver, we the West Americans, Trump, Biden, and France and Europe, we gave on a silver plate, Afghanistan to the Taliban. We give a possible caliphate to the remnants of al Qaeda, and to the survivors of Daesh, of ISIS. So, on this ground, the sacrifice of Danny was useless. We did not learn the lesson. And those who decided to step out to step back, to leave the ground, to the Taliban's, to abandon the brave ladies who trusted us, and who decided to walk in the streets without veil. All those who hope that we heard the lesson of Danny Pearl, understood that we did not. Another ground journalism. We have, unfortunately, a very recent example, Ukraine today, at this very minute, there is not a day or a week or a day without learning that a journalist, some American journalist, some European, some Kenyan journalist, are wounded or dead, just because they embody the values of courage, of wisdom, and of freedom of information, for which then he brought forth all his life. So on these two rounds, alas, I must say that the world did not change and that we did not learn a lot about Pakistan. It's a mystery. I remember so well, when I was making this investigation in 2003 it was the time of the war in Iraq. And I remember thinking I was in Karachi or in Islamabad, and I was thinking but my goodness, what a mistake, how can one be so wrong? How can we search for forbidden weapons in a place where they are not, and not see them as a stolen letter of where they are, which is under my nose. I remember having visited the Mosque of every town in Karachi binnorie, down, which was a mosque, the madrasa or training camp or field hospital where bin Laden himself was cured at this time, and so bin Laden was a few 100 meters from the American consulate, I suppose from French consulate too. So, such a mistake, such a misunderstanding. Are we out of this mistake? Did we understand the misunderstanding? Do we consider Pakistan as a false ally? Maybe a little more, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure at all. I'm not sure that the the map of the area, as seen by American or French diplomats has changed so much. And again, it's a pity.
Kal Raustiala 41:25
You mentioned Ukraine, and I know you were just there. And so I want to ask about that. You, you recently wrote an open letter with Salman Rushdie, Sting, Sean Penn. And you said, I'm just going to quote from it, Putin's war of aggression against free Ukraine is not just a military affair. It's a battle between two concepts of society, two visions of what makes life good or bad, and at bottom two forms of civilization. So I want to ask you about those competing visions. How do you distinguish them? And which one do you think is prevailing?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 42:06
How it is I distinguish. The face of the ladies allowed to be shown, the freedom of press guaranteed, the political quarrels solved in a proper and decent parliament. Corruption really fought real fight against corruption. Democracy, democracy, which is, of course, a defect, which never worked so well, the definition of democracy is that it does not work, that it is never finished, that it is perpetually unfinished, but that's democracy. On the other side, you have some places where democracy is considered as the AVR lamal, everyone is considered that, as hell is considered as what has to be prevented, whatever it cost. And this is some parts of the Muslim world. Those there are some parts which are on the process of democracy. You quoted Morocco, which is very exemplary. You have in the Middle East, some Muslim countries who have heard the lesson of Daniel Pearl, who are trying to, to give shape to the dialogue of civilization, and to to allow the children of Abraham to live together and to have their mosques, their synagogues, and their churches a few yards from each other. So, there is a progress, but you have some parts, which are still in the darkness of obscurantism, but you have also those who in darky dream of a revival of Ottoman Empire should the girls should their opponents and consider democracy are the worst regime ever. And you have today Putin you have Russia, great country, great culture, huge civilization, which is upon which has fallen and of Iran and darkness and stupidity and barbarity. What is happening in Ukraine? I am back from Ukraine, as you said few days ago. What is happening in Mariupol is really What we thought our generations will never see again when we said Nevermore that, that of nevermore is here in Mariupol. So you have today, this arm wrestling between women and men everywhere who consider that democracy is a fight which is worth being waged and people who think that to live in slavery, Orthodox slavery, Christian slavery, Muslim, whatever is the best of which a man can. This is a real huge worry.
Kal Raustiala 45:53
It's interesting to me that you didn't mention the largest non democracy. the most powerful. How do you see China fitting into the story that you just told?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 46:02
For me, China is at the center of the game. Of course, I didn't mention but I should have started with that. You have today five forces to be completely exhaustive. Five forces fighting democracy, China, nostalgic of Chinese Empire, nostalgic of Ottoman Empire, nostalgic of grand Russian Empire, nostalgic of the Persian Empire, Iran, and nostalgic of the caliphate which are the radical Muslims, the radical, obscurantist Muslims. The five, these are really five different forces, which had between themselves huge quarrels in the past in the past centuries, but which seem to be coalescing now. It depends on circumstances against a unique and principal and main enemy. Not America, not Europe, democracy. It is not a geographic quarrel, it is not east versus West. It is authoritarian, neo-imperialist powers, the five I just quoted, against those who believe in free spirit, in open society, society, in brotherhood and in democracy. And China is the is one of five is the richest of the five is the one who at the minute we are speaking has to choose about Ukraine between back continue to back Putin. And then the martyrdom of dukkha and then people will be endless or be one minute reasonable. And tell he is Putin the leader the ally of China. Okay. You are mistaken by your secret services. You misguided us Chinese. So give us a break? Let's talk. China has a choice. The the outcome is probably in the end in the hands today of of the Chinese government.
Kal Raustiala 48:38
Let me just press you on that because you stressed democracy but then you started off listing five empires or nostalgic empires or yearning for those empires. So is the issue of democracy, is it nationalism, what is the connection that you see between us? is democracy with Empire in some way?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 49:00
We tend to five the similarity is revenge and nostalgie. The five I quoted have two common points. They were empires number one, the Empires did fall and they want to take the revenge against these four and they think it is possible. Alas for them. Thanks God for us. It is this never happen. And the Empires which they are building now. In front of our eyes, are cartoon empires, are zombie empires are fake empires with fake culture. Putin, for example, when he we know a little about those who inspire him. Those who advise the text he wrote last year about Ukraine. Putin is not a good chess player but not a good ideologists. He's a real little man. He is the shadow of the ghosts the Phantom the ghosts of the Imperial models which he has over his head. Nicholas I, his grandfather who was tasting your meals for Stalin, as you know, he's a shadow, he's a zombie. The chance the luck for the Democrats in these countries and for us is that these appointees are zombies. And the culture which they pretend to revive is fake, is a zombie culture. I'm absolutely convinced of that. And when I see the palace of the palaces of Erdogan, when I see how he pretends to build in his own home, as many dining room as the automa, there were times for the Ottoman Empire to to die and revive all these is joke. All these is this cartoon, all these is a ghost culture. So nostalgic, zombies, and revenge and hate of democracy.
Kal Raustiala 51:52
Thank you. So we have about 15 minutes, I'm going to open it up to questions from the audience. There are many. So let me start with the first which is really about journalists a number of questions about journalism and your role, as you know, maybe your unique figure in terms of combining journalism and activism and kind of speaking truth to power. But that's the first question. So what is the role of journalists in current international crises in bringing truth to power such as with the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Bernard-Henri Lévy 52:26
to say, to, to see first and to report what is forbidden to see and to report. The the war, the chance of a war, the chance of a massacre, the lucky card, of a mass of a carnage is to be unseen, is to be covered, is to be undocumented. And if it is undocumented, then the tyrants the responsible of genocide have one in front of them. Sometimes they find a great chief or they find a truck shield, sometimes they fight we find a reason okay. But on a more daily basis, on their road, they find the journalist. Journalists go in, out of reach places unaccessible spots. And they take the truth, they document the truth and they bring it back. They put the, the iron in the wound, as Al behold, one of the masters of modern journalist said the iron, the knife in the wound, it take a piece of truth in their notebook, and they bring it back to us. And this is a crucial role. This is a way I think I read all that Daniel Pearl wrote. I read, I think none of his robot as at least available has escaped my attention. It is the way he considered his war. He knew that the dictator or the the whoever had a common interest at hiding their bad deeds, and that it was his role to unveil the bad deeds and to bring them back to the Wall Street Journal.
Kal Raustiala 54:37
So the next question goes back a little bit to what you talked about a few minutes ago about sort of psychological factors in nation. So what are the socio economic, psychological and other factors that are leading individuals and nations to find an appeal in dictatorship, fascism etc? And we see a story trends toward this in many countries, including the US. What what are the what are those factors that tend to make that strategy appealing?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 55:04
the fatigue of democracy, fatigue,. Democracy can be harassing. Democracy obliges you to, to reflect, or blinds you to see the complexity of things. Or blind compels you to, to, to have a hand in your camp. And the other hand, in the opposite camp, a real Democrat Democrats in the French term has one hand in the blue camp and another another hand in the red camp, this is a really, if you are not a fanatic, if you are not someone who does not reflect if you are really Democrats, this is a game two, always a chance to the adverse opinion. And this sometimes is boring, is at least sometimes is harassing. And then in the history of mankind. You have some long periods of time, where people say, Okay, enough, we are going to give to the Masters, all the Keys, keys of the house, keys of our brain keys of our liberty, we will ask them to feed us like, like, as the Talmud says, "as beast in great number" just to feed us and it will be okay. And we will rest for the rest of our life. These exists. There was in the Soviet time, a man turned rather bad after the after the perestroika, a dissident, but who was called Alexandre Zinoviev, a great dissident of the Soviet era, and the great writer. And, and this was his idea, that the communism had, he was wrong. But part of it was true, that the communism had built a new type of man, that it was not only a tyranny oppressing an intact mankind, or humanity, but really the tyranny had taken advantage of true tendencies, which are really living in each of us. So this is how it works.
Kal Raustiala 57:44
So the next question is: one of the points noted in your open letter, the letter that I read from was the necessity to prosecute Putin for war crimes before an international tribunal. How do you see such an endeavor playing out?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 57:58
I cannot year you. Can you hear me. Me? Yes. Yeah. Can you hear me Of course, I think that with my my, my three friends with my dear dear brother in south mangochi. With Sting, with Sean Penn, who is a very brave and valiant guy, by the way, even recently, in a recent episode, we were probably among the first to say that what Putin was doing should make him and in front of international court, an existing one, one which has to be created. I don't know. You have one of your colleagues, Phillip Sands, who proposes a special court for the crime and quicker court for the crime which Putin is committing a court punishing the crime of aggression against the state, not only crimes of war, which would be a longer process, but it's evidence. Milosevic was powerful. He was. Everybody feared him. He mastered the whole diplomatic game during years in the time of former Yugoslavia, he ended in the courts in the jail of the court. Al Bashir, who was received as a king, the king of Sudan, the president of Sudan, who was received as the king by all chief of state the world finally, is finishing now in a jail in a cell waiting for is for the court. And I don't mention other dictators like Gaddafi. So for the four of us, it is evident that in a way or in another, Putin will have to respond of his crimes, or war has some rules, who, since the first was between Sparta and Athens, since the wars in the Bible war is a state of exception, but which has some rules, Putin is raping the rules is violating the old rules. What happens in Mariupol, the bombing of the civilians, of the truckers of the kindergarten of the theatres and so on, are huge crime, which in a way will be punished. I think that when we wrote this open letter, it was one of our phone first point of agreement for us, because maybe that's
Kal Raustiala 1:01:05
Are you confident that that will happen? That he will in fact, face some form of justice.
Bernard-Henri Lévy 1:01:11
I am confident of the fact that Putin or Russia, Putin will lose this war. He's already losing. I was few days ago at the entrance of between the Odessa and Mykolaiv, I saw, an army, not only resisting, as we often hear, but counterattacking, stronger, more valiant, and knowing why the fight a real problem in a war, the real difference is, is not the number of weapons is the quality of the spirits. This we know that since a whole lot since preceded since the same thing, all the duration of the war know that. And spirit is on the side of Ukrainian, so Putin will lose. The question is, what will be the cost? Of course, how many more civilian casualties? How many more innocents, even in the Russian side, by the way, these young boys who were told that they were going into special police operation, who then were told that they will be received with flowers, and who find themselves in Hell, they also don't deserve that. And they will be part of the cost plus part of the price.
Kal Raustiala 1:02:50
So I think we have time for one final question. So the question is, as the US focuses more diplomatic, economic security resources on East Asia, what should the future of American engagement with the Middle East look like? And what guiding principles should it adhere to?
Bernard-Henri Lévy 1:03:08
The guiding principles are those for which Daniel Pearl lived, and those for which the Daniel Pearl Foundation fights. Which means to do all that is possible to prevent the clash, which is to answer to stupidity by wisdom, to which means to answer to, to savagery by intelligence and sophistication, which can be also for a form of force, but avoid the clash, make the wisdom prevail, defend in spite of everything, the values of brotherhood, this, this will be the outcome. And by the way, I was very few times in my life as impressed as I was when I heard in 2004, or five, maybe four, Judea in the roof. Pray for and argue in favor of brotherhood in spite of what they lived in spite of what they saw. Because there's hope and in spite of the endless suffering to this is our the people of spirit, the believers in democracy, the force is there in brotherhood and wisdom who can be very efficient weapons.
Kal Raustiala 1:04:56
Well, I think that's a wonderful note to end on. And we're really pleased to have you join us Mr. Lévy and I want to thank all of the audience who has been listening and watching and we hope to welcome you back again. Thank you very much. Bye everyone
Transcribed by https://otter.ai