Axios (2018) s04e10 Episode Script

Season 4, Episode 10

Washington, D.
C.
Department of State Morning.
AXIOS WHAT MATTERS 1.
Antony Blinken / United States Secretary of State - Mike Allen.
- Mr.
Secretary, welcome back.
Good to see you.
Mr.
Secretary, thank you for welcoming Axios on HBO into the State Department, the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room.
So you've said that job one for you is restoring partnerships and alliances.
That's been harder than it sounded.
Well, it was a challenge.
Especially in the first couple of months, hard to travel because of COVID.
So a lot of it was gettin' on the phone, starting to reengage with partners.
But we've finally been able to travel.
I'm finding there's been a real thirst and a welcoming of U.
S.
engagement.
It's a reflection of the fact that our partners see the same thing that we do.
If you're lookin' at all of the really big problems that we're trying to solve that actually have an impact on our people's lives, like the pandemic, like climate change, like emerging technologies that are changing lives in different ways, no one country can do it alone.
We have to find ways to cooperate, to collaborate, to do it together.
So there's a lot of welcoming of the United States being back in the game.
When you say "back in the game," implication is the previous administration, out of the game.
Well, look, I'm focused on looking forward.
When we're not engaged, then one of two things is likely to happen.
Some other country is likely to try to engage in our place.
- China.
- For example.
And maybe not in a way that advances our interests or values.
- And is that already happening? - We've certainly seen that.
We've seen China try to fill voids where we've been relatively disengaged.
Or maybe just as bad, no one does it and then you are likely to have chaos before you have anything else.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
Naftali Bennett, who's poised to be the next prime minister of Israel, has said that he's opposed to a two-state solution.
He says that based on security concerns it would be suicide for Israel.
So what's the path? Well, first, let's see what happens in Israel in terms of the government.
- But you agree that that's expected? - That seems to be expected.
But, again, I'm not doing politics.
I'm gonna focus on the policy.
We will work as we always have, with whatever the Israeli government is.
When it comes to two states, our president's been very clear about this.
We see a two-state solution as the best and probably only means to ensure that going forward Israel remains not only a secure but a Jewish and democratic state and Palestinians have the state to which they're entitled.
But the conditions right now are not there.
We've just come off of the violence in Gaza and elsewhere.
We're working very hard not only to make sure the ceasefire stays in place but to start to deal with the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
And over time, if we can build a little bit more hope, a little bit more trust, maybe then the conditions are in place to reengage on two states.
The department said in May that you hadn't personally seen the evidence Israel says it has that Hamas was occupying that tower in Gaza that they took down, that had news organizations, including the AP, in it.
What happens if there turns out to be no smoking gun? Two things.
First, President Biden's been very clear: Israel has the right to defend itself and it was on the receiving end of indiscriminate rocket attacks coming from Gaza going after Israeli civilians.
So you were fine with that building being taken down? Any country would defend itself.
And Israel has the right.
However, having said that, Israel as a democracy I think has an added burden to make sure it is doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.
And that's what is expected of us.
It's expected of Israel.
We have our own experience with this.
One of the things we found ourselves, speaking only for the United States, is that the more transparency you can provide, the more legitimacy you're going to have.
Do you think that we'll see clear evidence? All I can tell you is we've had information shared in intelligence channels which I can't for obvious reasons.
- Did you find it convincing? - I can't comment on it.
But I do think from our own experience: the more transparency, the better.
China.
Can we win an open-ended arms race with Beijing? Well, we don't want to be in an arms race with Beijing or anyone.
- But we are.
- We're in a very stiff competition.
Look, the relationship with China is both the most complicated and most consequential that we have.
There are adversarial aspects to it.
Competitive and cooperative aspects.
We have tremendous sources of strength when it comes to each one of those aspects.
We have our allies and partners.
But most important, we have ourselves.
Mr.
Secretary, what are the implications if Beijing is found to have been covering up a Wuhan lab leak? We have to get to the bottom of what happened.
There's accountability.
But from my perspective, the most important thing and the most important reason we have to get to the bottom of this is that's the only way we're going to be able to prevent the next pandemic or at least do a better job in mitigating it.
What the government didn't do in the early days, and still hasn't done, is given us the transparency we need, the international community access for inspectors and experts, the sharing of information in real time.
That has to happen.
So to get those answers, to do a proper investigation, the U.
S.
is gonna need access to the labs.
Will you demand that? Will you put teeth on it? Will you even go so far as sanctions on China if they keep inspectors out? I think the international community is clear that we have the international community has to have access, it has to have information, it has to have meaningful interaction with What's the real pressure the U.
S.
will put on China for access to the lab? If China denies the information, denies the access, denies the transparency that's needed - And you kind of expect that.
- Well, let's see.
- That's been the history.
- Mike, at the end of the day It's profoundly in China's interest to do this as well.
Because, look, it suffered, too in the outbreak of this pandemic.
It presumably has an interest as well, especially if it purports to be a responsible international actor, to do everything it can to provide all the information it has to make sure we can hopefully prevent this from happening again.
The Trump administration had a number of executive orders cracking down on companies that were tied to the Chinese Communist Party.
We're talking about export bans.
How are you thinking about that, and will you be tougher? I think the Trump administration was right to look at that.
- And to act on it? - And to act on it.
We're reviewing all of that as we speak.
And, for example, it's very important that we not, American companies or individuals aid and abet, for example China's ability to use surveillance technology to repress its own people or to export that technology to allow other autocratic or authoritarian governments from doing the same thing.
I think that's very important.
Last stop on the tour, Russia.
With the cyber attacks, President Putin is thumbing his nose at the U.
S.
Blatant disrespect.
- What is the U.
S.
gonna do about it? - Well We'll do what President Biden has already done, which is to make clear But it's not working.
We've had our food supply threatened.
We've had our energy supply threatened.
Now transportation threatened.
We would prefer to have a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia.
We've made that clear.
But we've made equally clear that if Russia chooses to act aggressively or recklessly toward us or toward our allies and partners, we'll respond.
When it comes to these ransomware attacks, of course we've already talked to the Russians about this.
One of the things we're seeing is that criminal enterprises seem to be engaged in these attacks.
And it is an obligation on the part of any country including Russia if it has a criminal enterprise acting from its territory against anyone else to do what's necessary to stop it, to bring it to justice.
And yet, Mr.
Secretary, Putin is clearly completely undeterred.
One of the reasons that the president will be meeting with President Putin in a week's time is not in spite of these aggressions, these attacks.
It's because of them, to tell him directly and clearly what he can expect from the United States if aggressive, reckless actions toward us continue.
Equally though, to make clear that if Russia by its actions chooses a different course, we would prefer a more stable relationship.
There are things we can do together that would advance the security of our people, the Russian people, Strategic stability, arms control.
So we're going to explore that.
We have to test the proposition.
The best way to do that is for the two presidents to meet face to face.
Are you optimistic that after that summit that there will be a, as you put it, more stable relationship? This is going to be a tes of that proposition.
I can't tell you whether I'm optimistic or not about the results of that test, but it's important to do that.
And also, I don't think we're going to know after one meeting, but we'll have some indications and we'll see.
We're prepared either way.
- What do you mean by "prepared"? - Well, as I said, we're prepared If Russia chooses to continue reckless and aggressive actions, we're prepared to deal with that, as we have.
On the other hand, if it chooses a different course, we're prepared to engage.
2.
Dr.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala / Director- General, World Trade Organization UNITED NATIONS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION WTO Geneva, Switzerland - Greetings.
How's Geneva? - It's beautiful.
We're on the lake.
So it's interesting that at the very time that everybody, seems in both parties, is looking inward, like putting America first, most of the big things that we're gonna have to tackle actually require international cooperation.
That's really the premise of why we came here.
To the extent that there is a city in the world where countries come together to solve the biggest problems, it's Geneva.
It's the home of all of these global multilateral institutions.
The World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, COVAX, which is the global vaccine effort.
And we're here because we're at a moment in time when we have these intense global problems - COVID-19, climate change, trade - and we really need these institutions to work.
Jonathan, why does the World Trade Organization matter? It sets the rules of international trade.
If you don't have the WTO, it's just it's the Wild West.
- Hi.
- Nice to meet you, Dr.
Ngozi.
- Good to meet you.
- Great to meet you.
Dr.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the newly appointed director-general of the WTO, the first woman and first African to hold the position.
The WTO is an intergovernmental organization that regulates trade.
People say you have an impossible job.
You're taking over an organization that really hasn't passed any major trade negotiations for more than 20 years.
People call it a moribund organization, a dying organization.
- How's the job? - It's tough.
Yes, it could be termed an impossible job.
But I see the possibility to turn around an organization that can really do good for people, that can live up to its purpose.
So maybe I'm a masochist, you know, and I like challenges.
The WTO's purpose is to enhance living standards, help create employment, and to support sustainable development.
I think the organization has moved away from its purpose and we need to walk it back to the purpose, which is being for people.
Why does it matter that it work? It matters because √Ętrade is what we are all engaged in, even at the lowest level.
The multilateral trading system is the wheel that makes the world turn round.
Even in my village, you can go there and see things made in China.
The problem is that they've never really heard of the WTO and what it does.
And of what they've heard, it's not always flattering.
But trade has helped lift hundreds of millions, even a billion, out of poverty.
And it can still do so if we reorient the direction.
The reason people say that you have an impossible job is because the World Trade Organization operates on consensus.
You need to get 164 countries to agree to major reforms.
I can't get my wife to agree to things.
You got China.
You've got the United States.
I mean, how do you do that? Yeah, it's almost an impossible job.
They could not agree initially on even appointing me as director-general when I came top of the competition.
One issue that's really difficult from the United States' perspective is China self-defines as a developing country.
And as a result of that, they seek preferential treatment.
Do you think it's appropriate they're describing themselves as developing? When the organization was designed, I think there were some serious design faults.
It was left to countries to describe themselves any way they wanted.
- That seems crazy to me.
- Well, you know, here we are today.
Now, I personally believe we should not focus on what countries call themselves but on the substance of what that is supposed to allow them to do, the benefits, and try to work with that.
America's moving in a protectionist direction.
Are you worried at all about the direction the United States is taking towards protectionism? I would hope that all countries, China, the United States would move away and not get into a protectionist mood because that was why this organization was created in the first place, to make rules of the game that would lead to more liberalization of trade.
What would you say to an American worker who feels that America since the time America's been in the WTO they've lost millions of manufacturing jobs.
Lots of factories were offshored.
What would you say to that American worker to tell them that actually free trade and the WTO has been good for them? I would say that if you look at objective evidence, you will find that the U.
S.
, China, all the big countries have benefited enormously from world trade.
But we should also admit that some people have been left behind and that the combination of technology and globalization may have resulted in some getting very wealthy and others getting behind.
So, Dr.
Ngozi, the personal story is really amazing.
You rose through the ranks of the World Bank.
You had four children.
And then you left a very comfortable life in Washington, D.
C.
and you moved back to Nigeria.
Why? When the call came for me to be finance minister, it was a way of giving back.
It was really tough, but I think it's one of the best things I ever did in my life.
But it was a really challenging assignment, and a lot of people were rooting for you.
- Some people wanted to kill you.
- That is true.
Because we had to clean up the oil subsidy system.
The oil marketers were very strong.
And so with that came threats.
- But it was a very difficult time.
- Were you afraid? I only began to think about it when my mother was kidnapped.
They kidnapped your mother? Yeah, they kidnapped my mother and held her for five days.
When they finally made their demands, it was not for ransom.
It was for me to go on air, on TV and radio, and resign as minister of finance.
Did you think about resigning? I would have on my own because my mother's life was not worth.
But my father came.
My father was a force of nature, and he said, "Absolutely not.
" It was a very difficult five days.
I thought my mother would never come back.
Even as I think of it - I feel very emotional.
- I can see it's a very emotional.
And my father died a year and a half ago.
- Excuse me.
- That's okay.
It's okay.
- I'm sorry.
- It's okay.
And my mother is still alive.
She's 91.
- But you cannot even - She must be so proud of you.
You can't even mention this to her because she was so traumatized.
People say you're tough.
That explains it, I think, to some ex I mean, put it this way, Jonathan.
If you've been through all of that, plus if you've been seven years a finance minister and the longest serving, the first woman, I think it takes a lot of toughness.
In this job, you're meeting with a lot of heads of state, presidents.
What would your message be to President Biden and President Xi? Give the WTO a chance.
Let it succeed at something.
You created it.
It has done good for both your countries.
We need it to continue to do good for the world.
Remember that there are developing countries who have not yet benefited to the extent they should.
I believe this is a good organization.
It's one that can deliver.
Give it a chance.
3.
The world's best shot / Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance CEO Dr.
Seth Berkley Dr.
Seth Berkley leads Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a partnership that has helped vaccinate more than 822 million children in low-income countries against infectious diseases.
In April 2020, Gavi helped form COVAX, a global initiative to procure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines equitably.
Dr.
Berkley, how are you? Which side do you want me on? There? Okay.
So, Dr.
Berkley, is it fair to say that you are tasked with vaccinating the entire world? The right way to do this would be to have one worldwide response.
We expected to have all health care workers in the world vaccinated within the first three months, then all high-risk people to be vaccinated worldwide by the end of 2021, which we felt would dampen down the risk of the pandemic but also the risk of new variants appearing.
I was looking at the numbers, and it's not good.
I think 1.
7-ish billion doses have been administered, and only 0.
3% have gone to the poorest countries.
Why? Well, the high-income countries out of the gate turned their treasuries loose.
So what happened is they bought many times the number of doses that are necessary for their populations.
And as a result, there are not supplies that are available for the rest of the world.
We did a tech transfer to the largest manufacturer in the world by volume, which is the Serum Institute of India.
And so early, we were relying on them.
And, of course, we ended up with a very severe outbreak in India, a set of export controls.
And that meant that that supplier stopped supplying it.
And we put a plan in place that made sense, that did the right things in the constraints that we had, and then of course situations overtook us.
You set up infrastructure to try and deal with it, and the wealthy countries said, "Great, we'll be part of it.
" And then ultimately, they just took care of themselves.
Obviously, any political leader's job is to protect their constituency, their population.
So I fully understand that.
But it's that political leader's job to understand in a pandemic that you're not doing your job if you ignore the rest of the world.
There'll be American parents who want to help people in Africa, in the developing world, but they might feel that, "Well, I'd like my child to have the vaccine first.
" It's a natural thing, is to try to protect one's own family.
But if you do that and the virus is continuing to spread in other places and mutates, then you all-not just your children but the parents themselves- can be at risk of further outbreaks.
The challenge is, is that there is some complacency now because people think, "Oh, we're just going back to normal," and, you know, vaccines are available.
But that is not gonna be the case if we have continued mutation of the virus and continued spread of variants.
Have you directly asked the Biden administration to stop their idea they're planning to give vaccines to 12-to 15-year-olds.
Would you urge them to stop that, give up their place in the queue for some of these vaccines, and give them to health care workers and vulnerable people in the developing world? My job is not to tell individual leaders what to do in their countries.
My job is to try to explain why it's so important that we provide vaccines and stop the spread of the epidemic globally.
America is about to vaccinate children.
They're not the riskiest group.
And that is gonna deprive a whole bunch of people who need it more.
Again, my job is not to set domestic policy, but to make sure that people understand the risk the world is at right now.
Because of what's happening in India and other places, there are just not vaccines.
Would you use the phrase "vaccine apartheid" to describe where we are? That's a hard question to answer.
As you know, apartheid was intentional intentionally put as a situation between countries.
- And I think in this case - It seems pretty intentional to me.
Well, yes and no.
We had another bad outbreak that restricted exports.
But if the rich countries tomorrow said, "We are going to put our shoulder to this and give up our places in the queue," they could solve this problem.
- That that is correct.
- And that is an intentional choice.
And I think we are seeing more of that now because country leaders are beginning to understand with these variants that in fact it is potentially a catastrophic crisis.
One thing I've noticed comparing the way you talk about this to the director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr.
Tedros, he uses more morally stark language.
He'll say, you know, "We're on the brink of a moral catastrophe.
" Do you feel like because you're so dependent on these rich countries that you can't say that sort of thing to them? My job is to try to get doses and to try to get those into countries.
Other leaders have different roles, and so they can say different things.
But my job is to try to encourage as much as I can actually having this happen.
It isn't over until it's over everywhere.
And that message, it's become trite, but you can't say it enough because, that's not the way the world's acting.
On June 3rd, the White House announced its plan to distribute 25 million donated doses of the coronavirus vaccines around the world - the first of a total of 80 million pledged.
COVAX needs to deliver 1.
9 billion doses more to meet its year-end goal.
4.
Metaversal truths? / Roblox CEO David Baszucki Roblox, a platform of immersive 3D worlds, has more than 199 million monthly users and is worth $56 billion.
It is part of a new wave of 'metaverse' platforms that use simulated 3D environments to connect users.
Roblox headquarters San Mateo, CA Before we have you meet our CEO and founder David, I wanted to show you some examples of the types of experiences available.
Let's jump into the virtual office space within the metaverse.
So this is, like, right here in San Mateo.
When the pandemic started, we all were missing each other.
So the team recreated the campus virtually.
My avatar is underdressed.
I feel like I should have worn a fancier outfit.
All of these experiences are made by our community.
It's a great example of something that doesn't necessarily have any gameplay.
So who are the other avatars we're seeing here? These are live people enjoying the outdoors and nature and feel like they're there together which is the power of this platform.
So with that, I think we should meet up with David in real life.
Excellent.
So I know if you're under 16 there's a pretty good chance you're playing Roblox.
But for folks that don't fall into that, what is Roblox? Every day, over 40 million people come to Roblox.
And they're coming to play together, create together, and sometimes learn together in immersive 3D spaces.
You talk a lot about the idea that we're headed towards a metaverse.
What does that mean? Sci-fi writers, and futurists, and people who have been thinking about this for a long time, this immersive 3D digital space that complements our physical space.
We like to think in the future side by side books or video, immersive 3D will be a new way to learn or work or play together.
There's a lot of talk about screen time.
Is there a limit to how long people should be spending in the metaverse? We have an optimism that immersive screen time can involve creativity, learning, social skills, a lot of good stuff that doesn't happen when just consuming content.
In certain cases, watching a movie about ancient Rome compared to going to ancient Rome with your classroom, for example, that immersive experience may be more You may learn more actually going to ancient Rome than watching video.
We think it's profound all the way across education, learning, working, consuming entertainment.
The metaverse is bringing together real kids and older people.
Obviously, there's a lotta concerns.
How do you make sure it's still a safe experience? Everything's reviewed by over 2,000 real life humans, in addition to all the cool ML and AI stuff.
We do a lot of filtering and screening with text and communication as well.
Do you feel like you have all the tools as CEO you need to keep Roblox safe? Is there anything you really feel the government needs to do? If the government means laws or regulations, I think we hold ourself to a much higher standard.
So I think our moral, ethical values would go way above that.
And so in a sense, we're I think already doing that.
During the pandemic, Roblox helped a lot of kids connect.
Now that kids are going back to school in person and other types of in-person events are happening, do you think it's natural and healthy that usage will go down? We're gonna get back to normal.
We're gonna spend more time outside.
But the people that have come to Roblox and the ways they think about using the platform, that part has been sticky and I think that part's gonna remain.
I'm pretty happy with the outcome of that.
Since 2005, you have been a left-handed guitarist and songwriter in a garage band.
Your fellow bandmate and my former boss at Time magazine, Jay Carney, said there's one word to describe the band's music.
- What was that word? - One word? Painful!
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