Ted Turner: Give Muslim Extremists What They Want to Stop Terrorism

During an interview aired Friday on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, when asked by host Deutsch how he would go about fighting terrorism, CNN founder Ted Turner argued that "you don't win people over by bombing them, you win them over by being friends with them," and soon recommended giving Muslim extremists what they want as a solution to terrorism. Turner, who in 2002 claimed that Israelis were guilty of "terrorism" against the Palestinians, on Friday's show advocated "being more even-handed in our dealing with the Palestinians and the Israelis," negotiating peace in the Middle East "so we can stop at some point furnishing military aid to Israel," and "pulling our military forces out of the Middle East." Turner labelled these moves as "things that they've asked of us" and "things that the Muslim extremists and a lot of other Muslims, too, would like to see us do." (Transcript follows)

Turner was also asked by Deutsch about his recent suggestion that "men should be barred from holding public office for a hundred years," prompting Turner to speak approvingly of the possibility that, with women in control, "military budgets all over the place would be slashed maybe to nothing" in favor of more social spending, as he suggested this could be the only way to prevent nuclear war and global warming distasters: "I think if we don't do something like that, we're going to have a nuclear, full-scale nuclear war at some point, or with global climate change, we're going to turn the world into such a hot house it will be unfit for humans to live in. So we need to change the way we're doing things right away and give some new ideas a chance or we're sunk."

Early in the interview, Deutsch repeated Turner's recent statement that the Iraq invasion was "one of the dumbest moves" in history and wondered how Turner thought the $300 billion spent so far on the Iraq War might have been better spent to fight terrorism. Turner suggested using it to "try and improve the world" and to "give people hope."

Turner: "Well, I think, I think what we need to do is try and improve the world. The best way to stop terrorism is to give people hope for a better future. People don't blow themselves up if they think things are going to get better."

Turner also soon suggested that instead of bombing, which only "does a lot of damage and makes people angry," that the best way to win people over is "by being friends with them."

Turner: "I think the days of bombing to try and achieve any kind of objectives are behind us. All that bombs do is a lot of damage and make people angry, you know, you don't, you don't win people over by bombing them; you win them over by being friends with them."

Deutsch rephrased the question to shift the focus of the discussion away from Iraq to the general worldwide War on Terrorism, wondering how do you get along with the "fundamentalist faction" of the world's one billion Muslims. Turner voiced support for a troop withdrawal from the Middle East as the CNN founder said "I don't know why they're there in the first place," and suggested being "more even-handed in our dealing with the Palestinians and the Israelis."

Turner: "Well, I would give strong consideration to pulling our military forces out of the Middle East. I don't know why they're there in the first place. We have thousands of troops in Saudi Arabia. The things that they've asked of us, and I think we need to, we need to really make a real solid serious effort to concentrate on bringing peace to the Middle East as far as Israel and its neighbors are concerned so that we can stop at some point furnishing military aid to Israel. Those are, I think, the two things that the Muslim extremists and a lot of other Muslims, too, would like to see us do, is get our military out of the Middle East. I mean, we're, what are they there for, anyway? And also to be more even-handed in our dealing with the Palestinians and the Israelis."

Deutsch soon brought up Turner's recent suggestion that only women should be allowed to rule the world, an idea which the CNN founder had also discussed during his September 21 appearance on CBS's The Late Show with David Letterman. Turner again marveled at the possibility of "military budgets" being "slashed maybe to nothing" and the money spent on social programs because, unlike men, women "don't have as much testosterone" and "don't want to start wars all the time."

Turner: "Men can still be in education, they can have their businesses, they can do everything else, but if the big change that would occur if women were running the world on a daily basis instead of men, is the military budgets all over the place would be slashed maybe to nothing, and a lot more money would go into education, health care, family planning, the things that really matter because women don't have as much testosterone as men. I mean, they don't want to start wars all the time. Women really would rather have things be peaceful. ... And I think if we don't do something like that, we're going to have a nuclear, full-scale nuclear war at some point, or with global climate change, we're going to turn the world into such a hot house it will be unfit for humans to live in. So we need to change the way we're doing things right away and give some new ideas a chance or we're sunk."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Friday September 29 The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch with critical portions in bold:

Donny Deutsch, at about 10:04 p.m.: "The war in Iraq, you said, quote, 'It will go down in history, is already being seen in history as one of the dumbest moves that was ever made by anybody.'"

Ted Turner: "Yup. I stand by that."

Deutsch: "I stand by that also."

Turner: "It's hard to believe."

Deutsch: "Okay. But it's easy to throw stones. I say to you now, sir, okay, instead of the $300 billion that Bush has spent in Iraq to fight terrorism, how, wind back the clock because that's the math he makes, that's the way we fight terrorism in Iraq."

Turner: "Fights Saddam Hussein."

Deutsch: "Yeah, but that's the math he makes. So intead of saying you were just wrong, you and I got that $300 billion to spend, to fight terrorism. How do you spend it?"

Turner: "Well, I think, I think what we need to do is try and improve the world. The best way to stop terrorism is to give people hope for a better future. People don't blow themselves up if they think things are going to get better."

Deutsch: "So let's say now, once again, you and I are business, we're co-CEOs of the United States of America right now, we've got $300 billion to spend to do that. Instead of bombing, what do we do?"

Turner: "It takes more than money; it takes good ideas that are implemented. I mean, we have to make some fundamental changes in the world, and they are based on information that we've just really gotten in the last few years. I think the days of bombing to try and achieve any kind of objectives are behind us. All that bombs do is a lot of damage and make people angry, you know, you don't, you don't win people over by bombing them; you win them over by being friends with them."

Deutsch: "That's great in theory."

Turner: "It works."

Deutsch: "In reality-"

Turner: "It worked for me."

Deutsch: "Okay, it worked for you-"

Turner: "Didn't work for George Bush. He was so busy bombing that he didn't get a chance to."

Deutsch: "But when you've got the enemy who flies planes into our buildings-"

Turner: "But there wasn't any Iraqis that did that. There was not a single Iraqi in the group."

Deutsch: "Take Iraq aside. We're fighting terrorism now. I agree going to Iraq is not the best way to fight terrorism, so I'm asking you now, sir, we've got hatred in the world, we've got, you know, right now we've got a world, we've got a billion Muslims. Obviously, it's only the fundamentalists that are problems."

At this point, Turner jumped in cross-talking with Deutsch, which led to Turner not hearing Deutsch specify that he was talking about how to fight Muslim fundamentalists.

Turner: "One billion, one hundred fifty million."

Deutsch: "What do we do to fight this new enemy? I'm putting you in charge."

Turner: "The Muslims?"

Deutsch: "No, the terrorists, the fundamentalists-"

Turner again interrupted Deutsch before he could finish specifying that he was talking about Muslim fundamentalists.

Turner: "Because the Muslims are just like us-"

Deutsch: "I know they are. But I'm just saying there is a fundamentalist faction, that we all know. What do we do with these terrorists? You are in charge. You are Mr. Anti-Terrorism now. We both agree Iraq was not the right way in. Obviously, Hussein had to go, certainly not, shouldn't be top of agenda. So what do we do?"

Turner: "Well, I would give strong consideration to pulling our military forces out of the Middle East. I don't know why they're there in the first place. We have thousands of troops in Saudi Arabia. The things that they've asked of us, and I think we need to, we need to really make a real solid serious effort to concentrate on bringing peace to the Middle East as far as Israel and its neighbors are concerned so that we can stop at some point furnishing military aid to Israel. Those are, I think, the two things that the Muslim extremists and a lot of other Muslims, too, would like to see us do, is get our military out of the Middle East. I mean, we're, what are they there for, anyway? And also to be more even-handed in our dealing with the Palestinians and the Israelis."

About 10:13 p.m., the discussion turned to Turner's idea to bar men from holding political office.

Deutsche: "I want to move to a less complicated subject, actually more complicated: Women. Quote, you've said, 'I've said for years and I'm really serious about it, I think men should be barred from holding public office for a hundred years. The men have been running the world for the last thousands of years and they've mucked it up something awful.' I built my business surrounding myself with women. I find women more superior to men in business-"

Turner: "The only area that I'm advocating this is in politics, that all elected offices for a hundred years, only women could run. Men can still be in education, they can have their businesses, they can do everything else, but if the big change that would occur if women were running the world on a daily basis instead of men, is the military budgets all over the place would be slashed maybe to nothing, and a lot more money would go into education, health care, family planning, the things that really matter because women don't have as much testosterone as men. I mean, they don't want to start wars all the time. Women really would rather have things be peaceful."

Deutsch: "I happen to think that's a great idea."

Turner: "And this one really could be done very quickly and very easily. All we have to do is change the laws, and in a hundred years then men can run again. And I think if we don't do something like that, we're going to have a nuclear, full-scale nuclear war at some point, or with global climate change, we're going to turn the world into such a hot house it will be unfit for humans to live in. So we need to change the way we're doing things right away and give some new ideas a chance or we're sunk."