FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Aired June 1, 2008 – 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, “GPS”: Welcome to the very first edition of “Global Public Square.” I’m Fareed Zakaria.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been writing about the world. And now I have an opportunity to bring all of you along with me on what has been a fascinating adventure.
I know that right now to a lot of people, the world looks like a grim place. Almost every day you’re bombarded with frightening headlines, stories of out-of-control governments and terrorists who want to kill you.
But beyond those headlines, the picture is actually much brighter. Economic growth and technology are raising people out of disease and poverty every day.
On this program, we’ll try to understand the new forces shaping our world, both the good and the bad. And I’ll talk to some of the world’s great thinkers and doers — people like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who will be joining me in a few minutes.
So, let’s get started on what’s going to be a hell of a ride.
At water coolers across this country, people are talking about the American presidential election. But our strange drama is also gripping the rest of the world.
I gathered some of the smartest people I know to talk about this subject, and China, and Iran and anything else that comes up.
Joining me are Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent; the European Union’s ambassador to the United States and the former prime minister of Ireland, John Bruton; Minxin Pei, one of the world’s top China scholars; and Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense, one of Donald Rumsfeld’s key lieutenant’s in President Bush’s first term.
So, what I want to start with is Obamamania.
Isn’t it true that the rest of the world wants Obama to be president?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWS: You know what? I think what’s true — the rest of the world is desperate for somebody new to be president of the United States. I think that’s why this election drama has really gripped the rest of the world.
They are really eager to see the havoc that’s been created by “Feith and Friends” — if I might coin that term — over the last seven years, be put to rest and be sorted out.
Of course, Barack Obama is the one new personality in this. And just as he’s swept the imagination here in the United States, in some parts of the world, he’s swept the imagination as well — most notably in Europe.
There are other issues and other candidates and other stories being told in parts of the Arab world and elsewhere. But you’re right. In Europe, a lot of people are talking about Barack Obama.
ZAKARIA: Feith and friends?
DOUG FEITH, FORMER U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You know, if people think that there’s not going to be any havoc once there’s a new U.S. administration, I think they’re going to be disappointed. But there’s…
AMANPOUR: I hope there won’t be havoc.
FEITH: Well, there’s quite a bit of — there are many problems that are going to be, unfortunately, handed forward to the next administration. And some of them are the same ones that this administration has been grappling with in Iran and North Korea, Darfur and China. And…
ZAKARIA: But you have to admit that there will be — there does seem to be a feeling of “anybody but Bush, let’s move on.” It maybe not be justified, but that does seem to be international public climate.
FEITH: No, there’s — it depends who you talk to, of course. There is that view. But there’s also — one of the things that concerns me is, among the people paying attention to our election are partners of ours in Afghanistan and Iraq, who are working with us and counting on us to help them succeed.
And there’s been some recent very good news in Iraq. And there’s a question of how people interpret the kinds of things that are being said in our presidential election.
AMANPOUR: Fareed, you know, when I said havoc, let me just point out what I mean.
Let’s say, right now, a new poll has said that eight in 10 people in the Arab world have a negative impression of the United States. This is a big change from what it was eight years ago.
The rest of the world is deeply concerned about whether the United States is going to join in the global struggle against climate change, which most of the world takes seriously and believes that man has plenty to do with it; whether the United States is going to reverse what’s become an acceptance of torture — Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, dismissing the Geneva Conventions; whether the United States is yet again going to get involved as an honest broker, the only real broker, in getting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at least back on track, even if it’s not able to be solved immediately.
So, these are the kinds of things that I’m talking about, that people believe have been neglected or mishandled over the last couple of administrations.
ZAKARIA: Minxin, do the Chinese care? I mean, to a certain extent, Bush has been very good…
MINXIN PEI, CHINA SCHOLAR: Absolutely.
ZAKARIA: … for the Chinese. He has told the Taiwanese, do not declare their independence. On the core issue their care about, Bush has been very pro-Beijing.
PEI: Oh, Bush has been one of the best presidents for China. There’s no question about this.
As for Obama, there was no excitement about him. When I was visiting Beijing six months ago, I happened to take one of Obama’s top people to China. He is a trustee of Carnegie. And when I introduced him to other people, that he is actually Obama’s top foreign policy advisor, there was no reaction.
But today, I think China is getting curious about Obama. Until recently, China’s attitude was more favorable toward Hillary Clinton. I don’t know whether the Chinese have written her off. But right now, I think the game of understanding Obama is just beginning in Beijing.
ZAKARIA: John Bruton, you’ve watched this chaotic American primary that never ends. And what do you think, as a former politician, as a former prime minister?
JOHN BRUTON, EUROPEAN UNION AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I think the first thing I’d say is that Europeans are becoming very familiar with the details of American political geography. There are states that many Europeans would never have heard of before that are now making crucial decisions for the rest of the world.
I think what Europeans are looking for — and probably the rest of the world as a whole is looking for — is a U.S. administration that will take them and their opinions seriously and will realize that the rest of the world isn’t easily to be treated with simplicities, or the export of simplicities from this country, that every other country in the world has its own complex political set of circumstances.
ZAKARIA: This sounds like a veiled criticism of Feith and Friends.
BRUTON: No, well, I’m not going to say that, because I’m a diplomat at this time, and I’m trying to be diplomatic. But I think that’s an important consideration.
I think also, people increasingly will see that, in some areas of the world, this administration has gained a lot of kudos — Africa, for example, where the United States is held in very high esteem, and with reason, because this administration has been very forthright and generous and shown leadership in the matter of AIDS, and in Africa generally.
And then, finally, I think we’d be wanting a new administration to take multinational institutions seriously. The United Nations is the only United Nations that we have. It may not be perfect, but there is no such thing as an alternative to the United Nations, with legal powers to act as the United Nations has.
And the United States, to my mind — and I think in the mind of Europeans as a whole — must take the U.N. more seriously, must use the U.N. more fully to achieve its legitimate objectives, rather than consider bypassing it.
ZAKARIA: Doug, we should be using them more, the U.N. more fully and more effectively?
FEITH: Well, it would be terrific if we could. And one of the great disappointments in this administration has been the effort to go to the U.N. and have the U.N. do what it was set up to do, and help secure peace — international peace and security.
When the president went in September ’02 to bring the Iraq issue to the U.N., he said, this is an opportunity for the U.N. to fulfill the purpose for which it was created.
And unfortunately, the U.N. dropped the ball. I mean, Saddam Hussein had violated 16 Security Council resolutions, and the U.N. ultimately didn’t authorize the kind of bold action that would have upheld the integrity of those Security Council resolutions.
BRUTON: I think there is a difficulty, though, if you more or less diss or neglect the United Nations over a long period, and then, when you want something done, you come along and make very strong demands, that you won’t get the sort of reception that maybe you deserve to get.
I think that…
FEITH: But there wasn’t…
BRUTON: But that…
FEITH: This is early in the administration, and there wasn’t a dissing.
AMANPOUR: Don’t you think…
BRUTON: Well, the United Nations — look, the United Nations — the United States was in arrears of some of the money that it owed the United Nations over a long period. And that failure to pay its dues, it does have an effect on the United States’ ability to get things from the United Nations when it needs it. AMANPOUR: Don’t you think, Fareed, the key here is that the United States has to learn to compromise again, and not just go it alone — I think that’s what they’re trying to say — by United Nations and bilateral cooperation in the future.
And you are diplomatically correct. PEPFAR, the AIDS program for Africa, will probably be President Bush’s lasting legacy, as opposed to other things he might have thought — Iraq, et cetera.
ZAKARIA: And the crucial thing now is for us to go to a break.
We will be back with our star-studded panel.
ZAKARIA: We’re back with our great minds.
Minxin, I wanted to show you this picture that you’ve obviously seen —
front page of the “New York Times.” This is a photograph of a local Chinese party official, the head of the local Chinese Communist Party, kneeling before an angry crowd, begging of them not to protest.
What is going on?
I look at this and think, this is a very different China. They used to lock up protesters. The Communist Party was inviolate. Nobody could protest it.
Here’s this guy begging for forgiveness. How should — is this some kind of crack in the edifice?
PEI: I would say he’s begging for mercy, not for forgiveness.
Several things. First of all, it shows some degree of people power. During this incident, the Chinese nation has been mobilized to help the victims. And the press has been given unprecedented degree of latitude.
Second, I also…
ZAKARIA: Chinese press…
PEI: Chinese press, as well as Western press.
At the same time, I feel sorry for this guy, because he, by kneeling down, he really shows weakness. And I’m afraid the central government is not going to look upon his behavior very favorably, because the Chinese Communist Party wants to show that it’s always in charge, it’s tough, it knows what to do.
And this guy, by kneeling down, shows that he does not know what to do.
ZAKARIA: But yet, Wen Jiabao, the premier of China, has gone around crying, talking about how his grandpa Wen — it’s a sort of new face of the Communist Party. PEI: Yes, Premier Wen Jiabao has cried on previous occasions, but Premier Wen Jiabao has always drawn the line between showing his humanity and showing weakness. He’s never shown any weakness on the political side.
So, this party secretary has crossed the line.
ZAKARIA: Christiane, you’ve been in situations like this before, you know, kind of natural disasters, things like that. Is this something that could spiral more and more out of control in the sense of the protests getting larger, the Communist Party getting attacked for broader reasons?
AMANPOUR: I’m not a China expert. But what I have been, like many observers, quite interested by how open they have been comparatively, and how different they have behaved this time, compared with previous crises.
And yes, they have allowed the press to have unparalleled access.
But it was really the Chinese press, by their own gumption, who, despite orders, got on planes and went to the disaster zones and started reporting. And then the government allowed them to continue.
The prime minister was also front and center in the crisis that was the snowstorm in the winter. He went to address people. People couldn’t get home for Chinese New Year, if you remember.
And it just seems that this year for China has been one of unparalleled natural disaster, at the same time that they’re trying to have their coming out party, which is the Olympic Games, 8.8.08.
And we’ve reporting, for instance, around the Tibetan issue and the Dalai Lama and the whole attitude of how that situation gets resolved, and how those interest groups are trying to, you know, have their moment in the sun right now. And that also has been a big challenge for the Chinese government, and they haven’t really known how to deal with that at all.
ZAKARIA: Doug, you’re sometimes called a neoconservative. Neoconservatives are said to have a kind of skeptical view of China.
Do you think China is opening up? Does this impress you?
FEITH: I think the Chinese government right now is suffering from what the Marxists would call their internal contradictions. China is interested in being enough a part of the world that it can participate in trade and investment. And that requires a degree of openness that is obviously creating serious tensions within their own political system, which is not based on openness.
BRUTON: I think there are internal contradictions in the attitudes of others to China, as well. And we do want to roll them into the international system.
But we also are under pressure from our public opinions to show that we disapprove of what’s happening in Tibet. And there’s a tension there and a choice to be made.
AMANPOUR: I’m just stunned that the Dalai Lama, who’s this Nobel Peace Laureate, who’s this international figure for nonviolence and peace, who has said over and over again since 1979, that he is not for independence, that he’s for autonomy, that he supports the Olympics, that he is not for all these protests.
What is it about the Chinese leadership that can’t see somebody to work with? What — I don’t understand that at all.
PEI: I think that the Chinese government’s Tibetan policy clearly is misguided and has failed.
I think — I hope they will invite the Dalai Lama to the Olympic opening ceremony. That will shut up all the critics.
ZAKARIA: But they have started talking. They have initiated a dialogue.
PEI: They’re talking, yes. They’ve initiated a dialogue, but nobody knows whether the Chinese government is doing this in good faith or merely as a tactic to tide them over the Olympics.
AMANPOUR: Well, the fact of the matter is that they’ve offered the dialogue. But because of their natural disaster and calamity of the earthquake, these talks have not yet taken place. The ones that were scheduled for June will not take place.
And the Dalai Lama’s people say right now, there has been no breakthrough. So, we’re still at the same place.
ZAKARIA: Another country that has some internal contradictions — Iran. The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, issued a report that says it worries now that Iran is not just pursuing a nuclear program, nuclear energy, but perhaps also a weapons capacity.
What was the most striking thing about this to you, Doug?
FEITH: Basically, the notion that we’re going to sweet-talk the Iranians out of their nuclear program is not realistic. There’s a possibility that they can be induced through various kinds of pressure.
BRUTON: I think what we — again, we’re facing a nationalist country here. This is a country which, the more the pressure comes from outside, the more they sort of will tend to go against it. And one has to be very clever and smart in the way you apply sanctions, which I think we are being.
AMANPOUR: I think we need to be very clear what we’re talking about here. Nobody suggests that Iran can be sweet-talked. And everybody around the world realizes that there needs to be a really smart package of punitive measures, but incentives, as well. And that’s what has been lacking over the attempt to deal with Iran over the last several years.
So, it’s carrots and sticks. It can never be just sticks, and it can never be just carrots. That’s the one thing.
ZAKARIA: An ultimate carrot, am I right, Christiane, is a relationship with the United States.
AMANPOUR: Well, I’m not sure. I think the ultimate carrot is a security guarantee, because this is what the Iranians fear.
I think — I’ve spoken to quite a few diplomats and leaders over the last couple of days over this issue. And they are now saying that we have to decide how we deal with Iran, based on whether we conclude that Iran’s nuclear program — and let’s not call it a nuclear weapons program for the moment — its nuclear program, is it offensive or is it defensive?
They are paranoid that the United States wants regime change.
ZAKARIA: The last question is…
PEI: I just wish the U.S. would have the same approach to Iran as it had for North Korea, because the North Koreans are far more egregious violators of all the rules on weapons of mass destruction, and the U.S. engages with North Korea, offers a lot of incentives — they’re (ph) backward. And the result is a diplomatic breakthrough.
So, I think, if the U.S. had changed its policy a little bit on Iran, the results probably would be very different.
ZAKARIA: On that note, thank you all. Fascinating discussion. Thank you.
We’ll be back.
ZAKARIA: Tony Blair served 10 years as Britain’s prime minister — the longest run ever for a Labor leader.
His friend, Bill Clinton, suggested he take a break at that point, but he didn’t. He continued working, and not on easy things — peace in the Middle East, religious tension and climate change.
He joins me now for a wide-ranging conversation.
Mr. Blair, welcome.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: You know, I have a theory about this — indulge me — that the London bombings, the 7-7 bombings had a big impact on you.
I say this, having just watched it and occasionally talked to you about it over the years.
Before that, you would speak about the problem of terrorism, and you would talk about the solution in some ways being democracy. It was language quite reminiscent of, you know, what President Bush sometimes says.
And then 7-7 happens. And you gave an interview, which I thought was very noteworthy, in which you said, “You know, I looked at this bombings, and I said to myself, wait a minute. What are you guys upset about? You live in a democracy. You have free health care. You have a wonderful educational system. You’re talking about the oppression of Muslims.”
And I’m guessing that that had some effect on making you think, well, it can’t just be about the absence of democracy, because in Britain you had democracy, and still you had a radicalized Muslim population, or would be some small segment of the…
BLAIR: Yes, you’re absolutely right. I mean, and it did make a big impact on me.
And obviously, I’m someone of religious faith myself. I’m interested in the issue. I’m interested in faith matters.
But I also came to the conclusion that we couldn’t carry on saying, look, this is really a political problem, it’s got nothing to do with religion, when these guys are saying it does have something to do with religion.
And also, some of the other tensions within religious faith were having their consequence in the outside world, in the secular world, that I began to think, this can only be addressed if we actually start to ask some questions about how religious faiths interact with each other, how they reach out to one another, and how we manage to dissuade people, not just by an interfaith encounter — you learn more about the other faith.
But you also say to people within your own faith how our faith is not to be used as a means of exclusion, as a means of opposition, as a means of division.
You know, we want our faith to be something that opens up to the other person. We retain our distinctive identity and religious belief, but we don’t do it in a way that sets us in opposition to one another.
And, you know, my basic paradigm for this is very simple. It’s that globalization, which is the force changing the world today at a rapid and extraordinary rate, pushes people together. That’s what it does.
The boundaries are coming down. You know, the world is becoming smaller. All those cliches are cliches, because they’re true. And that’s what’s happening. The world is becoming interdependent.
If religious faith then becomes a force that pulls people apart, that says, actually, no, this force of globalization, we are going to put our religious faith in opposition to this — and actually, that is what these extremist elements within Islam really are doing, it’s a reaction to modernization in many ways — you know, then religion is going to be destructive.
On the contrary, if religion becomes a part of, because people are reaching out to each other and respecting different faiths, then it becomes a part of the solution.
ZAKARIA: So, let’s take a microcosm. We have brought — you, in particular — have brought democracy to Iraq. And I look at southern Iraq, which is now ruled by a legitimate democracy — these parties won the elections — by extreme conservative religious parties, modeled, actually, in the Iranian image.
And the plight of women, the plight of minorities like Sunnis, and the plight of Christians, in particular, is pretty bleak.
What do you do to try to get these Shiite parties, that are entirely legitimately winning the elections and have clearly enormous majority support, how do you get them to do what you’re describing?
BLAIR: Well, I think, this is again where interfaith dialogue and action and encounter can be important, because I think that it also helps cure some of these problems within faiths as well. And obviously in Northern Ireland, I dealt with the Catholic-Protestant issue, which — you know, when Iraq was in the Sunni-Shia situation.
But you know, the interesting thing also is that in Iraq now the government and the prime minister, to be fair to them, are actually reaching out to the Sunni population, are actually taking on some of the Shia militia because they’re realizing that in the end there is only one way to make a democracy work, and that is on the basis of equality.
So you know, I think that — I mean, there’s a political issue there that obviously needs to be overcome. But there is also an important faith issue too, which is that I am sure of this, that the majority of Sunni and Shia will want to work and live together.
And it’s the extremists on either side who want to — you know, the Sunnis — the extremists, when they bomb the Samarra shrine, which is designed — is the shocking thing to do and designed to shock the sensibilities of the Shia population, that thing gave rise to a lot of the violence that followed after that happened back in 2004.
And so you will have these extremists groups operating the whole time, the question is, how do we build a sufficiently strong platform where we’re standing up to them, taking them on and saying, we will not have our faith abused in this way, whether we’re Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, or whoever?
ZAKARIA: Let’s move to the subject that’s near and dear to your heart these days, the establishment of your foundation. You say you want to spend the rest of your life on interfaith dialogue and issues relating to it. This all sounds a little goody-two-shoes.
I mean, you really think that this is so urgent and important, interfaith dialogue, holding a bunch of conferences with rabbis, priests, and mullahs? BLAIR: Actually, I don’t want us to hold a series of conferences with rabbis, priests, and mullahs, and others because there are plenty of people doing that. I actually want my foundation to be about action.
The reason I think this is so important is that religious faith can be a source of reconciliation. It can be a means of progress. It can be part of our future and future peaceful coexistence, or alternatively, as it often is at the moment, I’m afraid, religious faith can be a source of conflict and division and violence and reaction to the modern world.
And this is something that isn’t just about Islam, although there is (ph)…
ZAKARIA: Well, isn’t it? I mean, there aren’t a lot of Christian terrorists going — there might have been in the past, there may have been the Crusades and the Inquisition, but in 2008, the problem of people using religion as a vehicle and justification to kill is essentially a problem within the world of Islam.
BLAIR: It is true that it is within the world of Islam that there is this perversion to the proper faith of Islam used by people to commit acts of terrorism. That is true. But actually, extremist attitudes exist in virtually all the major religious faiths.
And what’s quite important, and I feel this as a Christian, incidentally, is that those of the sort of fundamentalist or extremist views should not be the only people that are speaking up for our faith.
And the same is true certainly within Judaism, which you can see and I see when I’m out in the Middle East. The same is true within the Hindu religion, where there’s, I think, now greater tensions, I’m afraid, between Hindus and Muslims. The same is true in Buddhism as well, incidentally.
So I think, you know, there’s actually an issue to do with extremism, not necessarily always translated into violence, it’s true, but an issue to do with extremism. And that in term inculcates attitudes that can result in violence.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back with Tony Blair right after this.
ZAKARIA: We’re back with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Mr. Blair, there are accounts now from the CIA and from various other sources that al Qaeda is in trouble. That it is in trouble because it’s on the run, that there is infighting in Iraq between the Sunnis and Shias and therefore kind of undermining its mission. But fundamentally, that it is losing support among Muslim populations around the world. In a sense, does this mean your work is done? You know, are you fighting the last battle with the issue of extremism? Is al Qaeda — already is Islamic fundamentalism already losing ground everywhere?
BLAIR: No, unfortunately not. I mean, it’s true that al Qaeda have been dealt a heavy blow in Iraq. And I think what has happened in Iraq too is that their modus operandi in a way has been exposed as so thoroughly evil that, you know, it’s quite difficult to persuade people to rally to them.
ZAKARIA: The United States has suspended or canceled all Fulbright Scholarships to Palestinians from Gaza because the Israelis will not give them visas to leave. The chairman of Israel’s education committee in the Knesset deplored this and said — I think he said something like: “This could be interpreted as collective punishment, this policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews who have been subjected to the deprivations of higher education in the past, even in war there are rules.”
How do you react to it?
BLAIR: I think it’s a tragedy, just to take the obviously — the young Palestinians who will be excellent young people, completely committed to their country and to a peaceful future.
So one of the reasons why I’m working very hard at the moment to try and get a situation where in Gaza we get a cease-fire and get some calm and try and open up some of the restrictions is precisely to help these people who, you know, won’t have anything to do with the violence that’s going on there, but are victims of the situation.
ZAKARIA: Do you wish the Israeli government had not done this?
BLAIR: Well, I hope we can sort it out, let me put it like that. And I’m sure there will be people looking at exactly how we can do this, because I think, you know, the thing that strikes me most about the young Palestinians out there is that, yes, of course, there will be elements that are extreme, but actually the majority of them just want a decent life and some chance of future prosperity for themselves and their families and want peaceful coexistence with Israel.
ZAKARIA: And in that context, should we be talking to people in Hamas to see if there are people even within that movement who feel that way?
BLAIR: The thing about the talking with Hamas, I mean, obviously, I’m the Quartet envoy and there’s a position about that which is to say, we shouldn’t negotiate with Hamas until they’re prepared to recognize Israel and engage in peaceful dialogue rather than violence.
There are people talking to Hamas on our behalf as it where, which —
the Egyptians are talking both to the Israelis and to the Hamas leadership, and leadership of the other groups in order to get this cease-fire.
So in this particular instances, it’s not kind of as if there’s not a dialogue going on. And…
ZAKARIA: But do you wish you could personally engage to find out what this movement is like, what are the contours of it, are there differences within it?
BLAIR: I think it’s hard to see how you negotiate peace or talk to Hamas about peace with Israel and the two-state solution if they don’t recognize the existence of one of the states. But you know, I went through a lot of this in the Northern Ireland peace process, which was a successful peace process.
ZAKARIA: But you negotiated.
BLAIR: And we talked to absolutely everybody. But it’s quite important to understand that we did so once certain ground rules had been established.
ZAKARIA: But they represent about 40 percent of the Palestinians. What do you say to those people?
BLAIR: I think — I’ve always said there’s a huge difference between recognizing the electoral support that Hamas have and what they want us to do, which is to give them the international community’s support for reasons of aid and negotiations and so on where I think we are entitled to say to them, if we’re going to give you that, that help and support, we need to know the basis upon which it’s being given.
ZAKARIA: Would you, if you were prime minister, attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics?
BLAIR: Yes, because I think it’s a real mistake to try and handle the relationship with China in this way. I mean, it’s — you know, we can go into that in detail, (INAUDIBLE). But no, I think — I personally think it’s important we have a strong strategic partnership with China.
I think the Chinese leadership is engaged in a huge economic and political transformation. I think we can partner them in that. I think if we stand off against each other, it’s a big mistake for the future.
But I also want the direction of that development in the end to be in the direction of opening up, sure. In the world that’s developing, where the central power is shifting east and it’s shifting east fast, and I think we in the West, in America and the U.K., Europe, we’re not quite getting this.
You know, we kind of get it in theory, we don’t get it at an emotional level in reality. The world is changing so fast, that power in the Far East and in the Middle East, the question will be, how will those countries develop in the years to come?
ZAKARIA: Well, one thing you have talked about is your Christianity, your faith, which you were somewhat reluctant to do when you were in office. You have talked about the fact that Europe is actually in danger of becoming too disrespectful of religion. Europe needs to turn back to faith in some way?
BLAIR: I think it’s for people of faith to show how faith is relevant.
ZAKARIA: When you looked within yourself, why did you decide to convert to Catholicism recently?
BLAIR: I’ve actually been going to the Catholic Church for over 20 years.
ZAKARIA: Because your wife is a…
BLAIR: My wife is Catholic. My children were brought up in the Catholic faith. So for me it was a very personal decision to do with my family. And you know, it’s true, as you were saying that when I was in office I wouldn’t talk — I never hid my religious faith and people knew about it. But I never talked a lot about it.
In our politics it comes with a fairly heavy set of complications. So you know, in a way — and also there also are some constitutional questions about Catholics still in the U.K. system. So, anyway.
ZAKARIA: Final question, in your interview with TIME magazine this week, there’s a mention of 1996 episode in Scotland when a gunman shoots schoolchildren. And one of your aides says to you, so what does your God make of this? Now I thought it was a very interesting question.
BLAIR: Well, people of faith I think have asked themselves this question through the centuries. And I think the answer to it is that human beings have the capacity to do evil, but our religious faith — our true religious faith calls upon us to do good.
ZAKARIA: But why does he let it happen?
BLAIR: Because I think the world that has been created is a world in which human beings can do evil. This is not a world in which human beings always act in accordance with what God wishes.
But it is a world in which human beings have the capacity to do good and religious faith, if it is properly expressed, can help that capacity to fulfill itself and to extend itself.
And that’s why, you know, those of us who are of religious faith want to rescue that idea, that concept, from people who are either doing evil or even worse, doing evil in the name of religion and God.
Now that does not mean to say there will not be evil things that happen in the world, but for those of us of faith, God is calling us to do something different and better.
ZAKARIA: Tony Blair, a great pleasure. If you become president of Europe, and even if you don’t, please come back.
BLAIR: Thank you, Fareed. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAKARIA: I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Tony Blair. Of course, many people around the world really want to hear him say this. It’s a clip from the British comedy show “Dead Ringers.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM “DEAD RINGERS”)
JON CULSHAW AS “TONY BLAIR”: The president and I would like to use this press conference to admit that mistakes were made in Iraq, mistakes such as having no plan for dealing with the wave of sectarian violence that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein.
CULSHAW AS “GEORGE W. BUSH”: It’s now clear that we underestimatified the strengths of the detergents.
“BLAIR”: You want to know what the biggest mistake was, do you? That was right at the start of the campaign, getting involved with George, a cretinous simpleton who needs his ass labeled so he can find it.
“BUSH”: I regret using unsophisticatified language which could have been misenporcupined in some parts of the world.
“BLAIR”: Indeed the lights are on, but no one has been at the trailer home.
“BLAIR”: The man is an inbred redneck who even when they removed every sharp object from the White House, still managed to stab himself with a pretzel.
“BUSH”: I want to assure all Iraqqers, they can now look forward to a future free of intimidation and violins.
“BLAIR”: A simpering jackass who does not even listen to what’s been said at his own press conference.
“BUSH”: That is such a great answer, what he said.
“BLAIR”: So in conclusion, I can’t wait to get home and have a sensible grown-up discussion with John Prescott.
“BUSH”: Why don’t they put wheels on these things?
ZAKARIA: With apologies to Mr. Blair and, of course, President Bush.
ZAKARIA: On many of our programs, we’ll end with a look back in time, because — well, because I think history is cool. And this week we recall what may have been the beginning of the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE, the first day that CNN went on the air.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): Exactly 28 years ago today, in a building that once housed a country club, Ted Turner brought CNN to life.
TED TURNER, FOUNDER, CNN: I dedicate the news channel for America, the Cable News Network.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready camera there. One center up.
DAVID WALKER, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I’m David Walker.
ZAKARIA: Turner believed it was time to go beyond the limits of the traditional evening news broadcast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First live satellite transmission to the cable…
TURNER: We intend to cover all the news all the time. That’s — and since we’re going to be on for such a long period continuously, we sign on on June 1st, and barring satellite problems in the future, we won’t be signing off until the world ends.
ZAKARIA: When you look back at that first newscast, you see some familiar problems.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But there could be another increase in the price of Saudi Arabian oil. An Arab journalist claims the Saudis will hike their price by $4 a barrel.
ZAKARIA: Then, as now, there was public fury, but we kept on consuming. The faces we saw then are familiar, just a little younger.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: I’m Lou Dobbs, along with financial editor Myron Kandel.
ZAKARIA: And there were familiar places too. This was broadcast from the World Trade Center. In 1980 the world’s trouble spots were the same. There was a war in Iraq, just a different war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran’s news agency says Iraqi air force jets fired on Iranian forces.
ZAKARIA: And a terrorist bombing in London at a Kuwaiti oil company.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The explosion shattered windows and ruined displays over a long stretch of Britain’s most exclusive shopping street.
ZAKARIA: That was the beginning for a powerful new voice in the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE, 28 years ago. Starting today and every Sunday, I’ll try to carry on that tradition.
I’m Fareed Zakaria, and I hope you’ll join us from now on. Have a great week.