FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Aired August 24, 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, GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE: Welcome to the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I’m Fareed Zakaria.
As we prepare to watch the Democratic National Convention, I wanted to bring you an encore of the interview I did with Senator Barack Obama last month. It was his first and only in-depth foreign policy discussion on television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA: One of the things that I would want to do, if I have the honor of being president, is to try to bring back the kind of foreign policy that characterized the Truman administration with Marshall and Acheson and Kennan, but also characterized to a large degree the first President Bush, with people like Scowcroft and Powell and Baker, who I think had a fairly clear-eyed view of how the world works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: I sat down with Senator Obama just before he traveled to Europe, so we’ll also show you a discussion that many have asked to see again with prominent European journalists talking about that continent’s love affair with Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD-HENRI LEVY: I would say that he is the re-embodiment in one person — in one only, in one single body — of the two greatest heroes in our eyes of American history, modern American history, who are Martin Luther King and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: I hope you’ll stay with us. Let’s get started.
ZAKARIA: Senator Obama, thank you for doing this.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILLINOIS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much for having me.
ZAKARIA: Tell me, what is your first memory of a foreign policy event that shaped you, shaped your life?
OBAMA: A first memory. Well, you know, it wasn’t so much an event.
I mean, my first memory was my mother coming to me and saying, “I’ve remarried this man from Indonesia, and we’re moving to Jakarta on the other side of the world.”
And that’s, I think, my first memory of understanding how big the world was. And then, you know, flying there and landing. This was only maybe a year, or even less than a year, after an enormous coup, the military coup in which we learned later that over half-a-million people had probably died.
But it was for me, as a young boy, a magical place. And I think that probably is when it first enters into my consciousness that this is a big world. There are a lot of countries, a lot of cultures. It’s a complicated place.
ZAKARIA: But you were an American in Indonesia. How did that make you feel?
OBAMA: Well, you know, it made me realize what an enormous privilege it is to be an American. I mean, it certainly was at that time, even more so, because the gap in the wealth of the West at the time compared to the East was much wider.
But it wasn’t simply the fact that my mother was being paid in dollars by the U.S. embassy, and so, that gave us some additional comfort.
It was also becoming aware that, for example, the generals in Indonesia or members of Suharto’s family were living in lavish mansions, and the sense that government wasn’t always working for the people, but was working for insiders — not that that didn’t happen in the United States, but at least the sense that there was a civil society and rules of law that had to be abided by.
My stepfather was essentially dragged out of the university he’d been studying in, in Hawaii, and was conscripted and sent to New Guinea. And when he was first conscripted, he didn’t know whether he was going to be jailed, killed — that sense of arbitrariness of government power.
Those were the things that you felt you were protected from as an American, and made me, as I got older, appreciate America that much more.
ZAKARIA: Then you get to Columbia. And you decide to major in international affairs.
ZAKARIA: Now, this is at the end of the Cold War — what we now know as the end of the Cold War — the Reagan years, just before Reagan and during. What were you thinking then? Why did you major in international affairs?
OBAMA: Well, obviously, having lived overseas and having lived in Hawaii, having a mother who was a specialist in international development, who worked — was one of the early practitioners of microfinancing, and would go to villages in South Asia and Africa and Southeast Asia, helping women buy a loom or a sewing machine or a milk cow, to be able to enter into the economy.
It was natural for me, I think, to be interested in international affairs.
The Vietnam War had drawn to a close when I was fairly young. And so, that wasn’t formative for me in the way it was, I think, for an earlier generation.
The Cold War, though, still loomed large. And I thought that both my interest in what was then called the Third World and development there, as well as my interest in issues like nuclear proliferation and policy, that I thought that I might end up going into some sort of international work at some point in my life.
ZAKARIA: There was one other issue that now looms large that you were introduced to very early, which was Islam.
ZAKARIA: Do you believe, when looking at the world today, that Islamic extremism is the transcendent challenge of the 21st century?
OBAMA: I think the problems of terrorism and groups that are resisting modernity, whether because of their ethnic identities or religious identities, and the fact that they can be driven into extremist ideologies, is one of the severe threats that we face.
I don’t think it’s the only threat that we face.
ZAKARIA: But how do you view the problem within Islam, as somebody who saw it in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world?
OBAMA: Well, it was interesting. When I lived in Indonesia — this would be ’67, ’68, late ’60s, early ’70s — Indonesia was never the same culture as the Arab Middle East. The brand of Islam was always different.
But around the world, there was no — there was not the sense that Islam was inherently opposed to the West, or inherently opposed to modern life, or inherently opposed to universal traditions like rule of law.
And now in Indonesia, you see some of those extremist elements. And what’s interesting is, you can see some correlation between the economic crash during the Asian financial crisis, where about a third of Indonesia’s GDP was wiped out, and the acceleration of these Islamic extremist forces.
It isn’t to say that there is a direct correlation. But what is absolutely true is that there has been a shift in Islam, that I believe is connected to the failures of governments and the failures of the West to work with many of these countries, in order to make sure that opportunities are there, that there’s bottom-up economic growth.
The way we have to approach, I think, this problem of Islamic extremism, which is real in there, is we have to hunt down those who would resort to violence to move their agenda, their ideology forward. We should be going after al Qaeda and those networks, fiercely and effectively.
But what we also want to do is to shrink the pool of potential recruits. And that involves engaging the Islamic world rather than vilifying it, and making sure that we understand that not only are those in Islam who would resort to violence a tiny fraction of the Islamic world, but that also, the Islamic world itself is diverse, and that lumping together Shia extremists with Sunni extremists, assuming that Persian culture is the same as Arab culture.
Those kinds of errors in lumping Islam together result in us not only being less effective in hunting down and isolating terrorists, but also in alienating what need to be our long-term allies on a whole host of issues.
ZAKARIA: If U.S. forces in Afghanistan captured Osama bin Laden, what would you do with him — and you were president?
OBAMA: Well, I think that, if he was captured alive, then we would make a decision to bring the full weight of not only U.S. justice, but world justice, down on him.
And I think that — and I’ve said this before — that I am not a cheerleader for the death penalty. I think it has to be reserved for only the most heinous crimes. But I certainly think plotting and engineering the death of 3,000 Americans justifies such an approach.
Now, I think this is a big hypothetical, though. Let’s catch him first.
ZAKARIA: We’ll be right back.
ZAKARIA: And we’re back with Senator Obama.
You talked about the other threats we face. In dealing with these threats, how should we approach other nations?
John McCain has talked about a new G-8, the group of the richest countries in the world, which would exclude Russia, would expel Russia, and not include China. So, it would be an attempt to draw a line in the sand and cast out, as it were, the non-democracies.
Do you think that’s a good idea?
OBAMA: It would be a mistake.
Look, if we’re going to do something about nuclear proliferation — just to take one issue that I think is as important as any on the list — we’ve got to have Russia involved.
The amount of loose nuclear material that’s floating around in the former Soviet Union, the amount of technical know-how that is in countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain — without Russia’s cooperation, our efforts on that front will be greatly weakened.
China is going to be one of the dominant economies — it already is —
and will continue to grow at an extraordinary pace. The notion that we don’t want to be engaged in a serious way with China, or that we would want to exclude them from the process of creating international rules of the road, that are able to maintain order in the financial markets, that are able to address critical issues like terrorism, that are able to focus our attention on disparities of wealth between countries — that does not make sense.
Now, I think that we have to have a clear sense of what our values are and what our ideals are. I don’t think that we should shy away from being straight with the Russians about human rights violations. We should not shy away from talking to the Chinese about those same subjects.
I think that we have to be tough negotiators with them when it comes to critical issues. For example, if China is not working cooperatively with us on trade issues, I think that there’s nothing wrong with us being tough bargainers.
But we have to engage and get them involved and brought into dealing with some of these transnational problems. And that kind of tough, thoughtful, realistic diplomacy used to be a bipartisan hallmark of U.S. foreign policy.
And one of the things that I want to do, if I have the honor of being president, is to try to bring back the kind of foreign policy that characterized the Truman administration with Marshall and Acheson and Kennan — but also characterized to a large degree the first President Bush, with people like Scowcroft and Powell and Baker, who I think had a fairly clear-eyed view of how the world works, and recognized that it is always in our interests to engage, to listen, to build alliances, to understand what our interests are, and to be fierce in protecting those interests — but to make sure that we understand it’s very difficult for us to, as powerful as we are, to deal with all these issues by ourselves.
We need to show leadership through consensus and through pulling people together wherever we can. There are going to be times where we have to act unilaterally to protect our interests. And I always reserve the right to do that, should I be commander-in-chief. But…
ZAKARIA: What about if you don’t get that consensus, let’s say, in a place like Darfur? You’ve called for a no-fly zone. But it’s a U.N. no-fly zone.
ZAKARIA: Now, but the U.N. isn’t going to have a no-fly zone, probably, because the Chinese and the Russians will probably not go along with it.
So, in that event, do you want to have a U.S. or a NATO no-fly zone? In other words, do you want to do something, even if you can’t get consensus?
OBAMA: Well, look. There are going to be times where it’s the right thing to do, and the consensus is not going to be perfect.
I think our intervention in the Balkans ultimately was the right thing to do, although we never got the sort of formal consensus and coalition that we were able to achieve, for example, in the Gulf War. And so, the situations are going to vary.
My point is this, that we should always strive to create genuine coalitions — not coalitions that are based on us twisting arms, withholding goodies, ignoring legitimate concerns of other countries, but coalitions that are based on a set of mutual self-interests.
In a situation like Darfur, I think that the world has a self- interest in ensuring that genocide is not taking place on our watch, not only because of the moral and ethical implications, but also because chaos in Sudan ends up spilling over into Chad. It ends up spilling over into other parts of Africa that can end up being repositories of terrorist activity.
Those are all things that we’ve got to pay attention to. And if we have enough nations that are willing — particularly African nations, and not just Western nations — that are willing to intercede in an effective, coherent way, then I think that we need to act, even if we haven’t achieved 100 percent consensus.
But the principle of us wanting to build effective alliances with other countries and to lead in that way, through persuasion and organization, I think that’s something that has historically been when we are at our best.
ZAKARIA: One area where you’re outside the international consensus —
and certainly, perhaps, some others — is the statement you made in a recent speech supporting Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.
Now, why not support the Clinton plan, which envisions a divided Jerusalem, the Arab half being the capital of a Palestinian state, the Jewish half being the capital of the Jewish state?
OBAMA: You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech. And we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given.
The point we were simply making was, is that we don’t want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the ’67 War, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent.
I was not trying to predetermine what are essentially final status issues. I think the Clinton formulation provides a starting point for discussions between the parties.
And it is an example of us making sure that we are careful in terms of our syntax. But the intention was never to move away from that basic, core idea that they — that those parties are going to have to negotiate these issues on their own, with the strong engagement of the United States.
And if you look at the overall tenor of that speech, and what I’ve said historically about this issue, Israel has an interest not just in bunkering down. They’ve got to recognize that their long-term viability as a Jewish state is going to depend on their ability to create peace with their neighbors.
The Palestinian leadership has to acknowledge that the battles that they’ve been fighting, and the direction that they’ve been going in, and the rhetoric they’ve been employing, has not delivered for their people.
And it is very hard, given the history of that region and the sense of grievance on both sides, to step back and say, let’s be practical and figure out what works. But I think that’s what the people of Israel and the people in the West Bank and Gaza are desperate for, is just some practical, commonsense approaches that would result in them feeling safe, secure, and able to live their lives and educate their children.
ZAKARIA: And we will be right back.
ZAKARIA: And we’re back with Senator Obama.
You’ve also said that the chief beneficiary of the Iraq war has been Iran, which now poses a significant strategic threat to — or challenge to — the United States in the region.
If we were to leave Iraq entirely, would that not cede the field to them and allow Iran to consolidate its gains in the region and in the country?
OBAMA: I don’t think so. Look, first of all, I have never talked about leaving the field entirely. What I’ve said is that we would get our combat troops out of Iraq, that we would not have permanent bases in Iraq.
I’ve talked about maintaining a residual force there to ensure that al Qaeda does not reform in Iraq, that we’re making sure that we are providing logistical support and potential training to Iraqi forces —
so long as we’re not training sectarian armies that are then fighting each other — to protect our diplomats, to protect humanitarian efforts in the region.
So, nobody’s talking about abandoning the field.
ZAKARIA: That might be a large force.
OBAMA: Well, it — you know, I’m going to make sure that we determine, based on conditions on the ground, how we effectively carry out those limited, temporary missions.
But what is going to prevent Iran from having significant influence inside of Iraq — or at least, so much influence that Iraq is not functioning — is to make sure that the government has stood up, that it has capacity, that the Shia, the Sunni, the Kurds have come to the sort of political accommodation that allows them to divide oil revenues —
that are now coming in quite handsomely — that ensures that, in fact, we’re serious about ending corruption in some of the ministries, that provincial federalist approaches to governance are being observed.
The stronger the Iraqi government is on its own — not with us, but on its own — the less likely that Iran is going to exert its influence.
And again, this is — you know this better than I do, Fareed. The assumption that, because many in Iraq are Shia, that they automatically are going to align themselves with Iran, ignores the fact that you’ve got Arab and Persian cultures that are very different. And if Iraqi Shias feel that their government is actually functioning, then I think their identity as Iraqis reasserts itself.
If, on the other hand, the perception is that the government in Iraq is just an extension of the U.S. government, then sympathies for the kind of mischief that Iran has been engaged in may increase.
Now, the last point I would make on this is, this is going to be a messy affair. There are no elegant and easy solutions to what I believe has been an enormous strategic blunder by this administration.
We’re going to have to work our way through it. There are going to be —
there’s going to be progress in some areas. There is going to be slippage in others.
What we do have to make certain of is that, by creating a phased withdrawal in Iraq, that we are mounting the sort of diplomacy and reaching out to our allies in ways that actually strengthen our ability to isolate Iran, if it continues to pursue what are unacceptable foreign policy decisions by their leadership.
ZAKARIA: But you could imagine a situation where, if the Iraqi government wanted it, 30,000 American troops are still in Iraq 10 years from now.
OBAMA: I have been very careful not to put numbers on what a residual force would look like. What I am absolutely convinced of is that, to maintain permanent bases, to have ongoing combat forces, to have an open-ended commitment of the sort that John McCain and George Bush have advocated, is a mistake. It is a strategic mistake.
It weakens our ability to go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It continues to fan anti-American sentiment. I think it allows Iran to more effectively engage in mischief in the region. And it prevents us from isolating them and making clear to the world that they are the authors of their own isolation by their behavior.
Those costs cannot be borne. And that’s before we even start talking about the hundreds of billions of dollars and American lives that are lost or profoundly disrupted as a consequence of this engagement.
ZAKARIA: And we will be right back.
ZAKARIA: A final question. You are going to Europe and to the Middle East. You know that in places like France you have 85 percent approval ratings.
Isn’t that going to make some Americans very suspicious? If all of Europe likes you, if France likes you, there must be something wrong.
OBAMA: Well, I tell you what. You know, it’s interesting. As I travel around the country, here in the United States, I think people understand that there has been a price to the diminished regard with which the world holds the United States over the last several years.
It’s something that bothers people. It’s something that’s brought up.
You know, when I’m doing a town hall meeting in some rural community, invariably, somebody will raise their hand and they’ll say, “When are we going to restore the respect that the world had for America?”
And the American people’s instincts are good. It’s not just a matter of wanting to be liked. It’s the fact that, as a consequence of that diminished standing, we have less leverage on a whole host of critical issues that have to be dealt with.
So, I think the American people are ready for a president who is not alienating the world. And if that president is liked a little bit, well, that’s just a bonus.
Now, I don’t know how long that will last. We’ll see if my approval ratings hold up…
ZAKARIA: You’re bound…
OBAMA: … after I’m president.
ZAKARIA: You’re bound to disappoint people. I mean, with approval ratings that high, it’s bound to be a let-down, don’t you think? OBAMA: You know, my job is to make sure that, here in the United States, the American people feel confident that I’m going to be advocating for their interests and that I’m going to keep them safe.
The way to do that though, I believe, is to make sure that we’re paying attention to the rest of the world, their hopes, their aspirations, as well, and that we’re leading with our values and ideals, and not just with our military.
ZAKARIA: Senator Obama, thank you.
OBAMA: Great to talk to you.
ZAKARIA: So, Obama has been in Europe. What do they think of him?
I’ve invited a Frenchman and a German to talk about that visit, as well as other issues.
Joining me now, the editor and publisher of the leading German magazine, “Die Zeit,” Josef Joffe, and the French intellectual, Bernard-Henri Levy, the author of “Who Killed Daniel Pearl,” who is often identified in France by his initials, BHL.
Mr. Henri Levy, tell me, what do you make of the Obama mania that seems to have swept not just France, but all of Europe?
BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, AUTHOR, “WHO KILLED DANIEL PEARL?”: All over Europe. If he was supposed to be the president of Europe, he will be elected by 85 percent — even maybe on the North Korean score, you know, 90 percent. So, there is a real Obamania.
And if you ask me what is the reason for that, I would say that he is the re-embodiment in one person — in one only, in one single body — of the two greatest heroes in our eyes of American history, modern American history, who are Martin Luther King and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Obama equals the King plus JFK in the eyes of the French, the Germans, the Spanish, the Italians.
This is one of the keys of this incredible popularity as far as I am concerned, at least. This is the way I see the thing.
ZAKARIA: Jo, is this Martin Luther King and Kennedy come back to Earth?
JOSEF JOFFE, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, “DIE ZEIT”: Well, certainly, you know, if you look at Obama, he imitates Kennedy down to the inflection of his voice, the tilt of his head. So, there’s a conscious, self-conscious kind of mimicking of Kennedy.
I think Levy is right. But I would put it a little bit differently. I think Obama is not so much a candidate here, as he is a canvass, a vast surface for projecting Europe’s fondest desires onto America.
And of course, that is projecting dreams and desires. This is how we want America.
And of course, Obama is going to be an American president who is going to pursue American interests, and who will clash with that dream the moment he’s inaugurated and has to do concrete politics.
So, we are set up here for a road accident. There’s this vast desire and the inevitable disappointment down the road.
ZAKARIA: Is there going to be a disappointment? I mean, at some level there has to be.
LEVY: There has to be. But again, I agree with my friend, Jo, but not so much. Of course there will be disappointment, maybe not to this extent.
Why? We see, in Europe, Obama as a sort of mixture of realism and idealism. You had with the neocons a sort of extra-, ultra- idealism going to madness, going to stupid wars, going to stupid foreign policies.
You have a tradition of realism…
ZAKARIA: In Europe, yes.
LEVY: … in Europe, and also in America, if you go to Buchanan, or if you go even to Kissinger, which goes too far in the direction of realism, egoism, turning back to the real vocation of America.
So, Obama will be a sort of middle, midway between the two. This is the way where we Europeans see him, as a mixture of the neocons and Kissinger, in a way, if I dare say.
And this, he will embody that. He will not disappoint that. He will not be a neutral Wilsonian. And he will not be a neutral (ph) isolationist or Jacksonian, or whatsoever. He will be this mixture. There will not be so much disappointment.
And I would add something. We are not ready in France — this is one of the paradoxes of the situation. I am not sure we are ready to elect a black president, or even a president coming from any minority.
We have an Arab minority in France. It is not tomorrow that we will have a president coming from Arab minority.
So, we are dreaming for America — thank God, I am glad of that — of a president which we would not get for us. This is one of the strange paradoxes of the European situation regarding America today.
ZAKARIA: Now, I have to bring up the fact, of course, that there is another candidate in the American race, John McCain.
Jo Joffe, you know McCain. You’ve met him several times. Is it your sense that it would be that he’s just not resonating in Europe?
European elites seem to know him at the governmental level and trust him. But is he just — what do Europeans think of McCain? What do you think he represents?
This whole extraordinary story of his personal courage, his political courage, is that not resonating at all?
JOFFE: Strangely enough, it isn’t. Strangely enough, McCain is presently as absent in the European media as he seems to be in the American media. He simply seems to have disappeared.
But you know, when recalling what Bernard just said, that Obama represents to him, or to France, that wonderful mixture between realism and idealism, well, that’s McCain, isn’t it?
I mean, McCain is by no means a Bushy, by no means a Cheneyite, by no means a neocon. He’s a kind of measured man who is in the American tradition, which favors democracy.
ZAKARIA: Bernard, let me ask you about France, though, because we thought we were seeing a new France with the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, a France that was more comfortable with, frankly, Bush and Bushism — a tough France, a France that wanted to be, you know, not the critic of the United States, but the partner.
And what you’re describing, though, seems to be a France that remains very unhappy with Bush, and hoping for Obama as the salvation. Where does Sarkozy fit into all this?
LEVY: The entire world is unhappy with Bush, my dear Fareed, not only France — everybody. First America, then Europe, then the rest of the world knows…
ZAKARIA: But not your president — not your president.
LEVY: Even our president. I suppose that he says it, he has to say it in diplomatic terms. But he knows that…
JOFFE: Not my chancellor.
LEVY: He knows that Bush was the worst president you had since a long time.
There was one point Obama made, which is so clear and so true. Obama says, “One of the reasons why I was against the war in Iraq was not because I am against the war on terror, but Iraq was not the topic.”
Obama says the topic was — was and is — Afghanistan, Pakistan, which are the real parts of the world where you have the Islamist ideas with the weapon which go with.
Obama says that, which is the idea of Sarkozy, too, and which are the ideas of the French people, too.
So, I would say that the change today in France is that you have less anti-Americanism. This stupid passion, nearly a religion, which is anti-Americanism in France is on the decline — maybe because of Sarkozy, and maybe because we re-found our temper, our mind. We were — OK.
And what I would say is that, if Obama is elected, it would be a new face for America, and a new face to an extent that anti- Americanism will decline again.
As for McCain, Jo is right. He’s a great guy.
The only problem is that he does not — out of America, he does not exist. In terms of storytelling, he lost. He lost the battle of storytelling. He lost that already. Maybe he will not lose the whole battle, but this one he lost.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back right after this.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Josef Joffe of “Die Zeit” in Germany, and Bernard-Henri Levy of France.
Jo, when looking at the reaction that Europeans are having to Obama, your country has also elected a chancellor who proudly claims to be a supporter and admirer of George Bush.
So, why the craze for Obama, if there seems to be a greater degree of sympathy for Bush?
JOFFE: Well, you have to distinguish between governmental opinion and public opinion, and what I would call elite opinion or the chattering classes.
If you take the chattering classes, anti-Americanism is rampant, to an extent which I have not seen in the long history of watching trans-Atlantic relations, which leads to one conclusion right away, that anti-Americanism is something bigger, stronger and older than Bush. And so, to focus on Bush may mislead us about the phenomenon. That’s one thing.
The other thing about — to come back to the governments, we talked about Sarkozy, we talked about Merkel. Look, these guys have — these two, and above all — have understood something very basic, which their predecessors, Gerhard Schroeder in Germany and Jacques Chirac in France, did not understand, that it’s not a winning game for Europeans to have hostile, bad relations with the United States.
So, the first thing that somebody like Merkel did when she came into power in 2005, is — never mind the emotions, never mind who likes or dislikes whom — I have to improve my relationship with the United States.
ZAKARIA: Do you think, Bernard, that the reality is that, when the United States decides to do something more robust militarily, the Europeans will once again start screaming murder, and so, this tension is inevitable?
LEVY: The reality is that in Europe, number one, you have not to forget that we have an actual, recent experience of war. This is a thing which has to be said in excuse of Europe.
We know what war is. We had it in our territory, on our ground, between our nations. And the relationship between Germany and France, for example, is a miracle compared to what happened 60 years ago.
This is first thing which America did not know since September 11, and since the Civil War — war on your ground.
Number two, we have an excessive reaction to that. And Europe is, that is true, the fatherland of an excessive, demagogic realism — a sort of permanent appeasement. We have such an experience of war, that for us — for the majority of us — any war is the very embodiment of evil.
So, experience of war, which has led us to an excess of religion of peace, of a taste of, of will of appeasement. This is one of the main differences between France and America.
And number two, the breathing of history which was the real wind of Europe for such a long time, has gone away.
The history — the history make, the feeling to make the history, the feeling that there is a history with some stakes, with some oppositions, with some enemies, which you have to defeat or to reduce — this disappears more and more from the European head. And what…
ZAKARIA: So, Europe thinks it is no longer a participant, but really an observer of…
LEVY: Observer of history.
And Europe believes, more than that, that in reality, you have not —
you have nothing left which could be called history, which (ph) real enmities (ph), real vision of the world opposite, and so on and so on.
We have a sort of eirenic vision of the world in Europe. We have the feeling that the things will get into order anyway, and that any form of too strong opposition is wrong. So, that is true.
When Barack Obama, if elected, shows his muscles in front of Iran, for example, or in front of Pakistan — as he said, as he already announced — you will hear some voices in Europe to say, please, peace before all. And this is our illness in Europe.
JOFFE: Let me just add something to what Bernard said, and which I think is important.
When you are the weaker party and you deal with somebody who is very, very strong and very big — it’s Mr. Big rather than Mr. Bush — you either want control over that power, or you want that power to be like you.
And so, if I read some of the most interesting fantasies in the respect (ph) to (ph) world press around here, you get this image of Obama which he isn’t. He’s kind of social democratic, he’s kind of peace-minded, he’s U.N.-minded.
And he will be — and that’s the most interesting thought — he will preside over a weakened and chastened America after Iraq. And therefore, we’ll be able to like America better, and him better than Bush, because America will be more like us.
But, of course, America will never be like Europe. It will always be different. It’s the daughter of Europe, as de Gaulle once said. But that daughter left home in the 18th century and never came back.
ZAKARIA: And I thank both of you, Josef Joffe in Germany and Bernard-Henri Levy, for a fascinating discussion.