FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Aired June 14, 2009 – 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I’m Fareed Zakaria.
This has been an extraordinary few days in Iran. Since the elections, in which a record 80 percent of voters turned out to cast their ballots, the Iranian government has announced the President Ahmadinejad has been re-elected with 62.6 percent of the vote. The challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, got 33.7 percent. The two other candidates got less than 1 percent each.
My own sense is that the vote appears to have been rigged. Mousavi had been drawing huge crowds, generating enormous enthusiasm, and getting bolder and bolder in his criticism of the president — all of which suggested that he saw himself as having strong momentum going for him, as did many, many observers.
Now, over the past decade, whenever there have been large voter turnouts, it has always helped the reformers. But this time, despite that, despite a large turnout, according to the poll results Mousavi lost, and he lost in his own hometown and surrounding region. That seems incredible.
Mousavi has declared that, based on his campaign’s reports, he had, in fact, won. He promised to contest and defy the results. The other two contenders also implied the election was fraudulent.
So, we’re getting an amazing picture into an Iranian regime that is divided. For Mousavi to be so bold as to openly challenge the results, for the other contenders who are much less powerful political figures to feel free to do this, all suggests that there are significant differences among the power elite in Tehran.
Clearly worried about all this, the supreme leader, Khamenei, has tried to close ranks around the regime by affirming the results.
But remember, Khamenei and the rest of the clerical elite are not that thrilled with Ahmadinejad. He was not their candidate in the 2005 election. He has no connections with the ruling clerics, either by family or religious training. He’s not a cleric himself.
He was a populist mayor of Tehran who accused the ruling elite of corruption and incompetence. He was strikingly frank during this campaign in making those attacks and making them personally against members of the elite who still hold important government positions.
So, what does all this mean for the rest of the world?
Well, clearly, there is no seismic shift in Iran, no new reformer or moderate to negotiate with. But even if all the protest dies down and Ahmadinejad consolidates power, as is likely, his control over all elements of the government remains questionable.
His opponents, who are still in high positions throughout the government, will be emboldened. Mousavi and his allies criticized Ahmadinejad for his anti-Western rhetoric, for his confrontational tone, for his denial of the Holocaust, for his treatment of women, for his use of the morality police.
Now, it is very rare to hear this kind of criticism against the Iranian regime’s practices. All of which means Ahmadinejad and his hard-line friends might find it difficult to continue with their highly belligerent behavior, both on domestic issues and international ones — the nuclear issue, support for terrorism.
I wouldn’t exaggerate what’s happening here. This is not good news. Ahmadinejad won. But it certainly suggests that we are not up against a monolithic Iranian nation, hell-bent on nuclear weaponry.
That’s my take now. We’ll get some on-the-ground perspective from Christiane Amanpour, and then a panel of Iran experts to dissect the news further.
And finally, a retrospective of GPS, which is now one year old.
Let’s get started.
ZAKARIA: CNN’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, has been in Tehran since last week reporting on this extraordinary election. Christiane was, of course, born in Iran and has covered it for many, many years.
Christiane, what is your sense of the situation now? You’ve covered many such situations. Is it very tense in Tehran?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is, Fareed. I’ve covered many of the elections here. It’s the 10th since the revolution. I have covered at least the last three or four.
And there’s never been anything like this in terms of the lead-up to the election with all those rallies and public support in the streets night after night, day after day. And then, the huge, historic turnout at the polls yesterday, or on Friday, for the election.
And then, now, since the election, and since the supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi have been disappointed, because their candidate was handed a resounding defeat by election officials, people are now in the street, and they’ve been burning tires, burning a bus. At least there’s been some riot situations, lots of marches, people shouting “Down with dictatorship,” “Mousavi, get our vote back for us.”
It’s very tense, actually, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Christiane, is it your sense that it would be possible, it would be easy to rig these elections? Because previously, what we had often been told was that in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the people who can take part, who can contest these elections is tightly controlled by the elite, the clerical elite, but that once the election takes place, it’s reasonably free and fair.
Was it your sense that there were many opportunities for rigging?
AMANPOUR: Well, certainly, that was a fear of the opposition camp. We heard that from the moment we came here. We heard it from supporters in the streets, who shouted against any cheating.
We know also that senior officials, the former president, Rafsanjani, was very clear about that. He, in fact, had a sort of a war room, where he had said that there were some tens of thousands of people he was paying and training to go out and monitor the election at the polling booths.
But in general, people thought that with such a massive vote there wouldn’t be the opportunity for cheating. Perhaps if it was very close, there might be the opportunity.
But what we’re also hearing from the election commission is they’re also saying, look, there’s such a massive vote and such a massive win in Ahmadinejad’s favor, that, of course, there can be no opportunity for cheating, and the people can trust the process.
ZAKARIA: But, Christiane, you were at some of those rallies that people have described for Mousavi. These were very large rallies. He seemed to be attracting an enormous amount of support.
And what I’m struck by, watching it from afar, is Mousavi has been campaigning for only four weeks. Ahmadinejad, in effect, has been campaigning for four years. He’s been visiting the whole country, doling out money.
So, it did seem that there was a lot of momentum for Mousavi. Was that the sense you had watching it up close?
AMANPOUR: He did get a huge amount of momentum. It was very interesting. The way this election was shaping up was that Ahmadinejad, the president, was a shoe-in, that he was the frontrunner, that it was assumed that he was going to win re-election. Every Iranian president since the revolution has won a second term.
But what’s also very important to point out is that this country, the leadership, is really — paranoid is a probably appropriate word —
about the proposition of revolution from inside or outside. And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a leader did post a warning on their Web site just before the polls opened, and accused the reformers of trying to launch a velvet revolution and vowing to crush it. And some analysts are saying that, you know, perhaps this result is a way of nipping that in the bud. But certainly, that is something that really frightens the leadership here.
ZAKARIA: And, Christiane, you talked to many officials in Iran, as well. You’ve known some of them for years.
Is it your sense that there are some divisions within the elite that are even apparent to you as a reporter? Are some of the officials you talk to clearly siding against Ahmadinejad? Or are you seeing anything interesting there?
AMANPOUR: Well, just in general, there are clear division lines between those who sided and supported President Ahmadinejad and those who left that side and supported the reform movement of Mousavi.
You know, reform had been dormant for the last four years, and perhaps for the last more than four years, over the last years of Mohammed Khatami’s term in office. But certainly, there was that sort of division. There has been that sort of division.
But, you know, many of the people did say to us, look. Khatami — sorry. Many people did say to us that Ahmadinejad does have this strong base of support in the rural areas, in the provinces, in the other towns where there are very religious people, very poor people. And those to whom, as you say, he’s traveled around the country campaigning and catering and wooing. So, people did say that these were the people who would come out for him.
But, of course, others point to statistics that show the urban population is much higher than the rural populations.
ZAKARIA: What is the role of the army and the Basij, the paramilitary police? Do they seem to be out on the streets now? Are they fearful of some kind of — of the riots snowballing? Does it feel like a city under kind of lock and key? Is there a sense of, you know, a kind of quasi-curfew?
AMANPOUR: No. In fact, just the opposite. There’s a sense that there’s a lot happening in the streets, that people are out, that cars are honking. There’s a huge amount of traffic. And the honking is also a political symbol, because that’s what they did in the rallies leading up to the election.
And there are, on the other hand, scores, if not hundreds of riot police deployed. No army, no military that we have seen. And we have seen, as I mentioned, running battles between some of the street protestors and some of the riot police. And we’ve seen people who have been hit with batons and taken refuge in people’s homes along the march route to try to get out of the way of that.
But in terms of what’s going on, it’s actually quite a lot of people in the streets at the moment, and there is no sense that it’s being closed down.
Again, telephones, in terms of mobile phones, we cannot use, because they’re not working. SMS and text, they’re not working. Some of the sites are being filtered.
And also, a word has gone out from the authorities that any gatherings of too many people will be considered forbidden, and that that shouldn’t happen. So, that has been broadcast.
ZAKARIA: Is there a moment that strikes — that you will remember from this last week in Tehran that you want to share? Is there some image that will stay in your mind?
AMANPOUR: Well, the unprecedented outpouring in the streets, whether it was before the election day with these huge, huge rallies, the sense that there was a real competition, a real sense of a race, that people were feeling that they had the opportunity to try to vote for change, as they said.
It was interesting. Change was a big slogan amongst Mousavi’s supporters. And of course, now this disputed result. Of course, it’s been given officially to President Ahmadinejad. And election officials say there’s no chance of cheating and no question about the results.
But there is dispute on the street. And so, it’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.
But the numbers of people in the streets, the level of discourse, the debates on television, the freedom with which people on the streets were able to debate and say what they wanted to say, the huge turnout — all pointed towards progress and a much more robust participation than we had ever seen in the past and that people here say they had seen since the Islamic revolution 30 years ago.
ZAKARIA: Christiane Amanpour, take care of yourself, and we’ll hear from you soon, I hope.
ZAKARIA: Let’s dig deeper now into the Iranian election and what it means, both inside Iran and for the rest of the world. To help with that, a panel extremely well versed in the politics and diplomacy of Iran.
Nicholas Burns is a professor of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and he knows what he professes. He retired last year as this nation’s highest ranking career diplomat.
Reza Aslan was born in Iran and now lives in Los Angeles, and is a writer and scholar. His latest book is “How to Win a Cosmic War.”
Afshin Molavi is also a native Iranian. As a fellow at the New America Foundation, he studies democratization in the Middle East.
Afshin, let me start with you. What is your reaction to not just the election, but the results?
AFSHIN MOLAVI, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Well, I think the results were surprising in the kind of numbers that we’re hearing that Ahmadinejad has won. These are the kind of numbers that Mohammed Khatami, the reform-minded cleric, was getting.
And so, it is surprising that the Iranian population would go from a reform-minded cleric, give the same kind of numbers to this, you know, a populist, sort of hard-line figure.
ZAKARIA: Let’s play that out. So, whenever you had high turnout in the past, it’s tended to — over the last 10 years, at least — it helped the reformers. Ahmadinejad comes in and wins very narrowly in his first election, beats Rafsanjani, who was a kind of moderate establishment figure.
And so, what you’re saying is, with a high turnout, to have had the pendulum swing so far in the opposite direction seems unlikely.
MOLAVI: It does seem unlikely. And the Mousavi campaign feels it’s unlikely. He’s already called it a dangerous charade.
ZAKARIA: What does that tell us? Mousavi is willing openly to challenge the results, to defy the government.
MOLAVI: Absolutely. I think what we’re witnessing here, Fareed, is something. When we take a deep dive, we’re witnessing a generational rift here in Iran. Ahmadinejad represents the second generation of Iran’s revolutionary elite who cut their teeth in the war with Iraq. Many of them come from security and intelligence backgrounds and the Revolutionary Guard.
What he did in this campaign is he took aim at the old guard of the revolutionary elite, and he basically called them corrupt, fat cat insiders doing dirty business deals. Well, this is going to have ramifications beyond these elections that could spark a crisis of legitimacy within the Islamic Republic.
ZAKARIA: And these guys, this old clerical elite, they’re still in high positions of government.
ZAKARIA: So, these are not retired folks. He’s talking about the speaker of the parliament. He’s talking about, you know, people like the chairman of the Assembly of Experts…
ZAKARIA: … Rafsanjani.
MOLAVI: These are people who still wield considerable power.
So, I think what we’re going to see now is this, you know, potential crisis play itself out. And Ahmadinejad has kind of set a bomb in the middle of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Inc., the business world of the clerics and their business counterparts.
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, “HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR”: Iran of the 1980s doesn’t really exist anymore. This notion that the mullahs are in charge is just simply not the whole story any longer. The power has become quite diffused into a whole host of competing poles of influence, one of which is increasingly becoming the executive branch.
I mean, the one thing you can say about Ahmadinejad is that he has put an enormous amount of influence and power into what was essentially a powerless position.
But the really fascinating thing is that now you have these new coalitions forming amongst centrists and pragmatists, like Rafsanjani, and more reformists groups, like Khatami’s followers. And they’re trying to come together, put aside some of their ideological reservations, the old right-and-left argument that was so much about politics of the 1990s in Iran, and they’re trying to push back against what they see as a militarization of Iranian politics.
They are scared to death that Iran is becoming Egypt. That’s what they — that’s what they’re worried about.
ZAKARIA: You mean a kind of — a military dictatorship.
ASLAN: Well, a sort of — a country in which, behind the scenes, the military is in charge, that there is some sort of semblance of a government or an election, even sort of maintaining the oligarchy in place, but that the military is increasingly calling the shots. This is something that really scares the pants out of both the clerics and the reformists, which is why they’re coming together now.
ZAKARIA: Nick, what does this election result mean for the United States?
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think there’s two aspects of this to look for. First is, the United States is going to have to issue some kind of a statement decrying the election and the way it was held.
ZAKARIA: You would do that? You think that — I mean, you have been in the State Department. Do you think that’s what they are discussing right now?
BURNS: I think it’s inevitable that the U.S. and other governments are going to have to comment on whether or not this election was free and fair.
Now, we’re not in a position to judge that. Certainly, we’re not looking at it with any degree of authority. But the numbers don’t add up. There’s a suspicion of fraud in the elections.
We know that the Interior Ministry was in charge of counting the ballots. We know the interior minister was an Ahmadinejad appointee and partisan. And it’s going to be interesting to see what governments do, but I think they’ll have to comment on the way the election was held.
Secondly — and perhaps more importantly in terms of American interests — we’re going to have to decide, what do we do now? Do we continue —
the United States, Britain, France, the other countries — with the prospect of negotiations on the nuclear issue and other issues? I would say, yes, you have to do that. But it makes it more difficult, because Ahmadinejad is such an inflexible character and someone who has not shown any degree of willingness to meet the United States halfway.
I mean, look, Fareed. You’ve had this extraordinary new and effective American president. From the first minutes in his job with the famous clenched fist reference to Iran in the inaugural speech, to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) message, to calling them by the name of the country, the Islamic Republic of Iran, he has made every effort to at least establish the basis of a first good conversation.
We haven’t had a single, haven’t seen a single instance of Ahmadinejad doing the same.
There’s great disappointment in the United States and all over the world to see Ahmadinejad returned after four very difficult years.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back right after this.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Reza Aslan, Afshin Molavi and Nicholas Burns.
Afshin, what is going on in Iran in terms of the sort of divisions of the country? Reza talks about the fact the economy is doing badly. Most people don’t realize Iran is only about 55 percent Persian. Right?
MOLAVI: Right, right.
ZAKARIA: There’s a lot of Azeris and Armenians and — is Iran unified? Or is it increasingly restive and divided?
MOLAVI: Well, I think Iran is, as you say, ethnically diverse country. But I don’t think there are divisions ethnically. I think in this particular election we saw divisions of class and identity play itself out.
Ahmadinejad supporters flocked to Ahmadinejad, because he kind of looks like them. He talks like them. He lives in a modest home. And he’s also seen as not one of this uptown, rich Iranians.
And so, all across…
ZAKARIA: Does the message of anti-Americanism resonate? Why does he do that?
MOLAVI: You know, Ahmadinejad’s anti-Americanism and his Holocaust denial statements resonate far more in Cairo and Djakarta than they do in Tehran.
People often say that a pragmatic conservative figure might be the one to do the breakthrough — kind of the Nixon to China argument, in a sense — because the conservatives and hardliners, who would be opposed to relations with the United States, might feel more comfortable.
But Ahmadinejad has not proven himself to be a pragmatic conservative. And ultimately, the final decision-maker on that issue is the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not the president.
ZAKARIA: Nick, you took part in a debate a few weeks ago, I think it was, on whether to take a harder line with Iran or to engage. A person you were debating was Liz Cheney.
ZAKARIA: I gather, at the dinner after that, Liz Cheney’s father happened to be there and got into a fairly spirited debate with you in which he was insisting that the only course that was going to be available was force, that eventually everyone would have to realize.
Do you think, within the government, there still is a feeling that, you know, the military option is a real one, and at some point we might well have to use it?
BURNS: I think Iran is a problem for the Obama administration.
By the way, I respectfully disagree with Vice President Cheney. I thought that to assert somehow that there is no diplomatic option, that there’s no country in the world willing to support us, just doesn’t stand with the facts.
The problem that President Obama is going to have is that Iran does pose a problem for the United States. It’s supporting most of the Middle East terrorist groups that are a problem for us and Iraq — certainly in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. But most importantly, there is a widespread belief that Iran is seeking to create a nuclear weapons capability. So, President Obama has to react to that.
I think he’s done the right thing to say that, after three decades of isolation and frozen relations, we ought to test the proposition that diplomacy might possibly be the way forward. He’s pledged to have a representative at the talks in July between the permanent five countries and Iran on the nuclear issue.
I think we ought to give President Obama a chance to see if diplomacy can work for two reasons. Number one, we haven’t tried it before. We should, obviously, want to do everything we can to produce a peaceful solution to these problems.
But number two, should diplomacy not succeed, it will strengthen the ability of the United States then to go back to countries like China and Russia and say, we have to put draconian economic sanctions of a type we had never tried before on Iran. We won’t have the credibility to do that, if we have not tried diplomacy first.
So, I actually think that President Obama has been very skillful in setting the United States up, even now with the return of Ahmadinejad to a second term, for negotiations that are very much in our interests. And I think you’re right. We’re going to see a reaction from conservatives in the United States. They will try to delegitimize diplomacy. They’ll say it’s naive and feckless. We shouldn’t listen to them.
ASLAN: Iran, believe it or not, feels threatened. It feels threatened by the United States. After all, we literally surround Iran with American troops. I mean, we have encircled them, basically. And…
ZAKARIA: Afghanistan, Iraq.
ASLAN: Afghanistan, yes, that’s right. Well, even in Kuwait, you know. We have bases in Turkey. We have bases in Tajikistan, I believe. We really have kind of created a circle around them, and they do feel somewhat besieged in that regard.
And even with regard to Israel, I mean, I know that sort of the common way of looking at this is that Iran is a threat to Israel. But from the Iranian perspective, it’s Israel that’s a threat to itself.
I mean, after all, yes, there may come a time in which Iran may have the capabilities of building a nuclear weapon and may figure out a way to deliver it and be a real threat, a nuclear threat to Israel. But as we sit here right now, there are an untold number of nuclear weapons in Israel pointed at Tehran. And the Iranians really feel that sense.
Now, I will say that, thanks to the Obama administration and the change not just in rhetoric, but in style and substance with the way that he has approached the Iran issue, a lot of that sense of threat has begun to subside.
What was really fascinating about this election is that the United States was really not an issue in any way, which again makes the Ahmadinejad victory that much more unbelievable, because he certainly could not rely on the economy, which by all accounts has been a complete disaster under his stewardship. And he didn’t have the so-called national security pawn to use. That, you know, this is a way that…
ASLAN: … yes, we’re under a threat. That just didn’t work.
And I think in that regard, the Obama strategy was very sophisticated.
But we have to recognize that there is this sense of threat in Iran that can’t be ignored.
You know, Barack Obama, when he was running for president — actually, before he was even the Democratic nominee — said quite famously to the “New York Times” that one of the first things that he is going to do when he’s elected was to very publicly, very explicitly take regime change off the table when it comes to Iran. BURNS: It’s a balancing act for President Obama. And while I don’t believe that it would be correct for us — and it certainly wasn’t correct in the past — to say our policy is regime change. Not a winning diplomatic formula if you’re trying to sit down and negotiate with someone.
We need to be tough-minded. I think you’ll see that from the Obama administration.
ZAKARIA: And Afshin, what percentage of Iran is under 25?
MOLAVI: Iran’s population is roughly 60 percent under the age of 28, which is an extraordinary number, because that means you have about 50 million of Iran’s 70 million population that were unborn or unwitting children at the time of the 1979 revolution.
ZAKARIA: So, will these people fade quietly into the night, now that their hopes for change have been thwarted? What happens?
MOLAVI: Well, everything depends right now on what Ahmadinejad’s main challenger, Mousavi, is going to do. Will he aggressively challenge these election results?
And we have really an interesting moment of historic irony here. Mousavi is a child of the revolution. Mousavi was the prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war. Mousavi was never a real reformer, either, when he was prime minister. He presided at a time when dissidents were being regularly executed.
And now, he’s being faced with the question: Should he unleash the young people out onto the streets who supported him, thus threatening the very system that he fought for?
So, it’s a very interesting moment of historic irony here that Mousavi is going to face. And that remains to be seen.
ZAKARIA: On that note, Nicholas Burns, Afshin Molavi, Reza Aslan, thank you very much.
And we will be right back.
ZAKARIA: Now for something I’ve really been looking forward to. It is our birthday. It’s been one year since GPS went on the air, give or take a few weeks.
It’s been a great year to start a program like this — the global economic meltdown, the election of Barack Obama, events in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea. I know some of it is bad news, but it’s big news. And that means many of you were looking for understanding and context. We hope we’ve provided some.
We spoke with many bigwigs, presidents, prime ministers. But I also hope that you will remember some of the voices who were not household names, but were intelligent and passionate. We’ve put together a highlight reel of GPS, year one. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ZAKARIA: Tell me, what is your first memory of a foreign policy event that shaped you, shaped your life?
BARACK OBAMA, AS DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 Djakarta on the other side of the world.”
And that’s, I think, my first memory of understanding how big the world was.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE, U.S. DIPLOMAT: Are we concerned about Pakistan? You bet.
IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTANI REFORMIST POLITICIAN AND RETIRED CRICKETER: It’s like the line from “Alice in Wonderland.” When you don’t know where you’re going, every road takes you there.
HOLBROOKE: I can think of no other place in the world where history hangs more heavily over the situation, and current economic conditions makes it more difficult, than Pakistan.
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: This is a 60-year-old country that lacks many of the requisite capacities of a state.
KHAN: We don’t know what’s happening. We don’t know what’s the end of this. We don’t even know the objectives of this war.
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: Pakistan is a victim of what is happening in Afghanistan.
SHASHI THAROOR, FORMER U.N. UNDERSECRETARY-GENERAL: Look. In other countries, the state has an army. In Pakistan, the army has a state. They run the show when they’re directly in power, which they’ve been for a majority of Pakistan’s existence.
MUSHARRAF: If you are successful against Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan, let me assure you, the battle is not over, because Afghanistan is Afghanistan, and they will continue.
If you succeed in Afghanistan, you would succeed in Pakistan.
LEE KUAN YEW, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF SINGAPORE: You’re going to bring democracy to Afghanistan? They have been warring with each other for hundreds of years. They enjoy warring with each other.
The Russians had 140,000 boots on the ground with tanks, helicopters and the lot. And they left. ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It is absolutely critical that the Afghans believe that this is their war. It is their war against people who are trying to overthrow their government that they democratically elected.
OBAMA: I think the Karzai government has not gotten out of the bunker and helped to organize Afghanistan and government, the judiciary, police forces, in ways that would give people confidence.
HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan was the victim of terrorists before September 11, for many, many years. Afghanistan deserves respect and a better treatment.
GIDEON ROSE, MANAGING EDITOR, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MAGAZINE: The Israeli government just is not seized with the idea that settling or finding some way to get off the dime on the Palestinian issue is crucial to Israeli security, when everybody else is convinced that it is.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, AS U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The problem is that Hamas is continuing to use violence against Israeli cities, is continuing to hold its own people hostage.
HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN: Well, in my mind, the success of Hamas has been a result of the failure of the international community to deliver to the Palestinian people.
RICE: There come certain responsibilities with governing. And one of them is that you really shouldn’t try to be a terrorist organization and a political party at the same time.
QUEEN RANIA: In my mind, their success has been a result of the sense of hopelessness and helplessness of the Palestinian people.
TZIPI LIVNI, LEADER OF THE ISRAELI OPPOSITION PARTY KADIMA: They use terror. They use anything. And Iran transferred weapons to Gaza Strip that they use against our citizens. So, what other options we had?
DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I honestly believe that most Palestinians want peace. I believe that no baby is born wanting to be a suicide bomber. I believe that no mother ever gives birth to a baby, wanting him one day to blow himself up.
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There were disagreements — serious disagreements — about how to handle Iraq. There were serious disagreements in the aftermath of the collapse of Baghdad.
JOHN BURNS, “NEW YORK TIMES” REPORTER: There were serious mistakes made. They took it on the chin. They sat down. They re- devised their entire military policy. And they’ve had considerable success in the past year.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: 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.
JAMES BAKER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If Iraq turns out to be a functioning state — as opposed to a failed state — in the heart of the Middle East, I think that George W. Bush will be seen to have been a very, very successful president.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: I mean, what you need to realize is that the great elephant in this room that no one’s talking about is Iran, and, of course, the American-Arab allied countries that surround Iraq.
I mean, this war stopped being about al Qaeda a long time ago, if ever it was. This war is really a contest between Washington and Tehran.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let’s just take Iran, for instance, where the majority of the population are young and, frankly, sympathetic to America, sympathetic to the West, educated, want to travel.
Their president is completely different — a fundamentalist, belligerent man, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He’s not as popular inside Iran as he is outside Iran.
Why? Because he’s perceived as the great hero who stands up against the United States and Israel.
POWELL: It’s not a nice regime. I mean, they support terrorism. They have done some rather despicable things. They have not been helpful in Iraq. And we should not overlook any of that.
BAKER: We need to talk to people. You don’t make — you don’t make peace with your friends, Fareed, as you well know. You make peace with your enemies.
POWELL: When we don’t talk to them, we give them another tool with their population. “See? The Americans won’t talk to us. We’re Persians. We don’t have to put up with this.”
FAWAZ GERGES, AUTHOR, “THE FAR ENEMY: WHY JIHAD WENT GLOBAL”: I think, at the end of the day, we must entertain the idea, could the world basically coexist with a nuclear Iran?
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think Russia has gone through a tremendous upheaval. In the last 20 years, it has lost 300 years of its history.
STEPHEN COHEN, PROFESSOR OF RUSSIAN STUDIES, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: I mean, the problem is, the Russians don’t trust us anymore. We’ve broken so many promises to them.
BAKER: It would be a tragedy if we slid back into that kind of a Cold War existence. We don’t need that. They don’t need that. We have a lot of global issues that we need Russia’s cooperation on.
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: They always think that freedom will always blink first, civilization will always blink first in front of the brutal force. Georgia is not going to give up its freedom. We will never surrender. We will rebuild our country.
KISSINGER: I believe that Russia and we have a number of common interests. Between us we have 95 percent of the world’s nuclear stockpiles. And once nuclear weapons are used militarily, or once nuclear weapons are used, I don’t think the world will ever be the same again.
JOSHUA COOPER RAMO, AUTHOR, “THE AGE OF THE UNTHINKABLE”: It’s a very tense moment in Beijing right now.
WEN JIABAO, PREMIER OF CHINA (voice of interpreter): I have this conviction that China’s democracy will continue to grow.
In 20 to 30 years’ time, the whole Chinese society will be more democratic and fairer, and the legal system in China will further be improved.
MINXIN PEI, CHINA PROGRAM DIRECTOR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: China’s society will be more democratic. I am not so sure about its political system.
POWELL: Chinese workers are being laid off, because Americans are not buying as much at Target and Wal-Mart. If you don’t need a flat-screen TV, or can get by with the one that’s only, you know, 32 inches instead of 42 inches, you’re going to stick with the 32 inches.
RAMO: We’re heading into a leadership change in 2012. And we’re in the middle of probably the most sort of bloody struggle over influence in China that anybody’s seen for a while.
NIALL FERGUSON, AUTHOR, “THE ASCENT OF MONEY”: I think they’ll look back and say, you know what? There was actually one country at the heart of the global economy in the early 21st century. And it was called Chimerica — China plus America.
And these two economies were symbiotically linked. They were intertwined with one another. China did the saving, America did the spending.
RATAN TATA, CHAIRMAN, TATA GROUP, AND OWNER, TAJ HOTEL, MUMBAI: They came from somewhere in the back. They planned everything. I believe they — the first thing they did was they shot a sniffer dog and his handler.
They went through the kitchen. They knew what they were doing, and they did not go through the front. All our arrangements were in the front.
The spirit of the staff — you know that we lost — the general manager lost his whole family in one of the fires in the building. And I went up to him today, and I told him how sorry I was. And he said, “Sir, you know, we’re going to beat this. We’re going to build this Taj back into what it was. We’re standing with you. We will build this thing back.”
ROBERT RUBIN, FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I think, given the circumstance we’re now in, Fareed, which is a real crisis of confidence, this is a perfect storm. This is a very low probability event that is having huge consequences.
MARTIN WOLF, COLUMNIST, “FINANCIAL TIMES”: I think we have to recognize this is a very serious problem we’re now in. We are in a major, massive global downturn with the real prospect of getting out of hand.
JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, EARTH INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: There are so many problems that need adjustment right now and such a legacy of imbalance, that I think that heroics to stop a downturn wouldn’t work.
PAUL KRUGMAN, ECONOMIST AND OP-ED COLUMNIST, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Jeff, we’ve been friends for 35 years, and I’ve never heard you say such a fatalistic thing.
WOLF: Everything is going very badly. The shrinkage of world output is terrifying. And I think this is an event which can only now be compared with the ’30s.
LAWRENCE SUMMERS, AS FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I think the next president and his colleagues are going to have to take a serious look at the financial system, at the way we regulate the financial system, at the so-called government sponsored enterprises.
TOM FRIEDMAN, AUTHOR, “THE WORLD IS FLAT,” AND “NEW YORK TIMES” COLUMNIST: If you jump out of an 80-story building from the 80th floor, for 79 stories, you can think you’re flying. It’s just the sudden stop at the end that gets you.
And that’s what I’m worried about. We’re going to have a sudden stop at the end.
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let 2009 be remembered as the year where the world came together to deal with the problem. We can cooperate with each other. Every continent can actually work together. We understand the problems that are faced by each continent. There is not a lack of knowledge, a lack of communication, a lack of willingness to work together.
What we are seeing at the moment is thousands of people in every country of the world losing their jobs, thousands in fear of losing their homes, thousands of businesses going under. We can, yes — your slogan — yes, we can do something about it. And we ought to be working together.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
ZAKARIA: Hope you liked that. Stay tuned for another year. We promise to bring you intelligent voices, more understanding, more analysis. So, it might turn out that watching TV is actually good for you — at least this program. It’ll make you smart.
ZAKARIA: Now for my “What in the World?” segment. Here’s what got my attention this week — a somewhat shocking report from British Petroleum.
Have you switched all your bulbs to compact fluorescence? Are you thinking of buying a new hybrid car? Are you careful to recycle every last scrap of paper off your desk?
Well, good for you. You’re doing your part. But I’m sorry to tell you, you may be wasting your time.
Listen to this. For the sixth year in a row, coal consumption has grown. King Coal is the fuel that is driving global warming. It is the Earth’s biggest polluter. Many scientists tell us that it is the fastest-growing, dirtiest fuel in the world.
And the country driving most of the growth? China. That’s what a fascinating new report from the energy giant BP says.
Last year, China burned more than double the amount of coal that the world’s second-biggest user did, the United States. And while U.S. usage went down a little last year and Spain cut its usage by more than a quarter, China actually burned 7 percent more coal in 2008 than it did in 2007.
That uptick in China was responsible for an extra 366 million tons of emissions into the atmosphere.
The root of the problem is that China’s addictive coal habit is precisely what is driving its extraordinary growth. Coal is what powers many of the plants that make the sneakers and the steel and the silicon chips, which China then sells to the rest of the world at a profit.
And there’s no sign they’re slowing down. An MIT study says that China builds new coal-fired power plants at the rate of two each week.
And Science Magazine found that, if China keeps on this path, by 2030 they will be emitting as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the entire world does today.
We will be right back.
ZAKARIA: Now for the “Question of the Week.”
Last week was the 20th anniversary of the crackdown at Tiananmen Square. So I asked you whether you thought such a thing could happen again, or if rising standards of living in China would stave off that kind of unrest.
Your e-mails on the subject were fascinating. Many of you said that Tiananmen could happen again, precisely because of China’s rising standards of living. As more and more Chinese enter the modern world and the middle class, communist leaders, you said, are slowly losing their grip on the people, making further unrest inevitable at some point.
As always, GPS viewers give smart answers.
Now, to this week’s question. I want you to consider the Iranian paradox. This country, that in the past few weeks looked very much like a vibrant democracy in search of reform, and yet was also capable of electing a man who denies the Holocaust and defies the world.
So, do you think real reform can come to Iran in the foreseeable future? Or do you think any attempts at liberalization will be thwarted by the ruling clerics?
And as always, I’d like to recommend a book. Last week I recommended books written by my guest, Michael Lewis. This week I’m actually recommending another book. It’s edited by him. It’s called “Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity.”
It is a great read. It’s a collection of articles and documents that guide you through the financial crises of recent decades from the ’87 stock market crash to the Asian currency crisis, the Internet bubble. It’s a great read that sheds great light on what’s happening today, and it reminds us that some of this we’ve seen before, and some of it is new.
A gentle reminder, you have seven shopping days left until Father’s Day. If you will allow me to be totally shameless, my book, “The Post-American World,” is newly out in paperback. It’s been updated to include recent events. I know that your father, or any father you know, in America or anywhere in the world, would love it.
Also, don’t forget to check out our Web site, cnn.com/gps, to see how you do on our weekly world affairs quiz and watch interviews you might have missed in the past. You can always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to all of you for being part of this program. I will see you next week.