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Henry Kissinger Interview; Is Barack Obama Pro-Isreal Enough for Jewish Voters?

Aired June 8, 2008 - 13:00   ET


We've got a great program for you today. We're talking to a number of fascinating people, including the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

So, let's get started.

Joining me here in the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE today, CNN's award-winning chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour; the renowned former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician, Natan Sharansky; Jorge Castaneda, the former foreign minister of Mexico, and the author of "Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants"; the courageous Canadian writer and activist, Irshad Manji, the author of "The Trouble with Islam Today."

Natan, let me ask you. We've just gone through a process where we now know almost certainly that Barack Obama will be the nominee for the Democratic Party.

There have been reports, including in the "New York Times," that there is some disquiet in Israel, that some Israelis feel that he is not pro-Israel enough. Now, every speech he's ever given on the subject has been extremely pro-Israel.

Is it fair for Israelis to be worried?

NATAN SHARANSKY, ISRAELI POLITICIAN AND FORMER SOVIET DISSIDENT: The thing is that Israelis have a long experience that you can't rely on speeches. You have to rely on facts. And the problem with Obama, that there are not too many facts. There is no long history or ...

ZAKARIA: But there are no negative facts.

SHARANSKY: Yes, well ...

ZAKARIA: I mean, what is the -- the facts seem to be that he has a middle name that's a Hussein. That's hardly a fact.

SHARANSKY: Yes, well, no doubt there are people who would say, well, with such a Muslim name, how could he be good for Israel. But I think, at the same time...

ZAKARIA: But is that fair? Do you think ...

SHARANSKY: I think that's absolutely unfair.

Well, I have a longtime friendship with McCain, because we were both prisoners, and we have -- just only day before yesterday had the opportunity to share our prisoner experiences with him again. At the same time, I had to say that, from my meetings with Obama, I think he is very sensitive to the idea of freedom and democracy as the necessary condition for peace.

So, I don't think that we in Israel have to be - can be confident that whoever will be the next president of the United States of America, we can rely on him.

IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR, "THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM TODAY": You know, what I found really interesting about his speech, too, to AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, is that he went as far as to say that he defends the notion of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Very few politicians go that far, even when they are pushed to do so, especially when they are running in a presidential election campaign.

He voluntarily went there. So, that, I think, does go to show that he is going the extra mile -- literally and figuratively -- to assuage fears on the part of the Jewish community.

ZAKARIA: Or is he pandering?

AMANPOUR: Well, I don't know. Look, I mean ...

MANJI: You can't get away with that, though, you know -- pandering on that you can't get away with it.

AMANPOUR: That is quite significant. When he said -- and he goes beyond what others have said, because even under the ...

MANJI: Exactly.

AMANPOUR: ... Camp David, under Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat, they discussed actually something quite different. And many people believe that that 2000 framework is what the eventual peace is going to look like.

I think, to be frank, Israel is desperate -- and so are the Palestinians -- for a president who's going to be involved, a United States president who once again believes that getting the Israeli- Palestinian peace process back on track is fundamental to peace and security in that region. Even though it may not be immediately solvable, it has to get back on track ...

SHARANSKY: I have to say ...

ZAKARIA: You're telling me that you think this Annapolis process is a disaster.

AMANPOUR: Well, so do a lot of people.

SHARANSKY: I had an opportunity ... ZAKARIA: Fair enough.

SHARANSKY: ... to speak to President Bush only yesterday. And I had an opportunity to say him again why I think it's a disaster, because you can't say that now, at this moment, American administration is not involved in the peace process. It's involved, the secretary of state is very actively involved. And it doesn't have -- because the principle is wrong.

You cannot ignore what is happening in the field and try to impose...

ZAKARIA: So, what do you need?

SHARANSKY: You need the serious, systematic effort in supporting and building civil society of Palestinians.

JORGE CASTANEDA, FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER OF MEXICO: You have to get involved in building the groundwork for a peace agreement. If you just do it at the top with groups that obviously lack complete representation, complete representativity (ph), you will never create the foundation for a peace agreement.

And clearly, this is the case of what has been going on, at least the whole eight years of the Bush administration. Even Clinton didn't really do it, either, in fairness to ...

SHARANSKY: No, but yes ...

ZAKARIA: But he did much more ...

CASTANEDA: But he did much more.

AMANPOUR: Look, look, look. I mean, it's OK, Jorge and Natan ...

SHARANSKY: ... in democracy, no.

AMANPOUR: Jorge and Natan, you know, you're talking about ground versus top. The fact of the matter is that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was ignored for eight years, seven years, until they came back and said Annapolis.

And so, that's what you can't do. You can't suddenly be delinquent and derelict, and then come back and say, but, you know ...

ZAKARIA: At the point ...

AMANPOUR: ... within a few months, you're going to secure a peace agreement.

ZAKARIA: At the point at which Bush has 30 percent approval ratings, Olmert has three percent approval ratings, and Abbas is somewhere in between those two.

MANJI: And by the way things move very, very slowly when it comes to reconciling conflicting parties, not just in the Middle East, but everywhere. Look, the British began engaging, you know, the IRA, the Irish Republican Army, you know, in the 1980s, long before any kind of an agreement on ceasefire was reached.

And even now, there -- you know, there's the situation of Syria and Israel beginning to talk on peace, according to something called the Madrid Conference.

Guess what, folks. That Madrid Conference happened about 17 years ago. So, you know, you have to keep the process going.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you this. In the process -- beginning a process -- your prime minister, Mr. Olmert, has begun a process of negotiations with Syria. This is something the United States government says it won't negotiate with Syria, because it's evil. Meanwhile, you guys are doing it.

Was this the right thing to do?

SHARANSKY: Well, it's not your guys are doing it. It is the prime minister doing it. This would be, without having a mandate, without having support of most of the Israelis.

And I have to tell you, in the platform of my party, when we were running our first election campaign in 1996 -- I mean, and then in 1990 -- it was written that the depths of all concessions to Syria and to the depths of democratic changes. Then people laughed at this and then they ...

ZAKARIA: Right. In other words, we'll make concessions to Syria, if they become more democratic ...

SHARANSKY: It must go hand-in-hand with opening of their society, with that absolute dictatorship, which, for the sake of its own survival, is interested in conflict with Israel.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that Syrian leaders, if they make -- which was what the Syrian president on the record said this week in Dubai, we are having indirect talks, and we see even a role for the United States as the sponsor -- you don't think that if Syria ...

CASTANEDA: That's the point.

AMANPOUR: ... makes a peace agreement with the U.S. as sponsor, you can't win them against (ph) Iran? Of course you can.

CASTANEDA: But I think the issue is, coming back to what you said, if the next president doesn't start from the first day, we go back to a Bush situation.

MANJI: Right. Nothing stands still.

CASTANEDA: Bush's people told everybody -- Colin Powell, Condi Rice -- at the beginning of the term, we are not going to get dragged into the Middle East negotiating process again. We don't want to do this.

And they kept their word for seven years.

MANJI: Exactly.

CASTANEDA: It's one of the few things they kept their word on. But if you don't -- if they don't start from the beginning, none of these negotiations or deals are possible. Without the United States, it doesn't happen.

MANJI: Exactly. And ...

CASTANEDA: It takes a long time.

MANJI: And it takes a very long time.

CASTANEDA: It's slow.

MANJI: And the other -- yes.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, because I want to get something that involves you.

A broader issue is the decline of al Qaeda. We hear about this now all the time. CIA chief is saying it. It's an interesting issue where now the left and the right are both seeming to recognize that there is a dropping of support for Islamic fundamentalism.

You have been battling this stuff. What do you think?

MANJI: There's truth on both sides. Here's the point, that in the Middle East right now there's a saying going around -- the only real men left are women -- which attests to the fact that al Qaeda as an organization is having real difficulty recruiting men to become suicide bombers.

So they're now doing what they would rather not, which is actually consort with women in order to shame men into stepping up to the plate. That's how seriously damaged the organization is.

But, Fareed, just because the organization is damaged doesn't mean their way of thinking is still not spreading.

Get out of the Middle East. Go to the 80 percent of the Muslim world that is beyond the Arab world, and you will see that al Qaeda ideology is, in fact, spreading. Just go to any one of the African states that have Muslims -- major Muslim populations. They're experiencing an extraordinary level of violence -- at the hands, instigated by Muslims, who are infused with al Qaeda ideology.

So, the way of thinking is still spreading, even as the al Qaeda organization is damaged.

AMANPOUR: Well, everybody is now jumping on this bandwagon that actually it's going down. But, if you look -- first of all, Osama bin Laden is out there. He might not be making any big bombing attacks, but he's out there. And as long as he's out there and talking and on the radio, he's able to at least support and keep moral support and, you know, up for his group.

But look. Let's just take Iran, for instance, where the majority of the population are young and, frankly, sympathetic to America ...

MANJI: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... sympathetic to 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 ...

MANJI: Precisely.

AMANPOUR: ... outside Iran.

MANJI: Precisely.

AMANPOUR: Why? Because he's perceived as the great hero who stands up against the United States and Israel and ...

ZAKARIA: And in favor of the Palestinian cause.

AMANPOUR: Well, not even that. It's against the United States and Israel.

And as long as that is allowed to continue, and as long as people still feel that that is a way to make political hay, that's the issue. And that's why it's so important for the United States to get out there and be popular again. Not for a popularity contest, but for security.

MANJI: Right.

CASTANEDA: The question of how the Islamic fundamentalism is spreading, for example, to Africa -- we went on a Human Rights Watch board meeting to Nigeria last year. And it's just moving south like a tide, from northern Nigeria down further and further south, and spreading also.

For example, more and more states in Nigeria are adopting sharia. And this is becoming a very, very difficult, serious situation in a country where that did not really exist more than in an isolated fashion 20 or 30 years ago.

AMANPOUR: Well, there's a difference between sharia and the ideology of nihilism and bombing and ...

CASTANEDA: Absolutely. I don't want to reduce it, one to the other. But it's a sign of what is going on.

MANJI: Can I just add one other thing, if I may?

It's not always even about religion as such. I just got back from Indonesia. In one of the biggest cities there, you saw flags of the Islamist political party flapping all over the place. And the slogan was, "Clean, Caring and Professional."

In other words, Islamist parties in Indonesia are pitching themselves to Indonesians, not unlike the way Hamas did to the Palestinians.

ZAKARIA: Or Hezbollah in Lebanon, yes.

MANJI: Clean up -- exactly -- clean up the corruption of the secular elite.

They didn't invoke God. They didn't invoke the Quran. And that just goes back to Christiane's point...

ZAKARIA: But doesn't that show, Natan, that the religious extremism is not catching on, that they have to use ...

SHARANSKY: Yes, well, religious extremism is not catching on. It's not accidental that Hamas will not have second elections in Gaza, because they know the population today would not -- that was a vote of protest against corrupt dictatorship of Yasser Arafat. But now they know what Hamas is.

Even if al Qaeda became weaker, today, Hamas and Hezbollah are directly supported by Iran. So, we can see -- not very violent people, of course - whether Iran which is -- so we can see how ...

ZAKARIA: So we have troubles aplenty.

SHARANSKY: Of course. But Shia terrorism tells them to Sunni terrorism ...

ZAKARIA: We've got to go to a break. We'll be back in a moment.


ZAKARIA: Joining me again here in the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE, our panel.

And Natan, I have to ask you again, you are an Israeli politician. You've been deputy prime minister of Israel. Your prime minister is currently under indictment. As I say, he has three percent approval ratings.

Shouldn't he resign?

SHARANSKY: Well, he will have to do it. But I have to tell you, never before we got so many compliments from Muslim world. Many bloggers are -- from Muslim countries -- are writing, you see, they indicted their prime minister for such small sums of money. And what you are doing with ours?

So, it's -- democracy works.

MANJI: I actually heard exactly the same thing from Muslim bloggers who are, you know, working with me, as well. And it's not because I told them to say that. They're saying, I hear from young Muslims in Egypt. How come, you know, the son of Hosni Mubarak is running around in government-funded cars, air-conditioned and the lot, whereas in Israel, you know, the relatives of the prime minister are in jail? What do we have to learn from this?

SHARANSKY: In Israel, our prime minister is accused of serious crimes. I think you have a very strong democracy and juridical system. We have to allow him to investigate these events.

ZAKARIA: But you don't think he should resign in the meantime?

SHARANSKY: No, I -- personally, if I were him, I would resign immediately and concentrate on defending my case. I think it's, well, unfortunately, very embarrassing.

But he has the whole right under the law, he doesn't have to resign. He said that he will resign the moment there will be indictment. And I think it will be.

ZAKARIA: Jorge, you're watching this presidential election from Latin America. The issue that rocked the Republican primaries was immigration.

But the one guy who is basically quite sympathetic to the idea of immigration reform has won the nomination.

Do you hope that in the next presidential administration, the issue of immigration reform will come up? Or do you think it's too hot?

CASTANEDA: Well, I hope, and I think, Fareed, that it will come up, because the two candidates really are very favorable to comprehensive immigration reform. McCain constructed the Kennedy-McCain proposal, and Obama was very clear in voting for the two reforms in 2006-2007.

Now, is it going to be one of the four or five priorities that he's going to have in starting his administration with? Maybe not. I hope he does, because if not, if he doesn't, he will make the same mistake Bush did.

The tougher the issue, the sooner you've got to start dealing with it, because it takes more time. You have more political capital at the beginning. If he waits too long, he won't get it done.

ZAKARIA: But you don't worry when you hear this sort of -- the extraordinary passion it arouses in certain segments of the American electorate?

CASTANEDA: Well, I do. But I also see that the three last candidates standing -- Senator Clinton, Senator Obama and Senator McCain -- all three of them were pro immigration reform with very enlightened, very open-minded policies.

AMANPOUR: Well, I think the untold little story is -- and you talk about the passions evoked against these immigrants. But there are also passions evoked against this campaign against them. MANJI: Yes.

CASTANEDA: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: I've traveled around this country making speeches and doing reporting. And I've talked to many, many business leaders and upstanding citizens of the community and ordinary people. And they are shocked by the tone of the debate against the Hispanic immigrants.

I mean, it's truly something that Americans, many of them, find distasteful. This is a nation of immigrants.

I mean, to beat up on a whole group, just gratuitously like that, is sort of very, very full of folly.

ZAKARIA: Often -- often very poor and marginalized people.

CASTANEDA: And what they're...

AMANPOUR: People who are working. But you know what...


CASTANEDA: People went to jail in Iowa last week.


CASTANEDA: Before they deported them, 300 people ...

MANJI: Exactly.

CASTANEDA: ... thrown in jail with a fictitious plea bargain, because, come on ...

AMANPOUR: Do you know...

CASTANEDA: ... I know my people. It's very difficult for a Guatemalan or a Mexican to understand what the U.S. system of plea bargaining is...

MANJI: And by the way, before they were thrown in jail, they were corralled into a barn and shackled.

Now, this -- again, see, here's the point. And this is why it's so important to discuss this in a GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. These kinds of stories obviously filter out into the rest of the world.

And when the rest of the world looks at what's happening to, you know, just poor, you know, Hispanic, undocumented workers, they ask themselves -- if we can't even expect human rights to be respected ...

CASTANEDA: In the United States.

MANJI: ... in the United States...

CASTANEDA: Absolutely.

MANJI: ... how can it possibly be respected outside?

You know, this is just another blight on a country that stands for so much better.

AMANPOUR: But not only that, practically, there are officials here in New York who say that after 9/11, in the immediate days after 9/11, if it wasn't for the undocumented workers, the economy might have collapsed in this state and this city.

ZAKARIA: Israel has dealt with the issue of assimilating people. I mean, you've brought in two million people from Russia. I mean, you bring them in by the ...


ZAKARIA: And did it cause tension? Did it...

SHARANSKY: I have to say that every Israel immigrant causes some kind of tension, competition. Here, a conversation with intelligence, aliyah, which starts competing for the best positions and this type (ph). Of course, there was not only tension, but there were prejudices. They were -- one was accusing the other that they are favored.

But in general, if you look Israel is an example of extremely successful absorption. Why? Because the country, with all these difficulties, everyone regards himself that that's about -- there's this idea of the existence of new state. The new state belongs to all those Jews coming all over the world.

MANJI: And the Arab Israelis, you know as well as I do, Natan, do not think that they are treated as well as many of the newcomers. So ...

SHARANSKY: You know, immigration ...

MANJI: ... I think Arab...


SHARANSKY: OK. Even -- don't think, though, I can tell you, there are so many Arabs. And I know so many Arab, who tried to bribe every bureaucrat to get Israeli citizenship. And there is not one Israeli Arab who is ready to exchange his Israeli citizenship on any other Arab citizenship in any Arab country.

AMANPOUR: That's a standard of living issue.

MANJI: That's a quality of life issue.

ZAKARIA: All right ...

SHARANSKY: No, it is a standard of freedom issue, a freedom issue. People want to be free.

ZAKARIA: Thank you all. A wonderful discussion.

And we will be back.


ZAKARIA: That Danish cartoon controversy has flared up again. An al Qaeda-affiliated group has been blamed for a deadly suicide bomb attack on the Danish embassy in Pakistan.

They are still protesting the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers two years ago.

When they were published, the cartoons spurred violence and protests in several Muslim countries.

I spoke with someone who understands this kind of religious fury. For more than 10 years, Salman Rushdie lived in hiding, facing a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini.


SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR: I think it's tragic that these minor cultural issues become the location of violence, when, for example, right now we have in Darfur Muslim-on-Muslim genocide. There you have one clan of Islam exterminating another group of Muslims.

Why aren't there demonstrations about? Where are the fatwas about that? Where is the Muslim outrage about that?

On the one hand genocide, on the other hand a cartoon. And what, we're to be upset about the cartoon?

ZAKARIA: So, it's a failure of Muslim leadership.

RUSHDIE: Yes, it is. And it's really disproportionate, that's the point. Considering what catastrophes there are in the world...

ZAKARIA: And in the world of Islam...

RUSHDIE: And in the world of Islam in particular. When you think what the real issues are, that this pathetic little thing should become the reason for violence, it's appalling and unintelligent. It's un -- these are stupid bombs (ph).


ZAKARIA: Salman Rushdie will be joining us in a few weeks to continue this conversation.



ZAKARIA: Henry Kissinger is certainly the most famous, probably the most controversial, and possibly the most influential secretary of state in recent American history. He brought President Nixon to Beijing, opening up relations with what most people then called "Red China."

The Nobel Prize winner talked with America's adversaries overseas, even while he made some enemies at home over the war in Vietnam. Kissinger engineered detente, and that took a lot of the frost out of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Henry Kissinger joins me now in the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE.

Henry, you've watched administrations in high points and low points. You worked for a president who went through some very rough times.

What do you think is the most important skill that a president is going to need in 2009? What could throw them off course?

What do they have to -- what advice would you give them, no matter whether it is Senator McCain or Senator Obama who were elected? What would you tell them in January, if you were called to the Oval Office?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They should ask themselves what kind of a world they want -- in detail -- at the end of four years, and not in slogans or in general objectives, but what is it that they can hope for.

Because the art of statesmanship is to find a position between stagnation and over-extension -- hopefully, at the outer limit of what is possible. But it cannot be done if you let yourself be driven by a series of tactical decisions without some perception of what you are trying to bring about.

ZAKARIA: I know that you're going next week to Moscow. You're going to see President Putin -- or Prime Minister Putin -- and the new president.

You see American interests as more aligned with Russia's than a lot of people. Do you think that fundamentally the United States and Russia could have a significantly greater strategic cooperation than they do now?

KISSINGER: Well, I think Russia has gone through a tremendous upheaval in the last 20 years. It has lost 300 years of its history.

I believe that Russia and we have a number of common interests. Between us we have 95 percent of the world's nuclear stockpiles. So, if the nuclear issue is going to brought under some negotiated control, Russia must be a part of it.

Thirdly, Russia has a long frontier with Islam and a long frontier with Iran. So, they have to be an integral component of any negotiation with Iran, or to lead to any settlement of the nuclear issue.

And when I look at the Russian frontiers, they have a long frontier with China, which is a big demographic problem for them, because there are 30 million Russians on one side, a billion Chinese on the other.

There's a long frontier with Islam, which is an ideological nightmare for them, because you have the jihadist trend, and 25 million population of Russia is Muslim, and it's living along the border.

And they have a frontier with Europe, with which they are historically uncomfortable, for the reasons I gave. Now, that is the one that creates tensions, and in which our views are not identical.

But I believe that, with some patience and some understanding on both sides, that Russia should be a component of the international system. And I do not think we should apply to Russia the principles of the Cold War unless they absolutely provoke us, which they haven't done.

ZAKARIA: So, you are not in favor of kicking Russia out of the G8?

KISSINGER: You're determined to get me into trouble with an old friend. But I disagree with Senator McCain on that point.

ZAKARIA: And if you were to extend the G8, you would include China.

KISSINGER: I would include China, India and probably Brazil. And I think it should be expanded.

ZAKARIA: But in a broader sense, what you are talking about is drawing these emerging powers into the global framework, rather than trying to create new lines.

KISSINGER: They are part of the global framework as a result of globalization.

Many of the global -- there are many problems in the world today -- climate, environment, even the supply of energy -- that can only be dealt with on a global basis. And I don't think it is wise to isolate certain countries on the basis of political ideology, unless they challenge fundamental American national interests.

ZAKARIA: Let's talk about probably the most immediate and pressing challenge that a new president would have, which is Iraq.

About a year ago, you gave an interview in which you said, military victory of the traditional -- by the traditional definition is probably not attainable in Iraq, by which you meant the complete control over all parts of Iraq or complete cessation of sectarian violence and such. And I think it's fair to say that, even with the success of the surge, those conditions have not been met.

So, are we at a point where we can start thinking strategically about what we want to do in Iraq?

KISSINGER: I think the conditions are approaching -- they may already begin to exist now -- in which there exists a foreign ministers conference of all neighboring states that Iran and Syria have also joined, plus Egypt, plus the five permanent members of the Security Council. That could be activated at the right moment, or given a greater impetus. And my view is that this is the goal a new administration should work for.

That will probably occur side-by-side -- almost certainly occur side- by-side -- with a reduction of American forces. But if you make the reduction of American forces the principal component of that policy, and if you announce a deadline for it at the beginning of the process, then you remove the incentives of several of the players -- but particularly of Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria -- to participate in this process in a productive manner.

And my view is that it has to be dealt with as a general Middle East problem, because ...

ZAKARIA: Including talking to Syria?

KISSINGER: Yes. I'm in favor of -- look. I don't consider talk -- well, first of all, let me say, I do not agree that talking with the heads of government is the right way to start these negotiations.

So, I believe in negotiations that are carefully prepared, based on a strategic assessment and that are willing -- and that we are willing to face the consequences of failure, rather than turning negotiations into a psychiatric exercise, in which you are trying to ease the mind of your adversary. You have to assume your adversary has a clear perception, or should develop a clear perception, but within that framework.

I think that Syria should be talked to.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back with Henry Kissinger.


ZAKARIA: We're back with Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, who is still widely influential today.

You've called for comprehensive negotiations with Iran. It's always struck me, that this debate about whether to negotiate, it sort of defies the point. The question is: How would you negotiate? What would be the -- what would be the goals?

How would you set up a negotiating process with Iran?

KISSINGER: Well, the problem Americans often have in negotiations is they treat diplomacy as a separate aspect, as totally separate from strategy. And it is said, let's negotiate rather than do something else. They all have to be a part of it.

In order to negotiate, one has to understand the perception of the other side of the world. And they have to understand our perception. And there has to be a decision on both sides that they're going to try to reconcile these differences.

Our fundamental concern is not to have an additional proliferating country in the region, because that will set off a whole set of other proliferating decisions. And that when the number of nuclear countries that are in conflict with each other multiplies -- I would really say beyond the current point -- some use of nuclear weapons will become highly probable. 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. ZAKARIA: You know, if one looks at Iran and places oneself in the shoes of the Iranians, even if you're not a crazy mullah, you have as your neighbors India that has nuclear weapons, Pakistan that has nuclear weapons, China that has nuclear weapons, Russia that has nuclear weapons, and of course, Israel that has nuclear weapons.

You have the United States, which as 150,000 troops in Iraq, NATO with 50,000 troops in Afghanistan and an American president who says, you know, "I want regime change in Tehran."

Even if you are not a crazy mullah, this would make one nervous. And so, is it ...

KISSINGER: They started their nuclear program ...

ZAKARIA: They started their nuclear program...

KISSINGER: ... before we had 150,000 troops in...

ZAKARIA: They started it under the shah of Iran, when you and he -- when they were allies.

KISSINGER: No, that program was a civilian nuclear program.

ZAKARIA: They claim it's a civilian nuclear program even now.

KISSINGER: No, at that time, it wasn't understood and it wasn't possible to switch from civilian to military uses, and there were some requirements for inspection.

But anyway, they have no ...

ZAKARIA: My point is that they have some security concerns.

KISSINGER: That's correct.

ZAKARIA: In the process of dealing with them, should we be -- should we be trying to recognize that they have -- there are some security concerns they have that are real.

KISSINGER: They're not a strong state. They have relations out of line with their capabilities. Their security concerns are a legitimate thing to put on the table.

But they have to understand that they have to stop their ideological threat and their support of terrorist movements around them.

ZAKARIA: How would you set up a negotiating process with Iran?

KISSINGER: When I call for negotiations with Iran, I differ from some of the advocates of this in the sense that I would come internally to a clear decision of what is unacceptable to us, and to a clear decision of the point beyond which we cannot go, and to a clear decision of undertaking major penalties, if this point is crossed.

So, I look at the diplomacy as an aspect of an overall strategy, and not as something that is done by its own internal debating rules.

ZAKARIA: Henry, when you negotiated with the Chinese, this was a very difficult period, because Communist China was at the time in the midst of a Cultural Revolution. It had been supporting and was supporting North Vietnam, and the world was in the Vietnam War. It had been funding revolutions all over the world, insurgencies -- and you were criticized a great deal.

How do you approach it then?

KISSINGER: I wasn't criticized then, because people didn't know we were negotiating with the Chinese. So ...

ZAKARIA: Once they discover -- once the secret negotiations became not so secret...

KISSINGER: Well, the problem was to find a way to begin negotiations, because the Chinese didn't have ambassadors around the world. They only had an ambassador in one country.

And as it turned out, both sides were at the beginning to make overtures to each other. And both sides chose the wrong method. We approached the Romanians, thinking that communists would be more credible in Beijing. But it turned out that they trusted communists even less than they trusted capitalists, so that channel didn't work too well.

The Chinese picked a journalist, Edgar Snow, who received an interview by Mao in which he made some hint at openness to talk, but we dismissed it as the fantasies of a classical leftist. And it wasn't until we hit upon Pakistan as a channel, and which took about eight months, that we found a means of communicating that both sides accepted.

Then when I came to China, we had the great advantage, that there never having been any relations for 25 years, there was nothing concrete to talk about except fundamental interests. So, in the first few meetings, they consisted of each side putting before the other some fundamental principles we wanted to follow.

And I think the credit that the Nixon administration deserves is not so much opening to China -- which was almost inherent in this situation, but we may have done it with great, greater determination -- but that we didn't get diverted into a lot of tactical issues, and focused on the overall relationship, which has since evolved.

It's the most bipartisan foreign policy the United States has. Every succeeding administration, with whatever changes they might make at the beginning, went back more or less to the main lines that some degree of cooperation between China and the United States is a contribution to international peace.

ZAKARIA: A final question, Henry. You are now 85 years old. You had your birthday last week. Is your strategy now to simply outlive every critic that you have?

KISSINGER: Well, that would give my critics a very short life.

I might be very tempted to do this.

I've become, with some difficulty, fairly philosophical about this...

ZAKARIA: But every time some new book comes out and some tapes come out, you must cringe.

KISSINGER: I don't read them anymore.

ZAKARIA: Really?

KISSINGER: I know there are a number of books ...

ZAKARIA: You know, a lot of actors say they don't read the reviews, but most of them actually do ...

KISSINGER: No, what I've done, I make the compromise that I sometimes read the excerpts -- that I read the excerpts that are published in magazines.

I've had an opportunity to do the things that I believe in. I have been able to express myself in many forums. And it would be unnatural, and probably would mean I haven't done very much, if there were not other points of view that were expressed with some vehemence.

ZAKARIA: Well, we hope you will use this forum to express your views again.

Henry Kissinger, thank you so much.


ZAKARIA: Elections are expensive. And I'm not just talking about the United States. We asked European political editor, Robin Oakley, to do the math around the world.


ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: What could you do with $1 billion? You could, for example, wipe out the national debts of Honduras and Bolivia. You could buy a couple of football clubs, like England's Manchester United.

You could purchase seven houses like the Aspen ski lodge owned by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan -- according to "Forbes," the most expensive residence in America.



BUSH: ... do solemnly swear...

OAKLEY: Or you could run a campaign to become president of the United States.

The amount American candidates spend puzzles the rest of the world and intrigues international commentators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get rather like a -- with a sporting event, you know, how much has been raised, as if how much prize money is at stake in a boxing match, or something like that. And there's a badge of pride that Barack Obama's been able to outspend Hillary Clinton, and outweigh Hillary Clinton. And that shows how successful he is.

OAKLEY: Does it have to be so costly? The campaigning price for a four-year lease on this desirable property on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, may be $1 billion. But you can get yourself up to five years in 10 Downing Street, London, for just $40 million.

That's the top limit imposed on the spending of parties campaigning to install their leader as Britain's prime minister.

Paid TV advertising, for example, is banned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the big reasons why Americans parties are so expensive, it is because of television. If you allow parties to actually buy adverts, so to speak, then you actually have opened the door to actually British politics becoming a lot, lot more expensive.

OAKLEY: The price ticket for the French president's palace in Paris, even cheaper for five years at $33 million with a campaigning limit in France of 21 million euros.

Not everybody, though, puts limits on campaign spending or how the money is raised and spent. Clean-up campaigners in Kenya say 60 percent of the money raised for elections there goes into what some believe are bribes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you go for political rally in Kenya, and this is at constituency level, you expect some cash from the politicians. And if it gets cash, you expect some souvenirs to take home, which cost a lot of money.

In some cases, politicians give women groups sugar, a bag of sugar, a bag of bays (ph), or even clothing. These are bribery. They're actually bribing voters. But they have to do this, because that's the culture of elections in Kenya.

OAKLEY: So, what did it cost Mwai Kibaki to hang on to power and to the elegant state house in Kenya's violently disputed presidential election earlier this year?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe that the total amount that was spent by all the presidential candidates was over $70 million.

OAKLEY: And politics is getting more expensive all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parliamentary candidates want to spend and spend, because they'll get it back when they get into power. OAKLEY: That poses the problem at its starkest. U.S. voters would throw up their hands in horror at any comparison. But once you allow in money as a key determinant of political fortunes, is the difference a qualitative one, or merely a question of the sums involved?

In politics there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

Robin Oakley, CNN, London.



ZAKARIA: That's it for this week's GPS. But before we go, I want to remind you about our Web site. You can see my interview with Tony Blair from last week, and on Monday, highlights from this week's program.

We also hope to hear from you. Send us an e-mail. Join us next week.

For GPS, I'm Fareed Zakaria.