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Interviews With Wen Jiabao, Malcolm Gladwell

Aired August 23, 2009 - 13:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Welcome to GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

Today, an encore. I want to show you again an interview that I think is among the most important I've ever done.

Wen Jiabao is one of the most powerful men on earth. He is the premier, the prime minister of China. And I spoke with him last fall.

It was his first television interview in five years, and he has not granted another one since. In fact, he has rarely spoken to any American journalist, so this was an unusual opportunity.

This interview has been nominated for an Emmy, something we're quite proud of here at GPS.

I'll outline his most extraordinary revelations in a moment, but first a little background.

China's rise to power is probably the single most important trend of our lifetime. It is changing the world, yet we know so little about the country and the men who rule it. They control this vast land, 1.3 billion people, but they also have enormous influence over your life.

The Chinese are by far the largest foreign holders of American debt. They own many billions of dollars' worth of American Treasury bills. And they are increasingly buying up assets on every continent as their economic influence grows.

What if they were to lose faith in America? What if they were to use their economic clout in various countries?

The first thing you should know about Wen Jiabao is that he's quite different from other Chinese leaders of the modern era. In China, his people have a nickname for him -- "Grandpa Wen."

After last year's disastrous earthquake in Sichuan, he flew immediately to the devastated area, went out among the people to comfort them, met with them individually. He behaves more like an American politician than a Chinese apparatchik.

He is, of course, an agile politician inside the labyrinthine ranks of his own party.

I asked him about one of the most difficult periods in his life -- Tiananmen Square. It was a controversial question. I heard the other Chinese officials in the room gasp. The interpreter got nervous.

Wen paused for what seemed like a minute. But then he answered with surprising frankness.

And also listen carefully to what he says about Chinese democracy. This was the heart of the interview. Wen made clear that his country is moving toward the day when it will resemble a Western- style democracy in some ways.

He expressed a simple but powerful conviction that government should answer to its people, and he acknowledged that he could see a time when China would have a two-party election. Wen also said China needs an independent judiciary.

These are all very controversial things for a Chinese leader to say. He even expressed the hope that the media would provide oversight for Chinese freedoms.

He also answered some key questions. How much does he trust the American financial system? What are his plans for Tibet?

Anyway, here in full is my interview with Wen Jiabao.


WEN JIABAO, PREMIER OF CHINA (voice of interpreter): Before we begin, I would like to let you know that I will use the words from the bottom of my heart to answer your question, which means that I will tell the truth to all your questions.

ZAKARIA: I look forward to the chance for this dialogue. And I begin by thanking you for giving us the opportunity and the honor.

The first thing I have to ask you I think is on many people's minds. What do you think of the current financial crisis affecting the United States? And does it make you think that the American model has many flaws in it that we are just recognizing now?

WEN (voice of interpreter): The crisis that occurred in the United States may have an impact that will affect the whole world.

Nonetheless, in face of such a crisis, we must also be aware that today's world is different from the world that people lived in back in the 1930s.

So this time, we should join hands and meet the crisis together. If the financial and economic system in the United States go wrong, then the impact will be felt not only in this country, but also in China, in Asia and in the world at large.

I have noted the host of policies and measures adopted by the U.S. government to prevent an isolated crisis from becoming a systematic one. And I hope that measures and steps that they have adopted will pay off. ZAKARIA: Do you think you can continue to grow, if the United States goes into a major recession?

WEN (voice of interpreter): A possible U.S. economic recession will certainly have an impact on the Chinese economy. We know that 10 years ago, the China-U.S. trade volume stood at only US$102.6 billion, while today, the figure soared to US$302 billion -- actually representing an increase of 1.5-fold.

A shrinking of U.S. demand will certainly have an impact on China's export.

And U.S. finance is closely connected with the Chinese finance. If anything goes wrong in the U.S. financial sector, we are anxious about the safety and security of Chinese capital.

That's why at the very beginning, I have made it clear that the financial problems in this country not only concerns the interest of the United States, but also that of China and the world at large.

ZAKARIA: There is another sense in which we are interdependent. China is the largest holder of U.S. Treasury bills. By some accounts, you hold almost $1 trillion of it.

It makes Americans -- some Americans -- uneasy. Can you reassure them that China would never use this status as a weapon in some form?

WEN (voice of interpreter): As I said, we believe that the U.S. real economy is still solidly based, particularly in the high-tech industries and the basic industries.

Now, something has gone wrong in the virtual economy. But if this problem is properly addressed, then it is still possible to stabilize the economy in this country.

The Chinese government hopes very much that the U.S. side will be able to stabilize its economy and finance as quickly as possible. And we also hope to see sustained development in the United States, as that will benefit China.

Of course, we are concerned about the safety and security of Chinese money here. But we believe that the United States is a credible country, and particularly at such difficult times, China has reached out to the United States.

And actually, we believe such a helping hand will help stabilize the entire global economy and finance, and to prevent major chaos from occurring in the global economic and financial system. I believe, now, cooperation is everything.

ZAKARIA: Premier Wen, your country has grown, as you pointed out, 9.5 percent for 30 years, the fastest growth rate of any country in history. If people come to you and say to you, what is the Chinese model of succeeding as a developing country, what would you say the -- what is the key to your success? What is the model?

WEN (voice of interpreter): By introducing reform and opening up, we have greatly emancipated productivity in China.

We have one important thought, that socialism can also practice market economy.

ZAKARIA: People think that's a contradiction. You have the market economy where the market allocates resources. In socialism it's all central planning.

How do you make both work?

WEN (voice of interpreter): The complete formulation of our economic policy is to give full play to the basic role of market forces in allocating resources under the macroeconomic guidance and regulation of the government.

We have one important piece of experience over the past 30 years, that is to ensure that both the visible hand and invisible hand are given pull play in regulating the market forces.

If you are familiar with the classical works of Adam Smith, you know that there are two famous works of his. One is "The Wealth of Nations." The other is the book on the morality and ethics.

And "The Wealth of Nations" deals more with the invisible hand, that is, there are the market forces. And the other book deals with social equity and justice. And in the other book he wrote, he stressed the importance of playing the regulatory role of the government to fairly distribute the wealth among the people.

If in a country most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, then this country can hardly witness harmony and stability.

The same approach also applies to the current U.S. economy. To address the current economic and financial problems in this country, we need to apply not only the visible hand, but also the invisible hand.


ZAKARIA: May I ask you about China's role in a broader sense?

Many people see China as a superpower already. And they wonder, why is it not being more active in political resolution of issues, such as the issue of Darfur, or the issue of Iran and its nuclear ambitions?

There is a hope that China will play a role as a responsible stakeholder -- to use Robert Zoellick's phrase when he was deputy secretary of state -- and that China will be more active in managing the political problems in the world, and that so far, it has not been active.

How would you react to that?

WEN (voice of interpreter): To answer this question, I need to correct some of the elements in your question. First, China is not a superpower.

Although China has a population of 1.3 billion, and although in recent years China has registered fairly fast economic and social development since reform and opening up, China still has this problem of unbalanced development between different regions and between China's urban and rural areas. China remains a developing country.

To address our own problems, we need to do a great deal. China is not a superpower.

That's why we need to focus on our own development and on our efforts to improve people's lives.

ZAKARIA: But surely, the Chinese government could pressure the Sudanese government, or the Iranian government, or the government in Burma to be less repressive. You have relations with all three of them.

WEN (voice of interpreter): That brings me to your second question.

Actually, in the international community, China is a justice- upholding country. We never trade our principles.

Take the Darfur issue that you raised just now, for example. China has always advocated that we need to adopt a dual-track approach to seek a solution to the Darfur issue.

China was among the first countries that sent -- sending peacekeepers to Darfur. China was also the first country that gave assistance to Sudan. And we also keep our efforts to engage the leaders in Sudan, to try to seek a peaceful solution to the issue as quickly as possible.

ZAKARIA: Do you think it would be dangerous for the world if Iran got nuclear weapons? And what do you think the world should do to try to stop that possibility?

WEN (voice of interpreter): We are not supportive of a nuclearized Iran. We believe that Iran has the right to develop the utilization of nuclear energy in a peaceful way. But such efforts should be subject to the safeguards of the IAEA, and Iran should not develop nuclear weapons. As far as the Iranian nuclear issue is concerned, China's stance is clear-cut.

Nevertheless, we hope that we can use peaceful talks to achieve the purpose, rather than resort to the willful use of force or the intimidation of force.

It's like treating the relationship between two individuals. If one individual tries to corner the other, then the effect will be counterproductive. That will do nothing in helping resolve the problem. Our purpose is to resolve the problem, not to escalate tensions.

And I also have a question for you. Don't you think that the efforts made by China in resolving the Korean nuclear issue and the position we have adopted in this regard have actually helped the situation on the Korean Peninsula move for the better, day by day?

And of course, I know that it still takes time to see a thorough and a complete solution to the Korean nuclear issue and, on that basis, to help put in place security and stability in Northeast Asia. But what I would like to stress is that the model that we have adopted, and the efforts we have made, proved to be right in this direction.

ZAKARIA: Since you honored me by asking the question, I will say to you, Premier, that China's efforts in North Korea have been appreciated in the United States and around the world. And, of course, it makes people wish that China would be active in other areas in just the same productive way that it was in North Korea, because we see that it produces results.

WEN (voice of interpreter): We have gained a lot of experience and learned lessons from years of negotiations concerning the six- party talks. And the progress made in the six-party talks also has a lot to do with the close cooperation among the six parties.


ZAKARIA: I will take advantage of your kindness and ask a question that many people around the world wonder about.

There is a very famous photograph of you with Zhao Ziyang at Tiananmen Square in 1989. What lesson did you take from your experiences in dealing with that problem in 1989?

WEN (voice of interpreter): I believe that, while moving ahead with the economic reforms, we also need to advance political reforms. As our development is comprehensive in nature, our reform should also be comprehensive.

I think the core of your question is about the development of democracy in China. I believe, when it comes to the development of democracy in China, we talk about progress to be made in three areas.

Number one, we need to gradually improve the democratic election system, so that the state power will truly belong to the people, and state power will be used to serve the people.

Number two, we need to improve the legal system, run the country according to law and establish the country under the rule of law. And we need to build an independent and just judicial system.

Number three, government should be subject to oversight by the people, and if you ask us, call on us to increase transparency in government affairs. And particularly, it is also necessary for government to accept oversight by the news media and other parties.

ZAKARIA: When I go to China and I'm in the hotel, and if I type in the words "Tiananmen Square" in my computer, I get a firewall, what some people call "the Great Firewall of China." Can you be an advanced society, if you don't have freedom of information, to find out information on the Internet?

WEN (voice of interpreter): China now has over 200 million Internet users. And the freedom of Internet in China is recognized by many, even from the West.

Nonetheless, to uphold state security, China, like many countries in the world, has also imposed some proper restrictions. And that is for the safety -- that is for the overall safety of the country and for the freedom of the majority of the people.

I can also tell you that on the Internet in China, you can have access to a lot of postings that are quite critical about the government.

ZAKARIA: What are your favorite sites?

WEN (voice of interpreter): I've browsed a lot of Internet web sites.

ZAKARIA: May I ask you about another set of possible talks?

The Dalai Lama has said, now, it appears that he would accept China's rule in Tibet, he accepts the socialist system in Tibet. And what he asks for is cultural autonomy and a certain degree of political autonomy.

The talks apparently are stuck at a lower level between the Tibetans and the Chinese government.

Why don't you, given your power and your negotiating skills, take the issue yourself, and you or President Hu Jintao were to negotiate directly with the Dalai Lama and solve this issue once and for all, for the benefit of the Chinese people and, of course, the Tibetan people who are also in China?

WEN (voice of interpreter): In many places all over the world, Dalai Lama keeps preaching about the idea of the so-called "autonomy" in the greater Tibetan region. And actually, the so-called autonomy that he pursues is actually to use religion to intervene in politics. And they want to separate the so-called "Greater Tibetan region" from the motherland.

And many people in the United States have no idea how big is the so-called Greater Tibetan region. The so-called Greater Tibetan region, preached by the Dalai Lama, actually covers Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu -- altogether, five provinces. And the area covered by this so-called Greater Tibetan region accounts for a quarter of China's territory.

For decades, our policy towards the Dalai Lama remains unchanged. That is, as long as the Dalai Lama is willing to recognize that Tibet is an inalienable part of China's territory, and as long as the Dalai Lama gives up his separatist activities, we are willing to have contact and talks with him or his representatives. Now, sincerity holds the key to producing results out of the talks.

ZAKARIA: What action would you like to see from the Dalai Lama that would show sincerity?

WEN (voice of interpreter): Actually, I already made it clear that, when we observe any individual, the Dalai Lama included, we should not only watch what -- we should not only observe what he says, but also watch what he does.

His sincerity can be demonstrated in giving up separatist activities. But then, everything depends on the development of the situation.


ZAKARIA: You have said that you have read the works of Marcus Aurelius 100 times. Marcus Aurelius is a famous Stoic philosopher.

My reading of him says that one should not be involved in the self and in any kind of pursuits that are self-interested, but should be more for the community as a whole.

When I go to China these days, I'm struck by how much individualism there is, how much consumerism there is. Are you trying to send a signal to the Chinese people to think less about themselves and more about the community?

WEN (voice of interpreter): It is true. I did read the "Meditations" written by Marcus Aurelius Antonio on many occasions. And I was very deeply impressed by the words that he wrote in the book to the effect that, where are those people who were great for a time? They are all gone, living only a story, or some even just half a story.

So, I draw the conclusion that only people are in the position to create history and to write history.

I very much value morality. And I do believe that entrepreneurs, economists and statesmen alike should pay much more attention to morality and ethics.

In my mind, the highest standard to measure the ethics and morality is justice.

It is true, in the course of China's economic development, some companies have actually pursued their profits at the expense of morality. And we will never allow such things to happen.

We will not allow economic growth at the expense of the loss of morality, because such an approach simply cannot be sustained. That's why we advocate corporate, occupational and social ethics.

ZAKARIA: You've talked about elections many times. Do you think in 25 years there will be national elections in which there will be a competition, there will be perhaps two parties running for the positions such as your own?

WEN (voice of interpreter): It's hard for me to predict what will happen in 25 years' time.

This being said, 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. Socialism, as we see it, will further mature and improve.

ZAKARIA: On that happy note, I thank you, Your Excellency. I'm sure your people are worried that we've taken a little bit extra time. And I thank you in advance for your kindness and your frankness.




ZAKARIA: Malcolm Gladwell is probably the best-selling nonfiction writer in America. He's sold many millions of books based on very simple ideas.

"Blink." Should you trust your first impression? "The Tipping Point." How does a fad become a sensation?

His new book, which is my favorite, is called "Outliers." In it he explores what makes a person successful. Why do some talented people flame out early while others go on to brilliant careers?

His main point is this: success doesn't have much to do with talent. Instead, he says, it's almost always a product of hard work and of the culture in which one lives.

Malcolm Gladwell, thank you.

MALCOLM GLADWELL, AUTHOR, "OUTLIERS": Thank you for having me.

ZAKARIA: One of my favorite examples is actually your first example, where you talk about hockey players.

And the reason I think you talk about them is because, what could be more meritocratic than sports? You just -- you know, it's not who your parents are. It's just a question of raw talent and hard work, it would seem.

But what do you find?

GLADWELL: Well, you find -- there's some lovely work by a series of psychologists. What you find is that an overwhelming majority of hockey players are born in the first three months of the year -- elite hockey players. And the same is true, by the way, of soccer around the world. And the reason for that is that the system under which age class hockey and age class soccer are organized has as a cutoff date January 1st. And so, from the very beginning, when we pick young kids to pull them out and put them on all-star teams and give them special coaching and special encouragement, we're looking at groups of children who are all nine years old. And we're saying, those three are the best. Let's pull them out.

Well, who is the best at nine years old? Well, it's children who are the eldest in their class, those born closest to the cutoff date.

ZAKARIA: So, the ones who are nine years ten months, nine years 11 months and nine years 11.5 months, tend to be the best.

GLADWELL: Are the best. When you're nine years old, 11 months can be four inches in height. It can be 25 pounds. It can be the difference between being a klutz and someone who's incredibly coordinated.

And so, we think there that what we've done is identify people who have extraordinary individual talent. We actually haven't. We've created a system that confers a special benefit on children born in a certain part of the year. And that benefit persists.

And those kids are the ones who end up 10 years later being in, playing all-star, playing in the NHL or playing professional football or soccer around the world.

ZAKARIA: Do you think this applies to, I don't know, finance? That there were some kids who seemed, at a young age, a little bit more talented at math, and that they get a certain amount of attention by teachers and parents?

GLADWELL: And it snowballs.

ZAKARIA: And they're told they're smart, and then it's reinforced.

GLADWELL: Yes. This principle in psychology is called the Matthew Effect, after the line in the Bible, "To he who has, much more will be given." Right?

It's this idea that -- it's called cumulative advantage, which is, small initial advantages mushroom over time.

The best data we have is on reading. A very, very small difference in reading ability at a very young age quickly mushrooms into a large difference. Why? Because if you're a little bit better at reading at the age of six, you'll read more, right, because reading is easier and more pleasurable.

And that little extra increment of reading that you do causes you to read even better than the person behind you. And the cycle reinforces itself until you have, by the time kids are -- when kids are six, the difference in the amount they read is like this. When they're 12, the same kids, the difference is this. And it's because of this snowballing effect that happens with small initial advantages growing.

ZAKARIA: Tell the story of the Beatles with regard to practice.

GLADWELL: The Beatles are a lovely example, because we think that their story begins with their invasion of America in 1964, right, these four, fresh-faced, practically teenagers who burst on the scene.

Nothing could be further from the truth. They spend the really critical periods -- they spend two years in Hamburg, Germany, as the house band in a strip club playing eight-hour sets, seven days a week, for months at a stretch.

They have one of the most extraordinarily intensive apprenticeships in rock 'n' roll. And if you think about what it takes to play -- I mean, the typical set for a rock band is what, an hour, an hour-and-a-half. They did eight-hour sets, day in, day out.

If you think about that you realize, if you force a group of young musicians to play together over that -- in that way, for months at a stretch -- you're forcing them to master all kinds of different genres, to learn how to play together well, to write songs.

I mean, everything you need to do -- particularly at the dawn of rock 'n' roll -- to be the most dominant band of your generation requires some kind of apprenticeship. And lo and behold, they have it.

And I would argue -- and many agree with me -- that no Hamburg, no Beatles. You know, they're just not the band that we remember unless they had that kind of intensive training.

ZAKARIA: But of course, it raises an interesting question to me, which is, you could imagine a lot of other bands being told, "I've got good news for you. You've got a great gig in Hamburg, Germany. The bad news is you're going to have to play eight hours a day, seven days a week."

And they would have said, "No way. We're not going to do it."

So, something about that group made them relish the opportunity...


ZAKARIA: ... to do enormous amounts of practice. And presumably, that's true of some of these sportsmen and true of other people.

That is, yes, it takes practice. But you need a certain mentality to want to practice...

GLADWELL: To want to practice that much.

ZAKARIA: ... the hell out of it. You know, the...

GLADWELL: What you have described is what I believe talent is. Talent is the desire to practice. Right? It is that you love something so much that you are willing to make an enormous sacrifice and an enormous commitment to that, whatever it is -- task, game, sport, what have you.

When people use that word, we usually talk about something inherent in you. And we think of something very specific. I don't think that's what talent is. I think talent is simply desire.

It's what you said of the Beatles. Their talent consisted of their ability to see Hamburg as an opportunity, whereas 99 out of 100 bands would have seen Hamburg as a nightmare -- which, by the way, it was.

I mean, you could argue that the Beatles' talent was also an act of delusion. To be able to see opportunity in Hamburg in 1959 required, at the very least, an extraordinary imagination.

ZAKARIA: Malcolm, when you talk about what succeeds, some of what you talk about in terms of success and failure is not just the individuals, because, as you say, that doesn't seem dominant. It's the environment around them, the culture around them. And some cultures -- I mean, national cultures -- seem better and worse.


ZAKARIA: You found that, by and large, Koreans were very bad at being pilots.


ZAKARIA: Explain that.

GLADWELL: Being a good pilot, we think, is a matter of technical skill. It isn't really.

ZAKARIA: But what about Sully Sullenberger?

GLADWELL: Well, he's such a -- he's such an outlier, to the theory of "Outliers." That's a very rare kind of plane crash. In fact, I don't know if there'd ever been a successful water landing in the last 50 years.

Most crashes have a very different form. The overwhelming majority of crashes are the result of a breakdown in communication between the co-pilot and a pilot.

Something comes up, a situation emerges that requires those two pilots to be in open and honest communication, and they fail to do that. One person withholds information. One person doesn't share. Whatever.

There are invariably social failures.

So the question is -- this is why there's a cultural component -- is it easier in some cultures for a subordinate to speak openly and honestly to his superior than in other cultures? And the answer is, "Absolutely."

In fact, this is one of the dimensions on which cultures vary the most. It's called power distance. It is the respect for hierarchy. And there are some cultures that have zero respect for hierarchy, and some cultures for which that is the dominant paradigm of social interaction.

Korea, as it happens, is a culture which has enormous respect for hierarchy, where power distance is a -- in fact, the entire linguistic structure of the Korean language is infused with this sense of, how do I treat you if you are older and superior to me? I use specific pronounal forms. I mean, it goes on and on and on. Right?

Well, that is, in 99 percent of cases, a beautiful and wonderful thing. In the cockpit, it's a problem.

And so, whenever you see cultures, if you overlay the list of cultures in the world by their respect for power distance with the list of cultures in the world by their plane crashes per capita, it's basically the same list.

ZAKARIA: So, it's the ones that are hierarchical that have the most plane crashes.

GLADWELL: That have the most plane crashes.

So, you'll see -- so a classic, you know...

ZAKARIA: And what does Korean Airlines do?

GLADWELL: Well, this is the second part of this argument, which is, this is not to say that certain cultures are incapable of doing that task. It just means that, if they want to get better, they have to address the cultural component of their interaction.

And that's exactly what Korean Air did. And they fixed their problem. Today, Korean Air -- Korean Air was, through the '90s, one of the most dangerous airlines in the world. I mean, it was almost shut down at the end of the '90s by international aviation authorities.

The Canadians told them at one point, you can't fly over Canada any more, I mean, which is a real problem if you're trying to get from one end of the world to the other.

And they fixed it. And they fixed it by bringing in people who have a different cultural attitude, and essentially re-educating the pilots in Korean Airlines.

ZAKARIA: And they made them speak in English...

GLADWELL: Made them speak in English.

ZAKARIA: ... because they said it's a non-hierarchical language.

GLADWELL: It's a non-hierarchical language. They want them to think like, you know -- I mean, non-hierarchical cultures are America, Israel, Austria, Australia. They want them to think like Australians, essentially.

What do you do? Well, you make them speak English. Right? And it works.

I mean, and this is the sort of hopeful lesson at the core of my book, which is that, when we acknowledge how much of success is embedded in culture, that's a hopeful thing, because culture is malleable. It's something we can address if we put our minds to it.

ZAKARIA: So, when you look at America today, what elements of our culture are producing the kind of problems we see -- with a bad education system, for example?

GLADWELL: I think that we are -- we have carried -- in the educational realm, we have carried our obsession with individualism too far. And paradoxically, we have an enormous amount to learn, I think, from Asian cultures like Korea. I mean, just as they can learn from us on flying planes, we can learn from them on education.

If you go to Korea or China or Hong Kong, and you ask them, what does it take to be good at math, their answer would be, being good at math is a function of how hard you work.

Now, hard work is something that is available to all students regardless of intellectual ability. So, when you come in with that perspective, your expectation is, everyone can work.

The dull child can work as hard as -- in fact, the dull child may find it easier to work harder than the smart child. That work-based perspective on achievement allows you, I think, to serve the needs of a much broader pool of students than our -- we have an ability-based approach. Right?

We're constantly segregating kids according to their aptitude, whatever on earth that is. I think we would do well to banish that word and simply -- I think we should separate kids according to how hard they want to work.

The kids who want to do their homework ought to be in one, you know. And if you don't want to do your homework, I think we should say, then, you have a problem. And we should -- and I don't care if you have an I.Q. of 150, you have a problem.

You know, you have to -- a work-based culture is, at the end of the day, a far more effective means of raising the middle.

ZAKARIA: Malcolm Gladwell, thank you very much.

GLADWELL: Thank you, Fareed.


ZAKARIA: And we will be right back.


ZAKARIA: This week I'm not asking you a question, because GPS is taking a brief vacation.

But to exercise your brains, please take our weekly world affairs quiz, the Fareed Challenge. Go to

I also want to recommend a book, as always. This week it's Robert Wright's "The Evolution of God."

Wright is a journalist and a professor. He spent 10 years researching this latest book, and it shows. It's an extraordinarily thorough tale of how religion has evolved from the earliest deities of early man, to the polytheistic traditions of Rome and Greece, to the monotheistic traditions that dominate today.

This is not Sunday school religion. This is not medicine. It's terrific storytelling with a very important point.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.