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Disaster in Japan; What's Next in the Arab World; China's Mediterranean Cruise

Aired March 13, 2011 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Do I go? This is "GPS," the Global Public Square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world? I'm Fareed Zakaria.

I'll give you my take on the bigger picture of this tragic devastation in Japan in just a moment. But first, here is the latest on the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

Japan's prime minister says his country is grappling with its worst crisis since World War II. It's a race against time for rescue workers. The official death toll now stands at more than 1,200, but it will rise.

One regional official says the deaths in his area alone were undoubtedly in the tens of thousands. Two hundred thousand people living near a nuclear power plant in Fukushima have been evacuated.

There was an explosion at one reactor on Saturday. There are fears there could be another explosion in a different reactor at the same plant.

The world is trying to help out. The "USS Ronald Reagan" arrived off the coast on Sunday and has made dozens of trips delivering aid.

Meanwhile, more video is emerging of the sheer scale of what's hit Japan. Just take a look at this. In a moment, we'll go live to Japan. But, first, here is my take. There have been many ways to try to make sense of the tsunami in Japan. Many analogies from history.

The simplest for me is if you take the earthquake that hit New Zealand a few weeks ago and multiplied it by 1,000, would you get the one that hit Japan or if you remember the one that devastated Haiti last year? This one is several hundred times more powerful.

That's why despite all of the precautions and preparedness, the devastation has been so great. In fact, most experts agree that in terms of safety plans and procedures, Japan has done almost everything right. It's too soon to draw any important lessons here. It's too soon to do anything but mourn.

But this tragedy does remind us, no matter how much advance work a country does. No matter how well the buildings are built, nothing can prepare you for this, but the work has helped. The death toll in Japan would be much, much worse. If not for all of the safety codes and drills they have adopted. Even in their nuclear power plants, things could have gotten much, much worse.

The one area where Japan did not adequately prepare itself was economics. Japan has not managed itself, its economy, with the awareness it might suffer from earthquakes and thus needs room to be able to take on the large-scale debt that rebuilding its economy will take.

Quite to the contrary, Japan has a death toll almost twice the size of its GDP, the worst of all rich countries. The IMF says that in four years, Japan's debt will hit 250 percent of GDP and that's before this earthquake that will add tens and tens of billions of dollars to the tab.

While no one can ever prepare for a tsunami like this, we all do need to keep our eyes on worst-case scenarios. Natural disasters, wars, financial meltdowns, all can happen and we should keep that in mind when managing our lives, our companies, our countries.

We need to give ourselves enough civility and resilience to handle such crises. Japan did not do that in the economic case, but isn't it time for to us start worrying about we in the United States have done that or will we wait until the next crisis hits, until the next earthquake?

OK. Let's go to our reporters on the ground. June Li is monitoring the search and rescue operation in Sendai, but let's kick off with Stan Grant in Tokyo. Stan, what is the worst-case scenario with the nuclear power plants?

STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fareed, you used the case worst-case scenario. They are living it out right now. This is worst than they ever would have expected or hoped for. You know, there are two words you do not want to hear associated with a nuclear power plant and one of those words is meltdown. The other is catastrophe.

The word meltdown is being used. If you listen to what the Nuclear Safety Agency has been saying. They are working on two assumptions. One is that in one of the reactors there is a high possibility of a meltdown. The other assumption is of another possibility, a lower possibility of a meltdown in the third reactor. Two reactors affected there.

What are they doing about it? They are pumping more sea water into them to try and get the water level up to cool the reactor. So far, that hasn't been working. But at the same time, radiation is being detected in the atmosphere. The government says not to a degree that's going to harm people.

But they had clear the people out, as you mentioned, 200,000 people have been pushed out of that area, evacuated from their homes. A 20 kilometer, 12 or 13-mile explosion zone established there.

All of this to avert that other word, catastrophe. That's what they want to be able to revert. They're hoping that they're able to cool this system and they're hoping that all of the fail-safe procedures, the backup procedures they do have in case if things actually get worse that they actually kick in and save the day.

But right now, it's a race against time, that's how it's been described. Fair to say they hadn't been winning that race, the reactors continue to be watched. Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Stan, is it fair to say that because radiation levels do not seem to be that high, that even in this worst-case scenario, it does not appear that people's lives are in danger in the surrounding areas?

GRANT: Exactly. At this point, the government has stressed levels are not high enough to cause harm. People have been -- have been affected, though. You're talking about more than 100 people so far who have come into contact with some radiation, and they are being tested to see just how much iodine is being handed out to people to guard against the impact of any radiation if people do come into contact with it.

But you are right. At this stage, the levels are not that high and if you look at the nuclear reactor itself and you talk about a meltdown. Look at the two extremes here. You had Chernobyl on the one hand, meltdown, explosion, radiation, and poured into the atmosphere. At least 50 people directly killed from that.

At the other extreme Three-Mile Island in the United States. There a meltdown as well, but it was contained. That's what they would be hoping for here. If there is indeed a meltdown if it gets worse, what they are hoping for this backup procedures, this redundancy safety procedures actually kick in.

If something fails, something else kicks in, stops from getting worse. That's really what they are working for, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Stan. That's what we're hoping for. No matter how spectacular the story, we're hoping the human damage is limited, which seems to be the case.

Meanwhile, rescue teams running out of time to save people trapped in the rubble. Let's bring Kyung Lah here. She's in Sendai. It's 11:00 p.m. where you are. How are search operations going?

We will be back right after this.


ZAKARIA: Welcome back to GPS. We lost our connection with Kyung Lah a moment ago. Let's bring her back now for the latest on the search and rescue operation. She is in Sendai. Kyung Lah --

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fareed, what any person will tell you who is a part of any sort of large-scale disasters like this, 72 hours, extraordinarily critical in the early days of a search and rescue operation. That is the case here.

The choppers have been up during the daylight hours. Now that is night fall here. Those choppers for the most part have fallen silent because they simply can't eyeball the ground. They can't see if people are on their rooftops, waving flags, trying to get rescued.

The good news is that in the neighborhood that we were in, in Sendai. We did see some of the rescue crews bring down gurneys from these helicopters and pluck people out of their houses. People who clearly looked injured, but they were getting rescued.

Unfortunately, as hours do tick on, we're hearing from the military crews on the ground, as well as search and rescue teams, they are beginning lose hope. That there are so much debris. That there's so much water. That there are so many people missing. That they simply can't account for everybody.

We've spoken to many people who have lost relatives who are missing and at this point, everyone is holding onto hope that they're going to be able find their mother or brother or child. But as those hours tick by that window of hope does appear to be closing.

ZAKARIA: Kyung Lah, thank you so much. Tragic, tragic story. Japan and the world are today understandably focused on the human impact of the disaster. But the economic disaster, not quite as saddening, will perhaps be just as debilitating.

I'm joined now by two guests. Seijiro Takeshita is a senior strategist with Mizuho International. He is in London and from Doha, Steve Clemens. He is a senior fellow at the New American Foundation.

Takeshita san, let me ask you, how bad do you think this will be in economic terms for Japan?

SEIJIRO TAKESHITA, SENIOR STRATEGIST, MIZUHO: Well, as you reported earlier, I think it's far too early to assess especially considering the fact that secondary (inaudible) quakes. The Japanese government has announced that we will probably be getting tremors continuously for over a month, far too early to assess these damages.

But so far, it's been very clear that a lot of infrastructures have been hit, particularly on the transportation side, procurement side, which would take a very long time to restore. If you look at the past example, for example, in the Kobe earthquake, we had two supplementary budgets the year after the earthquake hit Kobe.

In other words, a supplementary budget would have to be fix naturally. In addition to usage of reserves we have, and obviously, as you reported earlier, this does not cast a very rosy picture for the Japanese financial conditions.

ZAKARIA: Steve, what do you think this reveals about -- about Japan? I think we lost Steve Clemons again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here. I'm sorry.

ZAKARIA: OK, sorry. Can you hear me now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not hear the question, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: What do you think this reveals about Japan? You know, does it reveal inherent weaknesses?

STEVEN CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I think that what this reveals shows fault lines in the earth that create tremendous stress in a society as you noted in Haiti or in Japan, often show fault lines in that society.

And in Japanese society, second only to Zimbabwe in its national debt, it's got to figure out how it's going to reinvent itself and rebuild itself, but it's one of the oldest populations in the world. It's no longer growing. Its population is shrinking and remains a society that looks at immigration as a very toxic choice for itself.

We recently saw just in the last week and a half, the resignation of Japan's foreign minister for taking a modest donation from a 72-year- old Korean Japanese woman who had literally lived in Japan almost her entire life and had known him since the second grade.

For Japan to reinvent itself and find its way out of the tremendous tragedy it has to figure out what it's going to be. Is it going to be the Argentina of Asia and slowly slip away into nothing? Not being able to deal with these challenges or is it going to generate a new vision of itself?

When Japan has been hit hard in the past, it's been remarkably resilient society, and it's overcome enormous challenges. But this is a staggering challenge for it. And it needs to begin looking at how it's going to figure out how to bring back a young workforce into that nation and begin to assimilate other people and reinvent what it means to be Japan and Japanese.

ZAKARIA: So much, Steve, of the problem, seems to be a political system that is deeply dysfunctional, prime ministers come and go. Scandals erupt. Nothing seems to ever get done. Could this earthquake be a kind of wakeup call to the political system?

CLEMONS: Certainly. Naoto Kan, the current - the fifth prime minister in five years in Japan. It's sort of a revolving door. He became famous in Japan for his leadership nationally in a tainted blood scandal in which thousands of people were infected with HIV.

And he demonstrated enormous leadership skills and captured the imagination of the Japanese public. He has been unable to do that as prime minister. Sometimes there's the adage that great leaders are forged out of great crises.

This gives him an opportunity and frankly the democratic party of Japan to demonstrate that they can meet this challenge and capture the imagination of the Japanese public and jump ahead of what Japan will be. If they don't, and Japan, what I've often occurred in Japan/U.S. relations, the taken for granted ally, sort of slowly continue slip and not find its way forward.

But there's also a dark side to this. That in Japan, when things haven't gone well, when you saw leader after leader, after leader as we've seen recently in Japan's political cycles unable to deal with the challenges at hand. You see a dark nationalism that grows, because of both a frustration that Japan isn't hitting its mark and at the same time a frustration that the -- the paralysis that has dominated its political system is keeping Japan from being the kind of nation it is.

And there is a minority that takes this to the extreme. This could take us in very different directions, radically different directions in Japanese political circles.

ZAKARIA: And, briefly, are you optimistic that this could be the shock to the system that produces some action?

TAKESHITA: Well, it does bring out a lot of solidarity amongst the people and also basically to the political system to see that opposition doesn't exist. This is almost like when the terrorist attack in the United States. We can put politics aside for a moment.

But it is very difficult to transform the structural side of the Japanese issues. As the gentleman depicted earlier, yes, we do have mounting problems in the structural side in Japan, but at the same time, what a lot of people don't understand is if we truncate the negativity, it will also truncate our positivity, our Japanese government system.

And that's one of the reasons why switch transition could result in quite a big disaster. So applying, for example, the western type of government style to the Japanese corporations and seeking growth, those days are over.

We do have to find new methodology of growth, but it certainly does not mean to abide, for example, by the western philosophy that's been imposed especially during the 1990s.

ZAKARIA: Takeshita san, Steve Clemons, thank you. We need to come back to this at another point. For now, we mourn what is going on in Japan. We'll be back in a moment.

The Arab league yesterday asked for a no-fly zone over Libya, but what do most Arabs want. We'll be right back.


ZAKARIA: So, the deliberations of the Arab league aside, what do most Arabs want the United States to do about Libya? Many claim to know what the Arab street wants. We have a battle of people who actually do.

Rami Khouri is a Jordanian who directs the Public Policy Institute at the American University of Beruit. Ashraf Khalil is a Cairo-based journalist for the Egyptian newspaper. Rashid Khalidi is a Palestinian/American professor at Columbia University School of International of Public Affairs.

And Abderrahim Foukara was born and bred in Morocco and is now Al Jazeera's Washington D.C. bureau chief. So we've got Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and the Palestinian territories all covered. Welcome, gentlemen. Romney from your push in Beruit, how would you answer this simple question? What do Arabs want? More American intervention, less American intervention, different American intervention?

RAMI KHOURI, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT: I think what the Arabs generally in public opinion, I would say the majority of the public opinion in the Arab world wants is for the United States to act consistently across the Middle East, to act according to the rule of law and with legitimacy that is anchored at least in this region and the will of the majority and the protection of minority rights.

ZAKARIA: Would you say at a gut level, do people want the United States to help the Libyan people? I'm going to say the people, because it seems a vast majority of them want to oust Gahdafi or do they want it to stand back and not get actively involved?

KHOURI: It's a difficult question that doesn't have a straight answer. I think people want the outside world to help, including the United States, if the Libyans ask for it. Clearly there, is a legitimate way for the U.S. to do this, but they don't want it to be unilaterally done by the United States.

ZAKARIA: What does this look like from Cairo?

ASHRAF KHALIL, CAIRO-BASED JOURNALIST: I think there are different levels of intervention that would be accepted by different levels and different numbers of people. I mean, if you are talking about a no- fly zone, I do think a no-fly zone would be largely welcomed by the majority of people here in Cairo and perhaps across the Arab world.

If you get into more direct things like having military advisers on the ground, helping the rebels, that becomes thinner ice. Arming the rebels, that will be accepted by some and rejected or viewed with suspicion by others.

So there's many levels of intervention and with each one, you have to sort of balance the suspicion or mistrust of having foreign troops, foreign military intervention in society.

ZAKARIA: Abderrahim, what does it look like to you? Do you think that they would accept some level of intervention, but be suspicious of too much?

ABDERRAHIM FOUKARA, D.C. BUREAU CHIEF, AL JAZEERA: Fareed, let me first of all say that the main problem that the United States has in Libya, as it had before in Tunisia and Egypt, is a serious problem of perception.

Many people in the region have come to see the United States' interest in democracy in that part of the world as being more on the esoteric side rather than on the real practical side. People in the region want the United States to help get Gadhafi out of power, out of Libya possibly, in one way or another.

Whether that's going to be done peacefully or whether it will involve more bloodshed, both on the side of the people who are opposing him or the people who are actually still supporting him.

ZAKARIA: So, Rashid, I think what I'm hearing from our three friends in the Arab world is a sense that the United States should try and help oust Gadhafi, but a great nervousness because the United States has tended to be one sided, unfair and that there is a -- it would be very easy to taint that process and have it become known as American imperia imperialism? Is that fair?

RASHID KHALIDI, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY'S SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: I think you're right, Fareed. I think that one issue we always have to keep in mind is that people are very wary of the United States operating on a conventional definition of its own interests instead in terms of its principals.

I think it's very, very important that we stick to principles. The definition of our interest is usually one, which doesn't combine the way people in this region see their interests. The second is you want to just not start talking about no-fly zones and this and that limited form of intervention, you have to be thinking about the end game.

What starts with a no-fly zone, may well if that does not work, lead to demands for something further and something further than that. And you have to really worry about that a great deal. One thing leads to another in ways we cannot foresee. If we're doing this supposedly for humanitarian reasons to prevent Gadhafi from killing hundreds or thousands of his own people, and the no-fly zone leads to the bombing of radar installations and so forth in which hundreds of thousands of Libyans are killed.

With the best of intentions, the United States may have created a problem bigger than the problem we're trying to solve. People want a certain degree of external intervention within those parameters. Principles, limits and with concern for the way in which these have been perceived in the past.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you guys an exit question on this segment. Suppose I would draft a letter that was a call from Arabs to the United States and it said that it endorsed the use of American military assistance to oust Gadhafi, the United States should militarily help, whether it's no-fly zone, funding or arming rebels, the Libyan Opposition, would you fellows sign it? I'm going to start by asking you Rami Khouri? Where would you stand?

KHOURI: If it was addressed to the American president, I wouldn't sign it because I don't think this is about the United States. It's not only about ousting a brutal dictator like Gadhafi.

I think you have to look at all of the international view, NATO and many others, why are we focusing on the United States and why is it only getting rid of Gadhafi and then you get a question if you do this to Gadhafi what about others? How many people have died in Sudan in the last 20 years, so what do you do there? What about other countries where 10,000, 20,000 people have been killed? So it's really a difficult question to answer with a yes or no.

ZAKARIA: Ashraf in Cairo, what would you do?

KHALIL: If I was the U.S. president, I would seek covering a larger organization such as NATO with ideally the Arab League lending its support. I think that would be crucial.

And regarding military assistance, for me, the key -- the key redline is boots on the ground. I think if you have U.S. soldiers or foreign soldiers or even foreign military advisers or some fuzzier concept like that on the ground, in eastern Libya, that's going to make a lot of people very uncomfortable and a little bit suspicious. But everything short of boots on the ground, no-fly zone, arming, funding with an Arab league endorsement, I think that works.

ZARARIA: Abderrahim?

FOUKARA: Well, Fareed, let me say this. I think given what the situation on the ground has ended up being, I think it's become amply clear that you definitely need, let's see, a deus ex machina. And that deus ex machina is going to have come from outside of Libya to help one side or another. Because I think the scenarios that Libya now faces, whether Colonel Gadhafi survives or he's toppled are really difficult ones to imagine.

ZAKARIA: Rashid, if I presented you with this letter, would you sign it?

KHALIDI: I think that this has to be an Arab -- an Arab intervention as well as an external intervention. And I think it has to be rigorously limited and I think it has to be based on principle.

And I think we have to realize that this may not be the last Arab revolution which degenerates into a civil war.

If the United States intervenes here or if external powers intervene here, are we going to be calling -- asking the same question about two or three or other Arab countries over the course of the next several months?

So I would be very cautious. I don't think I would sign such a letter. And you have to remember, what you do here, you're going to maybe called upon to do elsewhere. One hopes not. One hopes that the Libyan people can topple this tyrant. And one hopes that other Arab peoples can do the same peacefully elsewhere. But that might not always be possible.

Tyrants like Gadhafi are always capable of killing their people to stay in power, unfortunately.

ZAKARIA: All right. We are going to come back with our panel. We're going to talk about those other Arab revolutions, potential and ongoing in Egypt and Tunisia when we come back.

TEXT: Next on GPS.

KHOURI: They're saying that we actually believe what the Americans said in their founding documents. That all human beings, not just white people, not just Europeans and North Americans, not just males, all people are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights.


ZAKARIA: And we are back with Rami Khouri, Ashraf Khalil, Rashid Khalidi and Abderrahim Foukara who represent Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian territories, Morocco, and, of course, the United States.

Ashraf from Cairo, if I were to want to get a sense of how the Egyptian revolution is going, what would be your response?

KHALIL: It's a bit mixed. It's been a bit of three steps forward and one step back. With the last several days being a serious step back and kind of a discouraging moment for a lot of the participants and a lot of the observers of the revolution.

In the past couple of days, you've had clashes -- deadly clashes between Muslims and Christians that apparently all started with some Romeo and Juliet story, of a Muslim and a Christian falling in love and that resulted in a church being burned.

You had the army swept through Tahrir and forcibly got rid of the remaining protester who had refused to leave.

So you've had some very discouraging moments. But at the same time, you have you a prime minister who was basically chosen by the protesters and who represents a clean break from the Mubarak era.

Generally, I think we're on the right path, but it's -- it's a long road -- it's a very long road. And I think the last couple of days have emphasized to people that this is a marathon. The revolution hasn't ended. The new Egypt has not yet been built.

ZAKARIA: Abderrahim, when you look at your home country of Morocco, what do you see? Because Morocco is an interesting place, it's part of North Africa should be swayed by these winds?

FOUKARA: Well, we have seen some protests over the past few weeks, which culminated in a recent speech by the king, announcing constitutional reforms.

Now, whether those constitutional -- whether the announcement of constitutional reforms will help preempt any bigger protests down the road, I think remains to say -- to be seen.

But I think whatever the course of action that Morocco ends up taking, it will obviously be affected by what's going on in Egypt. By what's going on in Tunisia and because Libya is closer in the neighborhood, by what happens in Libya.

I think if Libya descends into chaos, I think that will be food for thought, not just for people in Morocco, but elsewhere in the region. But I think what people elsewhere in the Arab world watching Colonel Gadhafi do and get away with or not get away with will determine how fast the reform or the revolution in other parts of the Arab world will proceed. ZAKARIA: And it's a very interesting point that no matter what happens, the chaos in Libya is going to deter some people. It's going to make people feel as though, my God, this is a huge and messy undertaking.

Rashid, you know, lots of people have pointed out that the monarchy seem more stable than the dictatorships. Why do you think that is, given that outside of Saudi Arabia these are all basically invented monarchies. I mean, most of these monarchies were created out of whole cloth by the British one fine morning.

So why are they doing -- why are they likely to be more stable?

KHALIDI: Well, that's absolutely not true in Morocco --

ZAKARIA: It's not true -- right.

KHALIDI: -- it is true -- it is true of some of the others, you're right.

I think this is appearance rather than reality. I have read a great deal of chaff about this in the American media. And I think the same exact pressures that have been building up in the autocratic so-called republics are actually there operating in these other countries.

Remember, most of these monarchies, Morocco and Jordan are obviously exceptions, have fabulous resources with which to buy off segments of the population. The interesting thing is that in a number of gulf countries, starting with Behanan (ph), this does not appear to be working.

I think the ones to watch are Saudi Arabia or Jordan certainly. And possibly also Morocco. Because you have -- you have a public there in all of those countries, a middle class, a desire for freedom of speech and other freedoms, that is incompatible, certainly in Saudi Arabia, with the way the system is run.

And even in Jordan and in Morocco where you have forms of democracy, the gerrymandering, the intervention of the throne in almost everything, and the economic inequality are very similar to some of the problems you've seen in other Arab countries.

So I wouldn't assume that these countries are going to be immune. The process will be different in every Arab country, however. They are very, very different one from another.

ZAKARIA: Rami, the final thought from you on the puzzle for me which is perhaps the most repressive in some ways would seem to -- to people outside, the most legitimate regime here that has many of these pressure is Syria, a country right next to you. Why does it seem to be stable? Is it just the brutality of the system and the repression?

KHOURI: I think it's a puzzle that many of us are still trying to figure out. But in the end, Syria has the same pressures as all these other countries. People under severe social and economic stress without very democratic systems and, therefore, the pressure is there. But what's very obvious is that the demands, the nature of grievances, many of the grievances and the demands of citizenries that are agitating for their rights are almost identical across the region. They want to live in countries where power is exercised according to the rule of law that is defined by the consent of the governed.

They're saying that we actually believe what the Americans said in their founding documents. That all human beings, not just white people, not just Europeans and North Americans, not just males, all people are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. And we feel that all Arabs have those same rights.

And if one thing that Obama can do or any foreign leader can say, is just come out forcefully without hesitation, without linking it to Israel or Iran with anybody else with absolute clarity.

We support the rights of every human being for liberty, life, and the pursuit of happiness and rule of law and justice. But we still haven't got that. We've got this hesitant, western reaction. They don't know how to deal with freedom-loving Arabs. They talk about it, but they just don't know how to do it and it's about time that they learn.

KHALIDI: A lot of stereotypes to get rid of.

ZAKARIA: From Lebanon, the voice of Thomas Jefferson. We're going to have close on that note. Gentlemen, thank you very much.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Now time for a check of today's top stories. There is the threat of a partial nuclear meltdown at a power plant in northeastern Japan. The country's chief cabinet secretary says so far, there's no indication of dangerously high radiation levels but more than 200,000 residents have been evacuated from the area.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary is also warning of a second explosion at the Fukushima power plant. A blast caused by hydrogen buildup blew the roof off of building housing the plant's number one reactor yesterday. A similar threat exists at the facility's number three reactor.

Twelve hundred and seventeen people are now confirmed dead from the earthquake and tsunami. Nearly 1,100 people are missing, and 1,741 have been injured. The numbers of dead is expected to rise. One Japanese police official says the deaths in his area will be undoubtedly in the tens of thousands.

The USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Japan today and has already made 20 trips delivering aid. More U.S. military ships as well as urban search and rescue team are also scheduled to arrive this week.

The director of Japan's meteorological agency says there is a 70 percent chance that the country will experience an earthquake of 7.0 or above in the next three days. The prediction is based on increased tectonic activity. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" continues after this.


ZAKARIA: Time now for the part of the show we call "What in the World." That's exactly the phrase that came to mind when we saw these images. A 4,000-ton frigate fully armed with air defense missiles off the Libyan coast. It wasn't an American ship. It wasn't British, French, Russian. It wasn't any of the usual suspects. It was Chinese. This was a first. The first time in history a Chinese warship has ever sailed in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Xuzhou, a missile frigate, had been monitoring pirates off the coast of Somalia. But then, amidst the unrest in the Middle East, it broke off and entered the Red Sea, went through the Suez Canal and then headed towards Libya. Talk about going into unchartered waters. This is a first for China breaking with centuries of history.

Modern china has traditionally shied away from projecting its military power abroad. But the Chinese navy has been building up, flexing its muscles and pushing back at the U.S. military.

Last April, a fleet of ten Chinese warships passed through the Miyako Straits in an attempt to test Japan and the United States.

And just last week, Vietnam accused China of violating its sovereignty by conducting military drills nears its shores, again with Chinese ships.

Now the Libyan operation was a humanitarian mission to rescue Chinese nationals working there. But there's No doubt this was part of a larger expansion of China's foreign policy.

According to (INAUDIBLE), the mission involved 91 domestic chartered flights, a dozen flights by military airplanes, 35 rented foreign chartered flights, five cargo ferries, 11 voyages by foreign passenger liners and some 100 bus runs, and, of course, that 4,000-ton frigate just watching offshore.

Chinese state TV has been broadcasting these celebratory images for days now. Beijing says it has rescued nearly 36,000 Chinese nationals, all of whom were working in Libya. By evacuating a further 2,000 foreigners, China has also scored vital brownie points with Italy, Malta, Croatia, the Philippians and others.

It's not all purely humanitarian however. Beijing has recently announced a 13 percent increase in defense spending to about $90 billion. This while the U.S. defense budget is likely to decline in coming years.

China's ultimate showpiece is expected to be unveiled later this year. A naval supercarrier that can launch fighter jets and shoot down enemy planes. This video from YouTube is said to be China's new carrier. This one is American. We have had a virtual monopoly on these massive floating islands. That apparently is going to end.

You remember in January, China conducted a test flight of a high-tech stealth fighter jet, right when Secretary of Defense Gates was visiting Beijing. And then last month they developed a new carrier killer. A missile that could hit an aircraft carrier with pinpoint precision.

These are all small measures that still put China way behind the United States military, but they all point in the same direction. China has in the past few years accumulated immense resources and financial assets in countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.

It also has massive human investments in most of those placers as well. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers are involved in projects across Africa. China wants to show that it will protect them and protect its investments. And to do that, it's rapidly expanding its military.

As China's economic interests grow, expect to see a rise in its military power to protect those interests. And expect to see an expanding definition of China's vital national security interests, which will include more and more regions.

That's what happens when great powers expand. After all, that's how isolationist country in North America became the world's superpower about 75 years ago.

And we will be right back.


Our question this week from "The GPS Challenge." The second phrase of the United States Marines Hymn says to the shores of Tripoli. Which American-fought war in Libya does that phrase refer to? From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.

Was it, A, the First World War, B, The Second World War, C, the First Barbary War, D, the Second Barbary War?

Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. Make sure you go to for ten more questions. While you're there, make sure you check out our new world affairs Web Site, the Global Public Square blog. There you will find extra interviews with guests from the shows, posts on events of the day by me and friends of the show.

Our hope is that it will truly become a global public square where you and I can have an ongoing dialog. You can find it where you've always found our Web site,

This week's book of the week is David Brooks', "The Social Animal." Brooks is, of course, a columnist for "The New York Times." But don't pick up the book expecting the usual political analysis. It's not that at all.

This is a profound meditation on what motivates human beings. What makes them win. What makes them succeed. What makes them love. What makes them relate to each other. It's a lot of neuroscience. Very well presented, wonderfully written. Time now for "The Last Look." Have you seen this guy? Odds are you have. It's what National Geographic says is the most common face on the planet. What does that mean? Well, there are more men than women on the planet. So the face had to be a man. The median age of all the world's citizens is 28. So that's how old this guy is. And the most populous ethnic group on the globe is Han Chinese.

So National Geographic made a composite of 200,000 pictures 28-year- old Han Chinese men. And using the computer, they got this. The most common face on the planet.

So here at GPS, we conducted our own survey. It's a little less scientific. The median age in America is 36. There are more women than men here. And the most common ethnicity in the United States is still Caucasian. So the most typical American would be a white, 36- year-old woman.

Now we didn't have the time or the money to make a computer-composite, but we wanted to show you a white 36-year-old woman whom we like. Ladies and gentlemen, Drew Barrymore.

The correct answer to our GPS challenge question was, C. The United States Marines fought on the shores of Tripoli in the First Barbary War in the early 1800s. It was also the first time the American flag was planted in victory overseas.

For extra credit, where are the Halls of Montezuma?

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "RELIABLE SOURCES."