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Interview with George Osborne; Interview with Grover Norquist; Interview With George Clooney

Aired March 18, 2012 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, GPS: This is GPS, the Global Public Square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria. We have got a great show for you today.

First up, what happens when you actually cut government spending? We'll ask Britain's finance minister George Osborne. We'll ask him if his austerity experiment is working.

Then is this the most powerful man in America? Some people think so. I sit down with Grover Norquist, the man behind the "no new taxes" pledge.

Also, actor turned activist George Clooney on evidence he says he has of war crimes.

And a look at what we can learn from health care around the world. A preview of a new GPS special that premieres tonight at 8:00 pm.

But, first, here's my take. When I was in college in the early 1980s as part of a student organization, I invited Ronald Reagan's Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to give a speech on campus.

At the time, American colleges were hotbeds of opposition to the Reagan administration, especially to its defense policies. Sure enough, as soon as Weinberger began to speak, a series of students stood up and began to heckle. One after another they rose and chanted a single line: "Deterrence is a lie."

I was reminded of that turbulent meeting, because I have been listening to these debates over Iran's nuclear ambitions, because it highlights a strange role reversal in today's foreign policy discourse. It used to be the Left that refused to accept the idea of deterrence, searching instead for options like the nuclear freeze.

And it used to be people on the Right, who would patiently explain the practical virtues of deterrence. The conservative thinker Charles Krauthammer wrote in "The New Republic," in 1984, "Deterrence, like old age, is intolerable until one considers the alternative."

Yet, today it is the Right that has decided that deterrence is a lie. Krauthammer, The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, all denounce containment and deterrence and would lead us, instead, on a policy path that culminate in a preventive war. It is the Right's version of the nuclear freeze, a simple solution that actually doesn't solve anything.

Strikes on Iran would probably delay its program a few years, while driving up domestic support within Iran for the government in Tehran and for the nuclear program. It would provide a much stronger rationale for Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, having been attacked.

Yet sophisticated conservatives insist that this root is preferable to deterrence. Deterrence is a difficult concept to accept, because it is counter-intuitive. The prospect of destruction produces peace.

And, yet, its record is remarkable. Great powers went to war with brutal regularity for hundreds of years. Then came nuclear weapons, and there has not been a war between great powers since then, since 1945, the longest period of peace between great powers in human history.

The United States and the Soviet Union had a more intense and far-reaching rivalry than almost any two great powers ever. Each told the other one to destroy its way of life, and yet this rivalry did not result in war. Both sides were deterred.

So also with Pakistan and India, which fought three wars before they had nukes, and none in the 40 years since.

To gain credibility with conservative critics and with the current Israeli government, President Obama has gone along with them, ruled out containment, insisted that he does not bluff and spoken of a window of opportunity for negotiations.

This might prove to be a mistake. It boxes the United States in, limits Obama's options and forces him on a path that could push the United States into an unnecessary preventive war.

Look, anguish over the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon is understandable. It would be far better for Israel, the United States, the Middle East, the world, if Tehran does not acquire such weapons, and the American effort to prevent this from happening and to put tremendous pressure on Tehran is the right policy.

But were Tehran to persist, were the regime to accept the global isolation and crippling costs that would come from that decision, then a robust policy of containment and deterrence would work toward Iran as it does against Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, Kim Jong-il's North Korea and the Pakistani military. Let's get started.


ZAKARIA: The Brits invaded Washington, D.C., again this week. This occasion was much more friendly than when they did it in 1812. Accompanying Prime Minister Cameron was his Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is the very British title for finance minister, George Osborne. He is the man behind the Cameron government's bold plan to reduce its deficits. Its critics say it has plunged Britain into an unnecessary recession. I sat down with George Osborne at the British embassy in Washington D.C.


Chancellor Osborne, thanks for doing this again.

GEORGE OSBORNE, U.K. FINANCE MINISTER: My pleasure. It's good to be back.

ZAKARIA: You have to present a budget next week. And there are many people, not just in the Labour Party, who say you need to cut back on the austerity, so to speak, that the British program of cutting government spending has resulted in very weak economic growth.

Do you think you need to and will you relax some of the spending cuts that you have put in place?

OSBORNE: Well, normally, budgets are secret, but it won't be any secret if I say to you that we're not going to do that. We are going to stick with the deficit reduction plan that I set out almost two years ago.

Britain had an 11 percent budget deficit two years ago. The plan we put in place is bringing that deficit down and borrowing is coming down. But even with that, we still have one of the highest budget deficits in the world. And we've got to keep up the pace in order to provide the stability that the British economy needs and the low interest rates the British economy needs to allow the recovery to take hold.

So I think it would be a big mistake if Britain backed off the credibility it's earned in the international markets.

ZAKARIA: But you know there are people, very serious economic commentators, like Martin Wolf, who say you had no trouble borrowing money going into your government, and that by cutting government spending, you've actually reduced economic growth, which, in turn, has led to lower tax revenues, which, in turn, has led to a worse -- a deficit projection than you might have had.

Many people look at Britain as a test case of too much austerity too soon.

OSBORNE: Well, I don't agree with that analysis. And I guess that won't surprise you. I would say we had to earn our credibility out there in international markets.

When I became the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we had the same market interest rates as Italy and Spain, and you can see what's happened to those countries. Actually, they're a little bit better in the last few weeks. But nevertheless, interest rates, market interest rates markedly higher than the United Kingdom has at the moment. So the idea that somehow Britain could have got away with not having a credible plan to deal with this deficit, not attacking that 11 percent budget deficit, I think, is fanciful. And, actually, the proof has been in the pudding. We've had a remarkable degree of stability. We've had lower interest rates compared to many of our European neighbors.

And if you think of the economic shocks that the European continent has suffered over the last nine months to a year, I think Britain, through its credible plan, has helped to insulate itself from that.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that means the United States should move to greater austerity measures now?

OSBORNE: Well, look, first of all, the United States has more freedom of maneuver, because it's a reserve currency. But, also, I think, actually, if you look at the debate in the United States, there's a question of when people are going to deal with the deficit, but the question of whether to deal with the deficit has actually been answered.

And I think sometimes the differences between the profile of deficit reduction, say, between the U.K. and the U.S., are overstated. I mean, you look at the profile, it's not that dissimilar. There are some differences around timing. We have different political systems and what you're capable of doing at different times, of course, varies.

But I think all Western countries know that they've got to deal with that question the rest of the world and the markets have, which is, OK, well, how are you going to pay your way?

ZAKARIA: One of the things you've said in interviews leading up to the -- your budget is that you will not put in place any tax cuts that are not paid for. I take it by that you mean that you don't buy the supply side argument that, if you were to just cut taxes, it will unleash growth, which will then pay for itself?

OSBORNE: You know, I'm more -- I'm actually, in that sense, more with Margaret Thatcher than Ronald Reagan. Margaret Thatcher was more, you've got to make the books balance. Reagan, of course, was more, let's borrow to cut taxes.

But he was the American president. She was the British prime minister. Different economies. And I'm a conservative who believes that lower taxes create more efficient economies, allow wealth to be -- and income and enterprise to be promoted.

But I think in the context of having public finances that are unsustainable, you've got to do something about that. And you can't just assume you can cut taxes and the money pays for itself.

ZAKARIA: What is your principle concern in terms of the obstacles to a general global recovery, but also, of course, a British one? OSBORNE: Well, I guess the oil price would be, if I had to name one thing at the moment. I mean I don't think the -- that the risks in the Eurozone have entirely dissipated, even with the action of the European Central Bank. But they are certainly much less than they were just a couple of months ago.

I'd look at that oil price at the moment. I'm concerned about that, because you saw, actually, at the end of 2010, early 2011, how that knocked the stuffing out of the global recovery, a high oil price. And, you know, that is something that would certainly be on my radar as, of course, for concern at the moment.

ZAKARIA: George Osborne, a pleasure to have you on.

OSBORNE: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: And we will be right back. Coming up on GPS, another George, George Clooney.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: And we said, so what happens if, like, when you Google Earth my house, why can't we do that to, you know, to war criminals?



ZAKARIA: My next guest is, according to former Senator Alan Simpson, the most powerful man in America today. No, he is not the American president, but if he were to run for that position, Simpson says, his platform would be no taxes under any situation, even if your country goes to hell.

I'm talking about Grover Norquist, he is the author of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which seeks to oppose any net tax increases. It has been signed by 95 percent of Republican congressmen and all but one of the original 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Grover Norquist joins me now.


ZAKARIA: So let me ask you --



ZAKARIA: -- about the history of the last 20 or 30 years then, and ask you whether you feel some responsibility for this.

Here's how I see it. The Republican party under Ronald Reagan, and subsequently under Gingrich when confronting George Bush Senior., has pushed aggressively for cutting taxes, no new taxes, Many of the kinds of things you've argued for.

But it has been unable, for whatever reason, under Republican majorities, under Democratic majorities, under divided or shared government, to cut spending.

So what we have had is the kind of perfect expression of what the American people seem to want, which is low taxes, but lots of government services. And there's only way to square that circle, which is to borrow lots of money, which is what we've done for the last 30 years.

So aren't you to blame for that?

NORQUIST: No, because the alternative is to tremendously raise taxes as high as spending has gone, if this is the Left's analysis of how to fix the problem. No. Here's --


ZAKARIA: But isn't that -- but let me ask you, so if -- you can characterize it as --


ZAKARIA: -- left or right. But if you raise taxes to meet what's -- what expenditures you want to make, at least you don't have a debt bomb. At least you don't have a debt crisis. At least you don't have a financial collapse. At least you don't face the prospect, which I assume you think we are facing, of becoming another Greece.

In other words, I don't like high taxes. But the question is, if you want lots of government services, you have two options. You can either have high taxes or you can borrow the money.

NORQUIST: But the American people clearly don't want high levels of government --


ZAKARIA: But as I've said, for 30 years they've shown that they don't want to cut spending.

NORQUIST: The congressmen and senators they send to Washington, D.C., are surrounded by spending interests who push them on -- for higher levels of spending, and try to push them for higher levels of taxes. When you poll the American people, do you want more government services at a higher cost, or fewer government services at a lower cost, two to one, and that is almost unchanged as you go through --

ZAKARIA: In the abstract --

NORQUIST: -- yes. In the abstract.

ZAKARIA: But when you go to a specific program they like --

NORQUIST: -- and asked are they willing to pay additional taxes for it? The answer is no.


ZAKARIA: -- cuts, they say no, either.

NORQUIST: If taxes go down, you can get that. The disconnect is when you send people who promise to cut spending and taxes and send them to Washington. And they are surrounded. I run a taxpayer group -- the most powerful guy in D.C., nonsense. OK? There are buildings with thousands of people in them, all lobbying for more spending and higher levels of spending and more government commitments. And there are a handful -- a handful of groups that fight for less spending.

How do we even the score? That's what the pledge has begun to do, because we make visible a candidate who says, "I'm going to Washington. I'm not raising taxes." OK? And then people know exactly what he or she committed to, cause it's in writing. It's short. It's simple. Not no net tax increase.

ZAKARIA: Let's talk about one way you can reform taxes, which I am assuming you agree with, but I was distressed to see your reaction to Simpson-Bowles. Here's -- most people understand that you have these things called tax expenditures in the tax code. These are essentially lots of individual loopholes --

NORQUIST: Tax credits.

ZAKARIA: -- tax credits, where the government is basically making special deals for people, lowering taxes for one industry, for one group -- in some cases large ones, but lots of small ones. And the idea in Simpson-Bowles was to basically get rid of all of them, to take away these special tax breaks that people get.

And you opposed it. Now what I'm surprised by is, first of all, this is terrible in terms of tax policy, to be having the government decide all these, you know, special benefits for people.

Secondly, this is precisely what encourages the kind of corruption of the tax code that you rightly abhor. So why don't you --

NORQUIST: You're misstating my position. Simpson-Bowles was -- is an outline. It's an essay. It was never put into legislative form, because it's -- because you can't. OK? Because it's, again, it's not --


ZAKARIA: -- principles.



NORQUIST: However, one of their general principles was about a $2 trillion tax increase over the -- the only one thing they were clear about was they were raising taxes to -- Paul Ryan says $2 trillion over the decade. The Heritage Foundation says $3 trillion over the decade.

They were trying to stick a tax increase and pretend it was tax reform. So the -- they damaged tax reform. We will get tax reform when and only when the American people are convinced it doesn't hide a tax increase. That's why the pledge makes tax reform in '86 possible. It makes tax reform now possible.

ZAKARIA: To be fair to Simpson-Bowles, it was tax reform, and it raised more revenues. So let me ask you this. We are taxing now at 14 percent of GDP --

NORQUIST: Thanks to the recession.

ZAKARIA: -- we're spending at 23 percent of GDP.

Are you telling me that you believe you can get all -- you can close that gap entirely by cutting spending, that is, by taking something in the range of 7 percent or 8 percent of GDP out of government spending? That is cutting $800 billion out of government spending every year?

NORQUIST: You can -- you do two things. You reduce spending and you have stronger economic growth. This is one of the weakest recoveries we've had --


ZAKARIA: Yes. But you can't -- as a practical matter, you can't wish -- this is, again -- this is a wish. Not a -- not a plan. I would like stronger economic growth too. But you're --


NORQUIST: -- how you get to that. You can't -- you undo the regulatory burdens that Obama has both put in and threatened to put in. You get rid of ObamaCare.

ZAKARIA: But this is all rhetoric, Grover. You've got to plan as a practical matter --


ZAKARIA: Look, as I said, Clinton raised taxes. He got growth. Bush had the biggest tax cuts in a generation. And he got the weakest growth in 30 years. You -- you know, you can't -- all I'm saying is, as a matter of practical planning for the fiscal future of the United States, your answer can't be, "Well, we'll have more -- stronger growth."

Yes. If we grow at 6 percent we don't need to do anything. Everything is solvent, right? But I can't wish for that. We've got to plan realistically.

(CROSSTALK) NORQUIST: We know that if you reduce capital gains taxes you actually get more growth. If we go to full expensing from business investment we'll get more investment. We need to have a -- an immigration policy that brings both talent and numbers to the country.

We need to have a territorial tax system so that the trillion dollars that's overseas can come back here and create jobs and opportunities here while making the country fiscally stronger --


ZAKARIA: If you had two or three things that you could do, if you could wave a magic wand at the tax code, what would you do?

NORQUIST: You take the corporate and individual rates down to 20 percent -- 25 does not make you internationally competitive, because while the European average on the corporate rate is 25, and most Americans work for firms that pay at the individual level, not at the corporate rate, so you got to bring them both down.

Obama wants to take the individual small business tax to 44 percent, and the corporate rate -- he says -- down to 28 percent or whatever. But that really damages the small businesses. And it doesn't make us competitive. You got to take them both down to 20, because state and local corporate taxes are 5 percent.

ZAKARIA: And you don't think --


NORQUIST: So to compete with Europe, we've got to be at 20 nationally, because -- so we're at 25 to compete with the Europeans.

ZAKARIA: And -- and you don't think that bringing taxes down that much, at least in the -- in the short run, will mean that you will lose substantial revenue?

NORQUIST: I think you do a number of things at once. Look, we're going to have a Republican House after this next election. We're going to have a Republican Senate after this next election. Twenty-three Democrats up, 10 Republicans up. The Democrats, half of them are in very vulnerable seats. Two of the Republicans might lose.

So you're going to have the Republican House and Senate. The question is you could have a Republican president. All of the things I'm talking about, that you suggest are rhetoric, that's not rhetoric. That's the plan.

ZAKARIA: Final question.


ZAKARIA: Do you trust that Mitt Romney is a candidate who will be in favor of the agenda you have for him, for the party?

NORQUIST: Two things. He has, one, made the commitment both four years ago and this year, that he will oppose and veto any net tax increase. He is for tax reform. He's against tax increases.

Two, he's endorsed the outlines of Paul Ryan's plan. Paul Ryan's plan reduces the -- Obama's overspending by $6 trillion.

ZAKARIA: But I'm asking you do you -- do you trust Mitt Romney?

NORQUIST: For two reasons; one, I trust him, because I've talked to him about it. I trust him because he's made the comments. But, secondly, the Republicans are now in a position where they will government from the House and the Senate the same way that the Democrats did for 60 years.

So the next Republican president will work with the Republicans in the House and Senate, which is why you know what the plan will be. It will be something that looks very much like the Ryan plan.

ZAKARIA: Grover Norquist, good to have you on.

NORQUIST: Good to be with you.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.


CLOONEY: Right now our gas prices go up, as the president said in his press conference, because when the Chinese aren't getting their 6 percent from the Sudan, they're getting it from somewhere else, and that raises the price for all of us.



ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. What caught my eye this week was a dispute between two members of a grand old European alliance -- the alliances of NATO. It isn't the Arctic Council nor the Eurozone, nor the E.U. I'm talking about the annual Eurovision song contest. What is it? Take a look.



ZAKARIA: It's camp, it's cheesy, but it's a huge hit across the pond. Every year, dozens of countries send their top performers to an "American Idol" style music competition. More than 100 million viewers tune in to vote for their favorites. The one rule: you can't vote for your own country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight points to Rumania.

And so the tradition has continued since the 1950s. Abba won for "Waterloo" in 1974. Celine Dion made a splash in 1988 representing Switzerland.

But somewhere along the way, the contest became known less for big names and more for kitsch. Sequined costumes, outlandish productions, the works. Now, despite its name, Eurovision is not just a European competition. Algeria participates. So does Israel.

This year's host is Azerbaijan, and that's why Eurovision is in the news this week. First, some background. Azerbaijan has long clashed with Armenia. In 1994, the two countries ended a year's long war over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. But the tensions flared up again recently when an Armenian soldier was shot to death at the border.

So, with Azerbaijan as the host, Armenia is pulling out of the Eurovision party. The intrusion of politics into these kinds of events is not new. Music competitions, like big sporting events, are often proxies for larger disputes or trends. When Moscow hosted Eurovision in 2009, Georgia was reluctant to take part because it had just fought a war with Russia.

But music can unify, too. That year an entry featured an Israeli Jew singing a duet with an Israeli Arab.

For me, the fascinating thing about Eurovision is not the performances or the music, it's the politics and the public psychology. Here at GPS we plotted the capital cities of the winning countries for the past two decades on a longitudinal graph. Yes, that's the kind of thing we do in our spare time.

As you can see, in the 1990s, the winners tended to be from western Europe, Dublin or London. But by the late 2000s, the winners mostly came from the East, Moscow and Kiev. Europe's central gravity is moving east. And these voters have interesting tendencies.

In 2003, Britain got exactly zero votes. That was the year the Blair government supported the war in Iraq.

Votes aren't always conscious political choices, but you can spot trends. Greeks always vote for Cyprus. Cyprus returns the favor. Viewers from former Warsaw pact countries often vote as a block. So do members of the former Yugoslavia.

In 2007, Serbia won after picking up maximum points from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia. All in all an interesting window into Europe so it got me thinking, we have "American Idol" here in the U.S., and we have "The Voice," but perhaps what we really need is our own Eurovision.

An America vision where people from red states strategically vote for each other, where the two coasts create an alliance, will there be a north-south divide? I hope a TV executive somewhere is watching.

Remember to credit us with the idea and maybe send a few royalties our way. We'll be back with a segment you wouldn't want to miss. We're going to talk to George Clooney about war crimes. Right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" will be back in 90 seconds, but first a check of the top stories.

A gunman shot dead an American teacher in Yemen today. The victim has been identified as Joel Sharn who authorities said had been working in the country at a Swedish Language Center since 2010. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is claiming responsibility for the attack.

An American who says he was held captive in Iraq for nine months is now in U.S. custody. The man identified as Randy Michael Hultz was freed by a Shiite militia loyal to Iraq radical cleric Muqtada Al Sadr. A U.S. official tells CNN that Hultz is a former U.S. soldier that served in Iraq and later returned as an entrepreneur.

Afghanistan isn't the only country talking about changing its relationship with the U.S. Pakistan's parliament is set to consider new terms of engagement Tuesday. Relations with the United States reached a new low point after the November incident in which NATO airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani troops. Those are your top stories. Now back to "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

ZAKARIA: This past week, Washington turned its attention to Hollywood. The actor, George Clooney was testifying in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The topic wasn't movies. It was very serious.

Clooney was sharing what he learned from his travels last week along the volatile border between Sudan and South Sudan, the world's newest country. South Sudan is still under threat. It has yet to resolve with Sudan a dispute over oil revenues. This isn't just an African story. It impacts all of us every day.

South Sudan has stopped exporting oil, and that, Clooney says, is part of what's driving up oil prices. I caught up with Clooney in Washington. He was with John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project.

George Clooney, John Prendergast, thanks for joining me. We're all trying to figure out whether South Sudan, the newest country in the world, is going to make it, whether it's succeeding.

There have been clashes. There have been disputes over oil, but you put up -- you raised money to put up satellites to be able to tell us what was going on when no one was looking.


ZAKARIA: So what did the satellites tell you?

CLOONEY: It's an interesting thing. You know, we went to these people, Digital Globe, who, by the way, donated the time, and it's expensive to do. We said so what happens if, like when you Google Earth my house, why can't we do that to war criminals, basically? They said, OK, well, let's see what we can do. In the last few months, in particular the last very recently, the last month or so, we have been able to get photographs of mass graves. It's very hard to catch things like Antonovs.

We caught pictures of Antonovs actively dropping bombs and the plumes of smoke on villagers. Not military posts. These are war crimes. This is not -- you're not firing into a military -- this isn't war. This is killing innocent civilians.

We've been lucky enough, if you can use that word, to be able to catch that on our satellite. That's -- I don't know what it will do except at the end of the day, we certainly have evidence at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

ZAKARIA: But do you think that there's a way to mobilize pressure, because you know that one of the countries perhaps the country that has the most influence in Sudan is China.

Now, you don't have -- presumably you're not going to be able to go and meet with the premier of China and get him to do something about it, so what's the strategy?

CLOONEY: I've tried that. I have been to China. You can't guilt them into things, you know? There is a strategy, though. China is the key to it. We can't really do a whole lot more in terms of sanctions.

There are some things we can do, but China has a $20 billion oil infrastructure in the Sudan. They get 6 percent of their oil imported from the Sudan, and the Sudan -- South Sudan who has the oil, and North Sudan who has the refineries.

North Sudan was taking that money from the oil and not giving it back and buying weapons to hurt the south. So about six week ago the south said, OK, we're done, and they shut off the oil. So China suddenly is getting no return on that money.

That gives us a unique position as opposed to looking to them as a humanitarian or to do the right thing. We can meet with China, not we, but a high level government official could meet with China.

Let's work on this together because we both economically would benefit by a resolution, a cross-border resolution. Right now, our gas prices go up as the president said in his press conference because when the Chinese aren't getting their 6 percent from the Sudan.

They're getting it from somewhere else and that raises the price for all of us. So it's something that's mutually beneficial.

ZAKARIA: What do you think of this approach of branding Bashir as a war criminal, of indicting him in the court, because I know you want to do the right thing, but you also are a praying mantis?

CLOONEY: I think the ICC is probably a very good thing. John and I were trying to find carrots and sticks obviously. You know, the truth about any negotiation is you have to let someone you don't care about have some way to save some face, to get out of this, right?

But the truth of the matter is at this point, there isn't much left to do. There is no other game with this guy. You know, he -- and Haroon and the Defense Minister Bashir, all three charged with war crimes against humanity for their activities in Darfur.

They're the exact same three people who are indiscriminately bombing civilians in the mountains today. We were there. We had rockets going over our heads.

That was a rocket. It's just sailed over there. We'll see if we can see what it hit.

We were in villages the day after, you know, a kid got his hands blown off. These people are committing, again, the same things, and it has the exact same look as it did in 2004 in Darfur.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about another war criminal, Kony. This video that's come out, 150 million people even more people than watch your movies.

Do you think that ultimately it will make a difference because you have tried to focus your activism in very specific targeted ways?

This feels a little bit more like the kind of catch-all activism, let's do something about this. Some of the things in the video are inaccurate. We don't have 30,000 child soldiers.


ZAKARIA: But the spirit is obviously admirable. This guy is a horrible person. Will it make a difference?

CLOONEY: Well, I'll tell you this, unfortunately, the one thing you have to do is when you do these is you have to be -- you have to try to be -- if you are going to air, you have to make sure you air on the side of factual as much as you possibly can.

Having said that, if 150 million people know his name now, that can only be good. It's only good, you know, the first thing we have to do, the first power we have is knowledge about this.

You have to know about it and understand it, and then you get involved. I didn't know anything about Darfur until I read Nick Krzysztof's pieces on Darfur. I then got involved. You know, I think that's -- you have to have knowledge first. I think it's a good thing.

ZAKARIA: What do you think?

JOHN PRENDERGAST, CO-FOUNDER, THE ENOUGH PROJECT: Well, you know, President Obama sent 100 special forces to the region of Central Africa to help craft the counter insurgency strategy to catch Joseph Kony a few months ago.

It's an election year. People are criticizing heavily for doing that, and so this gives President Obama a great deal of political support to maintain the course of trying to bring an end to this insurgency.

Yes, it's not as bad as it was at the height when the Sudan government, by the way, the same government that's bringing us the new -- was supporting the Lord's Resistance Army. So it's a very important thing to do to support this decision by the president.

ZAKARI: John Prendergast, George Clooney, pleasure to have you on. We will be back.


ZAKARIA: Why do our kids die in greater proportion and why don't we live as long?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, so infant mortality means death before your first birthday. Now, you would think a rich, successful innovative democracy could keep babies alive. Of the 23 richest countries, we rank 23rd, last, in keeping babies alive for one year.



ZAKARIA: America's health care system is broken. Our healthy life expectancy, which is the standard measurement, ranks only 29th in the world behind Slovenia. Our infant mortality rate ranks 30th. It's more than twice that of Sweden and Japan.

And for this subpar care, we pay more than any nation in the world. Almost one out of every $5 spent in America is spent on health care. Sunday night North American viewers can catch a brand new GPS special, "Global Lessons," a GPS road map for saving health care at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

We'll take you around the world to show you how other nations manage their health care and will bring the lessons back here to America. In researching the special, I met a journalist with a very interesting story.

T.R. Reid is a former overseas Bureau Chief for the "Washington Post," and he traveled around the world to investigate health care and try to get his bad shoulder fixed at the same time.


ZAKARIA: You took your bad shoulder --


ZAKARIA: Around the world.

REID: Yes. ZAKARIA: and where did you find that if you had -- if you could choose where you could live to deal with that bad shoulder, where would you have chosen?

REID: Well, I would have gotten great care in the United States of America because I have very good insurance. In France, the care was fabulous. You don't wait. The cost of the procedure I needed was one-seventh as much as it would have been in America.

I would have gotten it in three days. Japan, I was sitting in the doctor's office, and this is the only doctor who did this. He is looking at the computer while he is talking to me. He says, well, I could do it inner your shoulder or that.

He says, well, maybe I'll do an operation. It would have cost about one-tenth of the price in America, and he said I probably can't do it tomorrow, but maybe next week someday? You know -- so I got very good recommendations and very good care in many countries.

Interestingly, in Britain where the government -- that's socialized medicine. The government pays for the insurance. That doctor said to me go home. He said you're living a good life. You're a successful reporter. You don't need a new shoulder. We're not going to provide it.

Interesting. What they do in Britain they do fine, but they don't do all the stuff we do.

ZAKARIA: Now, when you measure it by outcomes, all these countries do better than the United States. Explain that to us. What does that mean?

REID: How do you measure? They measure recovery rates for major diseases. In some areas breast cancer, we lead the world in recovery from breast cancer. Prostate cancer, we're number two, but a lot of diseases, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, we rate right at the bottom of the list.

They had this measure, which is called illness immunable to care. If you have a curable disease, do you get cured? Of the 19 richest nations, the United States ranks 19th on that measure. So we're not really -- in some areas we're fantastic.

This is why Arab sheiks reply to the Mayo Clinic, but overall for a whole population, we're not doing as well as the other rich countries.

ZAKARIA: And why do we have some of the lowest rates of mortality and some of the highest rates of infant mortality? Why do our kids die in greater proportion, and why don't we live as long?

REID: Infant mortality means death before your first birthday. Now you would think a rich successful innovative democracy could keep babies alive. Of the 23 richest countries, we rate last, 23rd in keeping babies alive for one year. It's not because middle class people -- women with good insurance -- they get great care. It's all the people who don't have insurance. You know, the estimates vary, Fareed, but roughly 30,000 times a year in our country 600 times a week a woman shows up in the emergency room nine months pregnant ready to give birth, and she's never seen a doctor.

Now, those are the babies we lose before their first birthday because she's never had care. We would save tons if we provided every pregnant woman in America prenatal care. We would save their babies, and we would save a lot of money, but no, no, that's not our way.

ZAKARIA: And we often hear that we're the most expensive system in the world. We cost about 16.5 percent of GDP. How did that compare with other rich countries?

REID: It's about twice as high, whether you take it as a percentage of overall wealth GDP or per capita spending. We spend about twice as much. We spend about three times as much as Japan almost.

Germany is about 60 to 70 percent of what we spend. Britain is half. Canada is half. So we're spending vastly more, and the really striking thing is we leave 50 million people without coverage.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that there's a single lesson you took from your tour around the world looking at all these different health care systems?

REID: Well, there are many different approaches, as we said, it's not all socialized medicine. There are a lot of ways to provide health care. The one thing all the other countries do that's different from us is they cover everybody.

My argument is I conclude in my book if you make the commitment and it's a moral commitment -- if you decide, dog gone it, we want to be in countries that provides health care for everybody, then you can design a system to do it. We have never made that moral commitment. Until we do, I don't think we'll get there.


ZAKARIA: Don't miss this important new special, "Global Lessons, A GPS Road Map for Saving Health Care." Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific for viewers in North America. International viewers can go to our website for air times.

You can also read my essay on the subject in this week's issue of "Time" magazine. We will be back with a cautionary tale. Sleep might be important for more than just your health. I'll explain.


ZAKARIA: If somebody offered you six weeks of paid vacation every year, would you turn it down and say, no, I just need four weeks? Probably not, but that's essentially what one nation just did, and it brings me to my question from the GPS Challenge.

What nation rejected in a referendum a minimum six weeks of vacation? Was it, A, Sweden, B, Switzerland, C, Japan, or D, South Korea? Stay tuned, and we'll tell you the correct answer. Go to media for more of the GPS Challenge and our global public square website.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and remember, if you miss a show, go to iTunes. You can get the audio podcast for free or you can now buy it on This week's book of the week is by Lawrence Lessing. It's titled "Republic Lost, How Money Corrupts Congress and A Plan to Stop It."

If you are not familiar with the author, Lessing is a law professor at Harvard, a brilliant mind whose ideas on technology and the internet have made him world famous.

He brings his huge intelligence to this cause, but combines it with passion and genuine patriotism. Every American voter should read this book. Now for the last look.

Ever find yourself dozing off in the middle of a meeting and thanking your lucky stars that nobody caught you? Yes, me too. Well, some delegates to the National People's Congress in China weren't as lucky as you.

Big yawns, even a few people blatantly napping and it was even on a controversial topic. They were curbing the powers of police to secretly detain people. A few days later, one of China's most prominent politicians was also caught in the act at the Great Hall of the people.

He was to be in line for the post on the standing committee of the bureau, the nine-member body, which effectively runs China. But just one day after his very public cat nap, he was ousted from his post as Communist Party boss in the city.

No, it's not because he snoozed. But maybe they were all snoozing because the assembly is really a rubber stamp body, and the debates don't matter much.

The correct answer to our GPS challenge question was, B, the hardworking Swiss are apparently perfectly content with only four weeks of vacation and voted no on a referendum that would have put them in line with their neighbors, most of whom enjoy six weeks of R & R every year.

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