Return to Transcripts main page
FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Interview with Tom Donilon; Interview with Naftali Bennett
Aired March 9, 2014 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Joe Johns. And here are your latest headlines.
New evidence in the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people suggests the jet may have turned back before vanishing off the southern coast of Vietnam.
Meanwhile, now we know two people who boarded the flight using stolen passports appear to have bought their tickets together. And other names on the passenger manifest are now raising questions.
A judge has set bond for the pregnant mother accused of trying to kill her three children at $1.2 million. Yesterday, Ebony Wilkerson made her initial court appearance after being charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder.
According to police, Wilkerson told her children to go to sleep before driving them into the ocean on Tuesday.
Police have busted what could be one of the largest known counterfeit schemes in the United States. Authorities say these two brothers from New York made millions by selling knockoffs of products like ChapStick, Johnson's Baby Oil, and Vaseline, up and down the East Coast. Both brothers are expected to appear in court on Tuesday, and are being held on $100,000 bond.
In one week, people in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula will vote on a referendum to either join the Russian Federation or stay with Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian troops and other pro-Russian forces are gaining ground in Crimea, accused of more bullying tactics, blocking international observers from entering the region, taking over a Crimean military office, and shooting at a Ukrainian plane.
I'm Joe Johns. And those are the headlines. FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS starts right now.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the global public square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria, coming to you live from New York today.
We'll start the show with the continuing crisis with Russia. I will ask President Obama's former national security adviser, Tom Donilon, what the president's options are at this hour.
And to understand Crimea, you have to understand its history and put the current crisis in context. We will do just that with a terrific panel.
Also, Israel's prime minister, Netanyahu, finally came out for Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East peace efforts this week. But he faces intense opposition within his own country, in fact, within his own cabinet. I will talk to his economics minister, Naftali Bennett, who tells us why his boss is wrong.
Then, the Olympics reminded us of the "agony of defeat." But is failure actually good for you? That's what a new book says. I will talk to its author.
Finally, I will bring you back to Crimea, to the valley of the shadow of death. If you know the poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," you will want to see these early war photos.
But first, here's my take. Inevitably, the crisis in Ukraine is being discussed in Washington largely through the lens of political polarization. It seems like any and every topic is fodder for partisan dispute these days, even the weather -- actually, especially the weather.
Many Republicans are arguing that Vladimir Putin intervened in Crimea because of President Obama's weakness. Putin saw that Obama didn't want to go to war in Syria, for example, and this emboldened Putin.
Well, who knows, right? It's tough to know what would have happened in an alternative universe. Imagine that we still had Putin around in charge of Russia but imagine he faced a different president, one who was tough, aggressive, who had no compunctions about invading countries.
Oh, wait, we ran that experiment in 2008. Putin faced George W. Bush, a president who had invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, for good measure, in the latter case, defying massive international pressure and opposition, and yet, Putin invaded Georgia.
And not as he did this time in a stealthy way with soldiers who were already there who switched their uniforms, he sent in Russian tanks roaring into Georgia, and without any referendums, simply annexed two pieces of that country.
Does this prove that Bush was a wimp after all? No, it doesn't. You see, there has been some very good and careful scholarship by Daryl Press and Jonathan Mercer, among others, that looks at historical cases to figure out whether having a reputation for toughness actually deters your opponents from doing bad things like invading countries.
In general, the answer is no. Countries make these decisions based on many factors, but the most important ones seem to be a careful analysis of the power dynamics of the specific case.
So in Ukraine, Russia would ask, is this a vital interest of the United States? And what is Washington's capacity to act in this particular situation? In other words, Putin would look at his cards, Washington's cards, and the specifics of the situation in Ukraine, rather than assuming that because Bush invited Iraq he would defend Georgia, or that because Obama didn't invade Syria he would do nothing about Ukraine.
Politicians in Washington are convinced that Putin was encouraged by Western weakness. But it's actually quite possible that he, Putin, felt he was acting to stop the West's growing strength.
Look at the situation from Russian eyes. In 1991, Moscow gave up its 75-year-old Soviet empire. It also gave up large parts of its 300-year-old Russian Empire, including Ukraine.
Since then, its historical rival, NATO, has expanded closer and closer to Moscow's borders. And then the West encouraged Ukrainians to take to the streets and depose their president who had close ties to Moscow.
Now none of this excuses aggression or justifies Putin's thuggish response, but if we're going to find a political solution in Ukraine that will stick, we need to recognize that the issues at stake are not personal, and that they are larger than Obama's weakness and Putin's paranoia.
Let's get started.
In the midst of a crisis like Crimea, the president's national security adviser is charged with keeping the president up-to-the- minute on developments, advising the president how to proceed, and ensuring that the president's decisions are actually carried out. Until nine months ago that job belonged to my next guest, Tom Donilon.
Welcome back to the show, Tom.
TOM DONILON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thank you, Fareed. Good to see you. Good morning.
ZAKARIA: My impression is, on the basis of some intelligence reports that we've heard about at CNN, that Russian forces are consolidating their control over Crimea, in fact, perhaps even poised to do more than that. Is that what you're hearing? And how dangerous is this?
DONILON: Well, that's what I see as well. The Russians have put in place a full occupation of Crimea. They are intensifying their position there. They're reinforcing their position there. They've become much more aggressive. They turned away monitors from the OSCE and the U.N. yesterday again through firing shots.
It's an exceedingly dangerous situation right now. And you have a dynamic where you have Ukraine soldiers on bases basically held hostage by Russian soldiers. In a situation like that anything can happen.
And I think it's just an exceedingly dangerous and tense situation right now because if you did have, God forbid, an exchange of fire, between Ukraine and Russian soldiers, you would have a real escalation of this crisis.
ZAKARIA: Tom, you've met with Putin one-on-one several times. You spent hours with him the night before his inauguration in 2012. What kind of a man is he?
DONILON: Well, he's a man for which concepts like balance of power and sphere of influence are very real concepts. I think he has evolved here in his view to have really kind of a zero-sum view of international relations.
He has tried to carve out a distinct Russian foreign policy, moved away from any integrative instinct of his foreign policy or his -- of Russia into the West in terms of political action.
He is, as I said, very focused on spheres of influence, feels real threats. You outlined in the top of your package here today the kinds of threats I think he views, sees conspiracy around most developments.
Certainly saw the West as a -- as behind the fall of Yanukovych, and Ukraine moving to the West. And he had here a situation where he had a real threat to what he regards as a sphere of influence, which is basically the former Soviet republics, when Ukraine did turn to Europe, even a turn to open up a association agreement or a free trade agreement, even that moved to the West was too much for Putin.
And he has this fanciful -- you know, Fareed, kind of a fanciful idea that he can build a Eurasian union that would to be a counterpoint to the European Union. That's fanciful at best. But even he knows it would be impossible without Ukraine.
ZAKARIA: And what does he plan for Ukraine, because it appears that Crimea is now under his control? There will be a referendum so that the de facto authority is then bolstered by some kind of de jure authority.
But is he presumably going to continue to try to influence the rest of Ukraine through various kinds of intelligence operations, money, things like that, bribing politicians? That has been what they've done in the past, after all.
DONILON: Yes, I think that is, and those are the sources of their influence there. This is a full-fledged kind of black op in Crimea right now with multiple elements to it, information warfare, military action, and political action, including the putting on this referendum.
What I think the goal here is to get more influence in the situation, to regain leverage, to be able to influence Ukraine's future, and to -- I fear, also to be in position to destabilize the situation.
And also I think he wanted to put himself in a situation here to give him the most leverage in any negotiations that go forward.
But this was -- I think he got back from the Sochi Olympics, where they spent $50 billion trying to enhance the image of Russia, had a real blow to what he considered his key geostrategic interests.
They acted here to try to regain some leverage in the situation, as I said, and be in a situation -- a position here to perhaps act to destabilize and undermine the new Ukraine government, which makes the other lines of effort we can talk about here in terms reinforcing our support for the interim government in the Ukraine all the more important.
ZAKARIA: Tom, what can we do, if you were advising the president now? The Europeans are probably almost certainly not going to go along with truly comprehensive sanctions because they get 30 percent of their natural gas from Russia. There would be blackouts in Europe without it.
So the United States is going to get probably some partial sanctions which will be limited. Perhaps it can do some things unilaterally. What are American options?
DONILON: Well, I think we need to have a number of lines of effort here. And I don't agree with the proposition that there's not a lot that we can do here.
Number one, we need to reinforce politically the interim government in Kiev and embrace that government. I'd have the next foreign ministers meeting around this issue in Kiev.
Second, to support that government financially as it gets through these elections and beyond, and the United States and the Europeans are doing that.
Third, to continue the efforts that John Kerry and others are, and Chancellor Merkel and others, are -- have under way to de-escalate and try to reach some sort of negotiated solution.
And, by the way, President Obama, Chancellor Merkel and others have provided Putin with an off-ramp if he wants to take it.
Fourth, I think it's critical that we continue to reinforce our NATO commitments and reassure our NATO partners.
And fifth, to show increased cost to Putin for escalation.
I think, Fareed, if he continues to escalate the way we've seen over the last few days in Crimea, not taking any steps towards a diplomatic resolution, I think you'll see the Europeans support sanctions.
And I want to make one point here. You know, it's an analytical point that I think may be missing in the Kremlin right now, in terms of their analysis. Putin can stand aside politically. He can try to carve out this defiant, if you will, posture to the world politically. He's obviously rejecting -- he was part of rejecting a U.N. observer and an OSE observer in Crimea to have an objective look at what was going on.
Russia is a member of those organizations. He can strike this defiant pose. But what Russia can't do in a globalized economy, of course, is to isolate their economy. And that's, I think, really where the leverage is here.
You know, someone wrote in a column the other day -- I think it was in the New York Times -- that, in 1968, of course, in August of 1968, the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. But -- and there wasn't -- the question is, what happened to the Russian stock market then?
Well, nothing happened because they didn't have a stock market. Russia is integrated in the international economy right now, and that's where the leverage is.
Tom Donilon, thank you very much, very important words.
Lots more ahead. We've got a great panel standing by to look more closely at Russia's motivations in this crisis. I have some of the best Russian experts in the world.
ZAKARIA: Let's get deeper into the Crimean turmoil with my great panel. Chrystia Freeland is just back from Kiev. She had a piece in today -- yesterday's New York Times entitled "Russia Has Already Lost the War." She's a former managing director of Reuters, currently a member of parliament in Canada. Stephen Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at New York University and Princeton University. And Stephen Kotkin is a professor of history also at Princeton. He specializes in the history of Russia and the Soviet Union.
Chrystia, you're just back from Kiev. One of the things you said in your piece that struck me was people make this division in Ukraine between those who speak Ukrainian and those who speak Russian, Russian ethnics. But you say that that doesn't mean that the people in the east, the Russian ethnics, all want to be under the domination or (inaudible) of Russia?
FREELAND: Well, that's absolutely right. And I think people make a lot of confusion about the linguistic situation in Ukraine. So Ukraine is ethnically 77 percent ethnically Ukrainian. Only Crimea has a majority ethnic Russian population.
And, really, all of Ukraine is bilingual. There are almost no one in Ukraine who doesn't speak and understand Russian and almost no one in Ukraine who doesn't understand Ukrainian. Moreover, the Ukrainian leadership today, people like Klitschko, people like Poroshenko, these are people who are much more comfortable speaking Russian than Ukrainian.
So this notion that there is this deep hostility towards the Russian language, towards Russian culture, towards ethnic Russians in Ukraine right now -- it's just not true. And...
ZAKARIA: But you say that even these Russian speakers want to be part of the West? FREELAND: Absolutely. And it's not -- the other thing I would say is what I was very struck by this week is, for Ukrainians, this was less about a choice between the West and Russia and more a political choice, a belief and a reality that the Yanukovych regime was deeply corrupt, was deeply violating of human dignity and, in the end, murderous towards its own people. It was a rebellion against that and the perception, which is the reality, that, in backing Yanukovych, Putin was supporting a toughening of that, a cutting back on a repression of human rights.
ZAKARIA: Stephen Cohen, can Putin allow an independent Ukraine that is allied with the West, at least economically? Is that something you believe a Russian leader like Putin could allow?
COHEN: Including or without Crimea?
ZAKARIA: With -- give him Crimea.
COHEN: Probably so, but it would depend on the conditions. I'm struck by your introduction in the show. And if you don't mind, let me go back to that.
I think we're two steps from a Cuban Missile Crisis and three steps from war with Russia for the first time.
Part of the problem is, as you pointed out, we don't hear what Russia is saying. Part of the reason for that is, is that anybody who tries to explain what Russia is saying is called a Putin apologist. We need to get a negotiation going on. We're told that Putin and Obama are talking past each other.
You made the point, over the last 20 years, we've moved NATO right to Russia's borders. Ten years ago Putin announced very clearly, "I don't like NATO on my borders, but looking ahead, I have two red lines: one is Georgia, the former Soviet republic. We crossed that red line, he thinks. Now -- and we had a war.
Now he thinks we've crossed the red line elsewhere in Ukraine. Now that story requires us asking...
ZAKARIA: But can I just interrupt you, Steve?
ZAKARIA: Is it that we crossed the line or the people of Georgia and Ukraine crossed it by wanting to be associated with the West?
COHEN: Polls show -- Chrystia is wrong, I'm afraid. Polls repeatedly have shown Ukrainians are divided by this. The polls come up 43-43, and the rest don't know.
But the point that I would like to ask everybody, and the president of the United States, does Russia have any legitimate interest? Is Russia right in any way in its narrative? Because we have two conflicting narratives of how we came to this crisis. Now Putin wants us to go back to February 21st when the deal brokered by the U.N. foreign ministers was destroyed in the streets. But we can't turn history back. But he says that's where we need to talk. And if we do that, I think negotiations can begin and I can imagine an outcome that would avoid war.
ZAKARIA: Steve, resolve this for us. History of Ukraine, Russia. Is Ukraine deeply divided and therefore is going to be potentially highly unstable, or is it that at the end of the day a majority of Ukrainians, particularly the next generation, as Chrystia suggests in her piece, really want to be part of the West?
KOTKIN: So Ukraine is a wreck. Ukraine was destroyed by Ukrainian elites. Every regime in Ukraine since 1991 has ripped off that country. They ripped off everything that wasn't nailed down and then they ripped off everything that was nailed down. Ukraine gives corruption a bad name.
KOTKIN: The economy has shrunk. Soviet-era economy is hard to measure because they don't have real prices, plus there's exchange rate variation since then, but the Ukrainian economy today is smaller than it was in 1991, by any measure. The economy in Poland is at least twice as big as it was in 1991.
So Ukraine is a basket case because of the Ukrainian political class. That's the first and most important point I would like to make today.
Secondly, the E.U. was bluffing. The E.U. has no appetite for additional eastern expansion. They were going towards Ukraine because they felt they had something to do. But the idea that they were going to incorporate Ukraine, give them a path to accession, was a bluff.
Moreover, that bluff was taken seriously by the Russians, because the Russians weren't bluffing. The Russians have interests in Ukraine. That's not the question. The question is, is the Putin regime defending Russian interests in Ukraine, or is the Putin regime a criminal enterprise that is hurting Russian interests in Ukraine? That's the question for me.
But here's the fourth point and the final point. Yanukovych won a real election in 2010. He won by half a million votes. He won Crimea by a million votes. So Yanukovych is president of Ukraine because of the votes in Crimea.
Now, this is not an attempt to justify, rationalize, or approve the kind of aggressive action we've seen in breaking off Crimea. But it fundamentally alters the domestic politics of Ukraine and you can't get eastern Ukraine alone to elect somebody from eastern Ukraine without Crimea anymore.
ZAKARIA: We have got to take a break. Stephen Cohen says we're two steps away from a Cuban Missile Crisis. So we will try to resolve it when we come back. More with the panel. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAKARIA: And we are back for more with Chrystia Freeland, Stephen Cohen, and Stephen Kotkin.
Chrystia, you were shaking your head before the break when Stephen Cohen was speaking about Ukraine. And the crucial issue is, is Ukraine divided? And the reason this is important is because, you know, are we dealing with some part of the population that would rather be part of Russia's sphere, or, as you seem to feel, most of the country really wanting to be part of the West?
FREELAND: So, of course Ukraine is divided. No democratic country is unanimous. But what is important to state is that there is no division in Ukraine about legitimacy of Yanukovych. It is striking that what happened was...
ZAKARIA: That is, that the old president who was deposed, even though...
ZAKARIA: Deposed in a somewhat extra-constitutional manner.
FREELAND: And actually what happened in the end was his regime melted away. He fled. And his armed supporters melted away. In parliament now, his former MPs are strongly against him. So Ukraine is united in reviling Yanukovych.
In terms of the West and Russia, the other thing that is crucial to point out is, prior to this moment, there was no separatist movements in any part of Ukraine. You know, think about it, Ukraine has been independent for more than 22 years. There was no Abkhazia, Transnistria, Ossetia-type movement, even in Crimea, which is the only part of Ukraine that has a majority ethnic Russian population.
ZAKARIA: Steve, I said that you said we were two steps from the Cuban Missile Crisis -- actually you said we're one step from the Cuban Missile Crisis, two steps from war. Why war?
COHEN: Why war? There's clamor in Europe and Washington to move NATO troops to the Polish-west Ukrainian border. This is an option being considered. Two days ago, NATO aircraft landed on Polish airfields. I don't know what that means.
But if we, the West, move NATO troops to that border, I am guessing, educated guessing, that Putin will send those 150,000 troops, he was practicing last week, into southern and eastern Ukraine.
That will be the Cuban Missile Crisis-plus, and you know how close we came to war. Therefore, your point in your lead is, how do we get people to sit down? And let me just say one thing about this. Putin doesn't trust or like Obama. He thinks he's weak, irresolute and doesn't keep his word. Putin trusts Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. Merkel has to come into this and talk to both of these leaders and now, today and I assume she already is.
ZAKARIA: Stephen Kotkin, last thoughts, we've got about a minute.
KOTKIN: So, what you've got here is finding a way for Putin to climb down without losing face domestically in a way that is acceptable to the E.U., the U.S., but above all to Ukraine. This went down into East Asia. Right now the Russians are on their hands and knees begging the Chinese to accept the de facto annexation of Ukraine should there be - of Crimea - should there be the referendum, and should the referendum, whose results will be falsified, report a majority in favor of annexation for Russia. So, they're on their hands and knees to the Chinese, what do you want, please, we'll give you anything, including gas at less than world prices. Now, in East Asia you have unsettled borders everywhere you look. So, the settlement of Crimea and the Ukrainian situation is absolutely critical going forward for the entire international system. Especially East Asia.
Chrystia, 30 seconds. You met with the Ukrainian minister of economy. This strikes me as perhaps the world's most thankless job at this point. How is -- can Ukraine survive economically?
FREELAND: First of all he's a fan of your show. What they would like to do, if they don't have a war, is really radical economic reforms, starting with making the government less corrupt. The one of the first things they did is get rid of almost all the cars that the ministry had. The acting prime minister flew commercial economy class for his meeting to Brussels. A big part of what they need to do. I agree with Stephen, you know, the Ukrainian elites have been dreadful. And what they would like to do if left to their own devices is form a normal transparent government. That's going to be hard enough.
ZAKARIA: 15 seconds, Steve Cohen, can Ukraine survive independently if Russia is against it?
COHEN: No. But there's no reason why it should be faced with that either/or choice and that's exactly what the European Union did back in November and brought on this crisis.
ZAKARIA: Fantastic discussion. Thank you, guys. Lots more ahead on the show. Israel's minister of economy will tell us why he disagrees with his boss, Bibi Netanyahu on peace in the Middle East. Up right next, what in the world? China has eased its one child policy and yet families are balking at having more kids. I will explain why.
ZAKARIA: Now for "What's in the World" segment. Much has been made about how China recently curbed restrictions on having children. Under the old rules, if a couple wanted to have a second child, both husband and wife needed to be the only offspring of their parents. Under the new rules, a second child could be allowed if just one of its potential parents was an only child. The change impacts about 20 million Chinese. You would imagine after decades of restrictions many of them would jump at the chance to have a second child, right? Wrong. An article in "The New York Times" reports that as many as half of the families impacted by the new rules are balking at the idea of the second child. Parents quoted in the article say "the children simply cost too much." Why is this attitude surprising and what went wrong? It's simple. China is getting richer. And its women are getting more educated. According to the CIA the five countries with the highest birth rates in the world include the likes of Niger, Mali and Uganda. There's a clear correlation here these countries have some of the lowest per capita incomes in the world. The average income in Niger is just $800 a year.
Now, let's flip the charts. The five countries with the lowest birth rates in the world include Monaco, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Now, look at their average incomes. China clearly aspires to be in Monaco and Singapore's company, not Niger and Mali. In addition to the wealth effect, studies show that the more educated women get, the less likely they are to have more children. This has happened across the world in Europe and even in traditional Asian societies like South Korea and Singapore. China is the great historic anomaly.
China citizens have gotten as old as Europeans well before they've reached European levels of wealth and education and while China is not as rich as South Korea or Singapore it has higher than ever increasing female literacy, the rate is now nearly 93 percent. So, getting them to have more kids now might not be that easy. Why is China an anomaly? Well, it is the only country that was able to pull off a central edict like the one child policy. It was an unprecedented experiment in population control. The problem is, now China really needs young people. By 2050, about a third of Chinese will be over the age of 60. What can Beijing do? Well, it's probably looking at experiments in the rich world.
Consider France, which in the 1990s realized it needed to boost fertility rates. The central government put in place a program of incentives including tax breaks for parents, subsidized housing, and access to child care. According to the "Wall Street Journal" France spends four percent of its GDP on these programs, about twice as much as other rich countries. What happened? Look at this chart of France's fertility rate over the last 20 years from an average of 1.65 children for a woman in 1994 to two children per woman last year. If China wants its people to have more children, it may have to do a lot more than minor relaxations of the one child policy. It might have to go in for a French solution. Lots more ahead. We're going to bring you to the charge of the light brigade which was in Crimea. Up right next, peace in the Middle East.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I'm prepared to make a historic peace with our Palestinian neighbors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister Netanyahu is now all for it, but I will introduce you to a man who might spoil his plans.
ZAKARIA: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is finally talking peace. This week at the APEC conference in Washington, D.C., he made perhaps his strongest ever pitch for peace in the Middle East.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I'm prepared to make a historic peace with our Palestinian neighbors.
NETANYAHU: A peace that would end a century of conflict and bloodshed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But that doesn't mean he has got his country or even his cabinet behind him. One potential spoiler who was also in the United States this week, is the new leader of Israel's right wing, Naftali Bennett. Bennett is part of Israel's coalition government and thus a member of Netanyahu's cabinet. He was once Netanyahu's chief of staff. He's currently minister of the economy. I sat down with him to understand why he disagrees with his boss on the most important issue facing his country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: So you say that Prime Minister Netanyahu is on the wrong track and most importantly, John Kerry is on the wrong track with this whole idea of a peace process ending with a two-state solution. Why?
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAEL'S MINISTER OF ECONOMY: Well, Fareed, no one wants peace more than me. Unfortunately, I have to fight quite a few times in our various conflicts. I lost my best friend. We want peace in Israel. The question is how do you achieve peace? Right now the current approach, which is to hand over to an Arab state or Palestinians the heart of Israel and expect that after we did it three times already and got missiles and suicide bombers killing Israelis, this time somehow it's going to work, I think it's ludicrous. It's not working. And, you know, I'm a business man. I learned that when you try the same thing again and again and it fails you have to try something different and I am. What I'm working is for peace on ground between Israelis and Palestinians through business, through economy, through quality of life.
ZAKARIA: But how does that deal with what everybody, including the Prime Minister Netanyahu now says is the long-term challenge, which is you would have a smaller number of Jews who would rule over a very large number of Palestinians who do not have the vote? And can Israel continue that indefinitely?
BENNETT: No, not at all. That's not the case. In fact, Fareed, there's 2 million Palestinians that govern themselves. They have their own parliament, their own government, their own elections, their own tax system. I don't want to govern the Palestinians, no one does. They already govern themselves. ZAKARIA: But Abu Mazen has said, the leader of the Palestinian Authority unless he gets an actual Palestinian state, because this is not - that's not a state, he will -- one of the things he says is he'll throw this all back into Israel's lap because he doesn't want to be their head of a proto state that doesn't have an actual flag, a nation and official recognition.
BENNETT: But they do. They have a flag. They have a nation. They have ...
ZAKARIA: You don't recognize it.
BENNETT: I don't recognize it as a state. You know, we had a trial ...
ZAKARIA: But you mean you can have this indefinitely, you think that for the next 50 years, Palestinians can rule themselves in this kind of what some people call Bantustan-like situation?
BENNETT: I think we need to improve the situation on ground, we need the freedom of movement, we need to improve the quality of life for the actual people.
ZAKARIA: But not give them a nation state?
BENNETT: Well, a nation state in the heart of Israel, no. A nation state implies that they have their full security, they have an army, they control, you know ...
ZAKARIA: Well, they said they wouldn't ...
BENNETT: The West Bank, then some area is a big mountain that overlooks a very narrow plain called Israel. My own home. Would you let a Palestinian state be formed on top of your home? After what they've done for the past 20 years? Every time we gave them a piece of land, immediately Iranian forces got filled in and started killing us. You know, a thousand Israelis were blown up in coffee shops ten years ago after we pulled out. So we're going to do that again? Or we're going to try that again? Sometimes there's no perfect solution. We have to be very mature about this. Not everything can be solved quickly. I think if we give time, if we build it bottom up, we will achieve peace.
ZAKARIA: When you sit down at the cabinet table with Bibi Netanyahu, you were his chief of staff, you were part of his party and you have now created your own breakaway party to the right. He was the leader of the right. You have become the leader of the right. He must view you as a traitor.
BENNETT: No. No. I have the great respect for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Clearly, we do disagree on some things, but we agree on the fundamental objective of keeping Israel as the beacon of democracy in this very difficult Middle East.
ZAKARIA: But you disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the fundamental issue of the peace process?
BENNETT: I disagree on the process. I agree on the objective. I want peace. No less than anyone. I'm telling you, as someone who fought, I want peace more than most people. I -- the only disagreement is how we achieve it. I submit that if we instill a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel, if we divide Jerusalem, divide the land of Israel we're guaranteeing 100 years of conflict. However, if we take my approach which is to build economy based peace, build it bottom up, slowly, it takes more time, more patience, we'll get us a sustainable peace for many, many years to come.
ZAKARIA: But do you think that Israel can exist as a Jewish and democratic state while it is essentially denying three, four, by that point 5 million Palestinians the opportunity for self-determination?
BENNETT: We're not denying anything. They have self- determination. You know, they have a state right now ...
ZAKARIA: Would you consider it self-determination if you didn't have a nation state?
BENNETT: Look, you know, the Tamils in Sri Lanka don't have self-determination, the Kurds, there's many of those - there's 100 people in the world that want their own state. The Palestinians, unlike others, have their own state. It's called Gaza right now and what I've seen it's turned into Afghanistan. Do I want another Afghanistan? Do I want to be flanked by two Afghanistans that are shelling my home? No. Will I fight for the security of my children? Yes, I will. But I think there's a better approach, a more intelligent approach, a more mature approach, which is the economy and building bridges between the people and we'll get there. I'm very optimistic.
ZAKARIA: Naftali Bennett, pleasure to have you on.
BENNETT: Fareed, great to be here.
ZAKARIA: Up next, some advice for Vladimir Putin from 19th century photographers and poets.
ZAKARIA: 39-year-old Matteo Renzi was recently sworn in as the youngest prime minister in Italy's history. But he's not the youngest head of an elected government. That brings me to our question of the week. Who is currently the youngest leader of a democratically elected government? Is it Irakli Garibashvili of Georgia, Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson of Iceland, or Kim Jong- un of North Korea? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book is "The Limits of Partnership, U.S./Russian Relations in the 21 Century" by Angela Stent. Perfectly timed for the Ukraine crisis this book gives us the full picture of why Russia's relations with the West and Washington have gotten worse and worse. Well written, well balanced and very well explained.
And now for the last look. Over the past week images of troops massing in Crimea have been broadcast to millions around the globe. It so happens that the first ever official war photographs were from the very same region. In 1853 the Russian empire fought the allied armies of the Ottoman Empire, France and Great Britain in the short, but brutal Crimean War that claimed the lives of three quarters of a million soldiers and for the first time photographers were able to give people a glimpse of what war was like. The most famous image, perhaps, is Roger Fenton's "The Valley of the Shadow of Death," which showed cannonballs strewn throughout a valley. Some say it was the first staged war photo. That he moved the cannonballs into the road.
The technology didn't allow for action shots, but the images captured the moments between battles. So, the folly of war was probably best articulated with the pen and paper. Listen to this, an 1890 reporting of Alfred Lord Tennyson himself reading his famous poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: So we can see, and we can hear what conflict over Crimea was like 160 years ago. Then as now as leaders plot and plan, every soldier must think, "ours is not to reason why, ours but to do and die."
The answer to our "GPS Challenge" question is a, Irakli Garibashvili, the prime minister of Georgia is the world's youngest head of a democratically elected government. At a sprightly 31 years old. Kim Jong-un of North Korea is reportedly the same age, though, of course, he is not democratically elected. Compared to this lot, President Obama is a positively antique 52.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Right now I'm going to send you to CNN headquarters for a check on the latest news.