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Iraqi Forces Break ISIS Siege of Amerli; Ukraine Near Full- Scale War With Russia?; Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski; Interview with Avigdor Lieberman; Americans Need to Take More Vacations; Interview with Lynda Obst

Aired August 31, 2014 - 10:00   ET


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.

We'll focus today's show on the three main crises confronting the world right now. The threat of the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and beyond, Russia's extraordinary actions in Ukraine and the cease-fire in Gaza.

I will talk with former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and then Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

And if you're like me you've barely seen one movie this summer that you will give two thumbs up to and I've wondered why that is. I've got an expert, the movie producer, who has some very smart thoughts about Hollywood's struggles. Linda Obst.

Finally, can't afford a car? Why one world capital may be saying good-bye to personally owned cars within a decade.

But first, here's my take.

What are the strengths of the Islamic State? I posed this question to two deeply knowledgeable observers, a European diplomat and a foreign official, and the picture they painted is worrying, although not hopeless. Defeating the group would require a large and sustained strategic effort from the Obama administration but it could be done without significant numbers of U.S. ground troops.

The European diplomats stationed in the Middle East travels in and out of Syria and has access to regime and opposition sources. Both sources agreed to speak only if their identities were not revealed. This European official agrees with the consensus that the Islamic State has gained considerable economic and military strength in recent months. He estimates that it is making $1 million a day in Syria and Iraq each by selling oil and gas, although U.S. experts believe the number is too high in Iraq.

The Islamic State's military strategy is brutal but also smart. The group's annual reports -- yes, it has issued annual reports since 2012 -- detail its military methods and successes to try to impress its backers and funders. The videos posted online of executions are barbaric but strategic. They are designed to sow terror in the minds of opponents who when facing Islamic State fighters on the battlefield now reportedly flee rather than fight.

But the most dangerous aspect of the Islamic State this diplomat believes is its ideological appeal. It has recruited marginalized disaffected Sunni youth in Syria and Iraq who believe that they have been ruled by apostate regimes.

How to handle this challenge? The American, a former senior administration figure, counsels against pessimism. The Islamic State could be defeated, he says, but it would take a comprehensive and sustained strategy much like the one that under girded the surge in Iraq. The first task is political, he said. Supporting the Obama administration's efforts to press the Iraqi government to become more inclusive.

"We have more leverage now than at any time in recent years and the administration is using it," he said.

If this continues, the next step would be to create the most powerful and effective ground force that could take on the Islamic State, which would not be American troops, would not be the Free Syrian Army, but, rather, a reconstituted Iraqi army. Remember, that force was built, trained, and equipped by the United States.

The former American official says it's actually got some very effective units. The Iraqi special forces were trained in Jordan and are extremely impressive," unquote. Pointing out that it was those forces that recaptured the Mosul dam recently. It's underperformed recently because then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had transformed it over the past two years into a sectarian and loyalist force.

The two observers agreed on one central danger, the temptation to gain immediate military victories over the Islamic State could mean that the United States would end up tacitly partnering with Bashar al- Assad's regime in Syria. This would produce a short-term military gain against the Islamic State but it would be a long-term political disaster. It would feed the idea that the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria are embattled, that a crusader Christian Shiite alliance is persecuting them and that all Sunnis must resist this alien invasion the European diplomat said.

The key is that Sunnis must be in the lead against IS. They must be in front of the battlefield, he said.

So the strategy that could work against the Islamic State is nothing less than a second Sunni awakening like the one during the Iraqi surge. It's a huge challenge but it appears to be the only option with a plausible chance of success.

For more go to to read my "Washington Post" column. And let's get started.

In a few moments I will talk with America's eldest states man, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and then Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. But first let's get caught up on the latest both from Iraq and Ukraine. First to Iraq where U.S. and Iraqi forces have just chalked up a

victory against ISIS or the Islamic State. The town of Amerli had been under siege by the Islamic State for more than two and a half months. That siege has just been broken thanks to Iraqi Security Forces and local militias on the ground coordinated with U.S. fire power from the air.

CNN's Anna Coren is in Irbil, north of Amerli.

Anna, explain to us what broke the siege which seemed to be very tough for very long.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very tough and very long, Fareed, but not quite sure how much force was being used over the last two months. Certainly after the United Nations special representative here in Iraq signaled that alarm a week ago saying that a potential massacre was underway, that seemed to get the ball rolling.

We saw a much more involvement from the Iraqi military. Obviously the U.S. taking part in those airstrikes yesterday, dropping off humanitarian aid as well as Australia, the U.K., and France.

But it wasn't until really that red flag went up, Fareed, that help finally arrived. As you say, it was under siege for some two months. Power, water cut off. And according to people on the ground, dozens of children have died as a result of the conditions in that township made up of predominantly Turkmen Shia but certainly, Fareed, it looks like a crisis has been averted.

ZAKARIA: Anna, what is your sense of the Iraqi army? Everyone was surprised at how quickly it collapsed a few months ago when ISIS advanced. Does it feel like it has gotten back its momentum?

COREN: Look, I think it's fair to say that when the Iraqi military decides to be effective, it certainly can be. As we have seen at Amerli over the past several days and certainly at the Mosul dam, which is where we were last week, they were very important to helping the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga, take back that very critical piece of infrastructure.

But as we know, Fareed, these two organizations are not working together. They've been operating quite independently. So there's a real feeling that the Iraqi military needs to work with the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga up here in northern Iraq to be effective.

We spoke to the senior officials within the Kurdistan government and they say, you know, we only need to protect our borders, but we do not want ISIS as our neighbor, therefore we are prepared to go beyond and take the fight to ISIS, which is what we are seeing up in Mosul dam.

We were up there yesterday, Fareed, and whilst they have this critical piece of infrastructure, the surrounding towns and villages are still under ISIS control. And we were really surprised because we are hearing that this advance is happening by the Kurdish forces where ISIS is digging in. And we are seeing it time and time again. Yes, the U.S. airstrikes, they are very much focused in that area. There have been 115 to date.

But still, ISIS is digging in. So that is why they need a more intensive U.S. air campaign and they also need reinforcements and those very vital weapons, Fareed, to fight these ISIS militants.

ZAKARIA: Thanks, Anna. Stay safe.

That was Anna Coren in Irbil for us.

Now let's turn to the Ukraine where the nation's president says the crisis with Russia is worsening and inching closer to, quote, "full- scale war," unquote.

Can this be avoided?

Well, just today Russian President Vladimir Putin called for immediate talks to work on a political solution to the crisis.

CNN's Phil Black is in Moscow with more.

Phil, is it your sense that this is the off ramp that people have been looking for, that people have hoped for, so that Russia gets serious about negotiations or is this one more of the many head fakes that Vladimir Putin has done? He talks about negotiations. There are now apparently hundreds of Russian tanks in Ukraine.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it doesn't appear to be a reason for optimism, Fareed, at all. Vladimir Putin is talking about the need, he says, that to trash out a new system of government in the east of Ukraine. He wants immediate of what he says would be substantive talks to try and work this out.

What he's really talking about is greater autonomy for that region. It's not a new idea. It's been discussed many times. The central government in Kiev has said it is prepared to negotiate a more federalized system but not with those who are currently leading the arms uprising in the east. And so that's where the deadlock is. Putin himself admits that is not likely to be resolved quickly.

You would also have to think, as you touched on there, that Kiev is not going to be in the mood for accepting advice from Moscow on how to make peace at the moment given that it has accused Russia of invading its territory with regular troops this week. That is an allegation Russia has denied. Continues to insist that it is not sending soldiers, weapons across the border.

And Vladimir Putin says that Russia cannot be part of any peace process from here because its influence, he says, continues to insist, is limited with those pro-Russian rebels and because Russia is not a direct party to the conflict -- Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Phil. Though, of course, Putin was able to get them to establish a kind of humanitarian corridor. So he does seem to have some influence.

CNN's Phil Black in Moscow. Next up on GPS, two important guests. First, former U.S. national

security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, then Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on his country's cease-fire with the Palestinians. He is not in favor of it.


ZAKARIA: Let's dig deeper into these crises and what the U.S. should be doing to quell them. Joining me now in the nation -- from the nation's capital is former U.S. national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Now a counselor and trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Zbigniew, let me start by asking you a simple question. Should the Obama administration describe what is happening in Ukraine as a Russian invasion of that country?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think we have to indicate that that, in fact, is our view and it is a view shared by much of the international community. What else can it be called? The Russian troops are crossing the border. The Russian tanks crossing the border. There's Russian artillery firing across the border. And there they are Ukrainians who are pro-Russian who are being armed by the Russians.

It is a military operation directed against in a border state and it is, therefore, a serious threat to peace.

ZAKARIA: Zbig, have we misread Putin? Have we misunderstood what his pain threshold is? What would -- what might cause him to change this behavior? How do you view our kind of interactions? When I say our I mean I suppose the Western alliance's interactions with Putin?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, there are two aspects to it. One, there is no doubt that what has happened in Ukraine has been a major blow to his personal and international ambitions, namely to recreate something like the Soviet Union calling it a Eurasian Union in which Russia based on the support of an important country like Ukraine, also Belarus and the other former Soviet republics, in a sense becomes a dominant power like the Russian empire, like the Soviet Union.

Ukraine's decision not to go down that path has created serious problems for Putin's plans and has encouraged other countries who are never for it to increasingly indicate that they would like to have a separate status. Look at the hesitations in Kazakhstan, in Uzbekistan, most recently at a meeting in Belarus. On the other hand, there is the West. And I think we have been very slow in convincing Putin that he cannot go all the way. I think we should have acted earlier in providing more explicit support for Ukraine.

I have been on the record while urging an eventual accommodation and we can come back to that. Urging an eventual accommodation with Russia. We should have been willing to say publicly to the Russia and to all others, Ukraine is right now in effect disarmed. We're going to provide defensive weapons -- only defensive weapons -- to the Ukrainians which can be used against invading tanks, against invading artillery, which can give the Ukrainians some sense that they can defend their cities more effectively than is the case today.

So we have let that drag now for several months. And I think now push is coming to shove. The next week is going to be very important. One of the reasons we have been so slow is that much of our alliance has been divided on how much to support Ukraine. I think now increasingly all the major partners in NATO and the European Union are in favor of a common stand.

ZAKARIA: At the end of this week there will be a NATO summit in Wales. What is the most important thing that can come out of that Summit.

BRZEZINSKI: A reaffirmation that NATO is an active and meaningful alliance, prepared to take what steps are necessary to defend its collective security. And that involves in the foreseeable future involves clearly some sort of decision to station on a permanent basis NATO forces, including Americans, including Germans, including Brits, including French, including even Italians who are now aspiring to a more active role in the Baltic states particularly.

Maybe also in Poland but Poland also is self-sufficient to a large degree. But certainly the Baltic state, and to some extent Poland. So that the Russians know that these states are not like Ukraine because Putin clearly has indicated that if he succeeds in Ukraine with these sorts of tactics on behalf of larger Russian unity, whatever that means, he'll do the same to the Baltic states where there are significant Russian minorities resident very, very close to the border with Russia.

ZAKARIA: Zbig, the "Washington Post" editorialized I think a day or two ago that President Obama has been far too passive in his reaction to these crises minimizing it. And ended by saying, "It is time for President Obama to stop telling us what the United States cannot do in the world and tell us what it can do."

I suppose President Obama's argument would be he's trying to prevent people from panicking. How do you see it?

BRZEZINSKI: I see it a little differently. I think that he was very clear-cut in his reactions, rather strong to Russian aggression vis-a- vis Ukraine, but he has an alliance and he has an alliance that's very complicated of some 25 or more states some of which are very reticent to lift a finger. They're all very glad to have American protection in NATO. Not all of them are prepared to carry their burden, to stand together.

It's been taking time to mobilize but Chancellor Merkel is now a very strong figure in support of strong reactions. Hollande of France is beginning to view it the same way. Cameron of Britain is beginning to be deeply engaged and so forth and so forth. I think the nature of the game is changing. We now, I think, are going to take a strong stand. Incidentally, I think we should talk privately but very seriously to the Chinese about this.

The Russians, and not much is being said about this. The Russians are claiming privately that the Chinese are really supportive. My view is different. I think they're worried. I think they know that if Putin's adventurism produces a major conflict, there will be a very serious threat to global well-being. And that for them would be a fundamental disaster.

I think the Chinese ought to become more active in telling Putin to lay off, that using force to change borders nowadays, so many decades after World War II, and then earlier World War I, is not the way to deal with international problems. I think they ought to take that stand. They're a major power. They're a partner of ours. They cannot be silent and simply sitting on the sidelines.

ZAKARIA: One question on the Islamic State before I let you go. When you look at this problem, Zbig, you've got -- it feels to me almost like a 12-cornered fight. You've got the Islamic state, you've got other jihadist militias, you've got the moderate opposition, you've got Assad, you've got the Iraqi army, you've got the Kurdish forces. I bet you a lot of Americans are looking at it and saying, I don't know whether we should get dragged into this too much. It's easy to see how we would get sucked in. It's very difficult to see how we would somehow solve all of this.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, you know, in a way they're right. You know, I had an excellent piece on this this weekend. It's a very complicated issue. Obviously we cannot assume unilateral sole responsibility for responding to this challenge. But we also have to recognize that the enemy is not what its name suggests. We sort of think of this Islamic state. It's not a state. It's a bunch of decentralized brigands united by extremist views managed from a single leadership but not very effectively and it is not a state.

It is a kind of active mobile rebellion and it will have to be dealt with in different ways in different areas. You have already had some discussion on this program of Iraq. I think that's a simple front. And the Iraqis may be able to act with us. In some other cases others may have to take the lead. We can support them indirectly. In brief, this cannot be an American enterprise led from the top.

It has to be an enterprise in which America's active and suggestive and plays a major role, particularly from the air, but is also one in which other Muslim countries have to be more responsibly involved. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt come to mind immediately. In a more limited fashion Iran which is a Shiite state. And we don't want be this to be turned into a Shiite/Sunni contention but it is also a state with its own history. It is not a religious faction.

So there are complications here, but I think we could manage them more intelligently than we have so far.

ZAKARIA: Zbigniew Brzezinski, always a pleasure to have you on.

Next on GPS, most of the world is happy that the Israelis and Palestinians have found at least a temporary and fragile peace, but not my next guest who is Israel's foreign minister. Avigdor Lieberman will join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAKARIA: Welcome back to GPS. My next guest is the foreign minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman.

Mr. Foreign Minister, pleasure to have you on the show. You have criticized the cease-fire that was established between Israel and Hamas and Gaza. Why?


ZAKARIA: Good morning.

LIEBERMAN: First of all, the real question, how to prevent the next operation. As a protective age was the third operation in the six years, the situation, if it's possible to do something and to achieve stable and sustainable cease-fire or peace agreement.

The last pieces that we saw from Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and Khaled Mashal in Qatar, they clarified their position. They explained that they will fight Israel and their goal to wipe out the state of Israel.

And I think that we must deliberate our position regarding Hamas from the beginning, from scratch. And I think that we have enough force to finish the story and to topple this terrorist administration.

And I don't see any differences between Hamas and ISIS and Al Qaeda. We saw their executions in Gaza Strip. It's exactly like Islamic States or Al Qaeda.

ZAKARIA: So if this is your view, this is a fairly major disagreement with the prime minister. And this is not a small matter. This is not a domestic matter.

How can you continue to stay as foreign minister of a government where, on the principal foreign policy issue that you face, you disagree with the government's policy?

LIEBERMAN: No. At the end of the day we have cabinet and I'm sorry to recognize that I was a minority in our cabinet, but we want part of a very important part of this coalition and we will support our government because alternative new elections, early elections, I think it's really bad choice for the State of Israel.

ZAKARIA: But do you want a reoccupation of Gaza effectively, would that be fair?

LIEBERMAN: No. No. What I really -- and I would like to clarify my position, to topple Hamas. And I think it's possible to bring reasonable people, moderate people to take power in Gaza Strip.

And we have our experience, 14 years, nine years since disengagement. And we see what Hamas, what kind of this organization, how radicals, their ideology and we see the consequences every day.

You know, the rockets on Israel -- and I don't know any other countries that they will accept reality with every day rockets on their towns, cities. And I think it's our right for our self-defense. ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the other Palestinian group. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, just recently, I think yesterday, said that his next move is going to be to demand a timetable for Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank.

And if that is not forthcoming, to press charges of war crimes against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

What is your reaction to that?

LIEBERMAN: I think that it's clear that any unilateral steps will damage any opportunity to establish real peace, to achieve real comprehensive solution. I am sorry about the unilateral steps. I sorry about -- we are sorry about all the accusations from Mahmoud Abbas.

And also if somebody thinks that he is a partner, how it can be that our main partner in negotiations accused Israel of crimes against humanity, war crimes, et cetera?

If we're really trying to achieve comprehensive solution, we have only one way, to negotiate, to sit around the table and not to place pressure on your partners and to use your automatic majority in every international forum.

I think it's a wrong way and it's a wrong direction and we hope that at the end of the day we will see from the Palestinian side reasonable and real reliable partners.

ZAKARIA: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you so much for joining us. Hope we can do it next time in person.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, go ahead, take a break. Relax. I will explain to you why working less is good for you and for the overall economy.


ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. The world's second richest man said last month that we should all be working just three days a week, which is why Steven Corbett joked.


STEVE COLBERT: Now you know why he's only the second richest man.


ZAKARIA: Actually, Mexico's Telecom magnet Carlos Slim is not alone. His fellow billionaire Larry Paige, the co-founder of Google, recently pushed for a reduced work week as well. Why are the mega-rich telling the rest of us to work less? They have different strategies and goals, but they are right that being a workaholic is not only bad for your health and sanity, it's bad for the economy really. Americans are notorious workaholics. They take much less vacation and work longer work weeks than most of their counterparts in advanced industrial countries. Here's one more piece of American exceptionalism. The U.S. is the only advanced economy in the world where workers are not guaranteed paid vacation time. As a result, it's said that as many as 23 percent of Americans get no paid holidays or vacation. Americans who do get paid time off only take about half of it on average according to one survey. By contrast, Europeans believe in a work/life balance. Across the Atlantic workers are guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days a year. In some countries employees enjoy as many as 25 or 30 days. It's not just in the United States that work/life balance is off. South Koreans are also workaholics. In 2012 South Koreans worked nearly the longest hours of any OECD country. To get this, South Koreans were only about thirds as productive as the average OECD worker that same year. As a result of working too hard, perhaps, South Koreans are the most sleep deprived of any OECD citizens. So in order to boost productivity this summer the city of Soule encouraged government workers, get this, to take a daily nap. Now in general workers from poorer countries using less fancy technology are generally less productive than workers in richer countries, so Asian workers have historically been less productive than Americans though the Gap is narrowing. Germans work 600 hours less every year than their Greek counterparts, for example, but German productivity is 70 percent higher. Now, Americans are truly exceptional in that we work long hours and still maintain relatively high productivity levels. So, Americans should take some time off to relax and recharge. It might even pay off in the workplace. The accounting firm Ernst and Young studied its own employees. It found that for every additional ten hours of vacation an employee took, the company saw an eight percent improvement in performance ratings.

And guess what, taking a vacation has trickle down effects. A study commissioned by the U.S. travel association shows that if Americans used all of their allotted time off, there would be an additional $160 billion in sales, not just in travel-related businesses but across several sectors. That would generate an additional $52 billion in earned income and 1.2 million additional jobs for the American economy. So if you are lucky enough to get paid vacation time, you should take it. All of it. Consider it your patriotic duty.

When we come back, why you probably haven't seen very many good movies this summer. I'll explain.


ZAKARIA: The summer of 2014 will go down in history as a miserable one for Hollywood. Ticket sales are down. Revenue is down considerably. The film business is at an inflection point, and I wanted to explore that with my next guest, Linda Obst, who knows Hollywood from the inside. But she is also one of its keenest observers.




ZAKARIA: She is the producer of such hits as "Sleepless in Seattle."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not wrong.


ZAKARIA: "Contact and the Fisher King."




ZAKARIA: She's also the author of a book about the industry's issues. It is called "Sleepless in Hollywood." And it's nearly out in paper back. Lynda Obst, pleasure to have you on.


ZAKARIA: So, I have to start by asking you about the biggest trend in movies as far as I'm concerned since I have an 11-year-old and six- year-old daughter which is "Frozen." "Frozen" is the biggest animated movie in history. Why?

OBST: It's a phenomenal movie. It's changed the paradigm of all animated movies, partly because it stars girls and it empowers girls. When I first came into the business I was told by the head of an animation company that all animated movies had to star boys. I was very sad because I had granddaughters. And this has obviously changed that. Then of course it's a great musical, but why "Frozen" is the hit that it is has everyone scrambling to try to create another.

ZAKARIA: But you point out that this is something new and big in movies, which is movies about and for women and young girls.

OBST: Girls. That's right. And when you think about it, that at the same time no female-driven movies are being made for the older girls and women, and yet the biggest blockbusters are being made for teens and young girls, you have to imagine what's going to happen to these young girls when they grow up and they expect female protagonists.

ZAKARIA: But for now what they're getting is a lot of these movies. And it all comes out of the "Twilight" stuff, right?

OBST: That's exactly right. "Twilight" was the first female franchise which came out of YA, young adult literature. And young adult literature attracted so much social media. "Twilight" was the first. Then there was ""The Hunger Games."" Then there was "Divergent" and then "The Fault in Our Stars." All of this came out of the YA phenomenon. Which is very intrinsically caught up with social media. These books have huge social media followings. ZAKARIA: But basically among girls.

OBST: Among girls, exactly. And they drive the sale of the movies.

ZAKARIA: And what are boys doing?

OBST: Boys are in video games. Boys are sometimes going to the movies but not in the droves they used to.

ZAKARIA: Is this part of a growing number of writers, directors, even executives in Hollywood who are women or is it unrelated?

OBST: I would love you tell you, Fareed, that that were true. There are executives who are women. There are producers who are women. And there are probably more writers, certainly in movies who are women, though not more female driven adult movies are being made. But there are not more directors for women. That is a catastrophically low number.

ZAKARIA: Now when we've talked in the past you've pointed out one of the big shifts has taken place in movie making is the rise of the global market.

OBST: Right.

ZAKARIA: And the need to focus on that market which has produced all of these action movies and sequels, things that you don't need a lot of English.

OBST: Exactly.

ZAKARIA: You don't need a lot of dialogue, you don't need a lot of character development. Has that trend continued in the way you described it a few years ago?

OBST: It has. And the key issue in the international as it's begun to break down isn't just the action sequences, it's pre-awareness. It's the ability for the international audience to be aware of the title of the movie. So obviously if ...

ZAKARIA: The cause if I remember what you told me the last time, it used to be possible to buy enough advertising in the United States to create awareness.

OBST: Exactly.

ZAKARIA: But when you're dealing with 40 countries, nobody has that kind of ad money.

OBST: Exactly. You can't take television advertising out all over the world, you just can't afford that. So, if you already know the titles, if it's "The Avengers," if it's "Batman," if it's "Spider- Man," then it's really easy to open. So, the hardest thing in the world is to open an original movie, which is what the crisis is, because we want to see original movies. On the one hand we hunger for freshness and originality and on the other hand it's so hard to open a movie if you don't know the title. So, that's one of the reasons that these YA books, which opened so huge domestic break through social media have a chance to work internationally. Because once they hit the $100 million mark domestically, then they automatically get an international opening with certain guarantees. With certain promotional guarantees internationally. Additionally, "Frozen," for example, is huge internationally. So there are certain universals that you can take for granted about girls around the world.

ZAKARIA: And you said comedy is back?

OBST: Yes, which is very exciting because last summer what worked as all the sequels were failing? The heat. Comedy worked. And the audience was just starving for something funny, and, of course, when the world is grim, you want to laugh.

ZAKARIA: So as long as Syria, Iraq, Ukraine ...


ZAKARIA: ... stay on the boil, we'll find the next Woody Allen somewhere?

OBST: It's very possible. Sad but true.

ZAKARIA: Lynda Obst, pleasure to have you on.

OBST: Oh, Fareed, it's wonderful to see you.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," can't afford a car? Well, one world capital may be saying good-bye to personally owned cars in just a decade. Stay with us, I'll tell you about it.


ZAKARIA: The OECD recently released a study that measured the financial literacy of 15-year-old students across 18 countries and economies. It brings me to my question. Which country got the highest mean score on the financial literacy test? Which country has the world's most financially savvy teenagers? Is it the United States, Belgium, China, or Estonia? Stay tuned. We'll tell you the correct answer. This week's book of the week is a repeat, one that I really like that you might have missed. "Mantle of Command" by Nigel Hamilton. It's a brilliant examination of the remarkable skills of Franklin Roosevelt during World War II. He was constantly overruling generals, firing them when they underperformed and keeping larger strategic issues at the center of his approach. It's a great book for anyone who wants to understand the nature of great leadership.

And now for the last look. Car ownership is part of the American dream, right? But it sure is expensive. According to the AAA, the average car owner in America shells out almost $9,000 per year for his or her vehicle. Well, in just a decade, citizens of one city may be taking a true last look at their own cars. The city of Helsinki has laid out an ambitious plan that it says could allow all inhabitants of the Finnish capital to go car free by 2025. Call it the Uberization of transportation. Helsinki intends to pursue a comprehensive point- to-point mobility system that will allow you to travel from point A to point B in the myriad ways. Bikes, trains, taxis, car pools, rental cars, driverless cars, buses, ferries, et cetera, all accessible in one integrated place. The hope is that it will be as convenient as having your own car and revolutionize city living. By that same year, 2025, 58 percent of the world's population will be living in cities and people who live in cities in developed countries generally use less energy than their rural counterparts, partly because of small living quarters, but also because urban dwellers tend to use public transportation, not cars. But if you've ever been to a city like Los Angeles or my hometown of Mumbai, you know that many cities still haven't caught on or are addicted to too many cars or don't have the infrastructure for great public transport systems. Anyone who has spent time sitting in traffic in these cities should be relieved to hear that one day there soon may be an app to solve that problem.

The correct answer to our GPS Challenge question was C. China has the most financially literate teens. Belgium and Estonia rounded out the top three. American teens were pretty much on par with the OECD average. So, not completely lacking behind, but mediocre. Overall, only one in ten students in all 18 countries was able to tackle the most difficult financial literacy tasks. As your teens start the school year spend a little time making sure that in addition to reading and math they are developing the skills necessary to make sound financial decisions. According to this study, we all have a lot of work to do. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.