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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Obama's Speech to Lay out ISIS Strategy; Cease-fire in Ukraine; Protests Rocking Pakistan; New Nutrition Standards: Sugar Is Worse Than Fat
Aired September 7, 2014 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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.
On today's show we'll tackle the two major crises that dominated the NATO summit. Russia and Ukraine. And ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Then to yet another crisis brewing. In Pakistan. Another civilian government is teetering on the brink. Will this former cricket star and his throngs of supporters topple the government and send the nuclear armed nation into turmoil again? I will ask two great experts.
And the number one killer in the world is not ISIS or the Taliban or al Qaeda, of course. It is heart disease. I will talk to CNN's Sanjay Gupta about why eating more of this and less of this might help you live longer.
But first here's my take. Watching the gruesome ISIS execution videos I felt some of the same emotions I did after 9/11. Barbarism after all is designed to provoke anger, and it's succeeded. But in September 2001 it also made me ask a question, why do they hate us?
I tried to answer it in an almost 7,000-word essay for "Newsweek" that struck accord with the readers. I reread the essay this week to see how it might need updating in the 13 years since I wrote it. I began the piece by noting that Islamic terror is not the isolated behavior of a handful of nihilists. There is a broader culture that has been complicit in it or at least unwilling to combat it.
Now things have changed on this front but not nearly enough. I also pointed out that we face not an Islam problem but an Arab problem. For example, in 2001 and 2002 Indonesia was on the top of people's worries because of a series of terror attacks there soon after 9/11, but over the last decade jihad and even Islamic fundamentalism has not done well in Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim country in the world, larger than Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya and all the Gulf states put together.
Well, look at India which is right next door to Ayman Zawahiri's headquarters and yet very few of India's more than 150 million Muslims are known members of al Qaeda. Zawahiri has announced a bold effort to recruit Indian Muslims, but I suspect it will not do too well. The central point of the essay was that the reason the Arab world
produces fanaticism and jihad is that it is a place of complete political stagnation. By 2001 when I was writing almost every part of the world had seen significant political progress. Eastern Europe was freed, Asia, Latin America and even Africa had held many free and fair elections but the Arab world remained a desert. In 2001 most Arabs had fewer freedoms, political, economic, social than they did in 1951.
The one aspect of life that Arab dictators could not ban, however, was religion. So Islam had become the language of political opposition to these secular regimes. The Arab world was then left with secular dictatorships on the one hand and deeply illiberal religious groups on the other. Hosni Mubarak and al Qaeda. The more extreme the regime the more violent was the opposition.
This cancer was deeper and more destructive than I realized. Despite the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and despite the Arab spring, the dynamic between dictators and jihadists has not broken. Look at Syria where until recently Bashar al-Assad was actually helping ISIS. How? By buying oil and gas from it and by shelling its opponents, the Free Syrian Army, when the two were in battle against each other.
You see, Assad was playing the old Arab dictator's game, giving his people a stark choice. It's either me or ISIS, he was saying, and many Syrians, the Christian minority, for example, have chosen him.
The greatest setback has been in Egypt where a nonviolent Islamist movement took power and then squandered its chance by overreaching. But not content to let the Muslim Brotherhood fare the polls, the military then displaced it by force, has moved back into power and Egypt is now a more brutal police state than it was under Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned, its members killed and jailed, the rest driven underground.
Let's just hope that 10 years from now we do not find ourselves discussing the causes of the rise of an ISIS in Egypt.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
We will go right to a great panel today. In London, Anne Applebaum is the foreign affairs columnist for the "Washington Post" and "Slate." Here in New York, Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Peter Beinart is a contributing editor at the "Atlantic" and a CNN political commentator, and Brett Stephens is the foreign affairs columnist for the "Wall Street Journal."
Brett, let me start with you. One of the fundamental questions with Obama's strategy with ISIS has been the question of whether he should be pressing the Iraqi government for political concessions that is creating more inclusive Iraqi government or just jumping in there.
You've been critical. You've said stop trying to get these political concessions. Just go in and start fighting.
BRETT STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, WALL STREET JOURNAL: These political concessions would be great to make. And there's no question that Maliki did a great deal to alienate the Sunni minority in Iraq, but stopping ISIS is a vital American interest so we might be able to imagine a constellation of good things that could come out of Iraq, reconstituted much more effective government that can hold its ground for the longer term.
But I think this president wasted two or three critical months between the taking of Mosul in June and then the beginning of airstrikes last month waiting for a new Iraqi government. That was time ill spent. We have to recognize that ISIS is a direct threat to the West, it's a direct threat to the United States and we can't hope for -- we can't make the best of the enemy of the good in dealing with this crisis.
ZAKARIA: Peter, is ISIS a direct threat to the United States?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's a direct threat right now. It could become one. It's important to remember that al Qaeda developed a very particular strategy for going after the West as a way, a backdoor to trying to overthrow the regimes like Mubaraks and the Saddam regimes that they felt like we're oppressing them.
ISIS so far, that has not been their strategy. Their strategy has been to try to gain control directly. That was entirely possible that ISIS could in fact move in that direction. But in fact, if you look at the foreign jihadi so far who have been most implicated in foreign threats coming out of Syria, for instance, they have been more connected to al-Nusra, which is al Qaeda's actual affiliate in part because al Qaeda itself still has more of an anti -- of an international agenda than ISIS does so far.
ZAKARIA: Ann in London, what is your sense of what came out of the NATO Summit with regard to a kind of common Western strategy?
ANNE APPLEBAUM, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Most people who have been watching it were either disappointed or somewhat bemused by what NATO did. Yes, there has been a creation of a coalition of the willing, but it's not really clear yet that there are European states that are willing to join it. Perhaps Britain, perhaps France.
You mentioned those images that have come out of the Middle East and how terrifying people find them and how much it reminds you of 9/11. The interesting thing here in London is that, you know, I don't remember ever seeing so much focus on dangerous images and the terrible videos and yet the kind of reaction we had in 9/11, which is that we must all stand together, we must support the United States, we must think what to do -- as common as a group.
I don't feel that at all this time. There's very much the sense that there's a conversation here about terrorism, domestic terrorism a little bit, a lot of it is about immigration, a lot of it is about the British Muslim problem. I don't feel a sense of common purpose at all.
ZAKARIA: And why -- quickly, Anne, why do you think that is? What explains that difference? APPLEBAUM: I think people don't feel that the United States has a
strategy. They don't see what it is. They don't see where it's going. There isn't something that is clear they can join, that has a chance of being successful. Partly that's a critique of the United States and partly it's a sense of, you know, our own failures over the past few years. You know, we were unable to make a change in Iraq. We were unable to do anything for Libya.
Why do we think we'd be able to help Syria either? There's a real lack of confidence here. And it's partly to do with American leadership but it's partly European as well.
ZAKARIA: Richard, 60 seconds to solve this. How to handle the Syria piece? Because we've focused on Iraq but even we get Iraq right, what do we do about ISIS in Syria?
RICHARD HAASS, FORMER POLICY PLANNING DIRECTOR, STATE DEPARTMENT: That's the exact place to begin. This border's irrelevant and our policy has to reflect that. The United States and the world needs to go after ISIS in Syria, not just, though, from the air. We need a ground partner in Syria. And we've got to get serious.
Either we've got to very quickly create a Pan-Arab force with real military capability, say, led by Jordan, or we've got to try to accelerate the building up of a Syrian opposition or we're going to have to find some accommodation with the Assad leadership. Those are our options since we've ruled out ourselves getting involved militarily on the ground but we've got to get regional because this is -- not just regional, I actually think it's a global threat to the United States.
We've got to take the -- you know, the policy to them. The president is going to speak about this Wednesday. I hope he articulates some policy which puts the United States on the offense against ISIS regardless of where the borders may fall.
ZAKARIA: In 15 seconds, what one thing do you want to see in the president's speech on Wednesday?
HAASS: What I want to see, a serious effort probably with the Jordanians to put a real Arab force on the ground and not just to remove ISIS. We then need to think about what comes after. In the funny sort of way, we're talking about an odd form of regime change. We've got to get rid of ISIS and we've got to think about nation building, a future Syria. What is the role of the Assad government? This is a big, big, big enterprise the United States is embarking on.
ZAKARIA: We will come back and we will talk about Ukraine, the supposed cease-fire, what is really going on. Stay with us.
ZAKARIA: We are back with Anne Applebaum in London and here in New York Richard Haass, Peter Beinart and Brett Stephens.
Anne, let me go to you on Ukraine. You say Russia is winning and that in the next few weeks Ukraine is likely to be dismembered. Explain what you mean.
APPLEBAUM: Russia is winning in that as we saw in Ukraine's last decision to try and organize a cease-fire, Russia is winning in that Ukraine has had to agree to the presence of Russian armed separatists inside its country. The Ukrainians have -- were trying to win the war against them. They were trying to push them out of the country and re-establish the sovereignty of Ukraine. It's now become clear that will not be possible because the Russians are willing to support those separatists with real troops and they're willing to take real casualties.
That means the Ukrainians are faced with a new kind of situation which is what will the borders of their country be, how will their country be defined, what will be -- and will there be Russians simply in those two provinces, in the south of the country, how far will it go? In that sense Russia has won this conflict so far.
ZAKARIA: Richard, a lot of -- some people, probably a minority, but people like Henry Kissinger have argued, look, Russia cares a lot more about Ukraine than the United States or frankly even Western Europe, and as a result this was inevitable, that we shall recognize that. We miscalculated the degree to which Putin cared about this and maybe -- we have to have some kind of negotiated solution with him.
HAASS: We do have to have some negotiated solution. Obviously, the question is the details. And it's the question about what is Ukraine's foreign policy orientation. What, if any, limits does Ukraine accept on itself vis-a-vis NATO or the European Union for a certain period of time, and then secondly what sort of arrangements is Ukraine willing to stomach -- there's no better word for it -- about internally about the dilution of its sovereignty in the east.
There's already a de facto acceptance in Crimea. The question is in the eastern reaches what else will the Ukrainian government be willing to live with and whether you can come up with an approach. Look, is this ideal? ? No. But, you know, Russia has a certain advantage on it. It's like, you know, we say in real estate, location, location, location. The Russians have the advantage of location and they have a greater local military force than this NATO.
And NATO, by the way, as we've seen the last two says is increasingly a rhetorical organization. It doesn't really have local military capability much less the will to get involved so it needs a policy that reflects that.
ZAKARIA: Brett, do you think that the West has to accept the situation as it is?
STEPHENS: No. I think, in fact, it's dangerous for the West to accept the situation as it is. Because I don't think Putin is going to stop here in Ukraine where we are at this very moment. I think he wants to create a land bridge to Crimea. I think we should take seriously his talk about being able to take Kiev in the next two weeks. And I don't -- I think if we accept this we are whetting his appetite for ventures in Kazakhstan, in the Baltics, other parts of the former Soviet Union. ZAKARIA: Which have large Russian minorities.
STEPHENS: Right. And we do have a vital -- America does have a vital stake in the credibility of the deeds we sign. Twenty years ago we signed something called the Budapest Memorandum in which we said that -- we arranged for Ukraine to return 2,000 nuclear weapons to Russia, the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, in exchange for guaranteeing those borders. And what's sad here is that we have walked away from that.
So what we have shown is that those promises are paper deeds and other countries should not allow America to handle their foreign policies.
BEINART: Yes, but I mean the problem is consistently there's this gap between what we want and what we're willing to do. We are not willing to put troops on the ground. Nobody is talking about putting U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine. The best -- the most aggressive thing to do would be to flood it with lots of weapons, but I don't even know, and military experts think that if even we sent the Ukrainians lots and lots of weapons they could still defeat the Russians in eastern Ukraine now that the Russian are all in.
I agree with Brett, that we should do everything we can to prevent Putin from trying to create a land bridge to Crimea. I think if Putin actually went to -- try to go all the way and take Kiev, that would be Russia's Afghanistan ultimately. That would be an incredibly stupid move ultimately for him to do because he will be having fighting the entire of U.K. in a massive insurgency.
But I think -- if given that the United States is not willing to send American troops, nobody wants to do that. Given that even if we were to send more weapons, which is a debatable proposition, we -- the Ukrainian military would still be too weak. We do not have the capacity to -- to make a Ukraine that is not going to have to come to some accommodation with Russia, tragic as it is.
ZAKARIA: Anne, what would you like to see the United States do? What did you think of what Obama said at the NATO Summit?
APPLEBAUM: What I would first of all like to see the United States do is really and truly reinforce NATO as it currently exists. Right now people in the Baltic states, in Poland and Romania, other parts of Eastern Europe are beginning to feel doubt about whether the NATO guarantee will be real.
As Brett mentioned, the Budapest Memorandum was violated. Nobody has paid the prize for that. It's clear there's no willingness to be involved in that part of the world, OK, we won't fight for Ukraine. Will we fight for Latvia? Will we fight for Lithuania? That's the most immediate question is, can that be done and how quickly.
NATO made some moves in that direction but I don't have the sense either from the rhetoric I heard or from anything that anybody who is there told me that there has been a real transformative moment that people really feel this is real and that there's a real challenge.
One of the things that Russia is doing right now is subtly and less subtly trying to undermine our sense of security, our sense that NATO is real, that its guarantees are real. And unless we show -- unless we show that immediately, then, yes, I think we're inviting further incursions not only to Kiev but beyond.
ZAKARIA: Very quickly, Richard. Your last book was "Foreign Policy Begins at Home." Are we now in a situation where the foreign challenges have become much more important and overwhelming?
HAASS: Foreign policy may begin at home. It doesn't end at home. And what the president needs to do is recognize that the world is getting messier. I think the time has come to increase U.S. defense spending and to look at how we use now our energy abundance into a tool just to strategically take on Russia.
ZAKARIA: We're going to have to leave it at that.
When we come back, some potential good news and it's actually coming out of Washington. Believe it or not, it's true. I will fill you in when we get back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. I'm always on the lookout for good news, and we have some important good news this week and it's actually coming out of Washington, D.C., despite all the polarization. Of course, true to form, the two parties disagree about this piece of news.
So what is it? Well, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently released its semi-annual outlook of the U.S. economy over the next decade. The CBO's headline is that things are going better than expected. We are firmly in an economic recovery with substantially lower federal deficits, lower interest rates and I would add little danger of inflation.
The CBO says that the federal deficit, the gap between revenues and spending, is projected to be $506 billion in 2014. That's just 2.9 percent of GDP, slightly lower than the average shortfall over the last four decades. Keep in mind that in 2009 the federal deficit was 9.8 percent of GDP. The current number is much better than most believed was possible just a few years ago.
Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman argues that the debt and budget crisis were imaginary and have fizzled. He says the new CBO projections are further proof that the debt apocalypse has been called off.
Given the aging population, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio will increase after the next decade, Krugman says, but he notes that health care costs, which play by far the largest role in doomsday budget scenarios, have slowed dramatically. In 2019 the CBO projects that the federal government will spend $95 billion less on Medicare than it had anticipated spending on the program just four years ago. The "New York Times'" Upshot blog points out that $95 billion is more
than the government will spend that year on welfare, unemployment insurance, and Amtrak combined.
Sounds great, right?
OK. Let's check out the view from the worrywarts. The long view, they say, is not so promising. Federal spending on entitlement programs they argue are unsustainable. The federal debt, the debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP, will reach 74 percent by the end of the fiscal year. That's about twice what it was at the end of 2007 when the federal debt was just 35 percent of GDP. And that number is projected to be more than 100 percent of GDP in 25 years.
According to the CBO, that is a level seen only once before in U.S. history just after World War II. Rob Portman, a Republican senator from Ohio, warns that the retirement of 77 million baby boomers will create an entitlement meltdown. By 2030 he says there will be only two workers to support each retiree, whereas there were five workers to support each retiree in 1960.
What's more, 85 percent of future deficit increases between now and 2024 will be driven by three things, interest payments on federal debt, Social Security, and spending on health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Given that projection, discretionary spending, which includes defense, housing assistance, infrastructure, education would be whittled down to 5.2 percent of GDP by 2024. That would mean massive cuts in all these programs.
Keep in mind that such spending accounted for 6.8 percent of GDP in 2014 and has averaged about 8.3 percent over the last 40 years according to the CBO. So, we're already way down. We can't keep cutting the programs that will ensure our future prosperity. Now my final piece of good news. It wouldn't take all that much to fix the situation. The CBO estimates that the U.S. could stabilize the debt to GDP ratio by finding tax increases or spending cuts equivalent to just 1.2 percent of GDP. So how about a compromise that does both at 0.6 percent of GDP each? The bad news, of course, is that even this modest common-sensical solution is going to go nowhere in Washington, for now at least.
Next up, back to some bad news. Pakistan may be on the brink again. I will tell you what's going on and why you need to know it.
ZAKARIA: Protests like these have rocked Pakistan over the last three weeks. A rallying cause for this angry mob is opposition to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The protesters who have been camping outside the nation's parliament in Islamabad want Sharif to go. Sharif says he's not going anywhere. The key player to keep an eye on, of course, is the all-powerful military that wields the real power in that country. Whom do they support? And how unstable will things get in this nuclear nation? Let's see if we can get some answers. We have got terrific guests. Husain Haqqani is Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States and Peter Bergen is director of the National Security Studies program at the New America Foundation and also CNN's national security analyst. Peter, let me start with you. Paint the scene for us. What exactly is going on in Pakistan?
PETER BERGEN, DIRECTOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM, NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: Well, I mean, we've seen this movie before sometimes, Fareed, where we've seen massive street protests and the most recent big example of that was in 2007 when essentially a lawyers' movement allied with popular support eventually unseated General Musharraf. I don't think we are seeing something quite on that scale here, but we are certainly seeing something that is indicative of how weakened the democratic institutions of Pakistan have become.
ZAKARIA: Husain, take us behind the scenes. What is - what is going on here? What kind of a power play are we watching?
HUSAIN HAQQANI, FORMER PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Fareed, we must understand that these protests and the turmoil they have generated is just the symptom of a deeper, deeper disease. The disease is that Pakistan's military has ruled Pakistan for more than half its life as an independent country. And on the other half when civilians are allowed to govern, the military wants control of foreign policy and security policy. Right now the military is also upset with Prime Minister Sharif because he's trying to put on trial a former military chief and a coup maker General Pervez Musharraf. So, the possibility of the military orchestrating these protests cannot be ruled out.
ZAKARIA: And what seems to be happening, Peter, is that the Pakistani military following Husain's line of argument, the Pakistani military is upset with Nawaz Sharif because he wants to put Musharraf on trial. He's trying to make peace with India or at least improve relations with India. This was what he was trying to do the last time he was prime minister which was when he was ousted in a military coup by none other than Pervez Musharraf. So, this is a strange story, you know, of what goes around comes around.
BERGEN: Yes. But I think Pakistan has changed. I mean - and I think the Pakistani army has changed. I agree with everything that Ambassador Haqqani has said, but I think the appetite for a coup in the army is very, very low. There's one other issue, Fareed that in the laundry list of kind of disputes between the military and the civilian government, which I think is important, is the fact that the military for the first time in its history has taken a much more enthusiastic role in fighting the Taliban in the tribal areas of Pakistan, something the U.S. has been demanding for a long time. And it's actually happening. And ironically, it's the civilian government, the Nawaz Sharif government that has sort of been a bit on the fence on this issue. So there are multiple points where the government - the military government - the military and the civilian government are in conflict, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are about to launch a coup.
ZAKARIA: Peter, into this mix has entered Ayman Zawahiri, coup - the head of al Qaeda, who now says he is going to try to open a chapter or a franchise, or however one puts it on the Indian subcontinent. What do you - what does all of this mean? Why is Zawahiri doing this? BERGEN: Fareed, I think it's bloviation, hyperventilation. The idea
that, you know, Zawahiri is going to open a branch of al Qaeda in India is just crazy. I mean yes, there are some Jihadi elements in India, but there's no evidence that al Qaeda - al Qaeda has a presence in India. And really, it's an attempt by Zawahiri to have people like us discuss him because he's been out of the limelight for so long. It's all been about ISIS in Iraq and Syria. And al Qaeda is very conscious that they're yesterday's story. And if you look at the tape that they showed of Zawahiri, it's so boring. It's him talking on a monolog that goes on for more than half an hour. And then you look at what ISIS is doing on video, which is very exciting, well-edited with music. And you know, you can see why this is - ISIS is a much more appealing media strategy apart from the fact that also they're being much more successful than al Qaeda has ever been in its history, in terms of getting territory, money, fighters, and actually establishing a large foothold in the Middle East.
ZAKARIA: Husain, what about this issue of what happens once American troops draw down? Because as that happens, the Taliban is clearly going to make some kind of play for power in Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban, and historically they have been supported by the Pakistani military. Do you believe that will happen again?
HAQQANI: Whether the Pakistani military supports them or not, the fact remains that the Pakistani military has not done anything so far to stop the Taliban, Afghan Taliban, from remaining a significant factor in Afghanistan so when the Taliban do make a play, Pakistan will definitely be drawn in in it. Unlikely that Pakistan will clamp down on the Afghan Taliban. In fact, I think that Zawahari's attempt to talk about India is essentially to try and get the hard line elements among Pakistani Jihadis and even within the Pakistani intelligence service to think about al Qaeda as a potential ally. That's his play. I don't think he will get much traction, but basically what he's trying to do is to appeal to the anti-Indian sentiment that is present in Pakistan on any given day and hoping to get recruits for his cause. So, I think we will see problems in Afghanistan and we will continue to see problems in Pakistan. I just wish that the Sharif government would have been able to reach out to India, to make peace with it, and at the same time to try and get Pakistan out of Afghanistan. Because the best future for Afghanistan would be one that the Afghans determine without the meddling of Pakistan or of other foreign activists including al Qaeda. So, I think we are not looking to a very positive future in that region.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating insights. Very complicated subject. Thank you, gentlemen, both.
Up next, how to keep yourself alive. Is bread the stuff of live and should you put butter on it? The new low down on what you should be eating with Sanjay Gupta.
ZAKARIA: "Time" magazine told us to eat butter, lots of it. "The New York Times" magazine asked if sugar was toxic, and this week a new study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health came out that reinforces other studies. It suggests that eating a low carb diet is more effective, not just for weight loss, but also for reducing your risk of heart disease. I decided I needed someone to help me and you by proxy sort through all these claims and counterclaims, somebody who's a real expert. Luckily CNN's Sanjay Gupta is the world's best.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on.
GUPTA: Quite a compliment. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: So, tell me, how to think about it. For 20 years people have been assuming that fat was the enemy because it produced cholesterol, which was blocking arteries. That's not quite right.
GUPTA: I could talk about this all day long because I think it highlights very important things in terms of how we sometimes misinterpret science or at least overexaggerate it. It was in the late '70s, in fact, there was a Senate commission, Senator McGovern who actually looked at this issue and found that people who had very high levels of cholesterol tended to die early of heart disease. And there was also other study that showed if you ate a diet high in fat it raised your cholesterol. But those were two different studies. And they got really, really linked not only by the Senate, but also in the scientific community and then by everybody else. And what happened over the last 30 years, it got codified. It became the way that we eat low fat in this country and nothing changed. In fact, things got worse. Cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer of men and women. Diabetes rates are higher than ever before. Childhood obesity. So, it didn't work. And I think that's what sort of prompted all of this analysis. I think there's two issues here, Fareed. One is that fat doesn't get a free pass here. It's - there's still some problems, it still raises cholesterol levels. That is associated with heart disease.
The problem is that what we replaced fat with was sugar and sugar may be more problematic in some ways for someone who's worried about heart disease than fat. If I put a double cheese burger here and a big, sugary drink, and I asked anybody which of these do you think is worse for your heart, even a child would probably say the cheeseburger. And almost always they would be wrong. It's the sugary drink that gets converted into that bad cholesterol in our body.
ZAKARIA: But as you said, the crucial thing to understand, is it's not that fat is good for you, it's that if you replace fat with sugar, it's worse for you.
GUPTA: That's right.
ZAKARIA: Right? Why is sugar so bad? Is there a simple way to explain that?
GUPTA: Here's the simple way. Is that humans weren't designed to eat this much sugar. We used to get sugar once a year when fruit fell from the trees. Even honey was protected by the bees. How much fruit could you really eat? How many you can? Ten oranges? That's enough. Now we eat 140 pounds roughly a year on average. Our bodies simply did not evolve to be able to handle that. So it hits the liver, liver says, I don't know what to do with all of this sugar so it starts to metabolize it in unusual ways and it gets turned into what are known as low density lipoprotein particles. That's the worst kind of cholesterol.
ZAKARIA: And for the body, a slice of white bread and a packet of sugar are essentially indistinguishable. The body receives them as the same. White bread, those kind of carbohydrates for the body are sugar.
GUPTA: It gets turned into sugar just the same way. Maybe a little bit of a time delay so to speak. But you can trace the sugar, whether it be in that bread or a packet of sugar, and you can find those same particles in those cholesterol particles later on.
ZAKARIA: I know I've read you right about how you're actually experimenting with some - with a vegan diet.
ZAKARIA: Now explain why you think that that's - you know, what are the benefits there? What is it even about dairy and things like that that worry you?
GUPTA: I still worry about- I have a history of heart disease in my family. A lot of people do. So, this is sort of this quest for optimization. I want to try and reduce my risk factors as much as possible. We know for people who have a history of heart disease, and by incidentally, South Asians in particular, that they're more at risk of developing these particularly bad cholesterol particles in their body and causing heart disease. Causing damage to the blood vessels in the heart. Fat, dairy, meat, those things still lead to that sort of problem. So, I - we keep sort of simple policy in our house. I still need to eat some meat. I grew up on it. But we just don't keep it in the house anymore. If I go out to eat, for example, I may order it off the menu. But I've greatly curtailed it in the home by not keeping it there.
ZAKARIA: So, your house is essentially vegetarian?
GUPTA: House is essentially vegetarian? Because my wife, my kids, everybody. And, you know, we don't really miss it after a while.
ZAKARIA: If you look at health magazines, men's magazines, women's magazines, they're all about power foods. There is always - there is - you know, and I realize this is all gimmicky. But is there any such thing - I mean is it true that if you had blueberries all the time you'd be better off than if you had strawberries?
GUPTA: I think there are some foods that do belong in those super foods category. I mean the foods that, you know, either diminish some of the damage that you've already done to your body, or help you optimize an already pretty healthy body. You bring up blueberries. That's actually one of my favorites. Because I think in addition to having these antioxidants, it can reduce your risk of certain cancers, including colon cancer, reduce your risk of certain vascular disease and it's a pretty - and it tastes good. It's an easy thing to eat. I think that has got to be part of the equation as well. So, there are certain foods like that. What I will say is that this whole notion, Fareed, of trying to take the good stuff, if you will, out of food and put it in a pill form I believe was very benevolent in its origin. People wanted to do the right thing. It's nearly impossible to do.
ZAKARIA: You have got to actually eat the food?
GUPTA: We've got to eat - because there's all this other stuff. There's all the micronutrients. We don't even know what they all do. They may help transport the good things in your body, they may help open up receptors in your body that allow the good stuff to get in. We don't even know. But we know it's not nearly as effective. And when I say not nearly is effective it might be ten percent effective, five percent as effective, so minuscule compared to the food itself.
ZAKARIA: A lot of your other -- the things you write about seem like, you know, very good, common sense. There's one that struck me that I wouldn't have guessed that. The minute you get up you drink a glass of water. Why?
GUPTA: Yes. Well, I'll tell you what. This is something I adopted recently and it makes a difference. Common sense tells you that you've been sleeping now for six, seven, hopefully eight hours and you haven't had anything to drink. Your brain is 75 percent water, so you really need to sort of replenish your hydration supply and you need to do it first thing in the morning because it's very impossible to catch up, very difficult to catch up if you haven't actually started to hydrate first thing. And it starts to me just a few minutes after I wake up. I'm drinking maybe sometimes 16 ounces of water. I just keep a jug in the bathroom, I sort of drink it while I'm getting ready. And it works really well for me. I have a lot of energy by the time I walk out the door.
ZAKARIA: All right. So, it's not an apple a day, but water a day.
GUPTA: An apple a day is still her. Fareed, still here. (INAUDIBLE)
ZAKARIA: Sanjay Gupta. Thank you so much.
GUPTA: An honor to be here. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Up next, diplomats hashing out their disagreements with hashtags. A glimpse into diplomacy that used to take place behind closed doors.
ZAKARIA: The World Economic Forum's latest global competitiveness report was published this week. It brings me to my question, what country or economy ranked number one in overall global competitiveness? Is it Singapore? Switzerland? The United States? Or China? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is "The Intel Trinity" by Michael Malone. In the beginning when there were just orange groves in Silicon Valley, there was one tech company, Fairchild Semiconductor. Fairchild then spawned Intel and almost 50 other companies. This is a fascinating look at the three people who are in some sense the godfathers of the tech industry, the original tech industries. It's the history of one company that really of much, much more.
And now for the last look. The NATO summit has just ended, but the next big meeting is around the corner. In November the G-20 will meet in Brisbane, Australia. And reports surfaced this week that the host country hoped to block Russian President Vladimir Putin from attending the summit. In response the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted "The Australian foreign minister's idea not to invite Russia to the G-20 summit is not surprising, but he should not lose sight of its principles." There was just one problem with this tweet, that he the Russians were referring to is actually a she, Julie Bishop is the Aussie foreign minister. Tweeting in response to Russia Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt was quick to point out what he called a fairly basic mistake, then Australia's ambassador to Russia chimed in, as well, tweeting, "Borders, genders, all a bit confusing right now." The Russians replied they meant it, not he, but added another zinger. "Some foreign ministers' accounts in turn are famous for constant misleading. Wonder who they were fingering? This wasn't the only recent Twitter spat for the Russians. Last week Canada's mission to NATO tweeted this helpful map which went viral. Russia's mission responded with a geography lesson of its own for the Canadians. Diplomacy used to be conducted behind closed doors and much of it still is, but now in addition to good negotiating skills, diplomats need to be able to send messages to the world in 140 characters or less.
The correct answer to our GPS challenge question was, B. Switzerland is the World Economic Forum's most competitive nation for the sixth year in a row. Over the last year the United States has made progress moving from fifth place to third place. Last place goes to the African nation of Guinea. Overall the study warned about the uneven face of change around the world. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.