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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Middle East Terror and Retaliation; New Cold War with Russia? Understanding Putin
Aired February 8, 2015 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN 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.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, the two major threats that flared up this week. First ISIS. President Obama called it a brutal, vicious death cult. The terror group horrified the world this week with its gruesome murder of a Jordanian pilot. And now ISIS has made a new claim, that Jordanian airstrikes killed a young American woman being held hostage. True or not, the aid worker has become the latest tool of ISIS propaganda.
Is it winning the war or losing it?
Then escalations in Ukraine. Where the death toll has ticked over 5,000.
Is all-out war in the offing or is a peace plan possible?
Also I'll tell you the best thing in President Obama's budget proposal. Something that would likely make money for taxpayers.
And finally, all over the world, leaders now wear a pretty standard dress, almost a uniform, except for one guy.
Will he conform?
ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. Once again an ISIS murder leads to fears that it is winning and calls to do more. FOX News' Bret Baier captured the mood like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Horrific and barbaric, as well as calculating and skilled at high-tech propaganda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: The general feeling is that ISIS is gaining ground with its diabolical methods. But is it really? The video of the pilot's killing was slickly produced, but it might have been a fancy cover to mask an operation that had gone awry. Remember, it began as a moneymaking scheme to get a ransom for Japanese hostages, then turned into a hostage swap for a forgotten failed suicide bomber, and finally ended with the emulation of the Jordanian pilot.
Certainly ISIS could not have imagined the response its actions have triggered in the Middle East. With Jordanians united against it, clerics across the region loudly and unequivocally condemning the emulation and with Japan ready to provide more aid and support against it. Meanwhile news on the battlefield has not been good for ISIS. Brookings Institution scholar Kenneth Pollock describes this stunning reversal it has faced in Iraq.
"The Washington Post" has reported on the growing discontent within its territories. All this might help explain the brutality of the latest murder video. The group well understands that the primary purpose of terrorism is to induce fear and overreaction. When modern Middle Eastern terrorism first appeared on the scene in the 1960s and '70s, the historian David Fromkin wrote an essay in "Foreign Affairs" that is perhaps the best guide to understanding this phenomenon.
Fromkin provided two examples of terror tactics that worked and have important lessons. He recounted a meeting in 1945 with the leader of the Irgun, a group of about 1,500 Jewish militants in Palestine, which was then part of the British empire. The Irgun knew that they could not defeat the mighty British Army so they decided to blow up buildings and create the appearance of chaos.
This, the Irgun leader told Fromkin, would lead the British to overreact by garrisoning the country, join forces from across the empire, and that would strain British coffers and eventually London would have to leave Palestine. Fromkin noted that the Irguns, seeing that it was too small to defeat Great Britain, decided as an alternative approach that Britain was big enough to defeat itself.
ISIS' strategy is surely some version of this. The targeting of America and its allies. The videos, the barbarism are all designed to draw Washington into a ground battle in Syria, in the hope that this complicated, bloody and protracted war would sap the super power's strength.
Fromkin offered another example, the National Liberation Front, the group of nationalists trying to break Algeria free from France in the 1950s and '60s. The Paris government argued that Algeria was not a colony but part of France, with all of its citizens treated as French men and women. So the FLN began a campaign of terror in order to provoke an overreaction from the French government, getting them to regard all Muslim and Algerians as suspects.
Quote, "The French thought that when the FLN planted a bomb in a public bus, it was in order to blow up the bus," Fromkin noted. But the FLN's true aim was to lure authorities into reacting by arresting all the non-Europeans in the area as suspects.
The many recent acts of terror committed in Europe can't be said to have a strategy but they could make European governments and people treat all Muslims in Europe as suspicious and dangerous, and then the terrorists will have achieved an important goal.
Now these things do not have to happen. Fromkin concluded his essay by noting that, though terrorism cannot always be prevented, it can always be defeated.
You can always refuse to do what they want you to do.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week.
And let's get started.
You've heard my take. Let's dig deeper into the latest news about the Jordanian airstrikes, Arab reaction and more. Joining me from Washington, D.C. is Marwan Muasher, former deputy prime minister of Jordan, and the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In Paris we have Fawaz Gerges, who teaches Middle East studies at the London School of Economics.
And here with me in New York is Rula Jebreal, an Israeli-Arab journalist who has worked as an anchorwoman in both Egypt and Italy.
Thank you all.
Fawaz, let me start with you. You've seen the Jordanian pilot emulation, the reaction to it, the Jordanian strikes, what is the state of ISIS after all of this?
FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: You know, Fareed, ISIS savagery should not blind us to the fact that ISIS is self-destructive. ISIS is strangling itself. ISIS is pitting itself against the Muslim mainstream, Muslim public opinion and Arab public opinion. There is really shock and outrage throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
I would argue that ISIS is digging its own grave. And the reality is, this is where you want ISIS to be. You want it to be pitted against Arab and Muslim public opinion. This is how ISIS should be defeated, from within, by Arab and Muslim public opinion because even if you defeat ISIS militarily you have to deconstruct, dismantle the ideology, which insidious and which has done a great deal of damage, in particular to Arab and Muslim society.
Fareed, I know the debate in the United States, it's all about Westerners and it should be, but ISIS represents a fundamental challenge to Arab and Muslim societies, not to American and Western societies.
ZAKARIA: Marwan, when you listen to this, do you think that this -- these events of the last week have made it easier for the Jordanian government to be more aggressive? Will we see a change not just in Jordan but in other countries?
MARWAN MUASHER, FORMER DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF JORDAN: Certainly the unity that took place among Jordanian society is unprecedented for some time. If ISIS wanted to galvanize public support against the government they miserably failed to do so. I also agree with Fawaz that what they have shown is their true colors. You know, no sane human being, let alone Muslim, would accept somebody to be burned alive and filmed on TV.
So this has given both the government and the king, of course, a strengthened hand in dealing with ISIS militarily. I would argue that in addition to the military strike we badly need today intellectual leaders, religious leaders to start openly and proactively talking about a pluralistic society, a diverse society, an inclusionist society, because that is the only way you can defeat ISIS in addition to, you know, the military campaign.
ZAKARIA: Rula, when you hear Marwan Muasher say that, that we need to -- is to paint a positive vision that is more pluralistic, more open, you wrote a terrific piece in Salon pointing out that while we are battling ISIS, we are also strongly supporting somebody like President Sisi of Egypt because he fights Islamic terrorism but he does not really represent pluralism right now. He's been jailing people left, right, and center.
RULA JEBREAL, JOURNALIST AND WRITER: I think, Fareed, you're right about this. We need to think beyond terror and tyrant. And create a vision for society where there is inclusion. I mean, a lack of inclusion of moderate Muslims will open the space for them to be exploited by extremists. So when you view Sisi or Mubarak before him, and other autocrat, as an answer to tyrant, you have to think that these same regimes who gave you political Islam would say it's caught up in the '60s.
Ayman Zawahiri actually is a product of Egypt's oppression regimes of Mubarak. But let's remember the guy that built Al Qaeda in Iraq, he's a Jordanian man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who fought -- Shiites in Iraq but also sent people to blow up themselves in Jordan nine years ago. We need to think on how to -- you know, decimate extremists and extremists is not only ISIS. It's also al Qaeda, it's also Jabhat al- Nusra, al-Nusra Front.
So how do you dry up this? We need consensus and inclusion in this space, but also we need this war between Shiites and Sunnis to end. We need Iran and Saudi Arabia to come to terms and eventually reach some kind of an agreement that end up these extremists.
MUASHER: We need to come face-to-face with this fact that from now on if we want stability and prosperity in the Arab world, we have a responsibility to start pushing for more inclusionist, pluralistic and diverse societies. That hits at the core of, you know, presenting a counter ideology to what ISIS has been saying. Again, ISIS' predecessor, Zarqawi and his group, were defeated in 2007 in Iraq.
Only to come back because we only dealt with the military aspect and we forgot to look at the political and the social aspect as well.
ZAKARIA: When we come back, we're going to talk more about Islamic terrorism but I will also ask the panel what they thought of President Obama's recent remarks at a prayer breakfast about Christianity and Islam. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Marwan Muasher, Fawaz Gerges, and Rula Jebreal.
Fawaz, let me ask you how the president's remarks struck you. Very simple recap, the president said we shouldn't get on our high horse when we think about Islam and terrorism. There were a lot of bad things that were done in the name of Christianity, the inquisitions, slavery was sometimes justified that way.
Now you are a scholar of the Middle East, Fawaz, but you are also a Christian. And I wondered just how this whole issue struck you.
GERGES: Well, Fareed, Obama got it right. ISIS are the crusaders or today's crusaders. They are slaughtering in the name of religion. They have a twisted interpretation of the faith. And like the Crusaders, as you know, Fareed, the Crusaders did not killed Muslims, they killed Jews, the killed Eastern Christians. And ISIS will keep focusing on the few Western victims.
Remember the overwhelming number of victims are Muslims. Not just even minority, Shiites, or Yazidis and Christians. Sunnis. In fact ISIS has slaughtered thousands of Sunni citizens and Iraqis. But the question is, I mean, the Crusaders and ISIS, the reality is, ISIS has to be deconstructed.
These twisted interpretations of the faith must be faced on and only, and again, Fareed, only Arabs and Muslims can deconstruct this particular twisted interpretation of the faith. And the reality is this is an internal war. This is a civil war within the Islamic -- Islamic world. This is not about Islam and the West, this is about the identity of the state in the Muslim world and the Islamic world is raging in multiple places, in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, in Yemen and other places as well.
ZAKARIA: Rula, you wrote a piece in which you talked about how Europe has a lot to learn from the United States in dealing with this phenomenon of Islamic radicalism. You were an anchorwoman in Italy for many years. Explain what you mean.
JEBREAL: Well, very simple. The reaction to extremism, whether it's al Qaeda, ISIS and others, triggered in us -- obviously it's designed to induce fear and it's designed to push for overreaction. So there's two things I think we learned after 13 years of war on terror. One, that invasions, Western invasions alone did not work. So less invasions, I said, and more integration.
You have 20 million Muslims living in Europe today. Europe stripped its Muslim citizens from a sense of belonging and that makes them an easy target for radicalization.
But also, if I may, Fareed, we need to address the ideology of Saudi Arabia. We can't have partners fighting with us while they are spreading their ideology that al Qaeda and ISIS share. That's why in Raqqa, the headquarter of ISIS, they are distributing textbooks that are Saudi textbooks. They share the same ideology. We need to address that issue. Political reform and economic reform.
ZAKARIA: Marwan, what about that? Fawaz Gerges says this has to be an Arab debate and the Arabs have to purge this ideology. But as Rula points out you have, you know, Arab countries that still have very -- reactionary interpretations of Islam, very puritanical interpretations that they have exported. Is that changing when you look at -- you know, it's one thing to oppose jihadi terrorist groups but -- are Arabs taking on these very puritanical reactionary views of their religion which exclude nonbelievers, which exclude foreigners and which in a sense encourage a certain kind of militants?
MUASHER: Fareed, we have two huge wakeup calls in the Arab world in the last few years. One in 2011 was the Arab uprisings, brought because of a sense that people were marginalized, excluded, not participants in the decision-making process. And two, in ISIS, a radical, barbaric, violent ideology that is trying to speak on behalf of Arabs and Muslims when it has nothing to do with them.
These are huge wakeup calls that we all need to -- you know, both governments and the general public, need to internalize the lessons from. Any time we talk exclusionist policies, this is going to be the result. And the Arab world does have a responsibility. We cannot escape the fact and we cannot not acknowledge that from now on building a, you know, stable and permanently stable and prosperous Arab society is going to take a lot more than military strikes.
And just because it takes a lot more time does not mean we cannot and shouldn't start now. That is the lesson that I hope the Arab world is going to internalize. Is it being internalized? I'm afraid with the exception of Tunisia, we have not seen any signs of that yet.
ZAKARIA: On that sober note, Marwan Muasher, Fawaz Gerges, Rula Jebreal, thank you so much.
Up next, a person's brain is never more dynamic than during its earliest years. So which countries are the best at educating preschoolers? You will be surprised.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment.
President Obama's 2016 budget has Washington buzzing this week. But whatever you think of most of it, there's one proposal in there that is important, even urgent. Preschool education for every 4-year-old in America from poor and moderate income families. Why? Well, preschool is the crucial time to have an impact on a child's mental development.
A National Research Council report notes, "From the time of conception to the first day of kindergarten, a person's development proceeds at a pace exceeding that of any subsequent stage of life. Before age six, the brain roughly quadruples in weight," according to a study by the University of Manchester, and reaches about 90 percent of its adult size. Seven hundred new neural connections are formed every second in the
first years of life, according to experts at Harvard who also point out that the brain is most flexible early in life, and that its capacity for change decreases with age.
Unfortunately, the U.S. is way behind other countries when it comes to educating our youngest brains.
Only 38 percent of American 3-year-olds are enrolled in some kind of preschool according to OECD. That ranks the United States 32 out of the 39 mostly affluent countries in the study. Trailing nations like Chile and Colombia. Belgium and France enroll nearly all of their 3- year-olds.
American 4-year-olds don't fare much better, with 66 percent enrollment compared to the OECD average of 84 percent. That rate also ranks 32nd out of 39. Meanwhile China is educating children for three whole years before primary school, their government says, and growing their preschools at a blistering pace.
In 2010, China had 57 percent enrolled, they say. But in 2013 they had already reached 68 percent and they expect to hit 75 percent in 2016.
Of course not all early education programs are equal.
But done right, preschool can have a profound effect on people's lives.
This week "The Washington Post" cited the famous Perry Preschool Project. In 1962, researchers identified a group of 123 at-risk African-American children in Michigan. Giving about half of them access to preschool while the other half did not have access. They followed their subjects for four decades. And what they found was remarkable.
Seventy-seven percent of the people who went to preschool had graduated from high school compared to only 60 percent who had not gone to preschool. Those who went to preschool had a median annual income that was over $5,000 higher than the non-preschoolers. And while 36 percent of the preschool graduates had been arrested more than five times, 55 percent of the non-preschool graduates had been arrested more than five times.
All told, the roughly $15,000 investment per child yielded a total public savings of almost $200,000 thanks to the money not spent on welfare programs, jail, and other costs, according to the study.
Oh, and in addition, preschool would help social mobility, decrease inequality and make better use of the human talent of so many Americans. Not a bad bargain.
A quick programming note of sorts. Many of you have asked us how you could watch a "GPS" special called "Moon Shots for the 21st Century," that was supposed to air around the New Year. Well, as of today it's available on CNN go. Viewers in the U.S. can just point their browser to CNN.com/go or check it out on the CNN iPad app by clicking the "Go Live" button.
If you're not able to watch it that way mark your calendar for March 22nd --
That's when we intend to air it right here on CNN in our regular timeslot.
Next on "GPS," the other major crisis in the world. Ukraine, are we on the brink of war?
ZAKARIA: The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has already left more than 5,000 dead and 12,000 wounded, according to numbers from the United Nations this week. And this doesn't get at the creeping danger of a new Cold war between East and West. Why has it been so hard to end this tussle? What are the prospects for a genuine and lasting accommodation between Moscow and Kiev? To help answer these questions, joining me now are Bill Browder, once the largest foreign investor in Russia, he's the author of the new book called "Red Notice", a non-fictional thriller about his experience in Russia. Stephen Cohen is a Russia scholar and professor emeritus at both Princeton and NYU. Chrystia Freeland, a former top editor at the FTN Reuters is now a member of parliament in Canada. And Stephen Sestanovish has worked on Russian and Soviet issues at the highest levels of government, academia and in think tanks. So, Steve, as the dispassionate think tanker here looking at really at the, you know, from the point of your - geopolitics, why is this problem getting worse, not better?
STEPHEN SESTANOVICH, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Putin has no reason to stop that can - that has persuaded him. He has - he made a decision last year that his success in Crimea was so incredible, created such a nationalist sensation in Russia that he was going to try for more. Putin has only benefited from it at home except for the blowback, the diplomatic isolation, the economic costs. He faces a difficult situation because in many ways this policy has played out very badly for him internationally. But domestically, not so much.
ZAKARIA: Steve, when it all happened, and we were talking, you did predict that Putin, that this is core to Putin and to Russia. And you see it, I assume, somewhat differently in the sense that you see this as essentially a kind of core Russian national security interest.
STEPHEN COHEN, SENIOR FELLOW BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, the other Steve and I fundamentally disagree. First of all, let's say where the it is, where we are at now. We are in a new Cold War, the crypt is crypt, we may be approaching a war with Russia, Ukraine is in ruins East and West. Europe is split, this probably will last, it may be a fracture in the Transatlantic Alliance. I think - and I speak as a historian and somebody who has followed this for years because it began a while ago. Putin did not initiate this crisis, he did not want it. It's bad for him, contrary to Steve, and he wants it ended. But he's not going to end it on terms of capitulation. The argument that if we arm Kiev and that train we have led the station, there is a lot of movement in that direction, will only make things worse. There is a way out. But the only people at a statesmen level who seem interested in exploring that way out are President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel and they are not very strong. The war parties in Washington, Kiev and NATO are now running this and we literally may be heading, as I told you in February, I think, to an a Cuban missile crisis-like confrontation with Russia.
ZAKARIA: Chrystia, you have a long piece in "Prospect" magazine, the time is, what does Putin want? So, what's the answer? What does he want?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, MEMBER OF THE CANADIAN PARLIAMENT: Well, just falling out from what Steve has said, I think the key to understanding Putin is ultimately what he wants is power and money. Putin ultimately established it -- and Bill knows this very well -- a personal kleptocracy in Russia. That's what he was about. But for the first 14 years, Putin was lucky because he was able to do as the Russians say, rule like Stalin, but live like Abramovich. Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who owns Chelsea. So, like if you think in the mind of an autocrat, perfect world, right? You can have - you know, go on yachts in the Mediterranean, have London football clubs but also authoritarian at home.
Putin's problem had been even before the Ukraine crisis, this was breaking down somewhat because the Russian economy wasn't working. It wasn't delivering the results needed to sustain this. He was looking for some other source of legitimacy. Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president partly offered that. He could have a sort of mini Putin meaning cleptocracy next door reinforce him a little bit. What he's discovered now, I think somewhat to his surprise, I don't think he has a master plan, I think it's been tactical, is he can use extreme nationalism as a new source of legitimacy. The thing is, it's not going to last. This is a house of cards.
ZAKARIA: Bill, paint a picture of the Russian economy. You know this economy backwards and forwards. You were the most successful investor in Russia. What does the Russian economy today look like and why is what I assume, is a somewhat bleak picture, why is it not deterring Putin.
BIL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Well, the Russian economy is one big -- it's a crook sitting at a gas station. It's a world gas station, it's all they do. That if you break it down, I think more than half of all the revenues in Russia come from fuel exports. And if you add on aluminum, steel, et cetera. So, they don't make stuff that people want to buy. Anything that they consume has to come from the West. And so, in addition to all the problems that they have with sanctions and capital flight, they also have the problem, which was totally unintended, it wasn't like the Western policymakers organize this, but the price of oil has collapsed. It's gone down by half. And so, it's created a really bad situation. And so, so what's happened in Russia, is that everybody is trying to get their money out as fast as they can. The ruble has devalued by more than 50 percent. So, if you're a Russian citizen buying your consumer goods, they are twice as expensive as they were before. And so, this war wasn't created as a - this war was created as Christya said, as a distraction from the cleptocracy, but now he's got to create - keep on doing this war and invade other countries, probably, to keep a distraction going from the economic problems.
ZAKARIA: When we come back we're going to talk more about this new Cold War and also about Bill Browder's fascinating story of his battle against the Russian state when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Stephen Cohen, Stephen Sestanovich, Chrystia Freeland and Bill Browder. You said earlier, Steve Cohen that you thought we were in a ?old War. And it certainly seems like that when you listen to some of the rhetoric of Russian planes flying over the English Channel. You know, these are bombers. Do the Russians really have an appetite for something like this? I mean Russia is today 2.5 percent of global GDP. This is not the Soviet Union.
COHEN: If by Russia you mean the Russian people, they have no appetite for this. Neither does the American people. This is something given to us by the elites of two countries. Not only are we in a new Cold War, but it's potentially much more dangerous than the last one. Because the center of this Cold War is right on Russia's border, it's not in Berlin, in Ukraine. It's existential. When you hear already Russian generals talking about the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons, you know that Russia is, shall we say, stressed. The problem here in part are the remarks about Putin. Something strange has happened. The demonization of Putin, which is beyond any factual basis, leads to a kind of amnesia among people here who should know better. The cleptocracy, and that's not a characteristic of the Russian economy, they had the biggest grain bumper crop in decades this year. They manufacture a lot of stuff. If they are dependent on minerals as they are, blame God, not Putin. The fact is this economic system was created by Yeltsin, Mr. Browder knows that, he worked in Russia at that time. Miss Freeland knows that because she wrote one of the best books about this.
But suddenly it's about Putin, he inherited this system. But something has happened here. This vilification of Putin, I've been doing this -- I'm probably the oldest person at this table - I've been following Russia since the '60s. I do not recall this kind of official public vilification, referring to the Russian leader as a Hitler, which is completely incorrect that ever having been done to a Soviet communist leader, at least after Stalin. And the result is a kind of analysis you're hearing here. It's all about Putin. There's no Russia. Russia has no agency. But here is the point.
Henry Kissinger said back in March of last year the demonization of Putin is not a policy, it's an alibi for not having a policy. But it's worse than what Dr. Kissinger has said, it's completely obscured. It's degraded, any kind of rational analysis of this country as to who is to blame for this and how we get out of it. And the result is as we talk -- as we talk, and this is not idle rhetoric, we may be hurtling toward actual war with Russia.
ZAKARIA: So, I mean partly there's an interesting test of international relations theory here, which is, you know, when a country, when a leader faces fewer - it has fewer resources, faces more constraints, faces more pressure, does he back down or does he lash out? Right? And so far, I mean certainly on the upside the argument has been that as oil revenues have increased, Putin's ambitions have grown over the last 15 years, right? I mean that's been the general thesis, that when Russia needed debt forgiveness in 2000, Putin was nice. And Bush said I looked into his eyes and saw his soul. So, why wouldn't that work? Why wouldn't the fact that oil revenues are declining make him more cautious, make him more accommodating?
FREELAND: I would say two things. You know, first of all, maybe contrary to a lot of international relations theory. I think that the domestic nature of the regime matters and it makes a difference. A Democratic Russia did and would behave differently from an increasingly authoritarian Russia. To the point about oil revenue, I think that we shouldn't be deceived by Putin's bluster, by his ability as he and his ministers proudly say -- these are guys who proudly say we can take casualties, we can take losses, but we shouldn't be deceived by that to believe this is the Soviet Union and that this is a very strong regime. Their economy is weak. I think there are internal pressures on Putin right now. His cronies, the sort of the Putin oligarchs are really unhappy. And I think there is - you know, the Russian bourgeoisie is now destroyed, all of those hopes in the middle class - So I do think that Putin didn't want to get here, he thought it was all going to be simple, he thought Yanukovych was going to join his customs union and it was all going to be fine. And then he did Crimea, I think impulsively. It worked better than he thought and he just has kind of kept on going since then.
ZAKARIA: So a lot of the conversation has been about Putin, the personal nature of his regime, him as a person. You've battled in a way personally with this regime. He's talked about you personally. What are the conclusions you come - you know, what's your conclusion in reading of the regime based on the struggles you recount in your book?
BROWDER: Well, first of all, Putin is entirely rational. He doesn't do anything irrationally, he's just operating with the different set of motives and constraints than we are. So, the first thing that you have to understand about Putin, is throw all morality out the window when it comes to his decision making. He will kill people, he will start wars, he will destroy the Russian population, if it enhances his position, if it makes him wealthier or saves him from being arrested.
What this whole Ukrainian situation is about, is an extension of everything else he's been doing. He started out as a kleptocrat, who wanted to accumulate as much money as he could. And then all of a sudden he found himself in this position where Russian people were starting to get mad at him. And it got to the point where he was afraid that he was going to suffer the same fate as Yanukovych, if he didn't change the whole narrative. So, he starts a war, which went really well with Crimea. And they are bombarding the Russian people with propaganda to tell them that the Ukrainians are fascist Nazis backed by America, and we have to fight against them. So, he started this war. He's got an 88 percent approval rating. All of a sudden everybody is in this nationalist fervor. He can't now just say, OK, thank you, I'll take my 88 percent and be done with it. He's got to keep the nationalist fervor going for this 88 percent. And that's when things started going horribly awry for him. Because going into eastern Ukraine wasn't going into Crimea. They are taking casualties. The Russian people don't want casualties, the economy is now crashing because of sanctions.
ZAKARIA: Steve, a question to you. Do you believe that not only are we in a Cold War, but that there's a possibility of something worse?
SESTANOVICH: I think we are getting toward a Cold war that meets a lot of the definitions that we used to have of the old one. It's taken on an ideological character. It involves tests of strength. It does involve a lot of elite hostility, involves a lot of uncertainty as to what each side wants. Whenever you've got a cold war, there's a danger that it can get hot. This is a dangerous situation in Ukraine. It calls for calm and resourceful and determined policy because it can get plenty worse than it is now.
ZAKARIA: The most dangerous overall security situation since the end of the Cold war?
ZAKARIA: On that happy note, thank you all. Fascinating conversation.
Next on "GPS," we all know the tale of the emperor's new clothes. We will tell you the tale of the prime minister's new ties or the absence thereof when we come back.
ZAKARIA: The Hurun Report published its 2015 global wish list this week. It brings me to my question. The U.S. and China have the first and second most billionaires in the world. What country is in third place? India, the United Kingdom, Russia, or Saudi Arabia? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is William Browder's "Red Notice: a True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice. Browder writes surprisingly well for a financier and tells a gripping tale of his adventures, misadventures and now campaign against the Russian state. This is a real world thriller that sheds a harrowing light on the inner workings of the Russian government.
Now for the last look. Last month Greece's left wing anti-austerity party swept to victory in the country's parliamentary elections. The new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power promising, quote, no more bailouts, no more submission, no more black mailing. People have noticed something else appears to be no more. Ties. Here he is being sworn in as prime minister and then running the country, meeting many important people, all without a tie. At least Prime Minister Matteo Renzi handed Tsipras a present this week, yes, an Italian tie. Tsipras reportedly said he would wear one when there was a viable solution for Europe's debt problem. Some critics have said this lack of appropriate clothing suggests an aversion to the establishment. But does the lack of a tie equate to a lack of respect? As others have noted if you consider the 2013 G 8 summit, a serious meeting didn't necessarily require ties as long as it was a group decision. And if you're an APEC leader, you have a different uniform, crazy shirts. The truth is if Tsipras can broker a deal where he gets debt forgiveness in return for pro-growth reforms, he could wear a toga and a crown of laurel leaves when he returns to Greece. The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is a, India, it has now surpassed both the U.K. and Russia to take third place according to Hurun's report. India now has 97 billionaires with Mukesh Ambani leading the group as India's richest person. And who is the world's richest person? That would be Bill Gates who will be on the show next week. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program. I will see you next week.