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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Interview with President Barack Obama. Aired 10-11:00a ET
Aired August 9, 2015 - 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.
ZAKARIA: Today a special edition of the show featuring an exclusive interview with the president of the United States, Barack Obama. His passionate defense of the nuclear deal with Iran.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon.
ZAKARIA: His response to criticisms that he compared Republicans in Congress to hard-liners in Iran.
OBAMA: They do have a lot in common with hard-liners who are much more satisfied with the status quo.
ZAKARIA: His feelings about Iran's supreme leader, who tweeted out an image of Obama with a gun to his head.
OBAMA: You don't negotiate deals with your friends. You negotiate them with your enemies.
ZAKARIA: And why he says there is no option but the deal.
ZAKARIA: Let's get right to the big interview. I normally give you my take in this space. Today I'll give it to you after you've heard from the president of the United States. So let's get started.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, thank you for joining us.
OBAMA: Good to be with you.
ZAKARIA: Since you announced the agreement with Iran, it appears, if you look at several recent polls, that a majority of the American public oppose it and a majority of the United States Congress oppose it. Why do you think that is? OBAMA: Because people haven't been getting all the information. It's
a complicated piece of business, and we are negotiating with a regime that chants "Death to America" and doesn't have a high approval rating here in the United States. But the people who know most about the central challenge that we're trying to deal with, which is making sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, they are overwhelmingly in favor of it.
Experts in nuclear proliferation, nuclear scientists, former ambassadors, Democrat and Republican, and as a consequence, one of my main tasks over the last several weeks and this will continue into September is to make sure that people know and understand that this is a diplomatic breakthrough that ensures we are cutting off all the pathways by which Iran might get a nuclear weapon.
ZAKARIA: In your speech at American University you made a comparison. You said that Iran's hard-liners were making common cause with Republicans. It's come under a lot of criticism. Mitch McConnell says even Democrats who oppose the deal should be insulted. The "Wall Street Journal" says this rhetoric shows that you've abandoned the hope of getting any Republicans or even moderate Democrats, and you are targeting this message to the hard core of House Democrats who are going to sustain your veto.
OBAMA: Fareed, your question is about politics. Let me talk about substance. What I said is absolutely true factually. The truth of the matter is inside of Iran, the people most opposed to the deal are the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force, hard liners who are implacably opposed to any cooperation with the international community, and there is a reason for that because they recognize that if in fact this deal gets done, that rather than them being in the driver's seat with respect to the Iranian economy, they are in a weaker position.
And the point I was simply making is that, if you look at the facts, the merits of this deal, then you will conclude that, not only does it cut off a pathway for Iran getting a nuclear weapon, but it also establishes the most effective verification and inspection regime that's ever been put in place. It also ensures that we are able to monitor what they do with respect to stockpiles, plutonium, their underground facility, and that it does not ask us to relinquish any of the options that we might need to exercise if in fact Iran cheated or if, at some point, they decided to try to break up.
[10:05:17] And so the reason that Mitch McConnell and the rest of the folks in his caucus who oppose this jumped out and opposed it before they even read it, before it was even posted, is reflective of an ideological commitment not to get a deal done.
ZAKARIA: You don't --
OBAMA: And in that sense they do have a lot in common with hard- liners who are much more satisfied with the status quo.
ZAKARIA: You don't think you're going to get any Republican support? OBAMA: Well, I didn't say that. What I said was that there are those
who, if they did not read the bill before they announced their opposition, if they are not able to offer plausible reasons why they wouldn't support the bill or plausible alternatives in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon other than potential military strikes, then that would indicate that they're not interested in the substance of the issue, they're interested in the politics of the issue.
ZAKARIA: You talked about Iran's hard-liners, the old guard. But one member of Iran's old guard certainly seems to be Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme leader.
OBAMA: I think he would qualify.
ZAKARIA: He would qualify. Right. And he seems relentless anti- American.
ZAKARIA: His Twitter feed has posted a likeness of you with a gun pointed to your head.
ZAKARIA: Is this a guy you can really make a deal with?
OBAMA: Well, as I said, Fareed, you don't negotiate deals with your friends. You negotiate them with your enemies. And superpowers don't respond to taunts. Superpowers focus on what is it that we need to do in order to preserve our national security and the national security of our allies and our friends. And I think that he tweeted that in response to me stating a fact, which is that if we were confronted with a situation which we could not resolve this issue diplomatically, that we could militarily take out much of Iran's military infrastructure.
I don't think that's disputable. I don't think there's a military expert out there that would contest that. The supreme leader obviously doesn't want to hear that. And I understand. But I am not interested in a Twitter back-and-forth with the supreme leader. What I am interested in is the deal itself and can we enforce it.
Keep in mind, Fareed, when we got the interim deal, as you're aware, the way this thing evolved was first we essentially froze their program. They had to roll back their very highly enriched uranium stockpiles. And for that we turned on the spigot a little bit so they could access more of their money. All the same critics of this deal suggested that this is terrible, this is a historic mistake.
And for the last two years as we've been negotiating the more comprehensive deal, not only have they continued to suggest that it was a mistake, until very recently, but the supreme leader was saying all kinds of anti-American stuff. But the deal held. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. The few times that they didn't we identified it, told them they had to correct it, and they did. So there's always a gap between rhetoric and action. And, you know,
the supreme leader is a politician, apparently, just like everybody else. What I'm focused on is, can we make sure that they are doing what they have to do and that we have sufficient safeguards, verification mechanisms, to ensure that they don't have a nuclear weapon.
And again, Fareed, it is very important, I think, over the next several weeks to not get distracted by tone, vote counts, is Mitch McConnell's feelings hurt, but let's address the argument. And the central point I was making yesterday, fairly exhaustively, it was a long speech, was that nobody has presented a plausible alternative other than military strikes to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Nobody has presented a more effective way to ensure they don't have a nuclear weapon, including military strikes, because we know actually if this deal is executed, it will provide more limitations on the Iranian nuclear program for a longer period of time in a more verifiable way, and that central argument hasn't really been effectively contested. Nobody has had a good answer for that.
[10:10:19] ZAKARIA: So I think the answer that some might provide is that the alternative is not war but more pressure and a better deal and specifically that Iran should not have the right to enrich.
ZAKARIA: There are a lot of nuclear countries with peaceful nuclear programs that don't have the right to enrich. Was it impossible to stick hard on that? Was that a concession you had to make?
OBAMA: First of all, there is no support for that position in Iran, including opposition members who were subsequently jailed back in 2009. So you have a consensus inside of Iran that they should have a right to enrich. The non-proliferation treaty is very clear about guarding against the weaponization of nuclear power but it does not speak to prohibitions on peaceful nuclear power. And we did not have the support of that position among our global allies who have been so critical in maintaining sanctions and applying the pressure that was necessary to get Iran to the table.
And so, in the real world, the alternatives you just described were not available. And I think that the notion that the United States Congress rejecting a deal that has been negotiated by the U.S. secretary of state, our top nuclear experts, with unanimous support around the world, other than the state of Israel and perhaps behind the scenes some of our allies who were also suspicious of Iran, that somehow, in the face of that, countries like Russia or China would continue to voluntarily abide by sanctions in a way that would continue to put pressure on Iran is a fantasy. And I think that's demonstrable.
ZAKARIA: When we come back, much more of my exclusive interview with President Obama from the White House. I will ask him about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Is it appropriate for a foreign head of government to inject himself into a debate that is taking place in Washington?
[10:17:00] ZAKARIA: More than four months before the Iran deal was even inked, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared before a joint meeting of the United States Congress to argue strongly against it. Now that there is a deal between the world and Iran, Netanyahu has publicly and vocally condemned it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: What a stunning, historic mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: The prime minister has found many sympathetic ears for certain. But there are others, including some in Israel, who have called his rhetoric and actions into question.
I wanted to know how the president of the United States felt.
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister Netanyahu has injected himself forcefully into this debate on American foreign policy in Washington.
OBAMA: Right. Right.
ZAKARIA: Can you recall a time when a foreign head of government has done that? Is it appropriate for a foreign head of government to inject himself into an American debate?
OBAMA: You know, I'll let you ask Prime Minister Netanyahu that question if he gives you an interview. I don't recall a similar example. Obviously the relationship between the United States and Israel is deep, it is profound, it's reflected in my policies because I have said repeatedly and, more importantly, acted on the basic notion that our commitment to Israel security is sacrosanct. It's something that I take very seriously, which is why we provided more assistance, more military cooperation, more intelligence cooperation to Israel than any previous administration.
But as I said in the speech yesterday, on the substance, the prime minister is wrong on this. And I think that I can show that the basic assumptions that he's made are incorrect. If in fact my argument is right that this is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon, then that's not just good for the United States, that is very good for Israel. In fact, historically this has been the argument that has driven Prime Minister Netanyahu and achieved consensus throughout Israel.
So the question has to be, is there in fact a better path to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon than this one? And I've repeatedly asked both Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to present me a reasonable, realistic plan that would achieve exactly what this deal achieves, and I have yet to get a response. So, as I said yesterday, I completely understand why both he and the broad Israeli public would be suspicious, cautious about entering into any deal with Iran.
[10:20:02] But what I also tried to remind everyone yesterday is that, when we entered into arms treaties with the Soviet Union, they had missiles pointed at every single major American city. We actually had to constrain ourselves and reduce our firepower. The risks were much more severe there. Here we're preserving all our options so that if Iran does cheat we can still exercise the same set of options that we have in place today.
And I've been very clear about the fact that if Israel were attacked by Iran, for example, there is no doubt that, not just me, but any U.S. administration would do everything that we needed to do to make sure that Israel was protected. So there are all kinds of hedges if in fact Iran weren't to abide by the deal. But if in fact Iran does abide by the deal, as it has the interim deal over the last two years, then we have purchased, at a very small price, one of the single most important national security objectives that both the United States and Israel has.
ZAKARIA: There has been some debate about the amount of money that Iran will get as a result of sanctions relief. Whatever the amount is, it's clear they're going to get some resources.
ZAKARIA: And some part of it, and that they're being out of the sanctions regime will be --
OBAMA: Preserve their economy.
ZAKARIA: Will be applied to the economy but some of it to regional activity.
OBAMA: Yes. Right.
ZAKARIA: So I want to be clear. Are you saying to the region, to the Gulf States, to other Arab -- to Arab countries, look, this is inevitable, Iran is going to play an increased role in the region, get used to it?
OBAMA: I think the message is that the nefarious activities that Iran engages in, whether it's providing arms to Hezbollah or stirring up destabilizing activities among some of their Gulf neighbors is something that they've been able to do consistently at very low cost. That I have no doubt that, as Iran's economy improved or they got some financial in-flows that relieves some fiscal pressure on their military, they may be able to fund some additional activities, but it's not a game changer.
And the reason that Iran has been effective has less to do with the amount of money they've spent, has more to do with the fact that, although Gulf countries, for example, spend eight times more at least combined on defense than Iran's entire defense budget, they haven't deployed it in ways that have been as strategically effective. And part of the function of our meeting up at Camp David with Gulf leaders was to describe how we can work with them to create a more effective counter to these kinds of activities.
And, you know, whether it's countering cyber attacks or a possible ballistic missile threat, but more typically the kinds of asymmetric proxy activities that Iran has developed over the last several decades. You know, those are things that we know how to do if all those countries are cooperating and we're doing it systematically. That will have a greater impact than simply preventing this deal from taking place.
The flipside of it is, if Iran is able to get a nuclear weapon, if its breakout time remains as short as it is right now and they are installing advanced centrifuges and so on, then they will be emboldened to engage in more of the activities that have been discussed, which are not constrained or bound by the amount of money Iran has but, rather, have to do with the very strategic decisions that Iran is making at any given time.
ZAKARIA: We'll be back with the president in just a moment. We are in the Map Room of the White House. The Map Room was essentially an early version of the Situation Room during World War II. It is more Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to ponder next moves in the war.
I will ask President Obama if he will need to seriously think about a war with Iran if this deal falls through.
[10:28:12] ZAKARIA: Back now with President Obama on Iran, ISIS, the Taliban, and what happens if the nuclear deal falls through. Listen in.
ZAKARIA: Right now Iran is probably one of the strongest fighting forces against ISIS.
ZAKARIA: In Afghanistan it has historically been opposed to the Taliban just as the United States has.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that these overlapping interests might allow for a more productive and constructive relation between the United States and Iran?
OBAMA: I think it is conceivable, but the premise of this deal is not that Iran warms towards the United States or that we are engaging in any kind of strategic reassessment of the relationship. Within the four corners of the agreement we deal with the nuclear problem, and I believe that is incontestable. I think we are doing that better than any other alternative.
Is there the possibility that, having begun conversations around this narrow issue that you start getting some broader discussions about Syria, for example, and the ability of all the parties involved to try to arrive at a political transition that keeps the country intact and does not further fuel the growth of ISIL and other terrorist organizations, I think that's possible. But I don't think it happens immediately.
ZAKARIA: So far no signs?
OBAMA: Well, I -- you know, what I have been encouraged by is that the Russians are now more interested in discussions around what a political transition or at least framework for talks would look like inside of Syria, and presumably Iran is seeing some of the same trends that are not good for them. And I do think that it is even conceivable that Saudi Arabia and Iran, at some point, would begin to recognize that their enemy is chaos as much as anything else, and what ISIL represents, and what the collapse of Syria or Yemen or others represent is far more dangerous than whatever rivalries that may exist between those two nation states.
ZAKARIA: Final question. If this deal falls through somehow and what you predict does happen, Iran does go back to trying to produce centrifuges on an industrial scale, it perhaps restarts some of the weaponization programs, are you worried that you would confront within your remaining term the strong possibility that you might have to use nuclear -- that you might have to use military force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?
OBAMA: I have a general policy on big issues like this not to anticipate failure. And I'm not going to anticipate failure now because I think we have the better argument. And I just go back again and again, Fareed, to those who are opposed to the deal can't just say, we want a better deal. They can't just say, we're going to be tougher. This is serious. And it requires us asking tough questions and engaging in a substantive conversation about how are we to achieve what even my fiercest critics would acknowledge should be a shared goal, which is preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
If Congress were to reject this deal, then that central goal would be harder to achieve and the international unity that we've brought about over the last several years would fray. Not just with respect to sanctions, but with respect to the world's attitude about U.S. leadership and how they gauge who is at fault in this dispute between the United States and Iran. And as I said yesterday. The issue here, and I've said this to members of Congress, is not simply the deal itself. It's certainly not just an issue for my presidency. The issue, as you well know, Fareed, because you travel around the world a lot, is does the rest of the world take seriously the United States' ability to craft international agendas, to reach international agreements, to deliver on them in ways that garner the respect and the adherence from other countries.
And that's continually tested. And what Congress needs to understand is is that we're the most powerful country on earth, but our power does not simply come from the fact that we've got the biggest military. Our power derives from the fact that, since World War II we have put together international institutions that have served our interests, but have also served the interests of the world. And as much as people may complain about the United States, they still recognize that we've been able to operate on the basis of principles and values and built human institutions that function effectively and fairly around the world. And if we stop doing that, then our power will be diminished, no matter how big our military budget is. And it will become a much more dangerous world. That's why I don't intend to lose on this.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, pleasure to have you. Thank you so much.
OBAMA: Thank you so much. Appreciate it, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Coming up next, I will give you my take this week. The president's critics say he is naive. I'll tell you what I think when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And now here is my take on President Obama's foreign policy. Many critics of the nuclear deal with Iran believe that the problem lies in the very disposition of the president. Rick Perry says he is "a very, very naive man who does not know how the world works. Lindsey Graham calls him "dangerously naive." In fact, as you heard, Obama is not naive, but disposition does matter, and Obama is basically an optimist. About the world. America's place in it. And even the threats it faces in the Middle East. And history suggests that it's the optimists who have tended to be right.
Today we are awash in pessimism with people who see the world as a dark and dangerous place, where threats are growing and enemies are gaining strength. In 2014 Senator John McCain declared that the world is, quote, "in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime," unquote, which includes the rise of fascism, Nazism, World War II and the Soviet nuclear threat.
We've seen this doom and gloom before often. In an essay in 1989, the Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington noted that the United States was then experiencing its fifth wave of this kind of pessimism since the 1950s.
ZAKARIA: First, he explained Sputnik shocked America and by the early 1960s the country was convinced that the Soviet Union was on a path to overtake it economically, technologically and militarily. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as Vietnam sapped the nation's confidence, the Nixon administration urged Americans to get used to a multi-polar world with a diminished place for Washington.
When the oil shocks of the 1970s hit, people saw the Middle East petro states as the world's new power brokers. By the end of the 1970s, with the Soviet Union modernizing its nuclear arsenal and on the march from Afghanistan to Central America, scores of commentators prophesied that Moscow was winning the Cold War. And when Huntington wrote his essay, it was conventional wisdom that an invincible Japan would soon become the world's number one economic power.
Of course, not one of these fears proved to be valid. There was a kernel of truth in each of them. An event or trend that deserved to be countered or responded to, but the dark view almost always led to a vast overestimation of our adversary's power and strategic capacity. I would update Huntington's list to add the fears that have bubbled up since 9/11, that radical Islam is an existential danger and that we are defenseless against it. That Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed an intolerable danger to America and now that an imperial Iran is poised to dominate the Middle East.
In his speech at American University this week, President Obama tried to place Iran in context. It is a middling regional power with some limited ambitions and capacity. As he pointed out, its gulf foes outspend it militarily by eight to one. America outspends it by 40 to 1. Tehran is desperately trying to prop up Bashar al Assad's regime in Syria. Meanwhile it's also fielding forces in Iraq to fight the new rising threat from ISIS, which is above all an anti-Shiite terror group. Being forced to fight on two fronts to preserve your security is not a sign of strength.
Think of the mistakes the United States has made when it acted out of fear, convinced its enemies were ten feet tall and about to triumph. In the 1950s it helped depose democrats in the Third World, fearful that they would become socialists. Later it intervened in Vietnam, it supported the apartheid regime in South Africa, it invaded Iraq.
On the other hand, when we have kept threats in perspective and understood that time was on our side we have patiently organized allies, negotiated agreements with adversaries, built our internal strength and, in the end, prevailed. It's not as satisfying as the imagined thrill of military victory, but it has been a much surer path to stability and success.
Look at the facts. The United States has outlasted monarchy, fascism, revolution and communism. It will handle the threat from a second tier power like Iran. It will outlast radical Islam, an ideology that has no answers for the modern age. To recognize this is not naivete, but confidence. A confidence in America that is confirmed by history. For more go to CNN.com/Fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week.
And next on "GPS," something completely different. Blending cellphones, burning tax codes and making bacon with a machine gun. Is that how you prove your presidential mettle these days? We'll discuss with a great historian.
[10:44:01] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY: You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account ...
DONALD TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn't.
TRUMP: One of my guests last week aptly described the present moment in American politics as silly season. I think many Americans would agree. Who would have thought that American presidential candidates would be releasing each other's private cellphone numbers or releasing videos of themselves subsequently destroying an outed cellphone in a blender? And by the way, who would have imagined Lindsey Graham still had a flip phone. Who would have thought that we would ever see Rand Paul burning, sawing and chipping the U.S. tax code? Is that how you make yourself appear presidential? Who might have foreseen a man proving his presidential mettle by making bacon with a machine gun?
My next guest wouldn't have put it past any of them. She says there is lots of great American political history behind all of these nonsense except perhaps for Lindsey Graham still having a flip phone. There is no real precedent for that. Joanne Freeman is a history professor at Yale University who wrote a piece this week for "The New York Times" and titled "The Long History of Political idiocy."
So, forget about dueling cell phones. You pointed out that candidates used to actually engage in duels, in actual duels, which were illegal at the time and then boast about them.
JOANNE FREEMAN, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, YALE UNIVERSITY: Exactly. One of the things that people would do after losing an election would be either they or one of their friends would find a way to provoke a duel with the winner or one of his friends as a way to kind of counteract the democratic loss they would have a sort of aristocratic win and they would basically be proving themselves leaders to the public.
FREEMAN: And then they would go into the newspapers and basically describe the duel, describe how they were clearly leadership material. I mean essentially a duel was the way of saying next time around vote for me. Which is extraordinary considering that they're illegal.
ZAKARIA: And the most famous duel we know about is, of course, Burr Hamilton. Was that motivated by some of these kinds of concerns?
FREEMAN: That was related. It was. Hamilton had said - Hamilton said a lot of things about Aaron Burr. I think Burr said, for 15 years you've been saying things about me. But Burr had lost the election in 1804 to become governor of New York. So he was already kind of on the lookout for a way to redeem himself when someone handed him a piece of paper with Hamilton's insult on it.
ZAKARIA: And what did that piece of paper say?
FREEMAN: It was a description of a dinner conversation, at which Hamilton was speaking and Hamilton said I don't think that Burr is fit for the reins of government. And the letter said, Hamilton said some more despicable things about Burr, which I won't put in writing. And that's the sentence that Burr grabbed ...
ZAKARIA: But despicable leads to a duel, which leads to Hamilton being killed?
FREEMAN: Eventually. I mean there was a spiraling of the anger between them.
ZAKARIA: We tend to think of these - the time we're in as very partisan, but you pointed out that, actually, it resembles a period in the 19th century, a great deal, because when the debates over slavery were really heating up in the 1840s and '50s, it got very nasty.
FREEMAN: It certainly did. I mean and that's, you know, as a historian, when you're living in polarized times you sort of look to the past and say, OK, well, there is another really polarized time. And certainly, in a sense, the spirit of the thing, there was a lot of similarity.
ZAKARIA: What about the kind of silly stuff, the gossip, the things like that? And that was also a rich, rich tradition of political gossip being part of the campaigns, right?
FREEMAN: Absolutely. And that goes all the way back. I mean and I'm sure even before the fact there was a United States. But certainly in the beginning of the United States in the 1790s. Gossip was really effective. You know, I mean and it's hard to imagine that because the media is so sort of basic in that period. You have a national, national newspaper like the national "Gazette" reaches maybe 1500 people. But gossip could spread pretty efficiently not just through newspapers, but through word of mouth and letters, and particularly during elections. It was a handy thing to be able to drop pieces of gossip into conversations or put them in newspapers or post handbills. And it might take a while to counteractive rumor.
ZAKARIA: What are the other kinds of gossip - rumors and gossip that flourished at the time? What's your favorite one?
FREEMAN: My favorite - well, certainly my favorite Jefferson one happened during that 1800 election when someone, somewhere, in a newspaper, did what I consider to be the savviest and goofiest sort of ploy of all time and he announced that Jefferson had died.
FREEMAN: Which, you know, and it's hard to counteract that, right? So, for a little while there was some angst. Oh, no! The tragedy.
ZAKARIA: And you keep - the easiest way to get - to have people decide not to vote for him is to say ...
FREEMAN: He's gone. Yeah.
ZAKARIA: And it worked in a sense, because it was tough to figure out stuff in those days.
FREEMAN: Well, right. News travelled more slowly, which is, in a way, part of what happens in the 1840s and '50s. You have the telegraph and the public now can hear things much more quickly and there is a much broader reach.
So, the birth of a mass media in the 1840s and '50s is part of what helps raise some of what we would now call silly or certainly extreme and over the top kind of talk because there is a bigger audience.
ZAKARIA: Joanne Freeman. Pleasure to have you on.
FREEMAN: Thanks so much for having me.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," we'll bring President Obama back to pick his book of the week.
ZAKARIA: There are 7.3 billion people on this planet. According to U.N. forecasts, that number will reach 9.7 billion by 2050. That's 2.4 billion more people in just 35 years. India will surpass China to become the world's most populous country in even less time. And it brings me to my question, "Which country will be the world's third most populous country in 2050 after India and China? Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil or the United States?" Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
For our book of the week, this week I asked another voracious reader for his suggestion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: What book have you read since we last talked that you would recommend to our readers?
OBAMA: You know, I think what I'm going to do is I'm going to recommend that the readers go to the White House website and read "The Iran Deal." It's simulating reading. It's ...
ZAKARIA: It's almost as long as a book.
OBAMA: It's probably, you know, too long to print out, but you can read it on your laptop. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: The correct answer to the "GPS Challenge" question is B. By 2050, Nigeria is expected to overtake the United States in overall population and become the world's third most populous country. Nigeria's economy will grow along with its population. It's expected to become the ninth largest economy in the world by 2050, measured by purchasing power poverty, and that's a big change from number 20 in 2014. According to PWC's latest world in 2050 report.
ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.