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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

Interview with Paul Wolfowitz and Philip Zelikow; Interview with Tony Blair; Interview with Ben Bernanke; Interview with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 25, 2015 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:15] 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.

Today on GPS, the finger-pointing on the campaign trail has reached back into history.

First up, does President Bush bear the brunt of the blame for the 9/11 attacks?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Trump's words have reignited the debate. I will talk to the director of the 9/11 Commission and Bush's deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz.

And what about Iraq? Politicians love to say who's to blame for the sorry state that nation is in today, Bush or Obama? Well, I will ask British Prime Minister Tony Blair if the rise of ISIS can be traced back to the 2003 invasion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Of course, you can't say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 got no responsibility for the situation in 2015.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Plus, Ben Bernanke on bringing the world back from the brink of financial disaster.

Finally, want know who will win the 2016 presidential race? I'll tell you about the people who have already got the answers. Super forecasters. I'll explain.

But first, here's my take. Justin Trudeau's sweeping victory in Canada could be read as one more indication that voters in the Western world are moving left and toward populism. The last year has seen the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Britain's Labor Party, in the United States Bernie Sanders, a self-professed Democratic socialist, has shaken up the Democratic primaries.

But the message of Trudeau's victory are actually somewhat more complicated. First, Trudeau benefitted from the 10-year itch. When politicians have been in power for around a decade, voters usually want a change no matter how popular the leader is. Think of Britain's Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair. Canada's conservatives have held office for nine years and their leader, Stephen Harper, is no Tony Blair, being perceived as intelligent but reserved and uncharismatic.

But why did Trudeau win? After all his party was in third place only months ago. Some of the momentum has to do with his name and personal charisma. He's the son of Canada's most famous prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, but much of it had to do with the kind of campaign he ran, which was neither very left wing or populist. Trudeau promised to respond to Canada's economic slowdown by running modest deficits and building infrastructure. That's something most mainstream economists would support.

He has refused to raise Canada's low corporate tax rate, although he wants a slightly higher income tax for the top 1 percent to fund a middle class tax cut. He's been noncommittal on the new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which actually places him to the right of Hillary Clinton. He wants to legalize marijuana and he has promised vaguely that Canada will have a more progressive climate change policy.

This will put him squarely at the center left in any Western country. Where Canada truly lurching left ward, the beneficiary would have been its new Democratic Party which traditionally has been the party of populism and draws its roots from the labor and agrarian movements.

The hallmark of populism is anger. But Justin Trudeau was resolutely cheerful. In his acceptance speech this week he spoke of the power of positive politics and sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways." When Harper tried to stir up fears about Canada's Muslim population Trudeau loudly rejected it. He talks of consensus politics and said this week, "Conservatives are not our enemies, they are our neighbors."

If you want to hear angry rhetoric in America, you can get it from Bernie Sanders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fraud is a business model.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But also in its right-wing variation from most of the Republican candidates for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to be bought by anybody.

TRUMP: I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Left-wing populism is mostly about economics. Right-wing populism is mostly about culture. Both hate the big city elites who in their view run the country and the world.

Now populism makes noise, gets attention, even force issues on to the table, but it rarely wins. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz noted that while democratic populists often see themselves as embracing the mantle of Franklin Roosevelt, in fact they misread history.

[10:05:02] The real democratic populists of the late 19th and early 20th century were agrarian reformists, anti-immigration activists, advocates of prohibition and ardent believers in the moral superiority of farms and small towns. And they always lost at the polls.

The Democratic Party when it has been successful has never been about populism. Roosevelt. Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton, Obama are all part of the movement that embraces free trade, immigration, regulated capitalism and cultural diversity. Above all it has been optimistic and forward looking.

One could imagine FDR in the depths of the Depression caulking his head up with his cigarette holder jutting skyward saying, sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways.

For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

Donald Trump dropped a bombshell recently when he implied that former President George W. Bush could and should have done more to stop the 9/11 attacks. Listen to what he said when he called into CNN's "NEW DAY."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They did know it was coming. And George Tenet, the head of the CIA, told them that it was coming. So they did have advance notice and they didn't really work on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The reaction was swift and strong. Trump's fellow candidate, Jeb Bush, responded by calling Trump an unserious candidate with dangerous views on national security. CNN's Peter Beinart, on the other hand, said Trump was right.

I want to get away from the campaign rhetoric and try to get to the truth. So I've asked two people with inside and experience in the matter to join me.

Paul Wolfowitz was George W. Bush's deputy Defense secretary. He is now an adviser to Jeb Bush. And Phillip Zelikow was the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, the independent bipartisan group that was formed to study why America was surprised by the attack. He's now a professor of history at the University of Virginia.

Philip, let me start with you. The 9/11 Commission did say that, in a sense, the system was blinking red. In fact, I think it used that phrase at several points but that the United States government at the highest levels was not attentive.

PHILIP ZELIKOW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE 9/11 COMMISSION: Actually, the commission report did not say the United States government at the highest levels was not attentive. That's not accurate. Actually President Bush was following these issues constantly. In fact, his intelligence briefer at the time who later became a top official in the Obama administration has recently published a memoir saying that Bush was following this all the time.

ZAKARIA: I'm quoting now from the report that says, "Given the character and face of their policy efforts we do not believe they fully understood just how many people al Qaeda might kill and how soon it might do it."

ZELIKOW: Yes. And we said that about both administrations. But in general, the U.S. government as a whole did not grasp just how large catastrophic attack could be. That was true of both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and true for the Congress as well. Otherwise, they might have considered taking more radical action about Afghanistan.

But to be clear about the Trump charge, which I think is ignorant, except that I think he actually does know better, so I think it's worse than ignorance. No one has actually pointed to a level -- to any decision or choice that was in front of President Bush during 2001 that could plausibly have disrupted an attack that by that time was already in motion, and with its key participants already in the United States and with the plan already set.

So at that point you're talking about operational level opportunities. So kind of blaming President Bush for this is like saying that if there's a murder in New York City tomorrow the police chief is at fault.

ZAKARIA: So, Philip, how should people understand the August 6th CIA memo? This is, you know, old history but I'm reminding people the CIA had a memo, a daily brief that was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike the U.S." and how to understand, as Barton Gillman very seasoned national security reporter has pointed out in the "Angler," that the CIA raised 36 times the possibility that al Qaeda might strike since President Bush took office.

ZELIKOW: Well, in both administrations the CIA was sounding the alarm that al Qaeda was a dangerous threat. And in both administrations the president heard that alarm and was attentive to the problem. The issue that we pointed out in the report was whether the government as a whole and all the operations of the government were doing enough to respond to those intelligence headlines that they were getting. In fact the briefing you alluded was a briefing President Bush had asked for.

[10:10:03] ZAKARIA: Paul, one of the things the 9/11 Commission did talk about was a point at which the system was blinking red. That is the CIA was warning of these things and the CIA reports that you, the then deputy secretary of Defense, questioned those concerns saying that maybe al Qaeda is just doing this to test America's response. That it's not a real threat.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY, GW BUSH ADMINISTRATION: That doesn't mean it's not a real threat, Fareed. It means that they could be doing what is standard in the intelligence world which is spoofing your responses to try to see how you do respond and also perhaps to lull you to sleep when you get reports later. We actually did not get that level of intelligence, that level of alarm close to 9/11 which tells you something about maybe they did go silent deliberately.

But look, to go back a minute, I think the fundamental problem before 9/11 was that we were on a peace time footing. That meant that, for example, the FBI always had to defer with respect to the use of foreign intelligence and investigating people, because our bias was in the direction of not using surveillance to go after people who might not be legitimate targets of surveillance. Our policy was toward bombing Afghanistan which basically did no good. And I think that's a lesson we need to learn today.

To have done what we needed to do, the best opportunities were not during the eight months of the Bush administration but during the eight years of the Clinton administration. But to be fair to President Clinton, if he had come forward after 1998, after the embassy bombings, and said we have to invade Afghanistan, nobody would have supported that. Nobody realized how serious the problem was until after 9/11.

ZAKARIA: So, Philip, if -- just a final prod, if high policy makers cannot be held responsible for this huge attack, the largest attack on the United States ever, do you believe in your professional judgment, is it appropriate to blame the secretary of state of the United States for an attack on a consulate in Benghazi?

ZELIKOW: I think that the -- I'll leave it to the American people and the Congress to figure out if Secretary of State Clinton has any responsibility for that attack at all. From what I've heard of the evidence, of course, she's not responsible for the attack. And then the issues just become issues about policy regarding your embassy posture and the level of embassy security and things like that.

I don't -- by the way, I don't blame President Franklin Roosevelt for Pearl Harbor either. But that doesn't mean you didn't try to learn lessons from the Pearl Harbor attack.

ZAKARIA: Paul Wolfowitz, Philip Zelikow, good to have you on.

ZELIKOW: Thanks for inviting us, Fareed.

WOLFOWITZ: Thanks, Fareed. ZAKARIA: Up next, the other great foreign policy debate that keeps

cropping up on the campaign trail -- Iraq. I have a fascinating interview that I did with the former British prime minister Tony Blair. In it I asked Blair about his regrets over the war. And he actually has a few.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:17:45] ZAKARIA: On Monday night at 9:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, my latest documentary will premier right here on CNN. It's called "LONG ROAD TO HELL: AMERICA IN IRAQ." We started working on it because of all the rhetoric bandied about on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm president of the United States we're going in on the ground, and we're going to pull the caliphate up by its roots and we're going to kill every one of these bastards we can find because we don't -- they're coming here. Let's get on with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: One of the many fascinating guests in the hour is Tony Blair, who was President George W. Bush's most visible foreign partner on the war. And he has suffered the consequences for it. I wanted to know how he feels about his decisions now that he's had more than 12 years to reflect on them.

Mr. Blair was in London when we recorded the interview, and I was in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Tony Blair, thank you for joining us.

BLAIR: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: You faced huge opposition within Britain to your decision to participate and support the invasion of Iraq. What kept you so firm in your conviction that it was the right decision?

BLAIR: I had a very clear view after 9/11 that we should be with America in confronting the threat of terrorism. The issue of terrorists getting hold of WMD was for me the major next dimension of this entire struggle. And I felt it important that the U.S. didn't face this alone that we were with them.

ZAKARIA: And of course for that you were occasionally derided as Bush's poodle. How did that make you feel?

BLAIR: Look, in politics, particularly when you're dealing with these types of decisions, you get used to a certain amount of abuse. So it didn't make a great deal of difference to me if people criticized me. What was important was that all the way through, however, we were obviously heavily involved with the development of policy and we were also building the alliance with the U.S. that allowed us to confront what we thought then, and I think it was a case for staying still now is the biggest danger of this type of terrorism, which is that you get a coming together of people who have prepared to cause mass deaths with those people who are prepared to use weapons of mass destruction whether a nuclear, chemical or biological.

[10:20:15] ZAKARIA: Given, however, that Saddam Hussein did not prove to have weapons of mass destruction, was the decision to enter Iraq and topple his regime a mistake?

BLAIR: You know, whenever I'm asked this I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we've received was wrong because even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought. So I can apologize for that.

I can also apologize, by the way, for some of the mistakes in planning and certainly our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you remove the regime. But I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam. I think even from today in 2015, it is better that he's not there than he is there.

ZAKARIA: When people look at the rise of ISIS, many people points to the invasion of Iraq as the principal cause. What do you say to that?

BLAIR: I think there were elements of truth in that, but I think we've again got to be extremely careful, otherwise we misunderstand what's going on in Iraq and in Syria today. Of course, you can't say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015. But it's important also to realize, one, that the Arab spring which began in 2011 would also had its impact on Iraq today. And two, ISIS actually came to prominence from the base in Syria and not in Iraq.

And that leads me to the broader point, which I think is so essential when we're looking at policy today, which is we have tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq. We've tried intervention without putting in troops in Libya. And we've tried know no intervention at all but demanding regime change in Syria. But it's not clear to me that even if our policy did not work, subsequent policies have worked better.

ZAKARIA: You went from being really the most successful British politician of your generation, perhaps of a lot of larger time period than that to being called a war criminal. How has that made you feel?

BLAIR: Look, I think the responsibilities you get when you get a big position of power, in the end with these big decisions you've got to do what you think is right. Now whether it's right or not, that's -- everyone can have their judgment about that. But when I think of my crime, if you like, which is removing Saddam Hussein and then I think of what frankly has happened in the world as we watch Syria unfold in these last years with hundreds of thousands of people dying, often innocent civilians, barrel bombs, starved, you know, subject to the most horrific weapons, including chemical weapons, and we have stood back and -- we in the West and again we bear responsibility for this, in Europe most of all, we've done nothing.

I don't know. I think that's a judgment of history I'm prepared to have. But we'll see. And if I -- you know, this was the most difficult decision I ever took in politics. And I was aware at the time I was taking it, that it was going to be politically extremely difficult.

I do point out, by the way, because I always do this to people. I did actually win an election after Iraq. But I agree, it's been a huge political problem. But I am the least significant aspect of this. It's what's happening today that should really concern us.

ZAKARIA: Tony Blair, pleasure to have you on.

BLAIR: Thank you, Fareed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, some saw the 2008 financial crisis coming. But how about being able to predict when Russia might invade Ukraine or when ISIS might attack America? When we come back, people who say they can do just that. Super forecasters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:28:22] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. America's intelligence community is faced with many urgent questions every day. Will Russia mount a full-scale war in Syria? Will Iran honor its commitment to the nuclear deal? Will ISIS launch an attack on American soil? U.S. intelligence agencies have more than $50 billion and paid 20,000 analysts to answer those kinds of questions according to one rough estimate.

But a group of regular citizens including lawyers and engineers and artists outperform the average analyst by about 30 percent, according to the "Washington Post." They had no access to classified information whatsoever, and their compensation was a $250 gift certificate to Amazon.

What in the world is going on here? The group is known as the Super Forecasters. And their story is told in the great new book by journalist Dan Gardener and Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Tetlock has studied the art of prediction for years. He made waves by showing that the average expert in fields like politics is about as good of a predictor as anyone making a random guess.

His most recent big endeavor, the Good Judgment Project, was funded by the U.S. intelligence outfit known as the Intelligence Advance Research Project Activity or IARPA, which invests in game-changing research to improve American intelligence.

Tetlock's team enlisted volunteers to make predictions on hundreds of topical questions, he says, ranging from the likelihood of Russia invading more of Ukraine to the fate of the Eurozone.

[10:30:01]

Over four years participants made more than a million forecasts, and Tetlock's team observed their best practices. The top performing two percent of these predictors, Tetlock's super forecasters were 60 percent more accurate than their peers, the book says. They were more accurate than online betting markets at predicting that the Scottish independence referendum wouldn't pass and outsmarted the pundits by predicting that OPEC would not lower its oil output.

So, what do these people have that others do not? A big key to the project success, writes Tetlock, was to turn the art of prediction into more of a science. Shockingly, he notes, many organizations, governments, cooperation and yes, the news media, spend lots of money making predictions and then never truly evaluate the accuracy of those predictions.

So, Tetlock's forecasters gave precisely quantified forecast. For example, not only predicting if Russia would invade Ukraine, put predicting when it would happen and giving numeric probabilities like 70 percent rather than saying, it's likely. These hard numbers allowed Tetlock to test the forecast repeatedly over time and improve their accuracy.

What's interesting, Tetlock says, is that predicting is a skill that can be honed, and anyone with a fair amount of intelligence can develop it with practice. So, he and his team identified some of the best forecasters' common traits. They tend to be open-minded considering information from lots of different sources. They embrace nuance, qualifying their assertions carefully and they work well with others disagreeing with people without being disagreeable to foster a healthy debate to inform their guesses.

Many of our politicians in Washington and elsewhere should heed these tips. Now, do you think you've got what it takes to be a super forecaster? Tetlock and his team are still taking volunteers. You can sign up on their website.

Next on GPS, Ben Bernanke on bringing the global economy back from the brink when he was Federal Reserve chair and whether it's time now to raise interest rates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:36:14]

ZAKARIA: My next guest, Ben Bernanke, was the chairman of the Federal Reserve board from 2006 to 2014. During that time, he served under two presidents, Bush and Obama and through one extraordinary global financial crisis, the worst since the Great Depression. I once called Bernanke the single individual responsible for preventing the financial crisis of 2008 from turning into something much worse. I still believe that, but he certainly has his detractors. Bernanke has just published his reflections on that time. It's called "The Courage to Act: A memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath." He joins me now.

Pleasure to have you on. BEN BERNANKE, FORMER FED CHAIRMAN: Nice to be here, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: When you've confronted this crisis and you started to think about what you're doing, you recount in the book that you and Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary had an exchange where you initially thought maybe you would buy $10 billion of treasury bills a week and then you guys decided no, that's just too little. Just make it 25. So you're buying now $100 billion of Treasury bills a month. How did you have the - I suppose courage to do this? There would be another word as well. But I mean didn't you feel like you were jumping into uncharted waters?

BERNANKE: Well, no, the economy needed more help. The unemployment in fall of 2009 was 10 percent. We were worried about inflation falling too low hitting the deflationary zone, and we had Japan has an example of an economy where we didn't want to go there into deflation. And we had to figure out what was the next thing we could do. We were not getting much help from Congress. It was falling on the Fed to act. And this was a strategy that the Japanese had tried. And we thought we pretty much understood what happened. And particularly, we were not concerned. You know, the many critics say it was going to cause hyperinflation and it's going to cause a dollar to collapse. We understood the analytics, I think better. We were sure that that was not going to happen.

So, it wasn't the best option, that, you know, in some ideal sense, but it was - it gave us a way to help the economy grow out of a really deep recession.

ZAKARIA: You talked about a meeting that you had during the crisis with Republican members of Congress. And they've looked over - the Republican - you were appointed by President Bush and they were berating you for what you were doing. And they didn't see why you were doing all this. They thought I'm not seeing this in my districts.

BERNANKE: Right. Right. Well, this was - this was before the quantitative easing. This was during the crisis itself. This was in September of 2008, and this was after Lehman Brothers had failed. And Paulson and I and President Bush were asking Congress to pass the tarp bill, which would provide capital so the government could make equity investments in banks and help restore financial stability. And the Republican - the Democrats, I'm not saying, picking on Republicans, but we had a meeting with the Republican caucus in the House, and they were saying, you know, first of all, we don't want to do this. But second of all, we're not seeing any problems in our home districts. You know, it's all Wall Street, nothing to do with us. We see no problems at all at home. And I said to them, you will. Because I understood that you can't have a collapse of the financial system and the rest of the economy emerge unscathed.

The work I had done as an academic, for example, suggested that financial crisis can lead to very serious recessions. And this was just another example of that.

BERNANKE: Looking forward, do you think that, you know, there's a great deal of concern in the United States and unease about the economy. Because even though the economy seems to produce, for the average American, particularly the average American who may not have a fancy college degree, it doesn't seem to be producing.

[10:40:00]

BERNANKE: That's right.

ZAKARIA: What do you say to them?

BERNANKE: Well, it's absolutely true. And our economy is growing, but it isn't benefiting everybody and that's obviously, a big problem. And over the last 40 years or so we've seen globalization. We've seen huge amount of technical change. We've seen institutional change. And all those things have generally worked against the guy with the high school degree and not too much experience with technological change. So, it's a very tough problem. A very long term problem. One do we need to address as a country. It's not something that monetary policy can do much about. But I hope that, you know, we will work, continue to work as a country to try to address this. Because if you don't have, if the economy is not broadly serving the population and if people don't have a chance to get ahead, you know, really the economy is not doing what we want it to do.

ZAKARIA: Final question, should Janet Yellen raise interest rates at the next Fed meeting?

BERNANKE: Oh, I'm not going to second. You know, I was her predecessor. And I certainly don't want to cause her more trouble by second guessing. She's got some tough calls. And she's going to be looking at trying to assess how strong the recovery is. Because right now we have a recovery in the United States, which is domestically pretty strong. Housing is strong, autos, you know, consumer spending has been pretty good. But we have a global economy. Merging markets, China where which has been slowing. And that has been a sort of a head winder dragging our economy, and so the tough decision that she and her colleagues have to make is, is there enough domestic momentum to keep us moving forward despite these drags from abroad. And that's - I think that's really the essence of the question she has to answer.

ZAKARIA: Ben Bernanke, pleasure to have you.

BERNANKE: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Up next, the president of one of the largest and most important countries in the world, a country roiled by crisis. When we come back, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:46:13]

ZAKARIA: My next guest is Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil. She runs the largest country by size in South America. Indeed, it is the largest in the entire Southern hemisphere. By population it is the sixth largest in the world and its economy is the eighth largest in the world. It's an extremely important nation, but how it's fallen from the days when it was the first letter in the bricks. The emerging countries that bankers placed great expectations on. Today Brazil is in crisis. Actually, it's in many crises. The first and foremost of them is the country's economy. Just last week Fitch downgraded Brazil's credit to just above junk status. Meanwhile S&P has already declared it junk. The nation's unemployment rate grew by more than 50 percent between last year and this year. And many analysts believe that Brazil could actually face an economic crisis that could have global consequences.

Those economic problems are compounded by political ones. The cause for President Rousseff's impeachment grow louder every day. According Reuters' a recent poll recorded the lowest ever approval ratings for a Brazilian government. Just 10 percent of those polled rated Rousseff's government great or good. I asked the president about her troubles, but I began by asking about her unique personal history.

Madame President, thank you so much for joining us.

DILMA ROUSSEFF, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It's a pleasure to be here with you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: For those of our viewers who have not encountered you and your story, you were part of a revolutionary movement that was fighting the military dictatorship of Brazil after the coup in '64, '65. Then you were jailed in 1970 to '72. What does it feel like to have gone through that background of really being a kind of - you've been described as a Marxist revolutionary and now you're the president of Brazil.

ROUSSEFF: Yes, Fareed. I am part and parcel of the history of Brazil. So, my life trajectory very much reflects the country's trajectory and history in as much as we came out of a very sad chapter in our history. I was arrested for three years during that period and during that period all of us had to fight for our freedom. From that point in time onwards, the movement, of course, evolved and Brazil became a fully-fledged democracy.

ZAKARIA: You were tortured, even though you were a woman. What did that do? How did that change you?

ROUSSEFF: The only way to overcome torture is by being able to come out of it without any hatred, without any sense of revenge or persecution, but with a firm conviction that never again can you allow your country, your nation to again practice this kind of torture due to political reasons or to any other reasons.

ZAKARIA: So, let's talk about Brazil and its current crisis. Growth in your presidency has averaged 2.1 percent, which is less than half that of your predecessor. And a lot of your critics say that what happened was Brazil had this golden opportunity. China was growing. China was importing a lot of things that Brazil exported. So, you had a lot of growth and you had a chance to make the reforms that would have put Brazil in a very strong position, but that instead that period was wasted.

ROUSSEFF: No notice. We did not miss that golden opportunity to change the Brazilian economy.

[10:50:02]

I think, perhaps, the main value we have achieved in this period was that never before in the history of Brazil the country evolved to become a middle class economy with an extremely strong consumer market. We brought out of extreme poverty 36 million people within a very short time span between ten to 12 years only. And we uplifted into the middle class 40 million people. Brazil used to be a predominantly mainly poor country and it has become a predominantly middle class country.

ZAKARIA: But you will use this crisis to push forward structural reforms?

ROUSSEFF: Yes, that's why I'm telling you that the main issue from now onwards, we now have a clear cut commitment towards social security reform. We have a commitment to a tax reform. We have set up a social security farm in Brazil to discuss precisely social security and the proposed reform. We want to leave this legacy. A legacy where we take advantage of the crisis, a painful experience, yes, but we take advantage of it as an opportunity to engage in the reforms that will prove decisive for the upcoming cycle of growth.

ZAKARIA: You face a possible impeachment process back in Brazil. You've described this, you've compared it in some ways to the coup of 1964, '65, when the military took over. But isn't this a case the opposition party says that they're investigating deep, deep corruption that has taken place under your administration? It - in other aspects of the government. Is this not a fair issue to be investigated? It seems pretty serious.

ROUSSEFF: No, please notice one thing, Fareed. The main problem with those who want my impeachment is their lack of motivation. The fact is that those who open the investigation, not only allowing it to proceed, but also moving and preparing institutions and giving them the conditions to go ahead was indeed, my administration.

So, what's really going on in Brazil? Well, what's going on in Brazil is that we had a major conflict during the elections. Of course, elections are marked by conflictive relations. That's normal. And traditionally, of course, you have the disputes or the competitions during the elections and after, of course, that is over, a new stage starts.

So, once the elections are finished, of course, you reestablish political relations. It was not so this time around.

We have to be very careful about this issue for the following reason. Our democracy is still in its adolescent stage.

ZAKARIA: Madam President, thank you so much for joining us.

ROUSSEFF: Thank you for the opportunity. It's been a pleasure talking to you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: China's president Xi Jinping visited Great Britain this week and was greeted with much pomp and circumstance. The visit was set up to be all about trade and commerce. It brings me to my question of the week. From which country does Britain import the most goods? The United States, Germany, Ireland or China? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

This week's book of the week is not a book, but a magazine. The November - December issue of "Foreign Affairs" is headlined "The Post- American Middle East." It's really a suburb collection of essays on the turmoil in the region and what outsiders can and cannot do about it. It's on newsstands everywhere.

And now for the last look. Computers, phones and cameras are backed up to hard drives and servers. But did you know that chick peas and fava beans are backed up as well? Take a look at this strange structure built in the permafrost on an island between mainland, Norway and the North Pole? It is the world's largest seed bank referred to as the Doomsday Vault. Its mission is to safeguard the world's agriculture from catastrophe. With seeds from the bank, the world would have a way to bring back plants species, obliterated by things like droughts or fires or worse.

Well, this month Norwegian officials announced the bank's first ever withdrawal had been made. The cataclysmic event that necessitated this first doomsday withdrawal was not nature's fury, but the Syrian civil war. You see, the Syrian city of Aleppo was home to a seed bank that has more than 140,000 seed samples including the world's most valuable barley collection, as CNN's Arwa Damon pointed out. Threatened by the war in 2012, the scientists had shipped 80 percent of those seeds to banks like this one in Norway for safe keeping. Today, the organization is building new facilities outside Syria and withdrew 38,000 seeds from the Norway bank to begin replenishing their seed supply. It just goes to show this type of back up can be crucial for environmental and manmade disasters.

The correct answer to the GPS challenge question is B. 14.9percent of Britain's imports came from Germany in 2014, but China was second with 8.8 percent.

Don't forget my documentary, "Long Road to Hell; America in Iraq" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for all of you for being part of my program this week.

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ZAKARIA: I will see you next week.