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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Who's Responsible for the Rise of Trump?; What Economics Has to Do with the 2016 Race; A Look at Iran's Elections; The DNA Science Behind CRISPR; Integrating Refugees into Society. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired March 6, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:18] 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.
We'll start today's show with the American campaign. How did Trump succeed? Does his success reveal a problem in the Republican Party or has he tapped into something important and deep about the country?
I will talk to the "Wall Street Journal's" Bret Stephens and the "New York Times'" Paul Krugman, who will also explain just how the economy plays into the presidential race.
Then from American to Iranian politics. The Persian people went to the polls last week. Headline after headline said the result was a big win for moderates there.
So has the Obama strategy with Iran worked?
I will ask two distinguished Iran experts, Vali Nasr and, from Tehran, Thomas Erdbrink.
And what characteristics would your perfect child have? Blue eyes, green, or brown? Blond hair, brown, black, or red? In time, you might be able to order the specific child via gene editing.
I will talk to one of the pioneers in this fascinating field, Jennifer Doudna.
Also, a country's capital and many other cities, a quarter million people, plunged into the darkness by a devastating cyber attack. And officials warned, it could happen next in the United States.
But first, here's my take. A main cause of the rise of extremism in the world of Islam has been the cowardice of Muslim moderates who for decades chose not to condemn bad ideas and ugly rhetoric. Fearing that they'd be seen simply as ideological weaklings, they avoided confronting the cancer in plain sight. It is now clear that a similar dynamic has been at play in the world of conservatism.
Mitt Romney should be congratulated for making a speech calling Donald Trump a phony and a fraud. But where was he when, in 2012, casting Trump was pushing his nasty and utterly false campaign casting doubt on President Obama's American citizenship?
By Trump's side in Las Vegas, as E.J. Dionne reminds us in his book, "Why the Right Went Wrong."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are some things that you just can't imagine happening in your life. Having his endorsement is a delight. I'm so honored and pleased to have his endorsement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: And while he generally issued birtherism, Romney fed the fires later that year by joking, no one's ever asked to see my birth certificate.
There have always been radicals on both sides of the political spectrum, but what is different about the conservative movement is that since the 1990s, some of its most distinguished mainstream members have embraced the rhetoric and tactics of the extremes.
A memo put out by Newt Gingrich's political action committee that decade urged Republican candidates to use savage rhetoric against their Democratic opponents. Some of the recommended words were failure, pathetic, disgrace, and incompetent. In the last month, Donald Trump has called Mitt Romney a failed candidate, Jeb Bush, pathetic, Lindsey Graham, a disgrace, and President Obama, totally incompetent. Perhaps he read the memo.
It is courageous of dozens of Republican foreign policies leaders now to sign an open letter condemning Trump publicly and refusing his candidacy. But over the last decade I can recall conservatives with many of these individuals in which they refused to accept that there was any problem within the Republican Party, attributing such criticism to media bias.
We still see this denial by some commentators with their truly bizarre claims of the rise of Trump is really all the fault of President Obama. The logic varies. For some it is because he has been so weak. The "Wall Street Journal" editorial page opined, "The oldest truism in politics is that demagogues flourish in the absence of leadership."
I must confess to never having heard that truism and wondered how it would explain the rise of Father Coughlin and Huey Long during Franklin Roosevelt's reign, or Joseph McCarthy under Dwight Eisenhower. For others, however, it's Obama has been too strong, abusing executive power and elevating himself to center celebrity stage.
[10:05:07] Apparently having Oprah share the stage with you leads to authoritarian populism.
Here's a much simpler explanation for Donald Trump. Republicans have fed the country ideas about decline, betrayal, and treason. They have encouraged the forces of anti-intellectualism, obstructionism and populism. They have flirted with bigotry and racism.
Trump merely chose to unashamedly embrace all of it, saying plainly what they were hinting at for years. In doing so, he hit the jackpot. The problem is not that Republican leaders should have begun to condemn Trump last year. It is that they should have condemned the ideas and tactics that led to his rise when they began to flourish in the last century.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
You've just heard my thoughts on the subject. Now let's bring in two of the nation's most prominent columnist, one liberal, one conservative.
Paul Krugman is an op-ed columnist for the "New York Times" and Bret Stephens writes the "Wall Street Journal's" "Global View" column. Paul has won the Nobel Prize for economics, not colonizing, and Bret the Pulitzer Prize.
Bret, you wrote a very powerful political column out this week in which you said this is now the kind of conservative gutter. But the question is, who is to blame and how did it happen?
BRET STEPHENS, COLUMNIST, WALL STREET JOURNAL: It's a big question. Obviously there are a lot of reasons but one of them, I put the sort of immediate blame on the failure of people like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, to call out Trump, a lot of people in the conservative media, who sort of made him -- made a guy whose politics aren't really aligned with much of the Republican Party or the conservative movement, make him seem like a respectable, plausible presidential candidate when I wish, back in the summer when he was sort of a soap bubble, that they might have popped him.
I mean, there are other forces at play as well. I mean, Trump, I think, is the beneficiary, if that's the word, of years of bad economic growth, semi stagnation, low labor participation rate, people who feel that they have been cheated, and he is offering a diet of populist anger which is very attractive to them. I mean, if they would listen a little more closely, maybe they would understand that his answers are probably not the ones that are going to help them out.
ZAKARIA: What do you think?
PAUL KRUGMAN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well --
ZAKARIA: What caused Trump?
KRUGMAN: I think it's -- it's just coming out into the open something that's been really a part of modern conservatism in America for a very, very long time. When I read Bret's column, I was -- almost fell off my chair. Bill Buckley as the epitome of the clean -- you know, clean conservatism, none of this -- this is the Bill Buckley who wrote, "The south must prevail, white community in the south is entitled to take such measures that are necessary to prevail in areas in which it does not predominate numerically because the white community is the advanced race."
I mean, this is -- this has been part of how America's right has gotten people out to vote for it for many, many years and Trump is just splitting up the package. He's saying, you can have all of that without having to buy into supply side economics.
STEPHENS: Well, I think it's -- I mean, I'm not certainly going to defend what Bill Buckley wrote 50 years ago but I think it's incredible to suggest that, say, the editorial page of the "Wall Street Journal" that has been arguing for free trade, has been arguing for a liberal immigration regime, I think has been arguing for a responsible foreign policy that opposes dictators like Putin suddenly should be blamed for the rise of Trump.
I mean, I think we are the editorial page on right that has been most outspoken about this kind of populism which, by the way, on economic grounds actually is much closer to Professor Krugman in its support for or opposition to entitlement reforms, its skepticism about free trade than it is to us. I mean, people -- I'm not the first to point out that Donald Trump on economics, with the exception of the immigration question, is really a figure of the left or maybe of traditional blue collar union Democratic views.
What he mixes into that is a kind of a toxic bigotry, hatred of Mexicans, hatred of Muslims. So he brings together two different streams but the suggestion that some other conservative, quote, "establishment," is responsible for a guy they are doing everything in their power to oppose, I mean, it's not -- it's not a sensical argument.
KRUGMAN: Well, a couple of things. One is I -- the discovery that you're making is that the Republican base doesn't actually care about any of the economic principles that the Republican elite has been espousing.
[10:10:07] They really -- they probably never have. But this is now coming out into the open because, again, as I said the package is being split up.
The whole -- the idea that this is about economics really does not hold up in the face of the data. If you look at where are the areas where Trump has the greatest support, they are not very well correlated with economic conditions. They are very well correlated with racism. And so it really is -- this is the racial enmity, if you like, that has been a big driver of politics in America, mostly the benefit of one party, and not the Democrats, is now fueling Trump. So -- but among people I talked to it's become kind of a running joke.
Every time we see some very overt racism among Trump supporters they say, look at that economic anxiety. This is not -- there's economic anxiety out there, it feeds into everything. But that's not what Trump is riding about.
STEPHENS: We're not -- you know, you're not saying something that I haven't said already. There is no question that there's a lot of bigotry that is being expressed here, particularly bigotry when it comes to immigration and it's this toxic mix of economic anxiety about competition for lower wage workers, it's about free trade, and also this kind of sense that this country is somehow being invaded by these aliens who somehow don't belong here.
What you need is, in fact, a robust conservative establishment to fight back and say, these are not ideas that are at all representative of our movement and Trump is essentially trying to engineer a hostile takeover of what the Republican Party is about. That should mean some support for the Republican establishment, so-called, not its denigration and the suggestion that we're somehow complicit in Trump's rise when we're the guys who are actually trying to fight it and might still prevail in stopping it.
ZAKARIA: You have been very tough on Trump, and you have been always a free trade open borders kind of conservative. But the argument here is that people like you, the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page and stuff, did not do enough to nip some of these forces in the bud, meaning the birtherism, the insinuations that Obama was not an American, that he was a Muslim.
STEPHENS: Not remotely true.
ZAKARIA: That Sarah Palin's, you know, kind of -- celebration of anti-intellectualism, all these forces were encouraged.
STEPHENS: Not remotely true. Read Peggy Noonan on Sarah Palin going back to 2008, read my columns on Trump when the first -- when it first became clear he was going to be taken seriously. So the suggestion that somehow the editorial page of the "Wall Street Journal" was winking and nodding at this kind of -- these kinds of remarks, the birtherism most certainly, conspiracy theorists like Jerome Corsi, I think we've been -- our record is outstanding in denouncing this kind of thing.
And by the way, this is true still for a great majority of Republicans who, if you add them up, if you still do the math, I think don't want to see Donald Trump has their standard bearer. So we have to keep in mind that Donald Trump is not yet fait accompli, he does not represent the Republican Party, he represents a wing of the Republican Party. This is a fight within the movement and it's a fight that those of us on our side looking at someone like Donald Trump want to win it. We should be having some help, by the way, from the other side.
ZAKARIA: All right. Bret Stephens, as always, thank you for your thoughts. Paul Krugman, stay with me. We're going to come back and talk about the subject you won your Nobel Prize for, which is, as I say, not colonizing but economics. And what is the state of the economy.
[10:18:02] ZAKARIA: We are back now on GPS with Paul Krugman, talking about how economics play so deeply into the 2016 presidential race and the results we've been seeing. So a lot of the argument nowadays is that there is this great economic
anxiety that the just economy hasn't taken off, that this recovery has been incredibly slow, but a lot of people have also pointed out the recovery, as it were, has been slow for 15, 20 years, in a sense. Ever since the end of the Clinton boom.
KRUGMAN: That's right.
ZAKARIA: Why is that happening?
KRUGMAN: Well, Fareed, the real answer is, at least in large part, we don't know. But we've had not a whole lot of productivity growth, widening income inequalities so the pie isn't getting bigger very fast and a growing slice of it is going to a few people at the top. And I've tried to ask what that's about, some of it is -- well, we basically took everything that we learned from the 1930s and proceeded to ignore it. We did all the wrong things in the face of the financial crisis. We dealt with the immediate crisis, we saved the banks, we dealt with the crisis, the potential, total downward spiral but everything since then has been moving in the wrong direction.
ZAKARIA: And Larry Summers has an article in "Foreign Affairs" saying we're in a very unusual situation, you call it the liquidity trap. He calls it secular stagnation. It's sort of similar.
KRUGMAN: I mean, yes, and --
ZAKARIA: He says that the only answer right now is really vigorous public spending or tax cuts. Would you agree?
KRUGMAN: I would say that that is the most -- that's the answer we know would work. And public spending, better than tax cuts for a variety of reasons. But --
ZAKARIA: Why? Explain that.
KRUGMAN: Well, because tax cuts, there always the problem that they might not be spent. We already have a -- we have a problem essentially of too much saving, chasing too few private investment opportunities. And if you cut taxes, you know, it might simply lead people to save even more, particularly if the tax cuts go to people at the top. So -- and meanwhile we have a crying need for public spending.
[10:20:04] We have obviously deteriorating infrastructure. We have obvious high needs and given the environment this is a time to put unemployed resources to work to do all that spending.
ZAKARIA: You have a great chart in your blog of construction spending over the last 20 or 30 years, and there it is.
KRUGMAN: Yes. There we are.
ZAKARIA: And what it shows is that it's really extraordinary how really since '07, '08 it's just collapsed. KRUGMAN: That's right. We had a sharp drop. A lot of that because a
lot of it is taking place at the state and local level and they've been financially strapped. But also there's been this anti-public spending ideology. You know, even when it's so obviously needed. I have a vested interest, myself, in real time between New York and New Jersey, which Chris Christie canceled even though the feds would have paid for most of the cost just to please the Republican base, who he thought were going to make him their nominee, but anyway, and that's an amazing thing.
Here we are desperately in need of spending and of course in a financial environment, when if now if ever you should be spending if only because it's so cheap to borrow.
ZAKARIA: And take a look at this. The other part of your graph is, yes, that's the interest rate, cost it would --
ZAKARIA: The cost of borrowing the money to spend on infrastructure has never been less.
KRUGMAN: That's 30-year bonds. So the federal government can borrow for 30 years, at 3 percent, which, you know, adjusted for inflation, is practically nothing. And we have this crying need for public spending and we have this crying need, you know -- the stuff you can see, roads and bridges and all of that, but also the stuff you can't, like sewer lines, and instead we're cutting back. And that is -- that is insane fundamentally.
ZAKARIA: Now does it worry you that Donald Trump agrees with you in his Super Tuesday press conference, the one public -- he talked about two public issues, Planned Parenthood which is good and public infrastructure is crumbling.
KRUGMAN: Look, my view on the Republican side is that Donald Trump is a very frightening guy and so are they all, and in fact, to the -- on the places where he deviates from, Republican orthodoxy, you know, on economic policy, he's usually right. That doesn't mean I want to see him actually making those decisions but from his point of view, it's probably possible contracts for his friends but still -- or for himself.
ZAKARIA: What -- what about, though, I don't know how Trump makes sense of this, the other thing he keeps railing about is the debt. Now if you spend more, the argument goes, at this point, without debt, GDP ratio haven't gone up dramatically, this is not the time to add debt. What do you think?
KRUGMAN: A couple of things. First, it's not -- although it's high by recent standards, lots of advanced countries including us have had higher debt ratios than we have now without anything terrible happening. The other thing is, given what we think we know, particularly about infrastructure spending, if you're going to spend on public investment, that's going to mean a bigger economy down the road which means more tax receipts and it's really quite -- it's quite easy to make the case that if anything, it's penny wise, pound foolish, that spending more on public investment might well be a positive even in purely fiscal terms.
ZAKARIA: Because it will grow the economy which will grow tax receipts.
ZAKARIA: And in a sense grow the denominator.
KRUGMAN: Yes. Now I wouldn't bet my life on that being true, although I think it's probably true, but for sure, the true cost of spending more is very little and now -- if not now, when? We have unemployed construction workers, we have unemployed capitalist, that's what those low interest rates are telling you. Put them to work doing things that we badly need to do.
ZAKARIA: Paul Krugman, pleasure to have you on.
Tonight on CNN, don't miss the next Democratic debate, live from Flint, Michigan, at 8:00 p.m. Clinton versus Sanders. Who will come out ahead?
Next on GPS, I'm going to tell you about a devastating cyber attack overseas. The likes of which U.S. officials say could happen here shutting down whole cities.
[10:27:46] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. You've seen the scene in the movies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to shut it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Cyber terrorists hack into the power grid and shut it down, leaving modern society without electricity. The lifeblood of the modern world.
Well, it looks look a version of that dystopia has actually happened in the real world for the first time. On December 23rd, hackers infiltrated Ukraine's utilities with a sophisticated, devastating cyber attack leaving almost a quarter of a million people without power. Three separate power companies were hit with malware that destroyed many of their computers, according to a special investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other American government agencies.
The Ukrainians believe that Russia was responsible because the hackers used tools similar to previous attacks, also alleged by Russia. In fact, the blackout was only the latest act of cyber war in Ukraine, part two originate from Russia. Cyber experts say that Russia hacked Ukraine's military, stealing
valuable intelligence to help Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. Russia has faced allegations of hacking against Ukraine in the past and has generally denied or not responded to these claims. The Kremlin, to our knowledge, hasn't commented on the power grid attack.
A new cyber war arms race is exploding, one that is smarter and potentially more destructive than anything we've seen before. At least 29 countries now have specific units that conduct offensive hacking operations, the "Wall Street Journal" reports. What's more, the United States appears to be ramping up its own cyber attacks.
This week Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that hackers of the U.S. Cyber Command have mounted an offensive against ISIS from their headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, overloading computer networks and disrupting communications. But while the United States takes on ISIS the threat to the American homeland looks severe. In his recent report to Congress, assessing threats from around the world, intelligence head James Clapper didn't mention ISIS or nuclear terrorism first. He talked about cyber attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[10:30:03] JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Attacks against us are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity of impact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are the biggest threats, Clapper said.
And while he downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic cyber- attack, he said more moderate-level attacks could keep coming and inflict a lot of damage.
After the attack on Ukraine's power grid, the Obama administration told American utilities and other vulnerable targets that what happened in Kiev could happen in the United States.
Terrorism expert Phil Mudd told us that America's civilian infrastructure is disturbingly vulnerable to cyber-terrorism. "We are dealing with industries that are designed to provide services to the public, not prevent secret attacks by the Russians or Chinese," he says. "Anyone who tells me we're prepared for this, I would say, 'You're kidding me,'" he adds.
Cyberspace was meant to be the cool, new frontier of knowledge, commerce and culture. It has now become the new frontier of great power competition and war. And the United States will need to learn how to play defense in cyberspace, just as well as it plays offense.
Next on "GPS," the Iranian elections: Who won, the liberals, the moderates, the conservatives, President Obama? I will talk to the experts when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Twenty-sixteen, of course, isn't an election year only in the United States, although you might think that if you're a consumer of American news. Last Friday, 33 million Iranians voted. That's reportedly about 60 percent of eligible voters. Those voters were going to the polls to choose members of parliament, as well as to cast ballots for Iran's very powerful Assembly of Experts, the committee of clerics that, among other important duties, chooses the country's all- powerful Supreme Leader.
So what happened and why does it matter to the rest of the world?
Joining me now in Tehran is Thomas Erdbrink. He is based there for the New York Times. And in New York is Vali Nasr, a former top State Department official, who is now the dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Vali, start -- let me start with you. Help us understand what actually happened and who won, because you hear a lot about how the liberals won, but then you hear a lot out how, no, actually the liberals weren't even allowed to contest because there was this very elaborate screening mechanism which rejected most of the liberal candidates.
So, just -- you know, very simply, who won; who lost?
VALI NASR, DEAN, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INT'L STUDIES: Well, this was a humiliating defeat for conservatives. Symbolically, some -- some key conservative figures lost their seats in the parliament and also in the Assembly of Experts. So, symbolically, this was a humiliation for them.
This was not a victory for liberals. It was a victory for the group that President Rouhani wanted to dominate, which I would say are centrists in Iran, people who would support engagement with the outside world, would support the nuclear deal.
I would say, you know, in terms of American politics, this is spaced somewhere between Hillary Clinton and Kasich on the Republican side. And I think that's what Rouhani wanted. He didn't want a reformist victory because that would have been disruptive. He wanted to remove from the parliament those elements who were going to object to the nuclear deal and further engagement. He wanted to empower the middle around the idea of supporting the nuclear deal, and that's -- that's the result that he got, and it's significant for that reason.
ZAKARIA: Thomas Erdbrink, you say that there's still considerable confusion in Iran about what these results mean?
THOMAS ERDBRINK, NEW YORK TIMES BUREAU CHIEF IN IRAN: Well, that of course has to do, Fareed, with -- with Iran's electoral system. Here there's no such thing as parties. And the ministry of interior that gives out the official results of the elections has said that 220 seats out of the 290-seat parliament have had candidates winning in these elections. These seats are taken. But they don't disclose the -- the political affiliation, if you will, of these candidates. So that makes it, sort of, a guessing game for the media to see who has won what.
But what is clear, as Mr. Nasr also explained, is that this was a big win, at least in Tehran, for the reformist, moderate, centrist camp, if you will -- the label doesn't really matter -- over these hard- liners who have been in power here at least for the past decade.
ZAKARIA: Vali, can you explain why the -- the real liberal wing was not -- was one that Rouhani didn't want?
I mean, I suppose what you're saying is that the sort of -- the people from Hillary to Kasich won; the people, you know, to the right, as it were, the Cruzes and Trumps, I suppose, lost. But why did the Sanders people not win? And why were they not even allowed to -- to run?
And why does the government, Rouhani, this reformist government, not want them in the coalition?
NASR: Well, as Thomas said, they were not even allowed to run because reformists are seen as being dedicated to changing the system.
I think Rouhani, from when he became president, tried to avoid the idea that he was the president that was going to change Iran's system, if not, sort of, topple it. He rather has tried to build a coalition around the importance of reforming Iran's economy, engaging with the outside world and concluding a nuclear deal in order to facilitate those things.
I think he's confident that there is a broader spectrum of Iranian leaders and people across the political spectrum that would support that idea.
ZAKARIA: Vali, is this a vindication of Obama's Iran strategy?
NASR: I think so. I think President Obama and Secretary Kerry are -- are big winners in this election because it proves that the assumptions that they had, about the fact that you could make a deal with Iran and that that would probably open the door for greater engagement has now proven right.
I think one of the things that happened in this election, insofar as the election was a referendum on engaging the world and building on a nuclear deal, that now the Iranian public has engaged the United States and the outside community, and in many ways is now providing a great deal more support to continuation of engagement.
And we have to note that even though conservatives will continue to control the parliament, that Iran's not going to change very quickly, that -- that the symbolism of what happened in the election will give much greater room to President Rouhani to maneuver and he will -- and he will also produce a parliament that's not going to be as obstructionist as it was before.
ZAKARIA: Thomas, we often hear that in Iran people are pro-American. Do you think they view this as an opportunity to have further cooperation with the United States? ERDBRINK: Well, I think the people who voted for this -- this
reformist/centrist coalition definitely hope that the policies as set out by President Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will be continued. And of course, in the future, they are hoping, maybe, for real diplomatic relations, other than just, you know, to a foreign minister and a secretary of state picking up the phone and calling each other every now and then.
But, again, they are realistic. The -- anti-Americanism is one of the pillars of Iran's official state ideology, and it will take a very long time for that just to just go away. Still, they hope that this might happen -- again, the people in the cities. But this is not something that the system wants at this point.
ZAKARIA: A vindication, I suppose, of evolutionary change over revolutionary change.
Gentlemen, thank you very much. A pleasure to have you on.
ZAKARIA: "Clustered," "regularly," "interspaced," "short," "palindromic," "repeats" -- what in the world do those words mean?
Well, the words might save or change your life, so you better get to know them. Those words describe a technique better known by its acronym, "CRISPR."
Whatever you call it, it is mind-blowing science. Let's harken back to high school for a second, and what you hopefully learned about DNA. Those are the double-helical strands that contain all of our genetic information, the software inside each human being.
Errors in our DNA can lead to disorders and diseases, and CRISPR is able to fix those errors by getting down to the genetic level and cutting out the DNA error and, in some cases, replacing the bad code with good code. It's extraordinary. But it also strikes fear in the minds of many who worry we are opening a Pandora's box.
Dr. Jennifer Doudna is a biochemist at Berkeley and one of the pioneers of CRISPR technology. Many of her colleagues believe that she will win a Nobel Prize for her work on CRISPR.
Jennifer Doudna, pleasure to have you on.
JENNIFER DOUDNA, BIOCHEMIST, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT BERKELEY: Pleasure to be here.
ZAKARIA: So, just to understand how this works, if you had cystic fibrosis, for example, there it is -- there's one letter in the genetic code that seems to cause it. You can go in and literally just edit that letter and the person would not have cystic fibrosis?
DOUDNA: That's the idea, exactly. You can cut the DNA so that you can repair it in such a way that that single letter is now replaced with a letter that makes a corrected gene, encodes a corrected protein. So this is a technology that's only about 3 1/2 years old, and we're already seeing, you know, examples of animal models of disease being cured using this. So I think that tells us that, you know, we can see that the capabilities of this are really powerful.
I think that, you know, likely within the next, maybe, one to two years we'll see the first clinical trials with -- of this technology. And, you know, it's always hard to predict, right? But I think certainly within 10 years I would hope that we have the first therapies coming forward with this, maybe sooner.
ZAKARIA: Talk about this extraordinary example in Brazil, where they are using CRISPR, this technology, to deal with the problem of malaria and mosquitoes that carry malaria.
DOUDNA: Right. Well, so one of the great things about this technology is that it works in essentially any kind of cell, including an insect's. And one of the ways that it's been employed in the laboratory so far is to drive a trait through a population very quickly, in a process called gene drive. And so the idea with -- with mosquitoes is to use it to actually either deplete a population of mosquitoes or make them incapable of carrying a dangerous virus.
ZAKARIA: And so the way you do that is you edit the -- the genetic makeup of the mosquito so that you effectively render them infertile, the next generation of mosquitoes, right, so they can't reproduce themselves, and eventually they die out?
DOUDNA: That's right.
ZAKARIA: Is it working?
DOUDNA: Well, I think it's likely to work. And I think it's an interesting alternative to using -- having to use dangerous chemicals, for example, to control mosquitoes.
ZAKARIA: We're not quite there yet where you could edit the -- the genes in a way that you can order up a baby that you want, tall, blue- eyed, whatever, smart. But, clearly, there is that potential, and you are worried about the ethical dilemmas that it raises?
DOUDNA: I am. I think it's a very important topic to be discussing now. I think we can see that the technology is going in that direction. It will be possible eventually to make very targeted changes, probably, to human germ cells and embryos in a way that is effective. And so the question is, should we go there?
ZAKARIA: And what's your answer?
DOUDNA: My answer is I think that, in most cases, it's hard to imagine why this technology would be necessary for disease therapies in embryos. But I think that, you know, for making changes that might be prophylactic -- in other words, protective of health -- I think that potential is really very interesting. And I would like to see a global discussion about this because I think it's something that we as human beings now have to grapple with. We do have the capabilities to change our own DNA. ZAKARIA: The thought of it -- I mean, it really -- what you're
talking about is, in a sense, the capacity at some point down the road for some country that masters this technology to say, "We are going to try to create a master race, so we're going to create -- everybody in our country is going to be seven foot tall and smart and, you know, very strong. I mean, it's not -- this is not science fiction anymore?
DOUDNA: Yes and no. I mean, it's science fiction in the sense that today we don't know how to make the changes that would do that. But I think that we can see the capability for doing something like that in the -- you know, in the not-too-distant future.
ZAKARIA: So are you excited or apprehensive?
DOUDNA: Oh, excited. No, I think it's wonderful. I think -- I think the good to come from this is -- is going to be profound. And I just want to be, as a scientist involved in this technology, I really want to be part of, you know, the education about this; I want to be part of the discussion around the appropriate use of this, and really inviting a community conversation before we have -- we're, sort of, faced imminently with this possibility that you proposed.
ZAKARIA: Jennifer, pleasure to have you on.
DOUDNA: It's been great to be here, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," why some refugees in Berlin are learning a surprising new language. I'll explain.
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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Make America great again.
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ZAKARIA: This week, Donald Trump held his Super Tuesday press conference from Mar-a-Lago, a lavish 126-room Palm Beach estate that Mr. Trump owns. The estate, which was completed in 1927, was donated to the United States government by Marjorie Merriweather Post to use as a winter White House.
It brings me to my question of the week: Which president signed a law to give the property back to the Post Foundation, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan? Stay tuned, and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is Jeffrey Garten's "From Silk to Silicon." The author, a former dean of Yale's business school tells of the growth of globalization through 10 extraordinary lives, from Genghis Khan to Intel's Andy Grove. You will learn from each of these well-wrought tales, such as the one about Cyrus Field, who first connected the world through the telegraph. "You can rail against trade and globalization," says Garten, "but it's going to keep growing; it is our destiny to be ever more connected." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ZAKARIA: And now, for the last look, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power recently said, "The refugee problem is a 21st Century crisis that needs a 21st Century solution."
Well, on a small scale, some smart people in Germany seem to be doing just that. Germany, which officials estimate received more than 1 million refugees last year alone, is grappling with the challenges of integrating them into society.
One organization had an unusual idea. In the heart of Berlin, refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Eritrea and Lesotho are learning a language other than Deutsch. They're learning to code.
In all, 40 students are learning programming at the new Ready School of Digital Integration. Those high-tech skills could help them land good jobs.
RAMI RIHAWI, SYRIAN REFUGEE: I used to program and learn programming for two years back in Syria, and here, like, there's so many great programmers, and Berlin is, like, the city for start-ups.
ZAKARIA: And Germany needs them.
RIHAWI: There is a high demand for -- for programmers.
ZAKARIA: One German company says there are 43,000 open I.T. positions in Germany. The Ready classes are taught mainly in English.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it really is this (inaudible) folder that contains the (inaudible).
ZAKARIA: But, of course, the ones and zeros are universal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I.T. and programming is the language of the future.
ZAKARIA: The classes are free for the refugees and the laptops are donated. The main sponsor at the moment is a German steel company, but a bigger name has pledged to finance a class. And students were feeling inspired by meeting that company's founder. You may recognize Mark Zuckerberg in his signature hoodie.
RIHAWI: He's the godfather of our industry. And I got to meet him -- like, this is really great, like, this is awesome.
ZAKARIA: Twenty-first Century solution, indeed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I even heard stories about, like, being a programmer, like (inaudible) or Mark Zuckerberg -- like, because they start from nothing and, like, they are -- now they are everything.
ZAKARIA: The answer to this week's question is C. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter signed a law that turned the Mar-a-Lago estate back over to the Post Foundation due to high maintenance costs. Perhaps it will one day serve as a presidential retreat as Ms. Post intended when she donated it to the U.S. government. But she probably didn't foresee a President Trump.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.