Return to Transcripts main page
FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Navigating President Trump's Declaration of America First; Separating Fact From Fiction in the Trump Administration; Trumpian Politics, What's At Its Core?; Looking at Foreign Policy Challenges for Trump Administration; U.S.-China Relations. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 22, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:25] 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 coming to you live from New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Donald John Trump.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show the Trump inauguration and the four years to come. What the new president said on Friday about how he sees the world.
TRUMP: It's going to be only America first.
ZAKARIA: And what his Cabinet nominees tell us about how he will deal with that world. We have a great panel to tackle it all, Richard Haass, Anne-Marie Slaughter, William Cohen and Michael Doran.
And how can we understand the ideology of Donald Trump? A new journal has been launched to dissect exactly that. Does Trumpism have a philosophy and if so what is it? I'll talk to the magazine's editor.
Then China, Washington's new foe, and Russia, America's closest buddy? How will President Trump alter decades of precedent in these two critical relationships? We'll discuss it all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. On Friday we heard something unusual, even unprecedented in American history. We heard the newly sworn in president of the United States deliver an inaugural address that was an exercise in undiluted pessimism.
Donald Trump's description of the country he now leads is vivid. American carnage. It could be the title of a gangster movie. Trump's advisers like to compare him with that other populist president, Andrew Jackson, but Jackson's first inaugural address was milk toast in comparison to Trump's diatribe.
Indeed there's really no precedent no matter how grim the reality who has chosen to begin his term in office by painting America in dark tones of despair. In the midst of the Great Depression Franklin Roosevelt told the nation they had nothing to fear but fear itself, with a horrific civil war still in its last throes, Lincoln said, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to bind up the nation's wounds." And with unemployment at 4.7 percent and crime rates down to a 20-year low, Donald Trump spoke of American carnage.
Many of Trump's supporters would argue of course that this is appropriate. America is in dire straits. It has its problem but if you have any sense of history you would come to the opposite conclusion. America today is the world's largest and most dynamic economy. The economy has grown steadily, although slowly, for the last seven years among the longest such expansions of history. The stock market has more than doubled. Unemployment has plunged. The deficit as a percent of GDP is at a reasonable 40-year average.
And finally, after years and years of stagnation, the wages of average Americans, the so-called median income has begun to rise. Over a longer timeframe crime and violent crime are down substantially. Though there was a small uptick recently, homicide rates in the U.S. are now lower than they have been since the early 1960s. Our air and water is cleaner than it has been in decades. Discrimination has declined. Women and minorities have more opportunities to work in advance than ever before. And since 9/11, the United States has had no major terrorist attack on its soil. The number of Americans who have been killed by international terrorists since that date is under 100.
Of course, it's not just Trump. Many Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction and they themselves voiced some of this doom and gloom.
Why is that if the actual facts do not support such a grim picture? There are probably many explanations. But surely one of them might be that for many, many years now there has been a sustained campaign of outright negativism about the United States. Americans have been told by politicians, pundits and entire media organizations that their country was going to hell, destroyed by immigration, trade, crime, terrorism, multiculturalism and more.
On Friday, they were told this again by their president in his inaugural address. Is it any wonder that they believe it? Let's get started.
[10:05:07] So what does America first look like? Let's get straight to look at this new era. Joining me in Washington is William Cohen. A former Republican senator who also served as secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. He now heads the Cohen Group, a strategic consultancy.
Here in New York are Richard Haass and Anne-Marie Slaughter. They both served as directors of policy planning at the State Department. Richard served under President George W. Bush and now runs the Council on Foreign Relations. He's the author of "A World in Disarray," which was my "Book of the Week" last week. Anne-Marie served under President Obama and she now leads the think tank New America. And Michael Doran is here with me as well. He was a senior director in George W. Bush's National Security Council. He is now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
For anyone keeping score, that is three Republicans out of four on this panel.
Anne-Marie, I'm going to give you the first word. One of the things I was struck by was that Trump in an America first speech by his own definition began by thanking the people of the world. He does see this as something global, right?
ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NEW AMERICA: He does. He was announcing a global nationalist movement, that the parties in Europe, the right-wing parties, they're going to be meeting tomorrow to talk about this new support. He sees this as a resurgence of nationalism against globalism. Against globalization, against the global elite, the cosmopolitan elite. And he was very much putting America in that context, saying America will pursue its national interest and we expect other nations to pursue their national interest and this is a global movement.
ZAKARIA: What is it an America first strategy do to the kind of world in disarray that you described very effectively in your new book?
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: When you start talking about America first, it sends the signal that essentially we're going to have a very narrow calculation of our own self-interest and others therefore have to do the same. So one or two things I'm afraid are going to happen, Fareed. Either weaker states will essentially appease some of their powerful neighbors. We may see a little bit of that, say, in Asia towards China, or just as dangerous, I think the world is now on the verge of becoming something of a self-help society where people who have been dependent upon the United States, has essentially put their security in our hands, are going to say, well, hold it.
Against the backdrop of all the uncertainty of the last eight years and now we've got this new president who's talking about a very narrow definition of America's role in the world, they're going to say they can't count on us. And I think, for example, I wouldn't be shocked if over the next few years, we see more countries strike independent deals and even begin to think again about developing their own nuclear weapons programs simply because they can't be as confident about American security guarantees.
ZAKARIA: Yes. And I have to -- because I was struck by, you know, he said two simple rules we're going to have. Buy American and hire American. Of course if every country would adopt that rule, who's going to buy American exports? But that's -- Bill Cohen, let me ask you. You served as a Republican senator in the Reagan era. Does this strike you as a sharp break from, you know, Republicanism, Reaganism?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think it's a total break from Reaganism. President Reagan talked about open trade and free trade and engaging the world, not retreating from it. I just returned from Saudi Arabia and there I found the -- some of the leadership was enthusiastic about Mr. Trump, President Trump, because they want him and believe he'll take a harder line toward Iran and ISIS. On the other hand, they're also apprehensive that he may in fact have the U.S. embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and then find many of the street, so to speak, in the Arab world taking action in protest.
So there's a mixed reaction right now. And my fear also is that we're picking enemies. We're drawing red lines. One around North Korea. One around China. But not one around Russia. And so I think it's going to be quite four years of disarray.
ZAKARIA: Mike Doran, how does it strike you?
MICHAEL DORAN, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: I think he's laying the basis for a redefinition of the West. And I think it's going to lead to stability and prosperity. I see -- I don't really see the basis for fear. And you know, he just returned the Churchill bust to the White House. And I think that's a sign of a certain kind of mixture of nationalism and globalism. I don't think we should see these as opposing views.
And he's going to have Theresa May in Washington at the end of the week. And so we're going to have a new special relationship between Britain and the United States based on this idea of economic nationalism and I think that that will set the basis for a restructuring of the U.S.-European relation but not a destruction of what exist.
SLAUGHTER: Except the America first is his slogan.
[10:10:02] That's actually from the 1930s from the left. From a group of people at Yale Law School who were about keeping America out of wars. And what he's saying is we will not fight other countries' wars. We will not come to their aid. It's a vision of America that was absolutely anti-NATO and the internationalism of the post-World War.
DORAN: I don't think he looked at the history books for this. This is a very -- the slogan, what it means to the people that he's speaking to, the people in Ohio, Michigan and so forth is, I'm going to put your interest above the interest of our global commitments. And that's --
SLAUGHTER: That means of our allies.
DORAN: No, that means restructuring.
HAASS: But missing from all this is a sense of how the United States benefits and has benefitted from our leadership in the world. It was all about cost, not about benefits. But the return on investment to the United States of the last 75 years of global leadership is extraordinary. Stability in big parts of the world including Asia and Europe. Unbelievable prosperity in the United States. The world has essentially moved in directions. It's more open
economically. It's more open politically. That's what's missing from this. It's such a dark image. You talked about the dark image of American economy and society. But it's also a dark image of the world and it ought to be much more positive.
ZAKARIA: Bill Cohen, we've got 30 seconds. Do you think that this kind of pessimism, you know, how does the world react to it? You travel all the time. Does it -- you know, do they view it as an accurate picture?
COHEN: They are troubled by it because the American people have been the leaders of a liberal, globalized economy. And now they're trouble saying you're on your own. You can no longer count on the United States and therefore you must fend for yourself. If they have to fend for themselves they are unlikely to want to join the United States when it comes to the United States wanting them to participate in any particular either military action or diplomatic action.
I think going on -- being on your own means exactly that and I think it will lead to the destruction of the pillars of security that we have erected over the last 50 years.
ZAKARIA: All right. We will be back with much more from my all-star panel. I'm going to ask about the strange things Donald Trump has done since the inaugural. In other words, just yesterday.
[10:15:31] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Mike Doran, Richard Haass, Anne-Marie Slaughter and William Cohen.
I want to start with a split screen image of two inaugurals, Obama's and Trump's. And the reason I bring this up is because the president through his press secretary explicitly said that they had the largest inaugural in history. It was -- you know, the press secretary said it was much larger than Obama's.
I ask you to look at those two photographs. Obama's on the left. Trump's at the right. And the reason I bring this up is, you know, the word of the president of the United States, the word coming out of the official White House press secretary is important.
Bill Cohen, I recall a story that was told about the Cuban missile crisis. President Kennedy's envoy goes to Charles de Gaulle, the president of France, and tells them the Russians have put missiles in Cuba and he gives them an envelope and he says here are the aerial photographs to prove it. And the president of France says, I don't need to see the photographs. If the president of the United States tells me this, I assume it is true.
Isn't there something to be said for being absolutely scrupulous about voracity and accuracy when you are speaking from the podium of the White House?
COHEN: Absolutely. I may recall during the Watergate period with President Nixon, his attorney general said watch what we do and not what we say. Now that could have been interpreted in two ways, one that deeds speak louder than words, or as a policy of calculated duplicity.
Words have a kinetic power all of their own. And they can produce a reaction immediately in a world of nanotechnology and instant information. So being careful what you say and being truthful in what you say is critical to maintaining stability and peace in many parts of the world.
So your word is your bond. And if you don't tell the truth, you can't slip back -- I don't think -- in today's world into an Orwellian world, in which if you tell a lie long enough, it therefore becomes the truth. I don't think that can happen or should happen obviously in this world.
ZAKARIA: Mike, you are much more sympathetic toward Trump. You also have a very active Twitter account. You're a good tweeter. What do you make of this? I mean, should there be different rules? Are we in a different world where, you know, certain amount of exaggeration, bravado is OK? What am I missing?
DORAN: Well, first of all, there was a lot of this in the Obama presidency. Right? If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. The Israeli officials have told me about Americans coming while we were secretly negotiating with Iran and while they knew we were secretly negotiating with Iran, and American officials came and told them that that wasn't happening. So this -- you know, voracity is in the eye of the beholder. But I think the most important thing here is that --
ZAKARIA: You really believe that? That is all -- everybody does this the same? That this is not a kind of qualitative --
DORAN: I think it's -- I think the issue is what are we talking about and the key line is the one that Salena Zito famously wrote during the campaign that Trump's supporters -- Trump's detractors take him literally and not seriously and the supporters take him seriously but not literally. I think look at the picks that he's made for foreign policy. The -- his Cabinet picks are absolute mainstream Republicans. They'd be comfortable in any -- in any administration.
As Secretary Cohen said, look at what he does, not at what he says. I think that those picks, Mattis, Tillerson, Pompeo, they send a message of strength and stability to the world. And that I think is the most important thing.
And the other point I make, the one that Secretary Cohen alluded to. He said the Saudis realized that Trump is going to get serious with the Iranians. We see under President Obama a pulling back of American power, a kind of passivity. And I think our allies now they see that America is back. Very much in a Reaganesque way. And that also is going to have a stabilizing effect on the world.
ZAKARIA: What do you make of the CIA visit? You know, I have to confess. One of the things that upsets me is, you know, this constant -- he's repeated it many times, we should have taken Iraq's oil because, you know, he's not a candidate now.
[10:20:02] You kind of have to take this seriously. You can't just say, well, it doesn't matter. I mean, I don't know what the word -- what it means to not take it literally but to take Iraq's oil would be an act of colonial theft and exploitation that the United States has not done and any country has not done in 70 years. It would be illegal, immoral, would also mean a permanent occupation of Iraq.
HAASS: It would mean all of those things. It would mean the United States would be bogged down against a national armed resistance. Wars of conquest are not what this country is about. We fought these wars, whether you agreed with them or not, for certain principles. But I really profoundly disagree with what Michael just said. What you say matters. And you can't just speak to one audience. The president of the United States is not a candidate. The president of the United States is speaking to the entire world.
You have to broadcast, not narrow cast. So it has to been taken literally because it will be heard literally around the world. Also he's got a pretty big inbox. And I've written this book about a world on disarray. He's got a lot on his plate. He doesn't need to be going around the world picking fights over the size of crowds on the mall. He's got plenty to worry about including, by the way, his relationship with the Intelligence Community. And I thought yesterday was something of a missed opportunity to heal that breach, to really address the question of what his relationship will be with those who will speak truth to power.
ZAKARIA: You have 90 seconds. You told me before you disagreed with my take. Tell me why.
SLAUGHTER: Well, because I think you're looking at averages and certainly on average, the United States is doing much better in many ways. But I think Trump has tapped into the fact that large groups of Americans are not seeing any material improvement in their standards of living or their prospect or their hopes or their dreams even as others are succeeding far better and if you miss that, it's not because the media is telling you a bad picture of the United States, it's that their reality is so far removed from the elite reality or city reality that they wanted somebody who is actually speaking to them.
ZAKARIA: And of course, the question then becomes is, are his policies going to actually improve them? And --
SLAUGHTER: That's a very different story. I don't think so.
ZAKARIA: We are going to leave it at that. Richard Haass, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Mike Doran, and Bill Cohen in Washington, thank you so much.
We will be back in a moment to talk about the political philosophy of Donald Trump. What is it? I will talk to the editor of a new magazine founded to explain and examine just that.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:26:15] ZAKARIA: Donald Trump's politics are not traditionally conservative and because they're not traditionally liberal. So what are they? Something else all together? Something we've probably not seen for a while in America? And a new journal has been launched to examine and chart this new Trumpian philosophy.
The journal will be called "American Affairs" and Julius Krein is its editor. He joins me now as does Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation" magazine.
So, Julius, I think it's probably fair to call it about Trumpism because you have a developed ideology that sort of coincides with some of the things Trump has been saying. But presumably sometimes they're words. Just explain what your rationale was.
JULIUS KREIN, EDITOR, AMERICAN AFFAIRS: That's correct. Trump himself is certainly not an intellectual. I think he would repudiate it if you try to apply that term to him. And he hasn't necessarily articulated an agenda in a systematic theoretical way. That said, I think there are coherent or few core concepts, his opposition to trade or free trade dogma, his restrictive immigration policies, his call for more interest based foreign policy that do constitute a clear direction that he's trying to go.
ZAKARIA: And you came at this because during the Republican primary, you're a financial analyst and you started to write a blog pointing out something that I thought was very interesting as well which was that Trump was really alone among 17 candidates in diverging, disagreeing and dissenting from Reaganism, free trade, free markets, deregulation, entitlement cuts as the be all and end all of Republican philosophy.
KREIN: Yes, absolutely. Although it is interesting to point out that Reagan himself took a number of enforcement measures against the sort of free trade consensus even while he was president. That said, however, I think Trump is unique in that he won the presidency not only by opposing the Democratic Party but actually by repudiating the dogma of his own party. And that presents a -- a unique opportunity for a broader realignment in our politics that I've absolutely never seen in my lifetime and of course also some unique challenges in government.
ZAKARIA: How does this strike you?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, THE NATION: Well, I mean, first of all, I congratulate Julius for his courage in launching a new journal. "The Nation" launched more than 150 years ago. So I think it's too early -- any political historian would tell you it's too early to attach an ism to Trump, to this phenomenon. There are some core concepts. It is the case that he has upended some traditional core conservative ideas on corporate -- on free trade, on foreign policy.
But on -- you know, what we forget is that populism which has a long American history, he's driving a kind of reactionary populist in which we've seen throughout our history. But there's another populism which Bernie Sanders ran on in the primaries, which I think is worthy thinking about today. Because too often the tectonic events of 2016, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, are rightfully blamed on a failed neo-liberal consensus and elites who failed to listen to the forgotten men and women.
But there are different ways of doing that. And "The Nation" has -- you know, has challenged and championed people to think about a populist that is inclusive, not divisive, that doesn't scapegoat as Donald Trump's does. And I think that's very important to remember because there was going to be a fight on inside both parties, Republican and Democratic. And the ascendancy of a populist progressive wing inside the Democratic Party, it seems critical to me now in the wake of Trump's election that if the party is going to rebuild and revive.
ZAKARIA: So if Trump ends up becoming the sort of populist, protectionist, nationalist candidate, right, it feels to me like the politics is realigning around that kind of open-closed dimension.
That is, you know, the people who were saying "We want protection," Trump, you know, embraced the idea in the inaugural address, protection is good; it will make us strong; it will make us secure.
Is that the core of it? I'm trying to understand...
KREIN: Well, I think, you know, we use these terms "open" and "closed" and they have certain moralistic connotations that, you know, makes "open" always sound better. But, actually, I think the issue that drives a lot of the dissatisfaction at the neoliberal consensus that Trump appealed to was that what's happened is a separation of political power and the economy from the actual political community, from accountability to the voters.
And the problem -- or, actually, you brought up scapegoating. I mean, it's -- who's the scapegoat in Donald Trump's rhetoric? I would argue that it's actually not any minority group. It's actually not even foreigners, though he draws a sharp line between citizens and foreigners. It's the bipartisan political elite that is the scapegoat in Donald Trump's...
VANDEN HEUVEL: But it's never banks or corporations.
KREIN: Oh, it is. It is. He's attacking Carrier and Ford for moving jobs away, things of that nature.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But it's...
VANDEN HEUVEL: But I would just say...
ZAKARIA: It's tough to make the case it's not foreigners when the entire campaign was about Mexicans, Muslims and Chinese people.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yeah, I mean, about scapegoating minorities.
KREIN: But he's not blaming the Mexicans. He's saying the Mexicans are smart; the Chinese are smart, but our political elite is not smart enough to negotiate good deals with them.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But I -- let me just say, I think it's also too early to know what Trump will achieve. I mean, he -- that speech he gave the other day was full of promises, right? But you have three -- you have three branches of government now. You have the White House, with Steve Bannon and a populist -- reactionary populism. You have a Congress which is tethered to the Heritage Foundation, very traditional supply- side Reaganist tax policies. And you have, you know...
ZAKARIA: Supreme Court.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, you have -- you have a Supreme Court, but I think you have a tethering to a Republican Party in Congress that is very much traditional in its supply-side tax cuts. And you have a Cabinet. I mean, Fareed, Davos was up in arms this year -- I mean, epic fail for Davos. But this is a Davos Cabinet in many ways. It is -- looks like a Goldman Sachs executive retreat. And I think that is going to test whether Trump, at the end of the day, can fulfill the promises to the working class and to those he talks of as forgotten men and women.
And I think that's the the challenge for the progressive community, to speak to those people effectively, without the scapegoating and division.
ZAKARIA: Julius, is the test whether or not the economic policies work, or is the -- because a lot of the economic policies seem to be -- you know, other than in trade -- fairly traditional Republican, tax cut, deregulation, get government out of the way, cut corporate taxes?
KREIN: Well, I think the test for everything is whether it works. But I agree with Katrina that there is a divide between the White House and the Republicans in Congress. It's going to be -- Trump is going to have to be very nimble in building coalitions, sometimes including...
ZAKARIA: Will he be able to remake the Republican Party along his ideological lines?
KREIN: It's possible. There's a unique opportunity to do that.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think he's disruptive but not transformational. And I think he will be a transitional figure as the Republican Party and the Democratic Party remake themselves to meet the conditions of these times and speak to those forgotten men and women.
ZAKARIA: Disruptive, not transformational.
We'll come back and check in.
Next on "GPS," we'll dig in on what are arguably the two biggest foreign policy challenges facing Trump, Russia and China, Lots of talk about relations with each. We'll talk about them. Back in a moment.
ZAKARIA: Russia was America's biggest enemy for decades. Then came a post-Cold-War rapprochement. But for years now, over three administrations, tensions have grown, reaching a boiling point over Ukraine and Syria. And now American intelligence says Russia was likely behind the DNC hack, and there are allegations -- and just allegations, but turning into investigations -- about ties between Russia and Donald Trump and members of his team.
Meanwhile, Trump and Putin exchange kind words about each other. So what does all this mean?
Joining me now, Stephen Cohen, a scholar of Russian politics and history who is a professor emeritus at Princeton and NYU; and Julia Ioffe, staff writer at the Atlantic, who was born in Russia and has written lots of terrific stuff about it.
Julia, so I want to ask -- begin by asking you, there was somebody who put together all the things Donald Trump has said about foreign countries. And they're basically all negative. You know, the Europeans are terrible because they don't pay their bills. The Chinese are "raping us," I think, is the word he's used. Mexico is, of course, terrible. All Muslims, of course, we know how he thinks about, Japan is also, you know, bad because it's been stealing our jobs. The one country he has always said nice things about, for years, is Russia. What do you think explains that?
IOFFE: Well, I've always thought Russia and America were actually quite similar. They both have this idea that they are unique, that they are special, they are -- they have a special destiny given to them by God. They have both -- they both have, kind of, imperialistic tendencies. And Russia's run by Putin, who has this, kind of, adolescent idea of masculinity about him that appeals to somebody with an adolescent idea about masculinity. And he says nice things about him. And, you know, he walks through big gold doors. And he rides around -- you know, it's like an -- he's like an action hero leader, and I think that appeals to Donald Trump.
And, you know -- and Putin has also talked about, you know, being the last bastion of Christendom in the West, that the West is morally corrupt, that...
ZAKARIA: Which harkens back to an old Russian sense of destiny. You point out, you know, even before Communism, when they saw themselves as the vanguard of history, there was this idea of Russia as a third Rome, that, you know, that Rome had collapsed; Byzantium had collapsed; and Russia held the keys to the Orthodox church.
Steve Cohen, do you think there is some kind of -- is it a personal affinity, is it -- or do you think I'm making too much of it?
It's just striking to me that there is this strange thing that Trump really is very tough on foreigners and foreign countries, but he's consistently been nice about Putin and Russia. COHEN: I don't know what "nice" means in this context. What he has
not done is vilified Putin. And that is a sharp departure in the American context.
Here's what I either think or hope -- you decide. I hope that Trump has been told that the relationship between the United States and Russia today is exceedingly dangerous, including on a nuclear level. He's been told that a new detente -- that is, introducing cooperation in place of confrontation -- is necessary, that it's in the Republican tradition of Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan; and that he, Trump, for the sake of American national security, should move in the direction of detente.
If that is the case -- I don't know Trump or anybody around him -- my response to that would be very simple. And this is my headline. Detente is imperative for the sake of American national security. It is possible to do, but it is going to be exceedingly hard politically, primarily in the United States but also in Moscow.
IOFFE: And, you know, you have to look at what Russia's been saying as all of this has been happening. Russia's already sent very clear signals that you're not going to get anything for lifting sanctions against us. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said "You impose the sanctions, we're not going to bargain with you." You know, you do you; you impose them, you lift them, but you're not going to get anything from us.
He said again yesterday that symmetrical reduction in nuclear arms is not possible and unacceptable to Russia. They have repeatedly signaled that they're not going to bargain, that all of these moves are going to have to be unilateral from Trump's side. Putin is already -- he also said that Putin isn't going to meet with Trump for another couple of months at the earliest. You know, he's already playing the senior partner. And it's unclear. You know, detente is great; we should not have -- I mean, it's very dangerous to have an adversarial relationship with Russia, for obvious reasons. But what are you -- what kind of deal are you going to make?
What kind of detente is that going to be? And on what terms?
And what is the U.S. going to get out of it?
ZAKARIA: Steve, you talk about the importance of detente. And, of course, everyone wants better relations. But do you...
COHEN: I don't agree. I don't think everyone wants better relations.
ZAKARIA: All right. But on this -- on...
ZAKARIA: ... at this table.
COHEN: ... fight over it.
ZAKARIA: What I'm wondering is, do you think it is a serious issue or do you dispute the facts that almost -- you know, many, many intelligence agencies and many independent observers believe that Russia has interfered in elections in Hungary, in Poland, in Germany and -- and in the United States, that it is using soft power, cyber power, asymmetrical warfare in these ways that are very clever, infiltrate democratic political systems.
A, do you -- do you believe it's true?
And, B, how should they respond?
COHEN: Let me just focus on the accusations that Putin somehow interfered in the American election to benefit Trump. I say this is a blood slander against Trump, libelous...
ZAKARIA: It's not about Trump. It's about Putin.
COHEN: Well, no. At the moment, it's being discussed in terms of Trump, when various networks go on the air and newspapers say that Trump is an agent of the Kremlin in some way, or controlled, or a puppet of the Kremlin.
This means that he would be a crippled national security president. Let me ask you a question. Imagine John Kennedy in 1962 trying to negotiate our way out of a nuclear crisis with Khrushchev in the Soviet Union. And each day Kennedy had been called a puppet of the Kremlin. The only way Kennedy could have proved he wasn't a puppet of the Kremlin would have gone to nuclear war. We don't want a situation like that. Until they produce some facts, I don't even think we should be discussing this. For me, it's bunk. We saw it during the...
ZAKARIA: The issue is not -- not Trump. It's Putin. It was -- all right. So let me ask Julia...
IOFFE: It's not coming out of nowhere. You know, you're not -- people aren't going on the air and just, you know, sticking their finger in the wind and saying "We think he's an agent of Putin."
COHEN: No, they're -- they're sticking...
IOFFE: They're -- they're relying on intelligence assessments and...
COHEN: Oh, please. Oh, please.
IOFFE: ... and reporting.
COHEN: All right. Let's talk about intelligence for a minute. Because it's become an issue.
ZAKARIA: But I want to -- I want to be clear. I don't, and this network has never reported, you know, even reported on the contents of that dossier, only that -- only that the intelligence community briefed Trump about it, which is a fact, which is -- and nobody has disputed. What I'm talking about is Putin and Russia's very successful cyber warfare. And I'm wondering, should Western countries do something about it?
COHEN: Are you talking about the hacking of the DNC?
ZAKARIA: Yes, and...
COHEN: But Obama...
COHEN: Excuse me. In his last press conference, President Obama said -- said -- "we don't know how the material got to Wikileaks," which is part of the -- he said "We don't know." But we've been told by the CIA we did know. And he didn't use the word "hack." He used the word "leak." Nobody followed up on that. We don't know.
ZAKARIA: Well, there are two separate things that happen. First, there has to be a hack and then somebody has to take that material and leak it.
COHEN: No, no, no, no. If it's a leak, it's inside.
IOFFE: You certainly can't give it...
COHEN: It has nothing to do with the Russians.
ZAKARIA: Is this a part -- I mean, isn't this part of a pattern? This is -- this is not an isolated case.
IOFFE: I mean, this is a strategy they have been working on for a long time, going back to at least 2007, when the Internet in Estonia was subject to attack from Russian servers because Estonia took down a monument to Soviet soldiers. It was developed across the kind of so- called (inaudible), the former Soviet universe. And it's slowly become more and more sophisticated.
What's striking to me is that, four or five years ago, I'm not sure that the Russian government, that the Kremlin knew what the DNC was, or the DCCC was. It seems like they have -- they have slowly developed these strategies in Ukraine, in Eastern Europe, then Western Europe, and it's finally crossed the ocean to the U.S.
What I think is interesting about it is this happened 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the, kind of, global agreement consensus seemed to be that Western, capitalistic democracy, liberal democracy, was the most moral, efficient, effective way to rule populations. Putin seems to have reversed that and said "No system of government is better than any other; we're no worse than you are; and we're going to, kind of, infiltrate your system and get the outcome we want."
ZAKARIA: And he, of course, accuses us of interfering in foreign elections...
IOFFE: And not incorrectly. ZAKARIA: Not incorrectly.
Your dissent is registered, Stephen Cohen. Julia Ioffe -- thank you very much, both of you.
Next on "GPS," the other major power with which Donald Trump has complicated relations, China. Will it be good or bad for America to start a trade war, maybe even a hot one?
ZAKARIA: What will happen to U.S.-China relations in the wake of threats, rhetoric and Trump's phone call with Taiwan's leader?
Joining me know are Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and Stephen Yates, former deputy assistant for national security to Vice President Dick Cheney and now a fellow at the Hamilton Foundation.
So, Steve, let me ask you, you know, the conventional wisdom certainly is that the "one China" policy, which is, you know, to put it very simply, it basically says we're going to punt on the issue of whether Taiwan is -- you know, is a separate country; we're going to agree that both sides think that they are part of one country, but we won't say whether Taiwan is right or China -- or mainland China is right, that that has preserved stability, peace, and to let Taiwan flourish and become a, you know, rich democracy; it's allowed China to flourish, and we've had no trouble -- that that's the way to go, and that Trump's phone call unsettles that.
You disagree. Explain.
YATES: Well, number one, I don't think that "one China" is an American policy. If you travel around the country and you're talking to people in grassroots politics or just average society, the words "one China" don't tell you what our policy is about. The nature of China is more important than the number of Chinas to most Americans. And as we look at how things have gone, not everyone agrees it's all gone well. It's gone well for people that take notes in diplomatic meetings, but we've had a missile crisis in the middle of the 1990s. We've had aggressive trade policies where, at least in many Americans' perceptions, the Chinese have had more of an advantage than the United States has.
And Taiwan now is the last geography on the planet that has a liberal democracy but is isolated diplomatically. Typically, when we don't have diplomatic relations, it's because it's a dictatorship; it's a horrible situation, what have you.
So we have these anomalies. And we have a policy that was largely defined 40 to 50 years ago, and it's the only part of the planet where America doesn't step back, recalibrate and recast what its priorities are, administration to administration. So I'm actually helpful -- hopeful that we're going to have a rethinking and maybe a rebranding of what we do. The broad parameters may not be that far different after the review of
it. But I think we have found that we have a new leader of the United States that's not going to be told which words to use.
ZAKARIA: What do you say, Liz?
I mean, maybe we do need to -- you know, it is true Taiwan is this flourishing democracy and it's -- isn't it, kind of, weird that we're not supposed to talk to them?
ECONOMY: I don't think it's that we're not supposed to talk to them. And I think it is entirely fair that we take a look at all our policies with regard to China and with regard to Taiwan and think through what's worked and what hasn't worked and what might need to change.
But I don't think tweeting out diplomacy is the way to go, and certainly not tweeting out the potential to change fundamentally one of our governing principles. I think, instead, President Trump needs to take a step back and remember that negotiating with China, dealing with China is not checkers but chess, right? It's like a three-level game of chess, where we have to deal with them on global affairs, on regional affairs and bilaterally.
And so before we start saying either "Yes, let's revisit this and perhaps we're going to trade out Taiwan as a commodity for a better deal with China," which I think both Steve and I would agree would be a bad thing to do, or, on the other hand, we're going to help Taiwan declare its independence and recognize it diplomatically, which -- not at all clear that that's what Taiwan wants us to do for them.
I think let's remember that we have a broad sweep of issues that we have to work with China on and let's develop a strategy and not just a set of inflammatory tweets.
ZAKARIA: I guess one of the things animating a lot of people in the United States ever since, really, Kissinger and Nixon six, seven administrations ago, is the idea that you want to integrate China into the system slowly; you want to make sure they're not a spoiler because they're so big -- and particularly now they're the second-largest economy in the world, that there's this fear that what you'll have with the rise of China is what we had when we had the rise of Germany or the rise of Japan, a great clash, perhaps military clash, between the established power of the United States and the rising power.
Do you -- do you worry about that or do you feel like it's over, done and we should push them and, you know, come what may?
YATES: Well, I think we have to look at all possibilities and be concerned, but at the same time, we're not the only party with a vote in this. This is a little bit like the discussion about terrorism, Islamism and things like that. There is another party that may have already declared some forms of war with the United States.
When you talk about information, cyber, trade and things like that, there's been a fairly aggressive approach by China in recent years that has done very well for their national interests. And what I've heard from now President Trump is that, well, after all these years, when we're looking at integrating China, China is now integrated. Is it time then to stop and figure out, with this integration, do we need to adjust, maybe, the balance of this relationship so that it favors American interests more?
That's, I think, the simplification of the situation, but it's one that resonates with a lot of American experience.
ZAKARIA: I have to say, I'm -- when you look at trade policy, I'm pretty sympathetic to the idea that the Chinese have sort of -- I don't know if "cheated" is the right word, but they certainly seem to have, you know, been able to take advantage of this ability to be highly mercantilist and non-open as an economy and yet benefit from all the openness of the Western world and the WTO?
ECONOMY: No doubt. And I think the fact that President Trump has suggested that this is an area that he wants to tackle right up front, sort of, trade and investment with China, I think is a good thing. So what does that mean?
Does it mean that we want to be levying a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports?
I don't think so, because that's not only going to hurt Chinese companies but it's going to hurt American companies that do a lot of importing from China. It's also going to hurt supply chains all the way down, so a number of other countries that feed into China in manufacturing are going to be hurt.
ZAKARIA: And it will hurt American consumers, who will have to pay more for the products?
ECONOMY: Exactly. And it's going to hurt American consumers. So let's stop and take this again piece by piece. I think there are things we can do.
For example, in the investment realm, we should be talking more about reciprocity, right? We should be saying, "You know what, your sectors in entertainment and culture and electricity and mining or financial services are quite closed to U.S. investment. Maybe it's time that we close our sectors as well."
ZAKARIA: This is, I think, an area where Trump has changed the conversation in a way that he might find he gets bipartisan agreement.
Thanks to my guests. That is all for this special post-inaugural edition of "GPS." Thank you for being part of my program this week, and I will see you next week.