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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Will France's Right-Wing Le Pen Be Beaten by a Centrist?; President Trump's Foreign Policy; H.R. McMaster is President Trump's New National Security Adviser; Keeping America Safe; Predictions for the U.S. Economy; A Look at Roosevelt's 1943 Summit with Churchill. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 26, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:06] 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 with America's relations with the world. Simple question, who speaks for America? Trump, Pence, Mattis, McMaster, Bannon? The question has diplomats and leaders around the world scratching their heads. I have a great panel to talk about that and much more.
Also, will the Trump presidency make you richer or poorer? And what about the nation? Will America's economy soar or fall?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to lower taxes on American business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Jeff Sachs versus Stephen Moore.
Finally, you often can't see the forest for the trees in China's cities due to the pollution. But a vertical forest might change all that.
But first here's my take. By now it's settled wisdom that we're witnessing the rise of radical forces on the left and right around the globe. Populist of both varieties who share a disdain for globalization are energized. They are certain the future is going their way. But the center is rising again even in the heart of the old world.
Consider Emmanuel Macon, the 39-year-old former Rothschild banker who is currently the odds on favorite to become France's next president. Polls indicate that the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is leading the field in the first round with about 25 percent of the vote. But in the second round which pits only the two front runners against each other, Macron is projected to beat her handily.
Keep in mind that Macron is emphatically in favor of free markets, globalization, the European Union and the Transatlantic alliance. And yet he is surging in a country often defined by its strong labor unions, skepticism of capitalism and distrust of America. Why? Because Macron is above all an outsider, a reformer and a charismatic politician. And these qualities appear to be far more important than an ideological checklist.
Europeans and Americans sense a stagnation that has set into the economics and politics of the West. They are frustrated with business as usual and they see the established order as corrupt, paralyzed and out of touch. Macron's campaign is working because it is defined by a sense of energy. His new party is called "On the Move." His campaign book is titled "Revolution."
Macron is in some sense, "the handsome brother of Marine Le Pen," says Columbia University scholar Mark Lilla. "Both fill a vacuum created by the collapse of the major parties."
All over Europe, the main political parties represent old cleavages between the church and secularism, capital and labor. "Macron's movement is new. He represents start-ups, the young, tolerance, flexibility and above all, hope."
We are living through a sea change in politics and watching an outbreak of populism. But this doesn't mean there's no other forces and sentiments at work. The world is increasingly connected, diverse, tolerant and hundreds of millions of people in the West, especially young people, celebrate that reality. Macron champions these ideals even as he appeals to others who are more nervous about the changing world.
Macron is not an isolated phenomenon. "The political order is messy right now," Lilla says. "It will eventually sort itself around the new cleavage, people comfortable with globalization and those opposed to it."
But for those of us at the center who do see globalization as on balance of positive force, we will need to understand the importance of the cultural dislocation caused by large scale immigration of recent decades.
The center can win. Europe is not inexorably heading down a path of right-wing nationalism that abandons the European Union, economic integration, the Atlantic alliance and Western values. But much depends on the United States. The country that created the strategic and ideological conception of the West.
A senior European leader who attended the Munich Security Conference last week observed that despite some reassuring words from senior American officials, many of us are convinced that the White House is trying to elect Le Pen in France and defeat Merkel in Germany. And there is heavy talk y Stephen Bannon about weakening the European Union and destroying the established order.
If America encourages the destruction of core Western institutions and ideals then the West might well unravel.
[10:05:03] But this would not be one of those stories of civilizational decline in the face of external threats. It would be a self-inflicted wound and one that might prove to be fatal.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. Let's get started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today it's my privilege on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: That was Vice President Pence in Brussels earlier this week but CNN has learned that Stephen Bannon is singing a very different song. Sources say Bannon pointed out the EU's flaws to the German ambassador a week earlier and said the United States wanted to strengthen ties with individual nations in Europe rather than the EU as a bloc.
So who is speaking for the administration and which administration are we going to get on any particular day? I have a terrific panel today to discuss this. "New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman who is the author of the recent best-seller "Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration."
Natalie Nougayrede is columnist and member of the editorial board of "The Guardian," David Frum is a senior editor of the "Atlantic" and Gideon Rose is the editor of "Foreign Affairs."
Tom, you had a terrific column this week. Do you want to just quickly outline for us what are the five Trump administrations that you feel like you're encountering.
TOM FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you have Trump entertainment. That's the president with his tweets and press conferences. Keeping us all entertained as it were. Some of us, I'm afraid, in the media are getting addicted to it not to mention be public. And then you have the Trump cleanup. That's the secretary of State, the secretary of Defense, U.N. ambassador, who goes around the world basically cleaning up Trump's mess and his contradictions.
Then you have, of course, the Trump GOP. That's all the GOP leadership who have kind of hitched a ride on the good ship lollipop that is this administration as long as they can get their tax cuts and other priorities like promoting fossil fuels. Then you have Trump crazy. That's Bannon and his merry band of ideologues like Steve Miller, and last you have the essential Trump.
And that is basically the Trump who dare to boast that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and his followers are so stupidly loyal they would stick with him. That is a person who really has no interest in being president of all the people. He has an interest in president of the U.S. Trump fan club.
ZAKARIA: Natalie, when you listen to this in Europe, what have you -- what have all of you made of Donald Trump's first few weeks in office?
NATALIE NOUGAYREDE, COLUMNIST AND EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE GUARDIAN: Well, it's been an absolute earth shake for Europeans the first month of the Trump administration. There have been so many conflicting messages even when Vice President Pence and Secretary Mattis went to the Munich conference. Comments after their speeches were rather hesitant. Did they really reassure European states about alliance commitments? I think only half of the job was done. There are many, many questions that are still raised.
A lot of Europeans, European government, main European governments look at the Trump White House and think this is a rogue president. They are dealing with something completely that they had never predicted and that they don't quite know how to address.
ZAKARIA: Gideon Rose, when you look at it, though, it's fair to point out that he has reversed himself on lots of these issues. He has now, essentially, continued Obama foreign policy in many of these areas and Trump cleanup is pretty impressive by which I mean, you know, that secretary of State, secretary of Defense, now National Security adviser. Isn't it worth giving him credit for the fact that, you know, many the administrations have shaky starts and the team -- the foreign policy team is a very serious one?
GIDEON ROSE, EDITOR, FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Well, this is actually -- I think Tom's framework is very good and I agree with what you just said. But if you drill down a little bit into that Trump cleanup, what it essentially is adult professionals everywhere else in Washington and in the administration versus the White House. And so the dilemma is several of those Trump administrations that Tom was talking about are centered in the White House. And what you have is professionals everywhere else. Mattis at Defense. Tillerson who isn't the professional because he's been a CEO but relies on -- he's obviously a smart, serious guy and can understand professionalism and other people.
[10:10:06] Pence sometimes walking back the crazy and trying to say, no, this is what we're doing. It's actually consistent with the main lines of American foreign policy over the last several decades.
The problem is the people in the White House, particularly Trump himself and Bannon, the senior adviser, don't actually seem to buy that. So we don't know what's going to happen. When the Europeans ask Pence, should we believe you or should we believe the president? That is the central question and we don't yet know whose answer will reign supreme.
ZAKARIA: David Frum, you worked in the White House and isn't it fair to say at the end of the day it's a court? Everybody else may have opinions but only the king makes decisions.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, the president sets the policy. And although Donald Trump -- as you said, there's been a slower start, we should be wary of treating as rethinking what really looks like disorganization and slovenliness. It's pretty clear that the people around Trump have a vision of Russia as a strategic partner and Germany as a strategic opponent.
And they are cooperating with the Russians in achieving what once the goal of the Soviet Union and is now Russia's goal. They're paramount going back to cut the tie between the United States and Germany. The basis of post-1945 security.
The irony is that on the issue that you would think that Donald Trump would care most about in Europe which is having a more effective response to these mass migration flows from the Middle East and North Africa, that is exactly where only a coherent European response can work. Some kind of European Navy in the Mediterranean that is able to help in common European law, to return people to the places they came from.
What they have forgotten or don't know is that a united Europe was from the start an American project much more than it ever was a European project for American reasons. And those reasons have not passed.
ZAKARIA: We're going to keep going. Up next after the break, we will dig deeper into the new National Security adviser, H.R. McMaster. I will ask the panel what they think of him and his future.
[10:16:26] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Natalie Nougayrede, Tom Friedman, David Frum and Gideon Rose.
Gideon, H.R. McMaster considered by some the Army's smartest officer. He wrote a very important book about Vietnam. What should we know about his intellectual work and what does it tell us about what kind of a National Security adviser he'll be?
ROSE: So this is a fascinating question because it was a great appointment. I don't know anybody in the field who isn't very happy about this appointment because H.R. McMaster is not just considered one of the Army's premiere and the military's premiere intellectuals. But he's also considered a superb professional and somebody whose defining characteristics have been a willingness to tell the people above him what they should do to do the job properly.
And he first came on the scene to great public acclaim when his dissertation which became a book, which criticized the Vietnam era military leadership for not doing that with regard to the Johnson administration and therefore letting us get bogged down in Vietnam.
One can dispute whether or not his analysis of Vietnam is fully correct, but there's no question that he was telling the military brass, you need to stand up for principle and serious substance and not let your political masters screw things up.
If he does that in the Trump administration it would require a full sail shift of course of the administration. So whether he's going to back down from what we expect him to do or whether they're going to back down from what they've been doing, we just don't know. Grab your popcorn. This is going to be fun to watch. ZAKARIA: Tom, let me ask you on that specifically. So the two things
I noticed about McMaster is he's very tough on Russia. He is been very hawkish but perhaps even more importantly, he came to fame in Iraq as an army officer who really believed that it was important to ally with locals, to go into the communities, not to rely on proxies. Not tom you know, just bomb from afar, to really engage in this comprehensive counter insurgency operation, which means really nation building and getting in deep.
It seems to me on both issues, you know, Russia and ISIS in that sense, he's very different from Trump's instincts. What's going to happen?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, part of the bizarre nature of this national security establishment, Fareed, is it's like a pickup basketball team. And it's sort of whoever just showed up on the sand water or, you know, in the parking lot. And so you went from Flynn who was viscerally anti-Muslim, I would say, and not to mention anti-Iran, to someone like McMaster who really believes in close collaboration with communities on the ground and that the most important words in national security are self and sustaining.
That is, we can take over any country in the world, but if we want our gains to be self-sustaining you have to be partnering with and amplifying forces on the ground. I think McMaster also understands some of the traditional pillars of American national security and why, as you and Gideon alluded to earlier, the European Union has been our wing man in the world. It has been the other great center of democratic capitalism.
Not only has it stabilized Europe so that we don't have to intervene there, you know, and referee its fights. But more importantly, Fareed, when you go into the world, just a small example, who do you think pays for a lot of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank administration? It's actually the European Union. Do we want to pick up that tab? I certainly can tell you the Israelis don't want to pick up the tab.
[10:20:03] If you go to the Sahel, Sub-Saharan, Africa you will see European Union aid programs all across Africa. Is Belgium going to do that alone? And so these are real pillars of American national security that amplify our power. I think McMaster understands that very well. I think Bannon doesn't have a clue.
ZAKARIA: So, David Frum, again, what is this going to look like when you deal with Syria? I'm guessing McMaster is going to say look, you can beat up on ISIS but then you can't just abandon it. You will create a power vacuum. You need some local stabilization. We need to get in there and deal with it. That is not a message that Donald Trump wants to hear. I think he's a kind of bomb and go man.
FRUM: For the next three months at least the most important foreign policy fight in the United States is going to be happening not only inside this country but inside the city I'm speaking to you from, Washington. Because it's -- the president is locked in this death struggle with the National Security bureaucracy which knows a lot or thinks or suggests it does that would be embarrassing to him about his ties with Russia and those -- some of the people around him.
And there's a race. Can Donald Trump silence those professionals or will they continue to bring forward the information that we've been hearing more and more that is very damaging to him? And what will his National Security Council, what will their role be in all this? I think a lot of the administration will turn on who wins that battle because it's very hard to imagine that we can have both the Trump presidency as we've known it and independent and honest security services as we have known it.
ZAKARIA: Natalie, what does this mean for European countries? Are they beginning to think about, you know, kind of independent defense in foreign policy? A European friend of mine said the worst thing he thought was going to happen here was that an insecure polling was now going to go to countries like Germany and say can you give us some kind of guarantees and then the Germans might start thinking about it which will then get the French to worry about Germany freelancing. And, you know, you would have re-nationalize European security policy with independent countries pursuing independent interests.
NOUGAYREDE: Listen, of course, the fact that General McMasters has now been given this position is -- will be seen as something reassuring for Europeans essentially because if you have an unpredictable hard to decipher president, a rogue president in the White House, then you want to have sound, professional minds around him and people who are committed to the pillars of U.S. foreign policy as they've existed over the last 70 years which matter a lot to Europe.
Europe does not have an alternative to the American security umbrella. That's a fact. Europe cannot on its own pick up pieces of its own, you know, military resources and suddenly set up a NATO of its own without serious American involvement. It's going to be very important for Europeans also that the new National Security adviser not -- he does not belong to the group of people who think that Trump should make a deal with Putin over European heads and to the detriment of the interest of European nations especially in central and eastern part of Europe.
ZAKARIA: And that's why, Natalie, you write in "The Guardian," America must lead the free world. The alternative is chaos.
Thank you all. Fascinating, sobering conversation.
Next on GPS, for ISIS, is there life after the caliphate? Can the physical caliphate become a virtual one? Perhaps even more deadly. The answer is yes, when we come back.
[10:27:34] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. ISIS has struck again, this time in Pakistan where CNN reports that as many as 75 people were killed on February 16th when a blast ripped through the crowded Sufi shrine in Pakistan's southern Sindh Province.
Donald Trump has stated that destroying ISIS will be a cornerstone of his foreign policy. Meanwhile, Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Iraqi troops and local militias are close to liberating Mosul, the Iraqi city that is the strategic heart of ISIS. Mosul's airport has just been recaptured and American air power, too, is eroding ISIS' fighting force with U.S. officials reporting that the group has lost at least 50,000 fighters.
Thanks to Washington's sustained campaign against it for many months now, experts agree that ISIS might cease to be a physical fighting force in Syria and Iraq. It could take a few months or another year or more. But it seems the likely trajectory.
The bad news is that this might not matter so much. According to an important new study by the Wilson Center and the United States Institute of Peace, a weakened ISIS could retreat into the desert to fight another day. It could also shift its efforts from the Middle East and focus on other parts of the globe.
But a recent post by Willis Sparks of the Eurasia Group offers us another glimpse of the future. He says that denied a physical caliphate, ISIS the brand will mutate and live on in cyber space and also on social media.
It will become in essence a virtual caliphate. Stateless but global. Even without a physical stronghold, ISIS could raise money, sow chaos and recruit a generation of angry young people. Of course ISIS would be competing for their attention with other terrorist brands. Like al Qaeda and al-Shabaath. To stay relevant ISIS defeated from the physical world would need to continue to inspire more acts of violence through the digital world.
In other words, ISIS might become an army of lone wolves capable of committing terror anywhere in the world. And unfortunately President Trump's original executive order calling for extreme vetting of immigrants from several Muslim majority nations will do little to keep this army of lone wolves from our shores. That's according to an article in "Commentary" by Max Booth, a noted foreign policy expert. His team calculated that since 9/11 more than half of all attempted or actual terrorist acts in the U.S. were committed by American citizens. And this means that as ISIS morphs into a virtual caliphate, it becomes less of a military challenge and more of a law enforcement problem. As we've seen often, these lone-wolf terrorists have no criminal records prior to the terrorist act. One of the most effective ways for law enforcement to find them is by tracking conversations online, but it's by no means fool-proof.
The real challenge will be for governments to coordinate counterterrorism information with each other. Many of these attacks are planned in multiple countries. Many involve some foreign connection. Getting governments to trust one another with sensitive law enforcement data has always been difficult. It will be even harder at a time where the U.S. is turning inward and projecting hostility toward many Muslim-majority nations.
And since America remains target number one, it would derive the most benefit from good, international cooperation. You see, "America first" sounds like a good slogan, but if the U.S. wants to defeat a global terrorist organization, it will need help from all kinds of friends all over the world.
Next on "GPS," President Trump says he's going to make America great again, but will he make Americans richer or poorer? Two distinguished economists debate it when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Some Americans in November say they voted with their wallets and for Donald Trump because they believed his policies would help America and help them economically.
So will their own wallets get fatter? Will unemployment drop? Will the GDP rise?
Let us bring in two people who have very different views.
Jeffrey Sachs is a professor of economics at Columbia and directs the Center for Sustainable Development there. Stephen Moore was an economic adviser to the Trump campaign. He's now a CNN senior economics analyst.
Steve, let me begin with you. Because Donald Trump has outlined a pretty ambitious agenda. When you listen to him, when you listen to you when you were advising him and some of his other advisors, they all talk about 4 percent growth. Sometimes they talk about even higher numbers, but 4 percent growth is not something the U.S. economy has had for a long, long time.
How exactly is this going to be achieved when unemployment today is already at a 10-year low at, you know, under 5 percent?
MOORE: Well, Fareed, the question about whether we can get to 4 percent growth -- I know I'm a kind of an outlier economist. But I believe we can. I'm an economic historian. I look back at what happened to the United States in the 1960s under John F. Kennedy, when we had the big Kennedy tax cuts and we had 4 percent, 5 percent, 6 percent growth. In the '80S we were able to accomplish close to 4 percent growth. We actually had quarters of almost 8 percent growth under Reagan.
So I think this idea that the economy can't grow faster than 2 percent or 3 percent is nonsensical. If we get the policies right, I do believe, Fareed, we can get up to 3.5 percent to 4 percent growth, which solves a lot of the other economic problems out there.
ZAKARIA: Steve, let me ask you specifically about one thing. The heart of your argument, it seems to me, is tax cuts. It feels like we have seen this movie before, which is that Ronald Reagan did cut taxes and the economy did grow. But he also tripled the national debt. George W. Bush cut taxes; the economy did not grow, and the deficit ballooned astronomically.
We're now at -- what is it -- 70 percent, 80 percent debt-to-GDP ratios. Are you really comfortable with another wild wager that, you cut taxes, the deficit will almost certainly explode and that maybe you will get a little growth and maybe you won't. Certainly, the last 15, 20 years suggest that cutting taxes is not producing growth anymore.
MOORE: Well, I don't agree with that premise. I mean, I look, again, at the history of when we've had the major tax rate reductions in this country, like the '60s and '80s, when we had a big boom. And, in fact, even under Bill Clinton, when we had the big boom in the late 1990s, we had a big reduction in the capital gains tax, at that time, Fareed. And look at what happened to the revenues. They just exploded. And that's one of the reasons we were able to get to the first balanced budget in 50 years.
ZAKARIA: So, Jeff Sachs, what do you say about corporate tax?
In your book, "Building the New American Economy," you say that the heart of real sustainable growth is going to be actually very large- scale government spending on infrastructure, taking health care private -- nationalizing health care, getting rid of the private sector all together.
Explain your -- you know, why you think that's a better path.
SACHS: First, we can look at what works around the world, and that's what I'm emphasizing. Canada gets our health care but at much, much lower costs than we do, Europe, the same way, better outcomes, much lower costs, because we have put our health care in the hands of monopolists and the drug prices are often 1,000 times the markup of the real production costs, and people are suffering from that. We're spending about 18 percent of our national income on health care, whereas other countries are spending about 12 percent.
The difference is they do it with the government that sets prices, that has a system that pays for this, whereas we do it by giving the health care over to monopolies.
More generally, we're going broke, our government. The idea that we're going to cut taxes again and lower the share of GDP that we're taking in revenues is mind-boggling. Like you said, we've seen this before. It's just reckless populism.
We're on a path of exploding national debt, and then Trump comes in and says "I'm going to give even more tax cuts." I deal a lot with the wealthy, greedy people. They can't wait. They're salivating. These are tax cuts that, again, are going to go to the very top of the income distribution.
It is so reckless, what is on offer right now. But that's the American political system, which is promise tax cuts, total populism, total short-termism, of course a little bit of voodoo that's sprinkled in, that we'll grow so much that we'll grow out of it. Again, we've seen that time and again. We should do better. And the whole point of my book is investing, thinking ahead and paying for it along the way, not gimmickry but actually paying for it.
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump has talked about massive tax cuts. He's talked about, or Steve Bannon has talked about a $1 trillion infrastructure program that is huge government spending. And as I say, the debt-to- GDP ratio is already 70 percent, 75 percent and, you know, you face an economy where unemployment is very low. What is going to happen if you have this massive increase in government spending, massive decrease in government revenues, in this context?
MOORE: Well, you guys, both of you have been talking about this exploding national debt. Let's not forget that the president we just had, Barack Obama, doubled the national debt. He will go down in history, probably, as the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history...
SACHS: And then, by the way, Steve...
SACHS: Steve, just so you recall, I opposed the stimulus back in 2009 on the grounds that it was fiscally irresponsible...
MOORE: Fair enough.
SACHS: And I oppose what is on offer right now on the same grounds, that this is so unfair to young people, it's unreal.
MOORE: Yeah. Look, I agree with -- so it's point well taken. And so we have seen an explosion of debt. I'll simply say this, Fareed and Jeff. I think Donald Trump sees this as an issue of bringing up the economic growth rate. When I've talked to him on the campaign, what he would say is let's get growth up to 3 percent to 4 percent and then some of these other problems like income inequality, like solving the problems of the environment, like the debt, will -- will be a lot easier to solve.
But I'll tell you this. If we have less than 2 percent growth -- and I think you would agree with this, Jeff -- there's just no way we're going to get enough revenue growth, even if we cut spending to the bone, to balance this budget.
ZAKARIA: All right. We're going to have to leave it at that. We will surely come back to both of you. Thank you both.
Up next, for 70 years a world order first created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt has kept world wars at bay. But now it may be in the process of being dismantled. Let's make sure we understand the genius of FDR's creation before we dismantle it. We will do just that when we come back.
ZAKARIA: We don't know where Donald Trump will go for his first foreign summit, but we can be pretty sure it will be an easy flight in the comfort of Air Force One. That is in great contrast to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's trip to meet Churchill at a summit in Casablanca in 1943.
That voyage entailed a long train ride to Miami, a 10-hour flight to Trinidad, a nine-hour flight to Brazil, then a 19-hour flight to Gambia and finally another flight to Casablanca -- all this for a man who was paralyzed, had a failing heart and had not gotten on a plane since 1932.
Why did he do this? It is all explored in a book that explains how the current world order, the one that's been keeping the peace in the world for 70 years, was built by Franklin Roosevelt. It is that world order, of course, that Trump sometimes seems intent to disassemble. Nigel Hamilton joined me. He is the author of a terrific book, "Commander in Chief: FDR's Battle With Churchill, 1943," that gets into all this.
ZAKARIA: So the big project that you've been trying to do, in a sense, is write the memoirs, the war memoirs, that Franklin Roosevelt never wrote?
HAMILTON: Right. Unfortunately, he died very young, 63, in office, in April of 1945. So -- and just at a moment when he was about to begin the United Nations, on behalf of us all. So that was a great tragedy. But he -- I would argue that he had, in the years between Pearl Harbor and his death, he had actually, more or less, fulfilled his vision of how the world order could be changed for the better.
ZAKARIA: And it was a very different idea. I mean, what I was struck by, reading your book, was how, if it had been any other president, it might have looked very different because most others were very practical, pragmatic. Roosevelt was deeply idealistic about how he wanted the post-War world to look.
HAMILTON: Yes. The president was basically an anti-colonialist, an anti-imperialist. And right from the beginning, even before the war, when he met Churchill off the coast of Newfoundland, the two great leaders were arguing about the future. I mean, Churchill, obviously, is the prime minister of this vast British, ancient empire, and the president looking ahead to how these countries would achieve self- determination after the war.
ZAKARIA: You talk about when he was at Casablanca and he starts telling the Moroccans the world he imagines. And the Moroccans get fascinated because he's describing something -- Morocco was, of course, a French colony. Tell that story.
HAMILTON: Well, the president went out to Casablanca in early 1943 to decide on how best the allies should defeat Nazi Germany. The Americans had overwhelmed Morocco and Algeria. And the president met Churchill in Casablanca and -- but made quite sure that he met the Moroccan leaders at the time. And the Vichy French were furious with him. They wanted the United States to win the war and then restore their empire. Well, that's not how FDR saw the future.
ZAKARIA: You point out, at the end of that dinner, he has a private conversation with his son, Elliott Roosevelt. And he says "I'm going to work with all the strength in my body to ensure that, when this war is over, we don't just give back the colonies to the British and French," because he saw that as the problem in the first place.
HAMILTON: Exactly. And that was his vision of a post-War that would be different from the post-War after World War I.
It was a moral vision. And in that respect, even though he admired Churchill very much as a leader and a spokesman for democracy and principles of freedom, freedom of speech, nevertheless, he really -- he and Churchill were at opposite poles in terms of how they viewed the future.
ZAKARIA: Big differences; as you point out, Churchill lived to write his memoirs, in which he presented his version of everything, including World War II. He pretended he was in favor of the Normandy invasion, when you point out he was opposed. But Franklin Roosevelt never got to write his memoirs. And it's really strange to me that, until your project, we have not really had Roosevelt's view of -- of World War II.
HAMILTON: I think that's a tragedy. I mean, part of the problem, of course, is that Churchill was a brilliant writer. He wrote six volumes about how he won World War II, and it was so wonderfully written that it won him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Well, that is very difficult for most historians to combat, and it was very much how Churchill saw his own -- the way he considered himself to be the mastermind, the architect of the winning of World War II.
What I'd like to do is to change history, if history is the way we look at the past, by showing how, at every step in World War II, it was the president of the United States who was directing the war, not just in terms of vision and diplomacy but in terms of the military, the strategy for defeating first Nazi Germany and then the empire of Japan.
ZAKARIA: And you point out that, almost always, Roosevelt was right and Churchill was wrong. Roosevelt was vindicated by history.
But I'm going to leave it to people -- they have to read the book to find out exactly what I meant by that.
Thank you, Nigel.
HAMILTON: It's been a pleasure, Fareed.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," China has been trying for years to figure out a way to combat its dense, choking pollution. One answer, a vertical forest. I will explain when we come back.
ZAKARIA: The global arms trade is now at its highest volume since the end of the Cold War, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It brings me to my question of the week. Which country was the world's top arms importer over the past five years: India, China, Saudi Arabia or Algeria?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. This week's book of the week is Nigel Hamilton's "Commander in Chief" I had recommended the first volume of this work when it came out, "Mantle of Command." This is number two in a three-volume work. And anyone who likes history or biography must buy it, the war memoirs that Roosevelt would have written had he lived.
And now the last look. Last month time-lapsed video of this thick, gray smog rolling into Beijing went viral. It was a scary site, especially knowing that, by some estimates, more than a million people die in China from dirty air every year.
But China's war on pollution may soon reach new heights, at least in one place. Take a look at this rendering of a vertical forest. Designed by an Italian architect, these proposed towers to be built in Nanjing will be coated with 1,100 trees and 2,500 plants and shrubs. The cascading plants of varying species will combat pollution by providing 25 tons of CO2 absorption every year, producing more than 130 pounds of oxygen every day.
And this isn't the only carbon-eating building in the region. Construction on this plant-covered residential complex in Taipei will be completed this fall.
So it seems this is just the beginning of tree-buildings growing in China. In fact, the architect unveiled plans for a forest city, as the Guardian pointed out. Here's hoping urban China will one day be blanketed by green shrubs and trees, not gray smog and toxins.
The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is A. Between 2012 and 2016, India accounted for 13 percent of global arm imports, according to this latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Saudi Arabia was next on the list, followed by the UAE, China and then Algeria, the largest arms importer in Africa.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.