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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Trump's 180-degree Turns in Foreign Policy; Tensions High on the Korean Peninsula; Trump and the "Mother of All Bombs"; Coal Mining Jobs Not Likely to Come Back; How Powerful a President Does Turkey Want?; Interview with Ambassador Gerard Araud; Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 16, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:04] 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 begin the show with talk of thermal nuclear war. That is what the North says the Korean Peninsula may be on the brink of. And they say the person responsible is President Trump.
What should he do now? Is it even possible to tamp down the tempers there? That and much more with a terrific panel.
Then, President Trump and coal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Get ready because you're going to be working your asses off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Trump thinks coal is coming back. But it isn't and I will explain why.
Also, two critical votes in two crucial nations. First the Turks are going to the polls on Sunday to decide whether they want their president to be almost all powerful.
Will Recep Tayyip Erdogan get what he wants and potentially be in office until 2029?
And next weekend, France votes on a new president and the French envoy to America breaks tradition and risks his job by blasting the woman who could win that election. Ambassador Gerard Araud explains to me why he's speaking out.
Finally, why London's Tower Bridge has created a big debate in China. I'll explain.
But first, here's my take.
I didn't really believe there was such a thing as Trump derangement syndrome. Hatred of Donald Trump so intense that it impairs people's judgment. It's not that I didn't notice the harsh, unyielding language against Trump. I have said a few tough things myself. But throughout the campaign Trump seemed to do things that justified it. Once elected, instead of calming down and acting presidential, he continued the stream of petty attacks, exaggerations and lies. His administration seemed marked by chaos and incompetence.
And then came the strike against Syria. On that issue, Trump appears to have listened carefully to his senior national security professionals, reversed his earlier positions, chosen a calibrated response, and acted swiftly.
I supported the strike and pointed out in print and on air that Trump was finally being presidential because the action, quote, "seemed to reflect a belated recognition from Trump that he cannot simply put America first, that the president of the United States must act on behalf of broader interest and ideals," end quote.
On the whole, though, I was critical of Trump's larger Syria policy, describing it as incoherent. From the response on the left, you would have thought I had just endorsed Donald Trump for Pope. Otherwise thoughtful columnists describe my view as nonsense. One journalist declared on television, if that guy could have sex with this cruise missile attack, I think he would do it.
A gaggle of former Obama speech writers discussed how my comments were perhaps the stupidest of any given on the subject.
White House speech writers must have written the lines that President Barack Obama spoke on September 27th, 2013, announcing the U.N. deal in which the Syrian regime agreed to give up its chemical weapons stockpile.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This binding resolution will ensure that the Assad regime must keep its commitments or face consequences. We'll have to be vigilant about following through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: In other words, the Trump administration watched a violation of Obama's 2013 deal and enforced it in precisely the manner that Obama had implied, which is why virtually every major Obama foreign policy official from Hillary Clinton to Thomas Darwin, to Leon Panetta to David Petraeus has supported the Trump administration's action as did U.S. allies in the region and beyond.
The strikes were discreet, measured, intended to convey a signal and yet at the same time designed to ensure that the U.S. did not descend further into the Syrian civil war. In other words, they were very Obama-like. Two senior Obama officials I spoke with told me that were Barack Obama still president, he would have likely ordered a strike that was similar, if not identical in scope. Presumably those former speech writers would then have used different words to describe the same strike. Conservatives seem to understand Trump's about-face better than
liberals. Many of Trump's strongest backers are utterly distraught by his embrace of Obama's policies. Andrew McCarthy wrote in the "National Review," "When it came to foreign policy, I was worried that the 2016 election would be a case of Clinton delivering the third Obama term. Instead we have Trump giving us the third Clinton term." Liberals have to be careful to avoid Trump derangement syndrome.
[10:05:04] If Trump pursues a policy, it cannot be axiomatically be wrong, evil and dangerous. In my case, I have been pretty tough on Donald Trump. I attacked almost every policy he proposed during the campaign. The week before the election, I called him a cancer on American democracy and urged voters to reject him, but they didn't. He is now president.
I believe that my job is to evaluate his policies impartially and explain why, in my view, they are wise or not.
Many of Trump's campaign promises and policies are idiotic and unworkable. It was always likely he would reverse them as he has begun to do this week on several fronts. Those of us who oppose him face an important challenge. We have to ask ourselves, would we rather see Trump reversing himself or Trump relentlessly pursuing his campaign agenda? The first option would be good for the country and the world. Though it might save Trump from an ignominious all.
The second would be a disaster for all. It raises the quandary. Do we want what's better for America or what's worse for Donald Trump?
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week.
Let's get started.
Let's get straight to North Korea's warning that, quote, "Thermal nuclear war may break out any moment on the peninsula," end quote.
David Frum was a speech writer for President George W. Bush. He is now a senior editor at the "Atlantic." Tony Blinken was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration. He is now CNN global affairs analyst. And Kori Schake worked with George W. Bush's National Security Council, edited a book with Defense Secretary Mattis and is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
So, David, what do you make of the fact that after having promised to call China a currency manipulator day one, he says now it's not a currency manipulator after all. He says -- I said NATO was obsolete, it's not obsolete. We're not going to get involved in Syria. We are getting involved in Syria.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Donald Trump may have represented himself to some of his supporters as an anti- interventionist but the consistent theme is he's actually anti- alliance. That the United States is now steering for one after another confrontation and steering alone. If you knew you're heading for a confrontation in the Korean Peninsula, you would not begin by cancelling the Transpacific Partnership, burning every potential friend you have in the region. In Syria, you do not start this confrontation without your European partners. The United States is alone, alone, alone. And that is the consistent theme of the Trump foreign policy.
ZAKARIA: Interesting. Kori, what do you think?
KORI SCHAKE, RESEARCH FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTE: Well, for Korea, the real concern and the problem is you can't take a policy harder line than the South Korean government is willing to take. It parallels the Berlin crisis during the Cold War. You just can't go further than our allies. And I don't think the Trump administration has yet acknowledged that to the extent that they should, otherwise Vice President Pence's trip to the region may help that.
ZAKARIA: But it was encouraging that on China, he reversed himself. On NATO he reversed himself.
ANTHONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Fareed, I think that instead of building a wall, the president is running into a wall. That's called reality. We have seen reversals, as you noted, on a number of major issues. I happen to think that he's now doing more the right thing than the wrong thing.
David is right, there's been a disdain for alliances, working with partners, but even on that he's coming around. He said the right thing about NATO this week. He's now trying to figure out a way to work with the China on North Korea, instead of work over them or around them. And that's -- at least we should commend it where we can.
But, on North Korea, in particular, this is the number one dilemma because North Korea is racing to the point where it has an intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear warhead, and actually hit the United States in the hands of a leader who at best acts impulsively and maybe even irrationally. So this is the most urgent priority for the president and getting this right.
ZAKARIA: Tell me, when you were handling this issue, is it not fair to say that when you talked to the Chinese about it, they have a reasonable perspective? They say look, this is right next door to us. If we press the North Koreans, it's a bankrupt regime, the regime could collapse, we would have millions of refugees, we would have a Korean unification on South Korean terms and then we the Chinese face on our border a unified Korea on South Korean terms with 30,000 American troops, a treaty alliance with America and eight nuclear bombs. Why would we do that?
BLINKEN: You've just laid out China's case. It's probably the same that President Xi apparently laid out for President Trump when they met. But here's the thing. China mostly fears instability on the peninsula for the reasons you cited.
[10:10:02] North Korea is now the single greatest source of instability. They need to do something about it. What we've made clear to China, we started doing this during the Obama administration, I hope that President Trump has continued, is that North Korea is now a core interest to the United States. Such as China talks about Taiwan being a core interest, North Korea and the danger it represents is a core interest for us.
That means two things, it means ideally, we work with China to try to change the situation, put enough pressure on North Korea to get it to the table to negotiate. But failing that or as we're trying to do that, we have to take steps to protect ourselves and our allies. One, missile defense, a greater military presence in the region. We sent the Vinson just a few days ago. And probably more sanctions including, perhaps, some Chinese who are doing business with North Korea.
None of this is directed at China, but China is not going to like it. And that could be incentive for China to really get strong on North Korea.
ZAKARIA: Kori, what do we do about South Korea? Because, you rightly point out, you know, they are terrified both of the prospect of war in the Korean Peninsula, I think 30 miles or 35 miles from the North Korean border. Most of South Korean's population lives within a very close striking range of North Korean missiles and they worry about kind of a collapsed North Korea. I've talked to South Koreans often and they point out that North Korea is many times larger than East Germany and many times poorer.
SCHAKE: I think that's right. The South Koreans are anxious about our vulnerability -- the vulnerability of their population centers to hardened artillery sites launching across the DMZ so -- and they are right to be concerned about that.
I do think that the Chinese case for the North Korea policy shouldn't be accepted. There are a lot of variables in that that are being treated as fixed. For example, if the North Korean regime were to collapse, the United States could reassure the Chinese that, first of all, we wouldn't send American troops north of the current DMZ, and second of all, if South Korea isn't threatened by North Korea, you could actually remove American troops from the Korean Peninsula. There are lots of things that we could make variables in this that the Chinese are treating as fix.
ZAKARIA: And of course also denuclearize. You can get rid of the nukes.
SCHAKE: Absolutely. Because we unilaterally denuclearize South Korea. The North Koreans just ramped up their threat as a result of that.
ZAKARIA: You say be patient.
FRUM: Be patient. I don't understand why the United States is talking so much or talking so loud. As dangerous as North Korea is, in the end, well, they need money. This is -- this is not a strategic calculation. This is a blackmail operation. It's like a hostage- taking. And as the cops always say in a hostage taking situation, they go home to a hot dinner, they go home to a warm bed. They've got time. And you do not -- if you are the police, you do not shoot first. You don't commit suicide for fear of death. This is one to wait out.
ZAKARIA: All right. We will be back in a moment and we are going to talk about the dropping of the "mother of all bombs" in Afghanistan. Was it a Trumpian stunt or something more serious?
[10:17:23] ZAKARIA: And we are back with David Frum, Kori Schake and Tony Blinken.
Tony, from what you can tell, was this "mother of all bombs" intended as a signal outside of Afghanistan?
BLINKEN: Well, if it was it's probably the wrong signal because the bomb that they used, and I defer to the military experts and I have to trust their judgment, is designed to take out things at the surface or maybe very, very, very shallow tunnels. If you're going after, at the end of the day, North Korea or even Iran, with deeply buried programs, that's not the munitions you would use. There's something called the massive ordinance penetrator or MOP that is designed to do that. This is a different weapon. And if that's the message they are trying to send, it's probably not the right message to send with this weapon.
ZAKARIA: This sounds like the Ali G skit where Trump uses the wrong acronym and the Pentagon uses the wrong bomb as a result.
What about the fact that it might have reminded a lot of Americans, 16 years later, we are still in Afghanistan. We are still, you know, fighting -- every time we withdraw from an area, the Taliban returns. What do we do?
FRUM: Well, Donald Trump has promised that he will fight wars and win them. The United States has had a long run of inconclusive wars. And that's I think one of the reasons why he won the Republican nomination. There was a buried trauma in the Republican Party about Iraq. Nobody would talk about it. We are going to re-nominate Jeb Bush, this brother of the man who opened this trauma that the party has never discussed.
Donald Trump talked about it. And he had an answer. It may not have been a truthful biographical answer but it's psychologically true. But now he's embarked again on one of these open-ended conflicts. There's no plan that one can see. And it is -- it's interesting, how does he even psychologically cope with the commitments that he's undertaking on behalf of us all?
BLINKEN: We have the missile strike in response to Assad's use of chemical weapons. I applauded that, it was the right thing to do, but it's a missile strike in search of a strategy. How do you use that? How do you leverage that hopefully, for example, to get the Russians to do more, to try to bring the civil war to an end?
Those are the kinds of strategies, those are the kinds of deliberations that they need to be having in advance of taking action so that there's actually a game plan to follow through. That's what we need to be looking for.
FRUM: I think you should be careful of applauding something even if it aligns with your values in this instance. I think it's a good rule of thumb, if it were good foreign policy, Donald Trump would not be doing it. And even if you like the strike, you can't -- the fact that there's no process or there's no deliberation, that there's no interagency process because there's no agencies, there are no deputies' meetings because there are no deputies.
It seems to have been done fitfully and impulsively and with no answer to the question, OK, so what do you do the next day?
[10:20:02] I think we talk about normalizing, the reason normalization -- it's not just a moral objection. The reason normalization is dangerous is it leads you to make bad assessments of what has actually happened. And this administration is random and fitful as ever. And it's just not true --
ZAKARIA: Could he do anything that would change your mind?
FRUM: He's him. He's never going to stop being him. He's never going to become some other person. And you cannot build the United States government in such a way that the people around the president control the president. Unless he's Wilsonian type invalid, not even then. He will be the center and turning point. It's not -- the way it does not work is if the president and the secretary of Defense have a disagreement, the president must resign. That's not what happens.
ZAKARIA: What do you think of this? I mean, there is this -- what I described is there are two parts to the Trump administration. There is the freak show that is Donald Trump, but then there are people like Jim Mattis, McMaster, Tillerson, and the economic fund Gary Cohn. These are serious people. They are heavyweights. They believe in process. They believe in thoughtful reflection. And on the record, they have said mostly very sensible things. What is going to happen? Will the freak show win or will the grownups win?
SCHAKE: Yes. I actually think the -- I agree with David, the fundamental challenge is that the president is undisciplined and he's erratic in his choices. The deliberative men of the Trump administration can put good processes in place. And I disagree with David, I think the strike on Syria, they did think their way through what are our alternatives, where do these courses take us? But you cannot -- in the American political system, you cannot protect against the president's influence.
BLINKEN: Three things I think, Fareed. You need three things -- people, process, policy. These are three things that the president has shown a disdain for. If he can get them right, if he can get the right people in. David is right. They haven't filled the ranks of government. If they can actually have a process that they carried forward through the National Security Council, and if they can develop policies, some of which may not survive first contact, but it gives you a place to start, then I think this can be at a better place. Then the Achilles' heel is this, it's credibility. Right now in the
wake of the strike, we're in an information war with Russia and with Syria over the strike. And Syria and Russia are trying to declaim any responsibility for it. False narratives. Unfortunately, as the president keeps tweeting every day and tweets that are fact diverse, that undermines his credibility at a time when we desperately need it.
This is a president's most valuable currency, his credibility. And unfortunately, President Trump, if he continues on that course, is going to default on it.
FRUM: He can hire the best people in the world. But if any one of them appears on the cover of "TIME" magazine, that person's career inside this administration is over.
ZAKARIA: The one person who has is Steve Bannon. Appears to be exactly as you say.
All right, thank you. Fascinating conversation.
Next on GPS, King Coal once powered America. Donald Trump says he's bringing coal back. But he won't be able to do that. The odds are against him. And I'll explain why.
[10:27:42] ZAKARIA: And now for our "What in the World" segment. Welcome to Benham, Kentucky. Population here deep in the heart of coal country hovers around 500. The town has a coalminers park, a coalminers theater, and the Kentucky Coal mining Museum. Soon there will be solar panels on the roof of the museum to power it in this town where King Coal ruled for more than 100 years. It is a sign of the times.
Let's look at some numbers. For decades, King Coal was the primary energy source for power generation in the United States. But since 2000, coal has been on a steady decline. So much so that in 2016 cheap and abundant natural gas surpassed coal as the dominant source for energy generation in the U.S.
Renewables like wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric have also been on the rise and supply about 10 percent of U.S. energy needs, which means coal mining jobs have become an endangered species.
At its peak in 1923, the coal industry employed almost 705,000 miners. But thanks to effects of efficiency and automation those numbers have been on a sharp decline since then. By 1980, the total had dropped to 225,000. And in 2015, the number of coalminers employed in the United States was down to just 66,000. Contrast that with the solar industry, which employed 260,000 people in 2016, a 25 percent increase over the 2015 numbers.
What is behind the fall of coal and the rise of the rest in the U.S.? It's simple economics. Coal is more expensive than many of the alternatives. And the big natural gas boom in the U.S. and the rise of renewable have both put the squeeze on the demand for coal.
And then there is the pollution problem. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, coal plants are the nation's top source of carbon dioxide emission, the primary cause of global warming. About 23 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from power plants that use coal.
But President Trump thinks he's going to reverse coal's increasing obsolescence. At the end of March, President Trump traveled to the EPA to sign what was called an executive order to create energy independence.
[10:30:06] In a single stroke, he rolled back Obama-era regulations which would have significantly reduced pollution emissions from coal- fired power plants. Trumps' claim, that eliminating those regulations would bring jobs back to the coal mining industry. I guess he's trying to make good on a campaign stop last May where he told coalminers --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Get ready because you're going to be working your asses off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But there's widespread agreement that coal is not going to suddenly come roaring back nor will the jobs. Across the U.S. coal- fired plants are closing in record numbers. And until the economics change, the number of power plants using coal will keep falling.
So why is Trump so stuck on coal? Well, according to a report from NPR, the answer may lie in the states where all those solar jobs have been created. The top six states generating the most solar industry employment all voted for Hillary Clinton. States with the fewest amount of new solar jobs all went for Trump, including three key states, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which flipped from Democrat to Republican in 2016.
In any event, the revival of coal is one more false promise and fake prediction from Trump that just isn't going to happen.
Next on GPS, one nation's president have asked his people to allow him to potentially be in office until 2029. Turkey's people are voting on it this weekend. And we will dig into what is going on, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Turks are going to the polls on Sunday for what one scholar called in the "Washington Post" the most consequential referendum in modern Turkish history. And that is not hyperbole. The referendum would change Turkey's governance from its current parliamentary system to a presidential one. It would massively empower the current strongman of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
[10:35:04] Since the attempted coup that captivated the world's attention last July, Erdogan has consolidated power. This would be the culmination of that process. If passed, the referendum would abolish the prime minister, defend parliament, give the president power to appoint ministries and Supreme Court judges, as well as the authority to dissolve parliament or declare a state of emergency. And Erdogan would even have the opportunity to extend his term in office until 2029.
One of the finest chroniclers of Turkish politics joins me now to discuss. Mustafa Akyol is a fellow of the Freedom Project at Wellesley College. He writes for the "New York Times." He has a new book called "The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims."
Mustafa, pleasure to have you on.
MUSTAFA AKYOL, CONTRIBUTING OPINION WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: Pleasure to be on the show.
ZAKARIA: It does seem as though this referendum basically undermines the liberal part of liberal democracy, it gets rid of the constitutional checks and balances on the executive, and it gives Erdogan, in particular, this vast authority. How dangerous is it?
AKYOL: It is dangerous, Fareed, certainly. Turkey has fallen into a problem that you rightly identified many years ago, illiberal democracy. Ballots rule in Turkey. Whoever wins the ballots gets the power and that is President Erdogan right now. But other aspects of liberal democracy, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of dissent, separation of powers, these are being undermined. And if this constitutional major amendment passes in the referendum, it will be further undermined, in my view.
ZAKARIA: So a lot of people have said, if it fails, it will also plunge the country into crisis because Erdogan will not react kindly to the failure of this. This has been his pet project for years now.
AKYOL: That is true. Whatever comes out, you know, Turkey will not be a liberal democracy any time soon in my view because all this is happening at the context of a very intense political war in Turkey. Supporters of President Erdogan think that he's the man to save Turkey after a century of, you know, being in the wilderness. He's making Turkey great again. There are big enemies against him that's why we should rally behind him.
The other half of the country thinks President Erdogan is becoming an autocrat and he's threatening them. And that very poisonous polarization is here with us to stay. And whatever comes out in the referendum, it will not solve that problem.
ZAKARIA: You are teaching at Wellesley. I presume it would be difficult for you to be as outspoken in Turkey today.
AKYOL: It has to be -- you know, you have to be careful about what you're saying because I think one aspect of the current ruling is psychology turned to a legitimate paranoia. So everything you say against the government, critical of the government, can be taken as a sign of a conspiracy, you're part of a plot, you're a pawn of nefarious powers. In that sense conspiracy theories allot to I think this authoritarian drive in Turkey. And yes, everybody who's in Turkey who's critical, who's critical about Turkey, I think, has to watch its language. And that's a fact of life we all have to know, see and accept.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating case of the kind of descent of democracy.
All right. To me, the most interesting thing about this book is that what you are trying to remind people is that Islam, unusually or surprisingly, in a sense, has a very special place in its cannon for Jesus.
AKYOL: Indeed, Fareed. Today, some people think there are great clashes between Islam and Christianity, the great religions of our world today. But in this book, I wanted to look at the theological basis. And there are interesting bridges. I mean, Jesus, as a figure, so highly revered in Islam. When you look at Mary, she is the most praised woman in the whole Muslim scripture. Jesus is venerated as the prophet of God, but also a messiah, the word of God, very powerful terms if you know Christian theology.
So in my book, I wanted to highlight this Muslim image of Jesus. It also show how it actually corresponds to some early sects in Christianity which found themselves in history as heresies but actually said things that are very similar to Islam. And that connection between, you know, different Christian sects and Muslims is something that actually puzzled scholars and theologians for centuries.
ZAKARIA: Historian Bernard (INAUDIBLE) say people need to ask why were there Jews and Christians in the Middle East -- in the Muslim Middle East to begin with? Obviously it had been at some point a hospitable place for them to be.
AKYOL: Exactly. And one thing I also highlight in the book, Fareed, is a message at the end, what Jesus can teach Muslims today. I think the way -- theology about Jesus is one thing. But the teachings of Jesus to his fellow Jews in the first century is a message that is valid for every religion.
[10:40:02] And he reminded the Pharisees, for example, of his time that more pious, observant Jews, that one should not be just drawn into the literalism, that blind obedience to law but should try to see the moral purposes behind that. And I think that's a message that Muslims need today. So therefore in the book, on the one hand, I highlighted differences and similarities theologically but I also said the teachings of Jesus is something that Muslim's should look at today to find a way for change and transformation and reform in Islam.
ZAKARIA: Mustafa Akyol, on Turkey, on Islam, always intelligent. Pleasure to have you on.
AKYOL: Thank you so much, Fareed. It's a pleasure.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, France's ambassador to the United States has rather undiplomatically criticized one of the two leading candidates for his country's presidency, saying a win by Marine Le Pen would be a total disaster. That ambassador Gerard Araud will join me to explain when we come back.
[10:45:08] ZAKARIA: Next Sunday, the people of France will go to the polls to elect a new president. It's a crucial test in the wake of Brexit and the race has been sometimes brutal and always hotly contested.
If you turned on the TV last week in France, you might have thought you were watching a rerun of an American primary campaign debate. The spectacle lasted four hours, featured nine men and two women. Yes, that is 11 candidates for France's presidency.
One of the two women was Marine Le Pen. She's the daughter of Jean- Marie Le Pen, the longtime leader of the right-wing, populist, anti- immigrant and even racist National Front Party. Madame Le Pen took over the party six years ago and has carried on many of her father's policies. She dropped some of the racism but she added a starkly anti-EU element, describing the union as the an empty democratic oligarchy. Le Pen has recently polled essentially tied for first place with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.
France's sitting ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, recently said it would be a total disaster if Le Pen won. I asked him into the studio to explain why he broke diplomatic tradition to say such a pointed thing.
ZAKARIA: Ambassador Araud, pleasure to have you on.
GERARD ARAUD, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Nice to meet you.
ZAKARIA: You have been remarkably outspoken on the dangers of Marine Le Pen becoming president. Let me ask you very simply, you're a French diplomat. What would happen if she were to become president?
ARAUD: Actually there is a real debate, I guess, among the French diplomats. My colleague, the ambassador in Tokyo where he made in the past said I won't serve Marine Le Pen if she is elected. And because for us, you know, the diplomats, all our career has been dedicated to explain France to the foreigners but also especially we have a deep commitment to the European Union.
You know, European policy is not a policy among other policies. It's a choice of civilization. It's a choice for democracy. Liberal democracy. My country has been invaded three times in 70 years. Two world wars. A genocide. So the lesson has been, we want to build a united Euro.
If Madame Le Pen is elected, she will take France out of the European Union. Out of the Euro. So it's not any policy, it's very particular is a change of our society. So I do believe that we, the diplomats, we have the right to say what we think.
ZAKARIA: What do you think explains the rise of Le Pen and this kind of right-wing populism that you're seeing throughout Europe?
ARAUD: I think it's not only for Europe, it's also for the U.S. I think that for the first time in my life, I see that the political life in this country and in Europe, the political lives are so compatible. We have the same anti-establishment mood. Basically some of our cities are telling the elites you didn't deliver for us, so I want to toss the table. So it's exactly the same rebellion, and -- which means that we have also to answer, you know, to their concerns.
What is it mean, free trade? You know, really, is it possible to have a free trade, which is citizen friendly? Which means -- a lot of questions, globalization. You know, (INAUDIBLE) economic globalization.
ZAKARIA: But a lot of it, don't you think, is immigration?
ARAUD: And there is the question of immigration. Even it's also in a sense of globalization, you know, really, it means that the goods but also the people are traveling.
ZAKARIA: France has had a particularly complicated relationship with this. It has taken in lots of people from Algeria, from Morocco, but it has found it hard to assimilate them. Is that going better or worse? How would you describe, you know, France's struggles with assimilation?
ARAUD: The fact is that we have -- in terms of members, we have the first Muslim community in the world. You know, really basically between 8 percent and 9 percent of the population. Which means that we have some neighborhoods which are fundamentally Muslims. And in these neighborhoods, you have some French people or organizations which are testing us. You know, for instance, they come to us and say we want to have a women's only day in the swimming pools or we don't want male doctors taking care of female patients, or I don't want my girl -- my daughter to go to the gym. So there is -- we have all these questions and we have to face them, we have to answer to them.
ZAKARIA: But you tend to be pretty tough on these issues. You believe that France should defend its concept of seculars and liberalism, and not give in to these demands.
ARAUD: Yes. The fact is that, in France, religion is considered as a private issue.
[10:50:02] You know, so you shouldn't bring religion into the public space. And that's what some Muslims are trying to do.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that when you look at Brexit, does it mark, in your mind, a kind of catastrophic failure of the European Union? Does it mark an unraveling? How do you see it?
ARAUD: First it's said. You know, it's really a figure. You know, to think about the European Union between our British friends, frankly it's very sad. I think on the front page of the French newspaper it was written, "We Already Miss You, Brits." And of course we miss the British. So it's a failure. And you know, it's a lose-lose situation.
ZAKARIA: You don't think that Britain leaving is the harbinger of other countries possibly leaving Europe?
ARAUD: You know, nowadays I can't tell you. I can't answer. You know, if I were asked before November 8th, you know, whether Madame Le Pen would be elected in France, I would have answered never. But after what happened in this country on November 8th, you know, I'm obliged to say that she may be elected, she may win the elections in France. And she has said very clearly that she wants France out of the EU. And frankly, it's not bragging, but if France is out of the EU, it's the end of the EU, and the end of the eurozone. So a lot of things will depend on the result of the French elections.
ZAKARIA: Do you think this is rattling the doors of the French elite?
ARAUD: Of course. You know, really, they are -- the people are telling us, you didn't deliver for us. And really the elites -- and I'm part of this elite, you know, they are voting against us. And that's something extremely important. You know, really, and let's say that Mr. Macron is elected, we have in the coming five years to respond to these concerns, to show that the French elite or the French political system is really responding to these concerns. If he fails, she will be elected in five years.
ZAKARIA: On that alarming note, Ambassador Araud, pleasure to have you on.
ARAUD: Thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, London Bridges somewhat incongruously in Arizona, but London's Tower Bridge is now in China, at least a copy of it is. And it is the centerpiece of a big debate. We'll explain when we come back.
[10:56:43] ZAKARIA: There has been much criticism of Donald Trump's budget cuts to federal agencies task with protecting the environment. But another country recently announced drastic cuts to our environmental protection, which could have dire consequences for climate change.
It brings me to my question, which of the following countries recently announced it would cut its environment ministry's budget by more than half? Indonesia, Brazil, Russia or Mexico?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
Don't forget to go to CNN/fareed and subscribe to our daily newsletter, "Fareed's Global Briefing." You'll get insight and analysis about the world's most important events right in your inbox daily.
This week's "Book of the Week" is superb. Derek Thompson's "Hit Maker: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction." Why do some ideas, products, songs, movies succeed and others fail? Why is the Mona Lisa so famous? Why did "Game of Thrones" take off? Why is Taylor Swift so popular?
Derek Thompson, one of the most gifted young writers in America explains persuasively, intelligently and entertainingly. If you like Malcolm Gladwell, you will like Derek Thompson. Buy this book.
And now, for "The Last Look," London's Tower Bridge, the iconic 19th century bridge spanning the River Thames is hard to mistake. But take a look at these pictures. These are not the banks of the Thames and that is not London's Tower Bridge. This bridge was completed in this century and has doubled the number of the real deal's tall towers. It is located more than 5,000 miles away from London in Suzhou, China.
As "The New York Times" pointed out the construction of this bridge and recent publication of its photos has revitalized debate over China's recreation of foreign landmarks. There are now many Arc de Triomphes, Eiffel Towers, White Houses and capital buildings within China's borders. There's a Sydney Harbor Bridge, an opera house, a Roman coliseum and even an entire Austrian village among many others.
Not everyone is a fan of this wave of bizarre architecture. Utterly lacking in context or any Chinese heritage. Though the "Times" points out that some officials may believe these buildings suggest high status.
After Xi's visit to the United States, I imagine it is only a matter of time before some developers in China build the next great edifice, a copy of Mar-a-Lago. If they want to tweak the president of the United States, they should make sure the Chinese version is bigger.
The answer to the GPS challenge question is B, the Brazilian government led by Michel Temer who took over the presidency after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff recently announced a federal environmental ministry budget would be slashed by more than 50 percent, part of sweeping budget cuts. The cuts could make the enforcement of regulation on deforestation particularly difficult at a time when forest clearance is spiking after years of progress.
A driving force behind deforestation is Brazil's meat industry, cutting down vast areas of rainforests to make room for cattle ranching, simultaneously upping emissions and reducing the planet's ability to absorb them.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.