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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Examining Proposed Trump Budget; How Politics Affects the Economy and Stock Markets; Discussion of Situation in Qatar. Aired 10- 11a ET
Aired June 18, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:05] 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 today's show with the shocking shooting on that beltway ball field.
What does it say about how divided America is, how angry her people are at each other. And what are the chances of real reconciliation between the parties and amongst the American people. I have people who have studied and worked on just these issues.
And another area sharply divided, the Middle East. The split between the Gulf States and Qatar. What will bring the crisis to a close? I will ask Qatar's former prime minister.
Also, the Trump boom. Why have American stock markets gone up, up and further up while the country is mired in political turmoil and paralysis? (INAUDIBLE) will offer his explanation.
Finally, America's Census counts its people every 10 years. This country is embarking on a census to count its islands and there are thousands of them.
But first here's my take. This week's shooting at a congressional baseball practice was a ghastly example of the political polarization that is ripping this country apart. Political scientists have shown that Congress is more divided than at any time since the end of Reconstruction.
I for one am struck not simply by the depth of partisanship these days but increasingly its nature. The feeling seems to me that people on the other side of the divide are not just wrong and to be argued with, they are immoral and must be muzzled or punished.
This is not about policy. The chasm between left and right during much of the Cold War was far wider than it is today. Many on the left want a nationalized or substantially regulate whole industries. On the right they advocated a total rollback of the new deal. Compared to that, today's economic divisions feel relatively small.
Partisanship today is more about identity. The scholars Ronald Englehart and Pippa Morris have argued that in the last few decades, people have begun to define themselves politically less by traditional economic measures and instead by identity, their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation.
I would add to this mix, social class, something rarely spoken of in America but a powerful determinant of how we see ourselves. The 2016 election, for example, had a lot to do with social class, with non- college educated rural voters reacting against the professional urban elite.
The dangerous aspect of this new form of politics is that identity does not lend itself easily to compromise. When the core divide was economic, you could always split the difference. If one side wanted to spend $100 billion, say, and the other wanted to spend zero, well, there was a number in between.
The same is true with tax cuts or welfare policy. But if the core issues are about identity, culture and religion, think about abortion, gay rights, Confederate monuments, immigration, official languages, then compromise seems almost immoral. American politics in that sense is becoming more like Middle Eastern politics where there is no middle ground between being a Sunni and a Shiite.
I've seen this shift in the reactions to my own writing and later my television show. When I started writing columns about two decades ago, the disagreements were often scathing but almost always about the substance of the issue. Increasingly there is little discussion about the substance, mostly ad hominem attacks often involving my race or ethnicity.
Today everything becomes fodder for partisanship. Consider the now famous production of the Public Theater's "Julius Caesar" in Central Park, in which Caesar resembles President Trump. Conservatives have pilloried the play, raising outrage among people who have never seen it, claiming that it glorifies the assassination of a president and seeking to defund the production. Since I tweeted a line praising the production, I've received a barrage of attacks, many of them quite nasty.
Now in 2012 a production of the same play "Julius Caesar" had an Obama-like Caesar and no one seems to have complained. In fact the central message of Julius Caesar is that the assassination was a disaster, leading to civil war, anarchy and the fall of the Roman republic. The assassins were defeated and humiliated and racked with guilt, died horrible deaths.
If that wasn't clear enough, the play's director Oskar Eustis, has explained the message he intended to convey. Quote, "Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by un-democratic means."
[10:05:05] Political theater is as old as human civilization. A sophisticated play by Shakespeare that actually presents Caesar, or Trump, in a mixed, somewhat favorable light is something to be discussed, not censored, and certainly not blamed for the actions of a single deranged shooter.
I recently gave a speech at Bucknell University in which I criticized America's mostly liberal colleges for silencing views they deemed offensive, arguing that it was bad for the students and the country. The same holds for conservatives who try to mount campaigns to defund art they deem offensive.
Do conservatives now want Central Park to be their own special safe space? I for one will keep arguing that liberals and conservatives should open themselves to all kinds of opinions and ideas that differ from their own. Instead of trying to silence, excommunicate and punish, let's look at the other side and try to listen, engage, and when we must, disagree.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week, and let's get started.
So exactly how can the left and the right, the Democrats and the Republicans of the United States, stop this (INAUDIBLE) struggle? How can they reconcile? That's what I want to talk about today with a group of very smart people who have given a lot of thought to these subjects.
David Blackenhorn is a thinker and author and the president of Better Angels, a group dedicated to reuniting America. Jill Abramson is the former executive editor of "The New York Times," currently teaching, writing at Harvard. Ed Luce is Washington columnist for the "Financial Times" and the author of a new book, "The Retreat of Western Liberalism." And Padraig O'Malley is distinguished professor of peace and reconciliation at U-Mass Boston.
David Blackenhorn, let me start with you. What do you think is dividing us so deeply these days? Is it fundamentally economics, social class, culture? How do you see it?
DAVID BLACKENHORN, PRESIDENT, BETTER ANGELS: We're definitely divided by ideology left and right, but we're also -- there's a tremendous class divide with the top 25 percent or 30 percent not having less and less interaction with everybody else.
There's also a governing divide that people in the U.S. both right and left don't trust anybody, even their own people, to be effective politicians. So there's I'd say three levels of polarization all increasing.
ZAKARIA: Padraig, how does it strike you compared with other countries? Is America more divided?
PADRAIG O'MALLEY, PROFESSOR OF PEACE AND RECONCILIATION, U-MASS BOSTON: I believe it's very important that we begin this program by acknowledging first the condition of Congressman Scalise and to hope for his family and wish him well on his long way to recovery, but we should also acknowledge James Hodgkinson. He has been demonized in the media, called evil and other things.
And we forget in doing so that he was a human being, that he had a family, that he had children, that he laughed, that he cried, that he was happy, that he was sad. We forget that people mourn his loss. They're ashamed of him. And if we don't humanize him, too, if we other him, we are really at what I would say the fundamental root of the conflict, and that is that we engage in behavior in which we other the other.
We rob them of the legitimacy of their humanity. And I think that is true across societies in conflict in other places and also true in the United States. You have two segments of the population that for all intents and purposes don't know each other. With the rise of social media, rather than connecting people, it has disconnected them. What you have is people in blue states talking to people in blue states and people in red states talking to people in red states, and neither are talking to each other.
ZAKARIA: Ed Luce, in your book, "The Retreat of Western Liberalism," you deal with this issue because you talk about how liberalism has always been premised on the idea that people can argue with one another, that there is a rational basis for argument and from that argument will come some kind of common wisdom.
Do you think this has just collapsed in the United States?
[10:10:03] ED LUCE, CHIEF U.S. COMMENTATOR, FINANCIAL TIMES: Well, I think, I mean, if you look at what the founding fathers said and what other greats and liberal thinkers like John Stuart Mill said, is that the clash of steel, the clash of ideas will always produce better outcomes as long as this debate takes place in the public square.
But what we have in today's America and in other democracies is quite separate public squares. So the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan and another great liberal figure in the larger sense of the word liberal, you know, said you're entitled to your own opinions but you're not entitled to your own facts.
It's very hard to have that intelligent argument if people are in different -- not only in different squares, but there isn't even a sort of connecting, you know, corridor between the squares. That it's very hard to imagine how civility can ensue when people don't even meet each other or live near each other who hold different positions or let their children marry or wish their children to marry people of different views. So that's my concern, there is no public square.
ZAKARIA: Jill, you've written that you think that while all this is true, this is not a situation where both sides are equally at fault.
JILL ABRAMSON, FORMER EXECUTIVE EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: I do think that both sides are not equally at fault and that there's been a bit of a false equivalency at work, especially in the discussion over the past couple of days. I think that in terms of political leadership right now that both President Trump and the congressional leadership on the Republican side are extremely divisive and that they are really benefitting from a kind of rage machine that operates in this country.
And, yes, let's just think of two recent episodes. Health care and the repeal of Obamacare. When the Democrats were actually shaping that legislation originally and the Obama White House, they had open hearings, public hearings. Right now the Republican-led Senate is having entirely secret process for formulating their bill. No hearings. They won't even brief Democrats in the Senate about what's in that legislation. And then when President Obama nominated a moderate, Merrick Garland,
to the Supreme Court, the Republicans refused to take action and hold a hearing on his nomination. The Democrats didn't do that with President Trump's nominee. So it isn't equivalent behavior on both sides.
ZAKARIA: All right. I'm going to ask David Blankenhorn to respond to that and whether it is more the Republican fault, but also I want to get at what can we do to make things better and to look internationally where there are examples of reconciliation back in history. Maybe Northern Ireland will give us some clues. When we come back.
[10:17:45] ZAKARIA: And we are back with David Blankenhorn, Jill Abramson, Ed Luce and Padraig O'Malley talking about lessons from abroad for bridging America's vast political divide.
But, David Blankenhorn, I first have to ask you, you know, it's not just what Jill Abramson said. There are people at the American Enterprise Institute, you know, and the Brookings Institute who have studied this and come to the conclusion that it is true that the Republicans have become more extreme than the Democrats. That while there is a polarization on both sides, the shift on the right is much more extreme than on the left. Do you buy that?
BLANKENHORN: I'm familiar with that literature. I think there's a lot of truth to it. But today what I'm not that interested in figuring out who's more to blame. I'm honestly not. I'm mainly interested in recovering what was just called on the show the common public square, and that's why what I'm doing now, I'm going around the country and we're bringing together people who are generally supportive of President Trump and people who are critical, and we're having meetings where we talk to one another.
Not about one another, not at one another, but actually talk with one another. And we're doing this around the country. And I'll tell you, it's a wonderful thing to see because we're not as -- when we actually talk to one another, we're not as divided as we thought. There's a lot less demonization. There's a lot of reduction in rancor. Your blood pressure goes down. You feel better about your country. And that's what we need to do. Irrespective of what the politicians do, irrespective of bad behavior in Washington and irrespective of who is most to blame for the mess we're in.
ZAKARIA: Padraig, what other lessons from Ireland -- from Northern Ireland?
O'MALLEY: Every human being has two personas. One is the ideological persona and the other is the human persona. The ideological persona can be nationalism, can be Marxism, can be socialism, can be any kind of ism. And then on the flipside you have the human being, who laughs, who cries, who cheers for his children, who wonder about their kids, and we must talk to that person, not to the ism. [10:20:11] We must get back to not othering other people. And I hear
-- what disturbs me a lot is that I watch a fair amount of MSNBC. And I am distraught that it has become -- it is adding to polarization because it has the same guests on not only night after night but sometimes two or three times in the same night and they're all saying the same thing, and they're all trying to earn points against Trump. That does not help and it does not help to say that one side is more at fault than the other.
ZAKARIA: Jill, we can have people talk to one another, ordinary people, but what do you think is the role for leadership? Because it does seem to me, at least, that some part of this divide has been produced by a political elite that has become increasingly divisive and increasingly nasty about one another.
ABRAMSON: Well, I agree with you on that. I do think that journalism does have a role to play if we're going to have some kind of reconciliation and lessening of this very intense partisanship and extremism, you know, in either of the parties because I think what our society desperately needs is to regain a respect for facts. And the reality that there is an objective truth that can be obtained.
And yes, there are many media organizations that compound partisanship and extremism, but there are a group of very high quality news organizations that try very hard to tell the news straight and to cover stories truthfully and bringing the reality of how people live to life in news stories, and I just think it's incredibly dangerous right now that we live in a society where people can't even agree on what a fact is.
LUCE: Can I pick up on another point about leadership? I think an example that others have studied in South Africa. Why is it that South Africa didn't descend into a politics of racial vengeance against the white minority that had sustained apartheid for so long? And I think there's one pretty simple answer here and that is Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela was an extraordinary individual and he set the tone for the politics through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was a non-punitive way of looking at the crimes of apartheid and through just his very manner. He's very bearing as a leader of the new South Africa, so leadership is hugely important. And I can't -- you know, I can't sort of be asked my views on this subject without mentioning that it works the other way.
When you get leaders who demonize and who call out and who insult and who mock, like Donald Trump does, then you're going to get an equally bad signal and an enabling behavior for people out there. So I totally agree with the sentiments of what everybody has said, that you need to get people who disagree with each other talking to each other, seeing their human side. I think that's absolutely vital. But I also think it's critical that you have leaders who do not go for the lowest sort of human insult whenever they feel that they're being challenged.
And, you know, I'm sorry to say, but that's kind of the elephant in the room here. It is President Trump. ZAKARIA: Well, this is a fascinating conversation and we will have to
have it again because I don't think this problem is going away. Thank you all.
Next on GPS, President Trump says he wants to fix America's crumbling infrastructure, which is great. But it turns out he wants somebody else to pay for most of it. I say that's a bridge too far, a rusting, rotting, broken bridge too far, when we come back.
[10:28:51] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. I've often said if Donald Trump does something that to my analysis is right, I would support it. And the one piece of his campaign rhetoric with which I agreed entirely was his promise to put forward a $1 trillion plan to rebuild America's infrastructure.
The problem stares us in the face every day, from a spillway failure at the nation's tallest dam causing the evacuation of 188,000 people, to a bridge collapse several years ago at a major transportation artery which killed 13 people, public works in the United States are in such poor shape that the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation's crumbling infrastructure a barely passing grade of D-plus this year.
Now in case you missed it, the president did unveil his infrastructure proposal on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My new vision for American infrastructure will rebuild our country by generating $1 trillion in infrastructure investment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But, it turns out, Trump's infrastructure plan is not a trillion-dollar public works project. It's really just $200 billion worth of corporate tax rates and incentives spread out over nine years which theoretically will sparked a trillion-dollars worth of infrastructure investment mostly by private investors and state and local governments.
His actual budget cuts the Department of Transportation's budget by 13 percent and the Army Corps of Engineers' budget by 16 percent.
Some of Trump's new proposals are worth considering, such as the one to turn the nation's air traffic control system into a nonprofit corporation, a model that has worked well in Canada.
In general, privatization is worth trying, but it has to be structured carefully. In the U.K., for example, private investors successfully run Heathrow Airport, which increased passenger volume and actually turns a profit. But when a private consortium tried to operate London's underground in the mid-2000s, they went bankrupt and, according to Bloomberg, left British taxpayers on the hook for as much as $516 million. And none of this changes the fundamental reality. The federal
government needs to spend large sums of money to repair and rebuild America's infrastructure. As a percentage of total federal spending, we're spending less now than at almost any time in the past 60 years on infrastructure. The U.S. ranks 15th in infrastructure spending, behind China, of course, but behind Australia and Brazil, according to a 2016 McKinsey report.
Fancy schemes and phrases like "public-private partnership" won't change that reality. As another McKinsey report pointed out, businesses and investors fear returns from infrastructure projects will be way too low. There's little money to be made in fixing leaky water pipes and filling potholes.
Several economists have pointed out that, with interest rates so low, this is the ideal time to borrow money to invest in something that has large and tangible payoffs, less traffic, shorter commutes, greater productivity throughout the economy.
Writing for the Bond Buyer, two pundits suggested that Trump issue tax-exempt Make America Great Again bonds -- good idea. Plus, Congress should finally raise the federal gas tax, one of the main funding sources for infrastructure repairs. That tax has remained unchanged at 18.4 cents since 1993, which, when taking inflation into account, means it buys 40 percent less than it did 24 years ago as the New York Times calculated.
If Congress doesn't somehow raise more money, the CBO says the Highway Trust Fund budget shortfall will reach $139 billion in just 10 years.
Conservatives like to say there is no free lunch. Well, there are no free bridges, train stations and roads, either. If we want to make American infrastructure great again, we will have to pay for it.
Next on "GPS," the Dow Jones industrial average was up almost 100 points on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated. Now it's up well over 1,000 points since then, a boom during a time of political turmoil. Ruchir Sharma will explain why this is happening.
ZAKARIA: Despite a criminal investigation that could go all the way to the top of the White House; despite what appears to have been a politically motivated shooting of Republican congresspeople this week; despite a federal government that is still missing many of the people who are supposed to be in place to run it, the American stock market keeps chugging along, indeed thriving. The benchmark Dow Jones industrial average is up more than 1,500 points in the roughly 150 days since inauguration.
Why are America's markets up big league, as President Trump might say?
It's a question that puzzles many, and Morgan Stanley's Ruchir Sharma is here to explain that and much more.
Ruchir, it's a larger puzzle, in a way, for people. There are lots of people who felt that Obama had a business-unfriendly policy in many ways, and yet the market kept going up. People said, when Brexit happens, you know, the markets will -- will tank. They didn't, really. When Trump was elected, people said markets would tank -- not so much because Trump would be so terrible, but the uncertainty, the question of what's -- you have a fundamentally different view?
RUCHIR SHARMA, MORGAN STANLEY: Yeah. My basic view is that the United States is almost a post-democratic society, where the impact of politics on the markets or even the economy is very limited. So this is very different to, let's say, an emerging market. See what's happening in Brazil. In Brazil we had the impeachment scandal where the president may have to lose his job, and there the markets are in complete panic.
So in fact, if an actor like Trump had been elected in an emerging market or if these sort of scandals were playing out in an emerging market, the outcome would be very different compared to what's happening in the United States. And I think that's because we, sort of, underestimate the strength of institutions in a country such as the United States.
ZAKARIA: And why then, in your view, is the market rising?
I mean, there are people who say, well, it's rising because there are actually broad economic factors that are positive, which are actually mostly outside America, that the world economy is better; China has not collapsed; Europe is coming back. Is that what's at the heart of this -- this stability in the stock markets?
SHARMA: Yes, it is, in terms of the fact -- but I also feel that there is a role to be played of the very easy money of the Federal Reserve. I think that because what you're seeing is, across the world, all asset prices are rising, so it's not even just stocks, but even bond prices are rising, and, sort of, like other prices, other asset prices, real estate, as well, is rising.
So in fact that, for me, is the much bigger worry about the American market, that outside of that brief spell in the late 1990s when we were all caught up in the tech boom, the American market has never been this expensive. In fact, in the entire history that we have over the last century or so, never before have all asset prices simultaneously been as expensive as they are now. I'm talking about stocks, bonds, real estate. Everything today is expensive compared to the historical averages. In the past, one asset would be expensive; something else would not be.
So this is a very unusual thing which is happening. And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact, when you have free money, people go out and make more money with it.
ZAKARIA: And Trump and his supporters say it's going to be OK because we are going to unleash serious growth, with deregulation, with tax cuts, with reforms, with infrastructure spending. And we are going to achieve at least 3 percent growth, maybe even 4 percent. You have a very powerful counter-argument. Explain what it is. SHARMA: Yeah. My basic argument is there are two drivers of economic
growth. One is your increase in the number of people working, and two is the productivity of these people. And people really...
ZAKARIA: And, by the way, that's -- that's a fact. This is not...
SHARMA: That's a fact, right. This is like an economic equation.
SHARMA: This is not ideology.
ZAKARIA: Right, how many people -- how many people you have work and how productively they work.
SHARMA: Yes. And I think that that's the point, that half the story has to do with demographics. And America and the world's demographics have changed very significantly over the past decade or so, that America's population growth, particularly the working-age population growth between 15 to 64, that growth rate has fallen very sharply. It's in fact growing at half the pace as it was for much of post-War history.
So my point is that the main reason the global economy and the U.S. economy grew so rapidly in the post-World War II era was because of the baby boomers, was because we had an unusual explosion in the world's population growth rate. And that growth rate now has fallen off a cliff.
ZAKARIA: So you say -- and this is important, because all Trump's budget calculations are based on at least 3 percent growth, if not more -- you're saying it is simply almost mathematically unattainable because of this demographic reality?
SHARMA: Yes, because of the factors that productivity, you can try and increase through whatever you do. But my point is that, even if productivity, you take it back up to the Reagan era, right, which is closer to 2 percent, the working-age population growth rate over the next few years is projected to be less than half a percent. So to get back to above 3 percent you need a productivity miracle of the kind which America has almost never seen.
So I think that that's the point, that, yes, you can hope for miracles, but you can't plan on that. You can't base your forecast on that.
ZAKARIA: Final point: the one saving grace here -- tell me if I'm right or wrong -- is that the United States still takes in a lot of young immigrants.
SHARMA: Yes. Yeah, but I think that that's also changing at the margin. There's been a sharp dropoff. That point is completely correct. As I said, demographics is half the growth story. And in America's case, the inflow of immigrants over the last few decades has played a very important role in beefing up the demographics of this country. Here's one statistic which I think is absolutely stunning, which is
that, if you account for demographics, in sheer per-capita-income terms, the growth rate of America has been no different than that of Japan and Europe over the last 10 or even 20 years, virtually. So the biggest competitive advantage that America has is not so much Google and Stanford, which is about productivity; it's about demographics, which is, you know, like about babies and immigrants. And I think...
ZAKARIA: Like Mexicans crossing the border?
SHARMA: Yeah. But that, I think, has, like, slowed down significantly. That's another reason as to why it will be so difficult for America to grow at 3 percent, because the inflow of immigrants and also the growth rate of the population, domestic population, with a decline in the birth rates, has slowed down very significantly.
ZAKARIA: All right. This is a cold shower. Thank you, Ruchir Sharma.
Up next, the Middle East in a different kind of crisis than usual. This time many Arab states are turning against one of their own. To try to understand the Qatar crisis, we call in the country's former prime minister, when we come back.
ZAKARIA (voice over): The tiny Arab state of Qatar's sole land border with Saudi Arabia is now closed. Flights from Qatar's capital, Doha, to many other Arab nations have been canceled indefinitely. Ships going to and from Qatar have been blocked from the Gulf's biggest seaports. So by land, air and sea, Qatar is mostly blockaded. This is a case of neighbor against neighbor.
(UNKNOWN): It's an accumulation of Qatar's behavior.
ZAKARIA: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and some of their allies say the Emirate of Qatar is a sponsor of terror, and Donald Trump has echoed that sentiment. Those neighbors also say Qatar is in bed with Iran, and they have had enough.
ZAKARIA (on camera): Let's talk about the blockade and the allegations with a key figure in Qatar. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani served as both prime minister and foreign minister until 2013. He joins me now.
So how surprised were you by this -- these actions that were taken largely by the -- at the behest of Saudi Arabia?
AL THANI: Well, the action which has been taken, which is unjustified, unfortunately -- it caught everybody by surprise, since we did not have any indication that there is a problem. In fact, the emir was in Riyadh, and as he was in Riyadh, they can tell him if there is any problem. But it's been planned, it seems, for a long time. And at the same time he was talking in normal talk with our neighbors, as there was nothing, and suddenly this happened.
ZAKARIA: What do you attribute it to? What do you think happened?
Do you think that Trump's visit might have encouraged the Saudis?
AL THANI: Well, I think this is a contribution, of course, that. But, in my opinion, it's not the Trump visit or not Trump visit, but the main thing is why this happened. And all this large accusation that we are with Iran, we are with the terrorists and we are financing terrorists. And I think these things, for us, is a surprise because we are working with the American ally in fighting terrorism. And, you know, their advance base in Qatar is taking care about the terrorism and we are participating in that.
So for us it was -- it was not justified to say that we are with Iran because we are with Iran, fight them face to face in Syria, and we support the different guys in Syria, and we have a lot of changes. But it doesn't mean that we have a bad relation with Iran, since we have a gas field jointly with Iran. But there is a lot of different things between us and Iran in terms of policy and how we are looking at things.
And financing -- what they say -- we hear a lot of accusation, a lot of mud being thrown to us. And, unfortunately, being, you know, the support of President Trump for this allegation encouraged our people to do more and to take it in a way that shows that it's not brotherly being taken. For us, we are ready to see what is this accusation. If somebody talked to us and showed us what is the accusation, what we did wrong in terms, as they say, terrorism financing -- because, as far as we know, we are financing -- there is bad financing from all the neighbors and other countries, but Qatar may be the smallest individuals because the tightness of regulation in Qatar is much higher than some of our neighbors, as you know.
ZAKARIA: You know Donald Trump personally. What -- what is your message to him?
AL THANI: Yes, I know him personally. And my message to him, Mr. President, you are brave enough to look at the matter and other matters, and I believe Qatar was an ally and will stay an ally for the United States. And all the other GCC countries are also your ally. And I would like and ask that they look at the matter from a strategical point and in a fair way and fair manner to see if there is a mistake or all this being made up for a reason which is behind what we can do or we can help and a reason because there are some other guys who would like to do a different policy without consulting with us.
ZAKARIA: And, again, do you mean Saudi Arabia?
AL THANI: I mean all the brother countries and I mean Saudi Arabia. They have to look at Qatar as their small brothers and small country, but with the same integrity. We have the same integrity. And I think what happened, it touched our integrity by the way how the media take it, and we have not been used to this kind of -- of an insult, which I think it will leave a scar.
ZAKARIA: Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, thank you so much.
ZAKARIA: It is a year of transition for Europe, with elections in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and more, and it brings me to my question. Which two European countries recently chose openly gay prime ministers: Latvia and Portugal, Serbia and Ireland, Italy and Malta or Croatia and Norway?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is Tom Ricks' "Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom." I'm a fan of both, but I didn't think I needed to read more about them, especially Churchill. It turns out this is a wonderful book. The brief biographies are very well done. The pairing of the two is inspired. And throughout, the author's intelligent insights shine through.
And now for the last look. The U.S. Constitution mandates that the country count its population every 10 years. It's not an easy task. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is a birth in America every eight seconds and a death every 12. Including international migrants, there is a net gain of one person every 13 seconds.
Well, imagine having to keep track not only of an evolving population but an evolving terrain. Indonesia is estimated to have at least 17.5 thousand islands, of which thousands are uninhabited. But nobody knows the true tally. So the country is counting its islands. A team will travel throughout Indonesia's roughly 740,000 square miles, documenting all the land that it finds. By counting and registering its islands with the United Nations, Indonesia hopes to firmly establish its borders and protect its resources. It seems like a good idea, but counting just once may not be enough. As the BBC notes, between losing islands to rising sea levels and forming them in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the tally keeps moving.
The answer to my "GPS" challenge this week is B, Serbia and Ireland. The president of Serbia nominated Ana Brnabic to be prime minister this week. Once approved by parliament, she will not only be the country's first openly gay prime minister; she will also be the first female to hold that position. In Ireland, Leo Varadkar, a doctor and son of an Indian immigrant was formally confirmed as the country's first openly gay prime minister this week.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.