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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Saudi Government Corruption Examined; GOP Betraying Ronald Reagan?; Examining U.S.-Turkey Relations. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 12, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": - every Sunday and weekdays on "The Lead" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. Fareed Zakaria GPS starts right now.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: This is GPS, GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.
Today, Abe, Moon, Xi and Putin. President Trump's big meetings on the world stage. Has this big Asia trip changed America's position in the world?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore.
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ZAKARIA: And for the better or worse? Richard Haas, Ian Bremmer and Elise Hu will join me to discuss.
Also, Saudi Arabia's crackdown on corruption. Princes and top officials arrested and kept at the Ritz-Carlton. Saudi officials say this corruption has cost the country at least $100 billion? What is going on? We will explore.
And a melee outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington last spring that resulted in US Indictments of 15 Turkish security officials bringing relations between the two nations to a new low. I will talk with Turkey's prime minister who met with Vice President Pence this week.
But, first, here is my take. The news out of Saudi Arabia has been startling. A country famous for its stability to the point of stagnation is watching a 32-year-old crown prince arrest his relatives, freeze their bank accounts and dismiss them from key posts.
But on closer examination, it shouldn't be that surprising. Mohammed bin Salman is now applying to Saudi Arabia what has become the new standard operating procedure for strong men around the world.
The formula was honed by Vladimir Putin, first focus on and amplify foreign threats, so as to rally the country around the regime and give it extraordinary powers. Putin did this with the Chechen war and the danger of terrorism.
Then, move against rival centers of influence within the society often using anti-corruption, which, in Russia, meant the oligarchs, who were at the time were more powerful than the state itself.
Then talk more about the need to end corruption, reform the economy and provide benefits for ordinary people. Putin was able to succeed on that last front largely because of the quadrupling of oil prices over the next decade.
Finally, control the media through formal and informal means. Russia has gone from having a thriving free media in 2000 to a level of state control that is effectively similar to the Soviet Union.
Naturally, not every element of this formula applies elsewhere. Perhaps Prince Mohammed will prove to be a genuine reformer. But the basic approach for political success the keys following is similar to that applied in countries around the world.
In his 2012 book, "The Dictator's Learning Curve", William Dobson presciently explained that the new breed of strongmen around the world have learned a set of tricks to maintain control that are far more clever and sophisticated than in the past.
Rather than forcibly arrest members of the human rights group, today's most effective despots deploy tax collectors or health inspectors to shut down dissident groups. Laws are written broadly, then used like a scalpel to target the groups the government deems a threat.
Dobson, however, did end the book expressing optimism that, in many countries, people were resisting and outmaneuvering the dictators.
Yet what's happened since he wrote the book is depressing. Instead of the despots being influenced by democrats, it is the democrats who are moving up the learning curve.
Consider Turkey, a country that in the early 2000s seemed on a firm path toward democracy and liberalism, anchored in a desire to become a full-fledged member of the European Union.
Its ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan has eliminated almost all obstacles to total control. He has defanged the military and the bureaucracy, launched various kinds of tax and regulatory actions against opponents in the media and declared one potential opposition group, the Gulenists, to be terrorists.
The rulers of the Philippines and Malaysia appear to be copying from that same playbook.
Now, of course, this is not the picture of democracy everywhere, but these tendencies can be spotted in far flung areas. In countries like India and Japan, which remain vibrant democracies in most respects, there are elements of this new system creeping in - a nationalism, a chauvinism, populism, increasing measures to intimidate and neuter the free press. In America, Donald Trump for his part has threatened NBC, CNN and other outlets with various forms of government action. He has attacked judges and independent agencies. He has disregarded long established democratic norms.
[10:05:11] So, perhaps, even in America, somebody seems to be moving up this learning curve.
For more, go to CNN.com/Fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
President Trump is in Manila right now, the last stop on his dozen- day, five stop tour of Asia. The most controversial aspect of his trip so far were, of course, his chats with President Putin.
After them, Trump told reporters that he really believed Putin when he told him he didn't meddle in the US elections. Later, Trump said he believes the US intelligence community which, of course, says Russia did interfere. So, lots to talk about with today's panel.
Elise Hu is an international correspondent for NPR. She covered many stops of the president's trip.
Ian Bremmer was in Da Nang, Vietnam for the president's stop there. Ian is the president of the Eurasia Group.
And Richard Haas is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of "A World in Disarray".
Richard, how do you explain the Putin thing? It feels as though Donald Trump just can't stop himself from saying that he agrees more with Putin than almost any Western leader.
RICHARD HAAS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, the president gets points for consistency and that might be about it. For several years now, he has been sanguine, sympathetic, supportive of Russia and Mr. Putin.
And even though, he tried to correct it at his most recent stop by saying it's important to work with Russia on some of these issues, he's basically wrong.
You cannot, you should not, give Russia a pass anytime it violates the basic norms of international order, whether it's interfering in our elections, whether it's taking Crimea, whether it's using force indiscriminately in Syria.
So, what he did is simply wrong in foreign policy. And it's also wrong, I think, just in terms of basic morality.
ZAKARIA: Elise, other than this, the president actually stayed pretty much unscripted, was actually striking to listen to Donald Trump reading from teleprompters, doing the handshakes, mostly no tweets, or certainly no controversial ones. Was that how he was received in Asia? ELISE HU, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "NPR": Right. Well, at the top level, of course, there were concerns that there might be a trade war accidently launched by tweets or going off script in China. And that was avoided.
And also, there were no major breaches of protocol. Trump did have some trouble reading off the prompter in South Korea, forming some sentences that weren't quite sentences and things like that, but really no breaches of protocol either.
So, until he careened off-script on the Putin question, the Asia trip was largely a success.
ZAKARIA: Ian, the part of it, though, that struck me was Trump seemed quite deferential almost toward China. And the way it was seemed to be almost being read by people was Trump was ceding to China a kind of more dominant role.
He was asserting a narrow American interest. Xi asserting these larger global interests. And this comes at a time, as you have pointed out, China is both more ambitious and appears quite successful.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: In my view, in my entire lifetime, there have been two speeches that have really changed the global order. One is when Gorbachev dissolved the Soviet Union and the second is Xi Jinping, two weeks ago, when he said China - publicly - is ready to become a superpower. That's not been played much in the United States, but in APAC and Asia this week, that's what people are talking about. They are talking about the importance of Xi Jinping.
And the presence of the American president was interesting in terms of, is he going to blow North Korea up or is he going to make missteps. But it didn't have much impact. He was signing some deals. He said nice things to the Chinese. He appreciated the big party, but he wasn't doing anything.
Meanwhile, the Asians were going ahead and signing trade deals without the United States. The Chinese are writing big checks and developing architecture without the United States.
So, if anything, that's kind of the story here.
ZAKARIA: And it seemed as though, with China, Trump has sort of reversed himself. He seemed like he was - during the campaign, he was tough on China. And now, much more sympathetic, Richard.
Again, giving China a pass. But I think when historians write about this trip, it's not going to about the Putin comments, it's not going to be about the distractions back here in the United States, it's going to be that the United States unilaterally essentially has abdicated.
We have taken ourselves out of the future of Asia to a large degree in terms of geo-economics by not being part of things, economic, and not being part of the trade agreement and the idea that you can be a part of things strategically in the military sense, but not in the economic sense doesn't wash.
Alliances are full-fledged, 360-degree relationships. So, I actually think when the history is written, it won't simply be about China stepping forward, this will be yet again the United States stepping back.
[10:10:09] And the president continues to have, I think, a distorted view of the pluses and minuses of any trade agreement. And we are going to pay an economic price for that, Fareed, and we're also going to pay a real strategic price.
ZAKARIA: Xi, the big winner from what you could tell?
HU: If you spent any time in Beijing, any time in Shanghai, which I'm sure both of you have, it's One Belt One Road everywhere. There is a real sense of a clear vision coming out of China where there isn't a counterweight coming in from America.
And so, I think that is the big concern. And, of course, that gives Xi the win.
ZAKARIA: There is also another piece of it that strikes me. Very briefly, the Duterte visit. Trump is going to talk to the president of the Philippines. And, of course, it shouldn't neuter the relationship between the United States and the Philippines, but the American president standing up for human rights and criticizing human rights abuse has historically been a good thing, it's been a kind of marker, right? And Trump clearly has no intention of doing that.
BREMMER: Well, keep in mind, the US relationship with the Philippines was deteriorating significantly under Obama before Trump became president. America was losing a lot of influence in this part of the world then, though, Obama was much more consistent on human rights.
Trump has made very clear that this is all transactional for him. He is still playing a pretty status quo role in terms of the security side as opposed to the economic trade side, as Richard said, where the Americans really have abdicated.
And in Southeast Asia, that's still an important balancing role. I think we saw this in Vietnam. We're going to see this in the Philippines.
ZAKARIA: Don't go away. When we come back, another day, another controversial tweet. President Trump called North Korea's leader short and fat. Will that help resolve the crisis in North Korea? We will give you our expert opinion when we come back.
[10:16:10] ZAKARIA: Despite a busy schedule in Asia, Donald Trump still found time to tweet. "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?" Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!" He then confirmed that a friendship between the two of them was, in fact, possible. I want to bring back today's panel. Elise Hu, Ian Bremmer and Richard Haas.
Richard, the reference was, of course, to the fact that I think it was two weeks ago the North Koreans called Trump a dotard. Did you know what the word dotard meant?
HAAS: The honest answer is no. I had never heard of it. We looked it up in the dictionary, found some Shakespearean references to it.
And, clearly, the rather thin-skinned occupant of the Oval Office had been nursing a grudge for several weeks now. And this is not classic diplomacy.
Let me just say. You asked the question, which I assume was rhetorical, Fareed, about whether this will help us solve the North Korean problem. It's not immediately apparent that it will.
ZAKARIA: But, Elise, it's fair to say, though, the big news policy wise out of this trip that Trump has taken is that he has actually softened his position on Asia, which I must confess I had always predicted, by which I mean the threats, the fire and fury. There was no military option. It was pretty clear. And he seemed to have dialed it back in various ways.
HU: He certainly dialed it back rhetorically when he was in Japan and in Seoul. And now, there is more and more talk of a possible other way to get to the negotiating table, possibly by ways of a 60-day freeze on any provocations.
I don't know when that clock would actually start. And I assume that clock hasn't started yet. But there hasn't been any sort of provocation from North Korea now since September 15. And it sounds like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his top North Korea official, Joseph Yun, are talking about or floating this notion of a freeze.
ZAKARIA: Ian, what do you think?
BREMMER: Well, to quick things. One is I'm glad he decided to wait on his tweet until after he had left Japan and South Korea, so that Kim Jong-un might not be tempted to kind of do a test there in the region. I think Trump did probably think about that.
But beyond that, there is another big thing that changed here, which is that he said that the Russians could really be helpful. The Chinese have been helpful.
The Russians could be helpful, but haven't been. You know why? Because fake news and the Democrats and Mueller are working so hard to stop Trump from being able to work with Putin.
This is a sort of behind - a back hand way of Trump quieting down the North Korea issue by blaming other people and I think that's an easy way for him to stop talking about fire and fury. He's going to blame the domestics. And that works for him frankly.
ZAKARIA: Richard, do you think that there is a solution here in some version of what Elise was talking about, a kind of a freeze for freeze? And does it have to be - Joshua Ramo at Kissinger has been kind of proposing this idea of broadening the issue to make it a little bit more about non-proliferation, maybe in Asia, maybe beyond.
Is there something there? What is the way to make everybody be willing to kind of stand down from what - everyone is in a box now. How do you get out of that box and start talking?
HAAS: Well, I think denuclearization remains a long-term goal, just not the immediate goal. And one could imagine interim arrangements, either a freeze on testing, maybe later a freeze on production of nuclear warheads and missiles.
And what the United States has to decide is what we would be prepared to offer in exchange, say, as a first step, for a freeze on testing, if we're not going to cancel, and we shouldn't, our military exercises.
Do we have a formal end to the Korean War, which has never had just that? Are we prepared to change what we do in the way of sanctions? Maybe even articulate certain incentives for North Korea if they were to do certain things.
So, the United States has to flesh out essentially a diplomatic position and be willing to take, as a first step, something less than the solution of the problem.
[10:20:02] ZAKARIA: Elise, it's worth pointing out, isn't it, that in South Korea, the funny thing is even Trump's provocations, Kim Jong- un's provocations, the stock market will keep going up, there is a tendency to believe that there isn't going to be a war and they very much do not want American military action. Right?
HU: Absolutely. I get the question a lot. What's it like in Seoul because especially when the rhetoric ramps up, people get nervous here in the United States and other parts of the world.
But, really, in Seoul, life goes on as normal. And I'm always saying everything is fine. This is the big K-pop hit of the summer or whatever it is that's going on.
ZAKARIA: Because they have lived with the North Korea threats for decades.
ZAKARIA: I want to just - this relates - Richard, since so much of what will make the North Korean crisis more manageable is diplomacy, you as a sitting president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in your capacity as an analyst and a public intellectual, you called for Rex Tillerson to resign. Why?
HAAS: I thought the president put the secretary of state in an untenable position when he was meeting with his Chinese counterpart several weeks ago and he disparaged his diplomatic efforts.
More recently, he's undermined the secretary of state at every turn in the Middle East. Secretary of state is trying to work out a deal the Saudis and Qatar and the White House is undermining that.
I think, though, the secretary of state has made a bad situation worse. This focus on reducing the size of the State Department staff, quite honestly, this is a rounding error in the size of the US budget and look at the diplomatic challenges this administration faces, including in South Korea. Why don't we have an ambassador there?
So, any savings we get are irrelevant. We face this difficult diplomatic inbox as any administration has ever faced in modern times. Yet this secretary of state seems focused on reducing the diplomatic capacity of his own department. I simply don't think that is wise.
ZAKARIA: And back to the point you were making, Ian. When I was in Singapore a week ago, what they were telling me is that every international and regional meeting we go to, the Chinese now outnumber the Americans.
They are there and they are better briefed and they come with specific ideas, policy proposals and money. The Americans are absent. The State Department is weak.
BREMMER: They are getting better. There's no question. I mean, let's not forget about the fact there are lot of countries around the world that aren't happy about the idea of the Chinese being dominant.
Certainly, the Indians. Certainly, Japanese. And, of course, Japan's relationship with the United States is better now under Trump than it was before. And a lot of the Europeans.
But they are by themselves. The Americans were leading. They were cohering. That's gone. And you don't feel it in the United States because we've got Canada, Mexico and two big bodies of water.
But when you travel to Asia, you really feel the absence of the United States. You feel the absence of the State Department.
And, look, this is the first time I think in history that a sitting head of the Council of Foreign Relations called for the resignation of the sitting secretary of state. There's a reason for that. That's because it's such a unique circumstance that we're facing not just in the US, but in the world right now.
ZAKARIA: All right. We will have to have you guys back to see if Rex Tillerson takes Richard Haas' advice.
Next on GPS, princes and top officials under arrest at the Ritz- Carlton. What is really going on in Saudi Arabia. In a moment.
[10:27:39] ZAKARIA: The events in Saudi Arabia over the last week or so have been truly astonishing. In a world without President Trump, this story would have dominated the headlines.
Last Saturday, the heir apparent in the kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrest of dozens of princes, top officials and businessmen. The complaint was corruption, which the kingdom says cost $100 billion.
This is an odd charge since most observers would say that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia runs on patronage, kickbacks and graft.
Among those arrested was Prince Al-Waleed, a well-known billionaire businessman and a past guest on this program.
And then there is this. This week, Saudi Arabia accused Lebanon of declaring war on its kingdom and Hezbollah has accused Saudi Arabia of declaring war on Lebanon. So, what is going on?
Ali Shihabi is a Saudi National who serves as the executive director of the DC-based think tank, The Arabia Foundation.
Ali, it seems to me, the first part, the anti-corruption stuff, is a consolidation of power for the Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, and it appears like the one that Xi Jinping did, the anti-corruption plan, like Putin when he went after the oligarchs.
This means that Saudi Arabia now has one very powerful ruler. Correct?
ALI SHIHABI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE ARABIA FOUNDATION: Fareed, I think there is a misconception about that. Because the consolidation of power took place in June when Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed crown prince.
Once he was appointed crown prince, game over. There were no centers of power that could dispute that. His succession would be automatic after the passing of the present king.
So, it is not so much a consolidation of power as two things. First of all, the issue of corruption. As you mentioned before, it's something that has plagued the kingdom for many, many years. It's not just corruption.
ZAKARIA: But let me put it this way. He just bought a $500 billion yacht himself.
ZAKARIA: I presume that didn't come out of his salary as crown prince. There is no distinction between the wealth of the country and the wealth of the royal family. So, how can you even talk about corruption?
SHIHABI: I will tell you that because that story came out of a "New York Times" article about a year ago, which actually is factually incorrect.
Now, does he have a yacht? He has yacht. ZAKARIA: OK. Maybe it's $400 billion.
SHIHABI: Well, it's actually substantially less, but that's not the point. The point is not can there be one crown prince and one king and one yacht.
The questions (INAUDIBLE) is that there were the equivalent of ten kings, 50 deputy kings and 500 assistant kings.
ZAKARIA: So, that's what I mean. It's a consolidation.
SHIHABI: Well, it's a consolidation of entitlement. Because it has been estimated that, if you want to call them elite, entitlement and privilege, has been costing the kingdom somewhere between 10 percent to 30 percent of its budget. So it's not just historical corruption; it's corruption going forward.
So the point is that the... circle of...
ZAKARIA: The end of a patronage system?
SHIHABI: Exactly. The circle of entitlement has to be made much smaller, and the way to do that is through shock treatment. Because, for example, the crown prince has been talking for two years on television that this has to end; we are not going to accept it. But, you know, elites give up privileges with a lot of difficulty.
ZAKARIA: Why Al-Waleed? Explain that one.
SHIHABI: Well, we will have to see why it is. The rumor mill is that it had something to do with the fact that his portfolio he had was highly leveraged. He had borrowed a lot of money against his foreign holdings. In 2008, you know, some people say -- and again, this is a rumor; we'll have to see -- that his firm was nearly bankrupt.
ZAKARIA: But I feel like it also adds to the shock value.
SHIHABI: It does, of course. Well, I mean, the point is that his firm was bankrupt and that he, with cooperation of the then minister of finance, got the government to bail him out in an unfair manner. Of course it does -- now, there are about 200 people that have been arrested. The names that have been leaked have been high-profile names.
The point is to send that message that, if those high-profile people are no longer immune; if the biggest names in the land are no longer immune, then nobody will be immune.
And I can tell you that that has had the effects of changing behavior immediately. Today if you are a government official looking to sign a contract, you're going to look over your shoulder. And it's that shock therapy that is so essential to changing the behavior of the elite. So in a way it's a revolution from above, you see, which will protect, frankly, Saudi elites in the future from a revolution from below.
ZAKARIA: So the one place you haven't seen the shock therapy is on the religious establishment. The crown prince has talked about, you know, wanting a more moderate Islam. And in the past when I've been in Saudi Arabia and I've said to people, "Why don't you get the religious establishment to be more moderate, to end this kind of extremism," they would say, "Well, we can't do that because, you know, they their own power."
Well, it now is clear that the crown prince has total power, and it's always seemed to me that the religious establishment was -- they were salaried employees of the state. as it were. Why doesn't he use shock therapy on the Wahhabi establishment and tell them to get -- you know, get with the program and...
SHIHABI: Exactly. He did exactly that over a month ago.
ZAKARIA: It's one speech, but he's not done anything?
SHIHABI: No, no, no, no, he arrested 40 to 70 clerics. About six weeks ago exactly this was done to the religious establishment, 40 to 60 clerics were arrested, including one of the clerics who has 14 million followers on Twitter, one of the biggest names -- so exactly this policy.
ZAKARIA: So you expect to see a moderation of the -- of the...
SHIHABI: Absolutely. Now, to moderate the culture, to moderate you understanding of Islam, this is a long-term process. It's much quicker to stop corruption and it's much quicker to stop elite entitlement. But the process and the shock therapy actually preceded the shock therapy. The problem was that, when he arrested the clerics six, seven weeks ago -- and this was about three weeks before he allowed women to drive, which the clerics had been resisting as a wedge issue, because they considered that, sort of, the last bastion of conservatism. And he crushed that.
So the things that he has been doing have been taken with a lot of cynicism by analysts and talking heads in America; they're not giving him the benefit of the doubt. If you will allow me, I would like to comment on your -- your introductory statement.
ZAKARIA: You've got 45 seconds.
SHIHABI: OK. The book that you talked about, you know, that talked about the playbook, Putin's playbook, for example -- as I said, he consolidated his power already. So he doesn't need to do this to consolidate his power. He needs to do it to re-educate elites that their period of entitlement and privilege is over.
ZAKARIA: Well, now we have a little bit more time, so I will ask you about Lebanon. Very briefly, just explain what is going on. It seems as though this is part of a Saudi-Iranian cold war being played out in Lebanon. Each side wants to influence Lebanon...
SHIHABI: No, the question is that Lebanon has become a state this is captured by Hezbollah. And Hezbollah, frankly, has morphed into a pure terrorist organization. So Lebanon is controlled by a non-state actor that has become Iran's subcontractor to use in the Arab world. So Hezbollah has been working to, in Syria, helping, you know, kill hundreds of thousands. It's also been operating in Yemen as a sub- contractor for Iran.
So the point is to expose what Lebanon has turned into, which is a Hezbollah-controlled state with a veneer of respectability.
ZAKARIA: All right. I asked you tough questions. You answered very, very -- very well. That is the very important Saudi perspective.
Next on "GPS," how the Republicans have betrayed the legacy of their secular saint, Ronald Reagan, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Republicans worship at the altar of Ronald Reagan, and they admire him more than anything else perhaps because he presided over a a massive tax reform in 1986. Even Donald Trump, who doesn't often praise his Republican predecessors, says he is a fan of Reagan's and wants to follow his lead on taxes.
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PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: We need a tax code that is simple, fair and easy to understand.
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ZAKARIA: Trump is right. American taxpayers and businesses spend 8.9 billion hours a year -- that's billion -- doing taxes, costing the economy $409 billion, according to the Tax Foundation. But the current Republican tax plan looks little like Reagan's. Under Reagan, a bipartisan Congress greatly simplified the tax code, cutting out scores of credits, deductions and loopholes. A sign of their success: special interests were furious about losing tax breaks. Take, for example, this brash New York real estate developer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This tax act was just an absolute catastrophe for the country, for the real estate industry. And I really hope that something can be done.
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ZAKARIA: The current Republican plan is being pushed as a radical simplification of the tax code, but it actually adds to its complexity. Take one glaring example among many. It should have been easy to kill all together the carried interest provision that favors hedge funds and private equity companies. But the House plan merely makes the loophole a little less gaping.
A hedge fund manager said to me, "My tax accountants and lawyers are going to be delighted. Now there's even more work for them."
Another instance: there is a whole new scheme that will affect 95 percent of America's businesses. Wealthy Americans who own such businesses, like President Trump, will get a big tax break, except if you own the business and work for it. You get a smaller tax break -- except, to further complicate things, you can make the case for special treatment and get a more generous tax break.
Again, the accountants and lawyers must be salivating. The simplest proof of the current plan's complexity is this. The 1986 bill got rid of so many loopholes and deductions that, despite a massive cut in rates, it was actually designed not to increase the deficit at all. The current plan will explode the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion and probably more because of all the fuzzy math involved in predicting growth.
Republicans had been saying that, after the reforms, most Americans would be able to file their taxes on a postcard. They have backed away from that claim because now it would have to be a postcard with pages and pages of footnotes.
The Reagan plan also made tax rates for most kinds of income, from earnings to capital gains to dividends, roughly similar, if not the same. This is in keeping with basic free-market philosophy that says that the government should not pick winners and losers. Well, the current Republican tax plan is filled with choices for winners and losers. Big businesses are best; small ones are also good, except if they're law firms and doctor's offices. Most nonprofits are totally exempt, but some nonprofits and colleges are not.
Republicans keep saying they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for tax reform. They are right. And they are squandering it.
Next on "GPS," Turkey's prime minister came to the U.S. this week to work on warming relations between the two nations. He met with Vice President Pence and then he talked to me exclusively. That interview, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: July 15th, 2016. The world watched that night an organized effort try to take down the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the ensuing purge, almost 200,000 people have faced some sort of judicial action, including almost 50,000 arrested. Included are army generals, judges, prosecutors, journalists, police officers and more. Sixteen months after the coup attempt, Turkey remains in a declared state of emergency. Officials in Ankara accuse U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of master-minding the plot. And U.S.-Turkish relations, already fragile before the coup attempt, have taken a sharp downturn in the aftermath.
Turkish security forces are accused of beating up protesters in the streets of Washington, D.C., earlier this year, as President Erdogan looked on. And last month Turkey arrested a Turkish employee of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul. In an attempt to improve relations, Turkey's prime minister, Binali Yildirim, traveled to America this week to meet with Vice President Mike Pence. He talked to me exclusively afterwards.
ZAKARIA: Mr. Prime Minister, a pleasure to have you on the show.
YILDIRIM: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Why are Turkish-American relations -- why is there so much tension between the two countries? We're meant to be allies, right?
YILDIRIM: Yes. Turkey and the United States are allies and partners, but nowadays, unfortunately, our relation is not at the level which we desire.
ZAKARIA: But why is it?
People look at Turkey -- in Washington, I know people look at Turkey and they say, "You are now buying weapons from the Russians; you are a NATO ally buying weapons from the Russians; you are, as I say, threatening to say to the United States 'You cannot use the air base;' you are opposed to U.S. efforts to fight ISIS because they involve using some Kurdish forces."
There seem to be a series of areas where Turkey is turning away from the West on its foreign policy?
YILDIRIM: Well, we have a couple of reasons. As you mention, there is no single reason why the situation is like this. It comes through the last one and a half years. If you go back to the 15th of July, the year 2016, we had an awful coup attempt in Turkey, our parliament building bombed and our citizens, 250 were killed and more than 2,000 injured.
So the man who is responsible on this coup attempt, Fethullah Gulen, is living in the United States. So we are very sure that he is behind this coup attempt. So we require the United States to hand over this terrorist cult to the Turkish government. And we provided an enormous amount of documents and proof. But after one and a half years behind, we don't have any -- any development, any signal that he is going to be delivered, so...
ZAKARIA: Could you -- did you hope that the Trump administration would extradite Gulen? Because Michael Flynn was working with the Turkish government for the Turkish government to -- and argued publicly for that?
He wrote an op-ed on election day asking for the extradition of Gulen.
YILDIRIM: You know, we -- we expected that this would happen.
ZAKARIA: Had Michael Flynn provided you with any assurance that it would happen?
YILDIRIM: No, no, no, no one has. We are not dealing with Michael Flynn. We are dealing with the government of the United States.
ZAKARIA: But he was national security adviser. YILDIRIM: And after that, he left. I mean, we have mainly dealt with
the minister of justice, both countries, minister of justice of Turkey and the United States. So they were in communications. They are still in communication to provide some progress on that matter.
ZAKARIA: So my sources in Washington tell me that the evidence that the Turkish government has provided is not particularly strong, is not conclusive and that they argue, if it was strong, they would have made it public, that in fact the evidence is very sparse.
YILDIRIM: Yeah, we...
ZAKARIA: You hear this, too?
YILDIRIM: We hear this kind of argument, but what I can tell you, Mr. Fareed, you know, July 15 we had a coup attempt. And similar happened to 9/11 in the United States. When President Bush announced that the U.S. was under attack, that Turkey was the first country to offer to help in sending our men to Afghanistan. We didn't ask who is behind all this. The United States said this is Al Qaida behind this attack and Al Qaida is responsible. Nobody asked the United States "Is there any evidence that Al Qaida did so?"
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about what is happening inside Turkey.
ZAKARIA: When I said would first visit Turkey, when Prime Minister Erdogan was prime minister, he was doing impressive reforms. The European Union would praise the Turkish government every few months for the amount of legal reforms, economic reforms. He talked about -- people in Turkey talked about how Turkey wanted to be a member of the European Union.
ZAKARIA: And there were strengthening democracy and liberalism. In the last four or five years, since maybe 2013 when there were protests in Istanbul, by every objective independent group that measures these things, Turkish democracy has weakened; civil liberties have weakened; freedom of the press has weakened; you have cases against independent media. People talk about the way in which the judiciary has been politicized.
What has happened? In your view, what -- why did this turn take place?
YILDIRIM: This is -- this is a perception rather than reality. Believe me. Because of this Gulen organization, they are lobbying a lot.
ZAKARIA: But, look, Freedom House is an independent nongovernmental agency that ranks countries, and Turkey's ranking on civil liberties, on protections of press, on protection of opposition, has been falling for the last few years. You know, Prime Minister Erdogan has made himself a super-president. Even the little symbols of it, he has built a presidential palace that is four times the size of Versailles. I mean, it all...
ZAKARIA: It certainly doesn't look like a deepening of democracy.
YILDIRIM: I -- I will invite you to Ankara to see with your own eyes the presidential site. When you see that, you will see the reality.
ZAKARIA: But I have gone to -- I have gone to Turkey and seen the reality that there are fewer independent journalists and experts. Many of them have fled to the United States or to the West. That's -- you know this is true?
YILDIRIM: This is -- this is related with this Gulen organization. Again, more than 40 years these people, they, you know, insert inside the community, inside the army, inside the judicial system, inside bureaucracy, and civil (ph) society and the business community. So they -- their aim to, you know, remove our government and then take over the power of the country and rule the country.
ZAKARIA: Mr. Prime Minister, a pleasure to have you on.
ZAKARIA: This is Fareed Zakaria, back here on "GPS." Thanks to all of the guests who joined me on the show today and thank you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.