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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Talking Politics with Tony Blair. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired May 27, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:22] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show the on again-off again summit in Singapore with North Korea. I'll ask former National Security adviser Tom Donilon whether Donald Trump is blundering or brilliant.
And 10 years ago, GPS first went on the air. Welcome my big guest in that first episode was Tony Blair, the former British prime minister joins me again, to talk about the forces that seem to be shaping our world. Populism, protectionism, religious extremism. What would he do if he were confronting these forces.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I really fear the polarization which is the bane of democracy.
ZAKARIA: Finally, the great Pacific garbage patch. Scientists say it is much bigger than we originally thought. I'll bring you a novel idea to clean up this terrible oceanic mess.
ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. Donald Trump's recurring criticism of his predecessor is that he just didn't know how to make a deal. Obama is not a natural deal maker, he tweeted in 2016. Obama will attack Iran because of his inability to negotiate properly, he predicted incorrectly back in 2013. We need leaders who can negotiate great deals for Americans, Trump tweeted in to 2015.
The implications was obvious. He was the ultimate deal-maker.
Well, it is almost 500 days into the Trump administration. Where are the deals? Where is the renegotiated NAFTA, the bilateral trade agreements that were going to Transpacific Partnership, the new and improved Iran nuclear pact, the China trade deal? The world is laughing at us, as he would say it.
By now it is obvious that Trump is actually a bad negotiator, an impulsive emotional man who ignores briefings, rarely knows details, and shoots first and asks questions later. Consider how the administration has handled the North Korea summit. First the meeting was announced with great fan fare with Trump soon lavishing praise on Kim Jong-un. Agreeing to the meeting was a huge symbolic concession to North Korea while getting almost nothing in return.
This was to be a head of state summit, though there was little preparation and no determination that the two sides were actually close enough to have a serious negotiation at that level. Trump got excited enough to start hyping the prospects for a breakthrough agreement despite little evidence of any movement in the North Korean position.
Next Trump's advisers embarked on a strange series of comments that seemed designed to threaten, scare and intimidate the North Koreans. Was this the plan? Did the administration regret its early overtures or was it all just incompetence?
Trump has been even more hand handed in his dealings with China. Just before entering the White House, he dangled the possibility of recognizing Taiwan. Beijing quickly shut down contact with the U.S. and humiliatingly Trump had to walk back his comments in a phone call with President Xi Jinping.
The current trade talks with China are a case study in bad negotiations. It's hard to know where to begin. The U.S. government does not seem to know what it wants. Some days it appears that Washington is fixated on the size of the trade deficit. Other days it focuses on technology transfer and the theft of intellectual property. The White House began its attacks by choosing to impose tariffs on steel which mostly affected America's allies ensuring that it had no partners in its attempt to pressure the Chinese.
American negotiators leaked furiously to the press to undermine each other's positions and even squabble among themselves in front of a Chinese delegation earlier this month. Trump himself seems to switch gears repeatedly, after his administration announced that it would punish ZTE, a huge Chinese tech company that committed serious trade violations, Trump suddenly changed his mind, citing a concern for the impact on Chinese jobs.
Imagine the outcry if Obama had walked back away from pressure on the Chinese in order to help their economy?
As talks fail, deals collapsed and negotiations flounder, Trump continues to tweet triumphantly about his great success. It makes one realize the president's true talent. He has the confidence, bravado and skill to market failure as success. He can take a mediocre building, slap some gold paint on it, and then convince you it is a super luxury condominium.
[10:05:05] Call it the art of the spin.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed, and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
The White House juggernaut was steaming toward a June 12th summit in Singapore with North Korea until suddenly on Thursday it wasn't. President Trump has said to have personally dictated a letter to Kim Jong-un saying in part, "Sadly based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate at this time to have this long planned meeting." But after some conciliatory words from the North Koreans side, Trump's tone changed again. On Friday morning before getting on his helicopter he addressed the press corps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're talking to them now. It was a very nice statement they put out. We'll see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: He went on to say the meeting could still happen on the 12th as planned in 2 1/2 weeks. What is going on?
Joining me now is President Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon.
Tom, how do you decode this on again-off again summit?
TOM DONILON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think that a lot of this has its roots in the way it came about. You know, there were several statecraft errors, I think, Fareed, from the get-go. One, it was agreed to impulsively, after a briefing from South Korean officials, with really no understanding of what might be possible in the negotiations.
And there's a statecraft error there, too. You would never agree to something like this without having direct talks. Everybody in the world who comes to a president or a White House has some sort of bias, right? It may not be malign, but they'll have some sort of bias, you have to do things face-to-face. You have to have some understanding of what's possible and not possible.
I think the second mistake has been that there was really very little message discipline, so after with a great fanfare with which the very important summit was announced, we had talk of a little Libya model, right, which is really not constructive. It's not applicable. The Libya situation bears really no resemblance to the very extensive nuclear program that the North Koreans have. It was also not received well.
And the third statecraft error, I think, was not connecting the dots. Pulling out of the Iran deal made this much more complicated. They made it complicated because you were going to have to have more assurances for the North Koreans. And he set the ball pretty high. Indeed if we could get a deal close to the Iranian deal, at least initially, in North Korea, it would be quite an accomplishment.
And we really weren't communicating with our allies effectively, including up until -- including when the president made his announcement, so there was some core statecraft errors here, and if you look at the successful negotiations in recent times, the Camp David negotiations, the opening to China, the Bosnia negotiations, Iran negotiations, there really are lessons to be learned and I don't think that the president is really going to steep himself in this in a way that he could to gear for success.
ZAKARIA: One of the lessons it seems to me in many of those cases, if you look at the Iran, is you're really trying to build a pressure from all sides so you've got to keep your allies involved. In this case, the South Koreans who were so crucial, seemed to have been hung out to dry. That seems a contrast with Iran where you're very careful to keep the Chinese and the Russian on board.
DONILON: Yes, that's exactly right, Fareed. You know, with respect to a maximum pressure campaign, in the Iranian case or in the North Korea, and there are quite some in terms of building the structure. I oversaw the Iran pressure campaign, as you know, for almost five years. It was essentially to have multilateral cooperation and effective sanctions. Why is that? Because the United States America doesn't have any real economic relationship with either Iran or North Korea.
So to have any effective sanctions, you're going to have to have these other countries involved. You're going to have to have an agreement as to what the goals was with the sanctions and you're going to have to have an involvement in terms of executing the sanctions.
A bilateral set of sanctions from the United States on North Korea or Iran would be wholly ineffective, so it's absolutely essentially to keep your allies and partners involved in order to have, again, the a core statecraft lesson to have an effective sanctions campaign and I would say as an aside here, it's very important not just on the side, there's been real damage I think to the relationship with the South Koreans here that was unnecessary.
ZAKARIA: It seems to me, to go back to the first point you made, Tom, that the core issue in any of these negotiations, you know, we get lost in the circus of, you know, the almost the -- the sort of dating, break-up and perhaps getting back together. The core issue is, is there an overlap of interest? What is the potential agreement? Do you still feel like you understand that? Because as you said, what Bolton is describing which is the complete and total denuclearization of North Korea, in advance seems very far from where the North Koreans have been historically.
DONILON: Well, I think that's right. And of course in opening up a negotiation like this, in agreeing to a summit, you need to have a keen sense of history.
[10:10:05] You need to have a keen sense of what the other party means when it says like denuclearization. A keen sense of the statements that they've have made in the past including, by the way, as far back as 1992 with respect to denuclearization, and not keeping their word here.
But I agree with you, you know, you have to have -- you have to find where the common ground might be. It's interesting, Fareed. If I were going to make a book recommendation this weekend for President Trump, I would recommend that he read a terrific book, and an easy read, Margaret McMillan's book, "Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World," which is the story of the opening to China. Because deeply into the preparations, President Nixon, supported by
Secretary Kissinger engaged in, including something you just talked about, which is the president of the United States at that point, Richard Nixon sitting down with a legal pad, with his advisers and saying, what do we want? What do they want? Where are the overlapping -- the possible areas of overlapping agreement? That kind of rigorous analysis I think is really important, particularly with a party like this as was the case for the Chinese. A party that we really don't understand that well.
ZAKARIA: Do you feel as though when you look at something like those negotiations, you know, part of it was people like Nixon and Kissinger spent a lot of time trying to understand the history, the culture, where were the Chinese coming from? I know that some of the negotiators on the Iran deal spent a lot of time trying to understand, what -- you know, put yourself in their shoes and try to understand where they are. Is that important?
DONILON: Absolutely essential. And if you look at the cases we've been talking about here, this is certainly what President Carter did, in coming trip to Camp David, successful Camp David accord negotiations, which are laid out beautifully in Lawrence's book -- Lawrence Wright's book, "13 Days in September."
You and I knew Dick Holbrook pretty well. Ambassador Holbrook, who was the architect of the Dayton Accord which in the 1990s ended the war in Yugoslavia. He spent months studying the personalities and the history and the language and the meaning of phrases, absolutely I think essential. Again, as I said before, in this case, because we've had so little contact with the North Koreans and know so little about their system and their personalities, we need even more and I think we actually needed more direct talks.
As I said, it's kind of a golden rule in diplomacy that you really want with something this important to have a direct conversation, so that you can test these things, and not rely, as good an ally as South Koreans are, not really rely on the third party report of what another -- what your negotiating partner might be interested in and what he might actually do.
ZAKARIA: Tom, when you watched these various negotiations from various places you've been in, because you've been in so many administrations, is the hardest part figuring out what concessions we can make, the United States can make and live with domestically? Because that's always -- you know, we often forget if the other is going to make a deal, the U.S. has to move as well.
DONILON: Yes. Well, you certainly need an understanding -- again, as we talk about where the common areas might be, but yes, you have to have a set of clear goals and then a discipline around the pursuit of those goals. But you, also, Fareed, have to ensure that you keep up the pressure and leverage is very, very important and I fear in this current circumstance, that we may have given up the leverage too early, and I think the game of leverage at the end, little things like this, that aren't so little. That it was the North Koreans here who didn't -- the North Koreans
didn't walk away, it was the United States who walked away. The North Koreans will use that to their advantage. I know that there's been some reporting that President Trump didn't want to have the North Koreans back out first. But I think that analyst was incorrect. I think it was important for the United States to look like the party that's pursuing an affirmative goal here.
ZAKARIA: Tom Donilon, always a pressure.
DONILON: Great. Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, a real treat. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was the main guest on our first ever show 10 years ago. This week, he is back, talking about populism, globalism and religious extremism. A fascinating wide-ranging interview when we come back.
[10:18:10] ZAKARIA: This coming Friday, June 1st, will mark the 10th anniversary of GPS. On that date in 2008, CNN aired the first ever episode of this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Welcome to the very first edition of GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. I'm Fareed Zakaria. For the last 20 years I have been writing about the world and now I have an opportunity to bring all of you along with me on what has been a fascinating adventure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: We were thrilled to launch the show with a lead guest, Tony Blair, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom. He has spent the ensuing 10 years using that great mind of his to think deeply about issues like globalism and populism and religion. These are the issues that shape our world today, so to celebrate the anniversary I could not think of a better guest to have on than Tony Blair.
Tony, thanks for coming back on the show.
BLAIR: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: When you look at the world now, populism rising in the West, the Mideast racked by turmoil. But Asia rising and performing. Latin America by and large doing quite well. Is there an overall picture?
BLAIR: Yes, I think there is an overall picture. I think the picture is one of huge change, which is discomforting to the West. But you know, it's an interesting thing, when my institute looks at, for example, attitudes take, say, India and Nigeria, and put it against USA and the UK, what is strange, given the respective wealth of the four countries, is in India and Nigeria, people are optimistic about their future. In India and Nigeria they think the next generation will do better than them. We have the opposite feeling in the West. And so you've got the rise
of China, and behind them will come India, these are huge things that are impacting the world. You've got this whole pressure unresolved around radical Islam and how that works outs.
[10:20:03] You've got the populism in the West and you've got this technological revolution. These are the four things that I think are going to govern how then next 25, 30 years of Western politics operates because there are changes but outside of the West that's impacting inside the West.
ZAKARIA: In 2006, you gave a speech which said the great divide of politics in the future is not going to be left versus right but open versus closed. Describe what you mean by that.
BLAIR: By open, I mean an approach to the world that says globalization is essentially a good thing, but you have to mitigate its risks and access opportunities and not just let it go wherever it wants, as it were. And it's also open to new ideas, open across boundaries of culture and faith and race and ethnicity, and closed this kind of isolationist, protectionist, nativist, and you can see these arguments were beginning then, obviously they're even more manifest now today.
ZAKARIA: What I'm struck by is, did you notice that the old divide, the old categories were collapsing and you can see it in the Republican Party, which has gone from being the staunchest protector of free trade. I mean, I think 20 years ago the number of people -- you know, when you ask Republicans do you support free trade, it was like 65 percent.
ZAKARIA: And it's dropped I think 25 points, or something in that magnitude. So do you think we're ending up with a new political framework where you have the sort of the parties that want to block globalization, immigration, open -- you know, that they want obstacles, they want barriers and then there's the party that wants more of this openness with some safety net?
BLAIR: Yes. I mean, I think to be so critical, I was kind of right and wrong. I think the open versus close distinction is really important. But I think I was wrong in thinking that it meant this -- for example, that traditional left politics kind of disappeared or traditional right politics disappeared. No, they're still very present. They've probably been pulled further out to the extremes however.
And, you know, I think that there were also new political coalitions today. So I noticed that you get a strange coalition between people who are intensely nationalistic, often anti-immigration, quite isolationist, but also free market, small government people, that coalition brought us Brexit in a sense I think it was very much part of the coalition that brought President Trump to power. Then you've got a group of people that I would designate very much on the old left side of it. You know, free this, free that, more tax and spend, but it's got a lot of purchase and appeal that it didn't raise when I was in Number 10 Downing Street.
And then I think you've got this very interesting, which I consider myself part, kind of third grouping, which of people who are socially liberal, but on the economy strongly pro enterprise, future oriented, in favor of social justice, but in a modernized form. I mean, so I think what is strange about Western politics today is you've got groupings that don't follow traditional left, right patterns and lines. They don't really follow where traditional parties are today. And I think you've got large numbers of people who kind of feel politically homeless in that situation.
ZAKARIA: One of the things you've also written about is that this is fundamentally a cultural revolution. What I'm struck by about, I want you expand on that, but also does it help us understand why it seems so often when you talk about these groupings that people are not actually voting on the basis of their core economic class interests, in the old Marxist sense of the world, or if you know what I mean?
You think about the working class voting for Republicans who are voting to slash benefits to the working class.
BLAIR: Yes, I mean, I think it's part again of the fracturing, so you've got some people that might vote Republican or vote conservative from traditional working class areas who just think they're going to get represented better. I do think myself the cultural aspect of this is as important as the economic. I mean, if you just look at the election in Italy, for sure there are economic factors driving that. But a powerful, possibly the most powerful driver was anxiety over immigration, over a feeling that, you know, Italy is being governed by people who don't get the lives of ordinary people.
And, you know, I think the big challenge for people who are not on the conservative side of politics, but the progressive side, is how do you make sense of this and what is the right political strategy, to recapture politics for the progressive side because, you know, when I'm looking around Western democracy today, other than, you know, Canada, if you think of a reasonably large Western country, I can't think of one other than Canada in which a traditional liberal left party is in office.
[10:25:11] ZAKARIA: What does that mean? Why has the left collapsed? Because you're right, you see it around the Western world?
BLAIR: Because I think the left has misunderstood the reasons for defeat and have developed a narrative that is a sort of mirror image of the populism of the right, and so it's as if we're decided it's got to go further to the left, that what we call kind of neoliberal liberal type policies, and myself, people like Bill Clinton where, you know, the wrong way to go, and if we move further to the left, we're going to pull people along with us.
And I'm afraid, you know, I just don't think there's evidence for that. And what's more, I think whatever the populism of the right is up against the populism of the left. You know, the populism of the right tends to win. ZAKARIA: We have to take a quick break now, but we will be back with
more of Tony Blair. I'm going to ask him about what progressives should do, what to do about Brexit and what he makes of the populists who are in power. When we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAIR: The trouble with populism, by the way, there's nothing with being popular, I think most politicians want to be popular.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Back now with Tony Blair.
So one of the things, Tony, that one notices is that populists seems to be popular everywhere, except once they get into power, it doesn't quite work out as well and then there tends to be disillusionment? What do you see happening here?
BLAIR: Well, the trouble with populism -- by the way, there's nothing wrong with being popular. I mean --
-- most politicians want to be popular. I define populism, as it were, riding the anger, not providing the answer. And the problem, obviously, is when people are in power, riding the anger is not enough. You've got to provide an answer because that's what people expect governments to do.
And -- but the question is, because, if the progressives don't respond to this in the right way, they're going to face a continuing set of defeats. And that's why I'm in favor of the politics of reaching out and building bridges. I'm not in favor of the politics that says "These people are just -- they're the enemy; they opposed to us; they're never going to be with us, and we just need to stack up as many votes as we can amongst the folk who agree with us."
ZAKARIA: What to do about the class divide that is increasingly so apparent?
You talk about the suspicion people have of these liberal elites. Michael Gove said, "We've had enough of experts." There's this sense that, you know...
Now, of course, you say to yourself, "Well, but the next time you need to go to a doctor, I'm guessing you're going to go to an expert, not your local witch doctor, but..."
ZAKARIA: But there is that sense, and it is part of a society that has been sorted into this meritocratic, educated, credentialed elite.
I think about, for example, a Labor Cabinet in Britain from the 1960s. There would have been people who were genuinely working class, who didn't have college degrees, who had -- you know, I mean, I think about, you know, Ernest Bevin. You know, these are real working-class people. Your Cabinet and subsequent Cabinets, Labor and Conservative, are all very posh, you know, Oxford, Cambridge. That's a reality of society, isn't it? And -- and can you do anything about that?
BLAIR: I mean, you can. And, by the way, we had working-class people -- I mean, my deputy prime minister would certainly not agree with the description of him as a part of the liberal elite.
But where you're right is there -- there is a gulf between people who inhabit one form of culture and one set of ideas and people who inhabit another. But this is why I think it's important to bridge that divide. And, you know, one of the things I find frustrating is when, you know, to put it very bluntly, I fought three elections and I won three. And then the people who subsequently came along and lost them say, "No, the reason I lost is because you guys won the wrong way."
You know, I think, if we had still been in power over these last 10, 11 years, we would have been doing things differently. I mean, for sure, after the financial crisis, you had to take radical and different measures. For sure today, you've got to understand these cultural problems that are even deeper than they were at the time that I was in.
But the basic approach of saying "How do you get a unifying economic and social message that keeps the country thinking it's one group of people, even with different views?" -- I think that's incredibly important. And I really fear the polarization, which is the bane of democracy. You know, this polarization -- if you celebrate into two groups, two tribes who don't talk to each other, listen to each other or even much like each other, you're going have a problem.
And over time what comes out of that is what is -- and let's be very clear about this -- an alternative form of democracy, or an alternative form of government, which is what you might call the kind of strongman-rule, right?
And it derives itself from the fact that, in an uncertain world and when people are feeling insecure, the guy, and it usually is a guy, that comes along and says, "I don't care what anyone thinks; this is what I'm going to do, and if you guys don't like it, I actually like that you don't like it" -- it becomes attractive.
ZAKARIA: And when you see what's happening in Italy now, for example, or, you know, with Britain, where, you know, you have a certain kind of populism in power, but it isn't delivering very much; it seems to be, you know -- is there going to be a breakdown toward more and more anger? What's your fear here, beyond, you know...
BLAIR: So my fear is that, if you take Brexit as an example, I mean, the truth is Brexit is not an answer to any of the problems Britain's got. It's not even an answer to immigration, really. And this is, if you try this populism and it doesn't work, the risk is that, when it becomes clear that it doesn't work, the populists double down; they don't retreat. And that's where -- you know, look, I'm not -- you know, you've got to be careful of being alarmist about this, but I notice two things. I think there are strains within the Western democratic system that have not been present at least for a very long time.
And secondly, outside of Western democracy, there is a different model of government that people are setting up. I mean, you look at what's happening in China at the moment. I mean, it's fascinating, OK? And it's not just that the Chinese have put President Xi in power now for a significant period of time. It's that, if you talk to people in China, they will say to you, "Look, we've looked at your system; we looked at the state of of your media; we looked at the state of of your democracy, and you know what? We don't think it works."
Now, I passionately believe democracy is ultimately the best way forward for countries. But, you know, if you're having that debate with someone from China at the moment, for the first time since the 1950s when the Soviet Union was held up, you know, as not just a separate form of ideas but a more effective form of government -- OK, it collapsed later, but at that point it was competing with us -- I think we're back to that situation.
ZAKARIA: What do do about Brexit?
BLAIR: Well, I would still like to see it changed. I mean, I think that the truth is there is no answer to the fundamental dilemma. So in this whole Brexit negotiation, the government's got a choice, and it keeps kicking the can down the road because it can't really make this choice and because the Cabinet and the government are on different sides of the argument.
And the basic choice is this, if you want to stay close to Europe -- because half of our trade is with Europe, at least the commercial relationships that really matter to the U.K. and to jobs -- then Europe's going to say "You can't stay close to us unless you abide by the rules," OK?
But then, if you abide by the rules, people will say, "Well, what's the point of leaving?"
Alternatively, you say, "I want to free myself of all those rules, in which case you had a clean break from Europe, in which case you're going to do significant short-term and medium-term damage economically as you adjust, in which case the country's going to ask, "What's the price?"
So that dilemma, "What's the point or what's the price?" -- at some point in the next weeks, months, maybe, the government is going to have to decide which is right. And once they come down on one side or the other, that's when I think they're going to hit a very difficult patch in Parliament. The government's lost its majority. I don't think the Labor Party will vote for whatever government proposition they bring forward. And I think there are significant numbers of conservative MPs who will say to their own constituents, "Look, I can't support this; if you, the people, want to vote for it, let's put it back to you in order that you who made the original referendum decision should take a final vote on the outcome."
ZAKARIA: A second referendum?
BLAIR: Yeah, but it's a different referendum, because it's with the benefit of your two years of knowledge and it's with the benefit of knowing what the alternative is. So it's a -- it's the chance for the public to say, "Yes, we wanted to leave, but now we've seen the alternative; do we still want to proceed?"
ZAKARIA: Stay with us. Next on "GPS," we'll talk about two things Tony Blair has dedicated his mind to since he stepped down as prime minister, the Middle East and religious extremism. What are the solutions there, if any, when we come back.
BLAIR: The most positive sign, I think, is that it is increasingly clear that there is a large groundswell of opinion within the broader community of Islam, if you like, that says "Our religion has been abused."
ZAKARIA: We are back with the former British prime minister Tony Blair. Ten years ago this week he was the guest on the first-ever airing of "GPS." On that show we talked about extremism. There were signs in June of 2008 that Al Qaida was on the wane. Little could we have imagined what would happen to that terror group and its leader, Osama bin Laden, but of course then ISIS and others have popped up in its wake.
Blair is now the executive chairman of his own eponymous Institute for Global Change. One of the things the Blair Institute concentrates on is countering extremism.
Before we do get to the larger problem of extremism, I want to ask you about a particular variation of it, Hamas and what just happened. You have spent so much time dealing with this problem. Do you think it is fair to say, as the Israeli government does, that those 60 people who were killed, that was essentially Hamas's fault, because they -- they sacrificed those people to -- to media attention?
BLAIR: Look, I think it's a tragedy when people die as a consequence of what's happening in Gaza. And I see it from both sides. And, you know, since I'm actually still involved in trying to find a way through, it's probably better that I don't, kind of, apportion blame in that way.
But there has to be a different way forward for Gaza. And in my view, the two absolutely central things that we should be focused on right now in the Middle East peace process -- obviously, you've got the whole question of the peace plan the administration's working on. But the two most important things in my mind are a plan, a humanitarian plan for Gaza that renews its infrastructure, opens it up, gives people hope and jobs. And I think it is possible that you would get agreement to a significant understanding or truce around violence from Gaza in order to make that happen.
ZAKARIA: From Hamas itself?
BLAIR: Yeah. And, look...
ZAKARIA: You think Hamas has changed a little? You've said that.
BLAIR: Well, I think -- I think what is happening is, as the region changes, people are having to work out where they are. And there's no future for Hamas unless they're part of their own -- you know, the regional partners. And those regional partners are in favor of peace and in favor of a two-state solution. So I can't be sure; no one could be sure, but it's worth finding out.
Because you cannot carry on in a situation where you've got more than 2 million people. And, you know, a quarter of the population is under the age of five, I think. Certainly, the average age is -- the median age is 19 in Gaza. If you carry on in this situation, you're -- I mean, quite apart from the appalling circumstances that people are living in, you know, you're going to create a massive crisis. So I'm in favor of doing whatever is necessary to try and bring about that change in the humanitarian situation.
But the second thing is there's got to be a way of unifying Palestinian politics in favor of peace. And the two-state solution is roughly set out in the Arab peace initiative. You can't -- there's no peace deal you're going to be able to do if Palestinian politics is still divided between different factions, even factions within factions and divided in who runs the two geographies of a future Palestinian state, Gaza and the West Bank. So these are the two priorities.
The peace plan that the administration's developing -- let's hope it's successful -- but without those two things, you have no chance, in my view, of getting peace.
ZAKARIA: Al Qaida has essentially, kind of, petered out. ISIS has been defeated. Do you think this means that the problem of Islamic radicalism and fundamentalism is on the wane?
BLAIR: No, because I think I'm afraid Al Qaida has not -- I wouldn't describe it as having petered out. It's still very significant. For example, their position in Yemen at the moment is significant for them for the future. And, you know, you've got different terrorist groups right around the world, and you've got it in the Far East as well as in the Middle East. And you've got it in Africa as well as elements in Europe.
No, I think we're a long way off defeating this, but I think there are some positive signs. And the most positive sign, I think, is that it is increasingly clear that there is a large groundswell of opinion within the broader community of Islam, if you like, that says our region has been abused; it should not be turned into a totalitarian political ideology and societies of religious tolerance and rule-based economies is the future for the Middle East and indeed for the world. And that alliance that we can form today with those moderate and forward-looking leaders in the Middle East and elsewhere is, in my view, the key to defeating this extremism.
ZAKARIA: Tony Blair, always a pleasure.
BLAIR: Thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," scientists say the great Pacific garbage patch is much bigger than previously thought. I'll tell you about one innovative plan to clean up 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the sea, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: According to the United Nations' latest report on global tourism, international travel is up worldwide. But one country in particular has seen an incredible surge in foreign visitors. It brings me to my question. Which country has seen the greatest increase in tourism between 2010 and 2017? Is it France, the United States, Italy or Japan? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is Philip Roth's "Goodbye, Columbus." Roth, who died last week, was, to my mind, the most important American novelist of the last half century. In 2006 the New York Times did a survey of the best of American fiction of the prior 25 years and six of Philip Roth's books received multiple votes from prominent critics. This is his debut, a collection of short stories written when he was 26 years old that won the National Book Award in 1960.
And now for the last look. One-point-six million square kilometers -- that is about the size of Iran, twice the size of Texas and more than three times the size of Spain -- it is also the size of a massive area of floating trash known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." According to a new study by Scientific Reports, it's up to 16 times larger than scientists previously thought.
After a three-year study, the researchers estimate that 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic are swirling at this site. Picture 87,000 tons of old fishing nets, plastic crates, bottle caps and tiny plastic particles that sea creatures can ingest. So what's to be done?
Well, one organization has a plan to catch the plastic. This U-shaped trash collector is made of recyclable, flexible pipes filled with air that will float along the ocean, trapping plastic at the surface. It will be weighted by anchors so the cleanup contraption moves slower than the ocean currents, to stop and trap the garbage, which will then by recycled back on dry land.
The system currently under construction in California will be released on the great Pacific Garbage Patch this summer. The ocean cleanup organization intends to release a whole fleet by 2020. Five years later, they say they will have cleared half of the debris.
Best of luck to the ocean cleanup. The world needs ideas like these, and judging by the new size estimate of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, many more like it.
The answer to the "GPS challenge question is D. The number of foreign visitors to Japan has skyrocketed from 8.5 million in 2010 to 29 million in 2017. That is an increase of 230 percent in just five years. So what's going on? Well, according to Quartz, a relaxation of visa rules has led to a huge increase in visitors from China, Korea and Southeast Asia. But there has been a boom in visitors from Western countries as well. Quartz says another factor in this surge is a weaker yen, which has lowered costs for foreign visitors.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week and I will see you next week.