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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Where Are Democrats Headed?; Importance of Opening Scenes in Movies; View from the Other Side of Trump's Proposed Wall; Trump Opens Door for Talks With Iran. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired August 5, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:08] 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.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, the wall. Specifically the one President Trump wants to build between the United States and Mexico. He tweeted about it again this week threatening to shut down the U.S. government over it.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.
ZAKARIA: I'll get the view from the other side of the border. My guest will be Mexico's Foreign minister Luis Videgaray.
And the United States and Iran. This week began with President Trump saying he might sit down with the Islamic Republic's leader.
TRUMP: I would certainly meet with Iran if they want to meet.
ZAKARIA: And we ended with Iran's show of force in the all important Straits of Hormuz. Where will relations between the two nations go from here?
Finally, put down your popcorn and pay attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to begin our dissent into Los Angeles.
ZAKARIA: Why are the first few minutes of so many great movies so important? My favorite college professor will explain.
ZAKARIA: But first, here is my take. Donald Trump campaigned as someone who wanted to get America out of the Middle East, but he also cast himself as a tough guy. And his initial instincts in office were to show force in America's war zone. Added troops, more aggressive rules of engagement, bigger bombs.
Now we get reports that the Trump administration is searching for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. However meandering the road, the administration is on the right path. But it is a very difficult one to navigate.
The war in Afghanistan which began in 2001 is already the longest operation in American history. Both the Bush and Obama administrations sought a way out of Afghanistan but they find it difficult to just leave and declare victory. The simple reality was the Taliban inexorably advanced as American troops withdrew putting the democratically elected government in Kabul, which is friendly to the U.S., in mortal peril.
And as America stepped back, it was also clear that other countries, regional powers like India, China, Iran, Russia would fill the vacuum. And yet the United States cannot stay in Afghanistan forever. Our presence distorts American foreign policy tying significant resources to an area of limited national interest to Americans. It also creates an inevitable dependency for the fragile Afghan government. America is spending $45 billion a year on security and economic aid for Afghanistan. That is more than double Afghanistan's entire GDP.
So what is the right exit strategy? In an essay in "Foreign Affairs," Barnett Rubin argues that any political settlement will be extremely difficult and require negotiations with both the Taliban and regional powers.
The central reality Washington must come to grips with is that it will have to allow the Taliban a more formal role in power sharing. In a comprehensive 2014 report, a pair of Rand scholars observed that historically the key to ending protracted insurgencies has been to accommodate the insurgents within the new political order.
In a conversation with me, Rubin offered some guidelines for a possible pathway to a political settlement. Don't let the U.S. military be the lead negotiators, he cautioned, because their stark message to the insurgents, as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, has made clear, has been reconcile or die. Rubin said this is not the way to start a dialogue with people whose entire culture is organized around personal and collective honor, which by the way is a much bigger factor in this war than so-called extremist Islam.
He added that it's obvious that this conflict has no purely military solution even maintaining the current military involvement requires better political ties with Afghanistan's neighbors. Look at a map, Rubin said. Afghanistan is land locked. America needs supply roots. The three countries that could help with access are Pakistan, Russia and Iran. And we have bad relations with all three.
Rubin's chief advice is to work hard at the diplomacy, recognize that other countries have an interest in Afghanistan and engage them. A successful outcome is entirely dependent upon involvement from India, Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran. So Washington cannot keep fantasizing about overthrowing the Iranian regime. It has to decide how much to involve India which would shift the strategic landscape all together.
This is the difficult painstaking work of diplomacy that the Trump administration has so far tried to ignore, demean, and defund. [10:05:09] But if the president actually wants to extricate America
from its unending wars, this is the only way out.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Another day, another head scratching tweet from Donald J. Trump. This time it's about immigration. It read in part, "I would be willing to shut down government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for border security, which includes the wall."
That wall has been a long time obsession of sorts for the president of the United States. Listen to what he said in June of 2015.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would build a great wall. And nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. And I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: So what is the status of the wall from the Mexican perspective?
Joining me now is Mexico's Foreign minister, Luis Videgaray.
Pleasure to have you on, sir.
LUIS VIDEGARAY, MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, Fareed. It's great to be back.
ZAKARIA: So one of the things the president also tweeted about was that the need for the wall was even more urgent now because of the dramatic rise in crime in Mexico. How do you respond to that?
VIDEGARAY: Well, first of all, it's not a Mexican issue. It's not part of the bilateral conversation to talk about a wall. We understand American sovereignty and it's full right to protect its own borders but we will not allow such an issue to define our relationship. We need to see through our differences.
The Mexico-U.S. relationship is essential for both countries. We're neighbors. We do a lot of trade and we share 3,000 kilometers border. And we need to work together. That's how we have been approaching this in a constructive and a serious way. And definitely the border will not allow -- we will not allow the borders to define the relationship. And it's not for Mexico or Mexicans to decide on the border. It's an idea, which is not a friendly one. I personally don't think that it would work particularly well for the interest of the earlier objectives of the United States. But it's not part of the conversation and it should not be.
ZAKARIA: But what do you make of his argument that the reason we need it is because crime is running rampant in Mexico? VIDEGARAY: Well, President Trump has been talking about a wall for
three years now. And he said a lot of things. But we do not carry on the relationship between Twitter. We don't negotiate our agreements through social media. We do it through diplomacy and we do it in a serious way and a constructive way. And it's definitely not an issue that we should allow the relationship to be defined by.
ZAKARIA: Do you have any sense from your negotiations with them as to whether they have ever brought up the issue of Mexico paying for the wall in a serious way. In other words, is there any proposal? Is there any American proposal that is serious that would have you pay for the wall?
VIDEGARAY: Look, we've made it very clear since before the election. President Pena-Nieto has been absolutely transparent about the fact that there is no circumstance under which Mexico would pay for a wall. And therefore, he says not being part of the conversation. I've been part of every negotiation since the Trump administration started. And we never discussed that because it's an issue that we all know. I think they very well know what Mexico's position about it.
And it's not a position that's going to change. I don't think that any -- you will not find any Mexican who is willing to even accept the notion of that. So that is not an issue. And it's certainly not an issue that defines the negotiations.
ZAKARIA: Another joint problem, it seems to me, is the fact that Mexico is no longer really -- I think yourself described it as such, a country that is exporting migrants as it is a transit country. That is to say there are more people trying to get into Mexico from Central America than there are Mexicans trying to get into the U.S.
ZAKARIA: Do you find that the Trump administration is sympathetic to this issue and tries to work with you on it?
VIDEGARAY: I think that there's a much better understanding for what the actual numbers are. For over 15 years, net migration from Mexico into the U.S. has been negative. What that means is that every year more people coming back into Mexico than people from Mexico, Mexicans getting -- trying to get into the United States.
[10:10:01] However, Mexico, and you're absolutely right, has become a transit country. We are every year facing the fact that hundreds of thousands of Central Americans try to get into Mexico not with the purpose of staying in Mexico but get into the United States. And this presents a significant challenge for every country involved. For Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador but also for Mexico and certainly for the United States. This is a shared challenge and we should work together in sharing human rights that all migrants are treated well and we cannot just address a problem by trying to enforce border control.
That's part of the solution but the real solution is to invest jointly in developing Central America. This is something that our current president has been asking for, that our future president is strongly proposing.
ZAKARIA: I want to ask you about the election of your recent -- of the president. For the last 20 years Mexico has been electing governments that had been very pro-American in the sense of being pro- trade, pro-integration, pro good relations between the United States and Mexico. And that has really transformed the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. which for many, many decades before that was adversarial. When Mr. Lopez Obrador was running for the presidency, he was polling very, very low numbers. And then Donald Trump announces his nomination and starts blasting Mexico.
Do you think that Mr. Lopez Obrador was elected president of the Mexico because the Mexican people wanted to show a kind of -- in an act of defiance against Donald Trump's anti-Mexican rhetoric?
VIDEGARAY: Well, I'm not the political analyst. And I will defer that question to the people who really understand political science. But what we know is that Mexico had a very sufficiently election. That it was a transparent process in which we elected a new president with strong, popular support. And I am very particularly very encouraged by the fact that the transition is happening very smoothly and we're collaborating with the future government, with the future president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and his team to ensure that we have a good and successful transition. And that includes the relationship with the U.S.
We are neighbors. We will remain neighbors. And it's much better for the people of America and for the people of Mexico to have a good relationship. So it's encouraging no matter what was said in the campaign both in the U.S. and then the campaign this year in Mexico. That's in the past. What I see is a buildup of a good relationship and nothing can be better for the people of Mexico than having a constructive, respectful relationship with the U.S.
ZAKARIA: Mr. Foreign Minister, pleasure to have you on, sir.
VIDEGARAY: Thank you, Fareed. It's great to see you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Little rocket man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: President Trump has gone from calling Kim Jong-un names just a few months ago to tweeting very nice things about him. Is it possible to imagine such a 180-degree turn on Iran as well? The president seems to have opened that door this week. More on that when we come back.
[10:17:37] ZAKARIA: What a difference a week makes. On July 22nd, President Trump tweeted to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, "Never ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before." But then this Monday Trump took a different tone saying this at a news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don't know that they're ready yet. They're having a hard time right now. But I ended the Iran deal. It was a ridiculous deal. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet. And I'm ready to meet any time they want to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: He went on to say there would be no preconditions to a meeting. Then at the end of the week Iran conducted a naval exercise in the all-important Straits of Hormuz. An action Tehran knew would antagonize the U.S. and others.
What is going on inside Iran?
Joining me now to fill us in is Thomas Erdbrink, Tehran bureau chief for the "New York Times."
Thomas, what do you make of this naval exercise?
THOMAS ERDBRINK, TEHRAN BUREAU CHIEF, NEW YORK TIMES: This is, of course, muscle flexing by the Iranians. They have always said if we want to we can close off the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entrance and exit way into the Persian Gulf, into which 20 percent of the world's energy flows. They want to send a signal to the United States but also to their regional allies and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, that Iran can actually do this, can close off the Strait of Hormuz.
ZAKARIA: If the Iranians were to close off the Straits of Hormuz, would that not cause huge ripple effects not just for the United States but presumably for a place like China that imports a huge amount of its oil through those straits?
ERDBRINK: Absolutely. And That's why I don't think Iran is really intent on closing off the Strait of Hormuz because if they would do so, not only would they not be able to export their own oil, they would very possibly also invite military action by the United States or its regional allies. And as you mentioned, China, Iran's only remaining customer for oil, plus Iran's main trade partner, would be hit very hard by a rise in energy prices and also by shortage of oil. So they would alienate the Chinese if they close off the Strait of Hormuz.
[10:20:06] ZAKARIA: What are Iranians making of Donald Trump's offer? Somewhat casually stated that he'd be willing to meet with Hassan Rouhani with no conditions?
ERDBRINK: Well, what the Iranian officials would say or have said is something that is obviously pretty clear. They are ideological. They haven't want to speak publicly to the United States in the past 40 years. But I went on the streets and I spoke to many ordinary Iranians if you will, a building constructor, a lawyer, a hairdresser. And they all said unanimously why don't we talk to Donald Trump?
And of course this remark comes from a certainly background and a background to see Iran's declining economy. The Iranian national currency has lost over 80 percent of its value, Fareed, in the last year. Take your bank account and just deduct 80 percent. That's what happened to Iran's -- to the purchasing power of Iranians here in this country because of mismanagement by Iran's leaders but also because of the threats of sanctions. Sanctions that will be implemented in the first round of U.S. sanctions from August 6th.
So these people are saying, why don't we talk to United States? Why do have an ideological obstacle to the talk to the United States? The North Koreans are talking to the United States. The Taliban wants to talk to United States. Why can't Iran do that? So that was the sentiment on the street, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: The Rouhani regime is clearly under pressure. The economy is doing badly. The Iran deal seems to have fallen through. Not many successes. Meanwhile the U.S. administration, Mike Pompeo, is clearly outlining a strategy of regime change. The Israeli government is feeding these fires.
Is it -- does it feel to you like we're in some kind of pre- revolutionary moment where this regime could collapse?
ERDBRINK: Well, for revolution you would of course need lots of people on the streets. And ironically we are seeing protest in Iran. In the past six months there have been simmering protests across the country. And in January, you might remember in over 80 cities people took to the streets, 25 people were killed. Almost 4,000 people arrested. And in the months following that period, there have been low-level protests, if you will. Hundreds of people in this city. Hundreds of people in that city.
And those protests, Fareed, have picked up. There have been protests in cities like Isfahan and Shiraz. These are big cities. There was a smaller protest in Tehran but what is not yet happening at this point is that the bulk of the Iranians, the Iranian middle class is joining in this protest. They feel that the outcome of such protest is still too uncertain to join in. Many people say they are fed up with their leaders and many people also say they dislike Donald Trump. But they at this point in time don't yet see how this protest can change their life for the better.
ZAKARIA: Thomas Erdbrink, as always, pleasure to have you on.
ERDBRINK: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS. When the Hoover dam was built, it was perhaps the most ambitious and innovative project of its time. Now nearly a century later, modern innovators have new plans for the dam that could rock the world again. Find out what is going on when we come back.
[10:27:20] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. There's perhaps no greater icon of American ingenuity than the Hoover dam. A stunning mass of cement and rebar its construction became an emblem of new ideal rebirth. The energy produced there drove the West's great cities into modernity. Now a fascinating "New York Times" story reveals a new plan for the dam that could be just as revolutionary.
Engineers with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power want to turn it into what the "Times" call a giant battery. In other words, a place not just to generate but to store renewable energy.
Here's how it would work. They built a pump station as far as 20 miles downstream from the dam powered by the solar and wind farms that now pepper the American west. That pump would drive water upstream to Lake Mead, the dam's massive reservoir where it would eventually feed into the dam to be turned into energy again when needed.
This is what's known as pump storage. And it is an impressive feat of outcome spinning solar and wind into hydroelectric power. It also solves a very real problem. We're clearly in the midst of a renewable energy revolution. The first phase was about generation, harnessing the awesome power of the sun and the wind. There's been lots of progress on that front as cheap Chinese solar panels have flooded global markets. Solar power generation increased by more than 25,000 percent from 2000 to 2015.
Wind generation grew by more than 2,500 percent. That's good news in terms of limiting dependence on fossil fuels but now we need storage. Solar and wind are so-called intermittent sources. That means they're here one minute, gone the next. And as they scale up, they start causing problems.
Take California which leads the nation in solar capacity. In the middle of the day when the sun is shining, solar floods the electricity grid but then disappears at night when people need electric power most. Sometimes the state simply shuts down solar panels during the day to avoid overloading the grid. So more isn't always better unless you have storage which is the next phase of the energy revolution.
In "Taming the Sun," a fascinating new book that tackles these issues, the author Varun Sivaram reveals a startling statistic. If the United States turned off all its sources of electricity immediately it currently has enough storage capacity to power the country for just 43 minutes. So storage has a long way to go but many smart people have very big ideas for what to do about it. Last year Elon Musk made the world's largest lithium iron battery to store the energy from a sprawling wind farm in southern Australia. The battery's agile, responding to outages in a fraction of a second, and it can store up to 129 megawatt hours of wind energy. That is still a drop in the bucket of the country's demand, but it's a start.
Here's another wild idea: solar fuels. Scientists are working on technology that would use the sun's rays to split a molecule of water into its component parts and funnel the hydrogen for fuel. And fuel is a much easier way to store energy than batteries. Bill Gates is funding some of the research, noting that one ton of gasoline contains the same amount of energy as 60 tons of batteries.
These ideas might sound overly ambitious, but so did building the Hoover Dam 90 years ago.
Next on "GPS," the Democratic Party is in the midst of a soul- searching debate about its identity. Bernie Sanders has a clear idea vision of where it should go. I talked to his economic adviser about her radical ideas to rethink the federal government and how it spends its money.
ZAKARIA: American unemployment is way down. But there are still more than 6 million people in the U.S. who would like a job but don't have one. So what to do?
Well, my next guest has a plan. Under her job guarantee plan, everyone who wants to work would be guaranteed a job that pays at least $15 per hour.
Who would pay for this? The federal government.
How exactly, without racking up even more debt?
Well, Stephanie Kelton, who was an economic advisor for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, says the federal government doesn't have to worry about how to pay for it. I wanted to understand more. She started by telling me how she came up with the job guarantee plan.
STEPHANIE KELTON, FORMER BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN ADVISER: So when FDR talked about a bill of economic rights, he was talking about really guaranteeing certain things to all Americans. And number one on the list was the right to employment. And so this is an idea that's become, sort of, popular lately. You've got a number of people in both the House and the Senate who have introduced bills or have plans to introduce legislation to try to make FDR and Martin Luther King's dream a reality.
So it is what it sounds like it is, right? It basically asks the question, "Could we create a job for everyone who wants to work in America?"
ZAKARIA: But doesn't that fly in the face of basic capitalism, which is to say the market determines whether there are needs, and companies try to fill those needs, and that's the process by which it happens?
But the idea of actually intervening in the job market is seen as very market-unfriendly.
KELTON: I actually think it's extremely market-friendly. It's extremely pro-business. So what it does is say, "Right now, what we're doing is leaving millions of people behind. They want work and they can't find it anywhere else in the economy." So on some level, the real economy, the private economy, is failing millions of people.
And what the federal job guarantee idea does is say, "What if we ensure that everybody who wants to work is afforded an opportunity to a job?" And what we find in our work is that if we in fact were to put people to work, what you do is raise economic prosperity for everyone in the economy. So it benefits private business as well.
ZAKARIA: How much would this cost?
KELTON: So it depends where you are in the business cycle. If you implement it now, when most economists would argue that we're fairly close to full employment, it would be less costly. If you try to do this when you're shedding 800,000 jobs a month, it's going to be more expensive.
The answer to the question is probably that you're going to end up employing around 15 million people and spending something between $400 billion and $550 billion annually.
ZAKARIA: And the premise underlying all of this is -- is it fair to say that your basic view is the government can't run out of money, that all the people, frankly, on the right and the left, who worry about Social Security and Medicare and student loans and say, "Oh, my God, this is trillions of dollars" -- what you seem to be saying is it doesn't really matter. You're basically saying the government can just print more if it runs out?
KELTON: Well, I don't -- I don't use that terminology, but that's essentially what it is. Look, the United States government, the federal government of the United States of America, is the source of the U.S. dollar. They are the issuer of the currency. And they have given unto themselves the exclusive right to create the currency. You and I can't do it. I mean, if we get caught, it's called counterfeiting and there's big trouble, right? But they have the exclusive right to create the dollar. So that gives them extreme power. They have the power of the purse. It means they can never face bills that they can't pay. So the financial constraint isn't the relevant constraint. The relevant constraint is inflation. It's do we have the real resources in the U.S. economy, the people, the raw materials, the machines, the factories, to do as much as we'd like to do?
ZAKARIA: But isn't the problem that, if you print all this money, you produce inflation because the expectations of everybody changes? This is what happened in Germany in the 1920s, which led to hyperinflation. This is what's happened in various Latin American countries.
Aren't you condemning the United States to a kind of banana republic future?
KELTON: No. Printing money doesn't cause inflation. Spending money can potentially be inflationary. And that's why I keep saying the limits are real and governments can't just spend willy nilly. They don't have carte blanche to go out...
ZAKARIA: So why do you think they're not up against these limits already when you have debt-to-GDP levels that are as high now as they were after World War II, the highest in three, four generations? People say we're already at those limits.
KELTON: Well, those aren't the relevant limits. Those aren't inflation. If we had $21 trillion in debt and we were repaying bondholders and paying interest and that interest income was being received and then spent into the economy and creating an inflation problem, then I would say we have a limit; we have hit the limit. But that's not the case.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that the Democrats are ready to be as bold and radical as you're describing?
KELTON: I think they're reaching really high. I don't know if they are ready to be as bold as I'm suggesting we could be, but I think that, you know, what we're starting to see from a lot of Democrats are some pretty ambitious policy proposals. And I think they're reaching high.
ZAKARIA: Keynes said that behind every politician was an academic scribbler writing away. So if we hear these -- these voices in the Democratic Party, we'll know who was scribbling behind the -- behind the scenes.
KELTON: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on.
KELTON: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Up next, "The Godfather," "The Graduate, "Schindler's List." Why the first few minute of a film can be so important. Fascinating stuff from the woman who opened my eyes to the wonders of movies. Back in a moment.
ZAKARIA: When I speak at college campuses, I'm often asked a question that, for me, is easy to answer. The question is, "What was your favorite college course?" Now, you might expect the answer to be some wonky, esoteric course on foreign policy or history or economics. It was not.
The course I took at Yale that captivated me the most was Classics in the History of American Cinema, or something like that. It was taught by the great film scholar Annette Insdorf. Once a week, in Professor Insdorf's classroom, I was able to escape the pressures of a student's life and enter other worlds as imagined in the greatest films of all time.
It's my great pleasure to be reunited with my professor today. Annette Insdorf is the author of "Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes." Welcome.
ANNETTE INSDORF, AUTHOR: I'm delighted to be here.
ZAKARIA: So why -- why is it that you want to write a book about the opening scenes of movies? Why are opening scenes so important?
INSDORF: First impressions count. Whether it's meeting someone for the first time or sitting down in that theater and watching the opening images, that's going to determine whether you want to stay with the person or the movie. And in terms of film, I have found that most of the great movies tell you; they give you in the first few scenes the keys by which to unlock the rest of the movie.
ZAKARIA: So you give an example of "Schindler's List." Describe that opening scene because it's certainly such a powerful illustration of what you're saying.
INSDORF: Yeah. "Schindler's List" could have begun in any number of ways. But Spielberg chose the lighting of a Sabbath candle, and you hear the Hebrew prayer, something that connotes ritual and continuity and survival. But the smoke from that candle becomes the smoke of a train in a landscape which immediately takes you into a rather immediate world of World War II, where Jews are being transported by the Nazis to ghettos and camps.
And that's the second of, say, two layers of the "Schindler's List" opening. In that second one, you see lists being typed at the Krakow train station, introducing the importance of typing names. And then you see a man, but only through his hands, in a room. The mystery: who is this person? We assume it's the title character, Schindler, but all we see are details, as we hear "Gloomy Sunday" on the radio, and even when he goes to a nightclub, Spielberg refuses to show Schindler's face. Why?
So I thought about that a lot after watching the film twice. And I decided he's introducing so many important elements of the film, such as the mystery of Oskar Schindler. Why did this profiteering, opportunistic member of the Nazi Party risk his life ultimately to save 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust? We'll never really know.
ZAKARIA: There's an opening scene from the class I remember. It was actually -- you don't talk as much about it in the book, but "The Godfather," which many people think of as the greatest film of all time. And that opening scene is extraordinary. And that opening -- and the line that it begins with. This immigrant, he says, "I believe in America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): I believe in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
INSDORF: I love, though, also, the gradual reveal. This is what, when I first saw "The Godfather," even though I was quite young at the time, I knew I was in the hands of a master storyteller. It's not just the line being spoken directly in close-up to the camera; it's the gradual reveal. The camera slowly pulls back to show you we're in a darkened room. And Don Corleone, played by Marlon Brando -- it's just a slight wave of his wrist that tells me he's in the frame. Then we cut to him, and I start to understand how the power of this man is indirect. It's quiet. It's extensive. I didn't know there were other men in the room at the beginning of the shot. Then I realized, aha, this is his domain.
ZAKARIA: You talk about how you can have a very intelligent filmmaker convey his intelligence immediately, Mike Nichols in "The Graduate."
INSDORF: It begins -- well, the first line of dialogue, as we see Benjamin sitting in an airplane, is "We're beginning our descent into Los Angeles." Nichols once said that he was very proud that the entire theme of the film was encapsulated in that line.
And the camera does something very interesting. A zoom shot in a film is very different from a tracking shot, where the camera actually moves. A zoom flattens space. So we move from Benjamin's face in a way that is appropriate because it expresses his emotional situation returning to his parents' home, that kind of flattening.
When he gets to the airport, it expresses his lack of control. He's on this conveyor belt, much like suitcases. And there's even a line, when you see the suitcase, "Do they match?"
So some filmmakers are not content to merely tell a good story. They find the exactly appropriate cinematic language, like a poet does with words, to convey layers of meaning and to render coherent the totality of the movie experience.
ZAKARIA: But in a way your message to people who go to the movies is, if you're seeing particularly a movie by an important director, they are being very thoughtful about how they construct these movies, particularly the opening scene, so pay attention. Right?
INSDORF: That's exactly my message. You have -- you said it as succinctly as I could. It's to be alert, to have an active engagement with a movie. Some people still go to movies just to absorb like a sponge and have, like, popcorn images hit you. And I'm interested in another kind of cinema. And I'm going to use that term. It's part of the history of art. And it's part of how, still, so many of us learn about the world.
ZAKARIA: Annette Insdorf, pleasure to have you on.
INSDORF: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," finding Christ and finding votes, how the power of the evangelical vote in the U.S. is swiftly being replicated south of the border. That story, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Earlier this summer there were disturbing reports of a new government task force set up to possibly revoke the citizenship of naturalized Americans who are accused of cheating on citizenship applications. But the U.S. isn't alone in trying to strip citizens of their passports.
Which nation is poised to strip the citizenship of approximately 4 million people? Is it Egypt, India, Brazil or Belarus? Stay tuned and I'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is "Factfulness: Ten Reasons Why You Are Wrong About the World and Things Are Better Than We Think."
The title and subtitle say it all. It's a fact-filled book with great charts that will teach you more than thousands of pages of prose. The lead author, the late Hans Rosling, was a "GPS" favorite. He did a wonderful segment for us years ago.
And now for the last look.
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ZAKARIA: That was no ordinary baptism. First, the location was the Jordan River, the same waters that Christians believe baptized Christ. Then there's the man receiving the sacrament, Jair Bolsonaro, a hard- right Brazilian firebrand who has been called the Donald Trump of Brazil. Last week Bolsonaro officially announced his candidacy for his country's presidency. He's already the front-runner. According to The Atlantic, that is in part thanks to evangelical Christians, a new force in Latin American politics but one whose power is growing every day.
From Mexico's recently elected leftist president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, to Colombia's conservative hardliner, Ivan Duque, Latin American populists from across the political spectrum are getting elected by courting the support of evangelicals. And with conversions on the rise, their clout could continue to grow.
So what is the secret to gaining their trust? Well, some in Latin America have quickly learned how to win them over with anti-abortion and anti-gay rhetoric. Let's hope that, in their urge to throw the bums out, Latin America's evangelicals don't anoint too many false prophets. Being tough on gays is easy and cowardly and wrong. If they want something to get tough about, how about corruption, crime and mismanagement?
The answer to my "GPS" challenge question this week is B. Some 4 million people in India's northeastern Assam state have had their citizenship put in peril because they could not prove they or their direct ancestors had arrived in the country prior to 1971. In that year Bangladesh fought a war for independence from Pakistan. That war forced some 10 million mostly Muslim refugees into neighboring India, where 80 percent of the population is Hindu.
Prime Minister Modi and his BJP party have a tense relationship with India's Muslims. But the government said Monday it had no immediate plans to deport anybody. Nonetheless, human rights watchers warned that those left off the list risk becoming stateless persons.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.