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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
The Power the President Can Wield in an Emergency; Deciphering Trump's Middle East Policy; Discussion of Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls Still Missing. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 13, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[10:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say a wall is Medieval. Well, so is a wheel. A wheel is older than a wall. A wheel works and a wall works.
TAPPER: Fareed Zakaria starts now.
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.
Today on the show, Pompeo in Arabia. The secretary of State makes his Cairo speech.
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MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over.
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ZAKARIA: And it is very different from Barack Obama's.
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BARRACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.
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ZAKARIA: We'll examine the Trump administration's Mideast policy with a terrific panel.
But first the president threatens to declare a national emergency if the Democrats don't fund his wall. We'll look at the history of such declarations and the awesome powers they give the commander-in-chief.
And bring back our girls. Remember the intense anger over the kidnapping of almost 300 Nigerian school girls?
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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Bring back our girls.
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ZAKARIA: Remember the feverish demands to get them back? Well, some 100 of those girls are still missing. We have not forgotten.
But first here's my take. Watching the struggle over funding for a border wall I'm struck by the way in which in one sense Donald Trump has already achieved success. He has been able to conjure up a crisis out of thin air, elevate this manufactured emergency to national attention, paralyze the government and perhaps now even invoke war- like authority and bypass Congress. He may still fail, but it should worry us that a president, any president, can do what Trump has done.
Let's be clear. There is no crisis. The number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has been declining for a decade. The number of people caught trying to sneak across the southern border has been on a downward trend for almost 20 years and is now lower than it was in 1973. Far more people are coming to the U.S. legally and then overstaying their visas than are crossing the southern border illegally.
As for terrorism, the Cato Institute has found that from 1975 to 2017 there have been zero people murdered or injured in terror attacks committed by illegal border crossers on U.S. soil. Or look at drugs, the greatest danger comes from Fentanyl and Fentanyl-like substances, which are at the heart of the opioid crisis. Most of this comes from China, either directly shipped to the U.S. or smuggled through Canada or Mexico.
Trump has addressed the root of this problem, actually, by pressing the Chinese government to crack down, a far more effective strategy than building a barrier across the Mexican border. And while the southern border is the conduit for most of the heroin entering the U.S., it typically comes through legal points of entry hidden in cars or mixed in with other goods in tractor-trailers. So a wall would do nothing or little to stanch the flow.
And yet the power of the presidency is such that Trump has been able to place this issue center stage, shut down the government, force TV networks to run an error-ridding, scare-mongering Oval Office address, and now perhaps invoke emergency powers.
This sounds like something that would be done by Presidents Putin, Erdogan or Sisi, not by the head of the world's leading constitutional republic. In the past when the U.S. government has created this sense of crisis it has almost always been to frighten people, expand presidential powers and muzzle opposition.
From the Alien and Sedition Acts to the Red Scares to warnings about Saddam Hussein's arsenal, America has experienced periods of paranoia and foolishness, and we look back on them and recognize that the problems were not nearly as grave, the enemy was not nearly as strong and the U.S. was actually far more secure. And the actions taken by Washington -- suspending civil rights, interning Japanese Americans, taking the country to war -- were almost always terrible mistakes with disastrous long-term consequences.
This whole wall situation highlights a problem that has become apparent in these last two years. The American president now has too many powers, formal and informal. This was not intended by the founders who made Congress the dominant branch of government, it is not how the country has been governed for much of its history.
I for one have been an advocate of a strong executive for most of my life. I don't much like how Congress operates, but I now realize that my views were premised on the assumption that the president would operate within some bounds of laws, norms, precedent, ethics. Today I believe that an urgent task for Congress is to write laws that explicitly limit and check the powers of the president.
[10:05:08] I would take polarization over Putinism any day.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency.
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ZAKARIA: President Trump and his team have now repeatedly threatened that if the White House doesn't get its way and doesn't get that $5.7 billion for a border wall the president will declare a national emergency. This wouldn't be the first time that the United States has declared a national emergency, far from it. In fact, according to CNN the United States is currently under 31 concurrent national emergencies, the oldest one will mark its 40th birthday this year.
Ten days after the U.S. embassy in Tehran was stormed, Jimmy Carter declared a national emergency to deal with the Iran threat. That order is still in effect. As is the one declared after September 11th, 2001.
I wanted to dig into just what powers the president gains by declaring a national emergency and whether the border situation fits the bill.
Elizabeth Goitein wrote a terrific "Atlantic" article that lays it all out. It's called "In a Crisis the President Can Evoke Extraordinary Authority: What Might Donald Trump Do With This Power." And John Yoo was a deputy assistant attorney general. In that role he wrote opinions for President George W. Bush about what powers he had post 9/11. Yu is now a professor at the University of Berkeley Law School.
Elizabeth, let me ask you just first, does the president in your view have the -- would he be justified in using emergency powers to build the border wall that he so wants to do?
ELIZABETH GOITEIN, LIBERTY AND NATIONAL SECURITY CO-DIRECTOR, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Absolutely not. It would be a tremendous abuse of authority for the president to declare a national emergency in a situation like this one where there really isn't any emergency. These powers, these very potent powers, intended for situations of true crisis, situations that are dramatic departure from the norm and that are unfolding so quickly that Congress has no time to act.
There is nothing about the situation at the border right now that fits any of these criteria. And it would particularly be an abuse of authority here where the entire purpose is to get around the express will of Congress. So it wouldn't just be a misuse of authority, it would be an affront to the democratic process.
ZAKARIA: John, what do you think?
JOHN YOO, PROFESSOR, UC BERKELEY LAW SCHOOL: First, no court has ever overturned a president's finding of a national emergency precisely because judges and those of us in the public don't have access to all the information a president has. The real question is, once a president declares a national emergency of which as you said, Fareed, there have been many, many declared by presidents, I would say some in situations far less dire or urgent than this one, for example, like the expiration of export controls has been a national emergency.
The real question is what powers should the president have? Some are constitutional, defending the country, some are granted to him by Congress. So I would say here this is not a question of the president and Congress fighting. This is a question where Congress long ago gave enormous powers to the president, once a national emergency was declared. There is a provision right here on this point which allows the president to reallocate funds provided by Congress for military construction in the event of a national emergency.
If Congress wants to stop it they can just stop putting more money into the Defense Department's purse.
ZAKARIA: Elizabeth, to me the most dramatic startling thing about your article was to recognize just how wide the powers the president has in terms of declaring these emergencies. You point out there are over 100 special provisions that the president can use to declare a national emergency and that once he declares it, he essentially has a kind of carte blanche.
GOITEIN: Well, that's right. As I said before, I do think it would be an abuse of authority. The problem here is that when Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976 it chose not to include any definition of national emergency, not to include any kinds of criteria that had to be met. And so, you know, a judge looking at this situation, as Mr. Yoo said, would probably be reluctant to overturn the emergency not so much because the judge felt he didn't have the information, but because the judge would have to create a definition of emergency that Congress did not provide. But once the emergency is declared, that really doesn't end this story.
[10:10:03] It doesn't give the president unlimited power to do anything he wants as he seems to think. Instead it gives him access to special powers contained in more than 100 provisions of law that have been enacted over the decades and some of these laws are incredibly powerful, they allow the president to do things like shut down communications facilities or freeze Americans' bank accounts.
But it is not at all clear that any of them allow the president to do what he wants to do here, which is to build the wall. And the laws that people are talking about that allow the secretary of Defense to move money around within the department, they look good on a quick read, but if you look closer there are legal nuances in these statutes that make them not a great fit.
ZAKARIA: John, you know, I know that you're sort of a presidential powers guy and I've always been sympathetic to that view, especially when dealing with national security crises --
YOO: Guilty as accused.
ZAKARIA: But, I mean, I look at -- I look at, again, Elizabeth's article and I think back to some of these cases which I didn't realize that involved the president invoking national emergency and it does seem as though this is so far from what the Constitution and the founders envisioned. The president is essentially able to define a national emergency entirely on his own, describe exactly why he thinks it is, and at that point he becomes an unchecked, you know, czar or dictator on that issue.
Courts by and large don't intervene as far as I can tell, John. How can you as, you know, somebody who believes in the Constitution of limited enumerated powers, allow this kind of massive power grab?
YOO: Fareed, I'm glad you raised the real fundamental issue here which goes back, as you said, to the founders who wrestled with this problem. As you said, on the one hand they want a Constitution of limited enumerated powers. On the other hand they wanted a Constitution that could respond to emergencies and crises. As you know, that was their justification for the creation of the presidency in the first place, was to create an officer who could act quickly and swiftly with unity in response to an emergency and crisis that no one could foresee.
And so this is not a problem we faced before. This is a problem that confronted Jefferson during the Louisiana purchase, where there was plenty of time to think and argue about it. This is Lincoln at the beginning of the Civil War. FDR in the Great Depression. Truman in the steel seizure case where the Supreme Court did check the president's powers. And here now with Trump.
I think you're right, Fareed. We're worried about abuse, but they didn't think that the courts would be the people to stop a wayward president. They said clearly as you point out, in the framing they said two things. One, Congress has the ultimate power of the purse. They don't want the president to access these funds, cut off the funds or deduct them from next year's appropriation.
Second and more important, whenever this question came up during the framing, the founders of the Constitution said that's why we put the impeachment power into the Constitution. If the president really does abuse his executive power and claim false emergencies, that's why the House and Senate have the power to remove him ultimately. ZAKARIA: This is a serious substantive discussion that will go on and
I hope we can get both of you back to talk about the next iteration of it. Thank you.
GOITEIN: Thank you for having us.
YOO: Thanks, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, exactly what is the Trump administration's policy toward the Middle East? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to lay it out in Cairo this week and he tried to tear down President Obama's policies at the same time. Did it work?
I will talk to a terrific panel about it when we come back.
[10:18:01] ZAKARIA: On Friday morning, the military spokesman announced that America had begun the process of its deliberate withdrawal from Syria. Those words ended some of the contradictions from the administration and the confusion from the rest of the world about whether the administration was actually going to pull out in the short term.
The announcement came white Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is making a Middle East tour hitting all the major capitals to reassure allies that America has their backs.
Joining me now to discuss the whole issue, Martin Indyk is the former U.S. ambassador to Israel. He is now a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Robin Wright is a contributing writer at the "New Yorker" and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. And Tarek Masoud is a professor of Public Policy and International Relations at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Martin, let me start with you. It struck me -- let's talk about Pompeo's speech because that was meant to be the administration's grand Middle East policy. And what's striking about it was -- you know, it was largely kind of anti-Obama, these are all the bad things Obama has done, this is what we're now doing, but it suggested an America deeply engaged in the Middle East, asserting its values that sounded like he hadn't been listening to what his president had been saying about what America wanted to be in the Middle East, which was get the hell out of there.
MARTIN INDYK, FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Indeed he had one line in the speech, Fareed, in which he said when America withdraws, chaos often follows. And then the next day we have the announcement of America's troop withdrawal from Syria. So I think that was really the heart of the speech was this gap between promises and delivery between objectives and the means to achieve them, and more fundamentally, a gap between the freedom and democracy that attracts the Middle Eastern people to America.
And the preference of his president, that he's representing in this speech, for the autocrats in the region. In fact, I think the speech was actually addressed at the autocrats rather than at the people.
[10:20:06] ZAKARIA: Robin, when you look at -- when you look at the speech the thing that struck me in terms of policy was the whole speech was almost constructed as an anti-Iranian speech. That seems to be at the heart of the president or Secretary Pompeo's Middle East strategy.
ROBIN WRIGHT, FELLOW, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Absolutely. This is the core issue which Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security adviser John Bolton, and the president all agree, and it is the founding principle of this new coalition they're trying to create in the Middle East that brings together the Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia and Israel, changing basically the kind of who are the friends and who are enemies in the region. And this is gamed in part to craft a common policy against the regime.
But this is yet another policy that the United States finds itself in disagreement with its most important allies in Europe, as well as Russia and China. The other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. The prospect of the administration being able to achieve its goal, which basically amounts to regime change and talks about regime -- changing regime behavior but it really amounts to regime change, is virtually nil when you don't have the international community squeezing Iran as it did to get to the point you could get a nuclear deal.
ZAKARIA: Tarek, it seems to me that two people must have been very happy with the speech, Egypt's dictator Sisi and Saudi Arabia's crown prince. It did seem like it was designed -- the strategy seems built around these two autocratic regimes.
TAREK MASOUD, PROFESSOR, HARVARD'S KENNEDY SCHOOL: I think that's absolutely right. I think, you know, if we think about what the secretary of State was trying to communicate to Arab audiences or audiences in Arab capitals, it was really three -- three things. It was basically that, you know, the United States hates Iran as much as you do.
The United States stands against the Islamist political parties and movements ranging from ISIS, which is the most extreme and violent, all the way to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, but the U.S. hates those groups just as much as people in Arab capitals hate them, and then the third was that the U.S. really places its emphasis now on stability and authority and order instead of the democracy and freedom that was emphasized by the Obama administration.
To the extent that those are messages that these Arab leaders that you mentioned want to hear, I think they emerged very happy. There was another note in that speech that hasn't gotten a lot of attention, which was when Secretary Pompeo also mentioned that the United States has a legacy of protecting Arab regimes, after all it defended the Kuwaiti -- the Kuwait sovereignty against the Iraqi invasion, I mean, he said, could you imagine Russia or China doing something like that?
And that seemed to me to come from a recognition that there was a flirtation now in some of our allied Arab capitals with Russia and with China, this belief that maybe those places are going to be more reliable allies than the United States, and I think part of the message was, stick with us, we are reliable.
There are a lot of other things in that speech that if I were sitting in President Sisi's office or Mohammed bin Salman's office or in any Arab capital, I would be puzzling over a lot of what was said and wondering precisely how reliable this government is going to be.
ZAKARIA: When we come back, stick with us, we're going to ask what exactly is happening with American troops in Syria.
[10:28:00] ZAKARIA: We are back here on GPS talking about the Middle East with Martin Indyk, Robin Wright and Tarek Masoud.
Robin, let me ask you, when you look at this withdraw from Syria, is it fair to say that Iran must be pleased about this, or is it really true that Iran is at this point particularly with the new sanctions and the new pressure is overwhelmed and dealing with its own problems? Its economy is in pretty bad shape, its currency has I think collapsed 30 percent or 40 percent in the last few months. How is Iran viewing what is going on in the region right now?
WRIGHT: Well, I think both Russia and Iran are thrilled with the idea that the U.S. is withdrawing. That basically ensures that they will keep their dominant hold, that the U.S. presence with its removal will, you know -- this will affect the peace process or the post conflict process that plays out next.
President Assad now appears to have cemented his rule both physically and politically and there will be no challenge because the U.S. doesn't have anyone its backing as an alternative, but at the same time one thing that's really important to understand is that every party in the Middle East, in the international community, wants its interests in Syria to be protected, but they don't want to have to own it. And that applies to Iran and Russia as well.
They don't want to be responsible for a country that is in some ways a non-country or a non-state at the moment, whether it's physically or politically, and don't want to have to contribute to the $300 billion or $400 billion in reconstruction required. Syria is going to be a mess and it gets to the question of the future of Syria.
Given the fact that the core issues have not been addressed that sparked the Arab spring, that led to a civil war that -- you know, in Syria, and across the region, the danger is that you find reemergence of ISIS because there are not those core solutions that the United States is much better at addressing than either Iran or Russia.
ZAKARIA: Tarek, I want to ask you about this broader strategy of -- you know, the anti-Iran strategy, which the United States has adopted, also is at the core of the Saudi crown prince's strategy, to a certain extent the Egyptians. Is it -- will it work -- by which I mean, is the Arab world deeply anti-Iranian? Is -- are Arabs in general anti-Shia? Most of them are -- 90 percent
of them are probably Sunnis. You know, do you think this is a strategy being devised by a few dictators in capitals or does it have traction on the street?
MASOUD: Well, I think, if you are a Saudi, you absolutely have reason to be concerned about Iran. Iran, you know, has long wanted hegemony in the Arabian Gulf, right?
But, you know, are all Arabs -- and so, you know, Saudis, I think, Saudi policy has been to try to emphasize for Arabs the sectarian difference that divides them, most Arabs, from most Iranians. But I think what really underlies Saudi's anti-Iran feelings are much about competition over power in this particular part of the world.
And as a result, I actually don't think that most Arabs, particularly the further westward you go in the Arab world, that most Arabs really do share this deep antipathy to Shiaism. I actually think that this kind of sectarian conflict is not destined to shape Arab politics. And the U.S. -- we have to be very careful to not adopt this sectarian discourse.
When you hear Republican politicians talking about the Shia crescent and adopting this, kind of, very sectarian Arab discourse, I think that's not what the U.S. should be doing.
ZAKARIA: Martin, what about the other part of the president's Middle East strategy, which we haven't heard from much, but Jared Kushner was going to bring peace to the Middle East. He was going to -- he was going to present a peace plan, Palestinians, Israelis. This was -- this was, you know, something that they've talked about privately for a long time. Where -- where is it?
INDYK: Well, it's actually an interesting contrast between Obama's speech 10 years ago, in which he promised that he would make a major effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and spent about a good third of his speech on that subject. And the one sentence that Secretary of State Pompeo referred to this as something the United States was going to try to do.
The plan itself has been delayed yet again. We are now past the two- year mark and it's now delayed because of the Israeli elections, which will take place in April. It will take at least two months for the Israeli coalition government to be formed after that. We're getting into June. At that point we're already in the election season here. I doubt that evangelicals are going to be very supportive of a plan that -- should it require any kind of territorial concession from the Israelis.
And Jared Kushner, probably, at that point, will be heading to head up the campaign out of the White House. So I think there's a real question mark now about whether there is any real commitment. And the fact that -- that Pompeo barely made a reference to it, I think, indicates just what -- how low a priority it is for this administration.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating conversation. We will have to have you back. Thank you.
Next on "GPS," nationalism is rearing its head around the world, you know that. But we will tell you about one potential powder keg where it is making a re-emergence -- a cautionary tale, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. This week we have another report on the rise of nationalism from an unlikely, unfortunate place, Bosnia.
You might have thought that ethnic nationalism had been tamed in that country after the brutal wars and attempted genocide in the 1990s and the European Union's massive efforts at aid and reconstruction. But on Wednesday Serbs in Bosnia celebrated the 27th birthday of the Republic of Srpska, the Serb-controlled area of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Bosnian constitutional court banned such celebrations in 2015, but it has lived on in part thanks to this man, the virulent Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik, who just this October was elected president of Bosnia.
Dodik, who previously served as the president and prime minister of the Republic of Srpska, is an unusual head of state. You see, he seems to want to dissolve his own seat of power. He sits alongside two co- presidents, a Muslim and a Croat, and though he tamped down his rhetoric ahead of the election, for a very long time he has publicly called for an end to that government in the form of Serbian secession.
Now, he wasn't always a nationalist. Just after the 1995 internationally brokered Dayton Accords that ended the ethnic war, Western leaders saw him as the country's greatest hope. So whatever happened to Dodik, the internationally approved statesman?
Well, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a study in dysfunction. The European Union has poured more than $4 billion into the country since 1996, including funds for democracy building. But the government is hopelessly decentralized and chaotic. In addition to the multiple presidents, it has 13 prime ministers and 700 members of parliament across two autonomous regions, the Republic of Srpska and the Muslim and Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Over time Dodik appeared to abandon the very idea of a unified country and began floating the idea of Serbian secession, according to an academic paper in the Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity.
Dodik gets support from Russia. He gained more control over the press and strengthened the police in the Serb part of the country. And he has flirted with denying the horrific genocide in Srebrenica, in which 8,000 Muslim men were killed by the Bosnian Serb army and paramilitaries.
And there is an audience for Dodik's antics. He is able to play on a powerful sense of pride and victimization among his people.
We have seen this movie before -- actually, almost exactly this movie. In 1989, then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who until then had been a secular Communist but who saw that Communism was dying as an ideology of power, famously wrote the modern tragic history of the Balkans. Milosevic stoked the fires of nationalism so he could rule. But in doing so, he set off a conflagration that engulfed the region for almost a decade. Let's hope that Dodik's moves do not set off a similar chain of calamity.
Up next, remember the Chibok girls? I certainly hope you do. For a brief moment, the world rallied around hundreds of school girls, trying to get them freed by their Boko Haram captors. Well, around 100 girls are still missing. So where are they? Has the world forgotten them? We bring an update from a fascinating source, when we return.
Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to cnn.com/fareed for a link to my iTunes podcast.
ZAKARIA: It was a cowardly mission from the very start. Dozens, maybe even 100 gunmen stormed a girls' boarding school in Nigeria in the middle of an April night in 2014. After these Boko Haram terrorists took nearly 300 girls hostage, an international outcry began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters.
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ZAKARIA: The plight of the Chibok girls was leading newscasts for weeks and splashed upon the covers of newspapers and magazines around the world. Hashtag "bring back our girls" was trending worldwide. Since then, arrests have been made and more than 100 of the girls have been released, but this year will mark the fifth anniversary of the girls' disappearance and around 100 of them are still missing.
What has become of them and why has the world forgotten?
I was joined recently by a co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls movement from Nigeria.
ZAKARIA: Obiageli Ezekwesili, pleasure to have you on.
EZEKWESILI: Really glad to be with you.
ZAKARIA: Now, you came to the world's attention first with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign. It's been years. Many have been released. I think the majority have been released. But there are still 100 who seem to be -- have disappeared or are still in captivity. What -- what is happening?
EZEKWESILI: Well, not much is -- seems to be happening because, when our government was ultimately able to get about 107 of our girls out, with 112 of them still left there, and we haven't had much in terms of tangible actions to get the rest of the girls back. And that's a large number of children to be missing for going to school.
ZAKARIA: Do you -- do you have a sense as to where they are?
EZEKWESILI: There is -- that's part of the puzzle. The puzzle is that these girls are supposed to be with their captors on the soil of Nigeria, and yet five years in April we still have no form of evidence as to what it is that our government has gathered in terms of intelligence. We're not saying share them with us, but at least give us a sense that you do know something of what is going on within your territory.
ZAKARIA: Do you think the problem is incompetence on the government's part, or are they unwilling to confront Boko Haram in some of these parts of the north where Boko Haram is quite strong?
EZEKWESILI: So it could be a mix of both, but when ineptitude mixes with that sense in the society that not much empathy has followed the action of government; when you see clearly that there is a very strong difference between the response of government to things that happened to the poorer segment of our society, compared to when it happens to people who are in the upper crust of our society, that tells you that society needs to check its priorities.
I believe that those girls who went to school should be global priorities and that our government in particular should demonstrate that no child would be left behind with terrorists. All of us must continue to call for their rescue.
Mrs. Obama was a great voice in the course of the abduction of the girls; 112 of those girls are not back. If we show that, when girls go to school and they fall into danger that we would all be there for them to the end, it would encourage parents to continue to send girls to school. We need more girls in school in the world. The future is female, and we can't achieve that without girls being given education. Terrorists must not stand in the way.
ZAKARIA: As if you don't have enough on your plate, you are now going to run for president of Nigeria?
ZAKARIA: Do you think Nigeria is ready for a female president?
EZEKWESILI: I think Nigeria should be ready for a female president because, if we get one, I -- I am determined to force the kind of politics of good governance that we deserve in our country. We have failed for too long. A major issue for me is the primacy of the human being in Nigeria. Because oil has messed up our country and corrupted our politics so badly, our leaders are often comfortable with oil money.
I want education, human capital, to be the new oil. I want everything about the new economy to be education and human capital in my country. And that ties to the issue of girls, or children, who go to school and they are now abandoned to their fate. I really believe in the primacy of the individual person. And human capital is everything for the world that we are in.
ZAKARIA: And even while you were doing this, you would still remember the girls. I noticed your...
EZEKWESILI: It would then become my responsibility. But I don't want the girls to be there one more day. I would like the girls to be back tonight.
ZAKARIA: How old are they now, the girls who are still there?
EZEKWESILI: They -- they had an average age of 18 when they were abducted, so they would be women. They would be 23, average.
ZAKARIA: And do you worry about what has happened to them in that time? That is a very vulnerable age for women.
EZEKWESILI: You know -- yes. But, you know, we must keep hope alive. One of the things that I have come to see is how resilient the human spirit can be. When the 107 of them that already returned came back, we -- you know, we imagined that they would be so broken, it would be difficult to get them back up. But gradually they are reintegrated into society; 106 of them are in school and doing reasonably well. And only one of them elected to not continue with higher education.
For me, that is the most significant thing, that these girls, having been through the kind of -- of trauma that they went through, would choose to continue to go to school. It shows that those guys did not win against our human civilization. Nobody must make us feel that knowledge is anathema. Knowledge is the basis of human progress, and we must fight any forces that say to us that knowledge is abomination.
ZAKARIA: Well, we -- best of luck on this campaign and best of luck on your campaign for the presidency.
EZEKWESILI: Thank you so very much. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Did you know that 2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements?
And what better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that landmark scientific innovation than to quiz you on your chemical knowledge. My question of the week: Which country is named for an element on the periodic table? India, Poland, Lesotho or Argentina? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is actually a movie, "Roma." The film just won the Golden Globe for best foreign film. It was richly deserved. "Roma" is a fascinating portrait of a family in Mexico, revealing all kinds of complicated social and psychological dynamics. It starts slow, but give it a chance. You will end up being deeply moved. And now for the last look. On Thursday Nicolas Maduro was sworn into
his second term as Venezuela's president, pledging on the memory of Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez to build socialism in the 21st Century.
Though the iconic sash of office is the same, not much else was. The first inauguration took place in the national assembly, but that body is now led by his opponents, so he moved the oath of office to the supreme court. That first ceremony was widely attended with leaders from as far away as Iran. This year many nations, like the United States, have deemed the regime to be illegitimate.
What was then an oil-rich if mismanaged economy is now in total free- fall. Oil accounts for 98 percent of Venezuela's exports, so as crude prices collapsed, so did the country's finances. This year the IMF predicts a staggering inflation rate of 10 million percent, up from 1.37 million percent in 2018.
Put another way, this means that the cost of food in Venezuela doubles almost monthly. For years consumers in Venezuela have faced shortages of food, medicine and even water. Nearly 90 percent of the country's citizens live in poverty and the average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds last year.
All this has led to a stampede. More than 3 million Venezuelans have led, mostly to neighboring countries. Another two are expected to leave this year. This is the real migration crisis of the Americas, and it is one we should all keep our eyes on.
The answer to my "GPS" challenge this week is D, Argentina, named for the element whose symbol is Ag, from the Latin argentum. Of course, this is the metal known as silver. If you ever feel you want to try to memorize the elements, try using Tom Lehrer's classic song to help you along.
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TOM LEHRER, SONGWRITER: (SINGING "THE ELEMENTS")
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ZAKARIA: Great stuff. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.