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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

Iran Continues to Deny Attack on Saudi Aramco; Netanyahu Faces Uncertain Future After Indecisive Election; Interview with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Climate Change; U.N. Chief Says, The World Is Waking Up To The Climate Crisis; Strangers, To Trust Or Not To Trust; To Trust Or Not To Trust, Hitler And Chamberlain. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 22, 2019 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:15]

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 coming to you live from New York.

We'll start today's show with the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure and Iran's threat of all-out war if the Islamic republic is attacked.

Then, a whistleblower cries foul because President Trump made a promise to a foreign leader. We'll dig into that story.

Also, what to make of Israel's election results. All that with a great panel.

And an interview with the secretary-general of the United Nations. On Monday he will convene the globe to call for urgent action on climate change. Will it work?

Finally, with almost eight billion humans on the planet, we're constantly interacting with people we don't know. Are we too trusting of them? Malcolm Gladwell gives us the answer.

But first here's my take. The enemy gets a vote. American military leaders are fond of using that line. General James Mattis used it so often it's sometimes attributed to him. In fact, it's a nugget of wisdom dating back to Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist who counsel that one must know the enemy. And it describes the central mistake of Donald Trump's Iran policy.

In a confidential memo that was later leaked, Britain's then ambassador to Washington wrote something that most observers knew anyway. Trump pulled out of the Iran deal largely because it had been signed by Barack Obama and with no thought to any day after strategy. But while the decision might have been made for domestic political reasons, it has unleashed serious geopolitical consequences.

The Trump administration's strategy such as it appears to be to double down on pressure on Iran, force other nations to abide by American's unilateral sanctions, and bet that this would cause Iran to capitulate.

Iran's initial reaction was actually restrained. It simply sought to bypass the U.S. It continued to adhere to the deal and made efforts to trade with other countries. This failed. Because of the dollar's centrality to the international financial system, the sanctions worked. Iran's economy suffered a big blow and its oil exports plummeted. European countries furious about the abuse of the dollar's role tried to create an alternative payments mechanism but so far it has not succeeded.

Iran's next effort has been to demonstrate that there is a cost to this kind of maximum pressure. It has harassed ships in the Persian Gulf reminding everyone that 20 percent of the world's oil supply goes through that narrow body of water. It shot down an American drone signaling to the Pentagon that it has the capacity to disrupt America's intelligence and reconnaissance in the region.

And now Tehran seems to be behind the precision attack on Saudi Arabia's main oil processing plants. A strike effective enough that it initially shut down half of Saudi oil production. The message is clear, hostilities with Iran would spill over throughout the Middle East and disrupt global oil supplies.

The enemy voted, and its behavior was the opposite of what the Trump administration expected. Maximum pressure on Iran did not moderate its behavior or make it come crawling back to the table. Instead it provoked Iran to retaliate. The status quo of sanctions is hard enough on Tehran that it must feel it has less to lose by acting provocatively, even dangerously.

There is also the reality of domestic politics within the Islamic republic. The Iran deal was unpopular with hard liners in the U.S. but it was also unpopular with hard liners in Tehran. They predicted that Washington would renege on its promises. Once Trump pulled out of the deal, they claimed vindication.

There is a line that Jim Mattis has in fact coined and it's about allies. "Nations with allies thrive and nations without allies wither." It is striking that America embarked on this new risky strategy toward Iran with support from few allies. Trump treats European allies poorly to begin with. It appears to be the main reason Mattis resigned as secretary of Defense. They too have a vote. And far from helping they are actively seeking to thwart American's policies towards Iran.

In the "Art of War," Sun Tzu writes that victory is only possible with a leader who knows when to pick his battles and is prepared.

[10:05:03]

Defeat is all but guaranteed with a leader who is reckless, mercurial and prideful. Timely analysis from the Sixth Century B.C.

For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started. Let's bring in today's panel. There is much to discuss. Anne-Marie

Slaughter was the director of Policy Planning at the State Department. She's now president and CEO of the think tank New America. Robin Wright is a contributing writer for the "New Yorker." She's one of the world's foremost reporters on the Middle East. And Martin Indyk has been U.S. ambassador to Israel twice. He is now a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Before we get to Iran, Anne-Marie, let me just ask you. The whistleblower Ukraine scandal issue, how should we think about it? The argument is that Donald Trump would try to pressure the incoming president of Ukraine to investigate supposed corruption of Joe Biden's son. He says he did nothing wrong and in fact the investigation should be about the actual corruption of Joe Biden's son or the alleged corruption, I should say, sorry. What's -- you know, what the bottom line?

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NEW AMERICA: So, Fareed, good journalists should be following the evidence and not the spin, right? There is no evidence, no evidence has been corroborated any anywhere that Biden actually intervened on behalf of his son. There is evidence that Hunter Biden has done things that are embarrassing to the vice president. That's an old story when we talk about the kids of presidents and candidates, and indeed it's true of President Trump as well.

There is evidence or there appears to be evidence from an inside whistleblower, not a partisan on the campaign trail, but an inside whistleblower that Trump in fact asked a foreign government to investigate one of his political opponents. That, if true, is inviting a foreign government to intervene in our domestic politics on behalf of the president. That is a very serious offense. But that's what the story should be. We should follow that evidence and not give credence to an effort to then bring Hunter Biden into everything.

ZAKARIA: All right. We're going to move on because we have so many things to talk about.

Robin, you have some new reporting on U.S. retaliation for the Iran or the strikes on Saudi Arabia that many are attributing to Iran. What has the U.S. done? And do you think it will be enough? Or is the U.S. thinking it has to do more to push back against Iran?

ROBIN WRIGHT, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: I think the U.S. is considering a whole range of options. But we know -- I know from sources that the U.S. did strike a cyberattack on Friday first reported by NetBlocks. My sources confirmed that this happened. But it's happened -- this is not the first time the United States did this in the aftermath of the Iranians shooting down the U.S. drone as well. And this has become a regular pattern. Cyber warfare happens much more than any of us know because it's invisible.

But the administration at the U.N. this week is also going to push very hard to build this coalition, maritime coalition that will protect tankers but also will have a major naval deployment around Iran that will send a signal, you know, we're watching. We'll act. Don't mess around with us again. But there are other things going on. There is still -- the door is still tiny bit ajar on a diplomatic initiative, trying to get the presidents of Iran and the United States together for the first time since the 1979 Revolution.

The supreme leader said this week that talks at any level were off the table unless the United States lifted sanctions and went back to some form of nuclear agreement. There is an idea on the table that would be permanent ban on nuclear weapons in Iran in exchange for a permanent lifting of sanctions that would have to be codified by the parliaments -- the legislatures in both countries.

ZAKARIA: Martin, it feels like, somebody put it to me this way over the weekend, the Trump administration has effectively put Iran in a box with these sanctions that are really strangling the Iranian economy. But it's also put itself in a box because it now has to respond. It's given Iran nothing, no option but to -- or an incentive to act in this way. But now it has to respond in some way.

MARTIN INDYK, FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think, Fareed, we're actually at a turning point in terms of U.S. policy in the Middle East as manifested in the Trump tweet that it's been a long time coming.

[10:10:09]

He said in one of his tweets that the United States no longer needs Middle Eastern oil. That is correct. That is as a result of the natural gas fracking revolution in the United States. We are the largest oil producer in the world today. So we no longer have a vital interest, one in which American soldiers should die for the protection of American interest in terms of oil flow from the Gulf. That's been coming a long time. That was Obama's view, too.

But Trump now has reinforced. In the process he has sent a signal to Iraq and to Saudi Arabia that the United States cannot be relied on in the same way as in the past to defend Saudi Arabia. In fact, he even tweeted that they should pay. They should do it. We will support them, and they should pay. It's part of his overall approach of sub- contract. But if that's what he's going to do, then he cannot -- exactly as you say, he's in a corner.

If he keeps on upping the pressure with more sanctions, the Iranians will keep on retaliating especially because they see now that he will not use force against them. And therefore he has to decide now, maximum pressure isn't working, it's only driving him into a situation where he has to choose between a retaliation that he doesn't want to undertake, military retaliation, or capitulation to Iranian demand.

So he needs to get back to the negotiating table, he needs to use the sanctions as leverage, he needs to offer waivers in order to get back to the table, and at the same time do these kinds of disavowable acts that make it clear to the Iranians that there is a price to be paid.

ZAKARIA: Robin, you covered the Iran-Iraq war. You've talked to people like Foreign Ministers Zarif many times this year. Would the Iranians be willing to give Trump some additional concessions so that he could claim victory and say, I got a better deal than Obama?

WRIGHT: I actually think the Iranians recognize that Trump doesn't want to use force and that he would like a deal and that there may be more guarantees in turn for Iran out of this because to lift sanctions permanently Trump would have to go to Congress and make sure that the next president doesn't turn around and undo whatever was agreed under President Trump. They're looking for some kind of permanent arrangement.

And so I think there is an incentive still for both sides. But how do you do that after 40 years? The president of France has been instrumental in trying to get the two sides together. Events over the past week has seemed to derail that. But the fact is nobody is ruling out diplomacy yet.

ZAKARIA: Ann-Marie, 30 seconds. It doesn't seem like that this has been planned out by the Trump administration. In other words, they're ratcheting up pressure on Iran but it doesn't seem as though they know what they want.

SLAUGHTER: No. They don't have a strategy for actually getting a better deal. They pulled out of the deal and now I keep thinking this is the Cuban missile crisis where Dean Russ said, we're eyeball to eyeball and the other guy just blinked. That's what the Iranians are saying. And we don't -- as Martin said, we don't have any way of getting out of that except by doing things we don't want to do.

ZAKARIA: All right. When we come back, Israel, what is coming for Bibi Netanyahu next? Will he remain prime minister or face prosecution?

I'll ask Martin Indyk, the only person to have served twice as U.S. ambassador to Israel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:17:03]

ZAKARIA: And we are back with Anne-Marie Slaughter, Robin Wright, and Martin Indyk.

Martin, what is going to happen in Israel?

INDYK: It's complicated.

(LAUGHTER)

INDYK: The magic number is 61. That's the majority of the seats in the Knesset which somebody needs to be able to pull together in order to form a government. In this phase of government formation, the president, Reuven Rivlin, has to decide who will get the first chance to form the government, whether it will be Benny Gantz, the leader of the main opposition party, or Prime Minister Netanyahu.

It looks today as if Gantz will get the nod because today the Joint Arab List, which is the third largest party, they got 13 seats, came out and said they would tell the president that they would support Gantz if he tried to form a government.

ZAKARIA: This is the first time they have actively been willing to participate in government.

INDYK: Indeed. And this is a kind of revolution in terms of the role of Israel's Arab citizens and their representatives in terms of coming into the mainstream Israel politics in a responsible way. And Benny Gantz has kind of welcomed them in as opposed to Netanyahu's incitement of them beforehand and his attempt to intimidate them boomeranged. They came out in larger numbers about three more seats than last time in April and helped to reduce his chances of forming a government.

So now that the chance, I think, will go to Gantz. Can he put together a government? He has with Arab support whether inside his government or outside, probably outside, 57. So he's four seats short. The man who has the swing vote is the man from Moldova.

(LAUGHTER)

INDYK: Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Evet Lieberman, and he has eight seats, and he said he will only support a national unity government. Gantz has said yes, national unity government with the Likud but not with Netanyahu. So it's a kind of a "Game of Thrones." Lieberman is the Kingslayer and we have to remember it's not over until the man from Moldova sings.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAKARIA: Robin, does it matter that Donald Trump seemed to distance himself from Bibi saying our relationship is with Israel, implying not with any individual?

WRIGHT: It was stunning that he would so quickly come out and say something that -- considering that these men are close and have been for decades that this is a fundamental, personal and political diplomatic relationship, and that Trump seems willing to move on.

The big question, of course, is what happens with the Trump peace plan. The administration -- remember, the president said, well, this is going to be so much easier than anybody else thinks. And here we are. We're still waiting. And the question is, does it have any traction afterwards.

What does the president do next in trying to cement this? I mean, one of the great tragedies is we're now more than a quarter century since the last real big peace effort, and we're nowhere closer.

[10:20:04]

The road maps, all the plans are out the window, and it's lost the kind of momentum that it had.

ZAKARIA: Before we go, Anne-Marie, I have to ask you. I noticed Elizabeth Warren is surging everywhere. And it occurred to me since you were here, you were on the Harvard Law school faculty with Elizabeth Warren. In fact you're in the faculty that hired her.

SLAUGHTER: Yes.

ZAKARIA: What do you make of it and what do you think -- you know, what are her chances?

SLAUGHTER: Well, the thing to know about her time at Harvard Law School, she was one of the best teachers. She was a spectacular teacher because she can explain very complicated things to a wide range of people which serves her well now. She was also somebody who didn't play the academic game of law and economics theory. She did empirical work about bankruptcy.

So if I look back on what she was like as a colleague, she really was focused on ordinary people and what happened to them even in an environment that privileged, fancy models, economic models. So I see a lot that is helping her on the stump right now.

ZAKARIA: And notice she -- after this Ukraine business, and I should point out by the way there is no evidence that Hunter Biden broke any laws, on the one hand there is an argument that Trump did -- you know, pressured a government on the other, she called for his impeachment.

SLAUGHTER: She has called for his impeachment early on. She said the Constitution requires it. It's not about politics. It's about law. Since then she doesn't talk about Trump. She talks about her vision for the country. This incident meant she again said yes, we need to impeach but then very quickly pivoted back.

I think the Democrats can take a lesson from that. She's doing well. She's talking about a positive vision for the country.

ZAKARIA: Thank you all. Fascinating conversation.

Next on GPS, the secretary-general of the U.N. Antonio Guterres on why he thinks the world is ready finally to act on climate change.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:26:15]

ZAKARIA: The world came out in force on Friday in climate strikes. The protesters young and old were angry and determined to up end the status quo.

On Monday United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene world leaders, business leaders, civic leaders to press for urgent action on what the U.N. is calling the global climate emergency. Noticeably absent will be Donald Trump. Then on Tuesday the so-called high-level general debate begins where world leaders, including this time Donald Trump, will offer a piece of their minds.

All of that action will happen in the General Assembly room where I sat down with the secretary-general. Before his appointment as secretary-general, Guterres served as prime minister of Portugal and went on to be the U.N.'s high commissioner for refugees. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Mr. Secretary-General, thank you so much for doing this.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: It's a great pleasure to be here.

ZAKARIA: People have been trying to get the world to take the climate crisis seriously for a while now. And honestly, it doesn't seem to really work. Why do you think you will success when others have failed?

GUTERRES: Because I think things are changing very quickly. Climate change was perceived as a problem for the end of the century. But tomorrow it is more of the realities proving that climate change is a problem today. And it's not only a question of glaciers melting or the bleaching of corals, it's becoming a serious problem with terrible storms being more intense, more frequent and with more devastating consequences.

Not only in the global (INAUDIBLE) but here in the United States. And we see public health problems. According to the World Health Organization, the combination of climate change and evolution kills seven million per year. We see heat waves killing people in northern Europe. We see tropical diseases going north. So, more and more people are feeling that climate change is impacting on them today, and this is changing public opinions.

You have seen in the results of the European elections how climate change all of a sudden became the issue. One year before it was migration. Last time in the European elections was climate change. And I saw recently a poll here in the West that is overwhelming majority of American citizens have considered climate change is indeed a very meaningful threat, and that it requires solid government action. So I think things are changing.

The public opinion is waking up. The news is making fantastic campaigns and the business community is starting to work seriously. Central banks are including climate change risks. We see rating agencies including climate change risks. We see more and more big asset managers representing trillions of dollars divesting from fossil fuels. And it is clear for me that in a civil society, in the business community, in cities, in states and with the general public, there is more and more discussions this is a threat now.

And obviously governments seem to follow public opinions as we all know. Governments have to follow society. And so I'm starting to see governments also understanding that they need to act. We still have emissions growing. We are still not there. Climate change is running faster than what we are. But for the first time I'm seeing more and more countries accepting that they have to be carbon neutral in 2050.

I have seen more and more countries giving full priority to renewable energy, phasing out coal. Not everywhere. We still have a very serious coal problem especially in Asia. But I think that's the momentum is being gained, and I'm hopeful that we will be able to accelerate this momentum in the next decade.

[10:30:05]

And it's vital, because the next decade is the take it or leave it. Either we do it in the next decade or it will be irreversible to have a catastrophic situation at the end of the century.

ZAKARIA: You mentioned coal in Asia. And it seems to me that, in some ways, is the single biggest piece of this that doesn't seem to be going away. Countries like India, even China, which is making some strides on green technology, they still use an enormous amount of coal to power their -- you know, to produce electricity. And coal is very cheap and very dirty. Do you get a sense in your conversations with Asian leaders that there is any hope that this will change?

GUTTERES: Yes. We are discussing seriously that question and I hope this will a change. And the main reason why this will change is that renewables are becoming cheaper than coal. Coal is easier to do. You can have a turnkey power plant easily built, renewables, special solar, all those seem to require a little more planning, more capacity to build, et cetera, but it cheap to store.

ZAKARIA: Let's be honest. Until you can find a way to store it in the night, and when it's not --

GUTTERES: But, again, if you have a combination. I mean, my country, Portugal, has a high percentage of renewables, still with some fossil fuels, but, again, the combination makes that -- if you have an adequate distribution, you can leave with still a very meaningful increase of renewables mainly in Asia without undermining that capacity.

And on the other hand, the storage capacity is also improving technologically very quickly. And we believe it will be a solution very soon.

ZAKARIA: I saw a poll recently of 28 countries. I think it was asking how many people believed in climate change. The United States had the largest number of people who did not believe in climate change. The Trump administration is moving in ways to undo some of the things that the United States has done, particularly on car efficiency standards. How much of a problem is it that the world's leading power has a government right now that is actively trying to reverse some of the issues that have been resolved?

GUTTERES: It is a problem. But governments have less and less influence in countries as a whole. What we see in the U.S., even if it's probably the country where you have a bigger number of people disbelieving, there is already a solid majority believing. And it is in the U.S. that we see a very interesting development in the business community. It is in the U.S. that we see states. They will be present in our summits. The cities, they will be present in our summit. The companies and the public opinion more and more putting pressure in relation to the needs for the U.S. also to give a positive contribution to climate action. So my belief is that all these things, of course, sometimes take time. The influence on public opinions in government takes time. But I'm optimistic about the future contribution of U.S. to climate action.

ZAKARIA: Mr. Secretary General, a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much.

GUTTERES: A pleasure. Thank you very much too.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, we teach our kids not to trust strangers. Don't talk to them. Don't take candy from them. But once we become grown-ups, are we too trusting of strangers?

When we come back, I'll talk to Malcolm Gladwell, who has a great new book on the subject.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:35:00]

ZAKARIA: Malcolm Gladwell was a relatively obscure writer for The New Yorker when in the year 2000, he published his first book, The Tipping Point. Since then, there has been Blank, Outliers, What the Dog Saw and David and Goliath, All New York Times Best Sellers, most of them at number one. Now, he has a fascinating new book out. This one is called Talking to Strangers, what we should know about the people we don't know.

Welcome, Malcolm.

MALCOLM GLADWELL, AUTHOR, TALKING TO STRANGERS: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: The core of this book is about how we encounter people and whether we trust them and don't trust them.

GLADWELL: Yes. It is -- it is about the strategies we use to make sense of strangers. You know, if you think about this from a kind of evolutionary perspective, we evolved in intimate groups, family groups, ethnic groups where all the strategies we use to communicate with each other were carried out and honed on people who we had a great deal of history with and more than history, intimacy with.

It's only in the last couple of hundred years, a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of our time on this planet, that we have been forced into regular communication with people outside those groups. And so we are taking strategies honed in one context and using them in another. And the argument of the book is the strategies don't work or they don't work well when they're transferred from affinity groups and intimate groups to people who we -- with whom we have no history or nothing particularly in common.

ZAKARIA: And is the core issue that you are instinctively trusting of groups within your small family-type setting and when you apply that to a particular group, you can get food very often.

GLADWELL: Yes. So this is an idea -- it's one of the core ideas in the book and that comes from a really brilliant psychologist named Tim Levine at the University of Alabama. And he's trying to answer the question of, from an evolutionary standpoint, why are we so easily fooled? It doesn't make any sense.

You would think that, over time, evolution would have favored people who were good at detecting lies because they would have an advantage. And Levine says, actually, no, that's wrong, that people who have an advantage of an evolutionary standpoint are those who trust implicitly because trusting implicitly allows you to have far more efficient communication. It allows you to build organizations. It allows you to develop social rituals and functions and all kinds of things.

If I start from the premise that you, Fareed, are who you say you are, we can very quickly set in motion a chain of productive events.

[10:40:04]

If my thought is, I don't know, is your name really Fareed? Did you really go to Yale? Is this CNN? I don't know. You would let me in here and you're blind (ph). I mean, that just side tracks us.

So we are -- were you going to say something?

ZAKARIA: Yes. But, presumably, that trusting instinct has the danger that you get fooled. And is the argument that it's a price worth paying because every now and then, you'll get food. But in the grand scheme of things, by trusting people, you'll get more done.

GLADWELL: Exactly. That is the argument. That is Levine's argument. That is my argument.

And I don't think we're aware of this trade off. And I think every now and again, we get in trouble when we're fooled and we think that being fooled is somehow a sign that we are negligent or incompetent. And we overreact and we build institutions that don't trust anymore. We give up on the thing that made us human.

So I have a chapter in my book, for example, on the Penn State case. Jerry Sandusky was a football coach at Penn State who was found to be a serial child molester. And he was convicted and jailed.

But then prosecutors started going after people at the university and convicted the athletic director, vice president of finance and went after the president of the university, a guy named Graham Spanier, saying that they were implicated in this because they should have known that he was -- they should have acted on these minor suspicions. They should have known he was a child molester.

I feel incredibly strongly that that's absolutely the wrong -- that was a travesty of justice to go after the administration. You can't ask people. We should be celebrating people in positions of authority for the fact they build trusting communities, and we should accept the fact that once in a generation, one -- some university president or some other institution head is going to be misled, but that's the -- do you really want the opposite? Do you really want to have running your universities or your schools or your, you know, companies people who are so paranoid that they would suspect the worst of their employees? No.

ZAKARIA: Up next, more with Malcolm Gladwell. He will answer the question, should you have trusted Adolph Hitler? Don't miss it when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:00]

ZAKARIA: It was 81 years ago this month that Britain's prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, flew to Munich where he signed a non- aggression pact with Adolph Hitler and along with the other major European powers accepted the Munich agreement, which allowed Germany to take a swath of Czechoslovakian territory.

On Chamberlain's return to Britain, he declared he had secured peace for our time. We know how that ended.

Malcolm Gladwell discusses this history in his new book, Talking to Strangers, What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know. He is here with me now.

Neville Chamberlain, at core, signed the treaty he did, the Munich Accord, with Hitler because he trusted him. He trusted that Hitler would keep his word and that he was not going to take over anymore of Czechoslovakia, he was not going to invade Poland, he was not going to do anything else. Was Chamberlain right to be trusting?

GLADWELL: He was wrong to base his judgment of Adolph Hitler on a face-to-face encounter. The paradox of Chamberlain and Hitler is the people who got Hitler right were the ones who never met him and the people that got him wrong were the ones who did spend time with him.

I am very interested in how we could be led astray by face-to-face encounters. So that's a perfect story my purposes that Chamberlain should have stayed home and read Mein Kampf, right? It probably of evidence about Hitler's intentions.

And the idea -- the problem with going to visit him, as Chamberlain did, is not that you can't gather information from a face-to-face encounter, but when you do -- when you meet a mesmerizing and charismatic man as Hitler face-to-face, you run the risk of overvaluing whatever information you get from that encounter and discounting the really useful hard evidence about the man's stated intentions and previous behavior, right?

So people like Churchill back home in England, (INAUDIBLE) I didn't realize until I read the book. Churchill never met Hitler, ever. Stalin never met Hitler. FDR never met Hitler. The only western leader to meet Hitler, well, the French leader did, and was William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Canadian prime minister, who met him and loved him. He thought he was like this kind of great historic (INAUDIBLE) not a good idea to meet Hitler.

ZAKARIA: But let me ask a question about, particularly, Chamberlain, because you do talk about this a little bit, which is was it also that he wanted to trust him? Well, people forget about Chamberlain. This was a point at which World War I had just happened 15 years ago. Europe was devastated. Britain had been totally devastated. It was very weak. It didn't have the capacity to rearm in a short period.

So, in a sense, this was sort of you were hoping that you could sign a peace deal so that you didn't have to go through the incredibly wrenching process of telling your country, having sent them out to war where they got slaughtered, we're going to have to do it again.

And not to make the analogy too strongly but, you know, when you see President Trump wanting to believe that Kim Jong-un is going to give him a deal, there is -- some trust seems to be born from the idea that you want this to be true.

GLADWELL: I think that's an interesting point, and I think that's completely consistent with Levine's theory, which is why do we trust. We trust because, legitimately, that trust allows things to move a lot more smoothly than they would otherwise and efficiently than they would otherwise.

So, absolutely, it's a part of the psychology and of George Bush saying, I looked Putin in the eye and said this is a man -- I saw into his soul and said this is a man who can be trusted.

All of them are both -- they are demonstrating this downside to our central trusting nature.

[10:50:04]

They are showing how bad we are at decoding face-to-face encounters. And they are also -- they are expressing this correct notion that if I trust you and it works out, things are going to be so much easier. You're right. Chamberlain desperately wants this thing just to go away, right?

He's not even interested in -- he had never flown. Before he took -- he got in a plane to go and see Hitler, he had never flown in a plane. You realize when you read that like how kind of Chamberlain is this very kind of parochial small town English figure. You know, he's not a man of the world. He's a guy who've -- he's one whose interests is -- his interest is in domestic politics.

But he's not -- this whole thing out there is confusing to him and overwhelming. And he just wants to sit down with Hitler and say, can you sign a paper and have it go away? It's a kind of heart-breaking moment.

ZAKARIA: Do you get duped?

GLADWELL: Of course. But I'm very trusting. I come from a very trusting family. I'm a high trust guy and not a paranoid suspicious person.

ZAKARIA: Malcolm Gladwell, a pleasure to have you on.

GLADWELL: Thank you, Fareed. ZAKARIA: And we will be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:55:00]

ZAKARIA: Governments have struggled to find effective remedies for some unexpected problems caused by social media. It brings me to my question this week, what would a French bill fine social media companies for hosting on their platforms? Was it vaping content, pornography, hateful or ads aimed at children?

Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

My book of the week is Talking to Strangers. I know, I know, some of you will say Malcolm Gladwell's books have a formula. You thought things work this way but, surprise, they don't.

I would say to you, it's a very good formula, and he executes it so well, making this book compulsively readable and insightful. Like all of his work, agree or not, it will make you think.

The answer to my GPS challenge this week is, C, a bill awaiting a vote in the upper house of France's parliament would fine social media platforms up to 4 percent of their global revenues for failing to remove hateful content within 24 hours of a user flagging the post, according to The New York Times. Reuters reports the bill is intended to penalize companies for not preventing material like the Christchurch shooter's rampage live streamed on Facebook as well as more (INAUDIBLE) forms of hate from spreading with impunity.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.

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