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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
China's Big Test: The Coronavirus Outbreak; Donald Trump Had An Anti-Immigration Agenda From The Very Beginning; Kim Ghattas: The Veil Spread As The Saudis & Iranians Exported Fundamentalist Islam; Kim Ghattas: After The Shah Overthrow, The Saudis Worked To Get The Clerics On Their Side; Joseph Nye: The Problem With Donald Trump Is He Sees Everything In The Short Term; Locusts Infestation Has Afflicted Large Swathes Of East Africa In Recent Weeks. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 16, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, will the coronavirus outbreak get worse soon? The top global health organization says even it doesn't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's way too early to try to predict the beginning, the middle, or the end of this epidemic.
ZAKARIA: How prepared is America if it spreads here? And what does it mean for China under Xi? I have an expert panel to talk about it all.
Also the Middle East today is stuck in a new cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Will that cold war turn hot? I'll talk to veteran Middle East reporter Kim Ghattas who has a new book out about it.
And while all eyes were on Iowa, the White House expanded Trump's travel ban to six more nations. This is America's loss. And I will explain to you why.
ZAKARIA: But first, here is my take. The prospect of Bernie Sanders becoming the Democratic nominee has startled many people who worry that his brand of Democratic socialism won't sell and would pave the way for a second Trump term. This might well be true, but surely the more important question is not whether his programs would be popular but whether in fact they're good programs.
It's time to stop grading Bernie Sanders on a curve and start asking what the country would look like if he were to become president. Let's consider the topic that he argues is the single greatest challenge facing America and a global emergency -- climate change. Sanders wants to commit the United States to achieving 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030. This is a laudable though ambitious goal. The question is how will he go about meeting it.
U.S. carbon emissions fell almost 15 percent from 2005 to 2016. According to Carbon Brief, the single largest cause for that was the switch from coal-fired power plants to natural gas ones, 33 percent of the reduction. The adoption of solar power, by contrast, accounted for just 3 percent. Nevertheless, Bernie Sanders is opposed to natural gas. He opposes all new fracking and he seeks to ban it nationwide within five years. He also intends to shut down rapidly all gas plants.
Now, wind and solar account for less than 5 percent of U.S. energy consumption. So his plan would require an exponential jump in renewables in just a few years. And even if that happened, it would be extremely difficult to replace gas as a source for electricity. You see, solar and wind are intermittent sources so they require a backup source in order to provide electricity to homes, offices, and factories 24/7.
Sanders has a solution -- storage. And if we had the means to store electricity on a massive scale, such as in batteries, there would be no longer need for backup power. But we are not even close to having the kind of storage capacity we would need to make this work. One example, the Clean Air Task Force calculated that just for California to reach 100 percent electricity from renewables, it would need 36.3 million megawatt hours of energy storage. The whole state currently has just 150,000 megawatt hours of storage.
Now, there is another path to clean energy, a source that has zero carbon emissions and provides a continuous flow of electricity -- nuclear power. It generates about 20 percent of the electricity in the U.S. and a majority of power in France and a large portion in Sweden, two countries with carbon emission rates that are among the lowest per person in the industrialized world. But Bernie Sanders opposes nuclear power. In fact he plans to shut down all America's nuclear power plants within 10 years.
Fears about nuclear power are largely based on emotional reactions to a few high-profile accidents that have taken place over the last few decades. Such anxiety ignores the millions of people who die each year due to fossil fuels. According to one study, nuclear energy is 250 times safer than oil and over 300 times safer than coal.
Let me be clear. Natural gas and nuclear power have drawbacks and costs. There is no perfect energy solution on hand today. But I believe that we do in fact face a global emergency, and we need every means possible to reduce carbon emissions now.
The Sanders green energy plan is magical thinking. It presumes that we can reduce emissions in an electricity and transport to zero in 10 years while simultaneously shutting down the only two low emissions, always-available sources of power that collectively provide nearly 60 percent of America's electricity today.
And that makes me wonder. Is the real problem that Bernie Sanders will lose or that he might win?
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
President Xi Jinping said on Friday that the coronavirus outbreak is a big test for China. That may be the understatement of the year so far. The question that remains to be answered is, will China pass that test?
Let me bring in my panel. Anna Fifield is "The Washington Post" Beijing bureau chief, Rana Foroohar is a global business columnist and associate editor of "The Financial Times" and she's a CNN global economic analyst, And Dr. Colleen Kraft is an infectious disease specialist at Emory University School of Medicine.
Anna, let me start with you. What does it feel like on the ground there this week compared to last week compared to the week before?
ANNA FIFIELD, BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, well, it feels quite strange this weekend, all of the previous weeks as well. There hasn't been really that noticeable a difference. It's incredible to see this country of almost 1.4 billion people essentially shut its doors. So when I've been traveling around the country and this week around Beijing, you see that shops, restaurants, everything is closed.
There's hardly any traffic on the streets. 70,000 movie theaters are still closed despite this call for everybody to go back to work this week in areas that have not been particularly badly hit by the virus. So it's still very much a country on shutdown, a country that's trying to -- struggling to contain this virus from spreading.
ZAKARIA: Anna, can I ask you about that movie theater point, because the government has asked people to go back to work everywhere, as far as I understand, other than Hubei province. What does it tell us about China that the government doesn't seem to have the power to reopen movie theaters? I mean, this is the real strange market Leninism of China, is it not?
FIFIELD: Yes. Well, the rules are a little bit blurry in some places and that public gatherings are still banned, and so movie theaters fall into that. Tiananmen Square, I drove through this week, is empty. Any places where people gather is still supposed to be banned. But we see it happening in all sorts of parts of the country, where factories are supposed to be reopening but migrant workers are stuck in their country -- in their home towns in the countryside.
They haven't been able to get back to work. So there are many hurdles to trying to kind of resume some sense of normality here. The government is extremely concerned about the economic impact of this virus, and is almost trying to will the country out of this outbreak.
ZAKARIA: Doctor Kraft, from what you can tell, is it sensible for the Chinese government to start trying to get people to get back to work in a normalcy and such, or should there still be this sense of almost a kind of national quarantine? DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, EMORY UNIVERSITY
HOSPITAL: I think it's hard to tell because we don't know how many -- how transmissible this disease is. And so it's unclear if the closing down the shops and everything that they've been doing, if that's really preventing this from getting larger, or if it's actually not making any difference, if it was already going to sort of end on its own.
ZAKARIA: But when you look at the number of cases abroad, and things like that, you know, compared to SARS, compared to other things, what do you -- are there tentative conclusions you can draw?
KRAFT: I think it's hard at this time. We are very early, much like we were in the pandemic h1n1 of 2009 where we're trying to really understand what the mortality rate is from this, what the transmissibility is from this. We do know that the other two severe coronaviruses that have happened in this decade, which are SARS and MERS, this has far outstripped the number of cases that we have had.
So, you know, we're over 60,000 cases. For MERS there was only a total of almost 3,000 cases confirmed. And so right now I think we're still in the high transmission of this outbreak. And I think it's important for us to make sure that this doesn't continue to spread dramatically.
ZAKARIA: Rana, what is your sense of how the Chinese government will handle the concern they have that this is going to cause a major economic hit?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, I think they're going to throw as much economic stimulus at this, monetary and fiscal, as we've ever seen. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised, if you don't see this stemmed quickly, I wouldn't be surprised if you see an even bigger amount of stimulus than we did post-2008 financial crisis.
There is a lot of fear and there's fear in the global economy, too. And I think that the key point there is that China is now the single biggest portion of global growth, right? So if you go back to SARS and that epidemic, it was a much smaller part of the global economy. Now you have the Chinese consumer and Chinese supply chains really crucial to overall global growth. So I think there's a lot of pressure from many places to stem this.
ZAKARIA: But people say -- point out that the Chinese already have this problem of having accumulated a lot of debt in the process of --
FOROOHAR: Hundred percent.
ZAKARIA: -- stimulating the economy post the financial crisis.
FOROOHAR: Yes, and it brings up the question that, you know, America is not the only place that hasn't gotten its act together economically in a fundamental way since the crisis. You know nothing really changed. The U.S. is still built on debt, China is very much built on debt particularly at the provincial level, and yet we're seeing Beijing now come and tell the provincial government, spend whatever you need, keep the spigot flowing. And we are going to have a debt bubble later on. A bigger one than we do now.
ZAKARIA: Wow. Stay with us. Next on GPS, the potential impact of the coronavirus on America and the rest of the world, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Anna Fifield in Beijing, Rana Foroohar here with me in New York, and Colleen Kraft in Atlanta.
Anna, can you imagine a Western country being able to do the kind of -- to take the kind of measures that the Chinese government has? I mean, I'm imagining, can you imagine New York or Los Angeles being shut down the way Chinese cities have been shut down?
FIFIELD: Yes. Absolutely not. There are tens of millions of people in China now who are confined to their homes. They're allowed one person in each home, allowed to go out every second or third day to buy groceries, but that's it. People have been stuck in their homes for several weeks now. Across Hubei Province, the epicenter of this virus, but also across other provinces that have been badly hit.
And people have kind of begrudgingly -- they're frustrated, they're border, but they begrudgingly say, you know, this is what has to be done to stop the virus from spreading and some people I've spoken to who have been in lockdown have said, you know, what can we do, this is what needs to be done.
But certainly I think that the Chinese government, the lesson that they will probably take away from this whole outbreak is that their draconian measures, their surveillance system, their facial recognition cameras, all of that was the right thing to do. It is because of this technology that they've been able to monitor people's movements, to find out where they are, to call them in. So I'm sure in some ways the Communist Party will feel vindicated for keeping such close tabs on their population.
ZAKARIA: Dr. Kraft, do you think that the United States from a public health point of view is prepared for one of these virus outbreaks?
KRAFT: We have been preparing since this was really even announced or was a concern in China. I think that we at the individual health care level, and then also coordinating federally and in our state health departments, we've seen a ramp-up that has been unlike any the other. I would say this is quite different and quite more quick than it was in the 2009 pandemic, h1n1. We've really seen even just locally here in Georgia, our Department of Public Health has been very intertwined with all of the people that we have been monitoring and also been testing with them.
And so I think that we have certainly tried our best to be as proactive and as engaged and really working together based on some of the principles we've learned through pandemic h1n1, through even Ebola five years ago and then also other things that have come sporadically through the United States.
ZAKARIA: You've written a lot of really fascinating stuff on the U.S. economy and its own weaknesses anyway. Describe where you think the U.S. economy is. Could this be -- you know, the slowdown of growth in China, America's, you know, it's a huge trading partner for the U.S., could this be the thing that brings American growth down?
FOROOHAR: I think it's possible. There are two big factors in the global economy right now. One, as ever, are central banks. You know, they're keeping interest rates low. How much more money can they pump in? We know that that's been a big reason that markets have stayed up in the U.S. and that's -- there's been a sort of animal spirits and growth here at home.
In China, I think that what you're seeing is two things. The effect of the Chinese consumer already having a hit on retail companies, luxury products, companies like Apple or even companies like Qualcomm that are part of the big tech supply chain which are so important in China. And that's where I think you're going to see a more interesting and complex interaction with decoupling, right?
Because even before this virus, the U.S. and China and potentially Europe were sort of moving into their own poles potentially with different supply chains. I think you're going to see U.S. companies looking very carefully at their supply chains in China, how quickly can they move things, what can be moved. We're really going to see the rubber hitting the road in that debate.
ZAKARIA: And do you think, you know, as a result of all this overall growth, I mean, everyone is thinking --
FOROOHAR: Where is it going to be?
ZAKARIA: -- about this because, you know, we're up in election season.
ZAKARIA: Could you see growth slow down in the U.S.?
FOROOHAR: I think there's two scenarios. One, if the virus continues for many more months and isn't stemmed, then yes, I think you are going to see certainly maybe half a percentage point being shaved off the U.S. If you start to get below 2 percent then you start to get into something if not a recession, that feels like a recession. What happens in November, if that's the case?
Now there's a flip side which is that if the virus were contained very quickly you could actually see by November an uptick in demand because there's going to be a lot of pent-up demand, inventories, people will be restocking. So I think the jury is very much out on how this is going to affect the U.S. particularly in the election cycle.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating, makes the election all the more of a cliffhanger. Thank you all very much. Fascinating conversation. We will have to
come back to you.
Next on GPS, you may have missed an important development in recent weeks. But the Trump administration extended its travel ban to six more countries. I will explain you to why it is particularly bad policy with respect to one country in particular, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Late last month President Trump expanded his travel ban to six more countries effective later this week. The new countries include Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and four African nations. One of those is the continent's largest economy and its most populous country, Nigeria.
Officials justify the ban on the basis of national security concerns. As "The Washington Post" reported, they say that each country has gaps in its security protocols surrounding travel that expose the United States to terror threats. But that argument doesn't really make sense. As the Cato Institute found, no one born in Nigeria, Myanmar, Tanzania, or Eritrea, four of the countries, have been responsible for a single terrorist-related death on American soil between 1975 and 2017.
And if the administration were really worried about lax security, it would ban all visas from these countries. But it's only targeting permanent immigrant visas, leaving temporary visas from those countries untouched, which suggests that something else is going on here.
Last year, when Trump unveiled a new immigration plan, White House aides told "The Washington Post" that Trump wanted high skilled, well- educated, English-speaking immigrants who could assimilate easily and give back to the country. That's an understandable wish list for any world leader. But if that's what Trump wants, he should know that Nigerian immigrants, who make up the largest group of Sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States as of 2017, check all those boxes.
They are some of the most educated immigrants in America. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 59 percent of Nigerian immigrants aged 25 or older in the U.S. hold at least a bachelor's degree. That is nearly double the proportion for Americans born in the U.S. It is also more than the proportion for immigrants from South Korea, China, Britain, and Germany.
And Nigerian immigrants tend to work high skills jobs. 54 percent of them are in largely white-collar positions in management, business, science and the arts, compared to just 39 percent of people born in the U.S. That means of course they have significant spending power. According to a new report by the New American Economy Research Fund, in 2018, Nigerian immigrants in the United States made more than $14 billion and paid more than $4 billion in taxes. And the Nigerian diaspora around the world sent back almost $24
billion in remittances in 2018, contributing to a Nigerian economy that is more dynamic than many people, including maybe Trump himself, realize. Nigeria was once thought to be just an oil economy. But today, services account for more than 50 percent of its GDP. Technology is now 10 percent, according to the Center for Global Development. A growing middle class is increasingly educated and aspirational.
Nigeria is America's second largest African trading partner. And the U.S. wants to double existing trade and investment in Africa. As the former ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, notes that goal, taken alongside the ban, amounts to, quote, "policy incoherence," unquote.
In terms of politics however dark logic Trump has often made it plain he doesn't like immigrants from poor countries filled with brown and black people.
As "The New York Times" reported in 2017, he complained to aides that Nigerian migrants would never go back to their huts. The next year, "The Washington Post" first reported that in a meeting with lawmakers he said he wanted more immigrants from Norway and fewer from Haiti and African nations or, as he famously dubbed them, shithole countries.
Throughout the 2016 campaign Trump described Mexicans as criminals and Muslims as terrorists. The Nigeria travel ban reminds us, I suppose, that Donald John Trump is back on the campaign trail.
Next on "GPS," Saudi Arabia versus Iran the immense religious and regional rivalry has informed this part of the world for 40 years. What are the crucial next few years likely to bring? Stay tuned.
ZAKARIA: On Thursday, the United States Senate did something very unusual. It went against the wishes of President Trump when it passed a by the partisan war powers resolution on Iran.
ZAKARIA: The resolution comes in the aftermath of the killing of the Iranian General Soleimani and attempts to curtail the President's power to attack Iran without the approval of Congress. Trump's interest in military intervention in Iran goes back at least to 1980 when he told an interviewer that the United States should have invaded the Islamic Republic during the hostage crisis.
On the other the President is cozy with Iran's mortal enemy Saudi Arabia. Riyadh was, interestingly enough, Trump's first foreign stop as President. I want to talk about all of this with Kim Ghattas, she is a Veteran Middle East Reporter and the author of a new book about the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia called "Black Wave."
Kim, it a pleasure to have you on, explain how you came to write this book? What - you know because as a personal angle?
KIM GHATTAS, AUTHOR, "BLACK WAVE": There was a personal angle. I was trying to answer the question of what happened to us. Unlike what most people think today, particularly in the West, the Middle East wasn't always this torn.
We've always had upheaval but not to this extent. And there are three misconceptions I think people have about the region. One, they believe that Iran and Saudi Arabia have always been enemies, it's not true, they became rivals in 1979 after the Iran revolution. Before they were twin pillars of U.S. policy in the region, they were friendly competitors.
The other mistake that people make is to think that Sunnis and Shias the two main sectors in Islam have always had sectarian violence between them. That is also not true. The theological divide is real but over the course of history Sunnis and Shias has probably killed each other less than Catholics and Protestants. It's just these are the headlines of today.
And finally, the cultural intolerance that seems to dominate and that makes the headlines was also not the norm in the region. The question of what happened to us is what drove me to write this book, it's the opening of the book.
And I think the question of what happened to us is important, because I talk not just about the geopolitics but about a cultural shift, about the norms that shift, about the values that shift. And I think the question of what happened to us resonates beyond the Middle East today.
ZAKARIA: Why you call it "Black Wave" because that gets up the cultural shift?
GHATTAS: It does get at the cultural shift. In particular I look at the veiling of women that became much more widespread after 1979 as both Iran and Saudi Arabia tried to export their version of much more fundamentalist, much more literalist, puritanical Islam. You had the rise of you know the Veil in Egypt in a way that had not been present before, the Black Abaya same thing with Chador.
ZAKARIA: So explain where "Black Wave" comes from?
GHATTAS: That is where the way it was the cinema director, an Egyptian Cinema Director Youssef Chahine, who first used the term in the '90s as he was complaining about the fact that Egyptian women were donning the Saudi style Niqab the Face Veil and the Black Abaya.
But it is the rise of a trend that is dark, that is joyless, and that you can trace back to that year, 1979, when these two countries started to use all the tools at their disposal, including religion, to try to rally the masses to their side. And they also heightened sectarian differences and turned them into sectarian divisions and violence.
ZAKARIA: So explain what happens in 1979? Why is this a pivotal year? GHATTAS: Well, 1979 is the year of the Iran revolution when Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran from exile it's the year when Saudi Zealots take hold of the Mosque in Mecca and lay siege to it for two weeks throwing the people that were more are killed the Zealots are put to death. It's also the year when the Soviet's invade Afghanistan and it is the first modern day jihad in our times, an effort backed by the United States. These three invasions are--
ZAKARIA: Just explain one piece I think, needs elaboration which is the takeover of the Mosque in Mecca was done as you said by Zealots--
GHATTAS: Sunni Zealots.
ZAKARIA: --and who were attacking the Saudi Monarchy for being too lax too liberal.
ZAKARIA: And the Saudis took that as a sign that they needed to be more concerned that--
GHATTAS: Absolutely, they looked at what had happened to the Shah who had been overthrown by a - for having been too forceful in his efforts to westernize the country. And after 1979 the Saudis decided that what they needed to do was to keep the Clerics on their side. And they did that not only within their own country but they started proselytizing and pushing that beyond their borders just as the Iranians were doing.
ZAKARIA: You know what I'm struck is I think, I agree with you entirely on the arc you described, it's political and done for exactly the kind of reasons you're describing. But it has changed the culture. You go to the Middle East and women are wearing the Abaya everywhere. It is a black wave, particularly in places like Egypt and certainly in the Gulf. How do you reverse course? How does that happen?
GHATTAS: I think it is already receding. I think the black wave is receding, because the young generation wants a different future, because religion doesn't have the same appeal anymore. If you look at the polls it will show that you more than 50 percent of young people in the Arab World want religion to have less of a role in their country, in their life, in their politics.
The characters I profile in this book are Conservative Muslims, they're devout, but they're progressive thinkers, it's just that they've been silenced. And they're not westernized elite. I really do believe that they represent a majority.
What we're seeing today on the streets of Baghdad or Beirut or Iran even in Algeria, Sudan, is the young generation that is saying, we're done with sectarian politics, we don't want to be hostages anymore to all systems of belief, we don't want to be hostages to 1979.
So I have great hope that I think the black wave is receding, which is why unfortunately the Saudis and Iranians are now resorting to nationalism to keep the masses mobilized. I think we need to build things bottom up. I think the people are the answer, their hopes are the answer. The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran will I think continue to mutate and continue for now.
ZAKARIA: Kim Ghattas, it is a pleasure to have you on.
GHATTAS: Thanks you for having me.
ZAKARIA: Up next, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Donald John Trump morality and amorality in the Oval Office a fascinating study by an eminent Harvard Scholar when we come back.
ZAKARIA: It's an eternal question for scholars of foreign policy. What is the main driver behind big decisions? Is national interest all that matters when a President decides to, say, and goes to war or enforce sanctions or sign a trade deal? On the flip side, how much does morality play a role in such decisions? Do Presidents worry about how many people are going to die, starve, or lose their jobs? Should they?
Well, the great foreign policy scholar Joseph Nye was inspired to look at what 14 Presidents from FDR to Trump considered when making such decisions. And he has written a thought provoking book about it called "Do Morals Matter".
We're joined by Joe Nye. Welcome.
JOSEPH NYE, AUTHOR, "DO MORALS MATTER": Nice to be with you.
ZAKARIA: So give us an example. We think of American Presidents following the national interest, doing what they needed to do. When did morality, you know, change a big decision?
NYE: Well, a great example is Harry Truman. Remember, Truman dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, he had said he didn't lose any sleep over it. People don't realize that he also had a third bomb and refused to drop it because he didn't want to kill more women and children.
Five years later, when we were losing the war in Korea, Douglas Macarthur said, I want the right to drop 25 to 40 bombs on Chinese cities. And Truman said no. And he said no because of moral concerns.
Now, imagine that he had decided yes, and nuclear weapons became normal weapons. The world would look very different today. That's case where morals mattered.
ZAKARIA: In many cases, there were Presidents who were sort of trying to navigate between doing what they thought was the strategically important thing but still worried about morality, right?
NYE: That's right. I mean, it's rare that you could have a decision which is purely moral or sometimes Presidents will try to think of something which is in between, which is where most of the things are.
Henry Kissinger once said the hardest choices are really those which are between 51 and 49. If it were clearly back and white, either/or, it might be easier, but when they're close calls, it's tough.
ZAKARIA: When we look at Donald Trump, he says he's really unconcerned with morality. Is he an outlier?
NYE: Well, he's more amoral than any of the other Presidents on the list. When he responded to the assassination by the Saudis of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, he said, morale, get over it, the world is a dangerous place.
And even "The Wall Street Journal," a conservative newspaper, said he should have said more about American values. So I think he is now a liar in that sense.
ZAKARIA: And does he - I mean when you look at something like the assassination of Soleimani? Is he violating some of the rules of the game? Or is it immoral? How would you describe that kind of thing?
NYE: Well, I think he didn't consider trying to restore deterrents in Iran which is the word they calls. If he done it by sinking an Iranian ship in the Gulf it would have been par for the course, more or less accepted by assassinating a high official in a third country when you're not at war, you are revoking what Gerald Ford had done after Vietnam, which is say, we're not going to get into the business of assassination.
I don't think we really want to drop that norm. What happens, for example, if Secretary Pompeo goes to Baghdad and somebody shoots him? We would have no right to complain, if we've shot Soleimani. It's a question of are they good or bad people? It's a question that we gave up assassination after the Vietnam War, after Gerald Ford signed an executive order. I'm not sure that Trump thought through what it means when you drop that moral principle.
ZAKARIA: I think that point you're making, that we're kind of violating norms that might help us as well that will help the United States as well, seems critical to when you look at Trump. There are a lot of things he does, it seems, that have short term kind of tactical advantage.
NYE: That's right. The trouble with President Trump is he sees everything as a transaction, like a real estate deal, one short term issue. If you're playing a game where you're going to be back and forth with other partners for a long time and that leads you to take decisions which are not narrowly transactional but are long term decisions.
George Schultz, who was Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, called it treating foreign policy like a gardener, cultivating for the long term. You don't see that at all with President Trump. ZAKARIA: Who is the President who surprised you the most? You know when you do have these - you knew a lot about this you would have lived it but when you've seriously studied this particular issue, who was the President who surprised you?
NYE: Well, George .H. W. Bush, the first President Bush, because I had crew I had worked in 1988, the Dukakis Campaign, to prevent him being President, obviously without much success, but then when I came to write this book as an analytic problem, I said, you know, this guy comes out on top.
And I think his contextual intelligence that he knew a lot about the issues and his emotional intelligence he was able to manage his own emotions. He famously said I'm not going to dance on the Berlin Wall because it will make it difficult for Gorbachev to negotiate.
That was an extraordinary set of skills which meant he presided over the end of the cold war with Germany inside NATO and not a shot being fired. That was quite an extraordinary performance.
ZAKARIA: Do you worry that we have lost that kind of balance? I mean the politics are so polarized. The President is now coming in and saying they have to undo everything that the previous President did, which you're describing as a much more subtle kind of navigation?
NYE: That's right, I mean as we polarize politically and we have Presidents who are so keen on differentiating their product that they have to repeal something that the predecessor did, that's very bad for us. Take climate change.
The President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Accords which Obama had negotiated is going to hurt us in the long run. But when his staff came to him and said, we can do this in an easier way, he said, no, I made a campaign promise. That's poisonous.
ZAKARIA: We'll leave it at that. Joe Nye, pleasure to have you on.
NYE: It's a pleasure to be with you.
ZAKARIA: Thank you, sir. We'll be back.
ZAKARIA: Between fires, disease, and rumors of war, watching the news these days can sometimes feel like the coming of the end times. Well, I don't have good news in that regard, but it brings me to my question this week. What infestation has afflicted large swaths of East Africa in recent weeks Locusts, Lice, Frogs or Flies? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is Ross Douthat's "The Decadent Society". Douthat argues that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both represent the mood of our times pessimistic. We're living not in the sunny days of innovation and growth, and optimism, but in the weary age of consolidation and monopoly and stagnation.
I'm not sure I agree with Douthat, but I'm sure that I benefitted from reading this strikingly well-written book that ranges widely and intelligently over politics, economics, and culture, and captures something very essential about America today.
My answer to the "GPS Challenge" this week is "A" From the shores of the Red Sea to the Kenyan Savannah vast clouds of insects have devastated crops and pastures in the worst invasion of desert locusts East Africa has seen in decades.
The Union's Food and Agricultural Organization reports a swarm covering just one square kilometer can eat the same amount of food as 35,000 humans in 24 hours. And the pests can fly upwards of 90 miles every day.
One swarm in Kenya was 37 miles wide and 25 miles long, according to the FAO. The United Nations estimates some 19 million people in the region were already at risk of food insecurity which will only be exacerbated as harvests fail and herds starve due to the locusts.
Kenya and Ethiopia have just a handful of planes each to spray pesticides and regardless of how many insects Nairobi and Addis Ababa exterminate the war turn regions of Somalia where containment teams cannot safely venture up perfect breeding grounds for new swarm.
The U.N. is currently testing drones to respond more nimbly to the fast moving locusts but the drones' small size and short battery life has serious limitations according to Reuters. So why is this happening? Well, climate change is warming the Indian Ocean and fueling more frequent cyclones that buildup up moisture in the region like the one of the Coast of Somalia this December.
When rain falls, desert locusts congregate to breed and bury their eggs in the moist soil. The eggs can hatch in numbers up to 20 times larger than the previous generation, only to find unusually plentiful vegetation to snack on thanks to the increased rainfall.
Once the baby locusts mature and grow wings they begin swarming and scouring the surrounding areas for more food. Experts fear the number of locusts could grow 400 times by this June if left untreated.
During the last major locusts crisis from over 3 to 5 the insects caused some $2.5 billion in lost harvests and took nearly $600 million to bring under control. The FAO says that amount of money fund preventive efforts for harvesting--