Return to Transcripts main page

Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview With Israeli Ambassador to United States

Aired August 16, 2009 - 13:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, 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.

On today's show we start with an exclusive -- the first television interview with Israel's new ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, a very distinguished historian, previously in the military, now in Washington.

Then, we'll show you part of an unusual event, a town hall meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, starring Hillary Clinton, with yours truly in the moderator's role.

Finally, also from Nairobi, the prime minister of Kenya.

Now, on Israel. When Barack Obama came into office, many in America and around the world hoped that he would breathe life into the prospects for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. And Obama fed that hope by quickly appointing as special envoy on the issue a man of great talent and integrity, former Senator George Mitchell, who had negotiated the peace accords in Northern Ireland.

But it's been pretty difficult since then. The new Israeli parliament is considered by some to be the most right wing in memory, as is the new government. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had been fiercely critical of any kind of Palestinian state. His foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has previously called for what some characterize as ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israel.

The Obama administration and Israel have clashed over the Netanyahu government's determination to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Now, amidst this tension, there has been some forward movement. Prime Minister Netanyahu did accept the idea of a Palestinian state about a month ago, but with some caveats. It must remain disarmed, without control of its borders or air space, and without East Jerusalem as its capital.

On the Palestinian side, there has been some positive news. The Palestinian Authority is becoming somewhat less corrupt and more competent. Hamas seems to be losing some support, even in Gaza, where living conditions continue to be hellish.

Now, will any of these small positive steps make any difference? Are peace talks possible? And isn't the real story not peace talks with the Palestinians, but military action against Iran?

The former U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, predicted last week that by the end of this year -- in other words, in a few months -- Israel will attack Iran to set back its nuclear program. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, has cautioned that an Israeli attack on Iran could endanger the stability of the entire region.

And yet, many reports suggest that Israel does intend to strike.

We will ask our guest, Israel's ambassador to the United States, about all of this.

Let's get started.


ZAKARIA: And now I welcome Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States.


ZAKARIA: Let's talk about Iran.

John Bolton has recently said that he believes that Israel is likely to attack Iran by the end of this year. Is that true?

OREN: I don't think it's true. I think that we are far from even contemplating such things right now.

The government of Israel has supported President Obama in his approach to Iran, initially the engagement, the outreach to Iran. The prime minister...

ZAKARIA: You're just saying this, Michael. You don't really -- it is well known that the government of Israel was deeply uncomfortable and nervous about the idea of an engagement with Iran.

OREN: We were. But we were greatly comforted during the prime minister's visit here in May, when the president told the prime minister, sure, that there would be a serious reassessment of the engagement policy before the end of the year.

And we are further reassured now that that end-of-the-year deadline has been moved up to September. We actually have a date when it's going to occur.

We are comforted by the fact that the administration, in the aftermath of recent events in Iran, has exhibited greater willingness to consider formulating a package of serious sanctions against Iran, even now in advance of the reassessment.

ZAKARIA: Isn't it true that we now know something about Iran that we weren't quite sure about, which is, there are many moderates in Iran, both on the streets of Tehran and the rest of the country, but also within the government. OREN: Unquestionably. We know that the Iranian -- certainly, the Iranian people, but even the Iranian leadership, is not as monochromatic as we thought, that there are dissenters. Not necessarily moderates in the sense of their relationship with Israel, but moderates certainly in an internal Iranian context.

But what concerns us, at the end of the day, is not so much a change of personalities, but a change of policy. We would like to see an Iranian willingness to desist from supporting terrorist groups, Hezbollah, Hamas. We've seen none of that; on the contrary, business as usual.

We would like to see indications of Iranian willingness to suspend the enrichment of uranium. We'd like to see a willingness evinced on the part of the Iranians to stop producing the centrifuges that enrich that uranium. We've seen none of that.

On the contrary, we see business as usual for the Iranians, even in their rhetoric across the board.

ZAKARIA: Do you accept that Iran has the right to a peaceful, to a civilian nuclear program?

OREN: We believe that all states in the Middle East have a right to nuclear energy. But there's a big difference between that and the ability to enrich uranium on Iranian soil.

ZAKARIA: Well, actually, that is allowed under the NPT...

OREN: It is around the NPT for countries that have not...

ZAKARIA: ... the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

OREN: True. But it's not in the NPT for countries that have not then systematically lied about their nuclear program for a quarter of a century.

ZAKARIA: Well, but the problem is that there is no -- I mean, it doesn't say, by the way, if you've lied, you no longer have -- who decides that process?

OREN: Well, I think the international community is going to have to decide. And I think the international community has decided there's a tremendous credibility problem vis-a-vis Iran.


OREN: Even if Iran tomorrow were to agree to say, OK, we're going to have this type of supervision over our nuclear program, certainly from Israel's perspective, we would not be very much at ease with that. We have seen how Iran has worked to subvert, to sidestep any type of international supervision of its nuclear program.

ZAKARIA: Why do you think Iran can't be deterred?

You're a military man, Michael. The Soviet Union was deterred. Stalin was deterred. Mao was deterred. Mao was certainly about as crazy as leaders get in terms of the bizarre statements, their willingness to talk about the destruction of the world, inflicting enormous casualties.

If these guys were deterred by the fact that they would suffer retaliation, why will Iran not be deterred?

OREN: Because the Maoist regime, the Stalinist regime were secular regimes. They had secular ideologies.

ZAKARIA: But Mao kept talking about how he was destroy half the world to cause communist revolutions to flourish.

OREN: But the Iranian regime is not a secular regime. The Iranian regime is carrying out what they believe to be a divinely ordained task on the planet, and that is the conduct of a holy war.

And they have gone on record -- including even some Iranian moderates have gone on record -- in saying that they don't care how many people they lose in order to destroy the State of Israel. Iran is actively supporting terrorist organizations that seek to kill Israeli civilians, that has fired well over 10,000 missiles at our civilian centers, that has conducted suicide bombings, again, in our civilian neighborhoods and our schools and our buses and our restaurants.

It's not as if this is something very abstract going on over the air waves. This is literally happening in our homes and our neighborhoods.

ZAKARIA: But tell me this, then. If you don't believe that you can deter a country, why did you build 250 nuclear weapons yourself?

OREN: Israel's position is Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weaponry in the Middle East, stand by that position.

ZAKARIA: Well, let me be clear. So, are you denying that Israel has nuclear weapons?

OREN: I'm saying that Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weaponry into the Middle East.

ZAKARIA: When you say "introduce," you mean "use."

OREN: I mean introduce.

ZAKARIA: Introduce means to actually have them.

OREN: To introduce.

ZAKARIA: All right. So, but the common sense understanding of that word would be that Israel does not have nuclear weapons.

OREN: The idea is that Israel will not be the first to introduce, deploy nuclear weaponry in the Middle East. ZAKARIA: All right. There are books...

OREN: You want to spend some more time on the word, I'll be happy to.

ZAKARIA: There are books on the subject by Israeli scholars...

OREN: Fareed, it's your program.

ZAKARIA: There are books on the subject by Israeli scholars who suggest otherwise.

OREN: I know.

ZAKARIA: And you and I have both said that.

OREN: But this has been Israel's policy since the 1950s, by the way. It goes back to 1958. And Israel maintains that policy to this day.

This is not -- you know, this is not a case of wondering whether there's WMD in Iraq. This is not a situation like that. The Iranian regime is proud of its nuclear program. The Iranian regime boasts...

ZAKARIA: I thought you were referring to the Israeli...

OREN: No, no. That was the Iranian program. They'll invite television sets in to see it -- television cameras -- in to see their centrifuges.

ZAKARIA: But those centrifuges are currently, under the Non- proliferation Treaty, permissible. The question is weaponization.

OREN: Yes.

ZAKARIA: And there, am I right in saying, you are making an assumption about not Iranian capabilities, but about Iranian intentions? And that's where I want to know what gives you such surety?

OREN: What gives us surety is the context. It's the context of the regime's rhetoric, its theology, not its ideology, its practice in supporting terrorist groups, its willingness to deceive, to lie, to dissemble about the nature of its nuclear program over the course of the last century.

All of this creates an image, a picture of a regime that would want, if not to actually acquire nuclear weapons tomorrow, to be within what we call a sneak-out or breakout capacity, where once that government makes the decision to make a bomb, it can make a bomb very, very quickly.

ZAKARIA: But that's unacceptable to you. In other words, if the Iranians were to abide by the law, have a nuclear program, but not weaponize, but have the potential in your view to weaponize, that's already crossing a red line as far as Israel is concerned. OREN: Under this regime, yes. Under this regime.

Iran, under a different form of government, under a Western- oriented, peaceful, passive government that's not seeking Israel's destruction would be a different story.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back with Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States.


OREN: We took what was offered to us and we built the state. We built the institutions around that state, and we created a national homeland.

ZAKARIA: But you kept an army, a very large army.

OREN: That's right, because we had to keep a large army. There's a big difference...

ZAKARIA: But, so, wouldn't the Palestinians say the same?

OREN: No, I don't think so. I don't think we are threatening the Palestinian state.



ZAKARIA: We are back with Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his speech in which he finally, some might say, accepted the two-state solutions -- I say "finally," because he's perhaps the last leading Israeli politician to do so; Ehud Olmert did it when he was in his final months as prime minister -- in that speech he said he accepted the prospect of a Palestinian state, as long as it was disarmed, as long as there was no question of Jerusalem being its capital, it had no control over its borders or its air space.

Would you accept a state with those conditions? In other words, can you expect the Palestinians to accept a state which would be unacceptable to Israelis?

OREN: You know, Israel, the Zionist movement in 1947, accepted a two-state solutions that had many different restrictions on it. An example, it didn't have complete economic freedom. It had an economic union with the proposed Palestinian state.

ZAKARIA: Yes, but it didn't have, you know, no control over its borders, no capital, no...

OREN: Israel's not saying control of borders. It's saying demilitarization. Let's be accurate about the two major demands that the prime minister did. ZAKARIA: But you have accepted demilitarization.

OREN: I think that a national movement that wants to create a state, accepts a state when it's offered to them, and then moves on from there, tends (ph) to begin that state. That has been the lesson of certainly the Zionist movement and the creation of the State of Israel.

We took what was offered to us, and we built a state. We built the institutions around that state, and we created a national homeland.

ZAKARIA: But you kept an army, a very large army.

OREN: That's right, because we had to keep a large army. There's as big difference...

ZAKARIA: So, wouldn't the Palestinians say the same?

OREN: No, I don't think so. I don't think we are threatening the Palestinian state.

Listen, this is not the fall of 2000. This is not even 1993, when the Oslo Accords were signed. Much has happened since then.

There have been hundreds and hundreds of terrorist attacks in Israel. We've lost over 1,000 people, including close family members of mine.

I think that Israelis are justifiably wary of a Palestinian state that's going to have an army, that could have artillery pieces that could fire into our major population centers.

Keep in mind, the West Bank is not someplace far away. I live in southern Jerusalem, in Israeli Jerusalem. The West Bank begins 50 yards down the street from me. It's not very far away, and within artillery range of...

ZAKARIA: But surely, Palestinians should be as -- would be as worried about an Israeli -- I mean, after all, the Israeli army has killed many more Palestinians than Palestinians have killed Israelis.

OREN: But in the fall of 2000, for example, it wasn't Israel who attacked the Palestinians. It was the Palestinians who attacked the Israelis. The West Bank was used -- not once, but twice -- to launch major wars against the State of Israel, and has since then been the site of innumerable terrorist attacks against Israel.

ZAKARIA: So, again, this is a hard -- this is, as far as you're concerned, non-negotiable? The demand that there be a demilitarized state?

OREN: I think it's a demand that is supported by an overwhelming majority of Israelis. About 77 percent of Israelis supported the prime minister's speech. And there's a reason for it. We are not telling the Palestinians that they won't have the means to defend themselves. They will have a police force, whatever they need to maintain law and order and to fight terror within their borders.

We just don't want them to have the means to shoot at airliners that are landing at our major airport, which, again, is a couple hundred meters from the West Bank. It's not that far away. We don't want them to have the ability to make military pacts with Iran or with Hezbollah or with any other terrorist groups.

These are the type of limitations we are looking for, and it's not without precedent in international affairs. Similar relationships emerged with Germany and Japan after World War II.

But there's another important item in the prime minister's speech. It was the demand for mutual recognition of homelands. The prime minister stated that the Palestinian state would have to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

ZAKARIA: You phrased it slightly differently than I've sometimes heard it. You said "the nation-state of the Jewish people."

The way I had heard it earlier was that it should be recognized as the Jewish state.

Are you making that distinction because you want to create space for Arabs who live in Israel?

OREN: Yes, but not only. There was a -- the locution is deliberate, the distinction. And the prime minister made it in his speech, as well.

There was a sense that, when we use the term "Israel as a Jewish state," some people immediately thought theocracy. Israel, of course, is not a theocracy. Israel does not even have an official religion, unlike many countries in the world. It does not have an official religion.

And it was very important that we got across the notion that this was the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it didn't necessarily mean that all the Jews in the world had to move there. It didn't mean that the Palestinians, the Arabs who live in that country, Israeli Arabs, would have any distinction of rights. The Palestinian state living next door to us...

ZAKARIA: But Israel has many of its own internal investigations, commissions, supreme court rulings that suggest that there is, in fact, a very sharp inequality between the rights afforded to Jews in Israel and Arabs.

OREN: Israel guarantees equal rights in its declaration of independence.

The Israelis are human beings and they have -- there is prejudice, and there may be discrimination. Those issues are fought out with the courts...

ZAKARIA: The issue of land, for example, is something that...

OREN: Those issues are fought out in the courts...

ZAKARIA: ... is virtually impossible for a non-Jew in Israel.

OREN: Those issues have been fought in the courts very, very often. Very often the Palestinians...

ZAKARIA: And the majority of the time, the court has said that -- you know, I mean, you know what I'm talking about.

OREN: Right.

ZAKARIA: Supreme court commissions that have said that there is a persistent inequality, whether in educational funding, whether in the ability to acquire land.

OREN: And every case where the supreme court has ruled that they have found inequality, that inequality has been remedied -- the same process that goes on in this country, Fareed. It's not a perfect environment. We are working -- it's a work in progress, just like the United States is a work in progress to guarantee the equality of all of its people, not just on paper, but in reality, as well.

Going back to the question of recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, we are called upon to recognize the Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinians. Not all the Palestinians of the world are going to live in that state.

And we firmly believe -- I firmly believe -- that the only way that this treaty, this peace is going to work in the long run is if both sides recognize the permanence, the legitimacy of the other, that we are both indigenous peoples, native peoples, and that we're called upon to share this house, which they call Palestine and we call the Land of Israel. And the only way we're going to coexist in the long run is on the basis of mutual recognition.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, because it strikes me as a very interesting question, because at the heart -- now, within Israel, there's a very large number -- about a million, am I right -- of Arabs living in Israel, who are Israeli citizens. They are not Jewish.

How should they feel about this demand? And how do they feel about, for example, singing the Israeli national anthem?

OREN: Well, I would like them to be able to sing the national anthem. There are Jews in Great Britain, for example, who will salute and serve a flag that has not just one cross, but three crosses on it.

I would hope that Israeli Arabs would also feel a sense of loyalty to a flag that has a symbol on it, a star, which is also actually an Islamic symbol, not just an exclusively Jewish symbol. I have no problem.

I would hope that they feel like a loyal minority that enjoys full and equal rights.

If they want to feel a sense of a national homeland, they will have the Palestinian Arab state as their national homeland. It doesn't mean they have to move there, but they can feel that way.

ZAKARIA: Your foreign minister, on the other hand, has at various points -- Avigdor Lieberman -- said that he thinks that they should move there, or some large number of them should, and has in some cases seemed to suggest that he favored the ethnic cleansing of parts of Israel, to move certain Palestinians into the -- certain Arabs, Israeli Arabs into the Palestinian territories.

OREN: He has never spoken of ethnic cleansing, to the best of my knowledge. He has never spoken of...

ZAKARIA: He said moving them...

OREN: ... moving them against their will. He's talked about border adjustments.

And we all understand that, if there ever is to be a treaty ending this conflict, there's going to have to be an exchange of territories, that some territories are going to find themselves under Palestinian sovereignty, some points under Israeli sovereignty.

There have been realities created on the ground, certainly over the 42 years since the 1967 War.

ZAKARIA: But let me understand what you're saying. I hear you. What you are saying is that you can envision some circumstance where Israeli citizens who are now living in Israel, who are of Arab ethnic background, would be disenfranchised, because the border would be shifted, and they would now find themselves no longer Israeli citizens?

OREN: First of all, understand that the foreign minister's position on this is not the position of the entire government. This is one party within this coalition. Such a movement would have to achieve the approval of the Knesset. It would have to go through the supreme court.

My feeling is that Israel would never take such a step that would force people to move. No one's talking about disenfranchising in the sense of kicking somebody out of their houses. No. We're just trying to decide where the border's going to go.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back with Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, right after this.


OREN: The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, during his first visit to this country as prime minister in this term, met with the president, President Obama, in the White House. And they agreed to differ about Jerusalem.



ZAKARIA: We are back with Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States.

You've been ambassador for a few weeks, and I think you've set a record. You have been summoned to the State Department twice already to be told that the Obama administration vigorously disagrees with the expansion of settlements into the West Bank.

What did they tell you?

OREN: Well, first let me correct a misperception. I was never summoned to the State Department. It was falsely reported in the press.

And at one time I had a discussion with the undersecretary of state as a courtesy meeting. And the notion came up, or an issue came up about Jerusalem -- perfectly respectable and appropriate approach by the State Department about an issue, an Israeli internal policy.

The second time, there was a phone call. So, I wasn't summoned at all. Again, very, very soft-spoken.

But there was an issue. Israel and the United States have agreed to differ about the issue of Jerusalem. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, during his first visit to this country as prime minister in this term, met with the president, President Obama, in the White House. And they agreed to differ about Jerusalem.

Israel's position is that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city under Israeli sovereignty, and that Israeli law holds in that city, and that Jews have a right to live anywhere in that city, just as Arabs have a right to live in the new...

ZAKARIA: This is the current Israeli government's position, because that...

OREN: It is the long-standing Israeli position.

ZAKARIA: Well, but during the negotiations with Bill Clinton, there was a prospect that East Jerusalem would become the capital of the future Palestinian state, which would mean it was a different position at the time.

OREN: It was purportedly a proposal to that effect. But the actual formal position of the Israeli government remain unaltered.

There are disagreements over some issues, over aspects of our policy in Jerusalem, over the settlements. And all of these issues are being worked out. These issues are being worked out in a very constructive, very friendly atmosphere.

ZAKARIA: So, when the "Jerusalem Post" says, "the winds are clearly changing in U.S.-Israeli relations," it talks about how the consul general in Boston has been summoned back -- this is Israeli newspapers -- they're all wrong?

OREN: No, I think that -- I'm taking issue with the "Jerusalem Post" -- I think that that's inaccurate. And it's certainly -- you may find this strange -- there are certain things in the press that are occasionally inaccurate.

I don't think there's a different wind. I think that there is a different administration with a different approach to certain issues in our relationship, but only certain issues in that relationship, and that the administration never misses an opportunity -- and I stress this in internal conversations, not just in front of the cameras -- never misses an opportunity to talk about its commitment to Israel's security, to Israel's survival, to Israel's nature as a Jewish state.

And overwhelmingly, the relationships are warm and positive.

ZAKARIA: Michael Oren, best wishes. Welcome as Israel's ambassador to the U.S. I am sure you are taking notes, because you are also a great historian. And one day you will tell us what you really think when you were sitting right here.


OREN: I really think this, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: A pleasure to have you on.

OREN: Thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary of State?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, hold on. Hold on. Ms. Secretary of State?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to make a very, very strong statement. America, or anybody, will not help Kenya to change.



ZAKARIA: Last week we brought you my one-on-one interview with Hillary Clinton from Nairobi, Kenya. Well, while I was there, I also moderated a town hall with the secretary of state that was hosted by the University of Nairobi.

The audience was filled with 800 people, students and citizens. They were all free to ask this top American official anything that was on their minds. Also present in the room, Wangari Maathai, the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. I asked her if she had a question for Hillary Clinton.


WANGARI MAATHAI, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: Thank you very, very much, Zakaria.

Secretary of State, what can a strong, powerful country like the United States of America do to persuade other strong countries, like China, to do business in Africa with a consciousness that we must also demand from our leaders good governance?

CLINTON: It's a great question, Wangari, a great question.


MAATHAI: So that we can -- first, we do not allow ourselves to be exploited yet again by these oncoming, upcoming economical giants, but who come and want to do business with our leaders, without wondering and being concerned about human rights issues, equity issues and governance issues.

Thank you.


CLINTON: Thank you.

Look, I think that's one of the most important questions for Africa. Africa historically has been exploited, during colonialism and post-colonialism, by corporations and by your own leaders, so that the fruits of this richness that exists in the earth, in the waters of Africa, have not gone to the people.

And I often use an example that I think is a good model, Botswana. At the end of the colonial period in Botswana, the people of Botswana will tell you it was very fortunate, because the colonialists -- in that case it was Britain -- left right before diamonds were discovered.



And there was enlightened leadership in Botswana, who said, "We have diamonds. What shall we do with them?"

And what they did was to create a mechanism, so that funding and revenues from the exploitation of the diamonds went to build the infrastructure of the country.

So, those of you who have been to Botswana know they have a very good network of roads. They have potable water everywhere. I mean, they invested in their people. And it is a question, as Wangari so rightly says, of who's in charge and whether they have the best interests, not of their own families in mind -- everybody will take care of their own families -- but of the people they are supposed to govern and lead.

And I am just absolutely convinced that Africa's best days can be ahead, if we get a hold of this whole question of the use of natural resources, and who benefits, and where the revenues go.

GRACE AKUMU, CLIMATE NETWORK AFRICA: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. My name is Grace Akumu. I work for Climate Network Africa. I would like to now divert you a bit from politics and ask you about climate change.


AKUMU: The United States of America is the biggest culprit of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. And, in this country today, I'm over 50 years old, and I have never had before that 10 million Kenyans are facing famine. And today, they are facing this famine, because the greenhouse gas emissions have no boundary. Our snow caps in Mount Kilimanjaro, they are over. Our rivers are drying up.

Whatever we do, if climate change is not addressed and, for example, from a well-endowed country like yours, endowed financially, technologically, to combat climate change, we are going to suffer and are going to continue to suffer.

CLINTON: That's right.

AKUMU: Is America ready to assist Africa to do that? Thank you.


CLINTON: Well, the short answer to that question is "yes, we are." And it is one of President Obama's highest priorities. As you know, we passed a bill through our House. And, of course, this was after eight years of our prior administration denying that it was a problem.

But you've now had four years of drought. You do have 10 million people facing hunger.

Africa will be one of the hardest-hit places in the world because of climate change. And the United States is now, under President Obama's leadership, accepting our responsibility for having been historically the largest greenhouse gas emitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary of State?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, hold on. Hold on.

Secretary of State? CLINTON: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to make a very, very strong statement. America, or anybody, will not help Kenya to change. That help will come from us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you can do is one thing: help us change our attitude. Change our attitude. And I'm coming to that.

The selfishness that we suffer -- I mean, the impunity that we suffer -- the corruption that we suffer, the bad governance that we suffer, the poverty that we suffer, is all because of one thing, that our leaders think of nothing other than self.

What I would like to ask you is this. We need to change our attitude, because we suffered bad governance because the people we elect, we are hoping they will help us.

What I'm asking is this. The aid that you give, could you direct it to civil -- civic education, so that the Kenyans would change their attitude?


CLINTON: Well, we send a lot of aid for all kinds of civil society, civic education. But we will take a hard look at what our aid goes to, and we'll see if we can do more to answer that question.

ZAKARIA: We thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We thank the University of Nairobi, the government of Kenya and our associates, our affiliate and Patricia. Thank you so much.


ZAKARIA: Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is well known for saying, "Save the world, plant a tree." And after the town hall meeting at the University of Nairobi ended, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went outside and planted a tree.

We will be right back.


ZAKARIA: When I was in Nairobi last week, I heard a quote that speaks volumes about the struggle for democracy all over the African continent. Listen to this.

"In Africa, elections are never won; they are rigged. The loser does not accept the results, and then we move on."

That quote comes from the prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga. Prime Minister Odinga is a well-known dissent, whose struggles for democracy in his country have led to years of imprisonment. In 2007, Odinga ran for president of Kenya, taking on the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki. It was by all accounts a close election, but the official tally indicated that Odinga had lost.

Those results were widely disputed. And almost everyone agrees that some kind of fraud went on. Rioting erupted across the country. An estimated 100,200 were killed.

Ultimately, though, Odinga did a kind of about-face. He made a power-sharing agreement with the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki. Many believe he sold out and is now part of the problem. Naturally, he feels otherwise.

Last week, while I was in Kenya, I interviewed Prime Minister Odinga. I asked him about Americans lecturing him about democracy, about corruption and about much more.


ZAKARIA: Prime Minister Odinga, thank you so much for joining us.


ZAKARIA: Recently you had Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visiting you as a guest. And after she made some remarks, you publicly said, "We do not need lectures on governance from outsiders."

Now, I was struck by that, because, of course, you were a political dissident, a political prisoner, and urgently screamed for external assistance when you wanted to bring democracy to Kenya.

ODINGA: I'm saying that the United States needs to talk much more about trade and wealth creation to Africa. We know ourselves we are not doing what we are doing to democratize Africa because we want to placate somebody, we want to please somebody.

We are doing it, because it is right for us. And Africans have paid a bigger price for democracy. And we really know it clearly, they want to take the African continent.

So, I've been saying that, yes, partnership we want to accept, but not patronage. You see, we don't want to be lectured on what is right and what is wrong.

Even the American democracy is not perfect. The example is the Florida event with Bush and Al Gore.

ZAKARIA: This is a call to adhere to certain international standards and rights. And as you said, and you point out, there are obstacles in this process.

Why not have the American secretary of state mention it?

ODINGA: I don't mind her saying it. What I'm saying is that we should not just be lectured to like students. I mean, if she went to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, she would not be talking the same language there. And what democracy do you have there in Saudi Arabia? How about in Jordan? How about in Egypt?

Why must it just be when you come here?

If you believe really, truly in democracy and good governance, and so on, then you must speak the same language all over the -- wherever you go.

ZAKARIA: Would you say the same to Barack Obama, if he were to make these points? Because in his video message to the conference, he said some similar things.

ODINGA: Yes, I mean, why not? I would say it.

See, Kenya is not a client state of any government. We also recognize that we have got our certain weaknesses we are still working on, which we must improve.

I speak very candidly to President Kibaki when I disagree with him on this issue. And Kenyans know that. So, I am known to be speaking my mind all the time.

I spoke very strongly to Robert Mugabe until they declared a persona non grata in Zimbabwe. I have spoken on the issues of Darfur, on the violations of human rights in the whole of the African continent. And I say that we, as Africans, do not wait to be told by foreigners what we need to do for Africa.

I am a Pan-Africanist. I believe in the ability of the African people to develop the African continent.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you finally, prime minister, just a question. We alluded to it earlier.

You are a political dissident. You spent 18 years in jail. Do you ever look around the prime minister's office and think to yourself, this is very different from what you had expected when you were in jail?

ODINGA: Well, as you know, that when you are in jail, deprived of everything that endears us to life, and surrounded by every condition that could excite passion and resentment, you think about very many things.

But when you come out, and you continue the struggle like we did, and you arrive at here, you say that this is a stage, it's just a stop on our way forward. So, I do not consider this as my destination. I see this as just one stage.

ZAKARIA: What is your destination?

ODINGA: The destination is the complete democratization of the Kenyan society, complete emasculation (ph) of our people. I believe in the Kenyan dream, which is as you find in our national anthem, to make this country free, liberated, independent, democratic and prosperous. And I think that it is far away from that. I want to make continuous movement towards that destination.

ZAKARIA: Prime Minister Odinga, a pleasure to have you.

ODINGA: Thank you.



ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World?" segment.

Here's what got my attention this week -- a roll of toilet paper. Certainly not the normal subject for us here at GPS, but this is special toilet paper -- Cuban toilet paper.

It turns out, Cuba may be running out of the stuff. The government has warned its citizens in recent days that they are facing a toilet paper shortage.

And, they added, this paucity of paper could last until the end of the year, when they expect a shipment to come in.

So, how did this happen?

Well, the Cubans blame it on the global financial crisis and the hurricanes they were hit with last year. Now, the financial crisis is hurting everyone, but I have yet to hear of shortfalls in toilet paper in other places.

What I think is really at the bottom of this toilet paper crisis is Cuba's continuing commitment to its Bizarro World of socialist economics. Just two weeks ago, Raul Castro vowed yet again to keep communism alive in Cuba, to make sure capitalism doesn't return.

In a world of flux, I suppose it is comforting to know that some things stay the same.

Cuba's disastrous economy would be a joke, were it not for the poverty it has perpetuated among millions of Cubans. The whole country is stagnating. Fifty percent of its arable fields are going unfarmed. First and second year college students now work one month out of the year in agriculture.

Its insane foreign policies lead to frequent shortages of fruit, vegetables and other basic food needs -- shortages even more serious than toilet paper.

And all those programs they've held up for years as successes of the communist revolution -- free education for all through college, universal health care -- well, Raul Castro just announced they're going to have to make cuts in all of these.

Meanwhile, the average Cuban still earns the equivalent of less than $20 per month.

Now, capitalism has its problems, as we have all seen. But at least we are not running out of toilet paper.

Now, our "Question of the Week."

Last week, you will recall, I interviewed Secretary of State Clinton, and I wanted to know what you thought about her performance in that job.

You guys were bullish. Many of our viewers gave her an A, even an A plus. Several pointed out that they had been skeptical when Obama chose her for the job, but they have been won over by her diplomatic skills.

She did get a few Fs. Two of these GPS viewers criticized her comments on North Korea, in which she compared that nation to a rebellious teenager seeking attention. One respondent called her approach "amateur hour," but these were the minority.

Now, I'm not going to ask you a question this week, because we here at GPS are going to take a few days off. But we do have some terrific shows coming up for you, so keep tuning in.

And as always, I'd like to recommend a book. This one is by my guest today, Michael Oren. It's a terrific book of history. It's called "Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East."

It's an intricate telling of the '67 War and the changes that it brought to the whole landscape of the Middle East -- literally and figuratively.

Now, some Arabs may disagree, but it is about as fair a book as you can expect from one side of the conflict. Oren interviewed many Arabs for his research, looked at a lot of documents, and he talks frankly about Israel's shortcomings. It's a great way to understand one of the critical turning points in this conflict.

Also, how closely have you been following the world this week? Test yourself. Try our weekly quiz, the Fareed Challenge, on

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