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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with Donald Rumsfeld; How Will History Judge 9/11?; A Day of Remembrance

Aired September 11, 2011 - 13:28   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Welcome to a special edition of GPS, the global public square, 9/11 and the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria. We have an important show for you today. First up, the man at the center of America's response to 9/11. Donald Rumsfeld was at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into it. And he was in the highest councils of power as America dealt with al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Iraq. We'll ask him what he remembers and what he regrets.

Then the document that might have defeated Osama bin Laden. I'll explain.

Next up, how will history look at 9/11? We'll talk to three global thinkers.

And finally, this gets the prize for the most unusual symbol of support for America after 9/11.

But first, here's my take. Those of us who live in New York have our own special memories of 9/11, 2001. I was driving down the Long Island Expressway, about to begin a month-long leave from my job at "Newsweek" to work on a book.

Around 9:00 AM, I switched from the CD player to the radio to listen to the news. The reports were chaotic, but the outlines of what had happened were clear. I turned around and headed back to New York to get to my wife and then 1-year-old boy.

As I approached the Triborough Bridge, I saw huge barricades and dozens of police cars. All bridges and tunnels were closed. Manhattan had been sealed off.

When I got back 12 hours later, put my book project on hold and spent all my spare hours reading and thinking about what had caused the attack, what explained this monstrous evil. That's how 9/11 was discussed and analyzed at the time, mostly with a focus on them.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!


ZAKARIA: Who are they? Why are they so enraged? What do they want? What will stop them from hating us? But if 9/11 was focused at the time on them, 10 years later, the discussion is mostly about us -- what is America's position in the world today? Are we safer? Are we stronger? Was it worth it?

Some of these questions are swirling around because the U.S. is mired in tough economic times and at such moments the mood is introspective, not outward-looking. Some of it is because of the success in the war against al Qaeda. The threat from Islamic terrorism still seems real but more manageable and contained.

But history will probably record this period not as one characterized by al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Against al Qaeda terrorist training camps.


ZAKARIA: That will get a few paragraphs or a chapter. The main story will be about the fate of the United States of America. Fifty years from now, we might even look at 9/11 as simply the beginning of the decline of America as the world's unrivaled hegemony.

On the day before 9/11, the United States was at peace, had a large budget surplus, and oil was trading at $28 a barrel. Today, the United States is engaged in military operations across the globe, has a deficit of $1.5 trillion, the largest in its history, and oil is at $115 a barrel.

Few people remember today what the Boer War was about, but what they do know is around that time, at the beginning of the 20th century, Great Britain spent a great many of its resources and, more important, its attention policing the world and neglected to focus on maintaining its industrial and economic competitiveness, strength, and energy.

America is not fated to follow that path, but it's time we focus on the big challenges that we face -- staying competitive in a new global era -- and make the hard changes and adjustments we need to at home.

You see? The danger comes not from them but from us.

For more on this, go to our Web site at Let's started.

Joining me now is the former secretary of defense twice over, Donald Rumsfeld.

What memories do you have now of that day when American Airlines 77 crashed into the Pentagon? What's the most vivid recollection?

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I was in the Pentagon when it was hit, and we had the two planes hit the World Trade Center before that, minutes before. And the first plane hit, it was obviously an accident. And the second plane hit and it obviously was not an accident. And then the Pentagon shook, and it was clear that America had been attacked.

And I went down the hall and -- until the smoke was so bad I couldn't go any further. I went downstairs and outside, and there out on the lawn, the apron around the Pentagon, were just, you know, thousands of pieces of metal, little pieces. Not -- it's not like that plane stayed together. The plane just was pieces everywhere.

And people coming out with burns and people going in and helping them out. I ran into a lieutenant colonel who said to me that he saw an airplane hit the Pentagon. I had no idea if it was a bomb or what had happened.

But it was a day we'll all remember throughout our lives. And after a decade, certainly, we remember those who were killed and their families and their friends and what a terrible, terrible day for America.

ZAKARIA: So when you look back now, 10 years later, Osama bin Laden is dead. Many of his deputies are dead. There has not been a significant attack not just against the United States but really a significant attack for several years, though there have, of course, been --

RUMSFELD: Other countries.

ZAKARIA: London and Madrid.

But in the last five years, remarkable outside of places like Iraq and Pakistan how few there have been. Do you think we have won at least an important phase of this war?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I think so. I think that the coalition that was put together of, I don't know, 90 countries by President Bush and the sharing of intelligence, sharing of information about bank accounts and the pressure that's been put on terrorist networks has been helpful and helped to protect the American people.

But, you know, a terrorist can attack anyplace, anytime, using any technique and you can't defend everywhere at every moment against every technique. And they only have to be right once. You can thwart five or six, and if they do it well, you can have a September 11th or you can have something much worse. You can have instead of 3,000, 300,000 with a smallpox vaccine or some other weapon of that nature.

So, the margin for error is small for the leadership in free countries today. They can't be wrong. They've got to be right, because the lethality of the weapons is so great.

ZAKARIA: When you look back over the 10 years and you look at where we are, doesn't it strike you that the Iraq war was at the very least an enormously costly distraction? A trillion dollars at the least, thousands of lives, and it's not clear that it -- if you look at all the things you listed as the reasons why we are succeeding, it doesn't seem to have been crucial.

RUMSFELD: Well, it's hard to know. I think the world's certainly a better place with Saddam Hussein gone.

ZAKARIA: But that's not the question. The question was, was it central to the war on terror?

RUMSFELD: There's no question that al Qaeda and Zarqawi, and people were in Iraq. They aggregated there and they corroborated --

ZAKARIA: Largely after we invaded.

RUMSFELD: Exactly. Exactly.

ZAKARIA: But that -- if we hadn't invaded, they wouldn't have been there.

RUMSFELD: We don't know that. You don't know that. I don't know that.

ZAKARIA: But they went in to fight us. So since we weren't there, why would they have gone into Iraq?

RUMSFELD: Well, why have they gone into Yemen? Why have they gone into Somalia? Why do al Qaeda go anywhere? They go where it's hospitable.

ZAKARIA: Right, and Iraq hadn't been hospitable. I mean, Saddam Hussein had not been --

RUMSFELD: Zarqawi had been there.

ZAKARIA: But, look, looking back at history, you've got to -- you've got to think in your heart of hearts, that if you could do it over again, this was a wild distraction.

RUMSFELD: There are people who try to make the case that Iraq distracted things from Afghanistan.

ZAKARIA: I just mean our energies.

RUMSFELD: Oh, energies in the aggregate.

ZAKARIA: In the aggregate.

RUMSFELD: Well, clearly, it's been costly. There's been no question about that.

ZAKARIA: Without much benefit. Look at Iraq today. I mean, you know, Iran is able to influence its foreign policy. It's cozying up to Syria even as Assad is butchering his people. Is this what you had hoped for?

RUMSFELD: Of course not. One would hope that things would turn out perfectly. But in life they rarely do. Your suggestion implies that the world's not better off with Saddam Hussein gone.

ZAKARIA: No, no. I just said it wasn't -- the cost. RUMSFELD: Let me make my statement. I think the world is better off having the Iraqi people, an important country, with a constitution they drafted, with a government that's respectful of the various diverse elements in that country.

Is it perfect? No. Are people still going to be killing each other from time to time in that part of the world? You bet. And -- but it is, I think, a situation that is better today than it was then.

Now, it's taken time. It's taken money. It's taken lives. And that is always not predictable.

ZAKARIA: I want to --

RUMSFELD: I've watched your migration on the issue. And it is -- it's an understandable migration.

ZAKARIA: I just think the costs have -- you know, everything in life is a cost-benefit analysis. You can't pretend otherwise.


ZAKARIA: And at some point the costs overwhelm any potential benefits. And it just seems as though in terms of the energy we have devoted, if you look back, and what we got out of it, it's tough to make the case that you would do it again.

RUMSFELD: You know, there are unintended benefits and unintended consequences, as well. But, I mean, the fact that Gadhafi watched Saddam Hussein come up out of that hole and made a conscious decision he would give up his nuclear program and called in the West to dismantle, it was a good thing.

ZAKARIA: That was an unintended benefit.

RUMSFELD: Exactly.

ZAKARIA: But let me ask you, because you started out your tenure as defense secretary in this case, with a very clear sense of what the American military posture should be in this world. We should be light. We should be lethal. We should be flexible.

I was very taken by it, and I actually still think fundamentally it is the right way to go. But then we got involved in these wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and we developed this massive new doctrine, counterinsurgency, which is really basically about occupation and governance of these societies.

All I'm saying is that's not the light, lethal, flexible military that Donald Rumsfeld talked about.

RUMSFELD: No, it's not. That's right. And not just Donald Rumsfeld but George Bush.

ZAKARIA: Yes. RUMSFELD: He spoke at the citadel. He said let's bring in the Department of Defense into the 21st century. That's why he asked me to come in. That's what I was working on. And then, 9/11 came.

ZAKARIA: All right. We're going to talk about this and more when we come back with Donald Rumsfeld.


ZAKARIA: And we're back with Donald Rumsfeld talking about 9/11 and everything else 10 years on.

RUMSFELD: Let me make a comment about 9/11 and today. Today with a debt crisis and a deficit crisis, we're about ready to make the same mistake we've made after World War II, after Vietnam and Korea, and then after the Cold War -- pare down our intelligence, cut the budgets in the Defense Department, and think we can get away with it.

We got away with it in earlier years. It's inefficient. You then have to crank it back up, which is what President Reagan had to do after the Carter years and what President George W. Bush had to do after the George Herbert Walker and Clinton years, after the end of the Cold War.

If we make that mistake again, it seems to me we're doing it in an environment that's notably different. The margin for error for political leadership in our country is different today because of the lethality of weapons. And if we do what it looks like the Congress is going to do, think they can balance the budget off the Pentagon, I think it will be a tragic mistake for the country.

ZAKARIA: We're still spending more than the rest of the world put together. We're still spending six to eight times more than --

RUMSFELD: Would you rather have Somalia spend more or Sudan or --

ZAKARIA: No. But my point is, there's room -- you ran the budget up so high that there's room to come down without sacrificing --

RUMSFELD: When I was in the Navy and when I went to Washington, Eisenhower was president, and then Kennedy, and then Johnson -- we were spending 10 percent of GDP on defense.

What are we spending today? Four percent. Three percent, 4 percent, 5 percent, in that range.

ZAKARIA: Largely because GDP has gone up so much. It's a testament to America's economic strength.

RUMSFELD: We are committing a -- less than half as a percentage --


RUMSFELD: -- of GDP today than we were then and we can afford it just fine. Now, there are people who think we're living in the post-American world, to coin a phrase. There are people who believe that we should step back and lead from behind. I personally think that the role of the United States has been a good one in the world, that it's been a healthy thing, that it's contributed to a more peaceful world, and it's not an accident that people all over the world want to come here, and they're standing in line to get a green card to come to the United States.

And the order that the United States contributes to, peace and stability in the world, by our strength is significant. I mean, Dwight Eisenhower had the phrase right -- it's peace through strength. It's be a deterrent, have those capabilities that dissuade people from thinking they can do things they ought not to do.

Weakness is provocative. We don't want to provoke people.

ZAKARIA: But Eisenhower believed very much in having a military industrial complex that was manageable. He worried a great deal about overspending. He worried even after Sputnik that it was going to be -- he is if anything a story about somebody who felt that you don't need, you know, to spend more than the rest of the world put together, which is what we're spending.

I just want to say on your bait that --

RUMSFELD: You like that phrase.

ZAKARIA: All the nice things you said about America are what attracted me to come to this country in the first place.

RUMSFELD: And we're glad you came.

ZAKARIA: But I've got to get back to something -- back to your conception of the military. You must regard General Petraeus and all this counterinsurgency and the way it's taken the military as all a big mistake.

RUMSFELD: No, I don't. I --

ZAKARIA: You can't have it both ways. You can't say you were in favor of this light, flexible military, and then praise what Petraeus' vision for the military is, which is entirely different.

RUMSFELD: I can. And I'll tell you how. It's true that there are countries where we need to have strength that would dissuade them from conventional-type activities. We also need capabilities that dissuade countries from insurgency-type activities.

ZAKARIA: But leadership is about choice. You can't have everything.

RUMSFELD: We're spending 4 percent of GDP on defense instead of 10 percent, which we spent during the Eisenhower period.

ZAKARIA: Do you want us to spend 10 percent? RUMSFELD: No, I don't. But I do think we're about ready to make a big mistake and the people who go around saying, oh, you don't need to worry about defense -- I worry about our intelligence capabilities. This is a complicated world. It's a dangerous world. We've got problems of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

ZAKARIA: And we spend all this money and miss Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, we miss the Arab Spring, we miss the breakup of the Soviet Union. What are we getting out of all that money?

RUMSFELD: Intelligence money -- it is very worrisome that we miss those things that our intelligence capabilities, despite the fine people trying hard, it is -- it is not like you're looking at the Soviet Union for 40 years and you get to understand it pretty well, although we made mistakes there, too.

ZAKARIA: I was going to say, except we didn't realize they were collapsing.

RUMSFELD: Exactly. We also didn't realize they were spending 18 percent of their GDP on defense.

ZAKARIA: But the two things were related, I would argue.

RUMSFELD: Yes. It was a smaller GDP than we thought.

ZAKARIA: The neocon conservative -- you've been very charitable to the kind of point of view that is different from yours, the counterinsurgency. They're not so charitable towards you, Max Boot in "Commentary" magazine, very conservative magazine, speaks of you. "Gates' predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, has been discredited, along with most senior generals, for pursuing wrong-headed policies in Iraq, including insisting no more troops were needed."

Do you think that's how you're going to be remembered by those people?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't know. There are people who write things all the time that are right and some are wrong. And when you do something, somebody's not going to like it and you just expect that. There are people who write, they have to write something so, they write something. I hear things all the time that aren't correct.

ZAKARIA: Do you have any regrets looking back?

RUMSFELD: Of course, you have regrets. My goodness. Anyone, that's the typical journalist question. Every journalist says, oh, tell me what you did wrong, what are your regrets?

I'll tell you what is hard. And that is that these wonderful men and women who volunteer to serve our country, and some of them get injured and some of them get killed. And it is heartbreaking.

What do you say to their families? And what do you say to their friends? And I always come away inspired by them. ZAKARIA: But that's a sense of sadness. I'm asking you about regrets about decisions you make -- or are you saying that you're regretting that the grief comes from the fact that these deaths were unnecessary?

RUMSFELD: No, of course they're not unnecessary.

ZAKARIA: So, what I'm asking you is about regrets. We all have grief about the loss of these brave people. But I'm saying what do you look back on your -- you know, on your tenure and tenure and say I would have done it differently.

RUMSFELD: I'll give you one example. I think we've done a not very good job of -- we've put a lot of pressure on terrorist networks, but for whatever reason, Americans are very reluctant to talk about radical Islamism and Islamists. We don't want to be seen as against a religion.

And so, the Bush administration didn't do a good job. We were careful and words were always sensitive. And we never -- you can't win a battle of ideas, a competition of ideas unless you describe the enemy, say who it is, say what's wrong with it, say what we do and why that's what's right.

We did that in the Cold War. We defeated communism. And we were tongue tied over this.

And the Obama administration is much worse. They won't even use the word in their hearings. The attorney general doesn't want to even discuss it.

ZAKARIA: But he killed Osama.

RUMSFELD: Oh, the president --

ZAKARIA: Did he do a good job on that?

RUMSFELD: Oh, my goodness. Yes, of course, how can you ask a question like that? Did you want him to live?

ZAKARIA: No, I'm asking you, do you think, given the choices you face, the decision to not use drones, but to go and with all, you've been there.

RUMSFELD: Absolutely.

ZAKARIA: The most difficult and good ones.

RUMSFELD: They are not difficult decisions but he did the right thing. Absolutely, the right thing.

ZAKARIA: They are not difficult decisions?

RUMSFELD: In this case, the question as to whether you use a drone and don't have certainty, or you use the SEAL team and have those enormously competent, brilliantly trained and brilliantly equipped people go in and do what they did, I think the correct choice was selected. And I don't think it's that tough a choice. Myself.

I think he did the right thing. They thought about it. They discussed it. They made the right decision. And the world is a better place because --

ZAKARIA: I hate to leave it at this, but I'm hoping that we can entice you back.

RUMSFELD: Good, I'd enjoy it.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on, sir.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.


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

Let me tell you about the most influential book to be published since 9/11, at least according to me. It's actually not a book but a report, a U.N. report written by a committee. I'm talking about the Arab Development Report published in 2002.

After 9/11, in the midst of the discussion of what was happening in the Arab world, why it was the source of this terrorism, the U.N. Development Program's head, Mark Malloch Brown, commissioned a study of the Arab world -- political, economic, social. But he insisted it be researched and written by Arabs, so there was no accusation of an outsider's bias or neocolonialism.

The result was a brutally frank document that was a sensation. It was downloaded off the internet 1 million times.

The report documented the stunning decay of the Arab world. If you want to explore the conditions that produced al Qaeda, read this report.

Take a look at some of the most damning statistics. When the nonprofit Freedom House rated world regions on a broad range of political and civil rights, Arab countries came last. Look at the economy -- the UNDP report highlighted the entire Arab League put together -- that is 22 countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- had a smaller GDP than Spain. Fifteen percent of Arabs were unemployed compared to a global average of 6 percent at the time.

Then there's education, in 2002, 65 million adults, one of every four Arabs, were illiterate. One of out of every two Arab women couldn't read or write.

And for the few Arab readers, there wasn't much choice. The entire region was translating just 330 books a year -- one fifth the amount that Greece translates every year.

All these statistics showed how the Arab world was worse off than everywhere except Sub-Saharan Africa.

Now, what caught my attention this week, almost a decade later, is that much of the data in that report is unchanged or barely changed. On jobs, the region now suffers some of the highest unemployment rates in the world. And the raw number of Arabs who can't read or write has actually increased.

Other indicators have worsened, too. Somalia is now suffering from a deadly famine. And the last decade, Sudan's Darfur region becomes the mass crimes against humanity -- one could go on.

In case you've been keeping track, the only real indicator of the Arab world's health that has actually improved since the UND report was published is its GDP. The Arab League's combined gross domestic product has quadrupled.

But here's the revealing statistic: the price of oil almost rose at the same rate. And that kind of oil produce growth doesn't trickle down and it certainly doesn't help the tens of millions of Arabs in the region's most populous countries like Egypt and Syria that have little oil.

According to World Bank data, it has taken three decades for the average Arab person's income to double since 1980. Meanwhile, inflation helped market prices double in just the first seven of those 30 years.

And so, now, we have the Arab Spring -- from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, repressive dictators are being toppled by people power. There's no doubt that this is great news.

But remember, all other Arab regimes have manage to remain in power through a mix of repression and bribery. From Jordan to Oman to Saudi Arabia and Syria, increasing subsidies might delay popular resentment but it won't change the facts on the ground.

And the crucial point is that even democracy will only succeed if these underlying social statistics on literacy and jobs and women's rights improves.

Ten years on from 9/11, the Arab world remains in denial. A recent Pew study shows the majorities in all Muslim states think that Arabs were not responsible for the attacks of September the 11th. Three out of four Egyptians hold that belief, for example.

Now, that is simply nonsense. Instead of bizarre conspiracy theories, the Arab world needs to focus on the dire statistics the UNDP highlighted almost a decade ago.

The Arab spring is a first step for those countries that it has touched, but it needs to be a springboard for 300 million Arabs to look deep within and address the fundamentals that their leaders have neglected for decades - education, women's rights, economic reforms, jobs and real freedom.

And we will be right back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RORY STEWART, AUTHOR, "THE PLACES IN BETWEEN": It was a form of hysteria. We'll look back in - in disbelief at what we've done in the last 10 years, not - not just Iraq, but also Afghanistan. It's astonishing.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredericka Whitfield in Atlanta.

Our top story, it is a day of remembrance on this tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. In New York the sound of bagpipes during service at the new 9/11 Memorial. The names of nearly 2,800 people who died in the World Trade Center attacks were read and moments of silence were held for when the towers were hit and when they fell.

And Vice President Joe Biden helped lead the memorial services for the victims of the attack at the Pentagon. The troops placed wreaths at the memorial there. One hundred eighty four people were killed when the hijacked American Airlines jet liner struck the building.

And then in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a memorial service for the victims who dies when United Airlines Flight 93 plunged to the ground there. They are believed to have prevented the hijackers from flying the plane into the U.S. Capitol.

President Barack Obama laid a wreath to honor the 40 victims on that flight.

And I'll be back with much more of our special coverage at the top of the hour. Now back to "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."


ZAKARIA: Obviously and indisputably the United States and the world have seen great changes in the more than 5 million minutes that have passed since 9/11/01. Now I want to look at the bigger picture of how the world has changed, and, to help me do that, three very special guests.

Francis Fukuyama is one of the world's preeminent minds in the realm of politics and global affairs. Rory Stewart is a member of the British parliament, who has served as a British governor of an Iraqi province and who famously walked across Afghanistan in the winter of 2001 and wrote a book about it. Irshad Manji has been described as Osama Bin Laden's worst nightmare. She is a liberal reformer of Islam and the author most recently of "Allah, Liberty and Love."


Frank, a year after 9/11, I remember reading an essay by you, which was about whether or not history had started up again. Now, to give people context, you are famous for having written an essay in 1989 called "The End of History" in which you argued that the collapse of the Soviet Union meant that the big contest of ideas that had animated the Western world for hundreds of years was at an end, and people were basically - liberal democracy had won. And, in the essay, a year after 9/11, you said history hasn't yet started up again.

Do you still feel that way, that - that the rise of radical Islam, Islamic terrorism, al Qaeda, all that, in your mind this - this isn't history starting up again?

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, AUTHOR, "THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN": Oh, I think absolutely we are going to look back in a few decades at this period and see it just as a blip, a - a kind of footnote. I think that Osama Bin Laden got very, very lucky on September 11th, with these media ready strikes. It then generated this huge American overreaction in terms of the invasion of Iraq. It led to a decade's worth of turmoil.

But, in the end, big historic events are driven by powerful social movements. And I think this particular brand of - of radical Islamist terrorist group, represented by al Qaeda, is not a significant social movement. It's very marginal.

ZAKARIA: Irshad, is it a blip? Because when you look at the Muslim world closely, as you do, there - there was, before 9/11 and after, a great deal of radicalism, right?

IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR, "ALLAH, LIBERTY AND LOVE": There was, and frankly there continues to be. I mean, the reality is that, you know, when - when out of the mouth of, say, a soldier in Fort Hood, a Muslim soldier in Fort Hood, come the words, Allah ho Akbar, God is great. And moderate Muslims some say Islam has nothing to do with this as he is spraying bullets against his fellow soldiers. You can't help but scratch your head and wonder, what do the moderates have to hide?

So, you know, even if it is a blip, the fact is that the denial that is so deep seated in the moderate consciousness actually raises suspicions among non-Muslims and makes the problem worse than it ought to be.

ZAKARIA: Rory, when - when you think about this, looking back historically, what - what - how do you think history will code 9/11?

STEWART: I think in the end this is a very distorted, strange form of religious action, the Bin Laden form of Islam. We've had equivalents in Christianity, Calvinism, extreme pureness, Puritan beliefs and the Crusading ideology of the 12th Century.

These things don't last, I think, in the end, because human nature doesn't tolerate it. This form of fanaticism is simply not compatible with the way that an Afghan or an Egyptian and Indonesian lives their daily life. And I think it can be sustained for a decade, two decades, three decades, but in the end it can't settle into a permanent human condition. ZAKARIA: You know, Frank, you - you said in that essay, as I remember, one of the reasons that you didn't think that al Qaeda and the rise of radical Islam posed the kind of threat that communism posed was that communisms, you worried that the whole world could go communist.

FUKUYAMA: That's right.

ZAKARIA: You worried in any given country - Italy could have turned communist in the '40s, France could have gone communist - but that, with Islam, there is a very - there is a very definable limit. Radical Islam has no appeal to non-Muslims. But now you're saying that actually what the Arab spring shows you is it doesn't have that much appeal to Muslims either.

FUKUYAMA: Well, that's right. I think the big problem is that that form of Islam is not really compatible with modernity and all the things we associate with an economic development and the ability to generate technology and innovation and this sort of thing. And I think there is a kind of universalism to the aspiration to live in a world where you're open to these ideas, where you're able to move and - and, you know, be susceptible to, you know, all of the opportunities for an education and everything else that the modern world poses.

So it's not just the - it's not just being culturally Muslim. It's you cut yourself off, really, from all of the, you know, the good things about the modern world.

STEWART: Can I just - very quickly. I mean, this is something - I - I was just in Afghanistan recently, and I was up in the mountains with some mujahideen who've been fighting in the jihad against the Soviet Union. What was so striking is how much they hated the modern world, how uncomfortable they were with modern Kabul.

They said, you know, we were starving, we were fighting for nine years, we were doing (INAUDIBLE) and all these guys in Kabul are wearing jeans, they're watching these stupid television programs. This is not the Afghanistan for which we fought.

Their sense is that all activity in the 1980s (ph) has been defeated, and what they're being defeated by is very much what - what Frank's referring to, which is the forces of global modernity.

ZAKARIA: We are going to talk about the trajectory of modern societies, particularly of the United States. We're going to talk about what 9/11 did to America when we come back.




ZAKARIA: And we are back, discussing the world after 9/11 with Francis Fukuyama os Stanford; Irshad Manji; and Rory Stewart of the British Parliament, I suppose. Frank, when we look back historically, will we look at 9/11 as the moment that American decline began, that the United States extended itself in this vast series of wars, spent $2 trillion, in some ways bankrupt - if not bankrupt itself, certainly exploded the federal budget, and China moved on and India moved on and Brazil moved on?

FUKUYAMA: Well, I think that that shift, as you yourself have argued, was something that was going to happen, I think, regardless of - of 9/11. But I think 9/11 played a role, because I think the United States took that unipolar moment and - and just thought that it was going to last forever.

It made, I think, a really crucial mistake in invading Iraq in response. It couldn't have done that without September 11th. And that led to this decline, I think, in the prestige of - of American democracy and of the American idea around the world.

ZAKARIA: Rory, what does it look like to you? Does this seem like a replay of Britain in its - you know, in its - toward the end of its empire? Is - is the Iraq War the - the Boer War?

STEWART: I think it's - it's terrible, because I think it was a form of hysteria. We'll look back in - in disbelief at what we've done in the last 10 years, not - not just Iraq, but also Afghanistan. It's astonishing.

I mean, 10 years after 9/11, to still be spending $125 billion a year, have 135,000 troops on the ground, to have generals still saying this year will be the decisive year, give us a bit more time. It will seem completely bizarre. And, worst of all, American optimism, which was always its great trademark, used in the most grotesque way to feel every problem has a solution, we just need more resources, we just need more troops and we can crack this one.

It's the terrible exposure of all of the emotional energy which, to some extent, made the United States great, now tearing it to pieces, as least in foreign affairs, over the last decade.

MANJI: You know, Fareed, as a Muslim, I must say that 9/11 was a horrible way to introduce America to Islam. But in - on reflection, I don't think anything less than a cataclysm would have woken America up to the existence of Islam.

9/11 woke us up to the fact that what happens in Islam affects countless lives outside the fold. What we have not yet woken up to the fact of, however, is the need for much more honesty in this conversation. It is a - a time deeply suffused with fear, much more so, I would argue, than immediate days after 9/11.

ZAKARIA: When you look at Afghanistan, if the United States were to withdraw, Taliban would gain some supremacy in some parts of Afghanistan, probably Southern Afghanistan, and you would have, presumably, Irshad's nightmare, a kind of government or ruling structures that would be radical Islamists, that would deny women education, that would do all kinds of things that are in some way an enactment of Sharia law. Does that worry you? STEWART: I don't want to minimize the problems that Afghanistan will face. It would be a poor, fragile, traumatized country. But the demons which we have imposed in that country are completely misleading.

We tried to make what is essentially a relatively barren, impoverished country in the Central Asia, which is one of 40 countries in the world we need to worry about, much less important than Pakistan, much less important than Egypt, into an existential threat to global security.

And all of these funny words - Islam, failed states, governance - are deeply misleading. It's a hypnotizing jargon which has dragged the United States into places it doesn't need to be, in a way it doesn't need to be there.

ZAKARIA: When you look at the United States' role in the world right now, even though there are - there is this rise of the rest, the United States is still the single largest economy, the single most powerful military player, politically even still the agenda setter.

What do you think it should do so that 10 years from now we wouldn't look back and say this was another wasted decade?

FUKUYAMA: Well, I think the absolute priority is to get our own basically financial house in order. All of the problems we face - the long-term deficit, the potential weakness of the dollar - these are all solvable problems, and the problem right now is - is a dysfunctional political system. But, more important actually, dysfunctional political culture that can't actually get to the solutions that are clearly there.

And I think that until you establish that domestic basis for the American, you know, presence in the world, it's probably better, you know, not to extend American power unduly because I think you'll then hasten a - a future decline.

ZAKARIA: Isn't that the sort of lesson of Britain? How do you - but what - the reason I ask you, it was very difficult for Britain to pull back. They were running the world and everybody looked to them every time there was a crisis.

STEWART: Right. And I think you're right, the United States does have some records of that. But the danger for the United States I think going forward the next 10 years, is its tendency to extremes, its tendency to lurch from engagement to isolation, from troop increase to withdrawal.

The real key, I would imagine, is for the United States to invest in the State Department, invest in its linguistic (ph) expertise, invest in its area knowledge, develop a much more patient, moderate foreign policy. To try to follow up perhaps what President Obama has been trying to do in Libya in terms of defining how you can do something that falls short of total a intervention, a military occupation, but goes a little bit beyond sanctions. What tools are available to the United States? And to try to resist the temptation of American journalists, American think tanks, American generals, American universities to push you in up to your neck again and again in places that you don't need to be.

ZAKARIA: Rory Stewart, Frank Fukuyama, Irshad Manji, thank you all.

And we will be back.



ZAKARIA: Our question this week from the "GPS Challenge" is in September 2001, in which of these nations was a large candlelight vigil held for the victims of 9/11? Was it A) Iran, B) Iraq, C) North Korea, or D) Saudi Arabia? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

Go to for 10 more questions. And, while you're there, check out our website, The Global Public Square. You'll find smart interviews and takes from some of our favorite experts.

And, don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

This week's "Book of the Week" is actually a report. It's the report I talked about earlier in the show in our "What in the World?" segment - the U.N. Development Project's Arab Human Development Report.

Sounds wonky? It's actually an extraordinary snapshot of the region. It will give you some insight into the conditions that fueled Arab terrorism. We have a link on our website,

And now for the "Last Look." Take a look at Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. He is a Maasai warrior, and his 9/11 story will amaze you.

Growing up in Enoosaen, a rural Kenyan village - no electricity, no phones, no running water, no roads - young Kimeli dreamed of becoming a doctor. Incredibly, Kimeli found his way to college in the United States. And, on September 11th, 2001, Kimeli was in New York City.

Many months later, back in Kenya, he told his tribe about what had happened. Many didn't know about the September 11th attacks. They were horrified, felt compelled to act to soothe the pain of our faraway nation.

On June 3rd, 2002, the U.S. charge d'affaires traveled to Enoosaen to accept a gift of cows, the most precious gift a Maasai can give, 14 of them in total. Some villagers held up banners that read, "We give these cows to help you."

There was one hitch. The U.S. had logistical and monetary problems getting the cows to America. It was going to cost much more than they were worth. The Maasai couldn't really understand why the Americans had accepted their heartfelt gift but wouldn't take possession of them. On the fifth anniversary of the attacks, all was made right. The then American ambassador and the Maasai agreed that the American cattle would stay in Enoosaen and America offered a thank you gift in return, scholarships for 14 boys and girls to go to local schools every year.

The American cattle have been fruitful and multiplied. As of today, the herd is 35 cows and six calves strong. And because the original 14 were specially blessed by the Maasai, the entire herd is considered sacred and none may ever be slaughtered.

The correct answer to our "GPS Challenge" question was A. A candlelight vigil was held in Iran just days after the September 11th attacks.

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