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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with Gene Sperling; The Search for Kony, Interview With World Bank President Nominee Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Aired April 15, 2012 - 10:00   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. We begin an important show with the most important topic today, the economy.

And to talk about it we have no less an authority than President Obama's top economic advisor; that is Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council. Why isn't employment picking up? We'll ask him.

Then, we'll go global. Who should be the next president of the World Bank? Should it be an American as always or should it be opened up to emerging economies in Asia, Africa, South America?

Nigeria's Finance Minister says she should be the bank's next leader and she has some very influential supporters. We will talk to her.

Also, the new kind of warfare we're seeing pop up more and more, dirty wars; that's what the New York Times' Jeffrey Gettleman calls them and I'll talk to him about it.

But, first, here's my take. As many regular viewers know, I have been following the tense back-and-forth with Iran very closely. I continue to believe it is the single most dangerous crisis that we confront today and I'm struck by the pessimism surrounding it.

Everyone seems to believe that whatever the momentary ups and downs, there is unlikely to be a deal between Iran and the great powers that will avert war and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

But that's not clear. There is a path to a deal, if, as with any successful negotiation, both sides can come away with something. So what would a deal look like?

The United States has long demanded that Iran stop all enrichment of uranium, a process that allows it to produce the fuel necessary for an atomic bomb. Iran has insisted it has the right to enrich for a peaceful nuclear program. Now, there is a way around the deadlock.

Washington has signaled that it will ask Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent or more, the level from which fuel can be easily converted for military purposes. Iran has indicated that it might be willing to accept a limit and would enrich up to 3.5 or 5 percent. Iran could claim that it has preserved its right to enrichment, but it's very hard to weaponize from that level. There are other sticking points, but Iran almost accepted a deal in 2009 and proposed one in 2010. Statements from officials in both sides suggest they might embrace elements of those proposals.

The crucial point on which Iran must make deep concessions is comprehensive inspections. The 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency report lays out a series of indicators that Iran might be pursuing a weapons program.

The great powers should use that as a checklist of activities that Iran would commit to refraining from and insist that Iran allow the IAEA unfettered access to its sites until the agency is satisfied that any military program has been shut down.

But Iran would have to receive some reward for accepting such unprecedented inspections, and the obvious option would be the relaxation of sanctions, step-by-step, as inspections proceed unimpeded.

Now, for any deal to stick, it has to be accepted by two groups. The first are the hard-liners in Tehran, led by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He might be amenable. Khamenei has consolidated power, and he might be secure enough to accept a deal.

He has beaten back the Green movement, accommodated one key rival, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and sidelined another, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Khamenei has also given himself room to make concessions on the nuclear program, saying recently Islam considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin.

But if Iran does make concessions, the United States would have to be able to accept them and relax some sanctions. This is where the second important group, Republicans in Washington, could be an obstacle. If they demagogue the deal or refuse to reciprocate on sanctions, the whole thing will unravel.

The administration has handled its allies, Russia, China, the United Nations and even Tehran with skill. To succeed now, however, it has to tackle its most formidable foe, with whom it has not had much negotiating success so far; Republicans.

Let's get started.

Gene Sperling, thanks for joining us.


ZAKARIA: The jobs numbers that came out were not as good as many had hoped and it continues to be true that while the economy has generated some decent growth, it is not generating jobs at the pace that anyone would want or that the administration was predicting early in its tenure. Why is that?

SPERLING: Well, I think if you look at the actual job creation you've had over 2011 and 2012, it actually would be solid in most other contexts.

In 2011, we -- our economy actually created 2.1 million private sector jobs and if you look at the three months of this year, even with the fact that March was below expectations, it's still about 630 thousand jobs; that's over 200,000 a month and above the pace of another 2 million jobs a year.

So it's really you're having is very solid private sector job creation. The problem's obvious. We started in a very, very deep hole. And when you are starting from a hole from the, you know, worst recession since the Great Depression, you got a long way back.

And so you just have to stay at it and stay at it. I will say that we never thought that the pace we were on was fast enough. That's why the president went out in September and proposed the American Jobs Act, a $447 billion initiative, which people estimated would have added an extra million to 2 million jobs.

Now, fortunately, we've got the payroll tax cut, the veterans tax cut, the unemployment insurance and those are helping, but just think about how much stronger the job market would be if just two of the things he had proposed that the Republicans said no to had passed.

One, teacher layoffs, and, secondly, construction jobs and infrastructure, I think if those two things had passed, we would be knocking down the door of going under 8 percent, being into the 7 percents on employment and making much further progress.

But at least we've been able to pass the important components that at least helped keep the recovery strong even with the headwinds.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the Buffett Rule. The Buffett Rule, most of the analysis suggests, raises about $40, $45 billion a year. The federal government is going to spend, over the next ten years, $45 trillion dollars.

So is this about economics? Is this about deficit reduction? Or is it, as your critics charge, class warfare?

SPERLING: I think what it is about is it's about the basic fairness and trust in our tax code and in our government. And it's about also putting together a larger deficit reduction plan that includes the values of shared sacrifice so, yes, on the fairness side.

I think when people call about tax reform, what a lot of people are talking about, typical Americans, is, yes, they want less complexity in filling out their own taxes.

But what really irks a lot of Americans is the idea that people who are extremely well-off are able to use tax planning, tax accounting, parking money, arranging all their income to be in preferential rates so that the most well-off people in our society can actually end up paying less than a lot of middle income families who are struggling to make ends meet.

And the Buffett Rule's very simple. It says you can do all those kind of tax planning. You can do all you want, but, at the end of the day, there's kind of a flat rule. If you make over a million dollars, you're going to pay at least a flat 30 percent rate.

Now, on the numbers, if you kept tax rates where they are today, this would actually raise $160 billion, which is significant, $160 billion over ten years, and if you allowed the tax rates to go back to where they were in the Clinton era for the most fortunate, which would be 39 percent, then it would raise $47 billion.

Well, of course, that alone isn't going to solve our deficit, but that's the issue. The issue is, is that an important component of an overall deficit reduction plan.

And the reason why I think it is is because people in our country are absolutely willing to sacrifice if they believe we're all in it together, there's shared sacrifice.

When you look at the House Republican budget, when they're willing to cut Medicaid for people with disabilities, poor children, people in nursing homes, by a third ten years from now, by $810 billion and, then, at the same time, it won't raise one penny in revenues.

They'll actually have tax cuts that they give the typical millionaire, $150 thousand. That breaks that kind of social compact.

We're not going to put those types of burdens on the most vulnerable people in our society just so we can keep people who are making over a million from contributing even a single penny to deficit reduction, which, I think, quite a lot of them are more than willing to do as part of a balanced, pro-growth, pro-deficit reduction package.

ZAKARIA: But you don't have a tax reform plan and the president has never proposed one. Are you going to propose one?

SPERLING: Well, the president put forward, as you know, a corporate tax reform plan brought the top rate down to 28 percent, had a lower rate for manufacturing more around 25 percent and had a similar type Buffett Rule for foreign earnings, basically, saying a minimum tax on foreign earnings.

ZAKARIA: No, but I mean the kind of comprehensive 1986 type cap for tax reform where you get rid of what Simpson-Bowles proposed, essentially get rid of most of the loopholes.

SPERLING: I think, you know, the president, what he's done in individual tax reform is put out the principles that would guide a tax reform that would essentially be part of a bipartisan negotiation.

And, I think, you know, to be honest, you haven't seen any of the major parties go overly detailed on tax reform because, I think, as we saw, in 1986, in the end of the day when this happens, it usually happens because there's a bipartisan negotiation where everybody works hard, you know, hold hands and jumps together with it. And that's the kind of thing we would like to do.

And I think the biggest problem that we've seen is just that there's been an unwillingness to understand that if you're going to be cutting spending and asking for constraints in areas like Medicare and domestic spending, that raising revenues has to be part of a balanced deficit reduction plan, as every bipartisan agreement before has included.

And, as Bowles-Simpson and other independent groups, have called for and made a foundation of their deficit reduction plans.

ZAKARIA: We will be back in a moment to talk more to Gene Sperling, the president's top economic advisor about the new fiscal nightmare that might be headed our way in just eight months' time.

We'll be right back.


ZAKARIA: The American economy seems to be doing better, but in eight months, the United States might find itself in a nightmarish fiscal mess. Let me explain.

Three things are likely to come down around the same time. On December 31, 2012, the Bush tax cuts will expire. On January 2, 2013, the sequestration or automatic budget cuts set in. And sometime right around then, the debt ceiling limit is likely to be reached again.

It will be a time when the American government, as a whole, has some very tough decisions to make very fast and we've seen how poorly Washington has stood up to great fiscal challenges in the recent past.

And if President Obama does not win election, he'll be a lame duck president. So, Gene Sperling, President Obama's chief economic advisor, is going to explain how we get out of all this.

What are you going to do? How are you going to get Congress to somehow find the will to compromise within a few weeks on big issues that they haven't been willing do for two-and-a-half years?

SPERLING: Well, first of all, I actually don't know. I don't think any of us know exactly when we hit the debt limit again.

I think whenever that is, I would hope that we, as a country, would agree that however we fight and battle and argue over deficits, that we are never ever going again going to see anybody using the default of the United States, for the first time in our history, as a budget tactic.

I hope that that will be off the table forever because it would be so harmful to our country and the credit standing that we've had since the time of Alexander Hamilton. Now, the other two issues, I think you're absolutely right, which is that we will face the prospect that on January 1st, if we do nothing, that we would see all of the Bush -- so-called Bush tax cuts for middle class and high income Americans essentially sunset and taxes would go up for middle class families.

And you would have the sequester across the board on defense and discretionary. When we agree to that type of sequester, nobody, not John Boehner, not Barrack Obama said well, that's a good policy to do. It was just the opposite.

The idea was that's supposed to be such an unthinkable policy and so equally odious to both sides that it will force us to come to the table and work on a more honorable, bipartisan agreement which we know our country needs.

And, you know, I don't think there's any other way to say it. The main obstacle to that has really been the unwillingness, particularly of Republicans in the House of Representatives, to recognize what everybody else in this country knows, which is that if we're going to do something about our deficit, part of it has to be solved with revenues, particularly revenues that ask those who are most well-off to contribute.

And I think we just have to hope that, with those guns to our head, that this would be a time when we would -- people would put ideologies aside and have the type of honorable compromise that would help our country move forward.

But nobody knows and we'll have to see how it goes.

ZAKARIA: Paul Ryan, this week, said the president walked away from Simpson-Bowles, he set up the Cantor-Biden talks to fail, he set up a sequestration process that he knows would unravel, that he's not serious about deficit reduction.

SPERLING: Well, obviously, I could not disagree more and while I like Paul Ryan personally, I do not think, at this point, he has contributed in any way to our country moving forward on a bipartisan deficit reduction plan that reflects shared sacrifice.

I mean, Paul Ryan talking about walking away from a balanced plan like Bowles-Simpson is, I don't know, somewhere between laughable and a new definition for chutzpah. He was on the commission and voted against it.

That plan, the Bowles-Simpson Plan, actually calls for raising more revenues than President Obama has so if President Obama says that, as part of an overall $4 trillion deficit reduction plan, you should have $1.5 trillion of revenue. Bowles-Simpson says it should more like $2 trillion.

Paul Ryan says not only is it zero, but he proposes cutting taxes more and doing everything on spending cuts.

So he is now -- his budget has become the poster child for an extreme budget that puts all the burden on the middle class and the most vulnerable and includes no revenue when the core of Bowles- Simpson was a balance of revenue and entitlement savings and a principle that you don't put much burden at all on the most vulnerable in our society.

ZAKARIA: Finally, let me ask about a speech you made. You made a speech that was characterized by the Financial Time as an argument for industrial policy.

I'm not sure I would put it exactly that way, but it was an argument for aggressively helping manufacturing return to the United States.

Christina Romer, who used to work at the White House, criticized this basically saying when you give preferences to some -- one specific set of industries, they sit in place forever.

Look at the subsidies for oil and gas, their market distorting, the whole process gets politicized and it won't do very much to change the essential transformation of the American economy that is going on that is away from manufacturing and towards services.

SPERLING: I think the idea of an industrial policy where people in the government try to pick winners and losers, what particular industry or types of industry will be successful, I think is not wise. I don't think we're smarter than the market so I don't support that type of industrial policy.

But a core of economic policy is that there are certain types of investments in your country that have a stronger benefit to the country and the workers and the productivity as a whole than any particular company can fully capture.

What I was arguing was that the broad area of manufacturing, not as specific industry within manufacturing, but the broad area of manufacturing punches above its weight economically.

I mean, think about it, 90 percent of patents comes from manufacturing, 70 percent of private sector research and development comes from manufacturing, 60 percent of exports.

And, I think, you know I cited a lot of studies, but the one I thought was most compelling was one by the Harvard Business Review where they point out that when you lose your manufacturing capacity, even for a moment, you don't just lose your capacity to build that product, which maybe could be made cheaper somewhere else now, you lose your capacity to win the products of the future.

And so, therefore, when we let our manufacturing capability erode, it didn't just hurt us at that moment, we lost competitiveness to other countries, South Korea and others, that we never should have.

So I think this is non-industrial policy that's picking winners and losers, this is just recognizing that there are certain types of economic activity that have a broader, positive economic impact for our country as a whole beyond what it does for the specific companies and workers in those private sectors institutes.

ZAKARIA: Gene Sperling, thanks for joining us.

SPERLING: Thanks for having me.

ZAKARIA: That was Gene Sperling, President Obama's top economic advisor.

Up next, What in the World? Since the start of the global financial crisis, the political backlash has largely been from the right, think of the Tea Party. So where is the left? We'll explain up next.


ZAKARIA: Time now for our What in the World segment.

It has now been four years since the start of the global financial crisis. This was a crisis that showcased a breakdown of markets, too much leverage, too little concern about risk, too much debt.

So you'd imagine that a political backlash would involve a move toward the left. Well, no, instead we saw a shift toward the political right in much of the industrialized world.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: God bless you, Tea Party Americans.


ZAKARIA: Here in America, the Tea Party was born pulling conservatives further toward the right. Consider that in the 2008 election, Mitt Romney was considered the conservative challenger to John McCain.

In this election, he's the moderate, out-flanked on the right by every other candidate. This dynamic seems afoot in Europe as well. Britain's conservatives return to power after 13 years.

Germany's Merkel and France's Sarkozy cemented their positions. Spain has a new conservative government. What happened to the left? Why was there no great surge in left-wing populism?

My own theory is that, in the crisis, the state had to jump in dramatically to stop a depression, but those actions, taking over banks or car companies, guaranteeing debt and mortgages, scared the hell out of people on the right who saw it as the beginning of a new socialism.

The left never mobilized. The occupy movement channeled popular discontent into its protest, but it never really had a coherent program and never gained traction. But that seems to be changing. The French elections may prove to be the beginning of a new trend, the Socialist Party's Francois Hollande is proposing a 75 percent tax rate on people earning more than a million euros.

Now, he's been upstaged by the more fiery Jean Luc Melenchon. The left front candidate has been holding huge meetings across the country telling seas of flag-waving followers that he would impose 100 percent tax rate on all earnings above half a million dollars.

And these left-wing candidates are polling well. Consider, on a much smaller, more timid scale, President Obama's 2012 campaign, which is moving somewhat to the left both in style and substance as he takes the Buffet Tax on the road.


BARRACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was with Warren Buffett a couple days ago. He says thanks for naming a rule after me.


ZAKARIA: Look at the protests in Greece and Italy which are getting more organized by the left. Or consider even the Pirate Party. This is a European political network that was founded on the basic platform that information should be free.

They wanted to legalize on-line file sharing, minimize copyright protections. I reported last October how the German offshoot of the Pirates won enough votes to enter the Berlin State Legislature.

Critics thought it was a flash in the pan. Berlin is an urban city-state with a lot of rebellious young college students, but, last week, the Pirates scored a second win in Saarland, a rural, gentrified state on the French border.

The Pirates won 7.4 percent of the vote to enter parliament. Polls now suggest that not only will the Pirates enter two more state legislatures next month, they have also become German's third most supported party.

So a new left-wing group with no real platform on energy, taxes or foreign affairs is now the third most popular party in Europe's leading economy.

We might be seeing the beginnings of a left-wing response to the crisis, channeling popular discontent. Some of it is very extreme, some of it is wacky.

Perhaps the larger function of these groups will be not actually to get elected to run a government, but to do what the Tea Party seems to have done, to use its voter base to pressure moderates.

If the Tea Party made the right more right, then don't be surprised if France's left and Europe's Pirates make their governments more attentive to the left. So we may be in for more ideological strife in the West.

Up next, dirty wars. My next guest says that's the way conflicts are being fought and will be fought going forward and that Joseph Coney is the perfect example of this phenomena. Back with that in just a moment.


ZAKARIA: Six weeks ago, very few people outside of Africa had any idea who Joseph Kony was. Today at least 87 million people do. That's how many people have watched the viral vide on YouTube about this brutal Ugandan warlord.

My next guest, Jeffrey Gettleman, has known about Kony for years. In fact, he was embedded with the Ugandan Army on a hunt for Kony two years ago. Gettleman is the East Africa Bureau Chief of the "New York Times". He happens to be here, I wanted to talk to him about Kony, but also about al Qaeda in Africa and about Africa and it's prospects in general. Thank you for stopping by.


ZAKARIA: So what was it like to be with the Ugandan Army while it was trying to find Joseph Kony?

GETTLEMAN: It was a pretty amazing experience. The Ugandan Army has been pursuing Kony for years and now they're stretched more than 1,000 miles away from Uganda. They have gone into Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo and they invited me to go along with them on this manhunt.

And it was some of the roughest terrain I have ever experienced. I mean, impenetrable jungle that we were hacking our ways through, walking up to, you know, to our necks in this black water, these rivers that flow through the jungle.

There was this leaf that these Ugandan soldiers had warned me about. They said, "Whatever you do, don't touch this leaf as you're walking through the jungle." And I was wearing, you know, full clothes, of course and I brushed up against them once and my whole body itched and I'm convinced there are things in that Congolese jungle that science has yet to discover.

ZAKARIA: And you had a machete as well? You ...

GETTLEMAN: I actually didn't. I was so incapacitated just trying to keep up with these guys. I mean, these Ugandan soldiers are as tough as steel and it got to the point they were carrying my gear, you know, I was just trying to stay, you know, survive out there.

But the bigger issue is, this guy Kony and the LRA has been brutalizing people for 25 years and they go to where States are weakest. When Uganda was having a lot of trouble in the 80's, the LRA was very powerful. And Uganda got its act together, the military drove the LRA out of Uganda. So they just gravitated to the next sort of, disaster zone, which was Congo.

ZAKARIA: And is Joseph Kony the worst of the worst? Because that's (sort of) the implication in the video. But is he?

GETTLEMAN: I think he is. I think that video has taken a lot of criticism for over simplifying the issues, which maybe it did. But, I do think the core issue that the video raised is pretty valid which is, this guy Kony is a brutalizer. He has been terrorizing civilians in Central Africa for more than two decades. His group will continue to do that as long as he's around.

ZAKARIA: Why can they not find him?

GETTLEMAN: Because it's an area the size of California with supposedly 250 militants in it and it is this thick, impenetrable jungle. When we were flying over, you couldn't see anything. So aerial surveillance doesn't work. It has to be this sort of old fashioned, you know, on the ground manhunt and that's what I did with these guys.

ZAKARIA: You talk about, in a "New York Review Books" article; you talk about how this battle between Joseph Kony and the Ugandan Army is emblematic of the new kind of war in Africa.

GETTLEMAN: Yes, to me it's very interesting. If you look back at Africa 20 or 30 years ago, there were many liberation wars. There were wars against apartheid; there were wars against colonialism still. And then there were wars against guestpits (ph). And many of the rebel leaders that lead these rebellions against guestpits (ph) like Paul Kagame of Rwanda, (INAUDIBLE) of Ethiopia, Uganda's President, Museveni. They were organized. They had ideologies. They had, these rebel leaders were very well educated and they put together these movements that sought to get territory, to liberate people, to introduce a new way of governing and still deliver palpable benefits to the population.

And we see that in these countries. There are criticisms, they're not democrative, but the quality of life has improved drastically in all of those countries I just mentioned. Today, it's a totally different landscape. Rebels are known for brutalizing civilians. They're not fighting for anybody. The LRA is the best case of this. Who do they fight for? Who do they represent? What's driving them? What's their ideology? What could you offer them to entice them to come out of the jungle? That's the problem.

So, in addition to this, sort of, fragmentation and increased violence, these wars go on and on and on because there's nothing you could offer Kony. He doesn't want a seat in the government. He's not standing up for the rights of the repressed people. He's not even motivated by any commercial enterprise like these groups in Congo that are seizing minerals.

ZAKARIA: You once wrote a piece, which I was very struck by years ago in foreign policy, in which you pointed out, that explains the phenomenon of child soldiers. Because with adults, you have to indoctrinate them with ideology, but you don't have an ideology, so you can't get adults to follow you.

GETTLEMAN: That's exactly right. There's a connection of why we're seeing all of these child soldiers and the proliferation of that across Africa.

These new rebel groups don't stand for anything, so nobody wants to join them. And they're very brutal. Like the LRA, they cut off people's lips, they rape women, they burn down villages. Just gratuitously, there's no strategic purpose here. So nobody's going to volunteer to join them. So the only way they can sustain themselves is kidnapping children and then brainwashing them.

And the LRA, that's another reason why these guys are so brutal is, most of the soldiers in there were kids, you know 7, 8, 9-years- old, who were kidnapped from their families, swept away and then trained to kill. And that's part of their indoctrination. You know, they say to these kids, "You know, here's a club, you have to beat this person to death or we're going to kill you." And that, you know, that just breeds this almost psycopathy in these groups.

And that's why it's so hard to end these wars. Not really wars, I call them "unwars" or "mini wars" or "dirty wars." You know, there's no clear territory, there's no clear distinction between combatants and civilians and we see this across Africa, it's not just the LRA. We see this in Congo, we see this in Sudan, we see this in the Sahara. And some of it has to do with the Cold War. The Cold War imposed an order on Africa. There was a lot of manipulation, a lot of weapons that float in, a lot of bad things that happen. But there was more eyes on African, in a way then, because Africa was seen as strategically important.

And places like Central African Republic where Kony is now, nobody really cares about it and that's why he's able to do what he's doing there.

ZAKARIA: Are the "pirates" that we hear about, another version of this phenomenon? No ideology, but essentially criminal gangs?

GETTLEMAN: Yes, I mean, the pirates, they just won't quit. It's amazing that the longevity and the ambition of these guys. There was just a hijacking where the pirates attacked a ship in the Maldives, something like 2,000 miles east of Somalia. And these are, you know, uneducated guys with rusty guns and flip flops, you know, setting out to sea and, you know, derelict boats. They use mother ships now, which is like a hijacked tanker that they've taken and that's their floating base.

And they go out as far as they can go and then they send out these little skips. But again, it's a symptom of a failed state. The pirates are successful in Somalia because they have a place to retreat to. There are still large parts of the country that are lawless and in the, you know, under the authority of various clan militias or criminal gangs.

Until Somalia stabilizes, you know, from end to end, the whole country, until there's a really strong government or a functioning government that can control territory, we're going to see, the piracy problem isn't going to go away. But it's getting harder for them. There's been a naval response that has made it harder to hijack ships. More pirates have been arrested. And I think, you know, these two things are happening at the same time.

As I wrote in this story about Mogadishu, with the advent of more business and more, sort of, normal life, there's going to be an alternative for young men to take a normal job. And I met guys that were trying to get out of the killing business. They were militia fighters and they had spent years carrying a gun and working for this warlord or that warlord. And they said, "You know, I just want to be a driver. I just want a normal job." And that wasn't really possible until recently.

Now, Mogadishu is just a piece of it. There's a big country and a lot of it is still very underdeveloped and poor. But, as the country gets more stable and there's more economic opportunity, you're going to see the appetite for piracy go down.

Because, you know, I've interviewed countless pirates and that's what these guys say. They say, "It's a really, you know, crappy lifestyle. We go out on sea for, you know, for weeks, we don't have enough food, we don't have enough water. Our comrades drown. You know, it's not an easy living. And if there was something else to do, we'd do it."

ZAKARIA: You know, there's a famous Harvard Professor, Sam Huntington who said that, "For most of the world," and Africa really falls into this category, "Americans never understand that the issue is not the kind of government, but the degree of government." That they just have a government that can actually control the territory or claims to control. Jeffrey Gettleman, pleasure to have you on as always.

GETTLEMAN: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.


ZAKARIA: My next guest wants to break a decade's old tradition of international politics. It is a given that the United States chooses the leader of the World Bank and that Europe picks a person to run the International Monetary Fund. This year there is a strong movement to change that system and Ngozi Okojo-Iweala is Nigeria's Finance Minister. She's also a former managing director of the World Bank.

Now she wants to be President of that organization and she has influential support. 39 former managers and economists of the World Bank have endorsed her. The Financial Times and the Economists have argued that she is the best candidate. What does she have to say? Okojo-Iweala joins me now from Abuja in Nigeria.

Welcome Ngozi, how are you?


ZAKARIA: Tell me, do you feel that the President of the United States picked to head the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim is unqualified in the way that the Economist Magazine editorialized this week?

OKOJO-IWEALA: I have tremendous respect for Jim Yong Kim, the pick of the United States. But the argument is not really about nationality. The development committee of the World Bank, as well as the G20 have signed on to a merit based, open and transparent process of selecting the President of the World Bank.

That means that it should be done based on who is best qualified from anywhere, regardless of nationality. So I think that, you know, we took that seriously. The leaders of the continent of Africa who asked me to be a nominee, I think took this seriously. And that's why I find myself in the contest.

ZAKARIA: So, do you think, for you, is your qualification primarily that you are from Nigeria, a country that has strongly been a recipient of World Bank aid? Or is it your personal characteristics? How do you see your strongest calling card?

OKOJO-IWEALA: No, my qualifications. (It's) not just to do with the fact that I'm from Nigeria, or even African. (INAUDIBLE) world, in almost every region. My qualifications are based on the experience I've had both working and the (world). And what's also very importantly, as (INAUDIBLE) economy, 4 years of experience as Finance Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister in a complex, developing country.

So I've seen the World Bank operates from both inside and outside, importantly outside. But I've also lived poverty. I know what the issues are. I've seen what it means to fetch water from the stream as a young girl growing up in Nigeria. I've see what it means to live in a country that has experienced conflict and that has lost many years (in) development because of that conflict.

So (INAUDIBLE) situations that World Bank is trying to grapple with. (I've actually) lived them and manage them every day. So I think that (INAUDIBLE) qualifications. I have the (INAUDIBLE), I have the experience, I have the training and I also have the ability to get up and go and move (INAUDIBLE).

ZAKARIA: If you do not get it, Ngozi, do you think that the credibility of the World Bank will suffer in that it almost irreparably that the United States was able to put somebody up and all the experts are saying you're more qualified, but at the end of the day the U.S. pick still wins?

OKOJO-IWEALA: I'll need the rest of the world to ask the question what is means (INAUDIBLE) if the (trust) has a (INAUDIBLE) merit based and open, (we'd) like to know what criteria we're used to judge whoever the winner is. I think that's the important thing that there should be more openness and disclosure about how the conclusion was arrived at. And whoever it is that wins, I wish them the very best of luck, including myself. And we should (INAUDIBLE) make sure that whoever wins is able to (build) this very wonderful institution to do what it is supposed to do, which is to help improve the lives and (INAUDIBLE) poor people all around the world.

ZAKARIA: Ngozi Okojo-Iweala, thank you very much for joining us. We wish you all the best in the very important weeks ahead.

Up next, an odd food festival in a place that has very little food. We'll be back.


ZAKARIA: This week, Rick Santorum left the republican race for the White House seeming to solidify Romney as the nominee. It's been a harsh primary. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pro-Romney super-PAC has spent 35 million dollars in negative T.V. ads against Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Which brings me to the question of the week, "Which of these countries has banned attack ads all together and even started a Federal Electoral Institute to closely monitor broadcast ads asking campaigns to remove ads that break the rules?" A. Mexico, B. Australia, C. Brazil or D. Canada. Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

Go to for more of the GPS challenge and lots of insight and analysis. Also, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Remember, if you miss a show, go to iTunes. You can get the audio podcast for free or you can now buy the video version. Go directly there by typing into your browser.

This week's book of the week is John Lewis Gaddis' biography of George Kennan. Kennan was perhaps the most influential American Diplomat of the Cold War. And Gaddis, the Yale historian, had unprecedented access to Kennan. It shows. This is a book rich in detail and rich in insight about a fascinating but troubled man. Just a great biography.

And now, for the last look. It's not all missiles and mischief in Pyongyang these days. Despite the dire state of the nation, the North Koreans have had time for fun. Earlier this month they threw a food festival. Replete with sturgeon, soft shell crab, bullfrog and other "famous dishes." The sign says, in English, "Cook Festival of Holiday of April."

Not sure if this one is a pig or a fish, and is it blackened on purpose? Canapes, anyone? And what's this one? Did they borrow Challah bread from close Jewish friends and put kiwis on top? This ridiculous display, put on by the government in a nation where as many as 3 million people are at risk of starvation. And to make matters worse, North Korea recently got cut off from American food aid. North Korea, the land of unique tastes and dreadful policies.

The correct answer to our GPS challenge question is, A. Mexico has banned political attack ads. The new rules in affect in this year's presidential election were put in place after the contentious 2006 presidential election during which candidates were unflatteringly compares with Hugo Chavez.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "RELIABLE SOURCES".