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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Should the U.S. Intervene in Syria; Closing Guantanamo; Interview with Salman Rushdie

Aired May 05, 2013 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN 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'll start the show with a look at Syria, Guantanamo and how to fix what ails us in America. We have a terrific panel; Joe Klein, Richard Haass and Anne-Marie Slaughters.

Also, the U.S. economy, the global economy, are we seeing a spring slowdown? I'll ask Time's Rana Foroohar and the Financial Times' Gillian Tett.

Next, Salman Rushdie's thoughts on the Boston bombing and immigration in America.

And what's a quick and perhaps easy way to drive the U.S. deficit down and create jobs? I'll give you a hint; we need to turn illegal into legal. I'll explain.

But, first, here's my take, Those urging the U.S. to intervene in Syria are certain of one thing, if we had gotten in sooner, things would be better in that war-torn country.

Had the Obama Administration gotten involved earlier, there would be less instability and fewer killings. We would not be seeing, in John McCain's words this week, "Atrocities that are on a scale that we have not seen in a long, long time."

In fact, we have seen atrocities much worse than those in Syria very recently, in Iraq only few years ago. From 2003 to 2012, despite there being as many as 180,000 American and allied troops in Iraq, somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000 Iraqi civilians died and about 1.5 million fled the country.

Jihadi groups flourished throughout Iraq, and al-Qaeda had a huge presence there. Now, the U.S. was about as actively engaged in Iraq as is possible, and yet more terrible things happened there than in Syria. Why?

The point here is not to make comparisons among atrocities. The point is that the situation in Syria is much like that in Iraq. We can learn a lot from our experience there.

All the features of Syria's civil war that are supposedly the result of U.S. nonintervention bloomed in Iraq despite America's massive intervention there.

In Iraq under U.S. occupation, jihadi terrorists of all stripes flourished. They employed tactics that were brutal beyond belief, putting electric drills through people's heads, burning others alive and dumping still breathing victims into mass graves.

These struggles get vicious for a reason. The stakes are very high. Joshua Landis, America's leading scholar on Syria, points out that Syria is the last of three great minority ruled regimes in the Middle East.

In Lebanon, the first, the Christian minority was displaced in a 15-year, bloody civil war. In Iraq, the U.S. displaced the Sunni minority, but they then fought back brutally, again, a long, bloody civil war. Syria is following precisely that pattern.

The minority regime fights to the end because it fears for its life once out of power. The Sunnis of Iraq fought even against the mighty American military because they knew that life under the majority Shias would be ugly, as it has proved to be.

The Alawites, the ruling sect in Syria, will fight even harder because they are a smaller minority and have further to fall.

Now, would U.S. intervention, no-fly zones, arms, aid to the opposition forces, make things better? Well, it depends on what one means by better.

It would certainly intensify the civil war. It would also make the regime of Bashar Assad more desperate. Perhaps Assad has already used chemical weapons; with his back against the wall, he might use them on a larger scale.

If the objective is actually to reduce the atrocities and minimize potential instability, the key will be a political settlement that gives each side, minorities and majority, an assurance that it has a place in the new Syria.

That was never achieved in Iraq, which is why, despite U.S. troops and arms and influence, the situation turned into a violent free-for-all. If some kind of political pact can be reached, there's hope for Syria.

If it cannot, U.S. assistance to the rebels or even direct military intervention won't change much. Syria will follow the pattern of Lebanon and Iraq, a long, bloody civil war. And the United States will be in the middle of it.

For more on this, read my Time column this week. You'll find a link to it on And let's get started.

Syria will be one of many topics for today's panel. We'll also talk about Boston terror, the GITMO hunger strike and more.

Joining me are Joe Klein, political columnist for Time magazine; Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a newly released book, "Foreign Policy Begins at Home"; and Anne-Marie Slaughter, currently professor at Princeton and the future president of the New America Foundation.

All right, you hear me Anne-Marie and I think, having read your stuff, that you disagree with me. Why am I wrong about Syria?

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRESIDENT, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Well, in the first place, you're wrong because this isn't Iraq. In Iraq, we were a large part of the problem. We went in, we took out the government, our continued being there contributed to the insurgency and the conflict.

I actually think we should get rid of the various analogies and look at Syria on just as what it is, which is a conflict that has gone on for two years, that has killed 70,000 to 80,000 Syrians, displaced a million and more, and is destabilizing the entire region, destabilizing Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, threatening possibly Israel.

So just looking at that and, then, looking at the fact that now the administration has acknowledged that they have been using chemical weapons and, indeed, there's evidence they've been using chemical weapons since Christmas, we have to act.

If we do not act, this country will come apart completely. We are looking five to more years of vicious, internal war that then spills over into the region and, equally importantly, President Obama said, if he uses chemical weapons, that's game-changer, that's a red line.

Now, they have used chemical weapons and President Obama's saying, well, we need to figure out the facts. I agree, he needs to figure out the facts. But he's basically trying to create some room for himself so that he doesn't have to act.

I think his credibility's on the line. He's credibility's on the line with respect to Iran, with respect to convincing Israel that we're serious about Iran.

But just, more broadly, we have to lead. This problem is getting worse and worse and we have to assemble a regional coalition and actually act.

ZAKARIA: I know you're more cautious, but tell me on the chemical weapons piece, does that make any difference?

I mean I'm struck by the fact that we now call chemical weapons "weapons of mass destruction," which was something that was essentially invented during the Bush administration because they were worried that Saddam wouldn't have nuclear weapons and so they lumped everything and called it weapons of mass destruction.

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: It actually predates that. Chemical weapons are not weapons of mass destruction because they're much more local in their effects. On the other hand, we have said that if they were to be used, it's something of a red line so I think we have to act, as Anne-Marie said, but there's acting and there's acting.

And we've got to think about it in two ways: One is Syria's not the only -- it's not the entire chess board, it's one square. So how much are we wise to commit there?

And I would simply say given everything else going on in the region, potentially Iran, given what's going on in Asia, given our strategic requirements to rebuild here at home, I would say we need to limit what we do.

Second of all, and you got at this in what you've been saying, how much are we wise to try to accomplish there given the nature of Syria?

And actually think given the sectarian divides in that country, given the political culture of that country, almost no matter how much we commit we're not going to have an outcome in any way that's going to be in any way commensurate with that commitment.

So I think, yes, we do some things, lethal aid perhaps, maybe even some cruise missile strikes, but, to me, more important than what we do, is what we do not do in Syria.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that Obama should have drawn that red line?

JOE KLEIN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, TIME MAGAZINE: No. I think that the president has been talking way too much across the board when it comes to foreign policy.

And, you know, the Chinese believe -- the Chinese act as if the strongest person in any room is the guy who speaks the least or the woman -- well, in China, it's always a guy.


KLEIN: Speaks the least. The president with this red line and also with the notion of taking deterrents off the table in Iran, has been making a series of statements that he's going to have to follow through on at some point or another and he not want to follow through on.

I -- you know, I think the president's actual position on Iran would be containment because nobody wants to go to war there. And so I think he has to be a lot more disciplined in the kind of things that he says.

He's been very disciplined in the kind of things that he has done and I think he's essentially done the right thing in Syria.

ZAKARIA: Can I ask you what would you like to see us do? Because, you know, one thing I'm struck by is people who want to intervene often say that, and then I'm now not thinking of you Anne- Marie, but John McCain and Lindsey Graham say but, of course, we would never use American troops, we would never to anything that put us in the middle of it. And I'm not entirely sure so then how are we going to achieve this fairly ambitious goals. You know, Jon Stewart said we're going to do it by "remote-controlled, freedom magic."


ZAKARIA: What's your solution?

SLAUGHTER: I suppose that's the only way to get a laugh of what is such a dismal subject.

So a year-and-a-half ago, I suggested that we arm those groups that we knew to actually support the principles we would support; exactly the groups, the Syrian Support Group, who, for the first time, we are now transferring aid to directly, 18 months later.

So we do know who those groups are and we could have been providing them with much more arms for a long time. As things have escalated, I think that we need to be more active.

The next thing that we could do is we could take out their air force, right, through cruise missiles, through air. We could actually make it much much harder for him to use chemical weapons.

And, Richard, I don't know, you know, Assad's father used chemical weapons on Hama and killed 20,000 people, possibly up to 30,000 or 40,000 at one go. That's enough mass destruction for me and I can imagine being subject to a chemical attack.

But I would take his air force and actually I think it is possible to have a no-fly zone or to have safe zones which would ultimately -- what we need to do here is tip the balance of power within Syria so that the people supporting Assad have a reason to come to the negotiating table.

We do have to have a political settlement, but there is zero incentive for Assad and his people to actually negotiation. He's got Russia and Iran behind him and we want him out. So we need to tip the balance of power.

ZAKARIA: Quick thought.

HAASS: Two things; using -- trying to take out their air force and all that to fly over the whole country, that's called going to war. You've got over 5,000 pieces of air defense there so that's a big undertaking.

Second of all, we're not going to have a negotiated settlement here. We've long, long, long since passed the line where the lions are going to lay down with the lambs. This is a fight to the finish, initially, between the Alawites and the majority, secondly, between -- among the majority.

Once they get rid of this regime, the only thing they agreed on was getting rid of this regime. Zero agreement about what comes next. We are in for a prolonged civil war in Syria. This is, you know, one of the -- like Lebanon, like Iraq, these sectarian things have to burn out. This is going to take years.

ZAKARIA: Final thought.

KLEIN: And it's going to spill over into Lebanon. It already has spilled over into Lebanon. You know, I'm really worried about Hezbollah getting those chemical weapons.

But I do believe that we have -- a lot of evidence now that when we go in kinetically, the unattended consequences dwarf our original, wonderful intentions or sometimes not so wonderful intentions.

ZAKARIA: We're going to have to take a break right now. When we come back, Guantanamo and some of the domestic challenges that President Obama faces.


ZAKARIA: And we are back with Richard Haas, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Joe Klein.

Anne-Marie, you're a distinguished international lawyer. Is the president right that Guantanamo should be closed and if he's right and he's president, why isn't it getting closed?

SLAUGHTER: He is right. He is absolutely right. You have over 100 people who are being held in Guantanamo more or less for life, right? There's no -- they haven't been charged. There's no possibility of trial.

You know, this country was founded on the basic principle that you have a right to know why you're being held and to be tried. And although, you know, we've been fighting a war with al-Qaeda and we took them as prisoners of war, we can't just hold them forever.

And he's absolutely right. We have to close it. The reason it's not being closed is because Congress has made it impossible to move them here and try them and made it impossible to move them to other countries where they could actually be watched there.

Ultimately, I think the president simply has to say this cannot be. He can find legal strategies to say I'm going to move them out and restrictions on my doing so are unconstitutional or he can simply lead within Congress.

But we cannot have these people there for the rest of their lives and, you know, over 50 right now are hunger striking or on really to the point where we're having to force-feed them and we're going to see many, many more unless there's actually a possibility of getting them out.

ZAKARIA: You -- speaking of presidential authority, you, in your column in Time this week, say you're glad that President Obama is finally getting angry. You were looking at the gun control debate.

KLEIN: Well, I think moderates have to start getting angry because the extremists have so much control over our system.

In this case, in the Guantanamo case, we have international terrorists who are in a supermax prison in Colorado. There was going to be another supermax -- it actually already exists in Illinois, it was going to be reinforced and we were going to put a lot of the Guantanamo prisoners there.

But the Republicans in Congress blocked it. This was a matter of politics, not policy. In their case, they're playing political games.

ZAKARIA: The book that you -- that is out this week, you feel that one of the things we've got to do when doing -- when looking at foreign policy, looking at these issues of terrorism, is kind of remember that ultimately our strength comes in the fact that we fixed things at home.

Do you worry that -- you know, I mean if you think about it, we're talking Syria, Iran. We haven't yet talked about Afghanistan, then there's North Korea. There's issues like Guantanamo, al-Qaeda.

Is it possible for us to -- to, you know, put all that in perspective or, you know, in some ways, ignore that?

HAASS: It's not a question of ignoring it, but it is a challenge to put it in perspective and that's what we need to do. Foreign policy is about strategy. Strategy's about choices, about priorities.

The good news is there's nothing out there, there's nothing we could talk about at this table that is anything like the scale of Nazi Germany in the middle of the 20th century or like the Soviet Union for four decades of Cold War.

We actually have a little bit of time and space. We need to use that time and space to repair the foundations of American power, above all, our economy, our schools, our infrastructure, our immigration system.

If we do that, we can discourage the emergence of a country on our level or if one should happen all the same, we can deal with it. For 20 years now, the Middle East has dominated, distorted and distracted us.

The time -- it's time to end that era of American foreign policy, put a ceiling on it, focus on the rest of the world more and, above all, focus here at home. That is ultimately going to be the way we're going to be able to lead the world.

ZAKARIA: If you had a magic wand and you could get the president to focus at home, what are the two or three things that you would say would be at the absolute top of your list?

HAASS: Address long-term entitlements which are the cancer hole hanging over the American body politic.

Fix our infrastructure; it takes very little money to do it through public-private partnerships. Pass immigration reform; that is the driver of innovation and jobs.

And resist the temptation to get pulled into the Middle East. You know, the line in Godfather III, "Michael, I want to pull back" but the Middle East keeps pulling me back.

The president has to resist the temptation, keep focused on Asia, focused on North American, and remember, as I would say, foreign policy really does begin at home. If we get it right, we can make the 21st century another American century.

KLEIN: And the other one would be to deal with the financial sector. We have to have our smartest young people making things instead of making deals.


ZAKARIA: Finally.

SLAUGHTER: I would build an infrastructure of care. I would build an infrastructure that guarantees that people can both earn and income and care for either their children or for their parents, for their loved ones generally.

And that means better schools, that means better health, but it also means things like affordable daycare, paid family leave, flexible arrangements, ways in which essentially we leave no one behind.

ZAKARIA: And those investments, particularly in early childhood, daycare and education ...

SLAUGHTER: Absolutely.

ZAKARIA: Have big pay-offs.

SLAUGHTER: Absolutely.

ZAKARIA: It's one of the reasons northern Europe does so well.

KLEIN: If they're done well. It's one of the reasons the sequester is so bad. It confuses spending with investment. We've got to understand that investing in our people is investing in our future.

ZAKARIA: All right, we actually found a point of agreement.


ZAKARIA: Up next, What in the World, a way to create jobs, increase tax revenues and expand the economy, and both parties should agree on it. How could it be? I'll explain.


ZAKARIA: Now, for our What in the World segment. The latest numbers show slow growth in the United States. That's bad for jobs, income. It's even bad for those worried about the deficit because it means lower tax revenues.

And it has prompted a revival of the partisan debate about what to do about it. Well, there's one idea out there that could have support from both parties.

I was struck by a study I saw this week, it turns out there is one very simple way to increase tax revenues, expand GDP and create jobs all at the same time. What's more, Congress is already weighing it. It's called immigration reform.

How and why, you ask? Well, a new paper from the left-leaning Center for American Progress actually calculates the economic impact of immigration reform. The study outlines three scenarios.

In the first, all of America's 11 million, undocumented immigrants are granted not just legal status, but also citizenship right away. What happens?

Over the course of ten years, GDP expands by an additional $1.4 trillion, an additional 203,000 jobs are generated on average every year and tax revenues increase by an additional $184 billion over the course of a decade.

These are huge jumps. Now, granted, there are a number of hurdles toward granting citizenship so the study highlights a second scenario.

Here, undocumented immigrants are granted legal status, but it takes five years to become citizens. Look at the gains, GDP expands by an additional $1.1 trillion over the 10-year period, jobs and tax revenues increase as well.

The third scenario proposes that undocumented immigrants are not granted citizenship during the ten years of the study's projections. Instead they are only granted legal status.

Even here, GDP expands by an additional $832 billion over the ten years, an average of 121,000 extra jobs are added every year and tax revenues grow by an additional $109 billion.

How does this happen? The study's authors make the case that legalizing undocumented workers brings them into the formal economy. now, they have to pay income taxes, Social Security and health care taxes and all those other things you see on your wage stubs. It also gives them access to many more jobs and at higher wages.

All these gains then go on to have ripple effects across the economy boosting GDP growth.

Critics often point out that if illegal immigrants become citizens, they become a burden on the system impacting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but these arguments ignore basic economics.

Immigrants with legal papers are transformed into contributing members of society and access to society's services also makes them safer, healthier and more productive.

This isn't just a left-wing argument. On the right, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the Congressional Budget Office under George W. Bush and John McCain's economic advisor during his presidential campaign, recently pointed out that immigration reform could raise the pace of economic growth by nearly one percentage point in the near- term and increase GDP per capita by $1,500.

A recent Pew survey found that only 51 percent of Americans think it's essential for the president and Congress to act on immigration reform this year. Compare that with the 70 percent of Americans who say that Congress must pass a deficit reduction deal this year.

The irony is the two are actually linked. A wealth of data now shows that immigration reform will lead to deficit reduction. And the sooner we act, the greater the gains for the economy.

Up next, is it the end of austerity in Europe? I have two smart economic experts. Later on, Salman Rushdie on Islam and extremism. Stay with us.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington with a check of the headlines. Syria's deputy foreign minister is calling an overnight air strike on the country a declaration of war by Israel. Syrian state television says Israeli rockets hit a government research facility in a suburb of Damascus. Syria says it will retaliate against Israel in its own time and way.

An enthusiastic crowd greeted Boston marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman at last night's playoff game between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bauman served as the Bruins' honorary captain. Bauman lost both legs in the bombing, but was able to provide investigators with critical information that helped identify the bombers. By the way, the Maple Leafs won that game, four to two.

Five women were killed when their limousine caught fire in the San Francisco Bay area Saturday night. Five other women were able to escape as flames overtook the vehicle as it traveled on a San Mateo bridge. There is no word on what caused that fire.

A recreational soccer league referee in Utah has died after being punched in the face by a teenage player. Ricardo Portillo was refereeing a game late last month when he cited a player for an infraction. Police say that decision prompted the 17-year-old player to punch Portillo. The teenager is in juvenile custody.

Those are your top stories. "Reliable Sources" is at the top of the hour. Now back to "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

ZAKARIA: May day was a day of protests this week across Europe and England, France, Spain, Greece and beyond. Protesters hit the streets angry about the economy. But they are also expressing anger about austerity, the policy of trimming government expenses. With a number of politicians in the West admitting that austerity is failing, is it the end of austerity? I'm joined by two very smart economic thinkers and writers Gillian Tett from "The Financial Times" and Rana Foroohar from "Time" magazine. Welcome.

Before we get to all of that, U.S. numbers, Rana, you wrote a column where you said everyone is looking at these economic numbers from the U.S. and saying they're bad.

ZAKARIA: You actually found a silver lining.

RANA FOROOHAR, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, absolutely. You know, the government spending has been down. We're feeling the effects of the sequester and if you look at the two percent economy, which we've been in now for a couple of years, that's in part due to the fact that the public sector has cut back so much. But if you strip the public sector out, the growth numbers actually go up above three percent. It's about 3.1 percent and most of that is down to the consumer. You know, American consumers have actually done a really good job of balancing their budgets, getting out of credit card debt, managing their own personal finances and now they can dip a little bit farther into savings than they used to and that's what they did last quarter.

GILLIAN TETT, THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Absolutely. Rana's right. And she's highlighting one of the great unsung stories of the last year, which is that consumers have actually managed to adjust to the new normal, if you like. Credit card debt, which was such a key factor in creating pain for millions of American households during the bubble, that credit card debt is now down to ten-year low. So people actually have been trimming their spending and what that means is that the consumers are in not quite the kind of situation that your grandfather was in, you know, 40, 50 years ago in terms of debt, but certainly something much healthier.

ZAKARIA: So, you said, you know, taking out the effects of reduced government spending.

TETT: Yeah.

ZAKARIA: This economy looks pretty good. That is the private sector engine -- companies and people is moving pretty well. Do you think that people now feel that the government has been cutting back too much in a period of weak economic demand? In other words, are we actually witnessing a kind of shift where people are going to say, enough austerity. Let's try to actually doing it. Because I hear the academic debate, but I don't see any government policy changing.

FOROOHAR: Yeah, well, I think, you know, political gridlock in Washington is going to make it hard to come up with the kinds of spending that would actually be useful. I mean yes, I would love to see more spending on things like infrastructure and education. You've written about that. We've all talked about that. I think that's going to be difficult. But there is this push back now against austerity. We can see that it hasn't worked well in Europe and we can see that the government and public spending, the lack of public spending is a real drag on growth in this country. We just have the effect of being the prettiest house on an ugly block. You know, so we are still doing pretty well compared to others. ZAKARIA: What does it look like in Europe, because in Europe you're actually having, you know, people like the president of Ireland saying austerity is -- led us nowhere.

TETT: We had some astonishing statements from Ireland this week about the fact that actually, it's not just about an economic union, it's about a social union, a political union and if that phrase, it really could be a lot of upheaval (ph) in the Euro zone, because the reality of the countries like Ireland, like Greece, like Italy and Portugal are getting absolutely fed up by being told by the Germans and the IMF that they have to do more austerity. You can see the results. I mean 27 percent unemployment rate in Spain. Potentially even higher, if you actually look at the numbers properly. Similar levels in Portugal and Greece. You have an entire generation that's essentially being thrown into the garbage can right now and the problem with that is they're not spending, they're not stimulating the economy, you're not seeing the kind of green shoots to the demand that you're getting in America that Rana has been writing about.

FOROOHAR: You know, I think, also, you may start to see a shift in Germany after the elections. You know, there's always been a lot of posturing on the part of Merkel and other German leaders because they want the rest of Europe to get the sense that, well, Germans will cough up money, but if you behave better, if you behave more German, if you're thriftier. So that's the stance politically she has to take to sell any kind of bailout within Germany. I think after the election, there's going to be an increasing realization that Germany has as much to lose if not more than any other European country if there is a fracture in the Euro zone. Because if you think about it, a lot of their trading partners are in the Euro zone. If they go under, Germany's export economy, which is the driver, is really going to suffer.

ZAKARIA: You made a piece about Bangladesh, about the Bangladeshi factory that I thought was fascinating. You think that this fire in Bangladesh in the factory might make us rethink this whole idea of outsourcing manufacturing all over the world.

FOROOHAR: Yeah. I did a cover a couple of weeks ago with a colleague Bill Saprito about the Made in America phenomenon and a Renaissance of manufacturing. A lot of people have been talking about how manufacturing is back and it is back. The jobs haven't come back in mass yet, because there are still these big, complex supply chains in places like India and China. But one of the things that I heard a lot from CEOs was how risky these supply chains are now. You know, they might cut a deal with a supplier and get that supplier and send inspectors, but those suppliers on the ground have outsourced to, you know, mom and pop shops that are very difficult to regulate. So, this is a kind of a political risk and a risk on the ground that is very hard to police. And I think companies have lost billions in recent years reputationally around these things. And I think this coupled with rising energy prices that make it more cost effective to do production closer to home and also the need for sort of quick, customized products, I think that's all going to start to push people to think more about moving manufacturing closer to home.

ZAKARIA: You think it's a kind of broader issue here, localism versus globalism

TETT: Yeah, no I think, Rana has (inaudible) a brilliant (inaudible). Because I think it was either the thought about where your dress was made. I mean I'm just going to go and buy my stuff and think about it. We take for granted the prices are low. But what we are starting to see, partly because of Bangladesh's fire, partly because of the grand (inaudible) of social media is a degree, to which consumers can actually turn on a dime and you really can have serious brand damage very quickly. And the question of where things are made is going to be increasingly important, but also from purely rational perspective today the fact that you do have American wages becoming more competitive on global standard. The fact that actually the cost of moving things around the world physically is high means that, again, we could see more and more of this kind of reshoring, if you like. This localization while more globalization taking hold of the theme.

ZAKARIA: Well, it's been fascinating. Two brilliant women on and you don't even disagree ...


TETT: For impression to (inaudible) policy, there you go.

ZAKARIA: Up next, Salman Rushdie on the Boston bombers, immigration, Islam and more. Don't miss it.


ZAKARIA: On August 15th, 1947, at the stroke of the midnight hour, India became an independent country. That one instant has spawned a billion dreams. It also became the starting point of one of the great novels of our times, "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie. Rushdie imagined in India where all the children born between midnight and 1:00 A.M. assumed magical powers.


ANNOUNCER: A child and a country were born at midnight.

ZAKARIA: Three decades on, the award winning book is now a movie out in theaters. I spoke to Rushdie about the film, writing in India. We began, however by delving into a somewhat different subject. How immigration impacts people in light of the Boston bombings. Listen in.


ZAKARIA: Salman Rushdie, pleasure to have you on.


ZAKARIA: When you looked at the picture that we know of the Tsarnaev brothers, of these immigrants who come to the West. You know, something goes wrong. Something goes wrong in the family structure. The father clearly feels heart -- home sickened and wants to go back. Perhaps the parents divorce, riff within the family. The brother seems unable to make his way in the world. Does this strike you as a kind of heightened version of traditional immigrant problems?

RUSHDIE: Yeah, I think it is in a way. And when I think I thought that the uncle had it right, you know. When he said that their problem was one of making a success of their lives in the new world, so to speak. You know, I mean he called them losers, which I thought was a much better description than terrorists.

ZAKARIA: And in a sense, he was trying to say, don't blame all these larger things then.


ZAKARIA: That it's the -- you know ...

RUSHDIE: And I think as these little snippets of information leak out, that they all seem to be so supporting that point of view, this isn't part of some grand conspiracy. You know, it's a couple of very disturbed young people, you know, turning in this direction because of the failure of their lives.

ZAKARIA: We sometimes, though -- we do forget in the United States because we celebrate immigration as we should that there are sad ...

RUSHDIE: There is a down side.


RUSHDIE: Yeah, I mean and I see it in a very (inaudible) because I've in way, you know, I'm a double immigrant, you know, immigrant from India to England and from England to here. And I have written about this all my life and, as you say, much of it is something that I've tried to celebrate. That I've tried to say all the great enriching qualities that come from the active migration, both for the migrant and for the migrated to, country. You know, and that's, I think, truly and it's important, I think even at these times, to stress that, you know, that actually we are all culturally enriched by this process. But yeah, there is a dark side. You know? And this is the dark side.

ZAKARIA: Being a double immigrant, what is your sense of the difference between immigrants in Britain versus the United States. The conventional wisdom which I probably share is that America has been much more successful in assimilating ...

RUSHDIE: Yeah, well, it's a plus difference. I mean that's one thing, you know. That a lot of the immigrants that came to England came from very, very poor agrarian communities. You know, they came from places like Sylhet and Suon (ph), which are both in Pakistan and Bangladesh and India. They came from the -- they didn't come from the urban middle class. They came from the rural pure. And as a result, their cultural understanding and expectations were much more traumatized by the engagement with Western industrial urbanized culture. You know. ZAKARIA: And that's all over Europe. These people have tended to be poor, rural immigrants.

RUSHDIE: Yes, yes, whereas -- you know, I mean what this is just a generalization. But in the states, the communities that exist really are more middle class than that and therefore, I think, more easily able to adjust to urban life in America because they're familiar with urban middle class life elsewhere.

ZAKARIA: So, it's not the wonders of the American assimilation machine?

RUSHDIE: But I mean it is that, too. Is that -- is -- I mean I always wanted to, it getting depends where in America you are. But I think one of the thing that is interesting about a city like New York is that there's much less of a sense of unitree (ph) dominant culture. You know, there's much more of a sense that everybody's culture is part of, goes together to make the culture of the city. And in England, again, I think there's much stronger sense of that unitree dominant culture, to which people have to, with which they have to make an accommodation. You know, here you can push things around.

You know, and ..

ZAKARIA: In my impression, people genuinely don't care where you're from in America.

RUSHDIE: Yeah. Yeah.

ZAKARIA: There's a sense, in which everyone comes from somewhere.

RUSHDIE: Yes. I mean part of that, again, has a downside which is a lack of awareness of history. You know, and speaking as a historian. I mean I want to know where people are from, you know, and what their life experience has been and what brought them here from there. So, let -- yeah, it makes it easier that the fact, you know, you come to New York and two weeks later you're a New Yorker, and that makes life a little easier.

ZAKARIA: This movie, which is the movie of, really, the book that made you famous even before Ayatollah Khomeini made you famous, does it feel weird to see something that you have in your mind's eye. This was -- this is -- you must have conjured up this whole world ...


ZAKARIA: ... in your mind's eye, but now -- now it's there -- on (inaudible).

RUSHDIE: One of the things that doesn't -- I mean there are things that feel weird about it, because due to the fact that the story on film can't be exactly the same as the book. And there are shifts of tone. You know, that I think the tone of the film is slightly different than the tone of the book. It's more openly emotional, for example. I think, the movie. The movie has a bigger emotional kick. I don't think people cry reading "Midnight's Children," but a lot of people seem to cry watching the movie. You know, which had pleased us. So, that's a little strange seeing the same story being told by another artist, you know, by deeper method (ph),and coming out with a slightly different tonal quality.

ZAKARIA: And the movie is, you know, in very simple terms about cross lives. About two people whose lives got switched ...


ZAKARIA: ... and then reunited, you know, watch the movie and see what happens. But, do you think that -- do you worry that people will have to understand the history of India?

RUSHDIE: I hope not, no. I just -- I mean I think my rule, whether it's a book or a movie has always been that the work of art has to tell people what they need to know.


RUSHDIE: You know, and you have to come with no information. You know, let's go see a movie. I mean I think there's a sense, in which it's not so hard for people here to connect. Because, you know, this is also a country, which had a revolution against the British. A little earlier.

ZAKARIA: Right. Right.

RUSHDIE: And so that phenomenon of the meaning of independence, of casting off a colonial power and then the optimism of that moment. You know, the hope of that moment and then, in many ways, the disappointments of that hope. You know, it's something that I think that it's easy to connect to from the history of America, as well. And also -- and I think those key relationships between individuals and power, you know, how does, how do the great events of history impact ordinary individual lives. You know, these are questions we ask ourselves all the time.

ZAKARIA: Salman Rushdie, pleasure to have you on.

RUSHDIE: Thank you.


ZAKARIA: Up next, why Russia is catching Stalin fever all over again. I'll explain.


ZAKARIA: A few weeks ago we were reminded that North and South Korea are still at war. After the hermit kingdom declared the 1953 cease-fire was null and void. This week, we had a remind of two more countries that are still technically at war, many decades after the shooting stopped. So, the question of the week is, which of these pairs of countries are still at war? Which war is still being fought, technically? Is it "A," the U.S. and Vietnam. The Vietnam war. "B" the U.S. and Iraq, the Iraq war. "C" the U.K. and Germany after World War I or, "D," Russia and Japan after World War II. Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. Go to for more of the "GPS Challenge." There's lots of insight and analysis. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Also, remember, you can go to if you ever miss a show or a special.

This week's book of the week is by Richard Haass, a frequent GPS guest, including today. It's called "Foreign Policy Begins at Home." It's a brief, sensible and highly intelligent argument that America's influence abroad comes first and foremost from its strength at home.

Now, for the last look. Everything old is new again. And capitalist Russia is seemingly catching socialist Stalin fever all over again. 60 years after the death of the dictator who murdered millions, his reputation seems to be having a bit of a rehabilitation. In a recent poll, 47 percent of Russians said Stalin was a wise leader who brought the Soviet Union to might and prosperity. And on Wednesday May Day parades in Russia celebrated Stalin and none other than President Putin invoked his legacy in a ceremony. You see, Stalin was the first to be named a soviet hero of socialist labor. Some 20,000 people were so honored after him. But then, like the "USSR", the awards ended abruptly in 1991. 22 years later, this May Day, Putin revived the tradition bestowing honors now simply called Hero of Labor. Mr. Putin recently said of his own regime, I don't see any elements of Stalinism here. Well, we could point to one. The correct answer to our "GPS Challenge question" was "D," Russia and Japan are still at war after World War II. Never having come to peace terms. But President Putin and Prime Minister Abe met this week and announced that peace negotiations would resume soon. Only 67 years in the making. Bonus points, if you knew that the U.S officially ended its war with Iraq only in 2011 and while the U.K and Germany weren't officially at war, the final aspect of World War I between the two nations wasn't settled until 2010 when Berlin made its final reparations payment to London.

One programming note before we go, next Friday night at 11:00 P.M. Eastern time right here on CNN, you can see the premiere of the next GPS special. "Beyond the Manhunts, How to Stop Terror." It's a deep look inside American intelligence and how it can best keep us safe. Don't miss it. That's Friday night at 11:00 P.M. Thank to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "Reliable Sources."