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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Compromise on Iran Needed; A Closer Look at Inequality; Obesity Could be Next in Line for Intervention by Policymakers; Discussion of Russia's Reaction to Ukrainian Revolution, Situation Around Sochi; Interview With Valery Gergiev

Aired February 02, 2014 - 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.

The start of the Sochi Olympics is almost upon us. We don't know who will get the gold, but we do know that geopolitics could complicate the games. I asked Henry Kissinger to help us understand the violence next door in Ukraine and whether Russia might actually do something to stop it.

I also talk to Valery Gergiev, Russia's greatest conductor, and a close friend of Vladimir Putin, about the games and about global concerns about Russia's record on gay rights.

But we will start where President Obama left off in the State of the Union, inequality in America, just how bad it is and is it fixable. I have a great panel to tackle all that, plus Janet Yellen's first day on the job.

Also, we're always talking these days about how we should learn from China, but China just took a page from New York. I'll explain.

Finally, football versus football, who wins the tail of the tape?

But, first, here's my take: After Iran and the major powers signed onto a deal on Tehran's nuclear program, expectations were high. Over the last week, they have fallen sharply as Iranian officials have made tough public comments, Israel's prime minister has reaffirmed his opposition to almost any conceivable deal and several influential U.S. senators have threatened new sanctions.

Now, this does not mean a final deal with Tehran is impossible, but it does mean that both sides, Tehran and the West, need to start thinking creatively about how to bridge what is clearly a wide divide and they also have to think about how to get around the main obstacle they will face which will be opposition at home in Iran and the United States.

The Iranian statements that have attracted so much attention came from the foreign minister and president. The former, Javad Mohammad Zarif, explained to CNN's Jim Sciutto that, contrary to what Washington had claimed, Iran "did not agree to dismantle anything."

Later, in an interview with me, also on CNN, President Rouhani explained that Iran would not destroy any of its existing centrifuges. So it's clear Iran and America have different views about what an acceptable final deal would look like.

On the basis on my interview with Rouhani and talks with other Iranian officials, my sense is that the Iranian vision is as follows: Iran will provide the world with assurances and evidence that its nuclear program is civilian, not military.

This means the country would allow unprecedented levels of intrusive inspections at all facilities. This process has already begun with inspection of Iran's mines for the first time in a decade.

But Iran's officials are determined not to accept any constraints on their program beyond that. They speak often about the importance of being treated like any other country that has signed the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, which means to them they have the unfettered right to enrich uranium to produce electricity.

Now, the American vision of the final deal is quite different. It stems from the notion that Iran must take special steps to provide confidence that its program is peaceful.

So America would allow Iran to enrich some small, symbolic amount of uranium, up to a 5 percent level, which means it becomes time- consuming to convert it to weapons-grade levels.

Beyond that, Tehran would dismantle thousands of its existing centrifuges and shut down its heavy-water reactor. Washington basically wants to lengthen the lead time between a civilian and what could become a military one.

So both sides will have to think hard about what they really care about. Iran's officials will have to come to terms with the fact that Iran is, in fact, being treated differently and for some good reasons.

Iran has a program that is suspicious, a massive investment to produce a tiny amount of electricity and the country has deceived the world about its program in the past.

Washington will have to recognize that, while it will get more concessions than it thought possible on inspections, it will get fewer on the rollback of Iran's existing program.

I've come away from meetings with Rouhani and Zarif convinced that they are moderates who seek greater integration of Iran with the world. Rouhani hinted to me, for example, that in the next few months, the leaders of the Green Movement in Iran would be released.

But I am also sure that Rouhani and Zarif are operating under constraints, with many domestic opponents. Of course, the same could be said of the Obama administration.


It's better that both sides start preparing the ground at home for a final deal and the compromises it would involve rather than hoping that somehow that if they work things out in Geneva, it's all going to work out in the end.

For more, go to and read by Washington Post column this week. Let's get started.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.


ZAKARIA: That's how President Obama laid out the problem Tuesday night in his State of the Union address. He's right, but does he have solutions to the problem? I have a great panel to talk about all that and Janet Yellen at the Fed.

Zanny Minton Beddoes is the economics editor of the Economist. Steve Rattner was the Obama Administration's "car czar." He's currently the chairman of Willard Advisors, an investment firm.

Chrystia Freeland is now a member of the Canadian Parliament. She's a former journalist and the author of, "Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else."

And Ken Rogoff is the former chief economist of the IMF, now a professor of public policy and economics at Harvard University.

So, Steve, first the problem. You know, there are now these studies that say that social mobility has actually not fallen over the last 20 years, but the basic picture that Obama painted seems pretty accurate.

STEVE RATTNER, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION "CAR CZAR," CHAIRMAN, WILLARD ADVISORS: Yes. So let's just be absolutely accurate. So economic inequality has gotten a lot worse. There's no disagreement about that. There's no confusion. It's as bad as its ever been.

Economic mobility, moving from the bottom toward the top in the U.S., there was a study that just came out at Harvard by very serious economists, doesn't seem to have gotten worse. But, that said, economic mobility in the U.S. is worse than it is in many parts of Europe, particularly parts of Scandinavia.

ZAKARIA: But then the question become what do you do about it?

ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, ECONOMICS EDITOR, THE ECONOMIST: Well I think one interesting thing to point out is that the nature of the inequality is a huge rise in income concentration at the very top.

It's not so much that the ladder -- the rungs of the ladder have got wider all the way down. They have, but the really big thing that's happened in the U.S. is the share of overall income going to very, very rich people has just exploded and is now where it was 100 years ago.

So that's the kind of backdrop of the inequality. I think the interesting thing about mobility is that that is something that both sides of the aisle can agree on.

It's hard. Some people don't think inequality matters. Nobody says that mobility doesn't matter. The American dream, the idea that if you work hard you can make it, is rightly very ingrained in this country's psyche.

And I think that's where there's some hope for the solutions politically to have both sides come together. What could they be? I would pick two. One I think the most important is education. Preschool is the really really big one.

Another is something that I'm quite focused on, which is the Earned Income Tax Credit which is helping people at the bottom, not necessarily ...

ZAKARIA: Explain that in 15 seconds ...

MINTON BEDDOES: I will explain what it is. It's to top up the earnings of low-skilled workers so that they make more money for working. It's different than the minimum wage. The minimum wage is, you know, forces employers to pay more.

The Earned Income Tax Credit pops -- basically tops up what your earnings are. But the biggest one I would say is education and preschool is the frontier. A hundred years ago, it was secondary schools, in the middle of the 20th century it was the G.I. Bill.

The U.S. was at the frontier of education. It's falling behind on preschool. I think that's a really big one to push.

ZAKARIA: We're way behind on preschool, yes.

KEN ROGOFF, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, AND PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY AND ECONOMICS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I completely agree about preschool. I'd say education at all levels, including adult education, trying to use new methods (inaudible).

The average American's going to be changing jobs seven times and they need a vehicle for public education, for learning. They don't have it. And, also, say, at the top end, we have a system that exacerbates this and doesn't ameliorate it, our tax system. It's just ridiculous.

ZAKARIA: Meaning?

ROGOFF: Well, the very top end, because of the way we have capital gains and the way people are allowed to call things aren't their really earned income, capital gains, the very, very top level are paying much lower average taxes than just below them.

ZAKARIA: But, Chrystia, I mean you wrote a whole book about this, the super rich, this concentration of wealth.

You know, the -- part of the question that I think a lot of people have is how does that relate to what is really the biggest problem which is the stagnation of wages for the vast majority in the middle. You know, because you think about it, the inequality is these three things: the rise of the super rich, the very poor which is growing and unfortunately getting calcified.

But, for most people in the West, the feeling is you have reasonable skills, not great ones, and you just can't make much headway in terms of rising wages.

Is that -- how do you address that problem?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, FORMER JOURNALIST, AUTHOR AND MEMBER OF THE CANADAIAN PARLIAMENT: Well, you know, that connection between the stagnant middle class and the super -- the rise of the super rich I think is an important one and I thought actually the president handled it really well this time.


You know, I thought -- I was very struck by the way that he sort of shifted the focus from rising income inequality to a hollowed out middle class. This wasn't an eat the rich speech.

He was really focusing on -- you know, as Zanny said, he was focusing on what are the things that we can all agree are wrong. And I do think in a time of rising income inequality, stagnant social mobility becomes more of a problem.

You can have maybe a social consensus around the idea that high income equality is okay as long as you have a system where people feel everybody has access to that. And that's not happening right now.

ZAKARIA: So if Zanny's right, Earned Income Tax Credit is crucial. If Ken is right, education at all levels. None of this can happen by presidential decree. He needs Congress.

RATTNER: So a couple points on this. First, I think we all kind of agree on what the solutions are. I'm not quite as optimist as Zanny about the idea that even if we all agree on social mobility, that we would then all agree on what the solutions are.

I think I would say what Chrystia said just slightly different in that I think that income equality would be more tolerable if wages were going up for everybody else, but they're not.

So getting back to your question, that's really the important point, that nothing is happening in Washington. There's total gridlock. The Congress isn't doing anything.

Everything that we've all mentioned as solutions would cost money and the Republicans do not want to spend money. The Democrats want to raise taxes. The Republicans aren't going to do that.

And so that's why you saw the president come out with these very small board proposals. The minimum wage for federal contractors is a trivial proposal, but he could do it. ROGOFF: I think a big part of the inequality problem that we see in the advanced countries, but all around the world, is that the nature of technological change has been benefiting firms relative to workers.

When I was a graduate student, you were taught that labor got two- thirds of income. It didn't matter what was going on, it just worked out that way and, as along as the economy was growing, it was fine. And that has really stopped all over the world the last 25 years.

ZAKARIA: OK. We need to take a break, but when we get back in just one moment, Janet Yellen started her new job, one of the most important jobs in the world. What will she do there?



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Zanny Minton Beddoes, Steve Rattner, Chrystia Freeland, and Ken Rogoff talking about everything economic.

Steve, you wanted to pick up on something that Ken talked about, which is technology has been disempowering workers and favoring companies, but you want to add to that. Globalization ...

RATTNER: I want to -- yes, just look at through a slightly different lens. We can call technological change, but what I saw when I got into the auto work, and I was not a manufacturing guy, is essentially the fact that companies can now source their labor anywhere in the world they want to.

Many countries, Mexico, Southeast Asia, not just China, are incredibly efficient in terms of the productive capacity of the workers ...

ZAKARIA: Give the example of GM and the Mexico -- I mean that's an incredible ...

RATTNER: So when I was working on the auto thing, GM was paying about $55 an hour total cost for its workers. Mexico was paying $7 an hour and Mexican workers were just as productive as the U.S. ones.

So if you go back to 2006 and today, auto production in the U.S. is about the same. It went down, came back up again. In Mexico today, it's 50 percent higher than it was in the U.S. and you know where most of those cars are coming, they're coming here.

And so part of why Ken is completely right about his point that workers have not gotten their share of total income is because companies can source their labor anywhere in the world they want to.

ZAKARIA: One of the president's proposals is to raise the minimum wage. There are a lot of conservative economists who says this is a bad idea.

You're obviously -- anything you force a higher price on, anything you tax, you're going to get less of so the very thing you're trying to get lots of, which is entry level jobs at this point in the economy, you're going to get less of.

Ken Rogoff, what ...

ROGOFF: So there's certainly a case for social protection, but the national minimum wage can't be too high because we have big differences across the states. I mean that's the problem. The right minimum wage for New York City is very different from Mississippi and I think that's what makes it delicate.

Also, teenagers, I think that's been a big part of our work ethic, getting teenagers into the labor force, big contrast with Europe. I'm not so enthusiastic about having it apply to them.

So a really steep, quick rise in the minimum wage right now I don't think it's warranted, but it's been awhile and some changes.

MINTON BEDDOES: You know, I think the minimum wage is one of those things where you're right, the textbooks say it's going to hit jobs. The reality is, from a lot of studies, that a moderate minimum wage actually has -- there's very little evidence that it hits jobs.

And the U.S. minimum wage, the federal one, is now 37 percent of the median range, extremely low. I think you can raise it closer to the 50 percent of the median without hitting jobs too much.

And I think it's a palliative -- it's small ball, but it's helpful. But the way I would do it is un -- depoliticize it. Follow the U.K. The U.K. has something called a Low Pay Commission which changes the minimum wage ...

ZAKARIA: On a formula ...

MINTON BEDDOES: According to criteria -- well, not a formula, but according to criteria.

RATTNER: As discussed, it's not the best way to help the people at the bottom end of the income scale, but it's a way for government to do without actually have to write a check to anybody the way it would if it did education or it did an income tax credit.

I think Zanny's analysis and Ken, of course, are right. It's -- the impact on jobs has been proven to be relatively minimal. It's way below what it's been historically on an inflation-basis and it should be raised.

ZAKARIA: Janet Yellen takes over the Fed. You have been probably the most outspoken critic of the Fed on one issue. You think they should actively encourage the United States to have more inflation.

ROGOFF: Yes, I think they were ...

ZAKARIA: Explain to me why and whether she'll do it.

ROGOFF: Well, certainly, at the top of the crisis, I think it was a no-brainer that they should have worried less about inflation. Inflation would have even been a good thing because there's so much public and private debt to make wages smooth out around the world.

ZAKARIA: And the basic argument is that if you have a little bit of inflation, people will spend money because they will worry that if they don't spend it today, it'll be worse less tomorrow.

ROGOFF: That's absolutely part of it. It also helps debtors relative to creditors and, also, we live in an economy where it's not easy to push workers wages down and there needed to be some adjustment.

Janet Yellen has the reputation is very dovish, as someone who cares deeply about unemployment. She's worked on it her whole life and also cares about inflation, but maybe not the same was as the average person.


I think that's great. On the other hand, she doesn't run the place by herself. I just say she's very good. I mean this not a question of being dovish and weak. She is dovish and a very, very brilliant person.

ZAKARIA: Zanny, do you think that -- I mean emerging markets have seen a big sell-off. Do you think that that's related to Janet Yellen coming to the Fed, the Fed saying that they're going to end tapering, some feeling of unsteadiness or?

MINTON BEDDOES: Yes. I don't think it's related to Janet Yellen per se. I think it's related to the idea that we are close to the beginning of the end of the monetary morphine, if you will, that the U.S. is slowing the pace of tapering and there's kind of uncertainty about how fast that's going go and particularly when are rates going to rise.

The world were capital was going to the emerging markets in search of yields, because yields were so low here, is, over the next couple of years, going to change. It may not change next month, it may not change this year, but it is going to change.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you one final question because we haven't had you back since you've been a member of parliament. Do you feel like watching the president, hearing him talk about politics, you have a new appreciation for the politics of all this as opposed to the economics which you've always been writing about?

FREELAND: Well, much as I respect the esteemed journalists around this table, certainly have become a politician, I now -- I was going to say I feel sorry for politicians.

No, it's really, really hard. And it's hard to be a great journalist, of course, but it's easier to sit around the table and make clever points about the good things and the dumb things politicians have done.

Actually moving the ball is hard and even if you understand the evidence, like minimum wage is a great example. What we've all agreed is that the empirical evidence now shows as long as you do it reasonably it doesn't kill jobs.

So actually it makes sense to raise the minimum wage. The province of Ontario where I live has raised the minimum wage just this week. That's the right thing to do. They've linked it to inflation. I think the British example is a good one.

But even you could have like smart technocrats agree on a policy, actually doing it, that's hard. Right, Steve?

ZAKARIA: All right, we've got to close on that.

Steve Rattner, Chrystia Freeland, Ken Rogoff, Zanny Minton Beddoes, thank you all very much.

Up next, What in the World, how New York City set the tone for a global trend that is quite literally saving the world. I will explain.



ZAKARIA: Now, for our What in the World segment. I want to talk about the week's most important economic story.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As president, I'm committed to making Washington work better.


ZAKARIA: No, it was not Obama's State of the Union speech. It's not the stock markets and has nothing to do with the U.S. Federal Reserve.

I'm talking about a decision made in Beijing this week to ban smoking in schools across China. Why is this economic news? Well, consider these numbers. China is said to have 350 million smokers, more than the entire population of the United States.

I bring up the U.S. for comparison because the Surgeon General coincidentally released a report last month that caught my eye. The fallouts of tobacco use, the report said, cost Americans $289 billion a year, about four times as much as our federal budget for education.

Twenty million Americans have died in the last 50 years as a result of smoking, more than the tally from all of our wars put together. This year, nearly 500,000 Americans will die prematurely because of smoking.

These numbers are just staggering and, I imagine that, in China, the numbers are much, much worse.

Well, the good news is things are actually getting better and the ban in China is another big stride forward. According to the World Health Organization's most recent data, from 2010, 109 countries had national bans on smoking in hospitals; 42 on smoking in restaurants and 35 on smoking in bars.

Every year new countries join this list. India banned smoking in public places in 2008, so did France. Meanwhile, there's been a substantial decline in smoking rates. In 1980, 41 percent of the men around the world were smokers. By 2012, the number dropped to 31 percent.

At least some of the credit has to go to Michael Bloomberg, the former Mayor of New York. Remember when he first proposed a smoking ban in New York, back in 2002? Critics derided the plan as heresy. Europeans thought it was American puritanism at work. No one had ever pushed through a ban of that magnitude in a major metropolis.

But within a few years, dozens of major cities followed suit, including ones in Europe where smoking seemed part of the scenery; Paris, Rome, London. Places where it would have been unimaginable to limit smoking, like Jordan and, of course, now China are moving in this direction.

The benefits in New York were seen immediately. According to the American Journal of Public Health, in 2004 (just one year after New York's smoking ban) there were 3,800 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks. New Yorkers saved $56 million on health care costs that year.

Critics have called Bloomberg a nanny, someone who wants to take away choice from the people. But when you consider the health care costs involved, costs borne by all of us who don't smoke, to me it seems like common sense.

The irony is that over time, most people seem to agree, even smokers. In 1965, 42 percent of all American adults were tobacco users. Today, that number has dropped to just 18 percent.

The lesson here is not just about helping people make choices, but giving them the right information and options.

The next frontier is obesity, another preventable scourge. More than a third of all Americans are obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual medical cost of obesity in the United States amounts to $147 billion.

How many lives lost, and how many dollars spent, before we do something to reverse this trend? What are the smartest ways are to help people make informed choices about the thousands of empty calories that they, often unknowingly, consume.

That's not a nanny state but rather one that is trying to help you stay alive and healthy. And just as happened with smoking, if someone in the United States is


bold enough to start something, people might at first say it's weird and cranky and crazy, but who knows a few years later they'll be doing the same thing in Paris and even Beijing. Up next, ahead of the winter Olympics in Sochi and with the protests in neighboring Ukraine, what is Russian President Vladimir Putin thinking? We ask Henry Kissinger, who has met Putin more times than any living American and we asked Russia's greatest musician who has known the president for 20 years. Right back.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington with the check of the headlines. One of Chris Christie's fellow Republicans says the New Jersey governor should stay on as head of the Republican Governors Association. Earlier on "State of the Union" Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal said Christie should not step down from his post because of the bridge scandal engulfing his administration. Meanwhile, Christie is pushing back against claims by one of his former appointees that the New Jersey governor knew about the bridge lane closures when they happened.


CROWLEY: At least 15 people are dead after a volcano erupted in the village near Jakarta, Indonesia. Plumes of ash spewed more than a mile into the sky and descended in superheated clouds, making it impossible for those too close to the volcano to escape. Authorities are allowing some people to return to their home today, but warned the volcano may still be dangerous.

Iran has received the first part of some $4 billion in oil money that had been frozen by international sanctions. Last November Iran and five world powers, including the United States, reached an interim deal, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

And we are eight hours away from kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are squaring off in the NFL's biggest game. Although this year's Super Bowl is being played outside in New Jersey's MetLife stadium, the weather is not expected to cause problems. The game time forecast calls for temperatures in the mid- 40s. Those are your top stories. "Reliable Sources" with Brian Stelter is at the top of the hour. Now back to "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

ZAKARIA: Starting Friday, the eyes of the world will be on Sochi, a resort town sandwiched between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. These two features will be the geographic backdrop of these games, but the geopolitics of the region are moving from background to foreground. There are terror fields centered upon neighboring regions like Chechnya and Dagestan, with rest of Islamic populations, and then there is the revolution next door, just 600 miles away is Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, a nation of 45 million being rocked by a revolution. Ukraine gained its independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but it is still inextricably connected to Mother Russia. To get a better grasp of what's going on there and what it might mean for the Sochi games I wanted to talk to a man who knows the region and its players very well, indeed. Henry Kissinger was, of course, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon. He's now the chairman of Kissinger Associates which helps corporations do business in countries around the world. Henry Kissinger, thank you for joining us.


ZAKARIA: Now, we've talked about this and you think that what is going on in Ukraine is going to be of particular interest and sensitivity to Russia. Explain why Ukraine is so central to Russia and to Russian -- Russia's sense of its security?

HENRY KISSINGER: Well, first of all, what the Russia of today developed from Kiev ...

ZAKARIA: From Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

KISSINGER: From Kiev. And Kiev used to be called Kiev Rous and so that the political and even more the religious development of Russia came out of Kiev. Then they split, but since the beginning of the end of the 17th, the beginning of the 18th century, Ukraine has been part of Russia. And I don't know any Russian, whether they're dissidents or pro-government, who does not consider Ukraine at least an essential part of Russian history. So the Russians cannot be indifferent to the future of Ukraine. Now, I'm strongly in favor of an independent Ukraine and strongly in favor of Ukraine having an organic relationship to Europe, but to understand the Russian attitude, one has to look at history.

ZAKARIA: Now when you look at what is happening in Ukraine, how would you describe it? Because the way, you know, it appears on television is, you have forces for freedom, democracy, and a relationship, an organic relationship, with the West, battling against a pro-Russian president. Is that what's essentially happening?

KISSINGER: That is not my impression of -- my impression, it's in essence a divided country. The eastern part is Orthodox, Russian oriented. The western part, the further west one gets, is the form of Catholicism. And ...

ZAKARIA: And Western ...

KISSINGER: And pro-West. And pro-West. So I think the opinions are going to be fairly evenly divided. As to the parties fighting each other in Ukraine, my impression is, that each of them have democratic elements, each of them have oligarchic elements, and I don't consider the current president inevitably pro-Russian.


ZAKARIA: You know Putin well. You've met him more than any American. Do you think he is watching what is happening in Ukraine and thinking, the West and the United States is doing this essentially as a way of surrounding Russia?

KISSINGER: I think he thinks that this is a dress rehearsal for what we would like to do in Moscow. And ...

ZAKARIA: Regime change? KISSINGER: A regime change issue. And the fact that it's happening so close to the Sochi games, will make him even more suspicious. But Putin thinks that the disillusion of the Soviet Union was a great historical disaster. So obviously, the largest part of this independence is Ukraine with 50 million people, and he can't be indifferent.

ZAKARIA: Do you think the Obama administration is handling this appropriately?

KISSINGER: Well, the Obama administration has a tendency to keep making public statements on evolving, dramatic events, as if it's going to be settled on a Sunday talk show. I don't disagree with where the administration is heading, but I think it's not necessary to do it so publicly and one should have a better view of the long term historic evolution.

ZAKARIA: And your basic concern is that this will cause deep Russian resentment, which will make it difficult for us to find the cooperation with them when Syria or Iran or ...

KISSINGER: Relating Russia to the rest of the world and to us is a huge challenge because here is a country that has been an imperial country for all of its history that has identified itself, to itself as by its imperial achievements. Now they have a frontier with China, which is a strategic nightmare. They have a frontier with Islam, which is an ideological nightmare. And they have a frontier with Europe that's historically very shaky. On the other hand, Russian rulers throughout history have governed by giving the impression that they're very important abroad, so how do rally his country while looking fields abroad and yet realizing that huge adjustments are possible - are necessarily. I think that is the great thing, challenge that Putin faces an it's not in our interests to drive them into a beleaguered attitude where they feel they have to prove what they can do.

ZAKARIA: Henry Kissinger, pleasure to have you on.

Up next, one of the big controversies about Sochi related to Russia's treatment of gays and a new law criminalizing homosexuality. I asked Russia's most famous conductor and a close friend of Vladimir Putin whether he approves of what his countryman and his president are doing.






ZAKARIA: Valery Gergiev is one of Russia's best known celebrities, he is the artistic director of St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater, his skills and passion as a conductor have led to great renown around the world. He's also an official Russian ambassador to the Sochi Olympics and a friend of Russia's President Vladimir Putin. He has a unique perspective on Russia today, on concerns about crackdowns, on anti-gay legislation, and much more. I caught up with him last week in Davos.


ZAKARIA: Valery Gergiev, pleasure to have you on the show.

VALERY GERGIEV: Thank you. Pleasure to be a guest.

ZAKARIA: The Sochi Olympics have raised as a controversy an issue that you have also gotten embroiled in, which is this issue of gays and gay rights. What do you think of the law that was passed in Russia that internationally is read as being extremely hostile to gays?

GERGIEV, DIRECTOR, ST. PETERSBURG'S MARIINSKY THEATER: I think it was seen internationally as a bad thing happening in Russia. I think in Russia, the view was different. The way people read this law is slightly different or sometimes very different. First of all, I myself hate any form of discrimination and as a head of an institution, it's a big institution, we have more than 3,000 people working for the Mariinsky Theater, I would never allow any sort of discrimination to take place, but in Russia, I think it's a very controversial issue. And now because of Olympics coming very soon, everyone thinks of safety, so I'm sure it's not the issue number one or number two or number three. Safety. And very successful scenario for the games. Structurally and organizationally. But I think not one sports man or anyone coming will be upset with it. I simply can't imagine anyone in Russia wants to upset world's community during these Sochi Olympics or after, or, of course, not before. I myself question very much why the country needed something like this law and I didn't even read it, honestly I didn't have time, I only learned about this law when things started to happen that I heard about, people being against this happening in Russia.

ZAKARIA: But you made reference to safety and, of course, President Putin also made a reference, which suggested what he said was, I have nothing against gays, but there is an issue that concerns me about pedophilia.


ZAKARIA: Now, what has outraged many people, I think understandably, is the connection that is being drawn between gays and people who are pedophiles. Why would President Putin or why would you single out gays as being particularly likely to do it?

GERGIEV: No, nothing in my view, there is no connection at all, in my view. I didn't hear all the discussion President Putin had with I think a group of five or six journalists, but I had that much time to hear and they spent some time talking about these issue, I didn't hear this -- I don't think there is a direct line.

ZAKARIA: A lot of people have criticized your relationship with Vladimir Putin. They see Putin as a strong man, as somebody who has not been good for human rights, and they view you as an artist, as somebody who should stand up for human rights and yet, they see you being very close to President Putin. What is your response?

GERGIEV: First of all, I think a lot of people are wrong about President Putin. That's my view. I'm myself not a student, so I saw many, many people, I met many heads of states, I look at their policies or their actions better to say, especially towards culture. Many of them are totally uninterested. And I think President Putin belongs to a very small group of world leaders, very small group, who thinks that this is actually very important and he would do something -- he recently came to the rehearsal of the children's chorus, rehearsal, it was Christmas day in Russia, basically, president like all of us has a right to simply be free, you know. He chose to be there with the kids who represented all regions of Russia.

ZAKARIA: But having the president show an interest in art and opera, is one thing. On the other hand, political freedom in Russia has gone backwards in the last ten years, wouldn't you say?

GERGIEV: Yes, and no. The chaos of '90s was not really a freedom you dream of. That's my again, modest opinion. I've known you for some time and I have no reason to invent anything, again, and I'm so grown up, I made up my mind on many, many things already and I looked at Mr. Putin for many years and just looked, and I wanted him to act, not to promise, and that's why today I can talk about him, because I just look at actions. And again, it's not only important thing for the country, culture, it is important, Russia without culture is not a country, let's say, it's just a huge piece of land. The country makes it together with cultural identity and then it's a country.

ZAKARIA: Valery Gergiev, pleasure to have you on.

GERGIEV: My pleasure.

ZAKARIA: Up next, today is America's big day celebrating football. But if you want to make real money, some say, you would need to think about real football. I'll explain.



ZAKARIA: Beginning with Woodrow Wilson in 1913 most presidents have read their annual message before Congress as President Obama did this week. However, a few presidents have followed the 19th century practice of simply submitting their addresses in written form. Which brings me to my question of the week. Who was the last president to submit a State of the Union in written form only? Harry Truman? Richard Nixon? Jimmy Carter? Or George H.W. Bush? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

This week I'm recommending a film instead of a book, it's called "Silicon Valley" and it aired as part of PBS's "American Experience" series. The documentary, which is really well done, makes you realize how unique the culture of Silicon Valley is, but also how accidental it is that it's happened to be located in California. It was all thanks to just one man.

And now for the last look. Today is Super Bowl Sunday here in the United States. The biggest day of the year for the National Football League. It's a huge event in America, of course. But compared to what the rest of the world calls football, all this fanfare is a drop in the bucket. Let's check the numbers. More than 100 million people will probably tune in to the Super Bowl, but over 900 million people tuned into the 2010 World Cup final and more than 3.2 billion fans watched part of the tournament. The world's most valuable football team, by which I mean soccer team, Real Madrid, is reportedly valued at $1 billion more than the highest valued NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, and yearly global revenues for soccer are almost as much as revenues for all U.S. professional sports combined. Now, NFL revenues are nothing to sneeze at. But even they know a few more global fans wouldn't hurt. In recent years, the NFL has tried to organize a China Bowl in Beijing, but it never came to fruition. And for the past few years, the NFL has played games in Wembley Stadium, outside London, three are scheduled for next season. Good luck trying to get those global fans to switch their football loyalties.

The correct answer is C, Jimmy Carter. His 1981 State of the Union was the last to be submitted only in writing. At almost 34,000 words, it is also the longest ever. As you can see from this graph, the addresses generally became much shorter after Wilson revived the practice of reading them in person. The longest spoken speech was Bill Clinton's 1995 address at over 9,000 words, but he actually spent more time delivering his 2000 speech.


BILL CLINTON: That is our destiny.


ZAKARIA: Which clocked in at a whopping 1 hour, 28 minutes and 49 seconds. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "Reliable Sources."