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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Interview with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Interview with Robert Kuhn; Interview with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto; Bill Cosby's Show Making Obama's Presidency Possible
Aired October 05, 2014 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: his is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
We have a terrific show for new week. We will start with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: That's how you make peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: On just how big the threat from ISIS is. And on the strange bedfellows that are forming in the Middle East because of that threat.
And Mexico. To many Americans it's the land of illegal immigrants and drug wars. I will talk to the nation's president who says those people should think again. His country is a new land of opportunity.
Also, want to know what's going on inside the head of China's president, Xi Jinping? The world will soon have what my guest says is an unprecedented opportunity, and we have a sneak preview.
Finally, does Barack Obama have this man to thank for his presidency? I'll introduce you to an author who says absolutely.
But first here is my take.
Like you, I've watched the protests in Hong Kong with fascination. I have been trying to figure out what they mean for Hong Kong but also for China.
The situation brought to mind for me a book published a few years back by a Chinese-American academic, Minxin Pei. It's called "China's Trapped Transition." In it Pei invoked the most established law in political science, that over time countries that grow economically tend to become more democratic. Oil-rich states that are usually run by dictators are the exception.
China had achieved decades of growth, Pei pointed out, and yet had seen almost no moves toward political openness. The world's great exception. Around the time of the book's publication in 2006 Pei predicted that because of this mismatch between economic growth and political stagnation, problems would emerge six to seven years later. In other words, right about now.
And indeed, the scholar says, Hong Kong's turmoil today has huge implications for China. Pei argues that perhaps what explains the Chinese anomaly is this that in China the ruling elites have been united, confident, and ferocious in their determination to maintain a one-party system.
In Taiwan after Chiang Ching-kuo's death, the elite split as they did in South Korea and Indonesia and of course in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. That kind of split between a reformist wing and a hard line wing has not happened this China.
There's another analogy to the Soviet case. The pressure for reform in Russia in the 1980s was real but limited. It was pervasive in Poland and Czechoslovakia which were the most economically developed countries under Soviet influence. And that put pressure on the whole Soviet system and on Moscow itself.
Hong Kong is like eastern Europe, a rich but un-free outpost of the empire. Pei cautions that the events in Hong Kong are unlikely to spill over into the mainland. He says, quote, "The system of control, patronage and surveillance on the mainland is too strong," unquote.
I would add that there was also considerable support in China for the status quo. It has quadrupled the average person's income over the past two decades. But Pei argues the Hong Kong protests could produce rifts within the communist party as it has to deal with issues of dissent and repression now and in the future.
The solution for China is obvious -- political reform. This has been seen and advocated by many senior leaders within the party including Wen Jiabao. In two interviews with me, Wen, premiere of China from 2002 to 2012 insisted that political reform had to follow economic reform. But it never happened because reform threatens the party's monopoly of power.
China will not become a Western-style liberal democracy, but it should consider the example of Singapore, a city state with a strong one- party system but one that also has legal opposition parties, reasonably free elections, and real independent courts. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping famously visited Singapore in November
1978 and learned about Singapore's free market economic system before beginning reforms at home. President Xi Jinping would do very well to take a similar trip to that city state pretty soon.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week.
Let's get started.
ISIS is a threat to the United States. It's also a threat to many states in the Middle East. That is making for some very strange bedfellows in that part of the world. I sat down with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ask him
about the threat, Obama's plans, and those unusual alliances being formed to fight the terrorists.
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister Netanyahu, thank you for joining us.
NETANYAHU: Thank you, my pleasure.
ZAKARIA: You have very good intelligence. What is your assessment of the strength of ISIS?
NETANYAHU: Well, several tens of thousands by now and it's growing by day because they've got about $2 million petro dollars revenue a day. They're augmenting their territory.
The strength of ISIS is the strength of terror and fear. You don't have to be that large. There were times in history where small bands conquered all of Asia just by galloping on horses and beheading people and instilling terror in the hearts of millions, and this is the strength of ISIS.
A fervent, fervent fanatic ideology and the willingness to have -- to kill anybody for its realization.
ZAKARIA: When we look at what is going on in the Middle East, when you look at Syria and Iraq, what does it mean for Israel? Because at one level I wonder you've got the Iranians tied up in supporting the Syrian new regime. You've got Hezbollah forces tied up in dealing with it. All your enemies are fighting with one another. Is that good for you or bad for you?
NETANYAHU: Well, when you're enemies are fighting each other, don't support one or the other, we can both. That means that we fully support President Obama's goal to defeat ISIS, but we also believe that you should prevent Iran from becoming a threshold nuclear power. To prevent it from having capacity to enrich enough uranium for the bomb in short order.
So I think these are the twin goals that I have as the prime minister of Israel, but I find not only that I have them, that many, if not all of the Arab states except Assad in Syria, everybody shares those views.
ZAKARIA: Are you in a tacit alliance with the moderate Arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia?
NETANYAHU: I would say there's a commonality of interest that has crystallized and I have never seen it in my lifetime because they -- all the Arab states identify as we do these twin challenges of a nuclear Iran and the radical Sunnis making inroads into Sunni states, and they recognize that it's an imperil to their societies and of course they all want to get rid of Israel on their way to the great Satan. We're just the little Satan. The great Satan is the United States, and they all have these mad ideologies. So we share the common interest to address those dangers. My hope is
that we can pivot on this to a productive relationship also to advance a realistic Palestinian/Israel peace. Thus reversing the old assumption that if you have a Palestinian/Israel peace, we've got a -- we facilitate a broader raproshma with -- between Israel and the Arab world.
I think because of these common challenges, it may actually work the other way around, that a raproshma between Israel and the key Arab states would facilitate an Israeli/Palestinian peace and I think we have to explore both.
ZAKARIA: But if that is the case, what these Arab states will say is they need to see progress on the Palestinian front and on that front you gave an interview to the "Times of Israel" in which you said, and they were reporting on the interview, they said Prime Minister Netanyahu could never, ever -- and they italicized this -- countenance a truly sovereign Palestinian state.
NETANYAHU: They say.
ZAKARIA: They've characterized that interview.
NETANYAHU: Well --
ZAKARIA: Is that --
NETANYAHU: I'm characterized in so many ways, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: No, no. But it was done in Hebrew so they don't have an exact quote. So the question is, do you -- do you hold -- if that is true you're essentially saying there is no two-state solution.
NETANYAHU: No. I just said yesterday in the White House publicly. I said, I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples, two nation states, one for the Palestinian people, one for the Jewish people, living in mutual recognition with solid security arrangements on the ground to defend Israel, to keep the peace and to defend Israel in case --
ZAKARIA: What did you mean when you said then they say you said --
NETANYAHU: Here is the security problem. What is the security problem? What's the problem? First of all, I think the problem is not this or that border but what lies on the other side, the Palestinian side of the border. Do we have a Palestinian state that is like Syria or like Libya or like Gaza in which you have people sworn to our destruction? Or do we have a peaceful state that recognizes our right to have a state of our own? That's the recognition part.
The second part is, OK, even if we had that, how do I know that this will keep? How do I know that Hamas will not walk in and -- as they did in Gaza and knock out the Palestinian Authority?
We walked out. Hamas backed by Iran walked in through President Abbas, and established Hamastan for which they fired 15,000 rockets into Israel. After we've cleared every last inch of Gaza.
ZAKARIA: But to a Palestinian in the West Bank, if it's -- if they hear what you're saying, they're saying -- I think we would interpret it as we'll never get our own state.
NETANYAHU: I disagree with that and I think that it's too facile from the part of governments and others to accept this notion because look at the Middle East. I mean, states are disintegrating. Militant Islam is walking into the cracks. Every place that Western powers vacate has been taking over by Islamists whether it's Iraq and elsewhere.
We vacated Lebanon. Southern Lebanon, taken over by Islamists. Hezbollah on behalf of Iran. We walked out of Gaza. Taken over by Islamists. Hamas and backed by Iran. So we have a real problem. It's not merely our problem. It's also paradoxically also the problem of the Palestinian authority.
If you just expect Israel to walk out, you'll be thrown out, too, by the Islamists, OK? So how do we work out a deal, a protracted deal, where you get political independence and I have no desire to govern the Palestinians. None whatsoever. But at the same time I don't want a two-state or a unitary state, a binational state but I don't want a Iran state, a third Iranian enclave around Israel's borders.
And I think the solution lies in long-term security arrangements that involve Israel for a protracted period of time to which the Palestinians say, you can't do that. That offends our sovereignty. We can't have the presence of security presence or military presence of our former enemy on our soil. That doesn't square with independence.
I say really? How about American forces in Germany seven years after the fact? Or Japan or in South Korea. No analogy is perfect and identical but the principle in the Middle East as we know it where the Islamists just rush in, how do we prevent Hamas from taking --
ZAKARIA: But those forces were protecting Germany from the soviet army not occupying Germany.
NETANYAHU: Well, nobody really -- after you win a war, do you a Nagasaki, it's a debatable question what -- I mean how much -- you know, what the local government's decisions are, but the point was there was also an American security consideration and it wasn't merely Germany's consideration or Japan's consideration. There was an American security imperative.
Now, think about that. This is Germany or Japan. When we talk about the West Bank, the distance from the West Bank, OK, to Israel's international airport is the distance from the bridge to this hotel. That's it. So if the West Bank is taken over by Hamas, they could fire mortars into this hotel, into the center of New York. They could stop our international airport with mortars, not rockets, not missiles, mortars. A guy with a mortar.
ZAKARIA: So let me ask you about Hamas. NETANYAHU: So we have to -- we have to find a security solution that
is real and I think it's possible. I think we have to adjust our conceptions of sovereignty. I don't know if there's absolute sovereignty anywhere. I don't see it in the economic field. We're all tied to international structures, we're all tied to limitations, and I think we have to think about having these security arrangements which could be -- over time could be made shared security arrangements, but that's the way to keep Israel safe, paradoxically to keep the Palestinian authority intact, and ultimately to secure peace.
ZAKARIA: We'll be back in just a moment with more of my interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I will ask him about negotiating with Hamas. Is he willing to do it under any circumstances?
ZAKARIA: You said in your speech ISIS is Hamas, Hamas is ISIS. President Obama says very clearly ISIS can never be negotiated with under no circumstances whatsoever. Are you saying that you will never negotiate with Hamas under any circumstances?
NETANYAHU: I negotiate with an enemy who wants to stop being my enemy. That's how you make peace. An enemy who wants to destroy you remains committed to your obliteration is not someone you can negotiate with. You don't negotiate with al Qaeda. You don't negotiate with this latter day Baghdadi because his people want to destroy you.
As long as Hamas remains committed to our destruction, what's there to negotiate? The method of my suicide or what? You know, we can talk to those Palestinians who want to live in peace with us, we can have disagreements about borders and so on, but fundamentally we want to shape a common future of peace with each other. With Hamas that calls for our eradication, there's nothing to discuss.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about Iran. My reporting tells me that the negotiations are currently in the stage where, you know, the Iranians want about 9,500 centrifuges. The Americans have said 1,500. The question is --
NETANYAHU: Can you sign that?
ZAKARIA: As I say, this is reporting. It may be -- you know, I'm not entirely sure but a number of people are saying maybe there's a deal to be had at 5,000. Could you live with 5,000 centrifuges?
NETANYAHU: Could you? Here is the question. Why should Iran have a single centrifuge? I mean, what's their argument? They say we want civilian nuclear energy. Well, so does Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Sweden. Seventeen countries that have civilian nuclear energies and they don't have a single centrifuge because you really need centrifuges not for civilian energy but to make bombs. ZAKARIA: But there are a lot of other ones that have civilian --
NETANYAHU: But you don't need it.
ZAKARIA: They do have it.
ZAKARIA: But Iran has violated endless number of U.N. Security Council resolutions telling them thou shall not have centrifuges because you're secretly building underground nuclear facilities to make bombs. You're building ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose only purpose is to carry nuclear bombs.
You have neutron bombardment facilities. They're only for that. Not making -- they say we're making radio isotopes. What? To shoot out on ICBMs to Iranian patients orbiting the earth? You're making medical isotopes to treat the orbiting Iranians? It's ridiculous. Of course they're out to make a bomb. So they shouldn't have centrifuges for that purpose.
To the extent that they have centrifuges, which is contrary to our position, the more they have, the worse the deal gets. The fewer they have, the more time it would take them to enrich enough uranium to make the bomb.
ZAKARIA: But is 5,000 too many?
NETANYAHU: 5,000 would cut it down very to that time. What is called the breakout time, the time it would take them to kick out the inspectors and enrich very rapidly. The lower enriched uranium into bomb grade uranium would be a very short time and I think it would imperil all of us.
ZAKARIA: One final question. Do you think President Obama has been too passive in his assertion of American power? There are people in the United States who feel that way. Do you think that he has been too passive or restrained?
NETANYAHU: I think he's aware fully of the challenges that face the United States and the world. I mean, we had actually I thought a very -- a very deep conversation actually about the challenges, and I think the fact that he has chosen to act as he has, and it's not an easy thing to be a leader who takes his country into battle, it's not something that is done impetuously, and I say that from my experience as well, I think he's fully aware of the great challenges that face him, the United States, and the democracies of the world.
We have to build alliances, but ultimately we have to, as I see it, certainly defeat is, unquestionably, but also prevent this malignancy that is growing between east and west. In the west the great civilization of the United States and the east the rising powers, impressive powers in Asia. Principally China and India and, of course, there are others. The world will readjust itself to this new structure, and I actually bode it well.
But in between there's this wild growth, wild, of people with a desire to roll back modernity, constrict choice, subjugate women, eliminate gays, tell minorities you either convert to our creed or you die. That's wild. No more relativism there. And these people are trying to arm themselves with territory, with weapons, with nuclear weapons.
That is a threat to our common future, and I think this is the largest challenge. I never lose sight of that. Not only to me. They all want to destroy my country, Israel, but I think to everyone, and increasingly people see that, and certainly the Arabs. The Arab states around us see it. So I think there is a challenge but there's also hope.
ZAKARIA: Do you trust Obama on this challenge?
NETANYAHU: I trust him to do what is important for the United States, but I think that we're -- the jury is out on all of us. The jury is out on all of us. We have to -- we're going to be tested, all of us, and ultimately it's not what we -- it's not what we intend to do. It's what we end up doing, especially what we end up preventing.
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister, thank you very much.
NETANYAHU: Thank you. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: We just got many insights into how Israel's prime minister thinks. Up next, an interesting look inside the mind of China's president whose views are much less well-known.
ZAKARIA: What in the world is the leader of the second largest economy on the planet thinking? That's a question many would love to know the answer to, but in a closed secretive society like China, it's all but impossible to know. He rarely gives interviews and the press in China is far from free. But now we have something to look at.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has a new book entitled "The Governance of China" and it's aiming for worldwide impact. State media there reports that the book has been published in nine languages -- Chinese, English, French, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Japanese.
My next guest, Robert Lawrence Kuhn says it is a milestone. Kuhn has advised the Chinese government for 25 years and he is the author of "How China's Leaders Think." Welcome.
ROBERT LAWRENCE KUHN, AUTHOR: Pleasure to be here.
ZAKARIA: First, give us a sense of who this man is for our viewers. Who is Xi Jinping and why is he a little different from China's ordinary leaders?
KUHN: Xi Jinping has been involved in really every aspect of what makes China today. His father was one of the founders of the country, truly a great revolutionary and a great reformer in the early days. Xi Jinping went to college, Tsinghua University, degree in chemical engineering. Then he went through several decades -- two decades of work at the local level starting in a county and then a city in Charman (ph) working his way up for many years in the province in Fujian to become the governor and then for five years was the party secretary, the number one responsible for Zhejiang province, which is the center of entrepreneurship in China. So, that gives him a great sense of business. And that was when I first met him, actually, in 2005 and then in 2006. Seeing him work in the local area, and he's a person when you see him who is unassuming. He's big, he has a strong presence in a room, but you feel very comfortable with him. He doesn't put on airs. He's very warm and very friendly. Everybody says that.
ZAKARIA: What does the book say about nationalism? What is the picture that comes across of Xi Jinping as a nationalist?
KUHN: First of all, the book has 18 different categories, seven of which deal with international affairs. So, I think that already is significant. Other sections deal with political activities, people's standards of living have six of the sections and four then we deal with behaviors. In terms of nationalism you see China at least in the book, which is what China and President Xi wants the world to see, what you see is Xi is what I would call a strong patriot, and as such he will be very tough on issues like maritime territoriality. Issues in Hong Kong today, I don't expect any flexibility there because he believes that in order for China to truly realize the Chinese dream, which is his overarching political philosophy, is the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. And this comes in terms of his political philosophy as well.
Certainly, there's a great defense of socialism and the singular leadership of the communist party. No doubt about it. But it is now being infused with traditional Chinese values. Confucianism is making a tremendous come back. President Xi is promoting that. So, in melding together ancient Chinese philosophy, particularly Confucism (ph) with the socialist ideal that is, of course, greatly modified by Deng Xiaoping in terms of Chinese characteristics which brings the market in to have a decisive role. So, you have socialist attitudes of government, the market playing a decisive role in leading China forward, and underlying it or infusing it is ancient Chinese tradition.
ZAKARIA: Robert Lawrence Kuhn, pleasure to have you on.
KUHN: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next up on "GPS," why the Mexican president who is, of course, fighting the huge drug war at home, is against the legalization of marijuana in places like Colorado and Washington State? Shouldn't it make his life easier? I asked him that when we come back.
ZAKARIA: On Wednesday the Mexican Army captured a man known is the engineer, whom the Mexican government called, quote, "one of the main leaders of drug trafficking in Mexico," unquote. It was a major success in that nation's war on drugs. Last week I had a chance to sit down with the president of Mexico to talk not only about drugs and immigration, but also about the things Mexico is getting better known for. Things like trade and the impressive reforms that President Enrique Pena Nieto has pushed through including amending the Constitution to open up its energy sector. Listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, pleasure to have you on.
ENRIQUE PENA NIETO (through translator): Thank you so much for this great opportunity. It's really a pleasure to be here.
ZAKARIA: I know you are opposed to the legalization of marijuana, so I wanted to ask the question to you in a slightly different way. Have you noticed any effect of the partial legalization of marijuana in certain states in America? I mean, one of the things that people who advocate the legalization of marijuana point out is that it would take a lot of the crime out. It would take a lot of the illegal money out. It would regulate it the way that alcohol is regulated and provide tax revenues to the government. Do you not find that compelling?
NIETO: I don't see it that way. I instead think that this is a door of access to drug consumption to the most harmful drugs and it eventually will generate an environment of more violence as well and we will have to see in those states that have already legalized marijuana consumption what social behaviors are they seeing and if whatever gave way to this eventual legalization in those states, has it really resulted in the economic benefits for those states and for society at large? I don't think that is the case. However, I do insist we have to hold a debate with evidence showing exactly what is happening throughout the world and what is also happening in the states of the American Union where they have legalized it.
ZAKARIA: You know, in the United States when people think about Mexico still it is immigration that dominates the way they think about it. What do you think when you hear the debate about immigration in Washington?
NIETO: First of all, I think that the relationship between Mexico and the United States is a lot broader and sometimes it would be surprising to know that many details of the relationship. The number of daily crossings, legal crossings, every day. About a million people every day, legal crossings that come. People coming and going from one country to the other because of work and trade and the trade level that we have which is so broad which we will probably talk about.
ZAKARIA: But when you hear some of the anti-immigrant language, the rhetoric, do you think it's racist?
NIETO: I think it's discriminatory, yes, and I think it's unfortunate for a country whose formation and historic origin relies so much on the migration flows of many parts, Europe, Asia, for instance. I think this is a country whose origin to a great extent is one of migration and that's why it's unfortunate to hear this exclusionary and discriminatory tone regarding the migration flows into the United States. Today we have to recognize that the migration that comes from Mexico to the United States has fallen. There is a lower number of migrants to balance between those who are coming to the United States and those going back to Mexico is practically a zero balance today, and that reflects the fact that in Mexico we are opening greater opportunities for those who don't want to leave their country or those who have no need to go looking for a new opportunity of personal or professional growth.
ZAKARIA: You have done a fairly impressive set of reforms in the time you have come into office. You have reformed the energy sector, which required an amendment to the constitution. You have reformed the telecommunications sector which many people thought you wouldn't be able to do. You broke up Carlos Slim's monopoly. You have taken on the teachers union and had reform there. You've been cheered by a lot of people in the West, by economists, by experts, but people in Mexico are more worried, and your approval ratings have gone down. Will you persist in this policy of structural reforms which are in a sense medicine that you're administering, which is, you know, which is causing a certain amount of dislocation and pain? How long can you continue this if your poll ratings keep dropping?
NIETO: Look, I think that in the first months which is what we have to recognize, in the first months of this administration, in the first 20 months, we have been able to materialize a package of structural reforms that had been postponed for many years. We're materializing them, and now society is waiting. People are expecting these reforms to actually bring them tangible, sensitive, and concrete benefits and to ensure this we have to speed up the process of implementation. We are now in this stage. And I think to the extent that people start feeling the benefits, we are going to have more backing and sympathy for the reforms that we have reached. And I am certain that they are going to bring Mexico greater growth, more opportunities for jobs and professional development for more Mexicans and that this will allow us to have more progress.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, thank you very much for joining us.
NIETO: Thank you so much for this opportunity.
ZAKARIA: Next up, 30 years ago Bill Cosby changed what Americans saw on television, but did the comedian and his show also change the face quite literally of the American politics?
ZAKARIA: Just over 30 years ago "The Cosby Show" premiered on American television screens. It was ground breaking for certain, especially for the way it portrayed this African-American family with Bill Cosby as the patriarch. But did it break so much ground that without it Barack Obama might not be our president? That's what my next guest says. Mark Whitaker is the author of the new book "Cosby: His Life and Times." I should note that Mark was CNN's managing editor until last year and many years ago we worked together at "Newsweek." Actually he was my boss. Welcome back.
MARK WHITAKER, AUTHOR: Hi, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: So, explain that idea. Because a number of people have made it, and you talk about it in the book, that if not for Bill Cosby and "The Cosby Show," Obama might not be president.
WHITAKER: Well, the person who made the point 15 minutes after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, was Karl Rove. He was on Fox News and he was talking to Chris Wallace about the social significance of the election and they pointed out for the first time we were going to have an African-American family in the White House and Karl Rove said, now, wait a second, you know, we've already had, you know, an African-American family that was sort of America's family and that was the Huxtables in "The Cosby Show." So, I think the point, and it was picked up by others in the days after that, was that in electing Obama we weren't just electing a politician. We were also sending his family to live in our national home in the White House and to a large degree I think that was not - that was never a point of controversy during the election I think partly because of "The Cosby Show."
ZAKARIA: And the point about this I think is that, it's not just that America was transformed in maybe the '80s and '90s by laws, but there was a kind of social change that took place that accepted blacks as middle class upright and that "The Cosby Show" was at the center of that - that transformation.
WHITAKER: Right. And this is why I was interested in studying Bill Cosby. Because I think that, you know, apart from, of course, the great politicians and civil rights leaders we can name, you know, I think that there are very few African-Americans who have had a big -- as big an impact on our society, and that show did two things that I think were what I call quietly radical. On the one hand, it presented a picture of African-American family life that everybody could identify with, white families, and around the world, too, people of different color and so forth. At the same time black families looked at that show and saw in the background a tremendous amount of black culture. They saw jazz, they saw black art, they saw historically black college. They saw a quiet support for the struggle in South Africa. So it was also incredibly affirming I think for the black population.
ZAKARIA: Do you think Bill Cosby intended this? Was this all part of a kind of quiet plan?
WHITAKER: Well, you know, it's very interesting. You know, now that I have gotten to know him a little bit and it took a while because, you know, it took me a year of reporting before I got any cooperation from him. On the one hand, what I show in the book is that he has always had a very strong sense of social conscience, even though and often he was criticized for not doing more racial humor, political humor as a performer. In fact, behind the scenes he's always supporting civil rights causes and using his power and his money to get African-Americans hired and so forth and so on. On the other hand, once I actually got to know him and interview him, you see that a lot of this is not strategic really on his part. It's much more intuitive and instinctive because that's the way he thinks. He has this amazing kind of intuition and he's been a pioneer in all of these areas, but if you ask him to sort of articulate his vision, his strategy, he really can't do it, I mean, because he talks in stories.
ZAKARIA: You also talk about one event that radicalized certainly his wife and perhaps even him which is the death of his son. And it's just, firstly, a beautifully written part of the book, but tell that story. What happened to Bill Cosby's son?
WHITAKER: Well, Ennis Cosby, he was his only son, Cosby has five children, like on the Huxtables, and he -- Cosby had always wanted a son. He had a very difficult relationship with his own father, and Ennis turned out to be, you know, this incredibly handsome, good natured boy except he struggled in school. And it wasn't until he was in college at Morehouse College in Atlanta that he was diagnosed with dyslexia. And that sort of turned his life around and he decided that he was going to commit himself to becoming, you know, an educator and he was in the midst of studying to get his doctorate at Columbia, he goes on vacation to Los Angeles, and he gets a flat tire on the San Diego freeway, pulls over and in the course of changing his tire, he was shot dead by when they finally found him it turned out that it was sort of this delinquent immigrant thug sort of character. And, you know, for Cosby, you know, of course, you know, losing a child is about the worst thing that can happen to anybody. But, you know, I show that there are a couple of things that I think help explain who Bill Cosby is today that flow directly from that tragedy. One is he copes with it probably by going back to work. He's always been an incredible workaholic. He makes it look easy on stage but he has always worked very hard. But he works even harder. And to this day he's on the road every single week giving standup concerts and performances. But also, you know, a lot of what you've heard from Bill Cosby about sort of what some people view as lecturing the black community about the importance of education and the importance of good parenting and so forth in my view a lot of that in his mind is an effort to give some meaning to this awful tragedy of losing his son.
ZAKARIA: Mark Whitaker, pleasure to have you on.
WHITAKER: Great to see you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Up next, according to a new report the global wildlife population decreased by half in just 40 years. An amazing statistic. What do you think harms the greatest number of species in the world? When we come back.
ZAKARIA: The World Wildlife Fund released a living planet report on Tuesday which says that the global wildlife population of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals declined by more than half, 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. It brings me to my question of the week. Which of the following was the primary threat, the threat impacting the greatest number of species during those 40 years? A, hunting and fishing. B, habitat degradation, C, climate change. Or D, pollution. Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is the book I opened the show with China scholar Minxin Pei's "China's Trapped Transition: the Limits of Developmental Autocracy." This is the one book to read to understand China's current challenges. Clearly, after having spent three decades watching China's economy, the thing to watch right now is China's politics and there's no better guide to understanding it than this book. It's an academic work, but clearly written and highly intelligent.
The correct answer to our "GPS Challenge" question was "A." According to the World Wildlife Fund report, exploitation or hunting and fishing was most commonly reported as a threat to the species studied? Habitat degradation was next followed by habitat loss and then climate change. The report said that in order to meet the demands humans make on the planet, we would need 1.5 Earths or 150 percent of the resources Earth can provide. We've linked to the report on our website.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.