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Fareed Zakaria GPS

U.S. Syrian Strategy; ISIS Threat to the Rest of the World; The Crude Conundrum; Ebola Spread, A Scare Scenario?; Perspectives of Another Economic Crash; Searching for Roots

Aired October 19, 2014 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Turned on a TV in recent days? What you have seen has been fear over ISIS --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those folks could kill Americans.

ZAKARIA: Over Ebola. Even over the economy.

Is ISIS really a threat to the United States and Europe right now? How bad is the Ebola outbreak going to get before it gets better?

And what about the economy? Are we on the verge of another recession.

Also, we'll take a look at oil, the price of which is falling in the midst of all these tensions. Why? We'll explain.

And I'll take you inside my investigation into my own roots, where I came from.

This is all the old lands of the Ottoman Empire.

What I found surprised me. But first, here is my take.

From the start President Obama's Syria policy has foundered because of a gap between words and deeds. He's done it again. Having declared that the aim of American policy is to degrade and destroy ISIS, he now finds himself pressured to escalate military action in Syria.

This is a path destined for failure. In fact, the Obama administration should abandon its lofty rhetoric and make clear that it is focused on a strategy against ISIS that is actually achievable -- containment.

Escalation in Syria cannot meet American objectives and is almost certain to produce chaos and unintended consequences. The central reality is and has always been that Washington has no serious local partners on the ground there. It's important to understand that the Free Syrian Army that we talk about doesn't actually exist. A Congressional Research Service report points out that the name does not refer to any, quote, "organized command and control structure with national reach."

The director of National Intelligence has testified that the opposition to the Assad regime is comprised of 1,500 separate militias. We call a bunch of these militias that are anti-Assad and also anti-Islamist, we hope, the Free Syrian Army.

The scholar Joshua Landis whose blog "Syria Comment" is an essential source, estimates that non-jihadi groups collectively control about 5 percent of Syria. An American strategy of escalating airstrikes in Syria even if coupled with ground forces would wish that the weakest and most disorganized forces in Syria somehow become the strongest, first defeating ISIS, then the Assad regime, all the while fighting off al-Nusra and Forasa (ph).

The chance that all this will happen is remote. Far more likely, escalating bombings in Syria will produce chaos and instability on the ground further destroying Syria, promoting the free for all in which jihadi groups strive.

For any strategy to work in Syria it needs a military component and a political one. The military one, a credible ground army is weak. The political one is nonexistent. The crucial underlying reason for the violence in Iraq and Syria is a Sunni revolt against governments in Baghdad and Damascus that the Sunnis view at hostile apostate regimes.

The political solution presumably is some kind of power sharing arrangement in these two capitals but this is not something the United States can engineer. Certainly not in Syria. It tried it in Iraq and despite 176,000 troops on the ground, tens of billions of dollars, and David Petraeus' skillful leadership, the deals he brokered started unraveling within months of his departure, well before American troops had all left.

The only strategy against ISIS that has any chance of working is containment, bolstering the neighbors who are willing to fight militarily and politically, neighbors who are threatened far more than the United States is. They include most importantly Iraq and Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Gulf states.

The greatest challenge it so get the Iraqi government to make serious concessions to Sunnis so they are recruited into the fight, something that has not happened so far.

All this should be coupled with counterterrorism, which means strikes at key ISIS targets as well as measures to track foreign fighters, stop their movements, intercept their funds, and protect the neighbors and the West from jihad and jihadis spilling over.

The Obama administration is pursuing many elements of this strategy. It should be forthright about the challenges and abandon the grander rhetoric which is setting itself up for escalation and failure.

For more, go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week.

Let's get started.

Well, I have just told you how I think the United States and its allies should deal with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but how much do we have to worry about ISIS as a threat to the homeland in the United States or other countries far from the war zone? Last week the State Department issued an updated worldwide caution

that highlighted the threat from ISIS and said authorities believe there's an increased likelihood of reprisal attacks against U.S., Western and coalition partner interests throughout the world. And recent warnings have been issued in both the U.S. and the UK about an ISIS threat to law enforcement in those nations.

Let's bring in two experts with two distinct points of view.

Admiral James Stavridis is the former Supreme Allied commander at NATO. He is currently the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He's the author of a new book "The Accidental Admiral."

Daniel Benjamin was coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department. He joins me from Dartmouth, New Hampshire, where he directs the Dickey Center for International Understanding.

Daniel Benjamin, you have written that you believe that the ISIS threat to the United States and I think to the West is being exaggerated. Why don't you explain?

DANIEL BENJAMIN, FORMER COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, STATE DEPARTMENT: That's correct, Fareed. I think that there's been a lot of hyperventilation about the threat. I think over the long term the safe havens that have been established in Iraq and in Syria do pose a significant challenge for the United States, but right now this conflict is primarily about Sunni versus Shia.

This is an insurgent force. It is a terrorist force first and foremost, although they use terrorist tactics locally against their enemies. The U.S. authorities, whether from the National Counterterrorism Center or from the Department of Homeland Security or from the FBI, have said that they don't know of any plotting against the United States at home, and, in fact, there's been very little reporting on any desire to carry out attacks outside of the area.

And let's remember, this is a group that has not carried out a terrorist attack outside of its immediate neighborhood ever, and that's a major fact.

ZAKARIA: Jim, it does feel like they've got their hands full, ISIS that is, between Iraq and Syria and all the forces that are battling them.

JAMES STAVRIDIS, DEAN, TUFTS FLETCHER SCHOOL: I think that this is kind of a short-term/long-term set of constraints for us. In the short term I completely agree, they've got their hands full. They've got Peshmerga coming from the north. They've got Iraqi security from the south, they've got bombing in the west. They're very busy. They're going to be in the middle of a three-front war very soon.

Long term, there's not only, as Dan mentioned, I think ultimately the threat to the homeland. They have said they intend to fly the black flag of ISIS over the White House. I don't know how much more direct they can be. But it is long term. ZAKARIA: You said, though, it's only a matter of time before a wave

of EU passport-bearing jihadists will be headed back home to wreak havoc. So that sounds --


STAVRIDIS: It's a matter of time. How long will that be? I don't know. Will it be different with individuals, different countries, different cultures? Absolutely. But that threat is building. It's a looming tower, as one person said about 9/11 a few years back.

ZAKARIA: Dan, one of the things they seem to be doing is goading the United States and the West. Presumably that is the point of the excuses. That is the point of talking about raising the black flag. How seriously should we take it? You know, people say, you know, one should have read "Mein Kampf" to understand Hitler's aim. So when they say all this stuff, how seriously do you take it?

BENJAMIN: Well, there's no question that they're no great fans of the United States, Fareed. I think that they were surprised a bit by the reaction to the decapitations. I think they probably miscalculated there. I think it's also important to calculate in here how much their presentation of themselves as hating the West, as being violently anti-American, is really aimed at selling themselves to potential recruits.

They have gone out of their way to prove that they are the most brutal group anyone has seen, and this has really worked for them. It's attracted an awful lot of people to their cause. Recruitment is vastly higher for ISIS than it ever was for any of the other groups whether in Afghanistan or in Iraq after U.S. invasions in those countries.

So I think over the long term they will want to attack the United States, but I don't think that we should just blindly assume that they're coming for us now, as a lot of public figures have said, I think without a lot of actually concrete evidence other than their statements.

ZAKARIA: You worry, though, that that is their long-term goal, that is what they're trying to do. How much, though, do you accept Dan Benjamin's point? Every jihadi group wants to be fighting the United States. That's what gives them a kind of great ideological halo and appeal, and, you know, in a strange way, we have played into that game a little bit.

STAVRIDIS: I think they're after street cred, street credibility, obviously. They're earning it. What I'd add to what Dan mentioned in terms of the recruitment is the financing. I think that the kind of visibility they're attracting gives them capital in addition to the smuggling, the human slavery and the other awful things they're doing.

As they get more money and that couples with these aspirations and couples with recruitment, I think it's a long term but long term being the three to five-year future. Again, we want this to be an away game, not a home game. ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you both on. It was fascinating

conversation. Very important.

Next on GPS, the other supposed looming threat. We will dig into Ebola and find out what we have to fear and not fear.


ZAKARIA: According to the World Health Organization the number of known cases of Ebola in this current outbreak is swiftly approaching 10,000, but the WHO says that by the end of the year there could be 10,000 new cases of Ebola each week, and that's just in the three hardest hit countries alone. These are Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, all neighbors in West Africa.

That would mark a huge acceleration in the outbreak. Is this a scare scenario or should we be worried?

My next guest is Dr. Peter Piot. He is a microbiologist who was one of the co-discoverers of the disease and a former undersecretary- general of the United Nations. When I first interviewed him this summer, he told me he thought we might have reached a turning point for the better, but he gold "The Guardian" earlier this month that he know fears an unimaginable tragedy.

Welcome, Doctor Piot. Explain what you worry about. Explain what that "Guardian" article was referring to.

PETER PIOT, CO-DISCOVERER OF EBOLA: What we're seeing is unprecedented. This is the first Ebola epidemic where entire nations are involved, where big cities are affected, and I continue to be worried that the response to the epidemic is really running behind the virus. The virus is still running much faster. There are not enough beds to treat patients, and people continue to be infected.

ZAKARIA: But you worry about the fact that this could spread in the very large, very congested cities in Africa, for example in Nigeria. And at that point this could really spread like lightning.

PIOT: Well, first of all, the three countries that are affected are being totally destabilized. Not only in terms of people who are killed by Ebola, their families, the orphans that are now coming up because the parents die, but the economy has come to a standstill. People are massively dying from other diseases that are normally treatable like malaria or women die while giving birth because hospitals are abandoned or are full with Ebola patients.

So that is a very, very destabilizing factor, and that's going to go in its impact beyond Ebola. Now the big question will be, will this spread to surrounding countries? The good news is that both Nigeria and Senegal have been able to contain a number of important cases. In Senegal there was not even any secondary case.

In Nigeria there were a number of people who were infected and died but it has not given rise to an outbreak in Lagos. After all the city of more than 20 million people all in (INAUDIBLE).

So that the -- that shows that if you act decisively and early enough, that this is -- you know, can be controlled. This was an avoidable catastrophe.

ZAKARIA: What is -- what are the measures that need to be taken? You say the virus is still running ahead of the response. What is needed at this point?

PIOT: Well, first of all, something that we've learned through Doctors Without Borders, and that is that how to treat patients, to care for them, and isolate them so that they don't infect others but also to reduce more or less mortality. Secondly, we need to protect health care workers. We've seen it in the U.S., we've seen it in Europe, but a volume in Africa where over 200 nurses and doctors and lab workers have died from Ebola. And that can be dealt with by protective gear.

But the biggest challenge for the future is going to be stopping transmission in the community because the number of beds that are now being built by the U.S. Army, by the UK army, I mean, they're going to fulfill the needs hopefully for -- within the next few weeks, but stopping transmission in the community around funerals.

That is still going on, and so we have to change people's behaviors and beliefs and also what to do with all the patients who are still at home who can infect people while they're being transported to hospital units. So that's going to be a massive undertaking of behavior change, and that will have to come from within.

ZAKARIA: What seems different this time around from, you know, 10 or 15 years ago is much more trade, much more travel, much more contact. Is it something that the United States or western Europe should worry about? Are we overreacting or is it possible that the United States could see this disease spread through global travel and transport?

PIOT: Well, as long as there is a major epidemic in West Africa, the rest of the world is also at risk. That is an additional reason for providing assistance to stop the epidemic. And because there will be people who will, you know, show up, be it in Europe, in U.S., or in China, and there the greatest risk, as we've already seen, is for the nurses, for the doctors, you know, who care for someone with Ebola virus infection and disease.

But I'm not worried about an epidemic in the larger population because, after all, in order to be infected with Ebola, you need really very close contact with someone who is sick, with their body fluids, and that's a situation that you only have really in a hospital setting or care at home. So there will be cases. I think we should not be naive about that, but I think it can be contained, and I also hope that the great media coverage that we're seeing now will make sure that people are aware how to protect themselves, how to, you know, alert the, you know, medical staff and so on when they think they are at risk.

ZAKARIA: Dr. Piot, pleasure to have you on. Thank you. PIOT: Thank you very much.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, you might smile at the relatively cheap prices you're paying at the pump these days, but Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani are probably not happy about it. I will explain when we come back.


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

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the global economy has been in slow motion. As a result, commodities prices have fallen dramatically, but there was one great puzzle, the price of oil had continued to go up, up, up.

In 2007 before the crash oil cost $72 a barrel on average. By 2012 Brent crude was trading at over $111 a barrel on average, a second year of historically high levels according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Well, now the trend has turned. Prices have dropped dramatically. This week Brent oil, the global benchmark, fell to about $80 a barrel, nearing a four-year low.

Why? Well, today the world is awash in oil. There's too much supply and too little demand. The world's largest and second largest economies are probably the most responsible, that would be the United States and China.

The China piece of the story is fascinating.

Ruchir Sharma, the head of Morgan Stanley's Emerging Markets Investments, points out that over the last decade Chinese oil demand has been increasing on average 7 percent a year until now. The Chinese juggernaut seemingly insatiable appetite for commodities like oil has screeched to a halt. Growth in Chinese demand for oil is currently running at about zero.

This comes as a huge surprise. China accounted for about 50 percent of the increase in oil demand over the past 10 years, Sharma points out.

The second reason for the plummeting oil prices, too much supply. The newest report from the International Energy Agency, the energy industry's watchdog, shows that global oil supply in September was almost 2.8 million barrels per day higher than the previous year.

It's not all about the Saudis pumping more. It turns out there's a new player in town that's worrying the old oil giants. That's the United States.

Thanks to the shale revolution, demand for oil is down, but additionally domestic oil production is at record levels. Citigroup predicts that the U.S. could export as many as one million barrels of oil per day by 2015. And the oil prices could dip even lower. Reuters reports this week

that Saudi officials were saying they would accept oil prices below $90 per barrel and perhaps down to $80 for as long as a year or two. They hope perhaps that by doing this they will discourage the search for shale, natural gas, and other such alternatives to their oil.

But are these low prices really sustainable? Well, Sharma's team at Morgan Stanley compiled data for GPS which show what is each country would have to charge for a barrel of oil in order to balance its national budget.

Saudi Arabia just has to charge $88 per barrel to balance the books according to Sharma's analysis. This is up from only a few years ago as it expanded its welfare state in the wake of the Arab spring. Still, it's affordable for the Saudis but not every country is as lucky.

Libya, for instance, needs oil to be at about $180 per barrel to break even. Iran has to charge $143 to be out of the red. Russia, which is highly dependent on energy has to charge roughly $110 a barrel.

Remember Russia's economy is already being squeezed by Western sanctions, so much so that declining oil prices have decimated the ruble, Russia's currency. In fact, energy fluctuations have historically played a large role in Russia. The collapse of the Soviet Union was prompted in part by a plunge in oil prices which weakened the government.

Perhaps President Putin ought to watch his back with oil now trading at $30 below his breakeven point.

So let's see how this plays out and how low the Saudis are really willing to push the price of oil. However low they go, we are witnessing a true shift in the power dynamics of oil.

Sharma puts it best when he said to me, there are winners and losers. The winners are in the oil consuming countries. The losers are in oil producing countries, so basically the world has been turned on its head from a decade ago.

Next on "GPS," oil isn't the only thing that's cheap these days. We seem to be in the midst of a market sell-off. Do we need to brace ourselves for another crash? I will ask two of my favorite guests on the economy, Martin Wolf and Rana Foroohar.


ZAKARIA: So, we've tackled fears about ISIS and Ebola earlier in the show. What about the economy? What has gotten stock markets and economists worried? "Wall Street" had a rough week, to say the least, as did major markets around the globe, and many observers see Europe as poised to take a third dip into recession. The head of the IMF says the world economy is not in a new normal but a new mediocre. What is happening? We will bring in the big brains, Martin Wolf is the chief economics commentator at "The Financial Times" and the author of a new book, "The Shift and the Shocks: What We've Learned and Still Have to Learn from the Financial Crisis," and Rana Foroohar, is "Time" magazine's assistant managing editor who oversees the magazine's economics and business reporting. So, Martin, why is it that things look like they're in worse shape than people thought even just a month or two ago?

MARTIN WOLF, CHIEF ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR, THE FINANCIAL TIMES: I think we need to separate two things. First, the markets. The markets often overreact and often they predict, as it were, ten of the next four recessions. So they over-predict. I think a lot of the correction is that they're realizing that U.S. monetary policy is changing. They don't quite know what that will mean. It's a new world. We've had this incredibly easy policy now since late 2008 and certainly more than six years later or about six years later it's changing, and I think that's a big part of it. But in addition to that, there is some genuine news. The European situation looks very bad. There's obviously a lot of bad geopolitical news. Radical uncertainty is I think what we're seeing and the markets which were very generously priced which had really I think run ahead of themselves, particularly the stock markets are doing what's probably a healthy correction, but, of course, you never know when a healthy correction turns into something more serious.

ZAKARIA: The big story it seems to me, if it is true, is that China seems to be slowing down and more than they are admitting.

RANA FOROOHAR, GLOBAL ECONOMICS ANALYST: Yeah, I think so. You know, we've been hearing that growth is at seven percent from the government, but I hear analysts say it's four percent, five percent, that it's really much more slow than it has been in the past. And what the ricochet effect of that is going to be is still unclear. If you look back to the Asian crisis in the late 1990S, the U.S. was still growing pretty robustly through that. This time around it will be interesting to see. China is certainly a huge part of the drop in commodities prices we've seen and what the effect for U.S. exporters is going to be is still up for grabs as well.

When you combine that with Europe slowing down and perhaps tipping into recession and look at these structural imbalances that still exists five years on from the end of the crisis, it's not a great picture.

ZAKARIA: Is the big story in Europe that Germany is actually slowing down and if so, why is this happening?

WOLF: In Europe I think Germany is a symptom, it's not a cause. We've always -- or most people have misunderstood the nature of Germany. It's not a locomotive. It's a caboose, as it were.


WOLF: It depends on other countries' demand.

FOROOHAR: The China of Europe.

WOLF: Well, even worse, the Germans have never taken on board the fact that they've got a continental economy which must generate its own demand. They still expect the rest of the world to generate demand for them and it's not going to happen.

ZAKARIA: So, what they want to do is export to the world and what you are saying, what they need to start consuming more.

WOLF: And they can't do that.

FOROOHAR: Culturally --

WOLF: Culturally and politically very difficult. And not only they do it, or they support others to do it, but that policy has been neither to support others to do it, they want them all to be austere like them and to become like them. And - or not do it themselves. They want to turn the Eurozone into a greater Germany. I made this point many times. And the trouble is there isn't anyone out there in the rest of the world to do the buying except the dear old U.S.


WOLF: Everybody expects the huge hopes for a huge credit boom in the U.S. I hope it won't happen and I don't think it will.

ZAKARIA: What about the U.S? This is - you know, moment Larry (INAUDIBLE) once said the cleanest of the dirty shirts in the pile.


FOROOHAR: That would add, the prettiest house on the ugly block. I think it is. And that's what's kind of amazing. Now, if you think about the global economy as the three-legged stool, the U.S. is really the only solid leg right now, but a three percent recovery, three percent GOP growth, is really not robust enough to drag the rest of the world along. It's kind of amazing that a developed country like the U.S. may actually beat global growth this year. That's possible, and that's really quite something.

ZAKARIA: What is the central lesson the United States should learn from your book?

WOLF: The central lesson from I suppose might be that if they do try to get out of this crisis, which I think is the fear, through generating another private sector credit boom because there's nothing else they've really got intelligently to do, then they could end -- the U.S. could end up four, five, six years from now in an even worse mess than before. Essentially the adjustment to the crisis is incomplete and the incentive to start leveraging up again because there's nothing else going, the government is not going to do it, the private sector will then go into the leverage process, the financial sector rising will become more stressed. It's to my mind still too highly leveraged and we might have a worse crisis, and that is really frightening.

ZAKARIA: And that's really possible.

WOLF: I think that's possible and that's the warning that I end with.

ZAKARIA: Thank you both. Fascinating, somewhat sobering. Next on "GPS," I love thinking about history and immigration patterns and where people have come from, but I have never taken the time to consider my own history, my own roots. My father used to boast that we came from a fear (ph) central Asian warrior tribe. Did we? Find out when we come back.


ZAKARIA: For the past couple of months, CNN correspondents and anchors, including me have been doing deep reporting on a topic that's rather foreign to most of us. That topic, ourselves, our family histories, where we came from. In short, our roots. It was something that didn't come naturally to me at all, but in the end it was fascinating. Come along with me on my journey.

You know, I'm curious about the world and about how it works and about what's going on politically and economically and technologically around the world. I'm not that curious about where I specifically come from. I'm just one guy among the billions of people on earth, and I have never until this project, never, ever looked into it in any way one way or the other. I came to America and I naturalized and now I'm an Indian-American.

What I know is my - both my parents were Muslim. I know that my mother's family came from an area called Kutch in Gujarat and moved to Bombay at some point several generations ago. On my father's side we know almost nothing. My father was orphaned by the time he was six or eight. He's not even sure of that.

My father grew up in modest circumstances in a small town outside of Bombay and really was a self-made man in every sense of the word and wasn't very curious about his own background and his own past. My father is dead, and my mother is still in India.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fareed was only six months old when his father fought the elections in Maharashtra and won and became a minister.

ZAKARIA: My father, by the way, occasionally claimed, you know, Turkish ancestry or Central Asian ancestry, but I always thought he did that in just as a way of suggesting that he had some kind of, you know, warrior past that we didn't know about.

Since I didn't know much about my roots, I took a DNA test.


ZAKARIA: Michelle Okenbrek (ph), a family historian with, delivered the results to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we have are some documents about the life of your father.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a passenger list from the 7TH of July, 1944. This is Rafiq Zakaria. What this is saying is that he had left Bombay and was headed to the U.K. ZAKARIA: He would tell one story about this voyage. He had the

highest rank in the University of Bombay, and if you had the number one rank, you got a full paid scholarship with a first class ticket to go to London. Now, he gets it in the middle of World War II, and so he gets on the boat, and the guy who is checking his ticket says to him why are you going to London right now?

The Germans are bombing London every day, every night, and he says to him, but I'm going to get an education, and the guy who is looking at the ticket tells him, you're crazy, but come on board.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had you take a DNA test and both of your parents are from India, so the 85 percent South Asia or Indian region shouldn't come as a surprise, but you have got other things here as well.

When we look specifically at Asia Central combined with the Italy, Greece, Iberian Peninsula, we believe there's definitely some Middle Eastern influence there as well.

ZAKARIA: This is all the old lands of the Ottoman Empire and there would have been Muslim migration probably from there into India.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This European Jewish and the Polynesia ...

ZAKARIA (on camera): Now, the Polynesia is definitely a bit of a twist I would not have expected. The European Jewish is again probably part of that old Ottoman Empire. Places like Iraq, you know, Baghdad was a third Jewish for most of the 19th century so it wouldn't be surprising.

ZAKARIA (voice over): To put what I learned into some broader context, I decided to talk to an expert on migrations and globalization. Doctor Algina Padua (ph) from New York University.

(on camera): Does the one percent European/Jewish surprise you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, in fact, not.

ZAKARIA: The Ottomans had many, many Jews (INAUDIBLE). So those cities like ...


ZAKARIA: Istanbul, Baghdad --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them, and Damascus, so I'm not surprised.

ZAKARIA: What I realize is when I look at these things compared with somebody who has longer roots in America or Europe is that in a country like India that's very poor, unless you came from a really fancy family, there were no records of any kind, and so my father's age is guessed. The birth date is guessed. It's the date probably that he first went to school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And it's totally typical. When I did some field work many years ago, one of the joking

observations I made exactly about the absence of this kind of precision. There was no sense that there was an objective fact out there somewhere that someone knew. It was a matter to be negotiated because there were no facts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given what you know now, we're having your mother tested and her DNA results are coming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son Fareed asked me to try my luck. I cannot tell how much we will get out of the little knowledge that I am able to put before you, but let us see.

ZAKARIA: All right. I'm getting ready to tape the show but my mom's DNA results have just come in. Guess what? I'm Indian.


ZAKARIA: My mother is 97 percent Asian with 96 percent being from South Asia. My European DNA and my Polynesian traces, are, therefore, from my father and the majority of my Caucasian roots also come from my dad. My dad used to always say that he came from the Caucasus or Central Asia. I think he imagined himself some kind of Central Asian nobility. At least we know that there is some small DNA justification for this.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Who is that with the chef?

ZAKARIA: That's me. Isn't this cool?


ZAKARIA: My children are consummate Americans by which I mean that they are not that interested in where we come from. They're more interested I think in where they're going.

They are very proud of the fact that I come from India. They've been to India many, many times.


ZAKARIA: It's me.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Wait. Your glasses.

ZAKARIA (voice over): But they don't have a deep curiosity, certainly not one derived out of a sense of crisis of identity.


ZAKARIA: They have no crisis of identity. They're American.


ZAKARIA: As I said, I was just one of 13 CNN anchors and hosts who sought out their roots. My colleagues' stories are terrific. And you can see them all this Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Next on "GPS," you've heard of the thriller in Manila where Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier. Well, get ready for the battle in Brisbane where Russian president Putin might be fighting Australian Prime Minister Abbott. I will explain.


ZAKARIA: Brazil is in the midst of a very close presidential race. Polls suggest incumbent Delma Roussef, is essentially tied with her opposition candidate. A runoff election is scheduled to take place this time next week. The global post pointed out that voting is mandatory in Brazil between the ages of 18 and 70, which brings me to my question -- in which of the following countries is voting also mandatory, Belgium, Singapore, Australia, D, Uruguay. Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. This week's book of the week is "The System Worked: How the World Stopped another Great Depression" by Daniel Dresna. The author makes the provocative and contrarian argument that all those much maligned global institutions, the IMF, the G-20, the WTO, actually performed brilliantly during the global financial crisis and they've rescued the world from a total economic collapse. Policy makers acted quickly, nimbly and coordinated with one another, it's a rare and convincing story in which bureaucrats and politicians come off pretty well. And now for the last look. These days polite is no longer a part of politics. Case in point, Abbott versus Putin. Listen to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week discussing the 38 Australian citizens and residents who died when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was downed over Ukraine.


TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER AUSTRALIA: Look, I'm going to shirt front Mr. Putin.

ZAKARIA: The prime minister said he would, quote, shirt front President Putin at the G-20 summit next month. No, that's not some kind of shirtless showdown many joked could have been expected from these two leaders. If you like me had never heard of the term, it turns out that shirt front is an Aussie rules football phrase which means to bump someone front on. Like this. And this. And this. Ouch. The media relations manager for the league told us it was historically intended to take someone out of the game. Well, that's what Tony Abbott would like to do to Putin, take him out of the political game. A Russian diplomat quickly told Australian media that President Putin is, quote, a professional judo wrestler. On the other hand, Abbott will have the home field advantage since next month G-20 leaders' summit will be held in Brisbane.

The correct answer to the "GPS Challenge" question is actually all of the above. It was a trick question. If you look at this map from the global post which uses data from the CIA, all of these countries have some degree of mandatory voting. The consequences for failing to vote where compulsory around the world can vary from fines to possible imprisonment to disenfranchisement among other things, according to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

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