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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Iran Nuclear Deal Nears Deadline; Is America in Retreat?; War on Drugs' Negative Effect on Society; Napoleon Bringing Modernization to Europe

Aired November 23, 2014 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.

We'll begin today's show in Vienna where the clock is ticking to tomorrow's deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran.

Will they make it or will those months of high-flying diplomacy be for naught?

I have a great panel to talk about that, plus immigration, Syria, Ukraine and whether America is an ever strengthening super power or a fading empire.

Then, the uptick in terror. You're right to think that terrorism is on the rise around the globe, but it's not something to get panicked about. I'll explain why.

Also, the war on drugs has raged for 40 years with little success. I'll talk with Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico, who has a solution.

And a new biography of one of history's most fascinating figures, Napoleon. Did he bring modernity to Europe or was he a cruel conqueror who nearly enslaved the continent? The debate continues 200 years after his greatest defeat.

But, first, here's my take.

The midterm election results were just one more reflection of the pervasive discontent in the United States these days. Two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, and yet if one looks at the rest of the world, what's striking is how well the United States is doing relative to other major economies.

President Obama says the United States has produced more jobs in its recovery than the rest of the industrialized world put together. Why is this? Many believe the American economy has some inherent advantages over its major competitors, a more flexible structure, stronger entrepreneurial traditions, a more demographically dynamic society.

Well, along comes a fascinating new book that says you ain't seen nothing yet.

Peter Zeihan's "The Accidental Super Power" begins with geography, pointing out that America is the world's largest consumer market for a reason -- rivers. Transporting goods by water, he points out, is 12 times cheaper than by land which is why civilizations have always flourished around rivers.

And America, Zeihan calculates, has more navigable waterways, 17,600 miles worth, than the rest of the world put together. By comparison, he notes, China and Germany have about 2,000 miles each, and all of the Arab world has just 120 miles of river.

But that's just the beginning. The world's greatest river network directly overlies the world's largest piece of Arable land, the American Midwest, he writes. Add to this America's many and unequal deep water ports which you need in order to get goods to and from the rest of the world. Chesapeake Bay alone boasts longer stretches of prime port property than the entire continental coast of Asia from Vladivostok to Lahore, writes Zeihan.

All of these factors combined have created the world's largest consumer market, surplus savings and a dynamic unified economy. It's also remarkably self-sufficient. Imports made up 17 percent of the American economy in 2012 according to the World Bank. Compare that to Germany's 46 percent or China's 25 percent. And this number in the U.S. will fall as America imports less and less foreign oil.

Zeihan emphasizes the degree to which America's energy revolution has insulated it from the rest of the world. Thanks to efforts to extract shale, North America has much of the energy it needs at home. As the world gets messier, he argues, there are fewer and fewer compelling reasons for America to pay blood and treasure to stabilize it.

I'm not as sure as Zeihan that America's advantages are simply structural. If one looks at the last five years, again in comparative terms, American public policy actually comes out looking impressive. To combat the global economic crisis of 2008, Washington acted speedily and creatively on three fronts, aggressive monetary policy, fiscal policy, and reform and recapitalization of the banking sector.

Every other rich country did less and has seen a more troubled return to normalcy.

Now since the response to the crisis, Washington has been paralyzed and polarized, but this is not the entirety of American politics. Beyond the beltway, mayors and governors are reaching across party lines partnering with the private sector and making reforms and investments for future growth.

When Tocqueville wrote about America in the 1830s he was struck by the bottom up vitality of its towns and villages. So as we approach Thanksgiving, let's bear in mind that the genius of America is still alive, whatever most Americans might think.

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

Tomorrow is deadline day in the nuclear talks between Iran and the West. It's going to be a tough slog to the finish and a report today from a semi official news service in Tehran doesn't help. The article says it was, quote, "impossible," unquote, that the parties would reach comprehensive agreement.

Despite that, the dance of diplomacy continues in Vienna today with Secretary Kerry's schedule filled with meetings.

CNN's Jim Sciutto is in the Austrian capital for us.

Jim, what is the hope of a deal?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fareed, so many twists and turns in this dance, and the trouble is so much conflicting information coming out of these impenetrable talks. That same Iranian news service quoting other Iranian officials saying they got a very positive read on these talks from the parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani.

I'm told by a senior State Department official that while big gaps remain, they are taking positive steps, and now you have a flurry of foreign ministers flocking to Vienna now from France, from the UK, from Russia, presumably to try to close these gaps in the final hours.

ZAKARIA: Jim, what happens if there is no deal? Is that the end of it or does that mean postponement?

SCIUTTO: Well, at the extreme ends, you could have a collapse of the talks or at the positive end a big picture agreement. The folks I speak to say that both of those scenarios very unlikely. More likely somewhere in between. Either an extension of the talks, just straight extension where you say you need a couple more weeks to try to reach an agreement or perhaps some sort of framework deal announced where you say that you have made big progress on the big issues but in the details you need a couple more weeks to work that out.

Somewhere in between most likely but really I think that even the people in the building behind me there right now, Fareed, don't know the answer to that question yet.

ZAKARIA: Well, we'll count on you to keep watching.

That was CNN's Jim Sciutto in Vienna. Now let me bring in my panel here in New York.

Anne-Marie Slaughter was the director of Policy Planning at the State Department. She now heads the New America Foundation. Bret Stephens is a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist for "The Wall Street Journal" and the author of a new book. And Peter Beinart is an associate professor of political science at the City University of New York and a CNN political commentator.

Anne-marie, what do you make of the fact that it seems as though some signals out of Tehran say there's no deal to be had?

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRESIDENT NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I think that's a negotiating tactic. I have never negotiated with the Iranians, but everybody who does says their tactics are nor deal, no deal, no deal, no deal until, boom, you have a deal. So it makes service sense that they'd had be putting this kind of pressure on the negotiators for the West by -- by having spokesmen say there's no way we can reach a deal.

ZAKARIA: Bret, wouldn't -- isn't it fair to say that almost any deal Obama brings back, the Republicans are going to characterize as too soft and attack?

BRET STEPHENS, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, if it's a deal that allows Iran to maintain a robust enrichment capability, if it allows them to continue to develop ballistic missiles, if it allows them to continue to do R&D on advanced centrifuges, if it allows them to hide from the IAEA, from U.N. inspectors there, sites that are known as having possible military dimensions, yes, justifiably not only Republicans but Democrats like Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey are going to look with tremendous skepticism.

And I think they'll be vindicated in the point that when the United States abandoned much of the sanctions leverage with the original deal a year ago, we only put the possibility of forcing Iran's hand that much farther out of reach. So I'm not entirely surprised that it looks at least at this stage like we're not going to have an agreement at this particular deadline.

ZAKARIA: Peter, what do you think?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You have to look at the alternative. Obviously you want to best deal possible. The alternatives are continued sanctions that most likely weaken Rouhani and Zarif, and strengthen the hard liners, making a deal harder and harder. Or a potential military action which virtually everybody in the Israeli and American intelligence and security establishment have said would be counterproductive and probably lead Iran to get a nuclear weapon faster.

So yes, we want the best deal possible but let's not romanticize the alternatives.

SLAUGHTER: And the Iranians again are under huge pressure because they have to know that as hard as it might be to sell a deal right now to Congress there's -- once the Republicans come in, a full Republican Congress in January, the chances of getting anything are way, way down. So they're under a huge amount of pressure. The administration knows that, too. I actually think you'll either get a deal or you will get a deal within three weeks.

STEPHENS: You know, I wouldn't be surprised if there's some kind of agreed framework at this stage, maybe not -- maybe not in the next day or so, but in the next couple of weeks which then the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini reneges on. We've had a history of this going back to 2009 where there seemed to be some kind of agreement, an early stage negotiations five or six years go which fall apart. And why is that? Because Khomeini considers himself a revolutionary, not a compromiser.

He remains the supreme leader, he remains head especially of an IRGC, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, who have been adamantly opposed for it. He's calling for mass production of ballistic missiles. He's calling for an Iran with a centrifuge capability 10 times what it -- what it has now. So we have to bear in mind that the whip hand in Iran has consistently been opposed to any kind of agreement with the West, even one that I think would give up more than they ought to get.

ZAKARIA: Peter, what about that idea that Iran hasn't still kind of come to terms with the idea of making -- you know, making its peace with the world, finding a way to end a feud? If you read Khomeini's Twitter feed, which is you know one of these extraordinary things, he has a very active Twitter feed, it's outrageously anti-American, anti- Western. It reads like a 16-year-old, you know, anti-colonial revolutionary from the 1960s.

BEINART: Right. Well, look, there's obviously a struggle within the political elite in Iran and I think Khomeini has good reason to be afraid because that kind of integration and normalization I think would, in fact, probably -- the end of the Cold War with Iran I think would be great for the forces of liberalization and reform in Iran. I think it's partly this Cold War with the West that keeps him and the hardliners in power.

That's why so many dissidents in Iran actually want this deal to succeed. For exactly the reasons that I think that Khomeini is suspicious of it.

SLAUGHTER: Well, and really what's going on here inside is, is this going to be evolution to a more moderate government that retains the support of the people or are you going to have hardline, hardline, until the 60 percent of Iranians who are under 30 and who are enormously pro-Western are going to come into their time and then you're going to have revolution.

ZAKARIA: Isn't the big problem, Bret, that it's not just Khomeini's ideology, it's that a huge class of people, the Revolutionary Guard, profit from the sanctions because they are the gatekeepers of the Iranian economy now, they control all the smuggling? So in a strange way opening up Iran might be very good for most Iranians but it's going to be very bad for a certain group of people who are very powerful in Iran right now?

STEPHENS: Well, and that's the essential point. I don't think any of us at this table disagree with the idea that the overwhelming majority of Iranians want enough to Molacrazy (ph), enough the regime under which they've been laboring for 36 years. They don't -- what we learned in 2009 is they don't have the whip hand. It's the IRGC, it's the Ayatollah.


ZAKARIA: All right. When we come back, more foreign policy but what we're going to ask is, is America in retreat as Bret Stephens says it is in his new book or is it getting stronger and ever more dynamic as I told you about in the beginning of the show?

We'll have a debate.


ZAKARIA: And we are back with Anne-marie Slaughter of New America, Peter Beinart of the "Atlantic" and New America and Bret Stephens who has written a great new book, it was the Book of the Week last week called "America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder." You can buy it after you watch -- after you hear him defend himself.

So the -- you know, this Peter Zeihan book I was telling you about really makes the case that look, the world is getting messier, it's getting messier for all kinds of structural reasons, some of which you outlined. But America is going to do just fine if we just continue to, you know, continue the shale revolution, have a dynamic economy. What do you -- what's to worry about?

STEPHENS: I completely agree. America is going to do just fine. We are not in a post-American world. This is very much an American world, and you look at any of the sort of metrics, I mean, take -- an economic historian 30 years from now is going to say, what happened in the early part of the 21st century? Well, fracking was one major innovation, the social media another, maybe the apps revolution.

All of them made in America. I do not for a second believe America is in decline.

Decline happens because of these big civilizational forces, demography, cultural issues that are almost beyond the reach of any mortal politician to change. What I argue is that America is in retreat. That's a policy choice. That's the choice that President Obama made when he came to office and said that what the United States needs is a nation building at home, that the tide of war was receding because he commanded it like King Cnut to recede.

That al Qaeda was on a path to defeat and that we actually were going to enter into a kind of benign moment where we could focus on our own problems and let the rest of the world deal with its problems. What we've learned is that when you shrink American power, American influence, the rest of the world doesn't just stay still. Vladimir Putin acts, Bashar Assad acts, the Mullahs act.

And so these policy decision which is reversible accounts for many of the disorders we're seeing around the world.

ZAKARIA: Peter, I'm going to guess that you disagree.

BEINART: Right. No, America has been in retreat to some degree in terms of our land presence abroad, just as America was in retreat in those terms in the 1970s after we disastrously overextended in Vietnam. We disastrously overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have now retreated somewhat but we still have a much larger military footprint than anything Ronald Reagan could have conceived.

We had no U.S. troops in Central Asia, in eastern Europe, in the Middle East under Ronald Reagan. We have a vast military footprint but we have to some degree retreated where we were under Ronald Reagan. But a retreat of America's military footprint is not the same as the retreat of American power.

In many ways I think we've seen a regeneration of American power partly because some of the forces that Bret has talked about, partly because the United States responded better to the financial crisis than did Europe, and partly I think because Obama has taken actions on health care, on immigration that are going to help America be more dynamic in the future.



SLAUGHTER: So I wrote an article in 2009 talking about America's edge and how we are best positioned to be -- this to be another century of what I would say the Americas, not America, but I actually think the better way to put it is America in opposition because what's different from the what -- from Reagan era is we do have a larger footprint but we are also hated around the world in ways -- in pockets in ways that we have not -- more so than we have been before.

And there is a sense I think that we are focusing on building ourselves up at home. I do think there's a way in which this administration has sent a message that says we need to tend our own gardens, which is right, and we think other countries should take much more of a role globally which is also right, but you put those together and it looks like America is just not that interested.


ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the rest of the world because this is where I actually think -- certainly Zeihan I think would argue that we are -- I mean, he may not call it a post-American world, but one of the points he makes is that in a large -- in lots of parts of the world, either by choice or structural reality, American order is waning in places like Central Asia where Turkey has become very powerful, in Latin America where Brazil has become very powerful, in Asia, of course, where the big contest is now between China and Japan and India.

Yes, the United States continues to play a role but not the dominant role. That's why I say from -- you move from an American to a post- American.

Do you really think that if the United States -- if Obama would just to give a couple more tough speeches, the Turks would melt and become the kind of subservient ally they were? You know, we are in a different world.

STEPHENS: But look -- but look at this. What if we were to start making good on the promise of the pivot which so far has mainly been a feint, really deploying naval force there is adequate, and by the way, militarily we're nowhere where we were when Ronald Reagan was president.


ZAKARIA: We're returning troops to Asia --

STEPHENS: There's just no -- there's no comparison. But what if we were -- what if we were reassuring the Estonians or the Ukrainians or the Israelis that we really are militarily -- militarily serious about their security. It's not just about deterring rogues or adversaries, although that's important. It's also about reassuring our friends that the guarantees of packs Americana are good. Because the last thing we want is a world of freelancers.

ZAKARIA: And you did a wonderful piece in the "Atlantic" pointing out that the support for America in Europe is still sky high compared to under Bush.

BEINART: Right. America is -- although we're still hated, especially in the Middle East, the fact is America is much more popular under President Obama, and I think the great hope is that our economic model can once again be a model because that's what hurt the United States so dramatically with the financial crisis. The sense that we were not the land of opportunity anymore. I think we're actually moving ahead in that regard.

ZAKARIA: You point out that -- we've got to go but I love this statistic. The United States is 75 percent more popular under -- even today in Germany under Obama than Bush. So maybe the Germans know something we don't.

We're going to have to leave it at that.

Next up, your spot on if you think that terror is on the rise around the world, but don't panic. I'll explain why.


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

We here on television news spend a lot of time and energy talking about terrorism. The week began with video released of another gruesome murder of an American by ISIS. Then Tuesday we saw the barbaric attacks in a synagogue in Jerusalem.

The new global terrorism index shows that terrorism is indeed on the rise around the globe. The index was prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a nonpartisan think tank that analyzed instances of terrorism across 162 countries between 2000 and 2013. It notes that since 2000, terrorism fatalities have increased fivefold, and in 2013 terror deaths were up by 61 percent from just the year before.

But let's delve a little deeper. It turns out that in 2013 only five countries accounted for 82 percent of terrorism deaths. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Not surprisingly Iraq was the bloodiest country for terrorism in 2013, according to the report, as it has been for nine of the last 10 years. But it might be more accurate to think of these countries as war zones and these deaths as part of civil wars, deep-rooted struggles for power.

That's very different from terrorism attacks in otherwise peaceful countries. The report finds that only about 5 percent of terrorism deaths since 2000 happened in advanced industrialized country, and over the last five years, a quarter of the deaths in those countries were at the hands of lone wolves, individuals with no terrorist group affiliation.

So terrorist activity might be on the rise, but it is concentrated in a few places and done by a few groups. The report pointed out that just four groups accounted for two-thirds of the deaths from terror last year. The top killers are, as you can imagine, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Now while much of the jihadists' hate speech is directed at the West, most of their victims are locals and Muslims. In fact as an essay accompanying the index argues, most militant groups are actually in pursuit of, quote, "relatively limited goals and local or regional context," unquote. Even ISIS perhaps the terror group that instills the most fear in the West today, does not seem to emphasize, quote, "totally abstract and utopian global goals," unquote, a sharp contrast to al Qaeda, according to the S.A..

So how should we combat ISIS and other terror groups around the globe? Consider this data from the terrorism report which cites the Rand Corporation. Between 1968 and 2006, just seven percent of terrorist organizations have been defeated through military action alone. So what has effectively quashed 83 percent of the terrorist groups that were defeated in that period? Local intelligence and police breaking up the groups on the one hand and political engagement on the other. Either the key members of the group were arrested and killed or they were somehow integrated into the political process. That is likely how it will end even in Iraq and Syria. Policing and political power sharing.

By the way, for even more perspective according to the new global terrorism index, an American is 64 times more likely to die by homicide than because of a terrorist attack. And further, at least in 2012, a human being living anywhere in the world was 40 times more likely to be a victim of homicide than terrorism. So, if you want to get scared, fine, but get scared about the shooting next door, not the terrorist group halfway around the world.

Next on GPS, a blockbuster announcement this week about drugs. Not a big bust, but instead this, Bob Marley-branded marijuana is to be sold legally in the United States next year. So, can we officially declare the war on drugs over? My next guests say we should.



RICHARD NIXON: America's public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse.


ZAKARIA: 43 years ago Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs. 19 days ago voters in Washington, D.C., Alaska, and Oregon each voted in favor of the legalization of marijuana. Those states are expected to join Washington State and Colorado where marijuana is already legal, and this week the family of Bob Marley , the reggae superstar who died in 1981, announced what some have called the world's first global marijuana brand, Marley Natural. The company hopes its wares will be on store shelves next year in those very states.

So can we officially hammer nails into the coffin of the war on drugs? We should according to my next guests. Ernesto Zedillo is an economist who served as president of Mexico. And is now the director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and Ethan Nadelmann is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. So explain, Ernesto, why you think the drug war has failed.


ERNESTO ZEDILLO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: Well, by any objective indicator let's look what has happened with consumption. Let's see what has happened with production of drugs. Let's see how many people that are in jail - I mean when this war started in the U.S., you had 300,000 people in U.S. jails. Now you have 2.3 million people, you know, and a lot of those people are in jail because of minor offenses, drug related minor offenses. But if you see south of the border we'll have to talk about thousands of people who have died in my country, you will have to speak about all these resources that flow north to south and not only serve to buy weapons and to kill people in Mexico, but also to undermine Mexican institutions and to make for us much harder the endeavor of having a strong rule of law. Believe me, drug policies in your country, in Europe, in Latin America, everywhere are making our job so much harder and so much more painful.

ZAKARIA: So has the decriminalization, the legalization of drugs in these few states in America, shown a path forward? Has it resulted in taking some of the crime and violence out of it?

ETHAN NADELMANN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: Definitely. I mean you had 10,000 fewer arrests in each of these states in just the last year. Mostly young men of color who get arrested in the United States for marijuana possession even though they're no more likely to use or possess or sell marijuana than young white Americans. You have tax revenue amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars combined in these states and we're looking towards billions of dollars in tax revenue. You have savings on the law enforcement side. The police have more time to focus on serious crime rather than arresting young people for marijuana and meanwhile we don't see any significant jump in marijuana use, we don't see a significant jump in fatalities on the roads. And you're even seeing interesting findings like reductions in problems with domestic abuse or reductions in the number of people dying from overdoses that involve a combination of opiates and alcohol, and people speculate that the reason is that people are beginning to substitute marijuana for alcohol. Marijuana, a far less dangerous drug than alcohol for most people.

ZAKARIA: But the president of Mexico, I asked him on this program, he's still not in favor of legalization of marijuana. The previous president was not in favor. I asked him, too. Why are they opposed?

ZEDILLO: I don't know. You have to ask them, right? But I hope that my government, particularly taking into account events in Mexico, will reconsider that position. And let me be more specific. Over the last month or so, my country has gone through a very traumatic and painful situation because some students were killed by organized crime, but local policemen cooperated with organized crime to commit this horrendous crime. Everybody is talking about this, and it is very right. People are protesting because this is an outrageous circumstance, but I think very few people in my country and in other countries are really saying that underlying that crime is a power of organized crime supported by the drug traffic because those guys will not have the power and the capacity to commit these horrendous crimes if they didn't have the money that obtained through this illicit trade.

ZAKARIA: One of the arguments against legalizing marijuana that I hear a lot from people who are involved in looking after drug addiction and dealing with it and treating it is it is a gateway, that if you allow marijuana, it is going to make people more likely to take much, much more dangerous drugs.

NADELMANN: Right. And it turns out that the evidence shows that it's not the use of marijuana that leads to other drugs. The vast majority of people who use marijuana never go on to become even regular marijuana consumers, much less use or get in trouble with cocaine or heroin or drugs like that. In fact, the principal connection is the prohibition of marijuana. Right? So if you look, for example, in Netherlands where marijuana has been semi legal for 30 years, the percentage of young people who use marijuana, it's not just lower than the U.S., but the percent of young people who then go on to use other drugs is lower than in the U.S. and other countries because they've essentially separated the marijuana market from the other drug markets. So, in point of fact, legally regulating marijuana would reduce whatever gateway effect or steppingstone there is.

ZAKARIA: Are you optimistic that you are making headway?

ZEDILLO: No, I'm not very optimistic, Fareed, because I mean on the one hand, I recognize that things have started to change on the ground over the last few years, but when I see the dimension of the problem, I think that the steps that have been taken are still very modest.

ZAKARIA: Ernesto Zedillo, Ethan Nadelmann, thank you very much for coming on. Fascinating.

Next on "GPS," you probably learned in grade school that Napoleon Bonaparte was a man of extremely tiny stature who desperately wanted to be bigger, and so ruthlessly terrorized other people and other nations simply on a whim. Well, go find your teachers and tell them they taught you wrong. My next guest, the historian Andrew Roberts, wants to set the record straight about everything, including Napoleon's height.


ZAKARIA: Napoleon Bonaparte, the first emperor of France. The picture in my mind's eye is always of a terribly short man with his hands stuck in his overcoat. Well apparently at least part of that picture is incorrect. Napoleon, it turns out was 5'6". If that sounds short to you, that was the average height in his day. It's but one of the myths that is busted in a terrific new book by my next guest. The book is "Napoleon: a Life" and the author is the historian Andrew Roberts.

Andrew Roberts, pleasure to have you on.

ANDREW ROBERTS, HISTORIAN: Thank you very much. Great to be back on the show.

ZAKARIA: So, I remember reading somewhere a long time ago that there were three people about whom the most biographies had been ever written, which is Jesus, Lincoln, and Napoleon. Napoleon was this massive figure, particularly in the 19th century, and he sort of faded. Why was he considered so important?

ROBERTS: Well, you are so right about the number of books. There have been more books written about Napoleon than there have been days since his death. So why write another? Because he is still so important. In fact, if anything, in China he's getting a revision. He's becoming much more popular there. He was the one, of course, who said that China was a sleeping giant and when it wakes, it will shake the world, which obviously has happened.

ZAKARIA: But why is he sort of such a large figure in hi history?

ROBERTS: Oh, I think because he's been driving towards of modernization in the 19 century. He is the man who creates what is modern France, really, and so much of modern Europe as well. When one looks at France today and when one sees the Grandes Ecoles, then the Code Napoleon which has so importance in European law and the beautiful architecture and the rest, one sees a man who has got a vision, which still actually pertains.

ZAKARIA: And does he make France the sort of leading power in Europe?

ROBERTS: Precisely that. It was almost a failed state when he took over in the Brumaire coup of 1799, and by the time he became emperor five years later, it was the leading military power in Europe.

ZAKARIA: How did he do that?

ROBERTS: He did that through pretty ruthless and tough modernization of every institution of the state, and also he completely reorganized the French army. He organized finances so that instead of being a debt nation it became a very rich country and he was one of those driven men in history. His own personal ambition and drive was astonishing. ZAKARIA: And this is what you mean when you talk about he is the

creator of modern Europe because it's all this rationalization of old feudal structures that he does.

ROBERTS: Exactly. He flung away throughout wherever his armies came, they flung away all the old feudal structures, the (INAUDIBLE) regime, legitimate way of going about things and instead they brought in new tax codes, new legal codes, new forms of local administration. But also he had this driving desire obviously for France to hegemonize Western Europe, but also to make it a sort of modern place, so they got rid of the anti-Semitic rules and laws that they had in the Papal States, for example, Jews were still wearing the yellow star. It ended -- closed the ghettos. Brought in the -- got rid of the inquisition, of course, which was still in existence. Got rid of the Holy Roman Empire and all these old structures.

ZAKARIA: Of course, many, many people regard him as a monster ...


ZAKARIA: And they regard him as an evil dictator, instituted a coup, murdered his opponents. What do you say to them?

ROBERTS: Well, first of all, he murdered one opponent.

ZAKARIA: Duke Enghien (ph).

ROBERTS: The Duke Enghien, yes. And you can actually name the people who he killed for political reasons on the fingers of one hand. So the idea that he was some kind of an Adolf Hitler who killed millions of people for political and racial reasons is completely absurd as far as I'm concerned. This isn't geography (ph). I don't for a moment deny that he did do some totally ruthless things, including a massacre in Jaffa in Israel which was a war crime to all intents and purposes. So, I don't deny that. What I do deny though is that he was anything like Adolf Hitler. He didn't see things in racial terms. He was not an exterminationist or a genocidal maniac. And he also had a positive vision which is something people tend to forget.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that at the end of his life he regarded himself as a success? You say he was an incredibly driven man, and he ends up in exile on the islands.

ROBERTS: Yes, he fought 60 battles and he won all, but -- all but seven of them. But, of course, the last battle is the one that's most important. So, he recognized that he was a failure in that sense and that he was an exile, or though he wrote the bestselling book of the 19th century, his memoirs, when he was there, so he managed to get his story out very effectively. But he didn't consider himself to be a failure when it came to the Code Napoleon which is - which replaced the 42 legal codes that the French Revolution had and instead just brought it down to one single code which today is the basis of European law. So in that sense he said that his Code Napoleon was more important than all of his battles.

ZAKARIA: What is his lesson for the world today do you think? ROBERTS: Oh, I think meritocracy. This idea -- when he had 26

marshals, ten of whom totally revolutionary concept, they were the sons of barrel makers and inkeepers, and bailiffs. You know, the idea that it shouldn't matter who you are, where you came from, it shouldn't matter who your parents were. That it should entirely be based on your own capacity, your own intelligence, your own merit that should decide where you wind up in the world. And he ensured that meritocracy was spread throughout not just France but also the places that he captured. And it is the dominating concept of all successful modern countries.

ZAKARIA: Andrew Roberts, pleasure to have you on.

ROBERTS: Thank you so much, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Coming up on GPS, a country where kissing in public is taboo and, no, it's not an Islam problem. When we come back.


ZAKARIA: According to a new U.N. report, the number of young people in the world is higher today than at any point in history. There are 1.8 billion people, roughly a quarter of the global population, between the ages of ten and 24. It brings me to my question, which country has the largest percentage of young people age ten to 24. Is it, a, India. B, Afghanistan. C, Timor-Leste. Or D, China. Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

This week's book of the week is the one I began the show with. Peter Zeihan's "The Accidental Super Power." It's a lively wide ranging analysis that uses geography to shed a fascinating light on global politics and economics and America's unique advantages in the decades ahead. It will spur you to think and rethink much about the world. And now for "The Last Look." The U.S. had a summer of love in 1967. 47 years later it seems India is having an autumn of kissing. Let me explain. To do so let me first take you back to 2007 when an arrest warrant was issued for American actor Richard Gere after he dipped Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and kissed her on the cheek during a public appearance. He was also burned in effigy by an angry mob.

Kissing in public is considered taboo by many in India, even just a peck on the cheek. When I was growing up there, you never saw a kiss on TV or in the movies. So when reports surfaced earlier last month of couples kissing at a cafe in Kerala, that establishment was attacked by another angry mob, but this time there has been a counter movement against moral policing in India. The Kiss of Love movement has held protests with lots of kissing and hugging including in Kochi, and rallies in other Indian cities, like the countries capital New Delhi. When some protesters were prevented from making it to a planned venue in Delhi, they protested outside a metro station and the movement rose on. On its Facebook page there is a save the date for another rally in Calicut (ph) next month. I suppose India will have to decide for itself whether a kiss is, indeed, just a kiss.

The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is C, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste with 38 percent of their population of 400,000 people between 10 and 24. Afghanistan and the Federated States of Micronesia are next with 36 percent. India has the largest number of young people, 356 million.

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