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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Lessons on Race From Singapore; Grading President Obama's Foreign Policy; Debating the Iran Deal; Getting People to Have More Babies in Denmark; Interview with Stanley McChrystal; Interview with Helen Mirren. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired August 30, 2015 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:08] 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.

We'll start today's show with the president and the world. How has Barack Obama handled the many foreign policy challenges he has been presented with? Libya, the Horn of Africa, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, North Korea, and less than 100 miles away in Cuba.

We have an all-star panel to give the president a report card.

Also Stan McChrystal led an international coalition of soldiers into battle in Afghanistan. He led the United States' most elite fighters. And now he'll teach all of us a thing or two about leadership. The general on how to lead.

And, Dame Helen Mirren has played a Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II. She's played a Mossad agent and the dean of a university for monsters.


HELEN MIRREN, ACTORS: What kind of a monster are you?


ZAKARIA: But she has never played an American president. I'll ask her how she would do so.

And finally, Cecil the lion might be dead but Sudan, the last make northern white rhino, is still alive. And it's going to take more than a village to keep him that way. I'll explain.

But first, here is my take. These days I imagine President Obama is feeling that the country is on the right path. The economy has recovered nicely, unemployment is below 6 percent, stock markets remain much higher than when he took over, and foreign policy, he can point to a deal with the world's major powers and Iran, and now restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba after five decades.

But in one area America has witnessed a series of flare-ups that remind us of an enduring problem that simply refuses to go away.

America's racial divide. In thinking about it, I found myself intrigued by some lessons from an unlikely source, Singapore.

To help prepare for a trip there last month as a guest of the National University of Singapore, I asked the country's deputy prime minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, what he regarded as the country's biggest success. I imagined that he would talk about economics since the city-state's per capita GDP outstrips of that America, Japan or Hong Kong. He spoke, instead, about social harmony.

"We were a nation that was not meant to be," Tharman Shanmugaratnam said. "The swamp ridden island expelled from Malaysia in 1965, had a polyglot population of migrants with myriad religions, cultures and belief systems. What's interesting and unique about Singapore more than economics are our social strategies. We respected people's differences yet melded a nation and made advantage out of diversity," he explained in an interview echoing remarks he made at the St. Gallen symposium in Switzerland.

How did Singapore do it? By mandating ethnic diversity in all of its neighborhoods. Over 80 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing. All of it well regarded, some of it very up-market. Every block, precinct and enclave has ethnic quotas.

This is what people mean when they talk about Singapore's nanny state. And the minister readily admits it. "The most intrusive social policy in Singapore has turned out to be the most important," he says. "When you ensure every neighborhood is mixed, people do everyday things together, become comfortable with each other, and most importantly their kids go to the same schools. When the kids grow up together, they begin to share a future together," he said.

This belief was at the heart of many of the efforts of the United States' federal government in the 1950s and '60s to desegregate schools and integrate neighborhoods through court orders, housing laws and executive actions. Those efforts were largely abandoned by the 1980s, and since then the data shows an America that remains strikingly segregated.

This residential segregation has translated into unequal access to security, basic health care and crucially education. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court ordered school desegregation 61 years ago schools have actually become less diverse in the last two decades.

[10:05:09] A UCLA study last year pointed out that many black and Latino students, quote, "face almost total isolation, not only from white and Asian students but also from middle-class peers as well."

These findings would not surprise the Singaporeans. "The natural workings of society rarely lead to diverse and integrated communities. Not in Singapore, not anywhere else." Shanmugaratnam said to me. "They more likely lead to mistrust, self-segregation and even bigotry, which we see in abundance in so many countries today."

He pointed out that in Britain half the Muslim population lives in the bottom 10 percent of its neighborhoods by income. "Did that happen by chance," he asks? Singapore is an unusual case. It's a small city-state. It has its

critics who point to a quasi-authoritarian system, one that impedes free expression and makes opposition parties face severe handicaps. Singapore can do things Western democracies cannot. It also has had its own racial problems.

All that said, I believe that Singapore is an example of a diverse society that has been able to live together and that we could learn something from it.

For more go to and read my "Washington Post" column on this subject. And let's get started.

Let's go right to our report card of President Obama and his handling of, well, the entire world. My first guest is Gideon Rose, the editor of "Foreign Affairs," the magazine's new issue is devoted to this very topic. It has a great cover as you can see. Gideon opines in the magazine and will do so here as well.

Meghan O'Sullivan and Elliott Abrams were both top officials in the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. Both deputy national security advisors.

Meghan is now professor of International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School and Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. And Peter Beinart is a contributing editor to the "Atlantic" and "National Journal," a senior columnist and senior fellow at Haaretz, he's a senior fellow at New America and a CNN political commentator.

I hope everyone is happy with that lead-in. So you begin this collection of essays on Obama with a pretty favorable reading of his foreign policy, why?

GIDEON ROSE, EDITOR, FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I think actually the president has done a pretty decent job on foreign policy because the way to consider a president's foreign policy record is to see him as a member of a relay race, going on for many runners' past and many in the future.

And the fact is, U.S. foreign policy has been largely constant in its broadest outlines since the late 1940s, building a strong, liberal international order with democracies cooperating with each other, trading, nestling under a U.S. security umbrella. This lasted throughout the Cold War. It expanded under the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, in the initial post-war years.

It's sort of got off track during the George W. Bush years where there was some reckless adventurism and Barack Obama has brought it back on track. He's basically pulled back from some of the excesses and overzealous adventurism of the Bush years and the order is now basically still intact and ready to move forward again with the next president. So in the long run, taking everything into account, I think this -- the Obama administration's foreign policy is of a peace with George W. Bush's and Bill Clinton's, and the odd man out in the post Cold War era is the George H.W. Bush administration. ZAKARIA: Why do I think, Elliott, you're not going to agree with


ELLIOTT ABRAMS, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER UNDER PRES. G.W. BUSH: You know, one way of judging that I think is to ask the people around the world who depend on the United States for world order and their security. The Poles, the Czechs, the Balkans, facing Putin. The Australians, the Vietnamese, the South Koreans, the Japanese facing China. The Israelis and the Gulf Arabs facing a rising Iran. They all feel less safe. They feel the -- an international order is coming apart.

If you ask the people who are concerned about human rights in China or Iran or Cuba, they feel much less support from the United States. If you ask people whose concern is humanitarian affairs they will point to eight million refugees and 250,000 or 300,000 slaughtered in Syria with the United States doing basically nothing.

I think as you go around the world and talk to people, they don't think that things are better under President Obama, and they think he is the odd man out because he is turning away from America's responsibilities around the world.

ZAKARIA: Peter, what do you think of that? Obama, there is an element of retrenchment? I mean, even Gideon --

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know, Elliott, who you've been talking to but we do have polls and the polls show in fact that President Obama is much more popular around the world than was George W. Bush and America is more popular than it was.

[10:10:06] Yes, there's been some retrenchment. Obama is a bit like the position Eisenhower was in after Korea or Nixon was in after Vietnam. America was overstretched, the public was tired, the military was in trouble, and he retrenched as he had to. Obama has only made America weaker if you judge American strength based on foot size of the American military footprint. But in fact America's military footprint is still much larger than it was under Ronald Reagan and now we have a more sustainable military footprint than we did in the era of George W. Bush.

ZAKARIA: One -- the single most important retrenchment, of course, was the retrenchment from Iraq. And you were centrally involved in Iraq. Do you think that, at the end of the day, the Middle East, which is messy, chaotic, dangerous, would really be any less messy, chaotic and dangerous so if, say, 10,000 American soldiers were in Iraq and we had a no-fly zone in Syria?

MEGHAN O'SULLIVAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD'S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: Let me begin by just addressing this idea of strategic restraint which I think is at the core of what Gideon and Peter are talking about. And I think strategic restraint might make sense in a world where we don't have a lot at stake or our allies are active in promoting our interests or where the world order is self-perpetuating. But we don't live in that world. We live in a very different world where we have a lot at stake, where our allies are really inward-focused right now. In the international order, I would say, Gideon, is not in good shape.

It's actually fraying more so than it has at any point since its conception 70 years ago. In the Middle East I think this idea of strategic restraint has been the most flawed. It has really been a euphemism maybe for paralysis. And I think that that's where Obama's legacy is going to be certainly the weakest.

This foreign policy was based on some fundamental assumptions which turned out to be wrong. And one of those assumptions is that American involvement in the Middle East only makes things worse or is simply a recipe for getting us involved without any strategic results. And I think we see the Middle East being significantly worse off after these last seven years than before.

BEINART: Any Obama administration official ever said anything like that? I mean, that depiction of how they see America's role in the world doesn't bear resemblance to anything I've ever heard an Obama administration official say.

ABRAMS: Yes, but what they're doing is more important than what they're saying.

O'SULLIVAN: But -- exactly.

BEINART: OK. But I think it's hard to look at the Iran deal as paralysis. You may not like it, but it's a major move on the chess board akin to Nixon and China trying to change America's position in the region. It doesn't look like paralysis to me.


ROSE: More important I think the ability --

O'SULLIVAN: Talk about Syria.

ROSE: We're going to talk about Iran in the next segment, I think.

ZAKARIA: But let me ask you a question. You would argue that not getting bogged down in Syria is actually a strength.

ROSE: Absolutely. There is a difference between the core and the periphery. And I think the idea that the international order is fraying is simply absurd, with all due respect, Meghan. The United States is the strongest power in the entire globe by leap years. It has the defense budget equivalent to the next seven nations combined. With its allies it accounts for 75 percent of global defense spending. Its core allegiances and alliances in the major industrial centers and economic centers of the world are intact and thriving.

And the problems that Elliott is talking about are the griping that comes are from a few exposed allies that who often are the cause of their own problems in peripheral areas. In the Middle East, that's a separate question, but much of the Middle East is no longer a core American strategic interest and our direct involvement there is not necessarily making things better.

ZAKARIA: We can keep going, but I have to take a commercial break.

When we come back, we will talk about the most controversial of President Obama's foreign policy accomplishments -- the nuclear deal with Iran.


[10:18:19] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Gideon Rose, Peter Beinart, Elliott Abrams and Meghan O'Sullivan.

Peter, you were talking about the Iran deal. You regard this as a major foreign policy accomplishment?

BEINART: Yes. I think it's interesting that Elliott in the earlier segment said that dissidents around the world and Iran don't like the Obama administration. In fact, no one is more excited about this deal than --

ROSE: That's wrong.

BEINART: It's not wrong at all.

ABRAMS: That is wrong. No, I'm sorry.

BEINART: Just ask (INAUDIBLE) who's been called the (INAUDIBLE) of Iran. They know that it is the Cold War with the United States --


BEINART: I didn't interrupt you. I didn't interrupt you. They know that it is a Cold War with the United States that helps to sustain this regime's oppression of them. They're closer to the ground than the people in the United States who claim to speak on their behalf and did nothing for them under the Bush administration. And in fact I think this is going to be the moral legacy of this deal will be very good for the people of Iran.

ABRAMS: Well, you know, a group of about 150 Iranians dissidents including some pretty famous ones issued a statement saying you're giving $150 billion in legitimacy to our oppressors, and what are you asking in human rights terms in exchange? This is like Cuba. What are we getting on human rights? What are we asking for, pushing for? Nothing.

BEINART: Did they say they oppose the deal?

ABRAMS: Yes. Nothing. Nothing. And what troubles me is, the president doesn't seem to be concerned about this. It's not that he's failing. It's that he's not trying.

BEINART: Where is your evidence he didn't care? Where is the evidence he doesn't care?

ABRAMS: The deal wasn't about the sanctions --

(CROSSTALK) ZAKARIA: One sec. One sec. We've got to get this -- all right. All right.

ABRAMS: June 2009 is my evidence.

ZAKARIA: All right.

ABRAMS: When you had the Green Revolution --

BEINART: That's not evidence he doesn't care.

ROSE: Sanctions were levied about human rights.

ZAKARIA: All right. All right. Gideon.

ROSE: The sanctions were levied about the nuclear file. The nuclear file is going to be paused by the deal. And in the long run other issues about Iran's political development will come naturally in their course as they did with the eastern bloc, as they will with other state-run economies and closed societies.

[10:20:06] Obama understands that he has the confidence that open societies, open economies and robust, vigorous American exceptionalism triumphs in the long run without military force to push this history forward before its time.

O'SULLIVAN: This conversation really exacerbates my greatest concern about the deal. And that is, that it is the defense of the deal is so tied to the notion that there is going to be political moderation that comes out of the deal in Iran. And I think that that would be a great outcome, but we have no evidence that that's the case. This idea that openness is going to foster political moderation, we forget that as late as 2012 the Europeans were trading freely with Iran.

Iran was only constrained vis-a-vis American trade. And so it's not that -- it's not that Iran has been North Korea and suddenly is going to be given the opportunity to be a European state. It is simply faulty to base this agreement on that hope.

ZAKARIA: But even if it is -- if it doesn't moderate, isn't that all the more reason to have its nuclear program under constraints, inspections, restraints, roll back the enriched uranium?

O'SULLIVAN: Certainly I would support some element of a deal, but this -- we have to talk not in the abstract now because we're looking at a specific deal. And this deal has some very real flaws to it, as we all know. One of them being structural. The fact that Iranians get all the benefits up front for the expectation that they're going to adhere to the deal for a decade or longer.

I'm most concerned really about what the deal does for the region. And so I'm more interested in seeing what is going to accompany this deal, what is the strategy, the larger strategy that goes after nefarious Iranian behavior, not just in this domain, but in the region as a whole.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about that. Because there's been -- this is a premise of a lot of what we talk about.


ZAKARIA: Yes, there is nefarious Iranian behavior. But isn't it fair to say there has also been an extraordinary amount of nefarious behavior by countries like Saudi Arabia that have funded Sunni militants? I mean, I find it amusing that the Israelis now have found their best friend to be Saudi Arabia which sponsored every Palestinian martyr or -- you know, held telethons for Palestinian martyrdom.

I mean, if you had to choose between whose oil wealth has gone into more pernicious, you know, causes over the last 30 years, Iran or Saudi Arabia, it doesn't strike me it's even close.

ABRAMS: Well, I think it is actually close. But what you don't hear from Saudi Arabia or the Emirates or Kuwait or any of them is Israel must go. Death to Israel.

ZAKARIA: Well, you used to hear it.

ABRAMS: You used to hear it --

ZAKARIA: We just haven't heard it in the last 10 years or so.

ABRAMS: Right. Well --


ZAKARIA: Every week you'd hear it out of Egypt and --


ROSE: The Israelis have nuclear weapons. They can protect themselves. Deterrence works. And it can work with Iran as well. The Bush administration --

ABRAMS: So -- in your view the Saudis should build nuclear weapons?

ROSE: The Bush administration's record on proliferation was pretty clear. They fought an unnecessary and catastrophic war with Iraq, they let North Korea go nuclear on their watch and they let the Iranian nuclear program advance. This deal pauses the Iranian nuclear file for a while. Is it great? No. But it's dramatically better than all the realistic alternatives.

ZAKARIA: We've got to -- we've got to close here. Wonderful, spirited conversation.

Next on GPS, how in the world you get people to have more babies? Believe it or not, this is a burning question for governments around the world. We will bring you some of their best ideas. If you're so inclined, you can try it at home.


[10:27:59] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Something is odd in the state of Denmark. A Danish travel company has been wooing Danes to take a romantic trip abroad pointing out that Danes have 46 percent more sex on holidays and that 10 percent of Danish children are conceived during vacations.

The ad offers a three-year supply of baby goods if a couple conceives on their trip before delivering this memorable catch phrase.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it for Denmark.


ZAKARIA: "What in the World" is going on? Denmark and other countries are very worried about their stagnant, aging populations. According to the U.N., the average woman needs to have 2.1 children to maintain the population of a developed country. But in the European Union, every single country is below that 2.1 level, including Denmark. By 2050 some countries like Greece, Portugal and Germany will see their populations drop by double-digit percentages, according to Pew.

Japan is the poster child for this population crisis. Its government projects that it will lose over two million people in just the next five years. By 2050 it will have lost one-fifth of its total population. And there may be only 43 million people in Japan by 2110. Not only will some countries' populations shrink. They will also get older. Europe's over-65 crowd will increase to over a quarter of the population there by 2050, according to the U.N. Japan's will be over one-third. That means that already cash-strapped countries will have higher bills to pay to provide retirees with pension and health benefits.

So it's no wonder that Denmark and other countries are getting creative to promote procreation. The Japanese government has funded match-matching events. South Korea's government is trying to reduce the extravagant price of weddings to encourage more marriage, working with religious organizations to cut costs, according to the "Korea Herald." A regent in Russia encouraged citizens to bear a patriot on June 12th, Russia Day, offering money, refrigerators and even cars. And in 2012 Singapore was treated to national night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's national night, and I want a baby.


ZAKARIA: A campaign to encourage baby making on Singapore's national holiday. So are these kinds of measures actually working? Demographers told us that, in general, it's difficult to get people to have children purely using financial incentives. That said, France has championed child-friendly policies like paid family leave for parents of newborns and preschool for 3-year-olds, and its fertility rate is one of the best in Europe. In the United States, the fertility rate hit a record low in 2013, according to the CDC, but Pew still predicts that America's population will actually grow by 27 percent from 2010 to 2050. Why? One big reason is immigration. The U.S. has a younger population than Europe to begin with, and it takes in lots of immigrants. And immigrants tend to have more children than native-born Americans. So the United States, compared to many other large, rich countries in the world, will be demographically vibrant and growing for decades, and immigrants will help drive that growth. I am guessing that is an ad that no one is going to make any time soon in America.

Next on GPS, leadership lessons from a man known as one of America's finest leaders, General Stanley McChrystal tells us how to lead.



ZAKARIA: Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates led the more than three million people who work for the U.S. military during the time of two wars. He led through two administrations, one Republican and one Democratic. He is a man who knows something about leadership. In his memoir, Gates describes my next guest, General Stanley McChrystal, as perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I had ever met. McChrystal commanded the coalition forces in Afghanistan and earlier all of America's elite special forces. He has just written his own book called "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World." In it he talks about how leadership lessons from the battlefield translate to the board room. Listen in.


ZAKARIA: Stan McChrystal, pleasure to have you on.


ZAKARIA: So, when I look at leadership and I look at somebody like you, I think that this is a highly hierarchical leadership structure, the U.S. Army, you give orders, people listen, your job is to appear imposing. You know, inspire them, scare them a little. In your book, what you describe as actually a culture of much greater persuasion than I would have guessed. Is that really how the Army works? You're trying to persuade these guys? Aren't you ordering them?

MCCHRYSTAL: Ultimately it is. If you think about it, everybody thinks that a sergeant tells you to do something and you immediately do it. On the drill field you might do that. In combat, soldiers are much more frightened of the enemy than they are of the sergeant. So they do things for their leaders and their comrades. Ultimately, all the way up to their commanders, they are implementing because you have convinced them, or they are not. And so the ability to influence and persuade and build confidence in you as a leader and in what they're doing becomes the key task.

ZAKARIA: So, when you looked at successfully functioning units, successful examples of leadership, what you found were not the -- you know, it wasn't the guy like Patton. It was a guy who really was able to win the trust of people?

MCCHRYSTAL: You win the trust of people, and then you unleash their initiative, because one of the things you can't do is be everywhere, you can't make decisions. So what you want them to do is understand the situation and then have the will and the confidence to decide. I take my class at Yale every spring to Gettysburg, where John Buford, a 37-year-old Cavalry division commander, essentially committed the Army of the Potomac to the most decisive battle of the Civil War. And he probably knew that he was doing that. What gave him the confidence to do that? He wasn't senior enough to make that decision. What we really want in organizations is to have people confident enough in their relationships and confident enough in what they do to be able to operate that effectively.

ZAKARIA: When we look at the Iraqi Army's collapse initially in the face of ISIS, I remember talking to a very senior American general, who had been centrally involved over the last decade, and he said, the thing you have to remember is that Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq fired a lot of the generals and the colonels of the Iraqi Army and put in place political hacks or people who were not well trained. He then explained to me why this was so important. He said, because when you face a very dangerous situation, you're being asked to risk your life, you're not going to do it for a colonel whom you don't believe in, you don't trust.

MCCHRYSTAL: That's fundamentally true, in every army. And so your confidence in the competence of your leaders, but even more in their values and what they stand for. We used to have a saying in the military, is that a person who will come get you if you're in trouble?


And if there is that doubt, then, if you think about it, you're defending Ramadi and you're just not sure about that chain of command above you, it's pretty hard to make the decision that I will die out here if you don't think it matters, and if you don't think you have that support. That's one of the most intangible but important things about any army.

ZAKARIA: Translate that in the business sphere. What is the lesson for leadership in most businesses?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I think the same kinds of relationships matter. You go to an organization and they say, this is our vision. We're going to make the world better by producing this product, providing this service, and this is what we're about. And then, despite very good sayings, people see different behavior from senior leadership. They might see behaviors of greed, or they might see behaviors of different values, dishonesty and whatnot, and suddenly there is a difference between people, what they have said and what they actually do. That undermines the confidence of the organization. Then down inside the organization, if they think the senior leadership is uninformed, if the senior leadership says we're going to do this, but the people at lower levels know the situation is vastly different, that undermines their confidence and their competence and their willingness to get down and find out what's going on. It's easy to have happen as organizations get big and senior leadership gets pulled in many directions, outside to the markets, or customers, and whatnot, but you can lose touch inside your organization.

ZAKARIA: Somebody wants to be a leader in their organization, in life. What advice would you give?

MCCHRYSTAL: If you want to be a leader, the first thing I'd say is it's going to take several things. One, it's going to take personal discipline. Most of us know the right thing for a leader to do at any given moment. I will go through a day, and there are moments when I'm not a good leader, but I knew it -- as soon as it's over, I knew I didn't do it. It was a lack of my own personal discipline. It wasn't that nobody had taught me or I didn't instinctively know.

The next thing is empathy. And I don't say sympathy, but the ability and the willingness to try to turn the lens around and see it through another person's eyes. You're out digging foxholes, and you are suddenly dealing with private first class Smith, and he's got some problems at home or any issues. If you can't turn the lens and at least appreciate how he sees things, or if you're across the table from senior Pakistani military and you can't turn the lens and appreciate that they have a different view -- you don't have to agree with it -- but just the willingness to turn that lens around and let it inform you, then I think you have problems.

So if you do those basic things, there are a lot of other skills that you learn, effective speaking and posture and all those things, but those core, fundamental, almost value-like traits are the key.

ZAKARIA: Stan McChrystal, pleasure to have you on.

MCCHRYSTAL: Fareed, thank you so much.


ZAKARIA: Up next, Helen Mirren. She is a dame. She has played queens. But what about a presidential contender? Is the Oval Office in Mirren's future or Hillary Clinton's? Find out what she thinks when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Over the span of a 50-year career in acting, Helen Mirren has done a lot of things. She has done everything from high Shakespearian theater to the scandalous 70s film of "Caligula," played everything from a queen to a Mossad agent, and won everything from an Oscar to a Tony to an Emmy. But the one thing she has never played is a Bond girl. Is she bitter? Not Dame Helen.


ZAKARIA: You said we've all sat and watched as James Bond has become more and more geriatric. While his girlfriends --


HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS: Get younger and younger. That was the case for a while, wasn't it? I mean, it was like embarrassing. I thought it was ridiculous.

ZAKARIA: But do you think it's -- is it a big problem in Hollywood that men get cast for roles well into their 60s and 70s, and for women it's more of a struggle?

MIRREN: It is more of a struggle. But even Shakespeare did that to us, you know. As you get older, even the Shakespeare roles become -- that's why we have to start stealing the men's roles, you know. Doing like I did "The Tempest," Prospero. And it's great that a lot of women are, you know, doing Hamlet, doing "Henry V." I'm a sure there will be a female Othello soon. And I love that. I think it's absolutely great. Because, why not.

But it's changing. I've always said, don't worry about roles in drama -- well, do -- moan and complain, and I do. But really spend your energies on changing roles for women in real life, because, as night follows day, as the roles for women in real life change, they will change in drama. And I really hope that we're going to see a female president in the next -- when are the elections?

ZAKARIA: 2016.

MIRREN: 2016. Oh, not till then. A while. Oh, next year! So I hope we see a female president next year. That would be absolutely fantastic, and that would make a huge difference to the understanding of what women can be.

ZAKARIA: Do you think you could pull off the accent for Hillary Clinton?

MIRREN: She would be a wonderful person to play. Somewhere down the line, someone will do a story. Because she has had -- well, it was an extraordinary trajectory, and the brilliance, brilliance at handling her world.


And what unbelievable challenges she's had over the years.

ZAKARIA: If you were to compare the two, the queen and Hillary, what is the defining character of Hillary Clinton that you, as somebody playing her, imagine to be playing her, what would you be trying to capture?

MIRREN: That's a very interesting question. I mean, the enormous intelligence, the brain that I think is very, very, very fast-moving. And I think the incredible tenacity. The queen of -- Elizabeth Windsor, I call her, is -- it's a different -- hers is I just -- put my head down, I do what I'm supposed to do, I do it as well as I can, and I don't argue, and I don't complain, and I just do it. Hillary is much fiercer than that. It's, you know, she is a lioness of a kind. A lioness. And the -- Elizabeth Windsor is not, you know. I don't know what animal she is. I'll have to think about that one.

ZAKARIA: And I take it from the comment if you had a vote in the United States, you would vote for Hillary.

MIRREN: I wouldn't say that I would necessarily do that. I don't know. I'd have to really see who -- you know, what the whole picture is. But I'm just saying, in terms of roles for women in drama. I'm being very self-interested at this point. It would be good for that to have Hillary as a president, I think.

ZAKARIA: Helen Mirren, just a pleasure to have you on.

MIRREN: Thank you. Thank you very much.


ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, you've heard of Cecil the lion. But do you know of Sudan the rhino? He is the last remaining male of his kind. Keeping him safe from poachers is an around-the-clock gargantuan task. I'll tell you about it when we come back.



ZAKARIA: This week marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The images of the destruction along the Gulf Coast are indelible.

I can still remember the sheer scale of devastation and the haunting sight of people waiting for help on rooftops in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina left over 1,800 people dead. It remains the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, with estimates of nearly $150 billion in damages.

It brings me to my question. What was the most expensive natural disaster in the world? A, 1998 Yangtze River floods in China. B, 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. C, 2005 Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., or D, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

This week's book of the week is Eugene Rogan's "The Arabs: A History." I'm often asked what is the single best introduction to the Arab world. I haven't had a good answer until I read this book. Rogan does a superb job explaining how the past has shaped the modern Middle East. A sweeping survey, wonderfully written, and filled with insight and analysis.

Now for the last look. The Secret Service protects President Obama. The queen's guard defends her majesty. The Swiss guard safeguards the pope. Who would have thought a rhinoceros would need similar protection? Meet Sudan, he is the last male northern white rhino on the planet, and he is under 24-hour protection by rangers, armed guards, and an electric fence in a Kenyan conservancy. Sudan and his two female companions are three of the last four known members of the species in the entire world. This is especially tragic considering rhinos, often called the last dinosaurs, have been on the planet for 50 million years. The rangers are in place to stop poachers from killing Sudan and his lady friends. It's a stark reminder of yet another way human beings threaten the planet. Thanks to us, Sudan's cousins, the western black rhinoceros, have vanished from the earth. The Javan tigers have too, and the Baiji River dolphin will never again grace our waters.

Saving these animal from extinction is not about cute animals or tree hugging. Biodiversity is considered crucial to human health, from medical implications to providing food, to air and water purification. The list goes on. And the World Wildlife Fund says half of the earth's wildlife has been lost in the past 40 years. The conservancy in Kenya is doing what they can to protect Sudan and his friends. Masai warriors played a cricket match to raise awareness this summer, posing for pictures with Sudan, and the conservancy has a new campaign to raise money for rhino IVF in the hopes that Sudan won't always be the last male standing. Go to for information on how you can help make a rhino.

The correct answer to this week's question is D. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is the world's most expensive natural disaster. The World Bank estimated the cost to be as much as $235 billion.

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