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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Saving Afghanistan; The Next 265 Days of the Trump Presidency; China Launches Homemade Aircraft Carrier. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 30, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN GPS 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. Today on the show, Susan Rice, President Obama's National Security Adviser on how the Trump team is managing world affairs. North Korea, Russia, and more, and she'll answer the White House's extraordinary accusations against her. Also, the U.S. sets off what some call a trade war with Canada.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Canada has been very rough on the United States.
ZAKARIA: And the president fondest pulling out of NAFTA and then decides to stay in. I'll try to make sense of it all with Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland. And forget the first hundred days. How about the next 265? To me the president's first year is the most important milestone. A great group of scholars join me to discuss what we've seen and what we can expect. But first here is my take. There are so many unusual, unprecedented aspects of Donald Trump's first hundred days in office that it's hard to know where to begin.
By his own yardstick of what he would do on day one, the number of promises unfulfilled is staggering. But more striking than the policies unfulfilled are those that have been reversed entirely. Never in the annals of the presidency have there been so many flip- flops so fast with so little explanation. Trump announced his many reversals cavalierly as if he surely could not have been expected to know the facts about them six months ago when he was running for president.
As he said in late February nobody knew health care could be so complicated. I suspect that the next education will be in tax policy. Trump's proposals outlined this week are breathtakingly irresponsible. They would add trillions of dollars to the debt and are not even designed for maximum stimulus impact. Abolishing the estate tax, for example, which is paid by 0.002 percent of Americans each year, would not cause a rush to the stores, but it would cost the federal government $20 billion a year in lost revenues.
The larger education of Donald Trump and education one would hope of his supporters is that government actually isn't easy. The appeal of Trump for so many was that he was an outsider, a businessman who would bring his commercial skills and management acumen to the White House and get things done. Washington's corrupt politicians and feckless bureaucrats would see how a successful man from the real world cuts through the fog.
Instead we have watched the sheer incompetence of Trump's first 100 days. Executive orders that can't get through courts, bills that collapse in congress, agencies that remain understaffed, ceaseless infighting within the White House and the constant flip-flops. It turns out that running a family-owned real estate franchising operation is not really the same as presiding over the executive branch of the United States Government. It turns out that government is hard and complicated.
While there's plenty of corruption in Washington, the real reason so little gets done these days is that the American people have wildly contradictory desires. For example, they want unlimited amounts of health care, don't want to be denied such care because they're sick at the preexisting conditions and yet expect that costs should plummet. They want government out of their lives but revolt at the prospect of any slight cuts to its largest programs, Medicare, Social Security, or the removal of tax benefits for health care and home mortgages.
This condition has been building for years. In a 1995 book, Michael Kinsly explained what he saw as the roots of the then raging populist anger at Washington that Newt Gingrich had exploited with his contract with America. He wrote, "[American voters] make flagrantly incompatible demands - cut my taxes, preserve my benefits, balance the budget -- then explode in self-righteous outrage when the politicians fail to deliver."
He titled the book Big Babies in honor of the American people and he opened it by quoting Alexis de Tocqueville. "The French under the old monarchy held it for a maxim that the king could do no wrong and if he did do wrong the blame was imputed to his advisers... The Americans entertain the same opinion with respect to the majority." Let's hope that the greatest education of the Trump Presidency will be that Americans come to realize that Washington is dysfunctional not because of the venality of the politicians alone but rather because of the desires of the people they represent.
For more, go to cnn.com/fareed and read my Washington Post column this week. And let's get started. Let's get right into my conversation with Susan Rice. She was of course President Obama's Ambassador to the United Nations before becoming his National Security Adviser. Susan Rice, welcome back to the show.
SUSAN RICE, 24TH UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: It's good to be with you, Fareed. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: So let me ask you first, Donald Trump now says he thinks there is a chance of a major, major military conflict with North Korea. Do you think this is a bluff, or is he signaling that the United States could actually go to war?
RICE: Well, what I hope he is doing, Fareed, and it's hard to know exactly what he is doing, I hope he is just giving an assessment of the fact that that remains a risk, albeit hopefully not a high risk of direct conflict. He did say in the same statement that he very much hopes for a diplomatic solution. North Korea is obviously one of the very toughest and most pressing problems we face, and we've seen a lot of bellicose rhetoric out of the administration, but after a considered policy review, it seems that their policy course that they've chosen is much the same as it has been for several years.
We need to maintain the economic pressure and the sanctions on North Korea and ratchet that the sanctions regime up to the greatest extent possible, which is what Secretary Tillerson I think was trying to convey in the Security Council on Friday. We need to enlist the Chinese to the greatest extent possible to exercise their leverage and influence. That's something we've been working on for many years, and it's something that President Trump has, I think, correctly emphasized as an appropriate course.
We need to reassure and secure our allies, particularly South Korea and Japan, who feel most directly threatened by North Korea. And they are -- I'm concerned frankly that we're hearing very mixed messages. On the one hand, a message that South Korea's security is something that we will stand up to defend, and on the other hand, the president in the same interview that you quoted from, said that we must renegotiate the Free Trade Agreement with Korea and that the South Koreans must pay for the missile defense, the THAAD system, that we are installing, which was not the deal.
The deal was they would provide the land and the installation and we would provide the system and its operations. So this has created, along with the miscue on the aircraft carrier, a great deal of unease in South Korea at a time when we ought to be providing reassurance.
ZAKARIA: One of the elements of fallout from Russia's attempt to influence the American election was that there was -- there was certain amount of intelligence work being done on Russia, our intelligence agencies were listening to what Russian government officials or Russian intelligence officials were saying. Donald Trump has accused you of trying to unmask the Americans on the other end of those conversations in an attempt to implicate the Trump campaign or people associated with Trump in some kind of collusion with Russia. What is your reaction to that? It's an extraordinary charge by the President of the United States.
RICE: Well, Fareed, it's absolutely false. I've addressed this previously. I think now we've had subsequently members of congress on the intelligence committees on both sides of the aisle take a look at the information that apparently was the basis for Chairman Nunes' concern and say publicly that they didn't see anything that was unusual or untoward. I did my job which was to protect the American people and I did it faithfully and to the best of my ability. And never did I do anything that was untoward with respect to the intelligence I received.
ZAKARIA: One more question about this. The administration now says that it is the Obama Administration's fault that Michael Flynn got through unvetted or not vetted enough, that it was on your watch that he was -- he retained his top secret security clearance despite the fact that he received money from the Russians. What are you saying?
RICE: Fareed, I'm smiling because that's rich. Let me explain how the process works. First of all, a former military officer such as General Flynn who wants to retain his security clearance would go through a process with his home agency, in this case, the Defense Intelligence Agency, to have his clearance reviewed and renewed. That happens at, you know, a very routine level, never at a political level.
But that's a very separate thing, the renewal of a clearance from the vetting that goes into the appointment of any senior White House official or any senior administration official. The Trump Administration, like, it's -- every previous administration, had an expectation and an obligation to vet, to their satisfaction, those individuals that the president was appointing to high positions, which is a separate and much more elaborate process than a security clearance. It gets into the financial information. It gets into your relationships and contacts. It gets into your behavior. It's a -- it's a -- it's a much deeper vet than what is done solely for the purpose of a security clearance.
ZAKARIA: But do -- you do see the point of what they're doing, which is every time there is some accusation, there is a counter accusation which in a sense throws up a lot of smoke and seems to be effective.
RICE: I noticed that.
ZAKARIA: Did you bring --
RICE: Yes. Fareed, yes. Much of this seems to be an effort to distract and deflect from perhaps their own short comings or from the larger issue that I think all Americans are very concerned about which is what did Russia do in its process of intervening and manipulating the U.S. election in 2016, why did they do it, and with whom did they do it. And was there any suggestion of or evidence of coordination or collusion.
This has to be dealt with responsibly, thoroughly and on a bipartisan basis as a threat to our very institutions and democracy. And to the extent that we are not united and approaching this in a bipartisan fashion, we are enabling our adversaries like Russia to exploit our divisions, and it's very, very dangerous.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you a general question about Trump foreign policy so far. How would you characterize it?
RICE: Well, I think obviously, Fareed, it's only been just about a hundred days, so it's early days, but I would say that in many respects it's been unsteady and rocky. And by that I would point particularly to the fact that a number of our closest friends and allies are feeling uncertain, off balance, unclear as to where we stand and what we mean. The United States, Fareed, is supposed to be the grownup at the dinner table.
We're not supposed to be the crazy aunt in the attic that nobody knows what is going to do next. That may -- that unpredictability may be useful to somebody like Kim Jong-un in North Korea. It's not the way the United States is supposed to act, and I think our allies have been off balance and uncertain in a way that doesn't serve our interests. We've also had very mixed signals sent. The words coming out of the administration, even on the same day by multiple officials on consequential issues, like our position on Syria, for example, are often at odds, and I think it leaves the world uncertain as to what we mean.
And then finally, I'd point to the fact that very unfortunately, many of the most important jobs in our national security apparatus remain unfilled and not even just unfilled but no people selected to serve in those roles, whether in the State Department or the Defense Department and many other places. And that means that we are dealing with a complex and complicated world with less than all of our cylinders firing. And that's unfortunate and it needs, too, to be rectified.
So I think there are many aspects of what has transpired that we need to do better on. I hope we will do better on. I think some of the shifts in policy, as I suggested earlier, have moved us in a better direction. Now we are recognizing and supporting our NATO allies as critical, not obsolete. We haven't upended our very complex and important relationship with China by embracing Taiwan and jettisoning the one China policy. We are -- we are seeing some writing of some important policy courses, but in a very rocky and unsteady and I think unstable way.
ZAKARIA: Susan rice, always a pleasure to have you on.
RICE: It's good to be with you again. Thanks so much.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, the Trump Administration was accused this week of trying to start a trade war with Canada, of all countries. I will talk to Canada's Foreign Minister when we come back.
ZAKARIA: It was a rather extraordinary week in North American relations. It all started on Monday when the Trump Administration slapped its first tariffs on imports from another nation, Canada. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross accused Canada of bad acts and said, "It's been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations," but helpfully offered that he wouldn't regard the Canada situation as being anything like the war with ISIS. Oh, good.
Then on Wednesday morning sources told CNN that the White House was considering withdrawing from NAFTA. But Thursday morning, Trump tweeted, "I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate." He said he had agreed, but if a fair deal wasn't reached, he would pull out. What's at stake and what's going on? Oh, just $1.2 trillion in trade. Joining me now is Canada's Foreign Minister and in her prior life as a journalist, a frequent GPS guest, Chrystia Freeland, welcome back to the show, madam foreign minister.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADA'S MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Great to be with you, Fareed. It's a real pleasure.
ZAKARIA: So first, were you given any advanced notice of the decision to slap those tariffs on Canada? FREELAND: Yes, absolutely, we were. It's important, Fareed, on the soft wood lumber dispute to get this in historical perspective and in perspective in terms of the overall trading relationship. Soft wood lumber is something that Canada and the United States have been talking about since the 1880s, so this is not a new discussion between Canada and the United States. It's very familiar. It's also -- soft wood lumber is just 2 percent of Canada's overall exports to the United States.
Now, in this particular issue, I have to respectfully say we think the administration is completely wrong. We think those duties are punitive and unfair. In all of the previous disputes, Canada has won at every single international tribunal. We've won at the WTO. We've won at NAFTA. And with hat's even more important, Fareed, and here I'm going to quote the Wall Street Journal known as I think a conservative publication quite friendly to the Trump Administration, they called this tariffs on Canadian lumber a housing tax in an editorial this week and they warned this these tariffs were going to hurt the very middle class voters that supported this administration.
I couldn't agree more, and so I really hope that we can come to a quick and amicable resolution on this. You guys need our lumber to build your houses, and we want to keep selling it to you.
ZAKARIA: All right. Now on that phone call between Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump, what did Prime Minister Trudeau say to Donald Trump to convince him not to pull out of NAFTA?
FREELAND: Well, the prime minister and the president have a really strong, mutually respectful relationship. I was there at our bilateral meeting in the White House on -- in February, and I have to say the two really got along. I think what the prime minister said is, you know, he really pointed out the extent to which the Canada- U.S. economic relationship is one of the best economic relationships in the world. It's a real win-win relationship.
What many Americans don't always fully appreciate is Canada is the single biggest customer of the United States. You know, Fareed, you devote a lot of time on your show to China, quite rightly, but the United States sells almost twice as much to Canada as it to -- as it does to China and what I think the prime minister is he really pointed out to the president, we have a great relationship, let's not let a couple of irritants get in the way.
And what he also said which has been the position of our government from day one is we are ready to sit down at the NAFTA negotiating table any time. We -- by our count, we've made nearly a dozen modifications to NAFTA since it first came into force, and we absolutely agree this agreement could be modernized and made better, more appropriate for the 21st century, so let's roll up our sleeves and do it.
The holdup actually right now is in the United States because the TPA process means we need to take -- you need -- the Americans need to take a little bit of time before they join us at the table. But we're ready to go. And I do want to say to the president and to the U.S. Administration, we're really glad you made the right decision. I was glad to see the president saying that he believes we can get a great deal. I believe that too. And we're ready to start talking.
ZAKARIA: Now for our What in the World segment. On Friday, April 21st, Taliban insurgence dressed as Afghan soldiers, maneuvered their way into a military base near Mazar-i-Sharif and killed as many as 140 unarmed Afghan soldiers who had been praying at a mosque. A few weeks earlier on February 9th, the top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson, told congress that the U.S. needs a few thousand more troops in Afghanistan. That's on top of the 8,400 American troops that are already there.
Haven't we heard this before? Send more troops, drop bigger bombs? Is that the answer? According to several studies, as of 2016 the United States has spent almost $800 billion in Afghanistan. And more than 2,200 Americans have lost their lives fighting on Afghan soil. And yet, there doesn't seem to be much to show for all that. According to the U.S. Inspector General, the Afghan government has been steadily losing ground to the Taliban since 2015. By November of last year, the government control just 57 percent of Afghanistan while the Taliban control or contested 43 percent of the country.
Afghanistan, nicknamed "the graveyard of empires," has often bedeviled foreign military interventions. Alexander the Great was nearly killed there. The British were defeated and exiled almost 100 years ago and the Soviets saw many thousands of their troops killed by the Mujahideen before they too withdrew in defeat in 1989.
In 2014 President Obama declared that the combat mission in Afghanistan would come to a "responsible end." American forces returned home with just a token force remaining behind. But since then, a revitalized Taliban and Al Qaida have found safe havens in neighboring Pakistan, where they've launched military and insurgency operations against the Afghan government, which is largely seen as corrupt and mired in tribal conflicts.
The noted regional expert Barnett Rubin writes in a recent essay that the United States now faces three choices.
American forces can leave Afghanistan entirely. In all likelihood, the Afghan government would quickly collapse and the Taliban would once again seize power.
Or the United States can maintain an open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan. That seems to be what we're creeping toward now, with American troops engaged in a prolonged, unwinnable stalemate with the Taliban.
But a third choice would have the Trump administration focus not on sending in more troops and dropping huge bombs but rather on bringing peace to Afghanistan through diplomacy with its neighbors. These regional players, China, Russia, India, Pakistan and even Iran, are all developing strong economic and political ties with each other. Each has reasons to see Afghanistan stabilize and prosper. In this scenario, the United States supports the democratically
elected government of President Ashraf Ghani, allowing him to negotiate from a position of strength with his neighbors and with the Taliban, which does find support from the Pashtun majority of the country.
The secretary of defense, James Mattis, once remarked that, if funding for diplomacy was cut, "then I'll have to buy more ammunition."
The truth is all the bullets in the world won't solve the problem in Afghanistan, but some creative diplomacy just might.
Up next, everybody else has been talking about the first 100 days, but I think the thing to really talk about is the next 265 days. I have a great panel of scholars to talk about what Trump will accomplish in his first year.
ZAKARIA: There's been a lot of ink spilled and a lot of hot air expelled this week over President Trump's first 100 days. I do agree with the president on one thing, perhaps just one, that the 100-day marker is not that important. The more meaningful time period to look at is his or any president's first year.
After a year, electioneering starts up again and presidential power begins to wane. So to help me look back at the first 100 days and ahead at the next 265, I have a great panel of scholars.
Joining me here in New York are Tim Naftali, a CNN presidential historian, former director of the Nixon Presidential Library and now someone who teaches at NYU. Shirley Anne Warshaw, a professor of political science at Gettysburg College, Tim Snyder, a professor of history at Yale and the author of the best-seller "On Tyranny," and in South Bend, Indiana, Matthew Kroenig joins us. He is an associate professor of government at Georgetown.
Shirley Anne Warshaw, let me ask you, we talk about 100 days, of course, because of Franklin Roosevelt. Why? What is -- what is the importance of it?
SHIRLEY ANNE WARSHAW, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, GETTYSBURG COLLEGE: Good question. Franklin Roosevelt thought that, in that first few months of his administration, he could dramatically change the course after the Great Depression. Congress had been completely unable to do it. We were in an era of congressional government. And now he saw that his role as the new executive would be to take the reins and run with them. But he would have to craft the legislation that Congress had been completely unable to do. And it's that movement forward, we now see, that the powerful executive we see now actually has its roots.
ZAKARIA: Tim, when you look at it, other than Roosevelt, has anyone really had a powerfully successful first 100 days?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you know, if you think about the signature achievements of some of the more iconic presidents, they come after the 100 days: Ronald Reagan's tax cut, 206th day; Barack Obama's Obamacare, 368th day; and the stellar performance by John F. Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis, that came in the 634th day.
And those are the events that really shaped their presidencies and their legacies. So I think the 100-day standard is not helpful at all.
One thing I'd add is that Roosevelt himself didn't think in terms of 100 days. He was ready to ask Congress to leave after the fifth day, after he passed the banking legislation. It's people around him who were saying, "You know, this is amazing, this momentum; we should just keep doing this." And so the Congress stayed. He had called Congress back for a special session.
So even Roosevelt didn't know he was in the midst of something remarkable for a president, and frankly, for the presidents that followed, the first 100 days haven't really mattered that much.
ZAKARIA: Matthew, to me what's striking about this first 100 days, certainly, in historical terms, does strike me, the number of reversals. I may be wrong, but I cannot recall any president who has reversed himself so fast on so many fronts so effortlessly. Is that good or bad?
MATTHEW KROENIG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I guess I'm not sure if I see them as reversals. You know, this is an unusual president, first president we've had without experience in political office or in the military. So he made some, kind of, broad statements on the campaign, and I think once he's come into office, then it's been up to his team, a really excellent team he's built, to, kind of, put details on that.
You know, so he's talked about renegotiating NAFTA, and now, you know, Pence and others are talking about how they're going to update it to account for the Internet and other things. He's talked about getting rid of the Iran deal. Some of his team has talked about how we could look to renegotiate the Iran deal to extend the sunset provisions.
So I'm not sure if they're reversals or if they're just ambiguous things that were said on the campaign trail, and now we're starting to see some flesh on the bones.
ZAKARIA: So let me ask you just directly -- for example, China: China, he said was going to be labeled a currency manipulator on day one. He said it had been "raping" the United States, that he was going to put a 45 percent tariff on it, and that perhaps Taiwan should be recognized as a country.
As far as I can tell, he's reversed himself on all those things. No? These are just details?
KROENIG: Well, the currency manipulation, I think you're right that there has been a change there. And he's also said that North Korea has become more of a priority. And so rather than getting tough with China on trade or other things, he wants to work with China to try to put pressure on North Korea to solve the North Korean issue.
So, you know, you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. And so, again, I think we're starting to see some of these policies be filled out a little bit with these new reviews and as the personnel falls into place.
ZAKARIA: Tim Snyder, you wrote a book where you worried about Trump implicitly as being somebody who was almost a threat to American democracy, not just the issue of changes in policy here or there. What have you learned in these 100 days?
TIM SNYDER, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, YALE UNIVERSITY: I've seen that a number of his challenges to American institutions seem to be rather close to core beliefs. He talks about the Judiciary as president much the same way as he talked about it as a candidate, scornfully. He talks about the free press much the same way now as president as he talked about it as a candidate, with contempt.
So we're looking at a situation where someone who we have no particularly good reason to believe cares about American institutions is in charge of American institutions.
So when I contemplate the first 100 days, I think less about legislation. In a way that's both too much and too little to expect from this team. I think more about the way in which this person has not adjusted himself to what we thought were the basic norms of the American political life.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating. We're going to have to take a break. Panel, please stay there. Viewers, stay there, too. We will be back to talk about the next 265 days, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back talking about Trump's first 100 days and next 260-some odd with Tim Naftali, Shirley Anne Warshaw, Tim Snyder and Matthew Kroenig.
Tim, when you look at the tax bill, what does strike one is that Trump does, for all the populist rhetoric -- and, you know, there's a little bit on trade -- he's governing more like a conventional Republican. He appointed a very conservative, socially conservative Supreme Court justice, and this tax bill is essentially a kind of classic supply- side tax bill. It will slash taxes; it will mostly help the rich, but it will trickle down and somehow growth will pay for it all?
NAFTALI: Well, you know, when you look at Trump, you should compare him to other presidents who have had both houses of Congress. It's not fair to compare Trump to -- so if you do that, it's remarkable how little traction he's getting in Congress. The Obamacare repeal-and- replace fiasco taught us a lot about the inability of Speaker Ryan and Donald Trump to actually fashion a governing coalition.
So you look at the tax cuts. Well, yes, in some ways he is, but in some ways, he is actually going to upset his base because a number of -- most of the core objectives of his tax cut policy will benefit wealthy Americans, not the people who put him in power.
What I'm looking to see in the next 100, 200, 300 days is the extent to which the Republican Party, the party in Washington, decides what party it is. Is it going to be -- is the Freedom Caucus going to have a veto power or not? What about the moderates? Are they going to try to fashion themselves into a governing Trump coalition?
Because, ultimately, until the mid-term elections, should they change the control of Congress, it's all up to the Republican Party. It's the Republican Congress that's going to decide the legislative side of the Trump years.
ZAKARIA: Matthew, when you look at this from foreign policy terms, do you think that Trump is morphing into a traditional Republican and that, in that sense, you know, a lot of the America-first nationalism will adjust itself to the kind of foreign policy that clearly most of his key advisers seem to support, based on their past statements?
KROENIG: Yes, when Trump talked about America first, I never heard that as America only. You know, I think there were many people who thought that the United States needed to do some things to get its own house in order and that if the United States isn't strong at home, it can't be strong abroad. Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a book along those lines a couple of years ago.
So I guess I do see the United States under Trump continuing to play the international leadership role that it has played, and I think we've seen it already do that since the Inauguration. President Trump was willing to use force to enforce the red line over Syria, re- establish the norm against chemical weapons use. You know, in the Middle East, more broadly, he's been willing to increase the tempo of operations against ISIS after bipartisan calls to do that for many years. He's talking about supporting the allies.
So I do think that many Republicans are happy with the direction that President Trump's foreign policy is heading.
ZAKARIA: Tim Snyder, do you worry that this kind of talk is normalization, or normalizing Trump?
SNYDER: Yeah. That's one of the problems with the whole 100 days conceit, because it's about legislation and executives storming ahead with ideas, black and white on paper. I think this president has to be judged in a different way, by the fact that we now have family members in office and that seems normal. We now have advisers who are members of the extreme right. We take that as normal. We have an ongoing investigation, multiple ones, speaking of foreign policy, about the role of Russia in getting this man elected. Those things are not normal, but they've become normal, and in a way we need to have a daily asterisk by everything so we don't forget them.
ZAKARIA: When you look at the -- the kind of atmospherics, this is a president for whom images are very important. I wonder, you know, is the purpose of the Trump presidency to create great policy, or is it to create a series of stories and images, the Carrier deal, things like that, so that, you know, in three years he'll go back to the American people and say, "Look, I did all these amazing things; watch the video?"
WARSHAW: Right, right. Well, first of all, presidents really can do a lot with executive action. He can sign the executive order that wipes out NAFTA, essentially, that overturns the Iran nuclear deal, that deals with climate change. He can sign executive actions that, to many of his base, do what they want him to do.
To some extent, the legislation is secondary. To move forward a tax bill is absolutely the easiest thing that he can do. He has a Republican House. He has a Republican Senate. They --tax cuts are the best thing for any Republican Congress, but that's about all that he's going to be able to do. So what you're going to see is these minor -- these changes by executive order with lots of flash, which is exactly what you're saying. The image is very important to him. He is an image person.
ZAKARIA: And will these images work?
NAFTALI: Well, right now what we're seeing is a staccato presidency, where, if he doesn't get what he wants on one side, he'll shift to another.
Look, he changed his words about China because he needed China for North Korea because his advisers told him that. When he couldn't move -- when he couldn't do Obamacare, he decided "I'm going to push on NAFTA; I'm just going to pretend something big is going to happen," and he scared the Canadians and the Mexicans, but nothing came of it. He promised the H-1B visa, the whole visa system would change. He couldn't get it done. He signs an executive order that really has very little effect.
After a while, it's very possible that his base, which loves him at the moment, will start to see that nothing is actually happening. Right now, it's great TV. Can you sustain great TV for four years enough to satisfy people who actually wanted real change? We'll see. But right now, it's basically a lot of light and very little action.
ZAKARIA: All right. On that note, we are going to have to thank all of you, fascinating conversation. We will definitely have you all back to see how it develops.
ZAKARIA: Applicants for the U.S. green card lottery, officially known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, more than doubled between 2007 and 2017. The program provides up to 50,000 visas annually, drawn at random, to people from countries with generally low rates of recent immigration to the U.S.
It brings me to my question. Which nation had the most citizens apply for the green card lottery in fiscal year 2015, the year for which the most recent State Department data is available? Was it Ethiopia, Egypt, Uzbekistan or Ghana?
Stay tuned and we will tell you the correct answer.
Instead of a book of the week, I want to recommend the podcast of this show. If you go to iTunes or wherever you find your favorite podcast, just search FAREED ZAKARIA GPS and you'll find us. Then hit the "Subscribe" button and you'll get us every week. That way, if you missed a show, you can listen. Better yet, recommend the "GPS" podcast to a millennial who probably doesn't watch so much TV and already knows where to find podcasts.
And now for the last look. This week China launched its second aircraft carrier, but its first homemade one. Its first such vessel, you may remember, was a rebuilt Soviet-era ship purchased from Ukraine, not much use in a high-intensity conflict, according to the experts. This new one, which is expected to enter active service in 2020 was designed in China and built in the country's Dalian shipyard.
It is a great improvement but still has a ways to catch up with American technology. See that upward slope where the planes will take off? A military expert tells CNN it's to help the aircraft get into the air and stay there. Well, American ships have better technology than those so-called ski jumps. The American carriers have catapults to blast the planes off the carrier decks. Oh, and America currently operates 10 carriers, with two more under construction. Nevertheless, this new carrier is an important milestone in China's quest for military status and respect.
The correct answer to the GPS challenge question is D, Ghana; 1.73 million Ghanaians applied for the Diversity Immigrant Visa in fiscal 2015, as Pew Research points out. That's more than 6 percent of the population of that country. Just 3,381 of the more than 1.7 million Ghanaian applicants actually won the lottery that year. All applicants' lottery luck may run out one day soon. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program currently faces elimination under bills before both the House and the Senate.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.