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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Discussion of Dealing with North Korea; Global Pandemic Possibility; The Future of U.S. Political Right. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired June 25, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:13] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN 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, tensions ratcheted up with North Korea after the death of Otto Warmbier. Just how dangerous have things gotten? And can China play a real role in cooling things down? I have a great debate.
And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the no-holds barred former White House chief of staff, weighs in on the current White House and the man in charge of it all, Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO: They've made some choices that I think will now have consequences that are not just immediate but long term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Also, the urgent issue that both the president and Rahm Emanuel are warning about. America's crumbling infrastructure.
And what is the future of conservatism in the Trump era? Will the world of Ronald Reagan ever return?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I pledge to you a government that will not only work well but wisely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: The always sharp David Brooks weighs in.
Finally, a windswept island in the middle of the Pacific. It should be a paradise. Instead, it's a dump. Literally. And it's all our fault. I'll explain.
But first here's my take. While we've been focused on the results of special elections, the ups and downs of the Russia investigation, and President Trump's latest tweets, under the radar a broad and significant shift in American foreign policy appears to be under way.
Put simply, the U.S. is stumbling its way into another decade of war in the greater Middle East. Donald Trump came into office with a refreshing skepticism about America's policy toward the region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody that's touched the Middle East, they've gotten bogged down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But Trump also sees himself as a tough guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would bomb the shit out of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Now that he's in the White House and has surrounded himself with an array of generals, his macho instinct seems to have triumphed. The administration has ramped up its military operations across the greater Middle East.
But what is the underlying strategy?
In the fight against ISIS, U.S. forces have been aggressively initiating attacks resulting in sharp rises in civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria. And in a dramatic escalation this week, the U.S. shot down a Syrian warplane putting Washington on a collision course with Syria and its ally, Russia.
Worst yet, it is unclear how this belligerence towards the Assad regime will achieve the sole stated mission of America's involvement in Syria, to defeat ISIS. Logically, if Assad gets weaker, his main opposition forces, various militant Islamist groups including ISIS, will get stronger. Compounding the incoherence, the administration explained that while it had attacked Assad's forces, it was not fighting the Assad regime and the downing was simply an act of collective self-defense.
A few more such acts of self-defense, an American combat troops could find themselves on the ground in the middle of the Syrian civil war. In Afghanistan, Trump has delegated the details of a mini surge of 4,000 more troops to Defense Secretary James Mattis and other senior military leaders.
But let's remember, the United States has been in Afghanistan for 16 years. It has had several surges in troop numbers. It has spent almost a trillion dollars on that country. And yet Mattis acknowledges that the U.S. is not winning.
What will an additional 4,000 troops achieve that over 100,000 troops could not?
In Yemen, with Washington's latest arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. is further fueling the Saudi's proxy war against Iran. A war that has led the kingdom into a de facto alliance with al Qaeda in Yemen. The new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman seems likely to persist in this conflict even though it has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe. A child in Yemen is dying from preventable causes every 10 minutes according to UNICEF and the poorest country in the Arab world has been turned into a wasteland in which terror groups will compete for decades to come.
In almost every situation American forces are involved in, the solutions are more political than military. Everything military has been tried. This has become especially true in places like Syria and Afghanistan when many regional powers have major interests. Military force without a strategy and a deeply engaged political and diplomatic process is destined to fail. Perhaps even to produce a series of unintended consequences.
[10:05:06] Think about the last decade and a half. During the campaign, Donald Trump seemed to be genuinely reflective about America's role in the Middle East.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is not usually me talking, OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TRUMP: Because I'm very proactive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
TRUMP: As you probably know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know.
TRUMP: But I would sit back and let's see what's going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Yes. After 16 years of continuous warfare, hundreds of thousands dead, trillions of dollars spent and greater regional instability, somebody in Washington needs to ask before the next bombing, before the next deployment, what is going on?
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Rahm Emanuel knows just how tough it is to enter the White House on Inauguration Day and try to set up a president's agenda. He did it. Emanuel was President Obama's first chief of staff. And when he walked into the White House on January 20th, 2009, he had the huge additional challenge that the American economy was imploding with the worst global recession since the 1980s, perhaps since the 1930s, already under way.
So how would he grade the first five months of the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, his chief of staff, the rest of administration?
Joining me is the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel. So, Rahm, when you're watching them, what do you think?
EMANUEL: Thank God I'm mayor of the city of Chicago. Well, I mean, here's what I would say, Fareed, is I used to tell President Clinton this, which is, if we knew in the first year of the first term what we knew by the first year of the second term, we'd all be geniuses.
Nobody is really, ever, ever, ever ready. The only thing that prepares you is the campaign. But you have a president that never held office and basically everybody in the White House but a few have never actually been there.
And while I -- you focused on me from President Obama, I was senior adviser to President Clinton. But you also had other members of Tom Donilon, national security stuff, Ron Klain, who is Vice President Biden's chief of staff, was in the White House before. You had a number of people who've been there that had the experience of the rhythm of a White House and knowing how to constantly weigh policy against politics against the public relations.
And that's the kind of three-dimensional chess you have to do. And I would just say they've made some choices that I think will now have consequence that are not just immediate but long term. And they need some victories. And I keep emphasizing that, you know, victories beget victories, losses beget losses. And I think that they've made some mistakes that exacerbated already a troubling fragile coalition and political position of a president.
ZAKARIA: So what is a White House like in a situation like this? You saw the Clinton White House during the impeachment process. Is it a kind of bunker mentality? Is it a siege mentality? What do you think is going -- is it possible for people to just execute policy and to plan policy, or is the investigation taking over everything?
EMANUEL: Well, if anybody tells you the investigation doesn't kind of permeate, they're not being honest with you. You have to fight it, but it doesn't mean you're going to succeed. But you have to fight it. And what that means is you have to set up a separate communication, separate legal, separate kind of congressional and outreach. And then a total White House operation.
Now I think, if you go back, we did a pretty good job under the Ken Star investigation with President Clinton. But if we sit there and high-fived each other and said, oh, we kept it Chinese wall, that's not honest. It's just too dominant a factor. It's very hard to keep an investigation of the presidency and the people in the White House separate from day-to-day operations. Very hard. But it is what you have to do.
ZAKARIA: Do you understand the sort of Bannon strategy, which seems to be go for your base because you'll always have them, these guys are the center, they'll never come to you and -- you know, that's the theory. It has begat at 36 percent approval rating. So it seems to me it doesn't work. But what do you think?
EMANUEL: Well, you may -- well, you have to separate this. There are different needs from congressional to local party officials versus your statewides. It may work for President Trump. But it does not work for the rest of the Republicans. And his relationship with his voters may not be transferrable. We're going to find out some stuff pretty soon about as it relates to other congressional races, other elections in both New Jersey and Virginia for governor, et cetera.
[10:10:03] See, what their strategy is pretty straightforward. Get their voters and keep them on amphetamines, highly charged. I'm not sure where the battlegrounds for Congress are, the battlegrounds are for the statehouses. That's going to be an electoral strategy for success up and down the Republican ticket. And I think it's not just a strategy, there's policy decisions that are slowly but surely alienating persuadable voters.
And I think basically, as far out as you really can see now, which I don't think you can, this election in 2018 will be a referendum on Trump. Democrats are going to say, we're going to be a check on this president, a checkmate, and the Republicans -- and we're going to accuse Republicans of being a blank check. And that's basically it.
ZAKARIA: So explain something to me. A puzzle I've had with President Trump is --
ZAKARIA: Why wouldn't he when he came into office have done what he said he was going to do throughout the campaign, announce the creation of make America great bonds, 40 years, 50, 30, whatever you want to call them.
ZAKARIA: Raise money at the lowest rates really you're ever going to see and actually build infrastructure, putting people to work, putting his base to work.
ZAKARIA: Why has he not done that?
EMANUEL: Fareed, I'll give you one up on that, if I can. Think about his presidency and the trajectory of this presidency. Had he started on the one area that was bipartisan rather than the one area like health care which was going to be polarization, he'd have Democrats in a position, we'd have to either decide to cooperate and therefore our base would be angry or work with him on building something?
His entire presidency would be focused on the one thing he pledged, which is jobs. He decided to do the exact opposite, which is to go to a set of policies on health care that would be divisive and would be unproductive. And as somebody who's worked on health care, it was going to be a cul-de-sac. And that's exactly what's happened. Politically and economically and it's wrong. So my view is, he made both a political and a policy blunder of the first order, which is what rookies make when they come right out of the box. ZAKARIA: And do you think that it was because he listened to people
like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell who said this is what the Republicans want?
EMANUEL: Yes. I think a lot of people -- I don't know. I only know what I read. So I don't know the -- I know -- the one thing I do know is what you read is 10 percent usually of the ice above the water level. You don't know everything below. You know, but the end of the day, you know, the president makes the call. He can listen to all the advice, but there's only one guy that makes the call.
Had he started on infrastructure, one, it would have been good for the economy. Two, it would had been bipartisan. And three, he would have been focused on his core message, which was jobs.
The talk about health care vis-a-vis his base, I think, misread what his base wanted. I think it's actually a total misreading of the Republican base. He actually changed the Republican base and the Republicans in Congress aren't up to speed with what his base is. And that's a political analysis, but it's actually, if you look at the history --
ZAKARIA: And your point is his base is actually --
EMANUEL: More jobs focused, more America focused.
ZAKARIA: And working class anxious about health care, not really interested in the ideological debate about repealing Obamacare.
EMANUEL: Yes. Totally misreading, I think, what the base is. And therefore -- but he made that call. And I think there's still fundamentally a dire need and a desire, both a dire need and a desire, to build a 21st century transportation system for a 21st century economy.
You can see places that are succeeding, that are investing in the future, and you can see people that aren't investing and what's happening to their economy.
ZAKARIA: But it will cost money?
EMANUEL: Totally. I mean, you can't get -- it cost money to build it, it's going to cost money to build the future.
ZAKARIA: Back in a moment. Much more to discuss with Rahm Emanuel, including how he is making Chicago's infrastructure great again in America's third largest city.
[10:18:01] ZAKARIA: You would be forgiven if you've missed entirely the president's Infrastructure Week at the beginning of the month. After all, the week just happened to coincide with the most anticipated testimony since Watergate. Jim Comey's.
Trump announced that America deserves the best infrastructure in the world and said in his most Trumpian manner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's time to rebuild our country to bring back our jobs, to restore our dreams, and yes, it's time finally to put America first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: In calling attention to America's infrastructure problems, President Trump finds himself with some strange bedfellows like my guest, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
So what do you think of Trump's plan?
EMANUEL: Well, I don't know it. The one thing that came out of it is somewhat the privatization of the aviation system. I fundamentally believed you're not going to get from here to there, a 21st century transportation system for a 21st century economy without money.
I'm open to public and private. We've done some of that. But it doesn't replace public. I'm for an increase in the gas tax. It's real money for real problems that will solve real problems. 1994 was the last time we actually increases the country's gas tax and we did index it to inflation.
If you ask President Clinton, he would tell you that was a mistake. So a lesson when I became mayor, we raised the water rate over a four- year window and then indexed it to inflation. I don't want another mayor or city council to handle that politics. It's $4.9 billion over a 10-year window, 900 miles of water pipe, 670 miles of sewer pipe, two largest water filtration plants in the United States and pumping stations will be totally rebuilt. And then it's indexed so the work continues.
ZAKARIA: Rahm, you have found a way to make Chicago's infrastructure great again without much help from the federal government. Explain how.
EMANUEL: Some yes, some no. On the airports, basically when we're done with our new runway system, O'Hare will have added Midway's capacity. And we did that with federal help.
[10:20:05] ZAKARIA: Two new runways?
EMANUEL: Yes. Two new runways. But when the system is complete, we're the only city in the United States that basically built a third airport in the last decade because we're adding Midway's capacity to O'Hare. That's how you have to look at that.
ZAKARIA: And an express train line to the airport.
EMANUEL: We're now exploring that and will be actually working on our RFP exactly on that. Our mass transit system were -- half the track will be new by 2019. A third -- about 40 individual stations will be totally new. Every railcar by 2019 will be totally new or rebuilt. We have 4G, the first system completely, the first mass transit system with 4G on it. We've done that with local, state and federal resources.
ZAKARIA: How do you think --
EMANUEL: But the school modernization, we're doing that alone as a city.
ZAKARIA: And you point out, this is -- this means lots of jobs for people in Chicago.
EMANUEL: We did about 60 -- if you do it over a four-year window this next leg it's around 50,000 to 60,000 construction jobs, all building trade jobs in the first four years and it's also a similar kind of 52,000 jobs.
We are now last April was our lowest unemployment rate in April in the history of the city of Chicago. And I'll give you other data points. Five years in a row, number one city in corporate relocations in the United States of America. Five years in a row, the number one city for direct foreign investment in the United States of America.
And my most important as it relates to this. Every year for the last five years, the city of Chicago's economy grew faster than the United States, faster than New York and faster than D.C. That's (INAUDIBLE) economist. And I do believe our investments in our transportation system in capital has created a foundation for greater and faster economic growth than the country as a whole.
ZAKARIA: Rahm Emanuel, pleasure to have you on, as always.
EMANUEL: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, who can possibly tame Kim Jong-un and his North Korean regime? Is it Donald Trump or China or anybody? We'll tell you when we come back.
[10:26:26] ZAKARIA: On Monday, American student Otto Warmbier died just days after being released from 17 months of custody in North Korea. In response, President Trump tweeted, "The U.S. once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim." And then, "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried."
We'll try to get to the bottom of what Trump meant and whether there is anything he can do about this rogue regime.
Joining me now are Joseph Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, and Victor Cha who is Korea chair of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: Pleasure to be here.
VICTOR CHA, DIRECTOR OF ASIAN STUDIES, GEORGETOWN SCHOOL OF FOREIGN STUDIES: Pleasure to be with you.
ZAKARIA: Victor, a lot of people argue that, while we think that North Korea is under brutal sanctions, the most sanctioned regime in the world and therefore there isn't much more one can do about it, there are a number of people who say, when you look at it closely and you look at the actual enforcement of sanctions, we could turn the screws a lot more tightly on North Korea. Do you agree?
CHA: Yes. Fareed, I think that's right. When you compare the sanctions regime that was against -- that against North Korea, there really is no comparison. The sanctions against Iran were much more comprehensive.
In the case of North Korea, a very important player in a sanctions regime is going to be China because 85 percent of North Korea's external trade is with China. So we can do other things on the margins trying to impose sanctions for human rights violations and other sorts of things. But the key player really there is China. And China --
ZAKARIA: Do you think that Donald Trump was accurate in saying that the Chinese tried but weren't able to succeed? Because, you know, a lot of people feel the Chinese always promise they're going to crack down this time and at the end of the day they never really do. It's a tangled set of reasons. It's an old treaty ally. They worry about the consequences of destabilizing but they never push that hard.
CHA: Yes. Unfortunately I think that's right. China is the key player. But they will not put enough pressure on the regime for fear that it's going to collapse. China has said that they will impose a call ban on North Korea. They don't appear to be living up to that promise to stop coal imports from North Korea. Commercial satellite imagery of the North Korean country shows that there's infrastructure and construction projects taking place which don't look like what you would expect from a regime that is feeling the pinch of worldwide sanctions.
So China is not doing what it should be doing in terms of this. There are many reasons as you said as to why that's the case. And that is perhaps why President Trump tweeted what he did.
ZAKARIA: Joe, you have a kind of wholly different view of an alternate path to getting North Korea denuclearized. Why don't you lay it out?
CIRINCIONE: Sure. You can get China to do more and they can do more, and you can put more sanctions on North Korea and we should do that. But sanctions alone are never going to solve your problem. No country in history has ever been coerced into compliance or collapse over a nuclear weapons-related sanctions regime. But lots of countries have been convinced to give up their nuclear weapons. And this is the missing element. The Chinese are willing to do more but they want to know what is the United States going to do. Are you willing to enter into talks with North Korea, for example?
There are four countries that are key to solving this problem -- obviously the United States and North Korea, but also South Korea and China. Right now, you have the Chinese, the South Koreans and even the North Koreans singing notes from the same song. They are willing to talk about a freeze on North Korean capabilities, not the elimination. What do the North Koreans want? They want security assurances from the United States. They want that manifested in a freeze on U.S. and South Korean joint military exercises on their border. The question is, is the U.S. willing to do that?
ZAKARIA: Victor, I'm going to -- I'm going to assume you're going to say we tried that in 2005; they made a kind of offer during the Clinton years and it didn't work?
CHA: Yeah, they -- the North Koreans have been given, on numerous occasions, security assurances, even negative security assurance in the six-party talks, which the United States said on paper that we will not attack North Korea with nuclear or conventional weapons.
You know, I'm all in favor of a freeze as well. I do believe that the North Koreans, the Chinese and the South Koreans are moving towards a position where the United States needs to stop our military exercises with the South Koreans in return for a freeze. I don't think that that's a particularly good deal. Those exercises are purely defensive. And readiness -- if there's ever a need for readiness anywhere in the world, it's going to be on the Korean peninsula, given all of North Korean provocations.
You know, maybe there are other ways to get to a freeze. But to give up military exercises for that would be giving a lot more on the part of the United States than we've given in the past for a lot less than what we've gotten in the past. And I don't think that's a good negotiation.
ZAKARIA: Joe, what do you say to those who say, "We've tried this in the Clinton years; Bush made an offer; the North Koreans never quite agree or comply"?
CIRINCIONE: Well, Victor is absolutely right. There are very sound reasons why we do those joint exercises. And this would be painful for us to give it up. That's right. But if you're not going to give that up, then what are you going to give up? And this is -- really, the core of the problem right now isn't actually North Korean intransigence. They're willing to talk. It's the fact that we don't have a North Korea policy. We tried to outsource it to China, thinking that they were going to solve it for us. That was always a pipe dream.
So what is our policy? It is incoherent right now. The South Koreans don't know and the Chinese don't know; the Japanese don't know. The administration is running on fumes, and partially it's because they haven't brought the people in who could do the job. They haven't appointed people in the State Department who know what they're doing, who can do this.
Look, there's one person on the show right now who would be an excellent assistant secretary of state to help solve this problem. And it ain't me.
ZAKARIA: Well, on that note of recommendation, which we hope President Trump is listening to, we're going to have to end this now.
Victor Cha, Joe, pleasure to have you on.
CIRINCIONE: Thank you Fareed.
CHA: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," there are many things to fear in today's world. One of the scariest is small, smaller than the eye can see. What you need to know about germs, and why it's scary, when we get back.
ZAKARIA: Now, for our "What in the World" segment.
You hear a lot about the enormous threats coming from terrorism, global warming and Vladimir Putin. But one of the biggest threats facing the United States isn't big at all. Actually, it's tiny, microscopic, thousands of times smaller than the head of a pin. Deadly pathogens, either man-made or natural, could trigger a global health crisis, and the United States is wholly unprepared to deal with it.
Bill Gates recently weighed in on the problem, saying "of all the things that could kill more than 10 million people around the world, the most likely is an epidemic stemming from either natural causes or bioterrorism."
And the World Bank estimates that a worldwide flu pandemic could result in a global economic loss of $3 trillion, which makes President Trump's latest budget proposal, released last month, all the more stunning. He is asking for draconian spending cuts to the very government institutions that are tasked with protecting Americans from deadly diseases and bioterrorism.
The budget is called "A New Foundation for American Greatness," and it's anything but. Here are just a few examples of proposed cuts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's budget would go from $7.7 billion to $6.4 billion, a 17 percent cut. And the National Institutes of Health would go from a budget of $31.8 billion to $26 billion, an 18 percent cut.
There are other examples, too, like the obscure National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, which is within the CDC, and whose stated goal is to "protect against the unintentional or intentional spread of infectious diseases like Ebola, smallpox, anthrax, rabies and plague. They'll see that budget go down from $579 million to $514 million, a cut of 11 percent.
As you can imagine, many in the scientific community have been outraged. Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the former head of the CDC, tweeted that the proposed budget was "unsafe at any level of enactment." And even Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said "Cutting the Centers for Disease Control leaves the American people very vulnerable."
The administration seems to have developed amnesia about the global health emergencies of the recent past. For example, between late 2013 and January 2016, more than 11,000 people died from the wildly contagious Ebola virus which ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, with some victims seen as far away as Nigeria, Spain and the United States.
And then there's the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which the Department of Defense estimates has infected at least 178,000 individuals in the Western Hemisphere since 2015. Zika has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, and the World Health Organization has said that Zika remains a "significant enduring public health challenge requiring intense action."
But one only needs to look back 100 years to 1918, when the Spanish flu pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people around the globe. In many ways, we're even more vulnerable today. Densely packed cities, wars, natural disasters and international air travel mean a deadly virus propagated in a small village in Africa can be transmitted almost anywhere in the world, including the United States, within 24 hours. And I haven't even touched upon the potential for bioterrorism.
According to Daniel Gerstein of RAND, "biological weapons are now within the reach of many rogue nations and possibly some terrorist groups" -- which is to say that a budget based on "America first" is shortsighted and won't help the U.S. stave off the threat from deadly pathogens. Biosecurity and global pandemics cut across all national boundaries. Pathogens, viruses and diseases are equal-opportunity killers. When the crisis comes, we will wish we had more funding and more global cooperation. But then, it will be too late.
Up next, is the conservatism of Ronald Reagan dead and gone forever?
David Brooks weighs in on the future of the right in the wake of Donald Trump.
ZAKARIA: Ronald Reagan: In the minds of many on the right, he will forever be the king of conservatism, his presidency the high point of that movement.
So what does Donald Trump's presidency represent? Where does conservatism go from here? Where does the Republican Party go from here?
Early in the week, I had the opportunity to talk to a man who thinks a lot about these issues, the New York Times columnist David Brooks.
ZAKARIA: David Brooks, pleasure to have you on.
BROOKS: Good to be with you. ZAKARIA: When you look at Trump and the way he's been governing, the
things he's passed, it's, kind of, a hodgepodge of some things that seem hardcore Republican economic agenda, the repeal of Obamacare. Some of it is the trade protectionism he's always promised. Is there a new conservatism developing?
BROOKS: No, I don't think so, not -- not in this administration. I think we saw glimmers of it in the campaign. And what Trump understood but a lot of us didn't understand, what debate we were having, we grew up in the debate of big government versus small government, whether you wanted to use government to enhance equality, as Democrats did, or reduce government to enhance freedom, as Republicans did. But in the campaign, Trump said "That's not our debate." As many people, including you, have said, it's open-closed. It's between those who feel the headwinds of globalization blasting in their faces and they want closed borders, closed trade, security, and those who feel it's pushing at their backs, and they want open trade, open opportunity and open social mores.
And he identified that we're having a new debate now. And what's central to his administration is he hasn't delivered on that.
And that's because there are not a lot of Trumpians in the world of policy. And so he hasn't exactly helped the people who got him into office. He's staffed his administration, to the extent it is staffed, with people who basically believed in the Reagan bargain of 1984, which is, you know, cut tax rates, reduce government regulation. And so I think he opened the door for a new kind of conservatism but has not fulfilled it. That's for somebody in the future.
ZAKARIA: So where do Republicans go?
When you look at Republican congressmen, politicians, have they looked at that campaign and said, "We need to become more populist conservatives"? Is that where the party is heading?
BROOKS: Yeah, there was a book that was really useful to read, a short book called "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn. And he said what happens in science -- but it's also true in politics -- is you get a paradigm; you get a way of looking at the world, Reaganism. That was a paradigm. It works for a little while and then slowly it detaches from reality and it's hollow, but nobody knows it. Somebody comes along, punctures it and it collapses.
And that's what Trump did to Reaganism. But then you get this period of chaos, where people really haven't released the old paradigm but they haven't -- don't know what the new one is. And then you get a period of competition of paradigms.
And so, in the Republican Party, you're going to get a libertarian paradigm; you're going to get a paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan paradigm. You're going to get a whole bunch of different ones and they will fight it out.
And if I had to bet, I would like an Alexander Hamilton, open trade, lot of immigration, lot of economic dynamism. But frankly, when I look at the polls, there are not a lot of people who want what I want. The Steve Bannons of the world -- that's where a lot of the people are. If you -- they're older; they're economically disadvantaged, and they want a national conservatism that will protect them.
ZAKARIA: And if that is what they want, the party, you think, will -- will fold. Because, to me, what's been really interesting to watch is conservative intellectuals have, by and large, particularly the more prominent ones like you, have stuck true to their ideas and ideals and, you know, been very critical of Trump. I think somebody like George Will essentially got fired from Fox for that reason.
BROOKS: Yeah, right.
ZAKARIA: But the Republican politicians have not. They have all caved and, in some way or the other, have accommodated themselves to Trump?
BROOKS: Yeah. And either those of us in the intellectual class are high-bound and rigid and we're stuck with our ideas and we're not reflecting reality, or the politicians are craven and they just don't want to lose their jobs, so they'll go wherever the people are. And that's basically where they are.
I think one of the things we've learned and Trump has demonstrated is that parties are not that ideological. Trump ran against a lot of Republican positions and Republicans signed on.
What parties are these days are cultural signifiers, social identity markers and just teams. And people think, "What team has people like me on it? What fits my social identity?"
A lot of people looked around; a lot of suburban women in Missouri looked around and said "Sarah Palin, she's, kind of, like me." And whether Sarah Palin believed in high tax rates or low tax rates or health insurance markets or some other health care policy, that's not what they were thinking about. They were thinking about, "Who's like me?"
And for a lot of people in the Republican Party, which is older, whiter and less educated at the core, Trump was like that.
ZAKARIA: Does that tell you that they will be loyal to him to the end, if there -- if these investigations go -- go badly for the president?
BROOKS: Yeah, pretty much. One of the things I think we've learned in spades over the last 20 years is that we in the political class get super-excited about scandal, and we think, "Oh, it's about to tear that person down." But, time and time again, when you actually go out to districts where people are voting, it's, sort of, just a noise in the background, and they're voting the things that they care about, their economics, the health care, their education, or they like the person.
And so, in my conversations with Trump voters, the scandals just don't come up. They think -- always, kind of, a buffoon or whatever, but at least he's still basically trying to say the right things. And so I don't think it will have any difference (ph).
ZAKARIA: And is part of Trump's support that that -- you know, that core 35 percent or so of the country strengthened every time the media criticizes him?
ZAKARIA: Because the last thing they want to do is to give you the satisfaction...
ZAKARIA: ... of having been right about Donald Trump?
BROOKS: Correct. Yeah, one of the things we learned about the class structure in this country is that people in the lower middle class or people in the working class or people who voted for Trump don't mind billionaires; they do not mind rich people. What they mind are bossy professionals, teachers, lawyers, journalists who seem to want to tell them what to do or seem to want to tell them how to act.
And if you had to pick the classic epitome of that person who most offends them, that would be Hillary Clinton. And so she was exactly the wrong person.
And so I find them remarkably stable in their support. There's been some seepage around the edge for Donald Trump, but so far it's just seepage.
ZAKARIA: David Brooks, pleasure to have you on.
BROOKS: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," Henderson Island is right in the middle of the South Pacific. By all rights, it should be a paradise. Instead, it's a dump, literally. Find out why when we come back.
ZAKARIA: For the nearly 70 years since Chinese nationalists barricaded themselves from Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution, China has considered Taiwan its own territory. It does not have diplomatic ties to any country that recognizes Taiwan's independence.
And it brings me to my question. Which country cut ties to Taiwan last week to establish diplomatic relations with China: Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua or Honduras? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is Ed Luce's "The Retreat of Western Liberalism." This is a sobering analysis that suggests that the open democratic order that has sustained the Western world is crumbling.
The reasons are many, from soaring inequality to slowing growth to rising mercantilist powers like China and India. Luce is intelligent throughout and his tone is urgent, appropriately so.
And now for the last look. Henderson Island is a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific, about 3,500 miles west of Chile. Sounds like it should be a beachside paradise, right?
Well, take a look at these photographs showing what this secluded spot actually looks like. Despite its isolation from humans, currents have swept in an incredible amount of garbage onto the island. In a new study, alarmed scientists who traveled to Henderson say they found the densest plastic pollution ever recorded on earth. They estimate the island is covered with roughly 38 million pieces of plastic from around the globe, and more than 3,500 pieces of debris are thought to be deposited on the island's north beach every day.
According to Plastic Oceans Foundation, humans use 300 million tons of new plastic annually, half of which is for single use. A World Economic Forum study points out the equivalent of one garbage truck full of plastic is dumped into the seas every minute. By 2050, they say, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This, of course, affects beaches and marine wildlife, but the toxic plastic, often eroded into small pieces, also enters the food chain when fish that end up on our plates consume it.
So if you want to one day find yourself a beachside paradise, please make sure that today you are reusing and recycling. As one of the report's authors told us, we as individuals can do a lot, and we need to, fast.
The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is A. One year after the president of Panama hosted Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, for the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, the Panamanian government ditched Taipei to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing.
China's commercial might and its increasing clout on the world stage has made it more and more difficult for Taiwan's allies to stand by Taipei. As the New York Times tellingly pointed out, even though Taiwan's president attended the revamped Panama Canal's opening ceremony last year, the first vessel to pass through it was actually Chinese.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.