Return to Transcripts main page

Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with Madieleine Albright; Interview with Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 15, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:16] 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 coming to you live from New York.


ZAKARIA: On today's show, Trump strikes back. The president punishes Syria for an alleged chemical attack on its own people.

Did the strike send a strong enough message to Assad? What are its consequences? I'll have a great panel to discuss.

Also former secretary of state Madeleine Albright raises the alarm about fascism, saying it is on the rise around the world and she even worries about America.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He is a president that has un-democratic instincts that trouble me a lot.

ZAKARIA: Also, are we watching the end of human rights? That is the worry of no less an authority than the U.N.'s human rights chief. He is now quitting his job and naming the worst offenders. An interview you would not want to miss.

But first here's my take. In April 2017, Donald Trump ordered a missile strike against the Assad regime in Syria for its use of chemical weapons. I supported the action then because I thought it was worth punishing the regime for using these dreadful weapons. I was heartened to see that President Trump who had campaigned on the narrowest possible conception of America's interest in the world was acknowledging some broader global values. And finally I was reassured that Trump was willing to act forcefully against Vladimir Putin, with whom he had until then conducted a strange and star-truck flirtation.

For all these reasons, I support President Trump's use of American military power this week, especially since this time it was done in collaboration with Britain and France. We're living at a time when many global institutions and values that were built up over decades are eroding or under threat. To have some action taken to even symbolically enforce the norm against using chemical weapons is worthwhile.

But it does not change the reality about which I spoke at the time that the administration still does not have a Syria strategy. In fact you can see the incoherence in its approach by the fact that days before deciding on a military intervention in Syria, Trump announced that American troops were going to withdraw from Syria all together.

Trump's vacillation is simply a heightened version of the dilemma that the United States has faced from the start of Syrian civil war. It has wanted to cheer on the forces of democracy, it has been dismayed by Assad's brutality. It has recognized the dangers of lawless areas in which Islamist radicals like ISIS can emerge. But it has never found a viable, moderate partner on the ground in Syria that was large enough or effective enough to have even a chance of becoming dominant militarily or politically.

So under President Obama, the policy became a wish more than a strategy, announced that Assad must leave, but refrained from trying to actually make that happen with the massive and prolonged American commitment it would entail. Fight ISIS but limit American involvement to that specific goal and take actions to deter the use of chemical weapons.

In Obama's case, this involved working with the Russians to confiscate Assad's stockpiles. In Trump's case it has been two limited strikes. But the overall approach is remarkably similar. Trump, like Obama, is wary of American involvement and yet can't completely stay away, so he has come up with a few discreet ways to use American power without actually getting much involved in the Syrian conflict.

It is perhaps a sign of America's few options that on Syria, despite his protestations and his constant digs at his predecessor, Donald Trump has morphed into Barack Obama. And let's get started.

We will get reaction to the Syrian strike from many different corners today. Let's start by going live to northern Syria where CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us.

Nick, what do you make of the extremely limited nature of these strikes? Almost surgical, as far as we know no casualties.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is clearly designed to send a message about chemical weapons with a key focus here. Now as you said, only reports that possibly three individuals were injured by a missile that had been intercepted. And we heard today from Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in a meeting with Russian lawmakers that he claimed it was in fact Soviet era legacy air defense missile system that took out these precision cruise missiles that were laser guided.

[10:05:10] Now obviously that's a bit of an ask really to believe that. Also too is the notion from the Russians that a similarly aged Syrian defense system took out 2/3 of them. The Pentagon who provide before and after satellite pictures commercially verifiable of where they hit and what it looked like afterwards, say that actually everything hit their target before anti-aircraft systems even got into play.

All the same, this was a limited strike. But it carried one important message that all the bravado of Russia being a resurging power in the region, of Syria getting its own way, this still occurs with very little if not no Russian push back. They were warned in advance they weren't the target and they may have been told of deconfliction lines, but something was coming, so they didn't choose to step up to the plate here and try to intercept it, maybe they were technically unable or maybe they simply didn't the fight. And that sends a key message really after all the noise about Moscow and Tehran being on the driving seat here. If the U.S. chooses to strike, it can, that's possibly good. For a perfection of U.S. power but also negative, too, because Iran and Russia may feel they belong to that idea at some point, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Nick, given what you know of the balance of forces, had the United States done something more significant? Could it have altered the balance of power against Assad?

WALSH: Probably not, frankly. I mean, you know, if you launched an adequately comprehensive strike against the Syrian forces you'd probably end up hitting the Russians as well. They certainly didn't want that to happen so I think it's much of a hypothetical frankly. Plus as you mentioned as yourself that there's no one to take the place, frankly. The world I think would be aghast if they saw the Syrian regime collapsed overnight because the chaos, the vacuum could potentially be significantly worse.

Even in the awful situation we have here now. But I'm sure that after the last 10 days of intense diplomacy, Moscow and Tehran are not happy with Damascus at all. You know, they were getting their way on the ground despite the unrelenting ghastly months of horror that they inflicted upon Ghouta to kick out the pocket of rebels there near Damascus. The world really just did not care. It sent aid and sent rhetoric in response.

The use of chemical weapons, however, suddenly makes everyone sit up straight. And you have to imagine that sure this military response and the cohesive rhetoric from three separate powers who often can't see on the same page on anything, particularly with the Trump White House now in play, but possibly Damascus are getting a bit of heat from their allies about if it was indeed just Damascus's idea choosing to deploy these chemical weapons.

It really put a spotlight on something they were frankly getting away with, with very little international pushback -- Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Nick Paton Walsh, terrific reporting. Thank you.

Let's bring in David Miliband and Anne-Marie Slaughter. David Miliband was the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, he is now the president of CEO of the International Rescue Committee. Anne- Marie Slaughter was director of policy planning in Hillary Clinton's State Department. She is now the president and CEO of the think tank New America.

All right. David, you said to me before the program began, this is kabuki bombing. It doesn't -- to you it doesn't seem to go far enough. DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER UK FOREIGN SECRETARY: Well, I think that the

horns of the dilemma that you described in your opening take are very, very clear, they go right back to the beginning of the Syrian war, when the ends that the West -- the removal of Assad were not matched by clear means and the whole epicenter of the whole debate has been what are we talking about transition to? Because everyone can say that Assad is bad, but there's never been this sufficient clarity about what the transition would be to.

My take is that the West is not doing the easy thing. It's not giving support and sufficient quantities to the neighbors like Jordan and Lebanon. It's not taking in refugees to our own countries which we can come to, and then the hard work of diplomacy, which involves putting pressure and applying pain to some of the supporters of President Assad to try and drive some kind of political settlement is not being opened up in a coherent way either.

And so the fundamental issue we have today is that bombing is not a strategy, whether or not you think it's justified.

ZAKARIA: Anne-Marie, do you think -- is there something realistically one could do beyond bombing?

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NEW AMERICA: Yes, and if we were really serious about bombing to stop the government from inflicting horrific atrocities on its own people, we would have been bombing airstrips when they use barrel bombs. But that -- that's not something we're going to do and you have to see this as drawing a line against chemical weapons. I think there's a good reason for that, chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons are uniquely horrific and they're weapons of mass destruction. But it's an event, it's not a strategy. There is -- I do not think that the Trump administration has a strategy, other than --

ZAKARIA: Any more than the Obama administration had one, I would say. Would you agree?

SLAUGHTER: It's funny, I --


ZAKARIA: Having --

[10:10:01] SLAUGHTER: In previous debates, I would have said you said they had a strategy and I didn't think so. I mean, they were at least trying to arm a particular group and they were pushing diplomacy.

The Trump administration doesn't even have a diplomatic strategy. I mean, Macron in France says, all right, we're going to bomb to stock chemical weapons and we're going to return to diplomacy and we're going to also do the right things around refugees and humanitarian aid. Trump just says, on the one hand I want to wash my hands of it, and then on the other hand, this is a bad thing.

ZAKARIA: David Miliband, talk for a minute about the refugee issue because it is striking to me at this point that on his, you know, very important issue, the world's leader is now Germany. Not the United States.

MILIBAND: Yes, Germany has learned from its own history and has established leadership both on the international aid front and the refugee welcome front. I mean it is chilling that more Syrians were killed in the chemical weapons attacks last weekend than have been admitted to the United States in the whole of this fiscal year, 44 Syrians have been allowed in the United States since 1st October 2017.

The president is decimating the refugee resettlement program. That has been a real source of -- a real beacon of American leadership over the last 30 or 40 years. Ronald Reagan welcomed more refugees than any other American president. And we're now down to a situation where the 45,000 refugees that the president pledged would be allowed to come into the U.S. is not going to be delivered. He's going to deliver 21,000 refugees into this country, compared to the 90,000 last year.

We're talking about the slow and silent strangulation of the American refugee resettlement program, and that sends a terrible message, not just to the individual refugees concerned. But if you are the king of Jordan, with your country at what he calls breaking point, and your population know that America has not just got you on strangulation rations when it comes to aid, but they've also got you in a situation where they're not welcoming refugees themselves, it's a real political problem as well as a moral one.

ZAKARIA: And their quiet success here -- we have to take a break, but the quiet success of Germany is extraordinary. They took a million people without any vetting basically and really remarkably --


ZAKARIA: But there's been no great, you know, disaster, no predicting terrorist attacks. I mean --


SLAUGHTER: They've got some political push back --

ZAKARIA: There's been a lot of political push back, but given how many scare scenarios people had about these million people coming in rapidly, it's -- you know, this is the dog that didn't bark, as it were.

When we come back, we will talk about something very interesting to me. Why has there been so much hostility to this attack from the left, not only in the United States but also in Europe? We have two bona fide left wingers who will explain.


[10:17:00] ZAKARIA: And we are back with David Miliband and Anne- Marie Slaughter.

Anne-Marie, I wanted to ask you about this, the reaction to this strike. So what's interesting is, there are a few people, the usual suspects, you know, Lindsey Graham saying we should do more, this should be much bigger strategy to depose Assad, mostly the response, the most spirited response has come from the left and it's been saying why are we cheering on American military intervention? Why are we bombing another country?

And as I said, both of you are really legitimate, bona fide liberals. I have known you both a long time. And there is an enormous amount -- if you look at my Twitter feed, enormous amount of personal invective about both of you because you have tended to be somewhat interventionist on humanitarian issues. What's going on, do you think?

SLAUGHTER: So I think there are a number of different strands coming together. One is very much the part of the American left for a long time that is opposed to the use of American military force, that thinks the use of American military force does more harm than good in the world. I recognize it's done a lot of harm, but I -- my grandfather fought in World War II for Belgium, with Britain, I still think in the end we can also do good.

But there is just that visceral response that bombs won't do anything even to stop the use of chemical weapons. Alongside that, I see veterans who have come back who say, at least in my Twitter feed, fine, you go fight that war. You know, you're sitting in your comfortable world sending others to do your fighting and I think that plays into a kind of anti-elite pro-Trump argument or on the left a more populist argument.

And then there's the kind of, why are you so concerned about people abroad and not people at home? I would say actually it's a garment of mutuality, right? You can't in fact say we're turn our backs on the people of Syria and just take care of our own, the world doesn't work that way.

ZAKARIA: You know, I noticed, David, that the leader of your party in England if one can describe, like Jeremy Corbyn, said exactly what Anne-Marie just said, bombs won't bring peace or stability, and of course, you know, one can think of examples when bombs have brought some degree -- I mean it took military force to defeat Hitler, it took military force to deter the Soviet Union.

But there is this deep suspicion, it seems to me, on the -- in the new Labour Party and in the modern left of any use of Western military power.

MILIBAND: Well, I wouldn't get into the Second World War question, I wouldn't want to tar people on the left who are somewhat questioning our engagement in that war. But I think that more recently, there are two things going on. One, let's not underestimate the deep and shocking impact of the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, we -- all of us need to learn the lessons, the danger is that we have become imprisoned by the Iraq and Afghanistan experience.

The second thing of course is that I'm the first to say as well, bombing on its own is not a strategy.


[10:20:03] MILIBAND: The gaping hole has been the lack of a coherent political strategy. The development policy or diplomacy or even military effort without that political goal of a political settlement, all the currency about what a political settlement means, is not going to work. And I think it's really important that military force is always a last resort. It can't become a first resort. Secondly that it's allied to a political strategy and further --

ZAKARIA: Do you think that the left in Britain today has -- do you think the Labour Party has moved left from the Blair --

MILIBAND: There's no question that the war in Kosovo, people gulped but they thought that it was worthwhile. And they saw its impact in Sierra Leon also. Iraq and Afghanistan have cast a very, very long shadow. They've given pause to all of us who think that in some circumstances military power is used, and for those who believe it's always going to go wrong, it's obviously given them an easy stick to take forward.

I run a humanitarian organization. I'm very careful to have in my mind a thousand IRC staff working inside Syria today. I'm fearful about Idlib, I'm fearful about Daraa where millions of people remain and could be attacked by the Assad regime. And I focus on the fact that any strategy that claims to have an answer without that political settlement is doom to fail.

ZAKARIA: Do you think, Anne-Marie, finally, that this also represents something new on the right? You know, that what is happening politically? Is the left becoming isolationist? Is the right -- but the right doesn't seem to be cheering this particularly, I mean they seem to support it kind of because it's Trump but --

SLAUGHTER: Indeed. Alex Jones was weeping yesterday on TV. No. I think it's very similar to the politics of trade. The far right and the far left actually agree that we should be focusing only on the United States. That's more on the right. That force doesn't work, that's more on the left, but they're equally opposed, I think.

ZAKARIA: And so the sort of -- the thoughtful center one might say might think this is a good idea, but that is precisely the part of the political spectrum that has lost a certain amount of credibility with the -- the spirited parts on the right and left.

SLAUGHTER: That, and I think the belief that one can have an international order and one can in fact make progress against the unspeakable atrocities that people are capable of inflicting on each other. The 20th century was a narrative of the slow advance of human rights, but a real human rights movement that does have successes and a continued belief that it is possible to make a better world.

Again, force is never a strategy on its own. I completely agree with David, but that force and diplomacy and standing up for individual rights around the world can lead to a better world. I don't want to give up on that hope.

ZAKARIA: You have 30 seconds to tell me, do you have any hope that the situation in Syria is improving?

MILIBAND: No, the situation is getting worse in Syria. 2.5 million people now in Idlib. Hundreds of thousands in the southwestern Daraa. We've got to move on this front. The civilians -- protect the civilians inside the country. Macron is on that agenda. Make sure the Turks don't throw all their lot in with the Russians and the Iranians. We've got to get stuff on that. And thirdly, bring the U.N. system back into running the political process because at the moment it's frozen out.

ZAKARIA: All right. We will hope that people are taking notes on those very important points.

We will be back with Madeleine Albright on fascism.


[10:27:33] ZAKARIA: Last week the "New York Times" published a most heart provoking opinion piece about fascism. Here's how it started. On April 28th, 1945, 73 years ago Italians hand the corpse of their former dictator Benito Mussolini upside down next to a gas station in Milan. Two days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker beneath the streets of war-ravaged Berlin.

Fascism it appeared was dead. The writer went on to make the case that this much revived political philosophy is indeed not dead and is rearing its ugly head again. The argument was striking as was the person who penned it and I've asked her to tell us what she's seeing.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Madeleine Albright was America's first female secretary of state. She's the author of a new book titled, simply, "Fascism: A Warning."

Welcome back, Madame Secretary.

ALBRIGHT: Good to be with you. Thank you so much.

ZAKARIA: So a lot of people would listen to that and say, look, I kind of get it but you're going too far. Whatever Trump may be fascism -- you're going too far with that an analogy.

ALBRIGHT: I'm not calling him a fascist. I'm saying that he is a president that has un-democratic instincts that trouble me a lot, in terms of somebody who derives the importance of the press, who calls you all the enemy of the people, who thinks he's above the law, who is in fact exacerbating the differences that exist in our society, and is somebody that plays the crowds in a way that I find dangerous in terms of propaganda, and has created a situation where there's identification with one group of people, while there's no recognition of the individual rights of the others.

And so that's the kind of thing. And I went -- the book actually is historical in terms of not just looking at Mussolini and Hitler. But what are the issues? Where has fascism kind of poked his head up again? And what is going on? And it's really is a warning.

And Fareed, you know that saying, see something, say something, I'm now saying do something. And that's what the book is about.

ZAKARIA: And you point out in the historical sections that one of the important things people forget is how incremental the rise of fascism was. It didn't just all of a sudden happen, that there was -- there was a step here, a step there, an erosion of liberty here, an erosion of liberty there. They've now weaken the democracies.

ALBRIGHT: That's exactly what it is. And I do think that one of the incredible quotes is something that Mussolini said. "You pluck the chicken one feather at a time and people don't really notice." And so that's what concerns me, because it's not some overt overthrow.

By the way, what I also found interesting in doing the research, that Mussolini and Hitler and what is going on now in parts of Europe and Hungary and Poland and Turkey, what is happening in the Philippines and Venezuela -- these are people that were either elected or got their power constitutionally. It's the Communists that actually had revolutions. But the part that really got to me was the fact that it undermined the democratic institutions and yet in fact, in some ways, they came in democratically.

ZAKARIA: Wouldn't you say, when you look at those comparisons, it's been heartening, in the American case, to see the pushback? The courts have pushed back. The press continues to push back, I would argue. Independent agencies like the FBI, even the Department of Justice push back.

ALBRIGHT: Very important, and one of the things that I do talk about is the resiliency of democracy. I believe in it fully. But it does require the active participation of the people. So on my to-do list is basically to make sure that more people run for office, that they speak out and then that there is this push for the press to be able to operate and a recognition that our leaders can't be above the law. So I do think that is what's important and I do believe in the resiliency of democracy, thank goodness.

ZAKARIA: For you fascism is very personal. You were actually in Europe when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I was born in 1937. My father was a Czechoslovak diplomat. When the Nazis marched into Prague in March 1939, he managed to escape with my mother and me to England and we were fortunate to be able to spend the war in England, mostly in air raid shelters.

And -- and, you know, that's -- when the Americans came, it really changed everything. That's when I fell in love with Americans in uniform.

I also found out later that my -- 26 members of my family had died in the Holocaust. And so I can see what the effects of fascism, really what happens.

And another part that does happen, and it happens -- it's happening in various places now -- you always have to find a scapegoat; "It's somebody else's fault that -- whatever is happening." And so obviously Hitler chose the Jews. But what is happening now, Orban, who just won another election in Hungary, is blaming the migrants, that it's all their fault. And so I have to say that when, here, in the United States, there is this sense that we don't want immigrants -- I think you and I have a lot of things in common, but one is that we come from somewhere else. And I do think, to see immigrants as a threat and undermining, what is so great about our country is diversity. But if you're looking for a scapegoat, it will be somebody that comes from a different place. And that's what's so worrisome.

ZAKARIA: You say in the book, at one point -- I think it's in the conclusion, you say, "There's some people who might read this book and say it's alarmist. You're right, it is alarmist."

ALBRIGHT: Well, it is a warning. And I figure the following thing. I am in my 80s and I do, have seen an awful lot. And, frankly -- and you've known me a long time -- it took me a long time to find my voice. I didn't have a high-level job until I was 55 years old. And I'm not going to shut up, frankly, because I have learned a lot and I do think it's important for those that have seen these kinds of things to put out a warning and to then decide what we're going to do to make sure that America can have that leadership role and that we believe in the rights of others. And we can't be for torture and for deciding that we don't care what goes on in other countries and that for America to be great that we have to shut our borders and treat those that come here with disdain or see -- think that they're terrorists or rapists. I think it's outrageous.

And so I do think -- I'm very glad that I have been able to put this book together historically. I think that's the part to show that this isn't new and that we can't keep plucking the chicken one feather at a time because it will be very evident that we're going in the wrong direction.

ZAKARIA: Madeleine Albright, I, for one, at least, hope that you continue to speak out for many, many years.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you so much for having me on the show, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure, pleasure.

Next on "GPS," the U.N. Human Rights chief is stepping down. Why? Because it seems so few of the world's most powerful nations care about human rights anymore. He will tell us the story when we come back.


ZAKARIA: A warning to our viewers: you are about to see some graphic images. This week the world finally paid attention again to human rights in Syria, but only after ghastly images spread swiftly around the world, videos of sick children, some seemingly dying, others desperately gasping for air.

But global opinion is one thing, great-power politics another. Less than a month ago, the U.N. Security Council was supposed to hear a report on the human rights situation in Syria. The person who was to brief the council was Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the U.N.'s high commissioner on human rights. I asked him to explain what happened at that March 19th U.N. Security Council meeting and why it is symbolic of the reason he is quitting his important job.


AL HUSSEIN: Fareed, I was invited to brief the Security Council on Syria. And there was a procedural motion introduced by Russia. I needed nine votes of the 15 members of the Security Council to provide the briefing. And I only secured eight votes, so...

ZAKARIA: So they wouldn't even hear...

AL HUSSEIN: They wouldn't hear me speak about human rights violations in Syria.

I mean, it's almost an absurdity. What else would you talk about in the Security Council if it were not for the severe violations?

And it was clear to me that, were I to signal my intention to continue, the procedure in the U.N. is that the permanent five of the Security Council, so Russia, China, U.S., France and the U.K., would -- and this is tradition -- would have to agree. And it was just inconceivable that they would agree unless I compromised.

And the office I lead is outspoken. We do also conduct quiet diplomacy and we do technical support, but we have made our mark as an outspoken office. And in this current environment, you could only be that. And if I were to continue, it would have involved compromise and I was not willing to do that.

ZAKARIA: You also point out that France has not -- has itself been willing to use its veto and use its power to sometimes act against human rights?

AL HUSSEIN: Well, I mean, the problems we've had most recently is with these horrific terrorist attacks and these movements that have spread across the world. It's impelled the governments to react. But so heavy-handed have the reactions been that it's quite obvious to us that, in some cases, as Nietzsche once said, "When fighting the monster, be careful not to become one yourself," that governments themselves have been violating the rights of their peoples in defense of them. And it's a very absurd sort of position to take. And so you see massive denials of, you know, the right to privacy, the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and all on the back of a narrative of fighting terrorism.

In the end, terrorists can create great harm, but it's only governments that would break this world, as we all, you know, know all too well.

ZAKARIA: And here there's been a tendency to believe that, with all these things, the trends were moving in the right direction, yes, there were bad things happening in China; there were bad things happening in Russia, but the trend line was in the right direction. But then I look at a place like China, or Turkey, which you have again been outspoken on, and it seems as though, in Turkey, certainly, things are going very much in the wrong direction?

AL HUSSEIN: Yes, it's hard to defend a position when the arrests have been so large-scale. And the mantra of accusing everyone of being affiliated to a terrorist movement or a terrorist group, being applied to clearly liberal, let's say, media outlets, and when, at the time, half the journalists imprisoned around the world were in Turkey, it's -- it's hard to explain it, other than a growing repression, a growing movement to repress and stifle freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and the like.

So we see this growing authoritarianism, and with it, the world will become increasingly unstable, because, with it, you also have a repudiation and a rejection of the very laws that have been constructed to keep this globe somewhat stable and safe.


ZAKARIA: Up next, is America, the country that set up the current international human rights system, now abandoning its legacy? Yes, says U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. Indeed, he says, the U.S. record on human rights is only getting worse.


ZAKARIA: Back now with more of my interview with the soon-to-be former U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. He says that, less than a month ago, the U.N. Security Council refused to even let him give the council a briefing on human rights problems in Syria. It is just one example, he says, of how the world is turning its back on human rights, which has led him to leave his important position.


ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about another important country, perhaps the most important country. You said that you feared that the United States, for the first time since 1946, from, you know, the founding of the United Nations and this whole system, that the United States was now backing away from the promotion of human rights internationally?

AL HUSSEIN: Yeah, again, looking at this vote in the Security Council, I think years ago it would have been unimaginable that we couldn't brief on Syria.

ZAKARIA: But you think that, in the past, the U.S. would have very forcefully insisted...

AL HUSSEIN: I think so.

ZAKARIA: ... that the U.N. Human Rights...

AL HUSSEIN: I think so. I think so. I served on the U.N. Security Council a few years ago and I think that would have been the case. But in overall terms, you know, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, there is no U.S. ambassador that's been appointed, which is rather, sort of, stark, and you sense the absence. And the feeling is that, yes, there's certain issues which either the

president has spoken about, whether we go back to the executive orders of his presidency, or since then. Of course, we have the whole...

ZAKARIA: You mean the travel bans?

AL HUSSEIN: The travel bans and of course the issue of the dreamers and the DACA and how we are in a sort of -- almost in a state of limbo, and then the -- the various comments that the president has made in respect of race, in respect of gender, Charlottesville, Arpaio, all these issues, and the attacks on journalists. And we were extremely concerned because not only is it out of sync with what the historical experience has been, at least since the Second World War, for U.S. governments, but also it provides an example for others to mimic what the U.S. has been saying and doing.

ZAKARIA: You've also been tough on Arab countries.


ZAKARIA: Have you gotten -- have you been chastised by the government of Jordan? Are you finding -- I think people have always assumed, these human rights commissioners, you don't -- you don't criticize your own. Do Arabs regard this as a betrayal? I mean, everything you've said, of course, is true, but it's been tough on your own part of the world.

AL HUSSEIN: Well, the relationship I have with my own country, I mean emotionally, it's a country that I love a great deal and I have a great deal of devotion for. But professionally, I do not distinguish it from any other country. And if we believe there are positive developments, we will cite them, and there have been a few in respect of the human rights of women. If there are negative developments, we will also speak about these negative developments. But I think any more objective examination of the record will bear out that we have tried to be and my office tries to be as fair as we can possibly be. It's one of the -- one of the small sacrifices that one has to make, unfortunately, when one has this sort of position, that you will lose the support of those who want you to be partisan and you simply cannot in this position.

ZAKARIA: Does that mean, you know, given how much of an equal- opportunity offender you have been, does this make it difficult for you, for your next step?

I mean, I can't imagine some of these countries are going to support your, you know, a higher position in the international system or something like that?

AL HUSSEIN: In the end, Fareed, it's -- when you see human rights defenders, usually journalists and lawyers, around the world, who are willing to forfeit everything -- everything, a chance to be with their families, to be with their friends -- knowing that, if they publish a piece, if they report on a corruption story, or if they speak out about abuse of authority, that that's going to land them in jail, maybe even be tortured, possibly never see their families again, and yet they still do it.

And it's a courage of a sort that normal people are not used to seeing. And we see a great deal of it. And that inspires many of us to be more courageous. It's not easy to speak out constantly about these issues, but you do it because the victims need you to do it. And the other human rights defenders, who are the real heroes in this confrontation of ideas because they're willing to risk their lives, they inspire us. And so, you know, in the end, it's not a -- it's a no-brainer; you end up -- you do it because it's the right thing.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on, sir.

AL HUSSEIN: Thank you so much. Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," where does America rank amongst the world's nations on political empowerment for women, near the top, the middle or the bottom? We'll tell you when we come back.


ZAKARIA: Congratulations to Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, who gave birth to a baby girl this week. Although 10 members of the House have given birth while in Congress, Senator Duckworth is the first sitting U.S. senator to do so.

It's important to note here that women make up 19 percent of the House and 23 percent of the Senate. And it brings me to my question. Where does the United States rank in terms of political empowerment of women, 22nd, 57th, 96th or 112th? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

My book of the week is "Post-Truth" by Lee McIntyre. This is a slender volume from MIT's Essential Knowledge series that looks at one of the most disturbing trends of our time, the increasing dismissal of science, evidence, fact and truth itself. The author gives us an intelligent account of why it's happened and a compelling reminder that we should all fight against this dangerous, nihilistic idea.

The answer to my "GPS" challenge this week is, alas, C. The U.S. falls at number 96, just below Pakistan, in terms of women's access to decision-making in national governments, according to the World Economic Forum's report on the global gender gap. Some of the higher- ranking countries, including Rwanda, Colombia and China, have some kind of quota to help promote equal representation. Of course, the U.S. may move up this list as record numbers of women are planning to run for Congress this year.

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