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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with Journalist Adam Gopnik; Discussion of Israeli Assassinations; Jake Tapper's Novel. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 29, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: -- around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.


ZAKARIA: Today on the show, summit diplomacy on steroids.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: What history looks like in the making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What an extraordinary day.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: History in the making.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: History on the Korean peninsula.

ZAKARIA: Kim Jong-un meets his South Korean counterpart for the first time ever.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron press Trump not to dump the Iran deal. What is the fallout? I have a great panel to discuss.

And --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have gangs roaming the street, and in many cases, they're illegally here. Illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people.

ZAKARIA: You wouldn't know it from Trump's campaign rhetoric, but there is good news about crime here in the United States.

Adam Gopnik explains the surprising, stunning decline in American crime.

Also, from Abraham Lincoln to Arch Duke France Ferdinand, assassinations of political figures have altered history. But what happens when it's the political figures ordering the killings? We'll examine the extraordinary case of Israel and its policy of assassinations.


ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. Emmanuel Macron came, saw and conquered Washington this week. But the French president is trying to do something much harder than just generate buzz and goodwill. He is trying to stop Donald Trump from dividing the Western alliance and disrupting the already turbulent Middle East. Watching Macron at work, flattering Trump and politely disagreeing with him, all the while proposing compromised solutions is like watching a skilled dancer execute a complex set of moves.

It remains to be seen if Macron can pull it off, but thank goodness he is trying. On Wednesday, Macron told me and a small group of journalists he believes that Donald Trump will get rid of the Iran deal for domestic reasons.

Tehran has signaled that if Trump pulls out of the deal on May 12th when he faces a deadline on whether to restore sanctions on Iran, the most likely result is that Tehran would also withdraw from the deal. Iran's Foreign minister, Mohamed Javed Zarif, pointed out to me this week that Iran has made a much stronger pledge than most realize.

President Trump does not seem to have read the agreement. The third line of it states, "Iran commits to never developing nuclear weapons. There is no time restriction on that. The word question use is 'never.' The time restrictions relate to voluntary limits on our nuclear energy program that we have undertaken to give the international community confidence that we are sincere in our intentions," end quote.

Macron has pushed Trump privately and publicly to keep the Iran deal. "It sets a terrible precedent for the world's leading power to renege on an agreement that it spearheaded and signed," he said. And Macron sees it as part of a dismaying pattern from an administration that has decided to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, weakened its commitment to the World Trade Organization and now seems determined to scuttle the pact with Iran.

In any event, Emmanuel Macron is determined not to wring his hands but rather to find a way forward, hence his artful proposal for a new nuclear deal. While this may sound like Trump, Macron is actually suggesting something quite different. His new approach has its as first pillar adherence to the existing nuclear deal, un-amended and unabridged. But he proposes three additional pillars that would address Iran's ballistic missile program, counter Iranian influence in the Middle East and extend the commitments Iran has made beyond various timelines in the current deal.

In other words, were Iran to agree to start talking about these new issues, the current deal would stay intact. Now it's not clear that the Iranian government would accept this demand, and it's not clear that Trump would agree to a framework in which the agreement that he has branded the worst deal ever negotiated would remain in place. Both sides would have to climb down from their positions.

One Iranian who is well-versed in the issues made an interesting observation about why the nuclear deal has had so many critics in both Washington and Tehran. For 40 years, America and Iran have settled into a pattern of behavior. America sees its role as applying pressure and threats to Iran. While Iran thinks its role is to bravely resist. The nuclear deal was an evident to break with the past and create a new dynamic of dialogue. But it generated a backlash in both countries. Macron is trying to forge a new path for dialogue and diplomacy. If

he fails, it will be because too many in Washington and even in Tehran have gotten comfortable with the old pattern. By mindlessly sticking to it, they seem to be leading us down a path of tension, conflict and perhaps even war.

[10:05:05] For more, go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

And now the big Korea news. President Trump said last night at a rally in Washington Township, Michigan, he expected to meet with Kim Jong-un in the next three or four weeks. This comes, of course, after Friday's historic summit between North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean leader, Moon Jae-in. After pledging to formally end the Korean War and denuclearize the Korean peninsula, the two leaders declared a new era of peace has begun.

But has it? That is the big question for my panel today.

Sue Mi Terry was a senior analyst on Korea issues at the CIA. She is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Elliott Abrams was a deputy national security adviser for George W. Bush. He's now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tony Blinken was also a deputy national security adviser, as well as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration. He's a CNN global affairs analyst and the managing director of the Penn/Biden Center.

Sue Mi Terry, let me start with you. What -- how do you make sense of Kim Jong-un? This is a guy who a year ago was threatening war, taking actions that seemed to suggest that. And now seems to be thinking of every way he can to make peace overtures. He's just reunified the time zone, so North Korea had deliberately chosen a different time zone than South Korea. South Korea was on the same time zone as Japan. And he wanted to make the point that the North was different and independent. He has even reunified that. So is this all symbolic peace overtures or is there more to it?

SUE MI TERRY, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, that remains to be seen. Certainly he has made a tactical shift and we have seen that. And I don't want to minimize the historic moment that this was between the two Korean leaders. I'm a Korean American. I've been to DMZ. I grew up there. It was very historic. It was very moving.

Question is, is it really serious or is he trying to buy time to really wait out the Trump administration? When you look at the joint statement that came out, it was great in symbolism. But the question on denuclearization was still not clear. And, of course, you know, there were other summits in the past, 2000, 2007. There were five joint Korea declarations, and it's not so different from those.

So there's a lot of feel-good, symbolic stuff. But I'm wondering about denuclearization. He said in the joint statement, there was commitment to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But, of course, North Korea used to have a very different definition of what that means. They used to mean also South Korea. Ending U.S.-South Korea alliance, getting U.S. forces off the South Korean territory. Ending extended U.S. nuclear umbrella over South Korea. So there's more questions that are raised than there are answers right now. So we have to see.

ZAKARIA: Tony Blinken, what about all those past deals? Are they worth bringing up, or is that sort of unnecessary skeptical? In other words, the South Korean -- the North Koreans have signed 2007, 2000. They pledged not to do any further tests. But this does feel different. This feels like, you know -- I mean, one thing, just the scope and breadth with which he is approaching it does feel different.

ANTHONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Look, some context, Fareed. A couple of months ago, before the Olympics, we seemed to be heading inexorably toward conflict. Now we're talking peace, we're talking diplomacy. That's a good thing. But I think Sue Mi is right to inject some notes of caution and restraint. How did we get here? First, relentless economic pressure on North Korea initiated by the Obama administration and smartly continued by President Trump.

But second, North Korea has made so much progress with its nuclear weapons and missiles that it can afford a timeout. And third, there was probably some effect of fire and fury from President Trump, both Koreas desperately wanted to avoid some kind of preemptive war.

But now is the hard part. We're at the beginning of a process, at best, not the end of one. It's incredibly complex. It took about two years to negotiate the Iran deal and there are so many traps. North Korea has been a master at basically stringing along negotiations, wringing out economic concessions and then walking away. And as Sue Mi said, we've seen declarations in the past that are at least as forward-leaning. On denuclearization, far more leaning forward language in previous years.

And one final thing, Kim has gotten a very, very important thing out of this. They have put peace before denuclearization.

[10:10:05] Obama, Bush said that peace would be a reward for denuclearization. Now that they're (INAUDIBLE) the peace track is on a faster track than denuclearization, whether Trump actually goes with that and supports that really remains to be seen.

ZAKARIA: Elliott Abrams, I think the fundamental question that in a way Tony is raising is so far it does feel like Trump has made all the concessions by which I mean for 30 years North Korean leaders have wanted to meet the American president. For 30 years they wanted to talk about ending the Korean War.

The problem was always that South Korea and the United States always said, first you have to stop your aggressive actions. First you have to, in substantive ways, denuclearize. First you have to, you know, stop being a rogue state. Then we will reward you with these things. Aren't they getting rewarded with concessions before they have done anything more than things like reunify the time zones? ELLIOTT ABRAMS, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I don't

think they are being rewarded yet. I mean, first of all, we have to say, 30 years of American policy under presidents of both parties have failed. Under those years, that's when they got ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. So continuing the same policy doesn't look like it would be a really brilliant move.

We'll see if they get any concessions. My own view is that Kim looks at the JCPOA and basically says, I want one of those. I want a deal where I can pause on my ballistic missiles and on my nuclear weapon development for let's say 10 years and get a huge economic reward. And I don't think the president is going to give him that. But we'll see what happens when they meet.

ZAKARIA: Just quickly, I want to ask Sue Mi Terry as a Korean- American. It must have been fascinating to hear from this guy. I mean, most Korean leaders we never knew what they sounded like. We've learned things about, you know, whether he has a kid, you know, what he sounds like. Has that been revelatory to you?

TERRY: Absolutely. This was a huge intelligence success in terms of trying to get to understand Kim Jong-un better. We didn't even have a recording of Kim Jong-il's voice. I think he spoke once publicly. He was very introverted guy. Kim Jong-il was. And Kim Jong-un now I actually heard his voice, the way he was speaking, his mannerism, how he acts with others. I mean, I think this is a huge intelligence benefit in terms of trying to understand their leader of North Korea.

ZAKARIA: All right. We are going to talk a little bit more about North Korea, but also Iran, the clock is ticking. Donald Trump is less than two weeks away from making a decision on the Iran deal. And despite entreaties from Macron and Merkel, President Trump seems intent on stifling it. We'll talk about all this when we come back.


[10:22:11] ZAKARIA: This morning on FOX News National Security adviser John Bolton said that President Trump had made no decision whether to stay in the Iran deal or pull out. But let's not forget Trump has called it the worst deal ever, and all the readings of the tea leaves point to him pulling out. What would it mean if he does? Joining me are Sue Mi Terry, Elliott Abrams and Tony Blinken.

Elliott, let me ask you as a staunch Republican conservative opponent of the Iran deal, you said in the previous segment, North Korea is probably dreaming about getting a version of the JCPOA. The JCPOA, just so people understand, is the Iran deal.


ZAKARIA: Isn't it fair to say that if what you're trying to get North Korea to sign is something not even -- probably not even close to the Iran deal because the Iran deal doesn't allow Iran to have any nuclear energy program that could lead to a nuclear weapons program, and North Korea by contrast has like the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world or fifth largest nuclear arsenal. It would seem bizarre at a time you're trying to get North Korea to do some watered-down version of the Iran deal to tear up the Iran deal.

ABRAMS: I don't think so. I think that if Trump stays in the Iran deal, which I think he won't do, then I think that Kim Jong-un says, I can get a deal like that, which does not cause me to abandon anything. It just means a pause for a while. And he can do that pause and I think it's a very -- like the president does, I think it's a very bad deal.

I think if he gets out -- if the president gets out of the deal, the message to Kim Jong-un is, I'm not going to do what the president views as a weak deal like that. You are truly going to have to denuclearize, which means abandon nuclear weapons forever. Remember that the Iran deal, the JCPOA, is just a 10-year deal. Parts of it are even a five-year deal. And two of those years are already gone.


ZAKARIA: Fourteen and 25 years. But Tony Blinken, what do you say to that? Because the Iran deal -- again, one has to remind people, Iran has no nuclear weapons. This is a deal which freezes their program 20 years before North Korea is in a sense.

BLINKEN: Well, I disagree with my friend Elliott. Look, I think the president has tweeted himself into a corner. First, if he tears up the Iran deal on May 12th, as everyone expects, it does send a terrible message to Kim Jong-un that we are not worth the agreements we sign. And that's going to make it more difficult to negotiate something with Kim. But second, in calling it repeatedly a terrible deal, the worst deal in history, Trump has set the bar very high for himself in any negotiation with North Korea.

Is he going to be able to get the North Koreans like we did with Iran to actually dismantle the bulk of their program? Is he going to be able to get the most intrusive inspections regime in the history of any arms control agreement? That's the bar he set for himself in saying the Iran deal is terrible. He now has to do better with North Korea.

[10:20:01] We should be dreaming about getting an Iran-like deal with North Korea. That would make us infinitely more secure than we are now. I think that's a very high bar. It's going to be very challenging to see the president clear it.

ZAKARIA: Elliott, I have to ask you about both the Iran and North Korea deals. One part about this, it seems to me that becomes clear is, for the longest time people said about North Korea and Iran, these are crazy regimes, they're irrational. They want the end of the world, they want to blow themselves up in a great conflagration. And there are those of us who said no, this -- they're doing this for their security, they're rational, they're strategic.

You can make a deal with them. If incentives are aligned correctly, it will work. It seems as both in Iran and North Korea has become abundantly clear, these people are not crazy.

ABRAMS: Well, I would say in the case of North Korea, it is still the most vicious, violent, brutal, murderous regime on the face of the earth.

ZAKARIA: That is different from being crazy.

ABRAMS: I agree with that. And I think what we're seeing with Kim is that he's a lot more calculating and more concerned about his image abroad. I think in the case of Iran, I would generally agree with you. But I have to say that their hatred of Israel does seem to be irrational, from the point of view of Iran's national interests.

This death to Israel stuff, their desire to be a confrontation state with Israel is not about Iranian national security and it's not about the interests of the people of Iran.

ZAKARIA: I would argue that that's actually a clever public relations ploy of trying to win some Arab mass support. They don't do very much about it.

But anyway, I have to get to Sue Mi Terry, because we still have the great puzzle of Kim Jong-un. And I want to understand how you see the reversal because at some level is it, Sue Mi Terry, that what he's done is he built up, built up, built up, was very hostile to the United States, to Japan, to South Korea and China, while he was building up. Now he has what he wants. So, of course, he's making peace overtures.

If that's the case, it's tough to imagine that he would give up what he and the regime has spent 25 years building up.

TERRY: You're absolutely right. So there are two ways of looking at this, is it maximum pressure, is it sanctions, is it all this talk from President Trump about fire and fury that brought Kim Jong-un to the table? Or -- or it could be and-or, Kim Jong-un feels that he's completed his program, that he's actually coming into this negotiation from a position of strength. And in that sense, I'm afraid that he's going to actually offer a deal to the Trump administration on intercontinental ballistic missile, on ICBM, that might take care of our interests in terms of protecting our mainland homeland, but, of course, that does not protect our allies, Japan or South Korea's interests.

And, in fact, it's basically recognizing North Korea's nuclear status. So I'm concerned that this is a deal that Kim Jong-un will bring in the meeting with President Trump.

ZAKARIA: Elliott Abrams, is that -- is that a fair concern? A number of people have privately told me, their concern is Donald Trump loves the idea of being a deal-maker. He loves the idea of this is, you know, going to be a -- you could almost pay -- you know, you could turn this into a pay-per-view summit in terms of the level of interest.

Is there a danger that he will give away the store to get a deal?

ABRAMS: I don't think so. I mean, he's wanted to do an Israeli- Palestinian peace deal, but we're, what, 16 months into the administration and they have yet to offer a Trump peace proposal because he realizes it's not going to work right now. I think the president will be more careful than that. I do think that he will pull out of the Iran deal and I think that that is a good prelude to negotiating with the North Koreans.

Remember that the Iran deal isn't really a deal. I mean, it's not a treaty, it's not an executive agreement. Nobody actually signed it. It's just a political agreement with Barack Obama. And if the North Koreans are concerned about that, then we should do some kind of more formal agreement that Congress approves. Remember that Congress never approved the Iran deal.

ZAKARIA: All right. We've got to leave it at that. Fascinating conversation. Thank you all.

Next on GPS, you might have heard the news recently that more murders were committed in London than in New York both in February and March. Does that shock you? Well, not when you consider the amazing decline that has happened in New York City and more broadly, America, over the last 30 years.

We will explain the reasons for that decline when we come back.


[10:23:47] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Although you would not know it from Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric, crime is down in America and at a stunning rate.

Let's look right here in this neighborhood, where CNN's New York bureau is located at Columbus Circle. In 1990, this police precinct handled 16 murders, 2,135 robberies, almost 3,000 burglaries and more than 1,000 auto thefts. Last year, there was just one murder, 135 robberies, just over 200 burglaries and just 42 stolen cars. Each of those is a drop of about 95 percent.

If you looked at all of New York City, 1990 was also the worst year for homicides in general, with 2,245 people killed and on the flip side last year, New York City recorded its lowest number of murders, going all the way back to the Korean War, according to the police chief, just 290.

And it's not just this neighborhood or New York City. It is America. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crime has fallen by two-thirds from the early 1990s and property crime is down by more than half.

Why in the world did this happen? And why are we not talking about it and studying it more? I sat down with Adam Gopnik, who is doing just that. He wrote a terrific "New Yorker" article entitled, "The Great Crime Decline."

So, Adam, let's start with this first. Why? Why the dramatic drop?

GOPNIK: Many competing theories and hypotheses about it, too. The strongest seem to be that it is no one thing, that it was the convergence of a thousand small sanities, Fareed, happening at once, new kinds of community policing, both rising from within communities, where communities took control of their own safety, new kinds of community policing coming from the police forces, where, instead of chasing crime after it happened, the police were in there to stop crime before it could happen. Because most crime takes place in relatively few places and relatively nameable locations. Those things mattered a great deal.

A huge thing that changed was simply the virtuous circle of eyes on the street. You know, the one best prophylactic against crime is having a lot of people on the street watching what's happening. That's been the classic urban solution to crime. It's why we had relatively lower crime rates when you had highly populated neighborhoods. More people coming into the city, more young people coming into the city, more people using the subway late at night -- all of those small things seem, according to the best sociological guesses, to converge together to make this extraordinary decline.

ZAKARIA: So why do you think it is that the image is still one that you can play with? So Trump harps on "American carnage." He talked about Chicago as if it was the country writ large. And it seemed to resonate for some people?

GOPNIK: Well, I think because we live in the long shadow of the crime rise. You and I both grew up in a time when crime was dramatically in the increase. And the images of that period, you know, if you were here in New York in the 1970s, the "Taxi Driver" New York of steaming manholes and guns on every corner, I think that that had an effect on people, out of proportion and even long after the reality had altered.

And I think that Trump, for instance, is able to profit from people's long-term memories and also to profit from the reality that, you know, it's very hard to report good news. A mugging on a street corner is something that makes the late news. No muggings on that street corner for years is not something that we report. Normalcy is very hard to dramatize.

ZAKARIA: The hero of the story is Patrick Sharkey, who runs the crime lab of New York, and he says that, in the 1990s, Americans came together, mobilized, saw violence as a problem and saw -- it's a fascinating story to me about how we often talk about negative trends in the world. But we often forget that every negative trend produces some human response.

GOPNIK: I think that's exactly right. And one of the encouraging things about the story, hugely encouraging things, is that that positive response largely was community-based. You know, we think about nations and then we think about states and cities. But this is a story about saving cities block by block and then seeing these enormously powerful cycles of virtue.

You know, if it becomes easier for you or me to walk from the subway stop to the river, then more people will do it, and then more people will do it. And the way that people converge positively to create their own safety is an enormously stirring part of this story.

ZAKARIA: Are there any signs that this decline is kind of a new, low plateau, or are there indicators that one should look at that cause one to worry that there may be an uptick? What does the future look like?

GOPNIK: So it seems as though we can continue to reduce incarceration, New York particularly, and reduce crime. The negative side of it is, is that you do begin to see blips in murders, homicides in Chicago, in rapes reported in New York and so on. And of course it's always impossible to know what's just a bubble on a genuinely declining vector and what's a new trend that we'll see. That takes decades to decide.

But what we can say with certainty is that, over the last three decades, the vector has been dramatic and in the right direction.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," the investigative journalist Ronen Bergman says Israel has assassinated more people than any other democratic country. He'll crack open the history of Israel's targeted assassination program.


ZAKARIA: "Assassinate": the Oxford dictionary defines it as "murder of an important person for political or religious reasons." We can all conjure up assassinations that grabbed headlines or changed the course of history, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Gandhi, Lincoln, JFK, Martin Luther King, Julius Caesar. But my next guest, Ronen Bergman, chronicles a quieter kind of killing.

Bergman, a terrific Israeli investigative reporter, has done a deep dive on the mostly untold story of Israel's secret assassinations. It's all in a new book called "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations."

Ronen Bergman, pleasure to have you on.

BERGMAN: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: The big question I suppose everybody has is, did Israel need to have this kind of a lethal policy, targeted assassinations, to survive? Was this a crucial part of what Israel needed to do, or could it have done without it?

BERGMAN: Well, it's very hard to play counter-factual history, "what if." But I can tell you that Israel, from day one, had to use force. Even putting aside the trauma of the Holocaust, every decade they had one, at least one enemy, and a very important one, who calls for Israel's destruction -- Nasser of Egypt, the PLO, Yasser Arafat, who wrote in the "Palestinian Covenant" that all the Jews that came to Israel after 1917, meaning all of them, and their descendants should be expelled; Saddam Hussein, who threatened to burn half of Israel (inaudible) these countries and organizations took steps to annihilate Israel.

David Ben-Gurion, the most important Jew in the last 1,000 years, thought that Israel could not sustain long wars, so instead he established this very strong intelligence community that could bring an alert for preemptive attack, but not just that, that could launch, pinpoint, focused operation, way beyond enemy lines, destroy an installation, plant a virus in one of their computers, or kill an individual in order to prolong the time or even prevent the next war.

ZAKARIA: What about Arafat? What are the -- what are the most interesting stories about the Israeli war against the PLO?

BERGMAN: So, you know, Arafat was by far the -- the target for numerous attempts on his life. Some of them in retrospect look a little bit funny. One Israeli psychiatrist, military psychiatrist, said, "I looked -- I had watched the movie "The Manchurian Candidate." I could do the same. Bring me an Arab PLO prisoner and I will do to him -- I will hypnotize him and I will send him Jason-Bourne-style to kill Yasser Arafat." And they give him an installation with pictures of Arafat popping from the table so he would shoot it. He was fully hypnotized.

On a stormy night in September 1968, they helped him to cross the Jordanian river. The psychiatrist said, "He is fully hypnotized; he has the code word; he is going to kill Arafat," he was sure. The guy (inaudible) sent a message of a gun.

Only a few hours later Israeli intelligence learned that he went straight to one of the police stations in Jordan and said, "The stupid Jews thought they hypnotized me. I am loyal to Arafat. Here is the gun; here is the radio. I want to come and swear allegiance to Yasser Arafat."

But not all of them were funny.

ZAKARIA: So how difficult was this to do? Because you think of Israel surrounded by a sea of Arab countries that did not recognize it, were formally at war with it and that spoke a language that almost no Jew spoke. So how difficult was it in effect? To be able to do this, you have to penetrate these Arab societies?

BERGMAN: Yeah. So that's the masters of Israeli intelligence. They would be able to recruit agents from the enemy country, offering them money or other benefits, but do that under false identity, meaning it would be much easier for an Arab, Syrian, senior air force commander to work for a NATO officer than for an Israeli officer.

ZAKARIA: So the Israelis would impersonate a NATO official to a recruit...


ZAKARIA: Because the Syrian would -- for no amount of money would he be willing to work for Israel.

BERGMAN: Yeah. But if comes a French businessman who says, "Listen, we are competing in a bid in Syria for water supply or whatever, but we need your help," that would be much easier. And this opens the door to extensive cooperations. So the Israelis must have not just the ability to manipulate someone, to recruit him -- that's the betrayal manual -- to betray everything that is important to him, his country, his family, the organization, but also have the ability to work undercover vis-a-vis the target and vis-a-vis the local authorities in Europe or wherever they are operating.

ZAKARIA: One of the things that I've noticed when talking to some of the former heads of Mossad and other senior intelligence officers is...

BERGMAN: They do talk, huh?

ZAKARIA: They do talk, very off the record...


... as you know -- is that they are very -- I would put it "uncomfortable" with, or they have grown very uncomfortable with their role in the occupation of the West Bank and previously Gaza, that it felt that it's one thing to protect Israel against its enemies like Egypt and such. You see that in that movie "The Gatekeepers" where you have almost every former Israeli intelligence chief on camera, on the record, saying "We should get out of this;" you know, "We're in favor of a two-state solution."

Do you find that, and what is the mood now?

Because Israel has essentially solved the problem of Palestinian terror. Between the kind of operations you're describing and the wall, Israel is secure. So how do these intelligence folks feel now?

BERGMAN: I have done 1,000 interviews for this book. And I can tell you that the vast majority of people, Mossad, military intelligence, Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence service -- secret service -- they all support the two-state solution. And even more, I think that today in Israel, the people who keep democracy, values of human rights, by far are people from these circles, active informer. And I think a country, when the mature grown-ups are the intelligence chiefs, where usually, you know, they're the trigger-happy and the political leaders want to push them, I think that such a country is in a -- has a difficulty.

ZAKARIA: I hope Prime Minister Netanyahu reads your book.

BERGMAN: I hope so, too. Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on.

ZAKARIA: Up next, we have a treat for you, Jake Tapper on his new novel and on the trials and tribulations and triumphs of covering the Trump White House.


ZAKARIA: My next guest is immersed in the inner workings of D.C. politics on a daily basis. CNN's Jake Tapper has covered every twist and turn of the Trump administration. On Saturday night, he and a team of CNN colleagues won the prestigious Merriman Smith award for their work on President Trump. The award was presented at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where Trump was not in attendance.

He is also the author of a new book, a fictional political thriller titled "The Hellfire Club." The novel is set in early 1950s Washington at the height of McCarthyism. People often say that novels are in some way autobiographical, that you write about what you know. So in what sense is this, you know, about what you know?

TAPPER: That's a great question. I think that it is an expression of concerns I have about Washington. The hero is a young Republican congressman, the Eisenhower era. He's a World War II hero and an academic who's, kind of, thrust into this world and he and his wife experience a conspiracy. But one of the themes of the book is the compromises that the main character, Charlie Marder, makes, along the way. He comes to Washington to do good. He wants to be a good congressman. He wants to protect people. And little by little, bits of his soul are eroded by the system.

And that's something that I've seen happen. A lot of people come to Washington to do good things. And they find themselves immersed in the swamp, bit by bit, and next thing you know, they're in over their head and they lose themselves.

ZAKARIA: And what do you think is the system that makes all this -- you know, all this -- all these good people turn bad?

Is it partly pandering to special interests? Is it pandering to voters? You know, how do you see -- what is the perverse incentive that makes people make all these compromises?

TAPPER: I think the first one is money. Money really runs Washington. People's self-preservation is about getting campaign contributions and about big donations. So that's one. And two, a lot of people go down to Washington to do good and then they ultimately end up getting trapped in the system, and there are all of a sudden all these favors that they're getting and all of a sudden they're living a lifestyle that they're not used to. And then preserving that, holding on to that power, becomes more important than why they were sent there.

ZAKARIA: Now, you -- you used the title, "The Hellfire Club," comes from a British...

TAPPER: Well, you know this.

ZAKARIA: ... 200-year-old society.


ZAKARIA: What I'm struck by is, there was a great deal of personal immorality involved. That was part of the old hellfire clubs...

TAPPER: It was obscene.

ZAKARIA: Right, there were -- so do you think that Washington actually has a lot of that or is it -- or is it actually quite staid and tame, certainly compared to the rumors of the old hellfire club? TAPPER: It is hard to imagine that people can get away with the kind

of bacchanal that the actual members of the 1700s hellfire club experienced. I mean, those were -- I can't even go into it on the show, but really obscene. And it was...

ZAKARIA: And since they had that info on each other and so there was a lot of, kind of -- you know, deterrence...

TAPPER: Yes, exactly, mutually assured destruction, that this member of royalty would do what this nobleman wanted to do because they both had dirt on each other. That actually happened, as you know.

ZAKARIA: So, at least, have we progressed from that?

TAPPER: I don't know. I can't imagine that there aren't secret societies. I don't know of any. But I can't imagine, especially what...

ZAKARIA: What, having debauched sex -- Washington seems so boring.

TAPPER: Well, I don't know that it would be in Washington. Maybe it would be in Virginia.


Maybe they'd drive a couple -- or maybe they'd take a plane down to the Caribbean to a private island. But knowing what we know about powerful, rich men, I can't believe that there isn't something like the hellfire club today. I don't know of anything...

ZAKARIA: But no one has invited you?

TAPPER: I would never be invited -- nor would you.


But it's -- I mean, I don't know of it. This is a fictional book. And the flight of fancy is that the hellfire club from the 1700s in England is replicated in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s. But can you -- do you really think that it doesn't exist, something like it?

I mean, the really -- all these rich, powerful men, who are under more scrutiny today than they have ever been -- and in the '50s it was true, under more scrutiny then than they had ever been. Do you really think that there aren't places that they go and do things that they would love to do without cameras around, et cetera?

ZAKARIA: Is McCarthyism a parallel you intentionally wanted to draw to today?

I mean, there are people who say after 9/11 the United States overreacted in many ways, just as it did in the 1950s.

TAPPER: Joe McCarthy and Donald Trump stand for very different things. But the techniques of Joe McCarthy, the smearing, the disregard for the truth, that's similar. And so when I wrote about that phenomenon, there were things that I wrote about with the perspective of 2018. And there's also this factual connective tissue. Joe McCarthy's protege, Roy Cohn; Roy Cohn's protege, Donald Trump. So there are similarities. Now, a Trump supporter might read the book and say this is the Washington swamp that Trump rails about, and he'd be right, too.

ZAKARIA: The pervasive theme is the degree to which money corrupts, to which politics and lobbying and special interests are all in collusion. It's a pretty -- it's a pretty sad, cynical view of Washington.

TAPPER: It's a -- I don't know that it's sad and -- I would prefer to think of it as a fun and kind of vaguely disgusted view of Washington. But I think it expresses a lot of my feelings about Washington, about the compromises that one is forced to make.

There's also the larger theme of, what does McCarthy want to do to protect America? What compromises is he willing to make? What compromises is President Eisenhower willing to make in order to protect America from both the Communists and from McCarthyism?

So the question of compromises in an evil system or a degrading system -- that's one that's pervasive.

ZAKARIA: Jake Tapper, pleasure to have you on.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, Fareed. Appreciate it.


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