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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Huge Week for President Trump's Foreign Policy; Iran Denounces U.S. for Pulling Out of Nuclear Deal; Discussion of Russian Politics. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired May 13, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:30] 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: We'll start today with Donald Trump's decision to dump the Iran deal. What does it mean for Iran, for the U.S., for Europe, for the world? And just how should Kim Jong-un view this American reversal, as he prepares to negotiate his own nuclear agreement with President Trump? I'll talk to two former heads of American intelligence.
Then, what was the reaction inside Iran? And what will be Iran's next move on this complex chessboard? We'll get an expert opinion.
Also, on Monday we saw Vladimir Putin walking through those massive gold doors again, as he was inaugurated for the fourth time. What can we expect for the next six years of his reign? Former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, weighs in.
Speaking of Putin, he and his counterparts in China and Turkey have each steamrolled over term limits, so they could be in office, well, forever. But one region of the world, perhaps a surprising one, is bucking the trend. Where in the world? Keep watching and I'll tell you.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. Jeb Bush said that Donald Trump would be a chaos president. Well, this week Trump lived up to the billing, choosing to defy virtually the entire world, including America's closest European allies and raising tensions in the most unstable part of the world already, the Middle East.
It's hard to understand the rationale behind Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. If Iran is as dangerous and maligned an actor as he says, surely it's best to have its nuclear program frozen at a pre-military level and monitored 24/7 for years and years? The chance of getting Tehran to agree to more stringent terms is close to zero.
If the terms of the Iran deal, for example, were applied to North Korea, it would require Pyongyang to destroy all its nuclear weapons, the fruits of a decades-long effort, and then agree to invasive inspections and foreign surveillance and cameras in a country so closed it is known as the hermit kingdom.
So if there's a strategy behind Trump's move, it is probably regime change. His closest advisers have long championed regime change and have argued that the best approach toward Iran is a combination of tough sanctions, support for opposition groups and military intervention. As a congressman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that the U.S. launch close to 2,000 bombing sorties against Iran.
National Security adviser John Bolton has advocated greater support for the MEK, an armed opposition group with a checkered past and little support within Iran. Both Bolton and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani had given paid speeches for the MEK, and in Paris last July, Bolton declared that the U.S. should pursue regime change in Iran so the Islamic Republic would not celebrate its 40th birthday which would be in 2019.
Now let's be clear. Iran is a repressive and anti-American regime that has spread its influence in the Middle East but it has withstood American pressure and sanctions for nearly four decades. And even if it were somehow possible to topple it, look around, the lesson of the last two decades in the Middle East is surely that regime change leads to chaos, war, refugee flows and sectarian strife.
Look beyond the Middle East at the record of regime change, whether it was an unfriendly ruler like Guatemala's Arbenz or a friendly one like South Vietnam's Diem, regime change was followed by much greater instability.
Look at Iran itself where British-American sponsored coup dislodged the elected government, which was one of the factors that led to and still legitimizes the Islamic Republic.
Misjudging and mishandling nationalism may be the central error in American foreign policy. By contrast, when America has helped open countries up to capitalism, commerce and contact, these acids of modernity have almost always eaten away at the nastiest elements of dictatorships.
[10:05:06] For all its problems, China today is a much better and more responsible country than it was under Mao Zedong. People often point to Ronald Reagan's campaign against the Soviet Union as one in which pressure against an evil empire helped produce regime change. But they only remember half the story. As soon as Reagan found a reformer in Mikhail Gorbachev, embraced him, made concessions to him. So much so that he drew furious opposition from conservatives in the United States who called him a useful idiot who was helping the Soviet Union win the Cold War.
Iran is a complicated country with a complicated regime. It has moderate elements within it that were clearly hoping the nuclear deal would be a path to integration and normalization with the world. But Iran has always had a strong, hardline element that has believed that America could never be trusted, that the Saudis were mortal foes, and that self reliance, autarky, and the spread of Shiite ideology was their only strategy for self-preservation. And Donald Trump has just proved them right.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed, and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Three American hostages were returned to the United States, peace is on the horizon, the five most wanted ISIS leaders have been captured, and the Iran deal was slashed.
Those were the claims in an e-mail sent out on Saturday by the Republican National Committee. And it's fair to say this was quite a week in foreign policy for the president. He did fulfill some key promises he made and he played to his base. But was this good foreign policy? Especially pulling out of the Iran deal?
Joining me now are Michael Hayden and James Clapper. General Hayden has been the director of both the CIA and the NSA. He's a retired Air Force four-star general, he's the author of an important new book that we will discuss, "The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies."
James Clapper is a retired three-star general in the Air Force. He went on to be the director of National Intelligence. I want to be clear that both these gentlemen have served with great distinction in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Mike Hayden, I want to start with you and ask you, if you were a -- tasked by a foreign leader to answer the question, why did Donald Trump pull out of the Iran deal when everybody, and really everybody, said Iran was complying with the deal, what would be your answer?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, Fareed, you're right. When you say everybody, it's including the American intelligence community, which has said there has been no material breach by the Iranians of the nuclear deal.
Frankly, Fareed, if I was working for a foreign government and wanted to tell my prime minister what was the most predictable indicator of President Trump's behavior, I would simply point to the record of President Obama and say that President Trump seems to want to position himself in opposition with regard to President Obama across the board on a variety of issues.
ZAKARIA: And when you say that, you mean not just the Iran deal.
ZAKARIA: You mean the Transpacific Partnership, the Paris Accords.
HAYDEN: Exactly. Exactly. The red line in Syria. A whole bunch of things, where he has identified himself as simply being in opposition to what his predecessor had done.
And, again, Fareed, you're asking me to take on the role of a foreign intel guy, and I'm looking through all of my data, and I'm seeing the strongest possible correlation between those two data sets. That's what I would suggest to the prime minister.
ZAKARIA: Jim Clapper, what do you think the most important consequence here of withdrawing from the Iran deal is? Because it certainly seems to have left our European allies in a quandary.
GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, it -- I fail to see how it enhances stability in the Mideast. I don't understand really how not having the nuclear deal improves things for the security of Israel. For me, the simple question is, which would you rather have, a state-sponsored terrorism with nuclear weapons capability or state-sponsored terrorism without a nuclear weapons capability? I think I'd pick the latter.
What I would have preferred was to see -- that using the nuclear agreement as a building block. So now what is it that the administration wants? Well, they want a better deal. Presumably, that means impelling or compelling Iran to change all of its nefarious behavior across a whole range of endeavors, including the nuclear one.
[10:10:04] But that will have less leverage since I don't believe we'll ever put Humpy Dumpy back together again. That is the international global coalition that pressured Iran with sanctions and brought them to the table. And now it potentially puts us in the anomalous position of sanctioning our European allies who engaged -- who supported us in the P5 Plus 1 process. So I don't see how this advances anything.
ZAKARIA: Mike, this does look like a bit of a -- you know, a failure for President Macron, who came here with the hope that he was going to persuade Donald Trump to stick with the deal. He had this artful compromise of building on the deal, just as Jim Clapper was suggesting, and instead it seems like European companies are going to get sanctioned by the United States, as a result of all of this.
HAYDEN: That's right, Fareed. And it wasn't just President Macron. You had Chancellor Merkel come here, you had the British foreign minister come here. I mean, our three most powerful friends in Europe putting personal prestige on the line to appeal to the American president not to do this, give us more time. Let's maintain unity, and work towards some of the things that Jim Clapper just suggested.
And oh, by the way, most elements of the American government supported the Europeans in that approach, and then the president quite personally -- I mean, this was the person of the president and perhaps his national security adviser, who ripped up the deal.
And Fareed, in reference to the first question you asked me with regard to I'm being asked by a foreign leader, why did he do it, the second question is, and what's plan B now that the Americans have destroyed plan A? And frankly, we haven't been shown good evidence of any plan B, and what Jim suggests is we broke the international unity of plan A, which was what gave it its strength. And so I think a lot of foreign countries now were -- know we've gotten into a deep issue here. But don't really know where the Americans are going with it.
ZAKARIA: Jim Clapper, when you look at this, I have to ask you this as an intelligence person. You know, we've almost created a foreign policy crisis that we didn't need to. Meanwhile, what other -- what other things going on that we're not paying attention to? I mean, I wonder, what -- when you look at it, what is the greatest threat to the United States right now that you think is being unattended?
CLAPPER: Well, for me, right now the greatest threat is that posed by Russia. And throughout all this controversy since the election and the aftermath, and whether or not there was collusion or not, which, yes, is important, but to me the most significant issue here is the threat posed by Russia. And from two dimensions. Obviously the information operations campaign that they have been waging against us and quite effectively so. And the other dimension that doesn't get as much attention is they're a very aggressive and disturbing modernization of their strategic nuclear forces.
Putin's speech on the 1st of March, laying out five weapons of vengeance type of weapons systems from which there is only one adversary. And to me there is not the sense of urgency about this, the threat posed by Russia.
ZAKARIA: Don't go away. We're going to talk to both these gentlemen.
Next, the North Koreans are watching. What does Kim Jong-un think of what President Trump has just done? I will ask Mike Hayden and Jim Clapper when we come back.
[10:18:08] ZAKARIA: And we are back with our two former intelligence chiefs, General Michael Hayden and James Clapper.
Jim, you have negotiated with the North Koreans. Why do you think they are making these gestures now? It does seem as though they are reciprocating for what President Trump has done for them, which is, you know, quite remarkable concession on the American part, which is to have a summit, to have -- to meet with the leader of North Korea on a one-to-one, coequal basis.
CLAPPER: Fareed, I think the principal reason that they have had this change in behavior and demeanor is because they have achieved in their own mind a degree of nuclear deterrence that will enable them to come to the negotiating table, not as a supplicant which has been the case in our previous engagements on the subject of nuclear capabilities. And that President Moon, who may be one of the, if not the most astute president ever of the Republic of Korea who has I think expertly managed his account to his north with Kim Jong-un and his account in Washington.
And he has fostered, bringing together this summit. And you're quite right, this is a great -- a tremendous concession on our part for the president of the United States to sit down across the table with the leader in North Korea. This could be a very useful thing, as long as our expectations are not too high.
I think there is value to meeting and greeting and gripping and grinning. But importantly having an opportunity for -- from the horse's mouth, so to speak, first time ever from the Korean leader. What is it would take for them to be secure enough, to feel secure enough, they wouldn't need nuclear weapons?
[10:20:00] ZAKARIA: Mike Hayden, isn't it fair to say that the president has set a pretty high bar which is to say this deal has to be better than the Iran deal? And the Iran deal got rid of -- you know, there were no nuclear weapons. It got rid of any plutonium pathway. Cement was poured into the core of that reactor. 98 percent of enriched uranium has to go away. Inspections from between 15 to 25 years in every element of the supply chain.
If you have something less than that, it's tough to call it -- it's tough to see how President Trump could sign.
HAYDEN: That is remarkable. And I think we'd all celebrate if we got the equivalent of the Iranian deal with the North Koreans who, of course, already have weapons which the Iranians did not.
Fareed, Jim brings up a very good point near the end of his commentary there with regard to realistic expectations. The word denuclearization means something different to Kim than it does to us. For us, it's at the beginning of all this, starting to cut up an awful lot of nuclear devices. For Kim, if that ever happens, it's at the very end of a very long process.
When he says denuclearization, he says of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which he means withdrawal of the American guarantees for the safety of the Republic of Korea, withdrawal of American forces, a peace treaty with North Korea, and then in the new strategic circumstances, the urgency for the North to have these weapons may have been changed and we could begin a process there.
Now look, I'm celebrating the meeting. I think it's a good opportunity. But I do think we need to go in there with realistic expectations. A good ceremonial meeting. A handshake. A commitment to move forward. And then sending experts, building the process that over time will make the peninsula safer, make the peninsula safer than it is today.
ZAKARIA: We're running out of time so, Mike, I'm just going to ask you something about your book, which I really do think is an important book.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: You talk about how the big problem, the central problem we face right now, in your view, and as I say, you have served actually -- probably more and more under Republicans than Democrats. You say is that the President Trump is waging a war on truth, which means for you as a member of the intelligence community, that's a problem. But it's a broader problem, because you see it as a war on truth in a kind of -- enlightenment sense of the word.
HAYDEN: I do, Fareed. And very quickly, it's more a societal problem than it is an administration problem. Post-truth, decision-making based less on fact and evidence, and more on feeling, preference, emotion, grievance, tribe, loyalty. The president recognized that as a candidate, he exploited it, and he continues to make it worse by some of the things he does, and a lot of the things that he says. And truth-bearers, which is what we view ourselves to be in intelligence, see this as a great challenge.
ZAKARIA: I have to say, in your book, you and in some of your interviews, Jim Clapper, you've both made the point that it is very hard for you as nonpartisan intelligence professionals to speak in what are, you know -- with the kind of political terms you are now doing. But we thank you for it. Thank you just for being honest, that is. Thank you both.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS now that President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear deal, Iran could pull out too and restart a nuclear program. Will it?
I will ask an expert on Iran when we come back.
[10:27:33] ZAKARIA: On Tuesday, with a stroke of his pen, President Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran. On Wednesday the image of an American flag was set afire in Iran's parliament. On Thursday, the Iranian government released a statement that said, Mr. Trump's absurd insults against the great Iranian nation indicate the extent of his ignorance and falling. And on Friday after prayers the anti-American contingent was out in full force, chanting slogans, waving signs with caricatures of the American president and burning ever more American flags.
So what will be the powers that be in Iran's next move?
Joining me now is Dina Esfandiary. She is a research associate at the Center for Science and Security Studies at King's College in London and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the United States.
Dina, first question is very simple. What do you think Iran's next move is?
DINA ESFANDIARY, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Well, that's the million-dollar question. I think that Iran at the moment will not do anything. It will continue to implement the nuclear deal for now and it will wait to see what Europe can offer it to offset President Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal.
If the Europeans can put in place measures that would allow their businesses to continue doing business with Iran, then I think Iran will likely stay in the nuclear deal and continue to implement it. The reason for that is that Iranians are tired of the nuclear issue. They don't want to reach out this issue, they don't want to have to talk about it again and again and so today they want it to be done and dusted.
Having said that, if the Europeans can't offer them something or something tangible, enough for them to stay in, irrespective of what Russia and China will be able to offer them, then I think it's likely that Iran will restart aspects of its nuclear program, but it's just unclear what exactly.
ZAKARIA: And what do you think the -- what does politics look like in Iran right now? These are tough economic times. The Islamic Republic has never been a good economic manager. The currency has fallen, there are shortages, there's unemployment. And in the midst of that, you have this battle between the hard liners and President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif. What is likely to go on there?
ESFANDIARY: Absolutely. The situation is incredibly tense in Iran. But politics has always been quite vibrant even within the Islamic Republic. There's always been a push and pull between the hard liners and the moderates under Rouhani today, and it's likely that that will continue but it's also likely that that will intensify in the next little while.
The reason for that is pretty simple. President Trump, by pulling out of the Iran deal, gave the hard-liners a massive gift. He basically allowed them to go and legitimately criticize President Rouhani for trying to conduct the negotiations with Iran and -- sorry, with the P- 5-plus-1, so the rest of the international community -- and reaching a deal with them on the nuclear issue.
So now that Trump has pulled out, the hard-liners can turn around to President Rouhani and say, "Well, we told you so; we told you it was a bad idea to engage with the West." So they have this extra weapon today in the internal politics of Iran.
ZAKARIA: And what does it look like with the ordinary Iranian? I think that we often forget, when we talk about these issues of sanctions and things like that, Iran is 85 million people, not just the regime. It's an ancient civilization. It has, you know, millennia of culture and there are all these average people. And I'm wondering, what do you think -- what are they making of all this?
ESFIANDRY: Well, they're the first victims of everything that's going on right now around the nuclear deal. The international sanctions, the successive waves of sanctions that the international community imposed on Iran affected the ordinary Iranian much more than it affected the regime.
And it's pretty simple. The reason for that is because, as these sanctions were increasingly tightened, then small and medium-sized businesses would go out of business, and the only forces that were large enough, rich enough and big enough to come and fill that void were those that were controlled by the government or the Revolutionary Guards in Iran. So they would come in, sweep the benefits of these smaller businesses going out of business, while the average Iranian would be increasingly affected by it.
But that's not to say that it was only the sanctions that did this. The Iranian government mismanaged its own economy, particularly under Ahmadinejad, but even before. So it was a bit of a lethal cocktail that has led to the situation that Iran is in today.
ZAKARIA: You know, when I've been to Iran, I have found that the Iranian people are -- were, at least, very pro-American, you know, on the street. They were interested; they were well-informed. And I just wonder, as you say, with these waves of sanctions, and now that the focus is a little bit off the regime and a little bit more on America -- in other words, when I was there, they were blaming the regime for a lot of their woes. What do you think has happened?
Do you think -- I mean, I worry that what we fundamentally lost is the long-term goodwill of the Iranian people.
ESFIANDRY: Well, it's inevitable that Trump's decision will have affected Iranian goodwill towards America. You're absolutely right that Iranians are very pro-Western, pro-European, pro-U.S. There was a great desire to open up the Iranian -- Iran itself and also the Iranian economy -- to Western businesses, which helps, kind of, spur on the nuclear negotiations.
And today I agree with you. I think that we're going to be faced with a situation where the average Iranian is going to be a little bit perplexed at Trump's decision and wonder why it is that he himself is feeling the brunt of politics going on between the two countries.
So I think the blame today goes two ways. I agree with you that they do still consider their government responsible for some of the ills that they're facing in their day-to-day lives. But they're also increasingly looking towards the West, and particularly towards President Trump, and wondering why it is that he's doing what he's doing today, when Iran...
ZAKARIA: And, unfortunately, Dina...
ESFIANDRY: ... frankly, had held up its end of the bargain.
ZAKARIA: Dina, unfortunately, we have a hard out here. That's terrific analysis. Thank you so much. We will be back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What In the World" segment. For those of us who favor limits on governmental power, we've had a bad run recently. Vladimir Putin was sworn in this week for his fourth term as president. In March, China abolished term limits for its leader. And a Turkish referendum last year all but cemented the leadership of President Erdogan for over a decade.
We're seeing some worrying signs across the world of a return to a phenomenon that seemed to be in the past, leaders for life. But there's one region that serves as a surprising counterpoint, Africa. For years, the conventional wisdom on sub-Saharan Africa has been that it is the province of warlords and conflict, a land of strong men and weak states. But more and more often, we are seeing nations known for dictatorships and volatility transform into democracies. Take Nigeria. After 33 years of mostly military rule, it conducted
independent elections in 1999. In 2015, it reached a genuine milestone, the country's first democratic transfer of power from an incumbent to an opposition leader.
And it's more than elections. Many countries are adopting one of the most effective shackles for would-be strong men, term limits. In March, the once war-torn Sierra Leone elected as president a member of the opposition. It was the second consecutive time term limits worked in the country's history.
Look at Liberia. In January, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf respected term limits and voluntarily ceded her chair as president to the people's choice, a footballer-turned-senator who rose to fame and power from the slums. As The Economist pointed out, it was the first time the war-ravaged country transferred power peacefully from one elected leader to another since 1944.
These gains are not merely anecdotal, notes The Washington Post. Fascinating research published in a new edited volume shows heartening trends of African leaders respecting term limits. Between 1990 and 2015, 36 African leaders reached their term limits. Twenty of them voluntarily complied with those limits without a fight. Five leaders who attempted to hold on to office past their two-term limit failed by some combination of military, legislative or popular resistance.
Political scientists Daniel Posner and Daniel Young, who coauthored the research pertaining to term limits, say this represents a sea change compared to the past, when leaders would formally declare themselves presidents for life.
Look at Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe. Both leaders had garnered a huge amount of popular support as freedom-fighting heroes in South Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively. But in the end, they were ushered out against a backdrop of disastrous economic policies and rampant alleged corruption.
Now, it's not all good news and there have been recent instances of power grabs in the region and violence at the polls. But the point is that Africa is trending towards stronger democracy far more often than we typically know.
We often speak about the death of democracy around the world, and those fears are real. But those conversations rarely include Africa, and they ought to, because this is the region where the population is set to explode in coming decades. Africa may not hold much global clout now, but it will make up a quarter of the world's population by 2050, and in the decades following that, it will grow larger still. So good news there is good news for the whole world.
Next on "GPS," speaking of world leaders who could be in office for a long, long time, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated on Monday for his fourth term as president. What to expect from the next six years? I'll talk to the former American ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: If you were watching television in Russia on Monday, you would have seen something rather ordinary turned into a spectacle. It all began with Vladimir Putin getting up from his desk chair, putting on his jacket and walking out to the hallway, stopping to look at pictures along the way. Down a staircase, into a car he went. This travel log of sorts continued for more than nine minutes. It ended with bells chiming and Putin walking through massive golden doors, past throngs, to take the oath for his inauguration as president of Russia for the fourth time.
Will the fourth administration be any different from the last three?
Well, joining me now is a man who knows Vladimir Putin and has been at the receiving end of his ire. Michael McFaul was the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. He is the author of a terrific new book about Russia and his time there. It's called "From Cold War to Hot Peace."
My pleasure to have you on.
MCFAUL: Fareed, thanks for having me here.
ZAKARIA: So first explain why Putin doesn't like you. You were working in the National Security Counsel for Obama...
ZAKARIA: ... essentially running Russia policy. Then you get appointed ambassador.
ZAKARIA: And I imagine, to your surprise, once you got there, you quickly turned into almost enemy number one for the Russian government.
MCFAUL: I did. By the way, I attended that ceremony six years ago. It wasn't quite as long.
MCFAUL: That video of him going through the halls -- that was somewhat strange.
Yeah, well, I worked at the White House and we had a policy, as you know, Fareed, called "the reset," when I was there with President Obama. We did a lot of cooperative things with the Russians, arms control, sanctions on Iran. We had a lot of cooperation going. It was a good time in U.S.-Russian relations.
By the time I ended up as ambassador, as I write in the book, I got on the plane as "Mr. Reset" in Washington; I land as "Mr. Revolutionary" in Moscow. And the reason, I think, is pretty simple. Then, Putin was running for re-election. It was his third election, right? Now he's on to his fourth. And at the time there had just been a parliamentary election that has been falsified, but this time there was mobilization against that falsification, and 5,500 and then hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Moscow protesting against Putin.
He blamed us for that. He blamed the United States; he blamed Barack Obama; he blamed Secretary Clinton. And when I arrived, I became the focal point of that as well, a propaganda -- we call it disinformation now. But I was the target of that. And the theme was very simple: I was sent by Barack Obama to overthrow the Putin regime.
ZAKARIA: And the mechanisms they used are now quite familiar?
ZAKARIA: They -- you know, tweets, trolling, social media, all directed against you, right?
MCFAUL: Photoshopping. So it was a little cruder then; it's gotten a lot better. But, literally, my head would be placed on somebody else's body and it would make it look like I was doing certain things with the opposition.
They would record me. We've heard a lot about people being recorded in hotels, and let me tell you, they have a lot of capacity to do that. It was at the Marriott, not the Ritz-Carlton, but then they spliced and diced it to make it sound like I was plotting the overthrow -- by the way, with the U.S.-Russia Business Council...
... so kind of odd. But those tactics that we have now seen, yeah, I lived through them in a tragic way.
ZAKARIA: What -- what was it like? You're in a dictatorship. You are -- yes, you're the American ambassador, but you have the full resources of this dictatorship directed against you personally.
ZAKARIA: Did you -- I mean, did you feel unnerved?
MCFAUL: Yes, in two respects. One, on the disinformation stuff, sometimes we could laugh about it, but sometimes it got pretty nasty. In fact, the low point without question was when a video circulated suggesting I was a pedophile.
And what do you do about that, Fareed? What do you say -- you get on Twitter and say "I'm not a pedophile"? And to this day, if you search my name and "pedophile" on the Russian search engine, Yandex, 3 million hits come up.
And then, second, you know, you've been to Russia. We used to meet in Russia when I was ambassador. And you should know. You know, but everybody should know that, if the FSB, successor organization to the KGB, wants to follow you and everything you do, they have tremendous capability to do that -- your e-mail, your phone, your house. I had to assume that every single movement I made in Spaso House -- beautiful place, by the way; I was delighted to live there -- but every single movement I made was monitored.
So they have that capacity. And I learned to live with that. But that's one thing. Then there's another thing. And this was -- got dicey sometimes. They can follow you without you knowing. They're great at that. But sometimes they want to follow you because they want you to know you're being followed. And every now and then that would tick up. We would see these guys at my son's soccer game; we would see them tailing me. And the worst was when they started following my children to school. And nothing ever happened. It was all just to put a little pressure on us.
ZAKARIA: And the -- the point you make about Putin's nervousness and concern about the U.S. in some way affecting his re-election ended up getting directed very specifically at Hillary Clinton...
ZAKARIA: ... because she made some statements supporting the protests. And many people believe that is the origin of his decision to try to, as much as possible, wreck her election.
MCFAUL: I think that's right. And I would add to it a couple of things. One, she did make that statement. I was the White House official who cleared on it, by the way. I remember very vividly I was at my son's football game, finding a quiet place to do it. It was a pretty innocuous statement. You can go look it up. But the circumstances had changed, right? So to make that statement in 2009, no big deal, about electoral irregularities. To make it when tens of thousands were mobilizing against him, he was very upset. Publicly he said that she sent a signal to the demonstrators. Then privately, he told his president, President Medvedev, to call Obama, and he said, bluntly, "Does she speak for your presidency?" And it was a -- it was a very tense moment.
ZAKARIA: What do you think Putin's fourth term will look like?
MCFAUL: There's a word in Russian for it. It's called zastoy, stagnation. It's a word that was invented at the end of the Brezhnev era. And I think, tragically, that's what you're going to see internally. He didn't shake up the government like everybody was hoping, actually. It's not a reformed government.
And then, abroad, I think he's going to stay the course. There was a time when he cooperated with the West. I think it's too simplistic to say he's always been against the West. He evolved over time. But after Ukraine in 2014, when he believed, wrongly, but he believes that we overthrew his guy, President Yanukovych, in a coup, that's when he went into Crimea, seized Crimea, annexation -- we thought we got rid of annexation as something that would happen in the world. He did it. When it was easy for him, he went into Eastern Ukraine.
And I think that was a real pivot in his thinking, that "I'm done joining their clubs; I'm going to try to undermine their clubs; I'm going to try to undermine NATO and I'm going to try to weaken the United States."
And that's tragically what I predict will be the course of Putin for as long as he's in power.
ZAKARIA: Michael McFaul, pleasure to have you on.
MCFAUL: Thanks so much, Fareed. I enjoyed the conversation.
ZAKARIA: With summer holidays around the corner, here is a globe- trotting fact for you. Air travel worldwide is set to double to 7.8 billion passengers annually in the next two decades, according to the International Air Transport Association.
And it brings me to my question. What was the busiest international air route by number of flights over the past year: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, Beijing to Kuala Lumpur, New York to London or London to Mumbai?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
ZAKARIA: This week's book is "Us Versus Them: The Failure of Globalism." Ian Bremmer is a card-carrying globalist, but he is clear- eyed in this book about the shortcomings and failures of global capitalism. In a short series of essays, he intelligently sketches out the problem and possible paths forward.
The answer to the "GPS" challenge question is A. According to a report by aviation consulting firm OAG, 30,537 planes flew between the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur and the city-state of Singapore in the 12 months preceding February 2018. That is an average of 84 flights a day, carrying over 4 million passengers in total.
Asia dominated OAG's rankings of the world's busiest international itineraries with eight of the 10 most frequent trips originating and arriving in Asian cities.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.