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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Discussion of US-Russia Relations; Examining Election Security; How Immigration Has Rebuilt French Soccer. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 22, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] TAPPER: Congratulations. Thanks so much for joining us. Fareed Zakaria starts right now.
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 today.
On the show today, Trump, Putin, the Helsinki summit and the aftermath. The meeting raised many more questions than it answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Just what is the state of U.S.-Russian relations and what should it be? I have a great panel to discuss it all.
Also the 2018 election is just over 100 days away. What could Russia do this time to try to meddle? And how about China or North Korea? The cyber war expert David Sanger tells us what we should really be worried about.
And France's extraordinary World Cup win and the innovative program that brought the nation to victory. What the mosaic of different colors, different national origins, and different cultures can teach us all.
But first, here's my take. Donald Trump's press conference in Helsinki was the most embarrassing performance by an American president I can think of. His preposterous efforts to talk his way out of his troubles made him seemed even more absurd.
But what has been obscured by this disastrous and humiliating performance is the other strain in Trump's Russia Narrative, as he tweeted, "Our relationship with Russia has never been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity."
Now this is a serious issue worth taking seriously. The idea that Washington lost Russia has been around since the mid 1990s. I know because I was one of the people who made that case. I argued in 1998 that Washington was not ambitious enough in the aid it offered Russia nor was it understanding enough of that country's security concerns. I continue to believe that George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton might
have missed an opportunity to fundamentally transform Russia. But it has also become clear to me that there were many powerful reasons why U.S.-Russian relations might have been destined to deteriorate.
Russia in the early 1990s was in a period of unusual weakness. It had lost not just its Soviet era sphere of influence but its 300-year-old czarist empire. Its economy was in free fall. Its society was collapsing. In this context, it watched as the United States expanded NATO, intervened against its allies in the Balkans, and criticized its efforts to stop Chechnya from seceding.
From America's vantage point locking in the security of the newly liberated countries of eastern Europe was an urgent matter. It worried that the war in Yugoslavia was destabilizing Europe and producing a humanitarian nightmare. And the U.S. could not condone Russia's brutal wars in Chechnya in which tens of thousands of civilians were killed and much of the region destroyed.
In addition by the late 1990s Russia was moving away from a democratic path. The scholar Daniel Treisman has shown that by the mid 1990s the combined tally for all liberal democratic reformers in Russia's Duma elections never went above 20 percent. The extreme opposition forces by contrast -- communist, hyper nationalist -- received about 35 percent on average. And once Putin came to power the move towards illiberal democracy and then outright authoritarianism became unstoppable.
An authoritarian Russia had even more areas of contention with the United States. Moscow panicked over the color revolutions in which countries like Georgia and Ukraine became more democratic. It looked with consternation on the establishment of democracy in Iraq. And George W. Bush's freedom agenda might have seemed to Putin designed to dislodge his regime.
Perhaps more crucially by the mid-2000s steadily rising oil prices had resulted in a doubling of per capita GDP and cash was flowing into the Kremlin's covers. A newly enriched Russia looked at its region with a much more assertive and ambitious gaze, and Putin, sitting atop a vertical of power he had created began a serious effort to restore Russian influence and undermine the West and its democratic values.
What has followed ever since the interventions in Georgia and Ukraine, the alliance with Assad in Syria, the cyber attacks against Western countries have all been in the service of that strategy.
[10:05:09] So yes, the West and America might have missed an opportunity to transform Russia in the early 1990s. We don't know if it would have worked but what we do know is that there were darker forces growing in Russia from the beginning that those forces took over the country almost two decades ago, and that since then it is Russia that has chosen to become the principal foe of America and the American created world order.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started. Let's keep going. We have a terrific panel today. David Remnick is
the editor of the "New Yorker" and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire." Andrei Kozyrev was Russia's Foreign minister under Boris Yeltsin, the first after the fall of the Soviet Union. Katrina Vanden Heuvel is the editor and publisher of the left-wing "Nation" magazine and Steve Sestanovich was ambassador at large for the former Soviet Union under President Clinton.
Katrina, let me start with you. Do you think that we're all over reacting to the Helsinki summit and you worry about a kind of anti- Russian hysteria. Explain.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, THE NATION: I think we need sober realism on Russia, Fareed. I think we need more reason and less talk of treason. I think as the open letter "The Nation" released on the eve of the Helsinki summit, argues, yes, the Mueller investigation must proceed, it must be protected. But we must also do everything we can to secure and protect our election, infrastructure and that means also protection against dark money, voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, and most important we must engage with Russia to reduce conflict.
The stakes are high. These are the two countries which control 90 percent of the world's nuclear super weapons. So I think it's vital. And our letter was signed by people like Ambassador Matlock, Reagan ambassador to the Soviet Union, by Governor Ambassador Bill Richardson, by Gloria Steinem, by Noam Chomsky. These are people who understand that Cold War is lousy for citizens, for women, for children, for progressive, deplete resources, empower war parties, fatten defense budgets.
We need to have a vigorous debate, Fareed, and I thank you for inviting me on. But I'll tell you there's a lockdown in much of the media, political establishment. It's one-hand clapping when it comes to arguing that it is in the U.S. national interest to have a relationship with Russia. Understanding Putin is an authoritarian figure. Understanding that what -- summits don't necessarily give legitimacy to leaders. But also understanding that "The Nation's" open letter was published by Russia's leading opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Gorbachev is a part owner. It's where the journalists so many have been killed. Russians also seek some relationship with the United States, and many journalists, I know David will speak to this, too, because we both worked in Moscow off and on for many years. Russian journalists are looking at America and wondering, are we losing our head and are we doing more to contribute to the view of Putin as sort of infallible when in fact he's a strongman who should be poked at and not treated in this kind of hyper way. But I think it's very dangerous --
VANDEN HEUVEL: It's a very dangerous perilous moment, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Let me bring in David Remnick.
David, Katrina says it's common sense to have good relations with Russia. That is what Donald Trump says.
DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, THE NEW YORKER: The problem is this. The problem is not the idea of having good relations with Russia. Who would not want that? You have the two big nuclear -- two greatest nuclear powers in history on the face of the earth. Of course you want at least a modicum of decent relations between these two countries.
The problem is, this cannot be overlooked, even when my skeptical Russian friends think we're losing our heads. The president of the United States seems absolutely oblivious to the demands of rigorous diplomacy. He goes on television and in front of the Russian leader and says what he says in Helsinki. He clearly doesn't think or doesn't want to think that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. That is -- he clearly wants to deny what his own director of intelligence is telling him, that Russia continues -- I think he used the word red alert, continues to interfere in the upcoming elections.
[10:10:03] It's the combination of naivete, strangeness, and also an ideological affinity with the worst tendencies in the globe today, which is to say an authoritarian movement, illiberal democracy, as you once dubbed it, Fareed, which is getting worse and worse, whether it's in Poland, or in Hungary, or in France, in the right-wing parties there. These are the tendencies that Donald Trump is aligning himself with and at the same time telling all kinds of untruths.
And so the idea that there would be a suspicion about his motives when, in fact, his campaign manager is about to go into court, when, in fact, his National Security adviser is in trouble with the law, and so much else. I can't agree that we should have a completely calm head when it comes to Donald Trump, the president of the United States.
This is a very dangerous situation. I want good relations with Russia, or China, or not just our friends, but adversaries, too. I'm not out of my mind, I want that. We all do. But the problem is we are living in an emergency when the president of the United States behaves as he does.
ZAKARIA: Andrei Kozyrev, you understand the inside of Russian foreign policy. Though it did strike me that Donald Trump was saying some things that seemed very much like Putin's talking points, for example, the Montenegro example is one that Putin has raised often. Why is NATO expanding to Montenegro? What is the purpose? Couldn't that drag the world into World War III? And there you have Donald Trump saying that.
Do you think that Putin kind of succeeded in this summit in getting his point of view across to Donald Trump?
ANDREI KOZYREV, FORMER RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Fareed, tell me that the summit never happened in Helsinki, and there is no bromance between Trump and Putin, and I will tell you that there is a lot of hope to have -- to get America, to make America great again, but only if those things were just kind of unimaginable.
What is really dangerous to my mind, fundamentally, is that it's first time ever American president offered to Russian counterpart, in his tweet, in Trump's tweet, the new basis for relationship and the new basis for discussions. And the basis is that America is to be blamed for its stupidity. And -- I'm sorry I have a little flu. For its stupidity and foolishness, I think is quotation, that America is to be blamed for the troubles in relationships.
Of course, Putin cannot but rejoice on that. That's why my former deputy, Sergey Lavrov, said that it's more better than super. And that's wrong foundation and I don't -- I can't believe it happens that it's American blame. And proceeding from this basis offered to Russia, of course, Putin is saying this for decades that it's America has to change its behavior all over the agenda and here he is.
I mean, he'll be very, very helpful to cooperate on this basis. So the problem is not having normal or benign relations, but the relations based on the idea that it was all American fault, stupidity or whatever. And that America has to correct its behavior. That really makes this emergency situation, to my mind. It is emergency situation.
ZAKARIA: Steve Sestanovich, the Polish foreign minister had an article where he said, look, as America's allies we are all now very nervous. We wonder whether the United States will actually back up its -- I should say the former Polish foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, we wonder whether America will back up its promises, we wonder whether the alliance is strong.
[10:15:06] I'm hearing this from European ally after European ally. They all wonder in light of the way he trashed America's allies in Europe and then praised Putin, what is America trying to achieve in this -- is it trying to destroy NATO or erode the European alliance?
STEPHEN SESTANOVICH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR THE USSR: Fareed, the allies after the NATO summit in Brussels have had inevitably a kind of freak out, but you know, most American allies want good relations between the United States and Russia. Katrina is right that most Americans want good relations between the United States and Russia. The issue is does the president have any idea about how to achieve that goal?
What are the requirements of it? One requirement, as Katrina suggested, is actually a debate, although he makes it a lot harder to have a debate because everybody just has to gang up against him, and has to because he requires it.
The requirements of better Russian-American relations are, to start with, a certain kind of unity in the United States and in the U.S. government. We're in the unique situation of having a president who has his entire administration and the Congress against him on a major foreign policy issue. He can't do this by himself.
Second requirement is unity within the alliance. He's threatened that. A third requirement is some kind of leverage. The president seems to be interested in reducing our leverage. The incentives that we give Russia to act responsibly. He wants a big deal in Syria, for example, and yet he wants to -- his clear goal is to get out of Syria. That isn't going to give Putin much reason to think that he has to take our views into account.
On the basis of certain kind of unity, leverage, you can move Russian- American relations forward. I think we often exaggerate how bad they are. In the past four years, after a major challenge from Russia in the Ukraine crisis we've had a coming together of the alliance, we've had more resources devoted to deterring Russia.
We've had greater caution in some ways by the Russians in Europe. And the president would be in a position to harvest the benefits of that if he only understood what he was doing and didn't try to make this entirely his action.
ZAKARIA: But Steve, I got to -- I got to take a break. When we come back, I will ask the question simply, does Donald Trump seem beholden to Putin or is that too outlandish an idea? When we come back.
[10:22:27] ZAKARIA: And we are back with David Remnick, Andrei Kozyrev, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, and Steve Sestanovich.
David, Ross Douthat of the "New York Times" had a good column where he argued there are sort of three possibilities, I can't remember. But the one in three I remember well, which was, number one is that this is all happening because of Trump's narcissism. That he can't allow anything that delegitimizes his election to stand and so he's bending over backwards to claim the Russians didn't interfere. And three is Putin really has something on him. I think two was sort of in between. What do you think is the reasonable conclusion to draw from Trump's performance?
REMNICK: You know, I'm in the business of journalism and my view of it as a journalist is not to get beyond the facts as they've been established. I do remember very well when people were doubting the fact that Russia interfered in the election. Now people seemed to have come around to that.
I do know that Donald Trump's business interests have been cast into severe doubt in terms of their legality. He does business with money launderers from -- everywhere from Baku to Georgia to New York. His staff went in search of all kinds of kompromat on Hillary Clinton. But do I know that there's collusion? Absolutely I do not. I think the Mueller investigation is crucial to that. We will find out.
You know, the great tragedy here is that we are so caught up in this, and legitimately so. I don't think it's something that we're just spinning our wheels about. Legitimately so but meanwhile so many issues, where it has to do with the environment, or race, or criminal justice or foreign affairs elsewhere, are thrown into complete disarray by this when we're watching a president make a hash of foreign policies to such a degree, whether it's in North Korea, in Great Britain, in the rest of Europe or with the Russians that just on the sheer level of competency of a modicum of truth that we are watching a tragedy unfold every day and it's driving a large part of the country crazy.
It's just -- it has really been an going tragedy to watch. So I can't tell you the end result of the Mueller investigation. No one can.
ZAKARIA: Katrina, let me ask you, and we don't have a lot of time. This is a short block.
[10:25:02] Why do you think it is that Donald Trump is so nice about Putin? He says the most vicious things about Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. He says nasty things about Justin Trudeau. He undercuts Theresa May. They are our closest allies. But about Putin, if you just would do a word block charts it's strong, decisive, I trust him, I have confidence in him. It does lead people to wonder what is it that Donald Trump sees in Putin? And it could be an ideological affinity. It could be more. Is it -- is this a reasonable conclusion people come to?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, I think the attack on the two women, Angela Merkel and Theresa May show his misogynist side. I wish they'd taken a -- done a little crook in his nose. But I will say, Fareed, step back, there's no question that as David said Trump has affinity for strong men. He's a con man, by the way, I think Trump, not a strong man. But he doesn't say anything bad about Benjamin Netanyahu, the murderous dictator of the Philippines Duterte, Erdogan, Urban. So there are a whole set of strong men that Donald Trump doesn't say a bad word about.
So I know that to mean but there's no question Trump has an affinity for these strong men. But I will say stepping back, opposition to Trump and "The Nation" is at the forefront of a fierce opposition to Trump, what he is doing to roll back the civilizing reforms of this country of the last two centuries, cannot be opposition to common sense.
And Steve Sestanovich gets it right. I think that we need to keep an eye on the importance of a working partnership, not a friendship, with Russia to resolve Syria, to resolve the nuclear proliferation that imperils us, to set rules of the road for cyber attacks.
Let's do a Geneva convention, a global alliance.
ZAKARIA: All right. We got -- I got to cut you off, I got to take a break.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I don't think the bromance is real.
ZAKARIA: When we come back we will talk about just that, which is what is the likelihood of America being able to achieve some of its foreign policy goals in light of this summit when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with my panel.
Steve Sestanovich, I want to ask you again -- we've got to be brief -- where do we go from here?
You seem to think the allies "freak out," as you put it. Is it something that can be smoothed over?
I mean, a lot of the allies that I've spoken to, European officials, seem to think that this could be more of a watershed moment where they're asking themselves, "Do we have to imagine a world without an alliance -- without a rock-hard alliance with the United States?
SESTANOVICH: Look, the Helsinki summit sent a lot of disturbing messages to people all around the world. Here's the message I think it sent, a double message, to Putin.
Two things, contradictory: One, you may be able to get something for nothing. And second, you've got to help this guy; he doesn't know what he's doing. The message about getting something for nothing is that, you know, the -- the American positions may crumble across the board. It's not clear whether the president believes any of the traditional principles of American policy.
But the "you've got to help this guy" message is also very strong. Putin sees, and Russian commentators have been saying this, this week, that Trump is unable to defend his own policy. So if he wants to really improve Russian-American relations, he's got to do something for Trump. If he comes to Washington in the fall, nothing will so vindicate the hapless, crazy, brainless Trump policy like actually delivering something. Putin has to show that Trump is not just, as you said in the previous segment, beholden to him but that he can actually get something out of him. That's what we don't see any sign of yet.
ZAKARIA: Andrei Kozyrev, I'm sorry to do this to you because -- but this is television. Do you think that Putin wants a genuinely cooperative relationship with the United States or does he want to be the spoiler, the principal opponent of an American-led world order?
And I'm sorry to tell you, but we've got to do this in 45 seconds.
KOZYREV: Yes, but in my youth, Moscow was propagating "Proletarians of world countries unite." Today what I hear from Moscow is "Authoritarians of world countries unite." And that's where there is room for vast cooperation.
Just look at Syria. The dictator there, Russia fights for him. But otherwise, the authoritarians are to unite against American values, or democratic values, for that matter. And that creates a considerable constraint to any kind of cooperation, be it in Syria, because they want to re-establish, or establish, or whatever, keep the dictator, and in many other spots. So that's important to understand that it's not American foolishness.
ZAKARIA: Andrei, I've got -- I've got to stop you now...
KOZYREV: ... but Russian policy.
ZAKARIA: I've got to stop you now. We will have you back. We will have you all back. Thank you so much. Up next, election hacking by others, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now that the entire U.S. government, including the president, I think, has acknowledged that Russia did try to meddle in the 2016 elections, and given that the 2018 elections are just over 100 days away, I wanted to understand how Russia could meddle in that vote, just what is that nation's cyber capacity, and just how does it carry out its aggressive acts?
Well, I called in the expert to help us understand all this. David Sanger, a CNN contributor, is national security correspondent for the New York Times and the author of "The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age."
SANGER: Great to be with you again, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: When you look at what they did in the United States, what do you think?
I mean, you've talked to so many experts; you've seen some of the raw intelligence. What can we say with confidence that the Russians did?
SANGER: Well, you've seen the Facebook ads, right?
So we know that they went through the Internet Research Agency. And now, thanks to an indictment that just came out a little over a week ago, we know that the GRU, the Russian military intelligence, worked hard to try to influence individual Americans by pretending to be their neighbors instead of being a group of Russians.
We also know that they went into the voter registration systems of a number of different states, Arizona, Illinois, but many others, in an effort to see whether or not they could actually fiddle with the registrations.
Remember, voting machines are offline, by and large, and pretty hard to mess around with, but the voting registration systems are a different thing. And they are online. And so, of course, if you can go in and say that Fareed moved from New York to Chicago, when you show up at the poll booth, they might say "Gee, you're not registered here anymore." That didn't happen, but it turned out the system was so vulnerable, it easily could -- something to worry about for future elections.
ZAKARIA: And then, of course, there was the hacking of the DNC servers.
ZAKARIA: How confident are we that that was Russian intelligence officers? SANGER: Well, we now have traffic that we've seen in the indictment, e-mails, text messages, in which the Russian officers talk about pretending to be this group called Guccifer -- or individual called Guccifer 2.0. It turns out it's just a committee of Russian military intelligence releasing the e-mails.
But there's more. The British intelligence service, GCHQ -- it's their equivalent of the National Security Agency for us -- actually saw DNC documents running through the lines they were tapped into for the Russian military intelligence.
ZAKARIA: So British intelligence is looking at Russian intelligence's -- their digital activity -- and they see the Democratic National Committee's documents going through that?
SANGER: That's right. They see what's called the meta-data, the headings of an e-mail. And so they immediately -- the head of GCHQ -- and I quote him by name in the book -- tells me in interviews they immediately sent a note to the National Security Agency saying, "Hey, you've got a problem here; you've got DNC documents that we're seeing in the Russian network."
So when the president comes out and says, "Yeah, I think it was the Russians, but it could have been somebody else," it wasn't someone else. They saw this inside the Russian military intelligence network.
And they weren't the only ones. The Dutch had gotten inside the headquarters of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence hackers, and they had both video and some computer traffic from them. So we've got three separate intelligence sources.
On top of that, the CIA had some unique human intelligence, which was very closely kept -- John Brennan would give it directly to President Obama -- that attributed this to President Putin.
ZAKARIA: So what do you think the Russians could do in the 2018 election? What are their capacities?
SANGER: Well, they could do a lot of things, but my biggest fear about the 2018 election is not just the Russians; it's the people who have learned from the Russians. The main thing you learn from cyber attacks is that other countries are watching what everybody else is doing. They're aware that you and I are caught as the collateral damage in this war going on at 30,000 feet above us. And it's very easy for other actors to mimic somebody else.
So in the 2018 elections, it might be the Russians who come back, but the heat's on them. The Chinese have an awful lot at stake in this election because of the tariffs, or other concerns; other actors do as well. They're all studying what the Russians did in 2016, and saying "How can we improve upon that?"
ZAKARIA: And would it be fair to say that, because the president has been defensive and in denial, probably the U.S. government is not ramped up at full speed to deter something like this? SANGER: That's a great understatement. We lost a huge opportunity,
several of them. First, after the presidential election was over, the president, having received his briefings about the Russians, could have said, "I was legitimately elected, but we have a big problem here; we can't have foreign countries interfering in our elections, so I'm starting up a 9/11 kind of commission, going to report out lessons learned, and we're going to get started." He didn't do that.
Second, the White House used to have, under President Obama and a bit under President Bush as well, a White House cyber coordinator, who would try to pull together the various parts of the U.S. government that have interests in this. The cyber coordinator's job was eliminated by John Bolton in the first week or two that he was in office. They've never really given a reason why. That office is gone, at the very moment that the intelligence agencies are telling Congress and have told them for the past four years, that cyber is our number one vulnerability, ahead of terrorism, ahead of nuclear proliferation, ahead of everything else.
ZAKARIA: David Sanger, as always, a pleasure.
SANGER: Great to be with you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Kylian Mbappe is France's new hero. The 19-year-old soccer star won over the hearts of his fellow Frenchmen and women in this year's World Cup. Mbappe's parents were born abroad in Africa. And his foreign parentage makes him just part of the club. According to my next guest, more than two-thirds of the 23-member team are from families that recently emigrated to France.
France has a powerful right wing that denigrates immigrants, so the success of this melting-pot squad was a powerful signal. The question that Tony Blinken raises in a terrific New York Times piece is whether France can do for its recent immigrants, their neighbors and their neighborhoods, what this melting-pot team has just done for France.
Blinken is a former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser. He is now a CNN global affairs analyst.
Tony, let's begin by explaining to everybody why the hell you know this much about soccer and France and, you know, why you don't really have your national security hat on here but your documentary film- maker hat, in a sense.
BLINKEN: You know, Fareed, I got to spend a lot of time in France. I lived there from age nine to 18. I went to high school there. And so I, in effect, grew up in a country where soccer players were idolized and I watched the evolution of French soccer over four, almost five decades now. And I've seen the extraordinary emergence of France becoming a world powerhouse in soccer once again. It had been; it lost it, and now it's back.
ZAKARIA: Describe the extent of France's current domination of soccer.
BLINKEN: You know, it's pretty remarkable. The last five world cups -- they take place every four years -- France has won two of them. It finished second and third.
But what's important to point out is that this team -- I mean, these are all patriotic French people. This is -- you know, while the right wing in France often tries to denigrate them, these are French citizens and very loyal and patriotic French citizens.
BLINKEN: No, absolutely. More than half the team is born of families that relatively recently immigrated to France but they themselves were born in France, many of them, most of them, in fact, on the French national team, in the working-class suburbs ringing Paris, called "banlieue" in French. But these are -- they're as French as anyone else. And that's what made this moment so special. It's actually brought the country together at a time when it is divided, like many other countries, over immigration.
ZAKARIA: And so what do you think Macron can do here? You have a kind of an idea that this -- take this success and build on it?
BLINKEN: Yeah, I mean what Vox points out so powerfully in its video, which you can find on YouTube, is that two things contributed to the success of French soccer over the last 25 or 30 years. First you had this massive immigrant wave, or actually a succession of waves to France, after World War II, sought out by French governments to rebuild the country and then to meet a labor shortage, from North Africa, West Africa, Eastern Europe, southern Europe, the Caribbean.
But second, at the same time that this was happening, French soccer was actually in decline. And starting in the 1970s, France made a concerted national effort to find, to recruit, to train soccer talent. And they concentrated their national training academy in a lot of these hard-scrabble suburbs with newly arrived immigrants and a lot of soccer talent.
So the question now, having succeeded in integrating immigrants, in effect, into the soccer machinery, is can Macron do the same thing writ large for these integration problems that immigrants are having in French society? Can there be -- and I think there should be -- a focused national effort along the lines of the one that brought so much soccer success to finding new talent in these communities but much more broadly, not just soccer players -- engineers, mathematicians, teachers, doctors; you name it. That's the national effort that could be made and, if Macron seizes the moment, should be made.
ZAKARIA: What I was struck by in both the Vox piece and yours was that you recognize that there is an effort; there are forces in Europe that are integrating immigrants into the society. We tend to look at Europe and its immigrant problems from a particularly dark prism, maybe because in America we do it better, but it struck me that, you know, compared with President Trump, who is constantly denigrating the Europeans for immigration and talking about the dangers, what might be more helpful is to point out the successes and point out how they might build on these successes because those successes are real, as the soccer example shows.
BLINKEN: No, that's exactly right. And of course, in our own society in the United States, immigrant success stories run the entire gamut of the economy. And it's the same thing in Europe. But we also can't fool ourselves. These countries do have real significant problems. And just as the banlieues of these suburbs are producing incredible soccer players, there also is violence, crime, drugs, massive youth unemployment. That's what needs to be tackled.
I think what Macron is starting to do in refocusing on this problem makes a lot of sense: internships for 30,000 kids from under-served communities, making sure that French companies are not discriminating in their hiring practices, and maybe most important of all, starting to cut the classroom sizes, particularly in these parts of France. When kids came back to school in September this past year, they found, in the first grade, that their classroom size had been cut in half under a government mandate. That's being extended to second grade and third grade. That, over time, is going to make a real difference. And it's focused on the banlieues.
ZAKARIA: So great lessons we can learn from -- from sports. And, of course, I should point out that Tony Blinken would probably call this football, not soccer.
Thank you, Tony.
BLINKEN: Thanks, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: We will be right back.
ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week and I will see you next week.