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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Discussion of Swedish Election; Examining Free Speech Suppression on American College Campuses; Interview with Sec. John Kerry. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired September 09, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the Global Public Square. Welcome to all of your in the United States and around the world, I'm Fareed Zakaria. Today on the show, former Secretary of State, former Democratic nominee for the presidency, former Senator John Kerry. What does he make of a White House in chaos and how does he feel about his biggest achievement in office, the Iran Deal, as it's been trashed by President Trump?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to be a John Kerry who makes that horrible Iran deal.
ZAKARIA: (voice over) Sweden is known for ABBA, Ikea, Volvos and meatballs, but also for its liberal policies. So why is this part of Scandinavia seen a surge in the popularity of its far right populist party? And the last car built, Sweden's conservative foreign prime minister who has great fears about he future of Sweden and Europe.
Finally, Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Ann Coulter, why liberals must listen to all voices even those they disagree with.
But first, here's my take. For those few people who still believe Donald Trump is unconventional but canny, that there's a method to the madness. The revelations of this week should clarify. Bob Woodward's new book and the "New York Times" op-ed make plain that behind Trump's ranting, impulsive, incoherent, and narcissistic facade lies a ranting, impulsive, incoherent and narcissistic man.
But while the great presidential psychodrama captivates us, let's remember that there real things happening in the real world that continue. Friends that will prove consequential whether or not they get talked about on television. That's the main reason we're not peering too far behind the curtain these days is that in general things look good. The American economy is growing a bit faster than expected. Trump tries to take credit for this nearly every day.
TRUMP: We are the economic envy of the entire world...
ZAKARIA: (voice over) and some credit is justified.
TRUMP: Economic growth last quarter was 4.2 percent and as you people know it was headed down.
ZAKARIA: The widespread deregulation has probably had the effect of easing constraints on business activity. The sweeping tax cuts freed up cash for businesses. This infusion of money, however, is likely to produce only a temporary bump, a kind of sugar high that comes at the cost of a massive increase in deficits and deepening inequality.
But consider the broader trends that are shaping the world. Peace among the major powers allows for the continued surge of economic activity in most of the world. Globalization and an ongoing technological revolution have allowed growth to persist without the one economic factor that has almost always stopped it in the past, inflation. You see it's hard for prices to rise when goods and services can be supplied cheaply by either by a machine or software or a person in some developing country - China, India, Bangladesh.
But look below the surface at the forces producing these benign circumstances and they all seem increasingly under pressure. Take peace, America's leading architecht of the International Order and of stability seems determined to disrupt it. Trump is that hardened isolationist who constantly questions the value of the alliance structure that has kept the world peaceful and stable since 1945.
He either wants the United States to withdraw from the world or to turn its international role into some kind of profitable quasi colonial enterprise, for example, by extracting more payments from Europe, Japan, and Gulf States or confiscating Iraq's oil. His administration has been in major trade disputes with its top trading partners - the European Union, China, Canada, Mexico. That leaves the technological revolution that has transformed the world.
But here also the trends are not entirely promising for America. First the country is living off of seed capital; investments in basic science and research that were made in the '60s and '70s continue to undergird American tech companies today.
Could Amazon, Facebook, and Apple dominated the world without the internet and GPS, both technologies developed by the United States government. The next wave of massive investment in science and technology is indeed taking place but in China.
And then there is the rising backlash to technology. Tech companies are increasingly seen as having monopoly or oligopoly power crushing competition, ransacking consumer data and then profiting from it, intruding on privacy and being part of an elite that is utterly divorced from the rest of society. The best evidence for this is that Trump, who does have good instincts for where and when to pander has recently taken to tweeting against the tech giants with regularity.
Despite the Donald Trump freak show, we are living in peaceful and prosperous times but beneath the surface there are currents that could disrupt the calm, especially for the United States. For more go to cnn.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Let's get right into it with the former Secretary of State, John Kerry. He is the author of a new memoir, "Everyday is Extra." I want you to start by explaining the title. It comes out of your service in Vietnam.
JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It does. It's augmented by life itself but service in Vietnam assured a lesson with my crew and I and others I know who have been there that if you're lucky enough to survive and you come home and so many other good people didn't you feel a gift. You have a sort of sense of responsibility about how you should live your life because you are fortunate. And it's a gift to be able to have a life of purpose; to be able to get things done and to always recognize the degree to which you are bless because of that.
It's also a lesson that there are a lot of worse things in life than losing an election or losing a debate or whatever, but I think it puts a lot of things in perspective and importantly it incourages you to maximize the days you have. So I think those of us who live with that sense are lucky and it's a way of trying to encourage other people to realize you don't have to go to war to have that sense. Anybody who's had cancer or anybody who's had an accident or whatever, you learn how fragile things are and I think it's a great philosophy by which to live.
ZAKARIA: You say that we are in a constitutional crisis. Because the Woodward book, the "New York Times" op-ed make plain in your view, I think the president does not seem capable of the job. Is that fair?
KERRY: I think it's more than doesn't seem capable, I mean we have had confirmed now for more than a year and half examples some by virtue of people who write a book and talk to a person like Woodward and tell him what they're seeing and observing and Woodward is obviously a terrific reporter who knows how to gather his facts and protect his flanks.
So his credibility is very, very high. And some of the evidence has come very directly from the president himself. For instance when you tweet chastising an Attorney General of the United States for following the law and doing what the Justice Department is supposed to do by holding Republican Congressmen as accountable as anybody else and indicting them, and the president puts it in the context of affecting the elections, you have a president who clearly doesn't understand America, doesn't understand the Constitution, doesn't understand the role of the Justice Department, the separation of powers and that's dangerous. And when you link it to his rush to a summit with Kim Jong-un, his pronouncements about nuclear weapons afterwards, the lack of any certainty or precision to what the accountability for the weaponry that exists, let alone the denuclearization, we're working in a very, very different and frankly dangerous world for our country.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that those cabinet members who were whispering about the 25th Amendment, removing the president because he was unfit for office, unable to perform his duties, was that the right way to think about this?
KERRY: I think the right way to think about this right now is the elections in two months. I think that is the greatest course correction you can have for all of this behavior. It is the one thing where average citizens have an opportunity to be able to exercise judgment and be involved in the political process as they ought to be; it's the best of our democracy frankly and that's what I think we should be thinking about. It may be the strongest message and the strongest anecdote to what is happening today.
ZAKARIA: What about Republicans particularly in the Senate? You know these people well. You've served with them for years. Are you surprised there's nobody of great stature? There are few who are not running for reelection who did, but are you surprised that somebody like Mitch McConnell wouldn't say something critical, or is this what politics now is? It's tribal and -
KERRY: Fareed, I think that this is what the United States Senate was defined for, this moment, this kind of crisis, and it is a crisis. You effectively have a non-president a certain amount of the time.
If a person is stealing a document from his desk and what the president intent (ph) is not happening or if you have orders issued to the Secretary of Defense, former general, to assassinate people, which obviously is wrong and against the law, but - and he doesn't do it, clearly you have a situation where selectively the president is not the president. And that's a very dangerous situation.
That is not constitutional. That is not the way it's supposed to work, but people are protecting it because of the impulsiveness and gap between the president's understanding and reality and the norm.
So this is unique, and the Senate was designed to be the great check. That's why you have six-year terms. That's why you have this different set of rules from the House. Sadly over the years as I began to see it in the late 1990s and then onwards, much - some of the traits of the House have been transferred to the Senate. And I think the Senate is diminished by that over the years (ph).
This is a time where senators should be standing up to protect the Constitution and protect the institution, the Senate itself, but they seem to be advocating that responsibility.
They seem to be allowing the president to behave in ways that are clearly outside of any norm whatsoever that are dangerous, and as a result, they are not defending the Constitution that they swore to defend not the institution. They are defending party and president, and I think that's wrong.
ZAKARIA: When we come back on GPS, we will talk about the nuclear deal with Iran that came out of a grueling negotiation that John Kerry spearheaded. President Trump has, of course, withdrawn from it. What happens? I will get Secretary Kerry's statement when we come back.
ZAKARIA: On July 14, 2015, then Secretary of State, John Kerry, stood before the world and announced against all odds the United States, Germany, the U.K., France, China, and Russia had reached a nuclear agreement with Iran.
On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump stood before the world and announced he was withdrawing from what he has called the worst deal in history.
DONALD TRUMP, PRSESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: that the United States will withdraw from the Iran Nuclear deal.
ZAKARIA: Joining me now, John Kerry. What is your reaction to the United States withdrawing from that deal?
KERRY: Well, I think it's a very dangerous and ill-advised move that is not based on any broad strategy that is drawing other countries to the table to be supportive of it. Rather I think it represents a campaign promise made by the president he did campaign (ph), which he followed up on, but which has no basis in achieving the goals the president has set out, if there are goals.
This agreement - merely saying this agreement is the worst agreement. It is, in fact, the single strongest, single most accountable, single most transparent nuclear agreement anywhere in the world. What the president has done is simply said, "I'm going to get out," and whatever dangers might have existed way down the road if they were trying to breakout or something different were happening, which we would have known, and had every military option available to us way down the road or then or now, he suddenly rushed to making the way down the road be now, tommyrot. And in doing so, he has empowered the hard liners in Iran. He's given power to the people who said, "you can't negotiate with the United States. You can't trust them because they're the great Satan and they're going to burn you." Well guess what? Donald Trump proved them right, and he's put President Rouhani and those who were trying to move to a more rational and reasonable position in a much more difficult political and
[10:20:00] substantively difficult position with the Ayatollah, with the IRGC the hardline Republican Guard of Iran, and I think it actually works against American interest as a result of that.
TRUMP: It's great to be with you...
ZAKARIA: What is the danger of Donald Trump talking to Vladimir Putin without any aides for two hours one-on-one. He'd say look, that's how you establish a personal rapport and solve problems; get things done.
KERRY: Well I think it's, look, I am in favor of diplomacy that involves personal engagement where you talk to a leader and you're moving in a direction. The problem with this is evidently there was no shared sense of strategy and what that conversation would be. I don't know - was even with his own people and because of what we know about this president and his style and his approach in those kinds of meetings and I think you saw that evidenced in the press conference that took place afterwards, the president came out publically and praised President Putin's notion that an American ambassador should be subjected to interrogation by the Russian in exchange for a visitors.
I mean this was a remarkable moment in which the President of the United States as John McCain said and many other people observed, did not defend the United States against the hacking, that he literally accepted President Putin's denials, and he praised the strength with which President Putin had denied it. I think the danger of any solo conversation is that it simply augments that kind of cow-towing(ph) and I think most people have serious questions about what it is that Russia has in terms of information about Donald Trump that might force him not to be able to be forceful with President Putin.
ZAKARIA: Do you think Putin has something on Donald Trump?
KERRY: I don't know the answer to that but I will tell you this, when we went to Moscow, we were advised by everyone not to engage in any kind of conversation in a hotel or in a public place and to recognize that we were being observed and followed and listened to wherever we were.
So it is incomprehensible to me that Donald Trump as a private businessman would have gone there at any point in time and that they didn't know everything that he was doing.
ZAKARIA: Stay with us. When we come back in a moment, I will ask Secretary Kerry, who should run against Donald Trump in 2020. Trump wants John Kerry to run against him. Will he?
ZAKARIA: The 2018 midterm elections are less than 60 days away. I wanted to get some political insight from man (ph) who in the 46 years since his first election has run for the U.S. House of Representatives, for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, five times for the U.S. Senate, and once for president. We are back with John Kerry, author of "Every Day is Extra".
So when you look at the political climate right now with this group of Americans who seem angry, but also very deeply supportive of Donald Trump, what is your sense of what the Democrats need to do? You know, everyone sort of has a strategy, but it seems to me the core issue is that Trump has connected almost emotionally a group of Americans the Democrats were not able to. What should they do?
KERRY: Well, I think they have to have a better plan for making peoples' lives better. It's that simply, and I completely understand what has happened with respect to Donald Trump and the support that he garnered on the right and on the left in America and in between.
People are appropriately angry, and I understand that anger. I mean, I watched this in the Senate when we went from the Gingrich Revolution to the Tea Party to the Freedom Caucus to Donald Trump's basically hostile takeover of the Republican party, and it came about because Washington, politicians, Congress was not getting the job done. It was not responding.
Now, there are individuals in the city who want to do the right thing or are trying to, but as a group, an institution, it is failing.
ZAKARIA: You talk in the book about how the kind of take no prisoners partisanship began in the 90s and it was the Clinton presidency and Newt Gingrich and a new kind of Republican majority. That seems to be the point at which it became -
KERRY: I think that is when it turned. I do. I mean, that's when you began - you had these - you know, you had the Whitewater. You had this interminable investigation, which was legitimate perhaps in its beginning initial effort to say we're going to look at the Whitewater, but that's not what it did. It went way beyond that and on and on and on. But more than that, you had a concerted effort to destroy a presidency.
And that now seems to have become the norm, that when a new president comes in we're going to destroy it. We're not going to see how we could work together for a least a year or the two years before we have another election and try to get things done for the country.
We're not building things in America. We don't - our infrastructure is in desperate need. It's a dry issue. A lot of people would say, "oh, don't talk about it. Nobody cares." It matters. Whether you could ride a train in China that goes 300 miles an hour from Beijing to the coastline, I've ridden on it. My water didn't even move in my glass.
We're not doing that in America. We have gridlock in city after city after city, because we're not building the kind of transportation systems we need. Think of the jobs that could be created. Think -- you know, China is engaged in a trillion-dollar expenditure for the One Belt, One Road. They're touching 68 nations. They've built a railroad system that has 49 different routes to nine European countries. And we're sitting here with, what, with the Acela that goes from New York to Washington, can't even go the 150 miles an hour it could go more than about 18 miles of the entire trip.
We went to the moon. We invented the Internet. We should be ashamed of what is not happening now and decide we need to make it happen.
So that's what I think is at stake at this moment. And I think, if we begin to address our concerns, I think we'll find a lot of citizens begin to deal with each other again and find the common ground like John McCain and I did, standing in his prison cell in Hanoi.
ZAKARIA: President Trump says that he should be so lucky that you will run against him in 2020. Will you take him up?
KERRY: I -- listen, I am not dealing with, thinking about or wasting time on 2020 right now. I don't think anybody should be. I think the only thing we should focus on is the election that takes place in two months.
I have no plans to run for anything in my life right now. I really don't. But I think that the course correction that could put our country back on track is staring us in the face. The magic number, 54.2 percent -- that's the number of eligible voters that voted in 2016.
When I ran, and I'm not -- you know, I didn't win, obviously -- but when I ran with George Bush, we had a 60.3 percent -- 60.4 percent turnout. When Barack Obama was elected the first time, it was a 62.3 percent turnout.
So the point I'm making is, it's not the people who did vote that wound up effecting the outcome; it's the people who didn't vote. That's what is at stake in the next two months. You don't like what's happening now; you think we could have a better direction; you think you're not earning enough money; you think we could fix health care, whatever -- you've got to organize around leaders who are prepared to go down to Washington and get the job done.
ZAKARIA: John Kerry, pleasure to have you on.
KERRY: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," we will pivot from the upcoming American election to the Swedish election that's happening this weekend. Why you should care about what's going on in Sweden even if you didn't like Abba or Ikea.
ZAKARIA: It is election day in Sweden and I wanted to bring your attention to something that's happening there that is very important. Look at the numbers behind the rise in popularity of a party called Sweden Democrats.
In 2010, it got less than 6 percent of the vote; in 2014, 13 percent. Recently the party has been polling even higher. Why am I telling you this? Well, don't be fooled by the name. Sweden Democrats is a far right anti-immigration nationalist party with reported roots in neo- Nazism.
That's right. In this country known for its welfare sate, its focus on egalitarianism, on child-rearing, on human rights, on environmentalism, a far-right party could finish in the top three.
What in the world? How did this happen? Well, joining me now is a fantastic guest, Sweden's former prime minister Carl Bildt.
Carl, is there a simple bottom line that explains this? Is it immigration?
CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINUSTER: I think that's part of it. This is the pattern that we've seen in the elections throughout Europe for a couple of years, that we have the emergence of populist parties to the right. We didn't have those before. And they could be 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent, or some bit above that, of the electorate. But it is a major change in the Swedish political system. And of course the agitation that they have against immigrants, against European integration and the European Union, is deeply disturbing for the future of the country.
ZAKARIA: Do you think it is a -- is there a, kind of, coherent program here or is it a series of impulses, as you say? Two of the big ones seem to be anti-immigrant -- that seems to me the dominant one. But anti-E.U. or anti-further-integration, loss of sovereignty?
BILDT: That as well. I mean, it all adds up. Whether it is coherent, I think that would be too kind to them. It is fairly incoherent, most of what they are saying. But, I mean, there are people, also, rural people and other (ph) people who feel that they are left behind. I mean, you've seen that tendency in the U.S. as well. So they try to play on saying "Make Sweden great again," in the sense that things were better before; go back to the 1950s; we didn't have any European Union; we didn't have any immigrants; the world was less complicated.
So it's that sort of sentiment. And immigration, I think, has been triggering something that is slightly wider than your stat (ph).
ZAKARIA: What is striking to me, Carl, as I looked at the numbers, and in -- in 2017, Sweden saw a huge drop in immigration. And this mirrors a pattern Europe-wide. The immigration problem, the sense of a kind of out-of-control migration from -- from the south seems to have stopped, and yet the backlash to it continues very strongly.
BILDT: That's true. If you look at the numbers, we have the lowest numbers of refugees coming to Sweden that we have had probably for 10 years. And that applies to virtually all of Europe at the moment. But 2015, we had a million people coming within a couple of weeks, concentrated to a large extent in Germany and Sweden. That (inaudible). And the key toss -- not an easy one, it has be said -- ahead of the countries that have got to integrate all of those people -- we took 160,000 of them. And that was a higher share, if you see it in -- in relation to the population -- of any other European country.
And to integrate them, going into the labor market, learn our not entirely common language, Swedish, and educate very many of them -- it's a major undertaking. And a lot of people are worried, is this going to be too much of a strain on law and order, a strain on the welfare state, those sorts of things?
ZAKARIA: You're a politician, Carl, so you understand that a lot of politics is not about the facts; it's about the emotional reaction to the circumstance. What is the best path to counter that certain kinds of nativism and racism and paranoia about these things?
BILDT: I think that what is necessary, that applies to Sweden, that applies to other European countries as well, is we need to get hope back into politics. The development that we've seen in the last few years, say 10 years back or something like that, is there's been more fear. The future is not something that looks that hopeful any longer. The future looks increasingly problematic.
There's an element of truth in that. We live in a more complicated world. We have a lot of changes, technology and others, that are in our society. And a lot of people then go defensive, say things are not going in the right direction; things were better before. And politics have to some extent been playing along too much, in my opinion. We need to get hope back, optimism about the future.
I say that by acknowledging that it's somewhat easier said than done.
ZAKARIA: Well, on that hopeful note, Carl Bildt, pleasure to have you on, sir.
BILDT: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to cnn.com/fareed for a link to my iTunes podcast.
ZAKARIA: After I interviewed Steve Bannon in May, there was an outcry, with many people wondering why I gave him a platform for his views. well, I believe hearing his ideas was and is important. Bannon is the most articulate exponent of the movement that put Donald Trump in the Oval Office. He's now working to replicate that success all over Europe.
Liberals need to understand that, if they don't listen to people like Steve Bannon, those people don't disappear. It just means liberals will keep being surprised by election results.
On Monday Bannon was disinvited from the New Yorker Festival after a Twitter outcry. But as Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer at that magazine, said, "An ideas festival where you only invite your friends is called a dinner party." I wanted to talk about this dust-up and the related issue of free speech being curtailed on American college campuses and issues relating to that.
Jonathan Haidt has written a fantastic book, "The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation For Failure," along with Greg Lukianoff.
Jonathan, pleasure to have you on.
JONATHAN HAIDT, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me here, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: So you say that there is a kind of -- an important shift that's taken place in the way we handle ideas, where it's almost like it has -- a new moral universe. Explain what you mean.
HAIDT: So what began happening in 2014, 2015, is that professors and students who would say something, somebody would react to one word and there would be protests and there would be demands that the person be punished or fired. And it took everyone by surprise. It seemed very strange. But that's what we're seeing now is that the new generation of students -- these are not Millennials; these are the kids born after 1995 -- they've been raised in a very protected way. They're very sensitive to the power of words. But there's this huge clash on campus now and it's making it very difficult, for example, to teach a class. You speak for an hour and if you get one word -- if one person's offended by one word, they can report you.
ZAKARIA: And what I'm struck by is, for these -- you know, this new generation, your political activism, engagement, your political ideas are all about, as you say, this "callout culture." You're not actually discussing ideas; you're just searching for trigger words. Give me an example of the kind of callouts that you've seen, heard about, witnessed.
HAIDT: There was an episode and Claremont-McKenna College where a dean wrote a very helpful e-mail to a student who had said she feels marginalized and unwelcome, and the student seized on one word, which was meant kindly, but she interpreted it in the worst possible way. It launched literally hunger strikes demanding that the dean be fired.
And so students and faculty are now much more -- you hear the phrase over and over again -- "walking on eggshells," "teaching on eggshells."
ZAKARIA: Even the use of gender pronouns has become highly politicized.
HAIDT: That's right. That's right, and especially cross-cultural conversations. So I hear over and over again from foreign students -- you know, we have so many foreign students who come here thinking they're going to find this vibrant intellectual climate. I have students from China and Singapore. These are more authoritarian countries. They come here and they say, "I thought we were going to be able to speak freely, and we have to watch ourselves all the time."
ZAKARIA: You say that this is tied to, actually, the way these kids were raised? Explain that.
HAIDT: Yes. Yes, so there was this very rapid change that occurred around 2013, 2014, but to understand why the kids born after 1995 are different, you have to go back to their childhoods in the 1990s and early 2000s. So for all of human history, kids would play outside in mixed-age groups and they would learn how to have conflicts. They would learn how to make rules, enforce the rules. And sometime in the 1980s and '90s, we freaked out in this country. We got the idea, in part from cable TV, or wherever, that if we let our -- if your kids are outside and there's not an adult literally watching them, they might be abducted.
So most of our generation, by the age of seven or eight, we would walk to school; we would play outside. And when you learn the important skills, the art of association, as de Tocqueville called it. But beginning of the '80s and '90s, we cracked down on this, and now in the 2000s, you begin to see the stories about parents who are arrested -- arrested -- because their kids were caught playing at a park unsupervised.
And if -- imagine if we didn't let kids read until they were 14, that would slow down their reading. Well, what we do is we don't let kids be independent. We don't let them be outside supervising themselves until they're 13 or 14, in many communities now.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that there's any -- any shift, any pushback taking place?
HAIDT: I think we're ready for it. The rate of depression and anxiety has skyrocketed for teenagers, and especially for teenage girls.
There was an article in the New York Times last week questioning this. But if you look at the hospital admission data for cutting their bodies with sharp objects, same pattern. You look at the suicide rate, same pattern. Boys' suicide rate is up 25 percent; girls' suicide rate is up 70 percent, 7-0.
ZAKARIA: Over what period?
HAIDT: From, if you -- if you look at the first decade of the century, so 2000 to 2010, take the average per 100,000, and then you compare it to the last two years, it began going up in 2011 and it's steadily upwards. This is a catastrophe. People are just beginning to learn about it this year. So I think the will is there. I think a lot of parents want to break out. And so we have a lot of suggestions in the book for how to do that. You have to do it together with other parents, with the school.
ZAKARIA: Jonathan, pleasure to have you on.
HAIDT: My pleasure, Fareed. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAKARIA: Republicans have on occasion promised to cut entire executive branch departments, even if some of them couldn't always remember which ones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SECRETARY OF ENERGY RICK PERRY: It's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone, commerce, education and the -- what's the third one there -- let's see...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Rick Perry then famously went on to lead the agency he wanted to cut but couldn't think of the name of, the energy department.
It brings me to my question. What nation announced this week it would get rid of half of its government ministries? Is it Laos, Argentina, Mozambique or Mongolia?
Instead of a book this week, I would like to recommend a podcast, my podcast. If you ever miss a show, you may know that you can get the "GPS" podcast at places like iTunes and Google Play. And now you can find the audio of our shows on Spotify. Just open the app, search my name or "GPS," and scroll down to "Podcasts."
Now for the last look. Venezuela is in crisis. The IMF predicts that hyperinflation in that South American nation will swell to a million percent by year's end. One study found that nearly 90 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty and almost two-thirds said they cannot afford to buy food every day.
Venezuela recently renamed its currency after getting rid of five zeros from the hyperinflated money and began increasing fuel prices to raise money for the depleted budget. To make matters worse, citizens have been stuck. Passports and visas are nearly impossible to obtain. It can take years to move through the sluggish bureaucracy or up to $2,500 in bribes to get the necessary paperwork, according to CNN reporting.
But there is good news. It just became easier for Venezuelans to flee their country, as 11 other Latin American states agreed this week to take in migrants who have expired travel documents, the BBC noted.
Since 2014, some 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled from the economic disintegration of their nation into neighboring countries, according to the U.N. That is about 7 percent of the entire population. Despite all this, the vice president says migration numbers are normal, warning that state enemies are trying to inflate the figures to justify some kind of intervention. But of course, theirs is not the first administration to claim fake news.
The answer to my "GPS" challenge is B. Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced Monday that the government would close or combine about half of its ministries as an austerity measure. Macri hopes this will persuade the IMF to speed up the release of a sorely needed $50 billion bailout. Argentina's peso has lost half of its value against the dollar this year alone, potentially leaving Buenos Aires without cash to pay its debts. This crisis is just the latest in a century- long economic decline.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.