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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Khashoggi Case Examined; Looking at Women in Japanese Businesses; Talking Social Attitudes and Politics. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 21, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[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: Today on the show, the death of Jamal Khashoggi and it's after-effects. Will the world accept a cover-up and move on? What happens to U.S.-Saudi relations. And what does this do to an already unstable Middle East.

Also, how did the "Washington Post" turn the story of one man into an international cause? I will talk to the "Post's" editorial editor Fred Hyatt.

And do you drive a pickup or a Prius? Eat iceberg or kale? Drink light beer or chardonnay? Well, your answers to those questions and more tell researchers a lot about your politics. How do you score? Find out.


ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. The barbaric murder of Jamal Khashoggi tells us something important about Saudi Arabia, but it also tells us something important about America.

First Saudi. As has often been noted, Khashoggi used to be part of the Saudi establishment. Although not a member of the House of Saud he was well-born and well-connected.

I met him first 14 years ago. He was one of the people who assisted me when I spent a week in Riyadh and Jeddah. Khashoggi was done working for Prince Turki al-Faisal, the longtime head of Saudi intelligence who then became ambassador to Britain and would later become ambassador to the United States.

Yet Khashoggi was even in those days a liberal and a reformer, though always moderate and incremental in his approach. He worried that too much reform would be disruptive. He said we do not want to break the society. Watching Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's approach today, a mix of authoritarianism and real reforms, Khashoggi became more critical, but was never a radical.

So why he was apparently seen as so threatening? Perhaps because he was respected within the Saudi establishment. Consider what Harvard's Tarek Masoud told me just last week.


TAREK MASOUD, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: To see him run so afoul of that establishment or run afoul of the monarchy suggests that there's a deep cleavage with that establishment.


ZAKARIA: If so this is significant. When the scholar Samuel Huntington studied the breakdown of authoritarian regimes in the 1970s and '80s, he noted that the schism within the ruling elite was almost always the precursor to a broader breakdown of the regime. Historically Saudi Arabia has maintained stability because it was really a patronage state not a police state. The kingdom has typically dealt with its critics and dissenters by buying them off. Most importantly in the case of hardlined clerics. '

Yet MBS, as the crown prince is known, appears to be changing the model from patronage to police state. He has mixed economic, social, and religious reforms with an ever tighter grip on power, shaking down businessman, imprisoning activists, targeting news platforms and now it would seem executing a columnist.

Leaving aside the immorality, ruthless repressive actions such as these often tend to produce instability in the long run. Hosni Mubarak's crackdown during the Arab Spring did not save him. Bashar al-Assad's repression of dissent has come at a staggering cost, with his territory diminished and mostly in ruins.

Ironically for someone so ferociously anti-Iranian, MBS sometimes resembles no Middle Eastern ruler as much as the Shah of Iran, who was a reformer but also a despot, and was also much loved by Western elites.

Mohammed bin Salman is a complicated controversial figure. He has moved Saudi Arabia forward in some areas, while moving it to greater repression in others. But the larger issue for Washington is that America's foreign policy should not be based on personalities.

Donald Trump's world view seems utterly rooted in his likes and dislikes of other leaders from Kim Jong-un to Angela Merkel to MBS.

[10:05:04] In the Middle East this has led to the blind subcontracting of American foreign policy to Saudi Arabia. Washington has watched and de facto endorsed the kingdom as it ramped up its bloody war in Yemen, blockaded Qatar, quarreled with Turkey and essentially kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon.

All these moves have in large measure failed. America's Middle East policy should be based on its interests and values in the region and beyond, and these will never be perfectly aligned with any one country. Historically this has meant being an honest broker, respected by all major powers in the region. This requires nuance, sophistication and ceaseless high quality

diplomacy. But that is the price of being the leader of the free world, a job we appear of late to have simply vacated.

For more go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

On Friday night 17 days after Jamal Khashoggi was seen going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia finally admitted that the journalist had died there. Khashoggi's demise, the official statement said, came when the 59-year-old man brawled with a group of young men sent to have a, quote, "discussion with him," unquote. Eighteen Saudi nationals have been detained in the case.

President Trump in an interview yesterday with "The Washington Post" said obviously there has been deception and there's been lies in the Khashoggi matter from Saudi Arabia but he praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Let us bring in the panel. Wendy Sherman was undersecretary of State for political affairs in the Obama State Department. Today she is a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center and the author of "Not for the Faint of Heart."

Martin Indyk held many, many top positions at the State Department including assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs during the Clinton administration which is the job that oversees U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia. He is now a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Fawaz Gerges is a professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics. He is the author of "Making the Arab World."

Martin, let me start with you. The crucial question it seems to me is, can Mohammed bin Salman survive this?

MARTIN INDYK, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS: It's not clear. As so much else in Saudi Arabia. It's kind of the land of the seven veils, so we don't exactly know what is happening, but we can assume the shots are gathering. He alienated a lot of other princes, taking some of them under arrest, and shaking them down, pursuing a reformed agenda, which others have questions about. And then taking down a highly respected crown prince, Muhammad bin Nayef, who is now under house arrest.

So for sure, they're within the royal family, people who are plotting against him. Secondly, his big agenda is a reform agenda, that's made him popular amongst his people, but now his reform agenda is going to be in question. Partly because of the flight of capital. Foreign investors will now be very scared to get involved, you can see that with all the dropouts from the conference, the investment conference that he's having next week.

And on top of that, his ability to go forward on reform is caught up by his own concern about wanting to appear tough in the face of this onslaught. And so reforming at this moment could be taken as a sign of weakness, personally, himself. I think he's more likely given the way that he acts to crack down rather than open up in this environment and cracking down as you have suggested is precisely the wrong thing to do. He needs to double down on reform if he's in any way to try to repair his credibility, which I suspect is gone now. And doubling down on reform is probably the last thing he's going to do.

ZAKARIA: Fawaz Gerges, what does this look like from a regional perspective? Saudi Arabia is engaged in a war in Yemen. It's quarreled -- it has blockaded Qatar. It has had quarrels with Lebanon. All directed by the crown prince. And now it has this deep schism with Turkey over this issue. What is Saudi Arabia's position in the region?

FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, I mean I think the Jamal Khashoggi case undermines the leadership of Saudi Arabia. This is a common sense. It undermines its position in the region. It's fighting multiple wars on, you know, multiple areas. The strategic rivalry -- with the geostrategic rivalry with Iran, the boycott of Qatar, this particular geostrategic privacy on Iran is playing out on various Arab streets.

[10:10:10] And I think what we're going to witness, Fareed, in the next few months and the next year is a new geostrategic fault line between Turkey on the one hand and Saudi Arabia on the other hand. President Erdogan basically is trying to reclaim the Ottoman legacy as the leader of the Sunni world. Remember Istanbul was the seat of the Caliph, while Saudi Arabia basically is the guardian of the two holier places and the birthplace of Islam.

So you're going to have multiple geostrategic fault lines in the region. Not to mention the fact, I mean, we're talking about Jamal Khashoggi. What the Jamal Khashoggi case really tells us is a broader lesson about the Middle East, not just Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. I mean this notion of the just dictator, the notion of the authoritarian leader or modernizer, the cult of personality.

What has it done since the end of World War II? It has basically led to massive economic mismanagement, deepening authoritarianism. It's mutated into the security state. It's surprising for me, Fareed, that the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is traveling a similar road to the road that had been traveled by other dictators in the Middle East. A road leads to nowhere and is littered with mine fields for Saudi Arabia and for the people of Saudi Arabia.

ZAKARIA: Wendy Sherman, let me ask you. The simple question for the United States is what to do. Saudi Arabia is an important ally, it is the central banker of oil, but you have all the things we've just heard. So what should the U.S. do?

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Actually I'm a bit more cynical than Martin and Fawaz in terms of what's going to happen here. I believe that the Trump administration has made a decision to stick with MBS. Yes, they may question this absurd narrative that's coming out of Saudi Arabia, but at the end of the day, the president is very transactional. We've seen that he has created -- I don't hold him responsible for

Jamal Khashoggi's death, but I do hold him responsible for creating an environment of impunity when he talks about slamming American reporters, when he stands behind Saudi Arabia so many days later after these explanations are not credible. So I think the administration absolutely is going to have to find some road forward here to, quote- unquote, "punish" Saudi Arabia, but I don't think that will mean withdrawing support from MBS.

And two other points I want to make briefly. One, this is a good day for Erdogan. This is a good day for the supreme leader of Iran. They can just in fact sit and wait to see what Saudi Arabia will do. The Turks, I think, I'm a little more cynical than Martin, I think are waiting to see what price they can extract from Saudi Arabia. Their currency is in trouble, their economy is in trouble. So it will be interesting to see whether the new fault lines here are as Fawaz put it really looking to change the Middle East or whether we're going to see a doubling down of really the kinds of fault lines that don't move societies forward, don't change the autocratic nature of the Middle East.

ZAKARIA: Stay with us. We will be back, more on Saudi Arabia and the United States. When we come back.


[10:17:43] ZAKARIA: And we are bark with Wendy Sherman, Martin Indyk and Fawaz Gerges.

Martin, let me ask you. Everybody when they look at Saudi Arabia says they have the leverage, they have -- they're the central banker of oil, they buy all these arms from the United States. It should be pointed out that number is not $110 billion, as President Trump keeps saying, but probably closer to $20 billion to $30 billion but still --

INDYK: Actually --

ZAKARIA: -- who has the leverage?

INDYK: In terms of contract, it's only $4 billion.

ZAKARIA: $4 billion. But who has the leverage?

INDYK: Well, there's no doubt that the Saudis have the swing oil (INAUDIBLE) have to ability to moderate the price of oil. We don't need their oil anymore but much of the rest of the world does. And we do need them to be in a position to pump oil because on November 4th, Trump was about to impose oil sanctions on Iran and take something like a million barrels a day off the oil market. So they have a certain amount of leverage there.

The arms supplies, you know, some worries are dubious proposition and they're difficult costumers. They don't pay on time, they argue about the contracts and so and so. You know, they promised Trump $110 billion, but literally there's only $4 billion in actual contracts. We need to bear that in mind. They need us much more than we need them. There's no question about that. We are their ultimate protectors against the enemy that we share in common which is Iran.

And biggest problem there is that the Saudis, one of two pillars that Trump has based his strategy against Iran off. The other one being Israel. And the problem with MBS is that even though he wants to be our strategic partner against Iran, or I should put it the other way, he needs us in that case, when we work with him against Iran, he manages to do things without consulting us, that only help Iran, so the war in Yemen, which is an unmitigated disaster for the -- for Saudi Arabia and the United States, a humanitarian disaster for the people of Yemen, is only advantaging Iran, which for them coming in and supporting one of the groups there, the Houthis, very low cost, high gain for them.

[10:20:02] Saudi Arabia has been bogged down there since 2015 when he went against Hariri, the leader -- prime minister of Lebanon. And he only helped Hezbollah, Iran's proxy there. When he puts a siege in Qatar, he drives them into Iranian arms. So every step along the way, his actions have undermined our efforts to try to contain and roll back Iran.

ZAKARIA: Fawaz Gerges, what do you say to those who say, look, the guy -- taken the religious beliefs off the street. He's allowed women to drive, he's trying to open up the economy, a lot of these things seem quite popular in Saudi Arabia particularly among young people, and that therefore we should be more understanding.

GERGES: That's what I would say, Fareed, to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia is highly, highly conservative country. It's one of the most conservative countries in the Arabic Islamic world. It will not take just one year or one decade to transform Saudi Arabia. It probably will take probably three or four or five decades. What the crown prince has been trying to do is he's in a hurry to consolidate his power, and also to transform Saudi Arabia.

A more effective means would be what? Institutionalized? Nourish a healthy society? A new social contract? A last how is a healthy space to breathe, let embark, checks and balances? Because what the crown prince has been trying to do is really transformation by shocks. And governing by shocks could have major counterproductive effect for Saudi Arabia.

Final points, Fareed, I want to take you task because you said that the United States before Donald Trump was basically its foreign policy consistent with its values. And the United States was an honest broker. Well, the only difference between Donald Trump and his predecessors, he does not really pay a need of service to the norms that he (INAUDIBLE). But what Donald Trump has done, he has made the situation in the Middle East much more dangerous than it is.

And I know it's very difficult for some of your viewers to believe so. Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, he deepened Palestinian despair by triggering a new chapter in the Iranian confrontation, he probably sowed the seeds for the new war in the Middle East, and also by embracing bloody authoritarian dictators in the Middle East he's allowing to do what they are doing, basically clamp down with impunity all over the Middle East, from Turkey to Iran to Saudi Arabia to Egypt and on and on and on.

ZAKARIA: Fawaz, thank you.

Wendy, let me if I may just switch subjects with you because you had a very big job at the State Department, basically the number three job overseeing everything. Another thing Donald Trump did this week was pull out of a treaty with the Russia, which was signed with the Soviet Union, that Ronald Reagan had signed, on the grounds that the Russians were tweeting, which is entirely true.

The Russians are building a kind of missile, a nuclear missile that can reach NATO, which given what is going on in Ukraine, given the fears that the Baltic Republics had and Poland had, seems a very aggressive move. Did Donald Trump do the right thing to pull out of this treaty?

SHERMAN: Well, this is a very aggressive move by Donald Trump. What I would hope is that the administration would sit with Russia, would sit with China, sit with opponent members of the Security Council and say we all have to create a new arms control future where short range and long range missiles that can -- are capable of carrying nuclear weapons we really will not proceed with. And indeed we have reasons to be very concerned about Russia -- what Russia has done.

We have reasons to be very concerned about what China is doing because they haven't been part of the INF Treaty. But to just pull out without any strategy of how we're going to move forward, is going to make us all less secure. This is all part of what's going on in the rearrangement of power structures in the world. The Trump administration is very transactional. John Bolton has never seen an arms control agreement he doesn't like, and he's never seen a war that he doesn't want to wage.

So we are in a very dangerous situation where we are pulling out of the concept of arms control rather than doubling down to get more arms control, and we are looking to create an environment where the risks of war are going up. The years since World War II where we have used international institution to keep peace is being undertaken and undermined by the Trump administration and creating a dangerous situation for America's security.

[10:25:09] ZAKARIA: Wendy Sherman, Martin Indyk, Fawaz Gerges, fascinating conversation. Thank you all.

When we come back, I will talk to Jamal Khashoggi's boss at the "Washington Post," Fred Hiatt about that paper's relentless efforts to get the answers as to what really happened.


ZAKARIA: "This is not an explanation, it is a cover-up." That "Washington Post" publisher and CEO Fred Hiatt's response to Saudi Arabia's explanation of how Jamal Khashoggi died. Khashoggi was of course an opinion writer for the paper which has mounted an impressive campaign to get to the truth of this matter. Fred Hiatt was Khashoggi's ultimate boss at "The Washington Post" and since I'm a columnist there he is mine, too. He is the editorial page editor of the paper and he joins me now.

Fred, of course I've been following this very carefully and noticed that there was a period initially when you guys were ferocious in your attempts to get at the truth. There were days when you at the "Post" was publishing five pieces on this issue. But nobody else was picking up. Were you worried that this was going to just get papered over?

FRED HIATT, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: I don't think we were really thinking about a campaign. We were just -- at the beginning, we wanted to believe he was still alive and we wanted to get the truth. And then, you know, two things are true about this, Fareed.

On the one hand, we're going to stick up -- The Washington Post is going to stick up for our own, just as we did for Jason Rezaian when he was in prison in Iran and -- but it's also true that I don't think we're doing or saying anything that we wouldn't do if Jamal were a columnist for Le Monde or the New York Times or somebody else. I mean, what we were reacting to was this almost unfathomably monstrous crime and attack on free expression. And we just felt -- and we continue to feel -- that the responsible thing is to push for a true accounting, which we have yet to get, and then a true accountability for the people who are responsible.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that we will get the actual story? Do you think the Turks will release the audio recordings? How are we going to get to know exactly what happened in that apparently 10 minutes in the -- in the consulate?

HIATT: Well, it's a great question, and I don't know if -- I mean, eventually I think we will find out what happened. How quickly and how soon depends on how many people do the right thing.

I mean, right now, in Saudi Arabia, the person who's in charge of the investigation is essentially the prime suspect. And I think the rest of the world, starting with the Trump administration and Congress and Turkey and the United Nations, have to say, "Look, this isn't a mystery without an answer; people know what happened; tell us."

And to Turkey, if there's, you know, audiotape, let's hear it. Let's stop playing the games. Let's just get the truth out.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that the Trump administration and Donald Trump personally, his attitude toward journalists, has created an atmosphere where this could happen?

Because, as you know, the last few years have been extraordinarily dangerous for journalists. Khashoggi is one of -- I can't remember the exact number, but many, many journalists who have been killed by governments this year.

HIATT: I think, again, you know, I would ask to keep two things -- or try to keep two things in my head. One is the people who are responsible for killing Jamal Khashoggi are the people who killed him and the people who gave the order to kill him, period. And those criminals have to be held responsible. At the same time, it is, I think, unquestionably true that, when the

United States doesn't stick up for the values that we at our best stand for, including democracy and free speech and freedom of expression and freedom of religion, then bad guys in the world start to feel like they can do things and get away with it. And we have seen, as you say, more and more of that, Putin poisoning enemies in Britain and China kidnapping perceived enemies in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

And now, you know, maybe Saudi Arabia thinking that it can lure one of its own citizens to its own diplomatic compound in a foreign country and murder him and get away with it. And I think the United States and all other countries and people who believe in basic humanity, as well as the important values that Jamal stood for, have to say "No, we can't let people get away with that."

ZAKARIA: Finally, Fred, do you think, when you look at this situation -- you're a distinguished foreign correspondent; you've written about -- all over the world. Do you think this is a hard trade-off for the Trump administration, that Saudi Arabia is an important ally? How would you strike this balance?

HIATT: You know, I think of course the U.S.-Saudi alliance is important and the two people should be open to each other and try to understand each other. But I think, first of all, MBS has not been -- or Saudi Arabia under this regime -- has not been a very useful ally to the United States. They have gone into this disastrous war in Yemen. They've, you know, had this ridiculous flap with Canada. And the kind of instability that MBS is creating is counter to the interests of the United States and to the interests of the Saudis and of the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

And, you know, if people who believe in having this alliance should want a regime that U.S. businesses and other governments can feel comfortable dealing with, not a regime that feels it can do something like this.

And, Fareed, if I could just say one more thing, you know, you showed the columns of Jamal's that we've posted and some of the editorials. I just want to say, we've had an incredible response, millions of readers, in both English and Arabic, people subscribing, people sending us messages. I just want to say thank you, it really -- we hear it. It really does make a big difference, and -- and I appreciate it.

ZAKARIA: Fred Hiatt, pleasure to have you on. And we will be right back.


ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. This month, on a trip to Tokyo, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde had a message for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. "Abenomics," his signature basket of economic policies aimed at boosting growth, desperately needs revamping. That's because the Japanese population is aging dramatically. In

September, Japan hit a new record, nearly 70,000 people over 100 years of age. It already had the most per capita in the world. And 27 percent of the population is 65 or older, compared to less than 9 percent globally.

All this has stunning implications for Japan's economy. In less than 50 years, the working population could shrink by nearly half. Already, firms complain of labor shortages, and the ratio of job openings to applicants has reached a 40-year high.

All this means that Japan could lose a percentage point of GDP growth over the next three decades, according to the IMF. Some proposed solutions include worker robots or a freer immigration system, but there's one woefully under-used resource right at home, women.

Women in their prime have actually flooded the workforce in Japan in recent years. The female labor force participation rate has now surpassed that of the U.S., but as a recent Brookings report notes, almost 32 percent of prime-age female workers in Japan are part-time. Compare that to 18 percent of female workers in that same age group in the United States and less than 5 percent of Japanese men,

So why is this happening? Discrimination is undoubtedly part of it. Japanese women complain of being put on a "mommy" or non-career track as opposed to a management track by companies, which of course causes many to drop out.

But part of the problem is Japan's work culture, which is notoriously punishing and characterized by long hours. Many women who want to have children feel that they cannot participate in career-track work, and women seem to shoulder the burden of childcare. Look at the amount of time Japanese women spend in unpaid labor, close to four hours per day, and Japanese men, just 41 minutes, the lowest among all OECD countries.

If Japan were able to match Sweden's female employment rates, it could add $579 billion to its GDP, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Abe knows this. In 2013, he pledged to enact policies meant to bring women equitably into the workforce, dubbed "Womenomics." For a deeply conservative leader of a highly traditional country, he set an extraordinary goal, women in 30 percent of leadership positions by 2020. The Abe government has passed important reforms, but Japan is nowhere close to reaching that goal.

In fact, the government has since halved the target to just 15 percent, but women now hold just 4 percent of managerial positions, according to Bloomberg. That' because genuine gender parity would require real changes in the work culture in Japan, and the Abe administration hasn't fully attempted those.

The issue of bringing women more meaningfully into the workforce is often framed as something about virtue. It's important because it's the right thing to do. True, but virtue is not the main operating principle of business or government. What Japan makes clear is that women should also be equal at work because the economy will actually depend on it.

Up next, does your car equal your politics? My next guest says researchers can tell a lot about you based on what you drive. If you drive a Prius or a pickup or anything in between, you wouldn't want to miss this conversation, right after the break.


ZAKARIA: All right, everyone. Grab your number two pencils. We are going to do a pop quiz. I am going to ask you four questions about the qualities that you think are ideal in children. Pick one of the options for each of these four.

Do you prefer kids who are independent or have respect for elders; self-reliant or obedient; have curiosity or good manners; are considerate or are well-behaved?

So, did your answers skew to the left side of the screen, in other words, the first option, or the right, the second option, in each of those pairs?

My next guest says those answers can tell us a lot about your political proclivities, including whether you are likely to vote Democratic or Republican.

Jonathan Weiler is professor of global studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. He and Marc Hetherington have published "Prius or Pickup: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide."

Pleasure to have you on.

WEILER: Thanks for having me, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: So if you picked the first of those options -- and we'll put it up on the screen again -- what does that tell us, versus the second option?

WEILER: So those first set of options on the left-hand side tell us that you are fluid, as we now say. And on the right-hand side, they tell us that you're fixed. And the folks who are fluid tend to be people who embrace diversity; they embrace social change; they answer this very interesting question about whether you think the world is a big, beautiful world; they say very much so.

And folks on the right say, no, in fact, the world is not necessarily a big, beautiful world; in fact, it's a world full of danger and one that we need to be careful in order to protect ourselves and our families.

ZAKARIA: So, broadly speaking, it's the liberals on the left, the conservatives on the right?

WEILER: That's right.

ZAKARIA: And in a way, this mirrors a very old division, if you think about, you know, conservatism has always had a, kind of, darker view of human nature, that human beings are, you know, there inherently can be evil, can do bad things; they need to -- you know, we need protections; we need order; we need stability. And the liberals tend to be more trusting, more idealistic, more willing to, you know -- can be caricatured as naive.

WEILER: Yes, that's right. And what's important, Fareed, about that old division in what we call worldview is that it has now become aligned with our partisanship in a way that has not always been true. And it's the alignment of worldview with partisanship that has really super-charged our feelings about the other side.

ZAKARIA: And in a sense, it seems as though that philosophical divide has now been layered onto a socioeconomic or social or cultural divide, hence the title of your book. I mean, in a sense you're saying, if you tend to be the kind of person who likes Priuses, you will tend to be liberal and if you're the kind of person who likes pickups -- pickup trucks -- you'll be conservative. So it's become a social thing?

WEILER: Yes, a social and cultural. And I would add, in addition to preferences for what kind of vehicle to drive, the food you like to eat, the kind of neighborhood, the kind of -- whether you want to live in the city or in the country. All of these markers of culture are now -- they're symbols that we wear on ourselves that, when somebody looks at us now, they know just from what we wear, what we like to eat, what we like to drink, the car we like to drive, what our politics are.

ZAKARIA: Why has it happened?

WEILER: So there's a long answer, which is that over 50 years now, the two political parties have appealed to voters based on certain kinds of issues. And the kinds of issues that they have appealed to have increasingly, not exclusively, but increasingly focused on what we might describe as "culture war" issues, related to race, family structure, sexuality and so forth.

And it so happens that those are the kinds of issues that these two different worldviews are most concerned about and, sort of, most emotionally charged by.

ZAKARIA: And so the big shift in the last 50 years has been the shift away from -- you know, we used to define our political identity largely around economic issues, size of government, freedom of the economy, taxes. And now we define it more by these cultural issues, these identity issues.

WEILER: We do, and that is, again, I think what's really brought into play the deeper structure of our divide, which is this worldview divide, which means that, when we look at a political opponent, we no longer say, "Well, you like higher tax rates; I like lower tax rates." We say, "You are an enemy of the things that I care about, the things that I think make this country good and great."

ZAKARIA: Right. And the danger of this being rooted in culture and identity is, of course, it's much harder to compromise. How do you compromise on an issue of gay marriage? How do you compromise on abortion?

WEILER: That's right. And what happens is, not only are those issues themselves inherently harder to compromise on, but when we have a politics that's this deeply identity-based and cultural and emotional, it means that, leaving the issues aside, there is nothing about the other side that makes us want to compromise because we don't trust them. We don't believe they have the country's best interests at heart. We think they're acting in bad faith.

If there's one thing that normal people can do, and the political leaders are a different story all together, it's that I think we can all work harder to understand why we believe the things that we believe and why when somebody else who disagrees with us is not necessarily acting in bad faith. We might think they're wrong; we might think their premises are wrong, but we might at least remind ourselves that, for the most part, they are -- they're not evil, bad people; they just have a different way of thinking about reality than we do.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on, Jon.

WEILER: Thanks for having me.

ZAKARIA (voice over): Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to for a link to my iTunes podcast.


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