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Fareed Zakaria GPS
U.S. and Mexico Make a Deal on Tariffs and Immigration; The Ongoing Quest to Achieve Peace in the Middle East. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired June 09, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:19] 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.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, Trump and Mexico. Who won, who lost? And will this deal solve the migrant crisis?
Also the Trump administration's Middle East plan. Will it be dead on arrival? The man with the plan, Jared Kushner, has cast out on whether Palestinians are capable of governing themselves. I'll talk to Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi and Republican foreign policy adviser Dan Senor.
While in Britain and France this week the president talked a lot about Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran. Iran. Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: There's always a chance of war he said, but he preferred to talk to Tehran. What has Iran's reaction been to all his rhetoric? We'll find out.
Finally on this summer weekend I'll make the date driven case for four-day workweek year round.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. Donald Trump declared victory in his war with Mexico, of course, though he appears to a have won little more than renewed assurances that his government would get tougher on migrants from Central America. But he did achieve one thing with his bullying behavior by threatening tariffs that are likely in direct contravention of trade rules.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The tariffs go on, and I mean it, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: He has undermined one of the most impressive American foreign policy achievements of the last three decades, the transformation of relations with Mexico. For much of its modern history, Mexico saw itself as a developing country that was oppressed by its high-handed imperialist neighbor. From the Mexican perspective, America's relations with it were characterized by exploitation and annexation. Through war and intimidation the United States took roughly half of Mexico's territory in the 19th century.
After that and well into the 20th century Washington's approach towards Mexico was usually aimed at protecting the interests of large American corporations, especially its oil companies that have tried to operate in Mexico with minimal interference from local authorities. All this bred a political climate of defiance and resistance towards Washington that made cross border cooperation difficult on almost any issue.
Then things turned in the 1990s. Mexico went through a series of economic crises in the '80s and '90s and desperately needed help. It began opening up its economy and political system. American firms were doing more business in Mexico and wanted a stable trading partner. Washington began to recognize that the best solution to all the problems across the border, immigration, drugs, violence, was a prosperous democratic Mexico.
Mexico's old anti-Americanism faded into oblivion. The two countries stepped up cooperation on almost all relevant issues -- signing the North American Free Trade Agreement and working together on everything from water management to immigration to drugs.
Despite all the scorn that Donald Trump has heaped on Mexico, consider this, its most radical and left-wing president in a generation, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has responded like a grownup saying, the Mexican government is a friend of the U.S. government. AMLO, as the Mexican president is known, is himself Mexico's response to Trump. In 2016 AMLO was polling at only around 25 percent.
As Trump took office and continued his Mexico bashing, AMLO labeled him a neo-fascist and even published a book titled "Listen Trump." And then last July AMLO won with a staggering 53 percent of the presidential vote. So Mexico now has a radical socialist at its helm and it's in no small measure thanks to the nasty and derisive rhetoric of Donald Trump. But even AMLO recognizes that as Mexico's president he has to make nice with Washington.
The country, however, feels freshly humiliated and reformers are in retreat. As a former senior Mexican diplomat Jorge Guajardo wrote in Politico, "All our old suspicions are confirmed. The United States is not a friend. The United States is out to get us again. We are back to where we were before NAFTA."
Guajardo points out that Mexico could stop cooperating on a host issues that affect Americans. Mexicans see the drug trade, for example, as one created by American demand, financed by American cash, and fought with American guns. [10:05:13] And yet Mexican police die every month trying to stop this
trade. The Mexican government has tried to stem migration to the U.S. from Central America, and cooperates closely with the U.S. on this even though the level has become unmanageable for both Mexican and American authorities.
The two peoples, Mexicans and Americans, are now deeply intertwined economically, politically and culturally. The relationship between Mexico and the United States could be a unique example of cooperation under very difficult conditions. But all that would require a different American president.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Let's keep talking about Mexico and its relationship to America under Donald Trump. I want to bring in two experts on that relationship, Jorge Castaneda, a distinguished intellectual, was Mexico's Foreign minister from 2000 to 2003. He's now a professor at NYU and joins us from Mexico City. Shannon O'Neil is a senior fellow for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Shannon, let me ask you, it does appear that Donald Trump blinked in the sense that the deal that he announced -- that was announced was largely stop Mexico to months ago the one ask that the Trump administration had was that, you know, not to get too technical but a third country treaty which the Mexican government did not give.
Is it your sense that facing Republican Senate opposition, a lot of opposition from big business, Donald Trump realized that these tariffs were not going to work and essentially back down, though of course he's declaring victory?
SHANNON O'NEIL, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think he set up a crisis so he could make a deal as he has across many foreign policy and domestic policy issues. So he had put on the table, his administration, this idea that Mexico would be responsible for all Central Americans. They would have to seek asylum there. That's what this safe to their country agreement would have been. And the Mexicans turned it down. They said they would do more of what they have been doing.
So that means more troops and National Guard at their southern border to stop Central Americans from coming up and then also accepting more of the migrants that are seeking asylum in the United States, letting more of them wait in Mexico for the months as it goes through the U.S. process. So Mexico offered, at least promised more of the same to try to limit the flows that are coming north.
ZAKARIA: Jorge Castaneda, do you think that this affects America's image with Mexico, the kind of -- the bullying tactics, the threats, the intimidation?
JORGE CASTANEDA, FORMER MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, it does a little bit, Fareed, but it's also important to say that in many ways people in Mexico are seeing this as the Mexican government, the Mexicans played Donald Trump. Basically they promised to do what they had already promised to do, and probably won't do it. You know, the Mexican creed is always say yes, never say when. And that's basically what the Mexicans told Donald Trump.
The problem with this is that as time goes by, Fareed, it's going to be more complicated for Mexico to actually deliver and if it does deliver it's going to be very harmful and very damaging for Mexico. What Shannon was saying about accepting many more Central Americans who request asylum in the U.S. and then wait in Mexico, right now there's only about 10,000 of them. But 480,000 entered the United States over the first five months of this year.
Are they all going to come back? Are they going to send them all back to Mexico to the border on our side? What's -- that is something Mexico cannot manage. There is no way.
ZAKARIA: Shannon, what about the use of the threat of these tariffs? As I say it's likely -- in contravention is likely outside of the WTO which strikes me as fascinating because here we are, the United States is accusing China of violating the World Trade Organization rules, that is our central gripe with China, and yet when dealing with Mexico, the United States is itself violating the WTO and these kind of willy-nilly threats of tariffs.
O'NEIL: I mean, this has been Trump's line around the world. With China he just pulled back preferences from India and he was threatening Mexico with tariffs in order to get other things that he wants on migration.
[10:10:09] You know, Mexico was in an incredibly hard place in this decision. If the tariffs had gone on, it would have likely tipped their economy into recession, roughly a third of its GDP depends on trade coming north and especially if those tariffs ratcheted up it would have been very difficult for them. So instead they came up with this agreement. They're going to take back tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, as Jorge just mentioned.
These are people that they just don't have the capacity to support. They will need to house and feed and educate many of them because tens of thousands of them are children. So they may have the political will to try to meet Trump's demands, but they really don't have the capacity.
The other challenge they're going to have, frankly, is security. They have said they are going to prioritize going after migrants. They're going to send 6,000 or so National Guard down there to deal with Central Americans. Mexico today is facing historic homicide rates, some of the worst violence in its history. So they're going to have to pull these resources away from that fight for Trump's demands.
ZAKARIA: Jorge, this feels like a very different U.S.-Mexican relationship than the one you presided over with another Republican president. When George W. Bush was inaugurated he made his first foreign trip to Mexico, to the ranch, I think of Vicente Fox's ranch. You were there. It feels like this relationship which had been on an upward trajectory is in a very different place now. CASTANEDA: It is, Fareed, to the extent that Lopez Obrador is the
first president of Mexico not to have met with his American counterpart during the first year following his election, since the 1950s. Every president since 1964 has met with their American counterpart. Lopez Obrador hasn't and probably won't for some time.
There were advantages to this because it allows the two leaders not to get into personal fights or squabbles and allows them to leave the ambiguity for example in this agreement which is very worrisome, Fareed. I just mentioned three aspects to this very quickly. One, in a tweet this morning, early Sunday morning, President Trump says that there is another issue in the agreement which has not yet been mentioned and will be announced soon.
Nobody knows what he's talking about. Yesterday he said that Mexico had committed itself to making huge immediate agricultural purposes -- purchases. No one knows what that has to do. And what Shannon was just saying about how many Mexican -- Central Americans are going to be sent back? Who does the agreement cover?
The Central Americans who are already in the United States? Those who are going to enter as of tomorrow morning? Those who are in detention centers or every where? Apparently there are 97,000 Central Americans who have requested asylum in the United States. We're going to get 97,000 people back in Mexico on 10 border towns?
My relationship and President Fox's relationship with Bush was never easy. We had the Iraq war. We had a whole bunch of problems. But at least there was a willingness to cooperate. Trump, on the contrary, just wants to bully people, although Mexican tradition allows Mexicans to play him and that's always something we have to be thankful for.
ZAKARIA: Shannon, finally, we got about 30 seconds. It does seem to me that part of the problem here, the fundamental problem is Mexican capacity. Mexicans have wanted to cooperate on stemming the flow of Central American migrants, cooperate on the drug war but you know the Mexican government is not the German government and there had always been an understanding in America that the fundamental solution was to help Mexico become a middle class country and a more effective state. That seems to have gone away.
O'NEIL: That is right now the fundamental challenge. Mexico has promised to stem this flow but they probably are just not capable of doing so. And we will see then at the end of the summer if these flows continue up to the U.S. southern border, we will see a revisiting of this and we may see the tariffs may come back. And throughout this all I think President Trump either forgets, doesn't know about or doesn't care that a safe, prosperous and stable Mexico is not just for Mexico but also for the United States.
ZAKARIA: Shannon, Jorge, fascinating conversation. Thank you so much.
We will be back with the Middle East peace plan.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:18:52] ZAKARIA: With the current tumult in Israeli politics we may have to wait even longer for Jared Kushner's long awaited peace plan. On September 17th Israel will have to go back to ballot box in the hope that a government can be formed. After the last elections Prime Minister Netanyahu failed to form a new coalition.
In the meantime the first son-in-law may be showing some of his cards. When asked by Axios recently whether Palestinians are capable of governing themselves, he demurred then he said he hopes over time they can become capable of governing themselves.
So let's bring in longtime Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, and Republican foreign policy adviser Dan Senor.
Dan, what is happening? You know, is there a debate within the administration? Take us behind-the-scenes.
DAN SENOR, FORMER ADVISER, ROMNEY-RYAN CAMPAIGN: Well, the debate is with each day that passes the U.S. government loses leverage in this process. And so the hope was to get this done before the most recent Israeli the election. They couldn't get it done because the Israeli election because the Israeli government didn't want it to happen on the eve of the Israeli election or during the Israeli election.
And it couldn't happen during the process of coalition negotiations to form a government because this would create problems for Netanyahu on the right. So they said let us get through the formation of the government.
[10:20:03] They got through the formation of the government, and guess what? There's now another election. Realistically that election happens in September. It will take 30 to 45 days to form a government if you count in the Jewish holidays which won't be part of the process of forming the government. So you're looking at basically early to mid-November for a new Israeli government to be formed, which will be one year before the U.S. presidential election.
So time is an issue here. It doesn't mean all is lost. It doesn't mean a process can't be started. But the internal debate within the administration will be how hard to push in this time context.
ZAKARIA: Hanan, when you look at this plan, from what we can tell, you know, the outlines appear to be the Palestinians are given a certain amount of resources for economic development and an attempt to integrate them better into the Israeli economy. But not the core demands of statehood that have long been at the heart of the Palestinian alum. What is your reaction?
HANAN ASHRAWI, MEMBER, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PLO: My reaction is that this so-called peace plan suffers from three very basic flaws. One is that the Israeli is elusive. It is almost a mirage that keeps deceiving. Where time, and depending of course as Dan said on the Israeli timetable and domestic Israeli issues. Then two, the Americans, this administration has unilaterally taken concrete steps on the ground that are totally prejudicial and illegal and that are preventing any kind of viable or any kind of legal or any kind of acceptable peace plan.
The issue of Jerusalem, the issue of refugees, the annexation of the Golan, the total defunding of the Palestinians including hospitals and scholarships and so on, refusal to accept the two-state solution, legalizing settlements, all these are steps and positions that are illegal and that totally destroy the very credibility of whatever plan they have.
And third now you have Kushner coming out with the economic component saying, of course, in a very, very patronizing and racist way that the Palestinians are on probation. We have to prove that we are worthy of our rights and that we may not be able to run our lives and that we do need help. And I wrote about this as the white man's burden again. This kind of language is entirely unacceptable, this kind of racism and putting the Palestinians on probation in order to see whether we deserve our freedom is unacceptable.
ZAKARIA: Dan, it does seem to me that there is a kind of misreading here in the sense that, you know, Jared Kushner is a businessman and he seems to be approaching this like a businessman. We'll give you these great resources, he's promising $50 billion, most of it, you know, seems pretty illusory to me. But let's assume that you actually got some money. But, you know, national pride and dignity often trump economics. Not just for the Palestinians, for the Israelis, for the Iranians, for the Americans, I think we sometimes forget that, you know, not everything runs on economics alone.
SENOR: Yes, I would just say that I think the way the administration specifically Jared are viewing this is in the context of the gradual soft normalization that's going on between the Israeli government and Arab governments throughout the Sunni world. A very senior official in a Gulf-Sunni country said to me a year ago in talking about this potential for this process is look, there's a future in the Middle East and there's a past. We want to be the future. We the Sunni Arab world. We believe Israel is the future.
It's debatable whether or not the Palestinian leadership is the future or the past. We're going to get this process going. They'll either show up or they won't. The administration does not think there's a downside to this. Like if their image is beaming out of Bahrain at the end of June, of Palestinian entrepreneurs, Israeli leaders, Arab world leaders, all sitting and talking in workshops and those images are being beamed into places like Ramallah, are young Palestinians going to look at that and say why aren't we part of this?
ZAKARIA: Hanan, what about that? Is it possible that the Sunni Arabs are now aligning themselves so closely or increasingly closely with Israel that they will not spend a lot of time, energy or political capital defending some core demands of the Palestinians and instead be more interested in better relations with Israel?
ASHRAWI: Well, this is one way in which this American administration has been trying to reward Israel, to normalize Israel within the Arab world, to deliver to Israel the Arab world and at the same time to maintain its occupation. If anybody has any knowledge of the context of the history of the core issues they will understand that no Arab leader, no matter how autocratic they seem to think he is going to accept first of all Israel's annexation of Jerusalem or the negation of Palestinians refugee rights, or maintaining the Palestinians under occupation.
[10:25:00] No matter how much they try to normalize with Israel because the U.S. is repositioning Israel as a major economic, security, intelligence source of power in the region. No matter how much they would try I don't think they would succeed because there is such a thing as a public opinion. That is a real test of the integrity and credibility of the leadership which is the Palestinian question.
ZAKARIA: I have to ask you before I let you go, Dan, what is going to happen to Bibi Netanyahu? It seemed like he was, you knew new term, he's going to be the longest serving prime minister in Israel's history and now he's trapped in a kind of parliamentary problem where he can't form a coalition.
SENOR: Yes, I think he's much weaker today than he was 10 days ago. I still think that the right of center voting bloc, general election voting bloc in Israel is still the majority. The center and center right are still the majority in Israel. So if there's an election in September I still think he gets at least where he is today and he'll be able to form a government.
I can only imagine what conditions he's going to have to agree to in the formation of that government. But I don't think the politics, the electoral politics will change much between now and September.
ZAKARIA: Dan Senor, Hanan Ashrawi, pleasure to have you on.
Next on GPS, summer Fridays. Even if you love your job as I do an extra day off every week sounds like a pretty good deal. When we come back I will look at the studies and make a case for a four-day work week. You can show it to your boss on Monday.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Summer is nearly here and with it for the lucky ones comes one of the season's greatest gifts, summer Fridays. An extra weekend day is always welcome, but what if it were the rule not the exception? In other words, what if summer Fridays were available all year long?
It may sound outlandish, but the idea of a four-day workweek is gaining ground in many rich countries. Take the U.K. where work hours have been creeping up in recent years. Here's the head of Britain's National Federation of Unions, Frances O'Grady, at a recent conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES O'GRADY, GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE TRADES UNION CONGRESS: I believe that in this century, we can win a four-day working week with decent pay for everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: If you take a long view, this isn't a crazy thought. Throughout history, technology has allowed people to work fewer hours over time. As Wired notes, early industrial workers had a grueling six day week.
In 1926, Henry Ford did something unusual. He gave workers a two day weekend, egged on by unions and enabled by production line economies of scale. Eventually, this became standard. John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would make us so efficient, his grandchildren's generation would only clock in 15 hours a week. That was clearly an overshot.
But the British economist Robert Skidelsky told Bloomberg that judging by historical trends, people should be working an average of 33 hours per week today. They're closer to 40 hours in Britain and the 2014 Gallup poll showed full time workers in the U.S. work even more hours each week. But some companies are now bucking this trend. The U.K. based insurance sales company, Simply Business, told The Guardian, it would pilot a four-day workweek for some of its 500 employees beginning in September.
The New Zealand based estate management company Perpetual Guardian piloted four-day work weeks last year. Employees had to adjust. They shortened meetings. Some use flags that function as Do Not Disturb signs on their desk. Most importantly, perhaps, to increase efficiency they had to cut back on browsing the internet.
The company claimed that workers were as productive in four days as they used to be in five and they were more engaged and less stressed. As Bryce Covert notes in the New York Times at a certain point adding more and more hours in the office or a factory does not seem to get better results.
The Stanford Economist, John Pencavel, found that after 49 hours of work per week, productivity actually falls. And in the U.S., fatigued workers cost employers $136 billion a year. So is less work actually good for the bottom line? Well, not necessarily.
Look at Sweden, which conducted a 23-month experiment in shorten workers that ended in 2016, 68 nurses in an elderly care home in the City of Gothenburg took six hour shifts instead of eight hour ones. At the end of the trial, the nurses were healthier, happier and called in sick less. But the city did have to hire 17 new nurses to cover the slack and the trial cost $1.3 million.
So if you're looking at balance sheets, it may be hard right now to justify a four day work week. But if you're looking at a more equitable, healthy society, the argument writes itself. One study found that if the U.S. kept working hours in line with European standards, it would consume 20% less energy and cut carbon emissions by 3%. And a standardized four-day workweek could also reduce the gender pay gap, making it easier for parents to share childcare duties, and not forcing young mothers into less demanding less lucrative work.
In sum, better health, cleaner air progress toward gender equality. Who knew that extending summer Fridays could have such a big impact?
Next on GPS, Secretary of State Pompeo says the U.S. is ready to talk to Iran. President Trump says, Iran wants to talk to the U.S. We'll sort out fact from fiction when we return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[10:37:58] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're failing as a nation and I don't want them to fail as a nation. We can turn that around very quickly. I understand they want to talk and if they want to talk, that's fine. We'll talk but the one thing that they can't have is they can't have nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: President Trump in conference on Thursday talking about Iran. Perhaps he knows something we don't but Iranian officials say they will not talk to Washington. The Islamic Republic Supreme Leader rejected the idea again in a speech on Tuesday that was broadcast on state TV. And he told America to stay away from Iran in that speech.
So how is America's pressure campaign playing in Iran? Joining me now is Dina Esfandiary, a scholar on all things Iran. She's a fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School. The administration's view, the Trump administration, seems to be the Iran deal was terrible.
We're putting back the sanctions, because we want a better deal and it's never been entirely clear what that deal was, though President Trump and I think in the most recent interview said, "The problem with the deal is was too short a duration." There are other people who said they wanted other things included like missiles. Is there a prospect that if you keep this pressure on, the Iranians will agree to a new and better version of the Iran deal?
DINA ESFANDIARY, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY FELLOW, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Had you asked me this question right after the 2015 nuclear deal and said, "Is there a prospect for dialogue to continue in order to address other issues like missiles," as you said, then I would have said, "Yes, absolutely. Give it a little bit of time and now we can return to the negotiating table."
Today, it's very difficult. The U.S. has lost a lot of credibility by stepping away from the deal. So from Tehran's perspective, why would you re enter into negotiations with the United States, and what could you possibly get from them, what kind of assurance could you get from them that would make it worth it?
ZAKARIA: When you look at what's going on in Iran, President Trump's comments said they are hurting are absolutely. The Iranian economy is going to contract by 6 percent. This year the currency is down more than 50 percent. What is that doing in Iran?
[10:40:09] ESFANDIARY: Well, it's creating a lot of problems both on the economics side but also on the political side. It's undeniable that the Iranian public is tired. They're frustrated. There was a lot of hope right after the nuclear deal that things would improve for them and clearly they haven't. And you've seen this over the course of the last year with a range of different kinds of demonstrations and expressions of frustration.
But the problem is that the Iranians don't want today a massive regime change. They don't want revolution. They want a reform of the current system, because last time they had a revolution, things didn't end up the way they wanted it to.
ZAKARIA: When you look forward, what will this pressure do on the assumption that there is no dialogue? Is there a possibility of conflict that Iran does have proxies in various parts of the Middle East? What happens? Where do we go from here?
ESFANDIARY: Well, the problem with this maximum pressure campaign, frankly, is that it's unclear what its goals are. If the goal is to get Iran to return to the negotiating table, well, that doesn't seem to work because they're asking for Iran's capitulation before it does come to the negotiating table. If the goal is regime change, that's unlikely to happen, because external pressure unites the Iranian public, unites the system in the face of an external enemy.
And if the other goal is conflict, well, again to what effect? What are you going to try to achieve by creating a military conflict with Iran? Nobody. The Iranians, the Americans even Iran's regional neighbors, nobody wants conflict, because it's unclear what will happen if that happens.
ZAKARIA: So it sort of reraised the level of tension in the region without it being clear what it shows.
ESFANDIARY: Absolutely. That seems to have been exactly what they've done so far. And the problem is if you don't have an endgame in mind or your policy isn't clear, which at the moment it doesn't really seem to be, then you can't expect the Iranians to react in a way that makes sense for you. They're going to end up doing what makes sense for them.
ZAKARIA: Dina, fascinating insights. Thank you so much.
ESFANDIARY: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, this is a picture of Winston Churchill 75 years ago, just after the D-Day invasion. He's all smiles here but according to my next guest, Churchill wasn't at all happy before the invasion or about the invasion. Why? Find out when we come back?
[10:46:09] ZAKARIA: On Thursday, leaders from around the world gathered in Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It was a day that changed the course of history. Thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of so many, but amazingly the whole operation almost didn't take place because of one very important Brit who didn't like the plan, that's According to historian Nigel Hamilton. He's just published the final book in his FDR at War trilogy, the latest is titled War and Peace.
Nigel Hamilton, pleasure to have you back.
NIGEL HAMILTON, AUTHOR, "WAR AND PEACE: FDR'S FINAL ODYSSEY": It's great to be here.
ZAKARIA: So 75th anniversary of D-Day. The Normandy landings are, I think, for much of the world, this sort of the moment of World War II. This is the moment when the Allies move onto the Continent of Europe and begin the process of rolling back the Nazi conquest of Europe. And you reveal that Winston Churchill, the great World War II leader was actually opposed to this.
HAMILTON: I'm afraid to say he was. It's really been covered up for the last seven decades, largely because he was such a brilliant writer that he wrote his own version of World War II and he didn't want to go into that. But I've spent 10 years on my trilogy and I wanted to look at it from FDR's point of view.
And FDR immediately after the American defeated Pearl Harbor was determined to impose a strategy, an American strategy on how to defeat first the Germans, then the Japanese. And it in that strategy, it was crucial that ultimately United States Forces would have to meet The Wehrmacht in open battle.
ZAKARIA: The interesting thing you point out is that Winston Churchill, who we're going to rethink of is this great military commander in chief was wrong on almost all his military strategies during the war. And he's wrong for two reasons, one, sometimes he was just plain wrong and other times it was a secret way to actually try to retain the British Empire while defeating the Germans.
HAMILTON: Yes. I mean, one could say that this was a reasonable national strategy if it worked. But the trouble was, for all his genius as a leader, as an orator, as somebody who could marshal the will of a nation as he did in his finest hour in 1940, even though he been to military college which FDR hadn't, he was very unlucky in very impetuous and never really understood modern warfare.
ZAKARIA: Roosevelt was traveling to Tehran because he had to meet with Stalin, because he had to ally with Stalin to get the Normandy invasion done. He had to go to meet with Eisenhower. He's doing all of these on small flights. These are 15 to 20 years in prop planes, unpressurized cabins and he's paralyzed from the waist down. He's hardest in terrible condition. He only dies two years later.
It must have been a tremendous exertion, but he thought it was important because he thought that you couldn't win the war without doing this diplomacy that went alongside the military strategy.
[10:50:03] HAMILTON: Oh, absolutely. He felt that it was vital to have that happy alliance that would make a post war United Nations feasible and workable and he felt that could only really be done using his great stature. After all, I know he was commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, but he was in effect the commander in chief of all the Allied forces.
But as you say, he got back on his battleship in the beginning of 1945, sick as hell and went to Yalta when only really able to function mentally, as well as physically, probably only two or three hours a day, and yet he forced himself to sit at that table. We wanted to get certain things accepted by the Russians and the British before he died.
ZAKARIA: The vision, the world we have now that's created after 1945 what sometimes people call the liberal international order, kind of free markets, free trade, rules, regulations, international organizations like the UN, the World Bank, you make the case that this was all fundamentally FDR, this idea.
HAMILTON: Oh, this was his vision which he'd had since 1942.
ZAKARIA: Finally, when you look at the way things are going today where instead of a certain amount of unraveling of this liberal international order, do you think to yourself you were watching the unraveling of the world that FDR created in the 1940s?
HAMILTON: I'm afraid to a great extent that's not to say it isn't inevitable, history moves in different ways. I do think it is unraveling. I do think that the saddest part of it is the lack of leadership, leadership beyond simple nationalistic leadership. Leadership that moves beyond isolationism.
Leadership that accepts a larger vision for the world and - but eventually I think that the world that we're seeing, which is rather fragmented and inward looking in terms of different countries, I think ultimately we will move back to a more FDR like vision.
ZAKARIA: Nigel Hamilton, always a pleasure.
HAMILTON: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
[10:56:51] ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.