Return to Transcripts main page

Fareed Zakaria GPS

Britain Beset by Brexit Bedlam. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 08, 2019 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

We'll start today's show in Britain, which seems to have hit the high watermark of Brexit bedlam.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'd rather be dead in a ditch.


ZAKARIA: I'll try to make sense of it all with a terrific panel.

Then, Israel versus Iran. Remarkable new reporting shows that the shadow war between the two countries is now bursting into the open. Could it get worse? Is another Middle East war on the horizon? I'll ask the investigative reporter, Ronan Bergman.

Also, Jim Mattis had a 44-year career in the Marine Corps and then took the Pentagon's top job as Donald Trump's first secretary of Defense. But he quit less than two years later. General Mattis on duty, honor, and loyalty.

But first, here's my take. Britain's Conservative Party is arguably the most successful political party of the modern age. The Tories, as they're also known, have ruled Britain for nearly 60 of the 90 years since 1929, the country's first election with universal adult suffrage. But this week, we watched the beginning of the end of the Conservative Party, at least as we have known it.

In the post-World War II area, the Tories were defined by an advocacy of free markets and traditional values, a combination that was brought to its climax in the person of Margaret Thatcher, the Tories' most effective prime minister since Winston Churchill.

This free market orientation made sense. The second half of the 20th century was dominated by one big issue, the clash between communism and capitalism. Throughout the world, parties aligned themselves on a left-right spectrum that related to that central issue. The role of the state in economics. In America in the 1950s and '60s, for example, the Democrats included

northern progressives and southern segregationist, but they all agreed on the need for an interventionist state.

We are now living in a new ideological era, one defined by an open- close divide between people comfortable in a world of greater openness and trade, technology, and migration. And those who want more barriers, protections, restraints. You can see the breakdown of the old order by looking back at Britain's last five prime ministers. Two from the Labour Party, three from the Tories. All were in favor of Britain staying in the European Union, including Theresa May, originally.

By contrast, Boris Johnson is remaking the Tories into the party of Brexit. And this week expelled 21 conservative members of parliament, including very senior figures who disagreed with the new party line.

Of course, not every situation falls neatly on the open-close spectrum. Many of the leading Brexiteers are staunch free marketeers and they insist they want a global Britain. It's hard, however, to be in favor of free trade, and yet insist that Britain crash out of the E.U., one of the world's largest free trade areas and Britain's largest trading partner.

But more significant is the fact that whatever the views of the new Tory leaders, the public that voted for Brexit and would presumably support what would essentially be a new Tory Brexit Party largely embrace a closed ideology. They're suspicious of foreigners, resentful of the new cosmopolitan Britain that they see in London and the country's other big cities.

America, of course, has a similar constituency. While many of the Republican leaders who support Trump might well be free marketeers, his base is largely animated by the same suspicions and passions that motivated the Brexit voters. The most likely future for the Republican Party is one that conforms with its voters' preferences, for limits on trade and immigration, and even greater hostility toward big technology companies.

In Britain, there's confusion on the other side of the aisle, as well. The Labour Party has moved leftward and still contains elements that are skeptical about the European Union. Over time, Labour will probably move more robustly in a pro-Europe direction and with the liberal Democrats, try to create a new open governing majority.

In America, the Democrats have to resolve similar differences, mostly around trade, an issue on which many Democrats are actually as protectionist as Donald Trump.


But what is happening now in Britain is a telltale sign. One of the world's most enduring political parties is cracking. It's yet another reminder that we are living in an age of political revolutions.

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

Let's keep this discussion going. I have some of the smartest folks I know in the subject of British politics. George Osbourne was the chancellor of the Exchequer. He is now the editor of the "Evening Standard." David Miliband was Britain's Foreign secretary. He's now the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. And Zanny Minton Beddoes is the editor of "The Economist."

Zanny, let me start with you. Is this all now proceeding in a way that Boris Johnson wanted, which is he's forcing an election between him -- colorful but popular -- and a very unpopular Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn? Or has this all exploded in his face?

ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: I think there's a bit of both. I think some of this is where he was trying to get to, but a lot has exploded in his face. And I think it became increasingly clear that he was not really serious about trying to get a deal with the European Union, something -- you know, crashing out was something he had said a couple of months ago was a million-to-one chance, but it became increasingly clear particularly over the past 10 years that that was actually, you know, what he was planning to do.

I think what he didn't bank on was when he announced that parliament would be, you know, prorogued, to use the jargon but effectively suspended, that a band of Tory MPs and ex-ministers, now become known as the rebel force, were determined to stop that and they worked rather effectively to pass legislation with the opposition that would essentially prevent Britain from crashing out at October 31st and would force the prime minister to ask for an extension.

He then sacked them summarily. And in so doing so, to be a Tory nowadays, you have to be in favor of crashing out. The Tory Party has become the Brexit Party. I think he underestimated the reaction within the rest of his party of disquiet at this extraordinary behavior.

And then the other surprise has been the discipline shown by Jeremy Corbyn, the yes, awful leader of the opposition, of not immediately agreeing to an election and saying that there would not be an election until this legislation was on the books. And essentially wanting to leave Boris Johnson dangling to force him to be the prime minister who asked for an extension.

So you have this completely weird thing in British politics. There are loads of weird things in British politics. But right now, you have a prime minister who has always said he didn't really want an election desperately to try and have it. And a leader of the opposition who was desperate -- being desperate to have an election now trying to prevent one happening.

This is the topsy-turvy world that we now live in.

ZAKARIA: George, how deep is the rift in the Conservative Party? Is it conceivable that Boris Johnson could face an internal rebellion, large enough that it could unseat him? GEORGE OSBORNE, FORMER U.K. CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: I don't

think he will be unseated, although he is a bit like one of those Greek tragedies that he often quotes. He is cursed to have got the job he always wanted and now to find it impossible to do the job, because, essentially, an important section of the Conservative Party has been fired by him.

Now, I think he will reverse that because he can't govern without their support. And I also think the big picture, you know certainly for an audience around the world, is that Britain's about to have another general election. The timing is being disputed, but essentially in October or November, probably November, Britain will go to the polls because our political system is unable to deliver on what was perceived to be the instructions of the referendum a few years ago, which was leave the European Union without paying.

And since leaving the European Union involves pain and no one's prepared to admit to that or to compromise on that, you essentially now have this electoral contest between the un-deliverable, which is a pain-free Brexit, and the unelectable, which is this Marxist leader of the Labour Party. And so it's probably not going to be an election that resolves the situation, much to everyone's frustration here.

ZAKARIA: David, is the Labour Party going to be able to be resolutely the party that wants to stay in the European Union? Will it be able to present the public with that clear choice?

DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think that it's unlikely to be able to be wholly convincing in that because obviously Jeremy Corbyn has got his own history in respect to the European Union. He voted against joining in 1975 on fairly misbegotten grounds that it was a capitalist club. But also, he's acutely conscious that there are a number of Labour voters who want to leave. And that he's torn, electorally there.


I think at the end of this week, we know that Boris Johnson is not a strategic genius. We know that we're not going to leave on the 31st of October. And we also know that the next general election is completely unpredictable. Because on the one hand, you've got a Conservative Party that will be united, but divisive in the country. The kicking out of Churchill's grandson. Many of George's friends have been kicked out of the Conservative Party. So, it has become the Brexit party.

And so the tactical voting, people who want to vote liberal in one place to defeat the Tories, want to who vote Labour in otherwise, could defeat what will be the weight of the conservative message.

ZAKARIA: All right. If you're all confused, just stay with us. We're going to sort it all out when we come back.


ZAKARIA: We are back talking about Britain's Brexit mess with David Miliband, Zanny Minton Beddoes and George Osborne.

David, if you were the leader of the Labour Party, as many Blair-ites devoutly wish you were, would you agree to allowing an election? It seems to -- you know, it doesn't make sense right now for Corbyn to do so because if you believe the polls he'll lose.

MILIBAND: You know, I think the line is very clear. There's got to be an election, but there's got to be an election that is called once we know there's sufficient time for a new government to take its own approach to European policy.


I mean, shoehorning an election in before the 31st of October or even giving the current prime minister the chance to change the date of the election, which he is allowed to do on advice to the Queen, I think wouldn't be wise. So that's why I think George and Zanny are right to say we're looking at a November election, although I don't -- I want to just register, it's not completely inconceivable that actually the fear of an election drives some Tories and Labour MPs to revisit, dare I say it, Theresa May's deal.

When I was last on this show six months ago, I boldly said yes, her deal would get through, I was completely wrong. But incredibly, it's not totally dead yet.

ZAKARIA: George, if that happens. If David is right and the Labour sticks out and says, first you have to get an extension from the European Union, only then will we agree to an election. And you do have an election in November or something like that. Does that landscape -- again, it looks good for Boris Johnson because Labour is unpopular. Or could that change?

OSBORNE: Well, on the one side, you know, Boris Johnson is a communicator, unlike his predecessor. He actually got off to quite a good start as prime minister over the recent weeks. But he's collided with the reality of a parliament that's not prepared to leave the European Union without a deal. And he is going to be forced to break this central pledge, which is, he would not be prime minister and allow Britain to stay in the E.U. beyond the 31st of October.

The summary is he might even resign as prime minister and contest the election from outside Number 10, rather be in office when that happens. But he -- so he's got a clear message. He's a natural and charismatic politician. But he's got a big problem. And the problem is not so much the Labour Party, which is a mess and has a very unpopular leader, it's actually the other parties in British politics, the liberal Democrats, the sort of third force in British politics, Scottish Nationalists in Scotland, all of whom are expected to do pretty well against the Conservatives.

And given the Conservatives are starting at zero, you go down against the liberal Democrats, down against the Scottish Nationalists, you're going to make that all up against Labour, just to stay where you are. You know, fundamentally, I would argue, as one of the few remaining ex-chancellors still allowed to be in the Conservative Party, because he fired a couple of them earlier this week, that if the Conservative Party just becomes the Brexit party, as David correctly describes, it is unelectable.

You know, we need to be the Broadchurch. We need to win in middle class areas, by the U.K. definition of middle class, professional areas of the south of England and here in the cities like Leeds, as well as in the former industrial towns. So essentially that trade, which is trading the professional areas of the country for the more depressed and left behind areas, is not sustainable for the Conservative Party. Great to win both, but you shouldn't trade one for the other. And if we go into this election in the current situation, there is quite a risk that the Conservatives will be out of office.

ZAKARIA: Zanny, so does this look like -- looking at it from the outside, is this turning into another kind of referendum, if you will, on populism of a kind, where the Conservative Party is now moving more toward this, you know, what in British politics would be the populist side, which is get out of Europe? And will labor end up, you know, if it ends up with some kind of pro-European component? Is that the big divide in Britain now?

MINTON BEDDOES: I think it's -- I wish it was that simple. I think it's a little bit more complicated than that because for people who are sort of open internationalist centralists, the kind of opposite of populist, if you will, there's really nowhere to go because the choice is between a Conservative Party that's become a Brexit party and a Labour Party that is led by a Marxist. And so there's -- the question is kind of how big will the shift be to the center. How well will the lib Dems in particular do?

And the hope, I think, is that you end up with them either constraining a Corbyn-led government such that it can't do too much damage, or if you have what's called a hung parliament and the Tories are the biggest single party, limiting what anything that can happen in terms of a no deal. So the choice itself, it's a horrific choice for the country, because it is the -- the choice between a Prime Minister Corbyn, were he could become prime minister, if he were unconstrained, he would do unbelievable damage to the U.K.

A hard Brexit crash-out, which seems to be what the Tory Party under Boris Johnson wants, would also do enormous damage. So it's rock and a hard place. And for many, many people, particularly remain Tories, but centrists at all stripes, there is not a natural home in either of the two main parties.

ZAKARIA: This will sound familiar to a lot of people in America, David, in the sense that people fear that if Bernie Sanders gets the nomination, you know, then you're confronting a centrist, why is it not possible for the left to be a kind of open, cosmopolitan, liberal, you know, pro-trade party?


Is the -- are the dynamics on the left such that you have to move left? MILIBAND: No, I think there's a simple reason and then there's a more

complex one. The simple reason is that political parties are getting taken over by their extremes. One of the Conservative MPs refers to the Talibanization of the Tory Party. I wouldn't use that phrase myself given Afghanistan's tragedy, but you can -- you know what he means. In the Labour Party, it's far left, there's no doubt about it, that's taken over the commanding heights of the party.

The deeper questions, though, are about the extreme inequalities that exist in our societies and whether they can be addressed from the center left rather than from the extreme left. And that's where people of my politicization have got work to do to come up with compelling answers. Because from my point of view, the anti-trade, as you put it, doesn't do anything for people in my former constituency. We've got to make sure that we have an inclusive form of growth that actually does deliver for them.

And many of my friends, all of my -- many of them have stuck with the Labour Party because they think it's the only vehicle that in the end can deliver. However, they're very acutely conscious that Boris Johnson's secret weapon at the moment is Jeremy Corbyn, and that's the problem.

ZAKARIA: If there is an election, will you go and campaign for Labour?

MILIBAND: Yes. I mean, I'll also campaign to make sure that -- I mean, there was a Labour MP who left this week, Luciana Berger, excellent MP. She was drummed out of the Labour Party for horrific reasons. I want people like her in Parliament as well.

ZAKARIA: David Miliband, George Osborne, Zanny Minton Beddoes, a pleasure to have you all on. Thank you.

Next on GPS, why have the people of Hong Kong been so passionate in their protests? Chinese officials point the finger at an odd culprit. The liberal studies program in Hong Kong's high schools. Really? I'll explain when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World?" segment. Massive pro- democracy protests have rocked Hong Kong for months. And Beijing says it has identified a surprising culprit for the unrest. The school curriculum.

As "The New York Times" notes, Chinese officials and some in Hong Kong point to a mandatory course for Hong Kong's high school students known as liberal studies. It's a three-year program on everything from the government of Hong Kong to public health to climate change. At the end of it, students produce an independently researched paper, which is notable in a system that has for years tended toward rogue learning. Defenders of the program say it's created a generation of young people

who think critically and act passionately. Critics, well, they basically agree, but they don't think that's such a good thing. As "The New York Times" notes, a Chinese government spokeswoman said that there is a problem with the national education of Hong Kong's youth.

This echos older concerns in 2015. One former Chinese official said that the students in Hong Kong were being brainwashed. But young people in Hong Kong told "The Times" that the curriculum where teachers can talk to students about mass demonstrations, the police, the courts, has helped them understand what is at stake in the protests.

Why that's surprising that a course is being credited with such a massive movement, it's also the most natural thing in the world because a liberal education is, in fact, somewhat subversive to established authority. That is why illiberal governments around the world attack academic freedom and attempt to supplant it with propaganda.

Take the way education works on the Chinese mainland. Students there say they didn't learn the truths about black spots on China's history, like Tiananmen Square or the Cultural Revolution. Rather, they are given a patriotic education along Communist Party lines from an early age. Or look even at India, a democracy, where intellectual life has long possessed a spirit of secular liberalism. That is changing under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As Alex Traub wrote in the "New York Review of Books," Modi's party in several states has begun revising textbooks so that centuries of Muslim life in India are all but erased and Muslim rulers are vilified. By contrast, the new textbooks play up the glories of India's Hindu past and the current government's good works.

There is a more egregious example, still. Turkey. After the 2016 coup attempt, the government of President Erdogan purged liberal universities of thousands of academics. Several faced criminal trial. Many lost their passports and couldn't work at universities again. The purse was widely seen as a thin pretense to clamp down on the free thought and expression that Erdogan perceives as a threat to his rule.

In America, a liberal education is also under attack from those who think it doesn't teach trade skills like coding, but also from many on the right who accuse America's universities of brainwashing millennials with an ideological of politically correct liberalism.

The truth is, properly taught, a liberal education simply ensures that people learn to think for themselves and have the ability and disposition to challenge authority, a crucial ingredient of a free society. To see this in action, just look at the people of Hong Kong.

Next on GPS, my next guest says the shadow war between Israel and Iran is breaking out in the open. Why now? And what does it mean for the security of the region? I'll talk to investigative reporter Ronan Bergman when we come back.



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ZAKARIA FAREED GPS: Israeli investigative reporter Ronen Bergman has two big pieces in The New York Times in recent days on the existential struggle between Israel and Iran. He was one of the reporters on a bombshell piece published at the end of August that made the case that the wall between Israel and Iran, which had been conducted mostly covertly, is now coming out in the open with Israel striking against threats from Iran's allies in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Then this weekend's New York Times Magazine has another Bergman piece co-authored with Mark Mazzetti about what the reporters say is a longtime effort of hawks in both Washington and Jerusalem to push for strikes against Iran.

Fascinating stories. I wanted to talk about both of them. Ronen Bergman joins us from Tel Aviv. Welcome, Ronen.


ZAKARIA: So one of the things you point out in one of these pieces is that, right now, Israel is becoming more and more overt and antagonistic and aggressive toward Iran, and you say that this is partly happening because Bibi Netanyahu is facing some domestic pressures at home. He has an upcoming election and wants to show that he is very tough and that Israel is in an existential struggle with Iran.

BERGMAN: Well, the Israeli elections are coming on September 17. And if there is any consensus in Israel, the consensus is that the Israeli government, the Israeli military, intelligence community should be taking a very tough stand and tough [10:35:00] and strong and aggressive actions against Iran and its proxies in the area.

Look for it, in the coming elections, the same people who are either siding by Benjamin Netanyahu or objected Benjamin Netanyahu when he wanted to strike the Iranian nuclear facilities in 2012, are now struggling or competing against him. Avigdor Lieberman, Ehud Barak, Benny Gantz, who was the chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, who was the chief of staff. All of these people were there in 2012, but now they are not attacking. They are not bringing the issue of how to struggle with Iran, how to fight with Iran into the political campaign.

One of their advisers told me, said, we are not bringing this issue, in spite of this being the most important national security threat to Israel, we are not attacking Benjamin Netanyahu because it's seen as a consensus and most of the voters in Israel believe that Benjamin Netanyahu deals with that right. We just don't want to help him on that and give him more ammunition to become -- to be outspoken as the tough guy on this issue.

ZAKARIA: You point out in the piece detailing the history, an extraordinary story where, basically, it really, in many way, starts with Netanyahu and Israeli hawks, who then keep pressuring and pressing the American government to attack Iran. And it's an extraordinary story of almost a 15-year campaign.

BERGMAN: Yes. It's a story of 15 years where much of the U.S. foreign policy against Iran or what to do with Iran is dictated or evolving from the secret part of the Israeli-American relations.

And you pointed out that the prime minister, Netanyahu, and then his defense minister, Ehud Barak, have been telling the Americans for a very long time, since 2009 until at least 2010, that they consider seriously that they will bomb Iran, something that might ignite the whole area, the whole region into war.

In July 2012, American intelligence picked up sensing all sorts of aerial maneuvers by the Israeli Air Force and they were convinced that Israel is going to strike. And that led, according to our conversation with many sources, that was one of the main reasons that led the Americans to start the secret negotiation with Iran behind Israel's back, without telling the Israelis, in Moscow, in Oman, which led to the JCPOA.

If that is true, then the pressure that Prime Minister Netanyahu exercised in America led to the exact opposite results, led to the -- instead of convincing the Americans to strike Iran, it led the Americans to sign a deal that Prime Minister Netanyahu objected so much.

And in the interview he has given us just two weeks ago, I would say, he was very, very proud to say that he was one of the key factors to convince President Trump to cancel that deal just after he was elected.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that now that Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks there is a path for actual military action against Iran, either by Israel or the United States?

BERGMAN: I asked Prime Minister Netanyahu in his office on August 12th. I said, you know, President Trump seemed to be considering opening a negotiation with Iran now. So you might end up with the same sort of the deal you had with President Obama. And he said, no, no, no, he pointed out to his great influence on the American president and said, if President Trump starts negotiations with Iran, this time we will have a much, much -- a much greater influence on the president.

The American president has given at least a quiet green light to many Israeli military operations in the area, especially in Syria. And while being very reluctant to do it himself, it seems that he might at least quietly endorse an Israeli strike on Iran that would solve also the American difficulty on this issue. But, of course, such a strike could potentially start a war in the region.

ZAKARIA: Ronen Bergman, a pleasure to have you on. Thank you.

BERGMAN: Thank you, Fareed. Thank you so much.

ZAKARIA: Up next, President Trump's first and longest tenure defense secretary, Jim Mattis. We'll be back.



ZAKARIA: For more than four decades, Jim Mattis rose through the ranks of the United States Marine Corps. He retired in 2013 after serving as the commander of U.S. Central Command. But then he heeded the call to serve again. On inauguration day 2017, he was sworn in as President Trump's first secretary of defense. He resigned that post less than two years later, telling the president in a statement, you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours.

Mattis is the co-author of a new book about his military service, Call Sign Chaos.

General Mattis, a pleasure to have you on.

GEN. JIM MATTIS (RET), FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's good to see you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: So, first, let me ask you, and it's a way of introducing you to our viewers, why do people call you Mad Dog Mattis? This is a -- let me tell you my version of what I've heard. It comes from the fact that you have a saying, which is, be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

MATTIS: Yes. Well, that was a saying that needed to be imparted to young marines. They come from a country where, by and large, we trust each other on the street. We get along with each other in terms of traffic and this sort of thing. And now, I was putting them into a situation which was filled with treachery. It was the Sunni triangle, it was 2004, it was a challenging time with a lot of casualties.

But I think it was a slow news day, because my call sign has always been Chaos, given to me by my rather irreverent troops, I might add.

ZAKARIA: I know you [10:45:00] don't want to talk about current U.S. foreign policy as being conducted by the administration. And I have watched lots of people trying to get you to talk about it and admire your discipline in saying, no, I don't think I'm going to break it.

So let me ask you just -- let me pick your brain on the substantive challenges we face. As you look at the world, what do you think is the principle security threat that the United States faces?

MATTIS: Fareed, I would break it into external and internal. Externally, when I came in, we did not have a strategy. We had to do something to address eight years in a strategy-free environment. And so we wrote one up that said, we're going to have to deal with the Russia, as it is, not the Russia or the Putin that we want.

Secondly, we had to recognize that China, that we had thought for many years, is economically liberalized, that they would become more a player in the international community, playing by the rules and that their authoritarian streak at home would moderate over the time. That has not happened. And we have seen in the South China Sea the results with Russia we've seen in the Crimea.

ZAKARIA: What do you worry about more? Because as a student of history, the two very different challenges, Russia is a declining power, almost like Austro-Hungarian empire that started World War I, China is a rising power, which is a more familiar (INAUDIBLE). But both can cause you trouble.

MATTIS: Well, they can. And I think you defined Russia correctly. And to me, a declining power actually becomes perhaps even more dangerous in the short-term, as they realize they're probably not going to be stronger tomorrow.

So we're going to have to stay close to our allies. NATO is first among equals, as far as our alliances, and we're going to have to make certain that the democracies stick together and say, this is what we stand for, no further, Russia, that you've gone as far as you can go. You need to stop mucking around in other people's elections and this sort of thing.

China has the will to be a much bigger threat. However, when people talk about the Thucydides trap that a rising power, always with a power that's trying to stay on top, there's going to be a conflict. Thucydides was a very smart man. If he wrote that book in the nuclear age, he would have been writing a very different book, I think.

What we look for in the national defense strategy was that we had to come up with a way for us to ensure our diplomats were always speaking from a position of strength. And that is designed to come to great power peace, not great power war. And that was our goal.

ZAKARIA: You also talked recently about something which struck me, which was, you really worry about a Pakistan with nuclear weapons. Explain why.

MATTIS: I could sum it up in one sentence that was given to me by a Pakistani general, and that was the increasing radicalization of the Pakistan society.

I think though as we back away and look at this nuclear problem more broadly, more strategically, globally, the United States needs to get back into a leadership role in turns of nuclear non-proliferation and arms control. I recognize in this world, we're going to have to ensure we keep a safe and secure and credible nuclear deterrent.

But at the same time, the other half of that equation for security is a much increased effort on arms control and stopping the proliferation of these weapons. And it's got to be one that we do internationally in concert with other nations.

ZAKARIA: You said something in your book that I want to ask you to elaborate on. You said that if you have not read -- if a person in leadership has not read hundreds of books, that person is functionally illiterate. Explain why. MATTIS: Life is too short and leadership roles are too short, sometimes as short as two, three, five years of a corporation, of a country, political system, military unit. Life is just too short to learn everything you need to know based on your own experience. You're going to have to sharpen yourself and many of the best ideas I've gotten were recovered from old books. Those were great new ideas, I thought, when I employed them, but they were all out of old books.

So I'm not here to try to say there's only one way to lead. Everyone has got to lead in their own way. But I would say you have to have a curiosity about life, you have to have a thirst for learning. You have to be committed to your own development if you're going to be a leader. And this is true, I think, in any competitive walk of life. It's true about football coaches and football players. It's true about business leaders. It's certainly true about political and military leaders.

ZAKARIA: Well, it's a terrifically written book.

MATTIS: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: So I think a lot of people [10:50:00] would learn a lot from it. A pleasure to have you on, sir.

MATTIS: Thanks, Fareed. Good to see you again.

ZAKARIA: And we will be right back.


ZAKARIA: This weekend, citizens of one major metropolis are voting to fill their city council. But in the weeks leading up to the election, there were large-scale protests accompanied by large-scale crackdown.

It brings me to my question, where in the world are these local elections and associated protests? Is it Istanbul, Hong Kong, Havana or Moscow?

Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

My book of the week is the last of my each reads from the summer, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It's a wonderfully written re- telling of the Iliad with the central focus on the passionate relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. It's an extraordinary achievement all the more so because it is Miller's first novel.

The answer to my GPS Challenge this week is D, Moscow. After nearly 20 independent or opposition candidates were barred from running in the city council elections in July, [10:55:00] the Russian capital has faced wave after wave of protests.

Demonstrators came out even after their activities were banned and the crackdown was so extensive that, at one point, 1,300 people were arrested in a single day. So why did these relatively insignificant elections cause such a strong official response? The local elections taking place today are seen by some as a test case for the 2021 parliamentary elections, which President Vladimir Putin needs to win in order to keep his longstanding grip on power. But if current polls are any indication, support for President Putin's party may be slipping, even if the president himself has high approval ratings.

These protests are Russia's biggest since the pro-democracy movement in 2011. You may remember that year, Putin's own citizens came out by the tens of thousands to protest alleged election fraud. After watching the western-approved Arab Spring takedown dictator after dictator.

When the then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, weighed in to support those demonstrators, Vladimir Putin began warning that Russia must defend against foreign interference. Turn to 2016, when Putin exacted his revenge on Hillary by, that is right, interfering in America's presidential election.

So remember, what starts out on the streets of Moscow might end up in the polling booths of Ohio.

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