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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview With Susan Rice On Ukraine And Syria; Trump's Syria Decision: The Effect On The Ground; China Whisperer. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 13, 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 with President Trump's decision on Syria. I talk about how it's been received around the world with President Obama's National Security adviser, Susan Rice.


SUSAN RICE, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What President Trump has done is let out of jail, given a get-out-of-jail free card to about 10,000 terrorists.


ZAKARIA: We'll also discuss Trump's now infamous phone call with Ukraine and why Rice wasn't satisfied when Obama offered her the U.N. ambassadorship.

Then David Miliband on the consequences on the ground in Syria. And I'll ask our Trump so-called China whisperer, the billionaire Stephen Schwarzman. When he thinks the trade war between the two world's largest economies will end.

Finally, and a novel idea to put a divided America back together and get the two sides talking, really talking.

But first, here's my take. I have long opposed the various efforts to impeach Donald Trump. Overturning an election should be a rare event undertaken in only the most extreme circumstances. The process would create deep wounds in an already divided nation. And as a practical matter, since it's highly unlikely that a Republican-controlled Senate would vote by a two-third majority for conviction, the political effect could well be to vindicate Trump and aid his re-election.

But, the events of the last few weeks have led me to support an impeachment inquiry. To direct American foreign policy for personal political gain is the definition of abuse of power. But what has been far more troubling than that phone call to Ukraine is Trump's refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Other presidents have contested a specific subpoena or request for documents. Donald Trump is effectively rejecting Congress's ability to hold him accountable. The rule of law has been built over centuries in the Western world,

but it remains fragile because it is based on a bluff. The bluff is that at the highest level everyone will respect the rules, even though it might not be possible always to force compliance. The rule at the heart of the American system is the separation of powers. The founders' greatest fear was that too much power in the hands of government would mean the end of liberty so they ensured that power was shared and that each branch would act as a check on the other.

The crucial feature for James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, was giving to those who administer each department or branch the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition," he wrote.

But the system only works if all sides respect it. At the end of the day, Congress does not have an army or police force at its disposal. Nor does the Supreme Court. These institutions rely on the president to accept their authority and enforce their laws and rulings.

When the Supreme Court held unanimously that Richard Nixon could not use executive privilege to withhold the Watergate tapes, Nixon immediately agreed to comply even though he knew it would mean the end of his presidency.

All modern U.S. presidents, both Republican and Democratic, have expanded their powers, but Trump is on a different planet. He has refused to comply with wholly constitutional legislative requests for documents, information and testimony. He has diverted money toward a project clearly not funded by Congress.

Reportedly promised pardons for officials who might break the law. He's now doubled down on his rejection of congressional oversight over him. Were Trumps positions to prevail, the American president would become an elected dictator.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are on firm constitutional ground but are being politically unwise. They should ensure that this impeachment inquiry is and looks fair.


They should follow the precedence laid down during the last two impeachment investigations. The inquiry should be undertaken as a great act of public education.

A democracy can turn into a tyranny not all at once with a bang but over time. Officials often elected often popular can simply decide to weaken and dispense with constitutional constraints or legislative checks. Liberty is eroded slowly but steadily.

The Weimar Republic was a well-functioning liberal democracy that within a few short years using mostly legal processes, became a totalitarian dictatorship. Reflecting on that history, Yale's Timothy Snyder writes, "The conclusions for conservatives of today emerge clearly. Do not break the rules that hold a republic together because one day you will need order."

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

Last Sunday night the White House sent shockwaves through the American National Security community and through the corridors of power around the world with its announcement about Syria. The U.S. was gone from northern Syria, the statement said, and Turkey was moving in. On Wednesday, Turkey's operation began with air strikes, artillery fire and troops, and death and destruction and condemnation.

I want to talk about Syria and Ukraine and much more with my next guest, Susan Rice. Susan was President Obama's ambassador to the U.N. and then his National Security adviser. She's the author of a new book, "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For."

Pleasure to have you on.

RICE: It's great to be with you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Before we get to Syria and Ukraine, I got to ask you about the moment -- you write about in your book when President Obama calls you and asks you to be his ambassador to the United Nations. A storied position. A cabinet position. And you respond by saying, well, thanks very much but I was hoping you would ask me to be National Security adviser.

I think that the technical term for that is hutzpah.

RICE: Yes. That's the play.

ZAKARIA: Why did you do that and what was his reaction which you don't recount?

RICE: Well, actually his reaction was quite cool. He said, you know, I really would consider that down the road, but in the moment I wanted somebody -- because he was dealing with the financial crisis -- that would be perceived as able to step in the job, hit the ground running on day one and he wanted a general for that. And you'll recall he selected General Jim Jones who is a four-star NATO commander. But he said, look, I really want you to go to the U.N. And I think you'll do a great job and let's see what happens after that.

ZAKARIA: You know that --

RICE: But let me explain the hutzpah.

ZAKARIA: The hutzpah -- it does give you a reputation.

RICE: Well, you know what, Fareed, I think lots of guys would have done the same. And I say that in the book. And one of the things I admire most about President Obama is that he didn't expect differently from women than men. I think, you know, for me, it took little guts to say that.

It was honestly how I felt. I was perfectly ready to accept that it was his choice to make. But what I say in the book is women have to advocate for themselves and if they don't, other people won't. And many men, many of my male colleagues have done much more than that quite honestly.

ZAKARIA: All right. Let me ask you about Syria. Another technical term you used to describe President Trump's decision is bat-shit crazy.

RICE: Are we able to say that on CNN?

ZAKARIA: This is --

RICE: I did not say that on CNN.


ZAKARIA: This is basic cable.


ZAKARIA: Tell me -- let me pose to you essentially President Trump's argument, which, as you know, is not one that others have made, which is look, we shouldn't be in this. This is a complicated civil war. We don't really have a good side to support. In a sense that was President Obama's decision. Why is Trump not right to say let's just get out?

RICE: Well, you're right, Fareed. It is complicated, but we need to break it down for the American people because this is not an evolvement that we got into to be on one side of Syria's civil war. President Obama actually made the difficult choice not to involve us in Syria's civil war, that between Assad and the rebels.

What he did decide to do because our national security interests were directly implicated was to deploy U.S. personnel, mostly in terms of airpower, but some advisers on the ground to fight ISIS because ISIS posed a direct threat to the security of our allies in Europe, to the United States itself, and to the region.


So this is a counterterrorism fight that we're in. It's not picking sides in a civil war. President Trump inherited that operation well under way with ISIS on the ropes and under President Trump, the fight was continued against ISIS and largely they have been contained in the caliphate such as it was dismantled.

But as we've seen many times in this part of the world, ISIS or al Qaeda or whatever it is has an ability to reconstitute itself. And so our presence in northern Syria, and really talking about just a few hundred U.S. military advisers, trainers, was essential to supporting the Kurds, thousands of whom took the fight to ISIS on our behalf with our pledge of support.

And what we did in walking away from them was two really bad things. One was to essentially convey the message to them and to any potential ally around the world, when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decide our relationship is over, we're ending it on the spot and leaving you vulnerable to a brutal assault which is what Turkey is now engaged in to slaughter these Kurds.

The second reason it's no dangerous is because the fight against ISIS is not entirely won. There are 10,000 or more ISIS prisoners who had been in Kurdish custody who now will either be released or escape because the Kurds have no choice but to defend themselves. So in effect what President Trump has done is let out of jail, given a get out of jail free card to about 10,000 terrorists. And if that doesn't implicate our national security in a very severe way, I don't know what does.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about process because as National Security adviser you saw so much of it. What's striking about this decision is it seems as though President Trump has these emotional reactions which is he wants to translate into policy like get out of the Middle East. The policy people around him think it's kind of difficult to do if not unwise so they slow walk a lot of it. And so it seemed like the Pentagon had been -- Trump had after all announced that we were getting out of Syria, you know, months and months ago.

They slow walk it and then he realizes or has a phone call with a leader, oh, my god, we still have troops in Syria and then explodes. Have you ever seen a process like that where some --

RICE: There is no process. I wish I could call this the process. It is the whim of one man. And I don't think it's not coincidental that it occurs when we have a brand-new National Security adviser and even newer chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who's only been on the job since October 1.

I don't think that it's a coincidence that it happened just after President Trump got off the phone with President Erdogan of Turkey and I really am very concerned to know what President Trump got out of that deal because he doesn't give stuff away for free. He thinks he's the best negotiator on the face of the earth.

What was in this for him personally, politically or financially, or for the United States, because Democrats and Republicans who rarely agree on anything these days are in agreement that there's nothing good in this for the United States and our national security.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, we will talk about another phone call, President Trump's infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, and many other issues.



ZAKARIA: And we are back now with Susan Rice, former National Security adviser, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and author of "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For."

Let me ask you about Ukraine. First about the issue that you dealt with when you were National Security adviser. When Joe Biden was sent to Ukraine. As you know, the argument that Donald Trump makes and now repeatedly makes over and over again is Biden went there, asked them to fire a special prosecutor who was investigating corruption in Ukraine including a company that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, was on the board of. And that in that sense he was advancing his personal interest using U.S. foreign policy. What do you say?

RICE: It's very simple but since Donald Trump has done such a good job of trying to confuse people, let me break it down. In the first instance Joe Biden was acting on behalf of the U.S. government. At President Obama's direction he was implementing what was bipartisan U.S. policy at the time supported by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, our Western allies, the International Monetary Fund, which was to try to persuade President Poroshenko to get rid of this very corrupt prosecutor who was in charge of prosecuting corruption.

We did that because the United States and the international community was providing billions of dollars in assistance to the newly elected government of Ukraine, and we wanted to see that money spent responsibly. That was the basis of Vice President Biden's actions. By the way, it had nothing to do with his son, Hunter. His son Hunter's -- the company that Hunter served with was not in that moment under investigation by this prosecutor. So this has been one of those very elaborate efforts by Donald Trump to distract and deflect and to tar an opponent based on lies.

ZAKARIA: Should Vice President Biden have revealed to you or somebody else --

RICE: It was in the public domain at the time.

ZAKARIA: That -- that his son is --

RICE: It was in the public domain. There's no secret here. And by the way, just to be clear what the difference is between what Vice President Biden did on behalf of U.S. policy and what President Trump did on behalf of his own political benefit, Trump asked -- first of all, Trump extorted the newly elected president of Ukraine using almost $400 million in taxpayer military assistance to Ukraine when Ukraine is occupied by hostile Russia and there's still a hot war going on.

He said we're going to keep that aid back. I'm not going to give you a White House meeting unless you give me dirt, which doesn't exist, on his political opponent.


ZAKARIA: You're sure there was a quid pro quo based on --

RICE: Well, read the transcript. Read the transcript. It's there in black and white. I -- that's how I'm sure. And the fact that the president put it out and thinks there's nothing wrong with it, that it's perfect, shows you that he really doesn't have a sense of the difference between right and wrong. But leaving that aside for a second, President Trump extorts a partner who is under duress for his personal political benefit. Not on behalf of the U.S. government, not on behalf of our policy.

What's striking to me as a former National Security adviser about that transcript is there's not one sentence in there that advances U.S. policy or U.S. interest. Not one. It's all about him. And the other part of the difference is that then the Trump White House tried to hide that transcript and bury it.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about foreign policy in general. Do you feel as though -- I mean, I watched this Syria business and the president makes an announcement one day then he realizes that maybe he's been too soft on the Turks and he says I'm going to obliterate Turkey's economy, which I can do, you know, in my great wisdom. Then he --

RICE: It was great and what was --

ZAKARIA: Great and unmatched wisdom.

RICE: Unmatched wisdom. Right.

ZAKARIA: Then he gets -- feels like maybe he's been too hard on the Turks and invites Erdogan for a White House meeting. All this in 72 hours.

RICE: And then he says that he told the Turks not to cross into Syria. I mean, it's --

ZAKARIA: Which they then do.

RICE: Which, of course, he knew they were going to do.

ZAKARIA: So this is all in 72 hours.

RICE: Head spinning.

ZAKARIA: What do you think the world takes from it?

RICE: The world takes from this, Fareed, that we have no idea what we're doing and that the national security decision-making process has completely broken down. I mean, as I discuss in my book, which is, you know, as much a personal story as it is about my time in the Clinton and Obama administrations, whether you worked for President Reagan, Bush 1, Bush 2, Clinton, Obama, there was a national security decision-making process that we all tried to adhere to, where tough issues were worked from the bottom up with facts, with analysis, with intelligence, with policy options that were debated and -- you know, and assessed on their merits, recommendations made from deputies to principals, from principals to the president of the United States.

All in a thoughtful and accountable way. And then when the president makes a decision, there's a plan for how it's communicated. It's not tweeted out at some odd hour with exclamation points. There's a really thoughtful communication strategy that involved consulting with our allies, that involves, you know, ensuring that Congress is briefed. All of that has broken down. And I think it's really important for the American people to understand that this is not normal. It's dysfunctional. It's dangerous. And we can't allow it to become the norm. So, you know, I'm perfectly

prepared to submit and I am honest about this in my book, you know, we didn't get everything right. And where we did get it right, I try to, you know, be frank about it and we get it wrong I'd be frank about it. Same with all of our predecessor administrations. The process when adhered to doesn't necessarily yield perfect answers, but it yields thoughtful consideration. And that's all lost now and we have got to get it back.

ZAKARIA: Susan Rice, pleasure to have you on.

RICE: Good to be with you.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, the on-the-ground consequences of President Trump's Syria decision. I will talk to David Miliband, the head of the International Rescue Committee, one of the few aid organizations with people actually on the ground.



ZAKARIA: What has been the effect of Trump's decision on the ground in Syria? Well, David Miliband runs the International Rescue Committee, one of the few aid organizations that remains on the front lines in Syria. In Miliband's former life he was a British politician and the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom.



ZAKARIA: What is happening -- as you see this Turkish advance, what are you hearing?

MILIBAND: We know from our own staff on the ground -- these are local Syrians who are working for us on health and other projects -- that tens of thousands of people are fleeing, bombing and fighting. These are people in the five-million person Kurdish zone.

They are of all ethnicities but in the vast preponderance they are Kurds and they are fleeing from the Turkish invasion. It's as simple as that. And obviously there's great concern about the future of the humanitarian situation in that zone and more widely if the fighting spreads.

ZAKARIA: Now the other thing that's happening is that the Turks are trying to use the space that they're conquering to resettle a whole bunch of Syrian refugees, but that is fraught with complications. Explain why.

MILIBAND: Yes. Turkey has done an extraordinary job over the last seven or eight years, 3.7 million Syrians have fled to Turkey. They're in the main Sunni Arabs. They're from west of the Euphrates river. ZAKARIA: So not Kurds.

MILIBAND: Not Kurds. And what is significant about what President Erdogan has said very openly at the United Nations is he wants to take the Sunni Arabs that are in Turkey and plant them into the Kurdish area of Syria. Now that obviously raises immediate issues about local tension as well as the fighting between the Kurds and the Turks.


And this would be deportation effect against the will of the people, against U.N. and other regulations.

ZAKARIA: And what's extraordinary to me is that this is such a -- this had been such an example of the limited but effective use of American power. Few hundred American troops seem to have been able to maintain the piece.

MILIBAND: Well, that is a great point. Of course, we at the International Rescue Committee can see the situation in the Kurdish area whether a few American troops were delivering our services. We helped half a million people with healthcare last year. And we can see the contrast between the situation in the northeast of Syria and in the northwest.

In the northwest, it's a total war zone. You've got 3.5 million people there. 1 million of them have fled into that area from other parts of Syria. You have Russian bombing, you have Syrian government pushing in and you have bombing of civilian centers, bombing of hospitals, over 500 hospitals bombed since May.

And so you've got this very clear contrast between an area where the ring was being held by American troops and an area where it's the Wild West.

ZAKARIA: What is the larger point about American foreign policy here from your point of view?

MILIBAND: It's summed up in a simple word, vacuum. There is no American diplomatic presence of a significant kind in trying to bring the Syrian conflict to an end and establish some kind of stability. It's a genuine crisis of diplomacy because America is in retreat, Britain has been castrated by the Brexit process, there is no British foreign policy. And so the field has been left for Russia, for Iran, for Turkey to work through the so-called Astana process that has replaced the U.N. as the central body organizing a peacemaking settlement in Syria.

ZAKARIA: Wow. David Miliband, pleasure to have you on.

MILIBAND: Thanks very much indeed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS America is a nation divided, divided on impeachment, divided on the future of the country, divided between the sides of the aisle. I will bring you a solution for bridging that divide when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ZAKARIA: Now, for our What in the World segment. Everyone agrees that Americans are more polarized today than at any time in recent history. But there is a group of experts who are trying to do something about it.

Last month, an experiment called America in One Room was led by James Fishkin, the head of Stanford's Center for Deliberative Democracy, and Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution.

In a suburb in Dallas, they assembled 523 registered voters from all across America and of all political persuasions. They have spent a long weekend talking about immigration, foreign policy, health care, the economy and the environment. Perhaps shocking, the two sides weren't at each other's throat all weekend long. Instead, participants poured (ph) over briefing booklets and consulted experts. They broke into small discussion groups and poured out their feelings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- separating families. How can we continue to do that?

ZAKARIA: Before the sessions and after, they were polled and the results were astonishing. Support for immigrant work visas soared. Opposition to refugees entering the U.S. plummeted. On the economy, democrats moved from the left to the center. People actually listened and changed their minds. It's all part of a model Fishkin developed called deliberative polling.

Perhaps the most fascinating were the responses on foreign policy among Republicans. Their support for rejoining the transpacific partnership rose almost 40 percentage points at the end of the four days. Support for the Iran nuclear deal among Republicans rose by more than 20 percentage points.

How can we explain such a massive shift? Remember that a polarized electorate serves politicians who want to win elections. They have an incentive to rile up the base. But polarization doesn't serve most citizens. And when you bring those citizens together, they're actually not so divided.

Just ask Fishkin. He says he conducted 109 deliberative polls in 28 countries. They almost always result in that conclusion. Take Bulgaria, as The New York Times reported, in 2007, 255 people met for two days to discuss the plight of the Roma, one of Europe's largest minority groups that has long struggled to integrate. Support for desegregating Roma schools went from 42 percent before the discussion to 66 percent. Support for housing segregation feel from 43 percent to 21 percent.

In Northern Ireland earlier that same year, Protestants and Catholics mixed for a day of deliberation over school policy. After, the proportion Protestants who thought Catholics were open-minded and trustworthy rose significantly and vice versa. What all of this makes clear is that no conflict or policy puzzle is intractable if you engage citizens and that concept can be extended beyond polling. Look at Ireland. Its foreign policy notes, many think that the historic referendum that legalized abortion last year would not have been possible had the government not convened an assembly of 99 citizens to debate the matter two years earlier. The assembly ended up recommending unrestricted access to abortion.

The former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed citizens assemblies to fix the dilemma that is Brexit. Environmental groups think that they could help solve policy gridlock over the time of crisis.

If such assemblies are really empowered, they might prove what Fishkin's polling suggests, anything Is possible when people start engaging with each other and with their government.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, President Trump's so-called China whisperer, the billionaire business Stephen Schwarzman, his close to leadership in Washington and Beijing. So what is his take on whether this trade war will end? Back in a moment.



ZAKARIA: A new round of U.S./China trade talks this week actually made some progress.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We have come to a deal on intellectual property, financial services, a tremendous deal for the farmers.


ZAKARIA: Multibillionaire business and philanthropist Stephen Schwarzman has a unique perspective on those proceedings and indeed on all U.S./China relations. He is the co-founder, chair, and CEO of Blackstone, a top financial firm. Schwarzman stands astride the Pacific with a foot (ph) and lots of capital in each nation. He's been called Donald Trump's China whisperer because he's a friend and big booster of President Trump and also very close to China's leadership.

Schwarzman's new book is What It Takes, Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence. Steve Schwarzman, a pleasure to have you on.


ZAKARIA: So why has it been difficult to get a deal? You, I think, as an incumbent (ph), reported you are one of the people that President Trump has used as an intermediary.

SCHWARZMAN: Well, the reason that it's hard to get a deal is one side of it has been growing faster than any country in world history over the last 40 years and their desire to change isn't overwhelming. But they are smart and they know that change is important.

So the question is how much change, how fast, and that's just the debate. The idea of just staying where we are isn't the case.

ZAKARIA: Do you think the Chinese want a deal?


SCHWARZMAN: I think the Chinese are not enjoying the way this is evolving because it's hurting their economy. It's, I believe, hurting the U.S. economy. It will end up hurting the emerging markets who sell to China, and it will end up hurting Europe. And so this is a lose-lose-lose for everyone. And it's just a question of when people come to the table and say, okay, what do we really have to do.

It was pretty close in May and the Chinese decided to pull back for reasons that were not fully explainable at the time. It was pretty shocking for the U.S. people who were working on it. And I think they have their own complex internal situation in China.

However, just decoupling, delinking as the two biggest economies in the world and we're a lot of the world economy. It could be as low as 35 percent of the world economy with the U.S. and China. Some calculations would take it close to 40. So when the parents are fighting, the children get very upset. And so I don't think the delinking strategy is stable for the world.

ZAKARIA: Do you think President Trump agrees with you?

SCHWARZMAN: You should ask him, not me.

ZAKARIA: So let me ask you, one of the things in your book, you talk about how it's very good to worry, to be concerned about any ominous signs. You have a unique vantage point. Do you think we're at the beginning of a recession?

SCHWARZMAN: I don't think so. The reason for that is about 72 percent of the U.S. economy is consumer based and the consumer is doing extremely well. And part of what's happening as we increase the minimum wage in a full sort o, working economy is that minimum wage is higher as it's going up and other labor costs because of scarcity are going up. And so that's about 4 percent growth in wages with an economy that's growing at two and inflation that is somewhere around, I guess, around 1.5. So for the first time in a very, very long time, the consumer is out-earning the growth of the economy.

ZAKARIA: So does that mean the raising the minimum wage was a good idea?

SCHWARZMAN: I always thought it was a good idea, because we have an issue where we don't have enough people in the country who are earning enough money and they're hurting. So you have to have, you know, them have what I would call income sufficiency. And one of the ways of having that transfer is to have people working as opposed to just a transfer payment and to have those people working make a lot more money, and that's a good thing for the country. ZAKARIA: So a lot of people look at business and say, look, everyone is trying to be successful. Some people manage to be successful. They get lucky and then they think that their world view is the blessed one. What do you think? How much of what -- you have achieved phenomenal success in business. How much of that success was luck?

SCHWARZMAN: Well, I think luck always plays some part. It depends when you're born. It depends where you went to school. It depends on what's happening in the world when you enter the workforce. Is it going up? Is it sort of in an unhappy period or is it just stable and uninteresting?

And, you know, I was fortunate to be year number two of the baby boom after World War II, so there weren't a lot of people ahead of you, which made it easier. And my generation basically changed almost every institution it went through because it was the equivalent of the pig and the python. We were so big that every institution, educationally, consumer-wise was impacted and changed by my institution. It made it easier to be, in effect, a senior member by birth of that cohort.

ZAKARIA: Stephen Schwarzman, a pleasure to have you on, sir.

SCHWARZMAN: My pleasure to be here.

ZAKARIA: To hear more from Stephen Schwarzman on his new book, What It Takes, Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, go to


And we will be back.


ZAKARIA: As the debate continues over who is welcome in America, just under two million residents of another country have had their legal status thrown into question after being excluded from an official citizen registry.

It brings me to my question, where was the citizen registry published, India, Poland, South Africa or Israel?

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

My book of the week is Age of Ambitions by Evan Osnos. At a time when everyone is talking about China, it is worth remembering that beyond Beijing, the nation is a vast country full of complexity and contradictions.


Evan Osnos portrays this vividly in his last book.

ZAKARIA: The answer to my GPS challenge this week is A, India. Earlier, this summer, the Northeastern State of Assam published an updated national registry of citizens, which may leave some 1.9 million stateless. The list excluded anyone who could not present sufficient documentation proving they or their families had arrived in Assam prior to the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.

Not coincidentally, when huge numbers of mostly Muslim, ethnic Bengalese fled genocide or violence from into Bangladesh into India.

Tensions have been stewing ever since. Reuters and local media report that Assam's government is planning to build detention camps with capacities in the thousands.

It is not clear what will become of those excluded from the list. Officials say no one will be sent to the detention centers during the legal process.

The BBC reports that the head of India's ruling Hindu nationalist party promised to repeat the registry process in the neighboring state of West Bengal. And Reuters reports he has called such undocumented people infiltrators and termites who must be thrown into the Bay of Bengal.

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