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Fareed Zakaria GPS
The Impeachment Inquiry On Ukraine Scandal; Ukrainians On Ukraine's Role In The Impeachment Saga; The CrowdStrike Conspiracy Theory; What's The Endgame For Hong Kong?; The Extraordinary Effects Of Efficiency. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 17, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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.
Today on the show, the other nation at the center of the impeachment hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ukraine.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Ukraine.
BILL TAYLOR, TOP U.S. DIPLOMAT IN UKRAINE: Ukraine.
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Ukraine.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Ukraine. Why does this nation, stuck between East and West, have such an oversized role in this White House matter? And what do actual Ukrainians think about the goings on in Washington? We'll explore it all.
Also it was an especially violent week in Hong Kong. Fires set, universities being blockaded, protesters being fired on. What is the end game for the protesters? I will talk to the prominent Hong Kong activist Nathan Wong.
But first here's "My Take." The phrase quid pro quo is usually translated as something for something. In the case of President Trump's communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky it appears that the quo was supposed to have been a declaration of his commitment to undertake investigations into the 2016 election as well as Joe and Hunter Biden. "The New York Times" has reported that a public announcement was set
to be made on my CNN program. So I think I owe viewers my best understanding of what actually happened.
Ever since Zelensky was elected president in April, my team and I have been interested in having him appear on the show. We began the process of establishing connections with the new administration which was cordial and efficient throughout.
On September 113th, I met with Zelensky in Kiev on the sidelines of a conference I was participating in. He came across as smart, energetic and with a much sharper feel for politics than you might expect from a neophyte. It was a brief discussion, but we did discuss most of the big issues he faces. Ukraine's relations with Russia, the U.S., economic reform and corruption.
We also talked about whether he wanted to do the interview in English, which he speaks well, or Ukrainian. I left with a sense that all was well. Zelensky had perhaps seemed a bit distracted but I assumed this was because of the many challenges he faced. It's a testament to Zelensky's skill that he did not let on in any way the immense pressure he was under. As we now know for months the Trump White House had been mounting an intense campaign to force him to publicly announce those investigations.
He had tried to resist and put them off in various ways, but ultimately decided he would have to give in, according to "The Times." His team apparently concluded that since he was planning an interview with me anyway, that would be the forum in which he would make the announcement, though neither he nor his team ever gave us any inkling of that.
However, after my meeting with him in Kiev, my team had begun to discuss the potential logistics of the interview with his team, time and place, but the ground had already begun to shift. On September 5th, "The Washington Post" published an editorial, revealing that it had been reliably told that Trump was trying to force Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden.
On September 9th, four days before my visit to Kiev, House Democrats initiated an investigation into the allegations. That same day, the intelligence community inspector general notified the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of the whistleblower complaint. The next day, September 10th, House Intelligence Committees chairman Adam Schiff sent a letter to acting director of National Intelligence Joseph McGuire demanding that he turn over the complaint. And then on September 11th, aid to Ukraine was unfrozen with no conditions.
Just imagine Zelensky's dilemma. By the time I met with him in Kiev, he knew the aid had been released but the backstory had not yet broken into public view. Ukrainian officials I spoke to about the release of the aid at the time were delighted but a little surprised and unsure as to what had happened. Zelensky and his team were probably still trying to figure out whether they should do the interview.
A few days later, on September 18th and 19th, "The Washington Post" broke the story wide open. The interview was called off. We are, of course, still trying to get it.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Ukraine was center stage at the House impeachment hearings this week. It is also in the center geopolitically, stuck between Russia to the east and Europe to the west. Once intimately connected to Russia, Ukraine today is at war with this neighbor. In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, then a part of sovereign Ukrainian territory.
Today Russian-backed troops remain in eastern Ukraine and Kiev relies on America and Europe to provide money, weapons, and other support to help in its fight against Moscow.
These are the key facts to grasp as you ponder President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's new president, Zelensky.
To help us understand more of the geopolitics, I want to bring in Phil Gordon, who is the assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2009 to 2013. In that role, he was responsible for Ukraine.
Phil, pleasure to have you on. Can you tell us, to begin with, what do you make of the charge that, to put it as some Republican congressmen did, Obama gave Ukraine blankets but Trump gave them weapons? In other words, at the end of the day, Trump has been far more generous in his support for the Ukrainians and their struggle against the Russians than Obama was.
PHILIP GORDON, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it is certainly true that the Trump administration started supplying a degree of weaponry, notably Javelin anti-tank missiles that the Obama administration wasn't supplying to Ukraine. That's a fact. It was a policy call. I think President Obama's view was that Ukraine could never fight its way out of this situation and that escalating on behalf of the Ukrainians would just lead the Russians to escalate more and were we really be prepared to go down that route?
And there was a vigorous debate within the Obama administration and there are people, including I think Vice President Biden who were on the other side of that debate, but ultimately in that sense the Trump administration provided more direct military support to Ukraine.
The issue now, however, is whether the Trump administration then sought to use that leverage that it was providing to Ukraine for other purposes and was willing -- and this is what the whole impeachment business is about, was willing to withdraw that support that it had started to give to Ukraine for political purposes, notably the investigation of the vice president -- the former vice president and his son.
ZAKARIA: So let's talk about that piece of it because again you were in a sense the State Department person overseeing all this policy. Tell us about what Vice President Biden was doing and whether it is fair, again, the charge is that Vice President Biden was out there in charge of Ukraine and the Ukrainian policy and he was trying to get an anti-corruption official in Ukraine fired because that guy was investigating Burisma, the company at which his son was a director. What's your reaction to that charge?
GORDON: My reaction is that the charge is deeply illogical even on its face, if you really think about it. What -- the company in question, Burisma, wasn't being investigated at the time by that prosecutor.
Indeed the problem in general was that the prosecutor himself was seen as corrupt and not pursuing corruption. And what Vice President Biden was trying to do was to get the Ukrainians to be more serious about investigating corruption. And that in this particular case meant getting rid of that prosecutor who wasn't doing anything and getting one in place who would actually fight corruption.
The point being where his son and that company is concerned is succeeding in that, including leveraging U.S. assistance to get the Ukrainians to change prosecutors and investigate corruption, would have made it more likely that that company would be investigated rather than less likely. So on the face of it, it just doesn't hold up and doesn't make any sense.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about what you have seen and learned in terms of the way in which the State Department is working in the Trump administration. Particularly the attack on the previous Ukrainian ambassador, you know, these attacks on the State Department officials. The president calls them "Never Trumpers," when there's no evidence that either of them was that.
What are you hearing in terms of what is that doing to the State Department, to ambassadors?
GORDON: This was already a tough situation. And then on top of that, this particular Ukraine case where you see the ambassador to Ukraine, Masha Yovanovitch, 30-year veteran of the foreign service, highly respected who had done hard posts, by the way, in Republican and Democratic administrations.
I think President Bush appointed her as ambassador of Armenia. Highly respected, well liked, fired for the apparent reason of just not willing to do the president's bidding. She came under fire in -- you know, in the media because Rudy Giuliani and president's son, Don Jr., started going after her and making allegations. And next thing you know she was removed. And then frankly, the State Department misled the public, you know, saying she was just removed as scheduled when it wasn't as scheduled.
She was removed early, apparently because she wasn't willing to get involved in what former National Security adviser Bolton called a, quote-unquote, "drug deal," meaning these nefarious activities in Ukraine. So that was tough and on top of that when we finally saw the
transcript of the July 25th call, we see that President Trump called her bad -- he called her the woman, he didn't even know her name. The woman was bad news and some things are going to happen to her. So, you know, how should senior foreign service people feel when they see one of their stars fired from her job, no reason given.
She was told when she got back that she didn't make any mistakes, she didn't do anything wrong but the president wasn't satisfied with her and she had to go. And so I think the foreign service morale has been pretty low for understandable reasons for the past three years but has gotten a boost to see some of their colleagues show that they are nonpartisan, they're not -- you know, the anti-Trumpers.
Somehow they're just called anti-Trump because they're not taking a position convenient for the president. But what they are, you know, patriotic, hard-working Americans who know their brief and that's been I think heartening for a lot of people at State to see in the past couple of weeks.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating. Phil Gordon, pleasure to have you on. Thank you.
GORDON: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, with all this talk about Ukraine, American airwaves have been virtually empty of actual Ukrainian voices. In a moment I will talk to two high-profile Ukrainians about how their country feels about what is going on in Washington.
ZAKARIA: An analysis of just the first day of the impeachment hearings shows that the words Ukraine or Ukrainian was said roughly 500 times that day. But it occurred to me as we were putting together this show that despite Ukraine playing such a central role in this matter we have heard from few actual Ukrainians. I wanted to fix that.
So, Svitlana Zalishchuk is a foreign policy adviser to Ukraine's prime minister. She is a former member of parliament and former journalist. Mustafa Nayyem is a journalist and also a former member of parliament.
Mustafa, let me start with you and ask you, what is your reaction to what is going on in Washington? What are Ukrainians thinking to the extent that you want to represent them about what they are hearing in Washington?
MUSTAFA NAYYEM, FORMER MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Actually, first of all, we don't want to, in any way, interfere with what's going on in United States politics. From that aside, the support of the United States is very important for us, for a country which is in state of war in Russia. So I think that for many Ukrainians it's very sad situation when our enemies, those who are, you know, actually looking for any chance to hurt Ukraine or our relationship with United States, they are now happy with this situation.
ZAKARIA: Svitlana, what did you think when the transcript of the conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky was released? I mean, it must have seen -- must have surprised all of you.
SVITLANA ZALISHCHUK, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: It's not helpful, I have to say. And it's not helpful because of the fact that I feel that, you know, the house is on fire. I mean, the -- our democratic world we live in and as Ukraine we're in the center of this fire. There's war going on. And at the same time we feel that there is a deterioration with our strategic partner.
But using this context, I would like to just reiterate that U.S. still is our strategic partner and we still need bipartisan support because what's going on in the region is -- has, I would say, like very crucial impact on the development in the regional geopolitics in the regional politics in general, and our cooperation and our coordination does matter.
ZAKARIA: Mustafa, does it strike you, you know, that Ukraine -- you know, the way it's being discussed in the U.S., it has become more of a political football being used rather than an actual serious strategic conversation?
NAYYEM: No, I think it's not about strategic conversation, of course. It's more about ambitions, it's more about political gains. And we understand that during the election, both sides can do many things which we'll not be able to do after election. So we're really sad that Ukraine is in this game not as a partner but as a subject, as someone who can be, you know, used. So I think that for both sides, for United States, for Ukraine, this -- you know, as you said really it's football, it's political football.
It doesn't work in our interests and I think that for those people in Ukraine who are fighting on the front line and those people who lost their father's sons it is not a game and it's not very, you know, helpful situation when our biggest partner -- and we need this partner. We are very grateful to this partner but this partner now is trying to use their inner gain our war and our actually tragedy, which is in Ukraine after 2014.
ZAKARIA: Svitlana, how do you think President Zelensky comes off in all of this? I mean, I look at it, and he seems to have been very shrewd in how he was managing a very difficult situation.
ZALISHCHUK: Right. So, in my mind, President Zelensky was acting out of the best state interests. And some may think that that telephone conversation was not the best diplomatic, let's say, done in the best diplomatic way but it's absolutely obvious that Mr. Zelensky was trying to ensure that we have support of U.S. Many things depend on this support.
ZAKARIA: Mustafa, do you think President Zelensky, you know, dodged a bullet, as we say? Missed a situation which could have been very embarrassing had he been forced to announce an investigation into the Bidens or Burisma?
NAYYEM: You know, actually, we should be understand that despite Mr. Zelensky's not so sophisticated experienced politician as Mr. Trump, but I think that he did many right things. First of all, he didn't do something illegal in Ukraine. I mean, he didn't force our law enforcement agencies to do, in some political interests, his interests or someone else. Second, that he really showed that he is open to some cooperation if United States law enforcement agencies officially will apply for some assistance in this investigation.
And the third, we should understand one thing. We understand who is Mr. Trump. President of the biggest democracy in the world and the biggest economy. And it's very difficult to refuse something. And, of course, we feel that there were some pressure or maybe some attempt to ask for something not maybe right things, but we saw that there was no consequences of this conversation in Ukrainian policy.
And for us, for a country which were under pressure of politic, you know, vested interest of many politicians during all our independence years, and country in which politicians always used law enforcement agencies, police, prosecutor and secretaries against people or for their political interest. For us, it is very good sign that even in this situation, when maybe it was very easy to say something and to act something, somehow illegally, our president didn't do that.
ZAKARIA: Mustafa, Svitlana, thank you very much. That was much- needed perspective from Ukraine.
Next on GPS, if you listen to the impeachment hearings this week, you might have heard the phrase "CrowdStrike." It is part of a conspiracy theory that has been woven around computer servers, the DNC and, of course, Ukraine. We will get to the bottom of it when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. One of the most mystifying aspects of President Trump's infamous call with the Ukrainian president is Trump's mention of something called CrowdStrike. According to the transcript released by the White House, Trump asked Zelensky to find out what happened with this whole situation surrounding CrowdStrike.
Just what is CrowdStrike? What was the situation and why is President Trump so interested in it?
To answer all that, let me bring in Nina Jankowicz. She is a fellow at the Wilson Center who studies disinformation and Eastern Europe.
Nina, I have to confess George Kent was at one point asked, what do you know about CrowdStrike, and he said well, honestly the first time I learned about it was when I read the transcript of the call. It made me feel a little bit better because I knew a little bit about it vaguely. But I was surprised that it occupies such a large space in Donald Trump's imagination so --
NINA JANKOWICZ, DISINFORMATION FELLOW, WILSON CENTER: Absolutely.
ZAKARIA: What is CrowdStrike?
JANKOWICZ: Well, it's a cyber security firm. I think that's how most people know it and frankly it blew my mind to see it come up in the transcript as well so you don't need to feel badly about that. I think Donald Trump, for some reason, believes in this conspiracy theory that CrowdStrike, which discovered the hack on the DNC servers, the hacking week operation which the intelligence community says was perpetrated by Russia, unanimous consent on that. They discovered this hack. And he thinks that because they have a Russian CEO, he believes -- the CEO is Ukrainian, apparently.
ZAKARIA: Trump does?
JANKOWICZ: Trump believes that.
ZAKARIA: Even though he is Russian?
JANKOWICZ: He is a Russian-born American.
ZAKARIA: He's Russian-born American.
JANKOWICZ: Yes, exactly. He believes that those servers are somehow located in Ukraine and this all kind of plugs into another broader conspiracy about the Ukrainians colluding with the Democrats to rig the 2016 election against Trump, which has also been debunked.
ZAKARIA: So just to be clear, the argument is that CrowdStrike, which was the firm that discovered the hacking, was actually a -- you know, it was part of a Ukrainian plot to hack the DNC servers and then make it look like it was the Russians had done it?
JANKOWICZ: Exactly. It's hard to even explain because there are so many layers there. And all of this, of course, is a boon for President Trump who wants to detract from the conclusions of the Intelligence Community, those unanimous conclusions that came out at the end of 2016 detract from the conclusions of the Mueller report and make Ukraine look bad after it -- all of these allegations about Trump pressuring the Ukrainian president came out. He wants to bring up these allegations of corruption.
ZAKARIA: So it is such a peculiar theory. Where does it come from, the theory that this was not Russia that hacked but the Ukrainians who -- that this -- the company that discovered it, showing you that somehow Ukraine did it? Where does that all originate from?
JANKOWICZ: Well, I don't know that anybody has found the smoking gun yet, but there have been reports based on depositions released as part of the Mueller inquiry that this came from Konstantin Kilimnik, who is Paul Manafort's right-hand man in Ukraine. And these conspiracy theories have certainly been supported by other operators who have an interest in supporting the Trump presidency because he seems to be okay with looking the other way at the real corruption that exists in Ukraine. It certainly would have been a personal benefit for Kilimnik and Manafort to peg Ukraine with these theories and undermine Ukrainian reforms, democracy, et cetera, et cetera.
So there seems to -- it seems to have been planted in 2016, taken a seed in the president's mind and kind of grown since then. It was the first thing that he mentioned to Zelensky when asking for him to do him a favor.
ZAKARIA: So -- and Kilimnik, this Paul Manafort's associate. Manafort was Trump's campaign manager. Is -- making this case, do you think, in some way, that Russian disinformation is behind it? I mean, how would you describe it?
JANKOWICZ: Well, I would hesitate to make that attribution until we either saw some communication or something on the backend that supported that theory. But certainly it supports the Russian worldview, which we know President Trump supports, and Konstantin Kilimnik and Paul Manafort used to work for President Yanukovych who, although I wouldn't describe him as pro-Russian necessarily, he was pro-Yanukovych, pro-corrupt system and that kind of leads to being pro-Russian.
And all of this is great for Russia. It undermines Ukraine's Euro- Atlantic integration. It undermines U.S. support for democracies in countries like Ukraine, not just Ukraine but all around the world. And, of course, it makes us look like our own democracy and our support for democracy abroad, these values that have guided our foreign policy since the fall of the Berlin Wall can be bought and sold out just for political dirt.
ZAKARIA: So, just to be clear, in terms of understanding this back- story to CrowdStrike, I think what you're saying is, so Manafort and his associate were working for the old corrupt Ukrainian dictator. Part of what happens is Manafort is essentially outed in this -- by the Ukrainians. Trump is enraged by that.
I think that's where the original animus against Ukraine and Ukrainians comes from. Then he hears this conspiracy theory which that was actually not the Russians but the Ukrainians who are to blame for interfering in the 2016 election and not to help him but actually to hurt him. And he buy this is to the extent that, as you say, is his number one ask to the Ukrainian president, right?
JANKOWICZ: Yes, absolutely. I think when you lay it out that way, it's clear. But we know these statements against Ukraine that Trump has been making have gone back and preceded even Manafort being fired as campaign manager. I mean, during the summer of 2016, he was calling into question Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty and saying, maybe Crimea actually is part of Russia, maybe I won't support that as president, which was very worrying for the Ukrainians. And I think Ambassador Taylor and George Kent made that point this week during their testimony that, of course, Ukrainians had a reason to be worried about a Trump presidency because he was calling into question the very existence of their nation.
ZAKARIA: Nina, a pleasure to have you on.
JANKOWICZ: Thank you for having me.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, the Hong Kong protesters want real democracy. It's highly unlikely the Chinese government will grant it. So are we in for a forever war between the two sides?
I will talk to one of the founders of the protest movement in Hong Kong when we come back.
ZAKARIA: In the midst of an uptick in violence, anger and chaos in Hong Kong, Secretary of State Pompeo on Wednesday appealed for an end to that violence. In his next press (ph), America's top diplomat called on his Chinese counterparts to respect the one country, two systems arrangement.
Deng Xiaoping is credited with coming up with this system which was applied to Hong Kong when the Brits handed the territory back to the Chinese in 1997. It affords Hong Kongers more freedom and more democracy than their mainland counterparts. But that system may be cracking.
Joining me now is Nathan Law, one of Hong Kong's long-time protest leaders. He also founded an opposition party in Hong Kong and is now a student at Yale.
You seem much too young to be leading a protest against the Chinese government. How did this happen?
NATHAN LAW, HONG KONG POLITICIAN: Well, five years ago, we had a huge occupation in pursuit of democracy. And by then, there were a group of students that took lead of the protests, and I'm one of them. And I think it is important to remind us, Hong Kongers and the world, that democracy and autonomy are the promises that the Beijing government made in the '80s. And we are only humbly asking them to fulfill their promises.
So I think it is all of our responsibility and I don't, in Hong Kong particularly, the current movement, we have any division (ph) in terms of age, in terms of education that we are having a huge consensus of fighting for what we deserve.
ZAKARIA: And explain the demands. They remain those five demands and the most important one of them is democracy. You want one man, one vote in Hong Kong. LAW: Yes, the five demands of the current movement have been very consistent. And one of them is fighting for democracy for Hong Kong, because for now, our chief executive and our legislator are not elected by a democratic election.
ZAKARIA: So let me ask you this. Most people look at it and say the Chinese government is not going to simply allow democracy in Hong Kong because then that will have repercussions for Mainland China, but you guys say you won't stop protesting. How does this end?
LAW: Well, first of all, I don't think Hong Kong people are fighting this battle alone. We have seen bipartisan, huge support from the U.S. and all around the world. Because in the axis (ph) when China signed the British declaration with the British government, it was an international treaty and a lot of other countries recognize it.
And the global community has an obligation in terms of monitoring its implementation and most importantly, Hong Kong is at a forefront of fighting a global fight that we stop paying the revival of totalitarianism and recession of democracy.
ZAKARIA: But do you have support from people of Hong Kong? Hong Kong has businessmen. They are losing money. Hong Kong is in recession. People are fleeing. Do you have support from people in Hong Kong or is that waning?
LAW: Well, if you look at the latest (INAUDIBLE) for the rate rating Carrie Lam, which the rating has been dropping drastically since the protest, the latest disapproval rate of Carrie Lam is 71 percent, such an astonishing figure. And if you look at the demands of the people, 80 percent of people supporting the setting up of Independent Inquiry Commission --
ZAKARIA: What percentage support democracy?
LAW: Eighty-two. This is a huge consensus from the mass public of Hong Kong.
ZAKARIA: What are you going to do? You're a student at Yale. Are you going to go back? When you go back, will you get arrested? What do you expect?
LAW: Hong Kong is my hometown and I devoted my previous years of fighting for democracy. And I will be back to Hong Kong to stand with my fellows and to work together until Hong Kong is another great city with democracy and back to the human dignity.
ZAKARIA: Nathan Law, a pleasure to have you on.
LAW: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Up next, hopefully you're recycling everything you can. Maybe you drive a Prius or a Tesla, perhaps you've got solar panels on your house. If you think you're still not doing enough, my next guest will put your mind at ease.
ZAKARIA: Many believe that to save the world, we must make radical changes, stop eating meat, stop flying, stop driving, stop using air conditioning. In other words, stop much of what makes us modern. My next guest is here to tell us that that's all wrong. I'll let him explain.
Andrew McAfee is a repeat guest on GPS. His latest book is More From Less, the surprising story of how we learn to prosper using fewer resources and what happens next.
Andrew, explain the thesis of your book briefly.
ANDREW MCAFEE, AUTHOR, MORE FOR LESS: Briefly, I wrote the book because, in America, we've turned this really important corner, our economy continues to grow, our population continues to grow. But year-after-year now, we actually take fewer resources from the earth.
The total amount of steel, copper, tin, water, that America consumes is going down year-after-year. So we finally decoupled economic growth and prosperity growth from taking stuff from the earth. It's never happened before. I think it's kind of an important transition.
ZAKARIA: You see Alan Greenspan, you used to talk, the former Fed chairman, that if you weighed the economy, if you weighed the goods that it's getting lighter and lighter and lighter and others produces more and more services, ideas, concepts rather than actual physical, heavy stuff.
MCAFEE: Exactly. But we are still a manufacturing powerhouse. A lot of people overlook that. Our manufacturing output is going up. But all the metals and all the minerals we consume to generate all those products, that's now going down over time.
ZAKARIA: Now, what do you say to people like -- there's another book out by Vaclav Smil at MIT who says, yes, we are using less material but we are using way more energy, that if you look at the amount of energy it takes to, for example, revolutionize agriculture, agriculture is now 100 times more productive than it was 100 years ago but you're using 90 times as much energy to get that agriculture produce.
MCAFEE: And Smil is absolutely right, that if you look around the world, energy use continues to increase very, very quickly especially as low-income countries are becoming more prosperous. What's weird though is that total energy consumption in America has been flat for about a decade. We are at the point of decoupling total energy use from our economic growth. I'm offering a public bet to Professor Smil or anybody else, I think America will use less energy in ten years than it does today, no matter how big the economy gets.
ZAKARIA: And what is the consequence of -- if you're right, what does that mean?
MCAFEE: It means that we don't have to make these radical changes that you were talking about at the start. We don't have to contemplate not growing anymore or voluntarily renouncing consumption or centrally planning the economy. We can continue to grow while taking better care of the planet.
And I think low-income countries are going to get to that point of peak stuff and start decreasing much sooner than we did because they have access to much more powerful technologies. There's no way that Bangladeshi are going to be staring into cathode ray tube monitors as they become more prosperous. They'll have smart phones.
ZAKARIA: But we can afford to this kind of highly efficient manufacturing with lots software and things (ph). Can poor countries do it? In other words, do we have time for everyone to get as rich as America and then start this decoupling, this dematerialization, you call it?
MCAFEE: The only reason I'm not confident that we have time is because of global warming, which is real and bad and we're not taking action on it. But greenhouse gases are just a form of air pollution. I don't mean just because they're so easy but they're not mysterious. And like you know, in the rich world, we have had amazing success at reducing air pollution levels.
So the point I make in the book is we know the playbook for dealing with tough problems like pollution, which is a bad side effect of this capitalistic economy that we've built.
ZAKARIA: In a sense, your basic argument is don't think that the solution lies in some kind of personal virtue of restraint and, you know, use less stuff, use less energy. Think instead of big technological breakthroughs that make it possible for us to grow and be good at the same time.
MCAFEE: Big and small technological breakthroughs, everything from the smart phone to the GPS system, to -- let's hope we get nuclear fusion in our lifetimes. These things will accumulate. Profit- seeking companies want to keep their cost low, they'll take advantage of all these cost-saving opportunities that technology offers and will be able to improve both the human condition and the state of nature.
We're already doing it in the rich world. It's time to spread that as quickly as possible instead of voluntarily becoming poor or inflicting poverty. I always go back to what Indira Ghandi said in the 70s. She said poverty is greatest polluter. I think that's absolutely right. Let's get out of the poverty business.
ZAKARIA: Some refreshing good news. Andrew McAfee, a pleasure to have you on.
MCAFEE: Always a treat, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: And we'll be back.
ZAKARIA: A new report from the European Commission warns that subdued growth is ahead as traditional economic drivers like Germany stagnate. But a group of Eastern European countries, once hindered by Soviet communism, is now outpacing most of the rest of the continent.
In fact, of the eight countries with growth of 3 percent this year, all but two were once part of the eastern block.
It brings me to my question this week, which of the European Union's post-communist members has the most booming economy according to E.U. projections, Estonia, Poland, Romania or Hungary?
The answer to my GPS challenge this week is, D, Hungary, with projected GDP growth of a whopping 4.6 percent this year. Poland and Romania follow at 4.1 percent. For context, Germany grew at only 0.4 percent this year, making it the second slowest on the continent.
Poland especially with its population of 38 million in robust consumption could help drive the European economy forward if it continues to grow.
And with such economic expansion, Hungary and Poland have been demanding a greater voice in E.U. governance as well. Expect a clash. Those are also the only two European states to ever face censure from the E.U., consequence of the swelling tide of illiberal populism there.
Let's hope that the European Union never has to choose between the value of these economies and its core liberal values.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.