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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Iranian Government Faces Uproar Over Downed Plane; Iran's Strategy After Soleimani Strike; Fallout From The Soleimani Strike; Is The Middle East Better Off Without U.S. Intervention?; Is India Taking A Page From China's Playbook?; Western Intervention: What Is It Good For?; Bernard-Henri Levy's Documentaries Being Shown Together In Festivals In L.A. And NYC; Does Nationalism Trump Compassion? Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 12, 2020 - 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, coming to you live.


ZAKARIA: Today on the show, Iran strikes back. The Islamic republic responds to America's killing of its top general with missiles fired at bases housing American troops. A tit-for-tat. So is it now over?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ran appears to be standing down.

ZAKARIA: Or have we just begun?

JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The United States has to come to its senses.

ZAKARIA: I'll talk to experts across the region about all that, the Ukrainian airliner and more.

Also, Iran has now abandoned the nuclear deal. Are we back to nuclear brinksmanship and the dangers of a regional war? A great debate between Reuel Marc Gerecht and Trita Parsi.

Then should the United States be pushing for democracy around the world in places like Iraq, even Iran? I'll talk to the eminent French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy about this question, his fascinating documentary films on the region and more.


ZAKARIA: But, first, here's my take. Three months ago Donald Trump suddenly withdrew American forces from northern Syria that were in part thwarting Iran's efforts to dominate that country.

His rationale was clear.


TRUMP: Going into the Middle East was one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of our country. It's like quicksand.


ZAKARIA: Well, last week he dramatically escalated America's military engagement in the quicksand, ordering a strike on Iran's most important military leader and deploying thousands more troops.

How to make sense of this Middle East policy? It actually gets more confusing around the same time that he was urgently withdrawing American troops from what he called this long, bloodstained area. Trump sent 3,000 additional troops to Saudi Arabia. When asked why, he answered that the Saudis were paying good money for this deployment. And just a few weeks after announcing the Syria withdrawal, he reversed himself and left some troops in the north for one reason.


TRUMP: We want to keep the oil.


ZAKARIA: All clear now? After the killing last week of Qasem Soleimani, Trump warned that were Iran to attack any Americans or any American assets, he would retaliate very fast and very hard. And yet after Iran did attack two Iraqi bases housing Americans troops Trump essentially did nothing.


TRUMP: Iran appears to be standing down.


ZAKARIA: Now I'm glad Trump choose to de-escalate, but that doesn't change the fact that he reversed himself yet again.

You see, the problem with Trump's foreign policy is not any specific action. The killing of Soleimani could be justified as a way to respond to Iranian provocations, but this move like so much of Trump's foreign policy was impulsive, reckless, unplanned and inconsistent, and as usual the chief impact is chaos and confusion.

Trump did not bother to coordinate with the government of Iraq on whose territory the attack was perpetrated. After the Iraqi government then protested and voiced a desire to have American troops leave Iraq, he belligerently threatened to sanction the country and stay put until it paid the U.S. billions of dollars for an airbase.

The result, a policy that could well have produced a marked diminution of Iran's power might instead trigger the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq which has been the chief Iranian objective in the region for years. This is not an isolated instance. Trump began his policy toward North Korea threatening -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Fire and fury like the world has never seen.


ZAKARIA: He ridiculed its leader Kim Jong-un as Rocket Man. Soon he was declaring his unabashed affection for Kim.


TRUMP: We fell in love.


ZAKARIA: And making unprecedented concessions by meeting with Kim three times. Trump kept hoping for a deal and despite every indication that Kim was unwilling kept up his one-sided love affair, minimizing the North Korean regime's record of almost unsurpassed brutality and terror.

Donald Trump does not have a foreign policy. He has a series of impulses, isolationism, unilateralism, bellicosity. Some of them completely contradictory. One might surge at any particular moment, triggered usually by Trump's sense that he might look weak or foolish. They're often unleashed without any consultation and then his yes men line up to defend him, supporting the president's every move with North Korean-style enthusiasm no matter how inherent.


The United States has made mistakes in foreign policy. But over the past several decades it has by and large had a carefully thought through process of decision-making involving consultation with allies and has tried to maintain consistency and coherence in its policy. That hard-won reputation is now being squandered in arena after arena around the globe.

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

You are watching angry protesters in Tehran on Saturday. Those chants you hear say "Death to the supreme leader." It is the latest reaction to a tumultuous 10 days in Iran starting with America's killing of Iran's top general. Then on Wednesday Iran retaliated with missiles launched at bases in Iraq housing Americans.

That same day Iran shot down inadvertently it says a Ukrainian airliner killing all 176 passengers and crew. These protests are in response to that incident. President Trump, Mike Pompeo and Bibi Netanyahu all immediately voiced support for the protesters.

Will the anger on the streets of Tehran amount to anything?

Joining me now in Tehran, Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran. In Baghdad, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a reporter for "The Guardian," and in Abdu Dhabi, Mina Al-Oraibi, the editor-in-chief for the UAE-based newspaper "The National."

Professor Marandi, let me start with you and ask you, how do we understand these protests which seem dramatic in that they specifically talk about the regime, the Islamic Republic about the supreme leader, and seem to be animated by a sense that the regime should not have done -- should not have been engaging in a warfare without closing down the air space if it knew it was firing missiles?

Should not have lied disclaiming responsibility for this? Should not have been as slow to be transparent with the information? And all of it has produced this fairly dramatic reaction against the Islamic Republic and the government.

MOHAMMAD MARANDI, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: Well, I think it's obvious that many people are upset that the government or the armed forces delayed the announcement that the Iranians mistakenly downed the plane. And they should have said it earlier that there was a high possibility until they -- instead of waiting for their three-day investigation concluded. But -- and the protests that are on the streets, there are different types of anger.

Some people are simply angry that the government did this, then there are those who are on the streets who are calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. There are always people like that but I think it's very a bad mistake for Western countries to hedge their bets on such a group when we see the five to seven million people on the streets of Tehran alone last week commemorating the Qasem Soleimani -- General Qasem Soleimani.

I think he who symbolizes the Islamic Republic of Iran and symbolizes all that much of the Western political establishments hates about the Islamic Republic of Iran, I think that that shows a great deal about where Iranian sentiments lie.

ZAKARIA: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, looking at it from Iraq, is this one more instance of how sectarian the Middle East has become? In other words, in Iraq we saw similar kinds of protests. Some people celebrating Soleimani's death, some people, you know, opposing it? And is it just, to put it very bluntly, the Shia are celebrating the -- you know, I mean, sorry, the Sunnis are celebrating Soleimani's death and the Shia are mourning it?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well, Fareed, I'll have to disagree here. I don't think this is a sectarian moment in the Middle East. In Iraq, we saw demonstrations on Friday. And these demonstrations were calling for both for Iran and the United States to leave Iraq outside this conflict. I mean, if we step back a tiny bit and we see that Iraq is in a very post-sectarian (INAUDIBLE), we've seen demonstrations taking place over the last three months. These are post sectarian demonstrations.


These are Shia masses opposing the ruling Shia political parties allied with Iran and the Shia militias allied with Iran. So, no, I would disagree. I don't think there is a sectarian reaction in Iraq. There is what I can paraphrase as Iraqi national reaction. The majority of the people on the streets of Baghdad, they oppose both American and Iranian intervention in Iraqi political affairs and ministry affairs.

ZAKARIA: Mina, what does it look like to you when you think about the fact that the UAE has been part of the -- a fairly strong anti-Iranian coalition? Is there a sense -- you know, it seemed as though initially after the killing of Soleimani, that even the government of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were cautious. They did not want this to spiral out of control.

MINA AL-ORAIBI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE NATIONAL: Well, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been quite cautious for months now. Let's not forget there was an attack on Saudi Aramco in September. Previous to that there was an attack on oil tankers and all evidence indicates that Tehran was behind those attacks. And still the insiders said we do not want escalation, we do not want to see a war.

People in the Gulf are monitoring closely the protest movement in Iraq and also in Iran. Not to say that one side in Iraq, for example, is representative of the entire country but there has been a nationalist movement that, as Ghaith was saying, talking about an Iraqi national identity and that's something important to the Arab world.

ZAKARIA: Fascinating. Stay with us. When we come back I'm going to ask Professor Marandi what Iran's next move is in this extraordinary game.



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Mohammad Marandi in Tehran, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Baghdad, and in Abu Dhabi, Mina Al-Oraibi.

Professor Marandi, let me ask you, what is Iran's next move here? It seemed to signal that it was done. It now faces the pressure because of the fallout from the Ukrainian airliner. It also is facing a very bad economy. Is the Iranian government very much on the defensive or do you expect some kind of asymmetrically response in the future?

MARANDI: Well, I think by striking the U.S. military base and the fact that all the missiles got through the air defense systems and all of them hit the base and created huge damage, that was sending a signal to the United States that Iran can strike hard and I think the fact that the Iranians didn't target American soldiers was important. The Iranians were warning the United States that this confrontation is we don't want to escalate but if you do, this is what we can do.

And I think it's also a warning that all U.S. bases in the region, therefore, are vulnerable. And I think it's especially important for those countries who are hosting U.S. bases because if those bases are used in any conflict, the Iranians have stated that those states will be deemed as hostile and, therefore, countries like the United Arab Emirates, if they are seen to be involved, the Iranians will strike them hard and the Emirates won't last. So the Iranians just simply want the Americans to stop threatening the

country. Trump has repeatedly said -- threatened obliterating Iran. He's talked about destroying Iran's cultural heritage. He's engineering a war against the Iranian economy, trying to make Iranians suffer as much as possible, even preventing Iran from importing medicine, pressuring countries not to allow their food and grain to be exported to Iran.

So the United States is seen as extraordinarily hostile and to be blunt inhumane when it comes to Iran. So this is a part of Iran's pushback.

ZAKARIA: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, let me ask you about the extraordinary confrontation between Iraq and the United States. The Iraqi prime minister and parliament have now asked for American troops to withdraw. The Trump administration has essentially said no. It has both simply, you know, kind of said we're not leaving but then also said if you were to persist in this, we're going to essentially slap sanctions on Iraq, particularly a technical kind of not allowing Iraq to use an account that -- from which it gets a lot of its oil revenues.

This seems an extraordinary confrontation between two countries that were allies. What happens if the Americans just don't go?

ABDUL-AHAD: I mean, Fareed, first, there is no love lost between the Iraqi people and the U.S. army. I mean, yes, the Americans did help Iraq profoundly in the war against ISIS, but we have to remember it is the Americans who are blamed for the current political elite that is ruling Iraq. The Americans are blamed for the corruption that is dominant in Iraq. Having said that, at the same time the Iraqis do not want to be dropped into the middle of a conflict with the United States.

I mean, it's so outrageous to hear Trump talking about the Iraqis having to pay for these bases as they chose to be occupied in the first place. But then the decision of the parliament, I mean, in the Friday demonstrations in Baghdad, many of the people, I mean, the majority were carrying a placard saying the parliament does not represent me because no one consulted Iraqis about the decision to expel the American troops.


And if we've seen -- I mean, I've earlier said this, we're in a post sectarian system but that conflict between America and Iran, as it was seen in the parliament, the optics are very sectarian. The Kurds and Sunnis boycotted the session.

I remind you what people say, no, we don't want the Americans to leave because we don't want to end up -- I mean, again, a war between the United States and Iran will not happen in Tehran or in D.C. It will happen in Baghdad. It will happen in Basra. And this is the main feeling amongst the Iraqi people. We don't want to fight America, we don't want to fight Iran.

One other thing which I would like to add quickly, in Iraq we have the --

ZAKARIA: Can I quickly --


ZAKARIA: Can I first -- can I get to Mina? Because I do need to get a regional perspective here.

Mina, the argument between the UAE and Saudi have made it that Soleimani used proxies to spread Iran's influence across the region. Do you think the killing of Soleimani ends that?

AL-ORAIBI: No, the killing of Soleimani alone doesn't end it. But I wouldn't call it influence. This is militia rule. What Iran does in the region is support armed groups, non-state actors that take away from the sovereignty of countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and beyond. So this isn't about influence or cultural influence. It's actually about militia rule.

And I just want to clarify one thing. There are no American bases in Iraq. These are Iraqi bases that the Americans are using. And the bases that were struck were Iraqi bases. And Iraqi troops were equally put in danger not only American troops. And that's the fear. It's Iraq and other Arab countries may get caught in this crossfire.

Another point on the Iraqi parliament, they've made the point that it was not all political parties present in parliament. There's even questions about that resolution that was passed because it wasn't electronic voting. So we don't even know if that vote was accurate. The current prime minister is a caretaker prime minister. So he doesn't even have the legality to push forward on trying to get the Americans out.

You've had Hassan Nasrallah speak from Lebanon and say that we are going to push out the Americans from the region at a time when Lebanon is suffering from a crippling economic crisis. And so the Iranian parties, whether it's true, Kata'ib Hezbollah inside of Iraq or others are basically willing to crush their own countries, their own nations in order to push forward a foreign agenda, which is an Iranian agenda.

ZAKARIA: Fascinating to get voices from the region on this.

Next on GPS, we will return to Washington and ask, is the killing of General Soleimani an American master stroke or America fueling tensions in the region. A debate when we come back.



ZAKARIA: There seem to be more questions raised than answers given so far in President Trump's decision to kill General Qasem Soleimani. The evidence offered by the White House of an imminent threat has not been forthcoming. The story has been shifting. Was Soleimani targeting the U.S. embassy in Baghdad? Was he targeting four American embassies in the region? What happened to those plans? Plus now 176 people have died in what some have called collateral damage from the Soleimani killing.

So was the president's decision the right one?

Joining me now, Reuel Marc Gerecht, the former Middle Eastern specialist of the CIA, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Trita Parsi, the executive vice president at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and the author of "Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, the Triumph of Diplomacy."

Reuel, let me ask you, I think you have come out publicly in the past actually in favor of specifically killing Qasem Soleimani. Do you think this was done strategically and in the right way? Because I know that in general presumably you actually approve of the killing.

REUEL MARC GERECHT, SENIOR FELLOW, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Yes. I think it was the correct thing to do. We should have done it years ago. I mean, that man is responsible for the deaths of lots of Americans. General Petraeus thinks that figure is up around 600, I suspect it's low. I think if you kill Americans your life is forfeit.

The United States may choose the time and place to exact that, but that man has spread sectarian bloodshed throughout the Middle East. He's tried to radicalized Shiite communities. He supported Sunni jihadists. He's been quite ecumenical in his tastes -- was quite ecumenical in his tastes to spread mayhem and to hurt the United States. So it's high time we stop turning our cheek and take him out.

ZAKARIA: Trita Parsi, what's your reaction?

TRITA PARSI, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, QUINCY INSTITUTE: Well, I think the American public clearly do not believe that this has made them safe. The latest polls show that only 25 percent believe that this has made them more safe, 52 percent believe that it has not and 55 percent or 56 percent disapprove of how Trump has handled this.

I think their instincts are right because their instincts are that this will not only make America less safe, it will also entangle America more in the Middle East at the moment when the American public wants to have the troops come home.


They don't see a strategic reason or utility to continue these endless wars.

And what Trump has done here is actually going to make it much more difficult for the United States to be able to leave the region. Instead it's going to get more entangled in these endless wars. Already two going on. And now he's risking to start a third one. So based on that, I think it's really difficult to see that this is serving U.S. national interests at this moment and it has not made America more safe.

ZAKARIA: Reuel let me ask you to respond to Trita Parsi's recent essay. I can't recall exactly where it was. It was a very interesting point. He said, is it time for us to acknowledge that the United States' involvement in the Middle East has caused more instability, tension and war than solving regional tensions, instability and war?

If you look at it on the face of it, American involvement in the Middle East, Gulf War I, Gulf War II, the various interventions, it does seem like it certainly has not quieted things down, let me put it that way.

GERECHT: Well, I mean, again, I think the primary force driving these sectarian bloodshed in the region has been the Islamic Republic. It hasn't been the United States. I suppose you could have fond memories of Saddam Hussein and the hundreds of thousands of people that he slaughtered, but I don't.

I think the United States, if you could fault the United States for anything, it does - it doesn't always want to stay the course and I don't think we're going to run from the Middle East. I think we should have learned that after 9/11 and I think it's high time we realized that the primary driver of instability is Iran. I mean, I think it's - it is amusing and important to note that--

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, Marc, just one second, is it Iran or has it been Sunni Jihadists, I mean, 9/11 was not perpetrated by Iran but by Saudi Arabia and Egyptian Sunni Fundamentalists who were actually enemies of Iran.

GERECHT: Well, I mean, Qasem Soleimani in particular was operationally responsible for creating Shiite militias in the model of Lebanese Hezbollah. They have somewhere upwards of 50,000 of these folks now spread out throughout the Middle East. He encouraged sectarianism, radicalization of Shiite communities.

They also supported Sunni jihadists. My God, I mean, a Revolutionary Guard core was sending weaponry to Sunni jihadists in Iraq and it was sending weaponry to Sunni jihadists in Afghanistan. The Taliban was receiving weaponry. The notion that--

ZAKARIA: Reuel let me - I'm sorry, we have a little bit of time and I just want to give Trita the last word.

PARSI: Well, look, it's not about whether Iran also is a destabilizing actor or the idea that only one actor can be destabilizing. Unfortunately, you have several of these destabilizing actors in the region. The question we have to ask ourselves, has the over militarized American dominance of the Middle East made America safer and made the Middle East more stable?

The answer to that question I think is quite clear, it has not worked. We should be pursuing other paths instead of just doubling down on something that has been devastating to the Middle East, regardless of what the Iranians are doing, and they're doing a lot of bad things as well and also made America less safe.

If we're actually going to be pursuing U.S. national interests, we should not organize it around the principle that the most important thing for the United States is revenge against Iran. That is not a policy or an orientation that will make America better off.

ZAKARIA: This is a very important debate and we will return to it. And I am sorry we are out of time, but thank you both very much.

Next on "GPS" we're going to switch subjects. There is a lot of hand wringing in America about the power that big technology companies wheeled over us, our brains and our lives. Americans ought to look to the East to see what may be a rather frightening future the new trend coming out of the East when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Elizabeth Warren wants to break them up. The FDC wants to hold them accountable. A growing chorus accuses them of damaging democracy. America is in the midst of an unprecedented fear over the unchecked power of its tech companies but the problems in America may actually be over shadowed overseas.

Take, for example, the leading Chinese social media and messaging app, "WeChat" a platform with more than 1 billion users. It's popular beyond the China's boarders with the Chinese Diaspora and it is a breeding ground for fake news that has proven uniquely difficult to monitor.

Look at Australia as the Australian broadcasting company reported in the run up to elections in May "WeChat" saw a flurry of messaging of dubious origins linking the Labor Party to a mass of influx of refugees. One post even claimed that labor, if elected, would give refugees luxury apartments with a view of the water upon arrival.

And in the U.S. researchers have linked "WeChat" and the fake news and half truths spread in group chats there to the falling support among Chinese Americans for a formative action. As - writes in "The New Yorker" "WeChat" lends itself to misinformation because as with "WhatsApp" it's hard to track down the origins of many posts which are forwarded from group to group taking on a life of their own.

It's also easy to register a so called official account and post public content and some of these accounts are run by bloggers and citizen journalists. As a report by the DOW Center for Digital Journalism Notes, those accounts can be as influential as mainstream media and many are nakedly partisan.

That's all a part from the privacy concerns particularly inside China where "WeChat" serves as payments, messaging, food ordering and ride hailing app all at once. That allows its parent company Tencent to collect a dizzying amount of data from users and data is of course where the money is.

This monetizing of data is at the heart of what the Social Psychologist Shoshana Zuboff's Surveillance Capitalism.

[10:40:00] ZAKARIA: Capitalism based on watching your every move. In China as quotes notes the government can easily request and access data from tech companies so surveillance capitalism mixes seamlessly with surveillance government.

As "The New York Times" has reported, the government has been deploying facial recognition software and its vast security apparatus to profile and control the Uyghurs of Muslim Ethnic Minority. In various parts of the country "The Times" reports security cameras outfitted with the software scanned thousands of faces looking for Ethnic Uyghurs.

Police have put together face image databases from criminal and other records and they use these systems to track Uyghurs movements. It's an exercise in mass surveillance and social control that is breathtaking but the dangerous combination of artificial intelligence at policing is not limited to authoritarian regimes.

Look at India the world's largest democracy which is planning one of the world's largest facial recognition systems to aid police departments across the country. Authorities would be able to automatically cross-check images from security cameras with a database of known criminals, missing children and passport photos. Data privacy activists in India have revoked it.

They worry that the system could be used for social policing and will trample on individual rights and privacy rights. They fear it would be linked to India's massive biometric database known as "Aadhaar" which holds the personal details of 1.2 billion people. The government has denied that it plans to link "Aadhaar" to the new system and has started to de-emphasize the system's role in fighting crime.

But worries remain especially since the Indian government is increasingly using technology or the access to it as a level of social control by shutting down the internet in response to political unrest in several states. This week the Indian Supreme Court declared the indefinite internet shutdown in cashmere is illegal. As this is often happening these days' hot new trends now come from the emerging markets including ones that are deeply troubling.

Next on "GPS" weeks like these bring up big philosophical questions about the use of western power. Luckily enough I have a great philosopher who thinks about just those questions joining me next back in a moment with Bernard-Henri Levy.

Don't forget if you miss a show go to for a link to my "iTunes Podcast".





ZAKARIA: That was President Trump in October explaining his decision to withdraw American troops from Northeastern Syria. The President has long opposed American intervention in the Middle East and many around the world agree with him, but my next guest makes a different case.

Bernard-Henri Levy is the Eminent French Writer and Philosopher who has directed four documentary films that demonstrates how intervention by the world's great powers can stop nightmarish atrocities. I mean, on the flip side, what the bad guys will do if the good guys can't be bothered.

You can catch screenings in New York Sunday night and Los Angeles next weekend. Bernard, let me ask you, this is an extraordinary collection of your work. It reminds one how much time and effort you have spent in all of these places. What motivated you? Why did you - did one thing lead to another or did you always have this sense that the west should be more involved in helping these places?

BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, PHILOSOPHER, WRITER AND FILMMAKER: I had four times in my life the sense that we should be there, that there was a huge violation of human rights, that we have a duty, America, with its special destiny, France with its sense of universality and that we should not drop these people flat.

It started in Bosnia during the seed of Sarajevo. I saw the city bombed for weeks and years and then in Libya and it was the same during the Arab Spring and it is the same now with Afghanistan. I directed two films to the fight of the Kurds. "Peshmerga" and then "The Battle Of Mosul" and then when I see your President announcing in last October that he decides to withdraw, again it's so - it never happened in the military history of democracies to betray an ally, to betray those with whom you did fight shoulder to shoulder against ISIS because this is the Kurds, this is - your and ours more reliable, valiant ally and we didn't abandon them.

ZAKARIA: So let me ask you though, the question people ask often as we go into these places. We spend all of this time, money, treasury, and it's all a mess. Look at Libya where you advocated so strongly the removal of Gaddafi. Look at Iraq with Saddam Hussein. Good intentions are not enough. The outcome is always bad, messy, the opposite of what we wanted.

LEVY: Good intentions are not enough, of course, we need to show consistency, we need to show continuity. But messy is not different fraternity if we had remained in Libya remained not as occurred in the - but if we had held--

ZAKARIA: Stayed engaged.


LEVY: Stay engaged. Helped a proper Libyan Army to emerge, helped some civil servants to be shaped and so on it would have been much better. But look at, for example, Kurdistan. I'm back from there. I was a few days ago there and in - and in KLG. This we have an example of people - people in the Middle East, Muslim - and Democrat practicing human rights, matching with our values.

So the best is not a fraternity. These Kurdish ladies and men do fight for themselves and for us for their own families and for our values. And this is what I show in my movies. In my four movies of the - I showed two things, how it is in the DNA alas of democracies to have - France, not to be brotherly enough and how in the case of the - and of the people of Sarajevo, you can have brilliant people emerging from mess, from night and from - and building something which look like a democracy.

ZAKARIA: Do you think there is another thing going on here which is there is everywhere the rise of nationalism and nationalism says "America First", "Turkey First", you know, "Russia First". And what you are trying to do is one of the age old challenges and tasks of an intellectual, to remind us that we are all human beings, that the Kurds, the Bosnians, Muslims, Hindus and Christians, they're all one?

LEVY: This is one of the links between my four films, sure. Brotherhood, fraternity and what was called in my youth, internationalism. I believe in internationalism but it is not only. The other link between my four films is that even in terms of national interest for us Americans or French, it is worth helping democracy.

Look at what is happening today? Trump decided to abandon the Kurds. What happened immediately, reinforcement on Bashar Al-Assad? Putin transformed into a sort of peace maker. Iran, which is supposed to be your enemy, filling the void in Baghdad, in Damascus, in Lebanon, building its--

So in terms of national interest, "America First" means America weak. "America First" means America on the retreat. America these are - its own values and exceptional values. I believe in the shining city up on the hill. I believe in that. I believe in the great nation which was welcoming to all of the afflicted and suffering. I know and I travel so much in all the places I went I saw how they look in Sarajevo in Kurdistan, in Arab they look at American like a light at the end of the tunnel.

What a bad policy to discourage this hope. What a bad policy to give a slap on the face of all of these afflicted people who are our natural friends. So in terms of brotherhood but also in terms of national interest we are committing huge mistakes.

ZAKARIA: Bernard-Henri Levy, always a pleasure to have you.

LEVY: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.



ZAKARIA: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN that the U.S. blocked his visa request to attend Thursday's U.N. Security Council meeting in New York. The State Department has not confirmed that. It brings me to my question, when it comes to people conducting U.N. business the U.N. Headquarters Agreement permits the U.S. to refuse visas for whom? A anyone. B diplomats from countries that have no relations with the U.S. C people who pose a national security threat to the U.S. Or D no one stay tuned and I'll tell you the correct answer.

My book of the week is Stephen Kinzer's "All the Shah's Men" As the Trump Administration keeps up the pressure on Iran and many wonder whether it's goal, it's regime change here is a superb gripping account of the 1953 CIA sponsored coup in Iran against the democratically elected leader there and how so much bad blood has flown from that original American effort at regime change.

The answer to my "GPS Challenge" this week is D. The 1947 agreement which established the seat of the U.N. in the United States requires the U.S. to issue a visa for anyone conducting official U.N. business, but when Congress approved the agreement it did add a rider specifying that the U.S. retained complete power to safeguard its own security.

Congressional caveat notwithstanding the U.N. is the leading form for international dialogue and it seems to me that Washington is abusing its position by keeping diplomats out. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I'll see you next week.