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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Massive Hack Against U.S., A Cyber Pearl Harbor?; Trump Downplays Suspected Russian Hack; When Will Vaccines And Therapies Bring An End To The Cold?; Ten Years Since Start Of Arab Spring. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 20, 2020 - 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 coming to you from New York City.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): Today on the show, as big an intelligence failure as Pearl Harbor. That is how "The New York Times'" David Sanger describes the recent hack of U.S. computer systems. All fingers point to Russia as the perpetrator. I will ask Sanger just how bad the intrusion is for national security.
And I'll ask former National Security adviser Tom Donilon how America should respond to Russia and what else the Biden team should be ready to focus on.
And the COVID crisis in America is worsening by the day. 2021 will bring some relief, but how much? Will the world return to normal next year? Global health expert Devi Sridhar joins me with the answer.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. The more we learn about the recent hacking to dozens of America's most critical computer networks, widely attributed to Russia linked hackers, the more it's becomes clear that it is massive, unprecedented and crippling.
Tom Bossert, who served at homeland security adviser to President Trump writes, "It will take years to know for certain which networks the Russians control and which ones they just occupy." We do know that they successfully penetrated the Department of Homeland Security's own systems as well as the State Department, Commerce, and others. Stanford's Alex Stimos says this is one of the most important hacking campaigns in history.
Vladimir Putin's Russia has significantly expanded its hybrid warfare using new methods to spread chaos among its adversaries. The United States will have to fortify its digital infrastructure and respond more robustly to the Kremlin's mounting cyberattacks.
But what about the more insidious Russian efforts at disinformation which have helped to reshape the information environment worldwide.
In 2016, two scholars at the Rand Corporation wrote a paper describing Russia's firehose of falsehood propaganda model. Very different from Cold War era propaganda, current Russian approaches work with prevailing technologies and social media platforms. There are at least two key features. High numbers of channels and messages and a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions.
There is no effort at consistency or credibility. The report quotes one analyst, "New Russian propaganda entertains, confuses, and overwhelms the audience."
Now, Russia's methods, strangely closely resemble Donald Trump's own propaganda strategy. Trump issues a blizzard of messages using every medium he can find. He is usually untruthful, but always entertaining. He never worries about consistency, asking only that you remember his most recent claims. So when campaigning in 2016, he argued that the unemployment rate was a hoax, that the Federal Reserve was keeping rates dangerously low, and the stock market at the time was a bubble about to burst.
Once he entered the White House, he soon said the exact opposite about all three. If you bombard people in the present, few have time to dwell on the past. Wittingly or unwittingly, Trump uses the Russian model which rests on the principle that people are more likely to be convinced when they hear the same message many times from a variety of sources no matter how biased those sources are.
He adds to all this an intuitive understanding of how social media works. If you make a claim that is truly outrageous, it will attract attention and eyeballs, spread far and wide, and ensure that people hear it repeatedly and over time people may begin to believe it. A boring truth dies on Twitter while a sensational lie goes viral and, most disturbingly, over time the lie becomes a half-truth.
Trump has set a new standard because he simply does not view the truth as a constraint. For example, a principled conservative would explain Republicans don't have a replacement for Obamacare because they don't believe the federal government should be required to guarantee health care as a right. Trump's method is easier. He simply asserts that he has a plan, one that's even better than Obamacare.
Trump has announced that he will veto the Defense Appropriations Bill apparently because it removes Confederate names from bases and does not repeal Section 230, a rule that protects social media companies. But he decided it would be simpler to claim that, quote, "The biggest winner of our new Defense bill is China," unquote.
Now, there is no conceivable sense in which this is factual since the bill actually creates a formal deterrence initiative against Chinese expansionism for the first time. But Trump understands that a sensational lie is far more effective than a complicated truth. The pandemic might have accelerated these trends towards
disinformation. Socially isolated, cut off from most communities, Americans now seem even more susceptible to theories that confirm their partisan beliefs.
The most startling fact about 2020 is not that Donald Trump tried to overturn the results of the election. Many of us predicted he would try that. What is stunning is that according to the polls 60 million Americans believe his assertions and the series of lies that sustain them.
The problem is not just that Russia has hacked into America's computer systems. It seems to have hacked into our minds.
Go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week, and let's get started.
Let's dig more into this devastating hack of U.S. government networks with David Sanger of the "New York Times." He is the author of the "Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear" in the cyber age. Perfectly timed, HBO released a documentary also called "The Perfect Weapon" that was based on the book.
David, people are going to want to know why you have judged this to be such a massive intelligence failure.
DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Fareed, I think the first and most important thing to know is that this attack was done with such stealth that it did not actually set off any of those great sensors that the United States, the National Security Agency, Cybercommand, the Department of Homeland Security have created over the past five or 10 years, and particularly the ones created after the 2016 hacks surrounding the presidential election.
And the reason, Fareed, that the Russian intelligence agency that pulled this off, a group that is known as the SVR, was able to be is stealthy was that they very wisely got into some software that companies, government agencies, all use to manage their computer networks. And they got into the updates, similar to the kind of update that you would use if you plugged in your phone overnight and you waited for Apple or another manufacturer to update your phone.
And, of course, you don't look at the code that came in overnight, and neither did the companies that were taking the new improved version of the software. And that software enabled the hackers, in this case the suspected Russian group, to be able to bore in and basically get access to everything from e-mail to databases and all that.
The question is, how much of that access did they actually make use of, and why didn't we see this supply chain hack? A hack so smart that it got into the supplier rather than breaking directly into the computer system.
ZAKARIA: So explain what the damage could be potentially. They are in the Department of Homeland Security computers, for example. And that means they potentially have access to what? SANGER: It's a great question. And the answer is right now no one
knows. The potential is huge because the software was used so broadly. But we believe that the suspected hackers, again the group that everybody seems to believe is the Russian intelligence group, probably only went into dozens or hundreds of these systems out of a universe of more than 18,000. And that could have been because they wanted to be careful not to get caught.
If they are in the e-mail system, the question is, are they only in the unclassified e-mail system, which would be bad. They'd get sensitive material, but wouldn't be anywhere near as bad of being inside classified networks. If they are in databases, can they simply download the material or can they alter data? You know, that's -- data alteration has always been a big fear. If you got into the Pentagon system and you read medical records, it's bad enough.
If you were able to change everyone's blood type, that would be really bad. If you got into targeting systems, if you got into satellite sensors, that could be really bad. We just don't know right now. And that's what's most worrisome in some ways because Joe Biden will be coming in and inheriting a government that clearly is permeated with some amount of Russian code and he is not going to know exactly what he can trust.
ZAKARIA: Attribution is often very difficult with cyberattacks. What is the -- why are we so sure, why are the experts so sure that this is in all likelihood Russia and the particular Russian group SVR?
SANGER: It's a great question. Part of this, at least that we know about, has to do with the tactics, the patience, the time and resources that were required, which, as one cybersecurity expert outside of the government who looks at state-run acts, said excludes 97 percent of the hackers who are out there. So that's number one. Number two is they used some techniques that we have seen Russians use before and this group used before.
But I have to say I have checked with a broad variety of people inside and outside of the government, and they're all honing down on the same group. Now it could turn out a few months from now that it was a different Russian group, I guess it could turn out that it was the Chinese instead of the Russians, but it seems unlikely based on everything we know right now.
ZAKARIA: David, let me ask you about a contrast, which is that a lot of the administration, the Homeland Security agency, others, experts, all seem very, very perturbed about this. The one person who has not seem that perturbed is the president of the United States.
SANGER: Yes. It's completely striking, Fareed. He has been almost AWOL on the subject. I mean, think about it. His National Security adviser was in Europe on his last trip in office and turned around to go manage this crisis and gather the National Security Council. The National Security Agency, the spy agency, has been turning out warnings to the government and private industry. The Department of Homeland Security turned out one of the most sharply
worded bureaucratic warnings I have ever seen, one that says that government computer systems are in grave danger, and yet we have heard so little from the president. We have heard from President-elect Biden, and I thought that his statement was particularly notable because he said, you know, having better defenses is not enough here, that we need to raise the cost.
We need to impose costs and we need to make sure that a price is paid for this. You know, that's easier said than done. The Russians have been breaking into American computer systems for a quarter century. They did it in the 1990s.
Famously, they went into the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the White House unclassified e-mail systems during the Obama administration while Joe Biden was there, and the Obama administration underreacted at that time. They didn't even name the Russians publicly.
So now we have President-elect Biden saying he will act, but I think he is going to find that when you get into that kind of adversarial situation with a nuclear power, you get very careful about how you allow escalation to occur.
ZAKARIA: So what should the Trump administration do, and more importantly, what should the Biden administration do to protect the country against such hacks?
I will ask former National Security adviser Tom Donilon when we came back.
ZAKARIA: When the new National Security team starts work after the stroke of noon on January 20th, they will have a whole host of crises to deal with. The suspected Russian hack, COVID-19, heightened tensions with China, climate change, and the bigger picture of reestablishing America's role on the world stage after four years of America first.
How to go about all of that? Well, I wanted to talk to somebody who had occupied the National Security adviser seat that Jake Sullivan is slated to inherit that day. Tom Donilon served that role for President Obama from 2010 to 2013.
Welcome, Tom Donilon.
TOM DONILON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thank you, Fareed. Good to be with you today. Hope you're doing well.
ZAKARIA: Tom, react first to this Russian hack. What are your thoughts about it?
DONILON: Fareed, I have a couple of thoughts and a couple of ways I think we should be thinking about this. First of all, it is most likely the most severe attack, cyberattack on the United States that we have seen. It's almost certainly an attack by a nation state and I think if the reports are correct most certainly from Russia.
The headline here, of course, is that the United States was not able to defend itself and defend its networks against an attack by an adversary. The United States government now will have, as a massive task here of doing a damage assessment, of trying to clean up the attack, clean up the networks, discover exactly where the malware is and what it's doing, get it off the systems, and also now to engage and deter future attacks.
A couple of other thoughts come to mind, and that's this. And I think it's an analytical point, not to meant to be a partisan point, but I don't think that cybersecurity has really been at the top of the priority list for the administration, the Trump administration to date.
The director of National Intelligence, as you know, Fareed, for a long time now, six or seven years, has indicated that cyberattacks were among the top risk to the United States and it has not been reflected I think in the priorities of the administration. Indeed, you'll recall that in 2018 the administration actually disassembled, took down the cybersecurity coordinator's role inside the NSC, kind of comparable what they did around suspected global health.
But took down the cyber coordinator's role in the NSC and got rid of, dismissed, two of the most senior cyber folks on their team. And of course, I also note that, you know, the same time, around the same time that this attack was happening that the government actually dismissed -- President Trump dismissed the senior cybersecurity official in the government, Chris Krebs.
So going forward for the administration, I think that it needs -- the priority needs to be raised. Obviously, a very intense effort. This will take months and maybe years to actually get to the bottom of this and to repair the networks. It will cost billions of dollars. I expect the Biden administration will put in place a coordination structure inside the White House and of course I think we should move to public attribution with respect to this attack when we have the basis to do that and I expect it will be -- I think expect it to be Russia.
That's been something, the last thing I'll say is that's been something of course that this administration has been reluctant to do, which is to engage, confront, criticize Vladimir Putin and the Russians when they have done things which are decidedly against U.S. interests.
ZAKARIA: Talk about that last piece more. What would you do with Russia? Because, look, it is a nuclear power. We do have interests. We do want to make sure that we have some kind of a relationship. What is the strategy that we should have towards Russia?
DONILON: I think a couple of things, Fareed. Number one, it is important to realize that Russia is actively hostile to the United States and has been so for quite a while here. And of course there's really no deterrence I think with respect to Vladimir Putin that he has felt. And I think it arises from a couple of things here that need to be corrected in the next administration, in the Biden administration.
One is there has been this reluctance, one of the most inexplicable things I think in the Trump administration, this reluctance by President Trump to confront it, criticize, engage Vladimir Putin with respect to steps that Russia has taken which are against the U.S. interests. He's been at odds with his own government.
That won't take place, I think, in the Biden administration. I think, you know, President-elect Biden, soon be to be President Biden, certainly knows Putin and I think you'll see a consistency in the administration as opposed to this division. It's almost schizophrenia with respect to the approach to Russia.
Secondly, to develop a common approach to Russia with our NATO allies and our European partners. We've seen actions by the Trump administration which have been really hostile to NATO's unity, and I think you'll see a big change in that. And last I think you'll see with respect, specifically with respect to the cyber issue, I think you'll see public and formal attribution and as President-elect Biden said in his statement this week, you'll see steps taken to exact a price here.
As we sit here today, Fareed, I don't think that Vladimir Putin has believed for the last four years that there would be any price extracted for steps that he took. Indeed, you had the spectacle really, which you know in Helsinki a couple of years ago with the president of the United States standing with the president of Russia, our adversary, and siding with him in counter distinction to our intelligence services.
ZAKARIA: Tom, before I let you go, I want to ask about what will clearly be another huge foreign policy challenge for Joe Biden which is China. It will be hard enough to get it right, but you can tell from the president, President Trump, from Mike Pompeo, from senators like Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio, they are going to go very hard on the idea that the Biden administration is too pro-Chinese, is appeasing, is in some way or the other in the pocket of China.
How do you navigate that politically? How does the Biden administration navigate that politically?
DONILON: Yes, well, China, the U.S.-China relationship of course is going to be the main geostrategic challenge for the United States for most of this century most likely. It will be on the front burner for the Biden administration.
I disagree with a little bit of what you said here, though, Fareed. I think that in fact there have been real deficiencies in the Trump approach, to President Trump's approach to China which I think need to be directed. And here's how I would think about it. The first thing we need to do, and I think that President-elect Biden has made this clear, it's going to be his first priority, is the United States needs to have a successful and competent effort to distribute the vaccine, get appropriate take-up of the vaccine, and address the COVID crisis in 2021.
This idea of competence by the United States has been one of the most important sources of our strength in the world. That image and reality of competence, one of the most important strengths really since World War II. It's America can do spirit is really important here I think because China of course is arguing that in fact its system has done better with respect to COVID and is superior in terms of delivering for the needs of its people.
So the COVID crisis is really the first important step. Beyond that, though, I think, you know, this -- the China challenge is really as much about us as it is about trying to effect Chinese behavior at the margin. It really is about the United States stepping up to meet what is the real core of the competition, what the core of the relationship between the United States and China which is in the technology and competitiveness area.
And, finally, another missing piece of U.S.-China strategy and a comprehensive approach has been on values. And I think you will see the United States under President Biden reinforce values, reinforce the soft power that the United States has around the world with its partners and allies and others. That's an important piece I think which has been missing.
ZAKARIA: Thank you, Tom Donilon. Always a pleasure.
Next on GPS, the experts have been warning of a dark and ugly COVID winter in the United States and much of the Western world. Winter doesn't start until tomorrow. We're already seeing skyrocketing numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and even deaths.
When will the vaccines and therapies bring an end to the cold? Find out when we come back.
ZAKARIA: How could you not smile at the images of the first people getting vaccinated in the U.K. and the U.S.?
They conjure up the possibility of a world where we can get on planes again, where hugs and handshakes may be possible, where masks aren't de rigueur. But is this world only in our imagination or might it really arrive sometime soon?
Joining me now is Devi Sridhar. She is the chair of Global Health at Edinburgh University's medical school.
Professor Devi Sridhar, pleasure to have you on.
DEVI SRIDHAR, CHAIR OF GLOBAL HEALTH, EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL: Thank you for having me.
ZAKARIA: So first let me ask you about the vaccine and the rollouts. Britain in particular is seeing it move pretty fast. Is it going better than expected?
Is it -- you know, at what point do you think the British population will be vaccinated so that you can say that, between the combination of vaccinations and infections, you have achieved some level of herd immunity?
SRIDHAR: Yeah, so vaccines are incredibly exciting, and already, even within a weekend, over 100,000 people vaccinated in Britain. But we're still far off any kind of herd immunity. We would need to probably vaccinate 80 percent to 90 percent of the population as well as have a vaccine that stops transmission of the virus, where right now all we know is this vaccine stops severe COVID-19 in those who become infected.
So there are still some big remaining questions. So, yes, probably by March/April we'll be in a better position, with mass testing, with better understanding of transmission and with the vaccines, to actually start getting back to a better handle on the situation and some normality.
ZAKARIA: Now, with the vaccine, how long does it last?
And, you know, if it's about a year, which I am guessing you're going to say, the question I think a lot of people have is, so is this going to be like the flu, that one has to take it every year?
It seems like a pretty large production and effort to have to do this every year.
SRIDHAR: Yeah, so this is an unknown. So we don't know how long immunity with these vaccines will last. So, yes, we might be looking at annual vaccination programs for the entire population. But different countries are going to see this in different ways.
Some like New Zealand and Australia just set up a travel bubble, will actually try to eliminate the virus and use vaccines to help eliminate it, where others in the West who see this as an endemic infection that we're going to be living with, are going to have to think carefully about how they roll this out every single fall, or every single summer, getting ready for the winter.
ZAKARIA: Now, one of the things that -- that I have been saying that I think, you know, is the biggest disappointment to me is that, in the testing, tracing and isolation systems in the West, even where we have gotten very good at testing and then tracing, and people have been willing to talk about whom they have been in contact with, we haven't been able to do what seems to me the crucial part, which is the isolation of the infected and potentially infected so that you don't -- you know, so you're out of circulation.
Has that succeeded anywhere, and what do you take from that? Does it mean that people in the West just can't -- can't be
disciplined enough to -- to isolate themselves, to quarantine themselves?
SRIDHAR: You know, that's exactly right. Because the whole point of testing and tracing is to get people to isolate so they don't infect others. And -- and so if you just do the testing and tracing and you don't actually get people to stay the 14 days away from others, it becomes slightly pointless.
So places that have done well are largely in East Asia, and that's through sometimes compulsory, so large fines if you break quarantine, even jail time, in the context of South Korea, for endangering others.
New York -- New York City, though, has done well, in the United States, through a combination of financial support, so paying people to stay home, so you reimburse goodwill; secondly is actually emotional support, practical support, bringing groceries, medications, you know, things that people need to get by; and third, offering hotel rooms, so managed isolation so people can leave where they're living and have somewhere else to go in case they don't want to infect their housemates or their flatmates or elderly members they might live with.
ZAKARIA: All right. Leave us with some good news. I saw that there is a -- an intriguing study out in Britain done by Dr. Ken Bailey. Explain what it says.
SRIDHAR: So, yes, my colleague Professor Bailey basically shows that there are genetic factors that seem to be able to predict who is going to have severe COVID-19 and who will not, based on your immune response.
Because in the end it's your overreaction of the immune system, a cytokine storm that leads to, you know, the second week, people getting severely ill.
And so this can help in two ways, one to have therapies to try to stem that immune response and to target those genes, and secondly to start to assess at a population level who is most at risk.
So I think we're really in a great position scientifically-wise. In less than a year we have mass testing, rapid tests, PCR testing, antibody tests. We have vaccines, at least three safe and effective. We have therapeutics, Dexamethasone, but also better ways of managing patients.
And also, now, we have genetic sequencing work coming out actually helping to explain why we have patterns of disease that otherwise may not have been able to be explained just at the face -- at face value.
ZAKARIA: Professor Sridhar, this has been terrifically helpful. Thank you so much.
SRIDHAR: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: And next, 10 years on from the start of the Arab Spring, how much has changed for that part of the world, for better or for worse?
That story, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: The life of Mohamed Bouazizi was unremarkable until it ended. He was a street vendor in a small town in the North African nation of Tunisia who set himself on fire 10 years and three days ago. It was an act of protest against his local government that then spiraled to mass protests against the national government.
Those in turn inspired the entire Arab Spring. The epicenter of the movement became Tahrir Square in Cairo, which filled with angry protesters day and night until Egypt's longtime autocratic President Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign.
It looked like a success story at the time, as did the other leaders deposed and the reforms promised in nations across the region. But what has come of it all?
Joining me now is Noah Feldman, a professor at the Harvard Law School and the author of "The Arab Winter: A Tragedy."
Let's start, Noah, with the non-tragedy part, which is where it all began, Tunisia. That one has, sort of, succeeded. Why?
NOAH FELDMAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Tunisia has, sort of, succeeded in that it is now a functioning, not perfect but functioning constitutional democracy. It's pretty free. They vote people in and out of office. They form coalitions in their government. They sometimes fail to form coalitions.
But, basically, the ordinary person still suffers from some of the challenges that faced them even before the Arab Spring, especially unemployment. So it's a kind of mixed success. But on the other hand, it is a democracy.
And the real reason for that is that the Tunisian leadership and then the Tunisian people compromised. They looked each other in the eye. They had very different views. Many were deeply religiously motivated. They were Islamists. They compromised and they took Sharia out of their political program. And on the other side, secularists who were very worried about Islam and its rise also compromised by allowing a party that was essentially an Islamic party to participate centrally in politics.
They knew no one was coming to help them. They compromised. It worked.
ZAKARIA: The force that everybody worried about in the Middle East and in the Islamic world in general was Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic militancy, you know, what's called political Islam, the desire to use Islam to infuse politics or create an Islamic government.
What did the Arab Spring tell us about the future of that movement, the potential of that movement to succeed or to derail governments? FELDMAN: In Tunisia, political Islamists compromised. And that made
them much more moderate. They turned into something like Christian Democrats in Europe. And so in that country political Islam turned out to be completely compatible with the emergence of constitutional democracy.
In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood government would not compromise. They thought, "Well, we've won a majority, so now we can govern the way we want."
That was wrong. That's not how it works in a constitutional democracy. You have to compromise. And they were ultimately displaced by the army.
Worst of all, in Syria, after the civil war created a tremendous security vacuum, we saw the rise of the Islamic State, which was, as it were, political Islam in its most extreme and horrifying form. And that turned into a murderous and horrifying kind of death cult, which had to be defeated ultimately by force.
ZAKARIA: When you look at Egypt, what conclusion do you draw about the, sort of, people power?
Because it was people power that drove Mubarak out. And everyone said, "Oh, this is wonderful. This means they really want democracy; they don't want radical Islam or militancy."
And then they came out, the same people, apparently, came out and drove the -- the elected Islamic government out, the elected Muslim Brotherhood government out, in favor of a dictatorship that is in some ways more extreme than Mubarak's.
FELDMAN: The first takeaway for me is that people power is not limited to people of one country or one religion or one culture. The hard part, though. comes after you've adopted democracy. It doesn't necessarily follow that you'll get the government that everybody wants. You can get deep division.
And that's basically what we saw. The Egyptian public got rid of a dictator through the Army. Then they went to the streets and they asked for the Army, which almost guaranteed the return of another dictator, and that's what they in fact got.
So there the reminder is that people power can lead right back into totalitarian dictatorship.
ZAKARIA: And what about the outsiders? The United States, during the Arab Spring, you know, tried to be on the side of the -- of the Egyptian people. It intervened to get rid of Gadhafi. It chose not to intervene in the case of Syria. It feels like no one of those strategies, intervention, non-intervention, nothing was perfect.
FELDMAN: None of those strategies ultimately really worked. What we were left with was something in between, a kind of hybrid strategy. And in some cases, as in Tunisia, that, sort of, paid off. But in Egypt, it really didn't work. In Egypt it really led to the re-emergence of dictatorship. And in
Syria it failed disastrously because it ultimately prolonged the civil war.
You know, the U.S. and other allies effectively gave the rebels enough to stay alive but not enough actually to defeat the -- the Assad regime. And that meant that the war lasted a very long time. It meant more refugees. It meant more people dying. And the long-term consequences for the region are really tragic.
ZAKARIA: You know, Noah, you're talking about the need for compromise, the need to understand that you can't -- you can't always get the government that you want.
You are talking, of course, about the Middle East, but it feels like these are things we should -- we should be learning in Washington as well.
Did you come out of this feeling like democracy is fragile and that people in Washington should bear that in mind?
FELDMAN: The Arab Spring teaches us that democracy is very hard to create and our own political situation shows us that it's also really hard to sustain.
In both instances, the key is to remember that winning a bare majority in an election does not translate into the capacity to govern exactly the way you want. That's just not how democracy is designed and it's not how constitutions operate.
What you have to be able to do is to look to the other side, which makes demands that you do not like, and say there are enough of you and you matter enough that we're going to make compromises that are brutal and painful in order to actually govern and in order to function together as a country.
We need to do that here, painful though it will be, if we want to have a chance of governing. And no one wants to hear that. Everyone wants to hear "I won this election; now I'm in charge." But that's just not how democracy in a divided society functions.
ZAKARIA: Noah Feldman, always a pleasure.
FELDMAN: Thanks, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. This week, as Christmas approaches, I am going to give you five books drawn from my books of the week which I think would make good presents for you and your loved ones during this holiday season.
The first is "Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World" by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. They tell the incredible story of a Malaysian con man who manages to steal on a scale that is hard to believe. Think billions of dollars. And he does it while involving the Malaysian and the UAE governments, venerable banks like Goldman Sachs and some of the world's greatest movie stars and art dealers.
If someone had written this as a novel, people would have said it is too crazy to be believable. But it turns out to be all true.
Second, Reihan Salam's "Melting Pot or Civil War: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders."
We've forgotten about the immigration crisis, but it persists and needs to be solved. Reihan Salam, a thoughtful conservative, makes an intelligent and heartfelt case for a new approach to immigration that recognizes both its real costs but also its enormous benefits to American society.
You might not agree with everything he says in this book, but you will come away wiser for having read it.
Third, "The American Story: Conversations With Master Historians" by David Rubenstein.
This is history that is bite-sized and accessible yet helps you learn and think. Rubenstein has gathered together conversations with the greatest American historians, from Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson to David McCullough on John Adams to Ron Chernow on Alexander Hamilton to Jon Meacham on Thomas Jefferson. It is an easy, pleasurable read.
Fourth, "Humankind: A Hopeful History." This is perhaps the most contrarian book I read this year. Rutger Bregman uses copious research to tell us a story of human beings that is the opposite of the familiar tale of competition and conflict.
"The Lord of the Flies" was fiction, he reminds us, and points out that real-life versions of that incident revealed human beings to be, by nature, friendly, cooperative and collaborative. It has implications for everything from corporate strategy to war and police work.
And, finally, I want to recommend the book I spent many months of this year working on to try to make sense of the COVID crisis and the changes the pandemic is ushering in political, economic, technological and personal ways, "Ten Lessons For a Post-Pandemic World."
Rather than telling you myself, let me quote from the New York Times review. "With his lively language and to-the-point examples, Zakaria tells the story well while resisting boilerplate as served up by the left and the right. Read 'Ten Lessons.' It is an intelligent, learned and judicious guide for a world already in the making."
People are reading more during this pandemic, so what better gift than good books to occupy their time and enrich their lives?
If you go to CNN.com/Fareed you'll see links to buy all of these books. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. We are off next week, but I will see you in the new year.