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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Interview With Hillary Clinton On Biden's First 100 Days; One Of India's Top Writers Said Situation On The Ground Constitutes "A Crime Against Humanity." Aired 10-11a ET
Aired May 02, 2021 - 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.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): Today on the show, Hillary Rodham Clinton. We'll talk about President Biden's first 100 days.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I give him an A, and I'm a hard grader.
ZAKARIA: And America's booming economy.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working again. Dreaming again. Discovering again. And leading the world again.
ZAKARIA: I'll ask her about America's worsening relations with Russia.
CLINTON: This is not a regime that you can take at face value.
ZAKARIA: And what she really thinks about Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
CLINTON: We can't afford to walk away from the consequences of that decision.
ZAKARIA: Also, the tragedy of India's COVID catastrophe grows deeper and darker every day. What's happening there has been called a crime against humanity. And many are wondering, how much does politics and populism in particular have to do with it.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
ZAKARIA: But first, here is my take. This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the operation code named "Neptune Spear" that killed Osama bin Laden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: It's an opportunity to reflect on the state of Islamic terrorism and radical Islam more generally, and the initial diagnosis is clear. The movement is in bad shape. Total deaths caused by terrorism around the world have plummeted by 59 percent since they're peak in 2014. In the West, the current threat is less from Islamic violence than far-right terrorism which has surged by 250 percent in the same period. It now makes up 46 percent of attacks and 82 percent of deaths in these countries.
Most Islamist terror today tends to be local, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabab in the Horn of Africa. That's a major reversal from the glory days of al Qaeda when its leaders insisting that the focus must be not on the near enemy, the local regimes, but rather the far enemy, the United States and the West for broadly.
Al Qaeda has disintegrated into a bunch of militias and disparate places with no central command or ideology. ISIS is doing slightly better with more funds but it too searches for unstable or ungoverned places like Mozambique, where it can operate from. The focus on those local conflicts erodes any global appeal. Muslims around the world do not identify with local causes in Mozambique or Somalia.
Militant Islam which began to flourish in the 1970s rooted its appeal in failure, the failure of the dictatorships and monarchies of the Arab world, to develop their societies. Islamists urged Muslims to give up on Western style modernization which had led only to poverty and tyranny for them. Instead, they urged the embrace of the idea of political Islam, the road to an Islamic state.
People like bin Laden and his associate Ayman al-Zawahiri turned political Islam into militant Islam because they urged that was the only way to topple the dictatorships of the Arab world and beyond. They urged terrorism against those regimes but more importantly against the superpower that supported them, America.
In an essay in the journal "Religions," Nader Hashemi points out that the allure of political Islam was always that of an untested opposition movement, a mystical alternative to the shoddy reality that existed on the ground in the Muslim world. But over the last few decades, Islamic parties have entered the political process in Iraq, Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and other places.
Hashemi writes, "One general theme stands, the popular prestige of political Islam has been tarnished by its experience with state power." You see millions of Muslims have now seen political Islam in action and they don't like it. They fled the ISIS caliphate in droves. They protested against the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt.
They watched Shia parties in Iraq turned into corrupt patronage operations, and in Iran they continue to be deeply disenchanted by the country's theocratic government.
The oxygen that fed political Islam, disgust with the current regimes and a blind faith in the promise of religious leaders has been severely depleted. What remains now are local problems, local discontents that are really not part of some great global movement.
It's true in the West as well. There have been a spate of Islamist attacks in France over the past year or so but these were all carried out by individuals, not previously known to the police and not part of any known jihadi groups. They were self-radicalized with their own personal discomforts leading them to a radical ideology.
In this sense, Islamist attacks in Europe have something in common with far-right attacks in America. Alienated individuals, radicalizing online, find ideology that weaponize their fears and furies. America has more alienated white men these days than Muslims, hence the changing composition of the terrorism on its soil.
The lessons to draw about Islam and Islamic terrorism and the prospects for democracy in Islamic countries are complicated and varied. 2021 is also the 10th anniversary of the Arab spring when millions of Arab striked to peacefully protest for democracy and human rights, a movement that sprouted up again over the last few years in Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq. While these efforts have had limited success so far, they do show powerfully that Arabs and Muslims want freedom and democracy far more than they do a caliphate.
For America, there is one big lesson. Stay calm. In the months after 9/11, we panicked. Sacrificing liberties at home and waging war abroad. Terrified that we were going to be defeated by this new enemy. This is part of a worrying American tradition of exaggerating the threats we face from the Soviet Union to Saddam Hussein. As we scour the world for new foes, let's learn to right size our adversaries and find a way to run fast but not run scared.
Go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Without further ado, today's main event. My interview with Hillary Clinton. Welcome back to the show, Madam Secretary.
CLINTON: It's good to be back, Fareed, even though virtually.
ZAKARIA: All right. Let me ask you, before we get into foreign policy, I want to ask you about Biden's 100 days. And I want to you ask something very specific about it which is, he has outlined a much more ambitious role for the government than people thought Democrats could or had the courage to. Your husband famously said when he was president, the era of big government is over.
James Carville, who ran his campaign, said what I realized now is when I die I want to come back as the bond market because everybody here is so worried about any spending that would upset the bond market.
Was that all wrong then or is it that Biden is in a new age? CLINTON: I really think it's a new age and in part because what had to
happen in the '90s did happen. There was a lot of, you know, positive economic growth that was aided and abetted by government policy and huge amounts of advancement for people up and down the income scale, minorities and others. In the Obama administration, the biggest expansion of health care that could happen.
But it wasn't until the pandemic that I think a truly working majority of Americans, crossing party lines as we've seen, because of the approval that Republicans and independent voters are giving Biden, suddenly understood in a clear way that, you know what, there's lots of times when we need the government, and we've been exposed as lacking in the kind of investments and support that we, as Americans, should be providing each other with the government as our partner.
And I'm thrilled that, you know, President Biden is taking advantage of this moment to try to push the agenda as far as possible. I think both, you know, Presidents Obama and Clinton did, too, but they were more constrained given what the climate was politically during their administrations.
So, yes, I think it builds on a lot of what did happen in prior Democratic administrations. But it also goes further. And it can go further because people understand, guess what, you know, we kind of were failed by our government for four years when we confronted one of the worst health care crises, economic crises that our country has seen.
ZAKARIA: President Clinton's Treasury secretary, one of them, Larry Summers, says he's all in favor of more spending but this is just too much. You know, it'll end up being, if the infrastructure bill goes through, $4 trillion to $5 trillion and there's a danger of triggering inflation. Are you worried if all of this goes through that it may just be too much?
CLINTON: I'm not worried yet. And really for a couple of reasons. We have seen signs of very robust economic growth. California, for example, given the existing tax structure, has seen a huge infusion of tax revenue because of stock market gains and then the capital gains that came with those. I think the same is beginning to happen elsewhere in the country. The first quarter shows that we could be possibly seeing over 6 percent growth.
I do think that what the president has proposed, first with his American Rescue Plan, then as American Jobs Plan which is focused on infrastructure of all kinds, and his American Family Plan, is making up for a lot of the problems that American families have faced, particularly since the Great Recession.
You know, the Great Recession just was a terrible blow to so many families who lost their wealth because they lost their homes, who never fully recovered, small businesses that were just barely scraping by or had to go out of business. So I think it's always important to look over the horizon, to try to anticipate problems that might occur, but I think right now it is absolutely the time for the Biden-Harris administration to stake a big claim to trying to lift up the majority, the vast majority of Americans.
And, you know, one thing, Fareed, that I'm particularly excited by, given the work I've done over many decades, is the child allowance plan that will lift so many children out of poverty. And we know absolutely that more money into parents' hands so that they can provide better for their children has long-term consequences for the better.
So, yes, I'm willing to look over the horizon and keep an eye out for any problems. But right now, I think we're trying to right size the government to meet the challenges of today.
ZAKARIA: Biden faces a specific challenge which is the Republicans have made clear that they would go for an infrastructure bill, but one substantially smaller than the one that he is proposing. Do you think it is worth trying to find some kind of compromise there, even if it means taking potentially a trillion dollars off his numbers or should the Democrats stick firm to their basic goal and pass what they can, you know, with the very narrow majority they have in the Senate?
CLINTON: Well, I think there needs to be a good-faith negotiation. And I'm not sure yet that the Republicans are engaging in a good-faith negotiation. And that has to be tested. So I'm very confident that given his years in the legislative body in the Senate and certainly as vice president, President Biden will test that. I know he continues to meet with Republicans in a bipartisan effort to try to figure out what they can agree on and how far they can go together.
But at some point, there will have to be a very clear political calculation by the administration that, you know, we've done everything we know to do, we've got agreement on X and Y but we can't get agreement on the rest, which we think will help promote growth, increase income equality, and the like, so we're going to do one of two things. We're going to split off what we could agree on and put the Republicans to the test, so you have two votes.
You have a vote on what's agreed upon in a bipartisan way, and then you have a separate vote on the additional funding that Democrats and the administration seek, or you conclude that there is not a good- faith negotiation and you put forth as, you know, big a robust infrastructure bill as you possibly can and try to round up the Democratic votes, including the vice president's tie-breaking vote if necessary.
ZAKARIA: Stay with us. Next on GPS, Hillary Clinton on her attempted re-set with Vladimir Putin 12 years ago and what lessons her successor at the State Department might learn from her experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: This is not a regime that you can take at face value and so you need very focused efforts to restrain and even punish where necessary.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Now, to one of the biggest puzzles facing President Biden. What to do about Russia? Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins me again.
Madam Secretary, let me ask you, you started out your tenure as secretary of State trying a re-set with the Russians and trying to figure out whether there were ways to compromise with them. What transpired by the end of it was Putin deciding that you had tried to support pro-democracy movements in Russia and therefore he was going to take revenge on you by all accounts, by American intelligence accounts that is one of the reasons he interfered in the 2016 election.
So I guess what I'm wondering is, can you be objective about this? Is it worth another re-set with Vladimir Putin?
CLINTON: Well, I certainly could be objective because the goal is to try to figure out how to rein in and stop the malicious behavior of Russia in destabilizing countries on its border, in Europe, the United States, through the election interference and so much more. We always have to be ready to find common ground, if there is any.
So I think, Fareed, my approach would be similar to what I see happening, which is to sanction Russia over its cyberattacks, over its election interference, making it absolutely clear that they are a bad actor when it comes to their continuing efforts to undermine democracies in the West particularly, but also to see whether there is any potential for cooperation on climate change, for example, on the Iran nuclear agreement, where they are part of the P-5 Plus One.
Looking for those areas. Narrow as they may be that we could get some, you know, positive action out of the Putin regime, I do have to say, however, that the crackdown on Alexei Navalny and his supporters, his lawyer, the organizations that are trying to speak out against the corruption, the thievery, the oppression that marks the current Russian government is deeply troubling.
The massing of military forces on Ukraine's border, a continuing effort to intimidate that country and its government, the undermining of governments through spying and very, very deep espionage networks like the one that has been disclosed in the Czech Republic. You know, the list goes on. This is not -- this is not a regime that you can take at face value and so you need very focused efforts to restrain and even punish where necessary, look for areas of cooperation, if any are possible.
ZAKARIA: President Biden was asked if he thought Vladimir Putin was a killer and he said yes. Was that too undiplomatic of him? There were people who criticized him saying well, look, you've got to deal with this guy and this is going to make any kind of cooperation more difficult?
CLINTON: I think he told the truth. And I think that if he had equivocated or dodged the question, that would have also had repercussions. You know, there are tens of thousands, probably millions and millions of Russians who know they're being badly governed, who want more, who want to be part of the, you know, broader modern world, who leave Russia if they can in order to live in the United States or Canada or Europe, you know, seeking not only freedom but opportunity.
And so for a United States president to have brushed aside what everyone knows to be true would have been demoralizing. Now he still has to deal with him. We know that. He talks to him on the phone. They may end up meeting. We did that through the Cold War. We did that with the Soviet Union. We did that with, you know, communists who had been part of Stalin's purges and murderous communist regimes.
Of course, we will have to keep talking. But that doesn't mean we should sugar coat the damage that Putin has done both to Russia and to countries and people outside. His killing machine run by, you know, the intelligence and military services of his country have killed across Europe, have killed as we know very clearly inside Russia.
And I just think that we've got to call it for what it is and give some -- you know, give some hope and support, even by long distance, to the many, many Russians who know they deserve better.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, Hillary Clinton weighs in on the Biden administration's decision to pull out of Afghanistan. And she gives Joe Biden a grade for his first 100 days.
ZAKARIA: Madam Secretary, let me ask you about a big decision that the president has made which is to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.
There are only a few thousand there now, but they will all be gone by the anniversary of September 11th. What do you think of that decision?
CLINTON: Well, it's been made. And I know it's a very difficult decision. This is what we call "a wicked problem." You know there are consequences, both foreseen and unintended, of staying and of leaving. The president has made the decision to leave.
And I think that our government has to focus on two huge consequences. One, the potential collapse of the Afghan government and a takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, probably with a resumption of civil war in certain parts of the country, but a largely Taliban-run government at some point in the not-too-distant future.
How do we help and protect the many, many thousands of Afghans who worked with the United States and NATO, who worked with American and other NATO-connected contractors, who stood up and spoke out for women's rights and human rights.
I hope that the administration, in concert with the Congress, will have a very large visa program and will begin immediately to try to provide that channel for so many Afghans to utilize so that they are not left in danger. There will also be, I -- I fear, a huge refugee outflow.
And of course, the second big set of problems revolves around a resumption of activities by global terrorist groups, most particularly Al Qaida and the Islamic State.
And I agree with a recent article that you have written, Fareed, that, you know, we've seen a really sharp drop in both capacity and action on behalf of Islamic terrorist groups. I don't think, though, we can count on that staying in a downward spiral if the Taliban continue to provide refuge to international terrorist groups.
And, sadly, ever since George W. Bush asked them, all the way up to the efforts at negotiation in the last months of the Trump administration, the Taliban has never been willing to separate itself from Al Qaida.
And we know that the current head of Al Qaida, who had been bin Laden's deputy, al-Zawahiri, is still somewhere in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bidding his time.
And so I think these two huge sets of issues have got to be addressed. I mean, it's one thing to pull out troops that have been, you know, supporting security in Afghanistan, supporting the Afghan military, leaving it pretty much to fend for itself. But we can't afford to walk away from the consequences of that decision.
ZAKARIA: Finally, Madam Secretary, give President Biden a grade. Overall, first 100 days, how is he faring?
CLINTON: I'd give him an A, I'm a hard grader.
I'd give give him an A, both on effort, because he's done a couple of things so well, Fareed. He has once again embodied and modeled what a president should act like in the Oval Office, in the White House, in the world at large, with dignity, with purposefulness, with care for what he says and how he treats people.
And his attention to detail and the team that he has surrounded himself with, who are experienced at how you make the federal government work, has produced a -- just a tremendous amount of positive action to not just undo the past four years but really begin again to get the government working in the right way.
And then the passage of the American Rescue Plan, to get money into the pockets of Americans who are still suffering economically, is absolutely the right thing to do. [10:35:00]
And it got done. He was single-minded about it.
And finally, man, getting 220 million shots into arms, getting the vaccines out there, getting that supply chain fixed, using the federal government, through FEMA and the National Guard, to be part of the team in states and localities, just shows what competent government looks like, which is why he has such high approval ratings across the board. Of course he has high approval ratings from Democrats, but even among independents and Republicans.
People don't have to worry all the time. They don't have to hold their breath when -- when they see their president on television. They don't have to, you know, shake their head and wonder that, you know, a president is going to tell them to drink bleach.
I mean, we now have a mature, experienced president, and thank goodness we do.
ZAKARIA: Madam Secretary, always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you.
CLINTON: Always love talking to you, Fareed. Thanks so much.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS", COVID devastated the U.S. under Trump, Brazil under Bolsonaro, and now India under Modi. All three are populist leaders. Is there a connection? We will have a discussion.
(voice over): Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to cnn.com/fareed for a link to my iTunes podcast.
ZAKARIA: As India descends further into the hell of its COVID crisis that we told you about last week, one of the nation's top writers, Arundhati Roy, has said the situation on the ground constitutes "a crime against humanity" perpetrated by the government.
Populist Prime Minister Narendra Modi started off the pandemic with a very strict lockdown. But in the interim he has gone to the other side of the spectrum. He often appears maskless, has held massive rallies, and despite the current crisis, allowed the Hindu festival of the Kumbh Mela to continue. The Times of India reports 25,000 people gathered at the Ganges on its final day this week.
The masklessness and the rallies might sound familiar to Americans who can see echoes of their own populist former President, Donald Trump.
So what, if anything, does populism have to do with all of this?
Joining me now is Yascha Mounk, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies; and Brett Meyer, a research fellow at the Tony Blair Institute For Global Change.
Yascha, let me start with you and ask you, do you think there is a -- there is a connection here, or is it a coincidence that so many of the most prominent populist leaders we think of, Trump, Bolsonaro in Brazil, AMLO in Mexico, now Modi in India, seem to have taken a somewhat relaxed attitude towards COVID, which has often proved to be a bad mistake?
YASCHA MOUNK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: No, unfortunately, and tragically, I think there is a connection. You know, part of what populists do is that they distrust science, that they don't like independent institutions. They don't like the logic of events to impose on their political preferences and what they want to do in order to be at the center of a narrative and hopefully gain votes.
And all of those things have pushed so many populists, from Trump in the United States to Bolsonaro in Brazil to Modi in India, to what's really deeply irresponsible actions throughout the pandemic, doubting the science, downplaying the severity of the virus, appearing maskless in public, raising questions about the efficacy of the vaccine in many cases.
And, unfortunately, so many people around the world are paying the price for that right now.
ZAKARIA: Brett, you've studied this fairly specifically and in detail, and there is some variation. Explain what you -- you know, explain that variation, if you will. Who are the worst offenders? Who are the -- the -- you know, the ones who have actually handled it OK?
BRETT MEYER, RESEARCH FELLOW, TONY BLAIR INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL CHANGE: Yeah, so I looked at this in a report that was published -- that we published last August, and I found, in response to a lot of early commentary at the beginning of COVID last year, which said that, you know, this was going to be the death knell of populists, that populists, because, you know, a lot of them are anti-science because they're anti-elite, they are going to -- they're going to respond poorly to the COVID crisis.
So I just wanted to investigate that. And, yeah, what I found is that, yes, it's true that there were several populists like Bolsonaro in Brazil, like Donald Trump, who -- who downplayed COVID and continue to downplay COVID.
The majority of populists around the world, we found that 12 of the 17 populist leaders in our data set actually didn't downplay COVID. I was actually really surprised to see how many populist leaders really tried to take it seriously.
And in some cases, like Narendra Modi, in the initial weeks of the pandemic, he arguably took it too seriously. They enacted lockdowns that were two strict, that imposed too much hardship on the people of India.
ZAKARIA: Who were the other populists who -- who took it most seriously?
MEYER: So we found a lot of these were lesser known populists. We found that Andrej Babis in the Czech Republic took it very seriously. The Five Star Movement-led government in Italy, we also found, took it pretty seriously, and a few other lesser known leaders. Viktor Orban in Hungary took it very seriously, a more known -- more known leader. And also Modi, we thought, took it seriously in the beginning.
ZAKARIA: Yascha, what do you make of this -- these findings, and do you think that the trajectory of Modi is telling, that is, even though he started out, you know, very tough, eventually the kind of logic of populism which says, you know, listen to the people not the experts and stuff, reasserts itself?
MOUNK: Yeah, so I -- I think, unfortunately, it's very dangerous in a pandemic to make snap judgment in the middle of it. There's a lot of happenstance about how people reacted at the beginning, and there's certainly a lot of chance involved in when bad government policies translate into a lot of deaths.
I have in front of me a list of the countries that have had (inaudible) and a lot of the countries that Brett mentions actually are on it. Hungary is the country in the world with the most deaths per capita, the country ruled by Viktor Orban. The Czech Republic, ruled by Andrej Babis, has the third most deaths in the world. And I don't think that's a coincidence. I think it is because, as the pandemic wore on, many of these governments did, in fact, act poorly and fail.
You know, Narendra Modi, as you know much better than I do, is, sort of, a strange mix of a politician. He is a populist and a Hindu nationalist who has really been undermining Indian democracy in very concerning ways over the last years. But he was elected in many ways as a very competent economic manager, as somebody who had had big success modernizing his home state.
And I think we've seen these personas shift over the course of the pandemic. At the beginning, perhaps he had more of a persona of a competent manager who is going to deal with the problem, who is going to impose a strict lockdown and solve everything with it.
It turned out to be quite simplistic. He did not use that time to actually shore up the public health response or put in place a test, trace and isolate regime. And so, as the pandemic has gone on, we're seeing Modi be for a time populist, be a Hindu nationalist, holding these giant rallies, being in favor of these religious festivals going on even for events in which you see a very rapid spread of the coronavirus.
And I think that's not altogether surprising. It is because there is a logical link between that form of populism and the disastrous outcomes we're seeing in India, in Mexico, in Brazil, in Bolivia and so many other countries around the world. ZAKARIA: Brett, you found that even in countries where populists were
taking the pandemic seriously, the leaders used often it as an excuse to increase their authoritarianism, increase what you described as the illiberal measures by which they were combating the -- the crisis?
MEYER: Yeah, that's right. The governments of Poland, Hungary, Turkey, India and the Philippines took some pretty illiberal measures in response to COVID. So they used it in some cases, you might argue, to crack down on some of their existing opposition.
I think in Poland they used the opportunity to try to push through some legislation that had been very controversial, of course, during a time when the public couldn't go out and protest.
India, like I mentioned before, had a very strict lockdown even before there were a lot of COVID cases, and this really imposed a lot of hardship on the people of the country, because there's a lot of internal migrants in India, people who work in other parts of the country, and they were all of a sudden frozen in place and couldn't get back to their families.
Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, as he's done with other policy areas, instructed the police to be, you know, very strict in enforcing some of the lockdown policies.
ZAKARIA: Thank you both, fascinating and troubling conversation. Thank you.
And we will be back.
ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an interview on Saudi TV this week that surprised the world. What was so stunning was that MBS, as he's known, announced that he wants to have a good relationship with Iran.
It is a radical reversal. For years Saudi Arabia, with a majority Sunni population, and Iran, whose majority is Shia, have been bitter rivals. MBS himself has made his anti-Iranian clear ever since he became the country's de facto leader in 2017.
He's refused to meet with Iran's leaders, warned that Iran wants to control the Muslim world, and even compared Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Hitler.
So what changed? Well, in my estimation, his foreign policy has largely failed. Take Yemen. The Saudi-led intervention was supposed to be successful within weeks, they said. But after six years, they've made little progress.
Targets inside Saudi Arabia are hit with regularity by rocket attacks from Yemen. In fact, the rebel Houthis had one hit as recently as last week. Yemen has become Saudi Arabia's mini-Vietnam. And MBS needs to get out of his quagmire. With Iran backing the Houthis, he will need Tehran to help make a deal.
Or take Qatar. Three and a half years of a blockade only pushed the tiny nation to become more economically independent from its Gulf neighbors and embrace closer ties with Saudi rivals like Turkey and Iran. The embargo was a complete failure, and thus was lifted earlier this year.
In Lebanon, the effort to cripple Hezbollah also failed. That group remains one of the most powerful forces in the country.
And finally, the United States. The Crown Prince bet all his cards on his relationship with Donald Trump, who supported him no matter what. But now Joe Biden has signaled a tougher relationship, one that will pause weapon sales and raise human rights issues, including holding him responsible for the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
These could all turn out to be positive developments. It seems that the Saudi Crown Prince has learned from his mistakes and is seeking a more constructive foreign policy. Just last month, the Financial Times reported that Iran and Saudi Arabia were holding secret negotiations in Iraq, though both nations later denied it.
And after MBS's comments, Iran this week indicated a new chapter of cooperation may be on the horizon.
Washington should encourage this rapprochement. Ultimately, the United States helps broker better relations between the Saudis and the Iranians, between the Shias and the Sunnis. It will be playing its proper historic role in the region, as an honest broker.
It's a big change from basing American foreign policy solely on the passions and whims of one country, even one man.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.