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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview With Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates about U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan; India Inundated by COVID-19; The Economic Aftershocks Of COVID-19; GOP Roiled By Infighting Over Party's Future. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 09, 2021 - 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 from New York.


ZAKARIA: Today on the show, the most dangerous place on earth. That's what "The Economist" calls Taiwan, as China has the island firmly in its sights. Is Beijing bold enough to cross the straits and attack? I'll ask former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.


ZAKARIA: Then a post-pandemic boom. With strong growth numbers, it seems the U.S. might be entering into one. Will the rest of the world follow suit? I'll ask economic historian Niall Ferguson.

NIALL FERGUSON, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: This is the kind of event that only happens a couple of times a century, let's say.

ZAKARIA: Also, the far-right in Germany is on the rise, again. This troubling trend is mostly in reaction to a dire threat that never materialized. I'll explain.


ZAKARIA: But first, here is "My Take." The United States is entering a post-pandemic era. This is happening primarily because of the one aspect of this pandemic that differentiates it from mostly or previous ones in history. The triumph of science. Within a year of COVID-19's outbreak, the world saw the emergence of several high-quality vaccines.

This is truly breathtaking. A decade ago the scientific consensus was that it took ten to 15 years and a lot of luck to produce a vaccine for a new disease. Over half the adult population in the United States has received at least one dose of the vaccine, daily infection rates are dropping fast almost everywhere as are hospitalizations. There are days when some states are even reporting zero COVID deaths.

Of course, there are still dangers, vaccination rates are slowing down, new variants are cropping up, yet even with those caveats in mind, we can look at America and imagine life after COVID and the forecast is mostly sunny.

The most striking aspect of post-pandemic America is likely to be a big economic boom. Unlike the '08 financial crisis, the pandemic paralysis will probably be followed by a sharp rebound. That's partly because of the differing nature of the crisis but largely because Washington has flooded the economy with money. So both businesses and individuals have cash to spend.

The last great pandemic, the 1918 influenza, was followed by the roaring '20s. It's too soon to tell whether this one will usher in that kind of sustained growth but there are reasons for optimism. The most important of these is innovation. Crises always lead people to find new ways to do things, adopt new technologies, and cast away old practices.

In America, the ability of large parts of the economy to function and excel in the digital realm when the physical economy was broadly shut down, has surprised even techno optimists. These gains could endure. A sales person told me, "I miss being able to meet with people in person.

You lose something important. On the other hand, I have used the new technology to make literally 10 times as many sales scores every week compared to before COVID. It's opened up a whole new world for me."

Even governments are innovating. New York City has announced that sidewalk dining will become a permanent feature. It has officially abolished snow days for schools, replacing them with online school. Strangely, children do not see this as productivity enhancing.

We understand innovation mostly in hindsight. Few predicted in the early 1990s that productivity would rise sharply because of the widespread use of information technology, nor did they foresee that it would taper off just as mysteriously a few years later. But at a micro level, we're watching so many businesses, governments and people adapt to the COVID crisis, abandon old ways and optimize for the future that productivity gains seem likely.


Add to that the possibility of massive new investments in science and technology from Washington, and we could see a virtuous cycle. Europe is one step behind the U.S. because the vaccine rollout became mired in bureaucratic problems. In many ways, Europe's recent vaccine debacle look like America stumbles in the first phase of the pandemic. Now Europe has gotten its act together.

Meanwhile, it has actually made a far more consequential decision to borrow money backed by the continent's strongest economies, France and Germany, and let all countries spend it on COVID recovery. This suggests Europe might soon look like America in its own second phase, marked by widespread vaccinations and a soaring economy. Europe's bold fiscal innovation could also mean a stronger European Union for the future. The dark side of this picture right now is the developing world. COVID

is ravaging India and it may also surge in places that so far have been largely spared including much of Africa. But even then it's still possible to imagine benefits.

The crisis has jolted India to its core, shedding a harsh light on the country's sprawling, corrupt and badly run government. The country has flourished in the last few decades not because of its public sector but rather because of the rise of a dynamic and efficient private sector.

The pandemic is a wake-up call that might force real government reforms, particularly in public health, which could then trigger change in other dysfunctional sectors like education. As it searches for growth and it faces challenges in borrowing, India is already enacting long delayed economic reforms. Another sign that India might bounce back is its stock market which has been stunningly resilient in the face of the COVID catastrophe.

I'm trying to look at the bright side of a terrible situation. But there are real grounds to be optimistic, that as grim the pandemic has been, it could open up progress around the world.

Go to for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

A midst the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a horrific attack occurred yesterday in Kabul. A blast at a high school where girls were being educated killed more than 50 people, wounded more than 100. The Taliban has denied responsibility for the blast. President Biden has said the pullout won't be delayed by violence or anything else. All troops will be out by September 11th.

My first guest today, Robert Gates, served as director of Central Intelligence under George H.W. Bush. He was then secretary of Defense under Presidents George W. Bush and President Obama. Gates is the author of "Exercise of Power" which is freshly out in paperback.

Welcome, Secretary Gates.

ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Thanks, Fareed. It's good to be with you.

ZAKARIA: Let me use that horrible blast in Afghanistan as a way to ask this question about Afghanistan, the decision has been made to withdraw. The Taliban have been gaining ground really for years now. They have outlasted the United States. Is there a way you think for the Kabul government to stay in power as U.S. forces withdraw, they're already down to a few thousand, or should we be thinking about a kind of inevitable Taliban takeover or partial takeover?

GATES: Fareed, I think that all of the possible outcomes in -- or endings in Afghanistan, a happy one is probably the least likely. I think the only chance that the government in Kabul has is if the United States and our allies continue a strong stream of economic and military assistance to them. You know, the Najibullah government installed by the Soviets lasted for three years after the Soviets pulled all their troops out but only because of a continuing flow of assistance from Moscow.

It was when the Soviet Union collapsed and that flow of assistance ended that the Najibullah government fell. So I think the only chance that the Kabul government has is to have this continuing flow of help from the U.S. and our allies. But, you know, a big part of the problem is the corruption of that government and the perception on the part of a lot of Afghans that it is corrupt and no commitment to that government.


Now there are, you know, many, many young Afghan men who have given their lives to try and protect that government. So it's not a lack of courage on the part of their military. But it is the lack of credibility of the government particularly in the countryside that is a problem. But as I said, without assistance, I'm very pessimistic.

ZAKARIA: You said in your last book "Duty," that Joe Biden has been wrong on everything, on every major foreign policy issue, and that I noticed in interview with David Ignatius, you said that you wished you had amended that to say that in the Obama administration, you and Joe Biden agreed on almost every foreign policy issue except one, Afghanistan.

Was Joe Biden wrong? Would just keeping a few thousand troops make much of a difference?

GATES: Well, you know, one of the things that's been lost in the discussions is the fact that the option put forward by the then vice president would have added another 20,000 troops, 10,000 for counterterrorism and 10,000 for training the Afghan Security Forces. So the difference between the proposal put forward by the military and the one put forward by the vice president was, in fact, about 10,000 or 20,000 troops, 100,000 versus 80,000.

So it wasn't like in 2009 the vice president was arguing to go down to 10,000 or 15,000 troops. So I think there's been a little bit of a misunderstanding about what was actually on the table at that time.

ZAKARIA: Let me you ask about Taiwan. You've seen I'm sure "The Economist" cover the most dangerous place on earth. There seems to be no question that tensions are rising. But I'm not sure I entirely understand why and who's responsible for this. What do you think is going on with Taiwan and do you think the Biden administration is handling it properly?

GATES: Well, first of all, I think that they are handling it properly at this point. I think in all honesty that the more aggressive approach of President Xi Jinping is the primary problem here.

Since he became the leader in China in 2013, the Chinese have been far more aggressive in the South China Sea, in their military exercises and bringing their planes and their warships into the area around Taiwan, and asserting claims against not just Taiwan, but a variety of countries that border on the South China Sea.

We have -- during the Obama administration, we conducted very limited number of freedom of -- freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. We became more aggressive in response to the Chinese during the Trump administration. And those exercises have continued under President Biden. But I think -- you know, I think Xi Jinping has decided that bringing Hong Kong and Taiwan into the fold, if you will. Bringing them into China's integral parts is one of the objectives of his policy and his time in power.

I think he sees this as his legacy. He's already moved against Hong Kong. So I think that the only thing that will work here is -- is for it to be clear that there is potentially a very high cost for China in trying to militarily take Taiwan. And I personally believe the odds of an intentional takeover, a military attack on Taiwan, at least for the foreseeable future, are actually pretty low. The consequences are just too catastrophic for China if the U.S. reacts. And they can't know how the U.S. will react.

So I think that there are a number of other ways that China has of bringing pressure to bear on Taiwan to ensure that it doesn't declare independence and that it comes -- eventually comes back to China. But I think there is a risk of an inadvertent clash of an incident that spirals out of control. That's always a danger. We don't have any kind of direct hotline with China that we did, for example, with the Soviets.


We don't have agreements on how to deal with incidents at sea. So I worry about those things. And when I was secretary, we opened a direct telephone link between my office and the Office of the Minister of Defense in China. But in truth, that person has no power and sort of the phone will ring and essentially in an empty room. So I worry about Taiwan mainly because of the uncertainties and the risk of somebody taking -- of their being a miscalculation.

ZAKARIA: The book is "Exercise of Power." Secretary Gates, always a pleasure.

GATES: Thanks, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, the "Lancet" published an editorial saying India may have one million COVID deaths by August 1st. We will talk about that staggering toll when we come back.



ZAKARIA: More than 4,000 deaths and 400,000 new infections, those are yesterday's official figures that show how severely COVID-19 is ravaging India. The real figures may never be known but one doctor told CNN he estimates actual deaths are five times higher.

Joining me now is Devi Sridhar, chair of Global Public Health of the University of Edinburgh Medical School.

Devi, let me ask you, at this point people have heard so much about this so I think that it's fair to say it's worse than it looks, it hasn't hit rock bottom yet. You cannot do a lockdown in a country like India because nobody -- they don't have the money to give people COVID relief. What can the Indian government do at this point? Is there a hope, is there a strategy that could be pursued?

DEVI SRIDHAR, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH: Well I think right now the focus has to be on breaking these chains of transmission in countries like in the States and Britain, we've had lockdowns. We can't do that in a context like India so there you're looking at testing.

Actually enough diagnostic kits. They're struggling out to get even people tested for COVID-19, you know, encouraging people to change their behavior in small ways, avoiding mass gatherings, avoiding -- you know, we've seen the political rallies, and vaccines, just trying to get jabs into arms as quickly as possible.

Oxygen, building up beds, hospitals, so we don't have people dying because they can't get access to care. So these are the emergency moves that need to be -- I mean, these should have been done months ago but now we need them more than ever.

ZAKARIA: When you look at the situation in India, what I'm struck by is you're seeing lots of people die of non-COVID related diseases because the whole health care system has collapsed and that includes kids, and so, I mean, it feels like there is almost two crises to deal with, the COVID crisis but also the non-COVID disease crisis, right?

SRIDHAR: Exactly. Outbreaks are like black holes. They suck in old resources and energy, and they leave very little behind. We've seen this with Ebola in West Africa. And this is what I think people struggle to understand. COVID itself won't kill children in very small, small, tiny, tiny numbers, but if the health system collapses you will have children dying from things like wheezing, asthma, pneumonia like diseases, diarrhea because they can't get the basic medical care they need because there's not a doctor or a nurse or a bed available for them in a hospital.

ZAKARIA: How much of this is because of new variants that are more infectious or more resistant to any kind of drugs?

SRIDHAR: Well, it definitely plays a part. It's not the entire story. I mean, India is represented of many countries which have very poor health systems and so already they're at breaking point and all you need is to layer something on top of it and the whole system crumbles.

But the variant that's in India is more transmissible than what we called the wild type, the original one. It's similar to what we saw in Britain over the Christmas period with b-117 or the English or the Kent variant, which is more transmissible and it became really hard even in our context to suppress this because it could jump much quicker between people. And that's what we're seeing in India, but also in its neighboring

countries, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh. They're all struggling because you have a disease that -- you know, a new variant that's maybe 20 percent to 50 percent more transmissible which means your curve just goes so much faster.

ZAKARIA: You described the number of things that the Indian government needs to get right. You know, the vaccine rollout, oxygen, getting testing and tracing system in place. Is it fair to say none of these is doing particularly well right now?

SRIDHAR: Well, I think we have to say first there are certain states which are outperforming. So if we look at Carela, it's constantly been an outlier in India for how well it's doing, and even now it's managing to keep -- you know, keep afloat.

But overall, there is a lack of you could say kind of logistical support and this kind of crisis you almost need a military like, you know, top down operation to come in and manage and build up those kind of resources you need and we're not seeing that. We're seeing an absence of some kind of larger strategy which just at the ground is meaning that, you know, people are just going from hospital to hospital.

They're not finding oxygen, you're having social unrest because, you know, there are many family members outside hospitals saying we can't get care. And so you're really at this stage it comes down to logistics and governance more than anything else and actually having it being taken seriously and communicating that to people and trying to get all the pieces in place to make the system run.

ZAKARIA: When you look at what is going on outside of India, it is spilling over into places like Bangladesh.


But more globally, is the India kind of canary in a coal mine that outside of the developed world, the United States, Europe, Japan, this is -- things could get bad? Where should we be looking to -- you know, preparing for another outbreak?

SRIDHAR: Yes, we're right now almost seeing two pandemics in a way because richer countries are getting a handle on their pandemics, there is a sense of euphoria, we're over the worst, we're over lockdown, we're having deaths plummet, at the same time this is still going to get worst in developing countries. Right now it's South Asia but also keep an eye on South America. I mean, Brazil has been really badly hit but also its neighboring countries.

You know, you also have Argentina and Chile and Uruguay. I mean, countries are struggling with this in terms of deaths. They're actually right now increasing really rapidly.

And Africa some say because of its more limited connectivity has been a little bit behind. But there is a real warning here to those countries of what is ahead of them if this variant comes in and if it gets seeded in the community and if it takes off because they just don't have the health services to be able to take the patient load that would happen if enough people become infected.

ZAKARIA: Devi Sridhar, always a pleasure to talk to you. We learned so much. Thank you.

SRIDHAR: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, Niall Ferguson explains how globalization helped COVID-19 quite literally fly around the world, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Millions are still out of work and many fewer jobs were added in April than expected but the broader U.S. economy seems to be bouncing back strongly. GDP was up 6.4 percent in the first quarter of the year, after growing by 4.3 percent in the last quarter of 2020.

So while the rest of the world's nations have similarly supercharged recoveries, what are the legacies of COVID? Joining me now is the great economic historian Niall Ferguson. His new book just out is called "Doom, The Politics of Catastrophe." Welcome, Niall.

NIALL FERGUSON, ECONOMIC HISTORIAN: Good to be with you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: So how would you characterize you know, just to kind of looking at it, from a global perspective, the economic recovery, or non-recovery now underway around the world?

FERGUSON: Well, historically, pandemics have had very different economic impacts from what we've seen, in our time. If you go back to the comparably sized global pandemic, the 1957-58 Asian flu as it was then cold, you can barely see its economic impact in the U.S. data. And that's because life went on, there was excess mortality, but there were no lockdowns, schools and workplaces stayed open.

What we did was pretty much unprecedented in the sense that we were able to confine really large numbers of people in their homes for long periods of time and shut down big parts of the economy. And I think one reason that that's unprecedented is that previous generations didn't have the internet, not many people in 1957, couldn't significant parts of the economy back around a year ago. We then did enormous offsetting fiscal and monetary expansion to prevent a kind of manmade depression from happening.

And now with vaccinations rapidly being adopted in the developed world, we're seeing the kind of V shaped recovery that many economists talked about a bit prematurely last year, the question, of course, is, is does this V kind of overshoots?

And do you end up with overheating, or on the basis of the jobs report that just came out, is there going to be some kind of stalling of recovery because people aren't, in fact, rushing back to work, back into employment in the way that people economists had been expecting? ZAKARIA: Let's talk about the legacies because I think that your book touches on these in very interesting ways. I want to know what you think is going to happen to the global economy, to globalization to all this trade and travel that has characterized the world, certainly in an accelerated way for the last 30 years.

You pointed out something very interesting in the book, you say that, in the 19th century, science almost kind of conquered these kind of epidemics with new procedures and cures and treatments. But simultaneous to the expansion of science of the advance of science was the advance of globalization, which meant that everything was spreading much faster. So now, are we going to see a decrease in globalization that feels kind of permanent?

FERGUSON: It's one of the things that makes a straightforward, progressive, optimistic narrative of history fail a bit, because as we were advancing in the 19th century, in science, particularly in understanding the nature of contagious disease, we were simultaneously making ourselves more vulnerable by making it much easier to travel long distances in large numbers.

And that was even more true in the early 21st century where we were making tremendous scientific breakthroughs. But we'd never seen such enormous volumes of traffic over very long distances. And the fact that this pandemic coincided roughly, with Chinese New Year meant that enormous numbers of people were on direct flights, from Wuhan to cities, including New York and San Francisco right up until the final admission in Beijing that there really was a serious problem.

So I think this teaches us an important thing, and that is that globalization has to be managed. And it has to have circuit breakers.


A key theme of my book bit like my last book, the square in the tar is that it's social networks that explain about half of every contagion. The other half is the pathogen itself. One of the lessons of globalization must be that you can't build a network, so optimized and so fragile that it can transmit a novel pathogen around the world. In just a few days, we got off lightning. This was not the most lethal virus we might have encountered. It's a far less lethal virus than, say, the 1918-19 influenza virus.

So we need to regard this as a very, very grim warning to us that globalization has its upsides, just like the Internet has all kinds of benefits, but they also both have their downside risks.

ZAKARIA: You say that, it's going to be very difficult to predict the next crisis and that countries that try to prepare for a specific crisis, generally prepare for the wrong one. But the real lesson is, don't be stone prepare specifically be generally paranoid. What do you mean?

FERGUSON: Well, it's noticeable that the countries that did really well, in the last year a bit Taiwan, South Korea, to an extent also Israel, though it had a bad outbreak last year, countries that for very obvious reasons are generally paranoid. There are lots of reasons why those countries have to worry about their neighbors. There are numbers of ways in which China can come at Taiwan.

And that I think, explains why they were so quick on the draw when they initially heard about a new Coronavirus in China. I think they disbelieved the initial claims in Beijing that there wasn't human to human transmission.

And so I think it's better to be generally paranoid, to be aware of that disaster can take multiple forms than to be like most of the Western democracies that were on paper very well prepared, had pandemic preparedness plans up the wazoo, 36 pages here, huge PowerPoint decks there. But actually, these plans didn't work when there actually was a pandemic.

So I think we've got a mindset which loves bureaucratic precision. Let's anticipate a disaster. And let's meticulously prepare for it. Unfortunately, you can't do that for all the possible disasters. And if you get the wrong disaster, then you're thrown into disarray as I think our public health bureaucracies were on both sides of the Atlantic because I think this happened in the UK, many European countries as well as in the US.

ZAKARIA: The book is Doom. Niall Ferguson, always a pleasure to have you on.

FERGUSON: Thanks, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, we'll talk about American politics in the 2020s and a Hollywood murder mystery from the 1960s. Stay with us, Jake Tapper is next.



ZAKARIA: I want to welcome back to the show Jake Tapper. Not only is he the anchor of the Lead and co-anchor of State of the Union here at CNN, he's an author of both novels and nonfiction mystery. Now this latest mystery novel is the Devil May Dance.

Jake, I have to tell you, it is irritating to see you do so many things so well. But I have to --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": That's how I feel about you. That's how I feel about you. But thank you.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about what is going on in the Republican Party right now.


ZAKARIA: Tis battle to oust Liz Cheney, how significant is it?

TAPPER: It's very significant because what it really shows is an allegiance to a lie. And an attack on Liz Cheney for her failure to display fealty to that lie. The voting records are very clear. Congresswoman Liz Cheney is far more conservative than Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who will probably replace her. Congresswoman Cheney voted with Trump and his policy items far more often than did Stefanik.

The only issue here is whether or not Cheney is willing to lie about the election and she is not and Stefanik is and that is where the House Republican Party is. And it's a bigger going on right now within the Republican Party. And, sadly, I think it's going to keep going for a few years.

ZAKARIA: You know, Barack Obama said about the Trump phenomenon and the takeover of the party, the fever has to break. It doesn't feel like it's breaking anytime soon.

TAPPER: No, because and it didn't seem though, for a minute after the interaction. When you have Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy and others, separating themselves from Trump, it did feel like for a minute, possibly there was going to be this separation.

I asked Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who's a conservative Republican from Illinois. I asked him how many of your colleagues actually believe this lie. Kinzinger has been very outspoken against it.

He said he thinks only about five of them really, truly believe the nonsense about, you know, ballots coming in on bamboo paper from China to Arizona and all this craziness. He thinks only about five believe it, which means you have dozens of Republicans going along because they're terrified of losing an election. They're terrified of their voters.

And that's just not, I mean, in addition to the fact that that's not adherence to facts and truth. That's not leadership. I mean, leaders are supposed to stand up for what's right and what they know to be true.

ZAKARIA: You said that you didn't want to have people on your show, who were going to go to just lie to you. You were thinking about this issue. In particular --


ZAKARIA: -- I want to clarify for people. You have no problem having conservative Republicans on the show?

TAPPER: No, we just did. We just on State of the Union this morning. We had the very conservative governor of Utah, Spencer Cox. I have conservative Republicans on the show all the time, moderate Republicans, whatever. The issue isn't about party. The issue is about lies. It's about if you are willing to promote a lie to the public about the election, something so fundamental to our democracy, then what else you willing to lie about?

And it's not I don't have a policy. It's just a philosophical question I'm asking.


I haven't booked since the insurrection or even before that, since the election, anybody traffic in these -- trafficking in these lies and other people have and I don't fault them. I'm just saying philosophically if you know these people are willing to lie about something like this, then what do you owe -- what do we owe our viewers in terms of whether or not we can count on these people to say things that are that are just patently false.

I'm not talking about opinions. I'm not talking about takes on things or priorities. I'm just saying, we know that this election was not stolen and to say otherwise is, is a disservice to the American people.

ZAKARIA: I want to talk about the book, which is really terrific. So you weave in, it's not pure fiction. You weave in a lot of real history. I mean, there's Robert Kennedy, there's Sinatra. Why did you write it that way, rather than just make everything up from whole cloth?

TAPPER: Well, because I heard this story. And it's a true story, that in 1962, President Kennedy was going out to Los Angeles to give a speech and Frank Sinatra, who had done so much to help get him elected, wanted President Kennedy to stay at his compound in Rancho Mirage about an hour or two outside of Los Angeles.

But at the same time, we're Attorney General Robert Kennedy was waging a war on organized crime, and was aware that Sinatra was friends with at least one major mobster Sam Giancana. So this was a true story. And Kennedy, Robert Kennedy had to decide, am I going to let my brother the president stay at this compound where a mobster has slept.

And that's a real story. And -- But I thought it was so fascinating. And obviously, none of the players are still around. And so I thought it'd be a perfect setting for the next book in my series. So it's called the Devil May Dance, and it comes out on Tuesday.

ZAKARIA: The extraordinary film, it's a really terrific book, but what is most extraordinary for most people is that in order to keep true to the fiction, you made up and wrote a Sinatra song.

TAPPER: I did, yes. Actually, that's the Devil May Dance is a fictitious Sinatra song. And, you know, the lawyers when they were going through the book, and I don't know if you've ever quoted any song lyrics in any of your books. I don't think so. But we are only allowed to quote one line, because otherwise you'll get sued by, you know, the label demanding money.

And so the lawyers were mad at me, they said, you quoted entire Sinatra song, you know, we can't do this. And it's like weaved into a scene where Sinatra is performing this song, and I said, it's not a real song. I made the whole thing up and nobody can sue. So I was flattered by their outrage.

ZAKARIA: So you see Jake Tapper on CNN, you can read this terrific book, and soon Spotify will have him singing Sinatra songs. TAPPER: That part is not true. That would that's a disservice to our viewers in every way.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Jake Tapper.

TAPPER: Thanks, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, the rise of far right violence in Germany, a chilling prospect. I will explain what is happening when we come back.



ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. On Tuesday, Germany's interior minister made a disturbing announcement for right crime in his country hit a record high last year with more than 23,000 incidents. A university have also study of far right terror attacks in Europe shows that over the past 30 years, Germany has had the most far right terrorist incidents on the continent by far.

In the most troubling recent incident near Frankfurt, a far right gunman killed 10 people in two shisha bars last February. Politically motivated crimes like that one were up and alarming 10.8 percent with national elections just four months away, authorities wanted to particularly unstable time. They're worried that far right groups will use frustration with repeated lockdowns and a botched vaccine rollout to stir up resentment toward the government and encouraged sedition.

All this comes at a time of major political transition. After 15 years of Angela Merkel steadying influence at the helm, Germany will be electing a new chancellor come September.

The record breaking year the Germany just experienced as the latest in a years long upward trend. And that trend is made even more striking by the fact that it seems to have emerged in reaction to an imaginary crisis.

Official data shows that far right crimes saw the first major spike in 2015. The year Merkel decided to open her country's borders to a large number of migrants, many fleeing war torn Syria. Eventually over 1.2 million people amounting to 1.5 percent of the German population were allowed to settle in the country under that policy.

And that fueled intense anxieties about how out of control immigration could lead to integration problems and Islamist terrorism.

Before the far right fears about impending Sharia doom, today most of those 1.2 million refugees have already assimilated nicely into German society. As Thomas Rogers wrote in The New York Review of Books last month, the migrants from that period have integrated faster than previous refugee influxes.

Approximately half of them have jobs and another 50,000 are taking part in apprenticeship programs. The federal education minister has stated then more than 10,000 are enrolled in university. Three quarters of them now live in their own apartment or house and feel welcome or very welcome in Germany.

In the German institutions and German society have both been quite welcoming.


As Rogers writes, German companies created purpose built jobs for the newcomers. And over half of Germans say they have volunteered or donated in some capacity to help the migrants make a new home in their country.

The terrorism concerns proved to be massively overblown, and allows us by the French think tank Fondapol found that since 2015, Germany has experienced only a fraction of the Islamic terror attacks that France has. While taking in far more migrants.

The German public seems to have noticed. Polls showed that the biggest rivals to Merkel's political errs will be the pro-immigrant, pro- asylum Green Party, while the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party is at the back of the pack.

Let's hope the Germans realized that while they were constantly warned about Islamist terror, the violence that actually materialized came from the far right, and is still on the rise even now.

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