Return to Transcripts main page
Fareed Zakaria GPS
Will Delta Variant Put A Dent In The Economic Recovery?; How To Get The Hesitant To Roll Up Their Sleeves; Democracy Teeters In Tunisia; Does The U.S. Need Truth And Reconciliation Commission Like South Africa Had After Apartheid? Aired 10-11a ET
Aired August 01, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news continues next.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: 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: We'll begin today's show with two Nobel Laureates in economics. First up, Paul Krugman of the "New York Times" on just how much damage the Delta variant will do to the U.S. economy as it throws back-to-work plans back up in the air. And what will it do to the rest of the world?
Then Richard Thaler on how to nudge the vaccine hesitant to go ahead and get their shots. He literally wrote the book on it. He's the co- author of the mega best-seller, "Nudge."
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are dying and will die who don't have to die.
ZAKARIA: Also, Tunisia was the poster child for Arab's spring success. A decade ago it ousted an autocracy and replaced it with democracy. But now the president has fired the prime minister and frozen its parliament. Is this a coup? Will another Arab state go the autocratic route? We will explore.
And does America need a truth and reconciliation process after the attack on the Capitol? The House Select Committee held its hearing on Tuesday, but many in this country didn't actually want to hear the truth and there is certainly no reconciliation in the works. The scholar Danielle Allen will tell us how it could work here in America.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. The news this week that democracy is in peril in Tunisia, the only success story of the Arab spring, came just three weeks after we heard that Haiti's president had been assassinated. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the government seems unable to establish its authority across the country. It got me thinking about one of the fundamental questions of politics.
Why is it so difficult to develop and sustain liberal democracy?
The best recent work on this subject comes from a remarkable pair of scholars, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. In their latest book, "The Narrow Corridor," they've answered this question with great insight. In every society, they note, the first step is simply achieving some measure of order and stability. History is littered with places where gangs, warlords and tribes rule and the state is never able to effectively consolidate power and govern.
That was Afghanistan's past. It might be its future. If political order is rare, liberal political order is rarer still. Liberal democracy is the goldilocks form of government. It needs a state that is strong enough to govern effectively but not so strong that it crushes the liberties and rights of its people. The authors called this the shackled Leviathan. Thomas Hobbs used the biblical monster Leviathan to describe a powerful state.
Getting to liberal democracy requires that societies travel through a narrow corridor, one that allows the state to build power while also allowing the growth of a civil society that asserts itself and fights for rights. Together they create the delicate balance between stability and freedom.
Countries in the West have succeeded because they have managed to build up both strong states and strong societies. In Afghanistan, despite two decades of effort, the state has failed to gain control over much of the country, creating what the authors call the absent Leviathan. In Egypt the state is too strong. After a flirtation with democracy after the Arab spring, the country reverted to dictatorship.
Other parts of the world have what the authors called paper Leviathans, governments that exercise power mostly to enrich a small elite right at the top. Think of Nigeria or Venezuela.
So how did the West get Goldilocks politics? The authors cite two opposing forces. First there was the legacy of the Roman Empire which provided institutions, laws and traditions that made it possible to create order. Second, the Northern European tribes rooted in egalitarian assemblies, had a tradition of challenging power leaders.
The contest between nobles and kings, and later I would add between the church and the state, and among the hundreds of states, dutchies and principalities of medieval Europe, all helped individual liberty to grow and flourish.
It's not a matter of the West's cultural superiority but rather its unusual history. Countries in other parts of the world have been able to strike a similar balance, from India to South Korea to Costa Rica. But the corridor is narrow, and understanding that helps us to recognize the fragility of liberal democracy.
It's why, in the late 1990s, while we were all cheering as countries across the globe were holding elections, I noted the phenomenon of illiberal democracy, places where elected leaders were systematically abusing power, depriving people of their rights and hollowing out the essence of liberal constitutional government.
Since then unfortunately that list of illiberal democracies has gotten much longer, including Western countries like Hungary, established democracies like India, and some like Russia that have simply morphed into dictatorships. Countries including the United States that have traveled this narrow corridor and have struck the right balance between state and society are lucky.
But we are in an era of democratic dysfunction as populist movements threaten the political institutions and norms that have long been seen as neutral. We see this most dangerously in the Republican Party's effort to politicize the counting of votes in the various states it controls.
America remains a liberal democracy. But this week's hearing on the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol highlighted the fragility of democratic norms even here. Our political institutions are stronger than most, but they're being strained by a society that is deeply divided, so much so that even the basic facts of what happened on January 6th are now vigorously contested.
The rioters egged on by unscrupulous politicians showed how much damage a group of private citizens could do. But the rest of us can repair the damage by pushing for stronger democratic guardrails and resisting efforts to subvert the will of the people.
By now you've probably heard the story that in 1787, somebody supposedly asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the constitutional convention had decided on. A republic, he answered, if you can keep it. The delegates could design the best system in the world, but its success ultimately rested with the people.
That sounds like an ominous warning, but we might also take comfort the power to preserve democracy is in our hands.
Go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
The American economy grew at an impressive annualized rate of 6.5 percent in the second quarter of the year. But April through June was a period when many Americans were leaving their homes, taking their masks off, going back to work and going into stores. What happens to the economy if some of that reverses thanks to the Delta variant?
For that and more, I'm joined by Paul Krugman. He is an op-ed columnist for the "New York Times" and of course he won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2008.
Welcome, Paul. So is this Delta variant going to be a break on what seemed like a very powerful recovery?
PAUL KRUGMAN, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": It's going to be a bit of a break. No question that things are not as rosy as they appeared to be before this Delta variant started up. But this is very, very different. It's a much less powerful blow to the economy and something that's much easier to cope with if we choose than what we went through last year. So this shouldn't be a really important thing. It's going to hurt but it probably won't show that much in GDP at all.
ZAKARIA: So explain that, because you have 40 percent of the population that's unvaccinated. Presumably you're going to have states in which the hospitalization is going to get bad. Maybe people are going to be cautious. You're going to have places like -- I'm thinking about Broadway, which is, you know, after -- mostly tourists go to Broadway musicals. Are they going to come in, and are they going to have to require proof of vaccination?
All of that feels like it gums up the works. But you think, you know, I mean, at the end of the day, this is such a huge economy, that won't matter?
KRUGMAN: Well, the thing was, last year the only way we could really slow this thing down was through drastic -- basically locking down a lot of stuff. This time the requiring proof of vaccination, requiring face masks in certain settings, that's a lot less -- you know, it's not stuff that people necessarily have fun with, but it's not really very hard to do and it doesn't really interfere with the economy.
And, in fact, if you look at -- I think Broadway is going to be an interesting thing, but places like New York where people are willing to go along with such things, where businesses -- they don't even require government action where businesses can mandate proof of vaccination, can require face masks, should be able to largely get on with life in spite of the Delta variant. The problem is going to come mostly -- and you know, this is a very concentrated problem right now.
It's very much red states, where at least until, you know, five minutes ago, political leaders were very hostile to vaccinations, are still extremely hostile to masking, and they might try to prevent the private sector from doing these things. But this is something where it almost requires a positive effort on the part of government to stop us from resolving this problem.
ZAKARIA: What about the global picture? Because, you know, we have -- I mean, it's crazy thing in America is we have more than enough vaccines for everybody, you know, plus booster shots and everything, and yet you have 40 percent of the public that won't take it. Around the world people are begging for vaccines and quite literally dying.
But will that slow down economic growth globally to have this kind of patchwork globalization where places like the United States, Europe and East Asia may be fine but lots of other places are not?
KRUGMAN: Yes, let me say something that is extremely inhumane and brutal. The places that are not coping with this, that don't have sufficient vaccines, have enormous number of people but not a whole lot of money. If you actually ask me, it's not just if we take Western Europe, advanced East Asia, that's the bulk of the global economy. And then the places that are not managing to cope are places that are -- the humanity is -- the human cost is terrible, but it's a pretty small share of global GDP.
Reminds me of some -- there were some crazies, old enough to remember the East Asian financial crisis when the East Asian economy recovered but the East Asian people didn't, because Korea bounced back fast and Indonesia did not. And, you know, it says there are not that many South Koreans, but they're relatively rich.
So this is one of those things where from an economics point of view, the fact that so much of the world are being left out of this is not such a big deal. Of course from a human point of view, it's horrific.
ZAKARIA: There's a similar kind of interesting dichotomy which is that while travel has not recovered, my look at the data suggests trade has recovered, right? Why is that?
KRUGMAN: Well, trade is a funny thing. There are I think two factors going on here. One is that shipping containers don't carry the virus. So -- and you know, if you look at modern -- how does modern trade happen, we do have a shortage of shipping containers because there's been so much demand for them, but they are virtually untouched by human hands.
So in fact, global trade is one of those activities that is not remote work obviously but it's stuff that is not much affected by all of the restrictions and all the virus, and precisely because people have not been -- have been afraid to consume some surfaces, they've actually shifted their demand towards goods, which are traded.
So, you know, if you don't go to the gym and you buy a Peloton instead, well, where do you think the Peloton comes from? So that actually leads to an increase in global trade.
ZAKARIA: Paul Krugman, always a pleasure.
KRUGMAN: Good to talk to you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, another Nobel Prize-winning economist, Richard Thaler. He tells us how we are going to get America's vaccine-hesitant to change their minds. Back in a moment.
ZAKARIA: Anheuser-Busch offered free beer if the company met President Biden's January 4th vaccination goal. America fell short, but the free beer still flowed. New York City announced early this week it would give $100 to people when they get their first dose.
And on Thursday President Biden said he wants local and state government across the nation to offer a similar incentive. Ten vaccinated California residents each won $1.5 million, and in West Virginia, if you got the shot, you could win cash, hunting rifles, scholarships and more. But despite so many incentives, America is stuck, unable to move past
roughly 60 percent of the eligible population being fully vaccinated, not close enough for herd immunity. The burning question is how to nudge more Americans to get the vaccine.
Joining me now is Richard Thaler. He is the co-author of "Nudge" which has sold two million copies, and on Tuesday its so-called final edition comes out.
Richard, welcome. So this is, it seems to me, a case study that should be in the next -- in the post-final edition of the book which is people say we can't --
RICHARD THALER, PROFESSOR OF BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE AND ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: There will be no post-final edition.
ZAKARIA: People say you can't shove people. This was the famous distinction you make. You can't -- you know, you can't mandate it, so how do you increase the incentives? You listened to all those incentives. They haven't worked. How would you nudge people to get the vaccine?
THALER: I think it's very useful to think back of our experience in dealing with smoking and see what happened. So if you go back to the 1960s, when it first became clear that smoking led to lung cancer and other kinds of cancer, we started with information campaigns, nudges. We added warning labels. Gradually we started adding other incentives like taxing the cigarettes and making it difficult to smoke.
You weren't allowed to smoke in your office or at a restaurant or in an airplane. I think we're seeing the same thing with vaccines. So lots of places are starting to announce mandates, but they're not quite mandates. Instead they're saying if you get vaccinated, then your life gets better. So take the National Football League. They've announced that players who are unvaccinated -- first of all, they get tested. They can't fly with the team.
When they get to an away game, they have to stay in their hotel room. And if they ever have a positive test, they're out for 10 days. So I think we're going to start to see that if you want to insist on your right to be unvaccinated, you will lose some other rights.
I think if you're told you can't work here unless you're vaccinated, or -- you can work here if you're unvaccinated, but you have to get tested twice a week, and those tests may not be free, then I think a lot of people are going to start to change their minds about how resistant they are.
ZAKARIA: And it sounds to me like the big difference here is we don't have time. You know, with cigarettes is a wonderful example, you're right, but it took decades. Here we're trying to get this done in months, right?
THALER: That's right. And, you know, look, I think governments around the world are going to have to decide how much pushing they want to do, and so Macron in France is saying if you're not vaccinated, then you can't go to the cafe. Now, as a French friend of mine told me, that's equivalent to the death penalty. So, you know, President Biden has tried to push people but not require anyone.
And the same is true of many governors, and we're starting to see mandates for certain health care workers, those who are facing patients, and my guess is that that's the trend that we're going to see.
ZAKARIA: And you're comfortable with it.
THALER: I don't particularly -- by the way, I don't particularly think that the idea of paying people $100 to get vaccinated is a great idea.
THALER: The reason is there's no -- you can't tell me what the right price is. If it's $10, you run the risk of people saying, you know, it's only worth $10 to them, why should I bother? And if it's $1,000, then people might say, whoa, that thing must really be bad for you if they're going to pay you $1,000.
Also, the more you pay, the more you risk angering the people who got vaccinated early, and by the way, people my age are very likely to need a booster shot when that rolls around for people to think, well, I might as well wait around until they start paying people.
ZAKARIA: Thank you, Richard Thaler. It sounded to me like the author of "Nudge" was saying we're going to need more than nudges.
Next on GPS, will another Arab state go the autocratic route? We will explore.
ZAKARIA: It has been just over a decade since the start of the Arab spring which brought such great hope that democracy would flourish across that region. Sadly that hope has mostly fizzled out, but Tunisia, where the regional revolution started, has seemed like a success. The dictator Ben Ali was ousted in 2011 and democracy has indeed seemed to be firmly in place there until this week.
On Sunday, President Kais Saied fired the government and froze the activities of parliament. It looks like one-man rule again. But what is really going on?
Tarek Masoud joins me. He is the professor of International Relations at Harvard.
Tarek, welcome. So first explain to us what is going on.
TAREK MASOUD, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Fareed. So on Sunday, the president of Tunisia, Kais Saied, held a public meeting with leaders of the Tunisian military and he said that he was activating a provision in the Tunisian constitution that allows him in a state of emergency to take dramatic action.
And the dramatic action he took was to fire the prime minister, to suspend the parliament to lift parliamentary immunity from the members of Parliament, so that they could presumably be prosecuted for various crimes and to establish himself as the chief public prosecutor.
MASOUD: And he said he was doing all of this in order to deal with the emergency situation that Tunisia has faced, particularly during the pandemic. The country has been in real trouble, economic and political.
And so that's the -- the, sort of, dramatic steps that he's taken. The question is, you know, his opponents look at this and they say, "This is a coup, by any standard definition. It's unconstitutional. It's a violation of democracy."
Supporters of the president, and the president himself says, "Look, I'm a professor of constitutional law. I've forgotten more about the constitution than any of you will every know. I think this is completely constitutional."
And so the question remains for us whether this is really an abrogation of democracy or should be considered a suspension of some key provisions of the constitution, sort of like Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1861.
ZAKARIA: So is -- is this coup, or abrogation of democracy, popular, really popular? And if so, why?
MASOUD: So it's hard to tell, but I think it's probably safe to say that a lot of Tunisians were very frustrated with the course of their country over the last 11 years.
After all, that's why Kais Saied got elected. It's hard for me to describe for your viewers just how odd and unusual a politician Kais Saied is. In Tunisia they refer to him as "Robocop." He speaks in this kind of monotone that is a cross between, you know, the people who do movie trailers and, you know, the robotic voices on your navigation systems.
He has very strange views. For example, he is very clear about not really believing in representative democracy and thinking that Tunisia needs to move toward some other kind of much more hyper-local political system.
So there's a lot of -- and so the fact that a guy like that could get elected is a testament to how dissatisfied people in Tunisia were with the political system.
And then you add on top of that the rising unemployment, the economic dislocations of the coronavirus, the fact that the government of Tunisia, the prime minister of -- prime ministers of Tunisia have been unable, really, to cope effectively with these challenges, and you could see why a lot of Tunisian people would side with the president when he says, "Look, the current political system isn't working; I've got to sweep this all away in order to restructure this system to get us a government that is more effective and more able to deliver what the people want."
ZAKARIA: So 10 years after the Arab Spring -- and you've done a lot of research and writing about this -- Tunisia was the one shining example. Does it say something important about the Arab world that they have not been able to create and sustain one really consolidated liberal democracy?
MASOUD: You know, certainly that's going to be the temptation. People are going to say -- you know, I'm super-invested in Tunisian democracy, in part because it was this living rejoinder to the argument that Arabs can't get democracy.
But it's important to note the -- first of all, too early to say that Tunisian democracy has failed. But even if it does, even if we do settle in for a period of more autocratic politics, does that mean that the Arabs can't have democracy?
I mean, we've just come out of a period -- maybe we're still in it in the United States -- where there is a great deal of concern about the state of our democracy.
I think what this shows to us is that democracy is not this endowment that you can just draw on forever. It's something that you've got to keep paying into and keep upholding. And so getting and keeping democracy is hard in Tunisia; it's hard in the Arab world; and it's hard everywhere else, too.
ZAKARIA: Tarek Masoud, good to have you on.
MASOUD: Thanks, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," does the U.S. need a truth and reconciliation commission like South Africa had after apartheid?
We'll explore that intriguing idea, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: South Africa had a truth and reconciliation process to help heal the wounds of apartheid. Rwanda had something similar after its civil war. Canada established a commission more recently to tackle its treatment of indigenous peoples.
There have been calls in America for such efforts for, amongst other things, slavery and racial justice, the treatment of the country's native peoples, and more recently, the attack on the Capitol on January 6.
But how would such a thing work when there is no consensus on what the truth is and the path to reconciliation is so difficult to see?
Joining me now is Danielle Allen, who is on leave from a top professorship at Harvard in order to run for the governor of Massachusetts.
Welcome, Danielle. First, let me ask you, are we really in as bad shape as South Africa or Rwanda after apartheid and a civil war?
DANIELLE ALLEN (D), MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We are not in a shape as bad as that. That's the good news. We are, though, in a pretty challenging moment in our country's history. Polarization really is at highs that we haven't seen since the period around the Civil War. And the fact that that polarization erupted in political violence means we are in a bad way, indeed.
So we have real work to do of truth and reconciliation.
ZAKARIA: When you travel around -- because you are now running for governor. I'm sure you're going around Massachusetts. Do you find that -- that those big events, you know, around January 6th, for example, or the stealing or not stealing of the election, depending on whose accusations you hear -- are those things consuming the interests of, you know, everyday, ordinary citizens?
ALLEN: They really are turning up. That was really one of the most important learnings for me as I ran a listening tour around the commonwealth over the past six months.
I have thought of our polarization, and even the violence is really part of our national political experience. But I found people telling me stories of fights in towns over whether to build a new library that devolved into debates over whether or not people believed in "the big lie" about the election.
And on more than one occasion, I really had people say to me, you know, "We don't know what to do. We want to knit our community back together. We try to reach out to the other side. And there is just no way to even start a conversation."
There is a sort of air of desperation and great yearning for a way to address our division.
ZAKARIA: Now, Danielle, do you think part of this is that January 6th, or the election, these have become metaphors for a much deeper kind of cultural divide and fear on each side where, at some level, you know, I bet -- I imagine a lot of Republicans know that what happened January 6th was a violent assault on the Capitol, and, you know, there is -- but they are papering it over because they don't want to give a win to the other side.
And, you know, somebody once said that the Republicans live in fear that the Democrats control all cultural power in America, and the Democrats live in fear that the Republicans control all political power. And that makes each one think any extreme action is OK. ALLEN: We definitely live in a time where each side feels that they're experiencing an existential threat from the other side. But what we have to recognize is that what's truly existentially threatened is our democracy, and that's a common problem.
In that regard, we really do need to do the work of coming to a full understanding of what happened for January 6th.
I'm glad to see the -- the committee, the select committee, moving forward in Congress, for example. I think that's really important.
And it's important that we recognize that there are stages to this. There's the work we do to achieve forensic truth, where we really are clear about accountability. And that's accountability for violence; it's accountability for incitement. And that's the work that's proceeding in our courts.
But what we really do need the select committee to do is give us space for people to put their personal truths and experiences on the table, but then, even more importantly, to generate a social truth.
It mattered when those Capitol police officers were testifying and really explaining the cruelty and violence that was in their face, the slurs and insults hurled at them. That brings the whole American people into a conversation to say, "OK, we have to anchor from a recognition that something really violent, really threatening, occurred on January 6th. And then we need to understand the sources of that.
ZAKARIA: You point out in a Washington Post op-ed that you wrote, in South Africa, one forgets that, when they did truth and reconciliation, there were many truths. In other words, not everybody agreed on everything. And part of the process here has to be the airing of the kind of very different perspectives, very different truths people have about all this.
ALLEN: Exactly. I mean, this is the really hard part. And so I wrote a piece in The Washington Post where I laid out the four categories of truth that scholars of truth and reconciliation have come to use to understand these hard processes where culture has managed to move away from political violence.
And you start with that work of forensic truth, really using the courts to really hold accountable those who are actually perpetrators of crimes. But then you need to bring those personal truths to the table.
For all those people who did think that something badly -- you know, badly had gone wrong in the election, what was behind that? What made it possible for them to believe that?
We need to come to understanding of that. And ultimately our understanding of the causes of how people came to align with that mistaken worldview is the sort of source of an understanding that "Let's ask the question, OK, now how do we start to knit communities back together again? How can we achieve reconciliation? Given that this was the pattern of
experience; given that these were the causes that led worldviews to come so far apart from one another, now how do we start working to knit communities back together again?"
ZAKARIA: What part of all your -- you know, you're a great scholar; you're out there on the hustings. What gives you the most hope?
ALLEN: Well, it really is people -- it's people in specific places who are working hard to solve problems. And I think that, at the end of the day, is just fundamental to this work.
You've got to get people at the table for a conversation. You've got to find that first ally, and then once you do, you've got to start snowballing it and trying to build out those circles of conversation, rebuild, again, that commitment to the use of evidence as people are working to decide together, and then keep bringing more people into it.
It's labor-intensive. It's slow moving. There is no silver bullet. We're not going to cure ourselves overnight. But, again, that's why I would come back to that select committee. I do think the work of the commission is fundamental for giving us understanding of how our worldviews came so far apart that they could even sustain violence. We need that understanding in order to see what the right pathways forward are.
ZAKARIA: So you're describing, in a sense, work that needs to be done from the top down but also from the bottom up?
ALLEN: Exactly, yes.
ZAKARIA: ... pleasure to have you on.
ALLEN: Thanks a lot, Fareed. Always good to be with you. Appreciate it.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," top U.S. and Chinese officials publicly traded barbs this week, just like they did during the last high-level meeting in March in Alaska.
What is behind the barbs?
We have a fascinating story to tell you when we come back.
ZAKARIA: If you ever miss an episode of "GPS," and I don't know why you would, you can always listen to our podcast. To try it out, open the camera on your phone and scan this QR code on your screen. We'll leave it up on the screen for a bit.
And we will now move to the last look.
ZAKARIA (voice over): U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was in northern China earlier this week to install guardrails so that the relationship between the two nations did not get worse, especially in light of the unprecedented verbal sparring between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and one of his Chinese counterparts at the last meeting in Alaska in March.
But according to one news analysis, this meeting was a mini-Alaska. Sherman forcefully detailed all the areas where Washington objects to Beijing's policies, and in a statement released after the meeting, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng blamed the U.S. for the tense relationship, for turning the Chinese into "an imagined enemy."
He went on with this not-so-subtle jab. "It is as if, when China's development is contained, America would become great again, " he said.
As after Alaska, there was no cooperation or collaboration on view.
Part of the Biden administration's motivation for this confrontational strategy with China is probably that it works well domestically. Donald Trump's castigation of Beijing played well, and the Republican Party is now all in for a hard line on China. Public attitudes toward China have soured considerably over the last decade.
But China has a domestic audience as well. Recall the last high- profile summit. Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi went on a 15-minute rebuttal to Blinken, railing against American condescension and overreach of power. And his audience at home lapped it up. Clips of his speech went viral on social media, this line in particular, "America does not have the qualification to say it can speak to China from a position of strength."
His quotes were plastered across merchandising of all kinds. T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs and lighters all demand that the U.S. stop interfering in China's internal affairs.
One of these phrases, "The Chinese people won't eat that," was shared so widely that it was ultimately viewed over 95 million times by Chinese netizens.
And then last week, that same phrase "The Chinese people won't eat that," was repeated in Chinese media coverage about the meeting with Sherman.
Some of this is clever debate and deflection by Chinese officials, so when American officials bring up abuse against the Uighurs, their Chinese counterparts can push back with the genocide of Native Americans. When democratic movements in Hong Kong are put on the table, the Chinese counter by pointing to the Black Lives Matter protests. But it's important to remember that nationalism works in both countries. In America, Trump found it useful to direct the attention of Americans towards a foreign foe. In China it's becoming easier to whip up fears that America is trying to keep China down.
Nationalistic tendencies have been on the rise for years, partly amplified by Communist Party propaganda and cemented by the Chinese state censorship and army of trolls. The one-party voice allows state- sponsored nationalism to proliferate to all corners of the Web, at least those allowed by China's great firewall.
China's nationalism does have some basis in history. China was humiliated and occupied during the Opium Wars of the 19th Century. After what China has deemed its "century of humiliation" at the hands of foreign interveners, Xi Jinping's focus on rejuvenating the nation and a fighting spirit is appealing to many.
This rhetoric reached a fever pitch last month ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. Patriotic songs were composed. Streets were festooned in party-affirming banners. And a frequent refrain leading up to the celebration was "The East is rising while the West is declining."
Using a common Chinese idiom, Xi's speech at the event warned that any nation who seeks to bully China will find "their heads bashed bloody against a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people."
It is a worrying reality that the world's two richest countries have moved into a spiral of competitive nationalism, which might be popular domestically, but is dangerous internationally.
One note before we go. On last week's show, I asked King Abdullah about the concept that there would be no stand-alone Palestinian state in the future but that instead his nation, Jordan, would become the de facto Palestinian state. I said the idea had been recently mentioned by longtime Israeli diplomat Dore Gold.
I was wrong. Many have talked about that concept, but not Ambassador Gold. I apologize for that error.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.