Return to Transcripts main page

Fareed Zakaria GPS

The U.S.-France Relations Sink After Australian Submarine Deal; Interview With U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres About COVID-19 And Afghanistan; Interview With Justice Stephen Breyer. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 19, 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, as scores of world leaders prepare to descend on the United Nations this week, we'll talk to the Secretary- General Antonio Guterres. He's called the pandemic the greatest global challenge since World War II. The big question is, can the world's powers be persuaded to embrace a plan to vaccinate all of humanity?

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: Let's be clear, all this is too little too late.

ZAKARIA: Also, what can the U.N. do to help the growing humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan?

And in a stunning move, France recalls its ambassador to Washington. Why? I will ask the former ambassador, Gerard Araud.

Then Justice Clarence Thomas said on Thursday that the Supreme Court may now be the most dangerous branch of the U.S. government, and while many are asking whether the highest court in the land has become too political. I'll put all of the big questions swirling around the court to Justice Stephen Breyer.


ZAKARIA: But first here's "My Take." On Tuesday President Biden will make his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly. The address comes at a crucial moment in the Biden presidency, and will have a particular impact on how it's viewed abroad. After almost eight months of watching policies, rhetoric and crises, many foreign observers have been surprised, even shocked, to discover that in area after area, Biden's foreign policy is a continuation of Donald Trump's and a repudiation of Barack Obama's.

Some of this dismays the consequence of the abrupt and unilateral manner in which Biden withdrew American troops from Afghanistan. A German diplomat told me that in his view Berlin was consulted more by the Trump administration than by this one. Some are specific actions like the U.S.-U.K.-Australia submarine deal which has enraged the French.

But the growing concerns go well beyond any one episode. a senior European diplomat noted that in dealings with Washington on everything from vaccines to travel restrictions, the Biden policies were America first in logic, whatever the rhetoric. A Canadian politician said that if followed, Biden's Buy America plans are actually more protectionist than Trump's. Despite having criticized Trump's tariffs repeatedly, Biden has kept nearly all of them. In fact many have been expanded since most exemptions to them have been allowed to expire.

Key Asian allies keep pressing Biden to return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, much praised by him when the Obama administration negotiated it. Instead, it's been shoved. Another striking example of Biden's surprisingly Trumpian foreign policy is the Iran nuclear deal, one of the landmark accomplishments of the Obama administration. Throughout his election campaign, Biden argued that Trump's withdrawal from that agreement had been a cardinal error and that as president, he would quickly rejoin it as long as Iran would also move into compliance.

In early 2019, Jake Sullivan, now Biden's National Security adviser, described Trump's reopposing of the secondary sanctions against Tehran as predatory unilateralism. But since he took office, Biden has failed to revive the deal and kept most sanctions on Iran.

Having long argued against trying to renegotiate the deal, Biden officials now say they want to lengthen and strengthen it. So far this Trump-Biden strategy has not worked. Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium went from less than 300 kilograms in 2018 after the deal to around 2,500 kilograms today.

Or consider policy towards Cuba. The Obama administration was bold enough to tackle one of the most glaring failures in U.S. foreign policy. Having isolated and sanctioned Cuba since 1960 to produce regime change in that country, the United States has instead strengthened Cuba's communist regime.

Fidel Castro sparked nationalist fervor by blaming all of Cuba's problems on the embargo and far from being toppled, he ended up staying in power longer than any non-royal leader on the planet. As with Iran, the cost of these policies have been paid for by ordinary people.


Obama began to relax these policies toward Cuba. Trump reversed course. Biden has kept in place the Trump policy and actually tightened sanctions. In a recent U.N. General Assembly vote condemning America's 60-year-old embargo, the vote tally was 184 to 2. Israel was the only country to vote with Washington.

Biden and his team often criticized Trump for his assault on the rules-based international system. But how does one rebuild such a system while embracing naked protectionism, unilateral sanctions, limited consultations, and America-first policies on stuff like vaccines and even travel? When I was returning from Europe last week, the British Airline employee checking me in said nervously, I hope you have an American passport. I said, yes, but asked why she seemed so relieved.

She replied, oh, the Americans have made it a nightmare for Europeans to enter their country, and it seems so unfair because we have much higher vaccination rates and much lower levels of COVID than you do. She concluded in exasperation it seems that these days you Americans just want a double standard that helps you no matter what others think.

It doesn't have to be this way. Trump's selfishness should be the aberration. Biden can use the U.N. pulpit to return to his deep roots as an internationalist, who understands that countries don't simply ally with America out of fear or bribes or narrow security concerns, they do so because its best presidents have articulated and pursued policies that while always being attentive to U.S. interests, also tried to build an open rule-based international order that helps others prosper and thrive.

If Joe Biden continues his current course though, historians might one day look back on him as the president who normalized Donald Trump's foreign policy.

Go to for a link to my "Washington Post" column, and let's get started.

"Unacceptable behavior among allies and partners." That is what the French government called the announcement of a new security pact between the U.S., Australia and the U.K. this week. Seen as an effort to counter China, this new deal will help Australia to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, among other things. But the French already had a deal to build submarines with their Australian allies and they say this move was a stab in the back. On Friday France took the exceptional step of recalling its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.

Joining me now to talk about this is the former ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud.

Gerard, let me ask you first, the reaction of France seems genuinely one of shock, isn't that right?

GERARD ARAUD, FORMER FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, yes, it was a total astonishment. You know, The 13th of August, the minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Australia were reaffirming the commitment to the contract. The 13th of August. And suddenly overnight it's denounced. And on the top of that, it's denounced after obviously our closest allies brought in our back to kick us out of the deal. So you have the lost and on top of that, you have the (INAUDIBLE) of our closest allies against our major interests.

ZAKARIA: Now I think that the way that Washington would portray this, Biden officials would, look, this is a big, strategic play, it is intended to deter China. It's unfortunate that we had to do this in the way we did.

My question is, was there a reason France could not have been part of the new arrangement, maybe with a reduced contract or even not at all, because the United Kingdom doesn't seem central to it and yet Washington included it? Could France have been part of a new contract where the American submarines were used but France was still a defense partner in some way?

ARAUD: I think it's the right question, and actually, the French ambassador who met the secretary of State, who met the National Security adviser, you know, asked -- raised the question saying not only we, I have said, we lose the contract but you kick us out of this strategy partnership. Because Australia was also our strategy partner. Our navies have been training together, and we consider that Australia was the pillar of our Indo-Pacific strategy.


ZAKARIA: Do you think that this will result in Europe having a more independent strategy towards China? Could the cost end up being that the E.U. does not fall in line with America's China strategy? Which strikes me as a big deal because on issues like trade, the European Union really is very powerful on trade. We do live in a kind of tripolar world.

ARAUD: No, Fareed, I don't think that this storm will have major consequences in Europe because for most Europeans, it's a French problem. But we also have to see the sequence. Because as you said, you know, Trump was a sty (PH) to Europe and basically we have the impression that Biden doesn't care. You know, we had, of course, we had Afghanistan but also when President Biden came to Europe, there was no proposed cooperation coming from the American side. And since then, it's very difficult to say that there is a European policy of this administration.

ZAKARIA: And finally, Gerard, do you think that when all is said and done, will we be able to get back to some level of normalcy? I mean, France and the United States are long allies. They have had breaches like Suez, Vietnam, the Iraq war, or is this something more lasting, do you think?

ARAUD: No, I think our common interests to work together, but you know, there is no love, there's only proof of love, so I think that the American administration has to show that, as I have said, that they consider that the Europeans are real partner in the common endeavor, and we are still waiting for that.

ZAKARIA: But in order to -- let's say the United States has another big foreign policy initiative, and wants France to come on board, does this make it harder because, you know, you have your own populism, you have your own nationalism? Does it make it harder for President Macron to support the United States, particularly on something controversial because his opponents will say, well, clearly, the Americans don't care about France?

ARAUD: No, I think you're right, Fareed, and especially because in France, we are entering into an electoral campaign. The presidential elections in France are in April next year and we are a democracy so it's obviously it will make things more complicated to President Macron.

ZAKARIA: Gerard Araud, always a pleasure to hear you. Always give us great insights. Thank you, sir.

ARAUD: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, global recovery from COVID-19 will be at the top of the agenda at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Can leaders come together and make a plan to vaccinate the world? I sat down with the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the U.N. Security Council chamber this week. That interview when we come back.



ZAKARIA: On Tuesday world leaders will converge on the United Nations headquarters in New York for speeches, meetings, conferences and more, all part of the annual U.N. General Assembly. Despite the fact that the host country, the United States, asked other nations to keep their delegations home to avoid turning the gathering into a super spreader event, leaders of more than 100 nations are still expected. That's well over half of the U.N. membership.

Playing host to them all and trying to gather consensus on solving the world's most pressing problems will be my guest, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.


ZAKARIA: Mr. Secretary-General, pleasure to have you on. Welcome.

GUTERRES: It's an enormous pleasure to be with you again in this room.

ZAKARIA: So people often said the thing we need to get global cooperation is a common enemy. The pandemic is a common enemy. COVID is a common enemy. Yet it has actually led countries to do the opposite of cooperating. Why? And is there any chance -- are you seeing signs that there is greater cooperation beginning?

GUTERRES: There are some positive signs. We had the IMF together with the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization proposing a program of $50 billion to allow for an increased vaccination in developing countries. I know President Biden is convening a summit to try to increase substantially the amount of vaccines available to the developing countries, but let's be clear, all this is too little too late.

And the fact is that the international community was not able to come together in relation to the COVID. We have different strategies by different countries, and we have this absolutely unacceptable situation, which a country like mine that was very successful has 80 percent of the population vaccinated. ZAKARIA: That's Portugal and --

GUTERRES: Portugal.

ZAKARIA: And most of Europe is.

GUTERRES: And we have countries in Africa with less than 2 percent.

ZAKARIA: I mean, when I look at it realistically, it seems to me the only strategy that would work would be a joint U.S.-Chinese one because only the Chinese companies are going to be able to produce the billions of vaccines you need.


You know, the Western companies, those vaccines are spoken for already. There's no prospect, is there, of a cooperation between the United States and China to vaccine the world?

GUTERRES: I'm very worried about it. I mean, I think we have two divides in the vaccine question. We have a north-south divide, in which the north took care of its population and forgot largely about the south, and the south feels that this is terribly unfair and this increases the mistrust of the global south in relation to the global north, and there is the geo strategic global divide which is now centered in the relationship between China and the United States.

Since the beginning, and talking with both sides, I have been saying that there are areas in which there is no possible agreement. There are areas in which a confrontation is inevitable. Human rights is one of these areas. The other geostrategic questions related for instance in the South China Sea or Taiwan, there are areas in which there are different positions and it will not be easy to overcome these differences.

There is an area where I believe there should be effective cooperation, climate. And then there are areas in which I believe a negotiation is necessary. A serious negotiation. Because there are different interests but at the same time there are common interests. And these relate to trade and technology.

Now we have seen that the areas of confrontation have dominated the relationship. We have seen that in climate, the efforts of John Kerry have largely failed because the Chinese have said at the moment, well, we cannot have the cooperation on climate or on anything else. And on trade and technology, there has not been an effective negotiation. I think there's still time to do that. I think --

ZAKARIA: Do you think --

GUTERRES: My appeal to both sides is to, OK, we have the differences. The differences are clear. We need to keep those differences and we need, of course, in relation to them to express very strong oppositions but we need to find areas in which we can seriously negotiate and trade and technology are the two areas in my opinion. And that would create an environment which then the cooperation on climate or the cooperation on vaccines could become possible.

I think the present situation in which we move to totally confrontational countries is a situation that is dangerous for the world. And then the risk of the economy to be decoupled economy with two different celts of rules in two different parts of the world with two different dominant currencies when they -- with two different strategies on artificial intelligence, on the digital world, and then inevitably sooner or later, two conflicting strategies from the military and the geostrategic dimensions. And this will be, of course, very dangerous.

I believe that we need to avoid a new Cold War because the old Cold War was more easy to manage. It was clear. Now things are more complex.

ZAKARIA: When you tell the Chinese government that they should allow the WHO to conduct a proper investigation of COVID, what is their response?

GUTERRES: Their response is that the investigation was already done properly. I mean, so this is a matter of different opinion.

ZAKARIA: But you know that it wasn't. I mean, they have done --


GUTERRES: I believe that --

ZAKARIA: They did not --

GUTERRES: There were aspects of a full investigation related to the kind of data that is produced in which what the WHO is now requiring makes sense.

ZAKARIA: And the Chinese are not allowing that?

GUTERRES: As far as I know for the moment, they have refused these new requirements made by the World Health Organization.


ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, Secretary-General Guterres on the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and whether the U.N. would work with the Taliban.



ZAKARIA: We are back here on GPS. Here is more of my interview with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. We talked in the Security Council chamber. The mural in the background offers a vision of the world of peace. But I was interested to hear his thoughts on a currently war-torn nation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZAKARIA: Mr. Secretary-General, let me ask you about Afghanistan. You recently said that it was a fantasy to imagine that the United Nations would be able to handle the Afghan problem, and yet there are really at this point no governments even recognize the Taliban. Very few are willing to provide aid that would help Afghans from, you know, entering into a kind of starvation and poverty on a massive scale.

Isn't the solution for people -- for countries to be able to give the United Nations the money so that no one says that they are supporting the Taliban and then the United Nations finds a way to distribute that aid towards nary Afghans, or is that impossible?

GUTERRES: No. But that's exactly what we're asking for. We -- I have sent to Kabul the emergency relief coordinator and head of our humanitarian affairs sector was the first personality at ministerial level that went to Kabul and spoke with Baradar, with Haqqani, I mean, with all those that matter.


What I said about the fantasy is that you cannot ask the U.N. to solve all the problems that many countries, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers, with trillions of different currencies, and with all the means at their disposal, for decades, were not able to solve.

And to say, "Now the U.N. goes there and solves everything; they have an inclusive government; they will have full respect of human rights; they will have -- they will stop all terrorism for all activities" -- I mean, let's be honest, we have not the capacity to do that. That -- all of the others failed for decades.

What we can do and we are doing is to engage with the Taliban, first of all, for humanitarian aid to be distributed, and to make them understand that, to have solidarity from the international community and to be able one day to have recognition from the international community, they need to deliver on the aspects that are very important for us, the human rights for girls and for women, women the right to work, girls the right to be at school at all levels, that it will be very important for them to cooperate with the international community to avoid the -- Afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorists.


GUTERRES: These are things we can, naturally, engaging with them, advocate for, but we have no illusion. The situation is unpredictable. And if someone today says that they know exactly how Afghanistan will be in three months' time, I think it is probably a prophet without much credibility.

ZAKARIA: But let me ask you, in your -- in the conversations that U.N. officials whom you have sent to Kabul, in the conversations with the Taliban, what is the impression you are forming of the Taliban?

GUTERRES: I think one thing is the conversation with a number of leaders, and those conversations were very positive. The other thing is what exactly is the Taliban movement in its entirety? And we have witnessed that in different parts of the country, there

are different behaviors. And we have seen that the formation of this government has not yet been possible because there are divisions among the Taliban leadership. This -- what was created was not a -- a final government; it was a kind of a preliminary government.

So in my opinion, the situation is unpredictable. And because it is unpredictable, it's important to engage. And at the same time, because the Afghan people is suffering, it's important to support the Afghan people.

If we do those two things, we might succeed; we might not, but it's our obligation for the U.N. that has been there since '47 until now and was there during the first Taliban regime. It's important for us to stay and to deliver.

ZAKARIA: Finally, do you feel, at this point in the pandemic, just to come full circle, do you feel at this point in the pandemic more hopeful that there will be some international effort, or less hopeful than you were a year ago?

GUTERRES: No, I think that now the situation became so obviously threatening for everybody with these variants. I think the delta variant was a lesson to many, including where we are, in the U.S.

And there were recent news about other variants that might put into question the vaccines we have. I think now there is a conscience that, if we don't address quickly, the problems of those areas of the world in which the virus is still spreading like wildfire, we risk to have the COVID as a permanent problem, like the flu.

And these -- with the impacts that we are seeing in the global economy, this is something we need to avoid at all costs. And I think there is a growing conscience that this is the case. And I hope that, in the next few weeks, there will be effective progress in relation to the vaccination problems.

ZAKARIA: Mr. Secretary-General, pleasure to have you on.

GUTERRES: Thank you very much. It was a great pleasure.


ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court. Many say the current court is too political. He says they are wrong. His argument, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: This month the Supreme Court decided not to intervene to stop a Texas law that dramatically restricts abortion rights. The decision was seen by many as a result of President Trump's appointment of three justices, which shifted the court to the right. My next guest wrote a strong dissent in the Texas decision. Stephen

Breyer votes consistently with the court's liberal wing, and yet he believes tjhat, in order to maintain its influence, the court must be apolitical and seen as apolitical.

It's a belief he defends persuasively in his new book "The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics." Justice Breyer joins me now.

Welcome, sir. First, I have to tell you this is a terrific book. You've done a lot of interviews and not a lot of people have talked about the book, so I want to begin by recommending to people this is really a terrific book. Thank you for writing it.

BREYER: Well, thank you. Thank you very much. I'm glad you read it.

ZAKARIA: Let's start with your central premise, which is that the Supreme Court has a surprising amount of authority, is in many ways seen as a kind of pivotal player in American politics, despite the fact that it has no power.

As -- as Alexander Hamilton said -- you quote him -- "Don't worry about the Supreme Court; it has neither the power of the purse nor the sword."


So what gives the court its authority?

BREYER: Ultimately, it's that people in the United States, 331 million of them -- 330 million are not lawyers -- but ultimately those people have decided that they want to live together, every race, every religion, every point of view imaginable, and they have decided they want to live in one country together under law.

That's an amazing thing in the history of the human race. And this document, the Constitution of the United States, is really the basic law that they have decided will hold them together. And the Supreme Court does typically have the final word as to the meaning of the words in this document.

ZAKARIA: So it wasn't always as easy as this. And you point, for example, to...

BREYER: Oh, no, it wasn't.


ZAKARIA: You point to the decision in 1829, I think. The case was basically Georgia discovered that there was -- the State of Georgia discovered there was gold and land that was Cherokee Indian land. It had been given to the Cherokees by treaty. Georgia takes it. The Cherokees take Georgia to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rules in favor of the Cherokee Indians, and then what happens?

BREYER: Well, that's the case where even though John Marshall, the chief justice, and the others decided that northern Georgia belongs to the Cherokee Indians, the president, Andrew Jackson, supposedly said, "John Marshall" -- the chief justice -- "made his decision; now let him enforce it."

And he sent troops, the president, to northern Georgia, to enforce the decision, no, rather to kick out the Indians. And they marched along the Trail of Tears, many dying, to Oklahoma, where their descendants live to this day.

So it took a while, and there have been some terrible decisions of the Supreme Court, Dred Scott, terrible; Plessy v. Ferguson, that started segregation in the South, terrible. But there also have been some high points, Brown v. Board of Education. There must be integration. Legal segregation is...


ZAKARIA: But you point out -- you point out, Justice Breyer, your -- your section on Brown is also fascinating. Brown v. Board of Education, saying that separate but equal is not OK, you know, you have to integrate the schools, is 1953 -- 1954, sorry.

For three years nothing happens. Nobody -- nobody observes the -- nobody follows it. And then in '57 a federal judge tells Arkansas that it has to admit nine black kids into an all-white school.

Tell that story of what -- how close a call it was, because even then people didn't want Eisenhower to try to enforce this decision.

BREYER: Well, it was a great decision of President Eisenhower that he would send a thousand paratroopers, 101st Airborne, from Fort Bragg, to take those children in the school. But they couldn't stay forever, and when they left, the authorities in Little Rock tried to end integration and go back to segregation. And the Supreme Court said no. All nine justices said, "You must integrate now."

Well, those are nine people. Those are nine people. There could be 900 judges, and there were a lot of people in the South who didn't want to.

And so what I think happened is that was the era of Martin Luther King. That was the era of the freedom riders. That was the era when the North, the entire country, woke up -- woke up to the injustice of segregation. And they wouldn't have gotten anywhere, the judges, if it had not been for all the people who aren't judges to begin to decide to bring justice to the South -- no more legal segregation.

And I told that story to a woman who is the president of the Supreme Court of Ghana and wants Ghana -- and wanted Ghana to become more democratic, to become more civil rights oriented.

"Why do people do what you say?" she asked.

And I said, "You have to convince the people in the villages, in the towns, the millions who are not lawyers, that it is in their interests to follow a rule of law.


And that means not just the decisions you like but also decisions you don't like. What? Like Bush v. Gore. I dissented in Bush v. Gore, but I heard the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, say the most remarkable thing about that opinion is, "People followed it without guns, riots, stones in the streets."

And when people think "Too bad there weren't" -- I mean, I thought it was wrong. And when I hear them say, "Well, too bad there weren't a few riots," I say, "Hey, it's not too difficult to see what happens in countries and in places and in times when people don't follow a rule of law. It's terrible."

So it's a miracle, it's a miracle, this country, in -- in -- in that respect.


ZAKARIA: We're going to take a break. And when we come back, I want to talk to Justice Breyer about precisely Bush v. Gore, this pivotal case that may have changed the image of the court and may have left a long legacy. All that, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Justice Breyer, you were talking about Bush v. Gore, and I want to ask you a question about it in the context of your central argument. Your central argument, correct me if I'm wrong, is that we shouldn't think of judges as political in the way we do. Yes, they have differences, but those differences are not partisan, political; they are jurisprudential; they are based on how people see the -- the Constitution and -- and law and things like the original intent of that -- of those laws.

So when you look at Bush v. Gore, this is the case that I think changed many people's view about that, because the Constitution is pretty clear that the states get to decide who their electors are. In fact, that's what Republicans are now using as a way to allow states to do whatever they this want with the electors -- almost, you know, in some cases no matter what happened in the election, that states get to choose their electors.

In Bush v. Gore, the conservatives who normally take the position that states' rights are important and state authority must not be, you know, overridden by the federal government, those conservatives switched and they ended up saying, "No, in this particular case, we the Supreme Court, we the federal government, have authority that trumps the state."

And to a lot of people, it looked like justices like Justice Scalia were completely reversing their long-held jurisprudential view to achieve a political outcome they wanted, the election of George W. Bush.

Didn't that damage the court's legitimacy more than anything I can imagine?

BREYER: Well, I can imagine worse things. What about Plessy and Ferguson? What about separate but equal?

But, go back to the point, it would take me a while to convince you, more time than we have, that the Constitution says that each state shall appoint in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, the electors who will vote for the president. And the majority of five thought that the lower courts in Florida had not done what the legislature directed.

I didn't agree with that one little bit, but the people who were in dissent, and there were four, two were appointed by Republican presidents and two were appointed by Democratic presidents. I mean, I've never seen people trade votes on the Supreme Court. They haven't.

And I can think of a lot of cases, even recently. We recently decided that gay people cannot be discriminated against by their employers, and the five that made that up -- well, four what you might call, quote, "liberals," and one of them was not, was what you might call a conservative. Three times the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare. And we did that recently by a vote of 7-2.

So some cases come out in ways a political party, one or the other, might favor, and some do not. Those differences of judicial philosophy, you pay more attention, "complete attention," as Justice Scalia liked to do, to the text, or do you also bring in, as I might like to do, consequences and purposes and values?

The word "liberty" in the Constitution does not define itself.

So there are many jurisprudential differences, and it isn't totally jurisprudential. But it isn't really right to say that it's political, in the ordinary sense in politics.

So you'd have to read this book with some care, as you've done, in order to see the complexity and nuance there.

ZAKARIA: So is this ideal of a nonpolitical court, of a nonpartisan court, so important to you that you are willing to risk the fact that your successor might undo much of what you regard as the good you've done, and might take the court and the country in a very different direction?


BREYER: Now, what you're doing is asking about will I retire, and eventually I will.


I don't want to die there in office, and I haven't decided exactly when, but there are a lot of considerations, and I'm -- I hope I take them all into account properly. And when the time comes to announce something, I will, but not here and now.


ZAKARIA: Well, I think, as I said, this is a terrific book. And, you know, the central point you make, which is that the court's authority is this kind of mystical thing and should be -- should be preserved, is so important.

Stephen Breyer, pleasure to have you on, sir.

BREYER: Thank you very much.


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