Return to Transcripts main page

Fareed Zakaria GPS

America's Pivot To Asia; Is Joe Biden Continuing Trump's America First?; Sahel, The New Hotspot Of Jihadi Terrorists? Aired 10- 11a ET

Aired October 03, 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.


ZAKARIA: On the program today, America's pivot to Asia takes a big step forward 10 years after it was announced.

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As America's first Pacific president.

ZAKARIA: We'll examine just what the Australia, U.K. U.S. security pact tells us about America's foreign policy focus.

And where is America pivoting from? Europe, of course. Where the coming end of Angela Merkel's chancellorship may just diminish the continent's standing even further.

All that with our all-star panel, Richard Haass, Ian Bremmer and Anne- Marie Slaughter.

Also, where in the world is the Sahel? It's the region that divides the Sahara Desert in Africa's North from the Savanah grasslands in the South. You'll be hearing a lot more about it. It is the new hotspot of jihadi terrorists. We'll tell you all that you need to know.

Also --

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is going to serve as a wake-up call.

ZAKARIA: Sanjay Gupta on what he and we all have learned from the long and difficult fight against COVID-19.


ZAKARIA: But first, here's "My Take." The troubles of a company that nobody had ever heard of now have people worried about another global economic crisis. Evergrande is a property developer in China with the dubious distinction of being the world's most indebted real estate company, with outstanding loans of more than $300 billion. For the moment, at least, it appears unlikely that the firm's travails

will upend the global economy but its crisis highlights a crucial fragility in China's economy. China's private debt, money owed by households and corporations, is now more than 260 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, far and away the highest in the world for any developing nation.

China's fundamental growth trajectory is slowing. Its export driven model has become much harder to sustain as wages have risen, making it less competitive with other countries. Meanwhile, its domestic spending is not going fast enough to replace the export boom. Plus, the government's assault on the technology sector will probably slow down the previously explosive growth in that area.

And overshadowing all this is demographics. China is growing old and its citizens are having fewer children. Fertility dropped by a stunning 20 percent last year, despite the government's efforts to reverse the one-child policy and encourage people to have more children.

Looking around, one sees problems in most major economies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is about to leave office after 16 years of steady, wise leadership. In an age of populist drama, anger, emotion and invective, she has been an oasis of calm. But she let many of Germany's economic problems fester. The country has been starved of public investment, leading to a decay of its infrastructure in almost every area.

Germany's pension system sits unreformed and is in danger of a real crisis. Its energy policies are a strange patchwork of new and old, banning nuclear and thus getting 44 percent of its electricity from fossil fuels, one of the highest in the European Union. More broadly, Germany remains a laggard in the digital age. It's much vaunted manufacturing economy dates from the second Industrial Revolution, its cars, chemicals and machine tools.

In the digital realm, Germany boasts only one large company, SAP, that is now almost 50 years old. And like China, the demographics are grim. In 2020, for the first time in a decade, its population actually shrank. These are not isolated examples. Look at the world's other major economies, Japan, Britain, India, and you will see similar structural weaknesses and fragilities. Japan continues to grow at a snail's pace.

A few decades ago Indians often spoke of overtaking China. Today China's economy is more than five times the size of India's. Britain will spend the next few years paying the price for Brexit as its current fuel crisis demonstrates. And then there is the USA, the unmistakable winner of the past decade has been what Ruchir Sharma termed "The Comeback Nation," in an insightful "Foreign Affairs" essay.

The U.S. recovered steadily from the 2008 crisis and never looked back, even accounting for the pandemic-induced recession. Today amid talk of decline, most Americans would be shocked to hear that their country has about the same share of global GDP as it did 40 years ago, 25 percent.


Its companies dominate the world like never before. Seven of the top 10 companies in the world by market capitalization are American. The U.S. continues to lead in most of the industries of the future, from biotechnology to nanotechnology to artificial intelligence. The dollar is dominant as a global reserve currency like no other in history, being used in almost 90 percent of international transactions.

And it has the healthiest demographics of any of the world's five biggest economies, thanks to immigration. At some gut level, Americans seem to understand this. Gallup asked people about their lives to determine what share of the population is, quote, "thriving," unquote. That number hit 59 percent this summer, the highest in the 13 years of the survey. In January 2020, 90 percent of Americans said they were satisfied with their lives, another all-time high since the question was asked first in 1979. It has subsequently dropped presumably because of the pandemic.

But that funny picture is not what it looks like in Washington. America's weakness is its politics. Despite our extraordinary structural advantages, political leaders in Washington cannot pay the national credit card bills without high drama. They're struggling with infrastructure spending that has been urgently advocated for years, and that a hefty majority of the public supports. Congress has not passed a regular budget in 25 years.

Hundreds of key posts in the administration lie vacant with dozens held hostage by senators on totally unrelated issues. And one of our two major parties goaded on by its demagogic leader is busy seeking to disrupt the set of institutions, laws and norms that ensure free and fair elections in this country, setting things up for a massive political crisis in 2024.

America has been dealt the world's best hand by far. As any poker player knows, however, if you play badly, you can still lose everything.

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

The French ambassador Philippe Etienne, who you saw on GPS last week, announced his return to Washington on Twitter on Thursday. He had been recalled to Paris after Washington announced a new security pact with the U.K. and Australia. The Anglo Alliance was to be a check against China's burgeoning power and effectiveness.

So is the U.S. finally pivoting to Asia?

Let me introduce today's all-star panel. Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He's a former director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Anne-Marie Slaughter held that same position. She's now the CEO of the think tank New America.

She is the author of an absolutely terrific new book, "Renewal: From Crisis to Transformation in Our Lives, Work and Politics." And Ian Bremmer is president of the Eurasia Group, a geopolitical risk firm.

Anne-Marie, let me start with you. You have this terrific book out which is really about personal and organizational growth and renewal, and I urge everyone to buy it. But we are going to ask you to talk about your professional expertise here. Is the pivot to Asia much vaunted, perhaps now executed? Is it a good idea?

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, CEO, NEW AMERICA: So, Fareed, the pivot to Asia was misconceived from the start. It was conceived and executed in the Obama administration, and what was right was to move away from the Middle East and to focus much more on East Asia, also South Asia. But it was conceived as a pivot from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And primarily as a military and diplomatic pivot.

It should have been a pivot to Asia through Europe. The Europeans have much older and deeper ties in Asia than the United States does. If you look at Southeast Asia, Thailand -- I mean, not Thailand, but Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia are French colonies. Malaya and Burma were British colonies. Indonesia is a Dutch colony. And all those countries now have many citizens of South Asian and East Asian descent.

So we should have started with Europe, working not only militarily and politically, but economically. Of course, China is the E.U.'s biggest trading partner.


And even in military terms, the French have 1.6 million French citizens in their South Pacific territories, and they have 8,000 troops stationed in the South Pacific. They consider that an area of responsibility. So for President Biden, who focuses on, you know, alliances of democracy, they really made a fundamental mistake by turning away from Europe to China rather than through Europe.

ZAKARIA: Ian Bremmer, what about the economic element? This feels like a geopolitical pivot more than an economic pivot.

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: That's right. That's the problem here is that the United States had an opportunity to make this an economic pivot, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership was the avenue to do that. Obama wasn't able to get it done, Trump left, and Biden isn't aligned with it either because it's not popular in the United States.

I mean, I agree with Anne-Marie that of course you want to do this through Europe but the reality is that the Europeans, with the exception, with the sole exception of the French, see Asia primarily, even overwhelmingly, through economic and commercial lens. The United States presently its policies in Asia are overwhelmingly through a broad national security lens and a technology lens. American companies versus Chinese companies.

So they're not aligned. And the French are a competitor. They're the third largest military exporter in the world. The United States is number one. So it's a serious challenge. And we're not really aligned with the Europeans on Asia right now. And the interesting thing is the Asians are really aligned with us. Australia really wants that defense pact because they're angry about the trade war and the military hostilities they have with China.

India, which has always been neutral about this, really wanted into the Quad because of the increase in military tensions changing the game from Beijing. So as a consequence, I don't know how we get out of the fact that the Europeans are feeling really left out of our Indio- Pac strategy.

ZAKARIA: Richard Haass, what do you make of all this?

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Look, I think the pivot to Asia geopolitically makes some sense. It's obviously about China, which is widely seen as the principal competitor, potentially adversary for the United States. Ian is right. We haven't introduced the economic connection. It makes no sense to pivot to Asia without joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Unfortunately, there's bipartisan opposition to doing just that. We haven't introduced sufficient military forces into the region. So if we're serious about dealing with the Chinese threats, say, to Taiwan, we've got a long way to go to match our capabilities with our commitment.

I don't see how we do this through Europe, quite honestly. Europe has virtually no meaningful military force to introduce in this part of the world and Europe largely sees Asia and particularly China through the prism of economic ties, of commercial ties. And I think we're going to run into real problems in trying to line -- excuse me, in trying to line the Europeans up to work with us.

Losing my voice here Fareed, sorry.

ZAKARIA: No worries. Anne-Marie, what about Richard's point, particularly in light of Merkel leaving after 16 years in Germany? The Europeans don't have the capacity, you know, to project any kind of military force without American help. And they don't seem that interested in having a kind of larger world role. They're largely internally an E.U. focused. Is it a fool's errand to try to get the Europeans to play a larger, more active strategic role?

SLAUGHTER: No, as I just said, the French after the United States have the largest naval presence in the South Pacific. So if we were going to make a deal with Australia and Britain, yes, I understand that we had better technology, but we should have included the French in thinking about the South Pacific as a strategic arena and the British, particularly now that they're not in the E.U., do have military capabilities and, again, deep ties.

I mean, we included the British so why wouldn't we also include the French? The French are also pushing hard for stronger European defense and Europe now realizes they have to do that. But the most important thing is that both economically and in terms of technology, we are much stronger when we are working with Europe rather than leaving them out. Together we're over half the world's GDP.

It's hard to do but, again, Biden is the one talking about democracies versus autocracy. He should start with Europe. ZAKARIA: All right. We are going to talk when we get back about the

place we are pivoting away from that has a tendency to drag the United States back in, like that line in "Godfather 3," the Middle East.


Will the Middle East pull the U.S. back in? When we come back.



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Richard Haass, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Ian Bremmer.

Richard Haass, you have a very interesting article in "Foreign Affairs" about the similarities between Trump's America First-ism and Biden's foreign policy. I have written on the same theme. So I want to talk about the Middle East in particular, where, you know, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, if you consider that the greater Middle East, not going into the Iran deal, do you think there is a kind of similarity in strategy?


Because what I wonder about Trump was doing this out of conviction. Is Biden doing this more out of political necessity? He feels like if he tries to go back into the Iran deal, it will trigger a firestorm on the right. If he tries to return to Obama's policies on Cuba, for instance, he will anger Senator Menendez, whom he needs on these domestic priorities. So is that a distinction that's fair to make?

HAASS: I think it's all inconsistent. You know, the president is focused domestically. He's obviously thinking about his domestic coalitions. The problem is, in some areas the foreign policy is consistent with that, for example, we just talked about not getting into trade deals. There's not a lot of support, particularly among the progressives for that.

Iran is a more complicated case. He wants to get back into the Iran agreement. It's not clear, though, the United States and Iran can work out the terms. And even if we get back in the agreement, the agreement doesn't cover all the activity Iran does in the Middle East beyond its nuclear program and even the nuclear constraints are of a limited duration. So I don't think the administration has thought that through, Fareed.

Even the pivot to Asia, we were just talking about. You know, what I was going to add before I lost my voice there is it's irrelevant to things like climate change. It's a geopolitical pivot at a time where global issues count the most and in no way is it an excuse for so mishandling the European dimension.

The Europeans are more important than the Middle East than they are to Asia but his handling of the Europeans both the so-called submarine deal with Australia and France and everything else, getting out of Afghanistan was positively Trumpian, it was unilateral.

So I don't really see a coherent foreign policy here. So much of it is being done through a domestic lens and so far, at least, it's not working.

ZAKARIA: Ian Bremmer, do you think Joe Biden would say, look, my big priority is domestic, and if I can get these two big bills passed, that will do more to renew American power in the world, that will do more to renew American credibility that the system works than any particular maneuver or consultation I made with allies?

BREMMER: Yes, I think he would say that and I happen to agree with it. It doesn't mean that we need to actively antagonize or be overly transactional and unilateral towards allies. I agree with Richard on that. We've made a bunch of mistakes. And they're self-owned mistakes what you're talking about how AUKUS was handled or the executing on leaving Afghanistan.

But the point is that America first was to the extent that Trump had a strategy, that was it. And Biden, to the extent that he has a foreign policy doctrine, it is a U.S. foreign policy for an American and friends, middle class. Those votes speak to the same issue, which is that even if they don't see the world the same way, they are facing the same fundamental constraints at home that an average American agrees, left or right, that we don't want to be the world's policemen anymore.

We really don't want to be the architect of global trade and we're not even sure we want to promote global values because we're not sure what those values are at home. I think Biden and Trump both felt that. Trump leaned into it, Biden is chafing a bit more against it but the outcomes are more similar than one would think.

ZAKARIA: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Richard Haass and Ian Bremmer both talked about trade and how Biden seems trapped in -- you know, he campaigned I'm getting back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But he doesn't talk about it at all anymore.

Is there a way to make the Democratic Party, particularly progressives, understand that really fundamentally trade has been very good for the United States? You know, that many more jobs have been lost to technology than to China or to, you know, all of these things people talk about?

I mean there you talk about a little bit about this in the book. The real renewal of the United States is going to come from stuff we do here, not predatory or aggressive trade policy.

SLAUGHTER: I think that's right. And I think it's a long slog to convince the left of the Democratic Party to reengage with any kind of trade policy other than protectionism, but I do think Biden is right to start at home. Right? Whatever he does, he's got to get these bills through and to prove that he's serious about taking care of people at home, about building a new domestic foundation at home.

[10:25:00] So to that extent, I do think Ian is right, Richard is right, that since Obama, there has been a desire across the political spectrum, not in the foreign policy elite but more broadly, to stop being the global policeman. However, where Richard is wrong is that Biden wants to move from being global policeman to global problem-solver, which Trump certainly didn't want.

And if you look at Biden's speech at the U.N. General Assembly, almost all of it was focused on those global problems that Richard is talking about, and talking about how not only to cooperate with China on things like climate change, but to mobilize lots of different configurations of democracies to tackle those problems.

And the last thing I'll say is it's not fair to say that Biden didn't consult with the Europeans about Afghanistan. He spent two months consulting but in the end, there was a fundamental disagreement about the policy and he decided to do what he thought was right. That's not -- that's very different from Trump. That's saying yes, I care about your opinion but it's also saying in the end if I think this is right, I have to do it.

ZAKARIA: I care about all your opinions, but we are out of time. Thank you for a terrific panel.

Next up, a jihadi gold rush in the Sahel. Don't know where that is? Watch the program when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Most Americans probably can't pinpoint where Mali is, but the U.N. sure can. As of August, there were 18,000 U.N. personnel deployed to the African nation.

Mali and many of its neighbors are in the midst of a massive fight against Islamic jihadists. It's all happening in the Sahel, the strip where the brown of the Sahara means the green of the savanna. And now the Russians may be getting involved.

Joining me now with the story is Amy Mackinnon, a reporter at Foreign Policy.

Welcome, Amy. So explain the level of -- of military activity in this place in Africa, the Sahel, right now. You have French forces. You have -- you have German forces. What's going on?

AMY MACKINNON, REPORTER, FOREIGN POLICY: So, as you mentioned, I mean, the counterterrorism campaigns in the Sahel have been really one of the overlooked fronts in the war on terror. But now, with the war in Afghanistan drawing down, it really is emerging to be -- to be one of the next crisis points in global efforts to counter terror.

In terms of the military presence, it's really been led by French forces. Mali and this region were former French colonies, and they had military bases in the region even after these countries gained their independence.

So since 2013 France has had an operation in Mali and in neighboring countries in the region to try and push back these terrorist groups. It's not really been a full-throated counterterror campaign like we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it's been to try and contain the spread of these extremist groups in the region who are -- now there are groups that are allied with Al Qaida and the Islamic State -- to push that back.

And as you mentioned, there's an 18,000-strong international U.N. force. And the U.S. is also involved there in providing intelligence support for the French forces, as well as logistics.

And into all of this now has stepped Russia. Explain the Russian -- Russian activity now in the Sahel?

MACKINNON: So Reuters reported last month that the interim government in Mali -- of course, bear in mind they've had two coups in the course of the past year, but the interim government in Mali was in talks with Russia about sending around 1,000 Wagner fighters to support them in -- with security.

And now, Wagner, for those who are unfamiliar, is a -- is a -- you know, we don't even have a name to really accurately describe what it is, but it's -- it's a combination of private military companies, mercenaries. It is, you know, ostensibly private, but we know that it's very closely linked with the Russian -- Russian ministry of defense and Russian security forces.

And the Wagner Group has been popping up across Africa now, from Sudan, to Libya, Central African Republic, and now potentially in Mali. And wherever they have gone, it has never been terribly good news for the local populations.

CAR, Central African Republic, has really been the model for the use of Wagner forces in Africa. And there they have been accused of horrific atrocities against the local population.

So much as there is a deep security crisis in Mali, nobody is really expecting that, if these Wagner forces do go in, that they're going to improve things any time soon.

ZAKARIA: Yeah, it seems to me Wagner is the kind of way the Russians have involved themselves in parts of Ukraine, where they have, sort of, plausible deniability that it's official troops, but still, effectively, they are just that.

Why is Russia sending all these troops there? What is the strategy behind it?

MACKINNON: Well, you hit upon it. It's plausible deniability. I mean, if things go wrong, which they often have for the Wagner Group, the Kremlin can wash its hands of it.

But they're -- they're a very light; they're a very nimble force. They can send them in, in a very targeted manner, to countries. I mean, one thing we do know about the Kremlin's M.O. globally is it's very opportunistic. And so when they see an opening like they saw in Central African Republic, like they clearly see in Mali now, they're able to send in these forces as a kind of wedge and from there to expand their footprint.

And, you know, on traditional metrics of -- you know, of international affairs, Russia is not a major player in Africa, does not have major economic ties to the region, not a major aid player, not a lot of trade links.

But what they have been able to do is, with these very nimble and light forces, they've been able to really magnify their presence by effectively elite co-option, surrounding embattled leaders in the region, by making themselves indispensable to these, you know, non- democratic players and therefore expanding Russia's influence on the governments in these countries.


And it has -- you know, it's - it's nimble, but it has proven to be very effective.

ZAKARIA: And is it always in opposition to Western strategy?

Do they ever -- I mean, at the end of the day, Russia surely has an interest in not having terrorism, just like the West.

MACKINNON: I don't think -- I don't think they necessarily go in to intentionally stick an eye -- put a stick in the eye of the West. But I think that, you know, they're there with their own goals. It's expanding Russia's influence in the continent. It's projecting great power. It is looking to get access to Africa's very lucrative natural resources.

And it's also -- you know, it's getting countries in its pocket, and that then plays out in the United Nations, when it comes to votes on things that -- that Russia really cares about, like Syria and Crimea.

So it's -- you know, but they are -- I mean, I think Mali is going to be interesting to watch how this plays out, because this is really the first time in Africa where we have seen a potential Wagner, potential Russian presence, really going toe to toe with a presence of Western military forces in the country.

France has already said that it -- you know, a Wagner presence there is not compatible with its forces, so it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

ZAKARIA: Thank you. That was a real fascinating report from a place that we don't know enough about.

MACKINNON: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," Dr. Sanjay Gupta on what we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ZAKARIA: It has been 638 days since the WHO announced on social media it was investigating a cluster of illnesses in Wuhan, China. Since then more than 225 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, along with an astoundingly tragic death toll. Almost 5 million of our fellow human's lives have been cut short by this virus.

So what have we learned amidst all this suffering and tragedy?

Here to tell us is CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay acted as a doctor and journalist when reporting his brand-new book "World War C: Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare For the Next One."

Sanjay, always great to have you on.

GUPTA: Thank you for having me, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: So the -- the big question, I think, that we started out with trying to understand right at the start of the pandemic but we still, I think, don't have a great answer for, the United States was supposed to be, on paper, the best-prepared country in the world for a pandemic.

Johns Hopkins University, a great medical school, puts out a list. And if you look at it on paper, you know, the U.S. had these incredible assets. And yet, you point out, it's hard to contest the argument that the United States has probably handled it the worst of any major country. Why?

GUPTA: This is the most fascinating part of it. And I think there was a lot of solace in the initial days of the pandemic because of the reports that you mentioned. Who is the most prepared for a pandemic? And the United States, as you point out, always ranked very high.

I think there were several things that, sort of, happened. One is that this idea that wealth buys health, that was part of what made the United States so high on the list, was that they had plenty of resources.

But it became increasingly clear that wealth buys health if you are actually, you know, leaning into the basic public health measures that can control a pandemic.

What ends up happening in a country that is so used to having resources, they say, "Hey, look, we're going to wait for the knockout punch, the home run hit, in this case the vaccine. We don't need to be bothered as much with things that, you know, may prevent this disease in countries that don't have our enormous wealth."

The second thing is that the risk factors for this disease ended up really likely being the diseases of -- of affluence, obesity, heart disease, diabetes. These are all diseases that you are more commonly going to see in wealthy countries. And those really were associated with much worse outcomes.

I think there was one final point, and this one really fascinated me. I spent a lot of time talking to these creators of an experiment called the Moral Machine experiment. And they basically were trying to figure out what and who do we value in a culture? And how does that change based on how wealthy the culture is?

And you find, for example, Fareed, that in a lot of Asian countries, elderly people are really well-revered and respected even after retirement -- not so much the case in places like the United States.

You have -- you know, you retire, you may be dispensed with from your personal life, even your professional life. If this had been a disease that primarily affected adolescents, for example, would our response have been different in some way?

So these -- these were all lessons. The book is a lot about the science of what happened here, but it was the human behavior, just like you're asking about, that really fascinated me for now, because we're still in it, but also for the future. What does this mean?

ZAKARIA: What did you learn about China and COVID?

There's a very interesting section. It seemed to me you -- you persuaded me pretty conclusively there was a cover-up, that the Chinese government did know earlier than -- than they let on that this was going to be bad, and they tried to prepare themselves before telling the world.

But -- but with regard to where this came from, you still seem to be, you know, kind of where the intelligence community is, that it's -- it's not quite clear?

GUPTA: I think, if I were to answer this question just as a scientist, I would say this was a natural origin. Because the vast majority of these pathogens have been natural origins -- SARS, you know, another coronavirus, MERS.

What has -- what has frustrated, I think, a lot of people is that, if it is clear to the Chinese government that this did not originate in a lab, why don't they just, sort of, open it up and let people do a forensics on the lab?


They say, "Hey, look, how could this have leaked from a lab? The virus was never even here."

That's a good argument, but you need to prove it. The fact that there was this continuous cover-up, I think, has made people very suspicious.

I've got to tell you, Fareed, in the end, I don't think it matters that much. Lab leaks happen. They happen here in the United States. They happen in the U.K. Smallpox leaked from the U.K. at one point. And our labs need to be safer. That pandemic has taught us this.

But we also need to evaluate these wet markets, where there's these constant swapping of pathogens from animals to humans. That happens all the time, thousands of this -- these swaps happen on a regular basis, most of them totally innocuous, harmless, but every now and then, you get one that's a problem. We've got to cut down on that as well.

ZAKARIA: You know, that -- that's a tough one because, as you know, in poor countries, a lot of places, there is no refrigeration. And you go into Africa; you go in to parts of India, and they explain that the wet markets are the only way you can get regular fresh food.

GUPTA: That's right. And -- and it's such a part of the culture as well, I know. Because -- and SARS, we covered that, and everyone said, "OK, we're not going to do wet markets anymore." That was 17 years ago, and they're still obviously there.

So is it an investment in refrigeration, things like that?

Is it an investment in surveillance testing?

People are going to put a price tag on it, Fareed. They said, for $10 billion a year, we could make America pandemic-proof. We would not deal with a pandemic again -- 30 bucks a citizen.

I mean, that's -- that's not a lot of money, considering we just spent $2 trillion on a COVID relief bill.

So, you know, it's -- it's a really interesting thing. Will we evaluate in prevention? Will we invest in it?

You take good care of your health. What inspires you to do that?

Can we get that same sort of mentality in the country overall, in terms of prevention.

ZAKARIA: Well, I -- I take good care of my health because I'm -- I listen to you and I'm inspired by you.


Sanjay, pleasure to have you on.

GUPTA: What an honor, thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," when the pandemic hit, Italy had one of the worst performances in the world. It's now leading the world out of the pandemic. What changed?

I'll tell you when we come back.


ZAKARIA: Now for the last look.

One of the questions we explore often on this show is how to handle populism. How can mainstream politicians govern amidst a tide of emotion and anger?

Well, we have found an unlikely role model in an unexpected place. Long before Donald Trump entered the White House, Italy was led by the swaggering businessman Silvio Berlusconi. In 2018 a new generation of Italian populists came to power in an unusual coalition that embraced policies from the left and the right.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon hailed it as a model that could sweep the globe. In fact, this anti-E.U. populist coalition would last barely a year.

Under a new government, Italy went on to bungle the pandemic with one of the worst death rates in Europe. Then in February 2021, somehow its leadership fell to Mario Draghi, a technocrat who had famously steered the E.U. out of the financial crisis as head of the European Central Bank.

Now prime minister, Draghi is steering Italy out of the coronavirus crisis. He accelerated the vaccine rollout and put children back in school. With AstraZeneca falling behind on vaccine deliveries, he got the E.U. to play hard ball and took the extraordinary step of blocking a vaccine shipment bound for Australia.

The move raised concerns about vaccine nationalism, but it was done under E.U. rules and showed Italians that their government and the E.U. was working for them.

Next Draghi turned his attention to the economy. The previous government had collapsed over how to spend at least a $250 billion share of E.U. recovery funds.

Draghi, a political independent, presented his own plan and won overwhelming approval in parliament. Woven into the plan were a number of long overdue reforms to fix Italy's stunted economy.

But Draghi still has to wrangle a fractious legislature to carry them out. His first target was overhauling the country's judicial system, which is notoriously slow and puts a damper on business activity. Judicial reforms are sailing through parliament, and Draghi has already set his sights on other issues, like tax evasion and market competition.

Contrast this to the great European hope, Emanuel Macron. Macron entered office as a breath of fresh air, not tied to any established political party or tradition, though clearly a neoliberal in the European sense.

He quickly set about trying to revitalize France's stiflingly statist economy. He made it easier to fire workers so that companies would be less reluctant to hire them in the first place. He slashed taxes on the wealthy to encourage entrepreneurship. But moves like that, combined with his haughty air, led Macron to be

tagged "president of the rich." He failed to build broad support for his policies and sparked a ferocious backlash, the yellow vest movement. Macron was forced to scrap a gas tax hike and buy protesters off with tax cuts and subsidies.


When COVID hit, Macron put other controversial goals on hold, like pension reform. And the man who had vowed to rein in France's bloated welfare state now embraced big spending to keep the economy afloat.

He covered people's lost wages and (inaudible) handouts on everyone from college students to farmers. The economists observed "Macron has turned into something of a closet socialist."

Macron can still flex his technocratic muscles from time to time and is effective. He made headlines in July by instituting vaccine passes for many leisure activities in France.

And who should quickly follow but Mario Draghi. Then Draghi took one of the most aggressive steps the world has seen, requiring vaccine passes for all workers.

We will see if Draghi can maintain his popularity, carry out his vision for Italy and prevent populists from reclaiming power. If he can succeed where Macron was thwarted, he will be truly worthy of the nickname he earned during the financial crisis, "Super Mario."

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