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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Intense Fighting Rages on in Ukraine's South and East; Humanitarian Crisis Grows in Ukraine; Interview with Bill Gates about the Ukraine War and the Global Economy; Remembering the Marcos Regime; Philippines Take to the Polls Monday. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 08, 2022 - 10:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Recognizing a few amazing moms on this Mother's Day. To my wife Jennifer, my mom, and my step-mom, and my mother-in-law, and my sister, my sisters-in-law, my co-anchor Dana Bash, the three moms who help run this show while also dealing with toddlers and babies, not including me.

And to all of the moms who watch, we love you, we appreciate you, we're so grateful for you today and every day.

Fareed Zakaria picks up right now.

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 (voice-over): On the program, Russia will celebrate a victory tomorrow, its defeat of the Nazis in World War II. This year the holiday will almost certainly focus on Ukraine. But what would victory look like there for either side? And who is most likely to achieve it? We will explore.

Also, as America gets ready to mark a million dead from COVID, Bill Gates says we are not out of danger yet, not even close. I will talk to him about the pandemic and the inevitable next one.


ZAKARIA: But first here's "My Take." As the prospect of Roe vs. Wade being overturned looms large and America braces for another round of cultural wars, I have been puzzling about why clashes over values seem to be more intense in the United States than elsewhere, and why the competing camps seem more divided than before.

One key to this might be found in a 2020 Pew survey showing that on many cultural issues the American political divide was the widest among rich countries surveyed.

Asked whether the country would be better off in the future if it sticks to its traditions and ways of life, 65 percent of Americans on the right said yes, versus just 6 percent on the left, a 59-point gap. That compares with a 19-point gap in tradition-bound France.

Asked whether being Christian was a crucial aspect of being a citizen of the country, the gap in America was 23 points compared to just seven points in the U.K. These attitudes are fleshed out further in the 2018 Pew survey which asked people in several rich countries whether religion should play a larger role in their societies.

In America, 71 percent of people who identified this conservative said yes while just 29 percent of liberals agreed.

That difference, 42 percentage points, was off the charts compared to the other countries. The gap was 17 points larger than those in the next highest countries analyzed, Canada and Poland, and roughly four times the gap between right and left in Sweden and Germany.

In the U.K., 35 percent of conservatives wanted religion to play a larger role in their country versus 28 percent of liberals. A mere seven-point gap.

So why is America exceptionally polarized? It's a tough question to answer. Many of the forces that seem to be at work, globalization, technological change, immigration, are happening in other Western societies as well.

In fact, if you use the size of trade in a country's economy as a measure, America is less globalized than many European countries. It's not even special when it comes to immigration. Canada and Sweden have a larger share of foreign-born people in their societies than does the United States. And of course, technology is at work everywhere.

In his last book "Religion's Sudden Decline," the distinguished social definer Ronald Inglehart offered an answer. Inglehart pointed out that the most striking cultural shift of our times is the decline in religiosity in most countries.

When Inglehart and his colleague Pippa Norris analyzed surveyed data on attitudes toward religion from 1981 to 2007, they found that most of the countries studied had become more religious. But between 2007 and 2020, the overwhelming majority became less religious.

The standout in the recent studies is the U.S. of A. For a long time America was the outlier in showing that rich, advanced countries can still be religious. In recent years though, it has been reversing course to dramatic effect.

Since 2007 the U.S. has been secularizing more rapidly than any other country for which we have data, notes Inglehart, adding by one widely recognized criterion it now ranks as the 12th least religious country in the world.

Inglehart explains that this process of secularization has many causes, mostly relating to the decline of group norms, of mechanisms of control and rise of individualism. But here's the interesting part.

[10:05:01] As this broad shift is taking place in the U.S., it is coinciding with increased polarization. So the picture that emerges is of a country that is rapidly secularizing but at the same time seeing a strong backlash to that process. Big changes are leading to big reactions.

There are other factors at work. As always in America, race relations play an important role. This is one other area where the differences between left and right are much more marked than in other countries, as can be seen from the 2020 Pew survey.

All of this highlights a new reality, you cannot really understand America anymore by looking at averages. It has become two countries. One is urban, more educated, multiracial, secular and largely left of center. The other is rural, less educated, religious, white and largely right of center.

Inglehart and the scholar Christan Welzel have a famous cultural map that plots countries according to their responses to questions about values. As of 2020, America was something of an outlier in the Western world, closer to countries like Uruguay and Vietnam than to Sweden and Denmark.

But if one were to divide America into two countries, one red and one blue, I suspect that you would see the blue America would fit comfortably with Northern European protestant countries, while red America's culture values would move it closer to Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

For the country's political future, the central question is now this. Can these two Americas find a way to live, work, tolerate, and cooperate with one another? If not, the abortion battle may be the precursor to even larger struggles.

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

Earlier this week eight MiG fighters practiced flying over Moscow's Red Square in a Z formation. Z has become Russia's cryptic one-letter symbol to show support for its war in Ukraine. Tomorrow the jets will be taking part in a parade for Russia's annual Victory Day, which commemorates the defeat of the Nazis in 1945. 77 years later, however, no such Russian victory over Ukraine is in sight.

I want to bring in Jennifer Cafarella, she is the chief of staff and national security fellow at the Institute for the Study of War.

Welcome, Jennifer. Tell us, we're all trying to understand, we get the phase one trying to take over Kyiv in two, three days fail for the Russians. But who is winning phase two, the war taking place in the south and east of Ukraine?

JENNIFER CAFARELLA, CHIEF OF STAFF, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: So phase two is still unfortunately in its early stages. There's a lot of war left to be fought.

However, what we're seeing on the ground is Ukrainian forces able, first, to blunt Russian attempts to advance on multiple axis in eastern Ukraine but also in recent days Ukrainian forces succeeding in sustaining a counteroffensive around one of the contested towns of Kharkiv and pushing Russian forces back.

They're pushing Russian forces back so effectively that they now have a chance, the Ukrainian forces, to advance to the Russian border and we have the Russians destroying bridges as they are retreating.

That's an important indicator of the potential that Ukraine will be able to mount a larger coming offensive in coming weeks and potentially even begin to retake serious ground.

ZAKARIA: But what about the level of destruction the Russians are wrecking? I mean, if you look at a place like Mariupol, technically they don't control it but they've emptied the city, they've destroyed 90 percent of the buildings. Is that part of a kind of strategy that the Russians have?

CAFARELLA: Putin's ambition in Ukraine is to eliminate Ukraine as a nation and as an identity, as a people. And so we see what the Russian advances into Ukraine a, you know, genocidal attempt to eras what it means to be Ukrainian and to, in some cases, try to eliminate Ukrainian villages completely from the map.

But I think it's important to note that while Putin's offensive and his aims are destructive, he's nowhere near achieving his actual political goals, and that's where we really need to evaluate the success or failure of the Russians and the Ukrainians.

Strategically Ukrainians are fighting for their right to live, their right to exist as a nation, and they're succeeding in that. They won the first phase of the war but they've also maintained their unity and they rallied NATO and the Western world to their defense. That's incredibly important.


And while that doesn't mean that Ukrainians are suffering any less on the ground, it does mean Ukraine has a chance to win this war and to rebuild.

ZAKARIA: The fear is that Russia will be able to pour many more men, soldiers into this fight, especially if -- on the May Day celebrations, Putin would formally declare war rather than a special military operation. If that happened, does that change the game in the sense that the Russians now have recruits they can pour into Ukraine?

CAFARELLA: There's a lot more ifs. And so the answer is not necessarily. First and foremost, new mobilized recruits won't necessarily be combat effective certainly any time soon. So the question is how seriously and how capably are the Russians going to train these forces.

The Russians have already taken incredibly high casualties in their experience in combat effective units, and sending in individual replacements for killed or wounded soldiers does not actually recreate effective and cohesive combat formations.

The other factor here is that it takes time, right? And so we have mobilization on the Russian side, which will take weeks, if not months. But we have momentum on the Ukrainian side and I think it's very essential for the United States and the West to recognize that now is the time to support Ukraine because even if Russia declares the (INAUDIBLE) mobilization, it doesn't mean that Ukraine can't actually still win this war.

ZAKARIA: And finally, Jennifer, what would it take -- you said to me previously, this is a war that is going to be decided by artillery. Explain what you mean and what Ukraine needs.

CAFARELLA: So the United States has significantly increased the amount of artillery we're providing to the Ukrainians, which is essential but the Ukrainians still need more.

They need a more robust pipeline which means that these weapon systems and resupply needs to get to the Ukrainians essentially before they need it, not at the last minute. But the Ukrainians are also asking for more advanced systems and systems that will provide them more range, which is going to be essential as the Ukrainians attempt to go on the counteroffensive, which requires them to strike Russian targets in more depth and overpower Russian forces that are attempting to dig in in order to prevent exactly those kinds of losses to Ukraine.

ZAKARIA: Jennifer, that is a fascinating set of insights. Thank you so much.

Next on GPS, the humanitarian crisis caused by this war. Nearly six million refugees have fled Ukraine and those are the ones lucky enough to have gotten out. When we come back.



ZAKARIA: The first lady, Jill Biden, ventured into Ukraine today after spending time on this Mother's Day across the border in Slovakia, meeting with mothers and children who had fled the warzone. They are among the nearly six million Ukrainian refugees from the war. Those left behind in Ukraine fame homelessness, hunger, injury and death. It is safe to say that Ukraine is a humanitarian nightmare.

David Miliband is just back from there. He's the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, and, of course, a former British foreign secretary.

David, tell us what you can about where you were and what you can tell us of, you know, the state and mood of the Ukrainian people.

DAVID MILIBAND, CEO, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: Yes, I was in Moldova and in central Ukraine visiting International Rescue Committee staff and clients. And three things come through overwhelmingly strongly from every conversation. First, the sheer scale of the displacement as a result of the

fighting. You've rightly highlighted six million refugees into neighboring states but there's at least that number of people, six million, seven million, eight million on the run inside their own country.

Just for perspective, it took three months for million people to flee Syria. This war has been going on for not three months and we've got 12 million, 13 million, 14 million people on the run.

Secondly, fear stalks every conversation and in it below the surface there's desperate fear of a phone call that a husband, a father, a brother has been killed. And as I was talking to women from Ukraine in Moldova, one of them gets a phone call from Odessa saying it's my son, there's a missile strike. Excuse me, I have to go and talk to him. So the fear is right close (INAUDIBLE).

Thirdly, I can say that the overwhelming humanitarian response in the Western world to donate money and support means that this is a much better funded humanitarian response than in other parts of the world.

Many times more funds are available, and that means organizations like the IRC, we can deliver the support for health care, to deliver the cash assistance that allows people to buy in the shops. Because there is normality in large parts of the country despite the fact that missile strikes are taking place.

ZAKARIA: So is the Ukrainian government in this chaos and worries, it's actually functioning in that sense?

MILIBAND: Yes, that's very important. In many parts of the world, it's the U.N. that has to organize a health cluster or a cash support cluster. Here you've got a Ukrainian government in large parts of the country organizing the health system, making sure that different parts of the country are getting the supplies that they need. International NGOs, local civil societies working closely.

There's also a functioning economy, which is absolutely critical. The best thing you can do for someone who's in humanitarian distress is to give them cash so that they can actually support themselves through the local economy, people having to rent in Europe if they arrive but also inside Ukraine, that's very important.

One other thing, often people think that the trauma side of this, the mental health side of this is a sideshow.


It's absolutely central. Every single person is traumatized by what they and their country are going through and, of course, they don't know how long this is going to go on. The response in Germany where I also was, people I met, they were housing Ukrainians and it's one thing to do it for two days, two weeks, two months.

They don't know if this is going to be two years and that's requiring a massive mobilization. But of course, if the sort of fighting that your previous guest

Jennifer from the Institute for the Study of War, if that fighting carries on, if that offensive carries on, you could have another five million fleeing into Europe and that becomes a huge logistical as well as political challenge.

ZAKARIA: So what you're describing is a situation that's fairly normal because you're not in the places where there was the most active fighting going on but weren't there missile strikes and what does that do to a city to sort of randomly and sporadically have these missiles destroying civilian areas?

MILIBAND: It really is a great point. Because what you've got is a split screen. You've got a really 20th century sort of war going on in the east and in the south battlelines. You've been hearing about Kharkiv this morning.

And then in the rest of the country you have something much more asymmetric, you just don't know where the missile strikes are going to come, Odessa, Vinnytsia, Kyiv itself, Lviv.

And that increases the fear and that's increasing the flow of people even though it's not a front line. And I think it's really important that we keep that in mind as we think about planning for different scenarios, humanitarian scenarios, going forward.

ZAKARIA: You then went from Ukraine to Germany. Everyone is wondering, are the Germans fully behind this? There is this, you know, the spat going on even between the Ukrainian government and the German government because the Germans have been so pro-Russian.

The Ukrainians would argue, certainly the social democrats, dependent on Russian energy. What is your sense of whether Germany has really transformed itself on this issue?

MILIBAND: I think it has, and I think there's a really important category error being made around the world, especially in some of the commentary. Germans are at an elite level, some of whom I've met at the senior reaches of government, but also at a local level.

They've really made a fundamental move in their own geopolitical positioning and their own assessment of Russia. However, they do this with deliberation, with caution, with the opposite of machismo.

There's no machismo about doubling your defense budget in Germany. There's a real sense of responsibility arising from history. And I think it's incredibly important that we don't mistake this caution, this deliberation, with an absence of determination.

I felt from the German leadership that I met but also from German civil society, they know that this is deadly serious.

They know it requires fundamental change in how they position themselves, but they also know that they've got to be in it for the long haul and that takes real care, real planning, real determination.

ZAKARIA: And I suppose for people in Europe and the world, it is not a bad thing that there is not too much German machismo.

MILIBAND: No, that's the point. And we should I think be humble about that because there's determination but they know their history and we should know it, too.

ZAKARIA: David Miliband, always a pleasure.

Next on GPS, Bill Gates and how to prevent the next pandemic.



ZAKARIA: Nearly 15 million people around the world have died as a result of the pandemic according to estimates out this week from the WHO. And we are about to hit a new grim milestone, one million confirmed dead from the disease in the U.S.

Bill Gates started sounding the alarm about pandemics long before COVID emerged and he's become one of the world's most important figures on public health. His new book is "How to Prevent the Next Pandemic."

I started the interview, though, on a topic that has been pushing COVID out of the headlines.


ZAKARIA: Bill Gates, pleasure to have you on.


ZAKARIA: So since we last talked, small thing has happened, Russia has invaded Ukraine, and it feels like we're in a new world. We're going to be seeing higher energy prices, higher food prices, for years to come. It seems difficult to see how this resolves itself very quickly. What does that say to you about the economic outlook for the next few years?

GATES: Well, it comes on top of the pandemic, where government debt levels were already very, very high and there were already some supply chain problems. And so it's, you know, likely to accelerate the inflationary problems that rich world economies have and, you know, force an increase in interest rates that eventually will result in an economic slowdown.

So I'm afraid that the bears on this one have a pretty strong argument that concerns me a lot, you know, particularly because the poor countries, whenever the rich countries have these big budget problems, you know, the health needs of places like Africa get deprioritized.

ZAKARIA: Let's talk about the book. What's really important, it seems to me, is that you're reminding us that not only is this pandemic not over but we need to try to think about how to prevent the next one. And not forget that that's -- you know, that we didn't do so well on the last one.

But first, let's just talk about you've made the point that you could end up with variants that are transmissible and more lethal. I think we've tended to assume that what you're going to see is an extension of the pattern we've seen, which is more transmissible variants but much less lethal. You're saying that doesn't have -- it doesn't have to keep going that way?

GATES: No, we've been lucky and I think there's a good chance we'll keep being lucky. But you could see a variant that had worse health effects. And right now, the COVID is very dangerous for older people or people with some medical conditions. But for a lot of people not, you know, a risk of death. I mean -- so we're not out of this one.

And a lot of the innovations we need like, vaccines that provide longer protection, broader protection, those can help us for this pandemic and we need them for the future.

I mean, it's hard to overstate how unprepared we were for -- in what was sadly even somewhat predictable. And so, hopefully, this is our big wake-up call to, you know, do like we do for earthquake, and fire and war to really be able to respond correctly.

ZAKARIA: So, Bill, let's imagine the next pandemic. OK. It starts up at -- many of these have started up some way in Asia, probably East Asia, for a whole variety of reasons. What is the Bill Gates plan? What would you like to see happen when you first -- the first time you hear about some people getting infected by some kind of airborne virus?

GATES: Yes, the big risk is human-to-human transmissible respiratory virus. You'd like to have a group connected with the World Health Organization that sees that outbreak early and is able to go in and look, sequence what it is, understand the nature of that, have some tools that aren't dependent on a specific pathogen that you can give people not just mask but also some drugs to block transmission.

And you want to stop it before it gets to lots of countries, which is when it becomes a so-called pandemic. You've got to nip it in the bud. And these things are exponential. And so, you -- avoiding cases here, you know, saves lots of cases downstream.

ZAKARIA: You pointed out in the book that if we had stopped COVID, what was it, by the middle of March, the number of people who could have died would have been -- you know --

GATES: A fraction.

ZAKARIA: -- a fraction --

GATES: That's right.

ZAKARIA: -- of what it is now.

GATES: Yes, those first hundred days, to recognize you've got a problem and do containment counts a lot. You know, some countries like Australia ended up with 10 percent of the death rate that the rich countries, including the United States had, and that was -- you know, they moved a bit faster to get diagnosis and quarantine policies in place. And, you know, that's a big difference. 90 percent of all of the lives that we lost would have been saved.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," Bill Gates says we need a GERM Team. What does that mean? He'll explain.



Back now with more of my interview with the multi-billionaire businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates talking about his new book, "How to Prevent the Next Pandemic." So, you have this group and it's called GERM.

GATES: Exactly.

ZAKARIA: It's -- spell out the acronym. What is it?

GATES: That's the Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization Group G- E-R-M managed by the W.H.O.

ZAKARIA: And you think it would cost about a billion dollars a year? So, not a huge investment?

GATES: You know -- you know, it's tiny. I mean, compared to the numbers we talked about with the defense budgets or climate change or medical costs --

ZAKARIA: Or what we end up spending on COVID in terms of the relief we had to give people for the lockdowns, which was in the trillions.

GATES: Yes, we're at $14 trillion of economic damage and, you know, still counting. And so, it's one of the cheapest insurance policies. You've got to make sure that people stay full-time getting this to drill and practice, which is hard for things that don't come around very often.

You know, with earthquakes, it's almost good that they're small ones, or fires you have small ones. Because it always reminds you, oh, there could be a big one.

In terms of disease going global, doesn't happen much, but it will be happening more either as you say Asia is a big risk and Africa is a big risk because the boundary between humans and animals is getting closer and closer.

ZAKARIA: So, what strikes me about the book is you don't talk about what seems to be a central dilemma, if not the central dilemma, which is we're living in an age of increasing nationalism. And I can't see -- I mean, look what happened this time.

The Chinese government basically refused to allow people in, refused to -- they did sequence and they shared that. But other than that, they were very productive. How do you get around that?


GATES: Well, they, you know, were a bit slower in reading the war both domestically and globally than they should have been. Some of their scientists worked collaboratively, and scientists outside of China and made sure the sequence got out by, like, January 14th. That was enough time.

I do worry that if the outbreak was in a very poor country with bad health structures unless we have various trip wires where we see and we send in global expertise, it could fester for quite some time. So, every day counts in a big way.

You know, is the world more nationalistic than the past? You know, the world has always been pretty -- pretty nationalistic. And yet we're in this together. You know, it's not like China's escaped completely from the ravages. We all participate in the global economy.

You know, so I think the world health community is up to the task despite the polarization.

ZAKARIA: But back to the nationalism, because it does strike me as, sort of, such a central problem. We're living with, you know, more tariffs than before. I mean, it's not just China that's doing the made in China, it's India that's doing made in India.

When PPPs stuff happened, everyone was like, we need to make the stuff at home. There's much greater sense of resilience onshoring. In that world, how do you get through this idea that you need a global response, you need a global team, everyone has to be willing to share data?

GATES: Well, there are problems like some terrorism things, certainly climate change for the world that has to work together. The supply chain that created these new vaccines was very global. You know, a German country with Turkish immigrants --


GATES: -- drawing on U.S.-funded science partnered up with a big -- with Pfizer, you know, taking no government money. You know, creating a completely novel vaccine platform that had not been used before. There's a lot of great stories about how the world came together.

You know, our foundation funded Serum Institute in India and they ramped up the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine and made $1.4 billion. A lot of those got used in India but, you know, a lot of lives were saved.

So, if you really get a target (ph) on health and pandemic issues, you are in very deep trouble. It's OK to fund a few mask factories but you need all of the data coming together. You need information sharing coming together.

You need the best scientists who are inventing new drugs and, you know, running trials that will cost many countries. So, you know, I'm not giving up that global cooperation will happen because it's, you know, it's very hard, potentially for lower-income countries to stop these things without the world working cooperatively.

ZAKARIA: Looking for silver linings, one of the things you talk about, which I thought was really interesting is clearly the pandemic causes a lot of mental health issues, distress, and things like that. But you pointed out that this is an area where digitization has actually provided a surprising, kind of, upside or solution. Explain.

GATES: Yes, so the idea of video conferencing is very much a niche thing, even though it's been a world fairs, you know, forever. You know, there were a few people who did that. But during the pandemic, any engagement, sales meeting, meeting with a doctor, you know, having a funeral.

You know, people are forced to say, hey, can we do that digitally? And the software improved a lot. I think the medical vertical, particularly for behavioral mental-type consultation, will be forever changed.

And we'll all think, do I need to go to that convention or could it be online? You know, my way of engaging with African leaders on health issues was made far more efficient as they had a designated block of time that they've set aside for health organizations to take 20-minute blocks and succinctly discuss an issue with them.

So, I think that is a very positive thing. And the software involved is going to get a lot better. So, it's -- I wouldn't underestimate that that accelerated digitization including health and education substantially.

ZAKARIA: Finally, Bill, I have to ask you one question. You are probably one of the most admired people in the world, not just in the United States. You make the top of these lists. And people have asked you the secrets for your success, everything from, you know, what do you drink? What do you read?


So, since we last talked, you have had a setback. What, you know, what -- as I say, this is some -- as divorce myself, who a lot of people regard as a failure. Do you regard it as a failure and what lesson did you draw from it?

GATES: Well, certainly, I feel bad about mistakes I made that contributed to it. So, yes, it's a failure. I'm very lucky that I get to keep working with Melinda who, you know, created the foundation. And, you know, we get to take the resources from Microsoft and from Warren Buffett's generosity and have a lot of impact.

You know, it's a humbling experience. I don't, you know, have the answers in those realms like I hope I do in things like climate technology or vaccine technology.

ZAKARIA: Bill Gates, thank you. And always a pleasure having you on. GATES: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS", Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos will be remembered by history. He, for his dictatorial and destructive rule of the Philippines. She, for her extraordinary excesses, especially her shoe collection. Despite all of that, their son looks likely to be elected president of the Philippines tomorrow. How? That story when we come back.



And now for the last look, the tension between liberal democracy and authoritarian populism that we've seen play out across Europe in recent weeks is facing a new test in an entirely different part of the world. I'm talking about the Philippines, where voters will go to the polls on Monday in what one observer called, the most consequential election in the country's recent history to choose a president to replace Rodrigo Duterte.

But if you think Duterte's brutal six-year regime with its attacks on the press and its deadly war on drugs have tipped the scales in favor of democracy, you may be wrong.

As the journalist Sheila Coronel writes for FT, the current front- runner is the only son of the country's notorious former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who alongside his wife Imelda, became international symbols of brutality, excess, and corruption during his decades-long reign.

Over his silent office, he accumulated $10 billion by some estimates. As "The Guardian" writes, he invoked a period of Martial Law that lasted for nearly a decade in which tens of thousands of political adversaries, student leaders, and writers were tortured and more than 3,000 killed.

It all came to an end in 1986 when hundreds of thousands took to the streets and protest Marcos' rule and in support of democracy.

But the Philippines, like many other countries, has fallen victim to a dangerous backsliding. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., often known as Bong Bong, has refused to apologize for his father's rule.

He himself has been convicted of tax evasion and has mischaracterized his education at Oxford. And he has indicated that if elected president, he would protect Duterte against prosecution for his drug war in the International Criminal Court.

And yet Marcos Jr. Leads the polls. According to one survey, he's at 58 percent. His closest competitor, the current Philippines Vice President, Leni Robredo, has run on democratic reform, good governance, transparency. She's criticized Duterte's brutality and she's polling at around 25 percent. How did this happen?

In part, it is born of the country's failures to fully reckon with its past. Marcos Sr. was never convicted of a crime in the country's courts. Some of which are staffed of people appointed during his rule. The billions that the family embezzled have never been fully recovered. Moreover, the dynasty has already lived on.

Imelda Marcos, whose thousands of pairs of shoes became an emblem of corruption during her tenure as first lady has been elected to the House of Representatives four times since her husband's ouster.

As for his son, he has benefited from a high degree of nostalgia for the supposed lost glory of his father's rule. Many of Marcos Jr. supporters were not alive during the dictatorship. Textbooks tend not to grapple with its brutal legacy. And Marcos is extremely adept at manipulating the message online.

As "The Washington Post" reports, videos abound on YouTube and TikTok that glorify and romanticize the family. Social media is rife with the rosy revisionist history of the dictatorship. Rumors float that if elected, Marcos will distribute gold to the public.

This web of disinformation is extremely effective. About 99 percent of Filipinos are online. And over half of them can't identify fake news when they see it.

What's happening in the Philippines is just another version of the same nostalgia-fueled populism we've seen all over the world. But in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it has newfound resonance.


The Philippines' democratic transition to cut five years before the fall of the Soviet Union. The Constitution of 1987 was a moment of hope. Crucially it established term limits. But ultimately the work was incomplete. Reform stalled.

The past was forgotten, then dressed up and paraded as glory. What we see in the Philippines is just one example of the contest playing out across the world. Let's hope for a better outcome there and elsewhere.

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

Don't forget if you miss a show go to for a link to my iTunes podcast.