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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Russia Makes Slow, Steady Progress in Ukraine's East; Iran to Remove 27 Cameras Monitoring Nuclear Sites; U.S. Sees Highest Inflation In Decades; Latin America's Lurch To The Left; All The Presidents' Lessons. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired June 12, 2022 - 10:00   ET




GIFFORDS: Guns. No more. No more. No more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enough is enough.

GIFFORDS: Enough is enough.


BASH: Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts 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): Today on the program Putin compares himself to Peter the Great. We'll get a reality check on how today's Russian ruler is fairing in his war against Ukraine.

Also there is widespread agreement now the Iran nuclear deal is almost dead. This week the IAEA announced Tehran will remove 27 cameras that have been monitoring nuclear sites for the international community. I'll talk to the IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi about what happens next.

And average U.S. gas prices hit a record, $5 a gallon. Overall inflation hits 8.6 percent, a 40-year high. Consumers are pessimistic about the state of the U.S. economy. What does the former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke thinking? I'll ask him.


ZAKARIA: "My Take." We are now living in a totally new era. That is what the 99-year-old Henry Kissinger said, commenting on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In an op-ed article last week President Biden vividly outlined the stakes. He wrote, "If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions it

will send a message to other would-be aggressors that they too can seize territory and subjugate other countries. It will put the survival of other peaceful democracies at risk.

And it could mark the end of the rules-based international order and open the door to aggression elsewhere with catastrophic consequences the world over."

In times like these it seemed appropriate that the Secretary of State Antony Blinken would deliver a major policy address, which he did late last month except that he chose to give the talk on China.

The speech itself contained nothing new. It was slightly more nuanced than the usual chest-thumping that passes for a China strategy these days.

The real surprise was that in the middle of the first major land war in Europe since 1945 with monumental consequences Blinken would not lay out the strategy for victory but instead change the subject.

Washington's foreign policy establishment is so wrapped up in its pre- crisis thinking that it cannot really digest the fact that the ground has shifted seismically under its feet.

Blinken declared that despite its aggression in Ukraine Russia does not pose the greatest threat to the rules-based international order, instead giving that place to China.

As Zachary Karabell suggests this requires a willful blindness to two decades of Russian aggression. Russia has invaded Georgia and Ukraine, and effectively annexed parts of those countries.

It brutally unleashed its air power in Syria, killing thousands of civilians. In responding to Chechnya's desire for independence it flattened large parts of the Russian republic including its capital with total civilian casualties in that conflict estimated in the tens of thousands at least.

Putin has sent assassination squads to Western countries to kill his enemies, has used money and cyberattacks to disrupt Western democracies, and most recently has threatened the use of nuclear weapons.

Does any other country even come close? Ironically one of the people who attended Blinken's speech was Senator Mitt Romney who during his presidential campaign in 2012 warned that Russia posed the single largest threat to the United States.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Without question, our number geopolitical foe.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: Those including myself who dismissed his prognosis were wrong because we looked only at Russia's strengthen which was not impressive.

But Romney clearly understood that power in the international realm is measured by a mixture of capabilities and intentions.

And while Russia is not a rising giant, it is determined to challenge and divide America and Europe and tear up the rules-based international system.

Putin's Russia is the world's great spoiler state. This phenomenon of a declining power becoming the greatest danger to global peace is not unprecedented.

In 1914 the country that triggered World War I was Austria, Hungary, an empire in broad decline and yet one determined to use its military to show the world it still mattered and to teach a harsh lesson to Serbia which it regarded as a minor vassal state.


Sounds familiar? America's dominant priority must be to ensure that Russia does not prevail in its aggression against Ukraine, and right now trends are moving in the wrong direction.

Russian forces are consolidating their gains in eastern Ukraine. Sky high oil prices have ensured that money continues to flow into Putin's coffers. Europeans are beginning to talk about off-ramps.

Moscow is offering developing nations a deal, get the West to call off sanctions it tells them, and it will help export all the grain from Ukraine and Russia and avert famine in many parts of the world.

Ukraine's leaders say it still doesn't have the weapons and training it needs to fight back effectively.

The best China strategy right now, by the way, is to defeat Russia. Xi Jinping has made a risky wager in backing Russia so strongly on the eve of the invasion.

If Russia comes out of this conflict a weak marginalized country that will be a serious blow to President Xi who's personally associated to this alliance with Putin.

If on the other hand, Putin survives and somehow manages to stage a comeback, Xi and China will learn an ominous lesson that the West cannot uphold its rules-based system against a sustained assault.

Most of the people in top positions in the Biden administration were senior officials in the Obama administration in 2014 when Russia launched its first invasion of Ukraine, annexed Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine.

They were not able to reverse Moscow's aggression or even make Putin pay much of a price for it. Perhaps at the time they saw the greatest threat to global order as ISIS or al Qaeda, or they were focused the pivot to Asia, or they didn't prioritize Ukraine enough.

Well, now they have a second chance, but it is likely to be the last.

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

On Thursday Vladimir Putin compared himself to none other than Peter the Great, the Russian czar, and suggested that his own mission as president was to return and restore land that belonged to Russia just like his hero did in the 18th Century.

It seems to me that in the repeat days and weeks Putin has been having more success in his war effort, but I wanted to check my math on that. So joining me now is CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance.

Matthew, give us a sense of Russia's gains in the east, which appear to be happening around Severodonetsk right now.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, the gains are very slow, but every day we're seeing reports coming from Severodonetsk, which is the last city that is nominally under Ukrainian government control, that in the Luhansk region -- Luhansk is half of Donbas, remember, and Donbas is what the Russians say is their military priority at the moment.

Every day we're seeing reports coming out of it. A little bit more Russian advancing, there's a bit of toing and froing on the ground, but it seems a question of when not if that that important key city will fall completely under Russian control.

The Ukrainians for their part seem to be making it as difficult as possible, bringing the fight to a street-to-street level to on the one hand neutralize the artillery advantage that the Russians have, but also to make it as painful as possible for the Russians to declare what would be a big political victory for them when they take eventual control over that city, and of course to divert Russian resources.

This is a battle for that Luhansk region that has cost not just the Ukrainians but the Russians enormously and of course the more military personnel material they put into that battle, that fight, the less they're able to defend other areas that they've conquered elsewhere in Ukraine, into some extent the Ukrainians say they've been exploiting that by launching counter offensives in the south of the country, for instance, over the past several weeks.

But also it's, you know, it's depleting Russia's sort of energy as well. And so I think the sense is that when this phase of the battle of this conflict comes to a close, when it eventually does that, there may well be a natural pause as both sides regroup and, you know, work out what they're going to do next and gather forces in order to do that, Fareed.


ZAKARIA: Matthew, very briefly, we know about Russian casualties, but the Ukrainian government doesn't tell us much about their casualties, and what I'm hearing is they are pretty substantial as well.

I've heard reports that say perhaps even 100 a day, and if you talk about deaths you multiply that by three to get casualties, injured soldiers that can't return to the battlefield. Do you have any sense how tough this has been for Ukraine and Ukrainian soldiers?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, it's clearly very tough indeed not least because of the way in which on the battlefield Ukrainian forces are outnumbered and outgunned by the Russian side.

And that figure of 100 soldiers a day being killed, I mean, that comes from the president himself, from President Zelenskyy himself. That's the estimate that he's put out there.

You extrapolate that over a month it's 3,000 a month, which an enormous cost. And other people in the presidential office said it's actually much higher than that. It could be 200 people a day, it could be 6,000 a month.

It's an enormously high price whichever way you cut it that the Ukrainians are paying just in terms of loss of life, never mind the injuries and the loss to their infrastructure, to defend this country.

But as you say rightly the Russians are also paying a big price, tens of thousands estimated Russian troops have been killed. The Russians haven't spoken directly on that really since the beginning of this conflict.

I think one of the differences, though, is that actually despite these heavy losses Ukraine doesn't have a shortage of manpower. It has a lot of men that have been mobilized that are willing to go to the front. Russia has much more of a problem in that regard.

ZAKARIA: Matthew, thank you so much. Always such so insightful to hear from you.

Next on GPS the chief of the International Atomic and Energy Agency on the Iran and the nuclear deal. What may be a fatal blow to reviving it.



ZAKARIA: Toward the end of last month the U.S. special envoy for Iran said that Tehran could be just weeks away from having enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

Then this Thursday the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Iran plans to remove cameras that enable the agency to monitor the Islamic republic's nuclear program.

27 cameras that were installed at nuclear facilities as part of the 2015 Iran deal. The IAEA's director general, Mariano Rafael Grossi, said the removal could be a fatal blow to the hope of reviving that deal. Mr. Grossi joins me now. Welcome, sir. Can you explain to us why this issue of taking 27

cameras out is so dangerous to the prospects of a new deal?

RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: Hello. Good to talk to you. Well, it is quite serious. We're talking about 27 cameras, and by the way they have been removed as we speak.

You said they had a plan. Now they have been removed together with some other online monitoring systems that we used to have.

The issue here is very simple. The less my inspectors and my analysts see what's happening in Iran, the less ability we have to know how much material they are enriching, how many centrifuges they are putting together.

And so this is obviously a very, very serious thing with regards to not only the possibility of reviving the 2015 agreement, the JCPOA, but in general terms.

I have said that in such a situation I might no longer be in a position to confirm the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program writ large. So it is indeed a very, very serious move they have taken.

ZAKARIA: So to understand it, what you're saying in a sense is even if let's say six months from now they were to go back to -- you know, things were to go back, at that point with a six-month gap with no information it's difficult for you to know what they've made, what they're ferreted away, what they've hidden. Correct?

GROSSI: It would be extremely difficult. We would have to mount a very ad hoc system with new declarations with the ability for my inspectors to go back, to check records, to look into places.

So the more -- the longer the lapse without the visibility we need the more difficult it will be because no one, no one can go into an agreement without knowing what your baseline is.

You go into an agreement saying OK, we have so much of this. We are going to control, we are going to ship out that amount of material, but without me -- I mean, me, the IAEA saying these are the amounts, then it may be well the case that there are unaccounted for amounts of material or inventory that, you know, is escaping the eye.

So, frankly, I don't see in whose interest is to curtail inspectors. Normally history tells us and recent history tells us that it is never a good thing to start saying to international inspectors go home. When you go this way normally things get much more problematic.


And this is what I'm saying now and this is what I'm telling first of all my Iranian counterparts, we have to sit down now, we have to address the situation, we have to continue working together.

ZAKARIA: I assume that what your Iranian counterparts are saying to you is, look, the United States pulled out of the deal and therefore killed the deal. Why should we continue to observe a deal that the other party is not observing?

GROSSI: Well, but that might have been valid, if I may, a year ago when there was no process to try to revive the deal. To the best of my understanding unless I missed something in the last few minutes no one has said it is over.

No one has said the attempts to revive this agreement are done. So when we take these steps we make this way back to an agreement, extremely more difficult. And I don't see -- I fail to grasp the end game about this.

The only way for Iran to get the confidence, the trust they so badly need in order to move their economy forward and to do all the things that they profess they want to do is to allow the inspectors of the IAEA to be present. If they start cutting the connections, if they start removing cameras I don't see how this is going to happen.

ZAKARIA: Am I right in saying that you've met with the prime minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett, recently?

GROSSI: Yes, I have met him -- met with him. I meet, you know, many heads of state in government. Yes.

ZAKARIA: In your experience briefly because we're running out of time, in your conversations do you get the sense that for Israel things are reaching a critical point, and you can imagine the Israelis taking some extreme measures if Iran continues on the current path?

GROSSI: Good question to put to Israel. My message to Israel on this and on other things is that the IAEA can do this job.

The international inspectors when given the access they require can give the international community the confidence that no one is going to proliferate or to add nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

So for me this was very important. And as the head of an international organization I must talk to everybody. I hope this is well-understood.

ZAKARIA: Mr. Grossi, pleasure to have you on, sir. Thank you so much.

GROSSI: Thank you very much.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, inflation in the U.S. hit a 40-year high last month. There is a big debate on how bad the economy really is and what the government, the Federal Reserve or President Biden should do about it. I will ask the former Fed chair Ben Bernanke for his views on this debate.



ZAKARIA: The latest Consumer Price Index came out Friday morning showing inflation is growing again. The report showed that the average American consumer paid 8.6 percent more last month for a basket of goods and services than he or she would have paid a year earlier. President Biden's top economic advisor admitted Friday that that was uncomfortably high.

So what should we think about the state of the U.S. economy and what to do about it? I wanted to ask former Fed chair Ben Bernanke for his perspective. He's the author of a new book "21st Century Monetary Policy."

Ben Bernanke, welcome. Thanks for being on the show.


ZAKARIA: So when you look at the polls something like 75 percent of Americans in most surveys think the economy is seriously in bad shape or on the wrong track or depending how you describe it. Do you think that's right? How would you characterize the American economy these days?

BERNANKE: Well, to put that number in context they've been asking that question for decades, and people always say that the economy and the country are heading the wrong direction but they themselves are doing OK, so you have to put a little bit of context around that.

But that being said the U.S. economy today is a mixed bag. We've had a lot of growth. We had a deep recession. But last year the economy grew, created between 5 percent and 6 percent, create six million jobs, the labor market is very hot.

Wage increases are going to particularly the lowest paid workers, so all that is positive. But on the other hand, we also have inflation that we haven't seen for 40 years, and that particularly anyone who goes to the gas station or the grocery store is quite aware of that, and that is cutting into people's living standards and even people getting wage increases are not seeing real increases in their ability to consume. So it is very much a mixed bag at this point.

ZAKARIA: And the big debate raging in Washington these days is what is it going to look like six months from now or seven months from now as the Fed tries to tackle inflation? And as you know Larry Summers, former Treasury secretary, says the Fed is going to have to act much more aggressively than it's acting now.

Effectively I think what he's saying is it is going to have to induce a recession in order to bring inflation under control. You know, in other words it's going to have to slow down economic activity by raising rates so people's mortgages go up so it costs more to borrow money. Therefore, they'll spend less. You got to do all that which will put the economy into a recession in order to tackle inflation. Do you agree with Larry Summers?


BERNANKE: No, I don't. I think a recession is possible. Economists are very bad at predicting recessions, but I think the Fed has a decent chance, a reasonable chance of achieving a -- what Jay Powell calls a softish landing, either no recession or a very mild recession to bring inflation down.

ZAKARIA: When you look at the economy going forward does it look like the stagflation of the 1970s? And does it feel like, you know, that period of time like people were out of economic tools to solve the problems? Do you feel like we're in a situation like that today?

BERNANKE: No, I don't, and I could go on forever. My book covers the '70s in some detail and points out a lot of differences between then and now. Though a very basic difference is that the inflation of the '70s lasted for 13 or 14 years and not six months so people became very, very used to inflation and a huge inflation psychology developed. And that was very, very difficult for Paul Volcker, the chair of the Fed, in the early '80s to break that inflation psychology. That's why he had to bring down the hammer as hard as he did in the early '80s.

So I think it's a very different situation. I think, today we have a Federal Reserve that knows it's responsible for inflation. It's going to take the lead. It's got a lot of credibility. We've had low inflation now for 40 years.

It's got political support. The president just came out recently saying the Fed is independent and he will support Jay Powell's decisions. The Congress has also been supporting the Fed. So I think it's a very different situation.

ZAKARIA: Fair to say, Ben Bernanke, you're saying the economy is not as bad as it looks, the Fed has things under control, don't worry?

BERNANKE: Well -- no, things could go wrong. I'm counting on the supply side to look better. I'm counting on the supply chains to begin to improve. There's some evidence that they are. I'm hoping and guessing that oil prices and food prices will at least stabilize and preferably begin to moderate.

Things could go bad. If all those things don't work out and people start losing confidence in the Fed, then the Fed might have to crack down much harder. So the Larry Summers' scenario you described earlier is certainly a possibility if inflation persists and people lose confidence in the Federal Reserve, and inflation psychology develops and we get a wage price spiral, all those things we saw in the '70s. And that's why it was so painful for Paul Volcker to end inflation in the early '80s.

So I'm not being a Pollyanna here, but I'm saying it's not necessarily going to be a catastrophic situation either. Because, again, if we get some help from supply side, we have an underlying pretty strong economy with people -- labor market is just roaring right now, people have good -- pretty good savings. All those things suggests that with some luck and if the supply side improves that the Fed can get inflation down without imposing the kind of costs that we saw in the early '80s.

ZAKARIA: Ben Bernanke, always a pleasure. Your book is "21st Century Monetary Policy The Federal Reserve from the Great Inflation to COVID- 19." Thank you so much for joining us. BERNANKE: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, President Biden was in Los Angeles this week meeting other western hemisphere leaders. The big story emerging from the Americas is a huge swing to the populist left. I'll tell you what it means when we come back.



ZAKARIA: This week's Western Hemisphere Summit in Los Angeles perhaps should have been called the Summit of Some of the Americas. Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador skipped the meeting because the U.S. didn't invite leaders from Nicaragua, Venezuela or Cuba. AMLO, as he's called, was sworn in four years ago as Mexico's first leftist president in almost three quarters of a century. He's also a populist and he's indicative of a leftist populist wave that seems to be riding through the region.

Let me bring in Shannon O'Neil. She is the senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Describe the wave because it's happening in Chile, it's happening in Mexico, it seems to be happening in Colombia, and then of course there's Brazil, the largest country in Latin America. Why is it happening in all of these places at the same time?

SHANNON O'NEIL, VICE PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: You know, as I look at these elections and the changes in power that we're seeing and who's coming in, I would describe it more as an anti- incumbent wave than necessarily a leftist wave. And what we are seeing all over Latin America is voters getting out and voting for the non- establishment, voting for the outsider.

The pandemic hit this region harder than almost any other region in the world in terms of fatalities, in terms of the costs to the economies, to formal sector jobs and the likes so people are really living in a precarious situation. So they have looked for politicians, for candidates that have told them they're going to provide something different, that they're going to get away from the old system that is seen as corrupt, that hasn't fixed a lot of Latin America's problems. And so they're turning to these outsiders, these populists.

ZAKARIA: So when I look at a place like Chile which was in many ways regarded as, you know, the kind of poster child of Latin America. People described it because of its fast growth rate, they would say Chile is an east Asian country that just happens to be in Latin America.


Well, now it seems like it has a very left wing government. And, in fact, they're rewriting the constitution, and there are all kinds of plans that seem very -- you know, it seems to be very much a kind of left wing constitution with a lot of progressive ideals written right into the constitution. How big a shift is it in Chile? O'NEIL: Chile, I think, really is a bellwether here on what might happen in Latin America. There's a hopeful side to that but then also a really cautionary tale. And so, Boric, the new president of Chile, is in his 30s. He's a millennial, and he is from the progressive left. He believes in, you know, broad social rights. He believes in environmental actions but he also believes in democracy and working with democratic checks and balances in the Congress and like.

He is working with the constituent assembly which is forming this new constitution, and they are more to the left. In fact, almost all the members are not traditional members of political parties. And so what we will see over the next couple of months because they'll vote on this constitution in a referendum come the fall is whether or not Chileans go for this constitution. Right now it's a big question.

ZAKARIA: What about Brazil? Because there you have a situation where it seemed like there was a kind of Trump-like populist, Bolsonaro. And many of his -- much of his appeal was sort of Trump-like. It was cultural issues. It was a lot of, you know, the sense of the resentment against the elites but now he's very unpopular.

And what has happened is you have a real old-fashioned left wing populist, Lula, the former president, who seems to be roaring ahead in the polls. Is that a story of how in Latin America these cultural issues don't have as much traction and that old-fashioned economic issues still do have a lot of traction?

O'NEIL: I think that's right, and it's also I think very telling of this anti-incumbent wave. You're seeing voters turn to anybody -- with Bolsonaro, the current president. So you have this anti-incumbent. Strangely the anti-incumbent is someone who has spent their whole life in politics and actually has been president of Brazil before in the form of Lula. So it's less here I think about the policies that are laid out. In many of these elections there's very few policies actually being put on the table. It's more about someone who's coming in and promising to change things.

ZAKARIA: And that's why when you look at AMLO, Lopez Obrador, who is -- you know, when you go to Mexico there's just so much resentment of him among the -- the kind of business community and even in kind of the mainstream center, I would say. But you point out that in his own way he's very Trump-like. Explain what you mean.

O'NEIL: So there's a similar appeal in the sense that AMLO is very socially conservative. So this is not a president who supports gay rights or abortion. He has made an enemy out of the women's movement, the feminist movement. This is a president who is anti-environment and this is also a president in Mexico who has little time for democratic niceties.

He doesn't care about democratic checks and balances, about transparency, accountability. He frequently attacks the press and columnists and journalists much the way Trump does, so he has a lot of similarities in governing style and in many ways substance as well.

ZAKARIA: Does it mean bottom line a very different Latin America for the United States and the world to deal with, much less reform minded, much less democratic, much less open to the international economy?

O'NEIL: No. I think as we look around the world generally many countries around the world are much less open to the international economy including the United States and so here Latin America is no different. I think as we start seeing industrial policy arise all over the world we'll start seeing that in many of these nations led by some of these leaders. You know, that said this is a region that generally has remained open to trade or have been open to ties to the United States.

Latin America basically lost out in the globalization of the last 30 years. It did not hook into global supply chains at least not in the value added part. They sold raw materials and they bought finished goods but they didn't get into the manufacturing that so many Asian economies or eastern European economies got into. For better or for worse as the United States doubles down on supply chain resilience, as they talk about reshoring and near shoring, this provides an opening for Latin America.

ZAKARIA: Shannon, always good to talk to you. Thank you.

O'NEIL: My pleasure.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, David Gergen has worked for four different presidents. How does he grade this one? I'll ask him when we come back.



ZAKARIA: David Gergen knows leadership. He's been an adviser to no fewer than four sitting presidents: Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bill Clinton. He's also the founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Now, he has written a book about all that he has learned over the years. It's called "Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders are Made." David Gergen, pleasure to have you on.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISER: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

ZAKARIA: You've written a book about leadership.


ZAKARIA: So let's talk about the leader of the United States, Joe Biden.


ZAKARIA: How do you think he's doing?

GERGEN: Not as well as he should be.

[10:50:01] From my perspective early on I thought he was going to be a very consequential leader because I did think that the empathy he had, the understanding he had, and the inner strength that come from dealing with setbacks and the crucible moments that he has experienced in life I thought they would steel him for the presidency, harden him up. And, you know, has done some things where -- I think his heart is still in the right place, but it's increasingly hard to tell what the goals are here. I think they need to whittle this down to two or three major goals and keep hitting that, get them accomplished both in foreign policy and in domestic policy.

ZAKARIA: This is the puzzle about Biden.

GERGEN: Yes, I agree.

ZAKARIA: Many of his policies are popular but he himself has stunningly low approval ratings.

GERGEN: I agree.

ZAKARIA: Do you understand that?

GERGEN: I don't fully understand it. I do think that the messaging has not been his strength, and going for the people. You know, he so often has something to say but he puts it at 4:00 in the afternoon. If you've really got something important to talk to the American people about do it in prime time. You know, we can handle 15 minutes, 20 minutes. And the role of the leader is to be a teacher. That is the important part of the -- you know, FDR used to argue moral leadership is all about the president making choices and trying to bring people along on difficult issues and there hasn't been a lot of that.

I continue to think highly of him as an individual. But I would also suggest -- I worry about the idea of having a Biden versus Trump in 2024 when both men are in their 80s. We've never been there before. I don't think that's healthy.

The presidency is too complicated a place and it requires fine judgment. You only get the hard calls, you get the 52, 48 calls. You know, the easy ones are decided somewhere else down the road.

ZAKARIA: You have a really wonderful thought here in the book called "leadership starts from within."


ZAKARIA: Explain what that means?

GERGEN: Well, I worked for Nixon and, you know, he was the best strategist as I say I've ever seen, but he had demons inside him, and that he had not learned to control, and eventually they did him in. That happens to a lot of leaders especially when you get on top you think, "I'm so good the rules don't apply to me. You know, I'm special and I can get away with it." And what that leads to usually is some sort of disaster. And so I do believe that you have to learn how to understand yourself and control yourself before you can exercise leadership and provide service to others. I think it's really -- your journey starts with you. You've got to get yourself anchored. You have to know what your values are. You have to know where your true north is. And then in a complicated world they can serve you well when you're being buffeted in five or six different directions.

ZAKARIA: Where do you find leadership that you admire in the world today?

GERGEN: Well, the one we've been watching is Zelenskyy. And, you know -- but you have to ask the question where are America's Zelenskyys? Where are our heroes? Where are the people we can point to and tell our kids, you know, this is a good role model for you?

Societies need that, and I think we've gotten so much into the habit of when people get up we want to tear them down. You know, when Colin Powell was going to run for president the first thing -- the first stories that popped up, where did he go wrong with Vietnam? I mean, he had done so many things and yet it was discouraging to watch that.

Why are we -- why do we have this need to make sure nobody stays on top very long? I'm not sure. There's something that's unhealthy in this society that we need -- again, I think new generations will help to change that.

ZAKARIA: Do you think we're sort of living in a time where it's difficult to imagine that kind of heroic model of leadership --

GERGEN: Yes. Yes, it's very difficult.

ZAKARIA: -- because of social media and all that?

GERGEN: Yes. In fairness, you know, the -- how you get things done today is different. It has evolved. We used to talk about the great man, the man on the white horse. But now what we look for is constructive collaboration teams.

You know, the picture you'll remember of Jack Kennedy that stands out is him alone in the Oval Office hunched over a globe in the dusk and he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders. Versus today when, you know, Barack Obama is down there in the Situation Room and they're chasing Osama the picture is like seven or eight or 10 people around him, you know, his team. And increasingly leadership comes from teams.

ZAKARIA: Finally, you say "maintain a celestial spark."

GERGEN: Yes, that was George Washington. And he had a copy book about, you know, how to live a good life, and he took it very seriously. But the last item on it was to remember the celestial spark in your life.

And that goes to a quote I used about "Hearts Touched with Fire." It comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who was grievously wounded in the Civil War, at least three times left for dead on the battlefield.


But he gave a speech 20 years later and when he talked about how important the Civil War had been for his generation and -- he said you have to -- you have to live in the passions of your time. If you don't do that, you're less than a man. But he talked about -- in our generation we were blessed. He was talking about people who went and got killed on the battlefield. We were blessed to have hearts touched with fire. And it was really meaningful for us had we lived in the passions of our time. And I think, you know, we need to be teaching our young folks that.

ZAKARIA: David Gergen, you're great teacher.

GERGEN: Thank you, sir. It's good to be with you.

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