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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Interview With Jake Sullivan And Samantha Power On The First Year Anniversary Of Russia's War In Ukraine; The West's Economic War With Russia; What Russians Think About The War In Ukraine. Aired 10- 11a ET
Aired February 26, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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.
ZAKARIA: Today we devote the program to that sobering anniversary. One year since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. I'll bring you my interview with the National Security adviser Jake Sullivan and USAID administrator Samantha Power, about where the war and America's assistance go from here.
Also, who should foot the bill for the hundreds of billions of dollars in damage to Ukraine? Former Treasury secretary Larry Summers says the answer is easy. Listen to him explain his plan.
Then, why Putin's war on Ukraine may not be proceeding as he hoped. The Russian president may be getting exactly what he always wanted back home in Russia. "The New York Times" Valerie Hopkins will explain.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. One year into Russia's naked aggression against Ukraine it's become clear that neither side is strong enough to win the war, nor weak enough to sue for peace. The conflict has settled into a stalemate. After making impressive gains, Ukraine's armed forces have not made significant advances in months. Russia, meanwhile, has dug into the territories it occupies and its further attacks are having little success so far.
The numbers tell the story. According to a "Washington Post" analysis, Russia occupied about 7 percent of Ukrainian territory when it launched its invasion in February of 2022. It swept into eastern Ukraine and in a month it was holding 22 percent of the country. Then came Ukrainian counteroffensives which by mid-November had taken back about a third of those gains.
In the last three months, nothing significant has changed. Ukraine and Russia are both planning new moves but it would take massive victories to fundamentally change the situation. To put it another way, Ukraine would need to recover roughly twice as much territory as she was able to last year, just to get back the lands conquered since the 2022 invasion.
Russia's performance in the war has been poor. But it's doing better especially at holding territory. Russia has also been able to stabilize its economy, which the IMF projects will do better this year than the United Kingdom or Germany. Russia is trading freely with such economic behemoths as China and India, as well as neighbors like Turkey and Iran. Because of these countries and many more, outside of the advanced technology sector, Russia has access to all the goods and capital it lost through the Western boycott.
There is now a huge world economy that does not include the West. And Russia can swim in those waters freely. The long-term costs of the war and the effects of the sanctions are real but slow. This kind of isolation and pain rarely changed a dictatorship's policies. Look at North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.
So what is the path forward? In the short run, there is only one answer for the West and its allies? Give Ukraine more weapons and money. If the decision has been made that Putin's war of aggression must not be rewarded, then take all steps to make that a reality. With almost every weapon system requested by Ukraine, there is a pattern of ambivalence first, then delay and then finally agreement. Why not send more sooner?
The next three months are crucial as the winter thaws and makes troop movements easier. All that said, however, it's difficult to imagine a World War II style total victory. Most wars end in negotiations. This one is unlikely to be different. The task for the West is to ensure that Ukraine has enough success and momentum on the battlefield that it enters those negotiations with a very strong hand.
Only dramatic Ukrainian victories like cutting off Crimea will likely bring Putin to the negotiating table.
Is there a way to end hostilities? On paper, yes. It's possible to imagine a ceasefire that returns all lands captured since February 2022 to Ukraine. Those taken earlier like Crimea in 2014 would be subject to international arbitration including local referendums that would be conducted by international groups not the Russian government. In addition, Ukraine would get security guarantees from NATO, though they would not apply to those disputed territories.
That tradeoff, to put it simply, Crimea and parts of the Donbas for de facto NATO and E.U. membership, is one that could be sold to Ukrainians because they would achieve their long cherished goal of becoming part of the West. It could be acceptable to Russia because it could claim to have protected some Russian speaking parts of Ukraine.
There are many who believe the war can end with a total Ukrainian victory. I hope so. But I doubt it. In 2021, Russia was more than three times bigger than Ukraine in population, almost 15 times bigger in GDP and spent 10 times more on its defense budget. Russians have been known to have a high capacity for pain in wartime. The Soviet Union lost 24 million people in World War II compared to America's 420,000.
And while Russia's economy is in slow decline, Ukraine's has fallen off a cliff. GDP contracted by about 30 percent in 2022. The government is spending more than double what it takes in thanks to Western aid. More than 13 million people are displaced. More than eight million of them abroad. The war is taking place on Ukrainian soil, with its cities being bombarded to rubble, its factories, its people turned destitute. If it grinds on like this for years, it will be worth asking, are we letting Ukraine get destroyed in order to save it?
Go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my column this week. And let's get started.
To mark the first anniversary of Russia's invasion, I had the opportunity to interview Jake Sullivan and Samantha Power. Sullivan is of course President Biden's National Security adviser and in that role the man in charge of America's response to Putin's war. In addition to all of the war's other crises that he deals with. Power is the administrator of USAID, the department that has responsibility for, among other things, humanitarian aid for Ukraine and rebuilding efforts there.
The setting was a town hall in Washington, D.C., held almost exactly a year after the invasion started. Take a look.
ZAKARIA: I want to first ask you, Jake, this was really an extraordinary trip. First time in history a U.S. president has entered a war zone that the United States did not control. So I've taken that overnight train to Kyiv and you're going through Poland. And you're in a war zone for a large part of it. So I'm guessing U.S. planes could not enter that war zone.
What was it like for you there? What were you guys thinking? There's a period there where the president was not protected the way the president normally is, right?
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The trip actually began with a long plane flight from Washington, a stopover in Ramstein in Germany, and then we landed in Poland. And in fact, the president had to take an hour long car ride in an unmarked SUV, not his normal limo that we're all used to seeing, with a very small motorcade. Pull up to the train station and board this train late at night in the dark for a 10-hour trip overnight to arrive in Kyiv the following morning.
And as you said, the United States didn't control the air space. Didn't control the ground. We were entering a country at war, heading to a capital at war, a country that has been subject to routine and repeated bombardments by the Russians. And without any of the normal security capacity that would usually accompany a president. So we were heading into the unknown because this was unprecedented. The president was up much of the night, not so much worried about his
safety as he was worried about making sure that he was going to maximize his time on the ground in Kyiv. That he was going to have the kind of conversations face-to-face with President Zelenskyy that would allow us to move forward in our support and most importantly that he could stand up and say to the world, from right there in Kyiv, that a year ago people were bracing for the fall of Kyiv.
And a year later, Kyiv stands. Ukraine stands. And America stands with Kyiv and there is no more powerful way to send that message than to have the American president go do that. So it was a mixture of deep anxiety, but also a kind of building pride about serving a president and being part of a country that is trying to support Ukraine in its hour of need.
ZAKARIA: But, Jake, there does seem to be a pattern. The Ukrainians ask for something, the administration is ambivalent, time passes, there is a clamor around it that builds and then it starts leaning toward it and then finally delivers it. That's what happened with HIMARS. That's what happened with Patriots. That's what happened with the Abrams tank.
Fighter jets is now the issue. It feels like if you're going to do it three or four months later, why not do it now given the speed is of the essence? What is going on that always leads to this pattern where you do eventually say yes, but it's now four or six months later?
SULLIVAN: So first, Fareed, the way that our military and our intelligence community make recommendations to the president is they look at the needs of the Ukrainian military during the phase of the war that they are confronting at that time.
In the early weeks of the war, what the Ukrainian military needed to defend Kyiv was anti-armor systems, basically missiles that could stop tanks in their tracks so they couldn't roll over Kyiv, and anti-air systems like Stinger missiles to shoot down the helicopters that were bringing in paratroopers to try to take over the city from the air.
In the second phase of the war, Ukraine really needed artillery, in the east, to stop the more traditional advances of the Russian military. As we head into the spring, what Ukraine really needs is armor, infantry fighting vehicles, and yes, tanks. And we're providing those.
When it comes to F-16s, this is important for the current phase of the war, this point is important for the current phase of the war which is they're about to mount a significant counteroffensive. From our perspective, F-16s are not the key capability for that offensive. It is the stuff that we are moving rapidly to the frontlines now. F-16s are not a question for the short-term fight.
F-16s are a question for the long-term defense of Ukraine and that's a conversation that President Biden and President Zelenskyy had. ZAKARIA: Samantha Power, let me ask you a question that really is
fully in your bailiwick. And it's something a lot of Americans think about, a lot of Republicans have been clamoring about, which is, before the war Ukraine was regarded as, you know, if you look at various indices, a very corrupt country. There was a lot of corruption in Ukraine. Transparency international, all those kinds of measures.
How can you be sure that these massive amounts of aid that the United States and Europe is sending into Ukraine are getting to the people they need to get to, that there isn't corruption, graft, siphoning off? What kind of assurances can you give?
SAMANTHA POWER, USAID ADMINISTRATOR: Well, one thing, just stepping back and recalling a year ago Putin's speech where he described his motivation for invading Ukraine. At the heart of it was his panic over the progress that Ukraine was making to integrate itself to Europe, for starters, to become more democratic, and to take on this corruption fight because that endangered so many of his and his cronies ill-gotten gains.
So actually what you've seen particularly since 2014 is the strengthening of a whole series of anti-corruption institutions within Ukraine. Are they panaceas for decades, generations where corruption was a major issue? Absolutely not. But you've seen USAID and other U.S. government actors throw their weight behind the support for independent media, including actually once this war broke out a year ago, getting flak jackets and helmets and sat phones to independent media, but also making sure that they could survive a war and continue to report on what Ukrainian authorities were doing in a critical way, as a check and balance.
Civil society organizations, judges, we just launched a new initiative with the GAO here in the United States to help Ukraine build out its supreme audit institution and that is going to be incredibly important for reconstruction and all the resources that are flowing in.
With regard to the very large investments that we make in providing monthly direct budget support so that health workers can be paid and educators can be paid and people with disabilities can get support when the Ukrainian budget is under such strain and such pressure, that we do on basically a reimbursable basis.
We don't provide resources unless we see the receipt for the expenditure and up to this point we don't have any evidence that U.S. assistance is being misused or misspent. But again, the key is not resting on anybody's good will or virtue. It's checks and balances, the rule of law, the integrity of officials, and when something is spotted, because there are going to be issues, that that gets smothered, that the people get fired, that they get prosecuted.
And what's amazing about this last year is the fight against corruption has been continuing. The (INAUDIBLE) has been continuing to pass laws on whistleblower protection and on e-procurement so that procurement is more visible to Ukrainians but also to the rest of us. And that fight has to continue alongside the military fight.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, an extraordinary moment in the town hall. A Ukrainian soldier joined us live from the battlefield to ask a question of National Security adviser Jake Sullivan.
ZAKARIA: We're back here on GPS with more of the town hall marking the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Perhaps the most extraordinary moment was when a Ukrainian soldier joined us from the frontlines of the war.
Yegor works as a tactical medic. For his safety, we can't tell you his last name or his exact location but he joined us from the east of Ukraine just a few miles from Russia's troops.
ZAKARIA: Yegor, I know you have a question you want to ask Jake Sullivan. What would you like to know?
YEGOR, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER: Yes. I have a very specific question for Mr. Sullivan. Is the U.S. government planning or considering launching the production of ammunition especially for Ukraine? I mean, 155 caliber shells, 120 caliber mines and of course HIMARS missiles. Do you consider this plan and if you're answer is positive, could you please tell me when are you going to realize this? Thank you.
SULLIVAN: Well first, Yegor, before I answer the question, I just want to say that as you stand out on the frontlines tonight, you're defending the freedom of your country, but as President Biden said in Warsaw, you're defending freedom everywhere. And so I want to say thank you for your bravery, your courage and for the men and women who are fighting with you. We are grateful for all that you do, the sacrifices that you are making, and we can't even begin to imagine the difficulties and the trials that you've gone through.
What we can do is everything in our power to get you the equipment and the ammunition that you need. And you mentioned 155 millimeter artillery shells, 120 millimeter tank shells, and other systems like the HIMARS missiles that you also just discussed.
One of things that we are working hard at, at President Biden's direction, is to increase the production of all of these types of ammunition here in the United States but also in NATO countries so that the total supply of each of these different forms of ammunition grows month by month and we can continue to move to the frontlines this ammunition and the quantities that is necessary for you to be able to mount a successful defense and for you to be able to take back territory that has been occupied by Russia.
This is not something we can do with the snap of a finger. But it's something that we are putting immense effort and resources into.
ZAKARIA: Yegor, thank you so much for joining us. We pray that you and your compatriots return home safely to your families.
Let's take a question from the audience. I want you to meet Walter Landgraf. He served in the U.S. Army for 19 years. He has a question for Administrator Power. Walter?
WALTER LANDGRAF, U.S. ARMY: Thank you for the opportunity. What vital interest does the United States have in Ukraine? From a national security perspective, it seems that avoiding nuclear war with Russia is most important. However, the continued material support to Ukraine raises the possibility that nuclear escalation might occur. Our strategy seems to rely on the rationality of Vladimir Putin to not go nuclear. Is this wise?
POWER: Thank you so much. Well, you've heard President Biden himself speak often to the importance of avoiding exactly that scenario. He's been very attentive to the risk of escalation and the strategy that has been pursued, has been very measured. But what is at stake in Ukraine are values and interests so core to the United States. I mean, imagine just wanting your freedom and your independence.
This country is predicated on exactly those two values. Imagine the counter factual, where we walk away or we didn't show up in the first place. And what that would mean when a dictator, who has shut down civil society, shut down independent media, shut down dissenting voices in his own country, then can just turn his sights on a neighbor and with impunity take over that country.
I mean, what would that mean for our allies in Europe? What would that mean for our own security over time? So I think, you know, Americans understand bullies and the importance of standing up to bullies. At the same time, again, we're very alert to the risk given that Russia is a nuclear armed power as you rightly say. But that is, again, how we are in the position that we're in now.
Building a coalition of countries, coming together making sure that this isn't just the United States and Russia, that this, in fact, is Ukrainians on the frontlines, Ukrainians doing the fighting and a coalition of 50 countries rallying behind them.
And including actually today more than 140 countries at the at the U.N. signaling still a year into the war their support for Ukraine's self-defense.
ZAKARIA: Jake, I got to ask you one final question. We've talked all about the world. Russia, Ukraine. We haven't talked about what's going on in the United States. Do you worry when you hear voices like Governor DeSantis, Senator Hawley, Senator Vance, questioning why the United States is doing this, asking why we should be spending this money, wondering whether we should be taking a more neutral position?
SULLIVAN: What I find so interesting about that perspective, we can't operate in the world because we have to operate at home, is it presents a fundamentally false choice that is not at all who America is. We can both invest at home and provide for the safety and well- being of the American people, and we can lead in the world. And that's what we have done at our best. Under Democratic and Republican presidents for decades.
The United States is capable, as a powerful, self-assured nation, we have the resources, we have the talents, we have the energies of our people to solve our own problems here, and President Biden has done more in two years to invest in this country, to build jobs, to provide for the social safety net, to deal with the problems that people sit around their kitchen tables and think about, while at the same time mobilizing a coalition of free nations to support the values that Americans hold so dear.
So what I would say to those senators is, yes, let's do these things at home, but are you saying that America is incapable of also helping to serve a powerful force for good in the world? I don't think that the American people believe that. I think the American people think we are capable of doing both.
And at our best that is exactly what we have done and I believe that a lot of the moments I've seen in this last year in Ukraine, from those flags waving in small towns to the people in the U.S. government who are trying to support folks like Yegor on the frontlines, that has been America at its best.
And so I think that there is a pessimism in this argument that these senators are making. President Biden has an optimistic view, which is we can do it and we should do it and we are doing it. And as a result, I believe that democracies in the world are getting stronger, not weaker as the president said, and autocracies are getting weaker, not stronger. And that is better for every single person in this country.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, former Treasury secretary Larry Summers on how we can get Russia to pay for rebuilding Ukraine.
ZAKARIA: After last year's invasion, the United States and its allies have worked to isolate Russia's economy. The West imposed sanctions and banned imports of many Russian goods. Big companies suspended operations inside Russia. At the same time, other countries like China, India and Turkey, ramped up trade with Russia and Russia's central bank took steps to prop up its currency.
Here to help us understand the full impact on Putin's war chest is the economist Larry Summers, former president of Harvard. He served as treasury secretary under Bill Clinton and the director of National Economic Council under Barack Obama. Larry, welcome. Explain to us first is economics really central to understanding where we are in this struggle with Russia? LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I think it is, Fareed. War start as wars of maneuver and that is what Putin hoped it would be, and he would win quickly, but they evolved to be wars of attrition. And when it is wars of attrition, the economic strength on the two sides, the capacity to mobilize, to produce weaponry, to bring troops to the front becomes central. And that is the concern right now that this has evolved towards a war of attrition and that is going to make what happens to the Russian economy and of even greater importance what happens to the Ukrainian economy central to how this plays out.
ZAKARIA: When you look at the bottom line figure, even though there have been sanctions and Russia's economy shrank last year and the central bank reserves were frozen, technology denied, the Russian economy this year is set to grow by 0.3 percent according to the IMF. That means that it will actually do better than the U.K. or Germany as I pointed out at the top of the show. Is it fair to say that the economic sanctions have not had the bite that people expected?
SUMMERS: Russian economic sanctions haven't really bitten that hard because less than half of the world's people have been involved in countries that are part of the sanctions and a large part of the world's GDP. China, India, Turkey, as you mentioned certainly more than a third has not been part of the sanctions. And if you look at Russia's neighbors, their trade with us has ramped up considerably in the last year which suggests that they are serving as a way station for goods to get into Russia.
So there are real limits to the damage we can do Russia economically. We probably should try to stiffen up on the price caps on energy. There is financial areas where we can tighten. But the most important part of winning the economic aspect of the war of attrition is doing much more to support the economy of Ukraine which, by some measures, has declined by 40 percent.
ZAKARIA: So the build in order to do this, and then to build Ukraine, to build those apartment houses that have been bombed out, those cities that have been devastated, those people, millions and millions who are now destitute, that's a very, very big bill. Where is the money going to come from?
SUMMERS: I'll tell you where a large part of it should come from. It should come from Russian state assets. Russia took German assets to pay for its reconstruction after German aggression during World War II. Resources of Iraq, after Iraq went into Kuwait, were seized to support the reconstruction of Kuwait and also to compensate other nations further away who have been victims of that conflict.
And that needs to be the ultimately source of support in Ukraine. It needs to be an ultimate source of support for countries taking refugees from Ukraine. And it needs to be an ultimate source of support for countries in global south, the developing world that have paid and suffered enormously from higher food and energy crisis because of Russian aggression. I believe that if this sets a precedent that countries that engage in naked cross-border aggression will lose their state assets, that is a precedent that I think is a very healthy precedent to set.
ZAKARIA: Now, how would this work technically? Help people understand where is this money that you're proposing we spend?
SUMMERS: The funds are held in international -- in banking institutions around the world who in turn holds claims back on the treasuries of the major countries, the United States and the Europeans principally. And so, we have the ability to seize these assets. And when we seize these assets, we can spend them as we see fit without any need for Russian approval and with strong precedent from cases like what took place in Iraq.
ZAKARIA: Larry Summers, pleasure to talk to you. Important message. Thank you.
Next on GPS, while his war in Ukraine is floundering, how is Putin doing on the home front? I will talk to "The New York Times'" Valerie Hopkins who has a fascinating set of answers.
ZAKARIA: Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine is certainly not going as he intended. But on the home front, his dreams may be coming true. That was the thrust of a terrific "New York Times" article by the paper's Moscow reporters Valerie Hopkins and Anton Troianovski. Valerie joins me now from Moscow.
Welcome, Valerie. I want to ask you to start by talking about something that I found very interesting in reporting you've done before this article but including this article, which is President Biden has said a couple of times, I think, once the body bags start coming back, the Russian people will stop supporting this war. Or words to that effect. And what you found is that the body bags are coming back but it is actually increasing the support for the war. Explain what is going on.
VALERIE HOPKINS, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well thank you very much, Fareed, for having me and I wish I didn't have to talk about this with you today. But it is true. In my reporting, across Russia what I found when talking to people, mothers of those who have been lost or relatives, people are finding that their losses are actually making them support the war even more. They're starting to feel it even more.
And of course, the Kremlin has refused to actually release the full statistical data of how many people have been killed, how many soldiers have died in this war. You know, they've only released them intermittently and I believe the last full count was in September at 6,000. While western intelligence estimates that there have been 200,000 killed and wounded in this war of Russians only.
So, of course, many Russians, most Russians don't know the full extent of this. But my reporting and reporting by other colleagues who remain in Russia and who have spoken to the mothers and relatives of these dead soldiers, find that this makes them supportive it even more because, you know, they feel a concrete sense of loss. They do believe, the propaganda that the government has been pushing, not only for the past year but also before. But it has really ramped up this year is that the West seeks to destroy Russia and this is an existential struggle for Russia's survival against the West.
And they also are increasingly buying the line that, you know, actually the West was preparing an invasion and that Putin was smart to take a preemptive -- to preemptively invade Ukraine. It is quite surprising and quite shocking. But this is where we are right now one year in.
ZAKARIA: You talk also about a much broader transformation that is taking place in Russia. This goes back a long way, the debate between Russia, between the kind of westernizers and what was used to be called the Slavophiles. You know, people who thought Russia's destiny lies with the West, and those who said, no, Russia is its own distinct unique creature.
You say that this war has helped almost finally in a very decisive way moved that debate in one direction, right?
HOPKINS: Absolutely. Well, as you read in the article, one of the very -- one of the businessmen closest to -- very close to President Putin, Konstantin Malofeyev, expressed his joy that this war or his -- he expressed some degree of pleasure, we can say, about the fact that this war continues as long as it did. You know, as you know, initially when this was planned, it was planned as a blitzkrieg. It was -- they thought they would take Kyiv in three days, change the government and just occupy.
But instead, you know, this has required a societal transformation and Konstantin Malofeyev, this businessman said, this is great because, you know, if the blitzkrieg had succeeded, we would still have these liberal elements of our society. But now that the longer it goes on the more this changes into the society that Putin wants.
The more liberals are either silenced or forced to flee, the more free speech is suppressed, and the more it is possible to create educational, cultural institutions and even civil society, into the type of organizations and bodies that the Kremlin wants to see, which are traditional, conservative and essentially define themselves as the antithesis to the values that the West professes to stand for.
ZAKARIA: So in a sense it feels to me like what you're saying, the longer this war goes on, don't expect Russia to feel, you know, that it is, oh, my goodness, it is a big mistake. It is actually having the effect of making Russians double down on this anti-western narrative and anti-western society.
HOPKINS: On the one hand, yes, I think, you know, in the near term that is the case. But I think, you know, what we've learned from Russia's experience with other wars, you know, the Russian -- the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was something that many people were frustrated about and opposed to, but it didn't -- it took them years to organize and to truly be fed up and frustrated.
I think a lot of this is actually apathy. And much of that is due to the fact that the economy has sort of more or less remained normal. But it is possible that, you know, at a certain point that there may be some tipping point. It's just how far along that might be, it is really hard to say.
ZAKARIA; Valerie, this is really terrific and important reporting. Thank you.
HOPKINS: Thank you very much, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, we will introduce you to a new way of looking at the world and its governments in this worrisome age. It is called "The Atlas of Impunity." It is absolutely fascinating. Back with that in a moment.
ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. In his elegant speech in Warsaw promising that the West would not waiver, would not be divided and would not tire, President Biden cast the conflict in Ukraine in terms he has used before, a struggle between democracies and autocracies.
But a group of distinguished scholars and former policymakers have released a report that tries to categorize the world in more subtle and perhaps more important ways. "The Atlas of Impunity" released by former British foreign secretary David Miliband, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Eurasia Group. "Impunity," the report says, "is the exercise of power without accountability, the commission of crimes without punishment." When the prevailing sense is "the law is for suckers," "impunity thrives when the imbalance of power is so great that the powerful think they do not have to follow the rules."
The report ranks most of the world's nations along five dimensions. Lack of government accountability, human rights abuses, environmental degradation, unfairness in the economy and the use of violence in internal and foreign conflicts. It largely draws on the work of other groups who have made indices such as the rule of law index, freedom in the world, world press freedom index, economic freedom index, but these various scores are intelligently integrated to provide a much more powerful and complete picture.
The lessons are fascinating. First, democracy does not guarantee a good score on the "Atlas of Impunity." The report shines a light on democratic countries like Turkey, Mexico and India, which despite having free elections, score poorly on other dimensions like human rights. It is striking, for example, that on the overall index, India does worse than China, and Mexico does worse than Vietnam. Iraq comes in as the seventh worst-ranked country on the planet. A sobering reminder of the failure of America's effort to spread democracy in the Middle East.
The report confirms my description of the growing danger of illiberal democracy that I first identified 25 years ago. America itself fairs surprisingly poorly, coming in somewhere in the middle of the pack. This is largely because it scores poorly on the conflict and violence measure but also poorly on human rights and economic inequality indicators. In general, the world's most powerful countries are not the most law and norm abiding with the exception of Germany which ranks fifth best.
The most useful revelation is that there are many countries that are not democracies but that score quite well on this index. In other words, they exercise power accountably and provide reasonably effective and fair government for their citizens.
Singapore, for example, scores better than India, Israel, Hungary and even just slightly the United States. Jordan and the United Arab Emirates do much better than many democracies. These strong scores show why it is a mistake to use terms like free world in the West, groupings that exclude countries like these that often act responsibly.
Of course, Russia scores terribly and most of the regimes that rate abysmally are autocracies. The country with the worst score is unsurprisingly Afghanistan followed by Syria, Yemen and Myanmar. The best are the familiar set of northern European countries. But between those two obvious extremes, this report provides a wealth of nuance, helping us see the great tones in which the world is truly painted.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.