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Fareed Zakaria GPS

A Deadly Surge Of Violence In The Middle East; Trump Faces Criminal Charges In New York City; Tensions With China As Taiwan's President Visits U.S.; Interview With Senior Fellow Of Council On Foreign Relations Shannon O'Neil; Interview With Former Chair And CEO Of IBM Ginni Rometty. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 09, 2023 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you from New York.


ZAKARIA (voice-over): Today on the program. Donald Trump gets arrested. Finland becomes a member of NATO. The speaker of the House meets the president of Taiwan. And unrest rocks the Middle East again. All that and more with a great panel.

Then I'll talk to the Council on Foreign Relations' Shannon O'Neill about her contrarian views about that much rumored demise of globalization. And the former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty on how to lead.


ZAKARIA: But first here's my take.

I'm the father of two young women, so there's a part of me that would be absolutely delighted to see TikTok banned. It is a scarily addictive app with 150 million U.S. users including two out of three teenagers. But the more carefully I think about it, the more I worry and when I look at the legislation being proposed that would enable the government to ban TikTok, I see a frightening Orwellian law that should send chills down every American spine.

The argument for banning TikTok is straightforward. It's owned by a Chinese company and could be forced to obey the dictates of the Chinese government. That is an appropriate concern, even though there is no evidence that this has ever happened.

What malign behavior could TikTok engaging? First, it could collect data from its users and send that over to Beijing. But if Beijing wants that information, it has many, many ways to get it. All the most popular apps collect some kind of personal user data and they all share with third parties.

There is a much better way to solve this problem. A comprehensive data privacy law that would protect all Americans' data and give people the right to stop companies from using, misusing and selling it.

Unfortunately taking on big tech is a much more difficult battled than bashing China. Most technologists I spoke to felt it would be simple to block information transfers by housing all data in U.S. servers and monitoring its use, something TikTok has already committed to doing. Google and other American tech platforms operate in Europe under similar data restrictions. There might even be better techniques that do not artificially divide data by geography.

The second fear about TikTok is that it would transmit anti-American information through its platform, becoming a subtle vehicle for Chinese propaganda. So how would we feel if we learned that a Chinese media company has started a cable news channel that broadcasts sometimes anti-American messages? That is already legal.

The United States hasn't banned China's CCTV or, for that matter, Qatar's Al Jazeera, both government owned media platforms. If we ban TikTok, where we also ban Chinese media companies from distributing pamphlets or books in the United States? Will we ban all Chinese video game companies, which are giants in the industry?

The premise of an open society is that people should be free to consume what information they want and that we are stronger for it.

A bipartisan group of senators has put forward legislation that would make it easy to ban any company in which any foreign adversaries such as China has any interest which will cover almost any company that has any operations in China or several other countries.

This law would give virtually unlimited powers to the administration to prevent or punish any company that has tech or information products or services that in the administration's view pose an undue or unacceptable risk to the national security of the U.S. or the safety of U.S. persons.


If men were angels, James Madison wrote in the "Federalist Papers," no government would be necessary. It does not take a particularly skeptical view of government to be terrified by the idea of giving it that much power. Imagine Donald Trump as president with these tools at his disposal.

We're living in times when state governments already banning books by the hundreds, when speech is considered a weapon, and when politicians openly talk about shutting down dangerous ideas. Incidentally, as FOX News anchor Laura Ingraham fulminate against TikTok, she might want to keep in mind that FOX's former parent company, News Corp, was granted a waiver from existing restrictions on foreign ownership of media platforms.

Rupert Murdoch, by the way, argued that such a waiver wasn't even necessary, presumably because he believed Americans should get free flows of information no matter their country of origin.

I support many of the administration's efforts to compete with China by investing and building at home, by shoring up alliances abroad, by restricting China's access to the highest level technologies, and by building up on military deterrent. But the key to America's success and dynamism, decade after decade, has been its openness, innovation and belief in the vigorous contest of ideas, products and services.

That's why our technology tends to be better than that coming out of close societies. We should not lose that confidence in a panic over one Chinese app. For years, we believe, perhaps mistakenly that as China opened up economically, it would become more like us.

But look at where we are today. We have embarked on central economic planning with massive subsidies to industry and now we're proposing draconian restrictions on the free flow of information.

It seems that we are becoming more like the Chinese every day.

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

It is Easter Sunday for Christians, Jews celebrated Passover this weekend, and it is Ramadan month for Muslims. It was in this context that Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque twice this week, detaining Palestinians in one of Islam's holiest sites.

Israeli police said it took the action after, quote, "hundreds of rioters and mosques desecrators barricaded themselves," unquote, inside. In response, a barrage of rockets were fired on Israel from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and Israel retaliated.

Let's talk about all this and much more big news from all over the world with today's panel. Ian Bremmer is the president of the Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy, and Bret Stephens is, of course, an opinion columnist for "The New York Times."

Bret, you were editor of the "Jerusalem Post" many, many moons ago. What do you think is happening in Israel? Why is this happening now?

BRET STEPHENS, OP ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, there are a couple of factors. One is the perception of profound disunity within Israeli society and the Israeli government that has not gone unnoticed by people like Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah. Israel's greatest strength has actually been its internal cohesion even more than its military power. There's a real perception in the region that that cohesion has in some ways been broken.

The second factor, of course, is that for the last almost 16, 17 years, there's been relative quiet on Israel's northern border after the 2006 war. This breaks it. The interesting factor here is the possibility that these rockets, what came from Hamas, not from Gaza, but from Lebanon. And that's really interesting for a variety of reasons. A, Hamas in Lebanon, but B, the question whether this was done with or without the perception, with or without the permission, excuse me, of Hezbollah.

If it's without their permission, then it says something about the state of chaos in Lebanon. If it's with their permission, then you've got -- it tells you that Hezbollah is using Hamas as a front to attack Israel and to break that 17-year truce. This could be the beginning of a new war on Israel's north.

ZAKARIA: But I mean looking at it from the outside Israel remains powerful beyond. I mean, it's, you know, it's a regional superpower compared to all these other players.

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Look, I think the danger more importantly is what happens inside Israel. We could have these couple of back-and-forth skirmishes, if you will, and they could go away. They won't be in the headlines another week or two.


What we know will be back in the headlines is the issue of changing the judicial system in Israel. Netanyahu punted on that for a month. That's it. It's coming back. Those general strikes that we saw from the unions, that's coming back. The incredible anger with what would happen if Israel democracy takes a hit from Netanyahu and at the same time if he backs away from it, his government's not going to last.

So I mean that for me is the real question, is those massive demonstrations, unprecedented that we saw in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem just a few weeks ago, that is going to come back and everyone in the region is going to be looking at that.

ZAKARIA: Bret, how does he solve this problem? Because it does seem like -- I talked to a number of people in Israel, and they all had sort of Ian's point, which was, it's easy to say Bibi should back away from these reforms. The problem is, his coalition is held together by the promise of pushing through that judicial change.

STEPHENS: Bibi is a political survivor. This is his third tenure in office. Nobody should underestimate him or underestimate his ability to find an opportunity in a crisis. The opportunity for him now is he can use this as an occasion to say what we really need is a constitution for Israel. The state of Israel came into existence as basic laws but not a formal constitution. We need a constitution for Israel that limits or at least clearly sets what the parameters are between the executive, the judiciary and the legislature in the country.

If he's able to do that, it solves -- it does two things. It kicks the can down the road because there's going to have to be some kind of constitutional convention. It also potentially makes him the father of Israel's constitution. I think Bibi has always seen himself in historical terms. He's the longest serving prime minister in its history, and the idea that his legacy could be bequeathing Israel some kind of constitution, something that's going to appeal to him. So I think that's the smart play.

However, he made some really basic mistakes in the first few months of his of his latest tenure, so you can say, you know, this is the smart play. Whether he's going to do it, it's another question.

ZAKARIA: Talking about division in Israel being the central thing, division in the United States, what do you think the consequence of the Trump indictment is going to be for America?

BREMMER: Well, I mean, first of all, here in New York, we've seen how so many people have come out and say, that was great. You know, Trump is being indicted. And of course, it's not great. It's an incredibly sad day for the country. It's more division. And it also makes it easier for Trump to get the GOP nomination. It makes it harder for those in Republican leadership to break away from Trump and offer an alternative. That's clearly a problem for the country.

We've had a couple of years where outside the United States people looking in have said oh, well, maybe that was an aberration. Maybe now we have the U.S. governance sort of as usual. What we're seeing is this is very deep. It's very lasting. It's very structural. The 2024 election is set up to be easily as problematic for the United States and for its, you know, position abroad as 2020 was. And I think that's a real concern.

ZAKARIA: It does seem as though, you know, this makes it easier for Trump to get nominated. Does it make it easier for him to get elected? I don't think.

STEPHENS: You know, I remember 2016 Trump got a lot of free media time in part because I think as partisan enemies thought, let's make him the Republican nominee. He's the easiest to beat. This country has consistently underestimated his political appeal and his political strength. And so I've been an opponent of Trump from the beginning. I never wavered.

But this prosecution makes me heartsick. It's a weak case. Of all the cases that could be brought against him it's by far the weakest. As Ian said, it's inevitably going to do more to hand him the nomination than to deny it. It makes life very difficult for his potential opponents.

And finally, unfortunately, this is a game that two can play at. Don't be surprised if five or 10 years down the road, some conservative prosecutor in, I don't know, Oklahoma or Texas brings a weak case against the former Democratic president.

So the precedent it sets I think is really dreadful. If you want to go after Trump, insurrection, trying to tamper with the election in Georgia, those are strong cases. This ain't it.

ZAKARIA: All right, Stay with us.

Next on GPS, after House Speaker McCarthy met with Taiwan's president this week in California, China warned the U.S., quote, "Don't go further down the wrong and dangerous road," unquote. Will it? I'll discuss with the panel when we come back.



ZAKARIA: We are stronger when we are together. Those were the words of Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday in a joint press conference with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. And that is an idea that infuriates Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of one China. In response to the meeting, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the U.S. of continuously provoking China by engaging in official exchanges with Taiwan.

Where does the U.S.-Taiwan relationship go from here? We are back with Ian Bremmer and Bret Stephens.

Ian, it seems to me, you know. Congress getting involved in foreign policy is always a complicated issue. And on this one, it just feels like -- I was surprised when after Nancy Pelosi went to Taiwan, I talked to a number of Taiwanese people and if you look at the polls in Taiwan, they did not like the fact that you went to Taiwan. They felt that you're endangering or you're playing politics with our lives. We, you know, we are the ones who are going to have to face the wrath of China.

Is there a danger that Taiwan is now becoming a kind of American, you know, a part of the American political debate?


BREMMER: Let's be clear. Pelosi's trip wasn't about Congress. It was about her individually. Her legacy. Biden couldn't stop her. He tried to privately before the trip was leaked into the press.

ZAKARIA: She wanted to make this her last foreign trip.

BREMMER: That's right. And do I think an 85-year-old member of Congress should be making foreign policy by herself? No, I don't. But this week, what we've seen is actually a much more bipartisan effort by McCarthy who knew that he wasn't going to make that trip himself. The Taiwanese government didn't want him to go. He brought everybody in. It ended up being a much less provocative meeting than it might have otherwise been.

But let's be clear. One other point, it's been a really good week for China. Right? I mean, you have a former President Ma from Taiwan with a weeklong trip meeting with a bunch of leaders in the mainland China. The meetings went very well from China's perspective. You have French President Macron as well as van der Leyen from the European Commission with a very strong trip, with a bunch of French CEOs talking peace and negotiations on Russia, Ukraine with Xi Jinping directly.

And then, of course, you also have China continuing to lean in to the Iran-Saudi Arabia negotiation. I mean, in the grand context of this, this decision from McCarthy and some members of Congress to meet with President Tsai not a very big deal. And yes, they were performative in saying this will not stand. And then they did very little. China looks stronger coming out of this week.

STEPHENS: I disagree. Well, first of all, it's nice to have some bipartisanship over something as vital as this in Congress. I applaud Speaker McCarthy as I did Nancy Pelosi. Also, we have to draw the lesson from Ukraine. Ambiguous signals from the West over the security of Ukraine tempted Putin's invasion and we cannot allow that to happen a second time with a country every bit as vital as Ukraine is to Western security.

If I were the Chinese leaders, I would be drawing very sharp lessons from Ukraine and from America's willingness to defend what it sees as its core vital interests. After we withdrew from Afghanistan, I was afraid that Russia and China would take that as a symbol of American hesitancy and weakness.

Clearly that hasn't been the case in Ukraine, also the addition of Finland to NATO this week. And we shouldn't tempt them with ambiguous signals with Taiwan. So this is one aspect of bipartisan unanimity joined by the way by President Biden, who on four different occasions has said that the United States will stand in defense of Taiwan.

ZAKARIA: But what about Ian's point that when you look at the Europeans, and I know you've written about this, you know, you don't like what Macron is trying to do, you don't like what Scholz is trying to do with, you know, being somewhat more conciliatory toward China, and trying to involve them in the Ukraine peace process.

We'll get to Ukraine in a second but doesn't that show that while there will be Western unity on the issue of Ukraine and Russia, there will not be similar Western unity if the Biden administration wants to go down a kind of Cold War strategy with China. Both Macron and Scholz explicitly said we do not believe that there should be decoupling. We don't believe that there should be a hostile policy toward China. China is a partner.

STEPHENS: With respect to French Polynesia, France is not really a New Caledonia. France is not really a Pacific power when it comes to the security of the Far East. It's the United States. It's Japan, it's South Korea, it's Australia, and to a certain extent, Britain, so I think by all means the French and the Germans want to cut deals, business deals in China. They should. It's their right. But I think the Chinese don't look to them for signals about the security order of the Indo-Pacific.

BREMMER: There are two countries in the world that have full alignment with the United States in terms of its China policy. One is Canada, the other is Mexico, because they have absolutely no choice given the level of economic integration where they are geographically. There are no other countries that would accept that. Not Japan, not South Korea, not Australia. All of them want -- none of them.

All of them want military engagement with the United States. They also want exposure to what will be the largest market in the world by 2030. That's even true for a country like Japan. They've made that very clear directly to President Biden.

So the idea that the United States is going to have the kind of alignment with its allies that it presently has on Russia, which has been decoupled, which is seen as a rogue state by the entire G 7 Plus, that's just not on the table.

ZAKARIA: Japan is not likely to be as tough on China as people think. They always find a way to make a deal. BREMMER: And they want to ensure that their exposure to the Chinese

market remains very, very robust. So on an issue like semiconductors, they're aligned with United States but in their overall orientation of their economy, they want to do more with China. In that regard they're a lot more like the Germans. They're a lot more like the French. They're a lot more like the American CEOs than they are like the U.S. government.

STEPHENS: I think the biggest piece of underappreciated news from the region in the last few weeks has been the rapprochement between South Korea and Japan. Two American allies, who have longstanding differences.


Our ambassador over there, Rahm Emanuel, helped midwife a new agreement. I think both of these countries are really worried that what they see in China isn't a country that simply wants to grow economically. It's a country that looks at itself as a hegemon and not a particularly benign hegemon in the region. Japan's remilitarization it's real, it's historic, and it's being driven directly by the perception that China isn't a partner. It's a threat.

ZAKARIA: All right. We're going to have to leave it at that. This is terrific. We will have to have you guys back.

Next on GPS, while many pundits argue that globalization is dead, my next guest says it never really existed in the way we imagined and it is changing fast. How is that? Find out when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Ever since the global pandemic, there's been a proliferation of think pieces announcing the decline of globalization. After 40 odd years of flinging open national borders and cooperating on free trade, they say, countries are moving towards protectionism, tariffs and subsidies for industries that manufacture at home.

But before we do declare globalization dead I wanted to check in with my next guest who says it was never as robust as it appeared, and it isn't dead now. Shannon O'Neil is the senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of a terrific new book, "The Globalization Myth: Why Regions Matter." Welcome.


ZAKARIA: So first, you know, you say that one of the things we never understood about globalization was that it was never quite as widespread as people thought. Describe what you mean.

O'NEIL: So, we tend to think of it as all encompassing, pervasive phenomenon around the world. But actually, when you look at the economic data, there's only about two dozen countries that have seen their economies transform with globalization over these last 40 years. And in contrast, you see dozens more, 89 to be precise, that saw trade as part of their economy stay the same or even declined. So, we've had a good number of countries that have deglobalized over these last 40 years. So, it's not quite this phenomenon that has taken over this juggernaut that has taken over the world.

ZAKARIA: And would you say the real story is regionalization, not globalization? Explain what you mean.

O'NEIL: So, when you look at those countries that did open up to the world and the companies that went abroad, and we have seen internationalization. You know, trade has grown from $2 trillion to $32 trillion today. But when companies went abroad looking for suppliers or looking for customers, they didn't go to the other side of the world. They more often than not stayed nearby.

And just to give you a piece of data. The average good that travels abroad travels 3,000 miles. That's about the distance from New York to Los Angeles. That doesn't get you to Shanghai or it doesn't get you to Berlin. So really what you've seen is regionalization.

ZAKARIA: So when people in America talk about how, you know, everything in Walmart is made in China, and American jobs have all been lost in China, is that not an accurate picture of what has been going on for the last two decades?

O'NEIL: It is part of the story but this is where regionalization comes in. This is the pieces and parts and components that come together to make that iPhone or that refrigerator or that laptop or that piece of furniture, anything else that's moving around the world. And that's where regionalization happens.

And many reasons why those jobs were lost and why we see everything in Walmart made in -- it says made in China, is really because we see very robust supply chains, lots of integration in Asia that are so competitive that they beat out supply chains from other places around the world.

ZAKARIA: So it says, made in China. It was probably finally assembled in China but there were probably 10 Asian countries that were going back and forth with these goods, and finally all came together in China.

O'NEIL: Exactly. Right. There are pieces and parts and components that come from Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, all kinds of places. The last place is China, so that's what the sign says, and that's what the trade deficit says when we look at the United States. But it's really that strength of Asian supply chains that's competing with U.S. producers and, frankly, North American supply chains, which are weaker than Asian ones.

ZAKARIA: Right. So that's -- to me the really interesting part of your book is the world is dividing these three regions Asia, which largely means East Asia as far as I could tell, Europe, and North America. And you point out that of these three regions, North America does the worst. Explain why.

O'NEIL: So, North America is the least integrated of these three. You look at trade within Europe, it's about 60 -- 65 percent. Asia has grown to 60 percent. North America, it's about 40 percent but it's --

ZAKARIA: Explain what you mean by that 40 percent -- so for every $10.00 produced, you know --

O'NEIL: Yes. So, $4.00 out of $10.00 is trade within the region, and the rest goes out to the rest of the world. And what we've seen in commerce is that ties to your neighbor, that integration, the trade between them, especially when it comes down to these components or parts that that really brings economic strength because you gain economies of scale. You gain specialization. You gain access to different labor markets or skills and the like. And so, you can make things that are highly innovative and quality but for cheaper prices.

And that's where North America -- we see some areas where this has really worked. Automotive is one. We have very deep regional supply chains and a thriving automotive industry. But many other industries, electronic or textiles or furniture and the like, we haven't seen integration and what we've really seen is decamping for other places like Asia.

ZAKARIA: So, this is one of the things that George Shultz, the former secretary of state and secretary of treasury, always say to me, this was the greatest missed opportunity in American public policy that we -- we have not taken advantage of the fact that we have these two great neighbors.


You know, on the one hand Canada, energy rich, you know, has all kinds of commodities. On the other side Mexico with cheaper labor. And that we should have a genuinely integrated North American economy. What stops that?

O'NEIL: The short answer is politics stops a lot of this. I think, you know, in the United States, we got used to a number of decades where we were the world's best manufacturer, the biggest manufacturer, in part because the rest of the world was on its knees after World War II. But in part, I think, we tend to think still that you don't need to do this with others. And what has changed in the last 40 years is that like it or not, manufacturing has become a team sport and the countries participate.

And so, the United States still trying to go it alone means that our products will be perhaps less innovative but definitely less affordable. And so it will be hard to sell to not just U.S. citizens but sell to the 7.5 billion people that live in other countries.

ZAKARIA: Do you think when you look at your book -- I mean, you're clearly making the case for stronger regionalization and kind of building of the North American economy. Do you predict that it's going to happen? O'NEIL: I think we're starting to see the beginnings of it. You know, many of the Inflation Reduction Act or the CHIPS Act there's places that Mexico and Canada are written into the process, so I think that's a good step forward. But we are going to have to change our mindset here in the United States that we're not looking for a bigger piece of a small pie, which is the U.S. economy, and maybe a smaller piece of that global pie. So that really is the conversation that needs to start.

ZAKARIA: And we have started it. Shannon O'Neil, thank you so much.

O'NEIL: Thank you so much.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.



ZAKARIA: Ginni Rometty spent nearly 40 years at IBM, starting as an engineer and ultimately serving as CEO for eight years. She was the first woman to lead the company and, as she writes in her new book, "Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World," it wasn't always an easy road. Today, she co-chairs the nonprofit OneTen which helps find careers for Black Americans who do not have a four-year college degree. Ginni Rometty, welcome.

GINNI ROMETTY, FORMER CHAIR AND CEO, IBM: Thank you, Fareed. It is so good to see you again.

ZAKARIA: I've known you for a while. I have to confess. I was stunned to discover what you -- the story you tell in this -- in this book. Your father leaves you and your three siblings and your mother the week before Thanksgiving. You're 16 years old. Was that, you know, kind of one of those absolute watershed moments in your life that you still remember?

ROMETTY: It is and was, and it's why the book starts there. But not because I'm a victim or my mom was a victim. I really start there because the day he walked out, he said to my mother -- and I happen to have walked in and heard it. He said, I don't care what happens to you. I don't care what happens to any of you. You could work on the street for all I care.

And my mom had never worked a day outside the home, was 34 years old, no education past high school. And here she was with no money, no food, no house. And -- so we would go on financial aid, food stamps. And my mom was so determined.

So, I start there because she got a little of education, could get a better job, a little more, a little better job. And my point of "Good Power" is it's not about your title. Like my mother had power when she had nothing else. She changed that situation.

ZAKARIA: You feel like you want to almost like patent to your mom because --


ZAKARIA: -- your three siblings are also CEOs --


ZAKARIA: -- of big, impressive companies.

ROMETTY: Yes. You know -- but my mother will always say, what did I ever do? And I always say to her, but, mom, you know -- what she did, and I think this is to me one of the valuable lessons for everyone. My mom said, never let anyone define you. Only you will define who you are. So in other words, she never wanted to be defined as a victim. And so she was going to change that.

But there was one other thing that maybe I hope you saw the silver thread in the book. My mom also, she wasn't non intelligent. She just didn't have access. So, my mom had aptitude but no access. And this will then color my whole life about how to bring better opportunity to more people, which is a lot of what the book talks about.

ZAKARIA: It totally resonated with me. Because growing up in India, you see a lot of that. You see lots of incredibly smart people. And you say to yourself, if this person had just gone to an engineering school and -- you know, that seems to come through as the thing you're trying to bring out in everybody with this nonprofit work that you're doing where basically you're trying to find jobs for people who don't have college degrees and is trying to make sort of American industry understand a lot of jobs don't actually need college degrees.

ROMETTY: Yes. In this country and in most developed countries, I think you'd be surprised, 65 percent of people don't have a college degree, 80 percent of Black Americans don't have a college degree. Yet all of us and particularly big companies become easy to check a box, college degree, of jobs that would sustain a family of four, my venture guess from the work I've done now with the nonprofit is 50 percent of those jobs are over credentialed.

So just think -- and actually, it's good for everyone. If you were hired for your skill, promoted for your skill, your whole life long -- you now talk about tech. I mean, tech is going to change every three to five years. You're going to need a new skill anyways.

So this -- the non for profit that I've -- I'm co-chair with Ken Frazier from Merck started as well with Ken Chenault who ran AMEX, Kevin Sharer who ran Amgen, Charles Phillips' Oracle --

ZAKARIA: And it's focused on Black Americans.

ROMETTY: Yes. Because on the heels of the murder of George Floyd, a number of us said, what could business do? And the ideas provide good jobs, but we know something's got it. You can't just give people a job with no skill.

ZAKARIA: I got to ask you so even in the nonprofit, you mentioned Ken Chenault, Ken Frazier. Your entire world has been men.


ZAKARIA: I mean, you rose up --

ROMETTY: I don't think of them that way, by the way.

ZAKARIA: So, tell me about that.


Like did you know -- did it -- did you notice? Did you have to change the way you behaved? Is it just something you're naturally comfortable with?

ROMETTY: You know, in the process of writing a book, it made me have to reflect on, why did I always feel OK about this? And I have to again thank my mother or the circumstances because what happened after my life was thrown and our life into disarray -- look, we knew -- don't cause trouble. Just study hard, right? We can't cause her more trouble.

And then when I end up in university, I'm the only woman in engineering. And then you're like, whoa. People will remember every time I put my hand up. So, I better really study hard.

So, that idea of knowledge would become a shield. But eventually around when you say a world of men, it turns out you're better prepared and more thoroughly ready, and therefore you compete very well.

But to your point all along my whole life I always said, please don't look at me as a -- as a -- as a woman, right? Just judge me for what I do.

ZAKARIA: And when you would look at -- you know, you talked about how in one of your performance reviews somebody basically said, she should lose weight and then she'll be OK. Did it enrage you? Did you just think, look, this is the world I'm in?

ROMETTY: You know, it's very interesting comment, because in this day and age you think, how could anyone ever say that? I always on every criticism, consider the source and the context. I knew it was someone who cared about me a lot. And he was saying this is -- this is the 70s and 80s. He's saying, look, I know the world's not kind. Look around. And those that are in these positions don't look like that. And I just want you to know that because I hate to see something hold you back.

So in the moment -- and I was much heavier and I didn't do anything. I eventually would take care of this for my health, which is the right reasons. But I have to tell you the last part of that when you said, how do I feel? You do recognize over time I would feel this sense of a role model because so many people will say, I can't be these jobs. There's no one up there like that.

And this idea that you cannot be what you cannot see would really sink into me over the years. And then I would start to embrace the fact that, no, wait. I want a lot of women to see that this is absolutely capable. So I then realized, wait, you're saying you don't want to be recognized as a woman. It's not about you. It's not about you. It's about all these other people.

ZAKARIA: Ginni Rometty, pleasure to have you on.

ROMETTY: My pleasure. Thank you, Fareed, very much

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, Turkey's historic election. Will Erdogan cement his control over his country, or is it the end of illiberal democracy in Turkey? Right after the break.



ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. Despite what you may have heard, the most important election of the year was not the Wisconsin Supreme Court vote held this week. Consequential, though that race was. The most important election of the year is happening next month halfway across the globe.

On May 14th, the Republic of Turkey will hold its first presidential and parliamentary election in five years. And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man who has spent much of his two decades in power, extending a vice-like grip over the lovers of the state, is facing the toughest challenge of his career.

Erdogan is one of the world's most dangerous examples of illiberal democracy. He has accumulated power, torn down checks and balances, and persecuted political foes. In 2017, he narrowly won a referendum that allowed him to consolidate power under the presidency.

He abolished the prime minister's office, stacked the judiciary with loyalists, and gave the president, that is himself, vast powers to unilaterally appointed top officials in the government. Historically, Erdogan has owed much of his popularity due to the fact that for a large part of his tenure, he has delivered robust growth for his people.

As Gonul Tol notes in the "Financial Times," this is part of his authoritarian bargain. He improves people's lives, and they don't object when he grabs power. But that bargain, writes Tol, has collapsed. Inflation last year hit 85 percent after Erdogan's unorthodox decision to cut interest rates. "The New York Times" reports that many economists predict a recession later this year.

The government faced blistering criticism for its handling of the devastating February earthquake in which more than 45,000 people were killed and millions displaced. Critics blame Erdogan for a shoddy construction boom in which builders close to his ruling party were awarded contracts and face little oversight.

But Erdogan's biggest challenge comes from the opposition, which is unexpectedly united. Six parties ranging in ideology from social democratic, to right wing secular, to Islamists have gathered behind a single candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. This opposition bloc, the Nation Alliance, vows to undo Erdogan's one man rule and restore Turkey to democracy. Its candidate, a former bureaucrat who lacks charisma but has a reputation for integrity, is polling ahead of Erdogan, according to recent data.

Soner Cagaptay, author of "The New Sultan," a biography of Erdogan, told GPS that Erdogan's own authoritarian policies and power grabs have created the unity of the opposition. The coalition coalesced, he says, when the race went from a multiparty parliamentary contest to a two man face off for the presidency. The writer Mustafa Akyol compares the group to never Trumpers. They have diverse interests but share one goal, ousting the current president.

Of course, Erdogan still has many tools to engineer the election in his favor. He controls most Turkish media and can dominate the airwaves. He has sway over courts and his government has jailed thousands of political opponents.


He also has some legitimate methods of achieving electoral triumph. He does have a strong base who perceive him as delivering for people like them, conservative Muslims, often rural. As "The New York Times" notes in the run up to the election, he's gone on a spending spree, boosting the minimum wage by 55 percent and the salaries of civil servants by 30 percent.

The fact that the opposition is narrowly ahead in recent polls is evidence of the frustration of the people. The great hope in Turkey is that despite the country's growing illiberalism elections are still relatively free. If Erdogan is defeated, it will be because of the tenacity of Turkish voters and their inspiring faith in the electoral system despite the growing authoritarianism of their leader. But this race is more than a referendum on Erdogan or on the nature of Turkish democracy.

As Cagaptay argues, Erdogan pioneered a populist model of electoral politics that relies on stirring up the base with nativist rhetoric. He used a polarized electorate and sympathetic media to attack the opposition. He thrived in a post-truth atmosphere.

If Erdogan is defeated it means an authoritarian slide is not irreversible. But if he wins, in all likelihood, he will spend his next term further consolidating his power. In that case, historians might look back and say that this was Turkey's last truly free election.

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