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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Interview With U.S. President Joe Biden; Interview With Reckoning Project Executive Director Janine Di Giovanni. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 09, 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 (voice-over): We have an important program for you today. With the president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden. I sat down with the president in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday for an exclusive interview.
President Biden is headed to Europe for a trip that will take him to Vilnius, Lithuania for NATO's annual summit.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Holding NATO together is really critical.
ZAKARIA: It has been 500 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. Is there any sign of an end to this war? And will NATO offer Ukraine membership?
Also, is there a foreign relations with China or are we going to see an even more intense rivalry? And when can Bibi Netanyahu expect an invitation to the White House? All of this in a special interview with America's 46th president.
BIDEN: I think we have enormous opportunities and I just want to finish the job.
ZAKARIA: I'll bring you my take later in the show but first President Biden is headed to Europe today for a five-day, three-country tour. The main focus of which will be a stop in Vilnius, Lithuania for NATO's annual summit.
NATO leaders had hoped to be celebrating Sweden joining the alliance at the summit this week but Turkey has blocked the process. Meanwhile, today marks 500 days of Russia's war in Ukraine and the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues. It is an important moment for NATO and an important moment for President Biden on the world stage.
I sat down with the president in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday for a wide-ranging interview about his foreign policy.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, an honor to have you on the program.
BIDEN: Good to be with you. Thanks for having me.
ZAKARIA: When you go to the NATO summit, the big strategic issue is that Ukraine wants membership in NATO. Should it get membership in NATO?
BIDEN: I don't think it's ready for membership in NATO. But here's the deal. I spent, as you know, a great deal of time trying to hold NATO together because I believe Putin has had an overwhelming objective from the time he launched 185,000 troops into Ukraine, and that was to break NATO. He was confident, in my view and many in the intelligence community, he was confident he could break NATO.
So holding NATO together is really critical. I don't think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war. For example, if you did that, then, you know, and I mean what I say, we're determined to commit every inch of territory that is NATO territory as a commitment that we've all made no matter what.
If the war is going on, then we're all in a war. You know, we're in a war with Russia if that were the case. So I think we have to lay out a path for the rational path for Russia, for -- excuse me, for Ukraine, to be able to qualify to get into NATO. And we have -- when the very first time that I met with Putin two years ago in Geneva and he said I want commitments on no Ukraine and NATO, I said we're not going to do that because it's an open-door policy. We're not going to shut anybody out.
NATO is a process that takes some time to meet all the qualifications and -- from democratization to a whole range of other issues. So in the meantime, though, I've spoken with Zelenskyy at length about this, and one of the things I indicated is the United States would be ready to provide while the process was going on, and it's going to take a while, while that process was going on to provide security ala the security we provide for Israel, providing the weaponry and the needs, capacity to defend themselves if there is an agreement, if there is a cease-fire, if there is a peace agreement.
And so I think we can work it out, but I think it's premature to say to call for a vote now because there is other qualifications that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues.
ZAKARIA: The short-term issue at the NATO summit is Sweden. Will Sweden -- do you think, are you optimistic that Sweden will be invited to join NATO relatively soon?
BIDEN: I am. I am. I have met recently with the Swedish prime minister here. Sweden is a -- has the same value set that we have in NATO. A small nation but has the capacity to defend itself. They know how to fight and they're -- and I think they should be a member of NATO. You know better than anyone, the holdup is Turkey. Turkey and Sweden is making adjustments in their law to relate to whether or not these people burning the Quran.
Well, they aren't Swedes that are burning the Quran. They are migrants who are burning the Quran. And that puts -- that gives an excuse and/or it puts Erdogan in a tough spot at home. And so they're moving to stop that, number one. Number two, there is a -- Turkey is looking for modernization of F-16 aircraft. And Mitsotakis in Greece is also looking for some help. And so what I'm trying to quite frankly put together is a little bit of a consortium here where we're strengthening NATO in terms of the military capacity of both Greece as well as Turkey, and allow Sweden to come in. But it's a -- it's in play. It's not done.
ZAKARIA: But you're hopeful.
BIDEN: I'm hopeful. As a matter of fact I'm optimistic.
ZAKARIA: You have news -- the news is that the administration is going to provide cluster munitions to the Ukrainians. These are weapons that 100 nations banned, including some of our closest NATO allies. When there was news that the Russians might be using it admittedly against civilians your then press secretary said this might be constitute war crimes. What made you change your mind and decide to give them these weapons?
BIDEN: Two things, Fareed. I know it's a very difficult decision in my part. And by the way, I discussed this with our allies, discussed this with our friends up on the Hill, and we're in a situation where Ukraine continues to be brutally attacked across the board by munitions, by these cluster munitions that are -- have dud rates that are very, very low, I mean, very high that are a danger to civilians, number one.
Number two, the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition. The ammunition that they used to call them 155-millimeter weapons. This is a war relating to munitions, and they are running out of that ammunition and we're low on it. And so what I finally did, I took the recommendation of the Defense Department to, not permanently, but to allow for in this transition period where we have more 155 weapons, these shells for the Ukrainians, to provide them with something that has a very low dud rate. It's about -- I think it's 1.50, which is the least likely to be blown.
And it's not used in civilian areas. They're trying to get through those trenches and stop those tanks from rolling. And so -- but it was not an easy decision. And it's not -- we're not signatories of that agreement. But I -- it took me a while to be convinced to do it. But the main thing is they either have the weapons to stop the Russians now from their -- keeping them from stopping the Ukrainian offensive through these areas, or they don't. And I think they needed them.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, America's secretary of the Treasury just wrapped up a visit to China on the heels of a similar visit by the secretary of State. Is this a sign of a thawing of relations or will tensions between two the great powers continue to rise?
I'll ask President Biden about his China policy when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Today Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrapped up a four-day trip to Beijing that was designed to ease U.S.-China tensions. That comes on the heel of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's trip to China last month. Despite this flurry of high-level diplomacy, the relationship has rarely been more tense. Each side is sparring over technology. Conflict over Taiwan remains a dangerous possibility and President Biden has enraged Beijing with statements indicating the U.S. would come to Taiwan's aid in a confrontation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS "60 MINUTES": Would U.S. forces defend the island?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Where does the relationship go from here? I asked President Biden.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about China policy. Recently there have been announcements of new restrictions on Chinese companies relating to cloud computing. The Chinese are now beginning to make -- put restrictions in place on critical materials relating to semiconductors.
When I travel around the world, the sense I get is people are wondering, where is this going? Is this a ratchet where the United States will keep doing things like this, the Chinese will start responding and this goes on, or do you think there is a kind of stable point here where U.S.-China relations can be, as you have often said, competitive but also when necessary cooperative?
BIDEN: The answer is I think there is a stable point. But, look, if you don't mind my saying, just before going on air we talked about things are changing in the world. China is influx right now as well. China has enormous potential capacity but enormous problems as well. And so there is two things that I have tried to do in terms of our China policy. And by the way, I have met first the person with Xi Jinping more than any other world leader. 68 hours alone he and I with an interpreter back when I was vice president all the way through because as you remember it was clear he was going to be president and it wasn't inappropriate for the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to be traveling the world with him.
But I traveled 17,000 miles with him when I was vice president in China. And so we understand each other I think fairly well, number one. Number two, everything is changing. You know, you heard me say it before. The world is an inflection point. No matter what was happening, China is in a different place right now internally. Internally. I'll give you an example. He often says to me -- not often, on two occasions, called me and said why am I criticizing what's going on with western China and slave labor, et cetera.
And I said, remember, you told me that for China to be able to be secure, it needs to have one leader, a united China from Taiwan to the Tibetan Plateau, and that's when China has always done, we're going all the way back to the time when we have (INAUDIBLE). And I said -- and so for me not to talk about -- and you told me for you not to talk about unity of China would be able to lead. I said, well, the United States is the most unique nation in the world. We are organized based on an idea, for real. And not only idea. We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men and women are created equal, et cetera.
And we live up to it, we never walked away from it. And for me, for an American president to remain silent on slave labor would be totally inconsistent. And so I think -- well, I guess what I'm trying to say is -- I'm sorry to go on so long, is that I think there is a way to resolve -- to establish a working relationship with China that benefits them and us. And the last thing I'll tell you on this, is I also called him after he had that meeting with the Russians about this new relationship, et cetera.
And I said, this is not a threat, this is an observation. I said, since Russia went into Ukraine, 600 American corporations have pulled out of Russia. And you've told me that your economy depends on investment from Europe and the United States. And be careful. Be careful. And so he --
ZAKARIA: What did he say?
BIDEN: He listened and he didn't argue. And if you notice, he has not gone full bore in Russia. He is -- he talks about nuclear war being a disaster. You know, there is such a thing as security that is needed. Anyway, so, I think there is a way we can work through this and that's why I spent so much time beefing up -- I think if I told you three years ago, which I had written about in my notes, that I was going to get Japan deeply involved. Have them change their defense budget, have them work -- not that I've done it, but work with South Korea, work something out.
We're going to put together the Quad which is India, Australia, the United States and Japan. I got a call from him on that. He said why are you doing that. I said we're not doing that to surround you, we're doing that to maintain stability in the Indian Ocean and in the South China Sea. Because we believe the rules of the road about what constitutes international air space, international space and the water should be maintained. And so I just think it's going to take a little time. But, and where
it goes, depends a lot on what he's able to do internally in terms of his economy.
ZAKARIA: Do you think he wants China to replace the United States as the leading power, the defining power --
BIDEN: Oh, yes, I think he does. I mean, you know, I'm confident he wants to have the largest economy in the world and have us -- the largest military capacity in the world.
ZAKARIA: Rewrite the rules of the international order?
BIDEN: I think so. Not all of them, but he says, he pointed out to me, he said we weren't there when those rules were written about international air space and so on.
And, but I don't think he wants -- he's looking for war conflict, expansion of territory. And he, look, I sometimes say to my colleagues, I've spent over 180 hours talking with my NATO colleagues and European colleagues in person or around Zoom, I say to them, do you know anybody, any world leader who'd trade places with Xi Jinping? OK. I'll take their problems and you take mine. I don't know anybody would. Because it's not that he's a bad guy or a good guy, the circumstances are enormously complicated.
For example, you know, the whole notion of, you know, this new ring road that's going to put around -- going to invest in other nations. Well, it's ended up producing (INAUDIBLE). You know, these countries are in real trouble. And so, but it requires us to be more responsible. The West. I've been pushing very hard to get our European colleagues to invest in infrastructure in Africa, in South America, and to generate the kind of growth that they should have and could have because we're the ones that caused the environmental problems.
We clear-cut everything. And now we're telling them, no, everybody slow up. But I guess what I'm saying is I think there are positive answers to the dilemmas that exist without worrying about whether or not China is going to rule the world.
ZAKARIA: President Biden has taken the unusual step of urging Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to walk back his controversial judicial overhaul. Has Bibi done enough to get an invitation to the White House? I will ask the president.
ZAKARIA: Late last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that he had been invited to visit China. That invitation underscores the absence of a similar one from the United States. In March, after sharp rare criticism of Netanyahu, for his proposed judicial overhaul, the U.S. president Joe Biden said that the prime minister would not receive a White House invitation in the near term. Months later, he has shown no sign of relenting.
So where do matters between the two leaders and their countries stand? I'm back with Joe Biden.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, what will it take for Bibi Netanyahu to get an invitation to the White House?
BIDEN: Well, first of all the Israeli president is going to be coming, we have other contacts. I've been, I think it is fair to say, an unyielding supporter of Israel for over -- I've only been around a couple of years, but for as long as I've been around. And Bibi, I think is trying to work through how he could work through his existing problems in terms of his coalition. He has -- I'm one of those that believes Israel is almost a security risk for a two-state solution.
I think it's a mistake to think that as some members of his cabinet and this is one of the most extremist members of cabinets that I've seen. I go all the way back to Golda Meir and, you know, not that she was extreme but I go back to that era. I think that the fact that the Palestinian Authority has lost its credibility, not necessarily because of what Israel has done, just because it is just lost its credibility, number one.
And number two, created a vacuum for extremism among the Palestinians. They are -- there are some very extreme elements. So it's not all Israel now in the West Bank, all Israel's problem. But they are a part of the problem. And particularly those individuals in the cabinet who say, they have no right -- we could settle anywhere we want, they have to right to be here, et cetera. And I think we -- we're talking with them regularly, trying to tamp down what is going on and hopefully Bibi will continue to move toward moderation and changing the (INAUDIBLE).
ZAKARIA: You've had tough words about Saudi Arabia from the start about the Khashoggi killing and things like that. You talked about needing a kind of new relationship. They've been pretty unyielding when you've asked them to pump more oil. They've slashed oil recently. Now Saudi Arabia wants a defense treaty from the United States promising that you will protect them and they want civilian nuclear capacity which again the U.S. would have to provide. And in return, they would recognize Israel. Are you going to do it?
BIDEN: We're a long way from there. We've got a lot to talk about. For example, that trip I went, which was criticized for my going, a number of things have happened on that trip. On that trip I was able to negotiate over flights so Israeli could know -- Israeli aircraft could now over fly Saudi Arabia, number one. Number two, the price of oil is actually down, not up, and it's not because they have done one thing or the other. But the world is changing, our policies relative to renewables are real.
BIDEN: Number three, we found ourselves in a circumstance where the war if Yemen is essentially for a year now been -- it's ended -- peace is being kept. So, we're making progress in the region. And it depends upon the conduct and what is asked of us for them to recognize Israel. Quite frankly -- I don't think they have much of a problem with Israel, quite frankly. And whether or not we would provide a means by which they could have civilian nuclear power and/or be a guarantor of their security, that is -- I think that is a little way off.
ZAKARIA: Finally, Mr. President, you've often said when people ask you about your age, just watch me. And I think a lot of people do watch you and are impressed and they think you've been a great president. You've brought the economy back. You've restored relations with the world. But many of these people do say and these are hardened supporters of yours, the next thing he should do is step aside and let another generation of Democrats take the baton. Why are they wrong?
BIDEN: Well, let me just -- they're not right or wrong. It is -- look, to use the phrase again, I think we're at an inflection point. I think the world is changing and I think I -- there is one thing that comes with age, if you're being honest about it your whole life and that is some wisdom. I think we're on the cusp of being able to make significant positive changes in the world. Really honest to God do.
You've seen what we've done in Europe. Europe is more united than it has ever been since World War II -- end of World War II. You've seen what we've been able to do in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. We've united that part of the world including the 50 --basically 50 island nations that are participating, who will be here by the way shortly.
I think we're putting the world together in a way that is going to make things significantly -- how can I say it -- more secure for people. We're uniting democracies -- have a possibility of uniting democracies in a way that hadn't happened ever. And, so, I think that whether it is the far east, whether it is NATO, whether it is Europe, whether it is what is going on in Africa, I think we have enormous opportunities. And I think I just want to finish the job. And I think we can do that in the next six years.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, it has been an honor. Thank you.
BIDEN: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks.
ZAKARIA: I want to thank President Biden for joining me. Next on GPS, my take. Some Republican candidates want to wage war on Mexico's drug cartels. I will explain why this is a terrible idea.
ZAKARIA: And now here is my take. American presidential campaigns usually aren't focused on foreign policy which is actually a blessing because when they are, the result is often crazy talk. If you doubt that, consider the latest policy idea that has been endorsed in some form or the other by almost all the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination, effectively declaring war on Mexico's drug cartels.
Donald Trump plans to wage war and impose a full naval embargo on them. Senator Tim Scott says he wants to use the world's greatest military to solve the problem. A recent poll found strong support for military action among GOP primary voters so expect to see more such wild statements.
The problem that needs to be addressed is real and tragic. More than 70,000 people in the United States died from synthetic opioid overdoses in 2021, the last year for which we have data. The leading synthetic opioid is fentanyl which is similar to but much more potent than heroin. These drugs are mostly made by cartels in Mexico.
But the idea that using American military force would solve the problem is delusional. First, it would be an act of war against Mexico. That country's government has been clear that it is utterly opposed to any use of the American military to deal with its drug problem. And if it were to be persuaded otherwise, the worst way to proceed would be for American politicians to proclaim that they intend to use force regardless of what the Mexican government thinks. This kind of rhetoric is a gift to Mexico's populous president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who will use it to gin up anti-American nationalism in his country.
Second, it won't work. As Senator Scott reflected on the fact that the world's greatest military was unable to stop the drug trade in Afghanistan, a country that it occupied for 20 years. The problems in Mexico would be even greater than Afghanistan. Large areas of no- man's-land where the cartels operate. Massively funded and armed militias and many ways to shift production across borders.
Third, large scale action against the cartels would unleash instability across the region and in the U.S. itself. You will think that we would have some understanding of the unintended consequences of military interventions after Iraq and Afghanistan.
Millions of migrants have been trying to enter the United States. Imagine what the numbers would look like if there were a bombing campaign in southern Mexico. Armed gangs would disperse and try to find ways to hide in smaller numbers including by crossing the border into the U.S. Instead of exporting the violence to Mexico, we would be bringing the war to America.
Two years ago, on the 50th anniversary of Richard Nixon's war on drugs, several studies and articles noted that it had been an almost unqualified failure by almost any measure. Despite an estimated $1 trillion spent on enforcement, deaths from drug overdoses have risen dramatically, while the American prison system has been utterly transformed. Now, with less than 5 percent of the world's population, America has around 20 percent of its prisoners. After many reform efforts, the police make over a million arrests each year simply for possession of drugs.
And when we talk about the war on drugs, we rarely discuss its effects on Latin America. Our efforts to address the problem massively empowered the militaries in many of these countries and hindered the development of civil society, democratic development and the rule of law. Corruption skyrocketed and infested all parts of society as can be seen most readily in Mexico where the cartels have become interwoven with parts of the government.
Some consider Plan Colombia, a successful battle in the war on drugs. Since 2000, Washington has appropriated about $12 billion for the plan and related efforts in Colombia, where brave and tenacious government fought vigorously against the cartels. Coca cultivation did decline for a time in Colombia but has returned with a vengeance.
Even worse, the strategy had the effect of increasing production in neighboring Peru and Bolivia. In fact, the drug trade originally moved to Colombia in the 1980s and 90s from Peru and Bolivia because of the military efforts in those countries. This is what experts call the balloon effect. You could just as easily call it capitalism 101, when the richest country in the world has an insatiable demand for drugs, someone will supply them.
Solving the fentanyl crisis in America will take time and a wide range of efforts. Doctors still prescribe far too many opioids responding to powerful commercial incentives. A 2019 study showed that American and Canadian post-operative patients were seven times more likely to be prescribed opioids than patients in Sweden. Drug treatment and rehabilitation programs are still far too small and underfunded. Medications that help with withdrawal symptoms have proven extremely effective but still only one in four people who need them in the U.S. can obtain them.
In the meantime, though, it is much easier to bellow about going to war with Mexico. Let's hope that this is just campaign craziness. If we actually try to make these threats a reality, we will be asking for decades of turmoil. Go to CNN.com/Fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week.
Next on GPS, after 500 days of war, the list of Russia's alleged war crimes is getting long. And the road to bringing war criminals to justice is not easy. But my next guest is working to hold the perpetrators accountable. That story when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Last week, a U.N. report found that Russian forces have carried out widespread and systematic torture of Ukrainian civilians. Since the war began 77 civilians have been executed and over 800 arbitrarily detained often under inhumane conditions, says the U.N. And Russia's alleged war crimes are piling up. The U.N. has added the Russian army to its blacklist for killing more than 130 children in Ukraine last year and even using children as human shields. In response, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, Andriy Yermak, openly called Putin a war criminal.
An NGO called the Reckoning Project has trained journalists in Ukraine to collect eyewitness testimony of atrocities. This evidence is being used to help prosecutors build cases against Putin and others in international court. Former war correspondent Janine di Giovanni is the executive director of the Reckoning Project. She joined me to talk about her work.
ZAKARIA: Janine, pleasure to have you on. Tell me, how did you get involved with this project?
JANINA DI GIOVANNI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE RECKONING PROJECT: So, Fareed, as you know, I worked in war zones for more than 30 years. Nineteen wars --unfortunately I've witnessed three genocides in my lifetime. I've seen far too often the perpetrators of extraordinary violence, war crimes, crimes against humanity walk away from it and often it was because evidence was not collected while the war was going on or that by the time they would get these people to the docket, it was too late. Witnesses had died, or they disappeared.
So, the day after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with a colleague Peter Pomeranzev, we decided that the best way to quicken justice and to make sure that Putin would be held accountable for these crimes, we would do something that would have more impact than journalism.
And what we realized was there was a huge niche between the huge number of journalists that were on the ground witnessing these things daily but they were unable to take witness testimonies. They didn't have the skills to do this. They didn't have training in international humanitarian law. Most importantly, they could damage witnesses by traumatizing them if they ask the wrong questions.
So, that is the origins of the Reckoning Project. I guess you could say it was borne out of my own deep anger, frustration and bitterness at seeing justice not delivered.
ZAKARIA: I know this is an ongoing investigation, but give me some sense of what are you finding?
DI GIOVANNI: So mainly we're working on some very specific projects. So, we were amongst the first, the Reckoning Project, trace the stolen children, the Ukrainian children. In our case, a family that was taken from Mariupol, their father was put into a filtration camp and the three children were put on a bus and taken to Moscow. They were then very close to being adopted by a Russian family when somehow the eldest child got a cell phone, managed to call a colleague of his fathers to find out that his father had been released from filtration camp and was in Latvia. And then they reunited. So, that is one happy ending. But there are many that are not. So, we're really focused intently now on Russia's abduction of these children. Because to us, it ties very closely in with genocide. Because it is trying to eradicate Ukrainian identity.
When these kids go -- are taken to Russia, the first thing that happens is their Ukrainian names are usually taken away from them. They speak in Russian rather than Ukrainian. They are taught a whole new kind of Russified system which eerily reminds me of what happened with Pol Pot in Cambodia in year zero. So, their past is essentially erased.
We're working on ecological terrorisms. But mainly what we look at is torture, deportation, murder, of course, but the indiscriminate use of force against civilians. The purely unnecessary attacks where there are no military installations, and yet they are bombed simply to terrorize the population, to weaken their resolve and their resilience.
And I just got back from Kyiv. There are nightly air raids. People are going to the shelter. It is not the Siege of Sarajevo. It is not that level of shelling or that kind of constant sniping, hundreds of shells falling a day. But it wears them down psychologically which is Putin's intent.
He wants to weaken them. He wants to weaken their resolve. Sixty months into the conflict, people are really tired. They want normality again. They want a normal life and yet they have to take their kids to a shelter every single night.
This is really hard. And yet, you know, as you know, the Ukrainians are extraordinarily resistant, tough and strong. But it is a difficult way to live when your life is completely broken in half. And this is Vladimir Putin's intent.
ZAKARIA: When you are doing this work, Janine, do you think of yourself as a journalist or do you think of yourself as an activist?
DI GIOVANNI: I think of myself more now as a war crimes investigator and an activist but at my core how could I ever escape being a journalist. It is what I did for 32 years.
But essentially, I mean, we -- we do the same thing. As a journalist, I always worked on human rights and war crimes, that was my -- that was my beat. So, I am still looking for the same kind of patterns but now I'm just looking at it in a much more legal way.
For instance, on my team are two Syrians, our chief legal counsel and our data scientist. The three of us, of course, have spent a lot of time in Syria and then I've been in Chechnya. So, these are three Putin wars.
We look very carefully at Putin's -- what I call Putin's gruesome playbook. His pattern of indiscriminately attacking hospitals, which we know we remember from Aleppo, the destruction of hospitals. And his intent if you kill one doctor, you kill a community, basically. The same kind of targeting of maternity hospitals. Even more chilling in Ukraine because this ties into his whole ethos of destroying, you know, Ukrainian identity. But we're looking at patterns of what Putin does. How his commands from his propagandas for instance, how that affects directly action on the ground. So, that is another thing the Reckoning Project is very involved with is propaganda and how it directly affects soldiers' actions on the ground.
ZAKARIA: I want you to close by telling me what your mentor, that Israeli lawyer told you.
DI GIOVANNI: So many years ago, when I was an academic and had no intention of ever becoming a journalist, I met Felicia Langer, who at the time was the only Jewish lawyer representing Palestinians in military court. And she took me to Gaza and she took me to the West Bank. And when I got back she said, if you have the ability to go to these places and report what is happening on the ground, then you have a duty and an obligation. And I've lived my life by her words since then.
ZAKARIA: Janine, pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much.
DI GIOVANNI: Thank you so much, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: I want to thank President Biden, again, for being a part of my program. And thanks to all of you in the United States and around the world for watching. I will see you next week and every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.