"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.
By Jason Miks
In the latest GPS special, Tough Decisions, Fareed spoke with four leading figures in policy making and business about difficult calls they have had to make. GPS is also interested in hearing readers' views about what they consider to be some of the toughest decisions made by policy makers in recent years.
National Security Advisor Tom Donilon on weighing up the options over whether to proceed with the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
They were carefully considered, and there were really several options, as you said. Don't act, because the evidence isn't strong enough and the risks were too high. We can go through that, have a standoff attack. Work jointly with the Pakistanis on an operation. Or have the unilateral raid. At the end of the day, the reason, I think, that the president did the unilateral raid – the reasons were several fold. Number one, it allowed certainty that there wouldn't be a debate after the operation as to whether or not in fact Osama bin Laden had really been taken out. We would have proof and we just wouldn't have bought the United States a propaganda war around this. Second, it also allowed us to limit the potential for casualties and non-combatants. And we discovered, obviously, during the course of the raid that there were close to two dozen non-combatants at the compound. Three, it allowed us to limit casualties with respect to people around the compound, completely innocent.
And the president had a lot of confidence in that option for this reason: although it was 50-50, let's say, there was only a circumstantial case, he had 100 percent confidence in the special forces that would do this – that, in fact, that they would have the ability to get to the target, do the operation and get back, because he had a tremendous amount of experience with them.
Former senior State Department official Anne Marie-Slaughter on why she stepped down from her position.
The hard part was actually realizing I've always wanted to do these jobs, foreign policy is my passion, and yet actually, I'm also a mother and I want to be at home for the last 5 years my children are at home, And it was hard for me to admit that to myself. But in the end I had to recognize, both as a matter of need and want, that my life was going to go in a different direction than I always expected it would, and I had to listen to that. And I had to, in the end, kind of say, ‘wow, maybe I'm not quite the same person I thought I was, but I know this is the right thing for me to do.’”
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill on how he helped turn Alcoa around.
“So the first day I was there, I asked the vice president, who was then in charge of safety, to come and show me the facts about where Alcoa was in those days. They were really quite good in terms of safety. Their injury rate per 100 workers per year was 1.86, almost two injuries per 100 workers that caused people to miss one day of work. At that time, the national rate in the United States was five injuries for 100 workers. So after I praised the vice president for you're really good and you've really done great things, I said to him, ‘Charlie, I want you to know something, because this is what I'm going to do, from now on, I'm going to say publicly to everybody who will listen to me, people who work at Alcoa should never be hurt at work. We should have zero injuries.’”
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the secretive talks that helped thaw ties between China and the United States.
“You know, Nixon on issues of national interest was enormously courageous. And he felt that it was his job as president to take those risks. And what was even more remarkable, is that Nixon was inherently a pessimist. And even when taking these risks had a certain sense of doom that they might not really work. But, he felt this was the one move that had to be made to unfreeze the situation.”