Fareed Zakaria GPS: 5th anniversary, this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Over the past five years, Fareed has interviewed prime ministers and presidents from across the globe, as well as a king, a queen and a religious icon. But what were some of the most memorable or insightful exchanges? Here, Fareed shares his thoughts on five of the most telling discussions – and an offer it will be hard for Hillary Clinton to forget.
Anjem Choudary, July 2010
Have you ever met a jihadi? It's easier to find them in London than in New York. Indeed, earlier last decade, London was sometimes dubbed Londonistan, the origins of which were obvious. A brand of radical Islam seemed to flourish here, though their noisy, angry voices exaggerated their small numbers. I met activist radical Anjem Choudary when I was filming in London in July 2010. The tragic events in Woolwich a few weeks ago made me think of my encounter with Choudary back then.
Let me ask you something very simple.
Let me ask you that though, Sabra and Shatila? Who was behind Sabra and Shatila?
You know what, we're either going to end this program or you're going to answer my question.
Who were they funded by? No, but we're having a conversation.
We're not. We're having an interview where I'm interviewing you. You claim to be a man of religion. You claim to be a holy man. I want to return to this. Are you comfortable with the fact that what you're advocating is going to mean the death of innocent men, women and children?
No, what I'm advocating is for the British…
No, it is because it's already happened. So I just wanted to know, can you live with that?
Can I answer the question? OK. I'm advocating the removal of armed forces from Western countries, stopping the support for the parasite of Israel. In return there can be some kind of normalization between the relations.
How can there be normalization?
But as long as Muslim land is occupied and innocent men, women, and children are killed by the American British foreign policy, of course, there will be repercussions.
But there was no occupation of Afghanistan or Iraq when 9/11 was being planned and you were still advocating…
No, no. No, no. Before that they were killing innocent Muslims.
They were killing them in Israel, for example.
Of course, they were.
You've got to get your history right.
Barack Obama, July 2008
I interviewed President Obama when he was still the junior senator from Illinois, having just seen off a tough challenge from his future secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. I wanted to get a sense of his foreign policy compass – and where it might point if he became president. His response was an early indicator of the so-called pivot or rebalancing to Asia that was a feature of his first term in office.
Tell me, what is your first memory of a foreign policy event that shaped you, shaped your life?
A first memory. Well, you know, it wasn't so much an event. I mean, my first memory was my mother coming to me and saying, "I've remarried this man from Indonesia, and we're moving to Jakarta on the other side of the world."
And that's, I think, my first memory of understanding how big the world was. And then, flying there and landing. This was only maybe a year, or even less than a year, after an enormous coup, the military coup in which we learned later that over half a million people had probably died.
But it was for me, as a young boy, a magical place. And I think that probably is when it first enters into my consciousness that this is a big world. There are a lot of countries, a lot of cultures. It's a complicated place.
But you were an American in Indonesia. How did that make you feel?
Well, you know, it made me realize what an enormous privilege it is to be an American. I mean, it certainly was at that time even more so because the gap in the wealth of the West at the time compared to the East was much wider.
But it wasn't simply the fact that my mother was being paid in dollars by the U.S. embassy, and so, that gave us some additional comfort. It was also becoming aware that, for example, the generals in Indonesia or members of Suharto's family were living in lavish mansions, and the sense that government wasn't always working for the people, but was working for insiders. Not that that didn't happen in the United States, but at least the sense that there was a civil society and rules of law that had to be abided by.
My stepfather was essentially dragged out of the university he'd been studying in in Hawaii, and was conscripted and sent to New Guinea. And when he was first conscripted, he didn't know whether he was going to be jailed, killed. That sense of arbitrariness of government power. Those were the things that you felt you were protected from as an American, and made me, as I got older, appreciate America that much more.
Pervez Musharraf, November 2011
I spoke with General Pervez Musharraf after he had stepped down as Pakistan’s president. One of the key issues looming over the future of Afghanistan as U.S. troops withdraw is Kabul’s trouble relationship with its neighbor. Musharraf’s response – and the evident lack of trust in Afghan President Hamid Karzai – underscored for me why ties will continue to be so difficult.
[Hamid Karzai] gave a speech the other day, or statement the other day, saying if America were to attack Pakistan, Afghanistan would be by Pakistan's side. What do you think? What do you make of that?
I think it's totally preposterous to imagine this kind of thing. And then I thank him that this is the first time he's made a pro-Pakistan statement.
So you really don't trust him?
I think – no, not at all.
What do you think is going to happen to him? Will he be able to hold on to power without – as the Americans draw down? Does he have support in Afghanistan?
I think it's going to be very difficult. Very difficult. Very, very difficult. He is not liked by the majority of Pashtuns because of what he is doing.
Lloyd Blankfein, May 2010
I spoke with Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, in the months following the height of the global financial crisis. I was struck by how personally he took my question of whether he fully understood the human cost of a crisis that, according to McKinsey, wiped out $28.8 trillion of global wealth in 2008 and the first half of 2009.
Let's talk about the human aspect of this crisis. So we've had this huge financial crisis and we talked about synthetic CDOs and CDOs and CDSs, but underlying it, what's happened is you've had millions of people lose their houses, go out of work. Do you feel like, sitting on top of Goldman Sachs, you understand that human cost?
I didn't always live on this perch. I grew up in public housing. My dad, for most of my life, worked for the post office, which was a terrific job to get because you couldn't lose your job. But before he got that job, he had lost his job, and I remember, one of my earliest memories is my own dad being unemployed and the insecurity I felt. I think about it all the time.
First of all, I look in the mirror, and the older I get the more I look like my dad every day. My dad passed away about 20 years ago, but I now look like he looked, as I remember him looking, and I think about my dad who worked at the post office but worked nights at the post office because you got a 10 percent night differential for doing it.
And I think about g when we got moved into, you know, the projects in Brooklyn and getting the apartment we got and trying to get upgraded to another apartment. Of course I think of all these elements. I think that's been a huge advantage to me in my life, to have that. I think it's been a huge advantage to me in my life to have come up through those kinds of stresses and strains.
Wen Jiabao, September 2008
China may be led by a Communist Party, but its leaders are well-schooled in classic free market texts, at least judging from my conversation with then-Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. How many Western leaders sound so comfortable reeling off details of their reading of Adam Smith?
You have the market economy where the market allocates resources. In socialism it's all central planning. How do you make both work?
(Voice of interpreter): The complete formulation of our economic policy is to give full play to the basic role of market forces in allocating resources under the macroeconomic guidance and regulation of the government. We have one important piece of experience over the past 30 years, that is to ensure that both the visible hand and invisible hand are given pull play in regulating the market forces.
If you are familiar with the classical works of Adam Smith, you know that there are two famous works of his. One is The Wealth of Nations. The other is the book on morality and ethics.
And The Wealth of Nations deals more with the invisible hand, that is, there are the market forces. And the other book deals with social equity and justice. And in the other book he wrote, he stressed the importance of playing the regulatory role of the government to fairly distribute the wealth among the people.
If in a country most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, then this country can hardly witness harmony and stability. The same approach also applies to the current U.S. economy. To address the current economic and financial problems in this country, we need to apply not only the visible hand, but also the invisible hand.
Hillary Clinton, August 2009
When I had Hillary Clinton on the show for the first time, she was only a little more than six months into a tenure as secretary of state that would see her clock up 956,733 miles on the job as she visited 112 countries. In Nairobi, Kenya I was asked to interview her at a town hall in front of thousands of Kenyan notables – and asked her whether she intended to take a local councilman up on an interesting offer.
This is a news report I saw while preparing for this town hall. And it involves a woman, a young woman, a very attractive young woman. A Kenyan city councilman says he offered Bill Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows for his daughter's hand in marriage five years ago...He is still awaiting an answer. And I thought on this occasion, Mrs. Clinton, if you think about...
If you think, in the current global economic climate, where asset values have gone down, your stock portfolio is probably down, your husband has had to do a little bit of government work [a reference to Bill Clinton's relief work for Haiti], take time off from the private sector. It's not a bad offer.
Well...My daughter is her own person. She's very independent. So, I will convey this very kind offer.
Alas, I've been here for a few days, and nobody has offered me any goats or cows.