"Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
As Tom Donlion ends his tenure as national security advisor, Fareed looks back at his time in the role – and discusses what Donilon believes are his key achievements.
What do you think has been your most significant accomplishment as national security advisor. Understanding it's a team effort, but what do you look back at for four and a half years and you're most proud of?
Well, it's very much a team effort and led by, first and foremost – it's the president's effort here. I think the bottom line assessment is that the country is safer, and the country is more prosperous than it was four and a half years ago.
We’re now in the midst of an economic recovery. The policy decisions, some made at the end of the Bush administration, but many of them made during the beginning of the Obama administration, have resulted in the United States recovering better than other parts of the world in the economic realm. Which, of course, is absolutely essential to our foreign policy and our national security.
We’ve made a lot of progress with allies. Our alliances were under strain when we came in. We had gone through an exhausting period in the eight years prior to the time we came here, with wars, lots of stresses out of 9/11 and the financial crisis. And I think our alliances are in very good shape. And I am particularly happy with that, frankly, because it's absolutely critical for us to have solid alliances. It's the unique American asset around the world.
We have undertaken a very effective counterterrorism effort. We have also rebalanced our effort geographically, with lots of other aspects to the rebalance. But we’ve rebalanced our efforts geographically toward Asia, where we assessed when we came into office that we were under-invested. We looked around the world in the transition in December of 2008 and asked ourselves the following question – where are we over-invested and where are we under-invested?
We determined that we were over-invested in our military efforts in South Asia and in the Middle East and that given what had been happening during that exact same period in Asia, we were really dramatically under-invested there, given the huge stakes the United States has in Asia, as the most economically dynamic region in the world.
So we undertook to rebalance, which has a lot of elements to it. And people typically focus just on the security elements to it. That's important and we've taken a number of steps here.
But we have a major economic effort there with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is the most important and biggest trade negotiation going on in the world right now. And we hope to complete that by the end of 2013.
Major diplomatic efforts. Major efforts to remake, if you will, the architecture, the security and diplomatic architecture of the region, all coming together, I think in a pretty effective strategy. Including, by the way, pursuing a productive and constructive relationship with the Chinese, which is a part of the rebalanced Asia – even a central part.