July 18th, 2014
09:34 AM ET

Fareed Zakaria answers your questions

Watch"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed Zakaria answers readers’ questions on the U.S. role in the world, whether Iraq would have been more stable if Saddam Hussein hadn’t been removed from power, the NSA’s spying on Germany and whether the borders in the Middle East are outdated.

Do you believe there’s a shift toward isolationism in the United States?

I think there’s a shift toward less involvement and engagement in the world. Some of this is unfortunate. It shows up, for example, in the suspicion towards trade, towards immigrants. But for the most part, I think Americans retain a healthy openness to the world and a healthy openness to America being engaged in the world.

When people shout about isolationism, it’s worth remembering that the United States – with the support of the American people – still maintains thousands of troops in foreign countries, in dozens of bases around the world. We have 60 treaty alliances. In many of them we’re committed to the defense of these countries – from Japan, to South Korea, to Germany. That doesn’t seem to me the story of a country that is isolationist and has withdrawn from the world.

But it’s true that from certain heights, especially after 9/11 – where the United States was, in my view, too engaged, and too engaged in the details and nation building operations in many, many parts of the world – we’re drawing back, and that draw back has some public support.

So, I’m not ready to wave the flag of isolationism, I don’t see it. But I do think in some areas there are some troubling signs. The part that worries me most is about trade and people, because the thing that has historically made the United States so strong has been its ability to open itself up to ideas, to people, and then to adapt and adjust and become stronger from that.

Watch the video for all his responses.

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Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. wardell henley

    Mr. Zakaria;, on your 1/15/15 show, chief economics commentator for Financial Times, Martin Wolf, stated that4 out of the top five universities in the world are in United Britain. Based on 'The Times University rating, on their web site;
    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2014-15/world-ranking/range/001-200 , in 2014 to 2015, only two of the top five universities are in the UK the other three are in the USA.. In 2013 to 2014 UK had only one university in the top five, the other four were I the USA. These are world global rating, please correct this incorrect statement

    January 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  2. Andrea Green

    Fareed, there are certainly no-go zones for Jews in Europe. Please visit an article written by a Swedish, non-Jewish journalist, Petter Ljunggren, unitedwithisrael.org/journalist-reveals-intense-jew-hatred-in-sweden/,who was physically and verbally abused and threatened when he visited Malmo wearing a skullcap and Jewish star. Also, you compared deaths in America by Islamic radicals and non-Islamic ones (Al Jazeera had the same numbers), but you failed to list the many thousands of deaths attemped by those Muslim radicals that were thwarted by US intelligence, (underware bomber, NY Times Square bomber, etc.) not to mention what they are still planning to do.

    January 26, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  3. Berne Kuebitz

    Fared ! You have the best news program in the world. The best news commentator in the news busness. Nice interview with the Pres. Good going. I never miss your show.

    February 1, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  4. Herb Emmrich

    Fared, I just finished watching you GPS show segment on Ukraine and was disappointed by the lack of understanding of the Russian people's mentality and Putin's popularity. The basic Russion mentality is xenophobia, the fear of outsiders, invasions and undermining of Russia's feeling of security by the West and especially by the Ukrainian nationalists. When the Ukrainan people decided to chose the EU as their economic and ultimately their security partners, it sent xenophobic shockwaves throughout Russia. The Russian people fought for more that two centuries to gain access to the Black Sea and when they captured the Crimean peninsula they developed a major naval and later Air Force bases in Crimea. When Ukraine elected pro-western nationalists, the Russian people saw this as a loss of security, especially if Ukraine joined NATO and the Crimean naval and Air Force bases that are essential for Russian security. In reaction to this perceived security threat Putin annexed Crimea with full support of the Russian people. (Although Crimea was an integral part of the Russian Federation during the establishment of the Soviel Union, Kruschov transferred Crimea to Ukraine as a sign of Russian-ukraian friendship. Of couse, at that time in the 1950's no one thought that the Soviet Union would be desolved, so, giving Crimea to Ukraine was not viewed as a threat to Russian security but rather an enhancement of security because it was designed to draw Ukraine closer to Russia.) The Russian success of returning Crimea to Russian control encouraged ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to also join Russia as Crimea had done. This was mainly brought about when the Ukrainian nationalist government declared the Ukrainian language as the only official language throughout the country, including eastern Ukraine where people do not speak Ukrainian and the population is overwhelmingly ethnic Russian. Americans do nut understand ethnicity because America is not an ethnic but a melting pot country. Everyone can come to Ameriaca and become American. However, a Rusdian when he lives in Ukraine is still Russian and would not want to abandon his/her ethnic heritage. That's just the way it works in Europe. In addition, many of the military-related weapons factories in eastern Ukrsine have always been a key part of the Soviel military industrial complex and losing those regions to a pro-western Ukraine again threatened Russia's feeling of security and therefore the Russian people support this separist movement. In all these confrontations, Putin has the vast support of the Rusdian people and all of the sanctions work in Putin's favor because suffering for a just cause is part and parcel of the Russian mentality. No one suffers better than the Russian people. To suffer is a badge of courage and glory. Just look at the suffering the Russian people endured to defeat Nazi Germany. I spent four years in the Republic of Georgia and learned to understand both Russian and Georgian mentality. Based on my experience, the Rusdian people will back Putin no matter what the economic and military cost are. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

    February 8, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  5. Dr. Brian Spence

    I am perplexed after having listened to the discussion of the war in Ukraine on today's program (Feb. 8, 2015). I want to understand Stephen Cohen's position. I understand that he is arguing that NATO and the West pursued an expansionist policy after the end of the Cold War. I understand that he traces all of Russia's current problems back to the Yeltsin years. What I don't understand is his absolute defence of Putin and his refusal to acknowledge the thuggish behaviour of Russia toward the Ukraine and other former Soviet territories. He dismissed and attacked the positions of the other panelists without once backing up his position with arguments and facts. The one line he repeated was that he was the oldest commentator on the panel, suggesting that he has the most expertise. If he does, it is time for him to stop the anti-Washington rhetoric he is so comfortable delivering and begin to really deal with all the facts, not just the so called aggressive policies of NATO during the 1990's. What is Cohen's answer – to surrender to Russia whatever it wants? Do the peoples of the former Soviet Republics have no rights to determine their own future? Why should Putin get a free pass for behaviour that looks like that of an aggressive dictator?

    February 8, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  6. Borden Mills

    Fareed, this is more a question than a comment. I watched your show with much interest today and was especially interested in the comments by Stephen Cohen, so I familiarized myself on some of his views as expressed in The Nation. (I have read a similar viewpoint in a recent issue of Political Affairs, and even in the comments of Henry Kissinger on the Charlie Rose program a few months ago.) I would like to know what you think of the viewpoint that Putin's actions in Ukraine have been in reaction to the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian government and the potential expansion of NATO into a country that Russia regards as essential to its security, instead of the aggression of which most of us accuse him? Could so many of us be ignoring the other side of the story and is there a reasonable compromise to the whole Ukrainian situation?

    February 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  7. Awni Sammakia

    In today’s episode of GPS you had a Palestinian to give her opinion about Egyptian affairs. We all know that the Palestinians ‘ hamas hate Egyptian President E-Sisi because he spoiled their plans with the brotherhood about giving parts of northern Sinai to establish, along with Gaza, a Palestinian state. She made a lot of errors, most important was that Aiman Al-Zawahery was a product of Mubarak’s hard grip on the ikhwan! Al-Zawahery was the planner of the assassination of late Ptresident Sadat because he made peace with Israel (a good reason for all the Palestinians that I know to hate him to no end) Al-Zawahery was not the product of Mubarak’s hard grip on his political adversaries!
    Mr. Zakaria, you always avoid the subject of the terrorists’ acts of the ikhwan in Egypt, whether killing members of the police force, armed forces, or regular civilians by placing bombe in public places. You always mention that morsi was democratically elected (I can argue this point) but you, as Mr. Obama, don’t mention (or ignore) the fact that had morsi completed his term his election would have been the last in Egypt for so many years to come. The ikhwan wanted to force the Sharia law, in which a council of elders will choose the next president, not the voters (as it was during the early years of Islam.) If you think that El-Sisi is hard on them you can bet that the ikhwan are ten times as tough on their opponents.
    Mr. Zakaria, I am 80 years old, born in Egypt and lived through the reign of terror that these criminals created. Bombs were placed in movie theaters, assassinations of political figures. Obama claims that they abandoned violence, the biggest joke. On a daily basis they place bombs in public places, in power stations, and under bridges. They simply want to destroy Egypt so that it is either them or no one else.
    I certainly hope that you keep that in mind when you judge E-Sisi, who was democratically elected and backed by the vast majority of the Egyptians.

    February 8, 2015 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  8. David W. Johnson

    The important thing for all to remember is that there is a path out of this egocentric tangle, allowing that Russian efforts are
    aggressive and dangerous, but that it may be that in the Russian mind they are justified. While the West perceives
    an encroaching danger of Russian military expansion, into nearby countries. A true cause for alarm.
    Both sides looking at the picture and seeing a different image. We are civilized, and we can allow that
    good people can disagree about situations, because they have access to different facts and there fore come to different
    conclusions.
    Russia feels justified, or so it wants to makes the case, that Russian's in the Ukraine are not happy with
    their political plight, and there for Russia is required to protect it's nationalities abroad.
    If the issue is political rights of those people living in the disputed areas, then let us fix it.
    Every one stop, freeze in place. The E.U. and preferably the U.N. should sanction and authorize
    a peace keeping force, which for expediency, and initially might be 90% Russian troops, under a U.N.
    Mandate. I have to believe that the Russian army, once given the responsibility of restoring civil order
    should be able to do so very quickly.
    The Mandate should be to declare the disputed areas zones of instability, and require civil protection for all
    so encompassed.

    Why should the West agree to a Russian invite? First, as far as the West is concerned, they already are there,
    but unofficially. Second and most important, it stops any further destruction and death on either side.
    We all know that in the end it has to be a political solution. So make it one. Give the situation time to untangle.
    The Russians have to agree to all the terms in the Mandate, and ultimately, a different mix of U.N.
    peace keepers would have to follow. It is a way out.
    In the end, the West wants Russia to survive join it, and not be a failed State.
    After 18 months, have some elections, let the people figure it out. In the meantime, this situation will cause
    the West to block any further unstable zones, by beefing up it's military in the near region.
    That will happen in any event. It is happening now.

    Let it play out on the world stage, if there is even a small chance of war, the entire world
    should be involved, because such a war would destroy much of this world.
    If this matter cannot be resolved by the U.N. then what is the U.N. good for?
    Since it cannot solve real problems.
    But we can try once again. Every body wins!

    February 8, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  9. John Lumetta

    Mr. Zakaria, do you think von Clausewitz' principle of the necessity for overwhelming force to change an opponent's actions applies to Russia in Ukraine?

    February 22, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  10. deborah eppinger

    Giuliani was the only one that had the guts to say the truth. Why don't you talk about vice president putting his hand
    hands all over that woman and her husband you could see was very uncomfortable from the look he gave...

    February 22, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  11. Mary Kay Gordon

    What was the name of the book of the week you recommended for Feb. 15th that children should read?

    suggest you update you're book recommendations list.
    Thank you. mkg

    February 22, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  12. G. Franklin

    on the question about how many children will be in the world in 2100 (2 billion). Yes, I got it right! However, the good professor asked his first question as what "proportion" and gave his answer in percentage (%). There is a difference! A proportion is meant to show the variation in one thing as compared to another, by using ratios, while a percentage is a ratio as compared to 100.
    I am not easily fooled by statistics!

    March 8, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  13. Larry Benson

    Rosling when discussing population showed extrapolated data that indicated that most large countries would be having families with only two children in the near future; however, when he was moving total population figures around on the board he showed a massive increase in future population. How do you reconcile the two statistics?

    March 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  14. David W. Johnson

    F.Z.

    If there is no agreement with Iran, then surely there will be War in the very near
    future between Iran and the U.S. And not just the isolated destruction of a few
    facilities, it will be all out War, as one of your guests suggested. If it is to be.. then
    let it be clear, it will have to be a determined, and sustained effort to deconstruct
    Iran from it's religious domination. 130,000 troops will not cover the task, as was tried
    in Iraq, think more like 500,000, possibly a million military personnel to have a
    sustainable outcome, and of course 10 to 15 years of occupation, costing trillions
    of dollars! And if it must be that way, and there is no viable alternative, then the costs
    should not be under estimated, by those that would lead the West in that action.

    It will expensive and it will be bloody, and of course the American's will
    pay most of the tab! Not Europe, not Israel, not Saudi Arabia or anybody else.

    Which is not to suggest that it will not be justified, but the costs have to be clearly
    stated and not minimized for sake of selling the War to American taxpayers.
    If War must come, then let us be more meticulous and thorough in our efforts
    this time, as opposed to the pathetic execution of the Iraq effort, which remains
    to this day, a dismal half failure, half success.
    Out of frustration it might seem that the best plan is to isolate the Middle East
    for 30 years, letting no one in, or out. Not realistic!

    On the other hand there is Egypt, as the historic center of Arab culture,
    which with some help and encouragement could be the better solution for all concerned.
    I strongly advocate that Egypt have a much larger role in the final solution to
    the never ending drama of Tribalism embedded in Religion gone a muck.

    Egypt should be encouraged and supported in a new role as Middle East Peace Maker.
    Egypt with a million man well equipped army could legitimately take back, hold and rebuild that
    part of Sunni Iraq currently in turmoil. It could provide actual civil society to the Palestinians,
    thus providing Israel with it's desire for a peaceful secure border.
    It could stabilize it's near neighbors, that are in disarray.
    A strong Egypt capable and willing to bring order to the region would certainly
    give pause to Iranian ambitions, and be the force that deals with Iran if it should come
    to War.

    Egypt, an essentially Sunni nation, can succeed where outsiders cannot!

    David W. Johnson

    March 29, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  15. Lel Graham

    Fareed,
    I was very motivated and elated when you talked about in defense of a liberal arts education on March 29, 2015. I have a B.A.in social work and many times I would avoid talking about my degree because it is classified as a degree that you cant get a job with. I always wanted to pursue the next level which is a masters in S.W but was still hesitant because of the negative connotations. Your discussion with Anderson Cooper In Defense of a Liberal Education gave me food for thought. I'm now thinking of pursuing a masters degree. I got my bachelors about five years ago and at times would blame myself for not doing something else other than social work. I would love to hear your thoughts about a social work degree. I will have to buy you book for additional guidance.

    March 29, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  16. John T. Deininger

    Fareed
    On your April 5th show you compared the U.S. justice system to other countries. Maybe in your attempt to justify the system in Norway or Denmark you might have given a little more on your personal opinion. Example: The case in Norway where a man who killed over 70 people received the maximum sentence of 21 years. Do you really think 21 years was just? Consider the victims and their families. Does placing any violent offender in a 'mini-hotel' setting which in some cases has them living better then their victims sound "just" to you. Where was your opinion on victim rights and justice? I would say that a man who murders over 70 people getting 21 years is a "crime against humanity" and I would say Norway is committing it.

    April 5, 2015 at 10:56 am | Reply
  17. rima phillips

    Regarding your piece on the U.S. justice system: Have you done any research on the number of people incarcerated without benefit of trial? These prisoners are subject to solitary confinement, poor nutrition, lack of climate control, and most egregious of all, the violation of their right to a speedy trial. I am referring to the population in county jails, which receive government funds in excess of $100k a year for each inmate, which is never used on behalf of the inmate. I thought I was living in a democratic country until I heard of this practice in a personal way. This individual has lost a million dollar business, and his mother is now in the process of losing her home, all in the vain attempt to raise enough funds for a lawyers who can get him a trial. It's been over a year. What is the meaning of a speedy trial? Or presumption of innocence for that matter!!!

    April 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm | Reply
  18. rima phillips

    PS, Fareed, I hope you will consider reporting on this problem as a follow-up to today's show on the dysfunctional prison system. You have a big microphone. Perhaps your voice could matter. Thank you!

    April 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm | Reply
  19. rich alfonso

    i am avid listener to you show on Sunday. I was dismayed about your comments on prisons. We are a country of
    BOUT 315 MILLION PEOPLE and you compared the prison sytem in Norway with ours. How humane they were, they have a population of 5.1 million. To give a man who committed such an terrible crime to a maximum of 21 years, means he will still be a young man when he gets out. When a person commits a crime such as this he gives up his right to live in society. I cannot understand how you went through this whole discussion without once giving a mention to the victims. what about them.? This was not a fair reporting on your your part , which you approved was the right thing to do. I will remain disappointed but will remain a listener. Thanks for listening Rich

    April 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Reply
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      you have a good sense of humor.
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  20. Michael Estep

    I have long been an avid admirer of you. I saw the Bill Maher show and detected a serious rift between two of my favorite liberal commentators (?!). As an atheist, I share Bill's fear of religion because, since I don't believe there is a god, anyone who does is getting direction from fantasy. This includes Christians. The fact that Islamists have a faction that is radical while most are moderate, all people of religion may be following creative visions. Sure only some act on those ideas but IF THERE IS NO GOD, where are they getting their directions?

    April 12, 2015 at 10:28 am | Reply
  21. Jill Galvez

    Fared, we were all very disappointed this past Sunday when you made a supportive statement about Turkey and then failed, in your entire broadcast, to mention the European Parliament's vote to demand that Turkey acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

    My great-grandparents immigrated to the US from Armenia, one by way of Russia and the other by an unknown route. They were driven from their homes as teenagers during the Hamadian massacres of the late 1890's. They met, as orphans, in Detroit, where Christians took pity and made homes for orphaned Armenians.

    The genocide of the Armenian people deserves recognition so that generational wounds can heal and that history books (at least in the US) can finally tell the truth.

    How can you maintain future credibility after last Sunday's show? Even my 96 year old grandma watched you and was hurt. We have all believed, for years, that you are a highly educated, objective man. We watch and record your weekly show. Now, it will be painful to watch you, suspecting that you may be part of the denial of history. The Armenian Genocide was not a civil war. The Turks took away all weapons – right down to kitchen knives – and starved and corralled Armenians for decades prior to 1915. Please gather your brave and righteous feelings and speak about it.

    Thank you.

    April 21, 2015 at 3:30 am | Reply
  22. EBRAHIM LIMBADA

    why does wester contry dont put presure on Isreal to solve the palistine problem over 50 years has gone the only excuse they have the right to defend themself nobody denies this because the western country dont put presure on ISREAL they take advantage also giving them more and more arams they are taking more advantage they are actualy telling the PATISTINE our term or nothing please reply

    April 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  23. Mike Golub

    Freed Zakaria:the real reason for the Iraq War was for the USA to secure their oil reserves which were the worlds third
    largest
    Dick Cheney in his tenth day in office convened the"National Energy Policy Development Group NEPDG.

    May 19, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  24. Daniel A Bouysou

    On your Sunday morning show on May 31, 2013, you shared religious statistics. These statistics measure the wrong thing, card carrying membership in an organization, thus adding to confusion versus a presentation of an important issue in the world today. The issue to be measure would be spirituality, defined by one's personal relationship their Creator and Living God. This may difficult to do and if accomplished it would probably have similar results. Those results are that the planet is on a spiritual decline. The good news is all these things are cyclic.

    May 31, 2015 at 11:15 am | Reply
  25. Dan Manor

    In an early June Sunday GPS program you interviewed a high UN official about the global water crisis. He did not have much to say and made only two points: That the crisis is serious, and that he would like Israel to share water more equitably with the Palestinians. Your editing that allowed this statement amounts to a blood libel against Israel and a sly attempt to delegitimise it.Here is why.
    Israel is the world leader by far at water preservation and use, and its technology is used around the world. Moreover, Israel signed two years ago an agreement to sell the PA and Jordan large amounts of water, almost unlimited amounts.
    The current civil war in Syria started because of the draught that affected the Dera'a region and the shortness of water in the north due to Turkish water deflection projects. Israel is unaffected by draughts thanks to its technology and thanks to it neither are the Palestinians.

    June 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  26. gianni erme

    Dear Mr. Zakaria. I watched your program today about America not doing anything about gun violence and how you pointed out that since 2001 gun homicide have killed 150 000 people in America. Althoug i agree with you that something must be done about it, i have to say that taking guns away from good citizen is not going to get you anyhere . I have been living in Brazil for the past 10 year's. Brazil has a population of only 200 million people and guns are outlawed and impossible to get .
    In the past 14 year's Brazil has had just about 60 000 gun homicide per year , just about 6 times the USA with a population more than 1/3 inferior of the US. On the other hand the fact that good citizen cannot have guns not even at home to protect their family and property, makes them live with fear every single day , with homes locked up, with high walls, grades on the windows, and electrical wires as protection. They basically live in prison in their own homes. The bad guys have access to guns because it is impossible to prevent that no matter what country you live in. Not having ways to protect yourself and family makes you live in a perennial state of terror. Guns do not kill. People do. If someone wants to do harm , will do it with other legal means, knives, running over crowds with cars. ( like in Austria a few weeks ago ).Would you be also in favor of outlawing those???? Trust me that is not the way you solve the problem.
    Sincerely

    Giovanni

    August 1, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  27. dc

    Hello, good day, the July 26 GPS transcript has never been completed. I can't get all of the transcript. Will we ever be able to get the complete transcript?
    Thanks. Good day.

    August 2, 2015 at 10:49 am | Reply
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