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Hussein hadn’t been removed from power, the NSA’s spying on Germany and whether the borders in the Middle East are outdated.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 That doesn’t seem to me the story of a country that is isolationist and has withdrawn from the world.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 (179 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
    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
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