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Hussein hadn’t been removed from power, the NSA’s spying on Germany and whether the borders in the Middle East are outdated.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 That doesn’t seem to me the story of a country that is isolationist and has withdrawn from the world.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 (214 Responses)
  1. 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
  2. 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.


    August 1, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  3. 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
  4. oswald dsouza

    When the Prez of USA u interview or when he gives his views of things.
    1: your corporations supports the prez. His birth issue is never brought up at all. when he lies about it, he can never be trusted at all . all he speak is lies. he favors the muslims, of course u are one too, i have nothing against u all as person, but the spirit of the regilion is violence and intorlerence of free of choices to any persons, islam has never built any nation not even the sharia law, even in the mid east its source it is anarchy. your channel is baised against Israel, it is the only nation that cares for the live of people its own or others, U have laws for israel but not other nations.
    He is try to corner israel covertly, Israel belongs to God of israel. . Prez nor any nations nor the media can do anything u try to do, will boomerang on your prez, your media , yourself too, for u know the facts and distort it ,
    Even Iran will be destroyed if u read the book of jeremiah the old testament of bible chapter 49v 35 on wards read it for your selves. The god of israel has said VENGENCE IS MIME I WILL REPAY.

    August 10, 2015 at 5:33 am | Reply
  5. robertoprusso

    Fareed Zakaria: The presidential race for the white house is taken hold on public opinion. Your recent interview with a Harvard law professor as possible Dem candidate was bewildering to say the least. An unknown personality suddenly thrown into a GPS spotlight, when you should have been interviewing a political phenomenon like 'Bernie Sanders'. I can understand if you are controlled by those you work for, and told who you may, or may not interview.

    Thank you: Robert Prusso

    August 16, 2015 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  6. Joanna

    I would love to know why there is no mention of rich Gulf countries (Qatar, Saudi, Kuwait) taking refugees from Syria. I see the poorer Arab countries (Lebanon,Jordan) have taken many refugees. I wonder why ppl are risking their lives to get to EU when they could be heading to Saudi with less risk to life. There seems to be no discussion of this in media, and no pressure for those countries to 'do their part' and take a quota. All the pressure is on EU countries currently living under austerity policies.

    August 23, 2015 at 4:07 am | Reply
  7. Jason Feinman


    I just saw a debate on Obama's presidency with Peter Bienart and Gideon Rose on one side and Elliot Abrams arguing the contrary on your show today. It was fairly obvious who you sided with, with almost no pushback to Bienart and Rose, you're certainly allowed to have your opinion but, it was so obvious that you lack real objectivity and it's very disappointing. I notice you have Peter Bienart on often and you never pushback on what he say's. It would be so interesting if I didn't know where you stood on issues of the day and your were critical of both sides. THATS YOUR JOB!

    August 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  8. jerry johnson

    yet another show of den partisanship….do you really want to throw soft balls to your side and unload spitballs on someone like Abrahams….we get more fair coverage on cnbc…..hard to understand why anyone from center or right would ever guest on your show…….your are simply riot a journalist…a good opinion program for left

    August 30, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  9. scott loose

    just finished watching "moonshot". Does anyone in mainstram media do any truly investigative reporting anymore. Attempts at fusion have been on the blocks for more than 20 years noe, with no appreciable accomplishment. MT has expended 20 BILLION dollars on this "technology". at the small scale level with no success. The scale up attempts will not work either but will keep their government grant intact for years to come. Here try this website http://www.e-catworld.com. where a small group of PRIVATELY FUNDED scientists are on the verge of COLD FUSION or LENR (Low energy nuclear reaction). Led by PRIVATE COMPANIES, private invstment,

    Debunked by the entrenched scientific cadre who receive govt grants (Cal Tech, MIT,NASA etc) where entrenchment is the norm. like today's reporting. Is about to revolutionize sub atomic theory and produce nearly free energy, solving climate change, nuclear proliferation and water limitations in the world. It will also power your hypersonic transport.

    September 6, 2015 at 10:37 am | Reply
  10. Paule Lachance

    just finished watching mapping of human brain. Why don't they use their knowledge to try to cure mental illness?

    September 6, 2015 at 11:04 am | Reply
  11. M. Massey

    Dear Mr. Zakaria:
    I have been observing the U.S. Government Strategy related to foreign policy for the last four decades. I would like to share a scenario to illustrate my point. A group of public health doctors went camping. They pitched their tents along a river. The next morning they saw a body floating. They fished the person out and administered CPR. The next morning they saw two bodies floating. They did the same. The third day they saw five bodies. They did what they were trained to do and administered CPR. By the end of the week they saw the river filled with bodies. They tried to help but were exhausted. Finally, one of them shouts, why don't we go up stream and see who is throwing them in and take care of the cause of the problem.

    More than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria. Throats of innocent people have been slit on television for the world to watch. Thousands of people have been herded like animals and killed. Millions were being killed during Hitler's brutal rampage. It was not until the U.S. and allies went in that the atrocities stopped. In recent days, the U.S. is compelling European nations to take in thousands of migrants being displaced by Syrian conflict. As long as we keep absorbing the displaced citizens, the wave of brutality will continue. Our government policy is no different than the actions of the physicians camping along the river.

    Air campaigns are great to destroy buildings and masses of people huddling together, but they are TOTALLY in effective in degrading a brutal moving army that has the most sophisticated radars and technology. You are the expert, in your opinion, is the U.S. policy aimed at the cause or on taking care of the symptoms?

    The killings occurred during Hitler's time until the world got to know it and addressed the cause of the problem. Strange thing is that killing is taking place under the watchful eyes of the most powerful nation that is interested in administering CPR rather than address the cause of the problem. What do you think?

    What are your thoughts? I am surprised the you have not addressed the flaws in our strategy that is getting us no where.

    September 13, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Reply
    • chima

      Hello M.Massey,
      What you must understand is that US can not solve the worlds problem alone,why won't the gulf state send in the troops in syria and iraq?must US solve all the problems in the middle east?.I think what the current US president policy in the middle east is ,"hey guys am not cleaning all these mess alone".

      September 14, 2015 at 3:04 am | Reply
  12. Albert Hensler

    Why are you afraid to mention the obvious? The US responsibility for the problems in the Middle East. We let the rest of the world take refugees, how about us.

    September 20, 2015 at 10:19 am | Reply
  13. Brian Merritt

    Was Colin Powell right when he warned President G.W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, "you break it, you own it". The U.S. would be responsible, Powell implied, for whatever wreckage the military incurred with it's "Shock and Awe" headlong dash to unseat Saddam Hussein. Iraq, as a result, is broken. The persistent chaos in Iraq is partly a function of continued sectarian divisions between a Shiite-dominated al-Maliki government and Sunni insurgents.
    The rise of ISIL has played into the disintegration of Syria as well as Iraq. The dislocation of thousands of refugees from these countries is being ignored by the U.S. whose immigration policies do not allow it easy access to such refugees, leaving such problems to the Europeans to handle the aftermath of the U.S. military breaking up the country. No Pottery Barn rule here!

    September 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  14. Ashok Rao

    I was quite disappointed with the unprofessional way you tried to grab the attention of viewers recently: “sacred chickens” while trying to take a shot at the duly elected political party in India. “Ahimsa” or nonviolence to all creatures is one of the pillars on which religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism stand on. Life itself is considered sacred & hence the emphasis on being a vegetarian. That doesn’t mean chicken are worshiped. By the way, cows are revered (note that the word “sacred” is an English word introduced by bigots to ridicule Hindus) because we share its milk with its baby calf. Hindus believe that the soul which resides in all creatures is a manifestation of the all-encompassing God (Brahman). And from a science standpoint, if a soul does exist, then all creatures that experience feelings should have it & not just humans. By the way, parents & teachers (gurus) are also revered & worshiped but not because they have supernatural powers (just like cows do not).

    September 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  15. Veena

    Your 'Holy Chicken' story was 'misinformation at its best. Without giving historical context, just pronouncing the verdict to bring 'Hinduism' in bad light is not expected from a journalist with integrity. Here is the fact: " A BMC official told Business Standard: "There is nothing new in the meat ban. This has been implemented since 1964. The only change is that it is now for four days, including September 10, 13, 17 and 18." He added till 2013 the ban on meat sale in the metropolis was restricted to two days. However, since 2014, BMC in the wake of a judgement of the Supreme Court and the subsequent representation by the Jain community increased it to four days." http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/four-day-meat-ban-imposed-in-mumbai-during-jain-fasting-festival-115090800405_1.html

    September 21, 2015 at 3:49 am | Reply
  16. Dr. Kenneth Ayer

    Great show today, as always, but failed to mention the most significant reason to also study the humanities and social sciences instead of just coding (or STEM): Nazi scientists. German culture in the 19th century was leading European science in a number of fields: chemistry high among them. But by the middle of the 20th century the Nazis were able to turn what had been a bastion of culture in to a hideous "scientific" machine without the humanistic values that were and are the birthright of Western civilization. We don't need more technicians to fuel the economy, we need well rounded educated people with values that reflect our past and present.

    October 5, 2015 at 12:43 am | Reply
  17. James and Mikie Douglas

    Mr. Zakaria, your interview with Dr. Dawkins has to be described as at best, unfortunate, and at worst an embarrasment. You began your interview by describing Dr. Dawkins as an evolutionary biologist...which is a bit of stretch given the fact that he is , in fact, a zoologist. In addition, after Dawkins began the interview by airily dismissing the fossil evidence(which in fact does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution) Dawkins very confidently and (wrongly!)stated that molecular biology is now considered the unquestioned evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution. It's too bad that you did not ask any molecular biologists or geneticists such as James Shapiro at the University of Chicago. Shapiro(who has written a book on evolution) has said that intelligent design advocates have raised valid questions about Darwin's theory of evolution while Dawkins, in Shapiro's acidic phrase,"lives in a world of fantasy." What a vivid contrast Shapiro makes with Dr. Dawkins and with yourself! Both you and Dr. Dawkins engaged in a species of ad hominem attack against Ben Carson and his supporters that was dripping with condescension and derison for the "great unwashed" who are outside your little echo chamber of the "best and brightest" ! have before me a book about intelligent desirgn, Darwin's Doubt by Stephen c. Meyer, which has been praised(among others) by Dr. George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School(!!!!). Dr. Scott Turner professor of biolog at the state university of new york, Dr. Mark Bidebach professor emeritus department of biological sciences, California State University, Long Beach...among many, many others. Although you spend a good deal of time on your show yakking about fairness, and intelligent debate and blah, blah, blah when it comes to Dr. Carson's supporters, they are apparently "beyond the pale" and should be treated with condescension and derison. Again, this presents quite a contrast to the many experts in the field who I have mentioned above who while they may not be supporters of intelligent design, they do recognize that Darwinian theory is in crisis, and they are willing to engage in respectful debate with people who have other points of view.It also might interest you to learn that Tom Wolfe has come out in the open as an opponent of Darwinian evolution and is writing a book about a history of evolution. Given Wolfe's procilivity for skewering the pretensions of self appointed elites you might wonder if Dr. Dawkins and you as well might in the near future might become the latest victims of his acidic and very funny pen. He has also stated that many scientists are afraid to even engage in respectful debate regarding intelligent design because of the danger of being treated as lepers by their colleagues or becoming the victims in Wolfe's words of " a spanish iquistion."(Remembering Monty Python...that does conjure up some interesting images1) The above scientists who praised the book I mentioned,however, recognize that it is foolish to continue to ,in Dr. Shapiro's phrase" circle the wagons." That type of behavior is the behavior of a failing priesthood. Perhaps you would like to live up to your own avowed principles of "fairness" and re-visit this topic at anothr time...

    November 1, 2015 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  18. James and Mikie Douglas

    In The New Yorker, Tom Wolfe Compares ...


    November 1, 2015 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  19. Martin Streim

    During a recent program, you discussed China's major change to its family planning policy that will now move away from one child per family. You discussed the economic implications for China and other societies. However, on a broader level the world is having a more difficult time sustaining wildlife populations (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29418983?SThisFB&fb_ref=Default). Shouldn't this really be part of the conversation? The human side is only part of the story.

    November 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  20. Kian Keyashian

    I am interested in learning more about Saudi-Iran relationships; how their history has shaped the current relationship; how the relationship with US and Israel have created such a relationship. Any good book (or other resource) recommendations?

    November 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  21. Dr Joseph Capre

    Thank you for mentioning the situación in Puerto Rico,But to add to your report you forget to mentioned that one of the most important factors that led to the economic disaster here in the island was the elimination of the tax exemption for american industry call 936 in which american industries wouldnt pay taxes for 20 years as long they provided jobs for the Puertorrican people and kept money circulating in usa and Puerto rico. When this was eliminated By the american congress it was the begining of our economic disaster

    November 12, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  22. Anthony Springall

    Could you please update the book suggestion list – from the list I can see on the webpages its about a year out of date!

    Thank you.

    November 23, 2015 at 8:20 pm | Reply
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