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Dear Senator Schumer; Interview with Ron Dermer; Interview with Jon Huntsman; Why in the World is Russia Destroying Hundreds of Tons of Food?; Fixing American Elections; Can Iraq Be Put Back Together Again? Aired 10-11a ET

Aired August 16, 2015 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:04] FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

Today we will tackle the United States' four big foreign policy challenges. Iran, Iraq, China and Russia.

We'll start the show this week with Iran. Last week you heard President Obama make his case for the deal.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's not just good for the United States. That is very good for Israel.


ZAKARIA: Today, Israel's ambassador to the United States makes the case against.


RON DERMER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We believe that this deal threatens the survival of Israel.


ZAKARIA: Also China's currency is falling and world markets are trembling. Why? I'll talk with former U.S. ambassador to China and a former presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman.

Then, why in the world is Russia destroying hundreds of tons of food when its own people are struggling to simply get by?

Finally a Harvard Law professor is running for president. Not Elizabeth Warren. Lawrence Lessig. Really. He will explain why.

But first here is my take. Today it's in the form of a letter.

Dear Senator Schumer. When you announced your decision to vote against the nuclear agreement with Iran, you explained your reasons in a nearly 1,700 word statement that is thoughtful in substance and civil in tone. And yet, in the end, I found it unpersuasive. I believe that the agreement is flawed, but it is the most intrusive, demanding and comprehensive set of inspections, verification protocols and snap-back measures ever negotiated.

You set out three sets of objections which I will get to but you failed to take note of what must happen at the outset before Iran gets any widespread sanctions relief. Iran must destroy 98 percent of its enriched uranium. All of its 5 to 20 percent enriched uranium. Remove and restore two-thirds of its centrifuges, including all advanced centrifuges. Terminate all enrichment at its Fordo nuclear facility and render inoperable the key components of its Iraq plutonium reactor.

All these steps must be completed to the satisfaction of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It's difficult to imagine that a serious military campaign against Iran would set back its nuclear program as much as this deal does at its outset.

Your first objections are about the inspections and sanctions. You argue that the inspections are not anytime, anywhere and have a 24-day delay that is troubling. But all of Iran's known nuclear facilities would be subject to anytime, anywhere monitoring. As for new suspicious sites, as the nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis points out, what opponents of the deal have done is add up all the time limits and claim that the inspections will occur only after a 24-day pause.

This is simply not true. Should the U.S. intelligence community catch the Iranians red-handed it might be that the Iranians would drag things out as long as possible, but in such a case the game would be over.

In that scenario, Senator Schumer, you argue that the sanctions' snap- back provisions are cumbersome. We must have read different documents. The one I'm looking at contains the first mechanism for the automatic re-imposition of sanctions ever created and they can be triggered unilaterally by Washington. You argue that the United States might prefer to restore sanctions in part and that other countries may not go along with this, but the fact that Washington could unilaterally snap back all sanctions is surely extraordinary leverage that it could use to get other countries to agree to a partial re-imposition of multi-lateral sanctions.

Your second objection is that, after 15 years of relief from sanctions, Iran would be stronger financially and better able to advance a robust nuclear program.

Let's be clear. Iran is going to get sanctions relief no matter what. The international sanctions against Iran were put in place by other countries solely to get a nuclear deal. None would go along with extending the sanctions given that Iran has produced what they all regard as an acceptable agreement. They've said as much.

[10:05:08] Your final objection is that Iran would use some of the newly freed-up resources to redouble its efforts to create even more trouble in the Middle East. That might be true, but the deal does not stop the United States and its allies from countering these activities as they do today. Your basic conclusion is that, if one thinks Iran will moderate, one

should approve the agreement. But if one feels that Iranian leaders will not moderate then one should conclude that it would be better not to approve this agreement.

This is the most puzzling and frankly illogical part of your case. If Iran remains a rogue state, all the more reason to put its nuclear program on a leash. Rejecting this deal would result in an Iran that ramps up its nuclear program without inspections or constraints, with sanctions unraveling, and an America that is humiliated and isolated in the world.

And so I respectfully urge you to reconsider your position.

For more, go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

OK. You've just heard my take on the merits of the Iran deal, but I always want you to hear all sides, so let us now hear from one of the deal's chief opponents. Ron Dermer is Israel's ambassador to the United States, prior to being named to that post he was a senior adviser, some would say the senior adviser, to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Welcome, Ron.

DERMER: Good to be with you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: So what the Iranians say is that if the deal falls through they will resume their nuclear program. What the Europeans say now publicly, the British ambassador says, if the deal is rejected the sanctions will unravel. Why is that a good scenario for Israel's security?

DERMER: Well, it's also, I just don't think it's true, Fareed. One of those two things cannot happen. If Iran goes ahead with its nuclear program, let's think about what actually happens in the real world. If Iran decides to continue its program which it was doing in October 2013, before the interim agreement was signed, then it will not come into compliance with this agreement. There will be no implementation date, which means --

ZAKARIA: But they have not -- nobody has signed this agreement. So how could they --

DERMER: Right.

ZAKARIA: Why would they need to be in compliance?

DERMER: No, I'm just saying they won't. But in the real world, if Iran decides to go ahead with its nuclear program, there will be no implementation day which means the U.N. Security Council sanctions will stay. It means all the U.S. sanctions will stay. It's hard for me to see European companies that will decide to do business with Iran after this is voted down by Congress, to do business with $400 billion Iranian economy, and turn themselves away from a $17 trillion U.S. economy.

So it might be that Iran will continue its program. We don't believe that they will break out. They'll go underneath the red line that they perceive, that the international community will act against them, but you will not have a situation where Iran does not comply with its agreement and the sanctions regime unravels. That just can't happen. There is no logic to that approach.

ZAKARIA: But that is what the Europeans and the Russians are already trying to sell them. But let me ask you about --

DERMER: How does that -- how does that happen in the real world? I just don't get it. If the U.N. Security Council sanctions stay, the U.S. sanctions stay.

ZAKARIA: Well as you know sanctions are very leaky. Countries don't always abide by them de facto even if they pretend to abide by them de jure. But let me ask you about these timelines. For 20 years Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Iran is two to three years away from a bomb. And nobody I know in Mossad, in the U.S. intelligence, believes that counter intelligence efforts have done more than delay Iran by a year or two.

So why has he been wrong for 20 years about Iran? Is it that you're -- is it possible that you have not -- you don't completely understand Iran?

DERMER: Well, look, I think that the prime minister of Israel understands Iran better than almost any leader in the world because he's been focusing on this issue for 20 years.


ZAKARIA: But I say --

DERMER: Now I've been -- I've been --

ZAKARIA: He predicting every two years they're going to get the bomb 20 years ago. How can --

DERMER: Get the facts. Get the facts. Look at exactly what he said.


DERMER: I've been with the prime minister for 15 years. I know exactly what he said over those 15 years. I can't account for the five years before. The prime minister has said that they were a certain period. It could be two or four years away from getting a bomb. And I guarantee you, Fareed, had the United States and Israel done nothing over the last 15 years they would have had a bomb maybe 10 years ago. But Iran -- United States and Israel have worked together to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

And we should continue to work together to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. This deal closes the nuclear file, not by blocking Iran's path to the bomb, but by ceding to them a nuclear weapons capability and a nuclear arsenal at best delaying it for a few years.

ZAKARIA: The leader of the opposition in Israel says the biggest problem with the strategy you're pursuing is that you are alienating the Obama administration, alienating Washington.

[10:10:01] Isn't it true that no matter what happens, for Israel's security a close relationship with Washington is essential? You're taking a position that is at odds with the Obama administration, at odds with Hillary Clinton. Do you worry about that?

DERMER: First of all the prime minister of Israel and the head of the coalition agreed that this is a very bad deal that endangers Israel's security. As to your question about the U.S.-Israel relationship, there's no question that this is the most important relationship in the world. And we are not eager in any way to have to be at odds on the most important foreign policy priority for the president of the United States. That's a big deal.

But guess what else is a big deal, the survival of the state of Israel is a big deal, and we believe that this deal threatens the survival of Israel. So even with our best of friends we are making our case. We've made it to President Obama. We've made it for a long time. And now we are making it to all those senators and congressmen who will ultimately decide the fate of this deal in Congress. And we are telling them that this is a bad deal that endangers Israel's security.

I want to be clear about something. When the president of the United States and Secretary of State John Kerry, whey they say they believe this deal is better for America and better for Israel, I have no doubt that they're being sincere. We just disagree with their judgment. We think this deal will endanger Israel's security. And in Israel this view is shared by the prime minister, by the head of the opposition, by 30 out of 33 members of our Foreign Affairs Defense Committee. Mossad didn't have those kind of numbers. And the people of Israel --

ZAKARIA: So there are the former head of Mossad, for example, disagrees.

DERMER: We're a Jewish state. There are a lot of opinions. And we are a democracy. We are not unanimous on anything.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about --

DERMER: The overwhelming majority of the Israeli people, all the security establishment that actually is responsible for the security of the country and the political leadership of the country, both coalition opposition believe this is a bad deal. You know this to be true. Our concerns are shared by our Arab neighbors. They may express it publicly in a different way but they see this deal in the same way we do.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about American Jews. There was a group, I think 29 former generals and admirals signed a letter supporting the deal. I was struck by one of them. The retired admiral Harold Robinson, who is a rabbi, and he said as a life-long Zionist devoted to Israel, I -- you know, he supports this deal. My question to you is, is it possible in your view to be deeply pro-

Israel and strongly in favor of this deal?

DERMER: Sure. Of course. And you know, and it's possible to be deeply pro-American and be very opposed to this deal. And I think it's important, just as I say to not question the sincerity of motives of those people who support this deal, to not question the sincerity of motives and those people who oppose it. And from what I've seen about two in three Americans, of the American people, oppose this deal because they know that Iran has been at war with America for 36 years and declares that it's going to continue its war against America.

They've held Americans hostage. They've blown up Marines and barracks in Beirut in the '80s. In the 1990s they were bombing embassies in Africa. And they're responsible for the murder and maiming of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. So there is good reason why a lot of Americans -- most Americans are opposed to this deal.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on, Ron.

That was Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States. Next, I will talk to a former ambassador from the United States to China, Jon Huntsman. He is also of course a former presidential candidate. I'll ask him about China's manipulation of currency and about the Donald.


[10:17:06] ZAKARIA: On Tuesday, China announced that it had devalued its currency by 2 percent. Immediately and quite violently, markets around the world reacted. They weren't pleased. Why? Well, let me try to explain. Business just got easier for Chinese companies because their products were suddenly 2 percent cheaper overseas and cheaper still later in the week. And business just got a lot harder for big Western companies. An Apple iPhone just got 2 percent pricier for a Chinese consumer. And pricier still by Friday.

Donald Trump, for one, is furious.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: China devaluing their currency. So they did it again to us today, folks.


ZAKARIA: But many reasonable people are worried as well. The devaluation stokes fears about the state of the world's second largest economy and the government's ability to manage it. To understand it all, let me bring in the former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman. He of course also ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

Welcome, Jon.

JON HUNTSMAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: Thank you, Fareed. It's a pleasure to be with you.

ZAKARIA: Jon, tell me first, why do you think markets around the world reacted as strongly as they did to this devaluation?

HUNTSMAN: Well, China is no longer an average player in the global economy. They're the second largest economy in the world. And when you have that de-evaluation of 2 percent right off the bat, automatically as you mentioned you're going to have a higher cost burden on the exports from the United States to Asia, and to one of our largest export markets. To say nothing of the impact it's going to have on the region.

So when you look at the immediate impact that it had on currencies, for example, in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, it's creating a fire storm within the region. You get a sense as to why people are very, very frustrated.

ZAKARIA: Net-net economically, Jon, this is bad, right? Because it means the Chinese economy is slowing. China has been one of the motors of the global economy. It means that China is moving away from some of the reform models it has had and is moving more towards state control and mercantilism.

Is this going to have an impact, do you think, you know, on global growth, on, for example, you already see prices of commodities and oil have gone down, presumably or partly because China's demand has slowed down?

HUNTSMAN: Well, they're hit by very low commodity prices right now, by exceedingly high inventories. By a population of 1.4 billion people who need to begin investing more into their economy and spending more and consuming more, and it's very difficult to get your population to invest more in your future when you've just lost 25 percent of the value of the Shanghai or the Shangjun stock exchanges.

[10:20:06] And people who have, moreover, very little belief in the long-term strength and well-being of your economy. So the challenge for Xi Jinping is how do you navigate this basket of reforms which you know long term are probably necessary for the country but short term you've got a messaging problem. And that is, how do you convince the consumer class in China, which soon will be the largest consumer class the world has ever known, that they need to spend more and invest more in the future of their country at a time when all of the indicators would suggest that it's not a very smart thing to be doing right now.

ZAKARIA: Jon, I have to ask you, you must be watching this Republican primary with interest and amusement. You've been through this before. What was your reaction to the debate? Who did you think did well?

HUNTSMAN: Well, amusement to be sure, Fareed. There is a bit of entertainment value here. I have to say that, for all of the negative commentary that the Republican bench is deep, it's well-populated. I think some of the candidates actually believe in big, bold ideas, actually believe in reform. And I think that kind of conversation is desperately needed in this country, and that's what's going to create the race to the top that the American people are waiting for. ZAKARIA: And Jon, what do you make of the phenomenon of Donald Trump?

HUNTSMAN: Well, this is where we are. And I have to tell you that, having been involved in the last election cycle, I mean, personally invested in it as a candidate, people are angry. They're very angry at the political class. They've been angry for two or three election cycles. And I think what Trump represents is the ultimate loud, brash, big protest vote.

It doesn't matter that he doesn't have specific policy proposals. It doesn't matter that he's not as glib and presentable maybe as some of the professional politicians. People want a big, loud, brash protest vote right now. That's a good chunk of the Republican Party. And he is that person. And he embodies exactly the anger and the disgust that so many have about politics. He'll either take that to the early primaries and perform well or he'll crash and burn.

And with it you'll see some implications in terms of how the Republican Party therefore is able to hold together as a single party without fracturing over time, which I think could be a result of all of this depending upon how things go.

ZAKARIA: Sobering words, intelligent and reasoned as always.

Jon Huntsman, thank you.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you, Fareed. A pleasure being with you.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, the Soviets used to talk of destroying America and the West, now their Russian successors have to make do by destroying food from the United States and the West. I will explain this odd and tragic turn of events when we come back.


[10:26:55] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a war on cheese. After he issued a presidential decree, a mound of it was destroyed by a bulldozer. Authorities also incinerated giant loads of bacon and destroyed peaches and tomatoes. In all, hundreds of tons of food have been eliminated recently in Russia.

What in the world is going on? Well, Russia had banned most foods from the European Union, the United States and others, retaliating against the sanctions those nations imposed after Russia's bad behavior in Ukraine. But some of those contraband goods were still getting into the country so Putin declared a crackdown, ordering the destruction of such food to be filmed and photographed to make his point.

All of this has made for some entertaining political theater and Putin probably thinks it makes him look powerful. But in reality, Russia and Putin have some very serious problems. As Nick Butler pointed out recently in an excellent "Financial Times" piece, Russia's economy is in big trouble because of its dependence on selling oil to survive. According to Trading Economics, between a fifth and a quarter of

Russia's GDP comes from the energy sector. And energy accounts for 30 percent of Russia's budget revenues and 65 percent of its total exports. In other words, it's the major mover in the Russian economy. Meanwhile, oil prices have plummeted over 50 percent in little more than a year.

Russia's economy is forecast to drop 3.5 percent this year because of that freefall, Butler points out. What's more, the global supply of oil is still growing at a breakneck pace according to the International Energy Agency, so Russia's oil-dependent economy is not likely to get a break anytime soon.

In fact, despite Putin's nationalist bravado and his recent power grabs in Ukraine, this period of Russia's history might be one of its low points. Butler's article points to a fascinating book called "Restless Empire," which features map showing Russia's vast reach over the years. Today Russia is weaker than it has been at almost any time in the last 300 years, the book observes.

To add insult to injury, Russia is also one of the least popular nations in the world these days. In a recent survey by Pew, a median of just 30 percent of non-Russians viewed Russia favorably. And a median of just 24 percent had confidence that President Putin would do the right thing in world affairs.

While Putin remains popular at home, many of his countrymen are outraged by his war on Western food given that there are plenty of people who need food in Russia. Food prices have spiked by 20 percent in the last year and Russia's poverty rate has climbed by 5 percent in just one year.

An online petition urging

[10:30:00] the government to end the campaign has over 350,000 signatures. Mr. Putin would be wise to listen. He should channel his frustration into fixing Russia's fundamentally flawed economy rather than taking it out on pieces of fruit.

Next on GPS, my next guest, Lawrence Lessig, wants to take the money out of politics. What is he going to do about it? Run for president and crowdsource his campaign. There's more to his story. Hear from the potential presidential candidate when we come back.


ZAKARIA: My next guest is mad and he's not going to take it anymore. Lawrence Lessig is angry about the current state of American elections, especially American presidential elections and how they are funded. He says our representative democracy is decidedly unrepresentative. The whole system is rigged and, until we unrig it, no reform is possible.

So what is he going to do about it?

[10:35:00] ZAKARIA: He is going to run for president -- maybe -- depending on how much money he can crowdsource. I will let him explain.

Lawrence Lessig is a professor of law and leadership at the Harvard Law School and a very popular TED talker, totaling more than 4 million views and counting.

So, Larry, first let me ask you, what do you think of the current presidential campaign. You've been watching it.

LAWRENCE LESSIG, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, sometimes, when I let myself engage in a state of disbelief, I'm incredibly excited because the bold ideas that are being spoken of in my party about how we address some of the most important problems are exactly the kinds of solutions we need.

But then, I'm woken up into the reality that these ideas that they're talking about cannot happen until we address the rigged system first.

So climate change legislation will not be passed in the United States until we address this corrupt system for funding campaigns first.


ZAKARIA: Why? Explain why.

LESSIG: Well, because we have set up the most unequal, corrupt system for funding anywhere in the world, I think, in a democracy like ours and equivalent to what we had basically 100 years ago.

Basically right now, members of Congress and candidates of Congress and candidates for the president are spending all of their time raising money from a tiny, tiny fraction of us.

"The New York Times" had an article last week, finding 400 families have contributed half of the money that has gone into the presidential election cycle so far.

We've run -- you know, in the South, they used to run the white primary, where only whites were allowed to vote. We've now created the green primary, where only the funders get to vote and they vote on who will have the money necessary to run their campaigns.

ZAKARIA: The public perception is with you. NBC "Wall Street Journal" poll asked what is the leading issue concerning voters in the upcoming election and what was it?

LESSIG: It was this issue precisely, the influence of big money in the elections.

Same thing; "The New York Times" ran a poll, found 84 percent of Americans thought this issue, this money in elections, was an important problem that had to be addressed.

Now the problem is people are so cynical, so skeptical that anything can be done about it. We -- (CROSSTALK)

ZAKARIA: And so you're going to run for president and you -- on a platform that will fix this?

LESSIG: That's right. My claim is we've got to find a way to fix the rigged system first. And that means a plan that would have a mandate powerful enough to actually stand up to Congress and fight for this idea against the most powerful interests that we have in our democracy.

And if elected, I will stay as president only as long as it takes to get this fundamental reform passed.

And once it's passed, I would step aside and the elected vice president would come in and fill out the term and could run for reelection so that the mandate that I would have would be as strong as any mandate could possibly be. This is not one of eight different issues; it's the only issue.

ZAKARIA: And what is the reform?

What would you do?

LESSIG: So the essence of the reform is to decorrupt, uncorrupt the system, to make it so we are equal citizens again. The one I care the most about is to change the way we fund elections so that no longer is it the tiny few at the front of the line, the rich billionaires and the millionaires at the front of the line who get the attention of our government, but all citizens are represented equally in that.

But that's not the only inequality in our system. Political gerrymandering takes huge chunks of the American public and makes them irrelevant to their representatives because they are minority parties in a safe majority seat. That should be addressed as well. That's plank two in what we're talking about.

And number three, these schemes for making it difficult for people to vote by putting burdens like ID requirements are completely unjustified in a system that is supposed to create equality of citizens.

So these three together force us to recognize that we have lost the fundamental commitment of a representative democracy and the consequence is a government that can't do anything.

You know, this is not a philosophical or theoretical problem. This is practical as mud.

The problem is our government can't govern. And until we confront that reality and just accept the fact that we have to find a way to fix it and then talk about what we're going to do to fix it, rather than playing this fantasy politics game every four years, we're not going to have the ability to govern.

ZAKARIA: And the reason nothing can get done, you say, is you can talk a good game but, once you get in, Congress is so beholden to a group of very small special interests that will veto all these things.

LESSIG: That's right. I mean, obviously, you know, I'm from the Left and I care about things like climate change legislation or taking on Wall Street, you know, when you listen to these candidates talking about taking on Wall Street, you say, look, this is the largest contributor to congressional campaigns. You can't begin to take them on until you change the way elections are funded.

ZAKARIA: If your plan goes as you hope --


ZAKARIA: -- and you do end up president and preside over these reforms and then leave, it sounds like the very consequential choice you're going to make is who will be your vice president because he or she will serve out your term.

LESSIG: That's right. So this is kind of two for the price of one. But the judgment has got to be who's -- who can make it possible for this ticket, this very unique referendum president and a vice president to win the votes necessary to prevail in a general election.

ZAKARIA: And describe the crowdsourcing.

How likely is it that you will hit your target and how does it work?

LESSIG: So what we've set is a $1 million goal by Labor Day. So that was about 27 days. In the first day, we raised $150,000 -- $125,000, which means we're about one-eighth of the way in the first day. So we're pretty optimistic we're going to be able to hit that goal.

ZAKARIA: Larry Lessig, best of luck.

LESSIG: Thank you, Fareed.


ZAKARIA (voice-over): Next up on GPS, you can't destroy ISIS without first fixing Iraq.

And is Iraq actually working on solving some of its problems?

That's the big news this week. We will dig in when we come back.




ZAKARIA: Defeating ISIS is a priority for the United States and the world.

But how to do so?

After all, ISIS currently controls large swaths of two countries, both of which are, frankly, disasters.

Syria is in the midst of an actual civil war and Iraq has been in a low-grade one for the better portion of the last 12 years.

But this week, surprising many, Iraq's prime minister, Haider al Abadi, made hopefully what is the first of many efforts aimed at bringing his country back together with a series of reforms that would, as "The New York Times" so eloquently put it, "radically reshape the dysfunctional political system of Iraq that has been entrenched since the American-led invasion in 2003."

But will it work? Let's bring in two people who know Iraq and its problems very well.

Michele Flournoy was the third-highest ranking civilian at the Pentagon during President Obama's first term. She was under consideration for the top job, Secretary of Defense. She's the CEO and co-founder of The Center for a New American Security.

And Dexter Filkins is a staff writer for "The New Yorker," reported extensively from Iraq during the war and is the author of the excellent book, "The Forever War."

So, Dexter, you have been in and out of Iraq even just as recently as last year.

Will what Abadi has proposed work?

DEXTER FILKINS, "THE NEW YORKER": I'm pretty pessimistic about it. I think fundamentally the Iraqi state is broken, you know. It's broken in three pieces. There is the Shiite part and the Kurdish part, which is -- you know, they're leaving. And the Sunni part I think is irreparably broken away.

Trying to knit that together, I just don't see it happening. I think, if there was a sense of national feeling, you know, somewhere other than in Prime Minister Abadi's office -- I think he is a really serious guy -- I would be hopeful about it.

But you know, we built an Iraqi army at incredible expense, billions and billions of dollars. And it fell apart. The moment that ISIS swept in from Syria, they just pushed on it and it fell apart.

ZAKARIA: And it fell apart because the Sunnis just don't feel that they want to go to war --


ZAKARIA: -- in favor of this Baghdad government. They've been confronted between ISIS and the Shiite government; many of them chose ISIS.

FILKINS: Yes. Exactly. I think they've been so alienated by the Shiite majority, particularly by Prime Minister Maliki. Really it's a shame we didn't get Abadi 10 years ago when we more or less installed Maliki. But there is no national feeling. It's gone. And I don't think it

exists anywhere. And so, what are they going to do at the end of the day?

ZAKARIA: Michele, you wrote a very tough paper, I thought, given that you are a former very senior Obama official, arguing that the current effort against ISIS is not working; it's incrementalism.

And what you seem to me to be supporting is essentially a recognition that Iraq is broken and, you know, frankly, a kind of three-pronged strategy, where you say outreach to the Sunni tribes, in other words, create a self-standing Sunni army that will fight ISIS and then provide arms and aid to the Shiite government and its army and to the Kurdish government and its army.

Is that a fair reading? I mean, of course, you have a little bit about supporting Iraqi integration, which you have to. But...

MICHELE FLOURNOY, FMR. UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, actually, I think we argued in our paper that the president's strategy has a lot of the right elements but it's not being pursued with adequate urgency and it's not properly resourced.

And the most important piece of this, aside from the military steps that we can and should take, is really making the Shia leaders in Baghdad -- not only Abadi but especially those behind him -- to understand that, unless they figure out a way to reinclude the Sunnis by devolving more authority and resources down to the provinces, they risk losing Iraq as a unitary state. They risk having it split.

And unless they understand that -- they've got to understand that to be able to make the political compromises that are necessary.

Without that, there are no series of military steps that can really make a difference.

With that, additional support from the United States to the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Iraqi security forces could make a big difference.

The question is will the Sunnis stand up and fight to reclaim Sunni areas?


FLOURNOY: And again, I think they need the reassurance first that they're fighting for a different political future, that things will change in Baghdad and they will be re-included.

And second, that the United States will back them up, that they can count on us to help provide the support they need to be successful. Those are two big ifs.

ZAKARIA: So that is the crucial part I think that Michele talked about, which is will the Sunnis fight to reclaim Sunni areas? Because at the end of the day, ISIS is a phenomenon that is because the Sunnis of Iraq and Syria feel disempowered, ISIS has come in. Will Iraqi Sunnis -- let's deal with Iraq for the moment.

Will they fight ISIS, reclaim the areas, and make it part of Iraq?

FILKINS: I -- it's hard to say, but there isn't a lot of evidence that they will. And I think, you know, if you look at, for instance, what -- if you just take the prospect of what happens next, what is the Iraqi government doing militarily to push ISIS back?

They want to go into Ramadi, which is now held by ISIS, or Fallujah or Mosul.

What will they go in with?

They'll go in with the Iraqi army, which is basically a collection of Shiite militias. That's what it is. And that's seen as an occupying army. And that's not a prescription for reintegration.

And again, we can cobble together a bunch of Sunni tribes and we can put them on the payroll and that's basically what -- that helped turn the war back in 2008, when the United States was trying to get out.

But that's not a permanent solution. And I just don't -- I don't see it.

ZAKARIA: Michele, what do you say to that fatalism?

FLOURNOY: Well, it's hard to be optimistic about Iraq, but I am not quite as fatalistic.

The question is whether this recent set of protests and this moment, with the support of the religious leader al-Sistani, whether this creates an opportunity for him to push those reforms through and give the Sunnis the prospect of a different future in Iraq.

That is the only way that they will stand up and fight, that plus assurances from the United States that we'll be behind them.

But absent that, I agree. You're not going to see much progress.

ZAKARIA: Well, in any event, we -- I think everyone agrees this is the crucial issue, to see whether these reforms work and whether the Sunnis can be brought back into the fold.

Thank you both very much.

Next on GPS, you have heard of the Red Planet, you all know about the Red Sea, but I bet you are not familiar with a nation called the Red Dot. When we come back, we'll tell you what it is.





ZAKARIA (voice-over): This week more than four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan's Sendai nuclear power reactor was brought back online. The move ended a nearly two-year period without any nuclear power in the Land of the Rising Sun. It brings me to my question of the week.

What country generates the most nuclear energy?

France? China? The United States? Or Germany?

Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

This week's book is "The Business of America Is Lobbying," by Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America.


ZAKARIA: If you were struck, as I was, by Lawrence Lessig's commentary on the influence of money in American politics and you want to learn more, you will want to read this book. It lays out the details in an eye-opening way.


ZAKARIA (voice-over): And now for the last look. Last weekend the little Red Dot celebrated its 50th birthday with pomp and circumstance. The Red Dot you say? Yes. That's the insult that has become a point of pride for Singapore. Let me explain.

It is said that in the 1990s an Indonesian leader dismissed the city- state as a little red dot on the map.

And that phrase transformed into a motto of sorts, as Reuters points out. The organizers of the event say the dot, seen all over the city, symbolizes Singapore's big status as a tiny nation. And this little country has certainly surprised in many ways.

Singapore is not a Western-style liberal democracy. In fact, the current ruling party has been in power for the entirety of its independent statehood.

And yet, when you look at the numbers Singapore comes out on top of the United States in a variety of categories. Life expectancy, higher in Singapore. Unemployment, lower in Singapore. Freedom from corruption, better in Singapore according to the right wing Heritage Foundation. Education better in Singapore with higher OECD ratings in math, reading and science.

I could go on. Singapore doesn't win in every category. Press freedom, worse in Singapore. Freedom overall, worse in Singapore, according to Freedom House. Gum chewing, worse in Singapore. Yes, buying chewing gum is banned in Singapore still. Actually, some might say that's better.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: So wow did this little country that is less free than America do better in so many ways?


ZAKARIA (voice-over): It's why Singapore is so fascinating and worth studying. But this week, let's just celebrate its very real achievements.

Happy birthday, Singapore.

The correct answer to our GPS challenge question is C, the United States. The U.S., with its 100 nuclear reactors, provides more than 30 percent of the world's nuclear generation, according to the World Nuclear Association. And it accounts for 19 percent of the electricity to power America's grid.

France has the highest percentage of its power generated by nuclear at about 75 percent.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.