Return to Transcripts main page
FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Jared Cohen Discusses His New Book on Presidents Who Changed America. Carnage in Sri Lanka, What the Attacks May Reveal About ISIS; Will the World Be Ready When the Next Recession Hits. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 28, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:35] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN 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.
We'll start today's show with ISIS. For months, President Trump has been boasting that the so-called Islamic State is now stateless.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ISIS caliphate is defeated 100 percent. One hundred percent obliterated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But the terror group this week claimed credit for the Sri Lanka attacks. I'll ask the NYPD's counter-terror chief John Miller if ISIS can be dying and attacking at the same time.
Also, is the world ripe for another financial meltdown? And would world leaders be handicap in reacting if one did come along? I'll talk to the three men who rescued the economy the last time around, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner and Hank Paulson.
Then a riddle of sorts. What do Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and this weekend's elections in Spain have in common? I'll give you the answer.
But first, here is my take. Consider for a moment what the growing talk of impeachment among Democrats sounds like to the tens of millions of people that voted for Donald Trump. Many of them supported him because they feel ignored, mocked and condescended to by the country's urban, educated and cosmopolitan elites, especially lawyers and journalists.
So what happens when their guy gets elected? These same elites pursue a series of maneuvers to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It would massively increase the class resentment that feeds support for Trump. It would turn the topic away from his misdeeds and toward the Democrats' overreach and obsessions. And ultimately, of course, it would fail. Two-thirds of this Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to convict Trump allowing the president to brandish his "acquittal" like a gold medal across the country.
I know, I know, many argue passionately that this is not a political affair but rather a moral and a legal one. After reading the Mueller report, they say, Congress has no option but to fulfill its obligation and impeach Trump. But this view misunderstands impeachment entirely. It is, by design, an inherently political process, not a legal one. That's why the standard used, high crimes and misdemeanors, is not one used in criminal procedures. And that is why the decision is entrusted to a political body, Congress, not the courts.
After three cases in America's past, history's judgment is only one was wholly justified, the impeachment proceeding against Richard Nixon. President Andrew Johnson's decision to fire his secretary of war clearly lawful should not have led to his impeachment. The same is true for Bill Clinton's failed Whitewater land deal which triggered an independent counsel to acquire that went into completely unrelated areas.
For some Democrats, impeachment talk might be a smart, if cynical, short-term calculation. If you are running for the Democratic nomination, say, it is a way to get attention. If you are consolidating your support with the party's base, the more fiercely anti-Trump you are, the better. But all these moves only as long as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slow-rolls the process and stops it from getting out of hand.
The Democrats have a much better path in front of them. They should pursue legitimate investigations of Trump, bring in witnesses and release documentary proof of wrongdoing, but they should at the same time show the public that they would be a refreshing contrast to Trump substantive, policy oriented, civil and focused on the country not on their base.
America is tired of the circus of Donald Trump. That doesn't mean they want the circus of the House Democrats. Trump is vulnerable. With strong economic numbers he has astonishingly approval ratings. He will likely run his 2020 campaign on cultural nationalism as he did the last one.
[10:05:06] Democrats need to decide what their vision will be. That should be their focus for the next two years, not the unfounded hope that if they pursue impeachment somehow a series of miracles will take place, a deeply divided country will coalesce around them and Republicans will finally abandon their president.
The real challenge for Democrats goes beyond Trump. It is Trump-ism. A right-wing populism that has swelled in the United States over the past decade. Surely the best way to take it on is to combat it ideologically and defeat it electorally. That is the only way to give the Democrats the real prize which is not Donald Trump's scalp. But the power and legitimacy to forge a governing majority.
For more, go to CNN.com/Fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week, and let's get started.
The attacks in Sri Lanka was some of the deadliest since 9/11 and had left in their wake many hundreds of casualties and a country on edge. On Tuesday ISIS claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings. President Trump had celebrated the demise of ISIS' so-called caliphate but apparently down doesn't mean out.
We have a great guest to help us understand. John Miller is the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the New York City Police Department.
What does it mean, John, that in this case an ISIS that had been destroyed genuinely has been able to be resurrected?
JOHN MILLER, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERTERRORISM, NYPD: I mean, our assessment of ISIS -- ISIS starts as a caliphate or a nation state. Then it becomes an infantry fighting a war to hold that land and loses. So it wasn't a caliphate, it was an army, which meant from the NYPD's stand point, it was just a terrorist group, which is a problem for us.
ZAKARIA: And it's a new thing for ISIS.
MILLER: That's right. But one that had a very limited external operations capability. We hadn't seen a complex external plan run by ISIS since the Paris attacks, the Bataclan Theater. This challenges that assessment because here you have a multi-layered external operations with multiple locations, multiple suicide bombers that stayed under the radar, and we can talk about the reasons for that later, but a very effective attack where the claim of responsibility came from ISIS central communications portals. It's something that we're going to have to look at and wonder if we got it wrong with ISIS in terms of their external capability.
ZAKARIA: What does it mean that ISIS was involved in this? Because these were all locals. Could it be that they just reached out to ISIS and ISIS liked it idea of branding? On the other hand it seems much more sophisticated than the locals could do. So what does it mean when you see one of these things and ISIS takes responsibility?
MILLER: If you look, Fareed, at the group at the center of this, on the ground in Sri Lanka, this is a group that had been involved in mostly hate speech against Buddhist, some vandalism, the idea of doing a complex, multi-locations, suicide bombing, is this group punching way above their weight class? So something happened. That's an intelligence gap.
What we have to learn over the coming days is, did ISIS find this group connect with them online, and realize they had an opportunity? Did they send a facilitator who brought up the level of their professionalism with bomb-making, planning, and so on, or was that a combination of returning fighters from Sri Lanka who came back, hooked up with the group, and brought their level of capability up?
We don't know the answer to that, but we don't know the how it happened, but you can certainly tell that it happened.
ZAKARIA: And it feels like a crime of opportunity. They sense -- I mean, this is not the biggest place to do it, the places would be obviously, New York, London, Paris. They chose Sri Lanka because they could. MILLER: I think that is exactly right. I think that they would have
rather done that in a European capital as they have in the past in terms of targeting but Sri Lanka offered a group on the ground, willing individuals, and the targets. They have Christian churches. You had a symbolic holiday. It's where it all came together for them and they exploited it.
ZAKARIA: And the other target of opportunity might have been that the Sri Lanka government is divided and dysfunctional. I mean, you had this extraordinary account where the Indian intelligence gave the Sri Lanka government weeks in advance, basically exactly what was going to happen, chatter they had picked up and because the president and prime minister are fighting, it didn't get out properly.
[10:10:11] I mean, that seems almost bizarre.
MILLER: I mean, there was a document that went to security officials. I think what they have done there is probably the proper thing, which is, let's first worry about getting the bad guys, preventing further attacks and then let's take a hard look at how this was communicated.
The New York version of this, Fareed, would have been you get the threat information, you get to the bad guys and you disrupt them if you can. If the information isn't enough to get to the bad guys and stop it, then you increase the security of the target locations and you weigh that difficult question, do we share this with the public even if it's an unvetted threat if we believe it's credible? And usually we weigh towards yes.
ZAKARIA: What strikes me as extraordinary is given the amount of money the United States is spending on intelligence, and other countries as well, the fact that ISIS could have been actively involved in this if that turns out to be true, is not just an intelligence failure on the Sri Lankan government but it's an intelligence failure for the U.S.
MILLER: I think when you have a complex attack like this at multiple locations with multiple players, you have that push and pull. That's the kind of thing where we have many people involved, the opportunities increased to get that intelligence, to find out about it, but you also have a broken organization in terms of ISIS. Their normal training camps, their normal modes of communications have all shifted and changed.
That presents a real challenge for intelligence collection when it goes from being a bureaucracy to something that's much flatter and person-to-person, it gets harder.
ZAKARIA: Well, fascinating. Stay on the case, John Miller.
MILLER: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Thank you so much.
Next on GPS, a power house battle of great minds on the economy. Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson. An exclusive interview with all three, when we come back.
[10:15:39] ZAKARIA: When the conflagration that became the financial crisis began more than 10 years ago, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner didn't know each other well at all but the crisis demanded they come together.
Bernanke is Fed chair, Paulson is Bush's Treasury secretary and Geithner as Obama's. And together they put out that fire. They have now written a book about their experiences called "Fire Fighting: The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons." And they join me for an exclusive interview.
Gentlemen, pleasure to have you on.
Tim, one of the things you write in the book that is most worrying is, were another crisis to happen, and we know that these kind of crises happen in the history of capitalism periodically. The United States government collectively no longer have the tools to do the kind of rescue that you guys did 10 years ago.
TIM GEITHNER, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: We're in better shape in many ways in the sense that the financial system is more stable and the post-crisis reforms are much tougher, and apply to a much broader share of the system. And if those are protected and not eroded or weakened over time, that will buy us a measure of stability. But it is true that we -- if we go into another crisis, we will not have the things any country has to use and we had to use in '08 and '09 to protect the country from a panic in the Great Depression. Those were either expired or taken away by the Congress in the, you know, understandable inevitable anger that followed the crisis.
ZAKARIA: Ben, what about the argument people make that we're out of ammunition at this point? That in a sense you used up so much of the ammunition fighting the great recession. You lowered rates, you bought all this paper that now sits on the Fed's balance sheet, that if there were another bad recession, the rates can't go down as rapidly, you can't accumulate much more on the Fed's balance sheet. Is that true? Are we out of ammunition?
BEN BERNANKE, FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: Well, first, we didn't use up the ammunition. I mean, the Feds has raised interest rates back to a level which is more or less neutral, that is either expansionary nor contractionary and balance sheet, the quantum of easing has been significantly reversed. So we're kind of back to where, you know, we were in a sense but we're also in a world where interest rates generally, not just because of what central banks are doing but interest rates generally are quite low around the world, which means that there is not much room to cut.
We have more than other countries, in Europe and Japan interest rates are still at zero. The United States short-term rates are above two so we have a bit more room but not as much as in the past.
ZAKARIA: You were the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Do you think bankers should have been held more responsible for what was ultimately the result of the irresponsibility of the private sector? Banks lent in a way that was hazardous. Why do bankers not have to pay a price for that?
HANK PAULSON, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, first of all, you know, I saw egregious behaviors on Wall Street. So there were some terrible behaviors. I saw big mistakes in the part of regulators, flawed government policies, mistakes were made by a lot of people. A matter of fact, the biggest mistake was the United States government not making sure that we had a regulatory system that kept up with the financial system.
I thought the thing that bothered me the most was the bonuses that were paid after everything the United States government did, but I will say that in terms of the things that the three of us did when we stepped in and when we nationalized, you know, Fannie and Freddie, when we nationalized AIG, you saw, you know, CEOs fired, you see all the golden parachutes taken away, but you're darn right, people are angry.
And I think the biggest reason they're angry is in America, if we work hard and we succeed, people expect there to be rewards and when you fail, they expect you to fail and they don't expect the government to come in and rescue. And we weren't trying to rescue Wall Street.
[10:20:06] You know, you had to, to deal with this -- there is so much concentration to deal with a problem we had to go to the course and what we did is we put a tourniquet to stop bleeding but, you know, because if we hadn't done that, if we hadn't stopped the collapse, many, many Americans would have been hurt.
ZAKARIA: Tim, you've said before, and it's a great line, we saved the economy but we lost the country. Explain what you mean.
GEITHNER: The tragic thing about financial crisis, and the reason why they're so damaging, is that most people look at the fire and they think the fire is just, and the right thing to do is to let it burn because that's the fairest way to make sure that people who lent too much money or took advantage of people bear the consequences of those choices. But in a serious financial crisis, that basic instinct is deeply unjust, meaning it leaves -- it will leave you with the risk of, you know, panics leading to great depressions like we saw in the Great Depression itself.
When you act aggressively as we did ultimately, when Congress gave us authority, we're doing things that are absolutely essential to prevent mass unemployment and a decade of lost growth but they are precisely what feels scariest and most unfair to people because there is a lot of unworthy, you know, beneficiaries of those actions.
ZAKARIA: Because you're rewarding the very people who are seen as the arsonist.
GEITHNER: Yes, the fear is you're rewarding -- you look like you're rewarding the arsonist but what you're doing is not for the arsonist, not to protect the arsonist, you're trying to protect people who are fundamentally innocent of the most of the cause of the crisis, but would bear most of the consequences of a panic and a depression.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS what other risks are looming ahead? A deepening trade war with China? Another recession? A stock market crash? I ask my financial trinity.
[10:25:25] ZAKARIA: Back now for much more of my exclusive interview with the three men who fought the financial crisis, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner.
What do you think is the greatest danger going forward for, you know, some kind of crisis like this, another kind of crisis? Because I look at a political system, I mean, this is extraordinary thing about what happened was you were appointed by George W. Bush, you were appointed by Obama, you were technically a Republican but, you know, in a non- partisan job.
You all worked together across two administrations. In some ways the worst point of an administration, the lame-duck period of George W. Bush's administration, when he was very unpopular because of the Iraq war.
I can't imagine that happening again where you have the ability in this partisan climate to work together.
GEITHNER: Well, if you want to be an optimist, you would say, throughout history, people look at the United States and in the end when we face an existential threat to the security of Americans, the American political system was able to come together and do what was essential.
The risk in our system of government is that if all the material things you have to do to protect people from the consequence of the severe crisis have to go through the Congress, which is the way our system works, except for the monetary policy authority of the Fed, then you're leaving your faith in the hands of the willingness of these people to come together when it will be hardest to do so and when the actions that are most valuable are terribly unpopular, and the choice they face is to take a vote that will cost them their job in that context.
And that's a hard strategy to manage the threats of a country with a complicated financial and so important to the world. So yes, the biggest risk we face is the one you began with, which is the biggest risk we face is that, will it take too long for our political system to come together and do what it's been able to do in the past, when it was essential to do that, fast enough that you can protect people from really tragic damage?
ZAKARIA: I have to ask you, President Trump says that the Fed today should do what you did in the depths of the economic crisis when the economy was cratering -- global economy was cratering into a depression. It should lower interest rates and it should actually begin quantitative easing. Do you think that makes sense? BERNANKE: Well, your question -- you know, the presumption of your
question, you compare where we were in 2009, in March of 2009 when the economy was in complete free fall and we were very unsure, you know, if we could stop it at all. That's when we took the more aggressive measures which worked well.
I think now the economy is in a much more stable position. We have almost 10 years of expansion, near full employment, so my general reaction to this is that, you know, I trust the Federal Reserve to make the right choices and I think they'll -- they should do that without political interference.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that the United States and China are going to have a trade deal?
PAULSON: Yes, I would be very optimistic that they are going to have a trade deal and that it will be a positive for both countries. China has been very, very slow to open up their economy and I think it's long overdue and I think it will be a positive, but I continue to believe that this relationship is going to be troubled and under stress for years to come.
This is by far the most important bilateral relationship we have in the world and I think the -- our ability to deal with China and their ability to deal with us is going to really shape really the geopolitical atmosphere, more than that the landscape for the rest of the century, and I think that as the U.S. seeks to protect their national security because there is a growing view in the U.S. that China is an adversary and their rise is coming at our expense, and so as we seek to protect our national security and maintain our economic competitiveness, you're going to see a big focus on technology.
And I think there is a danger that if -- and this is a danger coming from each side but if we try too hard to sequester our technology in the United States we will do things that will undermine our long-term economic competitiveness and will really change the shape of trade and investment around the world.
ZAKARIA: It is almost the longest economic expansion in American history. Are we due for a recession?
GEITHNER: That's -- Ben's a better -- better -- a better person to ask that question. I mean, this has been a very modest recovery, and it comes after, you know, a savage downturn, which made people very cautious. And the foundations of this expansion are more stable than is true for many past expansions.
So it's true that, with some modest luck and without -- as long as people don't make some dumb mistakes, this -- this expansion could go on. And it's partly a function of the long echoes of the scars of the crisis, the fact that it made people more careful, more cautious. And the memory hasn't receded completely of the consequences of getting yourselves too overextended with a dangerous financial system.
ZAKARIA: Gentlemen, pleasure to have you on. Thank you.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you.
GEITHNER: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," the course of history can change in an instant with a wrong turn or a particular choice of words. When we come back, I'll tell you how the assassination of Franz Ferdinand relates to this weekend's elections in Spain. It does.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Sometimes you can see world-changing events coming. But then there are the accidents, unforeseen moments that alter the course of nations for generations to come.
Take the spark that began the first World War. Most know that that spark was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire. But his assassin was only successful because of a single wrong turn taken by Ferdinand's driver.
As many historians, including recently Christopher Clark, have written, Ferdinand was on a motorcade through Sarajevo with little concern for ethnic Serb resentment of the empire's 1908 annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The motorcade, having run into Serbian terrorists, had decided to take an alternate route. But no one translated the instructions to Ferdinand's Czech driver, who turned onto Franz Josef Street, the old route. The driver was alerted of his mistake. The car stopped right in front of a general store. And standing in wait under the awning, armed with a revolver, was Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb.
The rest, Europe's call to arms, the loss of millions of lives in World War I, the devastation of whole nations, is tragedy.
But small slips don't always have big consequences immediately. Take Spain, which is currently in the midst of its worst political crisis in decades.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, after losing the support of Catalan politicians, was forced to dissolve parliament and call a snap election that Spaniards are voting in this weekend.
As the New York Times lays out in a recent story, this can all be traced back to the decision more than 40 years ago to omit a single world from the new post-Franco democratic constitution.
Catalan politicians wanted their own territory and others like it, places with distinct languages and cultures, to be described as "nations." In the end, in a compromise, everyone agreed to describe them instead as "nationalities," granting them a degree of autonomy.
Then in 2010 a high court ruled tjhat certain sou3ght-after administrative reforms were impossible because Catalonia was not designated a "nation." That sparked a rage in Catalonia and moved politicians toward separatist demands that had previously been a fringe pursuit.
The extended stalemate ever since has toppled two governments, reignited the long dormant fire of the far right and threatened 40 years of relative democratic harmony in Spain.
Or consider the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, forged in 1921. For the British, once they decided to grant Ireland de facto independence, the border itself seemed almost an afterthought.
The historian Diarmaid Ferriter, author of the new book "The Border," said that the Irish question was considered an irritant after the First World War, at a time when Britain was far more focused on alliances with the U.S. and France.
When the line was drawn through homes and scores of country roads, Prime Minister David Lloyd George was satisfied that they had got rid of the Irish question. But that badly drawn border fueled decades of insurgency and violence between the two Irelands, and today, as Pankaj Mishra noted in the New York Times, it has ironically become the biggest threat to an orderly Brexit.
That's because, as Brexiteers seem to forget when clambering for the exit in 2016, it is now the only land border between the European Union and the United Kingdom. A genuine Brexit would seem to require a new hard border between Europe and Britain, two distinct entities.
But peace between the north and south of Ireland depend on that being an open border. This tension could cost Theresa May her prime ministership, Ireland its uneasy peace and Britain its territorial integrity.
One of the biases of hindsight is to see the events of history as inevitable. the product of great forces and great figures moving surely toward an immutable goal. But sometimes the fate of nations hinges on a wrong turn, a single word or even a hastily drawn line.
Up next, accidental presidents, eight men who suddenly found themselves with the most powerful job in the land, the presidency of the United States of America -- a fascinating prism through which to look at American history, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson -- what do all these men have in common?
Well, they were accidental presidents, as my next guest calls them, thrust into the Oval Office unexpectedly when the president died.
Jared Cohen is the author of "Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America." His day job is CEO of Jigsaw, a tech incubator and think tank that is a sister company to Google.
Jared, pleasure to have you on.
COHEN: Fareed, thanks so much for having me.
ZAKARIA: So this is a fascinating book. And what you talk about when describing these vice presidents who become president is the completely unexpected elements to it. And it begins right at the start with John Tyler, who becomes president when William Henry Harrison dies supposedly because he got -- you know, he got sick on his Inauguration Day.
But people didn't know the Constitution was ambiguous as to whether the vice president became president. Explain that.
COHEN: So what the Constitution says is that the vice president discharges the duties of president if there's a vacancy. But the Constitution is completely vague about whether or not the vice president becomes president. So John Tyler, who basically skips town after the inauguration and prepares for four years of irrelevance, finds out 30 days later that William Henry Harrison is dead.
He rushes back to Washington because he knows that there's going to be a fight with the Cabinet and with Congress to assert his authority to be the president of the United States. And the fight ensues. He ends up winning that battle and he sets a precedent that, even as recently as Lyndon Johnson, still holds. We forget that Lyndon Johnson becomes president of the United States based on a precedent that John Tyler sets in 1841. We didn't have the 25th amendment until the late 1960s, which then formalizes that precedent.
ZAKARIA: You -- you talk about, you know, in some ways the most famous succession certainly of the 19th Century, Lincoln's assassination and Andrew Johnson becomes president, generally regarded as the worst president in American history.
So the puzzle that you try to answer is how could the person who many people regard as the best president in American history have picked a vice president who ended up being the worst president in American history?
COHEN: Well, that's precisely right, Fareed. So, you know, when you look how we basically win presidential succession throughout the course of our history, it's easy to want to say we got lucky and we navigated it and we ended up more or less OK. But that neglects the reality that we were supposed to get Abraham Lincoln's vision for Reconstruction and instead the bullet of John Wilkes Booth's gun gave us Andrew Johnson, a man who was born a racist, died a racist, the last president to own slaves, ends up resurrecting almost all elements of the old Confederacy, which gives us the black codes, which is the precursor to Jim Crow, which gives us segregation.
So when I set out to write this book, what I wanted to do was vindicate the choice of Andrew Johnson in 1864. And back then the president didn't choose the running mate, but Lincoln, knowing that he had a slim shot at winning the election in 1864, had this whole masterful intrigue to get a war Democrat from a border state on the ticket.
And in 1864 Andrew Johnson was the only Southern senator who had stayed loyal to the Union. He was actually revered in the North. And because he wanted to put the Union back together, his rhetoric at the time was more forward-leaning on civil rights and punishment for traitors than even -- than even Abraham Lincoln.
But when he becomes president, which by the way is after an embarrassing drunken display where he takes the oath of office as vice president and ends up slobbering all over the Bible, when he becomes president shortly after the Civil War ends and then tactically he goes back to his old ways and the real Andrew Johnson makes himself known.
ZAKARIA: And then we have the kind of -- what I regard as in some ways the greatest tragedy in American history, which is the -- so as you describe it, Johnson essentially resurrects slavery in another form, of segregation. And we seem as though we've lost Lincoln's vision of a real reconstruction of the South but done with a certain kind of empathy, until we get James Garfield, this forgotten man who could have been a truly great president, right?
COHEN: That's true, Fareed. And I will tell you, anybody who reads about James Garfield falls in love with this man, who was one of the greatest figures ever to rise to the presidency. And the tragedy of Garfield, besides the fact that we barely remember his name, is if we look at the story of civil rights in post-Civil War America, it really is a story of two presidential assassinations.
So Abraham Lincoln gives us Andrew Johnson and we have momentum in the direction of segregation, which ends up, you know, destroying the country in many respects. Garfield is the only president to get the nomination without actively seeking it. It was supposed to be a battle between Ulysses Grant and James Blaine, and the party leaders got tired of it and somebody shouts Garfield's name and on the 30- somethingth ballot, he ends up getting the nomination against his own will.
And he says "I protest; a man who does not seek the nomination cannot get the nomination." And they give it to him anyway. And Garfield's mission was universal suffrage, universal education. And a mentally ill office-seeker ends up putting a bullet in him four months after he takes the oath of office. So we never get the vision of James Garfield, who may, because he was detached from party politics, been able to reverse some of what Andrew Johnson had started.
ZAKARIA: The place where it does seem like we got lucky is Harry Truman, probably the most unprepared man for office, given the magnitude of the challenges the country faced when Franklin Roosevelt died.
COHEN: Truman is basically a provincial politician with an "Aww, shucks" mentality from Missouri who's not really thought much about the world and has experienced very little about the world. And in his 82 days as vice president, he only meets FDR twice, doesn't get a single intelligence briefing, doesn't meet a single foreign leader, is basically out and about socializing. He's not even briefed on the atomic bomb.
So on April 12th, 1945 when FDR takes his last breath, Truman finds himself trust into the pinnacle of power while the battle of Okinawa is raging, at the height of the war. He's briefed on the Manhattan Project and has to figure out what to do about this destructive weapon. And yet in his first four months, he makes some of the most important and seminal decisions that will shape the War and shape the post-War order.
ZAKARIA: So sometimes we do get lucky. I'm going to have to leave the rest for readers to buy this terrific book. Jared Cohen, pleasure to have you on.
COHEN: Fareed, thank you so much.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
ZAKARIA: Last week the Trump administration capped the amount of money that Cuban-Americans can send to family and friends back home. These economic transfers, known as remittances, are at a record high around the world, and it brings me to my question. Which of the following countries was the biggest recipient of global remittances in 2018, India, China, Mexico or the Philippines?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is "Working" by Robert Caro, a surprisingly personal and conversational account of his life's work as a writer by America's greatest biographer. His lesson in one line: truth doesn't come easily.
And now for the last look. We watched in horror as fire engulfed the Notre Dame cathedral, spreading swiftly through the ancient wooden beams until the ceiling and its iconic 300-foot spire came crashing down.
The very next day French president Macron vowed to make it even more beautiful. So now what France began building eight and a half centuries ago, the world will rebuild. Already, almost $1 billion have been pledged, and an international competition to reconstruct the roof inspired the globe's architects.
A French firm imagined an updated glass ceiling, while this Russian take gives the building a more modern look. Some firms will try to envision a new symbol of the times, like this idea to create a greenhouse out of the destroyed roof and use the spire as a bee's apiary.
Even if France chooses just to replicate the ancient beauty, modernity will end up helping whomever is chosen to repair it. Already, a Dutch company has shown how replacement gargoyles might be 3-D printed instead of being carved. And to return the edifice to its original structure, architects could turn to these 3-D scans of the building created by laser measurements and accurate nearly to the millimeter. Notre Dame is a symbol of French resilience evolving with each new age
and putting its own spin on it. As Macron said, the fire of Notre Dame reminds us that our story never ends. I for one look forward to the next chapter.
The answer to my "GPS" challenge this week is A. Indians aboard sent a staggering $79 billion home in 2018. China took in $67 billion, while remittances to Mexico were $36 billion and $34 billion was sent to the Philippines.
The World Bank notes that remittances will soon become the largest source of external financing in developing nations, a reminder that hardline immigration policies can actually exacerbate the poverty that pushes many to migrate in the first place. Call it a vicious cycle.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.