Zakaria: It's plausible Russia could interfere in US election

Story highlights

  • Zakaria says Vladimir Putin's dislike of Hillary Clinton may be personal
  • In this episode, he talks about why he initially supported the 2003 Iraq invasion
The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works for David Axelrod.

New York (CNN)If Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to influence the outcome of the US presidential election, as some reports have suggested, his longstanding antipathy toward Hillary Clinton would be a principal motivation, says one of the leading journalists covering global affairs.

"The reason I think it's plausible is, Putin really dislikes Hillary Clinton. It's personal," CNN's Fareed Zakaria told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Zakaria said that Putin feels "a certain kind of disdain for Hillary personally" that he says may stem in part from Clinton's gender. But what Zakaria is certain of is that Putin believes Clinton encouraged political opposition to his reelection efforts in 2012, which he viewed as attempted regime change.
    Zakaria also said that given Russia's surreptitious political activities in other parts of the world, particularly Europe, "It's not so far-fetched to imagine that there's some efforts along the same lines" happening in America.
    Turning to the Middle East, Zakaria argued that the United States cannot establish more security at home and abroad by attempting to police longstanding sectarian conflicts in foreign countries.
    "It's a ruinously expensive task (to) get involved in adjudicating the disputes between Sunnis and Shia and creating political order," Zakaria said.
    "We want some kind of clean, satisfying solution here. There isn't," he said.
    Zakaria, who hosts Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN and writes a column for The Washington Post, said the US has a limited ability to control the ongoing turmoil in Iraq and Syria, which stems from decades of sectarian repression.
    "These are huge, historical transformations taking place in these societies. Maybe these countries will not exist 15 years from now," Zakaria said in a conversation that took place before the debate. "The idea that we could put a finger on that dike seems very unlikely."
      Zakaria touched on a number of issues with Axelrod, including his searing and honest self-examination of what caused his initial support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq ("I probably look at it as the single biggest mistake I made in my life"); the impact our presidential candidates will have on NATO's future ("Broad continuity with the foreign policy of America from Truman through Reagan" or "a complete upending of the world order the United States has created since 1945"); and how the vitally important Asia-Pacific region will view the United States' reliability as a global ally if Congress fails to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
      To listen to the whole conversation with Zakaria, click on To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at