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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

Predictions for 2011; Interview With George Clooney

Aired January 9, 2011 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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.

As we begin 2011, I'm actually going to hazard a prediction that it will be a happy new year, at least a lot happier than 2010, which was marked in the Western world by slow growth, economic crises and political discord.

But things are looking up. Economic data suggests that the U.S. is moving towards stronger growth and, if that happens, it has a restorative effect everywhere. Remember, the U.S. economy remains the world's largest by far, still three times the size of China's economy in real dollars. So if the American economy begins to boom, everyone prospers, and all of America's problems, while real, get less dire. Tax revenues go up, state budgets look better, pension plans become more solvent.

The crucial statistic, of course, is unemployment, and while I hope that goes down, it remains the most difficult. It's possible to get real economic growth without much improvement in U.S. employment numbers.

Beyond America, I predict Europe will also grow, and its crises will not overwhelm the continent. Over the last year, if you think about it, the euro zone has been rocked by a series of crises, but the net effect has been to make Europe realize that it has no choice but to bail out its spend-thrift members - Greece, Ireland, Portugal.

The truth is, Germany can afford the bill. It can even afford to bail out Spain, and it benefits enough from the euro. Its banks benefit enough from the euro that it will ultimately reluctantly write the checks. So no collapse of the euro and perhaps decent growth there.

Japan might also grow a bit faster. So the entire developed world, 50 percent of the world economy, will finally be growing, which should boost global growth considerably. China, India, Brazil and the other emerging markets will of course keep on their forward path.

What about geopolitics? While there are many potential flash points, from Pakistan to North Korea to Iran, I'm going to be rash enough to say none of these will turn into crises that threaten global stability. They will be contained. North Korea will be reined in by China, and, to a lesser extent, the United States. Israel and the U.S. will not attack Iran, and while Pakistan teeters on the edge, ultimately its military will not allow a state collapse or a Jihadi takeover.

Now, I am bound to be wrong somewhere. If you look back over the last decade, every year has usually had some shock that was unanticipated. But I will say that the basic trends in the world for this year are toward the restoration of global growth, and that's better than the alternative. So two cheers for 2011.

Those are my predictions. You will hear predictions from our all-star panel later. Will Obama turn his fortunes around? Will gridlock cripple Washington? And what is the next international crisis?

Then, George Clooney on a crisis that could explode in Africa - Sudan. He explains the problem and his very interesting solution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR/WRITER/DIRECTOR/ACTIVIST: But the truth of the matter is there's so many ways that this can fall apart. As you know, this is - this is a nation being born, and there are a lot of problems with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Also, why in the world should we care about an ice cream store opening in the Green Zone in Baghdad? We'll tell you.

Then, assassination in Pakistan. Just how dangerous are things getting in that country? We talk to a key associate of the assassinated governor.

Finally, a "Last Look" at how much it might cost to buy a big, White House in Washington. You'll be surprised.

Let's get started.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: OK, you've heard what I think 2011 will bring. We wanted to bring together some of the more interesting minds to find out what they think when they look at their crystal balls at the year to come. We'll talk about politics, the economy, the world with a great panel.

David Remnick is the editor of "The New Yorker"; Eliot Spitzer is the former governor of New York State and now the anchor of CNN's "PARKER SPITZER"; Chrystia Freeland is "Reuters'" editor-at-large; and Bret Stephens is "The Wall Street Journal's" foreign affairs columnist and the deputy editor of that page's editorial page.

So, Eliot, first to you. Obama faces a new Congress.

ELIOT SPITZER, CO-HOST, PARKER SPITZER: Yes. ZAKARIA: You have been urging that he be more combative, not less. Is that really going to work? He's got a - he's got a Speaker of the House from an opposing party.

SPITZER: I was urging that he be more combative last year, when he actually had Democratic majorities, and I thought he could have used those majorities to drive his agenda through. I think at this point he needs to draw lines in the sand so the public knows what he stands for.

But certainly with Bill Daley coming in as Chief of Staff, and Bill Daley's op-ed in the - in the "Washington Post" last December of '09, I think indicated a perspective that says let us get to consensus perspectives, forge coalitions, and I think there will be less dramatic moves in either direction. But now I think Barack Obama will move very much to the middle. And -

ZAKARIA: But wouldn't people like you then start denouncing him for selling out on all kinds of...

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: Denouncing is a little harsh. I - I think I encouraged him to speak to the values that he ran on. Denouncing is a little edgy, but -

ZAKARIA: Your first show, your first editorial was urging him to fire Tim Geithner -

SPITZER: Right, because I thought that - look, I'm critical, as you know, I stand by that. I'm critical because I think we got those transactions with Wall Street wrong. Put that issue aside. I think the president will now need to work with John Boehner, and in order to succeed in getting a budget through, it will become a much more centrist, consensus type of governance, where the (INAUDIBLE) will try to marginalize the Tea Party and coop the mainstream Republicans.

BRET STEPHENS, COLUMNIST, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: This is going to be a bit like the - the First World War, the defense has the advantage. I think at both sides, the administration and - and at least the Republicans in Congress are going to be waiting for the other side to - to over - to overreach, to - to misstep. They're obviously looking to 1995 as the model, when Newt Gingrich overreached and Clinton -

DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, THE NEW YORKER: I - I agree with the First World War as the metaphor here.

STEPHENS: OK, let's (INAUDIBLE).

ZAKARIA: Which ended, let us point out, very badly.

(CROSSTALK)

REMNICK: So what it - what it implies is trench warfare. Trench is not moving much, lots of casualties, and nothing much accomplished. And I think the prospect for - the liberal prospect, as it were, in terms of legislation, not only in the next two years, but possibly over the next six, if we can even make the presumption that Barack Obama will win re-election, and I don't think we can, but let's say we do. And over the next six years, you might see this kind of - kind of trench warfare, World War I kind of analogy in play.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, GLOBAL EDITOR-AT-LARGE, REUTERS: To David's point about nothing much accomplished, I mean, I think the big thing has happened already, and that's the tax deal. And as far as Obama and the White House are concerned, it's a time of praying, crossing your fingers that that is enough of an adrenaline shot for the economy that 2012 is OK.

STEPHENS: A sad tax deal. A very sad compromise, the tax deal. And meanwhile, the -

FREELAND: Maybe a sad tax deal, but - but they're -

(CROSSTALK)

FREELAND: Right. You know, their - their big prayer is if - if it works, then none of this stuff really matters.

SPITZER: And I think on the critical issues that the president should be addressing, which is the middle class, the decline of the middle class, the increasing disparity of wealth in this nation because of the tax cut, which I agree was a horrendous deal, because of those fundamental tectonic pieces that are now set, nothing terribly good will happen over the next two years. And that is what makes me grieve.

ZAKARIA: But - but -

FREELAND: Something really bad could happen, like there's the debt ceiling -

ZAKARIA: But back to Chrystia's point, which is if the job numbers get - if the economy grows, if this - you know, the tax deal is part of it, just general economic revival is - is another part. If that all gets better, do Obama's numbers start - there's a - there's a good prospect that Obama's numbers start looking better and better as - as employment numbers go down, as growth numbers go up.

SPITZER: Here's the thing, he will, in my expectation, be re- elected, but he will not be transformational in the way that we hoped because of these alignments and because of the deals that will be cut and the sorts of - of decisions that needed to be made and the sorts of investments you've written about in your "Time" articles - education, infrastructure, R&D - simply can't be made given the budget lock that is now in place because of the tax cuts.

ZAKARIA: Is there - is there a compromise? I mean, this - it's got to be true that Republicans are concerned about the fact that we are now 25th in broadband penetration or whatever it is, you know, that there are these key areas where you do need government investment.

Is there some deal where you could say, look, I - I understand we need to make the tax code more rational, so we'll cut corporate taxes. But in return we need to make investments?

STEPHENS: Sure. And George Will made this point in a column not - not long ago, investment in basic research is an important thing for the United States. You look at - this is one -

ZAKARIA: And George Will is now in the House of Representatives.

STEPHENS: Yes. Well, this is one -- that he - he has an influence over even - even members of - of the Tea Party, this is certainly one area where the government has a legitimate role, in investing in fundamental research.

I think, look, looking forward to the next two years, I think there's an opportunity, which is called growth, and we're starting to get it in - in this country. There's a threat, there's a risk which is called inflation. You see it in higher food prices, you see it in really - real inflationary pressures in places like China and Vietnam and how you finesse that - those two issues, is going to be fundamental to what - to what we see in - in the next two years.

If we're - if we manage to get real growth in this country without running the inflationary risks that the - that Fed monetary policy is leading - and, you know, is leading to, then probably Obama is going to be re-elected. Republicans in Congress are going to be re-elected. We're going to - we're going to see a kind of a Clintonian period over next six years.

If inflation overtakes growth, then it's another story.

FREELAND: Even in the next two years? Do you think that's possible? I mean, don't you think that, without saying it out loud, the fed actually is quite happy with a little bit of inflation? It's a terrific way to pay down your foreign debt.

It is like being a little pregnant, but - but, for the U.S. it's fantastic.

ZAKARIA: And you continue to have two - and you continue to have a tale of two worlds. You know, there's inflation in China, India, and Vietnam, but there's no - and no inflation here, where wages are - are declining and (INAUDIBLE).

SPITZER: Look at the pressure, and the pressure for inflation, I believe, is not from a monetary policy side. It's because commodities are being driven through the roof because of demand that is being driven from China, Brazil and - and the rest of the world.

FREELAND: Lots of Chinese people are eating meat and driving cars.

SPITZER: That is where the inflation (INAUDIBLE) - ZAKARIA: I want to stay with Obama for a second, because, David, you still sound like the disappointed liberal. And what do you say to Obama, who says -

REMNICK: I'm not - I'm disappointed in some areas, but I'm - I'm quite enthusiastic in some areas as well. I mean, I think this last run of - of legislative wins was impressive during the lame-duck Congress. I thought it was - it was quite impressive.

But I think those days are numbered, for political reasons.

ZAKARIA: What do you think is - where is his temperament? I mean, you wrote a whole book about it. Does he want to be the guy who just gets a lot of deals, call it triangulation, call you - call it what you will, or do you think he wants to set out his core beliefs and say this is my - my line in the -

REMNICK: Well, there's a difference between what he'd like to do. I think he really did want to be transformational. I think he did have those ambitions, and he - he scored big in some areas.

But if you take foreign affairs, look at the Middle East situation, which Bret and I probably can argue about all night long, I think he wanted to be transformational there. His - his steps in that direction were awkward and tentative, and I think now with - we're not going to see big progress there at all.

ZAKARIA: We're going to get to foreign policy right after this. But, before that, I want to ask Eliot Spitzer, as somebody who knows the law -

SPITZER: Yes.

ZAKARIA: -- can the health care bill be - be declared unconstitutional?

SPITZER: Oh, can it be? Sure, it can be. Will it be is a jump ball, and I think the reason it's a jump ball is because I think the - the constitutional theories of the last 60 years would indicate that it is, in fact, constitutional.

It is always up to the Supreme Court to redefine that constitutional framework, and Justice Kennedy, who is likely to be the swing vote, will sit there and say do I want to chart an entirely new trajectory for constitutional doctrine in the next 50 years? If he says he wants to do that, he may cast a vote and say you cannot pass this law.

My bet, 70/30. I don't like to lay odds. I still think it will be found constitutional for all the right reasons. It is within a commerce clause power of the federal government to do this.

ZAKARIA: All right. When we come back, foreign affairs. Right back.

(END VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPITZER: More money by a factor of 50 percent was raised in IPOs in China and in London and the United States together this calendar year. That is where the shift is right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLOONEY: The - the U.N. isn't allowed to - you know, they're not - they can't do what we're doing. They have laws about - against it. The United States can't do these kind of things. We're individuals, so we can hire satellites and take pictures like people can hire satellites and do - and take pictures of me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: And we are back with David Remnick, Eliot Spitzer, Chrystia Freeland and Bret Stephens, talking about Obama and the world.

Middle East peace. I saw an interview that you gave to an Israeli newspaper in which you said it's - the occupation has gone on for 43 years, and I'm get - I'm tired of it.

REMNICK: I've always been tired of it.

ZAKARIA: I'm sick of it. I'm -

REMNICK: I - you know, I - what I think of it is - is relatively immaterial. What - what I'm trying to say is that if things seem quiet now - and I was just in Israel for - for 10 days, and was in the West Bank as well and - and talked to Palestinians as well as a lot of Israeli journalists and officials and all the rest.

Yes, I know this is not by - by any stretch of the imagination, as perilous as, say, Pakistan or even a number of other issues. But the corrosive effect of occupation on Israeli society and on the region is really serious. And so, it is disappointing to me.

You mentioned disappointment, that Obama, for whatever reason, is going to slowly withdraw from this issue and not spend any big political capital to do it. Because the only place that's going to be able to bring people to the table is the United States.

ZAKARIA: And you obviously see things different?

STEPHENS: Where do I begin?

FREELAND: Where to start?

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHENS: No - well, the smartest - the smartest thing - well, Barack Obama has done a number of smart things in - in foreign policy. I'll - I'll be the first to admit it. And one of the smartest things was to - was to pull back from this disastrous foray into the Arab/Israeli dispute.

The basic problem that this administration face is no different from previous administrations, is that the sides are too far apart. For whatever reasons, and you can bemoan it for as long as you'd want, these two sides aren't ready to make peace and the United States shouldn't be expending diplomatic capital and - and effort for what's going to be a, you know, a kind of Sisyphus rolling - rolling the ball up the hill.

There are pressing issue. You talked about Middle East peace. Well, what worries me in - in the Middle East? Lebanon worries me, the situation with - with Hezbollah. Iraq, the future of Iraq. Obviously the Iranian nuclear program.

There are a whole set of issues, and somehow we use this catch phrase, Middle East peace, simply to mean Israel and its neighbors.

ZAKARIA: But let me ask you, just to stay with - I - I might even agree with what you're saying about American diplomacy. I - I do think, you know, you don't want to expend political capital where there's no hope for payback.

But, to David's point, it is now 43 years - and you were the editor of "The Jerusalem Post" - it is 43 years the Israeli government has been ruling a population which it has not enfranchised and it has not yet let go. Surely, that - I mean, you can't be comfortable with that.

STEPHENS: No, I'm not. I'm against the occupation. Any sensible person is against the occupation.

ZAKARIA: What does that mean?

STEPHENS: It's bad for Israel. It's bad for the Palestinians. It's bad for the world.

REMNICK: It's - and it's - and it's wrong. It's deeply wrong.

STEPHENS: Well, it's wrong compared to what?

REMNICK: And -

STEPHENS: But David, the issue isn't it's wrong, this is bad, let's end it. The issue is what happens the moment the occupation ends, and is that worse than what we have now? Is it worse for Israel, is it worth - worse for the Palestinians?

FREELAND: But we - we started with the question of what has Obama not done and what are we disappointed with him about? Surely this shouldn't be that high on the list, right? I mean, talking about his political capital, he doesn't have that much. There are huge problems in America that are going to take a lot of political capital. And looking outside the United States - doesn't China and the whole global financial system have to be his dominant focus?

STEPHENS: You know, there's a - there's an interesting symbolism -

FREELAND: That's not traditionally what we think about when we think about foreign policy, but it's really important right now.

And the world economy isn't working. That was the lesson of 2008. If the world needs America to show leadership, surely that has to be at the very top of his agenda.

(CROSSTALK)

FREELAND: It's not working for others very well either.

Where does America need to focus in terms of sorting out the world? That has to be number one.

STEPHENS: It's - it's - there's an interesting symbolism in the year beginning with photographs of this Chinese stealth plane. Now, whether it's a real plane, whether it's any good, that's another question. But it's - somehow, it seems to remind - remind us that the world's attention has dramatically shifted from things Middle Eastern or South Asian into an entirely new direction.

China no longer seems just an economic possible - you know, a threat, if you want to call it that, or an economic issue for us, but it's - there's a strategic dimension -

SPITZER: Look, the stealth plane that they may or may not have worries me much less than the fact that their civilian aircraft are going to completely displace Boeing and Airbus within 10 or 15 years, and that is one of the few exports we really have. More money by factor of 50 percent was raised in IPOs in China than in London and the United States together this calendar year. That is where the shift is right now.

So, I agree with Chrystia. That's what we've got to be worried about, as well as the Middle East, but that global tectonic shift is monumental, and we're not thinking -

REMNICK: Do you get the sense, though, that the conversation we're having, economic conversation, is at the center of the Republican focus in the Congress?

SPITZER: No.

REMNICK: No?

SPITZER: But they're - look, I need to -

REMNICK: I'm asking -

SPITZER: I think they're oblivious to this.

They're reading the constitution. That's a charming little exercise. They don't have the foggiest idea how to genuinely address the needs of growth capital formation and resuscitating the core American economy.

They're talking about tax cuts and not even cutting spending. It's internally incoherent, and it's just horrendous policy -

ZAKARIA: Will - but will it - will it matter? In other words, will the fact of the Republican - the Tea Party, I think it's fair to say, does not have a coherent growth agenda. Will it - will it matter? Will they come (INAUDIBLE). Will they realize that, you know, you can't just keep cutting taxes and that - and that solves the problem?

STEPHENS: You actually just can just keep cutting taxes. We have a - we have a disagreement. You can cut taxes and all of a sudden -

ZAKARIA: And that's - and that's the answer to everything?

STEPHENS: -- a much more - a much more benign economic environment - which is precisely what happened in December with the tax deal, which you - which you deride, bemoan, et cetera.

REMNICK: Regret.

STEPHENS: What - you know, the issues -

SPITZER: (INAUDIBLE)

STEPHENS: -- the issues that are on top of the mind of - of the Tea Party, other than Christine O'Donnell's fixations, are cutting taxes to promote growth and cutting the size of government or the rate of - or the rate of its - of its increase. Those are - those are important considerations, especially when you look at other countries -

ZAKARIA: You cut taxes. You're at 11 - the budget offset is at 11 percent of GDP. You - you cut taxes more, you've already added $1 trillion over the next 10 years. I mean, is this a serious strategy for - you know, to have what - are we trying to shoot for 20 percent of GDP as a budget - as a budget deficit?

STEPHENS: Nineteen point eight or so during the Clinton years, I think.

Look, the only way that we are going to reduce the deficit in - in the long term is through economic growth. We can disagree about how you get - get it, but I would argue that cutting taxes, making - creating an environment of predictability, of, you know -

ZAKARIA: So further tax cuts beyond what we've just done? STEPHENS: Well, if you would - if I were a benign - I don't think that's going to happen. But to the extent that not only - I mean, you look at - look at what Andrew Cuomo is doing -

ZAKARIA: Without - without corresponding cuts in - in spending are simply (INAUDIBLE) tax increases -

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHENS: Forget about the United States. Look at what the current governor of New York is doing right off the bat. We are - this -

SPITZER: He is driving up his deficit by limiting tax revenue. He is - he has proposed a few marginal cuts in spending that will be nowhere near sufficient to overwrite. This is the story of states around -

ZAKARIA: You have to cut spending. You can't -

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: The tax deal that I think most of us look at askance and say it's wrong at social values level but it's also wrong at a simple balancing the books level has not been matched and if there were intellectual integrity, it would have been matched with an equivalent desire to cut spending.

The first thing the Republican Congress did is say, oops, we didn't mean $100 billion, which simply wouldn't have been enough anyway, pared it back to $50 billion. They're not - there's not even a sense that they're trying to pay our spending cuts with a loss of tax revenue they put in place.

STEPHENS: Well that's the real - that's the real question and challenge for the Tea Party. Are they genuinely willing to take on the entitlement state beyond -

ZAKARIA: This is where the money is. The money is not in -

(CROSSTALK)

FREELAND: And what about defense spending? Is defense spending on the table?

REMNICK: Defense spending seems - defense spending seems sacred in this -

FREELAND: Is it?

STEPHENS: Well, we just had one weapons system eliminated by Secretary Gates for -

ZAKARIA: All right. We got to go, but I want to ask you guys for a prediction, a very simple, specific prediction, Obama's approval rating three months from now. SPITZER: Fifty-five percent.

ZAKARIA: So up a lot?

SPITZER: Absolutely.

STEPHENS: Forty-five percent, where it is now.

REMNICK: Pretty much - I, alas, agree with Bret, because 10 percent or just below 10 percent unemployment keeps it there.

FREELAND: I'm going to split it down the middle. I think it's going to be higher, but not as high as Eliot.

REMNICK: Viva Las Vegas.

FREELAND: There you go.

ZAKARIA: All right. And that is it. Thank you, all, and we will be right back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Do you think that these killers will care there are cameras there?

CLOONEY: I'm not - I don't care whether they care or not. Remember that part of this is also about the deniability factor. In general, they say they didn't do it. They can pawn it off on saying these are rebel attacks. Well, if we have photographs of tanks and helicopters lined up on the border and thousands and thousands of troops lined up on the border, it's going to be very hard for you to say that that's rebel attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. There's a new cold war that you might not be aware of. This one isn't between the United States and the Soviet Union, it's between the United States and Iran. And instead of world domination, this new struggle is being fought over ice cream, hence, cold war. Get it?

You see, in the coming weeks, Iran will open a new ice cream store in Baghdad, in the Green Zone, right by the American embassy. It's part of a budding Iranian chain called Ice Pack. This will be the company's third Baghdad branch.

No, there are no American ice cream chains in Baghdad. In fact, if an Iraqi citizen was hungry for a burger in Baghdad, there are no McDonald's or Burger Kings. If an American visitor to Baghdad wanted to dial up Domino's or Pizza Hut, it would be a very long distance call. It's a simple security issue - Baghdad branches of any of these chains would be literal sitting targets for anti-American acts of violence, that's why there aren't any American chains anywhere on the streets of the Iraqi capital, though there are a few tucked away on highly secure U.S. military bases.

There is of course a bigger picture here that's about more than frozen treats or golden arches. As the United States continues to draw down its military presence in Iraq, the question is, can it continue its influence? And, if not, who fills the vacuum?

The answer, America is already losing ground to Iraq's neighbors to the north and east. In other words, to Iran and Turkey. Iraq is being bombarded from both sides, TV shows and trade from Turkey, some 1,500 trucks reportedly go back and forth from Iraq to Turkey at one checkpoint alone. $6 billion of trade between the two nations in all of last year, and there are investments and oil deals with Iran, not to mention millions of pilgrims going back and forth.

And both nations, Iran and Turkey, are working their hardest to try to influence politics in Baghdad. Iran's side won a big victory when the Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, retained his position. The - the Turks have been backing the former prime minister, Ayad Allawi. So, after losing more than 4,400 American lives and spending more than $700 billion directly on the Iraq War effort, we are now losing influence to Turkey and Iran.

The real big picture here is that this is - this is a sign that the U.S. effort in Iraq was always too focused on hard power, on military power, and not enough on soft power, on political and economic measures.

By the way, America's ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors. Iran's Ice Pack has 34. I wonder what the extra three are.

We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Do you think the Obama administration has a special role to play here?

CLOONEY: They have had a special role to play here. They were very good early on, and then they sort of dropped the ball for about a year. It's understandable. There were a few things going on in the United States that had to be taken care of.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: The Oscar-winning actor and director George Clooney has starred in blockbuster films like "Oceans 11" among many others. And he's now using the megaphone that fame has provided him to bring an innovative plan to stop mass murder before it even happens. He will explain. Clooney joins me from Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, where today the citizens begin voting on whether to split the war-torn nation in two.

George Clooney, why does this matter to you? Why have you taken this up as your cause?

CLOONEY: Well, it started out with Darfur. Hi, Fareed. How are you?

It started out in 2005 and 2006. And I was paying attention to Darfur and I started to learn a lot about the north/south fighting, which was the same - many of the same players in particular from the north.

And then as this referendum came into play and we started to understand that there was going to be an election - a vote, not an election, to separate, understanding all of the things that this - that the north has done in general, considering Darfur being one, and the North/South War which cost about two and a half million lives, we felt that it - there was a really good possibility that the same kind of thing could happen here, and a lot of experts felt the same way.

ZAKARIA: And what we're looking at is a place that has had a civil war for 22 years. Two and a half million people have died. You think this could start up again? If this referendum - if the aftermath of this referendum goes badly?

CLOONEY: Of course, it could start up again. In fact, that there's always a very good possibility of that. There have been really tremendous steps forward, even since October, since we were here in October. The fact that there's a referendum at all, which no one thought would happen, is a testament to the skill of not just - not just the government of South Sudan who's gotten their act together, but the U.N. has been very helpful along the way.

But the truth of the matter is, there are so many ways that this can fall apart, as you know. This is - this is a nation being born, and there are a lot of problems with that.

ZAKARIA: Let me - let me bring in your partner in this project, The Enough Project, John Prendergast. John, can you describe - you've been working tirelessly on this issue and other African issues. What is the Sentinel Project that you guys have put together? Just briefly explain to the viewers what you guys are doing?

JOHN PRENDERGAST, CO-FOUNDER, THE ENOUGH PROJECT: Well, the idea is to try to prevent human rights abuses before they occur, by shining a spotlight on the places - on the locations along the border between the north and the south where the possibility exists that if there is conflict, if there is a crisis that will erupt it will be in those places, and the idea is if we can put a spotlight on those areas, and ensure that photography, that satellite imagery, 24, 48 hours after the fact, can be beamed around the world, if there's large-scale troop movements, if there are movements of tanks, if there are other kinds of provocative actions or offensive actions, if those can be broadcast around the world, perhaps it will have a deterrent value.

So our goal with this Satellite Sentinel Project is deterrence and ultimately accountability.

CLOONEY: Remember - and also I just want to put in that the - that the U.N. isn't allowed to - you know, they're not - they can't do what we're doing. They have laws about - against it. The United States can't do these kinds of things. We're individuals so we can hire satellites and take pictures like people can hire satellites and do and take pictures of me, so seemed like it made sense to us.

ZAKARIA: You said somewhere that you know from being - from being covered all the time that people act differently when they're being covered by cameras. Do you - do you really think that - I mean, it's one thing for George Clooney to worry about the cameras in a - I don't know a supermarket in L.A. Do you think these killers will care that there are cameras there?

CLOONEY: I don't care whether they care or not. Remember that part of this is also about the deniability factor. In general, they say they didn't do it. They can pawn it off on saying these are rebel attacks. But if we have photographs of tanks and helicopters lined up on the border and thousands and thousands of troops lined up on the border, it's going to be very hard for you to say that's rebel attacks if afterward there's a big fight.

So it's less about whether or not they feel bad, because they don't care. But it is much more about what the rest of the world will say.

ZAKARIA: I would think it's a great idea, but I'm just - just to play devil's advocate, didn't - didn't we have lots of pictures of what was going on in Darfur? Didn't we have lots of pictures of what was going on in the Balkans in Sarajevo? Will this really have the affect you're hoping?

CLOONEY: Well, who knows? I mean, obviously, it's one of many tools we're trying to use. Did we have pictures of Darfur? Yes, we did, after. After the fact, after everyone was killed and there was plausible deniability by the government of the North of Sudan, by the government of Khartoum.

So, yes, we did have photographs, but all those were after the fact, not before.

ZAKARIA: George, you know a lot of people in Washington. You make the rounds. Do you think the Obama administration has a special role to play here?

CLOONEY: They have had a special role to play here. They were very good early on and then they sort of dropped the ball for about a year. It's understandable. There are a few things going on in the United States that had to be taken care of, and all of that makes since. I think they thought that this was working out all right. And I think around August, end of August, they looked around and thought, well, this could really escalate into a real full-scale war. You know, everyone started predicting some very dire things, all of which are absolutely possible.

But the Obama administration, Senator John Kerry and getting, you know, the president gets daily memos on the situation in Sudan now. He's very much involved. They have since - I'd say easily since the beginning of September have really stepped it up and made a huge difference in where we are now in terms of peaceful separation.

ZAKARIA: Finally, George, let me ask you, you've been following this issue for a long time. We've talked about it. You are deeply knowledgeable about it. There are a lot of very thorny issues left to be - to be negotiated - the oil revenues, water sharing, all kinds of things. Do you think that this is going to be a separation - at the end of the day, do you think that this is going to work?

CLOONEY: Yes, I do. I think the separation will happen. That's - I don't think that that's an issue. I don't think that's up for grabs anymore. The question will be ultimately, probably, Abyei, which is an area that is right on the border and is separated from this agreement, from the CPA Agreement, and the - and the question will be whether or not that area in particular, is able to be used as a pawn to create a smaller battle between the Miseria and the Dinka. And if that happens, if those two fight it out as a proxy war, then this could escalate again into war.

So that - that seems to be the main piece of the puzzle that everyone here is concerned with. And that's something we've been - we're going there tomorrow again. It's an area that we constantly monitor and pay attention to.

ZAKARIA: And that's where your satellites become so crucial. Because they will be there and we will be able to see early movements of any kind and alert the world to what is going on.

George Clooney, John Prendergast, a pleasure to have you on. This is a great project and I - it's a very important project, but also a very innovative project, preventive crisis diplomacy, fascinating that it's coming from private citizens rather than governments, and I wish you all the very best.

CLOONEY: Thanks, Fareed.

PRENDERGAST: Thank you, Fareed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAJAM SETHI, EDITOR, THE FRIDAY TIMES: The security guard had made up his mind he says, and had come there with a purpose, and the purpose was to kill him. And when he did - did that, he laid down his gun and said that I have killed a blasphemer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley. We are following our top story, yesterday's shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six and injured 14 others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

For the latest, let's go to CNN's Susan Candiotti who's in Tucson - Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Candy.

In fact, authorities have now upped the number of people who were shot to 20 - to 20. And we are here awaiting in another hour or so an update on the condition of everyone that is at this largest hospital, the University Medical Center, where 10 people are being treated, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She is in critical condition and she has been drugged to remain calm. She is not in an induced coma by any means. However, we can tell you that there are five people here who are in critical condition, and five who are in serious condition.

We're not hearing about individual stories involving the other people who are here at the hospital, because for privacy reasons, the hospital is not authorized to release that information. But, of course, we hope to learn more.

In the meantime, there is a makeshift shrine that has come up behind us. You can see the candles and flowers. People continue to drop by more memorials for the people who are being treated and those, of course, who have died - Candy.

CROWLEY: Susan Candiotti in Tucson. Thanks, Susan.

And we will carry a press conference live from the hospital at 12:00 P.M. Eastern. Up next, more of FAREED ZAKARIA GPS and then "RELIABLE SOURCES" at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: A major crisis hit Pakistan this week in the form of assassination. Salman Taseer, a popular progressive politician, the governor of Punjab, the heart of Pakistan, its most popular state, was murdered by his own security guard, shot more than 25 times, all because Taseer had publicly opposed a law that said harsh penalties for blasphemy against Islam. The government in Islamabad remains under threat of a no-confidence vote.

To talk about all this instability and what it means, Najam Sethi joins me from Pakistan. Najam Sethi was the editor of "The Daily Times," a paper owned by Salman Taseer. They started it together. He's now the editor of "The Friday Times". Najam, pleasure to have you on.

SETHI: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Tell me, personally, how do you feel about this? This man is one of your closest friends, your boss, your political confederate?

SETHI: Well, you know, Salman and I go back a long time. Great sense of humor, very blunt, outspoken, and I think that's probably what in the end created problems for him. He started saying things which the religious crowd (ph) didn't like. He was irreverent, he was bored, and he started making controversial statements.

The media loves a blunt man, but in this case, his bluntness was aimed at the religious lobby, and people are generally very careful when they tread on religious toes here.

ZAKARIA: Do you think he was aware of the degree that he was courting danger? He suddenly seemed to talk about the fact that he knew there were many death threats against him and people denounced him regularly?

SETHI: Yes, I think he was aware of the fact that there was - there was danger. And he had a lot of security. But then he was a very sort of carefree sort of person. Often he would just get into his car and just drive off with some friends to a local restaurant and have a meal, which is exactly what he did on that ill fated day.

He walked from his house to a restaurant about half a kilometer away. Some of - some of his security guards followed him. He had a meal and then he walked - walked out. And this guard just shot him dead. The security guard had made up his mind he says and had come there with a purpose, and the purpose was to kill him. And when he did - did that, he lay down his gun and said that I have killed a blasphemer.

ZAKARIA: The most disturbing part of all of this to me was the security guard, when he was being taken and arrested and to see these people, what seemed like dozens, perhaps even hundreds of people, throwing rose petals at him to honor him for what he did.

It really does seem as though moderates in Pakistan are - are quiet, have been silenced, are scared, and the religious extremists who in effect are - were under - have been on the side of an - of an assassin, they are on the ascendancy, they are growing. And you guys are scared.

SETHI: That's true. I think as far as religious matter is concerned, the so-called liberals stunned - have been stunned into silence. They have to watch over their backs. One wrong word here or a wrong word there could be misplaced, misrepresented and then a fate worse than death could follow.

And since violence is now the creed, as we saw in Salman Taseer's case, very few people are prepared to stick their necks out, principles are not important anymore. Especially when the government of the day - the parliament of the day, no one is prepared to stand up.

So there is an insurgence of extremism in this country of intolerance, which does not bode well for its future.

ZAKARIA: What does this tell us, Najam, about America's chief concern, which is the ability of Pakistan, the Pakistani government, the Pakistani Army to really take on the - the extremists who are holed up in North Waziristan, who are al Qaeda, the Hakani Group, all these major terrorist outfits that are destabilizing Afghanistan, also destabilizing Pakistan, but so far the army has never wanted to go there, because that seemed too big a step?

Looking at all this, I assume that this is a very substantial blow -

SETHI: I think -

ZAKARIA: -- to this - to this strategy.

SETHI: Well, I think, you know, the army has always been reluctant to move against fellow Muslims and having to fight fellow Muslims in one's own homeland is not something for which this army is trained. Its mind-set is not geared for that.

If it were to go to North Waziristan, it would have to convince the public that this was not being done purely at America's behest, but that this was in Pakistan's own national interests. And given the current situation in this country, it's a tall order to convince people over here that this is - you're not going in there for to do America a favor, but you're going in there because this is a threat that you face yourself existentially. I think that's one of the reasons why it's reluctant to do that.

ZAKARIA: Is there any message or advice you would have for the United States in this - this very treacherous waters to navigate?

SETHI: Yes, I think the United States should take Pakistan's Army and its national security operators along with it. I think that in the final analysis, the road to Kabul is via Islamabad, and I think America and the Pakistan Army should be better partners, more trusting partners in trying to find a solution to this.

Pakistan does have a problem on both its borders. It's concerned about the sort of government that eventually will come into play in Kabul. And therefore, as the Army Chief of Pakistan constantly says, Pakistan seeks a friendly Afghanistan - stable, peaceful, and friendly Afghanistan. I think the word "friendly" is important.

I don't see that that is any contradiction with American names. The issue really is how to get there. What is the - the process by which you get there?

ZAKARIA: Najam Sethi, thank you so much for joining us, and, of course, our condolences on your loss.

SETHI: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Our question this week from the "GPS Challenge" is, according to an Israeli newspaper, who or what was detained this week in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of spying for Israel? A, a Member of the Saudi Royal Family; B, an American Oil Engineer; C, a Drone; D, a Vulture? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer, and make sure you go to CNN.com/GPS for 10 more questions. While you're there, don't forget to check out our podcast, which you can also subscribe to on iTunes. That way you'll never miss a show and it's very easy to do and free.

This week's book "The Best Things in Life," by Thomas Hurka. It's a book of philosophy, but it's really worth reading. It's a new year, time to re-evaluate life, right? Hurka says the key is to take a look at what makes you happy.

He's a philosophy professor, a former columnist for the "Globe" and "Mail", and he can actually help you figure out what living a good life means.

It's a stimulating read, and it will get you focused on the right things at the beginning of the year.

Now, for "The Last Look." If you're a homeowner, chances are you might be a little upset with somebody in Washington because your home value has plummeted during this recession. Chances are you might even be upset with the current resident of the White House.

Well, consider this. According to the website Zillo.com, the White House itself has been hit hard. The value of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and its 18 acres of land has plummeted from a high of $335 million to just over $250 million today. Zillo says the Executive Mansion has lost almost $5.5 million of its value in the last 30 days alone.

Now, before you gloat, remember, Barack Obama doesn't own the White House, all of us taxpayers own it and are taking that hit.

For this week's "GPS Challenge" question, we asked who or what was allegedly detained in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of spying for Israel? The correct answer is D, a vulture. It allegedly had a GPS device attached and belonged to Tel Aviv University. Go to our website to learn more about all this.

And thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "RELIABLE SOURCES."