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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
DSK Case: U.S. Versus Europe; Are African Lions the Next Asian Tigers?
Aired July 10, 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 our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
We have a wonderful show for you today. First up, the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case has made it very clear that things are seen very differently on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean. So we've got a great transoceanic panel to talk about that and much more -- Bernard- Henri Levy, Simon Schama, and others.
Then, why Hollywood can't make much money in China. We'll explain.
Next, which continent has six of the 10 fastest growing economies? Which continent has the world's newest nation? We'll tell you what you need to know about all this.
But first, here's my take. I've been hearing a lot of criticism recently that President Obama doesn't have a consistent policy toward the Arab spring, but I want to ask, should he? There are vast differences between the circumstances on the ground in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, between American interests in those countries and our capacity to influence events there. Some places are more stable, the regimes more reformist, others are not. Should we have a one size fits all foreign policy?
Take the case where American interests and values most starkly collide -- Saudi Arabia. Were the administration to start clamoring for regime change in Riyadh, and were that to encourage large-scale protests and thus instability in the kingdom, the price of oil would skyrocket. The United States and much of the developed world would almost certainly drop into a second recession. Meanwhile, the Saudi regime, which has legitimacy, power and lots of cash that it is spending, would likely endure, only now it would be enraged at Washington.
So what exactly would a more consistent Middle Eastern policy achieve? In Libya, the administration confronted a potential humanitarian crisis that could be averted using air power. In addition, Gadhafi's domestic opposition, the Arab League, the United Nations and key European allies all urged international action.
Few of these conditions apply in Syria, where the regime is more firmly in control and more brutal. And while I wish President Obama would voice his preference that President Bashar al-Assad should resign, it is worth noting that the same critics who want Obama to say this, also criticize him for calling for Moammar Gadhafi's ouster when he doesn't have the means to make it happen, or perhaps they want us to intervene in Syria as well, which would mean we would be engaged in four wars, but at least we would be consistent.
In the early years of the Cold War, the brilliant and then controversial Secretary of State Dean Acheson was asked by a congressman why the United States was trying to militarily defeat communist forces in Greece but being much more cautious in China. Acheson's reply was, they were two different countries. I am not in the slightest bit worried because somebody can say where you said so- and-so about Greece, why isn't all that true about China? I will be polite, I will be patient, and I will try to explain why Greece is not China.
It's still true. Greece is not China.
Let's get started.
ZAKARIA: So, in light of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, we wanted to explore just how different our laws and morals in American and in Europe. To help answer that question and to talk about many other topics, a terrific panel from both sides of the pond.
Across the Atlantic, in Nice, France, is French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. Sitting with me but actually hailing from the United Kingdom is Columbia University's Simon Schama. And representing the Americas, I suppose, Bret Stephens is "The Wall Street Journal's" foreign affairs columnist, and Chrystia Freeland is global editor-at-large at Reuters.
Welcome to all of you.
Bernard-Henri Levy, I'm going to start with you because you have been a -- a prominent participant in the whole affair DSK. There's a column in "The New York Times" by Joe Nocera in which he says -- describing your writings on these issues, "To judge by his recent writings, Bernard-Henri Levy prefers to live in a country where elites are rarely held to account, where crimes against women are routinely excused with a wink and a nod, and where people without money or status are treated like the nonentities that the French moneyed class believe they are. I'd rather live here," he says.
You are of course in Nice, and I'm happy to be there, but what do you say to this -- to this columnist?
BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, PHILOSOPHER AND AUTHOR: What I tell him is, first of all, that I love America. I'm a defender of America. I so often explain that anti-Americanism is a sort of form of -- of fascism, and that I hate sometimes the way in which America is cartooned, and sometimes by itself.
The image of the justice which was given in the first days of this Strauss-Kahn affair was a cartoon image. It was not America. It was not the justice, the judicial system which de Tocqueville praised so highly and which he exhibited as the model for the whole world.
For somebody like me who likes America as much as France, it was heartbreaking, and when I said that, I did not defend my friend, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I defend the idea which I have of justice in general and of American justice in particular.
ZAKARIA: But, let me ask you, you -- you know, again Nocera says I don't see what Vance did wrong. The -- the woman alleged rape. She had no criminal record. Her employer vouched for her. The quick decision to indict made a lot of sense for legal and practical reasons.
Then, as the victim's credibility crumbled, Vance didn't -- the district attorney -- didn't pretend that he has -- still had a slam dunk. He acknowledged the problem.
LEVY: What he did bad was to consider from the very first minute without having heard the word, the voice, the -- of Dominique Strauss- Kahn, that he was a guilty one. What he did wrong was to offer him to the whole world as a sort of beast, as a sort of perv, as a sort of criminal by essence and substance. The jail, the shame, the public humiliation, the leaks organized to the tabloid press, presenting the facts in a completely disordered way, these the district attorney Vance did it badly.
What he does now, which is to leave the two parties free and to fact check, to double cross the information, to -- to try to understand what really happened in this Sofitel suite, this is right. And if -- if there has been a -- a crime, if there has been a rape or an attempt of rape, it is a big crime, and it -- it will have to be punished.
ZAKARIA: Simon Schama, in his column at "The Daily Beast," Bernard-Henri Levy says that this is like Robespierre. You wrote a book on the French Revolution, which -- do you think that there's any parallel?
SIMON SCHAMA, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I -- I can understand Bernard's passion about that, but, as we know, the guillotine was the -- was the conclusion of that. That's not exactly what happened to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
What I wanted to say that I think to -- to Bernard and to the discussion is that -- is that, you know, much of what he says I -- I share, but I think it boils down to this kind of very lurid relationship between the tabloid press and the nature of criminal prosecution. Spectacular criminal prosecution or criminal -- criminal apprehension, potential criminal apprehension as a kind of public spectacle --
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, GLOBAL EDITOR-AT-LARGE, REUTERS: But (INAUDIBLE) any trial --
SCHAMA: Yes. Yes, exactly. There is something in American public life which actually assumes it not to be problematic, actually, to make a show even before any guilt is necessarily proven.
LEVY: You have this tendency, and also in France, and I was even more severe or as severe concerning France than America, you have this tendency to mix show and justice. And when you saw the lawyer of the maid expressing himself, having a sort of a bad (ph) press conference on the stairs of the -- of the court and describing in such a graphic way the most intimate parts of the body of his client, this was not only graphic, it was pornographic.
Maybe Strauss-Kahn rapes, maybe we'll see -- the attorney will say, but the lawyer this day committed also a sort of symbolic rape. You cannot speak of your client, when she's a woman, in such a rude way, coming again and again to the world to the parts of the -- of the body and so on. All this, this way of giving a theater show for all the press all over the world, this was really problematic.
FREELAND: None of you --
FREELAND: None of you have mentioned something -- the thing that actually angered me the most about how Dominique Strauss-Kahn was treated, and actually mostly the media treatment, which is I think something quite characteristic of America and I hope that Europe doesn't import, which is the confusion of promiscuity with sexual assault. What I really didn't like was in the early stories about Dominique Strauss-Kahn, people talking about, well, he's had affairs.
I don't think that's relevant, and actually I think it's so important for women and feminists to take a very firm stand on saying a person's personal sexual ethics have no bearing whatsoever on wrongdoing and on criminal activity. And why this is so important is it used to be the case that we would say it wasn't possible for a woman to be raped or assaulted if she was loose, if she had affairs or slept around, and equally I think just because a man has affairs, which Dominique Strauss-Kahn was known to do, it doesn't mean we should assume he's more likely to rape someone.
ZAKARIA: But you think -- you wrote in your column, you said, look, the guy's a sleaze and he probably did it.
BRET STEPHENS, WALL STREET JOURNAL: No, I didn't say that.
ZAKARIA: What did you say?
STEPHENS: I said that's what I was inclined to think, and I reproached myself for having that thought because, look, we liked our news to --
ZAKARIA: But (INAUDIBLE) by saying he's probably a sleaze.
STEPHENS: He is probably a sleaze, and there's a lot of information to testify to that, which is not in -- in dispute, including sleeping with chambermaids in New York City hotels and his affair for which he was reprimanded by the IMF, and a long trail of stories emerging from his past in -- in France. But Chrystia is entirely right. Being a sleaze is not the same as being a criminal.
And our problem here, which is I think universal, not just -- not just an American one, is that we liked our news to have the quality of a parable. And here there was a parable -- really, whatever your political persuasion happened to be, if you were a -- a feminist of a certain point of view, it was -- as Chrystia says, this is a guy who's a sort of a sexual rogue, hence he must be a rapist. If you had a -- maybe a right of center persuasion, you didn't like Strauss-Kahn, you didn't like French socialists, you don't like the lending policies of the IMF, you kind of -- you were -- there -- there was a sense of delight this guy had been pulled from his first-class Air France seat and sent to Rikers Island in the best American traditions.
So it all came together to convict the man before anyone -- most of us, including myself, had asked some common-sense questions, not the least of which was does this really make sense for him to do? And were the details that were known to us merely from the very beginning of the trial, did they correspond to the idea that -- that a sexual assault had actually -- had actually taken place?
I think this happens in more than just the case of DSK. I think it's -- it's pervasive in the was we make news judgments about different stories. We mistake anecdote for data, and that's what we did here. There were anecdotes about DSK and we suggested that this led inescapably to a conclusion. We forget that stories in life and in history as well tend to be crooked.
ZAKARIA: Hold that thought, Bret. We're going to leave the DSK business here, but with one footnote that we need to remember -- rape charges are still pending against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Now, the panel's going to stick around, and when we come back, we'll talk about Greece and Libya and much else. Back in a moment.
ZAKARIA: And we are back, talking about everything other than Dominique Strauss-Kahn, since we did that for the last segment, with Bernard-Henri Levy from France, Simon Schama, Bret Stephens and Chrystia Freeland.
Bernard, let me ask you, you're in France right now. What is the mood in Europe with regard to Greece? Is there a sense that this is one more week of crisis and they will somehow muddle along or is there a more fundamental fear that, to put it bluntly, that Europe -- the European project is falling apart?
LEVY: I think that is -- that is the risk and that is the concern, of course. We had the feeling, us Europeans, that we could sleep, and during our sleep Europe was flourishing and blooming. We are discovering that it is not the case, that Europe might be, not in the sense of history, that Europe might destroy itself as much as build itself.
We are discovering that it is frail and fragile project. It does not mean that it is in the process of being broken, but it means that if we don't act quickly and strongly, probably we will go back 50 years backward, and it would be very bad for all the free world, including, of course, America.
ZAKARIA: Chrystia, you understand the -- the finances of this better than most. The problem is I understand all the politics, the math doesn't add up at some level. Greece simply cannot pay back its loans.
FREELAND: Right, and --
ZAKARIA: So what -- what's going to happen?
FREELAND: Well, I think part of the problem that you're seeing right here in Greece is you have had the nationalization of the mistakes of French and German banks. And that really is one of the --
ZAKARIA: Who loaned -- who loaned Greece money?
FREELAND: Who made a huge mistake in lending the Greek government money, but now you are having that debt being backstopped. And the problem is Greece is a really small country, and the reason the markets keep on rejecting each solution is even if the solution works the result is the Greek economy getting weaker and weaker and weaker. And I think --
ZAKARIA: Do you think the Greeks are correct to riot?
FREELAND: I -- I was about to say, I think that's why we're seeing the Greeks out on the street. They get this and they're saying we do not want our economy, our children, you know, the next 10, 15 years to be doomed to sub-par growth. And -- and that, you know, if there isn't a new solution, which I think there's going to have to be, that's the result of the current deal.
STEPHENS: I'm not -- I'm not so sure that I -- I support the Greeks rioting in the streets. I think you're absolutely right that the austerity that's being proposed for Greece is -- is toxic for it -- for its future, but the Greeks who are protesting are protesting a set of social protections, which are completely out of step with what their country can afford and with any notion of what a growing economy can reasonably meet.
Hugely bloated public sector, unions, entitlements, retirement ages that -- that come in -- that kick in, you know, very early and -- and last lifetimes and often beyond lifetimes, I think Europe has a growth problem. And it has a public sector union problem, and if these problems aren't addressed in places like Spain or France, or even now in Germany, despite the growth that they've enjoyed in the last -- in the last few years, they're going to be in terrible -- in terrible straits.
That's the real danger to the European Project, its economic growth, pure and simple.
SCHAMA: Ultimately the Greeks are in the vanguard of a people who are being placed in a kind of imperial receivership from Berlin and Paris and Brussels, and the issue is actually we shouldn't underestimate it. The profound wounds to the dignity and self-esteem of an entire people when that happens can have correspondingly traumatic and alarming nationalist consequences.
ZAKARIA: Let me just ask -- I want to move beyond Greece as well, but I want to ask Bret something, because you said something about the austerity measures being -- being -- backfiring in Greece, because they are cutting spending, they're -- they're resulting in slower growth that is causing more debt problems. So, I'm wondering, Bret -- you can imagine where this is going.
STEPHENS: You're -- you're already mistaken, but go ahead.
ZAKARIA: If -- if -- when an economy is fragile, if you cut a lot of spending, you're going to turn -- you have turned this economy into a downward spiral? You --
STEPHEN: No, it's not the cutting spending, it's the raising taxes which is problematic.
ZAKARIA: But -- but the tightening -- and they both have the same effect. They're taking money out of the economy. And yet what the Republican Party wants to do with the American economy is to take -- is to cut $4 trillion of spending out of the economy. Wouldn't that put the United States in a similar situation where the economy starts contracting?
STEPHENS: Well, look, I mean, what Greece needs is a combination of a pro-growth agenda and less -- and less government and social welfare bloat, so I'm not sure where that -- where that doesn't jibe with what, you know, right of center thinking is -- is saying here -- here in -- in the United States.
I mean, look, the problem with -- with austerity, pure and simple, which doesn't have a corresponding growth component, is that it creates a politically dissatisfied class, but it doesn't actually solve your basic economic -- economic issues. So how does -- how do the Greeks get their growth back? I mean, when did they last have it?
ZAKARIA: Now, I want to go to Libya because, Bernard, you have many contacts in -- in Libya, and you've -- you've been active there. I want to ask you, do -- does the Libyan opposition feel hopeful? There are some signs that they are moving closer to Tripoli, that they're standing up in more impressive ways, that they're getting aid, but how do they feel?
LEVY: I think that they feel more optimistic than they were a few weeks ago. You know, freedom takes time. We all know that in Europe and in America. Freedom, democracy takes time. So it took a few weeks. It took 100 days for these people who never had a weapon in their hand to transform themselves in an operative and executive army. At the beginning, they had -- I saw them. I was in Brega. I was in (INAUDIBLE). I was in Misrata a few weeks ago. At the beginning, they were without discipline, without training, but with bravery and courage.
Now, this army is formed, and in Misrata what I saw which was so impressive, and which is maybe unprecedented in modern history, is an army of civilians kicking out of the city, driving out of the city 100 or 150 tanks, armored tanks of quality. They did that more or less without or before the help of NATO and of the French and English helicopters. And this is really amazing.
That's why I believe that this army of citizens of Misrata joined with the army of the Jebel Nafusa at the South. It is two armies which are probably able today to walk to Tripoli in the next weeks, maybe a little more. But my feeling from the ground, of which I am back since a few, 10 days, my feeling is that you have today two real Arabic armies which are able to liberate and to free Tripoli.
ZAKARIA: Simon, what do you think?
SCHAMA: Well, it's very heartening to hear Bernard deliver that report, actually. That's -- that's my hope. I, you know, I think in the next few days is Congress is going to debate the authorization to continue forces in -- right, in Libya, American participation in the NATO operation?
I -- I would be really aghast if an isolationist move really took hold in -- in either party, as a matter of fact. I'm someone who has really no regrets about -- about the operation.
SCHAMA: I certainly don't -- I hope we falter now (ph) when it looks as though it might be on the brink of success.
STEPHENS: Yes, a stunning and depressing performance by a -- a lot of leading Republicans who, out of some combination of political opportunism and new mood of isolationism, can't seem to come to the perfectly obvious conclusion that Gadhafi has been an enemy of the United States for 40 years, that he has the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands, that we used to hate him when at least Reagan was bombing Tripoli and Benghazi, and that our interest is in the most expeditious destruction of his regime rather than carping at the president and raising the War Powers Act, which is something that Republicans, including Newt Gingrich, tried to get rid of going back 15, 20 -- 20 years ago.
So I'm worried about the thinking of the Republican Party when it comes to our broader engagement with the wider world and when it comes to the application of force to get rid of enemies and advance the cause of -- of freedom.
FREELAND: And the thing that I think is so important to remember is a democratic revolution, no matter what, is a great thing.
A couple of weeks ago George Soros gave a speech in Budapest for the 20th anniversary of the Central European University, and talking about the Arab spring, he said, look, 1956 in Hungary was a failure at the time, but it was a success in the long term because it sowed the seeds for what we have today. And I think you have to have that longer-term view. I'm worried America's losing it.
ZAKARIA: On that long term view, Chrystia Freeland, Bret Stephens, Simon Schama and Bernard-Henri Levy, thank you very much.
We will be back.
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SHIA LABEOUF, ACTOR, TRANSFORMERS 3: Optimus!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment.
It is the perfect summer blockbuster for audiences around the world -- action packed and not too taxing on the brain. The new "Transformers" movie broke the record for July 4th tickets sales in the U.S. and it's been smashing records in many of the 110 countries around the world where it's showing. It's already made almost half a billion dollars worldwide.
But there's one country that it's not playing in -- China. China doesn't want its people to see "Transformers 3," at least not yet. Can you believe it? Beijing has imposed a moratorium on new foreign films. For almost a month, no new blockbusters produced outside China have been released in China. Why? Well, instead of "Transformers" or "Harry Potter," Beijing really wants its people to watch something else, something quite different.
"The Beginning of the Great Revival" released last month, is an extravagantly produced state-sponsored propaganda movie, which cost $12 million to make, a fortune by Chinese standards. The film claims to have a cast of more than 100 top Chinese actors playing an array of historical figures.
Among them Mao Tse-Tung or Chairman Mao, who's portrayed not just a revolutionary, but also as a romantic. He's played by a young Chinese heartthrob. And while that might lure in female audiences, the real message isn't about love, but politics.
The film is a (INAUDIBLE) to the Communist Party, released to honor the 90th anniversary of its founding. It describes the party's influence as having led China down a glorious path of ethnic independence, liberation, national wealth and strength. No mention of the great leap forward, the famine, the cultural revolution, or, of course, Tiananmen Square.
The Chinese Communist Party has made sure that this movie will be seen by its people. It's released "Beginning of the Great Revival" in more than 6,000 theaters accompanied with massive publicity. By some reports the government expects it to make well over $130 million, twice as much as its last propaganda flick, "The Founding of the Republic." And it has also gotten major Chinese corporations to rent out theaters and give employees tickets. Watching the film is mandatory for school children and so on.
So what do people think of the movie? Well, the ratings on Chinese websites have mysteriously been disabled, but if IMDB.com is any indicator, the film scored a two out of 10 rating which is pretty darn poor.
China's control over its movie industry actually raises much larger issues. Studio heads in Los Angeles salivate over the thought of China's 1.3 billion citizens turning into a Hollywood film buffs. There is already great interest in going to the movies in China. China is said to be building two new movie theaters everyday. But the Chinese government is not allowing market forces to determine who watches what movies.
You see, even when there's no blackout or moratorium, China allows only a limited number of foreign films in its theaters every year, about 20, and even those are subject to strict censorship. And when the films are allowed in, foreign film studios are still stiff. They've reportedly get only 20 percent of Chinese ticket revenues, much less than they get anywhere else in the world. And, of course, there is massive piracy of DVDs, which the Chinese government does little to prevent.
China's attitude towards foreign movies is troubling, because it points in two directions. First, Beijing appears to be adopting a policy that favors local companies over international ones even if it deprives the Chinese consumer of choice, variety and quality. Businessmen from around the world in various industries have been complaining about such practices, many of which are potentially violations of free trade and of China's treaty obligations.
Second, Beijing seems to be turning in a nationalist direction. Consciously promoting propaganda, keeping out foreign influences, all to create greater solidarity at home and legitimacy for the Communist Party. These are worrying tendencies which would cause friction between China and the world, and they are reversal of China's outward orientation over the last three decades, an orientation that has powered China's rise to wealth and -- and prosperity.
But there is some good news. I like one strategy China is employing to promote its own movies.
You've probably heard of "Kung Fu Panda." Well, the sequel to that film is out around the world, as every parent knows, and is doing especially well in China. Beijing is hoping to counter Hollywood's success with the release this month of its own animated action flick. "Legend of a Rabbit," the film is about a kung fu bunny, who takes on a big mean bad enemy. The enemy is a panda. Now, that's a fair fight, and may the best animal win.
And we'll be right back.
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NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: We, you know, we cover planes that crash, and I'm afraid that in that kind of reporting, we miss a lot of the -- the background success in so much of Africa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley. Here are today's top stories.
Japan was hit by an earthquake this morning off its Northern Coast, prompting tsunami advisories that were eventually canceled. The 7.1 magnitude quake is believed to be an aftershock from March's devastating earthquake that killed thousands. So far no immediate reports of injuries or damage in this quake.
The top military adviser in the United States told an audience in Beijing today that China has, quote, "arrived as a world power." Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen was speaking at a Chinese university as part of a four-day trip intended to strengthen relations between the two countries.
Britain's best-selling newspaper released its final edition this morning amid phone hacking and bribery allegations. In the issue, "News of the World" apologized for its, quote, "appalling wrongdoing." Police are conducting two separate investigations into the actions of the newspaper's former staffers. "News of the World" is owned by the News Corporation.
Those are your top stories. Now back to FAREED ZAKARIA GPS.
ZAKARIA: OK. Put your thinking caps on for a moment. Which continent has six of the world's 10 largest growing economies? Which continent has projected to have the world's third largest city by population in just a few years? Which continent has the world's newest nation? If you said Asia, that's wrong.
One more question might help you get the answer. Which continent has seven of the top 10 failed states in the world? The continent is, of course, Africa and that's what I want to talk to my two terrific guests about. They are Nicholas Kristof, columnist of "The New York Times" and best-selling author, and Peter Godwin, African-born author and reporter.
Both are just back from Africa. Peter has a new book out, which is called "The Fear," about Zimbabwe.
So first I want to ask you, you're back from your -- the trip where you take a college student, you know, across Africa. Is it fair to say that for the first time, I mean, there's always been failed states that -- that tended to be from Africa, but is it fair to say that you see an Africa that's on the move, that these countries like Angola, Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya are growing and there's a spirit of optimism?
KRISTOF: Yes. There's definitely a sense of growth, and I think more people are waking up to that. Part of it is that we're seeing more countries that are success stories and for more countries trying to emulate those successes.
One of the problems I think we have in journalism is that we, you know, we cover planes that crash, and so we always covered those failed states as problems. And I'm afraid that in that kind of reporting we miss a lot of the -- the background success in so much of Africa.
ZAKARIA: Do you think -- we'll get to Zimbabwe in a second, but do you think -- does Zimbabwe look at what's going on in Africa, this stirring of the common (ph) -- and feel even more benighted? Does if feel like I can't believe, you know, finally Africa is taking off and we once the breadbasket of Africa, we're, you know, totally dysfunctional?
PETER GODWIN, AUTHOR, "THE FEAR": I think certainly they look at the Arab spring ruefully and think why not us? I mean, in a sense Zimbabwe tried its own Arab spring in the year 2000 and has been trying ever since.
The big difference and one of the things I think we often overlook when we look -- when we examine the Arab spring and why did it happen when it happened is that the success in various countries, Tunisia, Egypt were has depended on the reaction of security forces, and in Zimbabwe, the security -- you wouldn't be able to put a primrose down the barrel of a soldier's gun, because it will meet a bullet on the way out.
So, yes, I think that there's a certain frustration in Zimbabwe that their -- that their own sort of peace process if you like seems to be stalled.
ZAKARIA: But when you talk about the optimism you're talking about, it was mostly economic optimism that is to say. Is it also political optimism?
KRISTOF: It's also political. You know, if we think about half of the continent now has some form of quasi democratic elections, which is a huge step up in the past. We are seeing more accountability, you know, more of a civil society in a lot of places. Internet is bringing this sort of amount of accountability.
So you have that political advance. You have an economic advance and you have a huge improvement in -- in health care, in nutrition and in mortality.
ZAKARIA: Peter, there are going to be 27 elections in Africa this year. Are most of them phony or how (INAUDIBLE)?
GODWIN: (INAUDIBLE). It's said it's not -- it's not who votes, it's who counts the votes. Yes. Now, I think -- I mean, I think, you know, across the whole spectrum, that many of them are imperfect, but, you know, what you need to look at is where incumbents lose and that's still relatively rare. I mean, that's because that you know you've had some sort of (INAUDIBLE) and an election.
And certainly in Zimbabwe's case that obviously wasn't the case. That didn't happen. But I have to say having just come back from South Africa and witnessed the municipal elections, there's a local election, and that was a free and fair election. It wasn't perfect, but it was a real -- it's real democracy at work. And it's -- I mean, it's astonishing and kind of for me particularly, you know, from Zimbabwe, it's -- it's something to celebrate.
ZAKARIA: What I'm struck by is you talk to businessmen now and they've gotten very interested in Africa. And in Africa, when I was in Nigeria, Kenya, there's a kind of new class of businessmen, even in Nigeria. Young, western educated often and they do seem to be stirring things up.
KRISTOF: Yes. And they're also pushing in the right direction on issues like corruption, for example. There's real outrage at corruption in, you know, countries like Kenya that does seem to be creating modest steps better.
And just, you know, we're -- on my first trip to Africa, back in 1982, I backpacked across the continent. The single thing that I found most depressing was river blindness, all of it. You see these elderly or middle-aged people who have been blind and have to take a grandchild out of school to lead them around. It was just frankly left me with kind of bad taste for -- for West Africa.
This time, you go around, you just don't see that nearly to the same degree, because river blindness has been almost conquered. And there's so many other diseases that are like that. There -- you really get a sense of just -- if you have a long enough timeframe of dramatic change.
ZAKARIA: We're going to talk about -- more about Africa when we come back. And we're going to talk specifically about the possibility of a war of huge international crisis with South Sudan. Will it happen? When we come back.
ZAKARIA: The world has just welcomed a new country into its fold, a country called South Sudan. It's the first new country that's been created in Africa since Eritrea in 1993.
What does the future hold for it? We're back with Nicholas Kristof of "The New York Times" and the author Peter Godwin, who are both just back from the continent.
Peter, was there concern when you were talking to people in South Africa about whether there might be a war in Sudan?
GODWIN: Yes, and I think that there has been a lot of concern. And the truth is that many of the issues that still need to be resolved have simply been put off until after -- after they begin. And so there are a bunch of issue that have just been put to one side.
I do think, though, I mean that -- it's difficult to keep up. I mean, there are seven different rebel groups in the south, I mean, you know, attacking the SPLA. So never mind north/south. There's so much to try and figure out.
But at the end of the day, the truth is that about 75 percent of the oil reserves, which the south is, you know, overwhelmingly reliant on, are in the south, but all the -- all the pipelines go through the north. And so I think at the end of the day, neither north or south has got an appetite to actually go to war. At least that's -- that's my hope.
ZAKARIA: Do you think it has been a mistake to indict Bashir, the -- the president of Sudan? Because, you know, there's an argument that goes we're trying to get the -- the root of this problem is the government of Sudan, which really seems to be determined to -- to do whatever it can to hold on to as much of the oil revenues as it can.
By indicting Bashir, you give him no exit strategy. So he's going to sit there and stay because he knows the minute he leaves the office of the presidency of Sudan, he'll probably end up in the Hague in a war crimes trial.
KRISTOF: I can see an argument that it makes it more difficult to have Bashir retire politely somewhere else, but I also think that at the end, you know, he has a long history of doing extraordinarily nasty things that preceded the indictment and he's continued it. So I don't think it particularly improved his behavior, but I don't think it -- it worsened it.
And I also think there is something to be said for creating norms of how leaders behave and creating some kind of accountability, so that they know that if they go ahead and massacre people that there may be consequences.
And so on balance, I think that it was indeed the right move albeit it probably has made it more difficult to deal with Sudan right now.
ZAKARIA: Would you like to see Robert Mugabe indicted?
GODWIN: Well, I mean, Nick is absolutely right. I think in the -- in the short term, the crimes against humanity, the war crimes issue has -- it can create a lure of unintended consequences. But I think what we're doing here is something longer term. We're trying to create a new culture, where we say, you know what, you do these things, you're not immune. It doesn't matter whether local -- your local enemies sort of give you amnesty or whatever. This is something that, you know, you can run, but you can't hide.
And in the medium and long term, I think that that's a goal that's really worth going for. I mean, certainly in Zimbabwe, we've seen just that after the appalling violence in 2008 where there was torture on an industrial scale where the government literally declared war against its own people. And everyone I have spoken to, the prosecutors and investigators and people at the U.N. and ICC pretty much agree that what happened in Zimbabwe in 2008 rose to the level of a crime against humanity.
But, nevertheless, nothing has happened, because you can't get it through the Security Council. Zimbabwe is not a signator. So, you know, there are all sorts of problems as, you know, and inconsistencies as to who ends up in front of, you know, the Hague and who doesn't.
And I think there's a big sensitivity at the ICC itself, that it doesn't start to look like a club that indicts black politicians or black leaders. That, you know, overwhelmingly that's what it's done. So, you know, they're very sensitive about that at the moment, too.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that one of the things that has held Africa back or that perhaps put it under the way, you could imagine even more progress, if you had a couple of great, big role models. I mean, Nigeria and South Africa, the two big countries, Nigeria has traditionally been seen as a mess. I think things are modestly improving there. But South Africa is the great disappointment in a sense. Post-Mandela it has not been able to play a kind of leadership role in -- in pushing progressive change.
KRISTOF: I think one of the great reasons for Africa being on the hold is disappointing in the periods since independence has been bad governance. If you have to I think kind of with a single explanation that exaggerates it, but bad governance goes to the failures more than anything else. And bad governance is contagious and it leach from one country to the next.
In Asia, we saw how the success of a few small economies then spread and influenced China, in turn which influenced India, which may now be influencing Pakistan. That same pattern may be beginning to happen in Africa, as we have some real success stories, and others countries are saying, well, you know, if Rwanda can do it, if Ghana can do it, if (INAUDIBLE) can do it, then why can't we?
ZAKARIA: We're going to have to leave it at that. Nick Kristof, Peter Godwin, thank you very much.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENELOPE "PENNY" WONG, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY SENATOR: If I can finish now -- oh, yes. Why don't you meow when...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Canada pulled the last of its combat troops out of Afghanistan this week. That brings us to our "Question of the Week." How many nations still have combat troops in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force? Is it A) 6; B) 16; C) 26; or D) 46?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. Make sure you go to CNN.com/GPS for 10 more question. And while you're there, make sure you check out our website, the Global Public Square, where you'll find smart interviews, essays, takes by some of our favorite experts. You will also find all of our GPS shows. So if you've missed on, you can just click and watch. Don't forget, you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
This week's "Book of the Week" is the "The Last Narco" by Malcolm Beith. The book takes you deep inside the life of a man known as El Chapo. Now that Bin Laden is dead, this Mexican drug kingpin is the number one most wanted man in the world. He's also on "Forbes" list of the world's top billionaires. It's a really fascinating look at the man, his operation and the international hunt for him. Very well written.
And now for "The Last Look." We often think our politicians are always bickering. Well, it might make you feel better to look at the case of Australia, where it seems lawmakers have quite literally been fighting like cats and dogs. Listen to this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... (INAUDIBLE).
WONG: If I can finish now.
DAVID BUSHBY, COALITION SENATOR: Meow (ph).
WONG: Oh, yes, why don't you meow when a woman does that?
BUSHBY: Meow (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Yes. What you hear there was a meow and that was from a senator from Tasmania trying to interrupt a statement by Australia's first openly gay cabinet member Penny Wong. As you can see she gave her own back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WONG: The blokes are allowed to yell, but if a woman stands her ground and you want to make that kind of comment. It's sort of schoolyard politics, right?
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ZAKARIA: This isn't a unique incident. It's part of a rash of meowing in the Australia's Parliament. It's gotten so bad that the Prime Minister has called on legislators to apologize.
The correct answer to our "GPS Challenge Question" was D, you might be surprised to know there are still 46 countries with combat troops in Afghanistan. Go to our website for more.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "RELIABLE SOURCES."