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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
The Protest Train; Interview with Pres. Hamid Karzai; India: Broken BRIC?
Aired December 18, 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 an important show for you today. The U.S. might have exited one war this week, but it is very much in the midst of another. I will have an exclusive conversation with the leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, on the ongoing violence in his country and how that affects the U.S. plan to draw down.
Then, a true all-star GPS panel, including Peggy Noonan and David Remnick on the ever-shifting GOP field, Vladimir Putin and the protests in Russia, and the euro's chances of survival.
Finally, what are we bringing back from Iraq? You'll be amazed.
But first, here's my take. "Time" magazine announced its Person of the Year this week - "The Protester." From the Arab spring to Athens, from New Delhi to New York, people power is stronger than it's ever been, and now it has reached Moscow, with the protests there last week.
Now, the great drama of Russian history has been between its state and society and, put simply, Russia has always had too much state and not enough society. Historians have pointed out that the Russian nation was literally the property of the czar, that serfs were more like slaves than simply peasant workers as they were in Europe, and that the country lacked any institutions that contested the authority of the government.
The communist takeover in 1917 only enhanced these features by building a Soviet superstate that dominated every aspect of people's lives. When it collapsed in 1991, it turned out there was only chaos underneath.
But there has always been a Russian civil society, small but vibrant, espousing universal values and human rights. It is the Russia of Tolstoy and Pasternak, Sakharov and Gorbachev, and it has always believed that Russia's destiny in values lies with the West.
This Russia has not died under Putin. In fact, it's been growing quietly but vigorously over the past decade. There are now more than 650,000 nongovernmental organizations in Russia today. Of course, the Russian state is still very powerful, dominant and pervasive in politics and the economy. Despite all the stirrings of change, the power of the state, expertly wielded by Vladimir Putin, should give one pause. It's not just that Putin has been able to reconstitute the apparatus of fear from the Soviet days, it's also about money.
The Russian state has at its disposal the greatest natural resources of any country in the world - oil, gas, diamonds, nickel, copper, aluminum. Those riches give the government the ability to both repress and bribe its population.
Consider this fact - despite the sweep and force of the Arab spring, it has not produced political change in a single oil-rich country. The revolution started in the deserts of the Maghreb in Tunisia. Morocco was quickly swept along. But right next door sits Algeria, more repressive than either of them, and yet untouched by protests.
It might be called an Arab spring, but the discontent began a year and a half earlier in a non-Arab country, Iran, when the Green Movement took to the streets. But the Iranian regime, which buys support with patronage and represses with its paramilitary, persists.
The oil-rich Gulf states have also survived the winds of change, even in Bahrain where the opposition enjoys strong support. If Russia's civil society can produce even modest changes against these odds, it will rewrite history.
For more on this, you can read my column in this week's "Time" magazine. Let's get started.
ZAKARIA: Joining me now from Kabul, the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. President Karzai, thank you so much for joining me.
PRES. HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN: Welcome. Good to talk to you.
ZAKARIA: The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, recently said NATO forces, the international coalition, is winning in Afghanistan. Do you believe that is an accurate statement?
KARZAI: Well, the international coalition and the Afghan government have been able to provide in the past 10 years political stability to Afghanistan, the overall stability of Afghanistan and the presence of Afghanistan as a state, as a nation state, in the international community. But we have not been able, the United States and Afghanistan government together, to provide the Afghan people with their individual personal security. That is yet to come.
ZAKARIA: Do you believe that you have broken some of the momentum that the Taliban had gained in previous years? That 2011 has marked a shift in that regard? KARZAI: I can - I can say that this year, in terms of the overall mobility and activity of the Taliban and other groups, has been slower and we have been more effective. But I'll have to wait a - a bit longer to confirm that we have reversed the trend and that the Afghan people will see the fruits of our efforts and see peace and - and further security.
ZAKARIA: Now in Iraq as you know, American forces are going down essentially to zero. But that is not what your plan is for the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States. Am I correct? You would like to see a residual American force?
KARZAI: We are negotiating with the United States towards an enduring partnership. That may bring about the presence of some U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the duration of the agreement that we reach, with support to Afghanistan, with training and equipping the Afghan forces. All of that will be there. But we'll have to wait for the agreement and the specifics of it.
ZAKARIA: The one area where you have had a great deal of criticism for NATO forces and for the United States has been the so- called night raids. The - the admiral, former Admiral William McRaven, says they are essential and important. You say that they are - this is what is feeding the - the hostility to foreign forces.
Where do things stand? Do you have a commitment from the United States that these night raids will end or not?
KARZAI: Well, this has been one of the issues between us for a long time, something that we have raised an objection to for almost eight years now. We want Afghanistan's homes, Afghanistan's villages, to be protected, to be safe from such attacks.
That understanding is there, but the specifics of these operations have not been developed yet. But what we are asking for in very specific and clear terms, that is no foreign forces should enter Afghan homes.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the political settlement that needs to come about in order for some of this violence to - to decline. You have said that the negotiations with the Taliban have essentially come to a standstill ever since the - the murder, the assassination of Mr. Rabbani, who was your negotiator.
And then you said in a - the SPIEGEL interview something which I thought was absolutely striking. You said, look, we don't know whom to negotiate with. We don't know who - who the right person is. We don't have contact with the Taliban. The Pakistani government has the - is the only group that has contact with them. They have to tell us whom to negotiate with.
Is it really - from your experience, is it pretty clear that at the end of the day it is the Pakistani government that could - that has that kind of connection with the - with the Taliban?
KARZAI: Well, our efforts for peace, our cries for peace, our understanding of peace was that we were talking to the Taliban. The assassination of President Rabbani brought us in a shock to the recognition that we were actually talking to nobody, that those who came in the name of the peace process were assassins, were killers, were terrorists rather than negotiators.
A man who came in the name of a messenger for peace turned out to be a suicide bomber. Therefore, we have now clearly said that we will welcome a - a Taliban address, but that address must have the clarity that this representative is authorized and is representing the Taliban movement as we see it.
The question of Pakistan is important here because we all know that the Taliban have their places there. They operate from there. And a meaningful peace process cannot go well or end in satisfactory results without Pakistan's participation and help.
ZAKARIA: Let me tell you, Mr. President, about an interview I did with former President Musharraf a few months ago. I asked him specifically about whether or not he believed that you were somebody who could be partnered with and trusted and, as you know, he is still quite influential within the Pakistani military establishment, and he essentially said no. What would be your response to that?
KARZAI: Well, I - I said Pakistan is a twin brother, and President Musharraf, when he was the president, had a - a fairly good working relationship with us, and I have respect for him. And I think the trust between the two nations is - is something that's the verdict of - of history and one that we need to have among us.
ZAKARIA: You're - you're a better diplomat than he is, Mr. President.
KARZAI: Oh, I'm - he's a capable person, too. Very capable.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, if you could just hold on a minute, we will be back. And when we're back, we will have more of this conversation with President Hamid Karzai about Afghanistan, Pakistan, the American drawdown, but also a troubling case - a woman who was raped and then sentenced to 12 years for being the victim of a rape. When we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: There are people in Afghanistan who believe this woman, Gulnaz, should marry the man who raped her. Do you think that that - that is appropriate?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: And we are back. Joining me from Kabul, the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.
Do you worry that you're in a new and dangerous spiral with this most recent attack on Afghanistan's Shia population? The terrible terrorist attack, which appears again to be traced back to Pakistan. In fact, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, this Pakistani group, has taken credit for it.
This is new, as far as I can tell, a very marked sectarian attack on Afghanistan - on the Shia population in Afghanistan. Is this - is this a - you know, is this a portent for something worse to come?
KARZAI: The attack on our people on the day of Ashura a few days ago was a clear act of terrorism against people. It was anti-Islam. It was anti-human being.
Afghanistan has - has never in its history faced a thing like that. This was the first time in our country that an attack of that nature took place. The Taliban condemned it, but reportedly Lashkar- e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility.
We are not - we are not saying that this is Pakistan. We say that this is Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. If it is Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, then perhaps it's the responsibility of Pakistan, and of all of us together to go and stop this.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, there's a woman named Gulnaz who, as you know, was sentenced to prison for 12 years after it was reported that her cousin's husband raped her. She was then freed because of your personal action.
The great concern of human rights activists in the West and - and in Afghanistan, I should say, is that particularly once the international forces withdraw and perhaps have less of a day-to-day involvement, that this kind of events will - will happen day after day after day in Afghanistan. Why is this kind of thing happening in Afghanistan?
KARZAI: Well, when I came to know of this, and upon coming to know of this, I convened a judicial meeting in which the issue was discussed in detail and the right inquiries made. We, on advise from the Chief Justice and the Minister of Justice, decided that this was a case perhaps of misjudgment and that it has to be resolved and resolved by giving her a pardon immediately. That's what I did.
ZAKARIA: There are people in Afghanistan -
KARZAI: But, to the future, I can assure you - to the future - to the future, I can assure you that Afghanistan has a long tradition of judicial applications. It's a - it is a country that has been troubled a lot, but it is also an old country, with - with laws and - and a penal code and judicial history.
I can assure you that once the international forces are withdrawn and not as many as they are today, Afghanistan will neither go into trouble within the country or strife or into miscarriage of justice. I can assure of that. ZAKARIA: There are people in Afghanistan who believe this woman, Gulnaz, should marry the man who raped her. Do you think that that - that is appropriate?
KARZAI: Well, it's her - it's her choice. It's up to her to decide who to marry or who not to marry.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President -
KARZAI: And Islam gives her that right.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you finally, Mr. President, 2014 is not just the date that - that is slated for the drawdown of foreign forces, it is also the date that your presidency expires. What is going to happen then to Hamid Karzai?
ZAKARIA: Will you run again?
KARZAI: No, I will not run again. It is against the Afghan constitution. Elections will be there and a new president will be elected by the Afghan people, and I will live as a former president and a citizen of Afghanistan.
ZAKARIA: You will live in Afghanistan?
ZAKARIA: And do you believe -
KARZAI: This is my home.
ZAKARIA: And do you believe by that time there will be some deal with the Taliban? There will be some kind of political settlement?
KARZAI: I hope - I hope so. I hope so. I hope very, very much. That's - that's what I've been working on with - with great dedication for the last many years. I hope that will be the case, and I hope we'll have a complete peace in this country.
ZAKARIA: President Karzai, as always, a pleasure.
KARZAI: Great pleasure to talk to you. (INAUDIBLE). All the best wishes.
ZAKARIA: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Last week marked exactly 10 years since the term BRIC was coined. The catchy acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China used to describe the new powerhouse emerging markets. But the man who invented the moniker now says one of the four has been a great disappointment. No, not Russia, with all its recent troubles; not Brazil, whose economy contracted in the last quarter; and certainly not China, which continues to power on.
Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill says that the country that has been the biggest letdown has been India. He pointed out last week that India's inability to attract foreign investment could actually lead to a balance of payments crisis. From BRIC to basket case, "What in the World?" is going on?
Well, some numbers tell a troubling story. Growth has dipped below seven percent for the first time in two years. The Indian rupee is Asia's worst performing currency this year, falling to a historic low against the dollar.
India's deficits are soaring, and funding is drying up. India received less than $20 billion in foreign direct investment in the first six months of 2011. China got three times that amount. Even Russia, with the smaller GDP, took in more.
Why is India struggling? Sadly, the real problem isn't economics. India has a very dynamic private sector, probably the most dynamic in the emerging markets. But it has a government that simply doesn't work.
And it's not for lack of knowledge. India has the know-how. The government is, after all, led by a reform-minded world-class economist, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The problem is politics. The world's largest democracy seems to be paralyzed.
Singh's government recently announced a plan to open up India's retail sector to foreign investors, a continuation of the reforms that jumpstarted the economy 20 years ago. The proposal would have made it easier for big Western chains like Walmart to set up shop in India.
Now, Indian agriculture is hugely inefficient. Middlemen take huge cuts, and because supply chains are inefficient, up to a third of farm products, vegetables for example, rot before they reach the market. So the Walmart model would transform India's agriculture and its retail sectors. It would empower farmers, lower prices for consumers, and create huge gains in productivity.
But it was not to be. India's opposition turned this into a story of the big guy fighting the little guy, Walmart versus the mom and pop. Parliament was gridlocked for days, and politicians mobilized mass demonstrations.
ZAKARIA: Small stores across the country were kept closed in protest.
So, what does the government do? Instead of standing firm, it backtracked and canceled plans to reform the retail sector altogether.
This is a depressingly familiar pattern. For two years now, India's government has done nothing, hanging on to power, presenting no plans to open up the economy, raise living standards, build infrastructure, or attract new investment.
In the West, India's leaders sell the story of a dynamic, incredible India. But, at home, they pander to populist protectionist sentiment and dole out subsidies and do basically nothing, and that paralysis is hurting the economy.
India's blessing and curse is that it has a messy, chaotic, decentralized democracy. Unlike China, it has no unified sense of direction. But the prevailing view has often been that when the going gets tough, New Delhi gets its act together. That's what it did 20 years ago when it was on the brink of defaulting and a balance of payments crisis. Well, this time, once again, it's time for urgent reform.
New Delhi has for years expressed pride in being part of the BRICs. Well, if it doesn't get its act together, 10 years from now, people might still be praising the BRICs, except that the "I" in BRIC might stand for Indonesia, not India.
And we'll be back. We have an all-star panel looking at American politics, Russia's protests, and Europe's woes. Stay with us.
JOHNS: Now time for a check of today's top stories.
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has died. Havel was one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and '80s. Havel was 75.
Clashes between pro-democracy protesters in Egypt and the country's security forces are occurring for a third consecutive day. The recent wave of violence which began Friday has left at least 10 people dead and 500 injured.
The death toll from a tropical storm that deluged the Southern Philippines has risen to more than 500. The Philippine Red Cross says another 500 people are missing after entire villages were swept away. The survivors in the hardest hit areas are coping with no electricity and a lack of clean drinking water.
Over 500 Palestinian prisoners are scheduled to be released from Israeli prisons later today. It's the second phase of a prisoner swap that began in October with the freeing of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
An early winter storm is brewing in the southwestern U.S. that's expected to bring blizzard conditions and heavy snow to the southern High Plains tomorrow. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for New Mexico, the Panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, Southeastern Colorado, and Southern Kansas.
Those are your top stories. Now back to "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."
ZAKARIA: There's much to talk about around the world. So let's get straight to our terrific "GPS" panel today. Joining me, author, reporter, radio host, Kurt Andersen, who wrote the cover story for this week's "Time" Person of the Year cover; Peggy Noonan, the "Wall Street Journal" columnist; "The New Yorker's" editor, David Remnick; and Gillian Tett, the U.S. managing editor of "The Financial Times." Welcome to all of you.
So we have to start with Newt. I know everybody's talking about him. But Peggy, you had a column -
PEGGY NOONAN, COLUMNIST, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Newt who?
ZAKARIA: You had a column in which you said I loved this. You talk about a friend of yours devises bumper stickers for states and had a bumper sticker that said "California - it's all true." Meaning everything you hear about California is true. And your bumper sticker is, "Newt - it's all true." Explain.
NOONAN: Yes. Well, he's a various sort of character. There's a lot going on there. He is - I mean, if you ask is this man experienced and accomplished, yes. Is he intelligent, yes. Is he erratic, yes. Is he herky-jerky and drawn to eccentric, arguably, ideas, yes. Has he known great success as a leader, yes. Has he failed as a leader, yes.
So there's a heck of a lot going on there. He's a very dramatic package. In a way, I think he's the first possible president about whom too much is known. Normally, we don't know quite enough, but this is way too much information.
ZAKARIA: What do you think?
DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, THE NEW YORKER: Well, it's a good point. And the question is, of those things that we know, whether about his personal life or about his chaotic intellectual life or about his quickness on a debate stand, is any of it disqualifying?
You watched that last debate, and he tore the guts out of Romney when he said, "Of course you're not a career politician, you lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994." Good point.
And then at the same time, he says that Palestinians are an invented people, which is a really slimy remark. We're all invented peoples, most of us on this globe - Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, and he knows that. But what he's doing is doing something extremely cynical.
And he's full of these moves. And the question is - is he really emerging as somebody truly popular, or does the Republican Party just keep putting up one non-Romney after another? I think it's - I think it's the latter.
ZAKARIA: But let me make the case for Newt which is -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck.
ZAKARIA: -- he is - he is intelligent. He is attracted to a lot of ideas. A lot of them, by the way, that are not particularly friendly on the right. I think the right will be surprised the more they look into all the things he's been fascinated by, he has an eclectic mind. People say he hasn't been disciplined. But this guy's been 15 years on the national stage.
REMNICK: But he has - but he has a third grade temperament.
ZAKARIA: But he's weathered it all. How do you manage to do it? How many former speakers do you know who are still at the center of American political life? This guy has managed to endure through all that. I mean, he's written books -
KURT ANDERSEN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: And I think the embrace of Newt is also evidence for this yearning for something that looks authentic and something that surprises occasionally. As opposed, say, to Mitt Romney, the robo candidate presumptive.
ZAKARIA: So when Newt makes a gaffe, you know, in the context of the Republican primary, his views on immigration, it's never that he's trying to pander. It's actually the opposite. He's expressing his own views, and you know that they're heartfelt, but they may not be popular.
NOONAN: No. He's pandering. He's pandering plenty. The Palestinians as an invented people was a pander to a certain part of the base. The immigration stuff, it's all thought through. I think Newt always thinks like our current president that he's playing a higher, longer game. And I think in a way that can bullocks him up. I don't think it's necessarily so genuine.
GILLIAN TETT, U.S. MANAGING EDITOR, FINANCIAL TIMES: The short (ph) of the issue is whether the American people now are looking for ideas or they're looking for execution. Because Newt is clearly an ideas machine. He's very entertaining.
But at the end of the day, America's facing huge challenges which will actually require execution. And that really is what the contest between Romney and Newt's about right now.
REMNICK: And I'm not even sure their ideas are the simulacra of ideas. The consistency is not there. The ideas are not carried through. If you do a catalog of his ideas over time, they include health's healing chairs and honeymoons on Mars and a lot of other bizarro things that I don't think the American people when they're judging who they want be president of the United States are going to think of as ideas that have anything to do with anything.
ZAKARIA: So one part of the Republican primary that also interests me is the search for a way to attack Obama on foreign policy. And it's been tough because, you know, Osama Bin Laden and Gadhafi and, you know, the move - the trip to Asia seemed to go well. So Israel has become this one area where you can show this - you know, undying fealty. This moment where in the Republican debate that each - no, in the conference, the Republican Jewish Conference, they each were trying to show just how committed they were. And then Michele Bachmann trumps them all by saying, "I went to a kibbutz when I was 18 years old."
REMNICK: A socialist experiment, I might remind her. A socialist experiment. You know, as a Jewish American I find it disgusting. And I know what he's going after. He's going after - he's going after a small slice of Jewish Americans who donate to political funds - to campaigns and also to Christian Evangelicals. It's - the signaling is obvious. What they're doing is obvious.
But what they're describing in terms of the, say, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has no bearing on reality whatsoever. It's ignorance combined with cynical politics and irrelevance. It's really awful. It's really awful.
ZAKARIA: Do you agree?
NOONAN: Yes, I do.
TETT: I do. And I think that actually given the current moves in Iran at the moment and what's happening elsewhere in the region, that kind of rhetoric is likely to become more and more relevant going forward.
ZAKARIA: And then the other place where I noticed that there is some traction is Iran. There's this feeling, again, I think somewhat unrealistically that we're going to be tougher on Iran. We're going to be, so that Gingrich says he wouldn't bomb Iran, but he would effect regime change. Good luck, you know?
REMNICK: Good luck.
Look, ideas are one thing. Knowing about complexity and dealing with complexity is quite another. I think President Obama knows very, very well that this campaign is not going to be about foreign policy. It's just not. It's about the economy, the economy, the economy, and who you want in your living room, as Bill Clinton famously said, for the next four years. That's it. That's where the race is won and lost, not about foreign policy.
TETT: And the problem is that foreign policy choices right now across the Middle East are pretty complex and subtle. And it's all a Hollywood idea that you have the good guys, the bad guys, you had the Islamists, you had the Americans, you know, the West, the East, and that's really breaking down.
And someone like Egypt right now is absolutely highlighting the complexity and subtlety of these choices because not only do you have the Muslim Brotherhood that's recently come through very strongly in the polls, but you also have the Salafi, a much more potentially radical group of Islamists coming up.
And so, you know, what should America do when it looks at what's happening in Egypt today? There is no single set of good guys to champion or cheer for. NOONAN: And at the same time, considering how really we're essentially beyond some lines, ignoring foreign policy, foreign policy has a way of rearing up and biting you in a way - you know, when it's not expected. It's still huge. It's still important. And it is still an area where deep thought and sophistication are needed.
ANDERSEN: And where the bipolar view that Americans who don't really spend much time reading about, thinking about foreign policy has become less effectual and -
REMNICK: Absolutely -
ANDERSEN: -- than ever given what's happened in the last year.
ZAKARIA: And in order to prove that we mean - we mean what we say, we're going to come back and discuss foreign policy and all things foreign, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Kurt Andersen, Peggy Noonan, David Remnick and Gillian Tett.
Gillian, is Europe going to blow up? I turn to you because the F.T. is the fount of all wisdom on things economic. And I guess the question I have for you, is the Germans seem to be getting more and more of what they want? They've in effect been able to get three governments replaced in Spain, in Italy, and Greece. They've gotten almost every European country other than Britain to sign on to the tighter fiscal union.
But will that stop a crisis? Don't they still need some kind of - you know, at the end of the day the Federal Reserve stopped the crisis in the United States and said we just sort of guarantee everything. Do you need that move to take place?
TETT: Well, I don't think Europe is going to about to blow up right now. But I think it's going to be smoldering dangerously for a long time. Because essentially the Germans are certainly exerting more and more authority of the area and they have got some of what they want. But they haven't got enough to actually create a proper fiscal union of the sort that most economists think is really needed now to make the eurozone work.
And you've still got a lot of tension between different countries. You've still got a lot of the resistance inside the ECB to doing what many people think it should do, which is namely monetize, to really step in and support the program. And so there are many, many questions out there. And unfortunately, that's going to continue probably until at least March because that's when they're supposed to be creating the new institutions which will essentially be funding a lot of the overhaul. So it's very nasty -
ZAKARIA: But will the markets wait until March or, you know, for the schedule? TETT: That is the crucial question. Because never mind what the equity market is doing or the euro, the really important thing is that deep inside the cogs of the European financial system right now, the machine, things are gumming up very dramatically and banks are finding it hard to get funds. And they're going to have to raise a lot of money early next year.
European governments are going to have to borrow a lot of money. The cost of borrowing has just jumped for Italy above a level that's very symbolically dangerous. So there is real concern that the cogs in the machine will gum up and essentially force some kind of resolution sooner rather than later.
NOONAN: Do you imagine it wouldn't be some big event that - that makes things fall or make things happen but some small, obscure thing on a Thursday morning that will suddenly make everything trip in a bad way in Europe?
TETT: I think it could -
NOONAN: I guess I'm sharing that's my anxiety.
TETT: People are exhausted. I mean, the people have been marched up and down the eurozone hill now dozens of times. And I think about all the summit. I think about all the crises. This endless game of brinkmanship going on when people keep threatening things and going to the brink and then pulling back.
So traders are exhausted, bankers are exhausted, politicians are exhausted. And those are risks that we'll get to, say, two days after Christmas when everyone's supposedly on holiday, particularly the eurozone, and something nasty will happen.
ZAKARIA: Kurt, I have to ask you about your wonderful cover story -
ANDERSEN: Oh, thank you.
ZAKARIA: So do you think that what we are witnessing right now is a kind of generalized uprising of young people, or is it - why are so many people getting uppity all at the same time?
ANDERSEN: Well, it's hard to think that it isn't some - a social network contagion. And I don't mean a social network in the necessarily in the new Facebook/Twitter sense, but in the sociological sense that has existed for some time.
You know, it overwhelmingly, in protest after protest - obviously the stakes are different in Syria than they are in Oakland. But they are by and large middle-class people. The more educated members of their society who are - have reached a sense of grimness about the prospects of their country, their democracies, their personal livelihoods and decided in this kind of contagious way to get off the couch and take out the earplugs and express their complaints out in the streets. ZAKARIA: What do you think? Is it - what I'm struck by is it's happening in dictatorships, but it's also happening in democracies. Lots of established democracies.
NOONAN: Yes. I think we're in an age of - we both know this and don't notice it fully. We're in an age of the overthrow of establishments, period. As Americans, we are always moved by the stirrings of others towards freedom, and we understand what's going on in America against establishments. But it is also true, and my great concern is that this inherently makes the world less stable.
I am old enough - maybe we all are, too, to appreciate stability. Particularly in the age we're living in with extraordinary weapons and independent actors and free agents of all sorts. It seems to me there's a real tension obviously between the desire for liberation and the desire to make change and the desire in an unstable feeling world to keep things as stable as possible. It's a funny tension that's being worked out everyday.
ANDERSEN: And it's the tension of history for the last 200 years.
REMNICK: And more. But I think destabilization is - can be thrilling and useful and necessary. If we're destabilizing the idea of a radical income equality in the United States of America, if we're destabilizing the idea in Russia of authoritarian - brutal authoritarian rule, if we're destabilizing the idea of a Mubarak military rule of Egypt, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, then that kind of destabilization, as perilous as it can be in the short term, as unnerving as it can be to some in the short term is necessary and real and right.
NOONAN: Yes. But there's a little - what - rough beast that's our come around at last, this (INAUDIBLE) in Bethlehem -
REMNICK: Well, the rough beast in Russia, where I just was, is to have 50,000 people on the streets protesting against a kleptocracy at the top -
REMNICK: -- about somebody who at least a death of journalist -
NOONAN: Excessive bullying regime.
REMNICK: Then it's absolutely necessary. And you know what the motto is in Russia on the streets? Evolution, not revolution.
TETT: And that is a critical issue because it's better to have constant small adjustments rather than to try and repress change in the name of stability. And eventually you create more instability when there's an explosion. You've seen that -
ANDERSEN: The same with Occupy Wall Street.
TETT: -- exactly. REMNICK: Yes. There's a whole range of rhetoric on the street. But in the end, what this did was reawaken the people that need reawakening, all of us, on what has happened to our country in terms of radical income in equality.
ANDERSEN: And by the way, here as in Europe, no one-size-fits- all silver bullet Marxist dream is being proposed to solve the problems. Which one of the heartening things is -
REMNICK: The fact that people on the street are reading Jizac (ph) and Gramsci or whoever it may be -
ANDERSEN: And Ron Paul -
REMNICK: Fine, fine. But let's be real. I don't think we're going to see that kind of revolution in the United States of America. If we do see increasingly a legislation and a political awareness that at least to the change in what we're talking about, that is all to the good. And who else was doing it before Occupy Wall Street?
TETT: And coming to David's point and in the case in Russia, you do have quite a rag-tag group of people who were actually coming out at the moment. But they are to a surprising degree, middle class, what the Russians call intelligentsia, they're the cultured people who actually want to engage. And it's very much to be welcomed that they're actually getting involved and asking for evolution, if you like, in terms of political development.
ZAKARIA: And on that note, we're going to have to end. Thank you so much, Kurt Andersen, Gillian Tett, David Remnick, Peggy Noonan.
Pop quiz, what was the poem that Peggy was quoting? Go to our website to get the answer. We will be back.
ZAKARIA: Our question this week from the "GPS challenge" which country crowned a new king last week? Is it, A) Bhutan; B), Malaysia; C), Tonga; D) Liechtenstein?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. Make sure you go to CNN.com/GPS for 10 more questions. While you're there, check out our website, the Global Public Square. You'll find smart interviews and takes by some of our favorite experts refreshed every day. And don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
This week's "Book of the Week" is Steven Koch's "Struggle For Egypt." It's a sweeping smart history of Egypt with am incredibly vivid final chapter describing the country's revolution. It's the single best book to read about Egypt right now. I thought I knew a lot about the country. I learned a lot reading this book.
Now for "The Last Look." When you send 1.5 million soldiers through a war zone, when you spend $800 billion on an effort, when you have 505 military bases or outposts in a country, when you have untold tens of millions of pieces of equipment in the nation, moving day is going to be even more challenging than it usually is. And so it is as the U.S. Military pulls out of Iraq.
Some of the bases are being retrofitted for civilian use. Camp Bucca was once a detention center. Now it's a hotel. I like what the decorator did with the barbed wire, a nice touch. Much of the equipment wasn't worth shipping back, so some of it has been sold. There was apparently ample interest from neighboring nations in surplus U.S. military equipment. And some of it by a recent count, 2.4 million pieces of equipment worth at least $250 million have just been given away to the Iraqis.
But there's one piece that is not being left behind. This is the prison cell where Saddam Hussein was held until he was hanged. And you see the dings in the back wall - that's where his toilet was. That artifact bizarrely is being proudly brought to America where apparently it will be displayed in a museum.
For this week's "GPS Challenge" question, we asked you which country crowned a new king last week. The correct answer was B, Malaysia. Eighty-four-year-old Sultan Abdul Halim ascended the throne this week. It is his second stint as a king. His first stint was in the 1970s. Malaysia has a unique system where nine hereditary state rulers take turns as the country's king for five-year terms. Go to our website for 10 more challenging questions.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will se you next week. Stay tuned for "RELIABLE SOURCES."