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The Myth of America's Social Mobility; How Accurate is 'Zero Dark Thirty'?; Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson; Internal Iranian Politics

Aired February 24, 2013 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the Global Public Square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

It is Oscar time, the annual Academy Awards and many of the nominated the films have raised crucial issues about American foreign policy, from the war against al-Qaeda to the efficacy of torture to our policy toward Iran.

We'll talk about all these issues still confronting us in real life with a terrific panel, including the former Director of the CIA Michael Hayden.

Also, Iran might be moving toward a nuclear weapon, but it seems to be coming part internally with political in-fighting that makes Washington look positively civilized by comparison. We'll ask two experts to explain what's going on.

And why are we being bombarded by meteors and asteroids and what's the difference anyway? I'll talk to our favorite astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Also, the next war, the war for water, will you have enough to drink in the coming decades?

But, first, here's my take. With big budget cuts looming, it might seem crazy to talk about new spending, but let me try anyway. Here is a plea for a tiny, but vital increase in federal spending.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama proposed to expand early childhood education for children from poor families. This is an important idea that could begin to help redress a huge problem in America, the lack of economic mobility.

America has long been seen as the place where anyone can make it. And yet over studies from the past two decades all point to a different reality. Economic mobility in the U.S. is low compared with what it was in times past and with current levels in many European countries and Canada.

You hear all about rags-to-riches stories, but they are the exceptions. A comprehensive study by the Pew Economic Mobility Project documents that in the U.S. today, few poor people become even upper middle class.

Now some of the criticism of President Obama's program has come from people who worry about the government's track record in the area of early childhood education. They point to Head Start, the long- standing program that provides this education to disadvantaged children.

The Department of Health and Human Services released a study of Head Start in 2010, which was updated in 2012, which concludes that its positive effects begin to fade within a few years. This has led many to call the program a failure and urge the government not to throw good money after bad.

But people are jumping to conclusions about a very complicated subject without really understanding the study or the limitations of social- science research.

Three scholars from the University of Chicago and University of California at Davis, painstakingly explained why it is premature to reject Head Start. They note that many factors may have intervened to erode the early gains in test scores.

For example, there have been sharp rises in single-parent families, rises in non-English-speaking households and rises in severe health problems like childhood obesity and diabetes.

Most important, some studies show that though test scores level out, children who have been through early education do better in their professional lives.

The more we learn about neuroscience, the clearer it becomes that the human brain develops much sooner than we had believed so early stimulation and education can be highly effective.

Look at the data from the rest of the world. A 2012 report from the OECD studying data from 34 rich countries concludes that early- childhood education "improves children's cognitive abilities, helps to create a foundation for lifelong learning, makes learning outcomes more equitable, reduces poverty and improves social mobility from generation to generation."

In many rich countries, 90 percent of 3-year-olds get early childhood education. The average for 4-year-olds is 81 percent. In the U.S., it is only 69%, and those children tend to be from middle- and upper- middle-class families.

American government set the pace for education in the past 150 years. We've been the first country to offer mass education anywhere. That lead is now gone.

Obama's proposals will help the U.S. start to catch up in the great struggle for high-quality human capital that is going to define the new century.

For more on this, you can read my column in this week's "Time Magazine." Let's get started. Spies and spy agencies are all over the big screen and in the news these days. We have new revelations about hack attacks from China, a renewed debate over drones and the still running controversy over torture which bubbled up again with "Zero Dark Thirty's" five Oscar nominations.

So I wanted to get to the bottom of some of these crucial issues of national security with a panel of people who come at it from different angles.

Michael Hayden was the director of the CIA and the NSA. He is a principle with the Chertoff Group, a global security advisory firm.

Reuel Marc Gerecht was a Middle East specialist at the CIA's Directorate of Operations. He is now senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Richard Haas is former top national security official under both presidents Bush. He is now president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of a forth-coming book, "Foreign Policy Begins at Home."

And, Jane Harman retired from Congress in 2011 after nine terms. She has been a leading legislator on national security issues throughout her career. She now runs the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

All right, with that stack of resumes, I hope to God we have an interesting conversation.


ZAKARIA: Let's talk about drones, Richard, because you took a fairly strong stance for a Republican national security official. You think we've gone too far with drone strikes.

HAAS: I do. I think we ought to make them possible. They do some good. On the other hand, we've got to realize that they're one tool in the arsenal. We don't want to alienate governments. We don't want to alienate populations. The whole idea is to gain progress in the war against terrorists and terrorism.

I think essentially we've probably shot them off a little bit too frequently. We haven't limited them quite enough to high value targets, high chance of success. A little bit too much willingness to use them when we think there's a chance that terrorists might be involved in a certain activity.

I don't want to stop them, Fareed, don't get me wrong. On the other hand, we don't' want to go the other extreme and make it casual or something of an everyday affair.

ZAKARIA: Jane, you have a suggestion. You say let's get some kind of an institutionalized legal process, "drone courts" you all them.

JANE HARMAN, FORMER CALIFORNIA CONGRESSWOMAN, DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT, CEO, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: Well, it's beyond drone courts. I have lived the entire FISA cycle, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it worked very well for 23 years.

It established the intelligence committees on the Hill and a specialized court to review efforts to read the communications or hear them between people. I think that framework could fit drone strikes.

I agree with Richard they should be very occasional, but they're necessary. And when they're necessary, not only Americans, not foreigners should be assured that America abides by the rule of law.

ZAKARIA: Mike, you've faced these issue front and center. What Jane is describing is, I think, a significantly reduced use of drone strikes. Could you live with that were you running the CIA?

MICHALE HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CIA AND NSA: Yes. Fareed, keep in mind that circumstances change. And, as Richard pointed out, you know what may have been necessary and very important for a battlefield four, five or six years, may not be the same today.

Look, we're a bit safer than we have been the past. We have had great success, in some measure due to drone strikes. Once again, I wouldn't take them totally off the table. We need to be able to defend ourselves with all the tools available.

With regard to the drone courts, I'm personally not comfortable with that, putting a judicial body between the president and any of his operating forces. But we need to develop a mechanism that most of America feels comfortable about we're doing.

I don't think it's a court, but some sort of review, a commission named by the president and Congress that doesn't get in the chain of command, but reviews drone operations and reports to both of the political branches with very prominent and trustworthy Americans.

And trusted Americans on such a commission may give the kind of political sustainability that programs like this need over the long term if they're going to continue.

HARMAN: I worry about some kind of a commission. I don't know what training they would have. And the record on commissions is fairly bleak. Let's just start with Bowles-Simpson.

ZAKARIA: Reuel, one of the collateral issues with drone strikes, one that actually might then mention as prominently, is the issue of civilian damage, collateral damage to people who may not al-Qaeda.

One of the things Donald Rumsfeld used to say about the war on terror, "The question is not how many people we're killing, but are we changing the dynamics so that they're not producing more of them as we keep killing them."

And, presumably, that's one of the things one has to take into account; that is, if you radicalize an entire village by a drone attack, maybe you got one guy, but was it worth it? Is that a calculus ... REUEL MARC GERECHT, SENIOR FELLOW, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I mean it's possible. I mean I think with some drone strikes if an individual's worth a missile, perhaps he's worth risking American lives in trying to capture and interrogate. That's ...

ZAKARIA: That's one of the things that actually Stan McChrystal has been saying that we're using drones because we're trying not to push American forces out there, but maybe we -- you know the implication is sometimes we may want to take that risk.

GERECHT: Yes, I agree. I think drones are easy. They're an easy way of escaping very hard questions. And I think it behooves us to review it.

I'm not terribly in favor of any type of judicial review. There are two war-making bodies in the U.S. government, Congress and the president, and I think the type of review is quite -- if the Senate and the House Committees on Intelligence want to review what the president is doing, they certainly have the authority to do so ...

ZAKARIA: Let me just ask ...

GERECHT: And they can get in that debate.

ZAKARIA: Let me just quickly move to another issue before we take a break because I want to get it in. The China hacking story, this is pretty serious, don't you think?

HAAS: Oh, absolutely. It raises real fundamental questions about China's commitment to the rule of law internationally. It's a form of espionage. It's a form of economic warfare.

It could be also, in some ways, targeting potentially vulnerabilities in American society so should the United States and China ever have a crisis, China could either threaten to do certain things or do certain things say against the American electricity grid or the American financial system.

And these people aren't free-lancing. You know China as well as anybody. These people are clearly operating with the tolerance of the Communist Party in China under the authority of the People's Liberation Army. This is serious. I think the Chinese are underestimating the impact this is having about the nature of the relationship.

This sends a message to Americans across the board that this relationship is not what it should be if China is treating us in this way, essentially going after our information and going after potential vulnerabilities in our system, stealing our intellectual property.

This is not how you act if you want to talk about words like partnership.

ZAKARIA: Mike, the Chinese will say in response - or some Chinese will say look, you guys do it too. Why are you getting so head-up? You know you ran the CIA and the NSA. What would be your response to them?

HAYDEN: Right. I'd freely admit that all nations spy, all nations conduct espionage, but some nations, nations like ours, self-limit. We steal other nations' secrets to keep Americans safe and free. We don't do it to make Americans rich or to make American industry profitable.

And what the Chinese are doing is industrial espionage, trade secrets, negotiating positions, stealing that kind of information on an unprecedented scale for Chinese economic advantage and that's why I think our response should be in the economic zone.

We need to make Chinese cyber behavior part of the overall portfolio of Sino-American relations and we need to begin to exact a price on the Chinese in the economic sphere for what it is they're doing to us.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, we're going to talk to this panel about torture. Does it work? Did it get Osama bin Laden? I think there are some people here who know the answers when we come back.


ZAKARIA: It's Oscar time and Best Picture Nominee, "Zero Dark Thirty" has brought the topic of water-boarding, once again, to the floor.

Some argue that the movie makes the case that water-boarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques were instrumental in finding Osama bin Laden. Some Senators and the CIA disagree.

Let's open it up to the panel, Mike Hayden, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Richard Haas and Jane Harman.

Michael Hayden, you, more than anyone else, could probably tell us. Did enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically water-boarding, get us the vital information on the path to Osama bin Laden?

HAYDEN: Well, Fareed, we water-boarded only three people. Now, there were several detainees in CIA custody against whom enhanced interrogation techniques were used, not including water-boarding, that did provide information that formed part of the fabric, part of the tapestry of information that we used to finally get to Abbotabad.

If you look at the movie, it was artistically true, not factually true. Artistically, it portrayed the CIA interrogation program, but, factually, it was overwrought and inaccurate.

Artistically, it seemed to draw tight connections between the interrogation program and Abbotabad. They were connections, but they weren't that tight.

And, then, finally, artistically, it had Maya against the world and against a large fraction of the rest of the agency which really wasn't true. This was a team effort over a long period of time.

But even Director Panetta has pointed out that some of the information that formed part of that fabric in the hunt for bin Laden came from detainees against whom enhanced interrogation techniques have been used.

ZAKARIA: Reuel, you were in the CIA Directorate of Operations. Do you think, from watching the movie, that the portrayal -- the connection between water-boarding and Osama bin Laden is real?

GERECHT: I suspect that it did have something to do with the success. I mean we all want there not to be a contradiction between our ethics in counterterrorism. We want to do well by doing good.

The only one problem with that I think the history of counterterrorism and the history of espionage suggest that pain is a very effective tool in interrogation if used well.

And the debate really ought to be what is the type of pain that a liberal democracy wants to use to stop individuals from taking down skyscrapers.

HAAS: Well, there's issues about that. Can we have confidence in information that's obtained this way? And I think lots of people have looked at it and have raised fundamental questions about what -- how much confidence can you have about information you extract from someone who's been -- had to undergo these kinds of techniques.

On occasion, it's good. On occasion, it's not. Obviously, it's hard to tell.

GERECHT: Fundamentally, there's no difference in an interrogation where you serve as a father confessor and you use pain. The verification of the information has nothing to do with what the individual says to you when he's under duress or not under duress.

ZAKARIA: You always -- the information is always suspect and always has to be corroborated?

GERECHT: Right. The objective is to get the individual talking.


HARMAN: Sure, but the information I've seen, and I haven't -- I'm not a trained interrogator, is that is you can build trust with the suspect, you have the best chance of getting information.

You have to verify. You have to trust, but verify. But that's how, by the way, we're getting information in advance on some of the intentions of these lone wolves in our country.

I mean these are people with clean records and if their families and their communities don't trust our law enforcement and come forward and tell us what they're thinking about, we're likely not to find them.

So this technique of building trust, I think is the one we should be using and it also portrays our values. And the goal in the end is not to play Whac-A-Mole here. It is to win the argument with the next general that's trying to decide whether to strap on suicide vests or joined civilized society.

ZAKARIA: Mike ...

HAYDEN: Fareed?

ZAKARIA: How do you address that issue because it is true that the CIA is seen in many parts of this -- of this world as being utterly ruthless, utterly amoral, immoral and is that something you want -- you have to worry about when addressing this larger issue of what, again, President George W. Bush used to call, "Winning the hearts and minds of the Arab world."

HAYDEN: No, it's very important. I mean some activities are designed to deal with people who are already convinced they want to kill you.

But you always have to keep in mind the production rate of people who want to kill you in the future. And your actions to fight the close fight may actually affect and make worse the deep battle over a long period of time.

To get quite specific here, Fareed, when we talk about enhanced interrogation, we rarely, if ever, asked a detainee information we didn't already know the answer to while he was undergoing the enhanced interrogation.

The idea here was not to get to truth. The idea here was to move him from a zone of defiance to a zone of cooperation. We held about 100 people. We found that we needed to do that to a third of that 100.

But once you got them into the zone of cooperation, this was a conversation that went back and forth. Much is portrayed in the movie when the primary source over a very decently prepared lunch began to tell the interrogators much about what they needed to know in order to begin to track Osama bin Laden.

Look, we didn't raise our hand and say, you know, we've had this plan for interrogation in our lower desk drawer here now for more than a decade. Thank God we've got a chance to do it.

The agency was asked to do things in extreme circumstances. It did it out of duty not out of enthusiasm and I believe firmly that it made America safer because we did that.

ZAKARIA: But you're saying, Richard, that now is the time to dial back some of this.

HAAS: Yes. In each case, you got to look at all your tools, you've got to look at the situation and you've got to -- again, it's not a legal question as much as it is a smart question.

We want to do things and we want to them in ways that, on balance, make a very tough situation less tough. We're not going to eliminate terrorism. What we want to do is reduce it.

We want to make ourselves less resilient. We want to persuade young men to make a different career choice, not to become terrorists in the first place. We've always got to ask yourselves in what we're going to gain in some operation, whether it's a drone strike, whether it's an interrogation technique, is it worth it in the specific situation and is it worth it in the large.

I think, yes, we dial it back a little, but we don't switch. We don't stop ourselves from doing things because we know sure as anything there's going to be future attacks. We're not going to succeed all the time.

It's the law of numbers. There's too many terrorists out there. There's too many means in this global world of technological diffusion. We're too open as a society. There are going to be times they're going to succeed.

We want to reduce the number of those times and the severity of if and when it happens.

ZAKARIA: We are going to have to leave it at that. Michael Hayden, Jane Harman, Reuel Marc Gerecht and Richard Haas, thank you all very much.

Up next, how a body of water the size of the Dead Sea simply disappeared from the Middle East. What in the World when we come back.


ZAKARIA: Now, for our What in the World segment. Imagine a large body of water, about the size of the Dead Sea, simply disappearing. It sounds like a science fiction, but it's not. It's happening in real life and we've only just found out.

A pioneering study from NASA and the University of California Irvine shows how the Middle East is losing its fresh water reserves. As you can see from the satellite imagery in the video, we're going from blues and greens, to yellows and reds. That's 144 cubic kilometers of lost water between 2003 and 2009.

What do I mean by "lost water"? Well, most of it comes from below the Earth's surface, from water trapped in rocks. You see, in times of drought, we tend to drill for water by constructing wells and pumps. But the Earth has a finite supply.

NASA's scientists say pumping for water is the equivalent of using up your bank savings and that bank account is dwindling. This could have serious implications.

Conflicts over water are as old as the story of Noah in 3,000 BC. The Pacific Institute lists 225 such conflicts through history. What's fascinating is that nearly half of those conflicts took place in the last two decades. Are we going to see a new era of wars fought over water?

Consider that NASA's study is of one of the most volatile regions in the world. We tend to think of the Middle East and its upheavals as defined by oil. Perhaps in the future it will be defined by water.

We often talk of a world of nuclear haves and have-nots, but a world of water haves and have-nots could be even more dangerous. Part of the problem is that the world's needs have changed.

Look at the population boom. We've gone from 4 billion people in 1975, to around 7 billion today. The U.N. projects we will hit 9 billion by 2050. Meanwhile, as India, China, and Africa continue to add millions to their middle classes, global demand for all kinds of food and products will increase.

All of those products cost money except for water, which we like to think of as abundant and free. Yet water is the resource we need to worry most about.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 780 million people, that's two and a half times the population of the U.S. lack access to clean water. More than 3 million people die every year from the shortage. As our needs expand, so will that shortfall. What can be done? Well, most of our water is actually wasted. And the United States is actually one of the worst culprits. We can change that. Singapore already treats sewage water to convert it into clean drinking water. We might need to consider large-scale desalinization where the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are world leaders. And remember, agriculture uses up as much as 70 percent of water. We need to fund research into more effective crops. Perhaps, most simple and effective would be to put some kind of price on water. So that people use it with a greater sense of efficiency and care. All kinds of innovations are under way. I hope NASA and the University of California at Irvine study accelerates those processes. We have link to their work on Next month, the U.N. will mark World Water Day and the International Year of Water Cooperation. It's a good time to start thinking about big global measures to regulate the world's most important resource.

Up next, another global issue to worry about. Falling asteroids and meteors.





ZAKARIA: The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is next.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington with a check of the headlines. The Daytona 500 will go on as scheduled today, despite a crash at the track Saturday that left at least 28 people injured. The accident happened when one of several cars that piled up crashed into a fence, sending flying debris into the stands. None of the drivers was injured. Most of those who were hurt were treated at the site or nearby hospitals and released.

Pope Benedict XVI delivered his final Sunday blessing this morning before a huge crowd at St. Peter's Square. He told worshippers he will continue to serve the church through prayer and meditation. Benedict officially steps down Thursday.

And the movie industry is just hours away from handing out its biggest prize. The 85th annual Academy Awards is tonight in Los Angeles. "Lincoln" and "Argo" are considered the favorites to win best motion picture. The Oscar ceremony will be televised live in 225 countries worldwide.

And those are your headlines. "Reliable Sources" is at the top of the hour and now back to Fareed Zakaria "GPS."




ZAKARIA: The meteor that exploded over the Ural Mountains nine days ago and the asteroid flyby that quickly followed it have raised concerns around the world. Why didn't we know the meteor was coming? And what do we do about the next close call? Are we sitting targets? Let's find out. The Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium, the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is with us. Welcome back.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, DIRECTOR, HAYDEN PLANETARIUM: Thanks for having me back on the show.

ZAKARIA: So, first of all, should we be worried or is this -- or is this just a complete coincidence that these two things happened?

TYSON: Oh, yes. That allowed.


TYSON: First, it was a coincidence that they happened on the same day, just to clarify for those who might not have remembered, early morning, there was an asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere over the Urals in Russia and exploded in mid-air about 20 miles up.




TYSON: And it shattered windows, the blast was brighter than multiple suns. In fact, subsequent measurements of how much energy it contained rivals 30 times that of the Hiroshima bomb. And the reason why everything wasn't just pancake flattened from it, was because it exploded so high up in the atmosphere. And so, all that was left was the energy that remained after diluted into the space ... ZAKARIA: Right.

TYSON: ... in which it exploded. Later in the day, there was another asteroid that had a close approach, which we have known for about a year, using the laws of physics and orbital trajectories, you can say exactly where it's going to come. And that was of interest, because it not only became between us and the Moon, it not only came here, we have tracked many that have done that. This one came inside our technological space. It came closer than our orbiting communication satellites. And so, that one you take note of. And that asteroid is about half the size of a football field. The one that hit and exploded over Russia, that is about a third of that size. And we have no capacity to protect Earth from things that small.

ZAKARIA: So, what should we be doing? I mean ...

TYSON: Yes, I know.


ZAKARIA: How scared should we be that ...

TYSON: We're just sitting ducks.

ZAKARIA: Yeah, the laws of math, of -- at some point the probability is one of these things will hit.

TYSON: OK, fortunately, the larger asteroids, the ones that could disrupt civilization and disrupt the energy grid, the transportation grid, the emergency services response set-ups ...

ZAKARIA: Or just plain kill us.

TYSON: Well, yeah, it will all kill somebody who is right below it. What you care -- yes, of course, we care about that. But globally what you -- what deeply concerns you is the asteroid is strong enough, so you have to restart civilization. And then at another level you risk extinction. Fortunately, those are large. And we have a plan in place, we, NASA has a plan in place to detect, and map and track every single asteroid that's large enough to disrupt civilization. The one that exploded over Russia was not large enough to disrupt civilization. And so, they're dangerous and they'll hurt and they can kill, but the fact that we can't track them is not as bad as not being able to track the big ones that could really destroy us. So once you know where they are, your next question would be, perhaps, do we have a plan to do something about it and the answer is no. It's all just on paper how to do it.

ZAKARIA: What would be the plan? Would it be some kind of military ...


ZAKARIA: You shoot a missile to shatter it in outer space?

TYSON: Yeah, that's the macho solution. You pull one of your missiles out of the silo that have been sitting there doing nothing since the Cold War and you blow the sucker out of the sky. But the problem is, I mean here in America we're really good at blowing stuff up and less good at knowing where the pieces land. So, so ....

ZAKARIA: That's a metaphor for America.

TYSON: That's just ...


TYSON: I was speaking -- it's asteroids. You take that where you want. So, you, people who have studied the problem, generally, and I'm in this camp, see that a deflection scenario is more sound and more controllable. So, if this is the asteroid and it's sort of headed towards us, you send it one way, you send up a little -- a spaceship and they'll both feel each -- and spaceship hovers and they'll both feel each other's gravity and they want to sort of drift towards one another, but you don't let that happen. You set off little retro rockets that prevent it, and the act of doing so slowly tugs the asteroid into a new orbit.

ZAKARIA: Because the spaceship has the kind of gravitational pull?

TYSON: The -- exactly. They want to draw towards each other. But if you don't let that happen and you constantly yank the spaceship away ever so slightly then the asteroid will chase the spaceship ever so slightly. And that's all you need if you get it early enough because the tiniest change in your orbit early can completely avoid the target. Now, of course, it's there to harm you another day. But if you get really good at this, then you can have a protection system for the Earth that will, that will prevent humans from going extinct.

ZAKARIA: Which seems a laudable goal.

TYSON: Yeah. I think that's a ...

ZAKARIA: Now, is it fair to say that we don't need any innovation in physics or even in engineer, we know how to do this. The question is, the will and the resources to implement a plan like this.

TYSON: Yeah, I mean we use ordinary physics to know how to make this work. Physics and engineering, of course, because you've got to make the hardware to enable it. And the price is not even all that expensive, given other activities that humans have undertaken. The problem is that asteroid that we might find that will one day hit us, and you want to get it early, all right. When do we start concerning ourselves with a budget to handle it? If it's going to come in 100 years. What do you say? Let our descendants worry about that and their Congress? You know, 88 percent of Congress gets -- faces re- election every two years.

So, Senate and House, of course. And so, that's not a long enough time scale to match the time scales that matter for our survival. So, what -- plus, if an asteroid is going to strike somewhere else in the world, is it NASA that's going to take care of that? So, what you really want, I think, is a world organization, maybe every country chips in, in proportion to their GDP, something sensible like that and then there is a pot of money. And whoever has the -- whoever has the space faring resources at the time it's necessary, space faring know- how, will then tap into that money and then you save the Earth. And I think that's a reasonable plan. Yes.

ZAKARIA: All right. So, we have your next job all mapped out for you, space czar for the world.


ZAKARIA: Neil deGrasse, pleasure to have you.

TYSON: Thanks for having me.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, the two top politicians in the country openly show their disgust for each other. No, I'm not talking about Washington, but rather Iran. This has global implications. I'll explain when we come back.


ZAKARIA: If you think the tension between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner is bad, let me introduce you to a similar relationship, the two top politicians in the land where the animosity is extreme and out in the open. The very public feud between Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the speaker of the parliament, Ali Larijani has gotten so bad that both men had to write letters apologizing for their bad behavior to the man with the real power in the land Ayatollah Khamenei who said the spat made him feel sad. There are implications for the rest of the world, which eagerly wants Iran to sit down at the nuclear negotiating table. To talk about all this, joining me Hooman Majd an Iranian American journalist and author and Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. So, what on earth is going on, Hooman? Why? This is a very public feud.

HOOMAN MAJD, IRANIAN JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Yeah, I think -- I think it's related somewhat to the presidential election coming up in June and Ahmadinejad's sort of desperate attempt to remain relevant after the election, unlike other presidents or the previous president, Khatami, who kind of faded into obscurity. I think he's determined to remain relevant. And ...

ZAKARIA: And does he have a certain kind of popular power and appeal that could ...

MAJD: I think he does have. I think he has some base. I mean the base is exaggerated by some people who are his supporters, but he does have a base among the certain segment of society and I think he's trying to appeal to a larger segment of society, including the middle class. And if you go up against the mullahs in Iran, if you go up against the ayatollahs, against the clerical regime, which is what he's doing effectively and has been doing for over a year, two years, actually, at this point, I think you gain some support among people who dislike the idea of a theocracy to begin with. ZAKARIA: How should we think about -- because here in America, people think of Ahmadinejad as the bad guy. But here you have this odd situation where Ahmadinejad is really openly fighting against the mullahs who seem to have much of the power.

KARIM SADJADPOUR, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Fareed, I joked that Ahmadinejad comes from the Groucho Marx school of politics which says that these are my principles, and if you don't like them, I've got some other ones for you.


SADJADPOUR: So, Ahmadinejad, you know, began his term -- his first term of being the sort of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, a bludgeon (ph) against Khamenei's internal opponents against the United States, but I think after seven or eight years of being in power, now Ahmadinejad is not ready to leave the scene. And I think a big challenge for the supreme leader in the coming months is not only helping to select the next president of Iran, but helping to -- you know, Ahmadinejad to managing Ahmadinejad's abdication for power.

ZAKARIA: Vice President Biden, you know, put out these remarks.


JOE BIDEN. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership.


ZAKARIA: Which had seen (ph) the long sending Iranian request, which is that there be direct talks from the United States on the range of issues and Biden said we're open to that possibility. And in response Ayatollah Khamenei shuts it down and says anyone who wants to go down that path referring to Ahmadinejad, because Ahmadinejad had seem excited by this prospect, is a traitor and, you know, they're trying to bring back American domination. What does all this mean?

MAJD: Well, I think you have to look at it from the Iranian side. I mean when Vice President Biden made that remark, I think it was a couple of days later that new sanctions were put in place. So, it was this continuing pressure on Iran and I think inside the administration and inside the regime, Iran, the view is that unless the pressure is let up, there is no reason to talk. And I think, I don't think he completely eliminated the possibility of ever talking, having direct talks with the U.S. And he's repeated this a few times and as other Iranian officials have repeated this, is that if you, have -- hold a gun, as he said, if you hold a gun to our heads, we are not going to negotiate. And I think that's probably true. Every time there's been a lot of pressure on Iran, Iran has backed off negotiating because they feel they don't want to be viewed to be in a weak position. And certainly, there's a lot of domestic politics involved here. The nuclear program is still relatively popular in Iran. They don't want to be seen to be backing off and giving in to American demands. They certainly don't want to be seen to be negotiating or making a deal because of the sanctions, because of this pressure, that the pressure worked. That America can make us do something that we don't really want to do.

ZAKARIA: But the timing, Karim, looks very bad because, you know, the Americans have put all this pressure on the Iranians from what Khamenei said, it certainly doesn't look likely that in the next month or two something is going to happen on the negotiating front.

SADJADPOUR: I'm equally pessimistic, Fareed. First, I think, it's worth pointing out that this Obama administration national security cabinet, between Obama himself, Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, potential Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, I would argue as the most pro-Iran engagement cabinet U.S. national security cabinet since the 1979 revolution. So, these guys seriously do want to do a deal. And I think if Ayatollah Khamenei genuinely wants to try to build confidence with the United States, this is the best administration to do that. Now, I think the dilemma Khamenei has is that for 24 years since 1989 he has been supreme leader, he hasn't left the country since 1989. He sought to preserve the status quo by avoiding transformative decisions and he has now put himself increasingly with the back against the wall facing unprecedented international pressure, sanctions, et cetera, whereby if he wants to reduce this pressure, either he needs to do a nuclear deal to reduce the pressure or go for a nuclear weapon, the so-called Pakistan option, whereby if they get a bomb, they believe that then the outside world will be forced to deal with them. But these are both transformative options and both transformative choices for him. So, I think he's put himself in a very uncomfortable position.

ZAKARIA: And he's a conservative guy by nature. He doesn't really trust ...

SADJADPOUR: By nature. I think you know -- you're a revolutionary until you acquire power and then you become a conservative. And the Obama administration isn't interested in going to war. They're trying to get out of the war business, out of Afghanistan, out of Iraq. So, I don't see 2013 actually being a decisive year. because I think that the Obama administration is reluctant to attack, the Israelis want the Americans to do it and I think the Iranians will continue to move forward in a very incremental fashion so we can avoid worst-case scenario which is a military conflagration, but I also don't see a then diagram, in which Israeli national security, Iranian revolutionary ideology and U.S. domestic politics all intersect in one place.

ZAKARIA: Fascinating conversation. Thank you, both.

MAJD: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, football players are famous for going to Disney World after they win the Super Bowl. What do presidents of failed states do after they're deposed? Find out when we come back.


ZAKARIA: Italians are going to the polls today to vote in a parliamentary election. The Italian republic has been around for less than 70 years. Before that, it had been a kingdom and that brings me to my question of the week. Who was the last king of Italy? Was it "A", Victor Emmanuel II, "B" Victor Emmanuel III, "C" Garibaldi I or "D" Umberto II. Stay tuned, we'll tell you the correct answer. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and go to if you miss a show or a special. This week's book will cost you $2, but it is worth much more. David Leonhardt's e-book "Here's the Deal" is the best guide to America's budget problems you're likely to find. It is brief, highly intelligent and genuinely fair and balanced. Every voter should read it and many others, as well. Go to where we have a link.

And now, for the last look. What do you do after you're deposed as president of one of the world's most terrorist infested fail states? Well, if you're Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, first you come to the U.S. to recover from old bombing injuries, then back home in Yemen, you announce the opening of a museum all about yourself. Yes, come one, come all to sunny Sana'a to see such priceless museum pieces as large portraits of Mr. Saleh, naturally, weapons he was given while in office, of course, and quite amazingly, the suit he was wearing during the aforementioned bombing, as well as some shrapnel that was recovered from his body. Wow. The curator says the museum is almost ready to open, as soon as they get the lights and air conditioning sorted out. I suppose this is progress of a kind, most dictators will probably keep all the stuff for themselves.

The correct answer to our "GPS Challenge" question was "D," King Umberto II was the last king of Italy and his reign was rather brief. Just over a month long. It ended in June 1946 after the republic was formed.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "Reliable Sources."