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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Interview with Ronan Farrow; Donald Trump's Grand Old Party?; A grotesque escalation of religious violence in India?; Cuba without a Castro in charge. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 22, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:26] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, with delicate negotiations on the way over North Korea, a possible rupture over the Iran deal, the question is, can you have diplomacy without diplomats?
The State Department has gutted many ambassadorships, late unfilled, the U.N. Security Council is often deadlocked and the president seems to prefer tweets over talk.
I will be joined by Ronan Farrow, fresh off a Pulitzer Prize win, to talk about his important new book.
RONAN FARROW, AUTHOR, "WAR ON PEACE": They are eviscerating the State Department rather than fixing it.
ZAKARIA: And the present and future of the Grand Old Party. Is Paul Ryan's exit a sign of the end of the party of Ronald Reagan?
I will examine the Republican takeover with two senior members of that party.
Also, after almost 60 years the era of Castro's ruling Cuba is about to come to an end. First Fidel and his brother Raul have ruled the island nation since 1959. Will the new president bring any change in Cuba's relations with its neighbor 90 miles away?
ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. The most remarkable parts of James Comey's memoir are not about Donald Trump. We already knew most of the interesting revelations and some of the others are gossip and color commentary. But in his discussion of the George W. Bush administration, Comey's far more revealing and highlights something crucial and hopeful about America. The role of lawyers and our legal culture.
Many of the battles the Trump administration is having with the so- called deep state are actually reruns of battles from the Bush years. As Comey recanted detail after 9/11, the Bush administration put in place a surveillance program called Stellar Wind that Justice Department lawyers decided on review was illegal.
In March 2004 Comey was deputy attorney general and filling in for his boss, John Ashcroft, who was ill. And Comey refused to renew the program. White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and White House counselor Alberto Gonzalez decided to head to Ashcroft's hospital room to pressure him to sign the reauthorization documents over Comey's objections.
On learning of this, Comey raced to the hospital and asked then FBI director Robert Mueller to join him for moral support. It turned out Ashcroft didn't need any prodding. He turned Card and Gonzalez away. Mueller who arrived a few minutes afterwards said to the veteran attorney general, who was technically his boss, "In every man's life there comes a time when the Good Lord tests him. You passed your test tonight." Comey writes said he felt like crying. "The law had held," he said.
The pressure from the White House was intense, including a stunning exchange that Comey recounts between himself and the president himself, George W. Bush. Bush explained to his subcabinet appointee, "I say what the law is for the executive branch." Comey responded, "You do, sir, but only I can say what the Justice Department can certify as lawful and we can't here. We have done our best, but as Martin Luther said, here I stand, I can do no other."
What is striking about these episodes is not only that Comey and Mueller was subordinates who owed their jobs to Bush, but that they were Republicans. Both Comey and Mueller have consistently put their obligations to the law and the country above personal loyalty and partisan politics.
This behavior may be the product of personal character, but it is also formed by legal training. The story is really not just about Mueller and Comey, but about the lawyers in various parts of the government who believe that it is crucial for the country that the government operate within the law, even if the president wishes otherwise.
Recall that when Trump wanted to fire Mueller last June, White House counsel Don McGahn reportedly threatened to resign in protest. Just before leaving the Bush administration, Comey gave a speech to the National Security Agency, in which he said, "It is the job of a good lawyer to say yes. It is as much a job of a good lawyer to say no. No is much, much harder. No must be spoken into a storm of crises with loud voices all around, with lives hanging in the balance. No is often the undoing of a career."
[10:05:07] One of the oft-repeated criticisms of America is that it has too many lawyers. Maybe, but one of the country's great strengths is its legal culture. As I have written before, Alexis de Tocqueville worried that without a class of patriotic and selfless aristocrats America could fall prey to demagogues and populists. But he took great comfort in the fact that, as he put it, America's aristocracy can be found at the bar or on the bench. Tocqueville saw that lawyers with their sense of civic duty created a
form of public accountability that would help preserve the blessings of democracy without allowing its untrammeled vices.
Comey's memoir reveals that America does indeed have a deep state. It is one of law and lawyers. And we should be deeply grateful for it.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
On Monday, Ronan Farrow was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, arguably journalism's highest honor, at the ripe young age of 30. The honor was bestowed upon him of course for his groundbreaking reporting on Harvey Weinstein in "The New Yorker."
Farrow has always been an early bloomer. He went to college at age 11, he accepted at Yale Law School at 16. He deferred to go work at the State Department under the legendary diplomat Richard Holbrooke. He's had jobs at State and the U.N.
Now Farrow has written a book about how the United States relates to the world. For it he interviewed many of the top luminaries in American foreign policy, including every living secretary of State. This is his first TV interview around the new book, "War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and Decline of American Influence."
A pleasure to have you on, Ronan.
FARROW: It's a pleasure to be here, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: At a time when these sensitive negotiations are going on over North Korea, at a time when the Iran deal seems in peril, I think -- what I want to ask you, what is the big problem you see with this sort of short shrift being given to diplomacy with the State Department budget being cut? There are a lot of people who'd say, well, that's fine, the secretary of state can go negotiate, the president can go meet Kim? What is being missed here?
FARROW: America is undergoing a fundamental transformation in how it relates to the rest of the world. We have fewer and fewer negotiators and diplomats and subject matter experts on the kinds of complicated situations like Iran and North Korea that you just mentioned, and more and more soldiers and spies making policy. And in "War on Peace" I talk about the ramifications in a very immediate sense, in conflict after conflict around the world.
ZAKARIA: So I look at -- you know, when I was reading it, what I was thinking of is, with the Korean negotiations there is a very complicated set of background material you need to understand. Those are the kind of details that subject -- you know, area experts understand, assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries understand.
Is it your worry that that's the kind of texture that we're losing?
FARROW: Literally you can see the loss of that texture when you look at the structure of the State Department. So there were two earlier diplomatic runs at a North Korea settlement, under Clinton, where there actually were some concessions made on the North Korea side, then they cheated and it fell through, and late in the game, under George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, and Condoleezza Rice is one of the many secretaries of state to talk about that in this book. We talk at length about Chris Hill, the lead negotiator on those six- party talks at that point.
When he attempted that, we had an entire North Korea unit at the State Department, experts who were steeped in this, and it's an over- simplification to say that was a complete failure. While in the end we didn't get what we wanted there were huge inroads made. They shut down some of their plants for the very first time.
And I think the disappointment of the experts, Fareed, is that each time we make those inroads, a new administration steps away. The Obama administration stepped away. And right now we're at a point where we haven't leveraged any of those gains in the past, and indeed seem to be throwing out all the people who know how to leverage those gains.
ZAKARIA: In fact you point the Trump administration that really has been -- it's not just that they have not filled positions, but they've actually in many cases swept out lots of area experts, lots of substance -- you know, people who understand nuclear weapons and things like that.
FARROW: The State Department is being decimated as we speak. And I tell the stories of a lot of frankly brave diplomats. These are people serving their country being forced out. The top nuclear arms expert at the State Department was fired unceremoniously in the first days of the Trump administration.
[10:10:03] This is at a time when that's one of our greatest challenges in the world. You can see the lack of logic in that.
ZAKARIA: The interviews with the secretaries of state are fascinating. You have Colin Powell, very bluntly, a fellow Republican -- a former Republican secretary of state, saying that Trump is gutting the State Department. Perhaps the most interesting one was Rex Tillerson who gives you the only interview I've seen where he on the record describes his frustrations and essentially why he was eventually fired.
What do you think is the big story? What did you learn from what Rex Tillerson told you?
FARROW: So I think in each of these conversations with all of the living secretaries of state, people will find something surprising, some moment of candor they didn't expect. You mentioned how searing Colin Powell was, saying we're mortgaging our future right now. This is a man who cared deeply about the workforce at the State Department. That was a common sentiment.
You know, George P. Shultz saying you don't have to take a job when he surveys the way Rex Tillerson acted on these orders to gut the State Department. And as you say Rex Tillerson himself really surprisingly candid in his last days in the job.
ZAKARIA: For example, he says he did not want those State Department cuts. He privately argued against them, but he thought maybe his corporate background, once the decision was made he had to be a loyal soldier.
FARROW: He did, although he also said, look, I may have just been too inexperienced. He said when he started defending those deep, deep cuts to the State Department on the Hill, he had only been on the job briefly and he might not have known better. He said, I think with hindsight that maybe he would have done things differently. That seemed to be the suggestion throughout our conversation.
ZAKARIA: He said something very peculiar, that he thought that Congress would increase the State Department's budget even though he was not requesting an increase.
FARROW: Which every other living secretary of state I spoke to found astonishing. That's not how budget advocacy works with the Hill when you were the head of a government agency. But he said he thought going in that you could just ask them for less money and they'd throw more at you, which actually in a bizarre set of circumstances, Fareed, he spent a year with Congress trying to throw money at the State Department and fight this administration and these cuts.
ZAKARIA: What else -- did you think that that people -- you know, with Tillerson, people are trying to figure out, was he, you know, fundamentally a good guy shafted by Trump? Was he the wrong man for the wrong job? What was your takeaway?
FARROW: You know, with those comments he made about the lack of experience, I do think he was somewhat out of his depth despite having this peerless track record as a private sector manager, he seemed unable or unwilling to invest in managing the State Department. He put a lot of blame on the White House. He said the White House was cumbersome and slow, and fought him at every turn as he tried to fill all of these empty roles across the State Department.
You know, there was a fair amount of passing the buck, but ultimately he took on that job. And I think it will stand as one of the most devastating and brief tenures of a secretary of state ever.
ZAKARIA: You clearly are in love with the process of diplomacy. You talk about following Richard Holbrooke around as he was negotiating with various warlords and the Pakistani government. And is it your sense that that kind of thing is just not valued anymore in America?
FARROW: Well, I'd be careful to say, I don't think that this book is in love with diplomacy. I think it views some very real problems in diplomacy with clear eyes. No one is arguing that America's diplomatic and development apparatus is without need for reform. It is a stultifying bureaucracy. I saw it firsthand. It's broken in a lot of ways, but what we are doing is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They are eviscerating the State Department rather than fixing it. ZAKARIA: Stay with us. When we come back, we're going to talk about
something completely different, what you won your Pulitzer Prize for, Harvey Weinstein and Me Too, when we come back.
[10:18:22] ZAKARIA: On October 10th of last year, the "New Yorker" published a 7,000 word article written by my guest Ronan Farrow. It was titled "From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein's Accusers Tell Their Stories." Many more pieces would follow.
This week he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work on Weinstein alongside Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor who won theirs for their work in "New York Times" on the same subject. In the ensuring six months the Me Too movement has exploded in the United States and around the world.
I wanted to explore some of that with Ronan.
What did you discover when you were doing the reporting? What surprised you? What startled you?
FARROW: It was always very clear to me, Fareed, that this was not a story about Harvey Weinstein or a story about Hollywood. This was a story about the abuse of power and the way survivors of sexual violence are silenced and intimidated in this culture. And, you know, those words you described were given not for just this one article about the revelations related to Harvey Weinstein, but for a series of articles by me and a group of other reports who did incredible work exposing those systems, talking about how, if you are that rich and that powerful, you can hire combat-ready spies to follow people using false identities.
You can intimidate and influence the judicial process and the legal process. These are systems that we continue to need to examine in industry after industry and in every walk of life.
ZAKARIA: Do you feel that -- you know, when you say it's about power, it's even -- it seems to me it's about power more than even about sex.
[10:20:03] In other words it is the inequality of the power relation that seems to be at the heart of it, that people almost -- Harvey Weinstein could have hired people to give him massages, people who -- you know, who do that, but he chose to really humiliate these actresses, partly because I think he -- I'm speculating here, but he liked that power differential, if you will.
FARROW: He was in an echelon of powerful American men that can command tremendous resources to silence people. And that extended to the reporters working on this story. You know, many of us were threatened and intimidated in various ways, and I think we've all worked very hard to not become the story, but it is important that people know that in this country, you still see a version of the truth filtered by the most powerful people in this country and media companies aid and abet that. The law aids and abets that at times. Those are real problems.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that we are now in a different place with regard to women in the workplace and their ability to work without having to live under -- you know, some of the kind of things you describe or even the kind of double standards that women have always dealt with in the workplace?
FARROW: I sincere his hope so, Fareed. I think that we have a long way to go. A lot of this story was driven by women who were tremendously brave and put a lot on the line, but also have the benefit of some spotlight, some platform. And in industry after industry these same stories are playing out without the benefit of that spotlight or those marquee names. And, you know, this is happening from the boardroom to the assembly line, and I hope what people take away from this is how far we still have to go, that we can't rest on our laurels on this.
ZAKARIA: Ronan Farrow, a pleasure you have to you on.
FARROW: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS what would Ronald Reagan think of the Republican Party? What would he think of Donald Trump has done to his Republican Party? I will talk to two smart conservatives, Dan Senor and, all about it when we come back.
[10:26:02] ZAKARIA: Ronald Reagan preached free markets, free trade and limited government. He signed the largest amnesty for undocumented immigrants in American history. He talked about America's God-given mission to spread democracy abroad.
Today Donald Trump has a different definition of the Republican Party, and we're going to talk about that with Dan Senor, a former adviser to both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, and Mona Charen, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a columnist.
Mona, what do you think the significance of Paul Ryan resigning is?
MONA CHAREN, SENIOR FELLOW, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Paul Ryan no longer fits in the Donald Trump Republican Party. In the first place, he took seriously the accumulating national debt and attempted to drag his party and the country toward a little bit of fiscal sanity, but under President Trump, who insisted that there were no compromises needed whatsoever, no reforms needed to entitlements, he found that, I suppose, the only Republican reform that he could do was on the tax side, and so the combination of this bloated, enormous budget that they passed on the tax cuts ironically has Paul Ryan, a fiscal hawk, leaving Congress having presided over a trillion dollar.
ZAKARIA: Is that -- he's the second speaker to resign in the last three or four years.
DAN SENOR, FORMER ADVISER, ROMNEY-RYAN CAMPAIGN: Three years. Less than three years. ZAKARIA: Speakers don't generally just leave their job.
SENOR: Right. This is - the speaker of the House is one of the most powerful political elected positions in the world. Members of Congress work their whole lives to be speaker and then they never lever. I mean, think of speakers who leave. Tom Foley lost his seat through election, 2004. That's why he had to leave. You know, Newt Gingrich faced major setbacks in the late '90s. He had to step down. You have Boehner and Ryan leaving basically because the institution has become dysfunctional. It is very hard to lead the Republican House conference. They have --
SENOR: Republicans have a 23-seat majority right now. The Freedom Caucus is 30 seats. So, I mean, you just do the math, it's just -- you know, it is very heart to get much done. And if you look at the average midterm loss of the party in the White House, about 28, 30 seats, you know, it's going to be very hard to have any kind of congressional, you know, governing majority going forward. I think that's one reason Ryan is stepping down --
CHAREN: Could I add another --
ZAKARIA: Do you think the internal polls -- because you see them.
ZAKARIA: Are they showing that the Republican Party faces a big problem? Because in the polls we see, the gap has narrowed. The Democrats are not doing as well as they were.
SENOR: So the generic ballot has come down, it's now Democrats up four, which is down from where it was, and everyone talks about these retirements. We got 42 Republican incumbents retiring, but most of those are safe Republican seats. The Democrats aren't likely to win most of those seats.
I just think what is not quantifiable at this point is the energy on the other side. The only data we have on that are these special elections we've seen so far, and in every one of those special elections, the Democrats are turning out in almost presidential level -- presidential year levels, massive, and the Republicans are not. The Republicans don't seem to have that much to be excited about. And the Democrats are amped up, so I think the generic ballot data -- numbers are important, but I think you've got to look at the enthusiasm on the other side. And I think -- I worry that that's like a freight train.
ZAKARIA: I want to ask you about the set of issue of why Trump's ratings are so high among Republicans and I think you experienced that at CPAC where you gave a speech, and you didn't get into the ideological heresies of Donald Trump.
ZAKARIA: Compared to it. You just talked about character, and you said, how can we celebrate a man who has these many strikes against him in terms of his character? And you got booed. Do you think -- what did that tell you about the Republican Party today?
CHAREN: Well, it was that and there was one other aspect, which was this invitation to Marine Le Pen, who represents the National Front and was an honored guest of a major conservative organization.
ZAKARIA: And the National Front has a history of anti-Semitism and racism.
CHAREN: Exactly, which she has not separated herself from, this Marine Le Pen. All right. So what it says is that the party is becoming -- it's in danger of becoming a cult. A personality cult for Donald Trump.
The conference, a three-day CPAC conference was established to be a cheerleading session for him. There were very few people who were skeptics who were invited. So, that's the danger.
But as we just heard, that is a part of the Republican coalition, but it is also true that suburban, college-educated voters are very dismayed, disheartened, they're not showing up, especially women.
And so, there are many parts of the party, there are many moving parts. And we don't yet know how it will all shake out. And I don't believe that the time has come to give up on the Republican Party entirely and say it's a lost cause, it's become a Trump cult.
I think there are still many, many Republicans who are very - who do not like Trump, preferred him to Hillary, but would love to see a challenger in 2020.
SENOR: What Trump has introduced - I think he's a symptom of it. I don't think he's a catalyst of it - is a level of hyper-populism and nativism on the right that where you conference like it, they think it's OK that Marine Le Pen comes to speak that I think many of us didn't see, didn't anticipate.
So, I think there's a couple things going on. I think traditional Republican ideas still have support among the base of the party. I think we're going to face an entitlement crisis in 10 or 20 years, and I think conservatives will be - even at the grassroots will be supportive of doing something significant, some of the ideas that Paul Ryan had advocated.
But, again, what I didn't foresee was the sort of the social/cultural nastiness, the toxicity.
ZAKARIA: You don't see the Trump takeover of the Republican Party as complete?
SENOR: No, because, historically, the party is defined basically by who the most senior elected official is of that party. And right now, that person is Donald Trump.
And when Donald Trump goes, someone will succeed him. It could be Tom Cotton. It could be Ben Sasse. I could be - there are a bunch of interesting actually young military vets who are running as Republicans in this cycle. Smart, impressive, energetic people.
They sound a lot more like Paul Ryan on many issues, albeit not all, but on many issues than they do like Donald Trump.
One of those people will succeed. Mike Pence, I mean, his own vice president, Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, look at the people who you would see as the bench of the Republican Party. They sound much more like the pre-Trump party than the current Trump party.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating conversation. We'll have you guys back. Thank you so much.
Next on "GPS", Ronan Farrow told us earlier how the "Me Too" movement spread from the United States around the world. We will zero in on India and the reaction to a rape there. It is a chilling story when we come back.
Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to CNN.com/Fareed for a link to my iTunes podcast.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. To many, when India comes to mind, it's for its tinsel, the colorful festivals, the vibrant film industry, or you might think of the economy, among the world's fastest growing, taking 1.3 billion people on a path to modernity.
But over the past week, we have seen a different side of India - darker in every sense. Protests have engulfed the country over a series of recent rapes.
In one particularly horrifying case, investigators said that a girl tending her family's horses was kidnapped and taken to a temple in a place called Kathua in January. There a group of men took turns drugging and raping her, investigators said.
After five days, they strangled her with her own scarf and left her body in the woods. She was 8 years old.
If we could show you her picture, you would see the image of a smiling, clear-eyed child. But she was not just any child. She was a Muslim.
That matters because the overwhelming majority of India, 80 percent, is Hindu. And India's largest minority, about 14 percent of the population, is Muslim.
Tension between the two groups remains a constant. But when leaders encourage harmony, tensions tend to wane. And when they foment hatred, tensions often turn into persecution and violence. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi ascended to power four years ago, tensions have been rising. Newspapers are filled with reports of vigilante gangs, many of them with ties to Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, lynching Muslims and other minorities for supporting slaughtering cows, a crime in most of the country because cows are sacred for Hindus.
What does this have to do with a child's rape? Well, investigators said that the men who attacked the child wanted to expel her nomadic Muslim community from the majority Hindu area.
If true, it would mark a grotesque escalation of a pattern of targeted violence against Muslims.
But here's the really shocking thing. A mob of lawyers and at least two lawmakers from Modi's party came out in support of those accused of the rape and murder earlier this month.
Right-wing Hindu groups in the area allege that the investigators, some of whom are Muslim, were biased, that the charges they filed against the eight accused, now all arrested, were politically motivated and were an invention.
[10:40:10] For days, as outrage mounted, Prime Minister Modi said nothing. When he spoke, his comments were perfunctory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA (through translator): As a society, as a country, we are all ashamed of it. In any part of the country or in any region, incidents like these shake human sensitivities.
I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: What does all this mean? The defense of the accused, like the lynchings themselves, is all part of a political pattern that serves as a message to minorities, says Ashutosh Varshney, a professor of political science at Brown University.
The message, says Varshney, is this. Muslims have been subjected to Hindu majoritarianism. Their rights are secondary and to be decided by the majority.
That message, through Modi's lukewarm condemnation, is now reinforced from the top.
How can such a story be possible in India, the world's largest, diverse democracy. Well, India has made progress and it will make more. Modi was silent about the little girl who was raped and killed, but he has launched an enormous campaign to educate girls.
This is the kind of initiative increasingly seen globally as the only way forward for developing countries. He's also been a good steward of the economy. He is himself hard-working and honest with no taint of corruption around him.
This is the paradox of progress. Look at places like China, Turkey, even the United States. In many of these countries, the economies march forward, administrative reforms proceed, but in social and cultural terms, things are actually more complex.
It is a sobering reminder that, in this arena, as in so many, all good things don't go together.
Up next, after 60 years of people named "Castro" leading Cuba, there's a new president of the revolutionary island. Will US-Cuban relations change for the better? We'll explore when we come back.
[10:46:23] ZAKARIA: Until 1959, Fidel Castro was a revolutionary leading a band of guerillas in a fight again Cuba's leader General Batista. That year, against all odds, Castro and his crew took over Cuba.
And for the last 59 years, someone with the last name of "Castro" has been running the island nation, either Fidel himself or more recently his brother Raul.
But a new era dawned on Thursday when Miguel Diaz-Canel was sworn in as Cuba's new president. Will the change in name at the top alter anything else significant in the nation?
Joining me are two people who know that nation well. Julia Sweig is the author of "Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know" and a research fellow at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. And John Paul Rathbone is the FT's Latin America editor and the author of "Sugar, King of Havana."
Let me ask you, Julia. Is this a symbolic change or is it more than that?
JULIA SWEIG, AUTHOR, "CUBA: WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW": Well, Fareed, clearly, it's a symbolic change, but it has to be more than that.
If we take a look at the goodbye speech that Raul Castro gave on Thursday and then the hello speech, the inaugural address of the new president, Diaz-Canel, what we heard was both continuity and change.
So, of course, symbolic that both Castro brothers, one is no longer with us, the other one has stepped aside - the matter of continuity that was so intensely emphasized, of course, makes the notion of change one of gradualism and one of always invoking the legacy that those two brothers brought to the Cuban revolution and how it will remain present.
ZAKARIA: John, this is happening at the time that the Trump administration is reversing the kind of limited opening to Cuba that the Obama administration made. What's going on on that front and does it matter? JOHN PAUL RATHBONE, "FINANCIAL TIMES" LATIN AMERICAN EDITOR: It's been a partial reversal of the rapprochement that Obama began, as much in rhetoric as anything else.
There have been some concrete measures such as making American visits to Cuba more difficult and a clamp down on the military-owned companies that dominate Cuba's tourism sector.
But a lot it has been more rhetorical than actual and there's also been this curious so-called sonic boom attack, which has affected American diplomats and Canadian diplomats and their families.
And that has been argued for the United States a fig leaf. Certainly, something happened, but it also has been a fig leaf for a gradual ratcheting up of the rhetoric there.
ZAKARIA: Julia, let me ask you about the legacy of the Castros. Is Cuba ready for significant liberalization? Is there a sense in which there were things that couldn't be done while the Castros were alive that not just the Cuban people, but officials are all kind of just waiting to do? That's been often been the case in other authoritarian or Communist regimes. Is that the case here?
SWEIG: No, I think it isn't. Look, Raul began governing Cuba first in 2006 and then formally ruling in 2008. So, we've had ten good years of a reform agenda by Cuban communist revolutionary standards with the beginnings of an opening to the private sector, more foreign investment, more let's call it small-F freedoms. Cubans can now travel freely off the island, open their own business. The state is much less present than it once was.
[10:50:04] But the impulse to look to other transitions in the former communist world or elsewhere I think should be controlled. Cuba is looking for a hybrid version of sort of socialism with prosperity, with pockets of capitalism, with a sovereign foreign policy.
And this notion that a kind of rapid overnight liberalization a la the restructuring we saw after the fall of the Soviet Bloc is really nowhere on the agenda.
ZAKARIA: So, John, what do you think? Looking at it, the "FT" has a very strong economic focus. What do you think Cuba looks like five years from now?
RATHBONE: A poor country, probably, and much the same way as it does now, with hopefully a more mixed economy. Hopefully, more joint ventures from foreign businesses. I'm just thinking from the point of view of Havana.
The one reason why the reforms haven't advanced is because there's a political fallout to liberalizing the economy. It implies necessarily less economic control and political control.
And that was the lesson from Eastern Europe that reforms beget reforms. And once you start down that road, politically speaking, it's a very slippery slope. ZAKARIA: Julia, what is the Cuban attitude towards the United States? Do they want more contact? Do they feel again like this would be a moment post-Castro to normalize relations?
SWEIG: Fareed, I'm glad you asked that, because the dynamic with the United States is relevant to the pace of reform at home.
And when we had the last two years of the Obama administration and the opening of commercial and diplomatic ties, what you also saw was a political case that Raul Castro was making and others internally that Cuba could, in fact, open not rapidly, but at a steady pace without losing its sovereignty and its control over its future.
So, now, what I think we see is still in Cuba, and among the Cuban people, a very positive and natural feeling toward Americans. It is unnatural for us to have had this dissonance for so long.
And so, I think what we are looking out on the Cuban side is sort of a long history of waiting out Washington, but now a kind of social and political attitude, which basically says the door is still open, but with caution.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating problem.
Now, I have two questions I want you to think about. How many books did you read last year? And what percentage of Americans read no books at all in 2017? Ponder both and we'll get you the answers when we come back.
ZAKARIA: If there is something I love and actually try to sell on this show, it is books. I like talking to authors about their ideas. I try to always be reading a book or two, which of course leads to my book of the week every week, but today some 750 million adults around the world cannot read or write, according to UNESCO. That's a big number.
The good news is that adult literacy rates are on the rise globally, increasing by an average of 5 percent per decade since 1950.
Tomorrow is World Book Day. It brings me to my question. What percent of American adults say they have not read a book or even part of a book in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center?
Four percent? 14 percent? 24 percent? Or 54 percent?
Before I tell you the correct answer, let me recommend a book. This week, it's a classic. Mortimer Adler's "How to Read a Book."
This 1940 extended essay explains not just why we should read books, but how we should read them. It will help you get the most out of books, but also make you understand how to learn, comprehend and analyze any written material. It's masterfully done.
The book was revised with Charles Van Doren of "Quiz Show" fame. The correct answer to the GPS challenge question is, C. Roughly a quarter of American adults say they have not read a whole book or even part of a book in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center.
That goes for books in print, in electronic form and even audio form. This means 60 million people in America did not curl up with a novel, read through a chapter or click play on a single audiobook in 2017.
Pew found that certainly demographic traits correlated with a lack of book-reading. Americans who never attended college were five times as likely to report not reading than college graduates.
People with annual incomes household incomes of lower than 30,000 were nearly three times less likely to have read a book than those living in the most affluent households.
Hispanic adults are roughly twice as likely as whites to be non- readers, though US-born Hispanics read at the same rate as whites.
Interestingly, it seems that Rural America and urban America, for all their cultural and political differences, read at about the same rate. About one-fourth of rural America and the same fraction of urban Americans didn't read a book in 2017.
As the president, who is not known to be a big reader himself, might say, sad!
But while some Americans choose not to read books, we must remember, others still struggling to try to. In fact, 18 percent of American adults perform at or below the lowest level on the literacy scale used by the US Department of Education, meaning they would struggle to read and comprehend a whole book.
Please donate to your favorite local or national literacy organization on World Book Day and help improve that number. My favorite here in New York is Literacy Partners. Go to CNN.com/Fareed for a link to it and some nationwide institutions, including the late former first lady's organization, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.