Return to Transcripts main page
FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Discussion of Trump Tariffs; Relations Between Men and Women Explored; Interview with Susan Rice; Interview with David Miliband. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired June 17, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:22] FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria, coming to you today from London.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, the discordant end to the G7 Summit. And the smiles, handshakes and salutes in Singapore.
Why do America's historic enemies seem to be getting better treatment than its longstanding allies?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're prepared to start a new history.
ZAKARIA: I will talk to President Obama's National Security adviser, Susan Rice, about this role reversal.
Then what do the allies on this side of the pond think of the G7 dust- up and the Trump tariffs. I'll speak with Britain's former Foreign minister David Miliband.
Also I'll tell you about the biggest corruption scandal maybe in the history of the world. It's called "Operation Car Wash." You will not believe the scale and the people who have been brought down.
Finally, a lighter note. The great Joanna Kohls on love in the digital age and the era of Me Too.
ZAKARIA: But first he's my take.
Lee Kuan Yew often said to me, America will remain the world's dominant power in the 21st century only if it is the dominant Pacific power.
Lee, the founder of modern Singapore and one of the smartest strategic minds I have ever met, spoke about this issue late in life as he worried about the breakdown of the stability that had allowed for the extraordinary global growth of the last half-century. The key, he was certain, was deep American engagement in Asia, which was quickly becoming the center of global economics and power.
Alas, Donald Trump appears to be doing everything he can to violate Lee's dictum. The media got the Singapore summit wrong. The real headline should have been, U.S. weakens its 70-year alliance with South Korea. The most striking elements of Trump's initiative were not simply that he lavished praise on North Korea's dictator Kim Jong- un but that he announced the cancellation of military exercises with South Korea, adopting North Korea's own rhetoric by calling them provocative.
The president must have missed his briefing. In fact, it is North Korea that provokes and threatens South Korea as it has done since it first invaded the South in 1950. North Korea is believed to have around a million active duty troops, almost double the South and has constructed perhaps as many as 20 tunnels to mount a surprise invasion.
It also has more than 6,000 pieces of artillery that can reach South Korea, including some whose range is so long that 32.5 million people are in danger. More than half the country's population according to a study by the Rand Corporation.
Rand cites a 2006 the Defense Department estimating that in the event of war, using simply artillery, North Korea would kill 250,000 people in Seoul alone. Of course, North Korea now also has up to 60 nuclear bombs complete with the missiles that could potentially deliver them to the South.
South Korea's war games with the United States, as President Trump called them, are not war games but a necessary set of defensive exercises undertaken in the shadow of an aggressive adversary. Even worse, Trump signaled that he would like to end the American troop presence in South Korea. He is wrong that this would save money unless he plans to demobilize those troops since South Korea covers almost half the cost of U.S. troops stationed there.
But that is beside the point. Through bitter experience, the United States has found it's much better to have troops ready, battle trained and with knowledge of the local geography, rather than keeping them all in the U.S. only to be sent abroad when trouble breaks out.
A few commentators have pointed out that the big winner of the Singapore summit was the great China. That's exactly right. Consider what China has always wanted, the stabilization and security of North Korea and the removal of American troops from Asia especially from the mainland.
For China, the Trump administration has been the gift that keeps on giving. Even when Trump confronts China as he has on trade now, he has totally undermined his own efforts by alienating America's allies in Europe and Japan rather than having them join together to put collective pressure on China.
[10:05:08] And don't forget, Trump began his term in office by pulling out of the Transpacific Partnership, which was created specifically to stand as an alternative to the Chinese market and a bulwark against Chinese power. Now the rules of the road are being written in Asia and they are being written in Mandarin.
Lee Kuan Yew was right. The long game for the United States over the next few decades is how to handle the rise of China. And right now we are quitting the field.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my column my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
There is so much to talk about so let's get right to it with my guest today. Susan Rice was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for the first Obama term and part of the second until she became the president's National Security adviser.
Welcome back to the show, Ambassador Rice.
SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Great to be with you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: So President Trump now says that there is no nuclear threat from North Korea. Do you feel that way?
RICE: Fareed, obviously, that's a laughable statement, except that it's not funny because the situation is so serious. No, that is a blatantly false statement. And in fact, the threat from North Korea remains as clear and present today as it did a week ago.
It's quite disturbing to me that the president would continue to repeat the mantra that the nuclear threat is eliminated when, in fact, we haven't even begun serious substantive negotiations. All he got out of the summit meeting, which was better than no summit meeting in the sense that now we are talking to one another and diplomacy has potential, was in fact a very, very, very vague commitment that North Korea would take steps towards complete denuclearization.
Not even commit to complete denuclearization, which as you know is a far cry from even the commitments that have been made twice in the past. So we have a long way to go. A dialogue has begun. But the threat remains the same. And in fact, Fareed, in the event that this diplomacy were to break down and the two leaders with very vast egos find their hopes dashed, I think the potential for the risk of conflict goes up.
ZAKARIA: What would you say, though, to people, like the president -- I think one of his tweets and certainly supporters said, look, nobody else was able to do this. I'm not quite sure what the "do this" is, but he did it. And he met with Kim Jong-un and he's broken the ice and he's gotten the process going. And, you know, the establishment doesn't get it.
RICE: Well, certainly it's the first head of state meeting between two sitting heads of state of North Korea and the United States. And that is, in fact, unprecedented. And if it leads to a verifiable, irreversible, commitment to complete denuclearization, that is then verified and validated as having been fully implemented, then Donald Trump truly will have done something that hasn't been done before.
Thus far, what he has accomplished in substance, apart from the fact of the meeting, is a very vague statement that falls far short of previous commitments that North Korea has made. It makes no mention of verifiable denuclearization, makes no mention of irreversible. And the reason why these words are important is because in the past, as you know, they have interpreted complete denuclearization to mean something very different than we mean it.
So the fact is, we have very vague commitments and no guarantee that they will lead to anything more substantive than in the past. But we have an opening. And we ought to pursue that opening. But now is the time for very concrete, rigorous diplomacy led by experts that get into the very complicated details and figure out if, in fact, we have a substantive basis on which to make progress.
ZAKARIA: Do you think Kim Jong-un was the better deal maker, negotiator at the summit?
RICE: I'm afraid the answer to that is yes. Again, he committed to less than his father and grandfather. He got an equally broad security commitment from the United States, very vague. But what he really got was the opportunity for the first time to be on the international stage as an equal with the president of the United States and all the trappings and flags designed to make him look like an equal.
[10:10:13] Something his father and grandfather had sought for years to achieve and never did. And more seriously, what he got was the president's unilateral commitment to end what the president called war games with our South Korean allies on the peninsula.
The fact remains that this was a bigger success by most objective measures for North Korea than it was for the United States. I recognize that you wouldn't see it that way if you were simply to listen to President Trump's spin on all of this. But in substance I think that's a fair assessment.
ZAKARIA: President Trump says that your boss, Barack Obama, was willing to go to war with North Korea. Do you have a sense as to what he is referring to?
RICE: I really don't. I don't know what he is referring to. I spent eight years closely involved in the national security decision making of the Obama administration. And while there were moments when North and South Korea came to heightened tensions, there was never a moment when the United States and North Korea were on the brink of war.
ZAKARIA: Ambassador Rice, stay with us.
When we come back, we're going to talk about President Trump and trade wars. China said in an angry statement on Friday that the United States had regrettably launched a trade war against it.
Is that good policy or bad policy? I'll ask Susan Rice when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[10:16:03] ZAKARIA: On Friday morning, the White House announced 25 percent tariffs on some $50 billion of Chinese products. The response from Beijing was fast and furious. The Commerce Ministry released a statement saying America had launched a trade war, that China would retaliate and that all economic and trade agreements reached by previous negotiations will be nullified.
Is this bluster or is it the start of a trade war?
President Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice joins me again.
So, Susan, what do you make of this? Is it -- you know, $50 billion compared to U.S.-China trade is not that large a number. What is going on in your view?
RICE: I think this is the start of a tit-for-tat economic conflict that could escalate well beyond $50 billion on each side. What is unfortunate is the president gave up a very strong card he had in his hand with respect to ZTE. And ZTE's theft of U.S. intellectual property and its violation of sanctions. And now got seemingly nothing in return for that concession and in the imposition of now these new tariffs on the Chinese and the retaliation by the Chinese, we are walking down a potentially quite slippery slope.
We have very legitimate reasons to be concerned about China's trade practices, its theft of intellectual property among many other things. But the way to resolve this is not at the expense of American workers and manufacturers and farmers, by getting into a trade war that has potential real global ramifications. At the same time as we are going down the same foolish path, much more foolish, with our closest allies in Europe as well as with Canada and Mexico.
It's very hard to see how we advance jobs and growth in the United States in the context of what has the potential to become a multi- front global trade war.
ZAKARIA: Again, what I think Trump would say is, look, nobody else was doing this. I'm looking out for American manufacturers. When their goods get to China, they have very large tariffs on them. I'm insisting that if that's the case, we're going to reciprocate. What's wrong with that thesis?
RICE: Well, it's factually dubious because of course it depends on the products, depends on the nature of the sector and the industry. And there are many ways in which the United States and our workers benefit from trade with China, as well as have suffered some costs and consequences.
ZAKARIA: So when you watch President Trump, whether in North Korea, in Singapore with North Korea, whether with China, what is the style that emerges? I mean, you've sat in the Oval Office, watched presidents make decisions. What do you think is going on?
RICE: I think we have a leader in the president who plays his hand based on instinct, is more interested in form than substance, is really not interested in spending the time and effort to prepare and get into the details of an issue even if he is, in fact, sitting across the table from an important adversary like North Korea or a very difficult competitor like China. And I think he is making decisions on the fly and by gut that don't take into account our historic relationships, our strategic interests, our values and the implications of his actions for America's moral and strategic leadership. This past week was an extraordinary combination of contrasts.
[10:20:04] He goes to the G7 where our closest allies are assembled and insults the host and disrespects each of our G7 partners who are our closest democratic allies with whom we have very important economic and strategic ties. And then he goes to Singapore and praises and embraces the world's -- arguably the world's most vicious dictator and greatest human rights abuser, heaps praise on him, showers him with affection and comes back and declares victory.
We are in a world, Fareed, where it seems that up is down and black is white, and, you know, we are seeing the whim of a president impact potentially and perhaps permanently America's leadership role in the world, our network of global alliances which have kept us safe and strong. And we are on the brink, potentially, of very serious economic conflict both with our allies and our major competitors.
ZAKARIA: Ambassador Rice, always a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on.
RICE: Good to be with you. Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, it may be the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the world. And my guess is you haven't heard of it. It has cost billions of dollars, brought down leaders across an entire continent. I will explain when we come back.
[10:25:40] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment.
In many capital cities you'll hear tales of shady deals and conflicts of interest perhaps calls to drain the swamp. Let me tell you a story of what many believe to be the biggest corruption scandal ever anywhere in the world.
This bribery and money laundering scheme spread throughout Latin America but the epicenter is in Brazil and it has already cost that country billions of dollars. In just one part of the sprawling scheme, the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht was found to have paid $788 million in bribes to various officials and was fined $3.5 billion in 2016.
According to the "Globe and Mail," five former Brazilian presidents, nearly one out of three cabinet ministers and almost one out of three senators have been indicted or investigated. It toppled the president of Peru, landed Ecuador's vice president in jail, and led to the impeachment of the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. Sergio Moro, a federal judge in Brazil, presided over much of the investigation.
So how did they do it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGIO MORO, BRAZILIAN JUDGE: To be honest, the investigation started very small. It was investigation about a professional money laundering. But following the money, the investigation grew and wow, for all of us, police officers, prosecutors, judge, not only me but the other judge involved in the case, for all of us it was a huge surprise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: It all began in the capital city of Brasilia in the most mundane of places, a gas station that had once housed a car wash. In what came to be known as "Operation Car Wash," the police tapped the phones of a money transfer business housed there and in 2012, they heard the voice of Alberto Youssef, an infamous money launderer the "New York Times" reported. Anyone linked to him immediately came under suspicion.
In 2014, police arrested Youssef and Paulo Roberto Costa, a former executive of Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras. Youssef had given the executive a rather conspicuous gift. A Range Rover worth more than $100,000.
Now this is where Judge Moro was key. He kept them in jail before their trials, something nearly unheard of for Brazil's rich and powerful. Then he used their detentions to employ another relatively new legal innovation in Brazil, plea deals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORO: They are both criminals. They decide to cooperate with the prosecutors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: That was the turning point. In the end, the investigation uncovered a cartel of at least 16 Brazilian companies that rigged the bidding on Petrobras contracts, according to "The New York Times." They created the illusion of competition, but decided between themselves who got the contracts which were wildly inflated in price.
Petrobras officials received a cut of those inflated contracts, much of that money was then diverted to politicians and political parties. It was all a game and the players robbed the public of billions, literally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORO: We have high politician, very powerful politicians, very powerful businessmen who unfortunately committed bribery crimes and money laundering. And there is no excuse for that. And they have to pay the price for their wrongdoing. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: For corrupt officials and businessmen, it was cooperate or perish. Scores chose to cooperate. Revelations in the press read like something out of a detective novel. Payments were made in fine wines and sports cars, yachts and helicopters. Police snatched so much art they had to put it in a museum.
Then at the end of 2015, a sitting senator was arrested for obstruction of justice. He pointed his finger at a political untouchable. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former president, the leftist lion, the man President Obama once called the most popular politician in the world. Lula stood accused of masterminding the scheme.
Moro set his sights on Lula and the two battled it out in the courtroom and in the press. In 2017, the unthinkable happened. Moro convicted Lula of corruption in one of several cases against him. In April, amid of throng of supporters, Lula who says he is innocent surrendered to serve his 12-year sentence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORO: What was very important in Brazil is that we get -- we got a lot of support and we still have a lot of support from Brazilian public opinion.
ZAKARIA: Over the course of the investigation, Moro became a hero. And millions came out into the streets in support of the investigators and to protest official corruption.
The story is not over. The Petrobras scandal has led to discoveries about other bribery schemes. One of those led to charges of corruption against the sitting president of Brazil, Michel Temer, who has evaded trial.
Moro's critics say this investigation was bad for Brazil. It led to tens of thousands of lost jobs from abanonded Petrobras contracts. It sullied Brazil's name, they said, and set the country up for years of political volatility and economic uncertainty.
Moro doesn't see it that way. In an interview to Bloomberg, he said simply, "Would it have been better to leave Richard Nixon at the presidency?"
MORO: By one side you can say that all these cases of corruption, they are shameful. But there's no shameful on the enforcement of the law. So Brazil is doing what is necessary to be done. It's a great achievement for Brazilian democracy.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," after Donald Trump's performance at the G7 and the introduction of his tough tariffs, America's allies are upset. Britain's former foreign secretary, David Miliband, joins me here in London to tell me the view from this side of the pond. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAKARIA: Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said in a speech this week that he is no longer certain that the United States is an ally in the fight for multilateralism and a rules-based world. Indeed, he said, "This uncertainty would probably last long after Trump is no longer president."
Maas' boss, Chancellor Angela Merkel, told German TV that she found Trump's actions at the G7 "sobering and a bit depressing."
The Germans aren't the only ones depressed. I've been in London this week and have heard many echoes here of Merkel's words.
Joining me now to discuss is Britain's former foreign secretary David Miliband. He is now the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.
DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY OF GREAT BRITAIN: Thank you, Fareed. Good to be here.
ZAKARIA: You gave a speech on the anniversary -- one of the anniversaries of the Marshall Plan recently. And you asked the fundamental question, I think, that the G7 summit raises, that some of Donald Trump's rhetoric raises and that many people in Europe are wondering, which is, is the Transatlantic alliance over?
And it's -- you know, it's a question that I think is worth pondering because this was an alliance that was created to fight the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is long dead. Do you think that there's a danger that it just atrophies?
MILIBAND: Well, I think it's not yet dead and it mustn't be allowed to die because the trans-Atlantic alliance wasn't only founded to oppose the Soviet Union. Actually, the origins of the trans-Atlantic alliance are in the Atlantic charter signed by Churchill and Roosevelt four months before the U.S. entered the Second World War. And it was a charter not to win the war; it was a charter for post-Second-World-War peace.
ZAKARIA: To imagine a new world order, as it were?
MILIBAND: And more, it determined to learn the lessons of the period after World War I. It determined to say that states need international institutions that mediate disputes; international institutions that foster cooperation, rather than competition, and pre-empt armed conflict rather than allowing it to fester.
ZAKARIA: So how damaging do you think -- I mean, you have been in these situations. The United States and Europe have squabbled in the past. How -- how damaging is...
MILIBAND: Well, I think we don't yet know if this is a squall or climate change. And that's the fundamental issue here. President Trump clearly is bringing a new level of focus to what he perceives to be the profit-and-loss account of American engagement internationally.
America is the global anchor of the system, not just as a selfless act in the interest of others; it's also created markets that Americans benefit from. President Trump wants to change the cost-benefit analysis. That seems to me to be legitimate and reasonable. You can argue about the way in which he has done it, but every country wants to get the best out of its international engagement.
However, international engagement is not a zero-sum game. What the post-War period proves, what the trans-Atlantic alliance proves is that you can have a positive-sum game, a win-win. And that's what's at issue here. That's why Europeans are so concerned. And that's why you've got this global conversation now about what kind of international order are we going to have.
ZAKARIA: On the trade issue, do you think that it's fair? He -- he singles out Canada and Europe, partly because, of course, these are the United States' biggest trading partners. And so that's where...
MILIBAND: Canada actually has a trade deficit with the United States, when you look at it in the round. I think you've written about this.
MILIBAND: And, obviously, NAFTA has a particular -- tackles a pinch point for President Trump. He's particularly vexed about that. He said he's sick of seeing Mercedes being driven up and down Fifth Avenue, so that's the German focus.
I mean, ironically, of course, Germany produces cars in the United States. It doesn't just export them from Germany to the U.S. And trade is the tip of the iceberg here. Because, of course, it's linked to wider questions about whether or not we want countries that share values to be cooperating together or whether it's a free-for-all in which deals are made bilaterally around the world irrespective of the value base of the different countries.
For Europeans, there is a real sense that they have to hang together, because the danger is that, when they're separated, they're gonna be weak; when they're weak, they're gonna be taken advantage of.
ZAKARIA: What do you think European elites, you know, are going to do about this?
You have seen Merkel's reaction, the foreign ministers. They seem to view this as a pretty structural change in the Atlantic alliance. They think that part of what's happening here is it's alienating European public opinion to the extent that it's not going to be as easy to cooperate with the United States in the future.
MILIBAND: Well, here's the irony. President Trump's attacks on the existing order may well lead Europeans to work more closely together. It may foster greater European unity. Of course, the Brexit debacle undermines that. But you are certainly seeing a concerted attempt by the European elites that you refer to, to work together. Equally, there is a scenario where you get more of the Hungary-Poland-
Italy situation chipping away at European unity. And we know the costs in Europe when Europeans are divided. That vision of a Europe united whole and free is under siege and, I think it's fair to say, as never before.
ZAKARIA: Is President Trump viewed in Europe as negatively as, you know, some of the elite media portray him? Or is it fair to say that, for the populists in Europe, maybe, he is the role model?
MILIBAND: I think that you've got to be careful that different European countries have different views. Certainly, in Germany, in the U.K., there's a very strong counter-reaction. Equally, I think it's important not to miss that President Trump is touching on some very deep concerns that are felt in Europe as well as in the U.S. The notion that the middle class is shrinking is a danger in Europe as well as in the U.S. It's fostering populism. It needs some new answers.
ZAKARIA: So, David, when you look at the situation now, do you think of your role as foreign minister under Gordon Brown, a minister under...
MILIBAND: Happy days.
ZAKARIA: ... under Tony Blair, do you think that was, sort of, the last gasp of this pro-Western, internationalist, globalist order, and that we're going to be spending decades dealing with populism, nationalism, protectionism?
I mean, are we -- or is this a bump on...
MILIBAND: I mean, obviously, I hope not. But the financial crisis and its aftermath clearly marks a new phase in the introspection within the West, its relative weight in the wider world, and its ability to think strategically and long-term.
Look, what's the big challenge at the moment? People look and they see China with the One Belt, One Road, and they see grand strategy of a long-term nature. They look at the West and they see short-termism. That's the exact obverse of where we were at the end of the Second World War when George Marshall launched the Marshall Plan as an act not of hegemony, not an act of creating dependence, but an act of creating mutual support, structures for mutual support. And that was the genius of that period and that's what we need to work on again, not just across the Atlantic but globally. Because the truth is, refugee flows, climate change, cyber security -- those are global public goods that need to be nurtured internationally, not just domestically.
ZAKARIA: David Miliband, thank you as always.
Up next, what happens when technology invades our most personal connections? Texting and sexting, Tinder and Bumble. Hearst's chief content officer, the great Joanna Coles, on Love Version 2.0.
ZAKARIA: 2017 was the year of women. They fought against injustice in the women's march in January. They fought back against the abuse of men in the #metoo movement. They won a great number of elections in November. And "The Silence Breakers" were Time magazine's people of the year last December.
So what is the state of relations between men and women today? Will all this turmoil lead to better and more equal ties or to suspicion and tension?
There are few people better placed to answer that question than my next guest. Joanna Coles was a brilliant, hard-charging reporter for years. Then she became a brilliant hard-charging editor for titles like Marie Claire and Cosmo. She's now the chief content officer at Hearst and the author of a new book, "Love Rules."
So, Joanna, you have worked your way through, you know...
JOANNA COLES, AUTHOR: Hard-charged my way.
ZAKARIA: ... a very, very difficult environment. What's your reaction to the #metoo movement, to all this stuff swirling around?
COLES: Well, I'm thrilled by the #metoo movement. I think it's fantastic that women have been able to share their stories and realize this is a systemic problem in our -- in our workforces. But what I don't want people to lose sight of is the fact that we all have to get on together. We all want to fall in love because that's the stuff of life. It's what excites us. What we don't want is abuse of power at the heart of that and lots of, you know, unconsensual sex, which is very unappealing to everybody.
ZAKARIA: And, as you say, the key, it seems to me, is power. That is, you cannot in any way use your power to force a relationship or...
COLES: Well, the key is you can't abuse power. I think Google has now introduced a rule that says you can invite a colleague out once on a date and that's enough.
And, listen, relationships are complicated, aren't they? But, clearly, we need enforcement. We need to hold people to account. And you're not able, anymore, I think, to abuse your power. It's not OK.
ZAKARIA: And you talk a lot in the book about this -- this other thing that has happened, which has in some ways replaced, maybe, the -- you know, so much of the, kind of, socializing through the workplace, which is apps. You know, all these various apps, Tinder being probably the most famous, or Match.com. And I'm wondering what you make of this world. Is it a good thing that we now seem to be searching for love and relationships and hookups through an app? COLES: Well, I'm very pro-dating-app. Because they have the ability
to connect you to people you wouldn't otherwise meet. So from that point of view, they're fantastic. And if you look at wedding announcements now, you see that a quarter of people are actually meeting and getting married from someone they've met on an app. So they're clearly changing the way we communicate. But you have to take care with them.
ZAKARIA: You know, it does seem to be a very important transition. You know, there's this article in, I think it was New York magazine, which pointed out that the whole downtown bar scene has been killed by these apps. Because, after all, what was the point of a bar? People would go to a bar and -- or have drinks. For many people, the idea was to hook up or meet somebody. Well, there's now this much more efficient thing. You can sit at home; you can swipe, swipe, swipe. It feels like you're, sort of, doing something digitally and efficiently that was once done in this more analog, you know, laborious, inefficient way. But there was some charm to the inefficient, analog way of doing things.
COLES: Well, there was charm and there was also frustration. I mean, I think the feeling is now people can be much more targeted with what they're looking for. And there's a much bigger sweep of people through which to, sort of, go.
ZAKARIA: Do we have a better self that we can -- we can project through texting than we really -- than we really are?
COLES: Well, I quote the cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken in the book, who is incredibly insightful about what actually happens in a computer-mediated environment when you're communicating with a stranger. And basically there are four of you in the room, the two online selves that you are perfecting, then the two real selves. And of course the gaps in the knowledge about person -- about the person you are talking to, you fill in with positive attributes. It's actually what you do. So you create a false persona and then, when you meet them in real life, you're often, like, "Who is this person?"
ZAKARIA: Do you think all this is creating loneliness?
Because you think about the amount of time we're now spending digitally, with shopping, surfing, watching, now dating. This is all essentially happening in isolation in your room in front of a -- a lit screen.
COLES: Well, it's a great question. The British government just appointed their first ever loneliness minister, which tells you that they think it's an epidemic in Britain. And I think what we're doing is figuring out how to work with our devices. It's not zero-sum. We're never going to put them down all together. They're not quite the little boxes of promise that we thought they were going to be.
And my concern is that people have lost the ability to communicate in person, eye contact. We know Millennials would rather shoot themselves in the head than pick up a telephone because they hate talking on the phone. Because it's awkward and difficult and there are sorts of gaps in the conversation; you're not sure if the person is still there; it's, sort of, weird; much easier to do it by texting.
ZAKARIA: They use the phone for everything other than as a phone, in other words?
COLES: They do. They never, ever talk on the phone. And as a result, we've got a whole generation that don't know how to do it, don't know how to talk to each other and waste an inordinate amount of time texting back and forth, even to arrange a date.
But I think there is a sense of isolationism and also people becoming voyeurs of other people's lives, on these devices, through social media, and they're not being a participant in their own life. ZAKARIA: Joanna Coles, pleasure to have you on.
COLES: Thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: We will be back in a moment.
ZAKARIA: Italy's new populist government came under fire this week for turning away the Aquarius, a vessel carrying more than 600 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya. But another freshly-minted government agreed to take them in, and it brings me to my question. What country agreed to take in the Aquarius migrants after they were shunned by Italy: Spain, France, Greece or Croatia? Stay tuned. We'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is David Christian's "The Origin Story." I first came across David Christian because I would work out to his fantastic lectures on big history. Yes, I know, very nerdy behavior. This is the book version. Basically, it is the history of the universe from the Big Bang to now in a few 100 pages. If you read one book this year, make it this one. It is the most powerful example of interdisciplinary scholarship that I know of.
The answer to the "GPS" challenge question is A. Spain's new left-wing government agreed to give safe harbor to at the Aquarius and to take in the more than 600 migrants rescued by the vessel. The Spanish foreign minister told The Guardian he hoped the move would help steer the E.U. toward treating migration as a shared problem. That's probably music to the ears of Italy's anti-immigration populists. According to the International Organization for Migration, 120,000 migrants made landfall in Italy last year, compared to just 22,000 in Spain.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.