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tv   Fareed Zakaria GPS  CNN  December 12, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PST

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this is gps, the global public square. welcome to all of you if the use and around the world. i'm fareed zakaria coming to you live from new york. today on the program, russia, china, iran, president biden's biggest foreign policy headaches are only getting bigger. >> democracy needs champions. >> putin puts forth red lines on ukraine. beijing reacts angrily to america's diplomatic boycott of the olympics.
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and washington and tehran seem far from the deal. i will talk to anne applebaum and ian bremmer all about it. then, merkel's era ended with a song. ♪ ♪ >> and now the scholz era has begun. what to expect from europe's most richest and powerful nation? i'll ask an expert. also, syria descends into a narco state as "the new york times" reports its top export now is illegal amphetamines. i will talk to one of the reporters about that harrowing story. finally, does the nobel peace prize need a rethink? i'll explore. first, here's "my take." in america we tend to listen with rapt attention to the
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wisdom of people who have succeeded in the private sector. if they made billions, we think surely they must have profound insights into the world. and when the person speaking is obviously brilliant, this adds to our veneration. so when somebody as staggeringly rich and staggeringly intelligent as elon musk talks, people listen. what came out of elon musk's mouth this week was ill-informed comments about president biden's spending plans, saying it would be better if the bill doesn't pass because our spending is so far in excess of revenue, it's insane. seemingly selfless, he didn't want anything for himself or his company's flagship tesla -- >> i'm literally saying get rid of all subsidies. >> some of this might be sour
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grapes. tesla outgrew the federal government's tax credit on electronic vehicles a long time ago. the federal government provides a $7,500 tax credit for electronic vehicles, but they expire once the manufacturer has sold 200,000 of them, a mark tesla crossed in 2018. in addition, the biden bill adds $4,500 more in credits per car if the manufacturer uses unionized labor and tesla does not. as for charging stations, one of tesla's key advantages is it already owns and operates thousands of them. federal subsidies in the infrastructure bill that recently passed would simply erode that advantage by building new ones for all electric cars. it is bizarre and ironic that elon musk should be the tech billionaire who solves government spending. three of musk's endeavor, tesla, spacex and solar city would probably not even exist if not for federal support.
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tesla owners, like me by the way, have for many years received general tax incentives and credits from the federal and many state governments. in 2010 after a global recession, when tesla was the fraction of the size it is now, the company got a $465 million loan from the department of energy, which gave it a desperately needed shot in the arm. the state of nevada gave tesla a $1.25 billion tax incentive package to build a battery factory there. solar city benefited from all kinds of subsidies and tax credits that incentivized the production and installation of solar panels. >> and liftoff. >> and spacex's largest customers, of course, are federal government agencies from nasa to the department of defense. musk defends himself by saying he's in favor of getting rid of all subsidies because he wants those for oil and gas eliminated as well. oil and gas subsidies should be pared back but there are not as many as people seem to think.
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a 2018 study found in fiscal year 2016 the renewable energy industry received almost half of all federal energy subsidies while generating just only 1/8 of the energy produced in the united states. this is as it should be. green energy is the future after all. let's be clear, if all subsidies were eliminated, it is green energy that would suffer the most. musk's comments on the budget were also disappointing. they seemed to parrot conventional wisdom about budget deficits that has not been vindicated by evidence. over the past 30 years, governments like america and japan have been able to run massive deficits and yet interest rates have overall trended way down. even today rates remain low despite the surge in inflation. does the market understand something we don't? infrastructure spending is essential and there's really no serious argument against it when the cost of borrowing for the
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federal government is essentially zero. musk admitted that america needs better airports and roads and better mechanisms to ease traffic in cities, but he seems to allow for the mechanism that's would tackle these problems. the government's investment in green energy is very similar what it did in the 1950s with computer chips, paying much more for a new technology so the price could later come down for everyone. it resembles the investments government made in the 1960s to develop arpanet, the first rough development of the internet and later the global positioning system. these policies, incidentally, created the digital infrastructure which made possible companies like paypal, the original source of elon musk's billions. go to for a link to my "washington post" column this week. and let's get started.
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♪ ♪ the g7 foreign ministers met today in liverpool and issued a statement condemning russia's military buildup and aggressive rhetoric towards ukraine. iran and china were also atop of the agenda. the group of seven, comprised of the uk, u.s., japan, germany, france and italy. today's panel is anne applebaum and ian bremer. an is a pulitzer prize winning historian whose latest book is "twilight of democracy." and ian is the founder of the global risk consultancy. anne, this is a part of america you know very, very well. your book about russia "the gulag" won the pulitzer prize. what is vladimir putin up to? does he intend to invade ukraine?
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and if not, what's the game plan? >> so sadly, i don't have any profound insight into putin's brain, and i cannot predict what will happen. if you look at the situation rationally, a russian invasion of ukraine would be insane. putin my get to kiev quickly but then what? he would occupy a country that doesn't want to be occupied indefinitely, he would live with a guerrilla war and violence for many years. i talked to several people in russia who don't even believe something like that would even be popular in russia .
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on monday the united states said it would not send any diplomats or any other officials to the beijing winter olympics set to begin february 4th. the next day, australia, united kingdom and canada all followed suit. china in turn warned countries would pay a price for their boycotts. what does all of this mean? joining me again, anne applebaum and ian bremmer. ian, this move with china does seem to be part of a kind of
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expression of the balancing act that the united states is now trying to play with china. on the one hand, athletes are participating, in a sense the united states is participating, but there won't be any government officials there. it feels like an effort to metaphorically have the same policy towards china, which is some deterrence, some toughness but at the same time recognizing the reality it's a big trading partner. >> and recognition that biden loses votes at home and he's seen too soft on china, like they did in 2020 as a consequence of the whole biden asia trope. so they did move ahead with a diplomatic boycott. but, frankly, it's not just that the athletes are still going. there's no economic going or sponsors to pull out of the olympics. we've seen a number of different signs, small but matter, that show the american and chinese are trying to find ways to
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cooperate when it's clearly in the company's best national interest. here the announcement to start working together in the cop26 on climate. also the united states reached out directly to the chinese and secured a level of cooperation when both countries released oil from the strategic reserves at the same time. why? prices are high and there are challenges at home in dealing with inflation. so on balance, i agree it's a balancing act, but not just international, but also domestic politics. >> anne, you've written an article about the autocracies in "the atlantic." one point you make, and this is probably more true of russia but also china, but that they're increasingly connecting with one another. do you think there's going to be
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a common front, if it were not quite a communist international being like the old days, but some type of communist approach taken by the russians, chinese, russians? >> there already is and china is very much a part of it. but it's not at all like the old chinese internationals. there's no link between china and iran and venezuela and belarus. these are different countries and completely different ruling philosophies, at least in theory. in practice, they all now operate in many similar ways. so the state companies, quasi-state, quasi-private companies and one company that now invests in quasi-state and quasi-private companies. in others the police help and they learn from one another how to do propaganda, how to do disinformation and what kind of tactics work the best. china sells an enormous amount of surveillance equipment all around the world, cuba, venezuela, many, many
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opportunities. so they have ways of working together, of getting around sanctions, pushing back against, not just against western diplomacy, but against western ideas. they have a common -- one common thing, which they all fear the language of democracy and they fear the democracy movements inside their own countries, which are larger in some places than others, but they're enough of a problem for them to care about them. so it's really in their interest as a group, even though they don't have much in common ideologically, to seek to undermine western institutions, to push back against western language about human rights and to do that in a concerted way. you can absolutely see that in a number of places around the world. >> ian, in the context of this contest or tension anne described, the biden administration has held a big democracy summit. what do you make of that? is that the answer? >> i mean, it would be nice if
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it was the answer. there are a lot of reasons why it isn't. one is, of course, the united states cannot be ideologically consistent in the allies it chooses around the world. some are based on common values. some are based on real politic and they are not democracies at all and how do you pick who does and who doesn't show up? the much deeper problem and more central problem is the united states is not seen as an example of a well-functioning democracy by anyone around the world right now. very different than when the wall came down in '89, when the the soviet union collapsed in 1991. it makes a lot of sense for the g7, as common advanced industrial democracies working together in a multilateral sense trying to say rule of law matters, transparency matters, dealing with human rights matter. the united states is the most powerful country in the world and we do a good job leading on things like nato and the quad. heck, even vaccine diplomacy, the united states right now is
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doing more than the rest of the world combined. but on democracy, how to run your country with the former president of the united states actually says falsely that the election was delegitimized, was stolen, and most of his supp supporters, including in his own party actually agree with that, you literally can't hold a democracy summit and think it to be functional in that regard. and, of course, looking ahead to 2024, there's just to capacity for the u.s. to be consistent in the way it articulates this going forward. >> ian bremmer, anne applebaum, thank you both very much. next on "gps," after 16 years in office, angela merkel is no longer the chancellor of germany and thus no longer the de facto leader of europe. can her shoes be filled? back in a moment to explore just that. at morgan stanley, a global collective of thought leaders offers investors a broader view.
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- san francisco can have criminal justice reform and public safety. but district attorney chesa boudin is failing on both. - the safety of san francisco is dependent upon chesa being recalled as soon as possible. - i didn't support the newsom recall but this is different. - chesa takes a very radical perspective and approach to criminal justice reform, which is having a negative impact on communities of color. - i never in a million years thought that my son, let alone any six-year-old, would be gunned down in the streets of san francisco and not get any justice. - chesa's failure has resulted in increase in crime against asian americans. - the da's office is in complete turmoil at this point. - for chesa boudin to intervene in so many cases is both bad management and dangerous for the city of san francisco. - we are for
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criminal justice reform. chesa's not it. recall chesa boudin now. angela merkel left office, just as she came in, to the beat of her own drummer, or more exactly the beat of a military band playing a song written by an east german punk rocker. ♪ now it is olaf scholz's turn to run germany. he has a tough act to follow. joining me is the columnist from "the new european" and former editor-in-chief of germany's top-selling paper "build." tally, pleasure to have you on.
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explain something to me, in an age of polarization and sharp divisions between parties, look at the united states or britain or even france, in germany what you're seeing is something remarkably bipartisan or nonpartisan. scholz was in angela merkel's government. he was -- even though the opposition party, it was a coalition. he was a trusted adviser of hers. she in some ways undermined her own party by tacitly supporting him. he keeps praising her. what explains -- in germany it seems as though of all of the countries the center is holding. why? >> i'd say, first of all, it has to do with our electoral system that we're used to a multiparty coalition. it will be a first this time with three parties in that coalition, but germans are used to parties having to find compromises. so it's not a two-party system as you know from the u.s. though and britain, so it is inherently less controversial and less polarized. all in all, we are lucky i think that the far right -- mustn't
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forget the far right got into parliament straight after the refugee crisis and has remained in parliament ever since. if they had a more charismatic leader, i think there would be more polarization in germany. luckily they don't and may that last very long. >> speaking of charismatic leaders, i don't think anyone would accuse olaf scholz of being charismatic. what kind of a person is he? >> the former u.s. ambassador to berlin, cornblum called him the most boring guy in the electoral campaign, maybe even in the country. he said olaf scholz made watching water boil seem exciting. the point is though germans, if they want entertainment, they turn on the telly. they don't want entertaining politicians, such as maybe boris johnson or donald trump. so olaf scholz, his wife, also a career politician, they have no kids, no pets, no hobbies
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really. it's all about politics in that family. as finance minister of hamburg. he had a legacy of being a very honest, hard-working politician. a couple financial scandals but nothing close to what you see in other countries. he's all in. people sort of rely on him and he so far hasn't made the impression he's going to change the masses in his new position. >> one big change that does seem like it will be on paper was the foreign minister. merkel was essentially her own foreign minister. whoever was the formerly designated as such. scholz probably initially does not have that kind of power and the coalition government means the foreign ministry has been given to annalena baerbock, the green party leader. what does that mean for german foreign policy and for europe? >> well, i'm not sure i fully agree with you that olaf scholz will sort of hand back all
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foreign policy responsibility to the foreign ministry. angela merkel as rightly said, he pulled it over to the chancellery. i think he will try to keep it that way, apart from foreign global climate issues but certainly, he studied over in london and will try to make most of her post. she's very outspoken and vociferous against human rights in china and russia. it remains to be seen whether she will keep up that outspoken rhetoric now that she's got that post. >> tell us about that particularly. towards russia and china, germany had a sort of more moderate or pragmatic policy. it's not part of the diplomatic boycott of the beijing winter olympics. do you think that that kind of pragmatism or moderation will continue? >> well, olaf scholz has been
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part of angela merkel's last government as finance minister and he's largely supported her stance in most of that, as you just said, a more moderate, business friendly, at least rhetoric sort of apart from a couple of sanctions, you wouldn't see germany as the most controversial, the controversy about nord stream which has been supported by olaf scholz as well. so he's now chancellor apparently doesn't look like nord stream is off the table. all in all, german policy is mostly about european policy. so what the new german office is trying to do is -- following the boycott, try to have a european response, although it doesn't look successful at the moment. but they're going to try to find some sort of joint european
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response towards china in regard to the olympics. >> finally, let me ask you about one issue, which is domestic policy but strikes me as germany's heading towards a crisis. germany has said they're going to phase out nuclear. they're going to phase out coal because of all of the pledges they made. that doesn't leave a lot of sources of supply and germany's demand is very strong. how does it avoid an energy crisis? it used to rely a lot on nuclear. how does it square this circle? >> you're absolutely right, we're going to phase out nuclear by next year and coal by 2030. though a domestic issue largely influences a geopolitical issue, because nord stream is exactly just that. we do depend on other fuels, such as gas, coming from russia. there isn't a threat of an energy crisis yet.
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at the moment energy costs in germany are massive. we're always importing nuclear energy from france, which is we're getting nuclear from france so the now government is finding a very, very fast way to make renewable energy happen in germany. at the moment we're not -- we haven't sort of come far enough. but that's on top of the agenda of that new government. as you said, there is a risk that at least from the dependence of russian gas will increase, not decrease. >> tenit koch, thank you so much. when we come back, the sad, tragic story of syria's tragic
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syria was once known for
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exporting things like crude oil, olive oil, spices and fruits, rugs and other textiles but today it ought to perhaps be best known for exporting amphetamines, illegal uppers. a blockbuster report by "the new york times" says syria has become nothing less than a narco state, making billions of dollars off those drugs, more money than from its legal exports. ben hubbard is one of the reporters who chased this story down. welcome, ben. explain to us what you describe as syria at the end of ten years of civil war that sounds like a kind of collapsed gangster state. would that be a fair characterization? >> yeah, i think so. after ten years of war, we've seen the state as a central entity completely disintegrate and even though the government as we know it now controls the territory, inside of the territory it's a shattered place
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with a destroyed economy and warlordism and all sorts of other problems that have come up from the war. >> and from that warlordism and sort of those militias and what you describe as a kind of drug cartel that are tied in some way to elements of the government, right? >> yeah, i mean, so in all of that destruction, we've seen the formal economy of the country destroyed. we've seen many people close to bashar el assad and other people in the country facing sanctions from the united states and elsewhere, and what we realize is a lot of these people in order to keep their operations going and earning money have gone into illicit trade, primarily in drug, so much so the drugs they're escorting are actually more valuable than any of the legal things that syria's exporting. >> the drug is called captagon, the main drug. explain what it is and why it's
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as dangerous and it sounds like it is. >> it was originally the brand named of a pharmaceutical drug manufactured in germany used to treat attention deficit disorder, narcolepsy. it's an amphetamine so it sort of gives you a boost. it was basically outlawed internationally in the 1980s after it was discovered it was addictive, but around the same time caught on as a recreational drug around saudi arabia and some of the other persian gulf countries. you had elicit captagon production take off in places, most importantly for us lebanon, and as syria completely fell apart during the war, a lot of that production moved up into syria and powerful people in the syrian government or associated with the syrian government really took the idea of making this drug and industrialized it, took it to a much larger scale than we had seen before. the other issue that concerns a lot of other people in the world is not just it as a drug,
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but as a significant source of income for a regime that, you know, many western governments have tried to shut the tap off on to try to get some kind of political change. this has provided bashar al assad and many of his cronies, with sanction-proof income. >> and many say this new drug trade is large enough that's essentially allowing them, the syrian government, not feel the effects of sanctions as much. this is kind of a sanctions-busting strategy. >> well, i think it's a sanctions-busting strategy in terms of income for individuals. i should say first we don't have great visibility into how the money moves, but i think we know enough to know this is not coming back into the syrian treasury. that it's mostly ended up probably in the bank accounts and villas and yachts of basically drug warlords in the country. >> i have to say reading the report, the image you get is of a country where you have this
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war with a lot of outside players trying to get in on the action, on various sides of it. then you have sanctions. and the total effect of ten years of war and terrorism and sanctions have just devastated the country, created this narco state and the life for the average syrian is just -- just seems like a living hell. >> yeah, i mean the economy has shrunk by something like 70%. more than half the country's population has been displaced, that includes refugees who have gone abroad, most in neighboring arab countries and millions who ended up in europe and elsewhere. and then all of the other people displaced inside of the country, uprooted from the communities they're living in and now living basically as internal refugees elsewhere in the country and the economy in many ways has become nonfunctional. even if cronies of assad can earn money off the drug, this
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money is not going back to the earian people. it's not helping them meet their daily needs or fixing schools or ear infrastructure that was destroyed during the war. it's just enriching people who have the power to be involved in these type of activities. >> powerful reporting, ben hubbard. thank you for it. >> thank you very much. next on "gps," alfred nobel will says the peace prize should go to the people who have done the most for peace and fraternity and the abolition of the armies. how many of the prize's recipients actually fit that bill? that story in a moment.
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and now for the last look. on friday in a peardown ceremony at oslo city hall a pair of veterans were presented with the nobel peace prize. they deserved the award and they are in good company over its 120 years of existence. the prize has become synonymous with selflessness and moral vision. it's been bestowed on mother teresa, martin luther king and the 14th dalai lama but there are those whose surprises have not aged quite well. take ethiopia's prime minister. then he was the country's new reform-mind leader. he had just spearheaded a peace accord with neighboring aorta
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and at the prize ceremony he spoke of the need to plant seeds of love, reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens. two years later he has not quite done that. he's presided over a bloody civil war with ethnic rebels and his government has cut off food aid to the north where ordinary tigreans live and he vowed that the country would bury then my a year into the conflict with blood and bones and make ethiopia high again. you might ask how could the nobel committee have gotten things so wrong? actually i have some sympathy for the committee because in awarding the peace prize it can go in one of two directions. either it gives the prize to someone who is unquestionably a moral leader, a kind of global good guy like malal yousafzai or the world food program but it's hard to make the case that those people or groups actually work
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to create peace. peace is often the product of complicated negotiations among warring parties, and the committee also tries to award those who award peace and in 1973 there was an uproar when the prize was awarded to then secretary of state henry kissinger and the vietnamese peace advocate and the prize was later awarded to sadat and begin for peace negotiations, the same year they signed the peace accord. tended three years of bitter hostilities in warnings but begin was an ultra conservative and guerrilla. to many he was little more than a terrorist and when he arrived in oslo there were such forceful protests against him that the organizers posted the ceremony to a medieval for trempts the committee once again waded into middle east politics in 1949
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when it awarded the award to yasser arafat, shimon perez and rabin after the signing of the oslo accords. if the opposition to begin's award was fierce the objection over arafat was an inferno who was the head of the plo who was responsible for ugly acts of terrorism against israel. a conservative journalist called him worst man ever to win the nobel peace prize. we can condemn these leaders for their misdeeds and we should but i understand the committee's standard desire to reach out and take risks to encourage diplomats to actually find ways to end conflicts and enter into negotiations and find ways to compromise. the prize has been awarded to inspiring figures, ones far less complicated than the ones i've described like the pie fever microfinance mohammed uanys. those figures, laudable as they are, did not achieve peace. the fact is the custodians of peace are politicians and
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politics is an exercise in power and interest, not simple police an expression of moral principles, and while it makes mistakes the nobel committee is trying to help forge that hard road to peace in this dangerous world. one final note. i want to say a word about someone who died suddenly this past week. fred hard are the editorial editor of "the washington post." he was the heart of public discourse in america, a role he filled with enormous integrity and jefnlts i have a personal stake in this. he gave me a capitol um in "the washington post" and was a staunch supporter of mine, even though we often disagreed which was one of the many reasons he was made for that job. he understood that at the heart of democracy lies the willingness to hear from those with whom you disagree. rest in peace, my friend. and thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. i will see you next week. get groceries, gifts, & more fast and easy
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hello, everyone. thanks so much for joining me this sunday. i'm fredericka whitfield. we begin with a desperate search to find survivors after a swarm of powerful tornadoes ripped through eight states. entire times leveled in the blink of an eye as the storms swept through friday night. one single torpedo carved a path of destruction more than 200 miles long. they fear more than 80 people have been killed. search-and-rescue teams are working around the clock to look for survivors who may be trapped