tv Fareed Zakaria GPS CNN April 25, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PDT
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 live from new york. today on the show, president putin issues an ominous warning. don't cross russia's red line. any nation that messes with moscow, he said, will deeply regret it. what to make the threat as russia's relations with the west seem to worsen by the week. i will talk to poland's former foreign minister.
president biden announces an ambitious plan in the fight against climate change. >> signs are unmistakable. the science is undeniable. the cost of inaction keeps mounting. >> he intends to cut carbon emissions by 2030 by half. is it just, well, blowing smoke? if the developing world doesn't follow suit. >> no nation can solve this crisis on our own. >> i will talk to the head of conservation international. plus, too few hospital beds. not enough bottled oxygen. a shortage of covid medicine and vaccines. overcrowding at cemeteries and long lines at crematoriums. this is the covid crisis devastating india right now. we will get a report from the ground on why it's gotten so
bad. first, here is my take. this pandemic brought out the crazy in all of us. we have been selective about the science we take seriously and the stuff we disregard. we have been more moved by vivid anecdotes than by scholarly studies. i start to worry when even the experts seem irrational. consider the decision from the cdc and the fda to recommend pausing distribution of the johnson & johnson vaccine after six cases of severe blood clots with -- were reported. the damage is done. fuelling fears about vaccinefiry theories. 7 million americans have safely received the vaccine. that is 0.0002% of a chance of a
blood clot. 1.5% of covid-19 patients still die from the virus. in other words, even if all the blood clots prove fatal, and most have not been, the virus would be thousands of times more dangerous than the vaccine. the agency's decision came after similar rare reports of blood clotting led european nations to temporarily suspend the astrazeneca vaccine in march. that uses technology similar to johnson & johnson's. its benefits outweigh the potential dangers. we wasted time when the imperative is to get people vaccinated and fast. many developing nations are counting on these two vaccines because they are cheaper than the mrna ones and easier to store. even some people in those places are scared to get them. there's a pattern to the problem. politicians and governments are
much too worried about the chance of something bad happening on their watch. no matter how unlikely. for example, there's been a reluctance to send children back to school, even though numerous studies have found the risks to be low if precautions are taken. while the dangers are exaggerated, few people think about the massive benefits to society, to children, to parents, to the economy as a whole, if schools would reopen fast. sometimes this obsession with risk turns into hygiene theater. it has been apparent that the virus overwhelmingly spreads by breathing, not by touching surfaces. businesses have made a show of sanitizing everything, as if activities like indoor dining are safe if only the tables are clean. the security theater at airports after 9/11, a set of measures put into place to make people
feel safe. much of it useless. the obsession with the dangers of terrorism, which even after 9/11 were actually quite low, led us to build a massive new homeland security industrial complex, launch major military interventions across the globe and curtail civil liberties at home to try to reduce the incidents of terrorism to as close to zero as possible. for example, we denied hundreds of thousands of people visas into the u.s. just because we wanted to be sure that no one let in someone who turned out to be a terrorist. in government, the incentive is to take every precaution and spend as much money as nez to ensure that something bad doesn't happen. that's the kind of event that makes you lose your job or get you hauled in front of a congressional committee. if you make good things happen by contrast, you will be lucky if you get a pat on the back.
during the early stages of the pandemic, the u.s. government kept worries about all the problems that could emerge from rapid mass testing and neglected to consider the huge benefits of it because it would return people to normal life. an epidemiologist argued we should have authorized all kinds of tests, in-home pregnancy style that would have offered constant information on who was safe and unsafe. getting tests to be 100% accurate was less important than catching most cases before they spread. the truth is, we live with risks all the time. 40,000 americans die every year in car accidents. would we agree to make the speed limit 25 miles per hour if it would save half of those deaths? even now, hundreds of americans are dying from covid every day compared to the handful who got blood clots. we need to think more closely, carefully and rationally about
risk and to remember to balance it with that other half of the equation, reward. go to cnn.com/farid for a link to my "washington post" column this week and let's get started. on wednesday, russia's president putin offered an ominous warning to the west. don't cross russia's red lines. if you do, be prepared to face dire consequences. those western nations he was threatening have been increasingly worried in weeks about why putin was massing troops on his border with ukraine and also about russia's treatment of its political opposition leader navalny. my guest negotiated with vladimir putin when he was foreign minister of poland, a country that also borders russia. he is currently a member of the
european parliament. welcome. let me ask you, what do you think putin has achieved by this extraordinary display of force in ukraine? at one point it was 100,000 troops massed on ukraine's border. >> he put the ukrainian president off balance. he has shown us all that he has military options. i think this was a dress rehearsal such as before the invasion of georgia and such as the ones that simulate invasion of the baltic states. putin failed in ukraine. he wanted to integrate the whole country into his union. when that failed, he occupies now 7% of ukraine. 93% of ukraine is integrating with the west. >> do you think that when you say it's a dress rehearsal,
there is an actual plan in his mind that he might try to take more of ukraine? >> i have no doubt about that. you know, all militaries have contingency plans for every eventuality. remember that back in 2014, the russians were very close to carrying out an operation which would have been taking over half of ukraine and cutting it off from the black sea. i think those plans are still being considered. >> that was odessa. he realized the people -- the russian-speaking people were not pro russian. >> that was his mistake, to assume that if you speak russian in ukraine that means you are a russian and you want to live in russia. that turned out to be wrong. >> i have so much to get to with
you. what about the protests? the navalny arrest and mistreatment seems to have triggered something big. will it -- as russian protests have, will it be successfully repressed? is putin destined to rule for as long as he wants? >> well, russian security services survey and intimidate the entire population. it takes real courage to demonstrate the way the russians do now. remember, these are regimes that murder their opponents. both at home and abroad. >> does it -- is putin's hold on his people, is the basic bargain he made with them, i give you stability and i give you reasonable economic conditions and you back me, is that still holding? >> i think the basic deal, until five years ago, i give you
rising standard of living and stability and you don't mind my thieving and my autocracy, but standards of living have been dropping for five years. the new deal is, your standards of living are sagging but i give you successes. georgia, crimea, syria. perhaps in future, belarus, ukraine or baltic states. >> is biden handling putin correctly? he has been fairly tough on him, even agreeing to call him or the characterization of putin as a killer is accurate. >> look, putin has responded by wanting to talk to him. interesting, isn't it? every previous u.s. administration since the end of the cold war tried to have a reset with russia. they never worked. democrats, of course, have a score to settle with putin for the interference in your elections.
there's no longer any illusions about the nature of that regime. i think this is working rather well. >> putin in his statement on wednesday said that we must all remember that russia is morally superior to the west. do you think that kind of thing resonates? >> well, come on, this is a former kcolonel in the kgb who kills his opponents lecturing us about morality. >> what do you think he meant by it? because he does evoke this idea of russia as a kind of maintaining the values of chris a christianity. >> we don't tolerate lgbt people, that's it. the russian propaganda is if you go western liberal way, all your
sons will be gay and all your daughters will be lesbian. he has found some countries where this resonates, including in central europe. but i would question whether that's a sign of moral superiority. >> always a pleasure to talk to you. you shed a lot of light on this matter. thank you. >> pleasure. next on gps, words matter. the word genocide has been used a whole lot as of late. is it the right word for the armenian massacre in world war i? or for china's treatment of the people today? udrey's expecting.. -twins! ♪ we'd be closer to the twins. change in plans. at fidelity, a change in plans is always part of the plan. wet dishes? residue?
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word inflames between beijing and it happens this weekend when the british parliament declared that the china's treatment of the uyghur is a genocide. pompeo and blinken agreed it is a genocide. human rights watch among others disagree. so is it genocide and is it the right word? joining me now is philippe sands, an international lawyer and professor at university college of london and the author of east west street on the origins of genocide and crimes against humanity. welcome, professor. first, what is your reaction to joe biden's declaration? >> well, it is been trailed and my overall reaction i suppose is it is a political move, nothing much is actually going to turn on it. the difference between the u.s. and turkey has not been the facts that large numbers of armenians were killed around 1915.
but what to call that act of killing and for many decades turkey has objected to the use of the g-word, "genocide" and it is a motive word and their point haves very simple, the word genocide was only invented in 1945 by rafael lemkin and inappropriate to use it for something that occurred three decades earlier. >> explain to us why in your view the word does evoke so much of a sense of kind of horror. is the holocaust? because the term that people otherwise use for something like what the chinese are doing in xinjiang is crimes against humanity. why is genocide seen as so much worse than crimes against humanity? >> you have to back to 1945.
before that, there was no genocide or crimes against humanity. they were invented at the same moment and spoken for the first time on the 20th of november, 1945 in the nuremburg courtroom. genocide is about the protection of groups, crimes against humanity is protection of individuals and over time genocide has come to be seen wrongly in my view as the crime of crimes, somehow the killing of groups is seen as worst than the killing of hundreds of thousands of individuals. after the nuremburg trial, the united nations created a convention and that set the standard high to prove that genocide in law, you have to show there was an intention to destroy a group in whole or in part and it is that bar, that threshold, which i think has contributed with the magic of the word invented by rafael lemkin with a particular emotive power. >> that is fascinating. so you're saying bashar al asad
isn't considered genocide or doesn't fit the term because there wasn't an intent to destroy one particular group, just kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people. >> exactly. i could illustrate this very simply. i sit on the holocaust advisory group in the united kingdom and that group commemorates annually in january every year, not only the holocaust of the jews but for reasons best known they've identified other acts which are characterized by international court as a genocide. for example, 8,000 bosnian men. but they don't commemorate the killing of 4 million individuals as a war crime many the democratic republic of congo around the same time. and the question arises, why is the killing of 8,000 somehow
worse because it is called a genocide, than the killing of 3 million which is only in parenthesis a crime against humanity. so we've lost our ability to see the wood from the trees on these issues. >> and the chinese case is peculiar because when people say genocide, it does evoke the kills of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, but that is not what china is being accused of in the case of the uyghurs. as far as i know, there is no documented mass killing. it is instead something different. so explain, does that qualify as genocide? >> if president biden characterize the killing of the armenians as a crime against humanity, we wouldn't be talking about it today. but at the moment an american president calls something a genocide, it is on page one of the newspapers and that is exactly what happened with the
uyghurs. now we don't know exactly what is going on. the jury is out on the evidence. from what i know, certainly a crime against humanity is being perpetrated. but is it a genocide? and you've put your finger right on the knob of the issue, is china attempting to destroy a group in whole or in part and i don't think anyone does know the answer to that question but the move by the british parliament and mr. pompeo, mr. blinken, in part it is politically motivated. one has to recognize that. it is a way -- a cheap way in a sense of attacks a particular country. >> let me ask you very quickly in the end, since we're talking about history, in your professional opinion would the united states government's treatment of native americans historically qualify as genocide? >> one of the things you might ask is what would really surprised me or excited if he and that would be for president
biden to have characterized the killing of american indians as a genocide or the lynching of blacks in the southern states as a crime against humanity. that would be a big thing. you may recall two or threes ago president macron of france characterized colonialisms as a crime against humanity and got into very deep water. so words really do matter and history matters on these issues. >> felipe sands, pleasure to have you on. >> lovely to be with you. next on gps, if china keep burning coal with abandon, does it matter how much the west will cut carbon emissions? is there a solution? find out in a moment. i may not be able to tell time, but i know what time it is. [whispering] it's grilled cheese o'clock.
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this week president biden convened an international climate summit and pledged to cut emissions in half by 2030 compared to the 2005 peak. but many developing countries are dragging their feet. china for example said it will keep rising its emissions until 2030. brazil said it will not stop cutting down the amazon rain forest unless it gets paid
to do so. so what should the world do. joining me is m. sanjay, ceo of conservation international. welcome. to first give me your reaction to biden's pledge about u.s. emissions. >> hi, fareed. i was honestly startled. you know, i tend to be an optimist, but there are days that i wake up with this deep pit of fear in my stomach and i was really overcome over the last couple of days to watch the commitment, how far-reaching and how early in the administration this commitment comes to get us over that 50% mark which i think is a high bar but a reachable bar. >> what about china? china said that it will, as i say, the emissions will keep rising and peak at 2030 and they'll get to -- to their goal in 2060 which reminds us of the line of john maynard canes in the long run we'll all be dead, which that might be true with climate change. are the chinese being serious?
>> i think they are. president xi made this commitment by 2016 before this summit, so i don't think it was just political theater. i think that you heard him say on stage right there in front of us, which i think is what was brilliant about this virtual summit, we could all watch the leaders come up there one at a time and they have to say something. they have to put their cards on the table. and he promised to green the belt and road initiative. that is a step there. so i think the chinese are serious. india is a little bit more challenging. there is an election going on and how it is but if you are looking for fairness, you are going to be disappointed in the long run. this should not be framed as fair. without a doubt, the united states is the highest emitter in terms of greenhouse gases and cumulatively we put more up in the atmosphere than the two
other combined. so we have to do our share and more than our share. but that is not the way to frame it. the way to frame it is a competition, a race to the top. what china and india don't want to do and brazil i would say, is get left behind. by setting this bar the way he said it, the biden/harris administration puts a challenge out there for others to race to the top. >> so let's take a look at just the scale of the problem. so if you look at a chart of global co2 emissions, the projections, what you see is the united states and the e.u. are coming down. but depending on what projection you look at, china and india, it is still pretty high and it is getting higher and higher still. what is the deal one could offer, particularly to the poorer countries? you know about bolsonaro's blackmail, what is going to work? is it sticks, is it carrots, how would you make a deal?
i think it is mostly competition and it is race to the top that i think we should focus on. however right now the way it is frames, it's more carrot than stick. but i think it happens later on in the dialogue. so the most important thing that nations have to understand is that obviously everyone wants the best interest, people want to have the opportunity to live better lives and it isn't right for us to say well we have this, now you have to stay somewhere else. we understand that. i understand that. however, you don't have to follow the same path to get to where europe is. this country was built on slavery. we're not advocating others have to follow that as well. we were built on copper wires that quite physically connected you and i. we don't have to do that. this country was built partly on coal and coal energy. this is a not last century, two centuries ago technology that we're still relying on.
so leap from technology, foreign aid, preferential treatment and the sense that this is the new world and you better get on it if you want to be successful in the new world. i would also say for poorer countries, pakistan, australia to some extent, the effects of climate change are far worse and the chance to adapt much less. so there is an incentive for them as well and i think you saw that when the prime minister of seychelles made a difference and sent a signal. >> one final question, which is if the united states and china continue to have a conflicting relationship as they've had in the last few months, even in the biden administration, the anchorage summit, does it doom the prospects for serious work on climate change because these are the two most important countries that need to make a
deal? >> it certainly makes it harder. i don't think it completely dooms it. it is it in both self-interest of both countries to get ahead of this revolution in how we provide energy to the planet. and one thing that i would say is that when you look at the poorer nations of the world, one thing that they do have it carbon intensive trees, the recoverable carbon, to give aid and protect forests, standing forests around the world is a huge part of getting us to that 1.5 degrees celsius that we need to get to. >> pleasure to have you on. thanks so much. >> of course. in a moment, we'll take you to india where prime minister modi today said covid-19 was a storm that has shaken the nation. there are too few hospital beds and too little oxygen and way too much demand for cemeteries and crematoriums. we'll go inside of what some call covid hell coming up. ♪ ♪
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recently here on "gps", we hold you that india was faring well for covid-19. what a difference a few weeks makes. india is in a grave battle against the pandemic for each of the past four days it set a new world record for infections and the numbers keep climbing. hannah ellis peterson describes the story this week in the guardian. she's the paper south asia correspondent and she joins us from delhi. you have covid yourself, how are you doing? >> i do. thankfully, i'm at the end of a rough ride. i'm fine, thank you for asking.
>> if you look at the charts, whether you look at cases or deaths, what you see is the second wave has been more dramatic than the first one. i mean, three times higher in some ways. describe what is going on on the ground. >> it is hard to convey the horror of what india and delhi feels right now. people are dying outside hospitals. they can't get oxygen or drugs or the care that they need. doctors are on their knees in hospitals because they're unable to admit the patients that need care. and so outside hospitals, doctors are giving some patients oxygen outside but a lot of hospitals don't even have enough oxygen for the patients inside let alone outside. the trauma that india is going through right now i think will be felt for years to come. it is really, really hard to put into words. and there isn't anyone that i know that hasn't been affected by it.
last night i lost a colleague of mine. everyone is going through some kind of loss or trauma because of the second wave. >> the first wave was handled by the modi government very seriously. they did almost a draconian lockdown, and then it did seem like there were cases dropped dramatically, things were done, did they get complacent, what happened, why did the second wave take off with such stunning veracity? >> well our new first wave introduced before india's cases got very bad and even though the lockdown had a severe humanitarian impact on india daily wage workers, people in poverty suffered as a result of lockdown. it did have the impact of tempering the virus. by november, cases had dropped to extraordinarily low levels. i mean one of the great
mysteries is how the virus was out the first time in india and the reasons for that was herd immunity, some sort of mythological that india had because of their exposure to viruses so they thought somehow it wouldn't come back in india and there wasn't anything to be afraid of and that complacency was echoed across the board, from the top levels of government to health officials to state governments and everything got opened up and people lost their fear of the virus and it enabled then for everything to feel like normal again. and so when the virus began to surge, it -- there was nothing in its way. and then you had to throw into the mix some other variants that appear to be more contagious and more virulent and you have a terrible combination of what is happening now. >> and the modi government at that point sort of seemed to not care at all.
it was engaged in massive election and huge election rallies and of course this religious festival which is a gathering of an estimated 10 million people. you can't imagine something like that in terms of the dangers to covid-19, how dangerous is might be, right? >> yeah, the complacency from the government was completely irresponsible. and it filtered down so everyone felt like everything was fine. i mean, this is the thing, is that everyone always wants covid to be over and the government kind of believed that it was. and so it did -- it was politically very advantageous for them for the pandemic to be over, to be able to lift restrictions. and enable them to go out and do campaigns to try to win some state elections, particularly the election of west bangor which modi's ruling party are hoping to win.
the krumella is a huge festival and it is difficult for modi as a hindu national leader to stop that but on a humanitarian level we could now see what a devastating error it was to allow it to go ahead. over 5,000 people have tested positive and hundreds of people have died. i don't think we'll know the devastation. and they allowed a cricket game in the modi stadium and 50,000 people to gather in order to inaugurate a stadium. in hindsight, it seems unfathomable but they were allowed to go ahead but india didn't have anything to be fearful of covid any more. >> hannah, thank you very much and get better. i will just leave us with two thoughts about this, which is india cannot do another lockdown because they don't have -- as you said, the humanitarian cost was massive. and they don't have the money to do the kind of covid relief that
rich countries are able to do. and secondly, the cases continue to climb and some of that climb appears exponential. so we might be back to talk about this again soon. thank you, hannah. >> thank you for having me. when we come back, i have a way that president biden could actually achieve the carbon emission goals he's put out. a real simple proven technology when we come back. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ back in black ♪ ♪ i hit the sack ♪ ♪ i've been too long... ♪ applebee's irresist-a-bowls are back. dig in for just $8.99. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. we look up to our heroes. idolizing them.
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now for the last look. early on the show we discussed this week's climate summit where president biden announced an ambitious new pledge to cut u.s. greenhouse gas emissions. but his goal will be virtually impossible to achieve without the use of a proven technology that produces huge amounts of energy with zero emissions. nuclear power.
right now america is going in the wrong direction on that. according to recent estimates, from the rhodium group, the country is on track to shut down so many nuclear plants over the next decade that nuclear will drop from supplying 21% of the grid's electricity to just 7%. i know you've heard about the amazing rise of wind and solar farms. it's all true. but those renewables have an achilles heel. the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. an electric utility has to have some power sources that run at all times. when nuclear plants are shuttered, that role has been filled by fossil fuels. look at what happened to germany, which began rapidly retiring reactors after the 2011 fukushima disaster. that fed germany's addiction to coal. in the u.s. states like california and new york have begun taking reactors offline and then turning to natural gas.
now, coal is the worst option. the dirtiest source of energy and one that produces massive amounts of co2. natural gas is better than coal, but it doesn't hold a candle to nuclear which has essentially zero emissions. two things are driving nuclear's decline in the u.s. the first is economics. natural gas which is more versatile and less heavily regulated is beating nuclear on cost. the second is public opinion. rare accidents throughout history have been seared into people's memories and environmentalists have worried about radioactive waste. but the dangers of nuclear are massively overstated. americans may fear a repeat of three mile island, but do they know that not one person died from that accident, or even got sick. by contrast, more than 100 americans are killed in the production of fossil fuels every year and hundreds of thousands more die from the pollution. meanwhile, climate change is a
much bigger environmental threat than radioactive waste. if you pile up all of the spent nuclear fuel the united states has ever generated, it would cover a single football field without reaching the height of the field goals. this is a vast country, we can easily store that safely. in any case, nuclear skeptics can take comfort from the new technologies on the horizon. one promising approach will create a walkaway safe reactor that in the event of a problem simply shuts down automatically with no danger of the kind of meltdowns we saw at chernobyl or fukushima. another design can run on spent fuel from the old reactors making it doubly clean. if we fund research, streamline the regulatory process and provide the right financial incentives, we can build clean nuclear reactors helps america actually slash its emissions and that could spawn a new export industry because the
whole world will need nuclear to bring emissions down. i began the show by explaining how americans seemed to have lost the ability to think seriously about risks and rewards. nuclear energy is one more example of the problem and one that is crucial to overcome because it could light a path to a greener future. thanks to all of you for being a part of my program this week. i will see you next week.
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hello, everyone, thank you for joining me this sunday, i'm fredricka whitfield. this week marks the 100th day of the biden presidency and new polls are giving a clearer picture of where president biden stands in the eyes of americans. an abc news "washington post" poll out this morning puts his approval rating at 52%, with 42% of respond events disapproving. biden earns positive marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy. this week he will address a jot