Hayvi Bouzo (An inside look into the political landscape of the Middle East)

In this episode of the Judgment Call Podcast Hayvi Bouzo talk about:

  • What makes the Middle East so special as a region of innovation, spirituality and lately turmoil and conflict?
  • What Hayvi found to be true during her time growing up in Damascus, Syria.
  • Why democracies tend to be better at delivering ‘basic services’ to their citizens.
  • What are ‘forces for good’ in the Middle East according to Hayvi?
  • The true impact of the ‘Abraham Accords’ in the Middle East.
  • How should we deal with ‘reformers’ in the Middle East regime countries?
  • Will the new US administration retreat further from US footprint in the world?
  • Why most of the best allies of the US eventually turn into enemies?
  • Is the slowing productivity growth an issue for future US geopolitics?
  • Is the impact of foreign policies overstated?
  • and much more!

Hayvi Bouzo is journalist, TV host, podcast host and blogger. Hayvi focuses on the Middle East and the political and cultural tension in the region.

You can reach Hayvi via LinkedIn.

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Welcome to the Judgment Call Podcast, a podcast where I bring together some of the most curious minds on the planet, risk takers, travelers, adventurers, investors, entrepreneurs, or simply mindbogglers. To find all the episodes of this show, please go to iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, or go to judgmentcallpodcast.com for more resources, including how to become a guest, how to advertise, and to see all the lectures, podcasts, and books I would like to, would like you to listen to or read, please also go to our website at judgmentcallpodcast.com. Like this show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes or Like us and subscribe to us on YouTube that will make it easier for other users like you to find us later on. This episode of the Judgment Call Podcast is sponsored by Mighty Trouble Supreme, full disclosure, this is also my business. What we do at Mighty Trouble Supreme is to find the best travel deals for you as they happen. We do that in economy, premium economy, business, and first class, and we screen 450,000 new airfare deals every day just for you and present the best based on your preferences. Thousands of subscribers have saved up to 95% on their airfare deals. In case you didn’t know, Americans and Europeans can already travel to more than 80 different countries again, South America, in Africa, and in Eastern Europe. To try out Mighty Trouble’s premium for free, go to mightytravels.com slash mtp, if that’s too much for you to type, just type in mtp4u.com, mtp4u.com to start your 30 day free trial. I meet today with Havi Buzo, and Havi is a journalist, TV host, podcaster, and blogger. What Havi does, she focuses on the Middle East, the cultural tensions in the regions, the politics, and whatever else is going on there. Welcome to the Judgment Call Podcast, Havi. Great to have you. Thank you, Thorsten. I’m excited to be with you. Hey, absolutely. It’s great to have you here. I’m surprised that you chose the Middle East as your area of expertise, because for a lot of us, it’s something where we feel like both sides in this conflict might be way more than just two sides. They are stuck in this eternal conflict, and from the outside it always seems like there’s not much you can do. It’s something that has for millennia its own dynamic, and from the outside, especially seen from the US, it’s a little bit of a game where you convert your signal, but actually you can’t do much about it. So how did you get there, and how did your work actually start, and what impact do you feel you’re making right now? I mean, let me start with, if I chose to focus on the Middle East, it’s the opposite. The Middle East chose me, because I was born in the region, and I’ve been interested in politics since I was a child, because my father was always interested in politics. And sometimes it bothers me, like, why do I have to be focused on this region that has, as you said, millennias of wars, things don’t seem to get any better. And at the same time, why am I always focused on politics? And it’s just one of my, I don’t know, I mean, I’ve had another conversation, I was saying that maybe it’s a weakness, you know, it’s just like I am drawn to politics. I’m interested in the world and what’s happening in the world, and I absolutely believe that the Middle East is very important for us as Americans, for the United States, for the rest of the world. I mean, the history of religions, the history of civilization has all started in the Middle East, and I don’t think that we should ever compromise on that part of the world, regardless of what happens in Washington. We know that there’s a swing that happens between different administrations. One could be more focused, or one is less focused, and there’s a price for that. So I think we can, you know, continue the conversation on this topic, but absolutely this is, you know, part of my DNA is just to care and focus on the Middle East. Yeah, I mean, the Middle East is definitely very, very interesting. So I think you’ve done well there, and it won’t go out of business. Like the conflict in the Middle East will never go out of business. So it’s a choice in that respect to find content as a journalist. I think that’s going to help over the years. And whenever I learn about the Middle East, you know, I’ve read the major religious books myself, and when I travel to the Middle East, there is this cradle of humanity is not just empty. I mean, this is where most of the civilizations came from. This is where all the big religions came from with a few exceptions like Hinduism and Buddhism, Confucianism, if we want to call this a religion. From a historic perspective, what do you think made the Middle East so special at the times? You know, this was a couple of thousand years ago, but I mean, it seems to be something that is this continuous impact on the rest of the world. Is it in the Middle East? Is it the geography? Is it just pure luck? Is it the people? Is there some alien, divine inspiration that actually happened? What do you think helped the Middle East to be so much ahead in terms of cultural knowledge than anyone else in the world? So going back historically speaking, I mean, civilization started in the Middle East. The Middle East is the center of civilizations. I mean, even if you look at it geographically, it’s the connection between the East and the West. So it’s no coincidence, in my opinion, not to mention that, you know, in our beliefs and Judaism and all of the world religions, the main world religions, as you mentioned, there are exceptions, of course, but started in the Middle East. And, of course, that led to things in wars happening where there was some religions who did not accept other religions. And there was, it’s basically a history of conflict that, you know, started because of that lack of acknowledgement and acceptance of and respect of, you know, if having a being in a smaller religious group that does not want to convert others. And, you know, when I talk about Judaism, in this example, a religion that is has a smaller group of people because it does not believe that it has to go out there and convert others. But because of that, it was picked on by bigger religions that believe that they wanted to, you know, maybe tell others that they should convert to their religion. So, and there’s a history of that. And then there’s always a history of dominant powers who went to the Middle East. And in the, and if we talk about Judaism, because I want to kind of connect it to that, the Babylonians, I mean, that’s even before Christianity and Islam, the Babylonians came and destroyed the first temple, then you had the Romans come in and destroy the second temple. So it was always foreign powers. And I do believe that we are in a place where we have to find a solution for this. I am unlikely to say it’s kind of like a business that, oh, there’s always conflict in the Middle East, we can cover it, but it’s actually time that this changes. And there are promising things that are happening right now. And I think to me as a journalist, as somebody who was born in the region, I’m very optimistic. I do get scared when I see, you know, what’s happening in Washington because I believe in the importance of the American role in anything positive to happen in the Middle East. Because there are evil powers out there that do not want to have stability, they do not want to have peace. And they have their own agendas. So the United States, as the force for good, has a very important role to play. And I do get concerned when I see, you know, the kind of the right versus left, and how there’s a swing and policies. And now we have a new president in the White House, which I want to give the benefit of the doubt. I want to see this administration carry out good policies in the interest of the people in the Middle East. But there are concerns. So we are looking to see what’s going to happen. But definitely as a journalist covering this, those are the things that I care about, is having a strong American leadership to help these countries in the Middle East keep going forward because there was milestones that happened in the last few years under the Biden, the Trump administration. I know a lot of people wouldn’t like to hear this, but those are facts. Yeah, I mean, I think we I’d love to go into some of the politics there. I’m just curious about them. I lived for some time in Israel, and I find it hard to understand the local politics coming into that politic political game at the time. I felt, but maybe there’s more to it. So I’m really curious to dive a little bit more into it. Give me give us a better idea of, you know, you grew up in Syria and I know Syria like Lebanon and I spent some time in Lebanon is a country. A lot of people don’t know that that’s relatively rare because it’s about half Christian, it’s half Muslim. And it’s pretty much divided by North and South. It’s not that easy. But in the capital in Beirut, you see huge churches having huge church bells going all over the city. The sound is massive and beautiful. And then the mosque is right next to it and has equally strong sounds. So it really seems like to the to the occasional visitor, there’s a competition for the hearts and minds is going on right there, like in the middle of downtown Beirut. And I found this fascinating, not a lot of places have that ability in the Middle East and outside the Middle East to have two religions that are kind of at odds with each other’s throat to be relatively peaceful. And I know Israel has that too. It has a strong Islam Muslim population, besides the Jewish population. And you grew up in Syria and I think it is a similar situation. So I don’t know enough about Syria, I have to admit, because nobody can travel there anymore when I was old enough to travel. It kind of became entrenched into civil war. Help us understand how you grew up in Syria and how they, how this plays out in Syria. Is it similar to Lebanon? I mean, in terms of that’s absolutely the case. But in Syria, the dominant population is a Muslim population. Christians were basically, I mean, slowly, there was a less Christian population in Syria and obviously the Jewish population as well. And when I was born in Syria, there was a regime in place that continues to be in place today that is a dictatorship, a socialist bloody dictatorship that did not give its people any freedom, that empowered Islamism. I remember growing up, my parents will always complain about the fact that there are more and more mosques everywhere. This regime was always building more mosques, while it claims that it’s fighting Islamic extremism. So it was actually empowering Islamic extremism because that was the boogie man that wanted to threaten the people with, eventually down the line, which is exactly what happened. So, you know, there are people in the middle, in Syria, there are intellectuals that are free minded, free thinkers, but they’re afraid of the regime and my parents happen to be, you know, one of these few families in Damascus. And I grew up in a household where, you know, we had parties, we had gatherings, people with top politics. Obviously, a lot of people agreed with my parents, which were unique in their outlook on the world. My dad saw the United States as a force for good, and that was something unspeakable in Syria, even by the, you know, so called intellectuals, always wanted peace with Israel, which is also unspeakable. So there’s a lot of things that my parents were unique in their perspective on things, but there was Christians, there are Israelites, there are Jews, there are certain different minorities. My mom grew up in the Jewish Quarter in Aleppo, but throughout her life, she lost all of her friends and neighbors because they were escaping and leaving in the middle of the night, because they were afraid of what the bad party was doing to the community. So it’s less and less minorities in Syria, and it’s more and more Muslim dominant country. And obviously there’s the Arab nationalist identity, there’s the Muslim Sunni identity, there’s the Alawite identity. So there’s a lot of competing identities, and there’s a regime that’s just there to control everybody and hush everybody and whoever is not hushed is basically disappeared. Not a lot of people know about Syria or the inside of Syria, I mean, me included, right? And that was always, always was described to me as for people who were able to go to Syria as the best place in the Middle East, because of their food, because of the people who lived there, because of the openness to an extent that it probably had some time ago in terms of religious freedom and how people interacted with this. And well, maybe you know the answer to this, because that has struck me the whole time. Most places in the world, there is a certain battle going on, say the battle between the US and Mexico, right? And you can think from both ways about this, how we kind of annexed California. And there’s been a war, and then, you know, everyone got settled, and that was fine, and nobody is worried about this anymore, even in Mexico, right? And people are interested in coming to California now for Mexico, maybe, but there is no, the idea of a hot war between Mexico and the US a hundred years later isn’t possible, nobody even thinks about that. But when you go back to the Middle East, there’s literally a wall or a tree or a little rock, and in Jerusalem we see this perfectly, but that’s also true. The borders with Israel or the borders with Lebanon, and there for 2000 years on the continuous attack, who does it belong to? And there’s this story in the Bible, the VC, and there’s a story in the Quran, we really need this rock. Why do you think the parties, for some reason, they don’t move on to the next stage and say, OK, OK, we’ve lost this territory, that’s sad, but let’s build our economy, let’s focus on something that belongs to the future. Why is that this focus on symbols or ideas on a religion? Or why is it exactly in the Middle East? And is it a psychological thing, or is it that people are misled, or is it economically? Why is that? Well, absolutely, people have been misled, and there’s propaganda to promote hate in war, and that’s been happening for decades. Absolutely, this is a major part of why you see a lot of hate in the Middle East. I’m talking about the Arab side specifically, because in Israel there’s free press, you see the left and right, there’s a dialogue, there’s a debate. In the Arab side, it’s state sponsored media, state sponsored education, and it’s all leading in one direction, completely refusing to acknowledge the Jewish history in the region, the Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. All of these things are completely denied, they’re not even spoken. There’s a certain, you know, I don’t know how long that’s like probably one aspect of the history of the region that has been taught in schools, in a lot of slogans and dogma and propaganda to promote the continuation of war, continuation of hate, and basically demonizing anybody who would think otherwise, not only demonizing, but persecuting. I mean, this is, it’s been ongoing. When you talked about Mexico and California, I mean, I actually, I had a live, I was starting, and there’s something I’m going to be starting soon, which is going to be a live streaming show. And I actually want to do it in Arabic to talk to people in the region. People asked me, what do you think of the Golan Heights? Because I was born in Syria, what do you think of, you know, Israel basically now, the Trump administration acknowledged it as an Israeli territory. And I, to me, it was kind of like, you know, going back to your question about California, you want to ask the people who live in that place, who do they rather live under? A democracy that is giving them services, that’s providing them freedoms and rights? Or do they want to live under a dictatorship, a corrupt system that is a failed system that is depriving its own citizens of everything? So it’s like, to me, it’s very simple. Like, as the people in the Golan, and maybe there are some of them who are going to say, oh, no, we want to live under the Assad regime, and maybe they should. But as somebody who grew up under the Assad regime, as an American, and when I crossed the borders, I actually used to live in California, and I crossed the borders to Mexico, you know, it’s just you see the difference. There are systems in the world that succeeded, that prevailed, that provided everything, and a lot of the things, let’s not say everything, a lot of the things that people deserve to have. And there are other countries who are ruled by other forms of systems, other forms of governments, who failed to provide these things. And it’s basically people should have the right to choose, under where do they want to be, who should rule them, based on how successful this body of government is or not. So I think that would be the answer to conclude, you know, the idea about both, like the Golan Heights in California. Yeah, I assume you speak Arabic, Hebrew, English? I don’t speak Hebrew. I want to learn Hebrew, but I do not speak it. Yeah, so what I’m trying to get at that is when you, and that’s going into the histories of religion. And when I read the Quran, I was going in with low expectations. I thought, whoa, this is just, you know, it’s something a mix of what would you see in the Old Testament. And what I saw is something really beautiful, something poetic and something that appeals to a sense of comfort, to a sense of doing the right thing. And it’s the current incarnation, I think, of the Quran and how Muslims see their faith is very, very orthodox. It’s very close to, you know, the priest should behave, not necessarily allow the citizen should behave. And I always felt, if some people have maybe ideas and you studied the region so well, why did that happen? Why did the Quran become way more orthodox? And the other religions, you know, Christianity obviously had the easiest spot. It was never that orthodox in the beginning. Maybe it had some monasteries, but most of the time it had a lot of freedom that it allowed, at least in the core, if you’re not a priest. What do you think, and I think this is my personal opinion on this, is that Islamic countries have trouble with things like democracy, which are not very Muslim to speak of. They’re not very Christian either, so to speak, but there’s a stronger connection to the original Greek ideas of democracy. I think a lot of places have, they’re not in love with democracy. They don’t think it’s the best tool. And they shouldn’t, I think the American values that we have that are essentially, you know, refined New Testament ideas, refined with capitalism, block, and Adam Smith. I love how you say democracy is the right tool, but I think for the locals, even if they maybe vote for something bizarre as in Egypt, right, they could vote for the Islamist extremists one year, and then two years later, they would for something completely on the other side, kind of like Biden and Trump now. So we have these polarized choices. What I’m trying to get at, what do you think, in many Islamist countries and, you know, the UAE is the most modern, but it’s still not exactly a democracy in most places. Do you really think this idea of democracy will catch on widely? Is that realistic? I feel like this is just not, it’s not realistic in most Islamic places. I think that’s a very good question, because to me, it’s really about just providing the most important things that every human being, it’s like basically human rights that every human should have, which is, you know, the ability to feed its family, the one, you know, being able to provide for their family to have shelter, to have the rights for education, for jobs. It’s basically services. And, you know, when you talk about democracy, this is a very important question, because it’s basically what I believe is very important for human beings is the feeling of having the freedom. More than the freedom itself. And let me tell you why I’m saying this. You see a lot of Americans today that grow up with so many conspiracy theories. They do not appreciate the democracy and the freedoms that they have here as Americans. They actually don’t like the United States. They talk about it as if it is an evil force, as if it is a dictatorship, even though they have rights that so many people around the world would risk their lives to have. So they are free, but they just don’t have the sense of being free. They don’t believe that they are free. And that’s they’ve never earned it, right? They’ve never earned it, never did something for it. So if you don’t earn it, if you just as a kid, you adjust yourself on the level that’s there, where you don’t, there’s no purpose that they feel, because it’s like we have plumbing in our houses and nobody appreciates it, although it was that big deal 100, 200 years ago. Exactly. There’s no basis of comparison. They don’t really know how, what does it mean for them to live at actually under a dictatorship? You know, we see people who would be, you know, I want to talk about like Snowden or a staunch. I mean, to me, like immediately when I look at somebody like this, you’re going to hide in like a palace that belongs to Putin, and you want me to believe that you are a whistleblower. I’m sorry, you’re not. Okay, when you are empowering and going to our adversaries who are actually evil murderous regimes, you’re not a whistleblower. You’re not standing up for anything. You’re just selling your own country to an actually an evil country. I mean, an evil regime. So to me, it’s very clear that the divide, because I grew up under a dictatorship, I have a basis of comparison. But you know, some of these people don’t just they heard the conspiracy theories, they believe that they’re rebellious. And they just really truly don’t like our country, and they do not appreciate it. So, so I think it’s that basis of comparison versus, you know, like, we talk about other countries where people are don’t have the basic needs for survival. And those people are the ones who I mean, to me, as a person who is watching right now, I believe that what they deserve is to have these things that are basic human rights that every citizen of the world deserves. And those are the things I think about first, and obviously education, because education is very important, people need to know and they need to know the truth, and not propaganda that is sponsored by one corrupt dictatorship here or there. You know, so so I don’t know that answers the question. It’s a difficult question. And what I can totally relate to you, I grew up under the Eastern German regime, and I saw it when I was very young. So I didn’t fully see the repressive effect as badly as others, but it still became apparent to me. And it’s something that I cannot. This is so abstract, I can’t tell my children about them, I can tell them, but they don’t understand what the difference to that is. They’re like, Whoa, there’s a different city and there’s many different cities. So these these are literally abstract ideals. It needs a certain life experience. And also, learning effect that you see progress in the world. And you need to be 30 or 35 to really understand that I think a lot of people who are younger, they can be compared this, but they don’t really understand what this is about unless they have a very traumatic experience. I always want to send my children for two years to Ethiopia, just so they appreciate America again. And I think it would help. But I don’t know how I’m going to pull that off. And so it is it is difficult for people sometimes to see that what is better in the short term in the long term, I think there’s no doubt about it. And people will realize that, but it might take 20 years and might take 30 years. And by that time, you know, for a lot of people, their own life and their flexibility in life is basically gone. They have to be where they are. They can’t just be a digital nomad. Not everyone can. I mean, I encourage people to be a digital nomad for a couple of years and just comparatively see the world. Well, but going back to what you said earlier, what do you think you mentioned that in a very big way that the U.S. is a force for good, right? And as I’m curious, what do you feel? You outlined that to an extent of what you think good is, but who are the forces in the region? Do you feel are forces for good that have adopted something that would really make lives of people in the region better? Are there people who are still creating those people? I would say Israel is a force for good in the Middle East and all over the world. I see the countries that are making peace with Israel are making the right steps in the right direction. And that shows that these countries, even though, like you said earlier, they’re not actually democracies, but they are making the steps necessary to help their people and to help the region in the future. They’re going against what’s been taught, what’s been said for decades. That’s not easy. I actually have a lot of respect for the courageous leaders who did those steps, and I wish for more leaders to follow from the Middle East. Israel, I mean, I can talk about why I believe Israel is a force for good. Not only that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, but Israel has a lot of innovations, high tech, economical basis and platforms that the whole region actually needs to survive in the future. You’re talking about a region that relied on oil for decades. The age of oil is soon to be gone. There’s not even enough water agriculture. There are the destruction that is caused by the Iranian regime that’s been going on for decades. Israel, I mean, I actually talked about this one time when I said, countries in the Middle East and these governments and regimes have been looking all around the world to find allies because they want to fight Israel, because they hate Israel, because they don’t want to destroy Israel. And then one day woke up and realized that it was Israel all along that they needed to bring that region back to life. And that Israel was the element that was missing in the Middle East that was basically not allowed to just become and take its place in the Middle East. And that is why we have this imbalance and destruction that we’ve been seeing for so long. So, you know, this is what I believe in, not to mention that, I mean, there’s so many organizations in Israel who go all around the world to help. And there was like in Puerto Rico, there’s so many organizations when there was a disaster there in African countries. Israel is doing a lot of this already. I just see that this is something that the region really needs. And this is just when you make things right. It’s basically kind of putting the puzzle together. And this is finally happening. I just know that there are obstacles that Iranian regime is still there. There are regimes that are connected to this evil force in the region. But I do see that things will hopefully be only getting better from this point. Yeah, I think the recent peace efforts in the region are called the Abraham records or courts. And I always felt when I was in the region, I was traveling a lot of 10 years ago, I felt a lot of places, especially the UAE. It was very American, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, all the satellite states, Doha, and in many places they resembled life in Israel a lot. Obviously, there’s more mosque, there’s a slightly different overtone to this, but I felt the regions are already very close to each other because the UAE and the countries they had moved very similar into an American lifestyle. And so does Israel, you know, go to many places in Java. It kind of could be in US suburb, just with more European culture, a bit like San Francisco, so to speak. And I always felt this was already on the books and I never understood the behaviors of people. And it’s kind of like Austria and Germany, you know, from the outside, they’re kind of the same country. They all speak the same language and you’re like, whoa, these people should be friends, right? They’re so similar, but they hated each other, right? They invaded each other all the time. And I always felt this about the many Arab countries, not all of them. And I finally see that they came together and now it seems like nobody can really understand everybody at odds for so long. I mean, you can go through the reasons intellectually, but actually if you go from a neighborly, you know, how many similarities do we share? You’re like, whoa, why did we even, why do we wear some kind of war, a cold war mostly for so long? And it’s like, I don’t even remember why we did this, right? It became this institution of looking at Palestine, looking in certain places that were more propaganda tools, so to speak. And now people are like, so yeah, let’s develop some weapons together against Iran. We go from zero to like, whoa, now we share intelligence, you know, which is kind of usually the last thing you do with the former enemy. I find this really surprising that it wasn’t really visible, right? We needed to reach this point of this boiling point and then it suddenly changes so quickly. Do you think this is going to stay that way? So this piece is lasting and it’s forever or there’s something else going on in two years that will all be rolled back because, say, the Biden administration will be very happy with Iran and then we’re going to be friendly with Iran and then we will not like this. That seems to be the current conflict, right? That’s the UAE and Saudi Arabia against Iran. I mean, it’s basically an understanding that these countries are in the region. They have a common present, common threats and common future. There’s no escape from that. Yes, there was an exploitation of the Palestinians by Arab countries where they, you know, the Palestinians who came to Syria, who came to, you know, all over, they were kept as refugees. When you look at the Palestinians in Lebanon, I heard horrifying stories about their treatment because these countries decided to keep using the Palestinians so they can keep on having more and hate an external enemy that they want to threaten their people with and give the Palestinians just the worst of everything, no education, no passports or an actual citizenship where they can have their full rights like everybody else. It was just a continuation of the exploitation. I really, truly hope that all of these countries, they would come to a point where they would give the Palestinians equal rights, obviously, and give them citizenship of the countries where they’ve been living for decades. And for the Palestinians, I hope that they will vote out or somehow get rid of the Palestinian Authority, who’s been doing nothing but exploit them, take all of the aid that was being sent to them, refusing aid that doesn’t, you know, fit their criteria based on their ally, which is Iran, what Iran wants, what Iran doesn’t want. The same thing in Gaza Hamas, who is a terrorist organization, both are basically allies of the Iranian regime, the Iranian regime that is slaughtering its own citizens, that has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in Syria and Iraq and Iran and Lebanon. I mean, you were talking about just a very evil regime and when I, you know, it’s important that for whoever is listening to us today to understand this is, we’re not talking about just, oh yeah, this is because it’s like against the United States that we stand against it. No, this is a murderous regime that has been involved in terrorism against the United States. It’s actually been involved in 911 with thousands of American lives. Aiman Zawahiri, the second guy in al Qaeda is still in Iran today, killed people in Syria just because their Sunni and the Iranian regime is Shia, the same thing in Iraq, they killed all the Sunnis, they accused all the Sunnis of being ISIS and they killed them, and they actually fostered and helped the Sunni extremism. So those are the allies that the Palestinians leadership have chosen. And so there is a very complicated situation. And to me, the key is, is that each country in the Middle East should focus on the interest of their own people, on the prosperity and security of their own people, and to make their own alliances based on that. Obviously Iran is a major threat and continues to be a major threat. Now with the Biden administration in the White House, there are many people who are concerned. I am one of them. Not that I know what is going to happen, but we do see some names that are being picked that were part of the Obama administration team. That’s very concerning for people in the Middle East, because during the Obama administration, we just saw a lot of destruction that happened because of the Obama policies. So we’re just hoping, when we look at the situation right now, for me as an observer, as an American, as a Middle Eastern, it’s concerning. But we’re definitely going to give the benefit of the doubt to the Biden team and push them the best of luck. We just have to wait and see. Yeah. I mean, I find that interesting. There’s this typical left, right divide that has been very much reflected in the Middle East. So there is typically the left in the U.S. or anywhere in the world. It’s very supportive of Palestine. It’s very supportive of Iran right now, which is relatively new thing. For 20 years ago, it was different. So it seems to be irrespective of the facts on the ground. One side chooses their allies and the other side chooses their allies. And then you don’t like the enemies of your other friends. Irrespective of these people or these countries might actually be good allies for you. And what I wanted to get at, nobody really gave me a good explanation for this when you look into the history. And this is a thousand years ago, right? So it’s maybe not as relevant anymore. But originally, the Mohammed and the way the Saudi Arabia was run was run as a caliphate. And you know, way better than me, those old rulers of an Islamic state needed to be a blood relative of Mohammed, right? It can be. And it still is true in Saudi Arabia, many, many, many generations later. And the Persians, the Shiites, relatively early said, this is weird, right? We’re not going to have autocratic kings. We want some kind of control, some democratic control, how we elect our leaders. And they split up from the mainstream of Islam at the time. So when you see this and you can easily interpret this as an early democracy movement, really, really early on, right? I mean, it’s still a thousand years after the Greeks, but still. And that’s kind of the, there’s this core basis of technology, not technology, but since Islam was very successful in developing technology, they really prospered for a long time. And Persians prospered for the longest time, you know, for thousands of years, they controlled much of the Middle East. Why do you think a country with such a rich or a region with such a rich tradition of democracy, kind of different than other Sunni Islamic places? Why do have they gone so far into, you know, state sponsored terrorism? That’s what you just accused them of. And I think a lot of people accused them of, and maybe they’re guilty of that. I’m not a judge at all that. How do you think that happened? How do you come from a place that’s, you know, admittedly, many hundred years ago seems to be the birthplace of a democratic idea. How do you go into the completely opposite direction and become something that seems to be very polarizing against the U.S.? I mean, it’s when you ask the question, if you’re going to go back to the history, the Islamic kind of divide between the Sunni and Shiite. When we were little, my parents took us to Sidzena, which is like the Shiite area where Shiites would go and pray. And they showed us and we kind of covered our heads to just see it and everything because, you know, as my parents, you know, we’re minority, minority of a minority. We sympathize with every minority, including Shiite, because they were persecuted in the Middle East. So, but the truth is, is that, you know, of course, in countries like Saudi Arabia, there was the Wahhabism, which is a very militant way of Islam. So we saw a lot of violence and, you know, those countries had oil, so there was the extremist sheikhs, you know, that promoted that specific type of Islam. And then there’s the Shiite, which actually is the one that follows the bloodline because the split between Shiite and Sunni is because the, and I’m sorry to prolong this explanation, but I believe is that it’s somebody who is from the Umayyad Khalifat or something, the Qilafa, they killed Muhammad’s grandson. Oh, okay. And then the Shiites were the ones who were pro the bloodline of Muhammad. And that’s why they kind of against the Sunnis who were more political and they wanted to just kind of dominate based on, you know, the people who were ruling, not the bloodline of Muhammad. They did not. So it was, I think that was the splits. But it’s humanism. I mean, the Islamic Revolution and Iran that happened in 1979 is what, you know, brought Iran into this. Again, another militant form of Shiite Islam that vowed the destruction of Israel of the United States that just hates everything the West stands for. And I mean, if there was like some historical aspect about some form of democracy that was established from Shiite or Sunni, I’m not aware of that. You know, obviously Iran has the history, the Persian Empire, there’s a history there. But that’s completely, I mean, you know, has nothing to do with what happened in 1979. And this is the regime we’re dealing with is a Islamic extremist regime that just hates everything the United States and the West stands for. And it’s actually made its own people its primary enemies. And that’s why the Iranian people are suffering from this regime. They’ve been suffering for decades. And every almost every Iranian that’s outside of Iran is inside this regime. There are so many minorities in Iran who are not Persian that also have their own aspirations that they wish to have their own self ruling government body, which is what we were talking about earlier that provides them the necessity that the important and basic human rights that every person in this on this planet deserves. And they all would like to be freed from this regime and have some, you know, self determination for their future. So I think this is what we’re talking about here. This is not, you know, the West trying to change the regime in Iran or the government in Iran know this is an evil regime that is hated by its own people. And that is hated by all of its neighbors because it committed vicious crimes and crimes against humanity. Yeah, I want to I want to move on to a slightly less emotional topic, so to speak. Well, I can feel you, you’re very, very involved in that. Usually on the other side, right? The opinionated or not so opinionated independent interviewer. And you’ve been interviewing a lot of people about foreign politics, right? What were your, your, your most chargeable moments, you know, you, you, you’ve talked directly to people who kind of shaped the world over the last 30, 40 years. What really stands out already, you feel like, well, this person I was was really amazed from from his public or her public persona. And then I realized, well, there’s actually kind of a letdown and vice versa, if you can be that honest, and vice versa where you felt like, well, this person probably is not much to say. And it’s like, well, I’m really impressed. It was like Jordan Peterson when you listened to him on YouTube. I’m not sure if I want to like name people and say that I was like, you know, I definitely had the moments where I was disappointed. As an American as a journalist as a human being with, you know, officials from the Obama administration when I was interviewing them. Just because, you know, that’s like you said, I was talking about the Iranian regime and I’m consumed with emotion. Just because I’ve seen the severe injustice that the entire Middle East has been going through because of this regime and seeing those policies, those failed policies and this attitude that was, in my opinion, just very cold, very cold. And it does not represent our values as Americans. Again, the United States is the force for good. I would, to me, I mean, you know, without saying the, you know, the, what’s my personal view of a person or not. But when I interviewed John Kerry, I did ask him about why he was, for example, having those walks with Jawad Zarif. You know, you’re talking about a regime that you want to somehow say that this regime has this reform front, which is Jawad Zarif. The Iranian foreign minister. And you have Rouhani, which is the president. Everybody who’s watching the Iranian regime knows that Khamenei is the one who rules and he’s the one who rules alone. Those people are just a front of the side. There’s folks, people, there are people who try to show the West, oh, that we have, we have a reform side that’s like, but it’s just a facade. So it is disappointing to me when I see American officials who understand what type of regime we’re talking about, kind of say that there is like, oh, no, no, there are reformists. We saw that there was no reformists. Nothing has happened. There was the highest level of executions from the Iranian regime under Rouhani. And Jawad Zarif being their spokesperson. So, so those are the things. But I mean, I’ve had other great interviews like the late John McCain, who’s an American hero. I have so much respect. I’ve had so much respect for him. He was very inspirational for me when I interviewed him many times. He’s just a patriotic American who believes in our role in the world. And because I come from a different side of the world, I believe in that as well. And I know that when the United States retreats from the world, you have evil forces that come and fill in the gap. And we saw Iran being very, very empowered when Obama was in office. And then we saw Russia become very, very empowered. And now those two forces are coming into the region. We see that also China has been coming to the region and that’s very, very dangerous. So we, this is very important when the United States is not as strong and as tough, bad things happen in the world. And, you know, in life, we have this is a one life, a one shot thing. So we have to be careful and how we approach and handle these types of forces. I don’t believe that these forces respond well to diplomacy and kindness and openness and niceness. They understand one thing and that is force and one thing and that is credible threat. Other than that, you’re just going to lose the battle. It’s just a matter of time. Yeah, I can see your hawkish on these topics. And I can see where you’re coming from. My personal experience, you know, growing up with communism and being convinced as a little kid that everyone on the other side of the border is basically a druggie and looks at a very short lifespan and is basically there’s nothing out there but devices of humanity. And the fear on both sides is very palpable and was very palpable. And I’m still surprised nothing happened when we never entered a nuclear war, which from my point of view could have happened any time both sides were kind of ready for it. And I’m very happy that it didn’t happen. What I’m trying to say, it’s still the right approach to talk to people. And we know that people were very skeptical of talking to Iran because as you say, it probably is not going to lead anywhere and these people is going to build a front. But on the other hand, you know, Donald Trump talked to North Korea, which was in the same league as the Iranian layers. And we felt nothing happened. But I don’t think talking to people is ever negative. Yes, people will not necessarily tell the truth. But if they do so, you can read this between the lines, and that’s why I don’t believe in all these social media events, do I think they will continue? If people have an opportunity to make their case, maybe not immediately, right? But over time, you will definitely realize, are you telling the truth or not? And it might take five years, it might take 10 years. This is not immediately clear most of the time and it might make things a little more volatile. But I think having these things coming out and talking about them is good for all sides involved, even if there’s a lot of propaganda. But, you know, I grew up with a lot of propaganda, but honestly, nobody really believed in this crap. Like I had tons of, there were tons of newspapers and they were completely propaganda, fully edited, right? Kind of like the New York Times right now. But after like five or 10 years, people will use it as a toilet paper because that was the only thing that was good for. And these are even people like my parents, they were very well, very close to the regime, so to speak. But they didn’t believe any of this thing either. And so nobody else, right? So there was this 90% of people who probably didn’t believe in any of this. And the old Soviet republics like Eastern Germany, they went from being 100% core aligned with the Soviet Union to this one day when literally 90% of the population was on the streets. Like it only took a few days and then the regime was over. And it was very, very peaceful. And I think sometimes you have to wait these things out and I admire how you, this is very evangelical, right? You admire, do you want to bring peace and the right thing to the world? And there’s something very Christian behind this, right? This is love for other people, but maybe with force. We have to force them to their own good destiny. But I think the people have to. Just the records. You’re right. Yeah, I’m just curious, you’re Christian or you’re Muslim? So I’m very religious, but I would rather not talk about my own religious beliefs. Oh, fair enough, fair enough. It’s the Jordan Peterson excuse. What I was trying to get at is I think it’s a good idea to let people talk and then sooner or later something good comes out of it, even if you talk to a lot of liars, so to speak. But they will put themselves because lying is always more complicated and telling the truth, right? It’s taxing on your brain and it’s taxing on being consistent over time. It’s almost impossible. And there is a force for good, but people need to be ready to appreciate that force for good. And I’m not sure the Russians are ready for this. Maybe they are. I really can’t judge. But coming from the outside is really, really difficult because it needs to be from your inside. What do you think in the current administration? Well, we just changed the administration. What if you see foreign politics for the next few years and you mentioned the issue with Biden? Do you think the U.S. is really at a place where we can make a lot of difference? Don’t you think that to an extent we should let it go and that there was, I don’t know if you read Peter Sien. Peter Sien has this and he’s very active in the DC circles. He basically has this book where he says it’s inevitable that the U.S. will retreat from its global empire. So to speak, we have combat ready soldiers in 100 different countries. We have lots of military bases. We have this whole global trade that we spawn that kind of doesn’t really matter anymore. There’s now COVID. So people, everyone is retreating and the U.S. will retreat into their own borders more or less. Do you believe that’s going to happen, especially with the current administration or the new incoming administration? Or do you think we will continue to push the limits there? I just, I can tell you that I hope it’s not going to happen because the world is still as it is. There’s us, our allies, and there are bad elements. And we have to be there. We have to be ready. We have to be strategic. You mentioned North Korea. I think that’s a very good example. We want to avoid the North Korea example for Iran at any cost. This is very important. I mean, as we are negotiating and I think this is going to happen where the Biden administration will be negotiating a deal with Iran, there must be a consideration of a military solution to end that issue. Because having a nuclear Iran is just going to push other countries in the region to have a nuclear arms race that we cannot afford to have. Those are governments that we don’t know what happens to them in the future. There’s China that wants to support Iran militarily. And, you know, when we talk about China, this is another issue that we have to approach long term. You know, in terms of, for example, if we talk about China, it’s a communist regime that is exploiting the capitalist system of the world. An honest, open capitalist system that is fair competition. When you have a regime that is communist regime, that is exploiting that system, I think we have to come to a place. Where in my opinion, and I’m not an expert on economy, to have a global initiative so we can become less dependent on China to start looking at countries around the world and see where it’s underdeveloped countries, developing countries based on their natural resources, their human resources, and see where we can maybe it will be painful in the beginning to have some kind of rely on them to manufacture different things. Why are we putting our eggs in China’s basket when we know that they’re going to be using everything we have there against us, short, medium or long term? There must be a global approach where we have only other democracies and countries that want to ally with the West, with the United States, with all the countries that actually believe in capitalism and having this open market where we would help other countries that would really need to have these manufacturers open in there where we will actually even out the production and the prosperity in the world that way and we will protect ourselves long term from this type of regime that is just basically waiting out and been just planning things and been cheating the system. So we have to make these adjustments, we have to think of these threats like present, medium and long term, and I believe the immediate thing is to make sure that the Iranian regime does not get a nuclear weapon like North Korea, which does not make the world a safer place today to have a crazy person in a very, very close down dictatorship have a nuclear weapon. I mean, this is not the world that we want to have. So we have to really just think of things long term and okay, we can talk, we can negotiate a deal, but we have to make sure that while we’re negotiating that deal, there’s no nuclear weapon that’s going to come out in the end of it. Yeah, I mean, that’s obviously a huge risk there. I’ve been surprised that the amount of violence and wars in the Middle East has been relatively contained the last 20 years. And I’m not really sure what the sudden effect is. I mean, since 911, I would expect a huge explosion of violence. I mean, there’s American soldiers everywhere, right? They are a target in the Middle East. I mean, there’s a violence, but it seems to be much more limited than I initially thought. And what I feel is like, and I’m interested what you think about China, there’s a book, unfortunately, I forgot the title of it. I read it a really long time ago, about 30 years ago, and it basically made that argument that every country that the US gets as an ally will soon or later develop a bit of a superiority complex that already has a little bit of one, like Germany have a huge one, China has a huge one, Japan has one, the Russia has one, maybe not as crazy. And these countries, Israel has one. So these countries are typically what they do, they become allies of the US or Turkey has one, right? And they become allies of the US and sooner or later they want more out of this relationship. And once this happens, they turn against the US. And I think this is the point where we are enough with China. We profit a lot from China just because they do manufacture really well, and they do it cheaply. Even if they never buy our products, it’s still good for us, strangely enough. So economic theory is kind of weird in this, even if they cheat the whole time and don’t have imports restricted from the US, it’s still good for us. It would be better if they let our products in, but it’s still good if they’re cheap manufacturing base. And what I’m trying to get at is, so this author predicted that we will have a constant struggle between the allies and former allies of the US. And eventually when the RL is like China was for the last 20, 30 years, you’re kind of on an economic way and in a political way, but they were the biggest source of manufactured products and they were buying a lot of stuff, they bought all our treasury bonds. There’s this theory that they will become sooner or later engulfed in a hot war with the United States because they feel superior, because they feel like they have been held down by the US. And the theory is, when you follow this, is that there’s going to be a hot war with China in the next 10 to 15 years, and that will spread with the assistance of China, maybe Turkey, with the assistance of Russia to China, Turkey, and maybe they’ll also play a part in the Middle East. The thought about this is that a thing that a lot of people are worried about when you talk to them, what’s your gut feeling about China? Will it be a hot war? Will it be more like an Iran proxy war that they give money to someone else and they try to stir up some trouble with the US? I mean, you mentioned a few countries when you just talked, and I think there’s a very clear line to draw between the distinction between these countries when you said Japan, Germany, Israel, and then you said Turkey, Russia, China. Democracies are democracies. So Japan, Germany, Israel, these are democracies. They have innovations. They’re very advanced technologically. They’re not breaking any international rules or agreements. They’re just really a part of the international community. When you talk about Russia, I mean, this is a dictatorship that is ruled by a dictator with a lot of blood on his hands. And there’s not a lot of technological advancements from there. The same with Turkey. Turkey benefits from the fact that it’s an ally of the United States. It’s an important ally. It’s a NATO ally. But we have today a dictatorship in Turkey, unfortunately, and that’s something we have to deal with. China is another country that only was an American ally. It was just a country that benefited from the United States forgiveness, allowing them to get away with stealing technology, with not being basically following the rules of the international law, of any trade agreements, of any… And at the same time, standing against the United States on every vote in the United Nations Security Council, I mean, it was just allowed to get away with murder over and over and over again. I think this is time, and I’m very thankful for the Trump’s administration for this, that the United States stood up to China. Now, do I want to have a hot war with China? Absolutely not. I don’t think this is the right approach. It’s definitely a medium and long term strategy where you would have to shift the market. It’s just basically shifting that market, not allowing them to continue to grow more powerful, just because we are open and we have a very fair trade system, and capitalism is about opportunities, a providing opportunity, but we have to be actually more thinking long term. We do benefit in a short term from having this relationship from China, but are we, in the end, just feeding and creating a monster that’s going to threaten everything that we know on this planet? Absolutely. We have to look at the future. We can’t just look at now and the immediate and short term profits and ignore what’s going to happen in the future. So I absolutely believe that we have to have a long term strategy on China, and it should not be depending on who’s the administration in the White House. And it has to be a global approach by us and our allies and all the companies that care about the future of this planet. Yeah, I mean, that’s definitely, it’s very difficult. There’s so many scenarios and there’s a lot of things that make that prediction very hard where this whole development of China is going, because I feel like the US had a certain hope that economic improvement in China, which definitely happened, would lead to kind of like a Taiwan, a mini Taiwan, a bigger but mini in terms of, it’s not as advanced in terms of its own culture development let’s say, Western value development, cultural development is not right. That’s what the US policy was, right, and a lot of people are disappointed. It turned out the other way. We basically, as you say, that’s kind of the feeling we made our enemies stronger and gave them a lot of more power and money that they now use globally against us. So it’s kind of like a Russia approach or a problem that we have with Russia during the Cold War, and the same author also predicted, you know, forget about what’s going on with politics, forget about policies, these are all day to day things. In the end, what matters is, and it’s also true for religions, he said, whoever is able to create enough innovation and enough productivity growth is sooner or later win or worse. Now, if you’re really small, now you can be overrun and everyone is wiped out and that’s the end of story, but if you have a certain critical mass, and I would put this at say 10 million people, somewhere the size of Israel, as long as you produce enough innovation and increase productivity growth, which makes you much more valuable in the eyes of others, you sooner or later win all the wars. There’s no two ways about this because any war, like the Second World War, the First World War, they were all about who was the most advanced economy in terms of mass output, not just, you know, we have five computer chips that we can do but a mass output and how can we keep this going over a long enough time frame and then you win all the wars. I think the question is more, and this bigger topic is, it doesn’t really matter what we do with China, right? In the end, we need to produce a healthy economy that keeps on growing and this is where I am concerned. Just in the last podcast, I talked to Jay Zhao, which he is originally from mainland China, he’s now at Silicon Valley, we talked about China and he’s obviously very conflicted, grew up in mainland China, there’s a lot of family there, and he said, you know, I remarked that as we talked about that, it seems like China is in many ways more entrepreneurial, more open to technology adoption as many places in the U.S. Now, Texas and Florida is different, but many places in the coastal U.S. they become very anti technology. Do you think this is going to continue? Because what I feel, and this is why I’m so concerned, it’s partly the reason why I’m on this podcast so much, is I feel like if we don’t keep up these entrepreneurial values, then the future will really darken. This is like the core, the end is, and some of what we have now, you can be really poor now, like China was 20 years ago, or Ethiopia is right now, if you get this productivity growth going, you’re going to be the richest country on the planet in the matter of 25 years, definitely within someone’s lifetime. Do you feel we’re beginning to lose this in the U.S., or do you think it’s just, you know, data geopolitics, but the actual, what you actually see from people when you go outside the belt, it’s very different, and this is all the technological progress in the U.S. and the adoption is good to go. I know that a lot of people don’t like the word globalization, but I think we need to start looking at the world as one world. You know, we could not just look at only ourselves and think of, okay, so we are not, I think even like now with a pandemic of what happened, I think this revival is for the countries that adapt the fastest, adapt to change that are willing to conform with the changing world that we live in. And we need to look outside of our own, you know, area. There are so many other countries where we could empower their, I mean, not like only the United States, I’m not saying the United States should do everything, right? Because that’s also another thing that is becoming an issue. But we have to start looking at the entire planet and see how we can adapt and how we can change and how, where could we rely on for different technologies, for different advancements, for, you know, resources, and shift our, all of the extra help that we were giving to countries that do not serve us in the long run. And so, I mean, technology is very important as a religious person. You know, we, this is the world that God gave us. And I know that in the end of the day, in my opinion, if we think that science is going to answer all the questions, we are very, very arrogant. But definitely science is part of what we were giving on this planet and people who are the fastest to explore, adapt, and again, you know, kind of mold with the changing world are the ones who are to survive in the end. A country like China that has always been just on the receiving end of stealing somebody else’s invention and making it first, because they just can’t, because there’s no laws to prevent them, because the regime over there facilitates wherever they need to facilitate to make things happen the fastest they can happen, unlike other countries where there’s a democracy, there’s a system, capitalism, there’s a competition, you know, to who is going to do it first. So it’s a different way of doing things. But we have other, I mean, we can just expand the horizon of where we’re looking at, where we can do this, and how we can just kind of go towards a future where one evil regime does not possess the strings to all of these very important things that concern the humanity and our future as people. The same thing for the people in China. I mean, there are all of these, you know, we talk about the Uyghurs and the genocide that’s happening against them. I mean, I really truly believe that we should have a global initiative to help these people. Obviously, the people of Hong Kong, my heart breaks as somebody who grew up under dictatorship to see these people are now losing the democracy and freedom that they’ve enjoyed for so long. It’s such a heartbreaking story. Taiwan is another country that we must do everything to protect, but at the same time, we need to pull all of these benefits that we’re giving to this country that’s undeserving of them and just put them elsewhere. We just have to do those things. Yeah, I think you’re overestimating the impact of policy there. And I think what China is going through in all fairness, I share no love for the communist regime. That’s kind of one of the worst things you can put in front of my face. But on the other hand, the development cycle of copying other people’s technology and product, then innovating slowly or quickly and then producing something better, producing a brand. That’s something every single country in the world has done. It was the true story of Taiwan. It was the story of Japan. It was the story of Germany. It was the story of the U.S. when they came out of England. So this is the way to develop. And there is obviously a gray zone there. But do they do it? Because you just said it, they did it better. They probably, in China, it’s like they’re doing it worse, but they’re doing it cheaper and quicker. So it’s not really… That’s the same as better. That’s the same as better in economic terms. It’s just to think how it’s worse. But it’s just faster and cheaper, and it’s violating the right of whoever invented it first. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of patent and copyrights. I have my own fights about that. So what I wanted to get at is, I think the solution in this is not to be hostile to China, which is maybe necessary at some point, right? Or be very aggressive against China. But I think this is a little bit too emotional in that sense. And it might be warranted, right? I’m with you in the way you describe the problem. But I think that the easiest solution for everyone involved is just to outcompete. The same that happened to Russia, right? We could have tried to bomb Russia or the Soviet Union, and it wouldn’t have ended well for anyone involved, right? Even if we would have won in the end, it would have been not a planet you want to live on. So the solution was for us to outcompete them, and I think this was official policy for quite some time, especially in the 60s when it was so close with the Cuba crisis. So for a lot of these wars, and I’m not saying we should never be in a war, I’m not the pacifist, but I’m saying if we can avoid a war by outcompeting people, and even if we can’t actually, in the end, we can’t control what China does. We can try with some international policy, and you’re right. I mean, there is some levers you can pull, but this bureaucracy is so slow. Say we talk about quantum computing and AGI. If these things happen in China quickly and much quicker than in the US, we’re going to be light years behind, which is just a matter of two years. By the time the UN doesn’t even know what’s going on, the UN knows what AGI is, and what impact it could have on humanity. So these technologies, in the end, we need to be first. And I think this is a lesson, and I feel like if we can use this inspiration to get a more entrepreneurial state of being for this generation going in. Daniel was mentioning this. He said every generation needs a moral crisis. And I feel in the 80s, it was, you know, nuclear war is happening tomorrow, even in the 70s when I was born. And this generation now, the moral crisis, is everything is racist, right? But that’s propaganda. I mean, maybe it’s true in certain instances, and probably it is true, but that’s not how we create a forward looking, positive policy of strong economic growth. I mean, maybe we do, right? Let’s not put it this way, but I think what’s going on right now is this end of the long cycle of US dominance, and we need to renew it, or we’re going to lose it, right? We’re going to have someone, and now we have a real big challenger. And I feel if we could just create out of these policy proposals that you had, if we could create positive economic policies in the sense that we get this generation to be as strong as entrepreneurial and get our productivity growth up, then these problems will go away by themselves. We don’t have to worry much. In 20 years, we’re going to be by far the biggest and most advanced economy on the planet. And everyone else will just, like you said, Israel is now in the Middle East. Israel is attached to this technology, but if we just have the values but no productivity advantage, then I don’t think it’s going to look so good for the US. I agree with you, and I do not advocate for a war with China. I said it very clearly. I know I talk in a way that is more emotional, but I do not believe that this is the solution. I definitely would say that it is different than when the Soviet Union because China is playing both worlds. So it’s a communist regime, but it’s exploiting capitalism. So it’s a more complicated problem than the Soviet Union. I agree that we have to think of a long term approach of how to offset the balance again, where the West and democracies have the upper hand in technology and advancement and just be ahead. So yes, I’m just saying that this is something to think about. This is a global issue that there should be more thought and time and focus and energy put into this. And I’m just hoping that this is in place at this point. Yeah. When you give me your own perspective, how much do you think the foreign policy within an administration, people that are part of a larger administration, how much do you think foreign policy is real policy? It’s actually changing the lives of people quickly. And that’s my gut feeling sometimes. Foreign policy is a bit like, when you said that earlier, you come over the foreign enemy, then you blame that foreign enemy, then you create a policy and just because it’s a topic that people can attach themselves emotionally to, you kind of use foreign policy as a bit of a virtue signaling people in line. Climate change is on the left, right? You say, oh, we’re all going to be dead in 12 years and I grew up with the ozone layer and we’re all going to be not able to go outside in less than 10 years. I was in the 90s in very normal discussion and I was a very strong lefty in the 90s. So I was singing the same praise and I felt I can never go outside again, which if we have still destroyed the ozone layer, obviously it didn’t happen. Fortunately, it didn’t happen. And the same is kind of true with climate change. It brings people in line. But do you think the foreign policy often, when you talk to other leaders of other countries or foreign policy advocates of other countries, do you think that’s a consistent issue and maybe we are making the same mistake or do you think that’s only related to certain regimes that actually use it purely as a propaganda tool, but in general foreign policy is real? No, absolutely. We definitely have foreign policy is real. We have different administrations that carried out different policies, different belief sets like you just mentioned. What my problem is is the very kind of big gap in terms of foreign policy between one administration and another. You see the approach is just very, very kind of like all the way on the other side. I don’t think this is healthy. As a person, I care about policies and actions of administrations rather than people. I know a lot of people did not like Trump. He’s a provocative person. He is not a usual president. He does not say the right thing. I mean, I understand. I completely understand those beliefs, but this administration had carried out policies that were for the best interests of the United States and for our allies. That’s my belief. That’s what I’ve seen. Then you get a different administration, a democratic administration. I don’t know if that was as severe before, but it is happening today and it’s concerning to see the approach because again, dictatorships respond to force, respond to strength. When you get an administration that seems soft, that seems strong, that just immediately empowers these regimes. They feel the power of, oh, nobody’s going to stop us now. We can get away with everything. Then you get more trouble, more problems. I do believe there is the climate change. Why is it a left and right question? I don’t know. I happen to be centered on so many issues and considerate on other issues. I voted for Hillary Clinton in the first election. I did not vote for Donald Trump because I was like, who is this guy? Naturally I would vote Republican, but Donald Trump to me was not a Republican. I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t know what he stood for. He was also an isolationist, which is what Obama was, which I do not like. I felt like Hillary would be the one thing she would represent something in the middle or a traditional American kind of more center left. That was the choice. It’s not really about people. It’s about policies. I think you want to choose what you believe would be best for the country. Under the previous administration, we had a really good economy until the pandemic hit. We have to just really wait and see what this administration is going to do and how they’re going to be handling all of these different threats and issues that are awaiting for this administration and an ever changing world as we’re speaking. The world is changing is just a matter of us looking at it and realizing these changes and doing the right thing. I appreciate your sincerity. The feeling I have, and you’re part of that industry, I’m part of that industry to an extent, so we can be honest. I feel there is a lot of theater to it. There’s a lot of politics you want to sell and idea, but you kind of make up things that you don’t really necessarily believe in, but you just want to be voted in office. Maybe you believe them, maybe not, but it’s very difficult sometimes to tell the difference. What I always felt is that the actual impact of policies is really overestimated. There is obviously that’s maybe too much to broad a statement, but think about what he wanted to do. He came in and said, I’m going to meet with everyone. No, no, no preconditions. He wanted to meet with North Korea. It didn’t happen. He wanted to meet with Iran. I don’t know if it actually happened. I think not on a presidential level. He basically said, everyone who wants to talk to me should talk to me, and I’m willing to travel anywhere. And he did. But not a lot of actual high level discussions came out of it. And then there was this policy to give Iran a lot of money and a lot of leeway. I don’t know how many billions it was. It was a considerable amount of money and the lifting of restrictions. But that was something the Europeans also wanted to do. But this money would have come from Russia if it wouldn’t have come from the US or would have come from Germany. Someone would have given Iran money just in the hope that this money would do the trick. It didn’t, right? So I feel like irrespective of what the concrete policy was, there is a bigger effect behind it. And these geopolitics, they kind of play out irrespective of policies in the specific moment. Iran is going to be a problem for this administration and for the next one and for the one after, right? Until there is a solution. And this can only come from the Iranian people, I feel. I hope not. I truly hope not. I don’t really think that time could be extended as, like, for that long. Because if we’re talking about the Iran problem and the nuclear Iran question being a problem of this administration and the next one and the next one, that means Iran has a nuclear weapon. I mean, that’s what that means. And that means that other countries in the region also have nuclear weapons. And this is not good news for anybody in the world that cares about the security of the Middle East, about the prosperity of the Middle East, about the future and the prosperity of the world as we know it. So this is very serious. I definitely think that Obama came in with an isolationist perspective as a person. I don’t think Obama actually cared for our allies or really believed in the American role in the world. He wanted the United States to retreat. He went to Cuba and danced tango to show up while the Cubans were being murdered on the streets and they were being picked up by the Castro regime. He was forgiving with Iran and gave Iran the upper hand and allowed them to continue sponsor terrorism and kill innocent people all over the Middle East because he was like let’s just negotiate the deal. This is not our place to be the cop of everybody. A lot of people said this policy drove the United Arab Emirates to the accords that we have in Israel and Saudi Arabia because if Iran wouldn’t have prospered so much geopolitically in that moment, they wouldn’t have never agreed to that opening towards Israel, which just happened. If the megatrend is in… Was it intentional? Of course not. That’s what I’m trying to say. People’s intentions and the outcomes of these big games because in the end it’s all game theory. It doesn’t really depend on your actions so much. The prison is a dilemma. You can’t control the outcome even if you can control yourself because there’s another person in the other room which can mess up whatever you’re doing. The original policy is a good and bad intent or whatever. The whole game of politics kind of plays on. The actual driver is economic growth. If you have economic growth, you can buy up everyone. It’s kind of what Germany does. Germany didn’t have a real army for a long time and it’s basically dysfunctional. What they’ve been really good at is giving everyone a big check because they had so much money. Biggest economy in Europe. Everyone bought everyone and that works for a long time. Until someone says we can just take it. That hasn’t happened yet? What do you mean by bought everyone? What does that mean? That was kind of the same thing in Iran. Germany was a driver of this besides France and they said why don’t we give you a lot of money and then you just don’t have nuclear weapons anymore and we may be in force and maybe not but we hope for the best. Germany and France were against Iran nuclear deal and it took the United States back. What do you mean specifically France to join? France is more hawkish than Germany but Germany has been doing this forever. They’ve done this with Poland initially. They’ve done this with Russia and they build a huge pipeline with Russia and you feel like this is really strange. They seem to really think that giving money not to NATO but everyone else is the way to buy your friendship and so far it has worked. I don’t know if it’s a long term strategy but so far it has definitely worked. Our European allies have been very just kind of thinking about the moment and each government is worried about its next elections and no one is just really thinking about the long game and this is I think one of democracy’s flaws, right? Is that you get an administration, you get a government and all it cares about is resolving the problems of now and getting elected for the next term. What are the dictators having? I agree and this is a real problem and the autocratic solution, the dictator so to speak there could be a benevolent dictator it doesn’t have to be malevolent, right? So when you think this through you actually end up with an autocrat or a dictator for a certain time with a term limit, say a term limit of 20 years kind of like Singapore, right? When you think this through this is very risky and they’ve shown, right? They’re definitely a dictatorship but they’ve shown how they quickly they’ve changed China. I think most citizens are actually better off than 20 years ago not the ones who died but everyone else. Chinese citizens I mean don’t have they hardly have enough money to eat they work so long they get really little benefits Better than 20 years ago you go to China these cities look like they’re way more modern than any American city even the third tier cities it’s incredible. It is incredible but the people didn’t benefit I mean there is still No, I mean they they were bought kind of by the Chinese regime, right? We give you money we give you prosperity but never question us and it worked in Singapore, it worked in a lot of different places but it’s very risky, I agree with you Singapore is that I mean I’m not sure about like the government system in Singapore but is that not a democracy? It’s total dictatorship It is, it is a prosperous country so yes, you have a point to this I’m not sure about where does that country stand in terms of its alliances with the US allies with Western countries because in the world there are forces for good and forces for bad. I agree that there’s not a very kind of black and white clear line on oh so if this country is a dictatorship doesn’t have the elections that oh my god it’s pure evil because like you said this is an example of a country that prospered that its citizens are living a good life, they have all of the basic necessities human rights and needs to excel in this world in their lives so yes there is a lot of questions and debate to kind of keep talking about the difference there like what is what is good and what’s not good because like you said we can go to a country I don’t know Afghanistan and just ask them to vote and see who they would vote for and they might end up voting for an extremist regime, they might not but it is an interesting question I think what I said again is it comes down to the people’s beliefs and the life that they’re living on daily basis working themselves to death which is what I’ve been reading about about China, people who work themselves to death, I don’t think that’s healthy, I don’t think that’s okay, I don’t think that’s… there’s only China town in the major US city and there’s a lot of Chinese working themselves to death, living in freedom like this is a cultural trait, it’s not I mean that’s true, they do, but that’s a cultural trait to work 90 hours a week because you want to make your children better off maybe there’s nothing really else you care about, they’re just culturally pre programmed to do this not everyone who’s Chinese but there’s a definitely they tend towards working more than anyone else and they obviously earn more I mean I think Chinese Americans are some of the highest earning categories or if you sort by race which I think is stupid, but if you do that they’re doing this very well and for a good reason because it’s what they choose, right? Some people choose to work hard, other people like Germans they go to beaches and work 30 hours a week and they’re fine with this, right? Everyone in study philosophy, everyone has a different approach so some people end up being richer and some are poorer which is fine as long as they respect each other to an extent it comes down to the system that is ruling, right? I rather not live in a country that people have to work till death. I just don’t think this is okay I don’t think this should be accepted again you know, yes we understand that different cultures have different things but there definitely must be a government in place that sets rules and laws to protect its people to make sure they don’t work themselves to death and that they can continue to provide to their family and have a healthy, long life so those are the things I think we’re… Have you been to Taiwan? It’s just anecdotal but have you been to Taiwan? They’re very they’re very they’re very Chinese so to speak, much more than Hong Kong but they’re very friendly folks not like the mainlanders, they always harp on the mainlanders because they’re not friendly enough anyways, what I wanted to say is what you see in Taiwan is the oldest people you’ve ever seen anywhere everyone is like 110 and they’re all half naked and they walk through the city, they’re not homeless they just live in the place they’re in their residence and then they walk outside they sit outside or do some mechanical work I’ve never seen so many old people that are not just old, they’re like beyond old and they look fit, right? They’re all skinny and they’re like well that’s how they spent their 50 years of retirement I don’t even know when they retire they all do something but I’ve never seen so many old people so publicly in your face half naked all the time that’s when you go through Taipei and probably also outside of Taipei and Taiwan and it’s a free country, right? So it’s different It’s a free country, tell me more about their governments in place because that’s a really good example, right? It’s an island Taiwan is in any respect awesome it’s very competitive it’s a very democratic country it’s kind of the opposite of what the mainland China is and the rift between the experience, when you go to mainland you have a lot of really grumpy people that work very hard but they’re really grumpy and they don’t believe in God they don’t believe in anything because how could you, right? If you believe in something it will just make you vulnerable and in Taiwan it’s a complete opposite you have very friendly people everything is really cheap but it’s really good quality for countries in Eastern Asia way cheaper than Japan or China itself now and you have this high quality of servers everywhere and you have people who definitely seem settled and very positive and that is night and day I mean, these are exactly the same people but they have the same answer stories until 50, 60 years ago and it’s night and day differences like North Korea and South Korea couldn’t be bigger the difference Eastern or Western Germany was the same thing so I’m totally with you but it has to come out of people’s minds that regimes will get rid of it and my theory even, I’ve been to 130 countries and you might correct me on this but my experience was always people kind of have, not immediately in that moment but over time they have the regime that they deserve and that sounds harsh and cruel but I feel like if the people choose to be better governed they would have chosen better they do it without you, they don’t need the US for this they could just fire whoever leads them I just, this whole thing when we talk about regime change and oh my god this is such a negative word in the United States now that we’re talking to American audience I’m not like the approach should never be let’s go and do a regime change war but definitely we have a role to play in supporting the people’s abilities to make those changes on their own so we should not be in a place to empower evil regimes, we should not just period, I mean this should be like where we stop because this is just not good for the world whatever happens, in the end of the day we are living in one small world and we are going to a place where someday this whole world is eventually one I know people don’t like to use this but this is globalist I would not even call it globalist it’s a strange word, very strange word I’m flabbergasted by it it’s interesting you want to be global on one head but it’s become a bad word over time it has become a bad word that’s why I would not use it I’m just saying that we are whether we like it or we don’t we are heading towards a place where it’s just everything that’s the destiny of humanity I mean that’s my belief I know it could be very spiritual biblical you know but this is where we are going I just believe that we have a role to play we should not be passive we should not be at least in a place where we empower these regimes like you said the people in the end they will decide how this ends but we should do our part and just protecting our interests our allies and the things that we stand for, our values that’s what the world needs to survive that’s probably the last thing I’m going to torment you with we had these policies in Pakistan and Afghanistan so we didn’t want to put troops on the ground so we said let’s use the drones and then obviously they produce a lot of collateral damage because in the end it’s bombs that we don’t need to throw at people and then we produce a lot of hate for America that’s actually real because people use their relatives for no reason maybe we killed the terrorists but we also killed a lot of innocent people and that sooner or later I mean if you do this constantly creates a lot of backlash against the US what do you think is kind of the best foreign policy tool that doesn’t create a lot of negativity against the US is that from what you see you either have boots on the ground or you give people money I feel a limited amount of options to release change people’s behavior what is your current favorite would you say well we make a policy and we kind of do it a moral imperative I think that’s maybe the third avenue what are your favorite tools obviously you said war is not your favorite yes absolutely I believe that the United States should not be pulling out of places where other elements that are bad could fill in that space because now we are in places so in my opinion pulling out is not going to be helpful what do you mean basis but people don’t leave the bases anymore most American bases are very restricted they don’t really leave in many countries where they were kind of hostile hostile forces so I agree with you in terms of Afghanistan that’s a debate where some people want the United States to pull out I mean the question to me would be what would happen when the United States pulls out who’s filling that gap if that’s going to be another area where we’re going to have other bad forces there’s somehow going to attack our allies and attack us in the future then we should not be leaving that would be my simple straightforward answer now if there are ways for us to also invest globally again like have our allies also be involved in changing the educational system and facilitating and helping these people in these countries that disagree with the Taliban that disagree and actually let me tell you something person when Obama was in the White House and the United States kind of retreated from a lot of countries you can tell immediately how these people of these countries are terrified because they do not want the United States to leave people here think that the United States is just like occupying countries but the people of these countries do not want the United States to leave because the alternative is really scary and it’s actually evil and they end up getting killed so to me it’s about education we need to help those countries in one way or the other empower the pro democracy pro human rights elements within these countries so in the long run we’re not just leaving for the Taliban to take over we have to have a long term approach where we empower the good guys and let the bad guys self locate until they die out which is what they deserve to do because the people don’t want them because they’re basically just they’re drug dealers, they’re murdering their citizens they should not be in power one thing that I was thinking about now that we print so much money when you look back one of the probably maybe accidental but one of the most successful policy initiatives was the Marshall Plan when you look back and that created obviously on the ruins of second world where everyone was craving for cash in Europe and beyond and that really it felt like we bought a lot of friends we made sure that these allies are designed in our system but we give them so much money that nobody could refuse it I wonder if we can just print a couple of trillion, go to the Middle East go to all these trouble spots and say this is what we want you to do these are the milestones and you get like a billion every day as long as you do this kind of what we did in Iraq it kind of works so well but I felt like a nation building that’s completely voluntary without going down having troops on the ground because that’s always going to be pretty nasty imagine we had like a bunch of French troops and Russian troops and Iranian troops in DC you would be like this is weird even if they don’t do anything and if they’re there for the good you’re like okay these people shouldn’t be there nobody can deny that and that’s kind of what I feel would really make change the game but like the examples you’re using just don’t fit because you’re talking about a democracy where there’s dictatorships will send forces to a democracy to save it somehow this is not the case when you’re talking about the US I don’t see the clear distinction between dictatorship and democracy I don’t see it there’s something to it but it’s not as clear how do you not see the difference between the regime in Russia and the United States I’m very familiar with the political philosophy but how it breaks down for the individuals especially short term we’re not talking about 200 years we’re talking about 20 years the differences are not that huge American democracy because then this YouTube video ends up being banned but I have my own theories what happened in the last couple of elections not just the last one the last four or five elections anyway so you were saying democracy is different but would that kind of a new Marshall plan do you think that would be useful or we do it anyways but we can’t scale this up right now when we talk about the Iraq war there were so many mistakes that were done things should have been done differently it does not take away the fact that the Iraqi people wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein I mean you just have to be very clear we’ve had the Syrian regime and the Iranian regime who start sending terrorist extremists into Iraq and commit suicide bombings kill Iraqis kill American soldiers to make sure that Iraq would be a failed experiment by the United States and until today without destruction continues today there was two suicide bombings in Baghdad that killed so many people and my heart breaks for the people in this region just because everybody is continuing to pay for the price and I think the specifically why we have been is because we’ve had after the Bush’s administration we’ve had the Obama administration that came in and were like oh we’re going to fix the mistake we’re just going to pull our troops out as if that was the solution and then what happened was that the Iranian regime was in crisis because these Sunnis were oppressed by the Shiite extremist groups who were just slaughtering Sunnis just because they were Sunnis with the help of the Iranian regime basically extremism became their way and that’s what happens you just have bad elements that will come out of because there’s a vacuum in war so the solution is never to just walk away there’s always other solutions there are ways where we could protect our interests and help the people of these countries and make sure that there’s not bad elements and bad forces that are coming to fill in that gap and I think and I hope that Biden he was the vice president of Obama at the time that he had a different point of view and that he is not going to be reimplementing those failed policies by the Obama administration in the Middle East on this positive note Havi I really thank you for all your passionate commentary and ideas that you’ve been telling us for the last hour and a half thanks a lot for doing this, really appreciate that thank you so much for your sense great to be with you and I wish you all the best on your show and all on my side hope to see you again thanks a lot Havi Thanks for watching andTonight I’ll see you guys next time

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