NYT profile of Zakaria, Desi foreign policy & wine maven...
rohit at ics.uci.edu
Fri Apr 11 15:59:05 PDT 2003
Definitely a desi to watch... I've only heard him speak once, but he's
also got the voice and presence to match... good luck to him, not least
because I broadly agree with his writings. Haven't looked at his latest
book, however, on "Illiberal Democracy", but I'll let you know when I
"Fareed Zakaria, one of the most brilliant young writers, has produced
a fascinating and thought-provoking book on the impact of Western
constitutional principles on the global order."
— Henry Kissinger
September 24, 1999
NY Times: At 34, Worldly-Wise and on His Way Up
By Elisabeth Bumiller
On the wall of Fareed Zakaria's office hangs a great trophy of his
trade: an autographed copy of George F. Kennan's historic ''X''
article, published in 1947 in Foreign Affairs, that first articulated
America's policy of Soviet containment. Nearby is a signed copy of
Henry A. Kissinger's ''Reflections on American Diplomacy,'' published
in 1956 in Foreign Affairs, which launched the would-be Secretary of
State as a public intellectual.
And alongside that, in case one does not yet get the picture, is a
signed copy of ''The Bent Twig'' by Isaiah Berlin, published in 1972 in
Foreign Affairs, which became a prophetic treatise on the rise of
nationalism in the Third World.
''I got him to sign it a month before he died,'' Mr. Zakaria said.
In short, no one should ever doubt Mr. Zakaria's sense of history, or
his desire to be a part of it.
In 1993, at the age of 28, he became the youngest managing editor of
Foreign Affairs, taking over the No. 2 spot at the nation's premier
foreign policy journal. Six years later, he is spinning comfortably in
the innermost orbits of America's foreign policy establishment. He has
published a book on the United States' origins as a global power, is at
work on another about ''democracy everywhere, past, present, future,''
and is a columnist for Newsweek.
And although it is still too early for him to be flown down to Texas to
advise the Presidential candidate George W. Bush -- Mr. Zakaria says he
likes moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats -- it is not too
early for him to know everyone who has. Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's
chief foreign policy adviser, calls him ''intelligent about just about
every area of the world.''
But there is an obstacle. Mr. Zakaria is still a citizen of his native
India, though now in the final stages of becoming a naturalized
American -- a move that he sees as inevitable but also central to his
acceptance inside a campaign, and certainly a White House. And although
he is following in the footsteps of two other immigrant-diplomats, Mr.
Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, he does not come out of a European
''I don't think anyone ever imagined that in the next decade or so
there could be a national security adviser from India,'' said Leslie H.
Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (publisher of
Foreign Affairs) and a former columnist for The New York Times. ''This
is in the realm of possibility.'' (Mr. Zakaria smiled, carefully, at
Mr. Gelb's pronouncement. ''Les has a certain set of ambitions for
me,'' he said.)
Mr. Zakaria's traditions, like those of a lot of upper-class Indians,
are in fact more Westernized than Americans might suspect. ''I found
myself, at a fairly young age, intellectually more at home in the
West,'' said Mr. Zakaria during a two-hour talk this week in his small
office just off Park Avenue at the Council on Foreign Relations, where
he said at least twice that he had no connection to the Bush campaign
and seemed most worried about sounding arrogant.
''I also think I grew up in an India that's vanishing,'' he said. ''The
secular, somewhat Anglicized India of the 1960's and 1970's is giving
way to a much more authentic, Indian India . But it's not an India I
feel that comfortable in.''
Mr. Zakaria grew up on Malabar Hill, Bombay's Bel Air, in a big house,
Rylestone, where his parents held Urdu poetry readings and had plenty
of space for him to play cricket out back. His father, Rafiq Zakaria,
was deputy leader of the ruling Congress Party under Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi. His mother, Fatma Zakaria, was the Sunday editor of the
The Times of India.
Rylestone, built during the Raj for a British high court judge, bustled
in the evenings with writers, artists and politicians. During the day,
Mr. Zakaria received a classical English education at the Cathedral
School, where 800 Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims ''would gather together and
sort of lustily sing 'Nearer My God to Thee.' ''
Mr. Zakaria went to Yale, fell in love with America and abandoned
England as any kind of spiritual home. ''You can't penetrate English
culture -- you can admire it,'' he said. ''Whereas in America, there's
absolutely no sense of that.''
After receiving a doctorate in political science from Harvard in 1993,
Mr. Zakaria was quickly hired by James Hoge, the editor of Foreign
Affairs, plunging into life at the council on East 68th Street.
''People think of America as a strongly materialistic culture,'' Mr.
Zakaria said. ''But it really isn't. There's an extraordinarily vital
intellectual life here.'' It's not that people aren't interested in
politics, he added, but ''it's a big, vast country where the stakes are
''In India, politics can be about life and death if you're on the wrong
side of an issue.''
Yesterday, predictably, CNN had him assessing Mr. Bush's foreign policy
speech at the Citadel, which Mr. Zakaria praised as ''smart,
hard-headed Republican internationalism'' and ''not a crazy, let's go
all over the world and spread democracy and justice'' screed.
Mr. Zakaria is married to a jewelry designer and has a 3-month-old baby
boy. He is wine columnist for Slate, the Internet magazine, speaks and
dresses elegantly, but has an American approachability and a very
specific American fantasy. ''The immigrant in me,'' he said, ''wants to
go off to some Northeastern dock and sail off in topsiders and a polo
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