By Frederic Grare, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Frederic Grare is a senior associate and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
Pakistan’s military is set to launch a major military operation in North Waziristan, AP reported this week, after weeks of hesitation over its strategy of negotiating with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Yet although the expected operation follows the killing of 23 Pakistani soldiers last month by a Taliban faction, it seems likely to have been motivated by something more than a desire to retaliate and coerce the TTP into talks.
Whatever the motivation, it will have a significant impact on the country’s relationship with its weaker neighbor: Afghanistan.
In early 2012, Pakistan’s Foreign Office publicly declared a “strategic shift” in its thinking on Afghanistan, and began promoting its own version of an inclusive reconciliation process, as well as actively reaching out to elements of the Northern Alliance. Islamabad adopted this new policy after concluding that its strategy of supporting the Taliban alone was unlikely to produce a “friendly” Afghanistan (in other words, one under close Pakistani influence) because the Taliban is, for now at least, simply not capable of taking the reins of power on its own.
Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
On GPS this Sunday: A special live edition of the show analyzing the latest developments in Ukraine. Fareed speaks with former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon before convening a panel of analysts including New York University’s Stephen Cohen, Canadian politician and journalist Chrystia Freeland and Princeton University’s Stephen Kotkin.
Also on the show, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu finally came out for Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East peace efforts this week. But he faces intense opposition even from within his own cabinet – Fareed speaks with Israel’s economics minister, Naftali Bennett, who explains why he believes Netanyahu is wrong
And, is failure actually good for you? That's what a new book suggests, and Fareed will be speaking with the author.
By Aakanksha Tangri
GPS intern Aakanksha Tangri speaks with Robert Oxnam, President Emeritus of the Asia Society, about the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the United States, and what it could mean for relations with China.
What are the likely short-term and long-term impacts on U.S.-China relations after President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama?
It’s important to note that every U.S. president from Reagan onward has had meetings in the White House with the Dalai Lama. Clinton had four meetings with His Holiness during his presidency. Both Clinton and Bush have had post-presidency meetings as well. Indeed the Dalai Lama recently said “I love George Bush.” So, in 2009, when President Obama did not meet with the Dalai Lama, he was breaking a well-established precedent; and thus his 2014 meeting simply reverted to an older pattern. It’s worth noting that Obama has now had three meetings with the Dalai Lama.
Of course, the Chinese always protest loudly on these occasions because they have a strong interest in asserting Chinese sovereignty over what they call the Tibetan Autonomous Region. But since Obama explicitly said that neither the United States, nor even the Dalai Lama, wants full independence for Tibet, the sovereignty issue was sidestepped.
I think that Obama was quite correct in asserting his support for Tibetan human rights issues and also properly calling the Dalai Lama “an internationally respected religious and cultural leader.” By contrast, the Chinese leadership calls His Holiness a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and head of the “Dalai Clique.”
For more on the latest developments in Ukraine, watch a special live edition of "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
By Fareed Zakaria
Inevitably, the crisis in Ukraine is being discussed in Washington largely through the lens of political polarization. It seems like any and every topic is fodder for partisan dispute these days, even the weather – actually, especially the weather.
Many Republicans are arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened in the Crimea region of Ukraine because of President Barack Obama's weakness. Putin saw that Obama didn't want to go to war in Syria, for example, and this emboldened Putin.
Well, who knows right? It's tough to know what would have happened in an alternative universe. Imagine that we still had Putin around in charge of Russia, but imagine he faced a different president, one who was tough, aggressive, who had no compunctions about invading countries.
Oh wait, we ran that very experiment in 2008! Putin faced George W. Bush, a president who had invaded Afghanistan and Iraq for good measure (and, in the latter case, defying massive international pressure and opposition). And yet, Putin invaded Georgia. And not, as he did this time, in a stealthy way with soldiers who were already there who simply switched their uniforms. He sent in Russian tanks roaring into Georgia and – without any referendums – simply annexed two pieces of that country.
By Farahnaz Ispahani, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Farahnaz Ispahani, a former member of Pakistan’s parliament, is currently a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
International Women’s Day, being marked Saturday, is as good a time as any not just to celebrate how much progress has been made, but also how much farther there is to go on the road toward guaranteeing women’s rights. Sadly, for women in at least one country, the journey is getting increasingly arduous.
For decades, the status and rights of women in Pakistan have been a casualty of concessions made by the state to those clamoring for what they describe as Islamic rule. But with the Taliban’s call for the imposition of Sharia law during current peace talks between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistani government, there are growing concerns that women’s freedoms will be further eroded.
The reality is that Pakistan’s women have no real voice in the government’s talks with the Taliban – not only is there a lack of representation on the government’s negotiating team, but negotiators from both sides represent a similar conservative religious viewpoint. And despite some changes in the negotiating procedure, and the men who will negotiate, the government remains committed to working with the Taliban instead of fighting them."
By Carl Meacham, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Carl Meacham is director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (@CSIS) in Washington, DC. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
This week, amidst political turmoil that has gripped the country and left more than a dozen dead and hundreds more injured and detained, Venezuela commemorated the passing of President Hugo Chávez.
Chávez was best known for his “Bolivarian Revolution,” through which he pursued aggressive, state-centered approaches to alleviate the social, political, and economic challenges facing Venezuela. And by some metrics he was successful – between 2004 and 2012, the country’s poverty rate halved, and literacy and access to healthcare increased substantially.
But Chávez also left behind a country deeply divided along political and socioeconomic lines, one suffering from skyrocketing crime and violence and bogged down by economic instability. Is his successor, Nicolás Maduro, now reaping the seeds of discontent sown by Chavismo?
CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the latest developments in Ukraine, newly announced sanctions against Russia, and what the United States can and should do moving forward.
The parliament in Crimea voted to join Russia, and they've called for a referendum 10 days from now to let the people there vote. Does this pose a problem for the United States? What if the people there vote to become part of Russia?
Exactly, because if we believe that the people's voice should be heard, the people of Crimea should decide what they want. As has been said, it’s 60 percent Russian majority – there's a large group of people who are historically tied to Russia.
Remember, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, and it was gifted in a kind of internal transfer, because it was all part of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev, the then-Soviet leader, transferred Crimea from Russia to Ukraine, but all within the one country, the Soviet Union. So, it sort of stayed part of Russia until 1991. This means Ukraine hasn’t really had Crimea that long.
What's likely to happen is a referendum would go in the direction of Russia, and the Ukrainian parliament would not accept that referendum. And so then what you have is two different legal realities, but the political and military reality, of course, is that Russia will have taken over Crimea.
By Fareed Zakaria
There are those who are still trapped by history and geography. Think of Pakistan’s generals, still trying to establish “strategic depth” in their backyard while their country collapses. Or think of Putin, who is, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, playing a 19th century game in the 21st century. He may get Crimea. But what has he achieved? Ukraine has slipped out of Russia’s grasp, its people deeply suspicious of Moscow. Even in Crimea, the 40 percent who are non-Russian are probably restive and resentful. Moscow’s neighbors are alarmed, and once-warming relations with Poland will be set back. Trade and investment with Europe and the U.S. will surely suffer, whether there are sanctions or not.
Meanwhile, Russia continues along its path as an oil-dependent state with an increasingly authoritarian regime that has failed to develop its economy or civil society or to foster political pluralism. But no matter–Moscow controls Crimea. In today’s world, is that really a victory?
By Fareed Zakaria
“The stark fact is that even if Russian military intervention stops with the establishment of a pro-Russian vassal state in Crimea, Russia will have enormous leverage over the new government in Ukraine,” writes Edward Walker in the Los Angeles Times. “It can cut back on crucial gas deliveries, raise the price of gas and other commodities it is selling to an economically prostrate Ukraine, impose painful tariff and nontariff barriers on trade, and, above all, it can stir up endless trouble for Kiev, not just in Crimea but also in other Russian-speaking regions of the country.”
“In the longer term, the crisis in Ukraine suggests that it is time to reconsider NATO expansion and to explore alternative institutional arrangements for European security in the 21st century. Ukraine, for example, would be much better served by a NATO-Russian-Ukrainian treaty that provided for its military neutrality and some kind of a common customs regime for trade with the EU and Russia (or a Russian-led customs union). It is in no one's interest, least of all Ukraine's, to see a continuation of the dogfight between Russia and the West over Ukraine's external orientation.”
By Olga Oliker, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Olga Oliker is associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. The views expressed are her own.
Russian troops appear in control of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said “the possibility still exists” that Russian forces could be sent deeper into Ukraine to defend the rights of protesting ethnic Russians. Russia’s much-voiced belief in principles of sovereignty, it seems, have been trumped by its long-held view that ethnic Russians must be protected, wherever they may live.
Two competing narratives are at work. In the narrative heard in the United States and Europe, democracy-seeking protesters forced Russia’s puppet president from office and are building a new government, which represents Ukraine’s Western values. In Russia’s narrative, a freely elected government was illegally deposed as a result of street violence encouraged by the United States and EU. Ukraine is in chaos, with ultra-nationalists threatening ethnic Russians throughout the country. Washington and Brussels saw Russia invade Ukraine. Looking from Moscow, Russian troops are trying to bring peace and stability to a neighboring state on the verge of civil war.
CNN speaks with Fareed about the latest developments in Ukraine, the U.S. and EU efforts to find an "off ramp" for Vladimir Putin, and why a political solution is essential. This is an edited version of the transcript.
What do you make of the U.S. talk about deescalating the crisis and reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is working to try to figure out a way off, a kind of a ramp-off for Vladimir Putin?
The way the Russians have handled this is brutish and thuggish. Men in ski masks coming in taking over an area using military force – obviously, that is totally unacceptable. It has to be deterred. But there is a political crisis in Crimea and in Ukraine that requires some kind of solution where Russia is going to be involved.
In Kiev, you had an elected president who was deposed by a kind of mass movement against him. Now, it has to be figured out how that country moves forward since it's still living in the shadow of Russia. Crimea has a 60 percent Russian population. Historically part of Russia, it was gifted to Ukraine in 1954 and is the home of the Russian Black Sea fleet.
So, how are those things going to be resolved? There's no way to keep Russia out of it, so what I think President Obama is trying to figure is that although the way in which Russia handled this – militarily and stealthy and frankly in violation of international law – has to be condemned and opposed, you get to the question of how do you politically resolve this in a lasting fashion, as Russia is going to have to be involved.
For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Take a look at the remarkable development in renewable energy in the video. It’s said to be the world's largest solar thermal power plant – 347,000 mirrors covering around 5.5 square miles, moves with the sun as it crosses the sky, reflecting solar heat to three towers, each taller than the Statute of Liberty.
The towers have boilers filled with water that turns to steam, spinning a turbine that then produces electricity. It’s a clean tech version of the Lord of the Rings as one reporter put it. What's notable here is that this contraption is not located in China or Germany or in any other traditional solar power house – the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating system, as it's called, sits in the Mojave Desert in California, and it's expected to power 140,000 American homes.
The economics of the installation have been questioned, but the project caps what many are calling a banner year for American solar power, 2013. The U.S. installed more solar capacity than Germany the world leader, marking the first time in over 15 years according to GTM research. More solar capacity has been installed in the last 18 months in America according to the industry than in the previous 30 years.
Of course, American solar power has still a long way to go – it still provides less than one percent of the nation's electricity according to the government.