October 30th, 2014
07:05 PM ET

Why democracy took root in Tunisia and not Egypt

By Fareed Zakaria

Of course, it may be too soon to celebrate Tunisia’s success. It faces a youth unemployment rate of about 30 percent. The government is also battling Islamist militants at home, and recent reports have suggested that the Arab world’s only democracy is also its biggest exporter of fighters to join the Islamic State. (This may be because Tunisia is relatively open and its jihadis find that their appeal is limited at home.)

But Tunisia’s success — so far — does suggest that there is nothing in Islam or Arab society that makes it impossible for democracy to take root. As would be true anywhere, you need some favorable conditions, good leadership and perhaps a bit of luck.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
Are more homegrown terror attacks inevitable in Canada?
October 30th, 2014
09:35 AM ET

Are more homegrown terror attacks inevitable in Canada?

By Ronald Crelinsten, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Ronald Crelinsten is an expert on terrorism and radicalization and the author of Counterterrorism. He is an associate fellow at the Centre for Global Studies at University of Victoria and Adjunct Professor at Royal Roads University. The views expressed are his own.

Last week's shocking events in Canada's capital, Ottawa, and in St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, Quebec, confirm that the terrorist threat stemming from the Middle East knows no boundaries, and can take many forms. Yet while the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria, currently wreaking havoc in that region, has recently called for low-tech attacks in countries that have joined the U.S. coalition conducting airstrikes against them, this kind of threat is not new.

Back in October 2009, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula called for simple attacks with "readily available weapons such as knives, clubs or small improvised explosive devices". A few months later, as Stratfor notes, U.S.-born AQ spokesman Adam Gadahn issued a "A Call to Arms" for "grassroots jihadists" or "lone wolves" to strike targets close by rather than travel abroad, similar to the November 2009 attack by Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. Two months later, Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, attempted to blow up a car in Times Square. And last May, two British citizens of Nigerian descent, ran over off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby in southeast London. They then hacked him to death with knives and a meat cleaver.

Canada has also seen its share of terrorism, including both domestic and international terrorism, homegrown and imported, nationalist and religious, single-issue and revolutionary. FULL POST

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China no substitute for U.S. involvement over Afghanistan
October 29th, 2014
06:28 PM ET

China no substitute for U.S. involvement over Afghanistan

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program. He is the author or volume editor of fifteen books and monographs, most recently China’s Post-2014 Role in Afghanistan.

The decision by freshly minted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to make his first overseas trip to China is symbolic. Ghani arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, in a visit that underscores both the extent to which Beijing has the resources to be one of Afghanistan’s critical post-2014 players, and also China’s desire to bring stability to its neighbor. But it’s a relationship that the United States should keep a close eye on moving forward.

Afghanistan’s geopolitical landscape is, of course, being shaped by the U.S. drawdown of combat troops, a move that will place a heavy burden on Afghanistan’s already stretched national security forces. After all, these forces have already faced numerous operational difficulties, and the withdrawal of most U.S. troops is widely seen as opening a door to a resurgent Taliban.

Pakistan, whose meddling has done more to damage Afghanistan than any other single factor, is well positioned to remain the most influential player in Afghanistan. But with China likely to end up as Afghanistan’s second most consequential neighbor, it is worth pausing to think about what is shaping Beijing’s calculations. FULL POST

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Topics: Afghanistan • China • United States
October 29th, 2014
05:59 PM ET

What the marshmallow test says about self-control

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fifty years ago, a groundbreaking psychological experiment was conducted on preschoolers. It went something like this: The youngsters were put in a room where a marshmallow sat on a tray. They were told they could eat that one marshmallow immediately, or if they waited they would get a bigger reward: two marshmallows. So what did the kids do? What would you do? And what does the ability to wait mean for future success?

A lot, apparently. Fareed speaks with Walter Mischel, who was the brains behind this marshmallow experiment and has a new book out called The Marshmallow Test.

Watch the video for the full interview.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 29th, 2014
05:50 PM ET

What I'm reading: Why shrinking prisons is good crime-fighting and good government

By Fareed Zakaria

“The United States today has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world: 743 adults per 100,000 population, or nearly 2.3 million adults, nearly one-quarter of the world’s total prison population,” writes Eric Schnurer in The Atlantic. “More than twice that number are on probation or parole, with more than 70,000 juveniles in detention, as well – roughly one in every 30 Americans is under supervision of some sort, a seven-fold increase since 1980.”

“The singularity of Reagan and his lonely place in the conservative pantheon is put in stark relief by photographs of the 1964 Democratic National Convention, in Atlantic City, where massive portraits of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson framed the stage,” writes Jeff Shesol in the New Yorker. “It is impossible to imagine a similar setup at the Republican Convention in 2016. Other than Reagan’s, whose image – among the past century’s Republican Presidents—would be put on display? Coolidge has a cult following (which included Reagan himself); Eisenhower has supporters, but also serious detractors in the Party’s right wing (today as in the nineteen-fifties); George H. W. Bush has garnered enough goodwill and retrospective credit in the years since his Presidency that he might merit inclusion; but none of these men really stir the blood. “Nixon’s the One,” proclaimed bumper stickers and buttons in 1968, but this was only wishful thinking. Reagan was already the one, even if America didn’t know it yet.” FULL POST

October 28th, 2014
10:46 AM ET

What I'm reading: Cutting off ISIS' cash flow

By Fareed Zakaria

“Disrupting ISIS’ oil income is more of a challenge than might meet the eye,” writes Charles Lister for Brookings. “Thus far, a great deal of focus has been placed on an erroneous assessment that ISIS is deeply reliant on selling its oil to foreign customers (in Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan and elsewhere). Instead, while this market focus does exist, it is decreasing. Since the summer, ISIS has been increasingly focused on establishing a durable internal market for its oil produce, thereby ensuring a reliable source of fuel for its own fleets of vehicles but crucially creating a source of dependence between civilians and its capacity to provide them cheap oil. In this respect, the fact that recent coalition strikes have targeted oil at its source — rather than its means of transport or sale, for example — may prove deeply damaging to the international community’s efforts to counter ISIS.”

“If you're reading this, it's possible you'll live for a few hundred years. Maybe even thousands. Even better: you could live those years at your peak physical state,” writes Nicholas Warino for The Week. “At first glance, that's an absurd statement, going against the experience of all human history. However, Oxford University's Aubrey de Grey, a leading theoretician of aging, believes there is a 50 percent chance that someone alive today will live for 1,000 years.” FULL POST

October 27th, 2014
05:38 PM ET

Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

Recently, via satellite at the New Yorker Festival, Edward Snowden said he would "love" to stand trial in the United States.

He should. It would transform what he has done from theft into civil disobedience – which by definition means being willing to accept the consequences of your actions.

At the New Yorker event, Snowden explained to Jane Mayer that, given the stipulations the government is putting on his return, he doesn't think he could get a fair trial. But the legal scholars I consulted – none of them die hard conservatives or national security hawks – believed that Snowden could get a fair trial...

...The most striking aspect of Snowden's substantive foreign intelligence revelations is how few consequences they have had. That's because they mostly showed the U.S. government doing secretly what it has said it was doing publicly – fighting the Taliban, spying in countries like Pakistan and searching for Al Qaeda cells around the globe.

The disclosures also revealed routine foreign intelligence operations. Some of these are entirely justified, such as hacking into Chinese computer systems - something that Beijing does on a much larger scale to the United States. Others are perhaps unwise, such as tapping the phones of the leaders of Brazil and Germany. But none are morally scandalous.

Watch the video for the full What in the World or read the WaPo column.


October 26th, 2014
03:33 PM ET

There's a problem within Islam

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

If all Muslims were radicals, we would have more than three to worry about last week. And yet, there is a problem within Islam.

It is not enough for Muslims to point out that these people do not represent the religion. They don't. But Muslims need to take more active measures to protest these heinous acts. They also need to make sure that Muslim countries and societies do not in any way condone extremism, anti-modern attitudes and intolerance towards other faiths.

Muslims are right to complain that there is anti-Muslim bigotry out there. But they would have a more persuasive case if they took on some of the bigotry within the world of Islam as well.

Read the full Take on CNN Opinion

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October 26th, 2014
12:35 AM ET

You say potato, I say...

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

There are an estimated 7,000 languages in the world, and countless more accents and dialects. An accent can reveal a lot about a person – a spectrum of sounds with differing vowels and consonants, lilts and drawls, it can betray someone's geographic origin, level of education, social class.

But accents are malleable; they grow with you. I'm sure mine has changed since I first came to this country.

A new book published in the U.K. on accents caught my eye this week. It's titled You Say Potato. Focusing mainly on the British Isles, where the authors say an accent shifts every 25 miles, the book explores the way an accent can reflect identity.

On the book's website, people from around the world can upload how they say "potato" to a map. The title brings up the question: Does anyone actually say “potahto,” or was it just a good rhyme for the song made famous in Shall We Dance?

So far, we didn't find any "potahtoes" but the authors said there is a historical reason for this pronunciation – the "ah" vowel can be traced to the end of the 18th century in Britain.

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Canada confronts the openness/safety paradox
October 26th, 2014
12:27 AM ET

Canada confronts the openness/safety paradox

By Scott J. White, Special to CNN

Scott J. White is an associate professor for National Security and director of External Academic Programs at Drexel University's College of Computing and Informatics. The views expressed are his own.

At its core, terrorist violence challenges a state’s commitment and adherence to liberty and democracy, and the threats we face within our borders and beyond test the very underpinnings of our society. Canada faced just such a threat this week.

On October 22, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau is alleged to have engaged in an unspeakable act of wanton violence, reportedly walking up to a soldier guarding a memorial and shooting him, before opening fire inside the country’s parliament.

In 1927, the Right Hon. Raoul Dandurand, a lawyer and Canadian senator, said that Canada and defacto the United States were “a fireproof house, far from the sources of conflagration.” The longtime politician was noting our geographic distance from Europe and that continent’s history of conflict. However, the events of 9/11 demonstrated that the United States was no longer exempt from the direct impact of a spillover of terrorist violence. And this week’s incident was a reminder that neither is Canada. FULL POST

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Topics: Canada • Terrorism
October 25th, 2014
04:25 PM ET

The man behind the marshmallow test

Fifty years ago, a groundbreaking psychological experiment on self-control was conducted on preschoolers – involving marshmallows. Fareed speaks with Walter Mischel, the man behind the experiment. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

So you tracked these children down 50 years later, and what did you find?

Mischel: Oh, we found a great deal. We found to our surprise when they were about 13, 14, 15 years old, that the ones who had waited longer on the marshmallow test were doing better in school, were doing better socially and were doing better on SAT scores by quite a bit. And we became very interested in why are they – we seeing these differences? What's that really all about? And we began to pursue them, really, over the years, and approximately every 10 or 12 years, did a follow-up.

Now, when you kept tracking them, did that – this difference you saw – 10 years later, the kids who managed to have delayed gratification were doing better. Was it true 20 years later? Was it true 30 years later? Was it true 40 years later?

Mischel: What happens is that the ones who remain consistently high in self-control over the years, as opposed to the ones who remain consistently low in self-control over the years form two quite different life trajectories that are distinctly different.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 25th, 2014
03:41 PM ET

Has Obama presidency met expectations?

Fareed speaks with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and author and historian Sean Wilentz about President Barack Obama's presidency. Watch the full panel discussion this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Paul Krugman gave this rousing defense of Obama...If you look at domestic policy, most consequential president since Lyndon Johnson. Do you agree with the basic outline?

Wilentz: I think Paul is basically right. But Paul and I have been on the same page from the beginning – skeptical at first, much more respectful now of what the president has managed to achieve. I mean, it's not spectacular, but a lot of people had very, very high expectations, shall we say?

It's hard to be disillusioned...

Borger: Including Obama.

Wilentz: Well, indeed. But it's hard to be disillusioned if you weren't “illusioned” to begin with. And judged on a more rational scale, I think the president’s done a good job.

Borger: Yes, I think the problem here for the American people, and I don't know how this plays out in history, is that when you look at President Obama, you look at the numbers we're looking at now, it's a question of leadership. It's a question of whether he has communicated well to the American public about his successes, which you could argue, in the future, health care reform will be judged as a success. FULL POST

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Topics: GPS Show • Politics
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