By Troy Stangarone, Andrew Kwon and Peter Taves, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Troy Stangarone is the senior director of Congressional Affairs and Trade at the Korea Economic Institute of America. Andrew Kwon is a recent Masters of International Security graduate from the University of Sydney. Peter Taves is a Masters of International Economic Relations candidate at American University. The views expressed are the authors’ own.
Whether threatening to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” or describing the recent summit meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Park Geun-hye as a prelude to war, over-the-top rhetoric has become almost an art form for the leadership in Pyongyang. Under Kim Jong Il, the United States and South Korea grew accustomed to North Korea engaging in threats to extract concessions as Pyongyang mastered the art of crisis escalation, only to dial tensions down when the time was right to get what it wanted. But if the language used under Kim Jong Il was calculated for effect, the thinking behind Kim Jong Un’s rhetoric is much less clear.
While the events of recent months contain certain familiar elements, there has been a higher degree of specificity in the threats, an increase in their intensity, and a longer duration than in previous crises. This is reflected in an analysis of the rhetoric used in current and previous crises in North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which shows the use of terms such as “war,” and “nuclear” far more prevalent than terms such as “peace,” and “reconciliation.”
By Rebecca Schleifer and Darby Hickey, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Rebecca Schleifer is the advocacy director for Human Rights Watch’s Health and Human Rights Program. Darby Hickey is a policy analyst with the Best Practices Policy Project, which promotes the human rights of people doing sex work. The views expressed are their own.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule next month in a case about whether the U.S. government can require organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition of funding for their international HIV/AIDS work.
As those on the ground who work in programs trying to stop the spread of HIV have reported, this “anti-prostitution pledge” makes it harder to reach out to sex workers, the very people whose cooperation is needed to make these efforts work.
Since 2003, U.S. law has required organizations receiving U.S. anti-AIDS funds to have a specific organization-wide policy “explicitly opposing prostitution.” This requires organizations to censor their speech on prostitution, or sex work, even when using their own private funds in separate programs. The government contends the pledge is a way to identify the best organizations to carry out HIV/AIDS work and that the provision does not violate free speech because groups can set up parallel organizations not bound by the pledge. The Alliance for Open Society International, which brought the Supreme Court case, says that the pledge not only violates its First Amendment rights but also undermines the very public health goals that the government is providing the money to achieve.
Cyber security expert Eugene Spafford, a professor of computer sciences at Purdue University and former member of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, responds to GPS readers’ questions. The views expressed are his own, based on publicly available information, and do not necessarily reflect those of any other organization.
“Danish Ahmed” notes we have laws governing the high seas and space – should governments be doing more to implement rules in cyber space?
Definitely, yes. Unfortunately, there are many significant obstacles in the way. We’ve had governments for thousands of years and we are still working out how to balance national interests against each other with simpler technologies, and to understand and enforce the laws and norms those governments set for their populations. The whole notion of international computing networks is about 35 years-old – about one human generation. That isn’t enough time for us to get the experience necessary to really understand what needs to be done and what will work.
We have need of better agreements on behavior about what might be considered illegal, for instance. But to do that, we need to come up with some norms or appropriate use to which (almost) everyone can agree. This will not be simple or quick because there is such a variety of national and cultural standards that must be bridged. As one particular case, there are broad general protections in the U.S. for political and religious expression. However, that is not the norm everywhere else. For example, references to Nazi symbols are criminal offenses in Europe, Christianity is effectively banned in some Muslim countries with proselytization a capital offense, any criticism of the king is a crime in Thailand, and discussion of the failings of the Communist Party is blocked in the People's Republic of China. The situation may be even more complex as we consider images, video, and sound. Cartoons that purport to be of the Islamic prophet Mohammed will generate violence in many countries and be seen as valid speech in others. Posting pictures of naked people will be (boring) art in some countries, scandalous pornography in others, and possibly generate a death sentence in a few more. How do we begin to define norms for everyone to use?
By Fareed Zakaria
The U.S. tax code is at the heart of a system of institutionalized, legal corruption. The code is so vast because companies, industries and lobbying groups receive special preferences in return for campaign contributions, a cash-for-favors scheme that Washington would denounce as crony capitalism in any Third World country.
You can see the corruption at work in the fierce opposition to efforts to lower the corporate tax rate. After demanding this reduction for years, companies are now lobbying hard — and spending heavily — to retain their own special tax breaks, which is what drove rates up in the first place.
By Jeffrey N DeMarco, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jeffrey DeMarco is a lecturer in Criminology at Kingston University and research associate with the Centre of Criminology and Sociology at Royal Holloway, University of London. The views expressed are his own.
Here we are again. An attack. A metropolis. A sensational depiction of violence. A Western victim. These are the thematic artifacts of our current (British) understanding of the “War on Terror.” Regardless of the venue, the perpetrator, or the modus operandi we reach an ultimate conclusion: Islamic jihadists. Full stop. The drawn out era of conflict post-9/11 has limited our already narrow understanding of a worldwide conflict fuelled by our incomprehension of “another.” The “War on Terror,” meanwhile, has evolved.
When the Twin Towers fell, our concept of terrorism and victimology dramatically changed. No longer did these atrocities play out on foreign soils, but instead on our neighbors’ door steps. The attack on London's transit system in July 2005, as with that on Madrid's in March 2004, only reinforced our own feelings of victimization. What we fail to acknowledge is the evolutionary process terrorism, as crime, follows.
On Thursday, with the killing in Woolwich in Southeast London of a man believed to be a soldier, we were reminded of the dynamic nature that a terrorist act can take. As details emerge, we see the substantiated process of the “lone wolf” or “wolf pack” emerging further. The purpose of terrorism is not, contrary to popular belief, to terminate the maximum number of lives. Instead, the goal is the installation of fear and uncertainty amongst the populace. Al Qaeda’s influence is not about direct contact – the group’s mere existence is intoxicating, given the appropriate channels.
By Mark N. Katz, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Mark N. Katz is professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University, and the author of ‘Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan.’ The views expressed are his own.
The ongoing civil war that is devastating Syria is increasingly threatening to spill over and engulf neighboring countries. Indeed, all the ingredients are there for what would be a disastrous region-wide Sunni-Shiite conflict.
Just look at what has been going on. Turkey is hard pressed to deal with the growing number of Syrian refugees flooding into its territory, while tiny Jordan may soon be overwhelmed by them. In addition, the conflict between Syria’s Alawite minority regime and its Sunni majority opposition is spilling over and re-invigorating Sunni-Shiite conflict both in Iraq to the east and Lebanon to the west. Meanwhile, Shiite-dominated governments in Iran and Iraq, as well as the radical Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement, are all actively assisting Syria’s Alawite regime, while Sunni-dominated governments in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan are helping the Sunni opposition.
And what has been the Obama administration’s response to all this? Surprising – and troubling – restraint.
By Carolyn Campbell, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Carolyn Campbell is a partner at Emerging Capital Partners, a pan-African private equity investor headquartered in Washington DC. The views expressed are her own.
Thirteen years ago this month, The Economist was so discouraged by Africa’s lack of progress that it was moved to write a cover story entitled “The hopeless continent.”
“The new millennium has brought more disaster than hope to Africa,” the editorial ran. “Worse, the few candles of hope are flickering weakly.”
How times have changed. Over the last decade, real income per person across the continent has increased by more than a third, even as it has fallen in rich countries including the United States. Meanwhile, fueled in part by a quadrupling of foreign direct investment in the decade through 2012, African GDP has been forecast to rise by an average of 6 percent a year for the next ten years.
"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with William Dalrymple, author of the new book ‘Return of A King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42,’ about what history can teach us about the current conflict in Afghanistan.
What do you think retreat is going to look like, based on history?
Well, the British retreat from Kabul really couldn't have gone worse. There’s every reason to hope this one would go a bit better, not least because you've got air transport. In 1841, there was a huge uprising against the British. It began in the south, in Helmand. It spread north. And, very soon, the British were surrounded in the same cities in the sense in which American troops are surrounded today, in Kandahar and Jalalabad and many in Kabul, a small area of Kabul, a fortress against a largely hostile, rural hinterland.
The British lost their supplies very early in this. They had stupidly kept both their ammunition and their food in outlying forts…The retreat from Kabul that followed began on January 6, 1842, and is one of the great imperial disasters – 18,500 men, women and children, of whom only about 5,000 were British. The rest were Sepoys from North India, from Bihar, from Uttar Pradesh. They marched out into the snow. They had no idea how to cope in winter warfare. They weren’t equipped or clad or trained for it. And six days later, one man made it through to Jalalabad. Everyone else was either killed, enslaved or taken hostage.
By Fareed Zakaria
“The employer mandate, which forces firms to start providing insurance in 2014, pertains only to companies with at least 50 full-time workers. That's a tiny fraction of small businesses,” writes Jose Pagliery for CNN Money.
“As of 2010, there were roughly 5.7 million small employers, defined as those with fewer than 500 workers. Some 97 percent of them have fewer than 50 employees. That means Obamacare's employer mandate applies only to 3 percent of America's small businesses.”
“Absent…ideological rivalries, or any new forms of effective collective mobilization, and nothing checks the European social model from continuing to disintegrate,” argues Mark Mazower in The New Statesman.
“Europe=euro: in the shadow of this equation, all the other older, nobler and more ambitious versions of what Europe might stand for have faded away. An interesting possibility thus follows – might the dissolution of the euro be necessary in order to save something of the European idea? Or would we merely find ourselves with neither? We may yet find out.”
By Mark Sparkman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Mark Sparkman, a former senior officer with the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, is a senior international affairs analyst with the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. The views expressed are his own.
The announcement by prosecutors that charges had been filed against suspected cyber thieves believed responsible for stealing $45 million in a matter of hours from ATM’s in two dozen countries should send a stark message to governments around the world – banks could be the most vulnerable front in cyber space.
Plenty of people have been warning us these days to worry about cyber attacks, but generally we have been worrying about the wrong things. Most “cyber Armageddon” scenarios focus on gaps in our physical infrastructure and even far-fetched scenarios such as infant incubators in hospitals being turned off. But major swathes of the United States have routinely gone without electricity and water for days following natural disasters. Soon enough, life gradually gets back to normal. Want real chaos? Destroy confidence in the banking system (or even a part of it), and just stand back and watch.
Since last fall, a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on financial institutions have temporarily denied customers access to their bank accounts, and U.S. officials have pointed an accusatory finger at Iran. Although the attacks were not devastating, U.S. officials are rightly weighing their response options. The fact is that the United States needs to gear up for the coming era of cyber threats – and start by ensuring its financial flank is not catastrophically compromised.
By Anas El Gomati, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Anas El Gomati is a visiting fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center, and director of Sadeq Institute, Libya’s first think tank. The views expressed are his own.
Libya may want to move on from its past, but a law passed earlier this month with the backing of more than 90 percent of lawmakers is the wrong way to go about it.
The “Political Isolation” law would be sweeping enough if it just stuck to the provisions barring anyone that held a senior position in the Gadhafi regime from holding office again for a decade. But it also states that intellectuals, academics, civil servants, security and army officials and leading media personnel should also be barred from doing so. Even exiles and defectors in opposition during Gadhafi’s reign who held senior positions in the distant past could also be barred from serving again for 10 years.
The law, which will effectively be policed by an “Isolation Commission” tasked with vetting officials, was pushed through in the wake of increased activism by Libyan militias. Indeed, militias were quick to seize on the aftermath of the bombing of the French Embassy on April 23, one of a string of attacks in the past year on foreign interests, to help further their agenda. And, even as Prime Minister Ali Zidan’s cabinet attempted to draw up a response for the international community, revolutionary and rogue militias seized four key ministries at gunpoint, demanding that the law be passed.
For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Economists have always been fascinated by the link between income and happiness. In the 1970s, we learned of the Easterlin Paradox. The economist Richard Easterlin argued that more money does not always lead to more happiness. Instead, more money often means more demands and desires.
Well, a new paper by the economist Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers turns that thesis on its head. Look at the graph in the video plotting satisfaction against income. If you were in a relatively poor country like China, India or Iran, the study found that more money meant more satisfaction. But even if you were in a rich country – and this is what is new – the results hold up.
Look at France, Germany or the U.S. on the chart. What we also found interesting was that Americans hit the highest levels of satisfaction among the 25 most populous countries in the world.
It looks like you can get satisfaction – as long as you can pay for it.