By Daniel M. Kliman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Daniel M. Kliman is a senior advisor with the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project. The views expressed are his own.
President Barack Obama’s Asia trip, which has started with a visit to Japan, will send an unmistakable signal: the United States remains committed to a region that has become the world’s economic and military center of gravity.
Yet once the afterglow of the visit fades, U.S. allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific are bound once again to question American staying power. True, the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy initiative – the pivot or rebalance to Asia – has achieved many of its initial objectives. Countries in the region recognize this. But they are ultimately more focused on what will come next. And with less than three years of Obama’s presidency remaining, now is the moment to lay out a vision for U.S. Asia policy through 2016.
Two opposing sets of forces have long co-existed in Asia. Deepening economic interdependence, a growing constellation of regional forums, and the spread of democratic values promote peace. At the same time, rising nationalism, territorial disputes, military buildups, and the adverse impact of climate change create an undercurrent of instability.
For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
There's an interesting new spy film that's just been released called “Game of Pawns.”
Never heard of it? It’s the dramatization of a harrowing true story. And it's not by some Hollywood fat cat studios. Rather, the FBI was behind the release of this 28 minute anti-espionage film.
It's about an American student who is currently serving four years in prison for sharing secrets with China.
Grab the popcorn. Glenn Duffie Shriver starts out a wide-eyed college student who falls in love with the city of Shanghai. Looking for a visa to prolong his stay he starts "writing papers" for the Chinese government.
The stakes – and the money – increase until his handlers suggest that he apply for a job at the CIA. He soon finds himself sweating through a Langley polygraph, quitting in the middle and attempting to flee to China.
Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with Simon Schama, professor of history at Columbia University and author of The Story of the Jews, about the roots of anti-Semitism.
And what about Arab anti-Semitism – is anti-Semitism, as is sometimes claimed, a kind of European idea that has been exported...
…to the Arab world?
Yes. That's exactly right. What's happened is that, you know, Zionism and the state of Israel obviously manifestly caused a huge problem for Jews anciently settled in the Arab world. But what's happened is actually the forms of poison have exactly been transfused into the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
For example, probably more people, especially in the Arab world, are reading and believing in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, this 19th century forgery, which purported to be the minutes of secret meetings of international Jews.
Produced by the Russians, who at the time were probably the most anti-Semitic...
Absolutely the most anti-Semitic. But now this is online. The thing about our online is that all this stuff that comes at us like hurtling asteroids is that there are no gatekeepers between madness and truth. So more people are probably reading or believing that in the Arab world, in particular, than at any other time.
By Fareed Zakaria
“President Putin is currently riding a surge of popularity at home, propelled in no small measure by his assertive moves in Ukraine. When tallied in mid-March by state polling group VTsIOM, Mr. Putin's approval stood at nearly 72 percent, a gain of almost 10 percentage points from earlier in the year,” writes Ilan Berman in the Wall Street Journal.
“But the longer the crisis over Ukraine lasts, the higher the economic costs to Russia are likely to be. Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, for example, has projected that Moscow's maneuvers in Ukraine could result in up to $160 billion in capital flight this year, and he concluded that the Russian economy will stagnate as a result.”
“Hardly a day goes by without an article predicting, lamenting, or celebrating America's decline. The turmoil in Crimea and Syria, the polarized and frequently gridlocked U.S. political system, the deepening income and wealth inequalities in the United States, and the growing clout of rivals like China and Russia are all offered as proof of waning American power,” writes Moises Naim in The Atlantic.
“These weaknesses surely exist, and some – like mounting economic inequality – are truly alarming. But the doomsayers often fail to see the ways in which America is gaining rather than losing global influence. And nowhere is this truer than the manufacturing sector. The combination of lower energy prices, innovative information technologies, and advances in robotics and materials science are powering a manufacturing revolution that will reinvigorate the U.S. economy and make many of its industrial sectors the most competitive in the world.”
For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN
By Global Public Square staff
The $32 million cable car in the video has not been used since 2012. There is a federally funded extraterrestrial museum, also abandoned. And there is a multi-billion dollar railroad. It was supposed to help farmers from impoverished remote areas transport soybeans. Construction began there eight years ago. Residents have been displaced, land wrecked, but the railroad will probably never be built.
What if we told you that these shuttered, big-ticket infrastructure projects are in the country that will host the world's biggest sporting event in June? What in the world, right?
We’re talking about Brazil, of course, host of this year's FIFA World Cup and the only major economic power in South America. There's even speculation that bus and rail systems being built for the soccer tournament won't be completed until after the games are over.
By Robin Guittard, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Robin Guittard is Caribbean team Campaigner at Amnesty International. The views expressed are his own.
“I don’t feel free,” Franklin Jaque José told me. “You’re in a circle where they get you trapped.”
Franklin is just one of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent who face significant legal barriers that prevent them from going about their day-to-day lives. Over the last decade, Franklin says he has not been able to continue his education, has had to leave school, and is now being denied access to formal jobs.
He is not alone. For years, Dominicans with Haitian parents who were raised in the country had been registered as Dominicans, which gave them the right to bear Dominican identity documents. Indeed, Franklin says that back in 1994, he was registered in the national Civil Registry and given a Dominican birth certificate. But about a decade ago, Franklin and many others of Haitian heritage began having difficulty accessing their official documents, including birth certificates, identity cards and passports.
Franklin says he first went to a civil registry office in Sabana Grande de Boyá, in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic. At that time, he was 18 years-old and finishing his secondary education when school officials asked him to present his ID card. But he didn’t have one. After several visits to different civil registry offices, including in the capital, Santo Domingo, the decision came: “We cannot deliver you an ID because your parents are foreigners.”
By Dana Sherne
A groundbreaking new study, the Social Progress Index, suggests that economic development is “necessary but not sufficient” for social progress and quality of life.The bad news for America? It isn’t even close to being number one.
Each component of the rankings includes a range of subcategories that reveal a greater diversity than can be reflected in a single measure like gross domestic product. G8 countries Germany (#12), the United Kingdom (#13) and Japan (#14) fare pretty well overall. The rankings of fast-growing economies like China (#90) and India (#102), meanwhile, show that despite despite their fast-paced development in recent years, they still have more to do. And the U.S.? It comes in at 16th place.
Breaking the numbers down, the U.S. ranks 31st in one of the subcategories for basic human needs: personal safety. This measure includes violent crime and homicide rates. Indeed, in the latter category, the U.S. is tied at number 41 with turbulent countries like Ukraine and Lebanon. In the political terror sub-category, the U.S. ranks 80th, along with Venezuela, Indonesia and Cuba.
The U.S. scores especially badly in health and wellness (#70) and ecosystem sustainability (#69). Health and wellness is based on measures like the obesity rate, where the U.S. ranks, perhaps unsurprisingly, at 125. The only countries with lower scores are Mexico, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.
Fareed speaks with Michael Porter, a professor at the Harvard Business School, about a groundbreaking new Social Progress Index – and how the United States is lagging on many indicators. Watch the video for the full interview or on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
You were shocked at what you learned about America.
Yes, I think this wasn’t the picture of America that I think many of us Americans have – that we are a leader, a social leader, that we've advanced the ball in terms of opportunity and the needs of our citizens. And it shows anything but that.
So if you look at the Social Progress Index, on the whole, what's striking is the top countries are New Zealand, Switzerland, Iceland, these small countries. But basically then a lot of European countries and Canada beat the United States.
The United States is 16, Ireland is ahead of it, Japan is ahead of it, Britain is ahead of it, Germany is ahead of it.
What does that tell us? What does that measure?
So this effort tries to really, for the first time ever, take let's call it the social or community or quality of life dimensions of a society, and capture those in a rigorous measurement framework – using the best data available in the world. That's the best and objective measures of these various multiple things. But of course, social progress is a broad concept.
Right. And that's where you break it down into these subcategories. Health and wellness, Japan is number one, Italy is number two, Switzerland is number three. You have to go all the way to 70 to get to the United States.
It's an area where the U.S. – if you actually look objectively, we're just not delivering. We actually spend the most money on this of any country in the world, probably in all of recorded history, in terms of our health care budget every year. But in terms of the actual outcomes – and by the way, the Social Progress Index measures the outcomes you achieve, not how much you spend, not how much you care, not whether you have a big heart…
Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
On GPS this Sunday: GPS will bring you the latest on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Then, we'll go in-depth on sanctions. Many said they would never work, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin wouldn't care. But have they actually done the trick there...and in Iran, too?
Also, Fareed will take a look at a fascinating new international ranking from Harvard's Michael Porter. The United States spends more on its military than the next nine highest spending countries combined. It has the highest GDP in the world. The rest of the world can't get enough of America's sneakers, songs, sodas, movies and iPhones. And 8 of the 10 richest people in the world are American. So why does the U.S. only rank 16th in quality of life? Fareed speaks with Porter about the study.
And, a week after three people were killed in what was an allegedly anti-Semitic attack in Kansas, Fareed will speak with Simon Schama, author of The Story of the Jews, about why Jews have been a target for more than 2,000 years.
By Tyler Cullis and Jamal Abdi, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Tyler Cullis is a policy associate at the National Iranian American Council. Jamal Abdi is policy director at NIAC. The views expressed are the authors’ own.
The United States could be on the verge of securing a historic agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, one that verifiably limits it and opens the door to further cooperation between the two countries. Yet with a diplomatic victory on the horizon, the rhetoric of those who have long opposed any diplomatic resolution is reaching dizzying heights of disingenuousness.
During a recent Senate hearing, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) hit out at reports that negotiations with Iran may produce a deal that “only” extends Iran’s nuclear breakout timeline to 6 to 12 months.
“I don’t think we did everything that we’ve done to only get a six to twelve month lead time,” Menendez lamented as he grilled Secretary of State John Kerry over the progress of the talks.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz piled on shortly after, calling such a timeline a “[U.S.] surrender to Iran” and “unacceptable.”
By Fareed Zakaria
Over the past 2 months, we have watched what has looked like a minor version of the Cold War ramp up between the West and Russia. And it has left many people wondering, "How did we get here?" Was this confrontation inevitable or did the West mishandle Russia, from the start?
In the mishandling camp is Jack Matlock, former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, who watched from Spaso House in Moscow as Mikhail Gorbachev presided over the end of the Cold War and then the end of the Communism. He argues, as the title of his recent Washington Post essay puts it, "The United States has treated Russia as a loser since the end of the Cold War."
In the years right after the Cold War ended, several American statesmen and writers urged a more generous policy towards Moscow.
By Will Marshall, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Will Marshall is the president of the Progressive Policy Institute. The views expressed are his own.
No country has embraced renewable energy more avidly than Germany. But a host of untoward realities – soaring electricity bills, rising carbon emissions and growing dependence on Russian gas – are intruding rudely on Germany’s green dream.
In response to such worries, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved a plan last week to trim subsidies for solar and wind power. The proposed law would also exempt fewer companies from paying a stiff renewable energy surcharge, an exemption that has come under heavy fire in Europe for giving German industry an unfair competitive boost.
In truth, the proposed energy reform law would merely slow down Germany’s drive toward green energy. It doesn’t alter the visionary (some would say utopian) goals of the country’s policy of Energiewende, or energy switchover. Launched in 2000, when Social Democrats ran the government, the Energiewende calls for abolishing nuclear power and envisions renewables providing 80 percent of Germany’s power by mid-century.