April 15th, 2014
06:15 PM ET

What I'm reading: The real history of the 2nd Amendment

By Fareed Zakaria

"Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands," writes John Paul Stevens in the Washington Post. "Those emotional arguments would be nullified by the adoption of my proposed amendment. The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument."

“In Ukraine, nuclear emissions could exceed both Chernobyl and Fukushima. Wartime conditions would prevent emergency crews from getting to an affected plant to contain radiological releases should reactor containments fail. And, with government services shut down in the midst of fighting, civilians attempting to escape radioactive contamination would not know what to do or where to go to protect themselves,” writes Bennett Ramberg for Project Syndicate.

“Such risks might be one reason for Russian President Vladimir Putin to think twice about ordering a military invasion of Ukraine. But, should war come, combatants must do all they can to keep conflict away from the nuclear sites and the off-site power sources feeding them.”

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Why Ukraine crisis has China in a bind
April 15th, 2014
02:31 PM ET

Why Ukraine crisis has China in a bind

By Christopher S. Chivvis and Bonny Lin, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Christopher S. Chivvis is a senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and expert in European and Eurasian security issues. You can follow him @cchivvis. Bonny Lin is an associate political scientist at RAND and an expert on Asia-Pacific security issues. The views expressed are their own.

At Sunday night's emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, Western countries denounced Russian efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine. Depending on your reading of its statement, China either refused to do the same, or refused to back Russia. Either way, the meeting was just the latest example of how the Ukraine crisis has put China in a bind.

Russia has tried to parry U.S. threats of isolation by talking up the possibility of a closer Sino-Russian alliance. But while there is some concern that Chinese hardliners could seek to use Crimea as a precedent for moves against disputed territories in the Asia-Pacific has others worried, Sunday's meeting suggests concerns should not be overplayed.

To be sure, it will be hard for China to take a tough position against Russia for several reasons. Geopolitically, China shares a long border with Russia, which it views as a key trading and strategic partner. President Xi Jinping's first foreign visit as head of state was to Russia and Xi made developing closer relations with Russia a foreign policy priority. In the event of a U.S.-China confrontation, Beijing would likely hope to be able to rely on Moscow for neutrality, and, if necessary, a supply of energy and other war essential resources.

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine
April 15th, 2014
02:22 PM ET

What's behind China's reforms?

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

By Global Public Square staff

If Dick Cheney were arrested…and his assets seized…all in an anti-corruption effort by President Obama…you might say "What in the World," right? Well, as the New Yorker's Evan Osnos points out, that scenario is a rough analogy for what is going on in China today.

Some of you will remember that in the first week of 2014, we began the show suggesting that this would be "the year of China," meaning that the country was likely to go through enormous changes that would make or break its rise.

But even we have been surprised at how much has happened on almost all fronts. China is now being ruled by a new generation, spearheaded by President Xi Jinping who has consolidated power and appears to be the strongest and most ambitious Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping. Consider what he has been doing in just one year in office.

First and most significantly is the anti-corruption drive. And at the forefront of that is the expansive investigation into Zhou Yongkang, China's former domestic security tsar, once head of China's National Petroleum Corporation and a former member of China's "untouchable" Politburo Standing Committee. Zhou is the man who has been called China's Dick Cheney by Osnos.

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Topics: China • Economy • What in the World?
Zakaria: Ukraine needs to get tougher
April 15th, 2014
08:50 AM ET

Zakaria: Ukraine needs to get tougher

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about recent developments in Ukraine, and whether Kiev has lost control of the east of the country. This is an edited version of the transcript.

A Russian air force plane reportedly made 12 passes near a U.S. Navy warship in the Black Sea over the weekend, a move the Navy is calling provocative and unprofessional. Something like that doesn't just happen. Is Vladimir Putin sending a clear message here or are we reading too much into it?

No, these things don't happen by accident. But I think that rather than a clear message, the way we should think about this is that Putin really is playing a game where he's pressing and pushing and trying to see what reaction he gets. It's almost like a wrestler that is trying to throw you with a couple of fancy moves and scattering them around.This is really how things seemed to happen during the Cold War, and it was routine and there was an almost agreed upon pattern of behavior. But for 20 years, this has not really happened at all.

The most important set of moves are the ones in eastern Ukraine, where he is trying to figure out how much trouble he can foment there. In the eastern part of Ukraine, where there are lots of pro-Russians, lots of ethnic Russians, he’s trying to see how much chaos he can cause. What will the government of Ukraine do? Will they be able to get control over that place? Or can he then step in and say, we need to look after Russians because, in the Ukraine, they're being discriminated against, they're being persecuted? And so maybe the Russian army moves in. Maybe he tries to negotiate some kind of separate autonomy. All of these are sort of moves to create chaos, which he can then say the Russian army is the solution to.

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine
April 14th, 2014
12:14 AM ET

Next decade key to establishing global norms

By Fareed Zakaria

[There are] those who believe that Israel can forge a special relationship with Moscow, fueled by the connection between the hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews who emigrated to Israel and have been gaining political power there. When Lieberman meets with Putin or Foreign Minister Lavrov, they speak in Russian, which is Lieberman's first language.

China, perhaps less surprisingly, was also unwilling to condemn or sanction Russia.But its position has been more nuanced, refusing to endorse Russia's actions in any way and emphasizing its support for the "independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity" of Ukraine.

Now, one could argue that in all three cases, the countries are misreading what is actually in their national interests. China shares a long border with Russia and should not want to support Moscow in efforts to "adjust" these border by force. It would be foolish for Israel to compromise its relations with its closest ally, the United States, for delusions of an alliance with Moscow.

The fact that Avigdor Lieberman speaks Russian has not stopped Moscow from shipping arms to Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah (through Syria).India, for its part, should want to forge a much closer relationship with Washington as it confronts a rising China in its neighborhood.

But beyond these narrow considerations is a larger one. Do these countries want to live in a world entirely ruled by the interplay of national interests?

Watch the video for the full take or read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Ukraine
April 13th, 2014
10:46 PM ET

Friedman: So, what if the climate deniers' nightmare came true?

Fareed speaks with ‘New York Times’ columnist Tom Friedman about the latest report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Watch the video for the full interview.

What for you is the headline of this new IPCC report?

I think the headline is simply greater certainty among the vast majority of climate scientists, the people who truly know and study these issues, that if we don't begin to take the steps needed to prevent the kind of what they call doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, that will lead to the kinds of rise in global average temperature that will put us into a much more unstable world.

And is there a sense of greater urgency or a kind of warning that we haven't been doing much yet? You know, if you think about it, we've been hearing these reports. and all of them have kept saying we need to start in some way having these CO2 emission levels start plateauing or even declining.  And as you know in totality, largely because of China's growth and a lot of the emerging world, CO2 emissions continue to rise quite substantially.

Well, of course, and that's really been the problem, getting governments to act.

Now, you know the debate in our country.  And it's echoed in the world.  There are people who don't think this is really happening, don't think it's important, we can adapt.  I was thinking, driving over here, what if the nightmare of the climate deniers came true and we really decided in America to take this seriously and act? What would we do? What is the nightmare that would happen?

Well, the first thing we would do is actually slash income taxes and corporate taxes and replace them with a carbon tax so we actually encourage people to stop doing what we don't want, which is emitting carbon, and start doing what we do want, which is hiring more workers and getting corporations to invest more in America. That's the first awful thing that would happen.

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Topics: Climate • GPS Show
April 13th, 2014
02:04 AM ET

On GPS Sunday: The latest on Ukraine, and what happened to Middle East peace talks?

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

On GPS this Sunday: A live look at the latest on the unrest in Ukraine...and the larger East-West battle it has become.

Then, Middle East peace talks have collapsed. Why?  There are many reasons, of course, but at the heart of the problem lies one city – Jerusalem – which both sides claim. Fareed speaks with the mayor of Jerusalem to find out whether there might be a solution.

Also...a new United Nations report, the most exhaustive yet about climate change. GPS speaks with the New York Times'  Tom Friedman, who discusses what the world and the United States needs to do now.

And food critic and chef Anthony Bourdain offers his take on Russia and India among other destinations. GPS will talk with him about the politics and the food he explored for his upcoming series on CNN.

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Topics: GPS Show
April 10th, 2014
11:13 PM ET

The tension between global norms and national interests

By Fareed Zakaria

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has unified Western democracies, at least in their robust condemnation of the action. But farther afield, one sees a variety of responses that foreshadow the great emerging tension in 21st-century international life: between global norms and national interests.

Consider the response of India, the world’s most populous democracy. New Delhi was mostly silent through the events of February and early March; it refused to support any sanctions against Russia, and its national security adviser declared that Russia had “legitimate” interests in Ukraine — all of which led Vladimir Putin to place a thank-you phone call to India’s prime minister.

India’s reaction can be explained by its deep ties with Russia.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: India • Russia • Ukraine
Why refugee influx threatens Lebanon, Jordan stability
April 10th, 2014
06:54 AM ET

Why refugee influx threatens Lebanon, Jordan stability

By David Schenker, Special to CNN

Editor’s note:David Schenker is the Aufzien Fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The views expressed are his own. 

The self-immolation of a Syrian refugee in Lebanon last month is a harrowing reminder of the desperate circumstances of those who have fled the war. But the hardship extends beyond just Syrians. Today, Lebanon and Jordan provide sanctuary to one million and some 600,000 Syrian refugees, respectively – about 20 and 10 percent of their respective populations – and the social and economic stresses are taking a heavy toll. Worse, the prospect that many of these refugees might never return home threatens the long-term stability of these states.

Demography is a central problem for Lebanon. Syrian exiles are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims, and the influx has skewed Lebanon’s delicate sectarian balance of Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians. Adding to the religious strains are the ubiquitous complaints about Syrian workers driving down wages, and the burden refugees place on Lebanon’s already overtaxed and underfunded infrastructure. According to a recent World Bank report, over the next three years, Lebanon – which had a $4 billion budget deficit in 2013 – will require an additional $2 billion just to provide basic services to its new residents and to “address the expected additional impoverishment of the Lebanese people generated from the Syrian crisis.”

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Topics: Syria
April 9th, 2014
05:45 PM ET

What I'm reading: Do street protests work?

By Fareed Zakaria

“In today’s world, an appeal to protest via Twitter, Facebook, or text message is sure to attract a crowd, especially if it is to demonstrate against something – anything, really – that outrages us,” argues Moises Naim in The Atlantic. “The problem is what happens after the march. Sometimes it ends in violent confrontation with the police, and more often than not it simply fizzles out. Behind massive street demonstrations there is rarely a well-oiled and more-permanent organization capable of following up on protesters’ demands and undertaking the complex, face-to-face, and dull political work that produces real change in government. This is the important point made by Zeynep Tufekci, a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, who writes that ‘Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.’”

“As the Ukraine crisis continues it is clear that Mr Putin has made a significant strategic mistake,” writes Nick Butler in the Financial Times. "Russia is a petropower rather than a superpower and in a global market petropower is unusable as a means of pressure. By raising European consciousness about the degree of dependence on Russian gas that had developed, he has done his own country a great disservice.”

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'Russia trying to create climate of chaos in Ukraine'
April 9th, 2014
12:30 PM ET

'Russia trying to create climate of chaos in Ukraine'

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

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about recent developments in Ukraine, what Russia might be planning next, and how the United States should respond. This is an edited version of the transcript.

You've got pro- Russian demonstrators taking over government buildings in eastern Ukraine. You've got this ultimatum being laid out by the Ukrainian government. What do you make of the state of play inside Ukraine right now?

It feels like we're now in phase two of the Russian operation in Ukraine. Remember, Crimea was never the prize. Putin took Crimea because he could, because there was a naval base, because he feared Ukraine was slipping out of his control and he wanted to take that one piece that he knew he could get.

Ukraine was the prize. The whole purpose of Russian policy for the last decade has been to try to dominate Ukraine. So now phase two is, OK, we have Crimea. But Ukraine has become more anti-Russian and wants to move to the West. What do we do?

So, they've done two things. Over the last week or two, they’ve tried to essentially crash the Ukrainian economy. So, they have really essentially cut off supplies, contracts, business dealings. Now what they're trying to do is foment pro-Russian forces in Ukraine so that they create an atmosphere of general chaos.

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine
Zakaria: Ukraine crisis very, very significant
April 8th, 2014
04:19 PM ET

Zakaria: Ukraine crisis very, very significant

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the latest developments in Ukraine, talk of a civil war, and whether Russia is likely to invade eastern Ukraine. This is an edited version of the transcript.

Russia's foreign ministry is now using words like civil war when talking about the possible outcome in eastern Ukraine. So what's going on right now? Are the Russians looking for an excuse to move in?

It certainly looks like they're looking for an excuse to further destabilize Ukraine so that they can reassert their domination of their relationship with Ukraine.

Remember, Crimea was never the prize. Ukraine was the prize. They took Crimea because they realized the situation was spiraling out of control. You remember what was happening in the Maidan – suddenly they found Ukraine moving very rapidly toward the West.

And Putin decided [on that] really as a last-minute maneuver, I believe, because he had been stymied during the Olympics – the minute the Olympics got done, he initiated that KGB-style operation to take Crimea. But the prize, the thing he has always cared about, was Ukraine and dominating Ukraine, influencing it. So now we move to phase two of the operation and that is, how does Russia assert some kind of control over Ukraine?

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine
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