CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the U.S. and European responses to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. This is an edited version of the transcript.
President Obama is facing pressure, from Democrats and Republicans, to really up the ante. But the United States can only do so much because it's not one of the main trading partners with Russia. Germany, as you know, is the biggest European trading partner with Russia – 36 percent of its natural gas and almost 40 percent of its oil comes from Russia. If you're German and you put tough sanctions on Russia and they retaliate, your people are going to be really upset this winter.
It’s not only Germany – that’s just one perfect example. So Germany, as you say, would literally not be able to heat its homes. Remember, Chancellor Angela Merkel just said no nuclear – after Fukushima, she said the country was going off nuclear. So that means an even greater dependence on natural gas.
The Netherlands is another major Russian trade partner – Rotterdam is a place that imports more Russian oil than any place else in the world. They import it, they refine it, and then they sell it. Shell, the big Dutch company – a kind of iconic company – has huge investments in Russia.
So the Europeans have over the last decade, as Russia has grown as an oil country, gotten themselves so intermeshed that it's very tough for them to do it. FULL POST
CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about Europe's response to the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. This is an edited version of the transcript.
The French continuing with the sale of an advanced warship to Russia. Where is the outrage? Because the responses so far, you're talking about incremental increases in sanctions, still negotiating access to the site – this doesn’t seem to match the enormity of this crime.
You’re right. We’ve seen pretty strong rhetoric coming out of U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and President Obama. We've seen some of it coming out of the British prime minister, finally, and the Australian prime minister. Very little you notice out of continental Europe, the big powers – Germany, France, even the Dutch – have been remarkably restrained given the enormity of the tragedy here.
And I think that part of the problem here is that Europe has very deep economic ties, very deep energy dependence, on Russia. In the French case in particular, France has always prided itself in being a kind of bridge to Russia. They've always prided themselves on being a big military exporter. The way they think about it, if they didn't do this stuff, the Americans would be dominating the arms industry.
So, there are a lot of national interests that are coming in the way of what you rightly said should be a kind of international response. There should be a sense that the international community is acting, but instead what you're seeing is separate national interests – the French national interests, the German national interests – trumping what should be an international humanitarian interest.
By Sofía Sebastián, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Sofía Sebastián is a TAPIR Fellow at the Stimson Center and the author of Post-war Statebuilding and Constitutional Reform: Beyond Dayton in Bosnia. The views expressed are her own.
The ongoing instability in the Middle East is understandably drawing much of the United States’ and Europe’s attention. But almost 20 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the Bosnian War, political divisions between the three major ethnic groups continue to threaten the viability of the state. And for Bosnia, just as for the Middle East, the near-term stakes could not be higher.
So what has gone wrong?
As many analysts have noted, Dayton represented the best possible settlement to end the war. But it also burdened Bosnia with highly complicated and dysfunctional institutions. Lacking political and institutional incentives for inter-ethnic cooperation, the system instead rewards ethnic-based nationalist platforms and intra-ethnic infighting, making cross-group cooperation almost impossible. (Milorad Dodik, the president of the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, has turned to nationalist rhetoric to gain and consolidate power since 2006).
Historically, international actors in Bosnia have countered nationalist dynamics in trying to strengthen the Bosnian state. But the state-building process started to unravel in 2006 amidst increasing inter- and intra-ethnic divisions and a failure of political leaders to agree on critical reforms.
By Nicholas Walton, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Nicholas Walton is a journalist and writer. The views expressed are his own.
Some might remember it as the moment when the European Union began to unravel. Others, simply as the moment when Europe’s leaders, individually and collectively, decided to run head first into a concrete wall. Regardless, last month’s EU summit began in Ypres and was fittingly redolent with the symbolism of 1914, when European leaders blundered into a war that few wanted. A century later, they are heading for a situation that nobody wants, thanks to the coronation of a former prime minister of Luxembourg.
For outsiders, this might all take a bit of explaining. But at its core is a bout of political arm wrestling between those who champion the accumulation of more power in the EU institutions, and those who believe that the whole European project needs a rethink.
Those in favor of reform appeared to get a shot in the arm from recent European elections that handed anti-EU populists sweeping gains across much of the continent. But then an arcane wrangle began over how one of the top European jobs – the president of the executive, the Commission – should be appointed.
By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.
Europe’s voters have spoken – and what they had to say has shaken capitals across the continent as far right and some far left parties made significant gains in elections to the European parliament.
The results did not come as a complete surprise – there was widespread apprehension in Brussels ahead of the polls over the public’s mood and its implications for both the future direction of Europe and for national politics. Recent public opinion surveys had indicated disgruntlement among electorates in the wake of years of economic stress, with growing antagonism toward immigration and minorities.
Ironically, this electoral backlash came despite a slight rebound in positive economic sentiment in the region, and despite some polling indicating somewhat more favorable views toward the European Union as an institution. Yet even before the results were in, in an election that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has described as an earthquake, a Pew Research Center survey had revealed a widespread perception among the public that the EU was out of touch, intrusive, inefficient and unwilling to listen.
By Andrew C. Kuchins, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Andrew C. Kuchins is a senior fellow and director of the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program. You can follow the Center for Strategic and International Studies @CSIS. The views expressed are his own.
Vladimir Putin has dramatically raised the stakes with what amounts to a stealth annexation of Crimea this weekend, securing in the process a unanimous vote from the Russian parliament allowing for the deployment of Russian military forces in Ukraine.
To date, the Obama administration's response, including Friday's vague warning about "costs," has amounted to little more than a threat to boycott the G8 meeting taking place in Sochi in June. Did the president's team forget that Putin did not even show up when Obama hosted the G8 in 2012? Was that not a crystal clear message about what Putin really thinks about the G8 in general, and Obama in particular?
Regardless, the administration has clearly been caught flat-footed again by Putin. It is less clear, though, how the United States will respond.
What has taken place over the past two days merely underscores in the most urgent way that we must, together with our European allies, immediately step up with economic and security assistance to bolster the capacity and credibility of the interim government in Kiev. And in doing so, the Obama administration must abandon its oxymoronic inclination to "lead from behind" because the imminent danger is that of a broader use of military and quasi-military tools to effectively separate other eastern regions of Ukraine from the rest of the country. This would have disastrous consequences for Ukrainians and U.S. credibility around the world. Just imagine, for example, the takeaway for Japanese and Chinese leaders about U.S. commitment as they spar in their own territorial dispute.
Yes, Crimea may already be gone. But we have to make absolutely clear – and in the most credible way possible – that Russian military intervention in other regions of Ukraine is a red line that will mean war with Ukrainian and NATO military forces if it is crossed. U.S. and NATO naval forces need to be deployed to the Black Sea in close proximity to the Ukrainian Coast. Military forces of neighboring NATO member countries, meanwhile, should be deployed closer to the Ukrainian border.
This all presupposes that the government in Kiev will request such support, and that Ukrainian military forces, which have been largely absent for the past two days, also need to be ready to be deployed. If Ukraine's military and/or NATO is not prepared to take such measures, then we are simply letting ourselves look foolish with empty threats. But doing nothing would be a terrible misjudgment. Putin has proven agile in asserting Russian interests, and for the West to be effective in its response will require immediate, focused, and forceful action to make Putin recalculate his risk/reward equation.
In addition, the U.S. should work with its European allies to flesh out a package of economic assistance for the interim Ukrainian government. Significant commitments of money must be made immediately available to demonstrate a commitment to Ukrainians. Of course, Moscow and Kiev both have enough historical experience to be highly skeptical that we are ready to make significant financial commitments to Ukraine – that is the core factor that ignited this crisis back in November of last year. And Washington and the EU also have plenty of reason to doubt that any Ukrainian government can sustain its commitment to deep and sustained economic reforms that will get to the root of the endemic corruption among Ukrainian elites that has left its economy so weak and vulnerable.
But while such doubts are understandable, we must force ourselves to make the leap of faith that this time Ukraine will get it right, and the West should hope that the very real threat of the fragmentation of the country creates the sense of crisis necessary to break down the old patterns of behavior.
Ultimately, time is of the essence. And although the reality is that many Americans might feel perfectly able to live with a Ukraine without Crimea, any further fragmentation could be catastrophic not just for those living in Ukraine, but also for European security and the credibility of the U.S. commitment to it. Even if Ukraine is not at the center of Europe, it is still a part of it, and our failure to defend its sovereignty in this time of need could prove to be the final blow for a NATO that has in recent years struggled to find its place in the world.
Directly confronting Putin would not be as risky as many fear – Putin is, after all, a calculating opportunist who will take advantage of weakness where he sees it. He is extremely unlikely, therefore, to risk war if he clearly understands the "cost" of crossing a real red line. The question is whether he has any belief that the United States and its allies will step up.
I hope, for the sake of Europe’s security, that President Obama proves him wrong.
By Gregory F. Treverton, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Gregory F. Treverton directs the RAND Corporation’s Center for Global Risk and Security. He is a former vice chair of the National Intelligence Council and co-author of 'Beyond the Great Divide: Relevance and Uncertainty in National Intelligence and Science for Policy'. The views expressed are his own.
The uproar earlier this month over U.S. diplomat Victoria Nuland’s profane remark about how the European Union is handling the Ukraine crisis shouldn’t distract from a simple fact – frustration with U.S. allies is often part and parcel of the job. Indeed, years ago, when I was a National Security Council staffer, we used to quip that the only thing worse than not consulting with Japan was…consulting with Japan. So it should be little surprise that frustration is bubbling to the surface now.
Nuland’s comments, for which she has apologized, were prompted by the slow European response to unfolding events in Ukraine. And while her words – secretly recorded as part of a conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt – were less than diplomatic, they reflected the deepening reality that Europe does not always do exactly what the United States wants it to.
Of course, it never has. But the end of the Cold War, the expansion of the EU and Washington’s forced reliance on coalition building have made trans-Atlantic relations more of a two-way proposition.
CNN speaks with Fareed about the ongoing unrest in Ukraine, why it matters to the West, and why there is little the United States can do.
You have followed this crisis very closely, but many may not. What is this fight about in the Ukraine, and why does it matter so much to the United States and Russia?
If you think of Ukraine, we think of it as a country, we assume it's always been the country with the same borders and the same people. But Ukraine is really divided, and historically has been divided between a western half and eastern half, roughly speaking. The western half of what is now Ukraine used to be part of Poland. So it was only joined after World War II. So that point is in a sense longing to reunite with its European history and heritage.
The eastern part, on the other hand, has long been attached to Russia. So this is a struggle between east and west for the soul of Ukraine. And of course, naturally, Russians feel a natural affinity to the eastern part, and westerners, including in Europe and in the United States, feel that the western part of Ukraine deserves to be in Europe. So it's really a struggle for the soul of Ukraine. As you say, it involves the rest of the world because each side is searching for an identity.
At the beginning of this, we do know that protestors were calling for a close relationship with Europe. But now, we're hearing protestors call for really the overthrow of the Ukrainian government, calling for President Yanukovych to resign and step down. Is that at all a possibility here?
It seems unlikely. It really depends which way the Ukrainian army goes.
CNN speaks with Fareed about the unrest in Ukraine and what, if anything, the United States should do. This is an edited version of the transcript.
Earlier this month, a phone conversation was leaked between a high-ranking State Department official, Victoria Nuland, and the current U.S. ambassador in Ukraine. Nuland had some embarrassing comments about the E.U. on what is going on in Ukraine now. Is it your sense that this was leaked by the Russians or the pro-Russian Ukrainians to embarrass the United States?
My guess is it was leaked by the Russians because they do have the capacity to overhear that kind of conversation. The basic point Victoria Nuland was trying to make, I think, is that the European Union has been playing a kind of slow economic game here, whereas the Russians have been playing a fast geopolitical game.
By which I mean the European Union has been offering the Ukrainians a deal and association, but as long as they make certain kinds of structural economic reforms and get rid of subsidies on various industries. In other words, it's a kind of almost like a regular trade negotiation where they're trying to get the Ukrainian economy to become more market friendly.
The Russians, on the other hand, are playing a geopolitical game, and they first offered Ukraine essentially a $15 billion bribe, subsidized fuel and such, and then just recently, another $2 billion. So, Putin is basically saying here's cash, no conditions asked, you be part of my sphere of influence.
The Europeans, however, are playing this much longer-term game to try to turn Ukraine into a kind of middle class, you know, liberal democratic, capitalist society, and the two timetables are completely off. So, the Europeans have badly misplayed this hand. They should have, if they were going to step in there and try to wean Ukraine away from Russia, they needed to do something fast. They needed to do something that was overwhelming and that made it very difficult for the president to turn them down.
By Kevin Duffy, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Kevin Duffy is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard and a member of the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist Working Group. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. government.
At the conclusion of a summit of European leaders earlier this month, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called the plight of migrants crossing the Mediterranean an “urgent and complex situation.” He went on to say that the European Union planned to address that situation through a 50-million euro emergency fund, an effort to work with countries of origin in the Middle East and Africa in addressing the causes of migrant flows at their source, increased security patrols, and a comprehensive migrant resettlement policy.
Europe’s policymakers appear now to be recognizing just how much the solution to the “urgent and complex” migrant situation will require a coordinated international effort, rather than reliance on individual countries to respond on their own.
In explaining the urgent tone of his remarks, President Barroso directly referenced Lampedusa, a rocky outcrop that is much closer to North Africa than it is to mainland Italy. The waters around that island were the scene of repeated, massive maritime disasters and rescue efforts in October: on the third of that month, more than 350 people died in a single shipwreck, with 150 more being rescued; a week later, more than 30 people perished and over 200 were saved when their boat capsized; on October 17, a U.S. Navy ship picked up over 120 imperiled migrants; in a remarkable single night at the end of the month, Italian and Maltese boats saved 700 people from five separate vessels.
Watch Global Lessons on Guns, a Fareed Zakaria GPS primetime special, this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on CNN
Switzerland is, by many measures, a gun lover's paradise. According to one estimate, the Swiss rank third in the world with 46 guns per 100 people – trailing only Yemen and, of course, the United States.
Why is Switzerland armed to the teeth? Well, thanks to a tradition that dates back to the dawn of the nation. It’s citizen-militia that forms its army. All able-bodied men, from farmers to financiers, serve at least 260 days in the militia. They’re all trained to shoot and most of them keep their guns at home. Militiamen can hone their skills at their local shooting clubs – gun appreciation societies that boast hundreds of thousands of members, offering classes, competition and camaraderie.
Pistol-packing Ursula Lutz in the video has been shooting for most of her life. On this day at her club, she hits the bulls eye 18 out of twenty times. Not bad for a 70 year-old.
Even the youngsters are expert marksmen. Dave Hah-Bairt is all of 10 years-old and started training two years ago. His advice for the inexperienced? Don’t fidget while shooting.
Watch Global Lessons on Guns for more on this issue.