July 7th, 2014
09:52 AM ET

Identity trumping ideology across the globe

By Fareed Zakaria

People are worried that their country is changing beyond recognition, and that they are being ruled by vast, distant forces – whether the European Union in Brussels, the IMF, or the federal government in Washington – forces that are beyond their control and by people who do not share their values.

The rise of the Tea Party fits this pattern.After exhaustive research, the scholars Vanessa Williamson and Theda Skocpol concluded that immigration was a central issue – perhaps the central issue – for Tea Party members, something that has been reinforced by Eric Cantor's loss in his primary election.

In an age of globalization, elites have discussions that are about political ideology – more government, less government, different government. But, as Samuel Huntington noted many years ago, the force that seems to be moving the world these days is not political ideology, but political identity.

Everyone is asking the question: Who are we? And who are we not?

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

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July 1st, 2014
08:22 PM ET

Should Clinton distance herself from Obama?

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

Today the United States is on a slow recovery, and President Obama's approval ratings are low. That might suggest that the best course would be for Hillary Clinton to distance herself from her former boss.

But Obama, Obamacare, and other policies of this president are very popular among many Democratic groups.And remember, the three people in her shoes who have won all ran on continuity.

Now, Mrs. Clinton's recent memoir suggests that she has not yet made up her mind as to what course she will follow.The book is a carefully calibrated mixture of praise and criticism, loyalty and voice, such that she can plausibly go in whatever direction she chooses.

The world today is different, and Hillary Clinton is in a unique position, especially if she can truly mobilize women voters. But history does suggest that choosing change or continuity will truly be her hard choice.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

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June 27th, 2014
03:14 AM ET

Hillary Clinton’s truly hard choice: Change or continuity?

By Fareed Zakaria

Hillary Clinton’s problem is not her money. Despite the media flurry over a couple of awkward remarks she made, most people will understand her situation pretty quickly — she wasn’t born rich but has become very rich — and are unlikely to hold it against her. Mitt Romney did not lose the last election because of his wealth. Hispanics and Asians did not vote against him in record numbers because he was a successful businessman. Clinton’s great challenge will be to decide whether she represents change or continuity.

Clinton will make history in a big and dramatic way if she is elected — as the first woman president. But she will make history in a smaller, more complicated sense as well. She would join just three other non-incumbents since 1900 to win the White House after their party had been in power for eight years. She would be the first to win who was not the vice president or the clear protégé of the incumbent president.

Read the full Washington Post column

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June 20th, 2014
12:52 AM ET

An enclave strategy for Iraq

By Fareed Zakaria

Can Iraq hold together? It’s worth examining what is happening in that country through a broader prism. If you had looked at the Middle East 15 years ago, you would have seen a string of strikingly similar regimes — from Libya and Tunisia in the west to Syria and Iraq in the east. They were all dictatorships. They were all secular, in the sense that they did not derive their legitimacy from religious identity. Historically, they had all been supported by outside powers — first the British and French, then the superpowers — which meant that these rulers worried more about pleasing patrons abroad than currying favor at home. And they had secure borders.

Today, across the region, from Libya to Syria, that structure of authority has collapsed and people are reaching for their older identities — Sunni, Shiite, Kurd. Sectarian groups, often Islamist, have filled the power vacuum, spilling over borders and spreading violence. In Iraq and elsewhere, no amount of U.S. military power can put Humpty Dumpty back together.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take • Iraq
June 9th, 2014
10:32 AM ET

Asia wants insurance, not new Cold War

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

The United States is seeking to deter China from expansion while also attempting to integrate it into the global economy and global order. Even with Russia, the goal is not to force the collapse of the Russian regime (which would not be replaced by a pro-Western liberal democracy), but rather to deter Moscow's aggressive instincts and hope over time that it will evolve along a more cooperative line.

Imagine if the United States were to decide to combat China fully and frontally, building up its naval presence in the Pacific, creating new bases, and adopting a more aggressive and forceful attitude. China would surely respond in a variety of ways, military, political, and economic.

This would alarm almost all the countries in Asia – even the ones worried today about Beijing's assertiveness – because China is their largest trading partner and the key to their economic well-being. What they want from Washington is a kind of emergency insurance policy, not a new Cold War…

…The challenge for Washington, then, is not simple deterrence but deterrence and integration – a sophisticated, complicated task, but the right one.

Watch the video for the full take or read the WaPo column

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May 26th, 2014
03:12 PM ET

China and our new, messy world

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

By Fareed Zakaria

Last week, we saw a new world of great power intrigue. The U.S. Justice Department filed formal charges against five officials in the Chinese military and detailed the economic espionage that they allegedly have conducted against American companies over the last eight years.

The action is unprecedented, especially since these officials are never going to be arrested – and will probably never leave China. And no one believes it will make any difference because the Chinese officials are unlikely to face any kind of sanction at home. In fact, if anything, they might regard being on this list as a badge of honor…

…Cyber attacks are part of a new, messy, chaotic world, fueled by globalization and the information revolution. In a wired, networked world, it is much harder to shut down this kind of activity. And it certainly will not be possible to do it using traditional mechanisms of national security.

FULL POST

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Topics: China • Fareed's Take
May 16th, 2014
10:11 PM ET

Time for U.S. to embrace India

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

By Fareed Zakaria

The United States has to clear the air with the person who will be India's next prime minister, Narendra Modi. Modi has been shunned by U.S. officials for a decade. The George W. Bush administration had put him on a blacklist of sorts and denied him a visa to come to America. The visa issue is now irrelevant because as the head of government, Modi automatically gets a special visa. But the Obama administration should go further and move to strengthen ties with him. The cold shoulder should be replaced with a warm embrace.

First, a few words to explain the blacklist and why, in my view, putting Modi on it was selective, arbitrary, and excessive.

Modi, a Hindu nationalist politician, is (until he becomes prime minister) head of the government in the Indian state of Gujarat. He held that job in 2002, when fierce rioting between Hindus and Muslim broke out.In that capacity, it is alleged, he encouraged – or did nothing to stop – vigilante violence against Muslims and police complicity with this violence.

In those riots 1,000 people, almost all Muslims died. Subsequent prosecutions of those accused of killing Muslims have been minimal.It is a dark episode in India's history and Modi comes out of it tainted as the head of the state government at the time. But his own role remains unclear…

FULL POST

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Topics: Fareed's Take • GPS Show • India
May 12th, 2014
09:07 AM ET

Obama's minimalist approach to foreign policy

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

By Fareed Zakaria

What the United States needs is a set of sophisticated strategies to shore up the existing global system but also keep the major powers invested in it.

With Ukraine, for example, it's vital that Obama rally the world against Russia's violation of borders and norms. And yet, the only long-term solution to Ukraine has to involve Russia. Without Moscow's buy-in, Ukraine cannot be stable and successful. But Obama's strategy of putting pressure on Moscow, using targeted sanctions, and rallying support in Europe is the right one – it might even be showing some signs of paying off.

Similarly with China, the challenge is to provide the assurances that other Asian countries want, but to make sure that the pivot does not turn into a containment strategy against China, which is now the world's second-largest economic and military power. That would make for a Cold War in Asia that no Asian country wants and would not serve American interests either.

Obama's restraint has served him well in avoiding errors. But it has also produced a strangely minimalist approach to his constructive foreign policy agenda. From the Asia pivot to the Russian sanctions to new trade deals, the administration has offered an ambitious and important agenda, but the president approaches it cautiously, as if his heart is not in it and he is being pulled along by events rather than leading them.​

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

 

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May 5th, 2014
11:15 AM ET

Why world is overtaking America

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

By Fareed Zakaria

The single biggest force behind falling American rankings on education and skills is not that the United States is doing things much worse, but that other countries have caught up and are doing better. The American system of secondary education and adult training is clearly inadequate in the new global environment.

And things show no signs of improving.

The bipartisan backlash against the common core – a set of national standards agreed to by governors – is a tragic example.Parents raised on a culture of low standards and high self-esteem are outraged that the tests show that many, many American schools are not teaching their children enough.(The tests must be at fault because their kids are brilliant!)

Some left wing groups and teachers’ groups are upset with the emphasis on testing (though Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, has actually endorsed the Common Core.)

And Republicans now oppose it, despite having championed it only a few years ago, largely because the Obama administration also happens back this project.

Here's another quote from French economist Thomas Piketty's big book: “[T]he principal force for convergence [of wealth]-the diffusion of knowledge-is only partly natural and spontaneous. It also depends in large part on educational policies.”

In other words, if America really wants to reduce inequality, it needs to reform the system, spend money where needed – such as early education – and get to work at it now.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

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April 28th, 2014
08:54 AM ET

Zakaria: Let Asia into the club

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

By Fareed Zakaria

For all its problems, the real threat to a serious Asia strategy comes not from the administration but from Congress and maybe the American public. In fact, the difficulties in the execution of the Asian pivot raise the broader question – can America have a grand strategy today?

Obama's basic approach is wise, and is in many ways a continuation of U.S. foreign policy since Bill Clinton's presidency, including George W Bush.

On the diplomatic front, it has two elements – deterrence and engagement.All countries in Asia, as well as the United States, seek stronger and deeper economic ties with China and want to ensure that that country does not become an expansionist regional bully.

Now, getting the balance between those two elements, engagement and deterrence, is hard to do and easy to criticize. There is, however, a broader aspect to Asia policy, one that is constructive. At the center of this is the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column here

 

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March 31st, 2014
09:20 AM ET

Zakaria: Russia endangering global order

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

By Fareed Zakaria

The best way to deal with Russia's aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine national interest-based foreign policy that would be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently last week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. Compare what the Obama administration has managed to organize in the wake of this latest Russian aggression, to the Bush administration's response to Putin's actions in Georgia in 2008.

That was a blatant invasion. Moscow sent in tanks and heavy artillery. Hundreds were killed. Nearly 200,000 people were displaced. Yet the response from the West was essentially nothing. This time the response has been much more serious. Some of this difference is the nature of the stakes. But it also might have to do with the fact that the Obama administration has taken pains to present Russia's actions in a broader context and get other countries to see them as such.

This is what leadership looks like in the 21st Century. There is in fact an evolving international order with new global norms making war and conquest increasingly rare. We should strengthen, not ridicule it. Yes, there are some places that stand in opposition to this trend: North Korea, Syria, Russia. The people running these countries believe that they're charting a path to greatness and glory. But they are the ones living in a fantasy world.

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

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March 25th, 2014
08:37 AM ET

Putin trapped by history

By Fareed Zakaria

Whatever happens in Ukraine over the next few months and years, the crisis has reminded me that there are really two kinds of rulers around the world: those who think about the past and those who think about the future. And if it weren’t abundantly clear already, it is now – Vladimir Putin is in the first group. And his country will be the poorer for it...

...Think of Pakistan's generals, still trying to establish "strategic depth" in their backyard while their country collapses. Or think of Vladimir Putin, who is, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, playing a 19th century game in the 21st century. What has he achieved? Ukraine has slipped out of his grasp, its people deeply suspicious of Moscow. Even in Crimea, the 40 percent who are non-Russian are probably restive and resentful. Moscow's neighbors are alarmed, and once-warming relations with Poland will be set back. Trade and investment with Europe and the United States will surely suffer, whether there are sanctions or not.

Meanwhile, Russia continues along its path as an oil-dependent state with an increasingly authoritarian regime that has failed to develop its economy or civil society or foster political pluralism. But no matter – Moscow controls Crimea. In today's world, is that really a victory?

Watch the video for the full Take or read the TIME column

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