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

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • GPS Show
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


Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • GPS Show
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

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take
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

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take
March 2nd, 2014
01:44 PM ET

How U.S. should respond to Russia

By Fareed Zakaria

In a strange act of historical coincidence, it is 60 years ago this week that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev handed the Crimea over to the Ukraine. It might not have seemed a big deal in those days – everyone was part of one big, unhappy Soviet Union. But that act has created today’s geopolitical crisis.

Russia has now made its move. It has essentially detached Crimea from the Ukrainian government’s control. What remains unclear is what Vladimir Putin wants to do with it. Incorporate it into Russia? Use it as leverage to negotiate a deal with Ukraine? Both?

In any event, Washington’s response should be clear and forceful. Russia has violated all kinds of laws and norms, including most crucially, a treaty that it signed with Ukraine guaranteeing that country’s borders, in return for which Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons.


Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • Russia • Ukraine
February 17th, 2014
02:28 PM ET

Zakaria: Both sides not equally at fault in Washington

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

By Fareed Zakaria

Watching the machinations in Washington over the last two weeks, it is now impossible to talk about how both political parties are to blame for the country's gridlock.

Consider what just happened on immigration. Now a majority of Americans support granting citizenship to illegal immigrants – by 81 percent in the most recent CNN poll – as well as enhanced border controls. The leadership of the Republican Party in both houses of Congress talked about a comprehensive reform package that would create a lengthy waiting time for citizenship – 13 years – and couple this with tougher enforcement.

Immigration was supposed to be ripe for common-sense reform. The public is for a compromise solution, policy wonks have proposed ways to make it work, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports it, the country's leading technology firms have been clamoring for it, senior Democrats and Republicans are all in favor. And yet it couldn't get past the central problem in Washington today - the extreme and obstructionist faction within the Republican Party - that cannot take yes for an answer.

The next time someone blames "both sides" for Washington's paralysis or issues a bland call for "leadership" to get us out of it, remember the case of immigration.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the Washington Post column.

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • Politics
February 10th, 2014
10:34 AM ET

Behind Karzai's outbursts

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

By Fareed Zakaria

The U.S. has tired of its longest war, debating only the size of the small force it will leave behind, mostly for training purposes. The Taliban continues to have many strongholds in significant parts of the country. And Pakistan continues to support the Taliban from across the border-support that is likely to expand as America withdraws and Islamabad seeks to fill that power vacuum.

So Karzai might be playing an erratic game of brinkmanship in his negotiations with Washington, but he might also be trying to navigate a post-American Afghanistan. While American troops might well remain and some American aid will continue, Afghanistan is going to look very different in 2015 than it does today.​

Post by:
Topics: Afghanistan • Fareed's Take • GPS Show
February 3rd, 2014
02:46 PM ET

Washington, Iran need to face realities

By Fareed Zakaria

After Iran and the major powers signed onto a deal on Tehran's nuclear program, expectations were high. Over the last week, they have fallen sharply as Iranian officials have made tough public comments, Israel's Prime Minister has reaffirmed his opposition to almost any conceivable deal, and several influential U.S. senators have threatened new sanctions.

Now, this does not mean a final deal with Tehran is impossible but it does mean that both sides, Tehran and the West, need to start thinking creatively about how to bridge what is clearly a wide divide and they also have to think about how to get around the main obstacle they will face – which will be opposition at home, in Iran and the United States.

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

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • Iran
January 11th, 2014
08:00 AM ET

Why Iraq is in turmoil

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

By Fareed Zakaria

Here's a startling statistic: more than 8,000 Iraqis were killed in violent attacks in 2013. That makes it the second most violent country in the world, after its neighbor Syria.

As violence has spread and militants have gained ground in several Middle Eastern countries, people have been wondering how much this has to do with the Obama administration and its lack of an active intervention in the region. The Wall Street Journal and a Commentary magazine opinion piece have both argued this past week that the Obama administration's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq is directly responsible for the renewed violence in that country. They and others have also argued that because it has stayed out of Syria, things there have spiraled downward.

Let me suggest that the single greatest burden for the violence and tensions across the Arab world lies with a president – though not President Obama – and it lies with an American foreign policy that was not too passive but rather too active and interventionist in the Middle East. The invasion and occupation of Iraq triggered what has become a regional religious war in the Middle East. Let me explain how, specifically.


Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • Iraq • Middle East • Religion
January 4th, 2014
11:48 PM ET

Can China reform in time?

By Fareed Zakaria

I know, it's seems odd to speak of problems and the need for reform in the world's fastest growing big economy. But China has built up imbalances in that economy for some years now and they are not sustainable for much longer. Even before the financial crisis, China's top officials were aware that the economy was, in Premier Wen Jiabao's own words, "unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable." It needed to wean itself off cheap credit and undergo market reforms.

Since then, in response to the global economic slowdown, China pumped even more easy money into its economy. The result, according to Morgan Stanley's Ruchir Sharma, is that China's total public and private debt is more than 200 percent of GDP, an unprecedented level for any developing country. Sharma points out that while it used to take one dollar of debt to produce one dollar of Chinese GDP growth, today it takes $4 to produce that same dollar of growth. Businesses and local governments have piled on debt. The property boom has accelerated. Without serious policy changes relatively soon, this is a bubble that is going to burst.

I'm not ready to bet against China. Its leadership has shown itself to be capable of difficult decisions and smart execution. And if the leaders do manage this transition well, China will emerge stronger, and of course become the largest economy in the world. If they don't, they will likely face a slump and perhaps political tensions that bubble up in the wake of a slowing economy.

For more on this, watch the video or read the TIME column

Post by:
Topics: China • Fareed's Take
January 2nd, 2014
09:01 AM ET

2014 is a make or break year for China

By Fareed Zakaria

Beijing faces other serious challenges. Chinese people almost anywhere in the country experience serious air and water pollution, and they have begun to complain vocally. They are also increasingly outraged by something almost as ubiquitous: corruption. China's corruption is masked because of the state's tight control of the media, but the Communist Party is well aware of the problem and has pledged to revamp its systems of promotion and party discipline to ensure that officials are less corrupt and more focused on ecological damage, not just growth.

Any such changes are bound to face political resistance and backlash from within the Communist Party and from some powerful sectors of society. President Xi Jinping has launched an anticorruption campaign, though many in China believe enforcement has been selective. He has also sought to stabilize the party's power by tightening the noose on any critics in the media and universities and even those who are private businesspeople. Xi has created a national security council focused largely on internal security, a sign of not only where his priorities lie but also where he sees his greatest challenges.

I'm not ready to bet against China.

Read the TIME column

Post by:
Topics: China • Fareed's Take
December 23rd, 2013
09:14 AM ET

Zakaria: Focus on America's forgotten 46 million

By Fareed Zakaria

Is income inequality the “defining challenge” of our time? President Obama's speech earlier this month on the topic has provoked a lively debate on this subject.

I think part of the confusion that some people have is that when we talk about inequality we’re often talking about three different things. First, the astonishing rise of the very rich. Second, the stagnant wages and poor prospects of the American middle class. And third, the large number of people at the very bottom of the ladder.

These are distinct phenomena. They may be related – the rise of the rich might be causing the stagnation of the middle class – but the research on that is mixed.

Of the three problems, the easiest to fix is the one we spend the least time talking about: the fate of the poor, who now number 46 million. Since the poor tend not to vote nor lobby nor petition politicians, they don't get much attention. And as a result, government does not devote much energy or resources to their problems, especially those of poor children who suffer from malnutrition, bad health, and poor education, which cripple their chances of escaping poverty. The resources needed to change this would be a fraction of what we spend on the middle class in this country.

We don't have all the answers but if you're looking for the policy that would likely have the biggest effect on raising social mobility and reducing inequality, let’s shift the attention from the rich and the middle class and focus for once on the 46 million Americans who are often forgotten.

Read the Washington Post column for more

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take
« older posts
newer posts »