"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
By Fareed Zakaria
So, the Obama administration has now decided that Syria’s use of chemical weapons crosses a red line and, as a result, the United States will supply the opposition with small arms and ammunition. This strikes me as a risky decision – too little to have a real impact and enough to commit the United States in a complex civil war.
First, let’s be clear. This will not ease the humanitarian nightmare unfolding in Syria. The opposition forces will now have some more arms and will fight back, presumably killing more of the regime’s soldiers and supporters. Levels of violence might well rise not decline.
So what exactly is the objective of this policy shift? Is it the defeat of Bashar al-Assad? If so, can such a small shift in American support for the opposition really do that? The opposition forces are disorganized. Joshua Landis, the Syria scholar, estimates that there are 1,000 militias that make up the rebel forces. Such a decentralized opposition would need a lot more than more small weapons and ammunition to succeed.
By Mieke Eoyang and Christopher Preble, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Mieke Eoyang is the director of the National Security Program at Third Way. Christopher Preble is the vice president for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. The views expressed are their own.
In his speech on counterterrorism last month, President Barack Obama said something both profound and overdue – the war underway since 2001 should end, not just factually but also legally. Outlining his views, the president said he wanted to “refine, and ultimately repeal,” the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the main legislative vehicle governing U.S. counterterrorism operations around the world. He also pledged not to sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.
But to make that goal a concrete reality, the president should have called for legislation repealing the administration’s authority for war – sunsetting the AUMF, which provides the legal authorization for our troops in Afghanistan, once combat operations there conclude at the end of 2014. Future counterterrorism operations can rely on the plentiful authorities the executive branch already has, including some that have been added since 9/11. And if this president – or any other in the future – needs greater war powers to deal with a threat, they can return to Congress and ask for specific, limited authorities tailored to address the future challenge.
Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger about U.S.-China ties.
You have been to China for 40 years, but you have also been over the last several months. And you’ve met this new leadership. What about Xi Jinping particularly? What do you make of him?
Xi Jinping is a strong personality, very thoughtful. And he, I believe, knows that he has to define a new direction for China, no matter how successful their previous efforts have been.
So what do you think this leadership is looking for from the United States, in its relations with the United States?
The leadership, as I understand it, looks now for a period of stability. They know that they have formidable tasks in adjusting many of their domestic activities. And they don't want to complicate those by a crisis with the United States.
By Fareed Zakaria
In the past few weeks, we all watched tornadoes hit Oklahoma. One of them was the widest tornado in U.S. history, ravaging an area longer and wider at points than Manhattan. Now the state is out of the news. But away from the media spotlight, Oklahoma is rebuilding itself in a determined fashion that is characteristic of its spirit.
I got interested in Oklahoma's recent history because, the week before the tornado, I was asked to deliver the commencement address at the University of Oklahoma. And in preparing for it, I was struck by the state's recent revival of fortunes, one that gave me a lot of hope about America.
You see, in recent decades, experts were sure that the Oklahoma – and the states around it that make up the Great Plains – could not compete in a post-industrial age, that the area was becoming a wasteland.
By Alex Smith, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Alex Smith is the national chair of the College Republican National Committee. The views expressed are her own.
The Republican Party brand has become tarnished among young adults. Once the party of Reagan, who won the youth vote by 19 points in his reelection campaign, we’ve slowly lost our connection with the young. The GOP, which was once a proud reference to the “Grand Old Party,” has certainly lost some of its grandeur.
If recent elections are any indication, then perception has become reality. President Barack Obama won 5 million more votes than Gov. Mitt Romney among voters under the age of 30 in the 2012 presidential election. Despite Romney’s significant edge in other age groups, the youth vote proved decisive. Moreover, this was actually an improvement from 2008, when Obama won the youth vote by a 2-to-1 margin.
The Republican Party has won the youth vote before and can absolutely win it again. But it will take significant work to refine our message, and improve how and where we communicate.
By Zheng Wang, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Zheng Wang is an associate professor in the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University and a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Never Forget National Humiliation. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have no shortage of opportunities to talk – whether on the sidelines of summits like the G-20 and APEC or during the U.N. General Assembly meeting. U.S. and Chinese leaders have also held relatively frequent summits over the past decade. During Obama's first term, for example, he and Chinese then-President Hu Jintao met with each other a dozen times. But quantity does not always mean quality in affairs of state, and these meetings have generally been formal, brief, and attended by a roomful of officials. Add in the fact that much time is taken up in translation during these meetings, and it’s easy to see why there is often so little depth in the typically one-hour gatherings that take place between the two leaders.
This week’s meeting between Obama and Xi, though, promises to be different. Scheduled over two days in Sunnylands, California, the two presidents have a special opportunity to learn about each other and the beliefs and ideas that underpin their countries. Will they seize this chance to better understand each other?
U.S.-China ties would certainly benefit from an in-depth conversation, one that could bridge the gaping deficit of trust that currently exists. But trust cannot be built during brief, official meetings. For two individuals to better understand where the other is coming from, including heads of state, then it is important that there is an opportunity to linger over important and revealing conversations. The U.S., at least, has recognized this previously, but Hu is said to have been reluctant to accept such an invitation. Xi, though, seems intent on differentiating himself from his predecessor.
By Jeffrey Mankoff, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jeffrey Mankoff is deputy director and fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Russia and Eurasia Program. The views expressed are his own.
Faced with an increasingly complex international environment, President Barack Obama is quietly re-emphasizing one of the main priorities of his first term: trying to build a cooperative relationship with Russia. This may come as a surprise – after all, the atmosphere between the two countries has been decidedly frosty the past year. But although the high-profile outreach of the first-term “reset” may have been set aside, the Obama administration has been pursuing low key, concrete cooperation on issues ranging from Syria to Afghanistan to counter-terrorism. And, freed from the political baggage surrounding the reset, such cooperation is likely to prove more sustainable – and more effective at advancing U.S. interests.
Obama’s first term got off to a good start. Washington and Moscow agreed to cut their nuclear forces under the New START agreement, and Russia also provided logistical support for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, Russia supported Iran sanctions and ultimately acquiesced to U.S. requests for intervention in Libya. This cooperation was symbolized by the bright red (but mistranslated) reset button that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented to her Russian counterpart in Geneva in 2009. As several of Obama’s other first term international initiatives fell by the wayside, the U.S.-Russia reset became one of his highest profile foreign policy achievements.
By Michael O’Hanlon, Special to CNN
Michael O’Hanlon is senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, author of The Wounded Giant: America’s Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity and a former colleague at Brookings of incoming National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The views expressed are his own.
Susan Rice, who President Barack Obama today named his new national security advisor, will do well in her new role. I am confident of that. She will of course face challenges, often on problems where there are no good or easy answers – starting with Syria and Iran. She will be helping a president who is leading a war-weary nation with a nearly trillion dollar deficit and numerous domestic woes that compete for his time and attention, as well as the country’s resources. And the partisan problems in Washington won’t make life any easier.
But in taking on all of this, Rice has a number of strengths. Some are well known – her experience at the United Nations, her expertise on handling Iran and North Korea sanctions issues there (and thus working with Europeans, Russians, Chinese, and others on such problems), her previous service in government. To me, however, one set of strengths stands out as a major and often underappreciated aspect of Rice’s character and personality – the ability to build and lead a team.
"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Last week, Fareed argued in his TIME column that for the next generation of growth, the U.S. “must focus on training and retraining workers, break the immigration deadlock, build out our infrastructure and invest in science and technology.” But he also argued that the United States needed reform, changes that will “make our entitlement programs affordable as we age.”
Here he speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman about how this applies to Europe, and whether stimulus and why stimulus and reform shouldn’t be seen as mutually exclusive.
The point I want to ask you about is the kind of reforms that open up markets. You know, Japan has 800 percent tariffs on rice. Italy is 73rd in the world in ease of doing business. The reason I'm asking is because…you've quoted…almost approvingly, something Naomi Klein argues, which is that whenever you have these crises, the problem is that these countries then adopt market friendly policies. They're called neo-liberal policies. And these are terrible for the economies.
Now, I'm thinking, the whole history of the last 35 years, as you know, is the countries that adopted these policies, by and large, grew pretty well – from Eastern Europe to India. You know, look around the world and becoming more hospitable to trade and markets has generally been a good thing.
So I'm actually, you know, still very much pro-globalization. And certainly, you look at some places – India actually being a case where you really do seem to have gotten a lot of mileage out of liberalization.
But that's starting from a very extreme regime. So when we're talking about Western European countries…I mean Ireland. Think about Ireland. I always think Ireland was the poster child for reform. Everybody talked about what a great job they’d done, how the structural changes were so great.
And now that Ireland finds itself in a financial crisis, people say, well, what you need to do is structural reform. Uh, wait, didn't they already do that? What happens if you've already reformed everything? What next?
By Elizabeth Economy, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Elizabeth Economy is C.V. Starr senior fellow and director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are her own.
Presidential summits between the United States and China have become disappointingly predictable. Before every summit there is a sense of anticipation. What issues will be at the top of the agenda? What new agreements might be reached? How will the two presidents get along? During the summit, news is scant. There are hints of common purpose, but mostly there are admissions of significant differences. And then, inevitably, there is the post-summit letdown. The issues were the same as always. The leaders didn’t really get along (although no one quite says that). And new agreements were never in the cards.
It is possible for President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping to break this summit stalemate when they meet on June 7 to 8 at the Sunnylands estate in California. To do so, however, will require flipping the summit process on its head. Rather than working toward agreement across all the areas of conflict before them – which after all will take years not days of negotiation – the two presidents need to begin by headlining what in the U.S.-China relationship actually works and then delivering that message to the American and Chinese publics.
By Adam Lowther, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Adam Lowther is a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, DC and author of Deterrence. The views expressed are his own.
Congress, at least in the eyes of its critics, may not seem able to get very much done these days. But a House of Representatives subcommittee got at least one thing right last week when it voted to block the Defense Department from closing domestic U.S. military bases and installations.
The vote comes against the backdrop of sequestration – the forced budget cuts in Washington – and suggestions from Department of Defense officials that a new round of base closures is necessary. But Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should not yield to the growing chorus calling for another round of realignment to follow the five previous rounds that took place between 1988 and 2005 and that saw the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps absorb 97 major base closures as part of the post-Cold War military drawdown. Yes, we should take a hard look at the budget numbers. But those pushing for closures are missing the true value of these bases.