How the world sees Obama
July 16th, 2014
03:43 PM ET

How the world sees Obama

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.

Beleaguered at home, U.S. President Barack Obama remains beloved in many nations abroad. And he is far more popular than his predecessor George W. Bush. But the bloom is definitely off the Obama rose.

Obama’s election in 2008 was widely approved of around the world, and there were high expectations for the incoming American leader, whose election seemed to promise an end to the anti-Americanism that had plagued Washington’s relations with the rest of the world for the past several years.

And, despite revelations such as National Security Agency spying on foreign leaders and the growing sense in the United States that President Obama is already a lame duck domestically, his continued (if somewhat diminished) favorability abroad suggests he remains a force to be reckoned with in international affairs. But will the president follow the well-trodden path of his predecessors in spending more time on foreign policy in their last years in office as their domestic influence has waned?

His popularity abroad suggests he might.

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Topics: Politics • United States
Fareed taking readers' questions on global issues
July 9th, 2014
04:20 PM ET

Fareed taking readers' questions on global issues

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

From Syria to Iraq to the fast deteriorating situation in Gaza, the prospects for stability in the Middle East are looking increasingly bleak. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has also had to contend with a newly assertive Russia, a rising China and a persistent threat from militant groups such as al Qaeda.

To help make sense of these challenges, understand what to look out for next, and to assess where U.S. foreign policy has gotten it right – and wrong – GPS host Fareed Zakaria will be answering readers’ questions on recent developments across the globe.

Please leave your questions for Fareed in the comments section below.

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Topics: Foreign Policy • GPS Show • United States
Americans deeply divided on U.S. role in world
July 9th, 2014
10:55 AM ET

Americans deeply divided on U.S. role in world

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.
 
If you thought that Americans were deeply divided on the proper U.S. role in the world, think again. It is even worse than you think. But it is also more complicated.

Americans are more inward looking today on foreign policy issues than they have been at any time in the last half century. And new survey data from the Pew Research Center highlights the fissures that separate one American from another on international affairs – divisions that are far more nuanced than a simple left-right disagreement. They pit Americans who are socially conservative against pro-business conservatives and old-line liberals against younger liberals.

Charting a course on the world stage for Americans has never been easy. But in today’s deeply partisan political environment it’s a particularly challenging task. FULL POST

Drug cartels are causing a refugee crisis
July 8th, 2014
11:57 AM ET

Drug cartels are causing a refugee crisis

By Ted Galen Carpenter, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is the author of nine books on international affairs, including The Fire Next Door: Mexico’s Drug Violence and the Danger to America. The views expressed are his own.

Officials in the United States might be tempted to view the disturbing surge in young refugees as simply a border security issue. But the problem is far more complex than that – the drug cartels are now major players in Central American countries, driving vulnerable populations northward to the United States to enhance their own profits.

And America’s hardline prohibitionist drug war is only making things worse.

Although the growing power of the cartels is not the only factor accounting for this crisis, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson suggested in congressional testimony that the “push factor” of violence is important.

Drug gangs have gained control of major chunks of Central America, making honest economic activity perilous. Teenagers especially have few options if they are not willing to work for the drug lords. As Caitlin Dickson noted in the Daily Beast, for example, “by making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for its poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, thereby providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business.”

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Topics: Drugs • Latin America • United States
July 7th, 2014
04:51 PM ET

Why the Export-Import Bank matters

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

By Global Public Square staff

You know countries don't always play by the rules of international trade, especially countries where the government and large companies are really all part of the same team.

Take, for example, China – the most notorious player who hasn't read the rule sheet. The government of China lavishes subsidies on its companies to make their products more competitive in the global marketplace.

And it's not just subsidies that help Chinese companies. Last year, China's government gave its domestic companies $111 billion in guarantees, loans and insurance to help them sell their various products overseas.

And China is just one example – Japan's companies got $33 billion worth of such treatment, South Korea $24 billion. And by contrast, the U.S. total was just $15 billion. Keep in mind that South Korea's economy is less than 1/10th the size of America's!

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Topics: China • Economy • United States • What in the World?
June 28th, 2014
10:58 PM ET

Where America Works: A closer look at Houston

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

Houston was the first city to regain all of the jobs it lost in the 2008 recession. In fact, it actually created more than two jobs for every one that it lost.

That job creation has been a driving force behind the changing face of Houston, which in the words of current Mayor Annise Parker has been trying to fill those jobs by attracting “some of the best and the brightest from around the world.”

Today, one in five Houstonians was born in another country. To find out more about how Gulfton has been at the center of the changes in the city, watch the video clip and tune into a new segment starting this Sunday on GPS: Where America Works.

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Topics: Economy • United States
U.S. job far from done in Afghanistan
June 27th, 2014
09:05 AM ET

U.S. job far from done in Afghanistan

By Stephen J. Hadley and Kristin M. Lord, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Stephen J. Hadley is chairman of the board of the United States Institute of Peace and a former White House National Security Adviser. Kristin Lord is acting president of the United States Institute of Peace. The views expressed are their own.

As the United States draws down its forces in Afghanistan and shifts from direct combat to the narrower mission of countering terrorism and training Afghan forces, some might think this is the time to declare “job done” and focus U.S. attention elsewhere. That would be a mistake.  As the current violence in Iraq illustrates, the gains won by our military are fragile. Peace, once won, must be sustained.

Afghanistan is now in the delicate process of laying the foundation for a democratic political transition – the first since President Hamid Karzai assumed the presidency. As many as 7 million Afghans, or around 60 percent of eligible voters, have twice defied the Taliban and cast ballots to select the country’s next president, first in the general election and again in this month’s runoff.

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Topics: Afghanistan • United States
How to stop Libya becoming another Iraq
June 26th, 2014
02:53 PM ET

How to stop Libya becoming another Iraq

By Michael Shank and Najla Elmangoush, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Najla Elmangoush is the dean of Centre of Gender Studies at the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies in Tripoli. Michael Shank is the associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and adjunct faculty at George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. The views expressed are their own.

With violence in Iraq dominating the news, there’s little attention paid to the similar implosion in Libya, aside from the usual periodic Benghazi rhetoric. Yet U.S. interventions in both countries have clearly backfired, leaving them all the messier because the U.S. didn’t carefully plan reconciliation processes in either country. And, without Washington’s willingness to engage in some self-reflection on what it did wrong with Libya, we risk seeing the same chaos that is unfolding in Iraq.

Sadly, the West’s neglect has allowed Libyan renegades like Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a former Gadhafi supporter who has recruited other ex-Gadhafi loyalists, to take charge. Haftar, whose is supposed to be fighting the extremists, has been behind the bombing of areas around Benghazi, and leads a powerful militia once part of the national army. He is also using the same language as the West regarding his refusal to “negotiate with terrorists.”

But none of this is helping Libya become more stable. Indeed, the security situation is deteriorating, and this summer witnessed the worst violence in Benghazi since 2011, when Gadhafi’s militia attacked the city. The latest example of violence – between Ansar al-sharia, the most dangerous armed Islamist militia group in Libya, and Haftar’s forces – claimed the lives of 19 civilians, with dozens more hurt.

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Topics: Iraq • Libya • United States
June 24th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

How LBJ got the Civil Rights Act passed

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

The Civil Rights Act remains one of the great puzzles and achievements of American history. The achievement part is obvious. The puzzle part is two-fold.  First: why did it take so long?  It passed 101 years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. And second: how did it finally get passed?

To get the answers, let’s step back 50 years. It's hard for young people today to imagine, but back then there were restaurants and stores and cabs – mostly in the South – where black people were not served. There were separate water fountains for the two races and, as Rosa Parks made infamous, separate sections of buses, just to name a few. It was legal in 1964 to refuse to hire somebody because of the color of their skin or their gender. A year earlier, President John F. Kennedy had addressed the nation to urge action on civil rights.

But then Kennedy was assassinated. Surprisingly, his successor Lyndon Baines Johnson, a staunch Southerner, took up the cause, a cause that looked hopeless.

Why? Johnson biographer Robert Caro explains.

For more on the issue, tune into CNN's 'The Sixties' as it explores the civil rights movement in-depth, this Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

 

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Topics: GPS Show • History • Politics • United States
June 24th, 2014
10:28 AM ET

A smarter way to tackle poverty

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

By Global Public Square staff

The economic buzzword of the year is inequality – it has sparked protests around the world, it’s a centerpiece of President Obama's agenda now, and it has even inspired an unlikely bestseller.

People watch the growing inequality around the world and in the United States and despair about what to do. One of the most popular fixes is raising the minimum wage – and that’s not just on the left. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently supported a new wage increase, as has Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer the Conservative Party’s George Osborne.

In the United States, President Obama proposed boosting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour at the beginning of the year. That's a 39 percent increase over the current wage minimum of $7.25. Republicans have, of course, made it clear that they will never pass this in Congress.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund weighed in and urged the U.S. to raise the wage floor, saying it is low by both historical and international standards. The federal minimum wage in America was about 38 percent of the median wage in 2011, which is one of lowest percentages among the rich countries of the world.

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Is America dangerously divided?
June 15th, 2014
03:41 AM ET

Is America dangerously divided?

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.

If you thought that political polarization in America was bad, think again. Because it’s worse than you thought. And if you’re under the impression that dysfunctionality in Washington is merely a product of partisan political gamesmanship on Capitol Hill, try again. Because a new survey finds that the divisions inside the Beltway actually reflect a deep ideological divide within the U.S. public that manifests itself not only in politics, but in everyday life. Indeed, this polarization is growing – and it has profound implications for economic and security issues that affect the rest of the world.

Republicans and Democrats in the United States are more divided along ideological lines, and the resulting political acrimony is deeper and more extensive, than at any point in recent U.S. history, according to the Pew Research Center survey. And such partisanship is having a greater impact on policy because these partisans make up a larger share of the politically engaged members of their parties.

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Topics: Politics • United States
June 10th, 2014
08:59 AM ET

Why we should care about teeth whitening

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

By Global Public Square staff

All eyes will be on the U.S. Supreme Court this month as it issues its final decisions before recessing for the summer. When it comes back in session (on the first Monday of October), it will likely hear a critical case. But the case is not about money in politics or affirmative action or the powers of the presidency – it's about whether you can get your teeth whitened at a kiosk in the mall.

What in the world?

You see, teeth whitening services have been in high demand since 1989. And, as with any billion-dollar business, people are keen to capitalize on the trend. In 2003, non-dentists in North Carolina started to provide peroxide whitening at significantly lower prices than dentists.

Not surprisingly, the dentists started complaining.

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