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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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.
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.
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.
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.
By Will Marshall, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Will Marshall is the president of the Progressive Policy Institute. The views expressed are his own.
Having recently warned of the high costs and limited utility of U.S. military force, President Barack Obama is in Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of one of its grandest achievements: the D-Day invasion.
No contradiction there – that America helped win the “good war” obviously doesn’t mean military intervention will always succeed. But Friday’s ceremony is a timely reminder of a paradoxical truth: The long peace the world has enjoyed since World War II is no historical accident. It rests upon the bedrock of America’s willingness to use force not only in the defense of its core national interests, but also to uphold the liberal world order.
Over the past seven decades, there have been no great power wars, the Soviet Union and communism have expired, the community of democracies has grown larger, and unprecedented global prosperity has lifted billions of people out of grinding poverty. Despite terrorism and spasms of ethnic and religious violence, analysts say the number of people dying in conflicts has dropped dramatically since 1945.
On the debit side are the admittedly heavy costs of being a superpower: The hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers killed and maimed in overseas fighting; the diversion of national resources to the military; the Vietnam debacle, intelligence excesses and the torture scandal; Washington’s opportunistic backing of friendly dictators despised by their subjects; and, the spread of anti-American conspiracy mongering.
By any fair accounting, the strategic and moral balance sheet is strongly positive. But what happens to Pax Americana if Americans step back from global leadership? And are U.S. progressives ready to forsake the defense of liberal ideals for a myopic realism that aims only at minimizing risks and avoiding mistakes?
By Fareed Zakaria
In the late 1940s, the United States was stronger than any country in modern history, with total economic supremacy, hundreds of thousands of troops still in Europe and Asia and credibility earned by waging two world wars. Yet, in a sense, it was unable to deter the Soviet Union or China or even North Korea. This is not to say that the Truman administration’s foreign policy is to be blamed — I admire Harry Truman greatly. Rather, I mean that in a complicated world, even if you have tremendous strength and act forcefully, stuff happens.
Today’s task is far more complicated. In World War II and the Cold War, the United States was trying to defeat entirely the great powers it was arrayed against. In the Cold War, the object of containment — as George Kennan argued from the start — was to constrain the Soviet Union such that communism would collapse under its own contradictions.
The goal today is to deter China from expanding while also attempting to integrate it into the global order.
By Dinah PoKempner, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Dinah PoKempner is general counsel at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
Edward Snowden’s revelations, first published a year ago today, sparked a global firestorm of debate and outrage about U.S. surveillance practices, not to mention considerable wing-flapping on Capitol Hill over some exceedingly modest legislative reform. But there’s one subject that many surveillance reformers won’t touch with a 10-foot pole: whistleblower protection for people working for the government in the intelligence and national security sectors.
No legislative proposal to protect a contractor like Snowden has gotten traction on the Hill so far. And intelligence and national security workers lack the enforceable rights that other federal employees have against retaliation for calling out wrongdoing.
Worse, no one in the United States has a clear legislative defense against punishment for revealing government secrets to the public – not even if those secrets concern violations of the Constitution, international law, or outright crimes. Indeed, the heavy blunderbuss of the Espionage Act, a law aimed at punishing leaks to the enemy, doesn’t exempt those who try to alert the public to grave misconduct.
By Vikram J. Singh and Joshua T. White, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Vikram J. Singh is vice president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. Joshua T. White is Deputy Director for South Asia at the Stimson Center. The views expressed are their own.
Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in last month’s Indian general election has raised hopes that the country will break through the policy stagnation of the last decade and advance reforms that can jump-start India’s economy and bolster its standing on the world stage.
Modi’s declared priorities focus heavily on the economy, and the U.S. government should make economic statecraft a central pillar of engagement with India. But Washington should not lose sight of the most successful area of U.S.-India cooperation to date: the thriving defense relationship. Actions taken in New Delhi and Washington now will determine if the two nations can break through a successful but largely transactional relationship toward strategic partnership that delivers for both nations on shared security interests.
On the U.S. side, four priority areas matter most to reinvigorate U.S.-India defense ties:
First, the Obama administration should continue to put forward innovative defense trade proposals, regardless of how responsive Modi’s government appears to be in the near-term. Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last month, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that he would take “an active and very personal role” in what has come to be known as the U.S.-India Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), and designated the Department’s Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, as the initiative’s American lead.
CNN’s Beijing bureau chief and correspondent, Jaime A. FlorCruz, responds to readers’ questions about recent tensions in the South China Sea, China’s relations with its neighbors and what may be behind recent disputes.
What is the dispute between China and Vietnam over the Paracel Islands about? Is it just about resource claims?
It is about resources. Much of the disputed area is believed to be potentially rich in oil and other natural resources. But it’s more than just a fight over resources – it’s the latest episode of a long-running saga of conflicting territorial claims of the South China Sea. China this time is acting aggressively to assert its claim to most of the oil-rich sea while its neighbors with conflicting territorial claims are angrily pushing back.
It’s also about China’s perception that Asian claimants like Vietnam are nibbling away at islands that China claims is its “indisputable sovereign territories”, as Chinese officials say. China insists it is simply defending its territory, sovereignty and security. It denies that it will impede freedom of navigation, an overriding concern of the U.S. and other third party stakeholders.
It’s a proxy fight, and extension of U.S.-China rivalry, taking place while the United States “rebalances” its defense and foreign policy toward Asia. China thinks some of these claimants, like Vietnam and the Philippines, are colluding with the United States, and are ganging up against China.
The U.S. and China find themselves on the opposite side of the existing political world order. The United States is the established power, the sole superpower, although its ability to enforce its will has been eroded lately. China on the other hand is a rising power – it’s gaining confidence as its economy and military might grow.
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Here at GPS, we love deep data dives. We also revel in the fact that America continues to be the melting pot that it has always been. So we were interested to see a piece on Slate.com last week analyzing the most common languages spoken in each state using U.S. census data.
This first map is predictable – other than English, Spanish is the most spoken language in almost all U.S. states. But watch what happens when you remove Spanish from the equation. Now there is the melting pot.
In Michigan, Arabic clocks in as the third most commonly spoken language.
In Minnesota, it's Hmong.
In Oregon, it's Russian.
It's Vietnamese in four states – Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Washington.
It's a Filipino language called Tagalog in Hawaii, California, and Nevada.
Fareed speaks with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about the Obama administration’s response to the financial crisis. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
So the strategy that you adopted has often been criticized. It was criticized at the time and is criticized in retrospect as bailing out Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. What do you say?
It’s a common perception, and it's a completely understandable perception because what you had to do to protect the economy of the country – the average person running a business or just trying to keep their job – what you had to do to protect them in a classic financial panic feels deeply unfair.
It's completely counterintuitive. And that's because the central imperative then is to make sure you prevent the collapse of the system. You keep the lights on. You know, think of the banking system. We don't like to think of this way, but think of it as the power grid. It's like a vital, essential thing. And what you saw in the Great Depression and you saw in countries since then is that if you let panic escalate and that fire burn too, too strong, it's devastating.