December 8th, 2014
02:24 PM ET

Can Carter rein in the Pentagon?

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

By Fareed Zakaria

Ashton Carter, the President's nominee to be the next defense secretary, is a brilliant man. But by far the best quality he has going for him is that he seems to understand the need to rein in a Pentagon now so out of control that it is difficult to fully comprehend or even explain.

The largest government bureaucracy in the world, the Department of Defense, even after billions of dollars in cuts, now spends about $600 billion a year when everything is added in – that’s more than the entire GDP of Poland. It employs 1.4 million men and women in uniform, 700,000 civilians, and another 700,000 full time contractors. The Pentagon's accounts are so vast and byzantine that it is probably impossible to do a thorough and honest audit of them.

Still, a recent Government Accountability Office report made a valiant effort and concluded that the total budget overruns for current weapons systems stand at nearly $500 billion. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program alone is now around $150 billion over budget. In other words, the cost overruns on one weapons system are more than the total defense budget of Britain and France put together!

In 1961, Dwight Eisenhower warned against the "unwarranted influence" of the "military-industrial complex."

Fifty years later, on December 15, 2011 – to mark the anniversary of Eisenhower's address – a renowned defense expert argued that things had gotten much worse and far more corrupt. Congress had itself been captured by the system, he said, which should now be called "the military-industrial-congressional complex."

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

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take
December 6th, 2014
06:10 PM ET

The view from inside North Korea

Fareed speaks with Suki Kim, who spent months in North Korea as a teacher at a private university in Pyongyang, and is the author of Without You, There Is No Us, about her time there. Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

The sense one gets from the outside looking at North Korea is, honestly, it's the weirdest country in the world. It is the most strange social experiment. And the puzzle is, how does it survive? How is that people just docilely accept this incredibly authoritarian regime that's not just authoritarian, but totalitarian, really kind of tries to shape how you think, feel, breathe? What's your answer to that?

Well, I think it's a combination of many things. It's sort of this perfect storm. You have, first of all, this cult, serious personality cult. It's religious, really. Absolute belief in the great leader, this generation – three generations of these men who, these hugely narcissistic men basically wiped everything out of their culture except themselves.

So every North Korean wears the badge of the great leader. Their only holidays are the great leader holidays. Books, every article, every television, every song, I mean you name it, there's not a single thing. Every building has a great leader slogan. So I think when you have that kind of a personality cult, that's an incredibly powerful thing to be doing it for three generations.

You also have a very brutal military dictatorship that's been in place for a long time, and also to wipe out every communication method. There's no Internet. The phone calls are tapped or, you know, it's a small country. You can't travel within the country without a permission.

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show
December 6th, 2014
05:39 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Top panel on Russia, Iran + Syria, plus insights from inside North Korea

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

On GPS this Sunday: Fareed convenes a panel of leading analysts to discuss issues ranging from Russia's recession to the extension of nuclear talks with Iran to strikes in Syria and Iraq. Offering their take are Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a new article on a disordered world, Robin Wright, a distinguished scholar at the Wilson Center, Chrystia Freeland, now a member of Canada's parliament and formerly a top editor at Thomson Reuters, and David Rothkopf, author of the book National Insecurity: American Leadership in An Age of Fear.

“Putin can continue to do the kinds of things he's doing in Ukraine or other places. That won't bring about greater sanctions,” Haass says. “And let's be honest, the real sanction against Russia is nothing that the United States and the Europeans has done. The real sanction is oil at $60 odd a barrel.”

Also on the show, inside North Korea – the fascinating story of subterfuge and spying inside the borders of one of the world's most secretive and closed-off nations.

Plus, an experiment in how to fix American education. The laboratory was the nation's largest school system. The investigator, a man with a stellar resume but a rank outsider. Joel Klein explains what he learned as chancellor of New York City schools.

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show
December 5th, 2014
07:45 PM ET

What I'm reading: How Ruble crash could strengthen Putin

By Fareed Zakaria

“The rush to hyperbolic commentary about the dire effects of a crashing ruble is just that. It is Ukraine that is in danger of defaulting on its debts, not Russia,” writes Zachary Karabell for Politico. “Venezuela is truly a society on the verge of societal breakdown (if not de facto there already). Russia seems very far from a danger zone, let alone a political and social upheaval brought on by low oil prices. In fact, you could name a dozen other countries in greater peril from this shifting landscape, ranging from Iran to Iraq to Saudi Arabia to Nigeria.”

“Russia is an economy tethered to oil and commodity exports, yes, but it is a society that has withstood much worse in the past century plus. Unlike the United States, it is also a society that on the whole has lower expectations for material affluence, and in times such as these, that constitutes a strength.”

“Over the last decade (during which visa policies have been relatively constant), the number of tourists visiting India has grown at a steady clip, adding 200,000 to 500,000 visitors each year, leaving out the post-recession years of 2008 and 2009. That’s an average annual growth rate of about 5 percent, on par with the world average,” writes Chandrahas Choudhury for Bloomberg View.

“But shouldn’t a vast country with such a grand past and such a remarkable diversity of landscapes, religions and cultures be seeking to make more of its unique appeal? Could these figures have been much higher if it was easier to get a tourist visa to India? And could the new policy be a catalyst for a higher growth rate?” FULL POST

December 5th, 2014
12:36 AM ET

Can Ashton Carter rein in a Pentagon out of control?

By Fareed Zakaria

Republicans worry a great deal about dysfunction in government. They launch investigations to find out why a few hundred million dollars were wasted and insist that departments do more with less. Except for the largest government bureaucracy in the world, the Defense Department, which spends about $600 billion a year — more than the entire GDP of Poland — and employs 1.4 million men and women in uniform, 700,000 civilians and 700,000 full-time contractors. The Pentagon’s accounts are so vast and byzantine that it is probably impossible to do a thorough audit of them.

Still, a recent Government Accountability Office report made a valiant effort, concluding that the total budget overruns for current weapons systems stands at nearly $500 billion. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program alone is now around $160 billion over budget. In other words, the cost overruns on one weapons system are more than the total defense budgets of Britain and France combined. A new presidential helicopter fleet was scrapped after the cost for a single chopper neared that of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. And on and on.

Read the Washington Post column

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take
December 3rd, 2014
06:02 PM ET

What I'm reading: Why did Putin turn?

By Fareed Zakaria

“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policy toward his country’s ‘near abroad’ and the West has been badly misunderstood,” writes Harold James for Project Syndicate. “Instead of focusing on broader geopolitical patterns – in particular, the effect of the 2007-2008 financial crisis on global politics – commentators have been turning Kremlin policy into a psychodrama that can be understood only through a deep exploration of the Russian soul. The result has been rampant misconceptions about what drove Putin’s shift from what seemed to be a modernizing, conciliatory, and even pro-Western stance to aggressive revisionism.”

“Yes, it costs Saudi Arabia only about $2 a barrel to get crude out of the ground,” writes Tim Mullaney for Marketwatch. “But analysts insist the Saudis’ real pain point is more than $100 a barrel — more than $30 higher than its price now — because of what they do with the money once they have it.” FULL POST

November 29th, 2014
10:51 PM ET

Are we really living in innovative times?

Fareed speaks with Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, an early investor in Facebook, and author of Zero to One, about whether we are overestimating the level of innovation. Watch the full interview on a GPS special on innovation in America, this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

You've been writing for a while that you actually think we may not be living in as innovative times as everybody thinks we are.

Well, it's a two track story on innovation in the last three or four decades, where we've had enormous innovation in the world of computers, Internet, mobile Internet, the world of bits. We've had much less innovation in the world of atoms and energy and food technology, biotech, medicine, space travel, supersonic airplanes...

Right. Or even just airplanes. I mean if you think about it, it takes about the same amount of time to fly from Point A to Point B on the globe as it did five decades ago.

Yes, or probably even slower with the low tech airport security systems we have in place today. And so technology, the idea of technology, has been narrowed. And in many cases today, the word technology means simply information technology. And I do think it would be good for our world if we broadened this again and saw accelerating technological progress across all these frontiers.

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show
November 29th, 2014
01:13 PM ET

'Creativity is a team sport'

Fareed speaks with Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, about why team work is essential to innovation. Watch the full interview on a GPS special on innovation in America, this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

The most important thing part of your book, given your biography of Steve Jobs, is that this isn't really about a single hero or even a couple of heroes.

Right. You know, when I was doing Steve Jobs, I thought he was a great romantic visionary, that lone inventor who, in the garage, does things. And when I asked him, near the end of his life, what product are you most proud of inventing, I thought he'd say the iPod or the iPhone, and he said, no, creating a product is hard, but creating a team, a company, is even harder. The best thing I ever invented was Apple, the team. And we went through it all. He starts with Wozniak as his partner and gets that Macintosh team under the pirate flag banner, all the way through to having Tim Cook, Johnny Ive, the best team in Silicon Valley. So I realized from him that creativity is a team sport, that it's a collaborative effort.

And how do you create a great team of innovators?

You know, the good thing is there's no single here's the five rules. So I think you have to look at it like creating a good baseball team or something – who's our utility player, who's our shortstop, who's our designated hitter, who's our pitcher? But the main thing is two positions. You need a visionary, because without a visionary, everything you do is barren. And you need somebody who can every day execute, because vision without execution is just hallucination. So that's the core of a good team. And then you have to say, OK, and we need a designer, we need an engineer, we need the right people to make it work.

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show • Technology
November 29th, 2014
01:06 PM ET

Kalanick: You can bend reality, but you can't break it

Fareed speaks with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick about the link between failure and entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. Watch the full interview on a GPS special on innovation in the United States, this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

People always say in Silicon Valley... the great thing about the place is you can fail. So what's the upside of down?

It's so easy to talk about failure when you're not failing. It's so much easier. So a lot of the folks who talk about failure and how it's so easy to do in Silicon Valley, those are people who have succeeded.

But when they hadn't succeeded yet, they were scared out of their minds of failing. And yes, I've certainly failed a couple of times. And it's scary. But I think if the folks who do succeed are the folks not who accept failure, but the folks who do not.

And so though Silicon Valley is a place where you can fail and get back up on your feet, I find that the folks that are most successful in Silicon Valley are the ones who do not accept failure, ever. And they just keep going until it works. But they don't keep going on something that's not going to work. They adjust and they move and try to find where reality and their vision meet. I like to say you can bend reality, but you can't break it.

Post by:
Topics: Business • GPS Show
November 29th, 2014
01:03 PM ET

Rottenberg: You don't need a hoodie to be an entrepreneur

Fareed speaks with Linda Rottenberg, co-founder of Endeavor and author of Crazy is a Compliment, about what makes a good entrepreneur. Watch the full interview on a GPS special on innovation in America, this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

For you, an entrepreneur is somebody who is not always a tech genius, somebody who looks like Mark Zuckerberg. Explain.

Yes, I've been saying to people, you don't need a hoodie to be an entrepreneur. So first of all, in this country, it turns out the two fastest growing groups starting businesses are women and baby boomers over 55.

And I've worked with 1,000 entrepreneurs around the world – every industry, every generation, every race and gender – and what I believe is that entrepreneurs are people who view the world differently. They allow themselves to be contrarian. They zig when everyone else zags. And then they do something about it.

I've come to believe that entrepreneur is a fancy way of saying you're a doer. And it's not necessarily in tech and it's not necessarily people who have radical innovations. For me, entrepreneurship is about a series of minovations, mini-innovations and executing well.

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show
November 28th, 2014
02:38 AM ET

A legal immigrant’s plea for understanding

By Fareed Zakaria

Opponents of President Obama’s recent action on immigration — and of any kind of legalization policy for undocumented workers — often argue that these initiatives are not fair to America’s legal immigrants. These people, it is said, played by the rules, followed the law, paid their taxes and are horrified to see people rewarded who did the opposite. I’m sure some legal immigrants feel this way, but not many. A poll released this weekshows that 89 percent of registered Hispanic voters approve of Obama’s action.

Why is this? I can only speak for myself. As a legal immigrant, I don’t harbor any ill will toward those who came into this country illegally. To be clear, I don’t approve of breaking the law. I think the stream of border crossings should be slowed to a trickle, and I favor immigration reform that would secure the borders, substantially reduce the numbers who come in via “family unification,” substantially increase the quotas for skilled workers and allow a small guest worker program. My views on immigration are in the middle of the political spectrum. But I don’t view illegal immigrants with any hostility.

Read the Washington Post column

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • Immigration
November 25th, 2014
06:33 PM ET

Zedillo: Why the war on drugs is failing

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

Fareed speaks with Ernesto Zedillo, an economist who served as president of Mexico and is now the director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, about the war on drugs.

So explain, Ernesto, why you think the drug war has failed.

Zedillo: Well, by any objective indicator – let's look at what has happened with consumption, let's see what has happened with production of drugs, let's see how many people that are in jail. I mean, when these wars started in the U.S., you had 300,000 people in U.S. jails. Now you have 2.3 million people. And a lot of those people are in jail because of minor offenses, drug-related minor offenses.

But if you see south of the border, what we'll have to talk about thousands of people who have died in my country, you will have to speak about all these resources that flow north to south, and not only serve to buy weapons and to kill people in Mexico, but believe me, drug policies in your country, in Europe, in Latin America – everywhere – are making our job so much harder and so much more painful.

Watch the video for the full discussion.

Post by:
Topics: Drugs
« older posts
newer posts »

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,791 other followers