September 8th, 2014
07:06 PM ET

Some good news out of Washington

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

By Global Public Square staff

We’re always on the lookout for good news – and we have some important good news this week, and it's actually coming out of Washington, despite all the polarization. Of course, true to form, the two parties disagree about this piece of news. So what is it?

Well, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently released its semi-annual outlook of the U.S. economy over the next decade. And the CBO's headline is that things are going better than expected. We are firmly in an economic recovery with substantially lower federal deficits, low interest rates and, we would add, little danger of inflation.

The CBO says that the federal deficit – the gap between revenues and spending – is projected to be $506 billion in 2014. That is just 2.9 percent of GDP, slightly lower than the average shortfall over the last four decades.

Keep in mind that in 2009 the federal deficit was 9.8 percent of GDP. The current number is much better than most believed was possible just a few years ago.  FULL POST

Topics: Economy • What in the World?
September 8th, 2014
03:55 PM ET

Revisiting 'Why Do They Hate Us?'

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

By Fareed Zakaria

Watching the gruesome ISIS execution videos, I felt some of the same emotions I did after 9/11. Barbarism, after all, is designed to provoke anger and it succeeded. But in September 2001, it also made me ask a question: "Why Do They Hate Us?"

I tried to answer it in an almost 7,000-word essay for Newsweek that struck a chord with readers. I reread the essay this past week, to see how it might need updating in the 13 years since I wrote it.

I began the piece by noting that Islamic terror is not the isolated behavior of a handful of nihilists. There is a broader culture that has been complicit in it, or at least unwilling to combat it. Now, things have changed on his front but not nearly enough…

…By 2001, when I was writing, almost every part of the world had seen significant political progress - Eastern Europe was free, Asia, Latin America, and even Africa had held many free and fair elections. FULL POST

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Topics: Fareed's Take • Middle East • Religion
September 6th, 2014
11:41 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Analysis on Ukraine, ISIS and the unrest in Pakistan

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

On GPS this Sunday: A special live start to the show, examining the two major crises that dominated the NATO summit this week: Russia in Ukraine and ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Then, Fareed looks at whether another crisis is brewing – in Pakistan. Another civilian government is teetering on the brink. Will a former cricket star (and his supporters) topple the government and send the nuclear-armed nation into turmoil again? Fareed speaks with Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, and CNN security analyst Peter Bergen.

“We must understand that these protests and the turmoil they have generated is just the symptom of a deeper, deeper disease,” Haqqani says. “The disease is that Pakistan's military has ruled Pakistan for more than half its life as an independent country. And in the other half, when civilians are allowed to govern, the military wants control of foreign policy and security policy.”

Also, Fareed speaks with CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, about a new study suggesting that eating a low-carb diet is more effective not just for weight loss, but also for reducing your risk of heart disease.

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Topics: GPS Show
Don't let ISIS goad U.S. into premature action
September 6th, 2014
10:41 PM ET

Don't let ISIS goad U.S. into premature action

CNN speaks with Fareed about the decision of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to authorize Iran’s military to cooperate with Iraq and the Kurds and the United States to try to defeat ISIS. This is an edited version of the transcript.

When you hear that the ayatollah is saying this now, how significant is this?

That's the most significant of all of this, that the ayatollah – the supreme leader of Iran – would say it.

It suggests a couple things. One, that they are very worried about ISIS. Two, that their attitudes towards the United States are softening. Perhaps most importantly, Iran is very pragmatic. It's very practical. We always think of them as these kind of mystical revolutionaries because they wear turbans and have big beards. But the funny thing is this foreign policy of the Iranian regime has been very, very pragmatic. Their goal is to defend Iran, its interests, they'll ally with whom they need to. They'll oppose whomever they need to.

In Afghanistan, people forget, right after 9/11 when we toppled the Taliban, Iran cooperated with the United States. Here again, what they're saying is, look, we have the same interests and the same common enemy. We'll work with you guys. In an odd way, we have more trouble than the Iranians do. FULL POST

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Topics: Terrorism
September 5th, 2014
12:21 AM ET

Why they still hate us, 13 years later

By Fareed Zakaria

Watching the gruesome execution videos, I felt some of the same emotions I did after 9/11. Barbarism is designed to provoke anger, and it succeeded. But in September 2001, it also made me ask, “Why do they hate us?” I tried to answer that question in an essay for Newsweek that struck a chord with readers. I reread it to see what I got right and wrong and what I’ve learned in the past 13 years.

It’s not just al-Qaeda. I began by noting that Islamic terrorism is not the isolated behavior of a handful of nihilists. There is a broader culture that has been complicit or at least unwilling to combat it. Things have changed on this front but not nearly enough.

It’s not an Islam problem but an Arab problem. In the early 2000s, Indonesia was our biggest concern because of a series of terrorist attacks there after 9/11. But over the past decade, jihad and even Islamic fundamentalism have not done well in Indonesia — the largest Muslim country in the world, larger in that sense than Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and the Gulf states put together. Or look at India, which is right next door to Ayman al-Zawahiri’s headquarters in Pakistan, but very few of its 165 million Muslims are members of al-Qaeda. Zawahiri has announced a bold effort to recruit Indian Muslims, but I suspect it will fail.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
September 4th, 2014
12:13 PM ET

Why we should all use our vacation time

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

The world's second richest man said recently that we should all be working just three days a week. Which is why Stephen Colbert joked: “Now you know why he’s only the second richest man.”

Actually, Mexico's telecom magnate Carlos Slim isn’t alone. His fellow billionaire, Larry Page (the co-founder of Google), recently pushed for a reduced work week as well.

Why are the mega-rich telling the rest of us to work less?

They have different strategies and goals. But they're right that being a workaholic is not only bad for your health and sanity – it's bad for the economy. Really.

Americans are notorious workaholics. They take much less vacation and work longer work weeks than most of their counterparts in advanced industrial countries. And here's one more piece of American exceptionalism: the U.S. is the only advanced economy in the world where workers are not guaranteed paid vacation time. As a result, it's said that as many as 23 percent of Americans get no paid holidays or vacation. Americans who do get paid time off only take about half of it on average, according to one survey. FULL POST

August 31st, 2014
03:31 PM ET

Does Iraq need a second Sunni Awakening?

By Fareed Zakaria

What are the strengths of the Islamic State? I posed this question to two deeply knowledgeable observers – a European diplomat and a former U.S. official – and the picture they painted is worrying, although not hopeless…

…The Islamic State’s military strategy is brutal but also smart. The group’s annual reports – yes, it has issued annual reports since 2012 – detail its military methods and successes to try to impress its backers and funders. The videos posted online of executions are barbaric but strategic. They are designed to sow terror in the minds of opponents, who when facing Islamic State fighters on the battlefield, now reportedly flee rather than fight.

But the most dangerous aspect of the Islamic State, this diplomat believes, is its ideological appeal. It has recruited marginalized, disaffected Sunni youths in Syria and Iraq who believe they are being ruled by apostate regimes. How to handle this challenge?

The American, a former senior administration figure, counsels against pessimism. The Islamic State could be defeated, he said, but it would take a comprehensive and sustained strategy, much like the one that undergirded the surge in Iraq…

…The two observers agreed on one central danger. The temptation to gain immediate military victories over the Islamic State could mean that the United States would end up tacitly partnering Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. This would produce a short-term military gain against the Islamic State but it would be a long-term political disaster. “It would feed the idea that the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria are embattled, that a Crusader Christian-Shiite alliance is persecuting them and that all Sunnis must resist this alien invasion,” the European diplomat said. “The key is that Sunnis must be in the lead against IS. They must be in front of the battlefield.”

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

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Topics: Fareed's Take
August 31st, 2014
03:11 PM ET

Israeli foreign minister: I didn't agree with ceasefire

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

Fareed speaks with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman about why he disagreed with the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

You have criticized the ceasefire that was established between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Why?

First of all, the real question – how to prevent the next operation. As Protective Edge was the third operation in six years, and the question is if it’s possible to do something and to achieve a stable and sustainable ceasefire or peace agreement. The last speeches that we saw from Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and Khaled Meshaal in Qatar, they clarified their position. They explained that they will fight Israel and their goal is to wipe out the state of Israel.

And I think that we must deliberate our position regarding Hamas from the beginning, from scratch. And I think that we have enough force to finish this story and to topple this terrorist organization, and I don’t see any differences between Hamas and ISIS and al Qaeda. We saw their executions in the Gaza Strip. It’s exactly like Islamic State’s or al Qaeda.

So if this is your view, this is a fairly major disagreement with the prime minister. This is not a small matter. This is not a domestic matter. How can you continue to stay on as foreign minister of a government where on the principal foreign policy issue that you face, you disagree with the government’s policy?

No, at the end of the day, we have a cabinet and I’m sorry to recognize that I was a minority in our cabinet. But we [are] one part of – very important part of – this coalition, and we will support our government because alternative, new elections, earlier elections – I think it’s a really bad choice for the state of Israel.

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Topics: GPS Show • Middle East
August 29th, 2014
12:43 AM ET

A second Sunni Awakening?

By Fareed Zakaria

What are the strengths of the Islamic State? I posed this question to two deeply knowledgeable observers – a European diplomat and an American former official – and the picture they painted is worrying, although not hopeless. Defeating the group would require a large and sustained strategic effort from the Obama administration, but it could be done without significant numbers of U.S. ground troops.

The European diplomat, stationed in the Middle East, travels in and out of Syria and has access to regime and opposition forces. (Both sources agreed to speak only if their identities were not revealed.) He agrees with the consensus that the Islamic State has gained considerable economic and military strength in recent months. He estimates that it is making $1 million a day each in Syria and Iraq by selling oil and gas, although U.S. experts believe this number is too high in Iraq.

The Islamic State’s military strategy is brutal but also smart.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
Zakaria: ISIS may be most significant terrorist organization we’ve faced
August 26th, 2014
02:38 AM ET

Zakaria: ISIS may be most significant terrorist organization we’ve faced

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria, traveling in Bodrum, Turkey, about recent developments in Iraq. This is an edited version of the transcript.

What do you make of the growing international alarm over the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?

The level of concern about ISIS is very deep, and very different from what I heard only a few months ago. There’s a sense that ISIS has become what al Qaeda always wanted to be. Remember, the world al Qaeda means base. Since 2001, al Qaeda really hasn’t had a base. It's been running around in mountains and caves.

ISIS is developing a very large, deep and sophisticated base. It has a financial base, by some estimates making $1 million a day. It has the ability to sell oil and wheat at a bargain. And of course it has this extraordinary military capacity. That military capacity is morphing in the wake of American air strikes. It’s moving from an open ground strategy, taking towns, to a guerilla strategy, hiding within towns. A kind of Hamas strategy. But all in all, if you look at that this, this is the most significant terrorist organization I think we’ve really ever faced.  FULL POST

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Topics: Terrorism • Turkey
August 20th, 2014
06:52 PM ET

The danger of marginalizing mainstream Islamist groups

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

Fareed speaks with Shadi Hamid, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy, and Emma Sky, former chief political adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, about recent advances by ISIS.

Shadi, I want to pick up on something that you point out in your book that explains, I think, why you have a situation where you have all these brutal dictators on the one hand, and you have groups like ISIS on the other. It’s that the dictators, the leaders of the Arab world, are actually much more threatened by moderate opposition groups than they are by extreme opposition groups. They kind of like the idea that the only alternative to them is al Qaeda, right?

Hamid: Yes. I mean groups like ISIS are perfect for dictators like Bashar al-Assad because he can point to them and say, well, this is what you get when you have an opening of political space. And I think one of the most dangerous developments of the past three years is that you did have mainstream Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Yes, they're deeply illiberal. They're religiously conservative. We as Americans don't share their values. But they do believe in the democratic process. They're not using violence like groups like ISIS. They tried to work through the process in countries like Egypt and, of course, there was a military coup last year. There was a devastating crackdown.

So now, groups like ISIS are saying forget about the Muslim Brotherhood approach, they're gradualists, they're soft. They're saying we can give you the Islamic State not in 20 years or 50 years, we can give it to you right now, through brute force, through violence. And what I'm really worried about now is violence is working in today's Middle East. That is one of the legacies, ironically, of the Arab Spring. FULL POST

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Topics: GPS Show • Terrorism
Make Russia an offer on Ukraine it can’t refuse
August 20th, 2014
03:01 PM ET

Make Russia an offer on Ukraine it can’t refuse

By Olga Oliker and Keith Crane, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Olga Oliker is associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center and a senior international policy analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. Keith Crane is director of the RAND Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program as well as a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The views expressed are their own.

Ukraine is burning. Ongoing fighting between government forces and insurgents in eastern Ukraine have left more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians dead and some 300,000 displaced, according to AP. Meanwhile, in large swathes of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, those who remain lack food, running water, and electricity. If the West is serious about preventing things deteriorating further it needs to find a new approach – and one that makes Russia part of the solution.

The Ukrainian government argues that it is doing its utmost to avoid civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine, but it is believed to have been using Grad rockets, an inaccurate weapon that makes this particularly difficult. The separatists have for their part also used heavy weapons indiscriminately, killing Ukrainian civilians and likely accidentally shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

In an effort to convince Russia to stop supplying the separatists with weapons and other kinds of support that have kept the conflict going, the European Union, the United States and their allies have imposed economic and travel sanctions on Russian citizens and companies in an effort to change President Vladimir Putin’s policies. Two weeks ago, Russia responded by banning food imports from most of the countries sanctioning it. Yet despite a running joke among some critics that Russia has become the latest country to sanction Russia, most Russians have maintained their long-running support of Putin. FULL POST

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine
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