By Fareed Zakaria
“Thanks to McCutcheon, only quid pro quo corruption is sufficient to trigger any restrictions on campaign contributions—meaning, direct bribery of the Abscam or American Hustle variety, presumably captured on videotape for the world to see. The appearance of corruption? Forget about it. Restrictions on elected officials soliciting big money? Forget about them, too,” writes Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic.
“To anyone who has actually been around the lawmaking process or the political process more generally, this is mind-boggling. It makes legal what has for generations been illegal or at least immoral. It returns lawmaking to the kind of favor-trading bazaar that was common in the Gilded Age.”
“On the surface, the speed with which Iraq’s new political order has fallen apart is a puzzle. Although bombings never stopped, there had been relative stability since the spring of 2008, when Maliki, emboldened by the successful U.S.-backed Sunni revolt against al Qaeda, known as the Awakening, set out to disband the Shiite militias endangering law and order in Basra and Baghdad,” argues Ned Parker in the New York Review of Books.
“The campaign, supported by the Americans, produced a surge of patriotism among both Shiites and Sunnis. By 2010, when the country was preparing to stage its second national elections for a four-year government, Iraq seemed poised to cast off its divisions. Maliki, running for reelection, had learned to present himself as both staunchly Shiite and a leader for all Iraqis. Resisting pressure from other Shiite religious parties and Iran, he ran his own list of candidates, including Sunni tribesmen and secular politicians…Yet Maliki and his Shiite Islamist supporters were unable to shed their deep mistrust of those they believed had fought them in the past. Rather than being integrated into the political system, several dozen leaders of the Awakening ended up dead or in jail, or forced into exile.”
Fareed speaks with Helene Gayle, president of CARE USA, and Bill Easterly, professor of economics at New York University and author of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, about whether foreign aid is effective. Watch the video for the full discussion.
So the context here is Bill Gates did his annual letter in which he argued that our foreign aid has been astonishingly effective and that people should stop attacking it. One of the people who has attacked it and whom Gates mentions by name often when he makes this point is Bill Easterly. So, Bill, what is your response to Gates' basic argument?
Easterly: Well, you know what sends me at the moment is that foreign aid is really on the wrong side of the debate that we see going on right now in the world between freedom and autocracy. And we see, too often, the aid agencies and the philanthropists, like even Mr. Gates himself, siding with the autocrats in many poor countries against the poor people who are rising up, seeking their own freedom. But aid is not on their side.
Well, but that's not fair. What he's arguing is that the aid given to any country, particularly if it's aid for public health, which is a lot of what Helene does...I should let you. You make the case...
Gayle: I think the case has been made that aid is very effective and that being able to provide resources in the right way makes a difference. It saves lives. It educates children. It helps to feed people. And I think we know that, for instance, rates of poverty have decreased dramatically over the last decades.
And so I think the numbers are there that show that, clearly, aid has made a difference. I think the debate is really around how can we make aid more effective.
International attention might currently be focused on Crimea and eastern Ukraine, but does another territorial dispute involving a major power, this one in the South China Sea, also have the potential to flare up into full-blown conflict?
Robert D. Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor and author of Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, will be taking readers’ questions about China’s regional claims, its relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors, tensions with Japan, and the prospects for conflict between East Asia’s two major powers.
Please leave your questions in the comments section below.
For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Believe it or not, there is one country on earth that is home to both U.S. and Russian soldiers, the opposing nations stationed a mere 20 miles from each other. It's a landlocked, mountainous country, and its parliament has been known to sacrifice sheep.
We’re talking about Kyrgyzstan, where the Transit Center at Manas has been a main staging ground for American troops and supplies to move into Afghanistan since 2001. It's less than an hour's drive from Russia's Kant airbase – so close they could practically borrow cups of sugar. But you can see from the pictures in the video that this military neighborhood will soon come to an end.
The Kyrgyz parliament voted not to extend the American lease, and the U.S. has been given its eviction notice. It must vacate by July. U.S. forces are getting ready to go, packing up boxes and breaking down large tents.
Will this put some much needed space between the United States and Russian militaries? Actually, not so much. The U.S. will now use its newly outfitted Transit Center in Romania – 250 miles from Sevastopol, where there is, of course, a Russian base on the Crimean peninsula.
By Fareed Zakaria
"Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands," writes John Paul Stevens in the Washington Post. "Those emotional arguments would be nullified by the adoption of my proposed amendment. The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument."
“In Ukraine, nuclear emissions could exceed both Chernobyl and Fukushima. Wartime conditions would prevent emergency crews from getting to an affected plant to contain radiological releases should reactor containments fail. And, with government services shut down in the midst of fighting, civilians attempting to escape radioactive contamination would not know what to do or where to go to protect themselves,” writes Bennett Ramberg for Project Syndicate.
“Such risks might be one reason for Russian President Vladimir Putin to think twice about ordering a military invasion of Ukraine. But, should war come, combatants must do all they can to keep conflict away from the nuclear sites and the off-site power sources feeding them.”
By Christopher S. Chivvis and Bonny Lin, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Christopher S. Chivvis is a senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and expert in European and Eurasian security issues. You can follow him @cchivvis. Bonny Lin is an associate political scientist at RAND and an expert on Asia-Pacific security issues. The views expressed are their own.
At Sunday night's emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, Western countries denounced Russian efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine. Depending on your reading of its statement, China either refused to do the same, or refused to back Russia. Either way, the meeting was just the latest example of how the Ukraine crisis has put China in a bind.
Russia has tried to parry U.S. threats of isolation by talking up the possibility of a closer Sino-Russian alliance. But while there is some concern that Chinese hardliners could seek to use Crimea as a precedent for moves against disputed territories in the Asia-Pacific has others worried, Sunday's meeting suggests concerns should not be overplayed.
To be sure, it will be hard for China to take a tough position against Russia for several reasons. Geopolitically, China shares a long border with Russia, which it views as a key trading and strategic partner. President Xi Jinping's first foreign visit as head of state was to Russia and Xi made developing closer relations with Russia a foreign policy priority. In the event of a U.S.-China confrontation, Beijing would likely hope to be able to rely on Moscow for neutrality, and, if necessary, a supply of energy and other war essential resources.
For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN
By Global Public Square staff
If Dick Cheney were arrested…and his assets seized…all in an anti-corruption effort by President Obama…you might say "What in the World," right? Well, as the New Yorker's Evan Osnos points out, that scenario is a rough analogy for what is going on in China today.
Some of you will remember that in the first week of 2014, we began the show suggesting that this would be "the year of China," meaning that the country was likely to go through enormous changes that would make or break its rise.
But even we have been surprised at how much has happened on almost all fronts. China is now being ruled by a new generation, spearheaded by President Xi Jinping who has consolidated power and appears to be the strongest and most ambitious Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping. Consider what he has been doing in just one year in office.
First and most significantly is the anti-corruption drive. And at the forefront of that is the expansive investigation into Zhou Yongkang, China's former domestic security tsar, once head of China's National Petroleum Corporation and a former member of China's "untouchable" Politburo Standing Committee. Zhou is the man who has been called China's Dick Cheney by Osnos.
CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about recent developments in Ukraine, and whether Kiev has lost control of the east of the country. This is an edited version of the transcript.
A Russian air force plane reportedly made 12 passes near a U.S. Navy warship in the Black Sea over the weekend, a move the Navy is calling provocative and unprofessional. Something like that doesn't just happen. Is Vladimir Putin sending a clear message here or are we reading too much into it?
No, these things don't happen by accident. But I think that rather than a clear message, the way we should think about this is that Putin really is playing a game where he's pressing and pushing and trying to see what reaction he gets. It's almost like a wrestler that is trying to throw you with a couple of fancy moves and scattering them around.This is really how things seemed to happen during the Cold War, and it was routine and there was an almost agreed upon pattern of behavior. But for 20 years, this has not really happened at all.
The most important set of moves are the ones in eastern Ukraine, where he is trying to figure out how much trouble he can foment there. In the eastern part of Ukraine, where there are lots of pro-Russians, lots of ethnic Russians, he’s trying to see how much chaos he can cause. What will the government of Ukraine do? Will they be able to get control over that place? Or can he then step in and say, we need to look after Russians because, in the Ukraine, they're being discriminated against, they're being persecuted? And so maybe the Russian army moves in. Maybe he tries to negotiate some kind of separate autonomy. All of these are sort of moves to create chaos, which he can then say the Russian army is the solution to.
By Fareed Zakaria
[There are] those who believe that Israel can forge a special relationship with Moscow, fueled by the connection between the hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews who emigrated to Israel and have been gaining political power there. When Lieberman meets with Putin or Foreign Minister Lavrov, they speak in Russian, which is Lieberman's first language.
China, perhaps less surprisingly, was also unwilling to condemn or sanction Russia.But its position has been more nuanced, refusing to endorse Russia's actions in any way and emphasizing its support for the "independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity" of Ukraine.
Now, one could argue that in all three cases, the countries are misreading what is actually in their national interests. China shares a long border with Russia and should not want to support Moscow in efforts to "adjust" these border by force. It would be foolish for Israel to compromise its relations with its closest ally, the United States, for delusions of an alliance with Moscow.
The fact that Avigdor Lieberman speaks Russian has not stopped Moscow from shipping arms to Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah (through Syria).India, for its part, should want to forge a much closer relationship with Washington as it confronts a rising China in its neighborhood.
But beyond these narrow considerations is a larger one. Do these countries want to live in a world entirely ruled by the interplay of national interests?
Watch the video for the full take or read the Washington Post column
Fareed speaks with ‘New York Times’ columnist Tom Friedman about the latest report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Watch the video for the full interview.
What for you is the headline of this new IPCC report?
I think the headline is simply greater certainty among the vast majority of climate scientists, the people who truly know and study these issues, that if we don't begin to take the steps needed to prevent the kind of what they call doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, that will lead to the kinds of rise in global average temperature that will put us into a much more unstable world.
And is there a sense of greater urgency or a kind of warning that we haven't been doing much yet? You know, if you think about it, we've been hearing these reports. and all of them have kept saying we need to start in some way having these CO2 emission levels start plateauing or even declining. And as you know in totality, largely because of China's growth and a lot of the emerging world, CO2 emissions continue to rise quite substantially.
Well, of course, and that's really been the problem, getting governments to act.
Now, you know the debate in our country. And it's echoed in the world. There are people who don't think this is really happening, don't think it's important, we can adapt. I was thinking, driving over here, what if the nightmare of the climate deniers came true and we really decided in America to take this seriously and act? What would we do? What is the nightmare that would happen?
Well, the first thing we would do is actually slash income taxes and corporate taxes and replace them with a carbon tax so we actually encourage people to stop doing what we don't want, which is emitting carbon, and start doing what we do want, which is hiring more workers and getting corporations to invest more in America. That's the first awful thing that would happen.