October 16th, 2014
10:55 AM ET

What I'm reading: The age of vulnerability

By Fareed Zakaria

“In the U.S., upward mobility is more myth than reality, whereas downward mobility and vulnerability is a widely shared experience,” writes Joseph Stiglitz for Project Syndicate. “This is partly because of America’s health-care system, which still leaves poor Americans in a precarious position, despite President Barack Obama’s reforms.”

“Those at the bottom are only a short step away from bankruptcy with all that that entails. Illness, divorce, or the loss of a job often is enough to push them over the brink…The recent economic downturn eviscerated the wealth of many. In the US, even after the stock-market recovery, median wealth fell more than 40% from 2007 to 2013.”

“If China can impose its will in the South China Sea, at least five rival claimants – all much smaller, weaker Asian states – will be limited to a narrow band of the sea along their coastlines,” writes Howard French in The Atlantic. “China would gain greater security for its crucial supply lines of oil and other commodities; exclusive access to rich fishing areas and potentially vast undersea oil deposits; a much larger buffer against what it regards as U.S. naval intrusions; and, not least, the prestige and standing it has long sought, becoming in effect the Pacific’s hegemon, and positioning itself to press its decades-old demand that Taiwan come under its control. Arguably, it would achieve the greatest territorial expansion by any power since imperial Japan’s annexation of large swaths of Asia in the first half of the 20th century.”

October 15th, 2014
04:39 PM ET

The Taliban's Twitter misstep?

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Terrorists and jihadis have embraced social media using the Wild West of the Internet to exhibit bravado and spread their messages of hate. The bad guys have learned how to turn Twitter into a tool of terror. And Twitter is fighting back.

One analyst who monitors such accounts, J.M. Berger, tweeted last month that Twitter suspended 400 accounts linked to ISIS in just seven hours. But social media can also sometimes be a counterterrorism weapon.

Just recently, Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid, might have made the CIA's job a little easier. Mujahid's Twitter profile says he is in Kabul, but he posted tweets that showed his location, and as many media outlets reported, those tweets showed him to be in neighboring Pakistan, where many believe leaders of his group are in hiding.

He quickly claimed to be the victim of an "enemy forgery," turned off the location feature and showed that it is possible to spoof your location by sending a tweet that made it look like he was in Brian, Ohio, population 8,000.

While it is possible he was hacked, we think the book "Twitter for Dummies" might better explain what happened.

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Topics: GPS Show • Last Look
October 15th, 2014
03:10 PM ET

Why are Americans still gloomy about the economy?

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

By Global Public Square staff

The American economy is back. Last week, the IMF projected that the United States will be one of the very fastest growing advanced economies in the world in 2015. In fact, the American economy is just about the great exception in a world that is showing signs of economic stagnation.

Good news keeps piling on. The Congressional Budget Office just announced that the U.S. deficit fell by nearly a third during the fiscal year, which marks a 6-year low. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both surged to record highs over the last month. And the most recent economic snapshot from the Labor Department says that private sector employment grew in September for a 55th month in a row, a record, and that the unemployment rate is now at 5.9 percent, the lowest level it's been since July 2008.

But, and here is the paradox, despite a relatively robust recovery now, Americans aren't feeling more prosperous. In fact, 56 percent of Americans told the Pew Research Center in August that they are "'falling behind' financially." That's pretty much the same percentage as in October 2008, during the heat of the Wall Street financial crisis. FULL POST

October 14th, 2014
11:55 PM ET

What I'm reading: How Germany managed to abolish university tuition fees

By Fareed Zakaria

“Despite the fact that competition for funding and accountability has increased in German higher education, there is still a general consensus that it is a public system and should be state-funded,” writes Barbara Kehm in the New Statesman. “The abolition of tuition fees, even by conservative state governments, reflects this consensus too. In fact, the new Federal Minister for Education and Research, a member of the Conservative Party, recently announced a major increase in the levels of needs-based state financial assistance to students that will start in the 2016-17 academic year.”

“There’s plenty of evidence that we are pushing up against and exceeding several critical boundaries of global sustainability: by which I don’t mean some tree hugging idea of sustainability, I mean we are taking actions that cannot be supported by the earth’s systems in the long term,” writes Warwick Smith in The Guardian. “We’re already exceeding the earth’s adaptive capacity with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and the nitrogen cycle and we’re approaching critical limits in both the phosphorous cycle and ocean acidification. Our use of fresh water is also approaching or exceeding sustainable limits in many parts of the world and we’re systematically destroying our arable land. These are critical life sustaining global processes that cannot be ignored without severe consequences.”

Zakaria: Iraq's army has collapsed
October 13th, 2014
10:31 PM ET

Zakaria: Iraq's army has collapsed

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about reports over new advances by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is an edited version of the transcript.

There is reportedly one base remaining in Anbar Province under Iraqi control. Talking to a general, he said it isn't so significant. You disagree.

It's very significant. It’s not significant militarily, because Baghdad will hold for reasons we can talk about. What's significant here is that it tells you that the Iraqi army has collapsed, that there’s no real Iraqi army. Because those bases where people are giving up, surrendering, these are all Sunnis who don't want to fight ISIS, Sunnis who don't want to fight fellow Sunnis.

What you're seeing is that if you scratch the surface of the Iraqi army, it's a bunch of sectarian militias, and the Sunnis will not fight against ISIS because they don't like the Baghdad government.

They don't have that regard for a nation. It's like a sect nation.

They think at this point the Iraqi government is being run by Shia. And so they in a sense don't like ISIS, but they like the Shia government in Baghdad less. So what we have to come to grips with is, this army that doesn't really exist. FULL POST

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Topics: Iraq • ISIS • Turkey
October 11th, 2014
11:38 PM ET

What role can the Peshmerga play in fighting ISIS?

Fareed speaks with Barham Salih, former prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan and former deputy prime minister of Iraq, about the role the Peshmerga could play in fighting ISIS. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

What about the Peshmerga? Will the Kurdish Army – this is the force that protects the Kurdish part of Iraq. Is it going to be willing to go into battle in Iraq – potentially even into Syria – to fight ISIS, since you do need an effective fighting force on the ground?

My own sense is I can say this defensively. Kurdistan has emerged as the most reliable partner to the international coalition in the fight against ISIS. There may be a number of reasons for that.

One of the issues that I'm proud of, Kurdistan represents a tolerant society, tolerant values, and we do have a real interest in taking on ISIS.

So the Kurdish Peshmergas are taking on ISIS. They are fighting ISIS across nearly 1,000 kilometers of line. But I have to say, also, the mantra is that Kurdish Peshmergas should not be relied upon to go to Mosul or should not be relied upon to go to the heartland of the Sunni areas or to Baghdad.

We can be there to support. But at the same time, the communities there need to be empowered. The same thing about Syria...

Because you would be seen as an almost foreign army if you were to go into...

I think one has to also acknowledge this reality. This is payback time. Over the last 10 years, there were lots of communities, particularly in the Sunni areas, who felt marginalized. ISIS and these extremists have taken advantage of those grievances, and this has become an incubating ground for them.

The fundamental answer is to empower these communities to take on these extremists.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 11th, 2014
10:46 PM ET

Let's be honest: Islam has a problem today

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

By Fareed Zakaria

When television host Bill Maher declares on his weekly show that "the Muslim world...has too much in common with ISIS," and the author, Sam Harris (a guest on his show) concurs, arguing that "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas," I understand why people get upset. Maher and Harris made crude simplifications and exaggerations.

And yet, they were also talking about something real. I know all the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It is a vast world of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don't fit these caricatures. That's why Maher and Harris are guilty of simplification and exaggeration.

But let's be honest: Islam has a problem today...There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrate violence and intolerance, and harbor deeply reactionary attitudes towards women and minorities. And while some moderates confront these extremists, not enough do so and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against ISIS in the Arab world today?

But now the caveat, Islam today, is important.

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

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Topics: Fareed's Take • GPS Show
October 11th, 2014
08:12 PM ET

Former prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan on ISIS

Fareed speaks with Barham Salih, former prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan and former deputy prime minister of Iraq, about the strength of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

First, give us your assessment of whether the U.S. airstrikes and this military campaign is having an effect. Is ISIS weaker, because on the ground so far, it doesn't appear that way?

I think it's fair to say that these airstrikes have slowed down ISIS advances, but they are nowhere enough to defeat ISIS.

And what we see, also, in Kobani, in neighboring Syria, is also a testament to the fact that these airstrikes, while welcome, while important, but nowhere enough to defeat ISIS.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 10th, 2014
06:49 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Are Kurds ready for ISIS fight? And, GPS panel talks Ebola and Panetta

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

On GPS this Sunday: The United States is at war against ISIS. But while President Barack Obama has promised no boots on the ground, there is one hardened force in the field doing battle well. It’s not the U.S. military – or the Iraqi military. It’s the Kurds. Fareed will ask a top Kurdish politician if his people are ready for the long fight.

Also, Fareed convenes a panel of top commentators to grade the Obama administration on how it did with this week's major challenges: ISIS, Ebola and an insider attack – from Leon Panetta. Francis Fukuyama, the American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka, Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose, and Walter Russell Mead, a professor of international affairs at Bard College, will be offering their takes on these issues.

Then, why it is that the American economy is looking up, but most American's are very down about it? GPS will explain what has been happening.

Also, if you think you know who invented the light bulb, think again. Author Steven Johnson will explain how innovation really happens – and why Thomas Edison shouldn't get all the credit.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 10th, 2014
04:07 PM ET

What I'm reading: Modi’s maritime diplomacy

By Fareed Zakaria

“Modi’s maritime diplomacy is not limited to the naval domain. Transborder infrastructure development is a major priority for the NDA government,” writes C. Raja Mohan in the Indian Express. “The prime minister’s joint statement with Obama talks about bilateral cooperation in integrating the subcontinent with the markets of East Asia through an ‘Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor.’”

“The proposal is similar to China’s plan for a maritime silk road linking the Pacific and Indian Oceans. For India, which appears wary of China’s plans for the Indian Ocean, the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor could be the first step towards building its own maritime silk road.”

“The Russian government isn't interested in defending the ruble, because a weak currency benefits the resource exporters who are the main source of revenues for the Russian government,” writes Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg View. “The price inflation that results amounts to a tax on ordinary citizens to fund Putin's aggressive policies, yet these people are a less important constituency in Russia. And, for now at least, they are happy to pay for the country's international resurgence, such as it is.” FULL POST

October 9th, 2014
09:45 PM ET

Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now

By Fareed Zakaria

There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrates violence and intolerance and harbors deeply reactionary attitudes toward women and minorities. While some confront these extremists, not enough do so, and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the Arab world today?

The caveat, “Islam today,” is important. The central problem with Maher’s and Harris’s analyses are that they take a reality — extremism in Islam — and describe it in ways that suggest it is inherent in Islam. Bill Maher says Islam is “the only religion that acts like the Mafia, that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.” He’s right about the viciousness but wrong to link it to “Islam” — instead of “some Muslims.”

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
October 7th, 2014
06:25 PM ET

Mexico's president talks reform and the immigration debate

Fareed speaks with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about the legalization marijuana in parts of the United States, structural reforms in Mexico and the immigration debate in the United States. Watch the video for the full interview.

You know, in the United States, when people think about Mexico, still it is immigration that dominates the way they think about it. What do you think when you hear the debate about immigration in Washington?

First of all, I think that the relationship between Mexico and the United States is a lot broader, and sometimes it would be surprising to know the many details of the relationship – the number of daily crossings, legal crossings, every day. About a million people every day, people coming and going from one country to the other, because of work and trade and the trade level that we have, which is so broad, which we will probably talk about.

But when you hear some of the anti-immigrant language, the rhetoric, do you think it's racist?

I think it's discriminatory, yes. And I think it's unfortunate for a country whose formation and historic origin relies so much on the migration flows of many parts of Europe, Asia, for instance. I think this is a country whose origin, to a great extent, is one of migration. And that's why it's unfortunate to hear this exclusionary and discriminatory tone regarding the migration flows into the United States.

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Topics: GPS Show • Latin America
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