By Fareed Zakaria
The likelihood of ethnic cleansing in Syria’s coastal regions is high, argues Joshua Landis on Syria Comment.
“It will rise even higher should Assad’s troops begin to lose. The Sunni populations of the coastal cities will be the first to be targeted by Assad’s military, if it is pushed out of Damascus. Should the Alawites be compelled to fall back to the predominantly Alawite region of the mountains stretching along the western seaboard of Syria, the Sunnis of the coastal cities and eastern plan will be the first to suffer.”
“The mismatch between the Himalayan haystacks of data and the limitations of the human beings trying to find the needles and read them like tea leaves is matched by the mismatch between the data-surveillance state and the panel charged with taming it,” writes Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker.
“The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has four part-time members and, as yet, no permanent staff. Until last year, it hadn’t had a
meeting in five years.”
“Between 1971 and 2007, U.S. hourly wages, adjusted for inflation, rose by 4 percent. (That's not 4 percent a year; it's 4 percent over 36 years!)," writes Barbara Garson in the Los Angeles Times.
“During those same decades, productivity increased by 99 percent — that is, it nearly doubled. In other words, the average worker's productivity rose 25 times more than his pay. But we Americans sell more than 70 percent of what we produce to one another. If the majority was earning less and producing more, who was going to buy all the stuff?”
By Kerry Brown, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Kerry brown is executive director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney and associate fellow at Chatham House. The views expressed are his own.
Reports suggesting that India withdrew from a planned naval exercise with the United States last month out of fears it might upset Beijing are only the latest reason to grapple with an increasingly pertinent question: What are the costs these days of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people?
Finding the answer to this question – and a way to overcome associated potential problems – has become ever more urgent as China’s perceived assertiveness has grown. And two recent diplomatic spats in particular are worth paying attention to: the fights China has picked with Britain and Norway. Both involved differences over values and human rights. Both saw a stiff political response from Beijing. And both say much about China’s changing role in the international system.
For the U.K., the trigger was British Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in London last May. Almost immediately, high level visits from China were pulled. The former head of the National People’s Congress and second ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee at the time, Wu Bangguo, cancelled a visit. Over the ensuing months, there were no further high level visits. Last month, it was reported that Cameron had dropped a planned trip to Beijing because there were no promises he would be met at the right level. In view of the warm reception accorded earlier in the month to President Francois Hollande, this would have been a bitter pill to swallow.
By Mustafa Qadri, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Mustafa Qadri is Amnesty International’s Pakistan researcher. The views expressed are his own.
Saturday was a milestone is Pakistan’s short history – for the first time since the country’s creation in 1947, one elected civilian government will be followed by another after seeing out a full term in office. Up until now, every democratically elected government’s term in office has been cut short by an intervention from the powerful military. But this historic moment was overshadowed by a wave of coordinated attacks targeting election candidates, their supporters and election officials. More than 100 people were killed and many more injured countrywide.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the majority of the attacks, which have mostly targeted secular political parties, especially the Awami National Party and Muttahida Quami Movement. The Pakistan Peoples Party also had to drastically scale down on campaigning in the face of threats.
By Fareed Zakaria
This week, the U.S. Navy will launch an entirely autonomous combat drone off the deck of an aircraft carrier, writes Richard Parker in the New York Times.
“The drone will then try to land aboard the same ship, a feat only a relatively few human pilots in the world can accomplish. This exercise is the beginning of a new chapter in military history: autonomous drone warfare. But it is also an ominous turn in a potentially dangerous military rivalry now building between the United States and China.”
“Anyone who has watched a medical drama can picture an electrocardiogram – the five peaks and troughs that map each heartbeat,” The Economist notes. “The shape of this pattern is affected by such things as the heart’s size, its shape and its position in the body. Cardiologists have known since 1964 that everyone’s heartbeat is thus unique, and researchers around the world have been trying to turn that knowledge into a viable biometric system. Until now, they have had little success. One group may, though, have cracked it.”
If Pakistan is “one day to become a united and peaceful country, just about any relatively free election is good news – and the specter of another election (and still another after that) might well lead other pols to up their games,” writes Isaac Chotiner in the New Republic. “For that reason, and for the sight of seeing tens of millions of people defy religious extremists and cast a vote, Saturday was the best day Pakistan has had in some time.”
By Ben Leo, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Ben Leo is Global Policy Director of The ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization co-founded by Bono. The views expressed are his own.
GPS recently published a thoughtful piece on how global poverty rates are falling fast. It argued that one country in particular is almost solely responsible for this dramatic trend: China. Meanwhile, it said progress in the rest of the world “has been much, much slower – if there’s been progress at all.”
Here’s the problem. There are 62 other countries across the globe that are also slashing extreme poverty rates at a remarkable pace. And many of them are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, the more important question is – how do we accelerate the progress being made in places like Ethiopia and Uganda while simultaneously jumpstarting it in places that are lagging behind, like Nigeria and the Congo?
It’s true that China’s case is remarkable – both in terms of its sheer scale and speed. It has lifted 680 million people out of poverty in a single generation. That’s amazing. It’s every poverty fighter’s dream. But the global story isn’t just about China. It is also about countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, and Senegal that are also witnessing dramatic declines in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.
By Cindy Storer, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Cindy Storer is a 21-year veteran analyst of the CIA who specializes in terrorism and intelligence education. She is currently a lecturer in Intelligence and National Security at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. The views expressed are her own.
Was the Boston Marathon bombing preventable? Are we actually arming al Qaeda if we give weapons to rebels in Syria? Was al Qaeda responsible for the Benghazi attack, and are they or aren’t they spreading through central Africa?
The answers we are likely to give depend on the stories we tell ourselves. Not the immediate story of who did what in the last few days, but the big stories about how the world works – our mental models. We all have them, though most of the time we don’t (and probably even shouldn’t) think about them. For example, most Americans expect that if they obey the laws and are generally good people, the major disruptions in their lives will be rare and not anything they could have prevented – car accidents, cancer, natural disasters, and so on. For many Americans, however, the world is actually a more dangerous and uncertain place, where one wrong word to the wrong authority can land you in jail, or even get you killed.
By Christopher S. Chivvis, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Christopher Chivvis is a senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and author of the forthcoming book ‘Toppling Qaddafi.’
The car bomb attack this morning near Benghazi hospital, which some reports suggest may have killed a dozen people, is further evidence of the pressing need for the United States and its allies to up their support for the nascent Libyan state by paying to train and equip a Libyan security force loyal to its elected government. Unfortunately, U.S. support is stalled by Washington’s reluctance to spend even modest sums on Libya, a country widely viewed as rich and capable of paying its own way.
Today's attack, coupled with the strike against the French embassy on April 23, marked a new phase in the deterioration of Libya’s internal security situation, which has been near anarchic since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi. Since the bombing, former revolutionaries have assaulted the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry in protest against the inaction of the provisional government, which itself is paralyzed by pervasive insecurity.
The Libyan government’s failure to unify and establish control over the country’s multiple militias after the end of the 2011 war is looking more and more disastrous as time passes. And by adopting a laissez-faire policy toward security in Libya after the war, the United States and its allies who helped the Libyan rebels topple Gadhafi share in the responsibility for the country’s current predicament.
Fareed speaks with former CIA Director Michael Hayden about the terrorist threat to the United States. Watch GPS special ‘Beyond the Manhunts: How to Stop Terror’ this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET.
Al Qaeda may be battered, but there's a new threat out there – the lone wolf. One person, or a small group, self-radicalized and determined to kill. In other words, Boston. The CIA and FBI are, of course, working hard to stop the next would-be bombers. But what exactly are they looking for? How do you track a shadow, someone harboring extremist tendencies quietly? Someone who might turn violent but isn't yet? The former director of the CIA General Michael Hayden says the United States is continually calibrating the balance between freedom and security.
I put my arm out and say now, this is what we're doing for you now in terms of security and the intelligence community, the defense community and frankly, we've made those attacks up here, the ones that were very punishing and about which we were very fearful – 9/11, World Trade Center I, the airliner plot over the Atlantic – we’ve made them very, very unlikely. And now we’ve got these, these one-off kind of attacks, like Boston, like Najibullah Zazi, going to New York, like the drive-by shooting in Little Rock. And I ask American audiences, what do you want me to do with my hand? Because I can actually push it down a little bit. I don't know how much more safety I'll buy you, but there will be some more safety.
But how much more of your commerce, your privacy or your convenience do you want me to squeeze for a marginal increase in safety? And as a citizen, as an intelligence professional, I'll follow the guidance of the republic. But as a citizen, I'm thinking, my hand is about at the right place now. I don't know that we need to do a whole lot more. Now, the secret within that is that sooner or later, some of this stuff is going to happen – and we all have to recognize that there is going to be a margin of risk that we're going to have to live with now.
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‘Beyond the Manhunts: How to Stop Terror’ – a GPS special premieres this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET
By Remi Brulin, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Remi Brulin is a visiting scholar at New York University’s Journalism Institute. You can follow him @RBrulin. The views expressed are his own.
More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, we are finally getting a clearer picture of the ways in which the United States is waging what it calls its “war on terrorism.”
At the center of the government’s strategy has been the decision to shift the focus away from capturing and interrogating alleged terrorist suspects to killing them, with a series of covert wars prosecuted mostly by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command frequently relying on so-called kinetic operations: night raids, “find, fix and finish” operations, cruise missile strikes, and the increasing use of drones.
Yet these approaches raise not only fundamental legal and moral questions, but also doubts about their long-term strategic effectiveness. And, to a historian, they also carry disturbing echoes of the past.
‘Beyond the Manhunts: How to Stop Terror’ – a GPS special premieres this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET
On GPS this Sunday: ‘Beyond the Manhunts: How to Stop Terror’ – an in-depth look at how U.S. intelligence is working at home and abroad.
Fareed explores a number of key issues: The hunt for Osama bin Laden, the state of al Qaeda, the morality of drone strikes, and the threat of lone wolves striking the U.S. homeland. Expert voices include former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, and former CIA Counter-terrorism chief Robert Grenier.
“It's very easy, when you get out on that slippery slope, to say…well here we are, we shouldn't just be focusing only on the international terrorists,” Grenier says. “What about the people who are supporting them? But when we take the next step and we start attacking them as an affiliated group, as though they were international terrorists themselves, we’re inviting a lot of trouble.”