September 11th, 2014
11:34 PM ET

Can we defeat the Islamic State?

By Fareed Zakaria

The Obama administration has mapped out a smart strategy in Iraq, pressing the Baghdad government to include more Sunnis. But that has yet to happen — the Shiite parties have dragged their feet over any major concessions to Sunnis. The Iraqi army has not been reconstituted to make it less partisan and sectarian and more inclusive and effective. This is a crucial issue because if the United States is seen as defending two non-Sunni regimes — Iraq and Syria — against a Sunni uprising, it will not win. And it will be hard to recruit local allies. While a minority in Iraq, Sunnis make up the vast majority of the Middle East’s Muslims.

The Syrian aspect of the president’s strategy is its weak link. It is impossible to battle the Islamic State and not, in effect, strengthen the Bashar al-Assad regime. We can say we don’t intend to do that, but it doesn’t change the reality on the ground. The Free Syrian Army remains weak and divided among many local militias.

Read the full Washington Post column

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take
How not to demilitarize Hamas 
September 11th, 2014
11:33 PM ET

How not to demilitarize Hamas 

By Ofer Zalzberg 

Editor’s note: Ofer Zalzberg is Senior Analyst for Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

In a few weeks, indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas are to take place in Cairo with the aim of consolidating a durable ceasefire. The problem is that the two sides have two quite different agendas – while Hamas chiefly seeks the removal of the siege over Gaza, the Israeli government is primarily interested in demilitarizing Gaza.

But is pushing for demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza alone really in Israel’s interests?

The government embraced this objective after important Israeli figures, pointing to Syria’s relinquishing of chemical weapons and the PLO’s 1988 adoption of non-violent resistance, put forward proposals aiming to fully demilitarize the Gaza Strip, including its rockets, missiles and offensive tunnels in exchange for massive economic investments in the Strip. FULL POST

September 10th, 2014
11:12 AM ET

Why sugar is worse than fat

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

Fareed speaks with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta about recent research on the risks of high sugar consumption. Watch the video for the full interview.

For 20 years, people have been assuming that fat was the enemy because it produced cholesterol, which was blocking arteries. That's not quite right.

I could talk about this all day long, because I think it highlights some very important things in terms of how we sometimes misinterpret science, or at least exaggerate it.

It was in the late '70s – in fact, there was a Senate commission, Senator McGovern, who actually looked at this issue and found that people who had very high levels of cholesterol tended to die early of heart disease. And there was also other studies that showed if you ate a diet high in fat, it raised your cholesterol. But those were two different studies. And they got really, really linked, not only by the Senate, but also in the scientific community and then by everybody else.

And what happened over the last 30 years, it got codified. It became the way that we eat low fat in this country. And nothing changed. In fact, things got worse. Cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer of men and women. Diabetes rates are higher than ever before. Childhood obesity. So it didn't work. And I think that's what sort of prompted all this analysis. FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show • Health
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

Post by:
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.

Post by:
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

Post by:
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

Post by:
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

Post by:
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.

Post by:
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

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take
« older posts
newer posts »
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,583 other followers