July 20th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

How West should handle Russia

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

By Fareed Zakaria

The actions of the pro-Russian forces, who it appears shot down a civilian airliner, might seem at first glance to be crude and unsophisticated. But in one sense they're on the cutting edge. They represent something we see all around us these days – the democratization of violence.

Let me explain.

For most of history, the side with the bigger army usually won a conflict. But over the past few decades a different pattern has been emerging – the power of asymmetrical warfare. Look at the pro-Russian separatists, or Hamas or Hezbollah or the insurgents in Afghanistan or Iraq, and you will see attacks that are cheap compared with the massive response then launched by traditional armies.  FULL POST

Topics: Fareed's Take • Russia • Ukraine
July 19th, 2014
11:25 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: The latest on the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 tragedy, and Paul Krugman

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

On GPS this Sunday: A special live show bringing you the latest developments on the aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 tragedy in eastern Ukraine.

Also joining Fareed will be Chrystia Freeland, a former managing director of Reuters and currently a member of parliament in Canada, and Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at New York University and Princeton University.

Also on the show, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, offers his take on the U.S. economy and the Obama administration.

“In the end, this is the most consequential administration since Ronald Reagan,” Krugman says. “I don't like the consequences of Reagan, but America emerges from the Obama years a different country. It emerges with something close to universal health care. It emerges with a reasonably useful financial reform. And it emerges with some important changes in energy and environmental policy. Not many presidents leave that behind.”

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Topics: GPS Show
July 19th, 2014
11:07 PM ET

Krugman: It's starting to look like a recovery

Fareed speaks with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about the state of the U.S. economy. Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

So, Paul, the quick take on the U.S. economy.

Things are getting better, finally. It's starting to look, finally, like a real recovery. But it's not a boom. And this is after many, many years of terrible performance. So, relative to the way things have been for the last few years, we're feeling pretty good. Relative to anything anyone could have imagined, the worst down side you could have imagined seven years ago, it's terrible.

So I would say it's half full, half empty. More half empty than half full, because we should be doing much better than this.

And lots of people argue the only reason we're doing as well as we are is that the Federal Reserve has maintained these extraordinarily, very low rates, other kinds of programs that pump cash into the system.

Well, certainly keeping rates low – there's no rational reason not to keep them low. Basically, business doesn't see a lot of investment opportunities, people aren’t ready to buy houses in large numbers yet. So you have to have a cheap money environment.And at least, thankfully, the Fed has been doing its job.

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Topics: Economy • GPS Show
Why it's right to keep talking to Iran
July 19th, 2014
01:57 PM ET

Why it's right to keep talking to Iran

By Brig. Gen. John H. Johns and Angela Canterbury, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Brig. Gen. John H. Johns (USA, ret.) serves on the Council for a Livable World Advisory Board and is a former deputy assistant defense secretary. Angela Canterbury is the executive director of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Council for a Livable World and Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. The views expressed are their own.

World powers announced late Friday the need for an extension of negotiations as diplomats work to achieve a comprehensive deal on Iran's nuclear program. This is an opportunity we can’t forgo. Diplomacy must be given the chance to succeed, lest we live with the probable consequences of failure: an Iranian nuclear weapon or another disastrous war.

In fact, diplomacy has already yielded results – Iran has met all of its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action, which took effect in January. Since that time, real progress has been made in scaling back Iran’s nuclear program, and intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities have taken place under a more effective verification regime. These inspections have given the United States and its allies unprecedented insights into Iran’s nuclear facilities. Further, Iran has significantly dialed back its nuclear activity. Its stockpile of dangerous enriched uranium has decreased from 195 kilograms at the outset of the deal to just 4 kilograms in June – a 97 percent drop.

We’ve come a long way toward our goal of preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb. But we need a long-lasting agreement. And to achieve that, we must keep Iran at the table. It’s reasonable that negotiators need more time to settle on the details of what will undoubtedly be an extremely complicated settlement. And Iran’s compliance thus far suggests that its leadership is committed to this process, and that extending the talks offers real hope for success.

Of course, hawkish detractors in Congress can be expected to continue to try to derail the ongoing negotiations by pushing for more unilateral sanctions. But we cannot sanction Iran into abandoning its nuclear ambitions. If that were so, Iran already would have capitulated. After all, sanctions have been an effective tool for getting Iran to the negotiating table. Now we are at the table, and we need to stay there to complete the agreement.

We also cannot allow the negotiations to be hamstrung by unreasonable demands, such as those being made in a letter by Senators Bob Menendez and Lindsay Graham. If we undermine the diplomatic efforts, Iran can be expected to return to its former nuclear activities.

But even more importantly, we will lose the inspections that allow us to monitor those activities. Nothing could be more dangerous. Without inspections, with no idea of how Iran’s nuclear program is proceeding, we will be operating without information essential to our national security.

Not surprisingly, those who pushed us into war in Iraq are calling for military engagement with Iran. After more than a decade of war and so many lives lost – all without truly advancing our national security – this call to abandon diplomacy and a rush to war again are truly implausible. We’ve been down that path before. If there’s one thing we have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s that military conflicts have unexpected consequences. In the case of Iran, U.S. military action could very likely force Iran’s nuclear program underground and unite Iran’s leaders and people in a dash for the bomb.

The nuclear talks represent a critical opportunity to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, protect U.S. security, and prevent another war. We must give these talks adequate time to succeed.

Ultimately, what would you choose? Another war, a nuclear-armed Iran, or another four months of talks for the chance for peace and security?

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Topics: Iran
July 18th, 2014
09:34 AM ET

Fareed Zakaria answers your questions

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

Fareed Zakaria answers readers’ questions on the U.S. role in the world, whether Iraq would have been more stable if Saddam Hussein hadn’t been removed from power, the NSA’s spying on Germany and whether the borders in the Middle East are outdated.

Do you believe there’s a shift toward isolationism in the United States?

I think there’s a shift toward less involvement and engagement in the world. Some of this is unfortunate. It shows up, for example, in the suspicion towards trade, towards immigrants. But for the most part, I think Americans retain a healthy openness to the world and a healthy openness to America being engaged in the world.

When people shout about isolationism, it’s worth remembering that the United States – with the support of the American people – still maintains thousands of troops in foreign countries, in dozens of bases around the world. We have 60 treaty alliances. In many of them we’re committed to the defense of these countries – from Japan, to South Korea, to Germany. That doesn’t seem to me the story of a country that is isolationist and has withdrawn from the world.

But it’s true that from certain heights, especially after 9/11 – where the United States was, in my view, too engaged, and too engaged in the details and nation building operations in many, many parts of the world – we’re drawing back, and that draw back has some public support.

So, I’m not ready to wave the flag of isolationism, I don’t see it. But I do think in some areas there are some troubling signs. The part that worries me most is about trade and people, because the thing that has historically made the United States so strong has been its ability to open itself up to ideas, to people, and then to adapt and adjust and become stronger from that.

Watch the video for all his responses.

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Topics: GPS Show
Zakaria: Ukraine government needs control of its own territory
July 18th, 2014
09:02 AM ET

Zakaria: Ukraine government needs control of its own territory

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the alleged shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. This is an edited version of the transcript.

The conflict in Ukraine had generally slipped out of the headlines in the United States, but Thursday’s incident was a very shocking reminder that if anything it as intense as ever.

I think it's also a reminder of something else – that the government of Ukraine doesn’t actually control all of the territory of Ukraine – this happened in a part of Ukraine that the government of Ukraine doesn’t control. It’s largely controlled by these pro-Russian rebel forces. Some are Ukrainians, but there was a lot of reporting as you know that says there were a lot of Russians and Russian special ops people who've been in there.

Actually, Ukraine’s government accuses the separatists and Russia of being linked in that way.

Precisely. And a lot of the equipment that those separatists have got they almost certainly got from Russia. This should be an opportunity for the entire world for the West, for the United States, to say, let's end this farce once and for all. The government of Ukraine has to have control over its own territory. The Ukrainian army should go in there, clean this out, and the Russian government at this point I think is on the back foot and won’t be able to try mounting any spirited defense.

But you've got to allow the government in Kiev to actually control the country…

Since a new president was elected in Kiev we’ve seen advances by Ukrainian forces against separatists. Early on, when Ukraine's military was trying to move into some of these regions in eastern Ukraine, they basically got turned around by mobs of people. But there have been some advances by the Ukrainian military there in the last several weeks.

Exactly, and part of that is they're getting their act together. Part of it, remember, is the Ukrainian military and intelligence services are riddled with Russian spies, so that has made it very difficult. But this is all an opportunity to clean that up, to allow the government of Ukraine to have control over its territory, to sweep out some of those Russian forces. This would be an opportunity, particularly if the Europeans really lay it on the line, because Putin is going to feel on the defensive here. This wouldn’t be a time to mount a Russian counter offense.

A U.S. official told CNN that the Obama administration doesn’t think the government of Ukraine has air defenses in the region where Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot and crashed. The official also told CNN that we'll see the Obama administration attempting to internationalize this, and there will be pressure to allow others from outside to see this site. What do you make of that?

I think it's actually very important because we forget that in Russia that what people are hearing is a completely different narrative. You heard Putin basically saying “Look, if the Ukrainian military wasn't trying to take control of their own country, none of this would happen because this area wouldn't be a war zone.” And there are reports in Russia that say that this was the Ukrainian military that shot down the plane because it was trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin's plane and that they missed and that these two planes just happened to be in the sky at the same time.

The Russians have had this extraordinary propaganda offensive throughout this Ukrainian crisis – there have been some bald faced lies, they’ve made stuff up and just put it out there.

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine
July 17th, 2014
11:41 PM ET

No, this isn't the worst of times

By Fareed Zakaria

For all the problems, let’s keep in mind that we live today in a world with considerably fewer dangers. Nuclear war is unimaginable. The Russian-American nuclear arsenals are down to one-fifth their size in 1973 and at a much lower level of readiness. In 1973, Freedom House published its first annual account of political rights around the world. At the time, countries listed as “not free” outnumbered “free” countries. Today that is inverted, with the number of “free” countries having doubled. Open markets, trade and travel have boomed, allowing hundreds of millions to escape poverty and live better lives.

Of course there are crises, problems and tensions around the world. But no one with any sense of history would want to go back in time in search of less turmoil.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
Will Malaysia Airlines crash be traced to a Russian-made missile?
July 17th, 2014
09:29 PM ET

Will Malaysia Airlines crash be traced to a Russian-made missile?

By Leon Aron, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Leon Aron is resident scholar and director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.

In the thick fog of war hanging over eastern Ukraine it is only possible at this point to establish the perimeter of the known and then to evaluate the potential culpability on a more-likely to less-likely scale.

We know that Russia and its proxies have tried to establish a de-facto no-fly zone over the rebel-controlled territory in east-south Ukraine. And while initially only low-flying helicopters and planes reachable by shoulder-fired missiles were downed, the targetable range seems to have increased to an altitude that can only be reached by sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, as evidenced by the Ukrainian military AN-26 cargo aircraft that was brought down on Monday.

The self-proclaimed military commander of the pro-Russian separatists Col. Igor Strelkov allegedly alluded to the no-fly zone when, following the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, he appears to have written on the Russian equivalent of Facebook, Vkontakte, that “we have just shot down an AN-26 airplane…Haven’t we warned them – don't fly in our sky.”

FULL POST

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine
Zakaria: Malaysia Airlines crash a major international incident
July 17th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

Zakaria: Malaysia Airlines crash a major international incident

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. This is an edited version of the interview.

Obviously, there's the human horror of this, and that, of course, is primary in our minds. But there are also military implications, political implications, strategic implications, which will largely be determined by who may have fired a missile and why.

If this turns out to be what, frankly, many of us suspect it is – a terrible casualty of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict – then this is huge. What might have happened – and again, there are a lot of caveats – but what might have happened is that the Russian government has been supporting, training, arming rebels, separatists in Ukraine. Essentially teaching them how to do this kind of thing. Those forces have, in the past, shot down helicopters of the Ukrainian army, cargo planes – as has been noted. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that they thought this was a Ukrainian cargo plane, because they are poorly trained, ill-equipped. They probably don't have the right kind of radar to figure it out, and they probably don't care. These are not people following safety precautions.

In fact, the separatist group, just shortly before this plane went down, had bragged about, on this day, bringing down what they said was a Ukrainian military plane.

Precisely. Which is why, as I say, all the signs suggest that what happened here was that the Russian government has had this strategy of training these rogue elements within Ukraine to make trouble for the Ukrainian government. This thing then went badly awry as a result of that. But frankly, it was in a perfectly predictable way – when you start using these kinds of forces to do your dirty work for you, something like this is bound to happen because these aren’t disciplined forces that are under tight command and control from the Kremlin.

FULL POST

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Topics: Ukraine
July 17th, 2014
04:02 PM ET

Ball in Abe's court with Japan-South Korea ties

By Benoit Hardy-Chartrand, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Benoit Hardy-Chartrand is a research associate at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, where he contributes to a project on Confidence, Trust and Empathy in Asia-Pacific security. The views expressed are his own.

Japan and South Korea’s bilateral relations are their worst in years. Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Korean President Park Geun-Hye were elected in December 2012, their only encounter was a trilateral meeting hosted and arranged by U.S. President Barack Obama in March 2014, held on the sidelines of a summit in the Netherlands. The meeting provided for an awkward moment and did little to ease the visible chill between the two leaders.

While a territorial dispute concerning a group of uninhabited islands in the Sea of Japan (or what Koreans prefer to call the East Sea) has contributed to the freeze, the crux of the problem remains Japan’s perceived attempts to whitewash certain aspects of its wartime conduct, particularly with regard to the so-called comfort women. The euphemism refers to the thousands of women, the majority of whom were from Korea, forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. South Koreans feel that Japanese leaders have not properly repented for their country’s past, often contrasting Japan’s handling of history to how Germany dealt with the Nazis’ war crimes.

FULL POST

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Topics: Asia • Japan • South Korea
July 16th, 2014
06:19 PM ET

What I'm reading: How to change minds

By Fareed Zakaria

“What if the best way to change minds isn’t to tell people why they’re wrong, but to tell them why they’re right? Scientists tried this recently and discovered that agreeing with people can be a surprisingly powerful way to shake up strongly held beliefs,” writes Julia Rosen in The Los Angeles Times.

“Researchers found that showing people extreme versions of ideas that confirmed – not contradicted – their opinions on a deeply divisive issue actually caused them to reconsider their stance and become more receptive to other points of view. The scientists attribute this to the fact that the new information caused people to see their views as irrational or absurd, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“[W]hile many Americans accidentally get caught up in the wide nets tossed out by NSA operatives into chat rooms and Facebook groups, the reporters also found that it is quite easy for the NSA to manipulate Section 702 when it wants to monitor American citizens without first getting a warrant,” writes Sue Halpern in the New York Review of Books. “It does so by using loose criteria to define ‘non-US persons.’ Americans who converse in a foreign language have been classified as ‘non-US persons’ under Section 702, for example, as have Americans who use off-shore proxy servers (that appear to place their computer in a foreign country, a practice often used by people in one country who would like to watch television in another, or want to bypass government firewalls). The implication here is that when the NSA wants to target American citizens without a warrant, Section 702 enables it to find a way.” FULL POST

How the world sees Obama
July 16th, 2014
03:43 PM ET

How the world sees Obama

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.

Beleaguered at home, U.S. President Barack Obama remains beloved in many nations abroad. And he is far more popular than his predecessor George W. Bush. But the bloom is definitely off the Obama rose.

Obama’s election in 2008 was widely approved of around the world, and there were high expectations for the incoming American leader, whose election seemed to promise an end to the anti-Americanism that had plagued Washington’s relations with the rest of the world for the past several years.

And, despite revelations such as National Security Agency spying on foreign leaders and the growing sense in the United States that President Obama is already a lame duck domestically, his continued (if somewhat diminished) favorability abroad suggests he remains a force to be reckoned with in international affairs. But will the president follow the well-trodden path of his predecessors in spending more time on foreign policy in their last years in office as their domestic influence has waned?

His popularity abroad suggests he might.

FULL POST

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Topics: Politics • United States
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