By Fareed Zakaria
“There are many other examples of Syrian-Iranian coordination and the utter ruthlessness of both states in pursuing their objectives, such as the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. During my time in Lebanon, we had a dark joke about ‘Hama rules,’ meaning there were no rules governing Syrian conduct,” writes Ryan Crocker in Yale Global.
“So this current fight didn’t start in the southern Syrian city of Dara’a in 2011. Nor is it part of the so-called Arab Spring. It began decades before. Lebanese, Palestinians, Iranians, Jordanians, Iraqis and Syrians – Sunnis, Alawis, Christians and Druze – all remember. Americans may not have ever really understood it in the first place. The history helps explain the ferocity of the fight on the part of both the regime and its opponents, and it illustrates why this regime is not like those in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. It was ready for this war.”
“Whatever hope Egypt’s transitional government has instilled in Egyptians as it gets to work, it also faces an angry and resentful Muslim Brotherhood that is determined to do what it can to disrupt the political process,” argues Steven Cook in Foreign Affairs.
“The Brothers might ultimately be unsuccessful, but their sit-ins, demonstrations, and not-so-hushed rhetoric of violence and martyrdom vastly complicate the tasks ahead. The narrative of victimhood will stir a base that might have otherwise dissipated had the calamitous Morsi been permitted to carry on. Of course, the Brothers’ commitment to the ballot box has always been most pronounced when the group is under pressure. If the now-deposed president had stayed in office, he and the Brothers’ guidance office would likely have found a way to ensure the Brotherhood’s political power regardless of the group’s performance. It now seems unlikely that the colorless jurist who is palace-sitting has the ability to match the Brothers’ war of position with anything other than coercion. This portends a slide toward authoritarianism, not democracy.”
“The government is using a variety of instruments, including financial-sector credit discipline, to rein in investment demand. Essentially, the government guarantee associated with financing public-sector investment is being withdrawn – as it should be,” writes Michael Spence for Project Syndicate.
“But, to circumvent the restrictions in the state-dominated financial system, a shadow banking system has developed, raising new risks: economic distortions; reliance on excess leverage to drive growth in the consumer, real estate, corporate, and government sectors; and dangers associated with inadequate regulation. As a result, investors are worried that China could slip into the excess-leverage growth model that has served many developed economies so poorly.”
By Fareed Zakaria
“The reality is that the border is more secure today than at just about any time in this nation's recent history,” argues the Los Angeles Times. “The number of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally at the nine major crossing points from California to Texas fell by an astounding 86 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to the Government Accountability Office. Overall, the number of immigrants coming illegally to the United States is at a 40-year low, having dropped from slightly more than 1 million in 2005 to fewer than 365,000 in 2012 and 2011, according to the Border Patrol.”
“The current Chinese system is a gigantic rent-distributing mechanism,” writes Minxin Pei for Project Syndicate. “The ruling elites have learned to live with each other not through shared beliefs, values, or rules, but by carving up the spoils of economic development. In a high-growth environment, each group or individual could count on getting a lucrative contract or project. When growth falters, the food fight among party members will become vicious.”
By Fareed Zakaria
“Young French people need to go abroad, to work, to travel, to see how things can work differently in cultures and countries that don’t play by the same old rules — and then come back to France, and reinject some of the energy and enthusiasm they’ve absorbed to help reconcile the broader population with the global reality that France has shunned for far too long,” writes Felix Marquardt in the New York Times.
“Though it may be anathema to French pride that anyone would want to leave (and that evidently Ms. Merkel, France’s No. 1 partner and rival, agrees), young people voting with their feet and coming back with a new worldview could be the best thing to happen to France in 30 years.”
“If Mohamed Morsi falls or steps down, millions of Egyptians will view it as a victory. Perhaps he could be succeeded by a salvation government, and some kind of stable progress will ensue, though the Brotherhood can hardly be expected to quietly allow their project to dissolve around them, and it would likely mean the return of the army to a guiding role,” writes Evan Hill in the Globe and Mail.
“Revolutions come with chaos. History teaches us that many years may pass before a country comes out of such upheaval with a working government, satisfactory justice and reconciliation, and a consensus about national identity. But even in such a positive scenario, it is hard not to view the first two and a half years of Egypt’s revolution as a series of squandered promises.”
By Fareed Zakaria
For now, the post-Wall generation in Europe lacks a clear focus for its anger, writes Gene Frieda for project Syndicate. “New populist parties in Italy, Greece, and Germany reflect the direction in which politics is moving, not the final destination. Their ability to win support from both the left and the right suggests a shared aspiration to rebuild the protective national barriers that the post-War generation demolished.”
“Against this background, most European leaders are afraid that their electorates will reject anything that seems to imply more integration. It is a classic prisoner’s dilemma: all countries are better off if they contribute to a common cause, but the pressure of national elections impedes politicians’ ability to champion that cause. The ultimate test of leadership will be a commitment to EU treaty reform, with all the thorny negotiations and referenda that this entails.”
Our access to high-quality information has not, unfortunately, ushered in an age in which disagreements over conspiracy theories can easily be solved with a quick Google search, argues Maggie Koerth-Baker in the New York Times magazine. “In fact, the Internet has made things worse. Confirmation bias — the tendency to pay more attention to evidence that supports what you already believe — is a well-documented and common human failing. People have been writing about it for centuries. In recent years, though, researchers have found that confirmation bias is not easy to overcome. You can’t just drown it in facts.”
“In 2006, the political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler identified a phenomenon called the ‘backfire effect.’ They showed that efforts to debunk inaccurate political information can leave people more convinced that false information is true than they would have been otherwise.”
By Mark Sparkman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Mark Sparkman, a former senior officer with the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, is a senior international affairs analyst with the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. The views expressed are his own.
The announcement by prosecutors that charges had been filed against suspected cyber thieves believed responsible for stealing $45 million in a matter of hours from ATM’s in two dozen countries should send a stark message to governments around the world – banks could be the most vulnerable front in cyber space.
Plenty of people have been warning us these days to worry about cyber attacks, but generally we have been worrying about the wrong things. Most “cyber Armageddon” scenarios focus on gaps in our physical infrastructure and even far-fetched scenarios such as infant incubators in hospitals being turned off. But major swathes of the United States have routinely gone without electricity and water for days following natural disasters. Soon enough, life gradually gets back to normal. Want real chaos? Destroy confidence in the banking system (or even a part of it), and just stand back and watch.
Since last fall, a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on financial institutions have temporarily denied customers access to their bank accounts, and U.S. officials have pointed an accusatory finger at Iran. Although the attacks were not devastating, U.S. officials are rightly weighing their response options. The fact is that the United States needs to gear up for the coming era of cyber threats – and start by ensuring its financial flank is not catastrophically compromised.
By Fareed Zakaria
The tragedy of Korea is that no one really wishes to change the status quo, writes Ian Buruma in Project Syndicate. “China wants to keep North Korea as a buffer state, and fears millions of refugees in the event of a North Korean collapse; the South Koreans could never afford to absorb North Korea in the way that West Germany absorbed the broken German Democratic Republic; and neither Japan nor the US would relish paying to clean up after a North Korean implosion, either.”
“And so an explosive situation will remain explosive, North Korea’s population will continue to suffer famines and tyranny, and words of war will continue to fly back and forth across the 38th parallel.”
China’s Communist Party has achieved something few had thought possible: the construction of a distinct national internet, The Economist says.
“The Chinese internet resembles a fenced-off playground with paternalistic guards. Like the internet that much of the rest of the world enjoys, it is messy and unruly, offering diversions such as games, shopping and much more. Allowing a distinctly Chinese internet to flourish has been an important part of building a better cage. But it is constantly watched over and manipulated.”
By Fareed Zakaria
It’s difficult to find a more robust correlation in social science than the one between gun laws and gun violence, argues Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker.
“The cry comes back: ‘But those are just correlations. They don’t prove causes!’ And, indeed, the most recent damning study, published in that cranky, left-wing rag the Journal of the American Medical Association –which shows a clear correlation, state to state, between strong gun laws and less gun violence – ends with the orthodox injunction that the study could not alone determine cause-and-effect relationships, and that further studies are needed.
“But when a scientific study ends by stating that there’s uncertainty about whether a correlation proves a cause, it doesn’t mean that correlations are meaningless in every circumstance.”
In the mirror of Germany, “the French must ask themselves fundamental questions. Have they made the right choices in terms of leaders and policies in recent decades?” writes Dominique Moisi for Project Syndicate.
“Young Berliners cannot ignore where they come from. Yet, perhaps because the past still rings like a warning – and is still physically visible in the topography and architecture of the city today – Berlin is striking in its simplicity, its radiant modernity (symbolized by the glass dome of the Reichstag, a conception of the British architect Norman Foster), and, above all, its intensity.
“That positive energy contrasts starkly with the decadent beauty of Paris, a city that is on a path of ‘museification.’”
By Hans Kundnani, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Hans Kundnani is editorial director at the European Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are his own.
The overwhelming feeling in Europe following Barack Obama’s re-election was a sense of relief. Although European approval of his administration’s foreign policy has dipped since he took office in 2009 – particularly over his increased use of drones and his perceived failure to put greater pressure on Israel – Europeans overwhelmingly preferred him to Mitt Romney. Indeed, according to one poll carried out in 12 European Union member states before the election, 75 percent said they would vote for Obama and only 8 percent for Romney if they could choose.
Still, Obama’s second-term foreign policy has the potential to divide Europe – and to divide Europe and America. Two developments in particular will shape Obama’s second-term foreign policy – deficit woes and a pivot towards the Asia-Pacific. Both will create tough choices for Europeans as they struggle to deal with the euro crisis.
Coming up on GPS Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET, Fareed and his guests will discuss the world’s hot spots, Mexico’s future, China’s demographic problem and America’s unemployment crisis.
In the show's "What in the World" segment, Fareed will examine how China will struggle to compete in the future as it faces a demographic crisis.
Then the discussion will turn to Mexico, which elected a new president. Presumptive president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto will give his thoughts on the country's drug war, which has claimed 50,000 lives in six years.
Peña Nieto also weighs in on Arizona's SB 1070 law, which has controversial ways of dealing with illegal immigration.
Finally, the show will take a look at jobs in the United States. This week a new jobs report was released. Fareed asks: Who creates jobs in America? Is it the 1% or the 99%? Two guests with very opposing viewpoints debate the issue.
Editor's note: Christopher Sabatini is the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Ryan Berger is a policy associate at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. The views in this article are solely those of Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger.
By Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger, Special to CNN
Speaking in Santiago, Chile, in March of last year, President Obama called Latin America “a region on the move,” one that is “more important to the prosperity and security of the United States than ever before.”
Somebody forgot to tell the Washington brain trust.
The Center for a New American Security, a respected national security think tank a half-mile from the White House, recently released a new series of policy recommendations for the next presidential administration. The 70-page “grand strategy” report only contained a short paragraph on Brazil and made only one passing reference to Latin America.
Yes, we get it. The relative calm south of the United States seems to pale in comparison to other developments in the world: China on a seemingly inevitable path to becoming a global economic powerhouse, the potential of political change in the Middle East, the feared dismemberment of the eurozone, and rogue states like Iran and North Korea flaunting international norms and regional stability.
But the need to shore up our allies and recognize legitimate threats south of the Rio Grande goes to the heart of the U.S.’ changing role in the world and its strategic interests within it.
By Kyle Almond, CNN
Egypt’s presidential race is headed for a runoff, but the two remaining candidates present voters with a serious dilemma, according to some analysts.
Sonya Farid, writing for Al Arabiya, said the two candidates who reached the runoff — Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik — are the most non-revolutionary of all the candidates and represent “two typically tyrannical institutions: the first (Morsi) being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the second (Shafik) a senior official of the former regime.”
Shafik was the last prime minister of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was forced out by protests in February 2011. Shafik received 5.5 million of the country’s 23 million votes, about 200,000 votes behind first-place finisher Morsi, who leads the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Voters must now choose between “a return to the old corrupt tyrannical regime or a complete transformation into a seemingly unfavorable scenario that would give the (Muslim) Brotherhood a trifecta of both parliamentary houses and the presidency,” wrote Adel Iskandar, a columnist for the Egypt Independent.
Editor's Note: Kenneth Rogoff is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and was formerly chief economist at the IMF. For more from Rogoff, visit Project Syndicate's excellent new website or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.
By Kenneth Rogoff, Project Syndicate
One of the most notable macroeconomic developments in recent years has been the sharp drop in China’s current-account surplus. The International Monetary Fund is now forecasting a 2012 surplus of just 2.3% of GDP, down from a pre-crisis peak of 10.1% of GDP in 2007, owing largely to a decline in China’s trade surplus – that is, the excess of the value of Chinese exports over that of its imports.
The drop has been a surprise to the many pundits and policy analysts who view China’s sustained massive trade surpluses as prima facie evidence that government intervention has been keeping the renminbi far below its unfettered “equilibrium” value. Does the dramatic fall in China’s surplus call that conventional wisdom into question? Should the United States, the IMF, and other players stop pressing China to move to a more flexible currency regime?
The short answer is “no.” China’s economy is still plagued by massive imbalances, and moving to a more flexible exchange-rate regime would serve as a safety valve and shock absorber. FULL POST