The real cyber threat
May 21st, 2013
09:05 AM ET

The real cyber threat

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.

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Topics: Cyber • Economy
April 4th, 2013
05:53 PM ET

What we're reading

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.”

FULL POST

April 2nd, 2013
05:36 PM ET

What we're reading

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.’”

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U.S., Europe: Get ready for estrangement
November 27th, 2012
05:23 PM ET

U.S., Europe: Get ready for estrangement

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.

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Topics: Asia • Barack Obama • China • Europe • Germany • United States
July 6th, 2012
04:39 PM ET

Coming up on GPS Sunday: Mexico's future, America's jobs crisis and the world's hot spots

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.

GPS will tackle a discussion on Europe, Syria and America with Kishore Mahbubani, Anne Applebaum, Mark Malloch-Brown, and Dominique Moïsi.

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.

Watch a short part of that interview.

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.

Topics: GPS Show
Why the U.S. can't afford to ignore Latin America
President Obama speaks with Guatemala President Otto Perez, right, and Chile President Sebastian Pinera, left, in April.
June 13th, 2012
11:47 AM ET

Why the U.S. can't afford to ignore Latin America

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.

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Runoff dilemma in Egypt?
The Egyptian presidential race has come down to Mohamed Morsi, left, and Ahmed Shafik.
May 28th, 2012
02:56 PM ET

Runoff dilemma in Egypt?

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.

FULL POST

Topics: Egypt • Elections
May 2nd, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Why a more flexible renminbi still matters

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 RogoffProject 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

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Topics: China • Economy
May 1st, 2012
08:00 PM ET

What we owe Egypt

Editor's Note: James A. Robinson and Daron Acemoglu are co-authors of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and PovertyFor more, visit Project Syndicate or follow it onTwitter or Facebook .

By James A. Robinson and Daron Acemoglu, Project Syndicate

The question that still underlies much thinking about economic development is this: What can we do to kick-start economic growth and reduce poverty around the world? The “we” is sometimes the World Bank, sometimes the United States and other rich countries, and sometimes professors of development economics and their students huddled in a seminar room. It is on this question that the entire development-aid complex is based.

But what has transformed Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya over the last two years has not been efforts by the outside world to improve these societies or their economies, but grassroots social movements intent on changing their countries’ political systems. It started in Tunisia, where the revolution swept President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s repressive regime out of power. It then spread to Egypt and Libya, ending Hosni Mubarak’s and Moammar Gadhafi's even more repressive and corrupt regimes. FULL POST

May 1st, 2012
02:27 PM ET

El-Erian: Germany’s neighborhood watch

Editor's Note: Mohamed El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, is the author of When Markets CollideFor more from El-Erian, visit Project Syndicate or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

By Mohamed El-Erian, Project Syndicate

On a recent trip to Germany, I was struck by two distinct narratives. One narrative features a robust German economy with low unemployment, strong finances, and the right competitive position to exploit the most dynamic segments of global demand. The other narrative describes an economy that is encumbered by never-ending European debt crises whose perpetrators seek to shift their responsibility – and their financing needs – onto Germany’s pristine balance sheet.

Both narratives are understandable. But they cannot co-exist forever. After all, it is difficult to be a good house in a deteriorating neighborhood. Either the neighborhood improves, or the value of the house declines. And it matters a great deal which narrative prevails – for Germany, for Europe, and for the global economy. FULL POST

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Topics: Economy • Europe • Germany
April 30th, 2012
12:03 PM ET

Feldstein: The economy and the presidency

Editor's Note: Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard, was Chairman of President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers and is a former president of the US National Bureau for Economic Research. For more from  Martin Feldstein, visit Project Syndicate or follow it onTwitter or Facebook .

By Martin Feldstein, Project Syndicate

America’s presidential election is now just six months away. If history is a reliable guide, the outcome will depend significantly on the economy’s performance between now and November 6, and on Americans’ perception of their economic future under the two candidates.

At the moment, America’s economy is limping along with slow growth and high unemployment. Output grew by just 1.5% last year, and real GDP per capita is lower now than before the economic downturn began at the end of 2007. Although annual GDP growth was 3% in the fourth quarter of 2011, more than half of that reflected inventory accumulation. Final sales to households, businesses, and foreign buyers rose at only a 1.1% annual rate, even slower than earlier in the year. And the preliminary estimate for annual GDP growth in the first quarter of 2012 was a disappointing 2.2%, with only a 1.6% rise in final sales. FULL POST

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Topics: 2012 Election • Politics • United States
April 27th, 2012
02:10 PM ET

Haass: To the victors go the foils

Editor's Note: Richard N. Haass, formerly Director of Policy Planning in the U.S. State Department, is President of The Council on Foreign Relations. For more from Haass, visit Project Syndicate's excellent new website or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

By Richard N. Haass, Project Syndicate

A surprising number of elections and political transitions is scheduled to occur over the coming months. An incomplete list includes Russia, China, France, the United States, Egypt, Mexico, and South Korea.

At first glance, these countries have little in common. Some are well-established democracies; some are authoritarian systems; and others are somewhere in between. Yet, for all of their differences, these governments – and the individuals who will lead them – face many of the same challenges. Three stand out. FULL POST

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Topics: Elections
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