August 7th, 2014
11:42 AM ET

How Saudi Arabia can avoid an energy crisis

By Maha Hosain Aziz, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Maha Hosain Aziz is a professor of politics (adjunct) in NYU's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a senior analyst at geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat. The views expressed are her own.

Ask most Americans which country is the world’s largest oil producer is, and you will likely hear some familiar names – Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Some might suggest Russia, which produces more than 10 million barrels a day. Yet according to recent numbers from the International Energy Agency and Bank of America, it’s another country has taken the lead in global production – the United States. And this new reality raises an interesting question: Is this the beginning of the end of former number one Saudi Arabia’s global oil dominance?

In recent years, everyone from Citigroup to Chatham House has suggested Saudi Arabia – the world’s biggest oil exporter – could face oil shortages in the next 10 to 15 years, prompting many to ask whether the country and its heavily oil-dependent economy are prepared for the potential crisis.

The answer is yes, and no. Local energy demand has skyrocketed, and could increase by 250 percent by 2028, largely due to a population boom that has seen the Kingdom’s population jump from six million in 1970 to over 29 million today. This in turn has prompted the state to explore oil alternatives for domestic energy use. Indeed, in June, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reportedly signed an accord to jointly develop renewable energy and clean technology. In addition, Saudi Arabia has indicated it hopes to become a key market for renewable energy by 2032, with a projected third of the country’s power to come from this source. FULL POST

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Topics: Economy • Energy • Oil • Saudi Arabia
U.S. must step up to prevent nuclear catastrophe
August 6th, 2014
11:44 AM ET

U.S. must step up to prevent nuclear catastrophe

By Martin Fleck, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Martin Fleck is Security Program Director at Physicians for Social Responsibility. PSR and its international affiliate, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. The views expressed are his own.

The anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima this Wednesday is as good a time as any to remember the ever-present danger of nuclear weapons – and the importance of acting to prevent catastrophe.

The world today is fraught with conflict, but most of us don’t pay much attention to nuclear arsenals – nine nations possess a total of more than 17,000 nuclear weapons, according to Ploughshares Fund, while 94 percent of those nuclear weapons belong to the United States and Russia. These weapons pose a profound health risk to all humans. Indeed, as a recent report from Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War outlined, even a “limited, regional” war between India and Pakistan using just 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs – less than 1 percent of the world’s arsenals – would likely result in the deaths of 20 million people outright, cause global cooling for a decade, disrupt agriculture over the entire northern hemisphere, and threaten as many as 2 billion people with starvation.

"To err is human." An accident could happen at any time.  In his latest book, Command and Control, Eric Schlosser documents 78 known incidents where something has gone amiss with the American nuclear weapons enterprise. This includes some well-publicized incidents such as the weapon that fell from a B-52 bomber over North Carolina, started to arm itself, and almost detonated in 1961.  Who knows what hair-raising incidents have happened in other nuclear-armed states?  And with the proliferation of the weapons comes the danger that terrorists will get hold of the materials to make a bomb. We are living on borrowed time. FULL POST

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Topics: Nuclear
August 5th, 2014
06:33 PM ET

What I'm reading: Will U.S. help the Kurds fight ISIS?

By Fareed Zakaria

“The Kurds are among America’s best friends in the Middle East; they are pro-Western, largely secular, and largely democratic,” writes Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker. “Since 1991, when Saddam Hussein’s latest attempt to launch a genocidal campaign against them was thwarted by the United States, the Kurds have more or less governed themselves. During the American war, from 2003 to 2011, not a single American soldier was killed in the Kurdish region. The Kurds regard themselves as culturally and linguistically apart from the Arabs – Sunni and Shia – who inhabit the rest of Iraq. These days, fewer and fewer Kurds even know how to speak Arabic.”

“And that’s the problem, at least according to the United States. Since 2003, American policy toward Kurdistan has been ‘one Iraq.’ That is, no matter how friendly the Kurds are, no matter how pro-Western, American policy has been to keep Iraq together. That means: don’t do anything that helps the Kurds too much, lest they break away from Iraq and declare independence, which is most what most Kurds want.”

“Perhaps the most gratuitous [Obama] administration failing has been its reluctance to respond to the slights inflicted on it even by minor powers,” writes Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post. “Bahrain’s extraordinary expulsion of State’s human rights envoy prompted only a routine statement of ‘concern;’ so did the criminal charges against Saakashvili. The administration could easily punish and deter such governments; ambassadors could be recalled, military aid withheld, exercises and official visits canceled. Instead, the message goes out that the Obama administration can be defied with impunity – and the bank run continues.” FULL POST

Time for Israel to face up to only path to peace
August 5th, 2014
04:25 PM ET

Time for Israel to face up to only path to peace

By Sultan Barakat, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Sultan Barakat is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, and Chairman of the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit, University of York. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

Israel’s repeated wars on the Gaza strip have taken a heavy toll on Palestinian civilian infrastructure, and this latest offensive is no different. Israeli shelling first damaged, then destroyed Gaza’s only power plant, while waves of attacks have shredded power lines and ruptured sewage systems. Indeed, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates as much as two-thirds of the enclave’s population of 1.8 million now lacks or has very limited access to potable water or sanitation services.

But such disregard for basic civilian infrastructure will ultimately prove counterproductive – if Israel genuinely wants a lasting solution to the conflict, it must be made to appreciate that the reconstruction and development of Gaza, not its utter destruction, is crucial.

While the death toll in the strip has continued to climb – even if the current cease-fire holds, it has hit more than 1,800, mostly civilians – the most basic requirements for any kind of dignity and quality of life are being destroyed, and more than 425,000 have been left homeless by the actual or threatened demolition of their homes. Yet the destruction of Gazan infrastructure began long before the first airstrikes and rocket launches of the present conflict. The tiny enclave, measuring about 140 square miles, has been under effective siege since 2007, turning it into what is in many respects the world’s largest open-air prison – even construction materials such as the cement, steel and pipes that are needed to expand the enclave’s water treatment system are banned under the embargo. FULL POST

August 5th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

Turkey's debate on women no laughing matter

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Laughter can be the best medicine – but can it cure misogyny?

Last week, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç gave a speech that sparked a massive social media reaction. Women, he said, shouldn't burst out laughing in public, should know what is appropriate, and should preserve their "chastity." So women shouldn't laugh out loud, and men, he said, shouldn't be womanizers. (Not really equivalent moral standards…)

Hundreds of women responded by posting pictures of themselves laughing in public. There were more than 160,000 Tweets following the comments, using the Turkish words for "laughter," "resist laugher" and "women defy."

The oppression of women in Turkey isn’t a laughing matter, of course. A 2009 report found that 40 percent of Turkey's female population had suffered domestic violence.

This week, the first round of the presidential election begins, and a top challenger to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (who is a favorite for the presidency) tweeted about the incident, saying women in Turkey needed to laugh more, not less. But Arınç stood by his comments, suggesting people focused too much on that part of his speech.

Well, if you say something absurd, condescending, and demeaning to 50 percent of your population, don't be so surprised if people focus on it!

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Topics: Last Look • Turkey
What Libya says about intervention
August 5th, 2014
12:18 PM ET

What Libya says about intervention

By Matthew Waxman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Matthew Waxman is the Liviu Librescu Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. The views expressed are his own.

Last month, American diplomats and Marines were evacuated from Tripoli. The 2011 international coalition intervention in Libya was supposed to be a step forward for the Responsibility to Protect doctrine – the notion that if a state fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities, it becomes the international community's responsibility to do so. Tragically, the current collapse of governance and bloody infighting among factional militias there will instead result in a step backwards for this important principle.

Back in March 2011, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1973, which imposed a no-fly zone and authorized member states to "take all necessary measures" to protect civilians under vicious attack from Moammar al-Gadhafi’s government. The resolution passed with 10 votes in favor and five abstentions, including by permanent members Russia and China. In authorizing force, the U.N. Security Council cited the Libyan government’s betrayal of its responsibility to protect its population. Many advocates of intervention saw this as especially significant because Russia and China, as well as many ex-colonial states of the global South, had generally resisted such infringements on the sanctity of state sovereignty.

During and immediately after the ensuing military intervention that ultimately helped dislodge the odious Gadhafi regime, commentators made two exaggerated claims – in opposite directions. To some proponents of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, this was a defining moment of advancement, although such a claim overstated the precedential value of Security Council consensus on a uniquely isolated government that even the Arab League had shunned. FULL POST

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Topics: Libya
August 4th, 2014
12:21 PM ET

Shapiro : U.S. still committed to ending violence

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

The U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro offers his take on the prospects for a cease-fire in Gaza, U.S.-relations with Israel, and whether Qatar can be seen as a reliable partner in trying to secure an end to the violence.

Watch the video for the full interview.

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Topics: GPS Show
August 4th, 2014
11:58 AM ET

Will Putinism triumph?

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

By Fareed Zakaria

When he first came to power in 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed a smart, tough, competent manager, someone who was determined to bring stability to Russia, which was in free fall at the time, reeling from internal chaos, economic stagnation and a default in 1998. He sought to integrate Russia into the world and wanted good relations with the West, asking Washington for Russian membership in both the World Trade Organization and even in NATO.

Over time, however, Putin established order in the country and control over society. He also presided over a booming economy, as oil prices quadrupled under his watch. So he began creating a repressive system of political, economic and social control to maintain his power.

As he faced opposition, particularly in the parliamentary elections of 2011, Putin recognized that he needed more than just brute force to defeat his opponents – he needed an ideology of power. The crucial elements of Putinism are nationalism, religion, social conservatism, state capitalism, and government domination of the media. They work in tandem to sustain Putin's popularity…

…The success of Putinism ultimately will depend a great deal on the success of Putin and Russia under him. If he triumphs in Ukraine, turning it into a basket case that eventually comes begging to Moscow, he will look like a winner. If, on the other hand, Ukraine succeeds outside of Russia's orbit, leaders like Victor Orban might regret having cast their lot with a globally-isolated Siberian petro-state.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

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Topics: Fareed's Take • Russia
Time to act on the 'other' health crisis
August 4th, 2014
11:36 AM ET

Time to act on the 'other' health crisis

By Tracey Guise and Laura Piddock, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Tracey Guise is CEO of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Laura J.V. Piddock is Director of Antibiotic Action and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Birmingham. The views expressed are their own.

It’s not surprising that international attention has been focused on the ongoing outbreak of Ebola that has struck West Africa. After all, there are few treatment options for the disease, which has a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent, and the current outbreak has been described as the deadliest outbreak in history. Indeed, Britain’s government recently held an emergency meeting to discuss the possible threat to the country, although the foreign secretary said he believes Britain has the expertise to deal with the threat.

But while Ebola is getting the headlines, another health threat has been growing across the globe, one with implications every bit as serious: the rapid rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

There are few of us alive in developed countries that can remember living without the unprecedented health benefits that antibiotics bring. Within a few decades of Alexander Fleming’s discovery of the antibacterial powers of Penicillium, back in 1928, healthcare had progressed more than it had in the two millennia prior to their discovery. Fast forward to today, and antibiotics are a mainstay of human health – lifesaving, life enhancing, life extending and enabling agents without which medicine as most of us know it would not exist.

As consumers, we have high expectations for our well-being, including life extending treatments for those with chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, successful cancer chemotherapy regimens, and organ transplant and joint replacement surgeries – we expect to receive these treatments when required and without exception. But imagine a world in which a simple scratch could prove fatal? Or even minor surgery became risky to perform? One recent study, reviewing 43,000 patients undergoing abdominal surgeries, showed that about 40 percent of patients having operations on the large intestine suffered an abdominal wound infection if they were not given antibiotics.  FULL POST

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Topics: Health
August 3rd, 2014
12:39 AM ET

Gupta: We're going to see Ebola around the world

Fareed speaks with Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, about the recent outbreak of Ebola. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Sanjay, how has this been blocked in the past? Why does this seem unprecedented? Is there something different right now?

You know, in a morbid way, it's because it killed so quickly – it would just burn out. You imagine these remote villages. People weren't moving around as quickly. And the Ebola virus – they would die and before they could start to spread it…it's awful to think about, but that's what was happening.

Now, you have a more mobile group. You have more roads between some of these smaller villages, such as in Guinea, where this originated, and the capital city of Conakry. There are roads. There are all these good passageways now back and forth. And so I think that part of it is certainly contributing. There’s also this idea that there’s a mistrust – I think a little bit of distrust, maybe – even of health care professionals. In part, that's fueled by the fact that there’s no good anti-viral, there’s no good vaccine. So we need to see health care workers show up, they're not offering some panacea to what is happening here.

And so there's not a lot of trust. And a lot of the people who are getting infected aren't hearing the right messages.  And you also have several epidemics sort of starting in different points almost simultaneously now. Usually, it was one place you could target. FULL POST

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Topics: GPS Show • Health
August 1st, 2014
06:56 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: The latest on the Middle East, a look at Ukraine, and understanding Ebola

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

On GPS this Sunday: First, a live look at the crisis in the Middle East and the latest developments in Gaza.

Then, the crisis in Ukraine. Past rounds of sanctions have appeared to have little effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans. Will Europe’s latest effort at pressure? And what should NATO’s role be? Fareed speaks with Poland's foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, one of those who pushed hard for these sanctions.

“We want a standing defense plans. We want bigger response forces,” Sikorski says. “And unfortunately, the Russian actions in Ukraine don't make us feel more secure, but less secure.”

Also, the deadly Ebola virus has killed hundreds of people in Africa. What is stopping it from spreading to other continents? Fareed speaks with CNN's Sanjay Gupta and Peter Piot, the man who actually co-discovered Ebola.

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Topics: GPS Show
What we're getting wrong about the migration debate
August 1st, 2014
06:39 PM ET

What we're getting wrong about the migration debate

By Kevin O’Donnell

GPS intern Kevin O’Donnell speaks with Justin Gest, assistant professor of public policy at the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs at George Mason University and the author of ‘Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West’ and the forthcoming ‘Crossroads of Migration: A Global Approach to National Policy Differences’. The views expressed are his own.

When we talk about migration, we often talk about push factors and pull factors – things that drive people from a country, that pull them to another. We’ve seen over the past five years a rapid increase in migration by children. Is this driven more by factors in their home countries, or by a new understanding of opportunities in the United States?

Well I think it’s important off the bat to clarify that the young people who are coming to the United States border right now aren’t coming for economic opportunities, they’re not coming – initially at least – to unify with their families, they’re not coming because of the United States' university system or educational opportunities. They’re coming because they’re desperate. They’re coming because they’re trying to escape dire circumstances in their countries of origin.

So while the pull factors in the United States are important, they’re not a determinant here. One way of actually noticing this is by looking at the net migration from Mexico and Central America over the last five to seven years since the economic decline of the United States. It has declined, at one point to zero. So this is taking place at a time when we haven’t seen a lot of draw by the American economy, which further substantiates the idea that this is truly push-factor oriented. FULL POST

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