Zakaria: Iraq's army has collapsed
October 13th, 2014
10:31 PM ET

Zakaria: Iraq's army has collapsed

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about reports over new advances by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is an edited version of the transcript.

There is reportedly one base remaining in Anbar Province under Iraqi control. Talking to a general, he said it isn't so significant. You disagree.

It's very significant. It’s not significant militarily, because Baghdad will hold for reasons we can talk about. What's significant here is that it tells you that the Iraqi army has collapsed, that there’s no real Iraqi army. Because those bases where people are giving up, surrendering, these are all Sunnis who don't want to fight ISIS, Sunnis who don't want to fight fellow Sunnis.

What you're seeing is that if you scratch the surface of the Iraqi army, it's a bunch of sectarian militias, and the Sunnis will not fight against ISIS because they don't like the Baghdad government.

They don't have that regard for a nation. It's like a sect nation.

They think at this point the Iraqi government is being run by Shia. And so they in a sense don't like ISIS, but they like the Shia government in Baghdad less. So what we have to come to grips with is, this army that doesn't really exist. FULL POST

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Topics: Iraq • ISIS • Turkey
October 11th, 2014
11:38 PM ET

What role can the Peshmerga play in fighting ISIS?

Fareed speaks with Barham Salih, former prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan and former deputy prime minister of Iraq, about the role the Peshmerga could play in fighting ISIS. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

What about the Peshmerga? Will the Kurdish Army – this is the force that protects the Kurdish part of Iraq. Is it going to be willing to go into battle in Iraq – potentially even into Syria – to fight ISIS, since you do need an effective fighting force on the ground?

My own sense is I can say this defensively. Kurdistan has emerged as the most reliable partner to the international coalition in the fight against ISIS. There may be a number of reasons for that.

One of the issues that I'm proud of, Kurdistan represents a tolerant society, tolerant values, and we do have a real interest in taking on ISIS.

So the Kurdish Peshmergas are taking on ISIS. They are fighting ISIS across nearly 1,000 kilometers of line. But I have to say, also, the mantra is that Kurdish Peshmergas should not be relied upon to go to Mosul or should not be relied upon to go to the heartland of the Sunni areas or to Baghdad.

We can be there to support. But at the same time, the communities there need to be empowered. The same thing about Syria...

Because you would be seen as an almost foreign army if you were to go into...

I think one has to also acknowledge this reality. This is payback time. Over the last 10 years, there were lots of communities, particularly in the Sunni areas, who felt marginalized. ISIS and these extremists have taken advantage of those grievances, and this has become an incubating ground for them.

The fundamental answer is to empower these communities to take on these extremists.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 11th, 2014
10:46 PM ET

Let's be honest: Islam has a problem today

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

By Fareed Zakaria

When television host Bill Maher declares on his weekly show that "the Muslim world...has too much in common with ISIS," and the author, Sam Harris (a guest on his show) concurs, arguing that "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas," I understand why people get upset. Maher and Harris made crude simplifications and exaggerations.

And yet, they were also talking about something real. I know all the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It is a vast world of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don't fit these caricatures. That's why Maher and Harris are guilty of simplification and exaggeration.

But let's be honest: Islam has a problem today...There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrate violence and intolerance, and harbor deeply reactionary attitudes towards women and minorities. And while some moderates confront these extremists, not enough do so and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against ISIS in the Arab world today?

But now the caveat, Islam today, is important.

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

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Topics: Fareed's Take • GPS Show
October 11th, 2014
08:12 PM ET

Former prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan on ISIS

Fareed speaks with Barham Salih, former prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan and former deputy prime minister of Iraq, about the strength of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

First, give us your assessment of whether the U.S. airstrikes and this military campaign is having an effect. Is ISIS weaker, because on the ground so far, it doesn't appear that way?

I think it's fair to say that these airstrikes have slowed down ISIS advances, but they are nowhere enough to defeat ISIS.

And what we see, also, in Kobani, in neighboring Syria, is also a testament to the fact that these airstrikes, while welcome, while important, but nowhere enough to defeat ISIS.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 10th, 2014
06:49 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Are Kurds ready for ISIS fight? And, GPS panel talks Ebola and Panetta

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

On GPS this Sunday: The United States is at war against ISIS. But while President Barack Obama has promised no boots on the ground, there is one hardened force in the field doing battle well. It’s not the U.S. military – or the Iraqi military. It’s the Kurds. Fareed will ask a top Kurdish politician if his people are ready for the long fight.

Also, Fareed convenes a panel of top commentators to grade the Obama administration on how it did with this week's major challenges: ISIS, Ebola and an insider attack – from Leon Panetta. Francis Fukuyama, the American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka, Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose, and Walter Russell Mead, a professor of international affairs at Bard College, will be offering their takes on these issues.

Then, why it is that the American economy is looking up, but most American's are very down about it? GPS will explain what has been happening.

Also, if you think you know who invented the light bulb, think again. Author Steven Johnson will explain how innovation really happens – and why Thomas Edison shouldn't get all the credit.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 10th, 2014
04:07 PM ET

What I'm reading: Modi’s maritime diplomacy

By Fareed Zakaria

“Modi’s maritime diplomacy is not limited to the naval domain. Transborder infrastructure development is a major priority for the NDA government,” writes C. Raja Mohan in the Indian Express. “The prime minister’s joint statement with Obama talks about bilateral cooperation in integrating the subcontinent with the markets of East Asia through an ‘Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor.’”

“The proposal is similar to China’s plan for a maritime silk road linking the Pacific and Indian Oceans. For India, which appears wary of China’s plans for the Indian Ocean, the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor could be the first step towards building its own maritime silk road.”

“The Russian government isn't interested in defending the ruble, because a weak currency benefits the resource exporters who are the main source of revenues for the Russian government,” writes Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg View. “The price inflation that results amounts to a tax on ordinary citizens to fund Putin's aggressive policies, yet these people are a less important constituency in Russia. And, for now at least, they are happy to pay for the country's international resurgence, such as it is.” FULL POST

October 9th, 2014
09:45 PM ET

Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now

By Fareed Zakaria

There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrates violence and intolerance and harbors deeply reactionary attitudes toward women and minorities. While some confront these extremists, not enough do so, and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the Arab world today?

The caveat, “Islam today,” is important. The central problem with Maher’s and Harris’s analyses are that they take a reality — extremism in Islam — and describe it in ways that suggest it is inherent in Islam. Bill Maher says Islam is “the only religion that acts like the Mafia, that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.” He’s right about the viciousness but wrong to link it to “Islam” — instead of “some Muslims.”

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
October 7th, 2014
06:25 PM ET

Mexico's president talks reform and the immigration debate

Fareed speaks with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about the legalization marijuana in parts of the United States, structural reforms in Mexico and the immigration debate in the United States. Watch the video for the full interview.

You know, in the United States, when people think about Mexico, still it is immigration that dominates the way they think about it. What do you think when you hear the debate about immigration in Washington?

First of all, I think that the relationship between Mexico and the United States is a lot broader, and sometimes it would be surprising to know the many details of the relationship – the number of daily crossings, legal crossings, every day. About a million people every day, people coming and going from one country to the other, because of work and trade and the trade level that we have, which is so broad, which we will probably talk about.

But when you hear some of the anti-immigrant language, the rhetoric, do you think it's racist?

I think it's discriminatory, yes. And I think it's unfortunate for a country whose formation and historic origin relies so much on the migration flows of many parts of Europe, Asia, for instance. I think this is a country whose origin, to a great extent, is one of migration. And that's why it's unfortunate to hear this exclusionary and discriminatory tone regarding the migration flows into the United States.

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Topics: GPS Show • Latin America
October 7th, 2014
05:36 PM ET

Did the Cosby Show help Obama get elected?

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

Fareed speaks with Mark Whitaker, author of Cosby: His Life and Times, about the importance of Bill Cosby to President Barack Obama's election.

Just over 30 years ago, "The Cosby Show" premiered on American television screens. It was ground-breaking, for certain, especially for the way it portrayed this African-American family with Bill Cosby as the patriarch. But did it break so much ground that without it, Barack Obama might not be our president? That's what my next guest says.

Mark Whitaker is the author of the new book, Cosby: His Life and Times. I should note that Mark was CNN's managing editor until last year and many years ago, we worked together at Newsweek. Actually, he was my boss. Welcome back.

Hi Fareed.

So explain that idea, because a number of people have made it, and you talk about it in the book, that if not for Bill Cosby and "The Cosby Show," Obama might not be president.

Well, the person who made the point, 15 minutes after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, was Karl Rove. He was on Fox News. And he was talking to Chris Wallace about the social significance of the election.

And they pointed out for the first time, we were going to have an African-American family in the White House. And Karl Rove said, no, wait a second, you know, we've already had an African-American family that was sort of America's family, and that was the Huxtables and "The Cosby Show." FULL POST

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Topics: GPS Show
October 7th, 2014
05:32 PM ET

What does Colombia's future hold?

Fareed spoke recently with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos about negotiations with the FARC, the country's economy and what to do with former terrorists. Watch the video for the full interview. GPS also invited President Santos to offer his take on the key challenges facing Colombia, and what its future might hold. Here is what he had to say:

"The story of Colombia is one of transformation. Decades ago, we were on the verge of becoming a failed state. In the past few years, our sound economic growth coupled with a business climate that concentrates on investment, entrepreneurship and innovation through advancements in education and equality makes us the world’s next venture nation.

"Given our country’s social, political and economic context, Colombia has become increasingly attractive to the world’s leading companies, investors and visionaries who wish to develop new technologies and markets, as well as produce global corporate solutions.

"Our economy has grown at about 5 percent on average for the past four years, and in the first part of 2014 at 5.2 percent, making us one of the world’s new investment powerhouses. This year our GDP growth is third only to China and Indonesia. In addition, our GDP has tripled in the last decade, reaching almost $370 billion in 2012. Foreign direct investment has also increased, reaching $16 billion. FULL POST

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Topics: GPS Show • Latin America
October 7th, 2014
10:49 AM ET

5 priorities for Afghanistan

By Ahmad Majidyar, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Ahmad Majidyar is a senior research associate at the American Enterprise Institute. He also teaches senior U.S. military officers on security and politics in Afghanistan. The views expressed are his own.

Late last month, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was inaugurated as president of Afghanistan after signing a power-sharing pact with his electoral rival Abdullah Abdullah, ending a protracted political standoff that threatened to thrust the country into another civil war and complicate the U.S. exit strategy. To the relief of its foreign allies, the new government also concluded long-delayed security deals that will allow 12,000 American and NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

But while the peaceful and democratic transfer of power marks a milestone in Afghanistan’s tumultuous history, the country faces mounting security and governance challenges as international support is diminishing. To ensure long-term stability, the following five priorities should top the new government’s agenda. FULL POST

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Topics: Afghanistan
October 6th, 2014
04:30 PM ET

What Hong Kong protests say about China's future

By Fareed Zakaria

The solution for China is obvious – political reform. This has been seen and advocated by many senior leaders within the party, including Wen Jiabao. In two interviews with me, Wen, premier of China from 2002 to 2012, insisted that political reform had to follow economic reform. But it never happened because reform threatens the party's monopoly of power.

China will not become a Western-style liberal democracy. But it should consider the example of Singapore, a city-state with a strong one party system but one that also has legal opposition parties, reasonably free elections, and real independent courts.

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping famously visited Singapore in November 1978 and learned about Singapore's free market economic system before beginning reforms at home. President Xi Jinping would do well to take a similar trip to that city state pretty soon.

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

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Topics: China • GPS Show
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