By Fareed Zakaria
So what explains the fevered rhetoric and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal? I think the fear is less of this deal than of what it might bring in its wake. Many imagine that this is the start of a rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, which would fundamentally change the geopolitical landscape. It could place the U.S. on the side of the Shi'ite powers, Iran and Iraq, in the growing sectarian divide in the region. It could alter the balance of power in the world of oil–Iran's reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's in the region.
Iran's foes should relax. This is an important agreement, but it is an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program. It is not even a final deal, which will be much harder to achieve. And it is not the dawn of a historic new alliance. Washington remains staunchly opposed to Iran on many issues, from Tehran's antagonism toward Israel to its support for Hizballah to its funding of Iraqi militias. The Islamic Republic, for its part, remains devoted to a certain level of anti-Americanism as a founding principle of its existence. The two countries are still fundamentally at odds.
Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
On GPS this Sunday: A panel of leading historians offer their take on the state of the U.S. economy, second term presidencies and more.
“I think there are no historical analogies more perilous than comparing a Munich or a Nixon in China, from which we have generations of perspective, to a deal that is days old,” says Nancy Gibbs, managing editor of TIME. “You know, this could prove to be a turning point, as obviously the president would like to argue that it's a long overdue reset of a relationship. But it all could also fall apart.”
Then, a referendum to cap CEO pay to 12-times the salary of a firm's lowest-paid employee: What in the world is going on in Switzerland?
And, why kids in South Korea and Finland are getting a better education than their counterparts in the United States.
And the Last Look: the commercial that has millions of Indians and Pakistanis misty-eyed.
By Simon Rushton, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Simon Rushton is an associate Fellow at Chatham House’s Centre on Global Health Security. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
In his comments in the lead up to World AIDS Day this Sunday, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé reiterated the organization’s view that every person counts. “If we are going to keep our pledge of leaving no-one behind we have to make sure HIV services reach everyone in need.” Yet although the updated statistics on HIV and AIDS released this week show remarkable progress in many areas, they also make clear that some are indeed being left behind.
The headline figures are encouraging: a 33 percent decrease in new HIV infections since 2001; a 29 percent decrease in AIDS-related deaths since 2005; a 40-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy between 2002 and 2012. But as UNAIDS also admits, global progress in the fight against AIDS is highly uneven. The situation varies widely between countries and regions. In some of the most populous parts of the world – such as the Middle East and East Asia – both new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have actually increased over the past decade.
By Jeffrey W. Hornung, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jeffrey W. Hornung is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, and an adjunct fellow with the Office of the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are his alone.
China’s more assertive posture in regional territorial disputes took a new turn at the weekend with its decision to implement an Air Defense Identification Zone. At a time when tensions in the region are already high due to a lingering territorial dispute between China and Japan, China’s action has escalated tensions in the East China Sea. Now, with Beijing apparently demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of diplomacy with its neighbors, the region is forced to confront provocative and potentially destabilizing behavior.
On November 23, China’s defense ministry unilaterally announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. According to the new rules for conduct in this ADIZ, any aircraft flying into China’s ADIZ is required to submit flight plans to Chinese authorities, maintain two-way radio communication, and keep radar transponders turned on. Should a plane refuse to follow these instructions, China’s military will “adopt defensive measures.”
ADIZs are, by themselves, not controversial, acting as early-warning perimeters for self-defense. But while there are no international rules concerning their size or establishment, China’s action is provocative for two reasons. First, it may be attempting to set new rules for aircraft flying above waters considered a state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Second, it chose to establish an ADIZ that overlaps considerably with those of both Japan and Taiwan as well as a sliver of South Korea’s. Provocatively, included in China’s ADIZ are territorial disputes it maintains with Japan over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) and with South Korea over Ieodo (Suyan Rock in Chinese).
By Elise Young, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Elise Young is Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs at Women Thrive Worldwide, a Washington, DC-based advocacy group dedicated to women’s equality. The views expressed are her own.
It’s a long way from Benin to the family Thanksgiving table where I grew up outside of Philadelphia. But the people of this West African nation are never far from my mind, especially as I gather with my friends and family for Thanksgiving.
The daughter of a minister, I’m thankful for the many blessings in my life and especially for the food that I have to eat on a daily basis.
Not everyone is as lucky as I’ve been. Around the globe, nearly 840 million people are now considered “food insecure.” Almost 60 percent are women and girls – a despite the fact that women farmers actually produce most of the food in developing countries. Hunger is especially pronounced in developing countries like Benin, where one in three households is considered food insecure.
By Becca Wasser, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Becca Wasser is a research analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. You can follow her @IISSBecca. The views expressed are her own.
Saudi Arabia’s careful silence in the immediate aftermath of the deal struck with Iran on its nuclear program at the weekend should have come as no surprise. From disagreements over how to handle Syria and Egypt, to its rejection of a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, the Kingdom has been clear about its displeasure with Washington’s strategy in the Middle East.
The current head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan al-Saud, met recently with European diplomats in Riyadh to notify them of a “major shift” in U.S.-Saudi relations, while former Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Turki has for his part given several interviews suggesting that the Gulf States will become more independent.
Saudi Arabia’s public displeasure is largely a reaction to the U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, perceived U.S. inaction over the Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, differences over Egypt’s future, and a lack of support for Saudi Arabia’s domestic and foreign policies. The U.S.-Iran rapprochement in particular has shaken Saudi trust in the United States, and Saudi Arabia is not alone among the Gulf States in fearing that warming of U.S.-Iran ties risk coming at the expense of their own relationship. And while Saudi Arabia has been publicly quiet over the Iran deal, a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family has reportedly said the Kingdom is willing to steer a more proactive foreign policy course in future.
Next month marks the one year anniversary of the Newtown shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which more than two dozen people were killed, including 20 children. The shootings reignited the debate about gun control in the United States, and have prompted many to ask whether the U.S. could learn any lessons from other countries.
But how have other nations managed to keep gun deaths down? What kind of gun control measures have worked, and is there any place for similar approaches in the United States? In a December 8 primetime special, Global Lessons on Guns, Fareed Zakaria GPS will explore these very issues.
But before then, CNN host Piers Morgan, who has been at the center of many of the debates and discussion on these issues, will be taking GPS readers’ questions on gun control, what he would like to see done, and what has surprised him most about the conversation.
So what would you like to ask? Please leave your questions in the comment section below, and GPS will select the best questions to pose to him online next week.
By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Mazza is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.
It’s difficult to know precisely what was behind China’s decision to institute an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) at the weekend. Chinese claims to the contrary, it is clearly meant to up the pressure on Japan in the two countries’ dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, over which the ADIZ extends. Internal Chinese political dynamics may also be at work here; President Xi Jinping, for example, must be benefitting from taking a strong stance vis-à-vis Japan. But whatever the reason for the creation of the ADIZ at this time, Beijing may ultimately regret it – and not only because it increases the likelihood of a violent incident over the East China Sea.
First off, the move needlessly antagonizes Taiwan and South Korea. The fact is that it puts a wrinkle into recently stable cross-Strait relations, as Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the Senkakus (known as the Diaoyutai in Taiwan), and it now has an overlapping ADIZ with the mainland.
The ADIZ is even more surprising in the context of China-South Korea relations, which have looked particularly warm of late. Seoul’s quarrels with Japan over history have been at their worst in recent months, and Beijing has effectively stoked that fire. But China’s new ADIZ overlaps with South Korea’s; covers the disputed Socotra Rock (which both countries claim as within their own exclusive economic zone); and may extend a bit too close for comfort to Jeju Island, where South Korea is building a major naval base. In one fell swoop, Beijing has reminded Seoul that South Korea has more in common with Japan than it normally likes to admit.
By Alice Farmer, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Alice Farmer is a children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch who has done extensive research on unaccompanied migrant children around the world. The views expressed are her own.
This week kicks off one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Millions will set out for Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates how refugees from religious persecution found freedom in a new land. I’ll be one of those traveling. And while I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends, I’m not looking forward to the hassle: long flights, cramped seats, and the difficulty of finding a taxi at 3 a.m.
Of course, I’ll be travelling legally, with the right paperwork. Most of us can't imagine how much harder it is to cross international borders if you can’t get your papers in order. Yet millions of people fleeing war and instability, or fearing persecution from their own government, don’t have the luxury of applying for passports and waiting for visas. Without paperwork, they can’t move through border crossings legally. So they travel in other ways, often with no other choice but to resort to smugglers.
By Fareed Zakaria
“There’s no real fiscal solution that doesn’t involve changes to entitlements, and if we are going to adjust vital retirement programs, we must give people time to prepare. For this reason, many proposals exempt those within 10 years of retirement. A delay like this can work, but not if we continually defer action. Procrastinating for 10 years about a 10-year exemption makes it a 20-year exemption,” writes Michael Peterson in Roll Call.
“Simplifying our tax code should be another important part of the solution. Tax ‘expenditures’ now total $1.3 trillion a year (which is almost as much as all of the income taxes we collect), and many are market-distorting, wasteful and unfair. Done right, tax reform would make the entire code simpler and more equitable, while lowering rates for everyone, and reduce the deficit. And when we consider changes to vital entitlement programs, as well as to the tax code, wealthier Americans should of course contribute their fair share.”
“If the West wants to deal rationally with China, a paradigm shift in thinking is urgently needed. And, perhaps, such a shift could provide fresh ideas on how the West can approach the world differently and even begin to solve its own problems,” writes Eric Li for Yale Global.
“To begin a reassessment, it is useful to first recognize what China is not. It is not a revolutionary power, and it is not an expansionary power. It is not a revolutionary power because, unlike the West of late, it is a non-ideological actor on the world stage and not interested in exporting its values and ways to the outside world. Even as its interests expand far beyond its borders – and make no mistake, these interests will be vigorously defended – it will not seek to actively change the internal dynamics of other countries. It is not an expansionary power because that is not part of the Chinese DNA. Compared with the many empires in human history, even at the zenith of its own power during its long civilization, China has seldom invaded other countries in large scale.”
By Michael Rubin, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Rubin is author of Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes, forthcoming in February 2014. You can follow him @mrubin1971. The views expressed are his own.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and foreign ministers from Russia, China, and Europe signed a deal to suspend aspects of Iranian nuclear work in exchange for some sanctions relief. “With this first step, we have created the time and the space in order to be able to pursue a comprehensive agreement…to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon," Kerry told assembled diplomats and journalists.
President Barack Obama was triumphant. “Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure – a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.”
He should not be so certain. Rather than prevent Iran’s nuclear breakout, historians may mark the Geneva deal as the step that most legitimized Iran’s path to nuclear weapons capability.
By Fareed Zakaria
If you’re trying to decide what to think about the deal struck between the major powers and Iran in Geneva, here’s a suggestion – imagine what would have happened if there had been no deal.
In fact, one doesn’t have to use much imagination. In 2003, Iran approached the United States with an offer to talk about its nuclear program. The George W. Bush administration rejected the offer because it believed that the Iranian regime was weak, had been battered by sanctions, and would either capitulate or collapse if Washington just stayed tough.
So there was no deal. What was the result? Iran had 164 centrifuges operating in 2003; today it has 19,000 centrifuges. Had the Geneva talks with Iran broken down, Iran would have continued expanding its nuclear program. Yes they are now under tough sanctions, but they were under sanctions then as well.