November 1st, 2014
12:01 AM ET

Bourdain: Iran different from what I could have imagined

Fareed speaks with author and chef Anthony Bourdain about his visit to Iran. Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN, or watch Bourdain in Iran on Parts Unknown at 9 p.m. ET.

So you did the thing most American negotiators haven't yet done, which is actually go to Iran.

Yes, and an incredible experience. What we saw inside Iran was extraordinary, heartbreaking, confusing, inspiring and very, very different than the Iran I expected from looking at it from afar, from a geopolitical sense or what we read on the news – what we know from that long and very contentious relationship we've had as nations.

What do you think was the most surprising thing to you?

To walk down the street as an American and have total strangers constantly saying, where are you from? America, have you tried our food? Thank you for coming. Just outgoing, friendly, welcoming to strangers, to a degree that we really experience very, very few places – and I'm talking Western Europe and allied nations.

We'd been told to expect that. But you get thrown by it when you face it everywhere. Our producer – it was his birthday and we all went out with our local crew to a very crowded restaurant. Traditional Persian music and Iranian families eating. And someone found out that my producer, it was his birthday. The entire restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to him and presented him with a cake. It was a very different Iran than I had been led to expect or could have imagined.

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Topics: GPS Show • Iran
October 31st, 2014
03:01 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Debating extremism in Islam, whether to fight ISIS, and Bourdain on Iran

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

On GPS this Sunday: First, Fareed offers his take on political developments in Tunisia and Egypt, and explains what they say about the prospects for democracy in the Arab world.

“Tunisia's relative success is in marked contrast to the abysmal failure of Egypt, the Arab world’s largest and once most influential country,” Fareed says. “As in Tunisia, Egyptians also overthrew a dictator three years ago. But after Egypt's brief experiment with democracy, in which the Muslim Brotherhood was elected and then abused its authority, today the country is ruled by a repressive dictatorship.”

Then, Fareed’s first guest says that over 300 million Muslims are either jihadists or want to foist Islam on the world. Really? Sam Harris's recent appearance on Bill Maher's show sparked a big debate on the issue. Fareed sits down with Harris to discuss his take.

Also, should America and the West be involved in the fight against ISIS, or is it a local sectarian conflict, best left alone by the world? Fareed hosts a great debate.

Finally, writer and chef Anthony Bourdain discusses his trip to Iran – the food, the people and the culture behind politics in the Islamic Republic.

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Topics: GPS Show
Why Turkey needs to take ISIS threat seriously
October 31st, 2014
01:10 PM ET

Why Turkey needs to take ISIS threat seriously

Aki Peritz and Joshua W. Walker, Special to CNN

Aki Peritz is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and coauthor of Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda. You can follow him @akiperitz. Joshua W. Walker is a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project. He previously served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed are their own.

The beleaguered Kurds, fighting a desperate battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Kobane, Syria, are finally receiving reinforcements. A small contingent of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga are reportedly crossing Turkey to help defend their ethnic compatriots battle this existential threat.

But Turkey’s leaders are probably not thrilled with their reluctant decision to let Iraqi Kurds join the fight in Syria. Indeed, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this month made his feelings about fighting ISIS crystal clear. “For us,” Ergodan reportedly said, “the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK] is the same as ISIL (ISIS). It is wrong to consider them as different from each other."

While this might make sense from a Turkish-nationalist perspective – after all, Turkey has been fighting the PKK for over a generation – this suggests incredible short-sightedness on Ankara’s part. Turkey must place a far higher priority on fighting ISIS because the group, with its global ambitions, poses a far greater threat to the integrity of the Turkish state than a Kurdish Marxist organization ever will. FULL POST

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Topics: Turkey
October 30th, 2014
07:05 PM ET

Why democracy took root in Tunisia and not Egypt

By Fareed Zakaria

Of course, it may be too soon to celebrate Tunisia’s success. It faces a youth unemployment rate of about 30 percent. The government is also battling Islamist militants at home, and recent reports have suggested that the Arab world’s only democracy is also its biggest exporter of fighters to join the Islamic State. (This may be because Tunisia is relatively open and its jihadis find that their appeal is limited at home.)

But Tunisia’s success — so far — does suggest that there is nothing in Islam or Arab society that makes it impossible for democracy to take root. As would be true anywhere, you need some favorable conditions, good leadership and perhaps a bit of luck.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
Are more homegrown terror attacks inevitable in Canada?
October 30th, 2014
09:35 AM ET

Are more homegrown terror attacks inevitable in Canada?

By Ronald Crelinsten, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Ronald Crelinsten is an expert on terrorism and radicalization and the author of Counterterrorism. He is an associate fellow at the Centre for Global Studies at University of Victoria and Adjunct Professor at Royal Roads University. The views expressed are his own.

Last week's shocking events in Canada's capital, Ottawa, and in St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, Quebec, confirm that the terrorist threat stemming from the Middle East knows no boundaries, and can take many forms. Yet while the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria, currently wreaking havoc in that region, has recently called for low-tech attacks in countries that have joined the U.S. coalition conducting airstrikes against them, this kind of threat is not new.

Back in October 2009, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula called for simple attacks with "readily available weapons such as knives, clubs or small improvised explosive devices". A few months later, as Stratfor notes, U.S.-born AQ spokesman Adam Gadahn issued a "A Call to Arms" for "grassroots jihadists" or "lone wolves" to strike targets close by rather than travel abroad, similar to the November 2009 attack by Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. Two months later, Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, attempted to blow up a car in Times Square. And last May, two British citizens of Nigerian descent, ran over off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby in southeast London. They then hacked him to death with knives and a meat cleaver.

Canada has also seen its share of terrorism, including both domestic and international terrorism, homegrown and imported, nationalist and religious, single-issue and revolutionary. FULL POST

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Topics: Canada
China no substitute for U.S. involvement over Afghanistan
October 29th, 2014
06:28 PM ET

China no substitute for U.S. involvement over Afghanistan

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program. He is the author or volume editor of fifteen books and monographs, most recently China’s Post-2014 Role in Afghanistan.

The decision by freshly minted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to make his first overseas trip to China is symbolic. Ghani arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, in a visit that underscores both the extent to which Beijing has the resources to be one of Afghanistan’s critical post-2014 players, and also China’s desire to bring stability to its neighbor. But it’s a relationship that the United States should keep a close eye on moving forward.

Afghanistan’s geopolitical landscape is, of course, being shaped by the U.S. drawdown of combat troops, a move that will place a heavy burden on Afghanistan’s already stretched national security forces. After all, these forces have already faced numerous operational difficulties, and the withdrawal of most U.S. troops is widely seen as opening a door to a resurgent Taliban.

Pakistan, whose meddling has done more to damage Afghanistan than any other single factor, is well positioned to remain the most influential player in Afghanistan. But with China likely to end up as Afghanistan’s second most consequential neighbor, it is worth pausing to think about what is shaping Beijing’s calculations. FULL POST

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Topics: Afghanistan • China • United States
October 29th, 2014
05:59 PM ET

What the marshmallow test says about self-control

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

Fifty years ago, a groundbreaking psychological experiment was conducted on preschoolers. It went something like this: The youngsters were put in a room where a marshmallow sat on a tray. They were told they could eat that one marshmallow immediately, or if they waited they would get a bigger reward: two marshmallows. So what did the kids do? What would you do? And what does the ability to wait mean for future success?

A lot, apparently. Fareed speaks with Walter Mischel, who was the brains behind this marshmallow experiment and has a new book out called The Marshmallow Test.

Watch the video for the full interview.

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Topics: GPS Show
October 29th, 2014
05:50 PM ET

What I'm reading: Why shrinking prisons is good crime-fighting and good government

By Fareed Zakaria

“The United States today has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world: 743 adults per 100,000 population, or nearly 2.3 million adults, nearly one-quarter of the world’s total prison population,” writes Eric Schnurer in The Atlantic. “More than twice that number are on probation or parole, with more than 70,000 juveniles in detention, as well – roughly one in every 30 Americans is under supervision of some sort, a seven-fold increase since 1980.”

“The singularity of Reagan and his lonely place in the conservative pantheon is put in stark relief by photographs of the 1964 Democratic National Convention, in Atlantic City, where massive portraits of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson framed the stage,” writes Jeff Shesol in the New Yorker. “It is impossible to imagine a similar setup at the Republican Convention in 2016. Other than Reagan’s, whose image – among the past century’s Republican Presidents—would be put on display? Coolidge has a cult following (which included Reagan himself); Eisenhower has supporters, but also serious detractors in the Party’s right wing (today as in the nineteen-fifties); George H. W. Bush has garnered enough goodwill and retrospective credit in the years since his Presidency that he might merit inclusion; but none of these men really stir the blood. “Nixon’s the One,” proclaimed bumper stickers and buttons in 1968, but this was only wishful thinking. Reagan was already the one, even if America didn’t know it yet.” FULL POST

October 28th, 2014
10:46 AM ET

What I'm reading: Cutting off ISIS' cash flow

By Fareed Zakaria

“Disrupting ISIS’ oil income is more of a challenge than might meet the eye,” writes Charles Lister for Brookings. “Thus far, a great deal of focus has been placed on an erroneous assessment that ISIS is deeply reliant on selling its oil to foreign customers (in Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan and elsewhere). Instead, while this market focus does exist, it is decreasing. Since the summer, ISIS has been increasingly focused on establishing a durable internal market for its oil produce, thereby ensuring a reliable source of fuel for its own fleets of vehicles but crucially creating a source of dependence between civilians and its capacity to provide them cheap oil. In this respect, the fact that recent coalition strikes have targeted oil at its source — rather than its means of transport or sale, for example — may prove deeply damaging to the international community’s efforts to counter ISIS.”

“If you're reading this, it's possible you'll live for a few hundred years. Maybe even thousands. Even better: you could live those years at your peak physical state,” writes Nicholas Warino for The Week. “At first glance, that's an absurd statement, going against the experience of all human history. However, Oxford University's Aubrey de Grey, a leading theoretician of aging, believes there is a 50 percent chance that someone alive today will live for 1,000 years.” FULL POST

October 27th, 2014
05:38 PM ET

Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

Recently, via satellite at the New Yorker Festival, Edward Snowden said he would "love" to stand trial in the United States.

He should. It would transform what he has done from theft into civil disobedience – which by definition means being willing to accept the consequences of your actions.

At the New Yorker event, Snowden explained to Jane Mayer that, given the stipulations the government is putting on his return, he doesn't think he could get a fair trial. But the legal scholars I consulted – none of them die hard conservatives or national security hawks – believed that Snowden could get a fair trial...

...The most striking aspect of Snowden's substantive foreign intelligence revelations is how few consequences they have had. That's because they mostly showed the U.S. government doing secretly what it has said it was doing publicly – fighting the Taliban, spying in countries like Pakistan and searching for Al Qaeda cells around the globe.

The disclosures also revealed routine foreign intelligence operations. Some of these are entirely justified, such as hacking into Chinese computer systems - something that Beijing does on a much larger scale to the United States. Others are perhaps unwise, such as tapping the phones of the leaders of Brazil and Germany. But none are morally scandalous.

Watch the video for the full What in the World or read the WaPo column.


October 26th, 2014
03:33 PM ET

There's a problem within Islam

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

By Fareed Zakaria

If all Muslims were radicals, we would have more than three to worry about last week. And yet, there is a problem within Islam.

It is not enough for Muslims to point out that these people do not represent the religion. They don't. But Muslims need to take more active measures to protest these heinous acts. They also need to make sure that Muslim countries and societies do not in any way condone extremism, anti-modern attitudes and intolerance towards other faiths.

Muslims are right to complain that there is anti-Muslim bigotry out there. But they would have a more persuasive case if they took on some of the bigotry within the world of Islam as well.

Read the full Take on CNN Opinion

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Topics: Fareed's Take
October 26th, 2014
12:35 AM ET

You say potato, I say...

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

There are an estimated 7,000 languages in the world, and countless more accents and dialects. An accent can reveal a lot about a person – a spectrum of sounds with differing vowels and consonants, lilts and drawls, it can betray someone's geographic origin, level of education, social class.

But accents are malleable; they grow with you. I'm sure mine has changed since I first came to this country.

A new book published in the U.K. on accents caught my eye this week. It's titled You Say Potato. Focusing mainly on the British Isles, where the authors say an accent shifts every 25 miles, the book explores the way an accent can reflect identity.

On the book's website, people from around the world can upload how they say "potato" to a map. The title brings up the question: Does anyone actually say “potahto,” or was it just a good rhyme for the song made famous in Shall We Dance?

So far, we didn't find any "potahtoes" but the authors said there is a historical reason for this pronunciation – the "ah" vowel can be traced to the end of the 18th century in Britain.

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Topics: Last Look
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