November 17th, 2014
06:48 PM ET

What I'm reading: The nuclear gun is back on the table

By Fareed Zakaria

“My parents’ generation got grimly used to living in the shadow of the bomb. But for my generation, the very idea of nuclear warfare seems like something from science-fiction or even dark comedy, such as Dr Strangelove,” writes Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times. “But the world’s nuclear arsenals were not abolished after the cold war. Sadly, we may now be returning to an era in which the threat of nuclear warfare can no longer be treated as the stuff of science fiction.”

“The odds against a Chinese dialect ever gaining traction as an international language are formidable, for linguistic, economic, cultural, and political reasons,” writes Andres Martinez for TIME. “For starters, the language is just too hard for outsiders to attain fluency. Then there is the inconvenient fact that Mandarin doesn’t hold sway throughout all of China.”

“Indeed, resistance to any claim the Chinese language may have for global status may be strongest in the country’s own neighborhood, where nations are nervous about China’s intentions.” FULL POST

November 17th, 2014
06:06 PM ET

What's behind Chinese nationalism?

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

Fareed speaks with Elizabeth Economy, a senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and David M. Lampton, the director of China studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, about nationalism in China.

There’s no question there's been a rise in sort of nationalist rhetoric. And as I point out, all these attempts to really subvert the old international order, alternatives to The Asian Development Bank, to the IMF, to the World Bank, to the various security frameworks. Do you think this is Xi or is this a long-term Chinese strategy?

Lampton: What we're seeing is China, not just Xi. We're seeing a China that sees itself in great historic terms. And this isn't so much a new status for China, it's a sort of restoration of national greatness.

And I think we're going to face a China that, on one hand, is cooperative, increasingly cooperative on some economic and global issues, like climate change. But on the other hand, I just was speaking with military people in China last week and they are clearly going to continue to push China's sovereignty, and he's not going to give on that set of issues.

So he's walking a fine line by trying to seem a good global citizen on the one hand, but assuage this nationalistic drive on the other. FULL POST

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Topics: GPS Show
November 17th, 2014
03:28 PM ET

Facing up to the China challenge

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

By Fareed Zakaria

As Moscow continues to send its forces into Ukraine, it seems clear that Putin's Russia presents America and the West with a frontal challenge. But in the longer run, it is not Russia's overt military assault but China's patient and steady non-military moves that might prove the greater challenge.

Russia is a great power in decline. Its economy amounts to just 3.4 percent of global GDP. China's is nearly 16 percent and rising, now almost four times the size of Japan's and five times that of Germany's, according to the World Bank.

Presidents Obama and Xi deserve the accolades they are receiving for their historic agreement on climate change, and it seems to suggest that America and China are moving towards a new, productive relationship.

Except that, even while signing these accords, Xi Jinping's government has been taking steps that suggest it is developing a very different approach to its foreign policy – one that seeks to replace the American-built post-1945 international system with its own.

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

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Topics: China • Fareed's Take • GPS Show
November 15th, 2014
07:08 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Assessing U.S.-China ties, and Jon Stewart, Maziar Bahari discuss Iran

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

On GPS this Sunday: President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced some areas where they had found agreement on, from climate change to trade to military cooperation. Is this the big breakthrough in relations between the world's number one and two economic powers?

Fareed offers his take, then speaks to two China watchers. Elizabeth Economy, a senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and wrote about China’s president for Foreign Affairs recently. David Lampton is the director of China studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Then...Jon Stewart and Iranian-born journalist Maziar Bahari discuss the Iran, the Arab Spring, and their new movie Rosewater.

Also, college applications are due soon. But should teens just tear them up? Are colleges as we know them simply too expensive and outdated? Is there a better way in higher education? Fareed speaks with Stuart Butler, a Brookings scholar who has written extensively on this topic, and Anant Agarwal, who runs edX and penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post on reimagining higher education.

Finally, Europe landed on a comet this week. India has a probe orbiting Mars. And Russia remains the not-so-trusty taxi to outer space. What's America up to, up there? And whose spending on space is the highest?

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Topics: GPS Show
November 15th, 2014
02:02 PM ET

When big data meets education

Fareed speaks with Anant Agarwal, who runs edX, a so-called massive open online course or MOOC. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

So one of the criticisms people make about MOOCS is the very successful, it's vast. You have hundreds of thousands of students or tens of thousands taking a class. But you make the case that actually, the very size of the student body taking the same course makes it possible, ironically, to make the education more personal. Explain.

Absolutely. Yes. So we are gathering the big data of learning. And big data and data mining have improved virtually every field known to mankind. We can now improve education, whether online or in the classroom. So as an example, we could do A/B testing on an educational platform...

Explain what A/B testing is.

So on edX we launched A/B testing, where, as part of a course, a professor can have multiple sequences for students, an A sequence, a B sequence and a C sequence. And the platform automatically distributes the students among these sequences. And the professor can give a test at the end and figure out which of these sequences worked best. So in the future, they can then decide that the B sequence, the B approach of teaching was the best...

So you're beta testing the course as you go along.

It's like software. Today, software is in continual beta. You don't spend a year testing it. You put it out there. You do A/B testing and you continually improve it. So we could keep improving education like we improve Web sites today.

And I imagine that also what can happen is as students take tests, because you have so much information on a single course, if a student does badly in the second quiz, you can immediately direct them to some remedial module and say clearly, we know from hundreds of thousands of students taking the same test that you need to go and relearn these two things or something like that.

Absolutely. The Holy Grail for all of us is personalized learning, the kind of learning where you have a tutor sitting next to you like the, you know, like the old ages and the relics where we had only children of kings and so on, who were able to work with a single guru.

Here, the idea would be like you said, to be able to use big data to analyze how a student is learning. And depending on that, to make available specialized pathways for each student and personalize the learning for each student so that if I didn't know something, I'm shown that piece of knowledge. But if I know it already, then I can move ahead faster. So we are launching a few courses along these lines imminently.

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Topics: GPS Show
November 15th, 2014
01:58 PM ET

Interrogators 'doing a job'?

Fareed speaks with Jon Stewart, who directed the new movie 'Rosewater', about its portrayal of torture. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

The certainty of the truth, what you portray a lot is these guys who, they think they know the truth, but you're always wondering, when watching the movie, are these interrogators really...They seem, at some level, very insecure. It's a very deft way of portraying it. There's a lot of bravado, but they're very insecure.

Stewart: Well, you also have to portray it within – they're human beings. People that are interrogators or torturers, this is a job. It's not something that we might see in sort of a more sensationalized cinematic version of it of, the Bruce Willis over the guy, tell me where the bombs are. This guy’s got to come in every day. He's got to be there by 8:00. It's a bureaucracy. He has to work within that. The Green Movement, to these interrogators, was, in many ways, just a chance to get some overtime. You know, the prisons are so filled with people, I think that the gentleman who was responsible for Maziar's torment, in some ways, probably wouldn't have had an opportunity to deal with someone, you know, a “VIP prisoner” – more educated, more Western – if it had not been for the overwhelming amount of people that they were trying to filter through this prison at the time.

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Topics: GPS Show
November 15th, 2014
01:51 PM ET

'The system right now is incentivized for status quo'

Fareed speaks with Maziar Bahari, author of Then They Came for Me, and Rosewater director Jon Stewart about the looming deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

You're not hopeful on an Iranian deal?

Bahari: I don't think so. I don't think that there will be a deal on November 24, because I don't think that there is a real will, either in Iran or the United States, to have a deal on the 24th. And there are also radical interest groups in both countries. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guards are making a lot of money because of the sanctions and because there is no relationship between Iran and the United States. And in this country, as you know, there are many lobbies for making a lot of money by supporting the sanctions and not having...

Stewart: Not a lot of incentives on either side.

And fair to say that whatever deal Obama were to bring, it would be pilloried...

Stewart:...That's my favorite is the new climate deal. So all they talk about in Congress is we're not going to do a climate deal, because if we don't get China on board, it's meaningless. It's utterly meaningless. OK, we've got China on board...No deal...So you realize the system right now is incentivized for status quo, for stagnation. You don't raise money on bipartisanship, on cooperation and good governance. You raise money on demonization. And that's where we sit.

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Topics: GPS Show
November 15th, 2014
01:47 PM ET

Jon Stewart on portrayal of torture in Rosewater

Fareed speaks with Jon Stewart about his new movie 'Rosewater'. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Did you think about how you were going to make this movie work despite the fact that everybody knows how it ended? To me, what was so effective was the torture felt very scary even though I kind of knew that he was going to be all right at the end.

Right. I think that's something that is the difficulty within a story like this...thank goodness we knew the ending.

So it was a question of creating dynamics within that that were hopefully complex enough that could give people some insight into it, but also, again, a more visceral experience, that feeling of being on the edge of your seat and that discomfort, only to have that alleviated in sort of one large cathartic moment. And to break that through and watching not just that he would get out, but how he regained his humanity and how he sustained himself.

There are so many interesting lessons to be gained from how Maziar was able to retain his humanity given the conditions that he was under.

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Topics: GPS Show
November 15th, 2014
01:44 PM ET

Jon Stewart discusses Iran's government

Fareed speaks with Jon Stewart about Iran's government and the new movie 'Rosewater'. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

So you guys spent a lot of time thinking about this country, this regime. Jon, what do you think? We're in these negotiations with Iran. What do you think of the Iranian regime?

I can't presume to get ahead of it. I can tell you what I think of it in the context of this story.

I think that they have a certainty of the truth. I think they understand how to retain their power base and that they believe that this type of activity is within their self-interest. But that it is a relatively shortsighted kind of an approach to holding onto power.

And I think this is about carving out space for people in that country to have more expression.

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Topics: GPS Show
November 14th, 2014
06:25 PM ET

Why health matters to economies

Francis Collins is director of the National Institutes of Health. This is the fourth in a series of articles from the World Economic Forum on the key challenges facing the world in 2015 as part of their Outlook on the Global Agenda. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

There’s a well-understood correlation that as the economy of a country improves, so the health of its citizens improves. What may be less obvious is that the opposite is also true – improving the health of a nation’s citizens can directly result in economic growth, because there will be more people able to conduct effective activities in the workforce.

Health presents a challenge for all nations; in a study by the Pew Research Center, a median of 85 percent of respondents believe it was a problem in their country. Effective public health systems are essential for providing care for the sick, and for instituting measures that promote wellness and prevent disease. Tobacco, for instance, is one of the greatest scourges we face. In working to combat diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease, we have to fight the causes; there’s a clear need for educational campaigns and other mechanisms to discourage people from smoking in the first place. If the plan to improve health in a nation is to simply build a few more hospitals, that won’t solve the problem.

For developed economies, ageing populations place a heavy strain on healthcare networks. In developing nations, a lack of resources or inadequate infrastructure present separate challenges. Currently, NIH is wrestling with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. When you see the devastation this disease has wrought upon the region, it’s clear that healthcare systems in this part of the world were totally unprepared for the enormous challenge. FULL POST

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Topics: Health
Breaking down the latest ISIS message
November 14th, 2014
03:35 PM ET

Breaking down the latest ISIS message

CNN speaks with Fareed about a message on an ISIS social media account, which claims to be from the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying that the U.S.-led coalition is "terrified, weak and powerless." This is an edited version of the transcript.

What are your first impressions when you hear this message, supposedly from al-Baghdadi, using the words weak, powerless, failed and going as far as mentioning the additional 1,500 troops the president has announced?

This is an old tactic. Al Qaeda used to do it all the time. There’s always a lot of bluster and braggadocio. But I also think it's important to remember something I have often said. They are trying to set a bait – they want the United States more involved. It helps them recruit.

Remember, ISIS has gone from nothing to becoming the replacement for al Qaeda, the most well-known jihadi organization in the world. How? By taking on the 800-pound gorilla of the world, the United States of America. FULL POST

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Topics: Iraq • Syria
November 13th, 2014
11:54 PM ET

China’s growing clout

By Fareed Zakaria

As Moscow continues to send its forces into Ukraine, it seems clear that Vladimir Putin’s Russia presents the United States and the West with a frontal challenge. But in the longer run, it is not Russia’s overt military assault but China’s patient and steady non-military moves that pose the larger challenge. Russia is a great power in decline. Its economy amounts to just 3.4 percent of global gross domestic product. China’s is nearly 16 percent and rising, now almost four times the size of Japan’s and five times that of Germany, according to the World Bank.

Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping deserve the accolades they are receiving for their historic agreement on climate change, which suggests that the United States and China are moving toward a new, productive relationship. Except that, even while negotiating this accord, Xi’s government has been laying down plans for a very different foreign policy — one that seeks to replace the American-built post-1945 international system with its own. There is clearly a debate going on in Beijing, but if China continues down this path, it would constitute the most significant and dangerous shift in international politics in 25 years.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take
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