May 14th, 2014
09:58 AM ET

What I'm reading: Could al-Assad win an election?

By Fareed Zakaria

“For those who have not suffered loved ones killed or in exile – or for those who have but who blame the Syrian rebels for their deaths, directly or indirectly – life with Mr al-Assad is still preferable to the unknown without him,” writes Faisal Al Yafai for The National.

“That should make the Syrian opposition and the international community think very seriously about their policies, about their outreach and about what message they are sending to the people inside the country. Even the flow of weapons to the rebels has a political dimension, because support will follow success and success requires arms. By arming the moderates, the international community will empower them.”


“Invented over 2500 years ago in China, Go is a pastime beloved by emperors and generals, intellectuals and child prodigies. Like chess, it’s a deterministic perfect information game — a game where no information is hidden from either player, and there are no built-in elements of chance, such as dice,” writes Alan Levinovitz for Wired. “And like chess, it’s a two-person war game. Play begins with an empty board, where players alternate the placement of black and white stones, attempting to surround territory while avoiding capture by the enemy. That may seem simpler than chess, but it’s not. When Deep Blue was busy beating Kasparov, the best Go programs couldn’t even challenge a decent amateur. And despite huge computing advances in the years since — Kasparov would probably lose to your home computer — the automation of expert-level Go remains one of AI’s greatest unsolved riddles.”


“The greater risk to China lies in the pervasive consequences of any property bust. Property investment has grown to account for about 13 percent of gross domestic product, roughly double the U.S. share at the height of the bubble in 2007,” argues George Magnus in the Financial Times. “Add related sectors, such as steel, cement and other construction materials, and the figure is closer to 16 percent. The broadly defined property sector accounts for about a third of fixed-asset investment, which Beijing is supposed to be subordinating to the target of economic rebalancing in favor of household consumption. It accounts for about a fifth of commercial bank loans but is used as collateral in at least two-fifths of total lending. The booming property market, moreover, has produced bounteous revenues from land sales, which fuel much local and provincial government infrastructure spending.”
“The reason things look different today is the realization of chronic oversupply.”


“A revolutionary situation always favors extremists, and watchfulness is certainly in order. It is quite striking, however, that Kiev returned to order immediately after the revolution and that the new government has taken an almost unbelievably calm stance in the face of Russian invasion,” writes Timothy Snyder in the New Republic. “There are very real political differences of opinion in Ukraine today, but violence occurs in areas that are under the control of pro-Russian separatists. The only scenario in which Ukrainian extremists actually come to the fore is one in which Russia actually tries to invade the rest of the country. If presidential elections proceed as planned in May, then the unpopularity and weakness of the Ukrainian far right will be revealed. This is one of the reasons that Moscow opposes those elections.”


soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Allan Kinsman

    Countries seek those things which give them the advantage. These perspectives come from usually the particular party which has a majority influence. Now when Bush/Cheney came up with the idea of attempting to control the oil in Iraq did they represent me? When I first heard "bringing freedom" to the Iraq people almost instantly "another Vietnam" popped into my head. I don't mean days thinking about it, I mean instantly. What I still don't understand are the people that run our house here at home saying they are any part of any leadership I can understand. If you look out at he world you can see the same kind of leadership everywhere else too.

    May 14, 2014 at 10:50 am |
  2. George patton

    Could Bashar al-Assad win an election? Most probably yes! He is preferable to the riff raft who are endeavoring to overthrow him and set up another U.S. backed pseudo-democracy. This civil war could end if only the West and the Arab League would only butt out and stop pouring in money to aid and abet this riff raft. This way, these people will have to sue for peace and together they can start rebuilding Syria.

    May 14, 2014 at 10:59 am |
    • George Patton

      Good grief, will you stop! Some joker at 10:59 posted such Tea Party lingo. Of course we must help bring down that dreadful Syrian government. My troll is only trying to discredit me.
      This clown has got to go.
      It's as simple as that!

      May 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Well said, George. For this to happen, the U.S., the EU and the Arab League need to butt out of Syria's civil war and let things take their course.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:31 am |
  3. chrissy

    Lol @ George and the voting pool has gotten extremely smaller too dont forget.

    May 14, 2014 at 11:11 am |
  4. The US Dept Of Defense

    The US DOD announces a new weapon available if hostile aliens try to take over the Earth. The DOD will allow Palin voters to "mind meld" with the aliens. The aliens' heads will immediately implode caused by the huge vacuum.

    May 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
  5. chrissy

    Lol @ George, it WILL happen on its own i think! With 100s of 1000s of syrian residents fleeing Syria, Al Assad will have no one left to preside over. And given his insane temperament i would venture to guess a member of his own military will "take him out!"

    May 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Assad's running for a third term is the reason why the UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi resigned. The 2012 Geneva Communiqué drafted by Kofi Annan, who also resigned, aimed at forming a transitional government in Syria. This means, Assad would have to step aside to let this happened. He will win the election, held in his loyalists' stronghold. Meanwhile he tries to recapture the lost territories.

    May 15, 2014 at 7:20 am |
  7. J.R.


    May 16, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
  8. chri§§y

    Lol @ JR whats interesting? The rolex replica? Lmao im trying to figure out first the relativity, and second...wth is that person trying to say even?

    May 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm |

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