November 12th, 2014
01:54 PM ET

What I'm reading: Crimea’s rapid Russification

By Fareed Zakaria

“The hotels in Simferopol are packed. It is late autumn and the administrative capital of Crimea has been overrun, not by holidaymakers – the season and political climate are hardly suitable – but by Russian officials. ‘Even in summer we’re not this busy,’ says the manager of a small guesthouse. The functionaries are here to bring all the key administrative sectors – health, education, security, taxation, banking – in line with Moscow standards. A census has started. Eight months after the peninsula was annexed, Russification is in full swing,” writes Isabelle Mandraud in The Guardian.


“In 1970 fewer than a third of 16- to 18-year-olds [in China] were deemed to be short-sighted (meaning that distant objects are blurred). Now nearly four-fifths are, and even more in some urban areas,” The Economist says. “A fifth of these have ‘high’ myopia, that is, anything beyond 16 centimeters (just over six inches) is unclear. The fastest increase is among primary school children, over 40 percent of whom are short-sighted, double the rate in 2000. That compares with less than 10 percent of this age group in America or Germany.”

“The incidence of myopia is high across East Asia, afflicting 80-90 percent of urban 18-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The problem is social rather than genetic.”


“We’re living through the great wage slowdown of the 21st century, and nothing presents a larger threat to the Democrats’ electoral fortunes than that slowdown,” writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times.

“The Democratic Party fashions itself as the defender of working families, and low- and middle-income voters are indeed more favorably disposed to Democrats than to Republicans. Those voters have helped the party win the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. But if Democrats can’t deliver rising living standards, many voters aren’t going to remain loyal. They’ll skip voting or give a chance to Republicans who offer an alternative, even a vague alternative.”


“The rest of the world, and China in particular, sees Mr Obama in the opposite light – as a weak leader in the autumn of his presidency,” writes Edward Luce in the Financial Times. “China-watchers say Mr Xi’s ebullience since he took power has been spurred by the view that Mr Obama has only a limited window in office. After that, Hillary Clinton, or a Republican, will take over. Either would be tougher on the world stage than Mr Obama. Even if that is wrong, Mr Xi has shown Mr Obama little respect since their first summit in California last year. Mr Obama warned his Chinese counterpart to stop the cyber attacks on the Pentagon and other targets. China’s cyber-incursions increased. Earlier this year, the White House indicted five Chinese nationals for cyber-espionage, including a senior military officer. None are likely to be brought to trial. It was the kind of empty gesture Beijing has come to expect of Mr Obama.”


soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Blue Saffron

    ISIS was an existential threat to America till a few hours ago. All of a sudden everything is hunkydory on that front but Crimea is back again on CNN's broadcasting agenda as the reemerging threat! Is this a geopolitical issue or a stock market roller coaster. LOL. What a parody.

    November 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
    • Ulson Golthier

      I don't take CNN seriously just like you. Or Fareed Zakaria for that matter.

      November 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
      • Daddy's Joy

        I think CNN is a circus and Fareed one of the clowns.

        November 13, 2014 at 4:44 am |
    • Crockett

      Wonder who sets US foreign policy. CNN or the White House et al. Probably none. We just react to world events.

      November 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
  2. Blue Saffron

    Chivalry ain't dead yet. At least not in Russia. Or China, shall we say. Vladmir Putin's shawl draping gesture to Chinese First Lady, Crimea or not, was indeed thoughtful. Too bad he didn't enter the APEC summit shirtless on a dragon. While our President was chewing nicorette and walking with a bounce.

    No worries Putin is moving some nukes to Crimea. He is a man with a heart after all.

    November 12, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
    • Crockett

      And how rude of CNN to trash the Chinese First Lady. I thought she was very graceful. And beautiful. Home run for Putin though! So now time to beat Putin him on Crimea. No shawl for him. LOL

      November 12, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • Crockett

        Correction...... "Putin up on Crimea". Scratch "Putin him on Crimea". Thanks and sorry.

        November 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
    • Jared

      Clearly CNN wanted to trivialize the APEC summit and worked hard to put China down.

      November 13, 2014 at 4:41 am |
  3. ℜazzmatazz

    I'd rather be myopic than pork belly eating beer drinking pot bellied yankee. Hooyah!

    November 12, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
  4. Abby

    No sooner had Blue Saffron commented that CNN is back again putting ISIS on the front burner. It seems to me that Saffron is the one setting American foreign policy.

    November 12, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
  5. Jared

    Russia is on a warpath and will give everyone a run for the money. I wonder where he was when USSR was broken up.

    November 13, 2014 at 4:23 am |
  6. Gustav

    Russia is sending over its bombers to patrol American shores @ Gulf of Mexico. What gives? Crimea seems like an appetizer compared to Russia's other moves.

    November 13, 2014 at 5:26 am |
  7. Blue Saffron

    I am the true Blue Saffron. @my troll above. Use your own name to make such rubbish and silly remarks.

    November 13, 2014 at 5:37 am |
  8. George patton

    What's wrong with russification? I'm all for it. After all, the Russians did manage to establish an outstanding culture.

    November 13, 2014 at 8:42 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Well put, George.

      November 13, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
  9. Daddy's Joy

    Putin appears to be a nationalist and will not be cowed down by NATO. The next few months will set the tone for Russia's next moves and Obama's new challenges.

    November 13, 2014 at 9:57 am |
    • rupert

      Well said, Daddy's Joy. How true that is!

      November 13, 2014 at 10:56 am |
  10. Daddy's Joy

    Hey you above, quit hijacking my moniker.
    Needless to say that China Russia nexus would indeed be formidable.

    November 13, 2014 at 10:02 am |
  11. Sky High

    Clearly, China has emerged as a leader looking eastwards towards Pacific. Russia is flexing its muscle looking westwards towards NATO's Europe and Atlantic et al. That is if you look at a map with these two countries at the center. Now add to it two more paramters namely, Population and southwards looking at the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf, Pakistan emerges as a natural link to this partnership.

    Now that is going to be a formidable equation.

    November 13, 2014 at 10:23 am |
  12. Louis Badot

    @Blue Saffron, affirmative on CNN. Many dissertations have been written on the role of media and political propaganda. It is a huge machinery gone awry.

    November 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
  13. chri§§y

    Seriously? @ Joey in black? You do realise that as we speak Russia is working with Iran to help them with Nuclear arms. That doesnt seem to be a problem for you? Sure does to me.

    November 13, 2014 at 6:55 pm |

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