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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Vladimir Putin might be a 19th century statesman using old fashioned muscle to get his way but this week it has become that China’s president, Xi Jinping, goes one step further, comfortably embracing both the 19th and the 21st century. This also means that the challenge from China is going to be more complex than one the United States has ever faced before.

Let’s start with the 19th century aspect, the huge Sino-Russian natural gas deal signed this week is perfectly understandable in terms of old-fashioned real politics. Beijing has long sought secure energy supplies and it places that vital interest above any desire to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea or strengthen global norms against aggression. In fact, the Chinese recognize that the Russians facing sanctions were anxious to diversify away from their dependence on European customers and so Beijing probably got a good deal.

While the gas agreement has received all the attention, it’s also worth studying Xi’s future Shanghai, given the same day that the deal was struck. The venue was the gathering of an obscure Asian regional group, the one that includes Turkey, Iran and Russia, and not the United States. His message was that Asians should take care of their own security. Xi presented the Chinese view of the region, which he calls Asia and never the preferred U.S. term Asia Pacific. That term excludes the United States and implies that Washington as an outside power should not play a major role in Asian affairs. But this week, we also saw a new world of great power intrigue. The Justice Department filed former charges against five officials in the Chinese military and detailed the economic espionage that they allegedly have conducted against American companies over the last eight years.

The action is unprecedented, especially since these officials are never going to be arrested and will probably never leave China, and no one believes it will make a difference because the Chinese officials aren’t likely to face any kind of sanction at home. In fact if anything, they might regard being on this list as a badge of honor.

Now some experts believe that the scale of China’s cyber espionage is staggering. Quote, “It is the largest theft in human history,” unquote, says Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution. And he points to one specific example. The United States will spend about a trillion dollars developing, operating and maintaining the F-35 fighter which will be its most advanced weapon system.

Singer says, “We can now see clearly that elements of the F-35 have made their way into a similar Chinese plane. American investments that were meant to give it a 15-year battlefield advantage have been totally undermined.”

And Singer points out, China targets everyone from defense contractors down to small furniture makers whose chair designs get stolen and copied within a year.

Cyber attacks are part of a new messy chaotic world fueled by globalization and the information revolution in a wired networked world, it is much harder to shut down this kind of activity and it certainly will not be possible to do it using traditional mechanisms of national security. Notice that Washington is using a legal mechanism, which will be ineffective and largely symbolic for what is really a national security issue.

The Sino-Russian gas deal reminds us that traditional geopolitics is alive and well and Washington knows how to work its way in that world, but cyber espionage represents a new frontier and no one really has ideas, tools or strategies to properly address this challenge.

CNN.com – Transcripts

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FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: But first, here’s my take. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought to the fore an important debate about what kind of world we live in. Many critics charge that the Obama administration has been blind to the harsh realities of the world because it believes, as a Wall Street Journal editorial opined, “in a fantasy world of international rules.”

John McCain declared this is the most naive president in history. The Washington Post editorial board worries that Obama misunderstands the nature of the century we’re living in. Almost all of these critics ridicule John Kerry’s assertion that changing borders by force, as Russia did, is 19th Century behavior in the 21st Century.

Well, here are the facts. The scholar Mark Zacher has tallied up changes of borders by force. Something that was once quite common. Since World War I, he notes, it has been on a sharp decline, and in recent decades that decline has accelerated.

Before 1950, wars between nations would result in border changes, that is, annexations, 81 percent of the time. After 1950 that number dropped to 27 percent. In fact, since 1946 there are only 12 examples of major changes in borders using force, and all of them begun before 1976. So Putin’s behavior does in fact belong to the 19th Century.

The transformation of international relations goes well beyond border changes. Harvard’s Steven Pinker, who will be on the show later, points out in a recent essay that after a 600-year stretch in which Western European countries started two new wars a year, they have not started one since 1945, nor have the 40 or so richest nations anywhere in the world engaged each other in armed conflict.

Colonial wars, a routine feature of international life for thousands of years, are extinct. Wars between countries, not just major powers, not just in Europe, have also dropped dramatically by more than 50 percent over the last three decades.

Scholars at the University of Maryland have been tabulating the number of new conflicts that have arisen across the world. They find that the past decade has seen the lowest number since World War II.

This is not an academic debate. The best way to deal with Russia’s aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine national interest-based foreign policy that would be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently this week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. Compare what the Obama administration has managed to organize in the wake of this latest Russian aggression, to the Bush administration’s response to Putin’s actions in Georgia in 2008.

That was a blatant invasion. Moscow sent in tanks and heavy artillery. Hundreds were killed. Nearly 200,000 people were displaced. Yet the response from the West was essentially nothing.

This time the response has been much more serious. Some of this difference is the nature of the stakes. But it also might have to do with the fact that the Obama administration has taken pains to present Russia’s actions in a broader context and get other countries to see them as such.

This is what leadership looks like in the 21st Century. There is in fact an evolving international order with new global norms making war and conquest increasingly rare. We should strengthen, not ridicule it.

Yes, there are some places that stand in opposition to this trend: North Korea, Syria, Russia. The people running these countries believe that they’re charting a path to greatness and glory. But they are the ones living in a fantasy world.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1403/30/fzgps.01.html

Posted March 31, 2014 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first, here’s my take. Whatever happens in Ukraine over the next few months and years, the crisis has reminded me that there are really two kinds of rulers around the world, those who think about the past and those who think about the future. And if it weren’t abundantly clear already, it is now.

Vladimir Putin is the first group and his country will be the poorer for it. We’ve all learned some lessons in Russian history. Crimea was the first great prize for Russia, wrested from the Ottoman Empire and a mark of Russia’s rise to great power status.

It also gave the Russians something they never had, a warm water port with direct access to the Mediterranean and thus the wider world. Russia held onto the region even though it lost the Crimean War in the 19th century. Almost a century later it maintained its grip on the region after reclaiming it from the Nazis in early 1944.

Then came the strange and fateful twist in 1954 when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gifted Crimea to the Ukraine, an internal transfer within the Soviet Union. Why Khrushchev did that remains somewhat unclear. Whatever the cause, the consequences are lasting and dramatic.

That is the history. But history is bunk, as Henry Ford said. By that he did not mean that it was unimportant but rather that people should not be trapped by it, that they should not think backward but rather forward.

His exact words were, “History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history that we make today.”

The history that leaders make today has much less to do with geography or constraints from the past. When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in 1965, the experts said that the small, swampy town in the middle of nowhere could not survive as an independent country. It is now one of the world’s great trading hubs with a per capita income higher than that of its erstwhile colonizer, Great Britain.

That’s because its founder, Lee Quan Yu (ph), thought less about the disadvantages of history and more about the advantages of the future.

When the Nationalist Chinese were abandoned by the world on a tiny island after the Communist Revolution in mainland China in 1949, most assumed the place would not survive. Yet in the most precarious position with zero natural resources, Taiwan became one of the world’s fastest growing economies for over four decades.

That’s because it didn’t worry about geography. It obsessed about competitiveness.

When Paul Kagame took over Rwanda, the country was more deeply ravaged by history than almost any nation. Scarred by a genocide of a speed never seen before in the past.

Rwanda’s also landlocked with no geographic advantages at all and a bloody war in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. But Kagame looked to the future, not the past. The result is a small African miracle, a country that is healing its wounds.

There are those who are still trapped by history and geography; think of Pakistan’s generals, still trying to establish strategic depth in their backyard while their country collapses.

Or think of Putin, who is, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, playing a 19th century game in the 21st century. What has he achieved? Ukraine has slipped out of his grasp, its people suspicious of Moscow even in Crimea the 40 percent who are non-Russian are probably restive and resentful.

Moscow’s neighbors are alarmed and once warming relations with Poland will be set back, trade and investment with Europe and the United States will surely suffer. Meanwhile Russia continues along its path as an oil dependent state with an increasingly authoritarian regime that has failed to develop its economy or civil society or foster political pluralism.

But no matter, Moscow controls Crimea. In today’s world, is that really a victory?

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1403/23/fzgps.01.html

Posted March 24, 2014 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:But first, here’s my take. The crisis in Ukraine was produced by two sets of blunders, neither emanating from Washington. The European Union’s vacillations and most significantly, of course, Russia’s aggression produced the problem.

But it will now be up to President Obama to show the strength and skill to resolve it.

For years now, the European Union has had an ambivalent attitude towards Ukraine which produced instability in that country and opposition from Russia. Ukraine is the most important country in the post-Soviet space that Russia seeks to dominate politically. If Europe wanted to help Ukraine move west it should have planned a bold, generous and swift strategy of attraction. Instead, the EU conducted lengthy, meandering negotiations with Kiev.

But let us not persist in believing that Moscow’s moves have been strategically brilliant. Vladimir Putin must have watched events unfold in Ukraine in February with deep frustration, as a pro-Russian government was swept out of power, because the Sochi Olympics were under way, which limited what he could do.

When the Olympics ended, he acted quickly, essentially annexing Crimea. But it was a blunder. In taking over Crimea, Putin has lost Ukraine. Since 1991, Russia has influenced Ukraine through pro- Russian politicians who were bribed by Moscow to listen to its dictates. But that path is now blocked, as Princeton’s Steve Kotkin has pointed out on this program last week, without Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority no pro-Russian politician could hope to get elected president of Ukraine.

Remember, Ukraine is divided but not in half. Without Crimea, only 15% of Ukraine is ethnically Russian.

As important as losing Ukraine, Putin has triggered a deep anti- Russian nationalism around his borders. There are 25 million ethnic Russians living outside of Russia and countries like Kazakhstan with significant Russian minorities, must wonder whether Putin could foment secessionist moments in their country as well and then use the Russian army to protect them.

Beyond the near abroad, Russia’s relations with countries like Poland and Hungary, that were once warming are now tense and adversarial. NATO, which has been searching for a role in the post- Cold War world has been given a new lease on life.

Moscow will face some sanctions from Washington and almost certainly from the European Union as well. And in a rare break with Russia during the discussions at the UN security council, even China refused to condone Russia’s moves into Crimea.

Now I have generally been weary of the calls of American intervention in any and every conflict around the world, but this is different. The crisis in Ukraine is the most significant geopolitical problem since the end of the Cold War. Unlike many of the tragic ethnic and civil wars that have bubbled over the last three decades this one involves a great global power, Russia, and thus can and will have far-reaching consequences. And it involves a great global principle — can national boundaries be changed by brute force?

If this becomes acceptable, what happens in Asia where there are dozens of contested boundaries and several great powers that want to redraw them. So President Obama must rally the world, push the Europeans, and negotiate with the Russians. In this crisis, America truly is the indispensable nation.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1403/16/fzgps.01.html

Posted March 17, 2014 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:
“In a strange act of historical coincidence, it was 60 years ago this week that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev handed the Crimea over to the Ukraine. It might not have seemed a big deal in those days; everyone was part of one, big, unhappy Soviet Union.

But that has created today’s geopolitical crisis. Russia has now made its move. It has essentially detached Crimea from the Ukrainian government’s control. What remains unclear is what Vladimir Putin wants to do with it.

Incorporate it into Russia, use it as leverage to negotiate a deal with Kiev, both?

In any event, Washington’s response should be clear and forceful. Russia has violated all kinds of laws and norms, including most crucially a treaty that it signed with Ukraine, guaranteeing that country’s borders, in return for which Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons.

For Washington, for Americans, really for people around the world, it would be a terrible precedent to allow issues like these to be resolved not by negotiations or diplomacy, but by force.

If Russia can detach parts of neighboring countries with impunity, won’t other great powers like China decide that they, too, can act in similar ways?

So what can be done?

For starters, President Obama should cancel entirely his attendance at the G8 summit to be held in Sochi in June. He should try to persuade the other major powers to follow suit.

Russia’s membership in the G8 should be suspended. Remember, the G8 was created to recognize that post-soviet Russia was behaving like an honorable member of the international community, not a rogue state. If the behavior has changed, Russia’s status should also change.

Militarily there is less that can be done. Russia’s defense budget is about 18 times that of Ukraine, but NATO should restart talks on providing assurances to countries like Poland, including perhaps building the missile defense system that was abandoned.

In economic terms, Washington and the E.U. should consider sanctions that would be effective, ones targeted specifically at individuals who could be held responsible for these acts of aggression against Ukraine.

Washington cannot stop Vladimir Putin as he creates facts on the ground in Crimea. But step back and consider what a strategic disaster this is for him.

Ukraine has slipped out of Russia’s orbit and most of the population there is going to be hostile toward Russia for generations. Countries like Poland that had eased up relations with Moscow will now view it with great suspicion. All European countries will put their relations with Russia under review.

Even China will surely oppose the brazen violation of national sovereignty, something Beijing is always concerned about. Within Russia, people have now seen that Putin is terrified of a democracy movement and will brutally oppose it, not really the image he wants to present.

Putin gets Crimea, which, by the way, is only 60 percent Russian; parts of it will be deeply hostile to this Russian takeover, including the population of Crimean Tartars, who are Muslim and getting radicalized. Remember, Crimea is in the Northern Caucasus, the area where Russia has been battling a ferocious Muslim insurgency. So even as he lines up one more piece or half-piece on his chessboard, Vladimir Putin will find that the price he has paid for it is quite high.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1403/02/fzgps.01.html