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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Once again an ISIS murder leads to fears that it is winning and calls to do more. FOX News’ Bret Baier captured the mood like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Horrific and barbaric, as well as calculating and skilled at high-tech propaganda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The general feeling is that ISIS is gaining ground with its diabolical methods. But is it really? The video of the pilot’s killing was slickly produced, but it might have been a fancy cover to mask an operation that had gone awry. Remember, it began as a moneymaking scheme to get a ransom for Japanese hostages, then turned into a hostage swap for a forgotten failed suicide bomber, and finally ended with the emulation of the Jordanian pilot.

Certainly ISIS could not have imagined the response its actions have triggered in the Middle East. With Jordanians united against it, clerics across the region loudly and unequivocally condemning the emulation and with Japan ready to provide more aid and support against it. Meanwhile news on the battlefield has not been good for ISIS. Brookings Institution scholar Kenneth Pollock describes this stunning reversal it has faced in Iraq.

“The Washington Post” has reported on the growing discontent within its territories. All this might help explain the brutality of the latest murder video. The group well understands that the primary purpose of terrorism is to induce fear and overreaction. When modern Middle Eastern terrorism first appeared on the scene in the 1960s and ’70s, the historian David Fromkin wrote an essay in “Foreign Affairs” that is perhaps the best guide to understanding this phenomenon.

Fromkin provided two examples of terror tactics that worked and have important lessons. He recounted a meeting in 1945 with the leader of the Irgun, a group of about 1,500 Jewish militants in Palestine, which was then part of the British empire. The Irgun knew that they could not defeat the mighty British Army so they decided to blow up buildings and create the appearance of chaos.

This, the Irgun leader told Fromkin, would lead the British to overreact by garrisoning the country, join forces from across the empire, and that would strain British coffers and eventually London would have to leave Palestine. Fromkin noted that the Irguns, seeing that it was too small to defeat Great Britain, decided as an alternative approach that Britain was big enough to defeat itself.

ISIS’ strategy is surely some version of this. The targeting of America and its allies. The videos, the barbarism are all designed to draw Washington into a ground battle in Syria, in the hope that this complicated, bloody and protracted war would sap the super power’s strength.

Fromkin offered another example, the National Liberation Front, the group of nationalists trying to break Algeria free from France in the 1950s and ’60s. The Paris government argued that Algeria was not a colony but part of France, with all of its citizens treated as French men and women. So the FLN began a campaign of terror in order to provoke an overreaction from the French government, getting them to regard all Muslim and Algerians as suspects.

Quote, “The French thought that when the FLN planted a bomb in a public bus, it was in order to blow up the bus,” Fromkin noted. But the FLN’s true aim was to lure authorities into reacting by arresting all the non-Europeans in the area as suspects.

The many recent acts of terror committed in Europe can’t be said to have a strategy but they could make European governments and people treat all Muslims in Europe as suspicious and dangerous, and then the terrorists will have achieved an important goal.

Now these things do not have to happen. Fromkin concluded his essay by noting that, though terrorism cannot always be prevented, it can always be defeated.

You can always refuse to do what they want you to do.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1502/08/fzgps.01.html

 

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Barack Obama “The young people in the audience today, young people like Lara (sp), were born in a place and a time where there is less conflict, more prosperity and more freedom than any time in human history. But that’s not because man’s darkest impulses have vanished. Even here in Europe we’ve seen ethnic cleansing in the Balkans that shocked the conscience. The difficulties of integration and globalization, recently amplified by the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, strained the European project and stirred the rise of a politics that too often targets immigrants or gays or those who seem somehow different.

While technology has opened up vast opportunities for trade and innovation and cultural understanding, it’s also allowed terrorists to kill on a horrifying scale. Around the world sectarian warfare and ethnic conflicts continue to claim thousands of lives. And once again, we are confronted with the belief among some that bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way — that recycled maxim that might somehow makes right.

So I come here today to insist that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues for your generation.

And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine today. Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident, that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/transcript-president-obama-gives-speech-addressing-europe-russia-on-march-26/2014/03/26/07ae80ae-b503-11e3-b899-20667de76985_story.html

Posted March 28, 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:

But, first, here’s my take: The revelations about the National Security Agency and its spying on foreign, even allied leaders, has been embarrassing for the Obama administration at a time when it hardly needs more bad news.

But is it more than an embarrassment? Should it raise alarms abroad and at home?

At first glance, this is a story that is less about ethics and more about power, the great power gap between the United States and other countries, even rich European ones.

The most illuminating response to the revelations came from Bernard Kouchner, formerly the foreign minister of France. He said in a radio interview, “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else.”

Kouchner went on to add, “We don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”

America spends tens of billions of dollars on intelligence collection. It’s hard to get the data to make good comparisons, but it’s safe to assume that Washington’s intelligence budget dwarfs that of other countries just as it does with defense spending.

It has seemed particularly strange that this rift should develop between the United States and its closest allies in Europe. But it was predictable and in fact, in a sense, predicted.

In 2002, the British diplomat Robert Cooper wrote an influential essay in which he argued that Europe had become a “postmodern” international system in which force was no longer a serious option.

Instead, economic interdependence and cooperation were the governing ideas of statecraft. And certainly when one looks at the European Union, this does seem to describe its reality. The prospect of war between France and Germany, which had gone to war three times between 1870 and 1950, seems utterly impossible.

But outside of Europe, the world is not post-modern. Cooper argues that the solution is “double standards.” Within Europe, one set of rules. Outside it, he recommends “rougher methods of an earlier era, force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary.”

“Among ourselves we keep the law, but when operating in the jungle, we must use the laws of the jungle,” he wrote.

This is what was violated by the NSA activities. Washington was playing by the laws of the jungle, but inside Europe’s “postmodern” system. Partly this is because the distinction is not easy to maintain. What if you’re looking for terrorists within Europe, that is, people who still play by the laws of the jungle or even worse?

You see, America as a global power is operating all over the world, trying to tackle some of the nastiest threats out there. Perhaps it doesn’t have the luxury to retreat to a garden and renounce nasty tactics.

If it did, it’s not likely that China, Russia, Iran, not to mention al Qaeda would follow suit. But precisely because Washington has to get its hands dirty, it should be smart about this.

You don’t stop terrorists in Europe by listening in on Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The rewards of spying on friendly heads of government are probably outweighed by the risks.

And most troubling, it’s not clear that many of these specific activities were clearly thought through and directed by the White House. Nor do they appear to have been vetted by Congress.

In the wake of 9/11, America got scared and dropped any sense of constraints on its intelligence activities. It is not an accident that the eavesdropping on Chancellor Merkel began in 2002.

But the fact that technology now allows the NSA to do anything doesn’t mean it should do everything. We need a better and clearer set of rules for intelligence activity. And we need confidence that these rules are being followed and observed.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1311/03/fzgps.01.html

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But, first, here’s my take. As we learn more about the brothers Tsarnaev, we want to ask larger questions about radical Islam, Russian immigrants, Muslim communities and the breakdown of assimilation. What do they tell us about all this?

The most accurate answer might turn out to be not much. Larger phenomena might be at work, but these two young men might not reflect any rise or intensification of these trends. It seems they are just two alienated young men who turned towards hate and then, allegedly, to murder.

That was the point the brothers’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni made when he pointedly called his nephews “losers.” He was arguing against the notion that the boys represented a larger community or larger trends.

Tsarni and his family, after all, were part of the same Chechen migration to the U.S. and they are well-adjusted, law-abiding and thoroughly American.

Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. During that same period, more than 100,000 people have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents in America.

One crucial reason the number of terrorism deaths is low is that America does not have large pools of alienated immigrants. Polls repeatedly have shown, for example, that Muslim immigrants to the United States embrace core American values. American assimilation continues to function well.

Now, could it do better? Well, there’s one surprising place that the U.S. could learn something from, Europe. I know, I know, assimilate has worked better in the United States than there, but let’s acknowledge that European countries are dealing with a much larger problem.

Muslims make up 5 percent of the population in Germany, 7.5 percent in France, compared with 0.8 percent in the United States, according to Pew calculations.

Jonathan Laurence of Boston College, who has done extensive research on Muslim communities in Europe, found that before 1990 European countries were largely indifferent towards their Muslim populations letting foreign embassies like Saudi Arabia set up the mosques and meeting centers for these groups.

They realized that this produced a radicalized and unassimilated migrant community. So, now, in recent years, governments at all levels have engaged are engaging with Muslim communities, taking steps to include Muslims in mainstream society but also to nurture a modern, European version of Islam.

It’s worth noting, Islamic terrorism has declined in Europe in recent years.

The lesson from Europe appears to be engage with Muslim communities. That’s a conclusion U.S. law enforcement agencies would confirm. The better the relationship with local Muslim groups, the more likely those groups are to provide useful information about potential jihadis.

A recent attack in Canada, apparently inspired but also perhaps directed by al-Qaeda, was foiled for just this reason. An imam in Toronto noticed one of his congregants was behaving strangely. He reported the behavior to the police, who followed up and arrested the man before he could execute his plan.

Before briefing reporters on their collaboration, Canada’s top counterterrorism official invited Toronto’s Islamic leaders to a meeting and thanked them for their help. “But for the Muslim community’s intervention, we may not have had the success,” said the official, according to one lawyer who was at the meeting.

In the wake of Boston, the smartest move we could do would be greater outreach to these communities so that the next time someone begins to act strangely, community leaders would pick up the phone and call their friends at the police.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1304/28/fzgps.01.html

Posted April 29, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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