Archive for the ‘GPS’ Tag

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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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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the Global Public Square.

“But, first, here’s my take. In the debate over U.S. intervention in Syria, there is a striking mismatch between ends and means. Proponents of intervention want to defeat a ruthless and powerful regime, rescue a country from civil war and usher in a new democratic political order.

But these people say, at the same time, that they want to achieve all this with the most limited methods. “The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria,” says Senator John McCain.

We’re often told that the goal of this intervention is to stop the killing, but sending more arms into the mix will actually increase the violence. That’s fine, say the interventionists, because the real goal is to oust Assad.

But as we learned in Iraq, ousting the dictator is only the beginning of the task. The actually goal here is the creation of a democratic Syria in which all sects can live in peace.

Now, the United States tried that in Iraq with an almost decade-long invasion and occupation spending over a trillion dollars and it hasn’t quite worked. But, now, we’re going to achieve a better outcome in Syria and just with a no-fly zone? In the mid-1980s, the scholar Samuel Huntington pondered why the United States, the world’s dominant power, which had won two world wars, deterred the Soviet Union, maintained global peace, was so bad at smaller military interventions.

Since World War II, he noted, the U.S. had engaged militarily in a series of conflicts around the world, but, in almost every case, the outcome had been inconclusive, muddled or worse.

Huntington’s answer was we rarely entered conflicts actually trying to win. Instead, he reasoned, U.S. military intervention had usually been sparked by a crisis, which then put pressure on Washington to do something, but Americans rarely saw the problem as one that justified getting fully committed.

So, we would join the fight but in incremental ways and hope that these incremental moves would change the outcome. It rarely does. Instances where we have succeeded, 1990 Persian Gulf War, Grenada and Panama, were all ones where we did fight to win, used massive force and achieved a quick, early knockout.

In Syria, the interventionists have lofty ends but no one wants to use the means necessary to achieve them. So we are now giving arms to the opposition and hoping it will bring the regime to the negotiating table.

But, as Huntington observed, “military forces are not primarily instruments of communication to convey signals to an enemy; they are instead instruments of coercion to compel him to alter his behavior.”

This reminds one of the strategy of the Johnson administration in Vietnam, use force to pressure the enemy to negotiate. But the enemy is fighting to win not to play a negotiating game.

The chance that our current efforts in Syria will do enough to achieve even our objectives is small. Eventually, the contradictions in U.S. policy will emerge and the Obama administration will face calls from people like John McCain for further escalation.

They should resist them and it’s possible that they will. The scholar Daniel Drezner argues in his blog on ForeignPolicy.com that the new move “is simply the next iteration of the unspoken, brutally realpolitik Obama policy towards Syria that’s been going on for the past two years.”

“The goal of that policy is to ensnare Iran and Hezbollah into a protracted, resource-draining civil war, with as minimal costs as possible. This is exactly what the last two years have accomplished, he writes, “at an appalling toll in lives lost.”

If this interpretation of the Obama administration’s behavior is correct, then the White House might well be playing a clever game, but it is Machiavellian rather than humanitarian games.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1306/23/fzgps.01.html