Fareed: 7 Big Questions on North Korea

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN's Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

September 8, 2017

Fareed: America, Stop Being Afraid of Government

The devastation wrought by two recent hurricanes is a reminder of the crucial role government still needs to play in responding to crises, Fareed writes in his latest Washington Post column. But there's also more it can do to prevent crises happening in the first place -- it's time for Americans to stop being afraid of their government doing more.
 
"Ever since President Ronald Reagan, much of the United States has embraced an ideological framework claiming that government is the source of our problems, Fareed writes. "Reagan famously quipped, 'The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'
 
"Reagan argued for a retreat from the vision of an activist state and advocated instead a strictly limited role for government, one dedicated to core functions such as national defense. Outside of these realms, he believed, government should simply encourage the private sector and market forces."

But we are "living in an age of revolutions, natural and human, that are buffeting individuals and communities. We need government to be more than a passive observer of these trends and forces. It needs to actively shape and manage them. Otherwise, the ordinary individual will be powerless. I imagine that this week, most people in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico would be delighted to hear the words 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."
 

What Baseball and Steroids Can Tell Us About Hurricanes

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and now Jose have inevitably raised questions about the connection between climate change and extreme weather. And on increasing storm strength, at least, "the science is fairly conclusive," write Michael E. Mann, Thomas C. Peterson and Susan Joy Hassol for the Scientific American.
 
"Whether or not we see more tropical storms (a matter of continuing research by the scientific community), we know that the strongest storms are getting stronger, with roughly eight meters per second increase in wind speed per degree Celsius of warming. And so it is not likely to be a coincidence that almost all of the strongest hurricanes on record (as measured by sustained wind speeds) for the globe, the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere, the Pacific, and now, with Irma, in the open Atlantic, have occurred over the past two years," they write.

"As recently as a decade ago, climate scientists had a motto that 'you can't attribute any single extreme event to global warming.'
 
"By the time politicians and journalists started repeating that line, however, the science had moved on, so that we now can attribute individual events in a probabilistic sense. For example, if a baseball player on steroids is hitting 20 percent more home runs, we can't attribute a particular home run to steroids. But we can say steroids made it 20 percent more likely to have occurred. For some of the physical processes discussed here, one can view increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as steroids for the storms."
 

Get Ready for the Next Arab Spring

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Arab governments "put their faith in the 'China model' of non-democratic development," writes former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami for Project Syndicate. But their failure to reform has left some open to a repeat of that unrest.
 
"It has been more than six years since the start of the Arab Spring, and life for most Arabs is worse than it was in 2011," Ben-Ami writes. "Unemployment is rife in the Middle East and North Africa, where two thirds of the population is between the ages of 15 and 29. And throughout the region, regimes have closed off channels for political expression, and responded to popular protests with increasing brutality.

"The governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and, to some extent, Morocco, epitomize Arab regimes' seeming inability to escape the autocracy trap -- even as current circumstances suggest that another popular awakening is imminent."

Fareed: 7 Questions on North Korea

Would North Korea really launch a pre-emptive strike against the United States or its allies? How likely is it that Kim Jong Un's regime will sell nuclear technology -- or even weapons -- to others? Would South Koreans want a united Korean peninsula if Kim's regime collapses?

Fareed recently answered these and other questions for a special Q&A in CNN Politics' State magazine.

How Merkel Failed Germany's Future

Angela Merkel deserves to be reelected chancellor when Germans head to the polls this month, The Economist says. But that doesn't change the fact that she has so far squandered the chance to prepare the country for the future.
 
"Her government's obsession with balanced books has led it to invest too little. The net value of German infrastructure has fallen since 2012. Since 2010 the country's broadband speed has fallen from 12th to 29th in the world. New industries like the internet of things and electric cars are underdeveloped," The Economist says.
 
Meanwhile, "[l]ittle has been done to prepare Germany for its demographic crunch. Mrs Merkel's outgoing government not only reversed a raise in the retirement age, but cut it to 63 for some workers and introduced a 'mothers' pension' for women who took time off to care for children before 1992, benefiting a generation that was already well-catered for. At the same time she did little for those Germans left behind. Inequality and the use of food-banks have both risen on her watch."
 

India's Youth the Future of the World

India's young people are the world's future. But skewed demographics are raising serious questions about how stable and prosperous that future will be, argues Mihir Sharma for Bloomberg View.

"India is a very young country. Half of its population is under the age of 25. Two-thirds are less than 35. As a recent Bloomberg News analysis discovered, India is likely to have the world's largest workforce by 2027, with a billion people aged between 15 and 64," Sharma notes.
 
"The generation in its 50s in China today is the one that has lifted the country from poverty to middle-income status; the generation in its 20s in India today -- this vast ocean of subcontinental millennials -- will have to do the same for India.
 
Will they? "In urban India, the fertility rate is 1.8 -- well below what's called the 'replacement rate' needed to keep the population constant. Richer and more developed states in India's south, and some others like West Bengal and Punjab, have fertility rates similar to those in Northern Europe. Kolkata has a fertility rate of 1.2 -- lower than Japan's, which is 1.4.

"So where are all these young people coming from? Mainly from the vast, underdeveloped plains of north India."

 

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