Fareed Zakaria

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers remarks in Jerusalem on Sunday. (Debbie Hill/Pool/AP)

Something very unusual is happening in Israel. Senior military officials have begun voicing criticism of how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is conducting the war in Gaza. Israeli media has been reporting on a weekend security meeting at which the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Gen. Herzi Halevi, criticized Netanyahu’s lack of a clear strategy. Pointing out that the Israeli military had reentered northern Gaza — an area it had claimed to have cleared in January — Halevi warned that unless there was a plan to set up some kind of non-Hamas government in these areas, the IDF would have to keep repeating these kinds of operations, endlessly.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin during an interview in Moscow on Tuesday. (Gavriil Grigorov/AP)

In a recent interview with Russian state TV, Vladimir Putin said something that was, in his words, “important for us ourselves, and even more so for our listeners and viewers abroad, to understand our way of thinking”. The war in Ukraine, the Russian president explained, is for the West a way of improving its tactical position vis-à-vis Russia. “But for us it is our fate, it is a matter of life and death”, he said. The fundamental mistake in Western strategy against Russia has been to ignore this reality.

New data confirms that the Russian economy has withstood Western sanctions far better than most predicted.…  Seguir leyendo »

The flags of the United Arab Emirates and Israel are seen on a bridge in Netanya, Israel, in August 2020. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

As we watch the horrors of another war in the Middle East, it is easy to get gloomy and depressed. It seems that the region as a whole continues to be violent and unstable. But that misses an important shift that has taken place in recent times, one that provides some cause for optimism about the future: The Arab states that are now the Middle East’s leaders are playing an important and constructive role in stabilizing the situation and are working for peace. This is a sea change from decades past.

The country that for decades defined the Arab world’s agenda was Egypt, especially under charismatic leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli soldiers in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon on Nov. 1, amid increasing cross-border tensions between Hezbollah and Israel as fighting continues in the south with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Jalaa Marey/AFP/Getty Images)

Israelis are understandably horrified by the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on their country. The resulting sense of trauma has fueled a desire for what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls “mighty vengeance”.

But intense emotions often make it difficult to think carefully about the implications of one’s actions. Watching Israel’s growing military operation in Gaza, I am reminded of another invasion by another right-wing Israeli government — also in response to terrorist attacks — and how it ended, which was very different from Israel’s hopes.

Decades ago, the main Palestinian group, the Palestine Liberation Organization, set up base in Beirut. The PLO and other Palestinian organizations controlled parts of Lebanon bordering Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid shakes hands with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, during a meeting in Abu Dhabi in June 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/Israeli Government Press Office/AP)

Hamas’s brutal and inhuman attack on Israel last week took the world by surprise. Most importantly and tragically, it took the Israeli government by surprise, which meant a delayed response to the slaughter of its civilians. But this was no “black swan” event. Instead, as scholar Amy Zegart notes, it was a white swan — something utterly predictable.

This is the fifth war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza over the last 15 years. Israel controls air, land and sea access to the strip. Israeli intelligence is supposed to have an extensive network of informants in Gaza. So what happened? We will need time to reach a full assessment, but it does appear the Netanyahu government was so focused on judicial overhaul at home and a Saudi deal abroad that it ignored the possibility of an upheaval in Gaza — despite allegedly receiving a warning from Egypt.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 20. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The word that probably best describes the Biden administration’s efforts in public policy is “ambitious”. Most of its initiatives — from infrastructure funding to support for green transformation to aiding Ukraine — are big and bold.

Now, the White House is trying to put together another major effort that, if successful, will be a game changer: the Saudi-Israel normalization. There are many complications that could derail the negotiations. But if a deal comes together, the Middle East’s strongest military and most technologically advanced power (Israel) will be allied to the region’s strongest economic power (Saudi Arabia) — which is still the swing supplier of the world’s oil — under a U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A funeral ceremony for rescuer Ruslan Koshovyi in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday. Koshovyi was killed by Russian troops in the city of Hostomel during the first days Russia's attack on Ukraine. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

The overnight train ride from Poland to Ukraine is a reminder of why this land has been so hotly contested over the last century: Ukraine’s soil is among the most fertile on the planet. We passed vast fields of wheat and other crops dotted with small farmhouses; in some places farmers were still using horses to plow the fields. As we approached Kyiv, the landscape quickly shifted to urban.

Despite the war, Ukraine’s railways continue to be clean, comfortable and efficient. My train rolled into Kyiv right on time. That says a lot about Ukraine. Despite the war, Kyiv feels almost normal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is seen on a large video screen at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing in October. (Florence Lo/Reuters)

The mysterious disappearance of Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang is a timely reminder that the future of U.S.-China relations will be determined not just by U.S. policy and what is happening domestically in the United States (such as the presidential election campaign). It will be shaped also by developments in China — which at this point are opaque but troubling.

From what outsiders can tell, China is reverting to a Mao-era style of politics that we have not seen for decades. More significant than Qin’s mysterious removal from power — after the authorities attributed his absence to “health reasons” — is the doctoring of websites and news releases to expunge the foreign minister’s participation and achievements.…  Seguir leyendo »

Guards patrol a section of border wall near Feres, Greece, that separates Greece and Turkey in October 2022. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

When I speak to people about right-wing populism these days, I notice that many tend to believe that it’s old news. Populist leaders captured the world’s attention in 2016 with the Brexit referendum and then, later that year, with Donald Trump’s election victory. Now, seven years later, many seem to feel it is past its prime. Trump was defeated in 2020 and is under indictment. Brexit has been a messy failure; a majority of Britons now regret that it passed. But while it’s true that some populist heroes and causes have been battered, the core appeal of the movement persists and has actually gained ground in recent months.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday. (Sputnik/Sergei Savostyanov/Pool via Reuters)

In his important book “The Third Wave” Samuel Huntington pointed out that division among the ruling elite is a key sign of weakness in authoritarian regimes. When prominent members of the establishment break with the system, it often triggers a larger set of changes. Conversely, when you do not see such defection, it means the autocrat will probably be able to survive. (Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad offers one example of this principle at work.)

How would we apply that to Russia today? Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s failed attack has revealed some dissent within Russia’s ruling elite. But Vladimir Putin was apparently able to snuff it out within a day or two.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, center, claps after posing for a group photo during the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok on July 31, 2019. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)

If you want a glimpse into the future, come to Berlin and walk down Kurfürstendamm, the bustling avenue often described as the city’s Champs-Élysées. At one of the most prominent corners sits a new car showroom unlike any I have ever seen: sleek, elegant, multistoried, with a cafe, design center, showrooms and more. As you enter, you see what looks like a Bugatti or a Ferrari, except more stylish. It’s an EP9, a top-of-the-line racecar that has been sold to a handful of customers for about $3 million each. The company behind it is Nio, one of China’s new carmakers, which is going to take the world by storm.…  Seguir leyendo »

From left, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Bolivian President Luis Arce and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the South American Presidents' Summit in Brasília on Tuesday. (Andre Borges/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

As I was following Turkey’s recent general election, I was stunned to hear one of the country’s top officials, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, speaking to a crowd from a balcony. Jubilant, he promised that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would “wipe away whoever causes trouble” for Turkey “and that includes the American military”. Earlier, Soylu declared that those who “pursue a pro-American approach will be considered traitors”. Keep in mind that Turkey has been a member of NATO (with U.S. bases in the country) for about 70 years.

Erdogan often uses stridently anti-Western rhetoric himself. About a week before the election’s first round, he tweeted that his opponent “won’t say what he promised to the baby-killing terrorists or to the Western countries”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ayse Kekec, an earthquake survivor, stands in front of her tent that features a large poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on it, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on May 11. (Issam Abdallah/Reuters)

Many of us had high hopes for Turkey’s recent general election, believing that a flat-out victory for the opposition could mark a break with the worldwide trend toward illiberal democracy. But perhaps we were all misguided, seduced by the lure of free elections and trusting ultimately in the will of the people. In fact, what happened in Turkey this past weekend highlights the latest and most disturbing trend in the rise of illiberal democracy.

While incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not win outright reelection, the results were sort of a victory for him all the same. He did better than polls predicted and came out well ahead of his main opponent, leaving him highly likely to win a runoff scheduled for May 28.…  Seguir leyendo »

A shop owner displays a JioPhone Next, a low-cost 4G smartphone, in Ahmedabad, India, on Oct. 30, 2021. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

Visiting India this week, I was struck by how different the mood there is compared with much of the world. While people in the United States and Europe are worried about inflation and a possible recession, Indians are excited about the future. India is now the most populous country on the planet and is projected to be the fastest-growing large economy as well, at 5.9 percent this year. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said recently, “India’s time has arrived”.

My worry is that I have seen this movie before. I remember going to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2006 and being bombarded with billboards plastered all over the Swiss town saying “Incredible India!”…  Seguir leyendo »

Trump supporters stand outside the Clark County Elections Department in North Las Vegas on Nov. 7, 2020. (Wong Maye-E/AP)

It’s hard not to be fixated on the drama unfolding in the House of Representatives, where the Republican Party is having a nervous breakdown in full public view. This crisis is entirely of the party’s own making. For decades it has whipped its base into a righteous fury by promising radical policies that offer emotional satisfaction to their hardline constituents — from rolling back Medicare and Social Security to defaulting on the national debt to eliminating whole government agencies. But because these policies are totally unworkable, they never happen.

The lesson that the base has internalized is that cowardly moderates were constantly betraying it.…  Seguir leyendo »

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and President Biden wave during a ceremony at the White House on Dec. 1. (Alex Brandon/AP)

The United States and Europe find themselves in a closer alliance than at any point in many decades. France has long been the European nation most reluctant to play junior partner in an American-led enterprise. In his first years in office, President Emmanuel Macron did his best to display his Gaullist credentials, describing NATO as “brain dead” and declaring his greatest priority to be developing Europe’s “strategic autonomy”, which he defined, in part, as separate from the United States.

Contrast that with Macron’s remarks in November, when he talked about NATO as a cornerstone of French and European security. While in Washington last week, he described the new goal for the continent as “strategic intimacy” with Washington and spoke of the need for even deeper cooperation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Residents confront workers in protective suits who are blocking the entrance to a residential compound in Shanghai in this still image obtained from a social media video released Nov. 30. (Reuters) (Video Obtained By Reuters/via REUTERS)

Over the past few months, we have worried a great deal about the fragility of democracy. From the United States and Brazil to Sweden and Italy, the system seemed to be facing real challenges. In fact, in all of these cases, elections have had the effect of taming many of the most illiberal forces, and, at least for now, the center has held. Meanwhile, we are seeing signs of deep and structural weaknesses in some of the world’s most powerful autocracies.

The most striking example is China, where an extraordinary wave of protest is confronting the powers that be. At the heart of the problem is the unwillingness of the central government to change course on covid-19 policy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Media staff work in November 2021 next to TVs airing a speech from Chinese leader Xi Jinping. (Str/AFP via Getty Images)

In late 1992, I started my first full-time job, as managing editor of Foreign Affairs. I remember sorting through manuscript after manuscript arguing that Japan was going to take over the world. That claim was not unusual at the time. A big bestseller of the year was Michael Crichton’s novel “Rising Sun”, a call to arms for economic war with Tokyo. In 1991, the book “The Coming War With Japan” predicted inevitable and major military conflict. During the 1992 presidential primaries, one of the pithiest campaign slogans came from Democrat Paul Tsongas. “The Cold War is over”, he would say, “and the Japanese won”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A refinery in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on April 5. (Martin Meissner/AP)

Fiona Hill, a distinguished Russia expert, has argued that the West’s confrontation with Russia over Ukraine has brought us into World War III. That is dangerous hyperbole. What made the two world wars so devastating was that the major powers of the day got into direct and protracted military conflict with one another. We are not in that kind of battle today, and with nuclear weapons, one shudders to even think about the trajectory of a great-power war.

But she is right in one sense: The West is collectively waging economic war on Russia on a global scale that would have been unimaginable just a year ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

One of the few issues on which there is a consensus in Washington these days is that U.S. policy toward China was built on an intellectual error. Liberals and conservatives alike believed that Beijing’s embrace of free markets and its integration with the global economy would fundamentally change China. But they didn’t, and (so the consensus goes) we should recognize that this was a naive belief in the power of markets and trade.

In fact, viewing China on the eve of the pivotal 20th Party Congress, I am struck by how little that line of analysis captures what has actually happened in China over the past decades.…  Seguir leyendo »