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Fareed Rafiq Zakaria ( ; born January 20, 1964) is an Indian-American journalist and author. He is the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Zakaria is a frequent commentator and author about issues related to international relations, trade and U.S. foreign policy.

Early life

Zakaria was born in Mumbaimarker, Maharashtramarker, Indiamarker to a Muslim family. His father, Rafiq Zakaria, was a politician associated with the Indian National Congress and an Islamic scholar. His mother, Fatima Zakaria, was for a time the editor of the Sunday Times of India.

Zakaria attended The Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai. He received a B.A. degree from Yale Universitymarker where he was President of the Yale Political Union and editor-in-chief of the Yale Political Monthly. He later earned a Ph.D. degree in Political Science from Harvard Universitymarker in 1993, where he studied under Samuel P. Huntington and Stanley Hoffmann.


After directing a research project on American foreign policy at Harvard, Zakaria became managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine. In October 2000, he was named editor of Newsweek International. and writes a weekly foreign affairs column in it. He has written widely and on a variety of subjects for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and for one year, was a wine columnist for the webzine Slate.

Zakaria is the author of From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role (Princeton, 1998), The Future of Freedom (Norton, 2003), and The Post-American World (2008); he has also co-edited The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World (Basic Books).

Zakaria was a news analyst with ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos (2002-2007); he hosted the weekly TV news show, Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria on PBS (2005-2008); his weekly show, Fareed Zakaria GPS ("Global Public Square") premiered on CNN in June 2008. It airs on Sunday afternoon.


Zakaria has been described variously as a political liberal, a conservative, or a moderate. This is because he supported President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, but moved left during the 1990s. He currently self-identifies as a "centrist". George Stephanopoulos said of him in 2003, "He’s so well versed in politics, and he can’t be pigeonholed. I can’t be sure whenever I turn to him where he’s going to be coming from or what he’s going to say." Zakaria wrote in Feb. 2008 that "Conservatism grew powerful in the 1970s and 1980s because it proposed solutions appropriate to the problems of the age", while- in contrast- "a new world requires new thinking". He supported Barack Obama early during the primary campaign and then for president over John McCain. In January 2009 Forbes referred to Zakaria as one of the 25 most influential liberals in the American media. Zakaria has stated that he tries not to be devoted to any type of ideology, saying "I feel that's part of my job... which is not to pick sides but to explain what I think is happening on the ground. I can't say, 'This is my team and I'm going to root for them no matter what they do.'"
In his book, The Future of Freedom, Zakaria argues that democracy works best in societies where it is preceded by "constitutional liberalism." He has explicitly echoed Tocqueville in writing that liberty has historically preceded democracy, that countries which simply hold elections without broad-based modernization—including economic liberalization and the rule of law—end up becoming "illiberal democracies". Consequently, he has been critical of the George W. Bush administration's emphasis on holding elections in the Middle-East without equal regard to building institutions of law, governance, and liberty.

After the 9/11 attacks, in a famous Newsweek cover essay, "Why They Hate Us," Zakaria argued that Islamic extremism had its roots in the stagnation and dysfunctions of the Arab world. Decades of failure under tyrannical regimes, all claiming to be Western-style secular modernizers, had produced an opposition that was religious, violent, and increasingly globalized. Since the mosque was a place where people could gather and Islam an institution that was outside the reach of censorship, they both provided a context for the growth of the political opposition. Zakaria argued for an inter-generational effort to create more open and dynamic societies in Arab countries, and thereby helping Islam enter the modern world.

Zakaria initially supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He said at the time, “The place is so dysfunctional... any stirring of the pot is good. America’s involvement in the region is for the good." He argued for a United Nations-sanctioned operation with a much larger force—approximately 400,000 troops—than was actually employed by the administration of President George W. Bush. He also called for a Bosniamarker- or Kosovomarker-style occupation that was international in composition. After the invasion, he frequently criticized the occupation of Iraq. He has often written that he believes that a functioning democracy in Iraq would be a new model for Arab politics but that the costs of the invasion and occupation were too high to justify the action. He opposed the Iraq surge in March 2007, writing that it would work militarily but not politically. Instead he advocated that Washington push hard for a political settlement between the Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, and Kurds, and begin a reduction in forces to only 60,000 troops. In January 2009, he stated flatly that the surge "succeeded". He elaborated this on a later article in which he wrote,
When the surge was announced in January 2007, I was somewhat cautious about it.
I believed that more troops and a proper counterinsurgency strategy would certainly improve the security situation—I had advocated more troops from the start of the occupation—but I believed that the fundamental problem in Iraq was political discord among the country's three main sects and ethnic groups.
The surge, in my view, would alleviate those tensions but also postpone the need for a solution.
Only a political agreement among these groups could reach one.

I was wrong in some ways. First, the surge turned out to be a more sophisticated strategy—encompassing political outreach to the Sunnis—than I had imagined. Second, the success of the surge empowered the Baghdad government, brought Sunni rebels out from hiding and thus broke the dynamic of the civil war. Sunni militants have now been identified, their biometric data have been collected and their groups are being monitored. They cannot easily go back to jihad. The Shiite ruling elites, secure in their hold on the country, have less to gain by ethnic cleansing and militia rule. An adviser to surge commander Gen. David Petraeus told the reporter Nir Rosen that the civil war in Iraq would end when the Sunnis knew that they'd lost and the Shiites knew that they'd won. Both now seem to be true.

More recently, Zakaria has also criticized the "fear-based" policies employed not only in combating terrorism, but also in framing immigration laws and pursuing trade, and has argued instead for an open and confident United Statesmarker.

Participation in Wolfowitz meeting

In his 2006 book State of Denial, Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward described a November 29, 2001, meeting of Middle East analysts, including Zakaria, that was convened at the request of the then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. According to a New York Times story on Woodward's book, the Wolfowitz meeting ultimately produced a report for President George W. Bush that supported the subsequent invasion of Iraq. Zakaria, however, later told The New York Times that he had briefly attended what he thought was "a brainstorming session" and did not recall being told that a report for the President would be produced. In fact he was not and the report does not have his name on it. The New York Times later published a correction.


Zakaria is a naturalized citizen of the United States. He currently resides in New York Citymarker with his wife, Paula Throckmorton Zakaria, son Omar, and daughters Lila and Sofia.


Zakaria was conferred India Abroad Person of the Year 2008 award on March 20, 2009 in New York. Filmmaker Mira Nair, who won the award for year 2007, honored her successor. He has received honorary degrees at the University of Miamimarker, Oberlin Collegemarker, Bates Collegemarker and Brown Universitymarker.


  • The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria, (W.W. Norton & Company; 2008) ISBN 0-393-06235-X
  • The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Fareed Zakaria, (W.W. Norton & Company; 2003) ISBN 0-393-04764-4
  • From Wealth to Power, Fareed Zakaria, (Princeton University Press; 1998) ISBN 0-691-04496-1
  • The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World Essays from 75 Years of Foreign Affairs, edited by James F. Hoge and Fareed Zakaria, (Basic Books; 1997) ISBN 0-465-00170-X


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