Weekend Roundup: Merkel in the Middle as Post-Cold War Europe Falters

02/13/2015 05:52 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2015
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The whole idea of European integration was to anchor Germany in Europe to avoid another world war and to spread prosperity across the continent with a single market and common currency. Russia agreed to German unification after the Cold War in exchange for the West not absorbing Europe's eastern frontier into its sphere of influence.

Now democratically elected governments in Athens and Kiev -- and the responses in Berlin and Moscow -- are challenging both post-Cold War arrangements. Angela Merkel, as chancellor of Europe's unrivaled power, has become, for better and worse, the crisis manager in the middle.

In an interview, European statesman Carl Bildt says Merkel is best to deal with Putin, but Ukraine is a free country that should decide its own status. Writing from Moscow, Ivan Sukhov places the West's betrayal of its promises to Russia at the heart of the crisis. Nina L. Khrushcheva argues that Putin holds the upper hand with the ready military capacity to keep the West guessing what he'll do next. Writing from Vladivostok, analyst Artyom Lukin expresses the worldview held by many in Russia and China that the West is seeking to subvert its governments through civil society organizations seeking to foment "democratic revolutions."

Gianna Angelopoulos pleads for the rest of Europe to give Athens some breathing space, writing, "all we are saying, is give Greece a chance." Phil Angelides calls on Europe to take Obama's advice on Greece and fashion a policy of growth instead of austerity. Writing from Paris, European parliamentarian Sylvie Goulard scores Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' call for WWII reparations from Germany as a "truly bad" idea that strikes at the very foundation of the European Union. To round out the European political landscape, The WorldPost offers a useful field guide to the rising far-right parties that are emerging across the continent as European unity cracks.

In light of its February anniversary, Mahmood Delkhasteh remembers the democratic sentiments of the "Iranian Spring" in 1979 as the Shah was overthrown -- but before the ayatollahs took over.

As Jordanian jets pound ISIS positions in Syria, Prince Hassan writes from Amman that promoting human solidarity is a better strategy than seeking revenge. Writing from Beirut, former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke says that the aim of the brutal immolation of the Jordanian pilot was to light the fuse of polarization in the pro-American kingdom that has a peace treaty with Israel. Pakistani activist Farheen Rizvi laments the waning enthusiasm for fighting jihadis in her own country. In a joint appeal, Felix Marquardt, Anwar Ibrahim, Tariq Ramadan and Ghaleb Bencheikh call on "Muslim democrats" around the world to unite.

WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on the worldwide social media outrage over what appears to be a hate crime against Muslims in North Carolina.

As Boko Haram launches its first attack in another African country -- Chad -- and a Nigerian archbishop warns of the threat the group poses to the continent, this week's "Forgotten Fact" turns to Nigeria and asks whether the upcoming elections could deepen that country's divisions.

Turning toward the future, our Singularity University series this week chronicles how transformative technologies are arriving sooner than we could have imagined and also looks at the future of crime. In advance of the WorldPost conference on the future of work in London on March 5 and 6, author Nicholas Carr wonders whether we might be too quick to surrender meaningful work to robots. Fusion this week takes us on a tour of "the coolest cloning lab" in Argentina, which reproduces competitive polo ponies. It also examines what the brain looks like when the emotions of love strike.

Finally, writing from Hong Kong, Chandran Nair corrects the misimpression that China is a "valueless wasteland," noting that by mid-century it is likely to host a population of Muslims larger than Saudi Arabia's and a Christian population larger than any other country in the world.

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