Weekend Roundup: Is the West Abandoning Globalization?

06/19/2015 04:42 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2016
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As China establishes a new infrastructure investment bank for Asia and builds out the new Silk Road trading route westward to Turkey, the U.S. Congress is balking at trade agreements and retreating from the very global institutions that have been the pillars of the American-led order. The European project is unraveling as Greece is poised on the brink of default and an exit from the euro.

No doubt President Obama's proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership needs some fixing once on the "fast-track," notably concerning the weight it gives to corporate prerogatives. But something more is going on. In Europe, too, there is mounting opposition to the proposed trans-Atlantic trade pact with the U.S., as well as the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU parties.

Is the West abandoning globalization and the post-war integration of Europe, a mutiny against what has provided its bounty?

Writing from Paris, Jacques Attali worries that the West has contracted the fatal disease of "dying civilizations" -- procrastination and indecision. Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains why more Americans are turning against free trade. Political analyst Howard Fineman argues that the anti-globalization sentiment we've seen in Europe has arrived on American shores. Xenophobia has even spread to South Africa, Desmond Tutu writes. Writing from Istanbul, Kemal Dervis proposes how individuals can thrive under globalization if there is a new social contract.

As Greece teeters on the edge, IMF economist Olivier Blanchard calls on both creditors and the Greek government to compromise. James Galbraith responds that Greece has already sacrificed beyond its capacity to bear, and now it is the IMF's turn. Jeffrey Sachs agrees that, at this point, Greeks are only "trying to stay alive." Writing from Athens, Nicos Devletoglou says other Europeans should stop victimizing and threatening Greeks while Alexandros Klossas looks at how Greek businesses are unable to obtain financing. We also take a look at the crisis in Greece this week from the ground up through the eyes of a taxi driver and a photo essay on graffiti in Athens.

UN Food and Agricultural Organization head Jose Graziano da Silva hails Pope Francis' call to action on hunger and climate change. In our "Following Francis" series this week, Sébastien Maillard reports from Rome on the pope's widely anticipated encyclical on climate change and global poverty. Eco-Catholic Mary Colwell says the pope has brought a scientific abstraction down to earth and given it a spiritual and moral dimension.

WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones talks to refugees at the Turkish-Syrian border about life under ISIS rule for the past year and reports on how fuel shortages in northern Syria could cause even more people to flee. Writing from Vienna, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt hopes that a new government in Turkey, which will likely include Kurds, can help bring peace to the region.

Writing from Hong Kong, where local legislators rejected Beijing's plan for election of the chief executive in 2017, George Chen asks, "has the 'one country, two systems' experiment failed?" WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan provides the backstory to the Hong Kong vote and reports that Cirque de Soleil is banking on China's middle class to build its fortunes in Asia. Tom Nagorski reports from Beijing on a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who told an Asia Society delegation that China's claims to contested coral reefs in the South China Sea are "lawful, legitimate and reasonable" and that the U.S. should stop its "megaphone diplomacy." In an excerpt from his new book, "The China Model," Tsinghua University philosopher Daniel Bell asks whether China's meritocratic selection process produces more competent leaders than America. GreatFire.org's Charlie Smith says China's shutdown of Wikipedia is "the latest nail in the Internet freedom coffin and it certainly will not be the last" under President Xi Jinping.

Writing from Moscow, Ivan Sukhov scores Vladimir Putin's "misguided attempt" to bolster Russia's prestige by adding 40 new intercontinental missiles.

In a compelling personal tale, Luzer Twersky recounts how he defected from Hasidic Judaism and went from living on the streets to being a Hollywood actor. Imagining the future, astronomer Chris Impey says he believes that the effects of living in space could "create a new human species."

In an investigative report in conjunction with the Mexican magazine Proceso, Anabel Hernández and Steve Fisher find a witness who casts serious doubt on the Mexican government's narrative about what happened to the 43 missing students in Guerrero and who is responsible. In this week's "Forgotten Fact," we remember how, for those 43 families, the missing Mexican students case is not closed. Fusion this week reports -- in a photo essay -- on the protests of Nicaraguan campesinos against the proposed China-financed canal in that Central American nation.

Jura Margulis examines the mind mechanisms that enable a pianist to play the 30,000 notes of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto from memory. Hip-hop artist Akon explains his philanthropic project to light up Africa.

In our Singularity University series, we learn how clumsy robots are still nonetheless captivating. Our photo essays this week include a look at Indonesia's Mount Sinabung volcano, abandoned Soviet space shuttles in a hangar in Kazakhstan and the "forgotten faces of modern China."

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