Almost a year after students ended pro-democracy street protests in Hong Kong, they face an online battle against what Western security experts say ar...
If reading the next sentence about the bewildering tangle of so many bloody crossed swords in the Middle East makes your head hurt, just be thankful you live somewhere else where decapitation is not a regular occurrence. The intensifying Saudi-led Sunni coalition assault on Iranian-linked Shiite tribes in Yemen this week -- at the very moment when Shiite militia allied with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government were ousting Saudi Wahhabist-inspired Islamic State jihadis from Tikrit -- signaled the onset of a generalized sectarian religious war across the region. And if the current bright spot of the interim agreement with Western powers that curbs Iran's capacity to weaponize its uranium enrichment program should unravel over the coming months, the entire conflict threatens to go nuclear. Graham Fuller, former vice-chair of the CIA's National Intelligence Council and a former station chief in several Mideast countries, deciphers the perplexing labyrinth of the Yemeni conflict, where "the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy." (continued)
This week, Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, died at 91. Though the last remaining of the great figures of post-WWII decolonization, Lee was also the first global statesman. As he himself put it, "when we were pushed out of Malaysia we had no hinterland. So we had to do or die, and the globalization of the world helped us. So we made the world our hinterland." By thinking global, but acting local, Lee was able to vault his small city-state from the Third World to the First World. The WorldPost remembers Lee through his own words from interviews I have done with him over the years. Writing from Singapore, Pranay Gupte focuses on Lee's unique accomplishment of "clean governance." Writing from Beijing, philosopher Daniel A. Bell emphasizes Singapore's meritocratic government as the core of its success with lessons for China. (continued)
Whether in Russia, Venezuela or Israel, the ugly politics of polarization may work in winning elections -- but it always ends badly. Netanyahu's scaremongering against Arab voters and dashing of a two-state solution (his bad faith post-election backtrack notwithstanding) dispels two long-held illusions at once: that Israeli democracy would be inclusive or that Palestinians would have their own state. If there is no room for Palestinians anywhere, then what? In an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post, (full interview to be released Saturday), U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Israeli election, Iran and other issues. Writing from Amman, prominent Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab draws the logical conclusion from Israel's election results that Palestinians must now pursue their own unilateral path and that the world community should no longer feel bound to defend Israel in international institutions. (continued)
TOKYO -- Looking out onto Tokyo's towering neon cityscape, it is difficult to imagine the utter devastation of Japan's capital 70 years ago this week in one of the world's greatest overlooked atrocities -- the unsparing American firebombing that incinerated more people than either of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. In this respect, Japan is a long way from its past. But a visit to Tokyo this week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- during which she noted how her country had accepted culpability for its WWII fascist aggression in a way that Japan has not -- also highlights how the past still shadows the present -- and the future -- in Asia. (In Europe also the past has returned from another angle as Greece is demanding reparations from Germany). (continued)
This week, The WorldPost conference on "The Future of Work" took place at Lancaster House in London. Discussion around the theme "prepare to be disrupted" ranged from how the emergent sharing economy, along with 3D desktop manufacturing, would take work back into the home to worries that automation could eliminate as much as 47 percent of current jobs in the United States.
Though nothing is finally settled, Europe this week breathed a sigh of relief. Greece's Syriza-led government backed down in its confrontation with its EU partners over austerity policies and, after bloody skirmishes in the early days of a new cease-fire agreement, the combatants in Ukraine backed off. Not everyone was happy in Greece, though. Manolis Glezos, a 92-year-old WWII Greek resistance hero and prominent member of Syriza, writes that "I apologize to the Greek people for collaborating in this illusion" that the new government would break free of the crushing bailout constraints. Greek journalist Thanos Dimadis argues that standing up to Germany on Greek terms was itself a victory despite compromises. Writing from Kyiv, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko hopes that "Minsk 2.0" will bring peace, but worries that there is no enforcement mechanism.
Near the end of the Cold War 30 years ago, Régis Debray, the French philosopher and pal of Che Guevara, predicted that the Third World was "bidding its farewell to arms" as the geopolitical conflicts associated with the famous Russian-made Kalashnikov rifle were fading into history. He thought the quest for God, particularly in relation to Islam, would fill the ideological void, and computers would provide a way out of underdevelopment. Debray was both more right and wrong than he knew. As he did not foresee, YouTube and Twitter would become effective propaganda tools for crusading Islamist jihadis and Kalashnikovs would come back in a big way not only as a weapon of choice for theCharlie Hebdo murderers in Paris and the Islamic State in Syria -- but for the separatists in Ukraine as well. History reminds us often enough that what we bid farewell to can return with a vengeance. In a moving tribute to the Christian men beheaded by ISIS in Libya this week, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones shines a light on their lives through a visit with the families of their Coptic community in Al Aour, Egypt. See her interviews on CNNand MSNBC. (continued)
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. (continued)
The savagery of the Islamic State taunted the world once again this week, striking out at both geopolitically toothless Japan and the tribal kingdom of Jordan. Islamic State fighters beheaded the journalist Kenji Goto and revealed that, in an act of unfathomable cruelty, they had burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot. Last week Japan's former defense chief Yuriko Koike wrote from Tokyo that Japan's constitutional restrictions on using force have prevented it from taking action against ISIS, and argues that that must change. Writing from Beirut, Jordanian analyst Rami Khouri has political misgivings about official support across the Arab world for the anti-ISIS coalition when the public is not consulted. From Amman, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports both on the massive protests against ISIS and on the undercurrent of opposition in Jordan that believes the fight against ISIS "is not our war." (continued)
No sooner did the global elites leave their annual talking shop high in the Alps at Davos last week than the people spoke in Greece. In a mutiny against an untenable status quo, those who are run over have revolted against those who run things. Now righteous populism must face economic, financial and political realities if other European states don't bend Greece's way. To keep up with the drama as it evolves over the coming weeks, we've connected WorldPost readers directly to the daily blog of Yanis Varoufakis, the self-described "erratic Marxist" who is now Greece's finance minister. Writing from Athens, HuffPost Greece Editorial Director Sophia Papaioannou says Alexis Tsipras' electoral victory will give suffering Greeks "space and time" to address their predicament. Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou argues that the path forward after the election is for a national referendum on a "Greek plan" for reform that will bind a now polarized nation. Rena Dourou, a deputy of the victorious Syriza party, notes that the vote was as much against the corruption of the formerly ruling political parties in Greece as it was against austerity. (continued)
The WorldPost was launched one year ago in Davos. It was born out of a contradiction and a paradox. The contradiction is that while the world is growing more interdependent, the media is fragmenting -- re-nationalizing, re-localizing and even tribalizing. The resulting paradox is that the information age is becoming the age of non-communication across boundaries -- political, cultural and ideological. The aim of The WorldPost is to help bridge this growing chasm by becoming a platform where the whole world meets; a common zone where cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives from all corners of the planet can take place. To achieve this aim, The WorldPost strives for a global viewpoint looking around, not a national perspective looking out. Along with intelligent curation of the global news and original reportage, what distinguishes us, above all, are the first person global voices of our contributors. Every week, they weigh in as events break from Havana to Beijing, from Moscow to Mexico City, Paris, New Delhi and Abuja among so many other places. The WorldPost seems to have met an outstanding need. Thanks to you, one year later we have reached 28 million monthly views. We've shown that the message can catch up to the medium if we put our minds to it. (continued)
The first principle of an open society is not to let the intolerant define "the territory of insult" -- those areas off limits to criticism or ridicule. But how does one define "territory" when media now crosses the boundaries of nations, cultures and civilizations? In the end, free societies must defend the right of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists against murder by fanatics, the Sony filmmakers against the North Korean regime and novelists like Salman Rushdie against a fatwa from the ayatollahs. But isn't Pope Francis also right that, in today's diverse and connected world, we must exercise the civil restraint of "respect" for the non-fanatic faithful (see the other depiction of the Prophet acceptable among some Muslims on left above), even if we insist on irreverence toward political authority? Finding an equilibrium amid the frictions and fusions that abound in this global public space will determine whether or not we can forge a new cosmopolitan commons of the 21st century. This week, The WorldPost engages this conundrum. Writing from Denmark, Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten editor who commissioned cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad a decade ago that set off riots across the Muslim world, argues against "the tyranny of silence" fanatics would impose. Mehdi Hasan says he is "fed up with free speech fundamentalists" who feel they have a "duty to offend." (continued)
Europe is facing divisive challenges on all fronts. It is being torn within by hardening attitudes toward the growing presence not only of Muslim immigrants, but also of citizens. On Monday, demonstrators thronged the streets of Dresden in support of "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident." On Wednesday in Paris, 12 people were killed, including cartoonists who lampooned the Prophet Muhammad, in the horrific Charlie Hebdo attack. While the euro tumbles, northern and southern Europe are bitterly at odds over austerity policies and continuing high unemployment. And a newly aggressive Russia is challenging European values on its eastern frontier. (continued) Writing from Berlin, Alexander Gorlach analyzes what is behind rising Islamphobia in Europe. From Paris, Le Huffington Post editorial director Anne Sinclair pays homage to the slain journalists. "Infidel" author Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns that we can't let political Islamists define the territory of insult. Akbar Ahmed looks at the long history, and present social conditions, of Muslims in Europe.