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Nathan Gardels

Weekend Roundup: The Pope Blesses China

Nathan Gardels | Posted 02.07.2016 | World
Nathan Gardels

Many seem to fear the rise of China as a challenge to the West. Not Pope Francis. In a remarkable interview published this week in Asia Times, he takes the long view, transcending contemporary geopolitics and embracing the return of the Middle Kingdom's ancient civilization to the global stage as enriching for us all. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: The Bitter Fruits of the Arab Spring

Nathan Gardels | Posted 02.05.2016 | World
Nathan Gardels

The tragic outcome of the Arab Spring doesn't get any less bitter with time. The repercussions of that pan-Arab rebellion five years ago are still traumatizing the region and the world. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: 5 Million Jobs Lost to Robots and Inequality Too Vast to Last

Nathan Gardels | Posted 01.22.2016 | World
Nathan Gardels

As global elites gathered in Davos this week, the World Economic Forum released a daunting survey that estimates that 5 million jobs will be lost across the world in coming years to robotic automation. Oxfam also reported this week that 62 ultra-rich individuals held as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet -- inequality too vast to last. While globalization and rapid technological advance empower some with unprecedented possibilities, they dispossess others, causing growing gaps in power and wealth that lead in turn to fear, resentment and violence. In this one world a race is on between the two consequences of change. As Jo Confino writes from Davos, "rapid advances in technology are pulling the world in opposite directions."(continued)

Weekend Roundup: A Pattern of Crises Connects Cologne and Istanbul

Nathan Gardels | Posted 01.15.2016 | World
Nathan Gardels

Even before the "Night of Shame" on New Year's Eve in Cologne further fueled an already fervent anti-foreigner backlash, German leaders were desperately looking to Turkey to stem the flow of refugees headed to Europe from the war-torn Mideast. Now 10 German tourists have lost their lives at the foot of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. They are the victims of yet another suicide bombing by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the wake of Turkey's decision last July to allow U.S. warplanes to fly from its soil to attack militant positions in Syria. Along the old route of the Orient Express, violence and disorder are weaving an interrelated and self-reinforcing pattern of crises that will be hard to unravel. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Realpolitik Destabilizes the World

Nathan Gardels | Posted 01.08.2016 | World
Nathan Gardels

What lurks behind the incapacity to resolve the destabilizing crises of North Korea's latest nuclear test and Saudi Arabia's frontal clash with Iran are the realpolitik considerations of Russia, China and the United States. (continued)

2015 Year-End Roundup: On the Cusp of a Tipping Point

Nathan Gardels | Posted 12.31.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Day in and day out, The WorldPost chronicles two competing futures: a world coming together and a world falling apart. The year gone by has turned out to be decidedly mixed. The times ahead could unfold in either direction. Here are just a few of the many posts we published in 2015 that, taken together, illustrate how we remain poised on the cusp of an epochal tipping point.

Weekend Roundup: Refugees From Global Disorder Land in Europe

Nathan Gardels | Posted 12.23.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

This week marked an historic milestone: More than 1 million refugees and migrants fleeing the global disorder of civil war, poverty and persecution this year landed on Europe's doorstep. It is the largest crisis of displaced people since world war ravaged the European continent seven decades ago. (continued)

Welcome to the Splinternet

Scott Malcomson | Posted 12.21.2015 | World
Scott Malcomson

Americans don't want to accept that 21st-century technological life has to come at the price of total vulnerability to surveillance, nor do they want American technology companies to maintain open global networks at the price of their own personal security. Recent calls for blocking terrorists from posting on social media -- from Hillary Clinton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Google's Eric Schmidt -- reflect a growing American conviction that the state's responsibility to protect its citizens should extend to restrictions on cyber speech.

Weekend Roundup: The Nation-State Is 'Re-Bordering' Cyberspace

Nathan Gardels | Posted 12.19.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Google and Facebook would love to operate in China, especially now that it has an officially confirmed netizen population of 668 million. One man stands in their way: China's all-powerful Internet czar, Lu Wei, whose official title is Minister of Cyberspace Administration. But standing behind Lu is 3000 years of Chinese political culture that is diametrically opposed to the libertarian ethos of Silicon Valley. The ideology encoded in the technological innovations of California's software engineers -- to empower the individual and dispense with governing intermediaries -- contrasts sharply with the long history of China's "institutional civilization" that, for centuries, has empowered state authorities to rule on behalf of the people. Chinese President Xi Jinping is surely right when he told the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen this week that "freedom and order are both necessary in cyberspace." But where that line is drawn makes all the difference. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: The WorldPost Maps the Global Conversation

Nathan Gardels | Posted 12.11.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

To become a self-conscious "global thinking circuit," the virtual territory of the Internet needs a map that charts the currents and connects the dots of the worldwide conversation. Who are the most influential voices, and how do their ideas spread? This week, The WorldPost joined with the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Zurich to produce such a map, the 2015 Global Thought Leaders Index, which, for the first time, analyzes not only the dominant English-language infosphere, but also the other top language areas of Spanish and Chinese, as well as German. One notable result, as I report in my summary of the project, is that The WorldPost, as the global portal of the Huffington Post, has emerged in the two years since we launched as a top platform for the cross-pollination of ideas beyond borders. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: World Leaders Embrace Ethics of the Future at Paris Summit

Nathan Gardels | Posted 12.04.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Whatever the final outcome, the United Nations climate summit convening in Paris is already a unique event in the history of the planet. Using the scientific tool of reasoned projection, the most self-aware and conscious species, Homo sapiens, has collectively peered into the times ahead and seen the ruinous impact on generations to come from burning ever more carbon to fuel our present industrialized desire. Motivated by an ethics of the future, top leaders from across the world have resolved to preempt further damage to the fragile ecology of Earth's livable climate that has so far allowed human civilization to flourish. Whether that resolve is sufficient to meet the mounting challenge in a meaningful time frame is the existential question. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Now It's NATO vs. NATO (New Anti-Terror Organization)

Nathan Gardels | Posted 11.26.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The Turkish downing of a Russian jet that crossed into its territory while bombing targets in Syria complicates even further the play of contraries in an already bewildering set of Mideast conflicts. The episode introduces a fresh tension that could well pit NATO, of which Turkey is a member, against what Gopalkrishna Gandhi calls a fledgling new NATO, or New Anti-Terror Organization, that French President François Hollande is trying to organize globally in the wake of the Paris attacks. Hollande meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Paris Attacks Upend Concepts of War, Security and Alliances

Nathan Gardels | Posted 11.21.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The attacks claimed by the self-described Islamic State in Paris have done more than spread fear across the West. They have upended our concepts of war, security and alliances in a connected yet disintegrating world -- a world in which no superpower or group of states can impose order. As the "End of Power" author Moisés Naím notes, ISIS has breached that perimeter that above all defines strong states: a monopoly over violence. It has shifted the battlefield to the soft targets of cafes and concert halls. As Lucia Annunziata writes from Italy, "The Third World War, whether you want to believe it or not, is already underway ... and Europe is its theater." The savvy of ISIS operatives has also called into question whether we can maintain both open borders and encrypted cyberspace. They have shown that distributed networks of angry youth at the margins of European society, who bond on the Internet instead of at the mosque, are beyond the reach of the drone strikes aimed at decapitating their leadership in the Mideast. As the Aspen Institute's Charlie Firestone writes in his analysis of the "guerilla cyber-warfare" declared by the Anonymous hackers against ISIS: "The Westphalian concept of sovereign nations dealing with each other as states has limited application to a world where networks are the dominant form of organization." (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Victory in Myanmar for Democracy -- On a Leash

Nathan Gardels | Posted 11.13.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Pent-up democratic aspirations were unleashed this week in Myanmar's first free election in decades, resulting in a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition party. But as Mark Famaner and Hanna Hindstrom point out, it is "democracy on a leash" as the long-standing military rulers retain a constraining foothold through the current constitutional arrangement. It remains to be seen if Suu Kyi's elected government will be "above" those constraints, as she has boldly asserted. Writing from Yangon, Ma Thida lays out the many issues in the political transition ahead. Harrison Akins reminds us that the "shadow" over Myanmar's democratic turn is the continuing persecution and discrimination against the Muslim Rohingya minority. If it stabilizes, Myanmar could have a bright future. It sits between the two fastest growing economies in the world, India and China, the second of which is revitalizing the ancient Silk Road trading route that George Yeo, Singapore's former foreign minister, sees as making Eurasia the driver of the future global economy. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: The Audacity of the Chinese Dream

Nathan Gardels | Posted 11.07.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

BEIJING -- The title of Barack Obama's pre-presidential biography is "The Audacity of Hope." Chinese President Xi Jinping has written his own document released this week -- The Communist Party's 13th five-year plan -- that might be titled "The Audacity of the Chinese Dream." This blueprint for China's future signals the most momentous shift in direction since the death of Mao and Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening up in 1978. Not a leader to rest on the laurels of his country's remarkable success so far in rising to the top ranks of the global economy, Xi wants to leap over the "middle-income trap" in which development becomes stuck in a low-wage manufacturing export economy. To do that, he needs to avoid, in his own words, the "Thucydides trap" of conflict between China as a rising power and the U.S. as the established power so instability does not disrupt growth prospects. (continued)

China's New Five-Year Plan Embraces the Third Industrial Revolution

Nathan Gardels | Posted 11.05.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

BEIJING -- China's future development is about economic transformation. Through green growth and the application of Internet technologies, China can spur new opportunities and foster global sustainable development.

Weekend Roundup: Protecting the Cloud -- At the Bottom of the Ocean

Nathan Gardels | Posted 10.30.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

This week, a new 21st century debate surfaced: How do we protect the data cloud we have all come to depend on when it is physically composed of cables running across the bottom of the ocean? The issue came to light after it was reported that Russian spy ships were operating near key cable routes. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis writes that, "Well over 95 percent of everything moving on the global Internet passes through 200 or so highly active cables, some as deep underwater as Mount Everest is tall." Lixian Hantover offers a profile of what the undersea cloud looks like and what its vulnerabilities are. Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister and chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance, calls for a new digital diplomacy to maintain the free flow of information across borders. "The solution to privacy concerns," he writes, "lies not in data localization, but in the development of secure systems and the proper use of encryption. Data storage actually means the continuous transfer of data between users, with no regard for Westphalian borders. Security in the digital world is based on technology, not geography." (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Advent of the Third Industrial Revolution

Nathan Gardels | Posted 10.23.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The WorldPost strives every day to chronicle the ongoing contest between two competing futures. One future is a world coming together through the convergence of new technologies that promise ecological stability, the empowerment of diversity and opportunity for all. The other is a world falling apart through bitter partisanship, religious warfare and the return of geopolitical blocs. This week we begin a new series that takes sides. Futurist Jeremy Rifkin lays out a vision of "the Third Industrial Revolution" that, through digital connectivity, clean energy and smart transportation all tied together through the "Internet of Things," can lead to breakthrough instead of breakdown. In an introduction to the series, Arianna Huffington invites us to join the conversation on climate change, technology and the growing global movement toward solutions that can provide a unifying purpose to all our connectivity. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Turkey's 'Two Souls' Are Being Torn Apart

Nathan Gardels | Posted 10.16.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The characters in Orhan Pamuk's novels are complex, hybrid identities. They are neither purely Islamic traditionalists nor secular fundamentalists, but, as Turkey's most celebrated writer and Nobel laureate has put it, of "two souls." "To have two souls," Pamuk once told me, "is a good thing. That is the way people really are. We have to understand that, just like a person, a country can have two souls." Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's military-allied, authoritarian and Western-oriented modernization from above bolstered one aspect of that soul in the last century. Over the last 13 years, current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Islamic-based AKP has bolstered the other aspect through democratic modernization from below. In the process, political space has opened up not only to the influence of conservative rural Anatolia but also for other plural constituencies from Kurds to the gay community. By trying to close that plural space now through increasingly autocratic tendencies -- in the midst of the Syrian civil war spilling over its borders -- Erdoğan has polarized the "two souls" of Turkey. For Pamuk, "to have democracy is precisely to have a dialogue between these two souls." "I am worried," he says, "because I know that in the end Erdoğan wants to govern alone at all costs. He does not want to share power." (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Syrian Refugee Crisis Triggers Bombs and Backlash

Nathan Gardels | Posted 10.02.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

This week the refugee crisis caused by Syria's horrific civil war moved to the next stage. Though prompted into action to curb the carnage, the U.S. and Russia are at odds over whom to bolster and whom to bomb. With no end to the conflict in sight, the influx of asylum seekers in Europe continues to swell and the prospect of permanent settlement there for the displaced grows. In even the most welcoming countries a political backlash is in the making. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity at home is falling for the first time as compassion reaches its limits. In Sweden, the anti-immigrant right-wing party now tops the polls. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Where Pope Francis and Xi Jinping Cross Paths

Nathan Gardels | Posted 09.25.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping were both in Washington and New York this week for engagements at the White House and the United Nations. They didn't meet. But their paths certainly crossed. The pope made the moral case for tackling poverty and climate change. President Xi affirmed he will intensify the "reform and opening up" policies that have lifted 500 million people in China out of poverty over the last 30 years -- a feat accomplished more rapidly than any other society in history. And, as the leader of the world's second-largest economy, he pledged to join forces with the U.S. and others to spearhead the global battle against climate change. Francis' detractors may call him a "communist in a cassock" while Xi's party is Communist in name only, but this alliance of purpose that pairs the prayers of the pope with the formidable state capacity of China could actually move the big needle. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Connecting Minds Across Cultures

Nathan Gardels | Posted 09.18.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

"Forty years of crisscrossing the planet has led me to suspect that the world isn't growing smaller," the inveterate traveler and literary journalist Pico Iyer laments. "If anything, the differences, the distances between us, are growing greater than they've ever been. In the Age of Information, many of us know less about other perspectives and other cultures than ever before." This week, the Berggruen Institute announced the launch of a philosophy and culture center that responds to this rift by connecting minds across borders through an exchange of scholars from East and West that will be hosted at prestigious universities from Cambridge and Harvard to Stanford and Tsinghua in Beijing. In order to promote foundational concepts for the future, the center will co-sponsor an ideas contest with the Aspen Institute as well as establish an annual $1 million Nobel-like prize for philosophy. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Refugees Redefine Europe

Nathan Gardels | Posted 09.11.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

America was once regarded as a welcoming immigrant nation where races and religions mingle freely, a geo-cultural therapy for history's wounded masses who could leave their woes behind once they arrived on its shores. It is thus a jarring twist to witness the nativist rants of Donald Trump boosting his political fortunes at the same moment when Germany, where the ideology of racial purity reached its apogee, extends a tolerant embrace to refugees and redefines its identity as a multicultural state. The scope of this shift will surely generate its own backlash in the times to come. Writing from Berlin, Alex Gorlach sees "a reversal of history" as Germany becomes "nation of immigrants" and suggests America should "dedicate a new Statue of Liberty to the [European] continent." From Stockholm, Göran Rosenberg explains why Sweden takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other European country. Embedded in his piece is the orientation video for asylum applicants provided by the Swedish Migration Agency. Writing from Budapest, Miklós Haraszti sees political cynicism driving the anti-immigrant policies of Hungary's nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orbán. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: China Bares Its Teeth

Nathan Gardels | Posted 09.04.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

China's reformist leader Deng Xiaoping famously counseled that his nation should "hide its strength and bide its time" as it grew to the top ranks of the global economy. President Xi Jinping has taken a different course. He is seizing the moment and baring China's teeth. Not unlike Ronald Reagan who declared in the 1980s that "America is back -- standing tall," Xi is signaling that the Middle Kingdom has returned and finally straightened its spine after being bent over by national humiliation going back to the Opium War, Western colonialism and Japanese occupation. Xi's stance was on display for all the world to see in the vast military spectacle on Tiananmen Square this week marking the 70th anniversary of the Allied defeat of Japan in World War II. That President Xi appeared alongside Vladimir Putin -- with no prominent Western leaders from the U.S., Europe or Japan in attendance -- was not only reminiscent of the Cold War, but a worrying premonition that the world once again risks dividing up into geopolitical blocs. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Refugees and Market Woes Put World on Edge

Nathan Gardels | Posted 08.28.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The undertow of China's slackening economy and the mounting tide of refugees pushing through border after border in Europe put the world on edge this week. After spiraling down, volatile stock markets rallied back, for now. . . Writing from Beijing, Fred Hu argues that what we are witnessing is China's shift toward the "new normal" of a slower growth paradigm focused on domestic consumption instead of investment and export-led growth. He expresses confidence that his country will weather the storm, writing, "it is a loser's game to bet against China's leaders." Nobel laureate Michael Spence locates the culprit of market volatility in the flood of funds unleashed by low interest rates looking for higher returns, which has led to the gap between a financial bubble and the real economy now undergoing a correction. (continued)