As Pope Francis slammed Europe as "elderly and haggard" in an address this week in Strasbourg, the speaker of the Polish parliament, Radek Sikorski, warned in the WorldPost that Europe's starkest challenge is defending "a world of rules" against an aggressive Russia. Writing from the Vatican for our "Following Francis" series, Sébastien Maillard looks at the "holy ghostwriters" behind the pontiff's tweets and encyclicals. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on yet another retrograde move in Turkey's modern history taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared this week that men and women can't be equal. Though Erdogan still considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party a terrorist organization, Nazand Begikhani writes from Iraqi Kurdistan about how women from that party who have taken up arms to defend their fellow Kurds from the radically misogynist Islamic State are also advancing equal rights in their own society. This week, as the Israeli cabinet moved to define Israel as a "Jewish state," the French parliament, like other European parliaments of late, is voting on whether to recognize a Palestinian state. Writing from Paris, Bernard-Henri Lévy argues passionately that such a move, intended to enhance peace, will perpetuate war. (continued)
On the same day this week that President Obama announced a measure that could give legal protection to 5 million undocumented immigrants, massive protests raged across Mexico against the impunity and corruption that led to the horrific massacre of 43 students. From Mexico City, Sergio Sarmiento, Elena Poniatowska and Homero Aridjis chronicle the events and ponder what's next. Anthropologist Claudio Lomnitz examines the causes behind Mexico's corrosive impunity. Meanwhile, as Xin Chunying writes from Beijing, China is also seeking to establish the rule of law through steadily boosting the role of the National People's Congress. While stifling dissent, China's President Xi is taking on both "tigers and flies" in his no-holds-barred assault from the top down on corruption. Can China's effort succeed without active public engagement? Can Mexico learn from China and move from angry protest to systemic change? (continued)
It takes a strong state, not (to paraphrase Hillary Clinton) a democratic village, to aggressively fight climate change. This is the inconvenient message emerging in the wake of the Xi-Obama deal on global warming announced in Beijing this week. Both leaders will pursue executive action to fulfill their pledges. As Kerry Brown writes, Xi's decision is binding within China because a long process of consultation and consensus building within the Communist Party stands behind it. What Obama can do is up for grabs. No sooner did the pledge escape his lips than the incoming Republican majority leaders in the U.S. Congress make their own pledge to block Obama by any means necessary. In The WorldPost this week, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim writes that the landmark Xi-Obama agreement is not only good for the environment, but also for the economy. Environmentalist Bill McKibben parses out "what the deal is, and what it isn't." (continued)
The world is at a tipping point. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ensuing rise of China and other emerging economies, fragile institutions -- the Asia Pacific Economic Community summit taking place in Beijing and the G-20 in a few days in Brisbane -- are trying to hold the links of peace and prosperity together.
The end of the Cold War, epitomized by the Berlin Wall destruction, quickly came to be seen by the West as its own triumphant victory and the USSR/Russia's unconditional surrender. Hence Russia was to be treated as a second-rank country, a regional power at best, that was expected to obediently follow whatever directions may have come from Washington and Brussels. The problem was the Russians did not share this view of themselves as a defeated nation obliged to accept the victors' terms.