What we are witnessing in Ukraine today is not so much the revival of the Cold War as the sharp edge of a clash of civilizations in the unfolding post-American era. American-led globalization since the end of the Cold War has led to the convergence of patterns of growth and the spread of technology worldwide, enabling the rise of the emerging economies such as China, Russia, India and Turkey. But far from creating a flat and homogenous world, this convergence has led to a new divergence because economic strength engenders cultural, political and even military self-assertion. As we are seeing every day from the East China Sea to Syria to Crimea, the American-led West is no longer at the helm of today's order. Indeed, no one is. Above all, globalization today means an interdependence of plural identities.
Nobody can regret the departure of a president who had shown his willingness to shoot protesters, and that of another, who had brought back to life the most hostile laws against women on record in his country.
If we put all our efforts into saving the euro, we must be prepared to safeguard free movement with the same conviction, as it is the very lifeblood of the single market and, hence, of our prosperity. Let me state this with total clarity: the free movement of people is as important as the free movement of services, capital and goods, and constitutes one of the basic pillars of the EU.
"The West's uncertainty over Ukraine contrasts sharply with Russia's clear vision," Former Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio wrote in Project Syndicate. "Putin knows that a pro-Western, pro-NATO Ukraine would present a major obstacle to Russian dominance in Eurasia, potentially cutting off Russia's access to the Black Sea and, most important, providing a model to his opponents at home. His acts over the last days confirm that he is willing to play hardball, leveraging the discontent (real or provoked) of Ukraine's ethnic Russian population, particularly in Crimea, the home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet."
Ukraine's constitution gives the president the power to appoint and dismiss all local governors -- a presidential power over local officials that is extremely unusual among parliamentary democracies. This centralized control of local government has exacerbated regional tensions and hindered the development of trusted democratic leadership in Ukraine.
Let's put aside the question of whether Putin's interpretation is accurate. That's now irrelevant. What matters is that this is how he sees the drama in Ukraine and that this outlook will shape his actions -- now and in the weeks ahead.
Alfonso's harsh family and personal and professional circumstances were very similar to those of that woman in space. Physical and metaphysical garbage, waste from fear, greed, ignorance -- and many of those elements of the sublime and putrid within the film industry lined up like missiles that hit his ship.
In my eyes, social media is one of the most important global leaps forward in recent human history. It provides for self-expression and promotes mutual understanding. It enables rapid formation of networks and demonstrates our common humanity across cultural differences. It connects people, their ideas and values, like never before.
China is still faced with many daunting challenges ranging from corruption to regional income gaps and environmental degradation. But China is indeed better than at any time in its modern history. The country is now the world's largest laboratory for economic, social and political experimentation. There is every reason to believe that China, which has a continuously adaptive political system, will reach its objective of becoming the world's largest economy in a decade's time -- with all the implications for China itself and for the rest of the world at large.
If you have competent and well-trained bureaucrats or well-educated technical professionals who are dedicated to public interest, this kind of government is better than democratic government in the short term. But there are no institutional rules limiting the power of a bad emperor. The last bad emperor commonly acknowledged as such was Mao Zedong. Such an individual can do far more damage to the society than a constitutionally and democratically constrained democratic leader.
What gives this rising tide of intolerance in India an ominous ring is the failure of the executive, police and judicial establishments to bring the vandals to justice. The fear of earning their wrath indeed permeates all levels of governance. In the process, what is central to the very idea of India -- a celebration of its bewildering diversity -- runs the risk of rapid emasculation.
The modern world is teaching us that there are dynamics far more insidious and cynical still than censorship in draining people of political will; these involve confusing, boring and distracting the majority away from politics by presenting events in such a disorganized, fractured and intermittent way that most of the audience is unable to hold on to the thread of the most important issues for any length of time.
Venezuela is now the world champion of inflation, homicide, insecurity, and shortages of essential goods -- from milk for children to insulin for diabetics and all kinds of indispensable products. All this despite having the greatest oil reserves in the world and a government with absolute control of all state institutions and levers of power.
The digital revolution is increasingly allowing computers and machines, made smarter through software, to replace many of the better-paying jobs, namely those that require skills and are associated with the middle class. A telling example is what is beginning to take place in higher education by the introduction of MOOCs.
No one should resent the economic success of others. On the contrary. But in the same way that we stand for the ideal of equality of opportunity between individuals within our societies, we also need to deliver that equality of opportunity for every country within our great European society.
The paradox of this historical moment is that we see across the world -- in Ukraine, Egypt, Thailand, Turkey -- that elections in and of themselves are not the standard of legitimacy. Only strong institutions can sustain democracy. But institutions alone without democratic legitimacy conferred upon them, as we see in the European Union, are also not sustainable.
Decline and unrest across the world suggest the old models don't work. It remains to be seen whether such scattered mutinies can displace the power of old elites that derived their legitimacy and power from their self-appointed role as technocratic modernizers, and have deepened their links in recent years with transnational corporations and international organizations. But it is hard to deny that the assumptions of universalist ideologies now lie impotent, and our unavoidably plural future calls for fresh intellectual heresies.
Fifteen years ago there was much optimism that in an increasingly globalized world nationalism and religiosity would wither away vis-a-vis interdependence. That did not happen. While it is true that information technologies, easier transportation and capital mobility connect us like never before, ultra-nationalism and fundamentalism are on the rise.
When courageous Malala Yousafzai was shot, five million men, women and children signed petitions calling for every girl in Pakistan to have the chance to go school. But this week the world remained silent when 40 schoolchildren were shot and then burnt to death in a school in north east Nigeria. The incident was nothing less than a massacre of the innocents.