Weekend Roundup: Between Engagement and Terror


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

This week we witnessed a world coming together and a world falling apart, a world between engagement and terror. For the first time in nearly 90 years, an American president visited Cuba, turning upside down the anti-Yanqui narrative that has been the raison d’être of one of the Western Hemisphere’s most longest-lasting dictatorships. In Havana, President Barack Obama promised to work toward lifting the embargo on Cuba just as he has done in Iran, where the advance of reformists in last month’s election has already demonstrated the fruits of that opening.

In Brussels, it appears that some children of Muslim immigrants expressed their explosive alienation in terror attacks in the very city many of them grew up, which also happens to be the capital of Europe. As the French scholar Olivier Roy has insightfully noted, we are not so much seeing radicalized Islam in these European attacks as the Islamization of radicalized native youth who have been marginalized and deemed superfluous by mainstream society.

Blogging from Cuba, President Obama says, “I’ve come to Havana to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. I’m here to bury the last vestige of the Cold War in the Americas and to forge a new era of understanding to help improve the daily lives of the Cuban people.” Howard Fineman contrasts Obama’s policy of opening up to the world with the demagogic stance of the leading Republican presidential candidates, stiffened further by the Brussels attacks, that would close America off.

Writing from Havana, Miriam Leiva, one of the dissident leaders of the Ladies in White who met with Obama, says she is confident the president’s visit will facilitate change. “Above all,” she writes, “he eliminated the government’s pretexts for repressing and blaming the American government for the economic disasters caused by capricious and failed programs.” Yoani Sanchez also blogs from Havana, writing that, “with each symbolic chord Obama touches in the popular imagination, he assumes a responsibility. The expectations are overflowing because Cubans want to cling to any hope that makes them believe the future will be better.” Sammy Almashat reminds us that, despite the embargo, Cuba’s universal health care system — with nearly three times the number of doctors per capita as the U.S. — has one of the lowest infant mortality rates and the longest life expectancies in the Americas. Roque Planas outlines the human rights issues raised during Obama’s visit and the Cuban government’s response. See here some striking photos of daily life in Cuba during the past week.

Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt writes that “the attacks in Paris and Brussels are our 9/11. It is now more important than ever to leave the rhetoric about increased coordination behind us and take real action at the European level.” The Tunisian-Belgian scholar Chams Eddine Zaougui writes from Brussels that, “Belgium needs to combat terrorism in a decisive but careful way — so as not to further polarize society or strengthen resentment of alienated and frustrated youth.” Ramón Jáuregui, a Spanish delegate who was under lockdown inside the EU Parliament building in Brussels because of the attacks, echoes Zaougui: “It is necessary to develop a policy of integration in the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of young people vulnerable to the trap of jihadism.” Andrea Purgatori blames the Belgian intelligence and secret services “for the tolerance and indifference” they “displayed when dealing with the neighborhood on the outskirts of Brussels, where terrorists recruited their soldiers and stockpiled weapons and explosives.” Writing from Paris, François Heisbourg worries that our reactions to attacks like Brussels could give ISIS the kind of legitimacy it wants: “By creating two categories of French people (ISIS and non-ISIS), by perpetuating a state of emergency with grave effects, and by confronting terrorism as if it were a question of fighting an army, we risk leaping from a scenario of fighting groups and individuals, to a drama involving entire populations.” World Reporter Nick Robins-Early highlights the fact that Belgium has the highest number of Islamic State fighters per capita of all Western nations.

In an interview, Pakhshan Zangana, the secretary-general of Kurdistan’s High Council of Women’s Affairs, says the Brussels attacks show that the West just can’t rely on the Kurds to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but must mount a global effort. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones surveys Turks, recently hit with their own ISIS-claimed attack, who express their sympathy with Belgians. She also reports on Egypt’s “anti-torture t-shirt” detainee who was finally freed after nearly 800 days behind bars.

As the Apple vs. FBI controversy over penetrating encryption to fight terror continues, Richard Clarke, the former national coordinator for counterterrorism, writes that if Apple is forced to unlock the iPhone, it will weaken the ability to fight cybercrime. Lennart Pfahler profiles one community in Germany that is working to ensure new refugee arrivals are fully integrated into the mainstream. Stefan Ihrig is concerned that the recent EU-Turkey deal on immigration is an all too familiar trade-off of European interests for human rights, recalling when Germany turned a blind eye to Armenian genocide in 1915 to keep the Ottoman Empire on its side during World War I. European parliamentarian Miguel Urban agrees. “European institutions are accepting proposals — as we have seen in the EU-Turkey agreement — in which Europe betrays itself,” he writes.

Writing from Sarajevo, Jana Jevtic reflects as a person of mixed Serb and Bosniak blood on the the conviction of Radovan Karadzic — the so-called Serb “Butcher of Bosnia” — for war crimes this week at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

This month we saw the first major pushback within the Communist Party against Chinese President Xi’s recent clampdown on the media. Using well-known allusions from Chinese history, a “loyal remonstrance” titled “A Thousand Yes-Men Cannot Equal One Honest Advisor” was posted on the website of the party’s anti-corruption arm, which is headed by one of Xi’s closest aides. We publish the English translation in full. Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden discuss how China has become a pivotal factor in the future of many African nations.

Writing from Honduras, Karen Spring argues that the recent assassination of environmental activist Berta Cáceres has not ended her movement but multiplied the determination of activists to take up her cause. In our series on everyday entrepreneurs this week we profile Peruvians who are upholding the fading folk art of carving colorful wooden retablo boxes by hand. Ahmed Zewail, the only Arab to have been awarded a Nobel Prize for science, discusses his plan to bring a “Science Spring” to Egypt that will jumpstart development in the stagnating Middle East.

Fusion this week reports on how Mark Zuckerberg’s recent “smog run” on Tiananmen Square in Beijing has raised eyebrows. Our Singularity series examines an amazing new computer chip made of live human brain cells. We also report on how scientists have used stem cells to generate human heart muscle.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.