Weekend Roundup: From Kalashnikovs to God and Computers — And Back Again


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

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 the Charlie 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 CNN and MSNBC.

Writing from Paris, another French philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy, calls for fighting ISIS fire with other fire by arming the Kurds. Nabeel Khoury outlines four ways America can de-escalate the crisis in Yemen. Writing from Beirut, former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke says a key Islamic State aim is to foment polarization in Jordan, a border state with Israel.

As Egypt staged its own response to the Islamic State in neighboring Libya, this week’s “Forgotten Fact“ explores why Egypt’s bombing raids in Libya come as no surprise.

In the wake of the recent attacks in Copenhagen, Danish editor Flemming Rose reflects on why he commissioned the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that caused such a stir in 2006. FEMEN leader Inna Shevchenko gives a firsthand account of the Copenhagen shooting. Reporting on his ongoing study “Journey into Europe,” Akbar Ahmed takes us inside the experience of Muslim immigrants risking life and limb as they look for a new life in what has become an unwelcoming Europe.

Writing from Islamabad, where he is visiting as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insists that schools must be made safe for children — “even where terrorist groups roam.”

As yet another peace agreement falters in Ukraine, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt says “enough already!” and calls on the West to arm Kiev. Writing from Moscow, Georgy Bovt argues that the Minsk accord is not working because the U.S. alone can make Kiev stick to its promises but America is only remotely engaged. Valerie Sperling deciphers the phenomenon of Putin’s shirtless female fans.

In the continuing drama over a way forward beyond austerity for Greece, The WorldPost exclusively publishes a letter by former Prime Minister George Papandreou to European leaders calling for a “lighter” fiscal burden on Athens that builds on the successful reforms of recent years.

Writing from Beijing, philosopher Daniel Bell explains why China’s leaders correctly see corruption as a mortal threat to their legitimacy. Also writing from Beijing, Su Xiaohui criticizes U.S. President Obama’s new security strategy as unfairly targeting China and “based on [a] zero sum mentality.” WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan chronicles — with stunning photos — a grueling 39-hour train ride as he joins hundreds of millions of Chinese on their annual New Year’s migration back home for the holidays. He also shows us what the Chinese New Year looks like in the country’s Uyghur region, where most ignore the holiday entirely.

In an exclusive interview, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen tells HuffPost India that the state continues to fail in India. Robert Kaplan says that the 21st century will be Asia’s century, and discusses whether East Asian stability still depends on America. In light of a controversial comment Francis made about birth regulation when leaving the Philippines, Peter Singer explains “why the pope is wrong to promote population growth.”

In advance of our “Future of Work” conference in London on March 5 and 6, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman tells The WorldPost that investors should look for “technologies that amplify human capacity, not replace it.”

Finally, in the “what’s working” category this week, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports on how rapid detection and response are stopping Ebola in Liberia.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor 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 Associate World Editors.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

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.


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