Weekend Roundup: New Code War Is Not Funny


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

It took an insolent Hollywood comedy mocking the surreal character of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to awaken us to the dangers of a new code war, a war in which geopolitical and geo-cultural battles will be duked out in cyberspace. As Alec Ross, America’s top digital diplomat when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, writes this week in The WorldPost, “the weaponization of code is the most significant development in warfare since the weaponization of fissile material.”

Other battles are also shaping up to determine the contours of our digital future. Lu Wei, China’s Internet czar, makes his case for sovereign rule over cyberspace. Amy Chang examines how the Chinese campaign for “Internet sovereignty” will rupture the World Wide Web.

This week’s Forgotten Fact notes the threat by North Korea’s culture and film minister to “obliterate” American and Japanese movie studios that make fun of North Korea, and recalls other bizarre threats by that country in the past.

In a WorldPost editorial, we argue that China’s one-party political system can only remain effective if it allows open expression “as an avenue of self-correction.” From yet another angle, Enrique Dans writes from Madrid about “the sorry tale” of Google News shutting down its Spanish edition instead of agreeing to demands of newspapers to pay for links to content.

WorldPost partners at Singularity University list the “8 Most Game-Changing Innovations of 2014.” We also publish this week “The World’s Most Influential Thinkers of 2014” in conjunction with the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Zurich.

Writing from Mexico City, Mexico’s former foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, argues that falling oil prices have hit Venezuela’s ability to subsidize Cuba, thus forcing its opening to the U.S. Falling oil prices combined with sanctions imposed by the West on Russia over Ukraine have sent the ruble reeling downward, undercutting Vladimir Putin’s strongman posture. Writing from Moscow, Ivan Sukhov chronicles the unraveling of Russia’s social system. Russian economist Sergei Guriev writes that even Russians are fleeing the ruble.

The look-the-other-way tolerance of jihadis in Pakistan has backfired badly, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, writes in the wake of the Taliban massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar this week. Writing from Karachi, Beena Sarwar also argues that Pakistan must discard its “good Taliban, bad Taliban” distinction. Bina Shah writes that, with everything from a surge of rapes in India to the kidnapping of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria, women have been “the ultimate battleground” in 2014. U.N. envoy and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown writes from Kinshasa that unaffordable school fees are stymying education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Writing from Amman in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack, Jordan’s Queen Rania laments the spread of extremists who have “hijacked” Islam and calls for her fellow followers of the faith to condemn them. Writing from Nairobi, jurist George Kegoro writes that Al Shabaab in Kenya, like the Islamic State in the Middle East, is seeking to establish a “caliphate” through terror against non-Muslims.

Writing from Beijing, Dragonomics Managing Director Arthur Kroeber says the West must get rid of its illusions about China becoming democratic. President Xi, he observes, heads a strong, not fragile, party-ruled state that is here to stay. Former Hong Kong Governor and Oxford Chancellor Chris Patten hopes the West can get over its “obsession” with recent failures and stand up to “illiberal” states like Russia and China. Cheng Li and Lucy Xu explain why the Obama Administration is reluctant to embrace Xi’s idea of a “new type of great power relations” that implies equality between China and America. WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan looks at the daily life of a Muslim migrant family trying to make it in Beijing.

Writing from New Delhi, Pawan Khera notes the significance of the just concluded U.N. Summit in Lima, Peru on climate change where, for the first time, developing countries have agreed to take on the burden of carbon reductions just as the rich nations have in past agreements. Writing from Berlin, parliamentarian Phillip Missfelder calls for applying the principle of sustainability to Germany’s foreign as well as environmental policy.

Finally, to get a handle on the scale of the despair, WorldPost’s Middle East correspondent in Istanbul, Sophia Jones, reports on a new video produced by the U.N.’s Refugee Agency that asks what would happen if Manhattan’s 1.5 million people — which equals the number of child refugees from the Syrian war — disappeared. She also reports on a triumph of music amid the misery by telling the story of a child prodigy pianist and Syrian refugee, Tambi Asaad Cimuk, who is headed to Carnegie Hall.


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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