Weekend Roundup: Obama’s Quandary


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

Obama’s quandary in his war on the Islamic State group is that he is fighting the effects of decades of U.S. policy in the Middle East. As Rami Khouri writes in The WorldPost this week from Beirut, allying with the very autocratic Arabs whose oppressive regimes gave rise to both the Arab Spring and the explosion of jihadism across the region is a recipe for a war without end. Shashank Joshi notes the bewildering challenge of joining rival Sunnis and Shiite against ISIS. Akbar Ganji warns that Obama’s strategy is at odds with the interests of his allies in the Middle East. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports on the growing appeal of ISIS from the Turkish-Syrian border, where a 22-year-old pro-revolution Syrian schoolteacher, frustrated with a seemingly futile Assad resistance movement, switched his allegiance to the extremist Sunni Muslim group. She also reports on a group of cash-strapped Syrian rebels who say they blame the U.S. for not doing enough to fight ISIS. Kathleen Miles breaks down the steps the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is taking to combat the Islamic State and other terrorist threats in America.

This week’s “Forgotten Fact“ notes the often overlooked alliance between Saddam Hussein’s leftover Baathist Party stalwarts and ISIS.

Elsewhere in the region, Umut Özkırımlı writes about a new anti-Semitism among the “organic intellectuals” who he says are aligning with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fashion a neo-Ottoman state. Veteran Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab explains why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is fed up with Hamas. Noam Chomsky chronicles the continuing post-ceasefire land grabs by Israel that are “creating facts on the ground.”

The WorldPost reports this week on a new poll that does not bode well for Asia: A majority of Chinese expect war with Japan and 90 percent of Japanese dislike the Chinese. In an interview with WorldPost partner Asahi Shimbun, a Chinese scholar on Japan, Sun Ge, plumbs the reasons for misperceptions between Japan and China. Brahma Chellaney writes from New Delhi on how India is seeking to balance China’s power in Asia. Writing from Beijing, academician Feng Zhaokui takes a candid look at China’s severe environmental pollution and what the government is doing about it. WorldPost Beijing correspondent Matt Sheehan reports that, for the first time in a decade, coal consumption is down in China. He also tells the story of a group of Chinese migrant workers who are turning to theater “as a means to empower and build class consciousness among the underprivileged.” The Asia Society’s Dan Washburn looks at why the bourgeois game of golf is both “banned and booming” in China. Also from Asia Society, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd discuss how the West and a rising China can best accommodate each other in these tense times.

Pierpaolo Barbieri writes from Cernobbio on how Italy’s youthful prime minister, Matteo Renzi, is making reform popular. Writing from Moscow, Marko Dumančić compares Vladimir Putin’s espousal of family-oriented “traditional values” with the reality that Russia today has the world’s highest divorce rate.

In a breath of fresh air, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso lays out the main recommendations to combat the war on drugs — including decriminalization of drug use — in a report released this week by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which he chairs.

Finally, in an interview on his new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How To Build the Future, contrarian entrepreneur Peter Thiel makes the case that dynamic monopolies are better than super-competition in a stagnating economy.


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. Nicholas Sabloff is the Executive International Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s 10 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s World Editor.

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 Editor-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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