Weekend Roundup: Politics Is the Art of the Possible


Kathleen Miles is the executive editor of Noema Magazine. She can be reached on Twitter at @mileskathleen.

In 1867, then Prime Minister of Prussia Otto von Bismarck (who, with parallels today, maintained German hegemony over Europe) famously said that politics is the art of the possible. If you don’t have to deal with a political opponent, you can dream up the perfect policy. But when you have an opponent, you have to set aside the dream and consider the political possibilities. This week, from Iran to Greece to Cuba, the world both celebrated and protested the politically possible.

On the Iran nuclear deal, Republicans, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conservative Jewish supporters accused President Obama of capitulating to an enemy. On the regional implications of the deal, writing from Jerusalem, Shlomo Avineri fears it could exacerbate Sunni-Shia-Israeli tension by empowering Shia Iran and its allies.

But not all Israelis agree. Former Israeli Deputy National Security Advisor Chuck Freilich asserts that although the Iran deal is a “painful compromise,” Israel is safer with it than without it. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami agrees and contends that Netanyahu’s vehement opposition to the deal has only reinforced Israel’s increasingly isolated position in the world.

Famed economist Jeffrey Sachs applauds President Obama for standing up to the “clamoring of the warmongers” with the deal. Rizwan Ladha says America’s greatest challenge with the agreement is selling it to its Middle East partners. World editor Charlotte Alfred takes a look at whether sanctions relief will make a difference in the lives of ordinary Iranians. And World editor Nick Robins-Early breaks down a new Amnesty report that finds that executions in Iran have surged this year.

The U.S. made strides towards reconciliation this week with another former enemy carrying a record of human rights abuse — Cuba. The two countries have begun reopening embassies in Washington and Havana for the first time in decades. Among those applauding the thaw is IMF Executive Director Octaviano Canuto, who estimates that the most decisive changes for Cuba now will be domestic.

Greece this week passed a second set of reforms so that negotiations on an EU bailout can begin. Anti-austerity demonstrators massed outside parliament as the bill was debated, with protests briefly turning violent. Greece and its European creditors are expected to begin bailout talks in Athens Monday, after delays due to security and logistics.

Writing from Berlin, Former German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer suggests we’re witnessing the “return of the ugly German,” as the country breaks from post-WWII policy and seeks to transform the eurozone into a “sphere of influence.” Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis bemoans the privatization plan for Greece, calling it a “stigma on Europe’s conscience.” Offering a different perspective, as populist parties such as Syriza rise in Europe, Julian Baggini maintains that while democracy is about the complex negotiation of competing interests, populism is a kind of mob rule that offers only simple solutions.

HuffPost reporter Daniel Marans explores the mystery of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ popularity, despite his having lost the fight against austerity. Danae Leivada introduces us to the latest rising Greek political star who says no to austerity. HuffPost Greece reports on the rush to withdraw from Greek banks. In contrast, Michael Skafidas illustrates a part of Greece that is thriving: the beautiful island of Mykonos. And HuffPost reporters Daniel Marans and Alexander Kaufman take a look at why, even though the euro is in trouble, Romania still wants in.

Ending its resistance to joining the coalition against ISIS, Turkey dispatched warplanes to bomb ISIS targets in Syria Friday and agreed to allow partial U.S. access to a key Turkish air base for ISIS strikes. The strikes come after ISIS militants killed a Turkish soldier at a Turkish military outpost and after a suicide blast blamed by Turkish authorities on ISIS killed more than 30 people.

Writing from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi makes the case that we cannot defeat ISIS unless we stop Iran and Saudi Arabia from pouring fuel on the sectarian fire. And Maha Hosain Aziz warns that ISIS may now be looking to recruit from the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar. This week’s “Forgotten Fact” discusses the implications of U.S. and European-made bombs that have turned up in Yemen’s battlefields.

Pepe Escobar writes that Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad and New Delhi have been establishing interlocking security guarantees — including the Eurasian Economic Union, the BRICS’ New Development Bank, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank — and that a “Eurasian Big Bang” will soon make the West “sweat bullets.” Pranay Gupte postures that Shashi Tharoor, who this week argued Britain owes India reparations, is India’s “prime minister in waiting.”

Ahead of Obama’s much-anticipated, first presidential trip to Kenya, his father’s homeland, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says his country is deepening its democracy and is “on the cusp of great prosperity.” In a podcast, Kenyan journalist Mark Kapchanga explains why he believes China’s making more of an impact in Africa than the West. WorldPost China correspondent Matt Sheehan reports that the draconian practices of China’s “digital detox” camps have endangered teens. And he reveals why Taylor Swift’s merchandise could get banned in China.

Sergio Muñoz Bata expresses frustration that the media and public are mocking and glorifying El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord who recently escaped from prison, again. Writing from Santo Domingo, Maria Isabel Soldevila Brea laments that Dominicans who have spoken out in defense of Haitians have been cast out as traitors and even threatened. HuffPost reporter Jessica Schulberg writes that Palestinian homes in the West Bank will soon be demolished — again. Just after the one-year anniversary of the downing of flight MH17, Georgy Bovt contends that Russia opposes an international tribunal because it has something to hide — and so might Ukraine.

Munawar Anees argues that “neo-Orientalist” Islamophobia is maligning the reputation of the Prophet Muhammad like never before. Responding to a pop star’s offensive comments, Pakistani journalist Bina Shah explains why Islam is not inherently misogynistic. And Catherine Corman tells us about the four new female saints who Pope Francis recently canonized — two of them nuns who promoted the education of Arab girls in the Ottoman Empire.

World Bank economist Branko Milanovic reports that we’re experiencing the greatest reshuffling of income since the Industrial Revolution, characterized by the rise of Asia and of the “global middle class.” Writing from Jakarta, World Bank COO and Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati recounts the three keys to ending poverty. HuffPost editor Dominique Mosbergen details how cultivating palm oil, which is in most processed foods and cosmetics, is destroying Southeast Asia’s forests.

Alex Melamid explores why art today is so meaningless. And Richard Davidson uses Pixar’s “Inside Out” to describe how we can manage our emotions by brain training. Our photo posts include images from female photographers of everyday life in the Middle East and a tour of stunning waterfalls around the world. Fusion this week examines big tech’s quest to own your DNA. Finally, our Singularity series imagines the possibility that computers might one day run on animal brains instead of silicon chips.


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 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 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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