Weekend Roundup: Pope Francis Gets It Right


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

In a wide-ranging interview conducted by Guillaume Goubert and The WorldPost‘s “Following Francis” columnist, Sébastien Maillard, the pope demonstrates once again his wise and mature grasp of the issues. In the interview, he acknowledges the limits of Europe’s ability to absorb refugees while focusing on the larger picture of why there are so many migrants.

Francis cites an unjust global economy in which, “the great majority of humanity’s wealth has fallen into the hands of a minority of the population.” He blames arms traffickers for fomenting profitable conflict. And he criticizes the counterproductive consequences of Western intervention: “In the face of Islamic terrorism, it would therefore be better to question ourselves about the way in [which] an overly Western model of democracy has been exported to countries such as Iraq, where a strong government previously existed. Or in Libya, where a tribal structure exists. We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account. As a Libyan said recently, ‘We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have fifty.’ The pope also calls on Europe to “rediscover its capacity to integrate,” which had once characterized its long history.

If Pope Francis represents the inclusive universal spirit, Donald Trump and his xenophobic counterparts in France, Austria — where elections this weekend will likely see the victory of the far-right — and elsewhere represent the exclusivist nationalist spirit that searches for scapegoats instead of solutions. Writing from Germany, Benjamin Reuter looks at how Austria’s “right-wing hipsters” have become an influential force. Writing from Yerevan, Armenia, Armine Sahakyan ponders the sympathy in Russia and the post-Soviet states for Donald Trump: “Given that many leaders in the former Soviet Union are racists, homophobes, bullies and thugs,” she writes, “it’s no wonder they like Trump. As president of the United States, he would likely receive a hero’s welcome in their capitals.”

Writing from Beirut, former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke worries that anti-Western nationalists who want to prepare Russia for a confrontation with NATO are gaining influence. Crooke also provocatively suggests that Donald Trump’s unorthodox views could break out of the policy gridlock of the status quo. He writes that, “Trump can simply say that American — and European — national security interests pass directly through Russia — which they clearly do — that Russia does not threaten America — which it clearly does not — and that NATO is, in any case, ‘obsolete,’ as he has said. It makes perfect sense to join with Russia and its allies to surround and destroy the so-called Islamic State.” Writing from New Delhi, Kabir Taneja describes how Trump has fixated the attention of Indians with his unorthodox antics and even prompted a fringe nationalist Hindu group to organize a ceremony to bring him good luck. Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji marvels at how Donald Trump has cast America as weak and victimized.

Writing for HuffPost Italy, historian Andrea Mammone sees a common angst animating the rise of populism across the West: “The uneducated white members of the working-class on both sides of the Atlantic are angry, tired and likely worried about globalization, delocalization, immigration and unemployment, while the middle class is becoming poorer thanks to the weak economy and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few.” Writing from Manila, Rommel Banlaoi looks at the shakeups in foreign policy that the election of Rodrigo Duterte — who has been called “the Donald Trump of the Philippines” for his demagogic bluster — could bring. “While Duterte seriously values the Philippines’ long-standing security alliance with the U.S.,” Banlaoi says, “he seems to be more enthusiastic in repairing the Philippines’ damaged political ties with China.”

In a fascinating interview conducted by the philosopher Daniel Bell at Tsinghua University’s Institute for Advanced Study in Beijing, “Sapiens” author Yuval Harari offers a sober glimpse into the future. “The whole of biology since Darwin can be summarized in three words: ‘Organisms are algorithms,’” says Harari. “Simultaneously, computer scientists have been learning how to create better and better electronic algorithms. Now these two waves — the one coming from biology and the other coming from computer science — are merging around this master concept of the algorithm, and their merger will create a tsunami that will wash everything in its way. The basic insight which unites the biological with the electronic is that bodies and brains are also algorithms. Hence the wall between machines and humans, between computer science and biology, is collapsing and I think the next century and probably the future of life itself will be shaped by this algorithmic view of the world.” Also looking to the future, Hal Sirkin assesses the quickening pace of robots replacing workers in both the advanced and emerging economies.

Last week the Brazilian Senate ousted President Dilma Roussef from office by initiating impeachment proceedings. Lucas Bento hails the process as ultimately good for democracy because the rule of law has prevailed. Writing for HuffPost Brazil, Thais Viyuela sees it far differently. She sees the “attack” on Brazil’s first female president as “an attack on all women.”

On a broader scale, World Bank CEO and Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati argues that ending poverty means closing the health and opportunity gaps between men and women. As one example of what that might mean, we take a look at an online effort by Turkish entrepreneurs to teach young girls English in order to boost their chances in life.

Writing from Havana, Yoani Sanchez sees the coming collapse of the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as protests mount and international support evaporates. This 360 degree tour of Cuba makes it seem as if you are there. Writing from Spain, Pablo Machuca examines how the anti-austerity movement there has upended the political order.

From Istanbul, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports that aid groups were finally able this week to deliver life-saving supplies to 10,000 Syrians isolated by a government siege in a Damascus suburb.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution in China, we rummage back through the vintage propaganda posters of that era. Fast forward to 2016 — or is it backward? Alexandra Ma reports on a couple that spent their wedding night copying out the Chinese constitution as a gesture of loyalty to the Communist Party. In a podcast, Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden discuss why China is not in fact on a land-buying spree in Africa.

Sarah Grossman delivers some good news about a new strain of corn that can help end hunger by producing 50 percent more kernels than a typical maize crop. Finally, in our Singularity series this week we examine how facial recognition technology can put your words into the mouth of anyone.


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. 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.


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