This week marked an historic milestone: More than 1 million refugees and migrants fleeing the global disorder of civil war, poverty and persecution this year landed on Europe’s doorstep. It is the largest crisis of displaced people since world war ravaged the European continent seven decades ago.
In a series of personal reports, activist-actress Susan Sarandon chronicles the perilous crossing of refugees to the Greek islands. Greek photographer Vasilis Tsartsanis documents the travails of “children of a lesser God” — refugees and migrants from Iran, Morocco and Somalia — stranded at Idomeni on the border between Greece and Macedonia. As European governments search for funds to pay for settling the influx of migrants and refugees, Adam Moe Fejerskov and Niels Keijzer point out that governments are reaching into foreign aid budgets that would otherwise go to development in the countries from which displaced people are fleeing. Writing from Italy, UNICEF’s Andrea Iacomini pleads for his fellow Europeans to make safe passage for migrating children their top priority, bemoaning the fact that we are getting too used to seeing innocent kids dying at sea. Writing from Athens, Danae Leivada outlines how each of us can help with donations from cash to space blankets and warm clothes as winter descends on the more than 810,000 migrants and refugees who have arrived on Greece’s shores this year.
Europe is facing further challenges on the political front as austerity policies drag on with only the faintest signs of economic recovery. In Spanish elections this week, the center-right governing party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the established opposition Socialist Party both lost significant ground to the upstart left-populist Podemos and anti-corruption Ciudadanos, leading to a hung parliament with no governing majority. Podemos partisan Miguel Urbán declares that, “bipartisanship is dead” in Spain, while the Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, suggests that, “maybe it’s time for a highly-regarded independent figure” to organize a government that can exclude Rajoy’s Popular Party from power. Montserrat Domínguez writes from Madrid that, “the only certainty about this election is that the country broke with its past.” From Athens, Angeliki Kougiannou speaks with filmmaker Paul Mason about his new four-part documentary series, “#ThisIsACoup,” and Greece’s political crisis this year.
Upheaval is also roiling Latin America. In recent elections, Argentina shifted to a centrist government after years of populist rule by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her predecessor and late husband, Néstor. In Venezuela, 17 years of “Chavismo” have been overturned by an opposition coalition that took the majority of seats in the Congress. Writing from Caracas, former Bolivian President Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga celebrates the momentous shift as putting Venezuela back “on the right side of history.”
Donald Trump’s call for banning foreign Muslims and immigrants from entering the U.S. has unsettled civil souls around the world. Writing from Tokyo, Shotaro Oshima recalls the 1920s ban on Japanese immigration and ponders how American law from that era might be interpreted today. Former NATO commander James Stavridis charts out what next steps the U.S. should take in Afghanistan after six American soldiers were killed in a continuing war with the Taliban that has now lasted 15 years.
Writing from Beijing, Fu Ying, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, takes us inside a closed-door meeting in which President Xi Jinping rallied key Party, provincial and national government officials to take on the challenge of persistent poverty in China. “With the Chinese poverty line defined as $360 in annual income,” Madame Fu writes, “there are still 70.17 million people living below that threshold — a number larger than Great Britain’s total population.” Former Hong Kong Governor C.H. Tung takes note of China’s recent diplomatic initiatives that are its first steps onto the world stage and lays out his view of how the Middle Kingdom will accommodate “the new normal” after years of rapid double digit growth. Recognizing that China cannot grow unless the global economy does, Vice Minister He Yafei, also writing from Beijing, argues that when China chairs the G-20 in 2016 it must press for coordinated policies among that body’s diverse nations, including in high-tech innovation and infrastructure investment, in order to reignite global growth. Sukjong Hong interviews the eldest daughter of Nam-ki Baek, an elderly South Korean farmer, who remains in critical condition after being injured by riot police in a mass demonstration in Seoul in November.
Following up on last week’s discussion in The WorldPost about China’s “Internet sovereignty” policy championed by President Xi Jinping at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Scott Malcomson argues that the balkanization of the World Wide Web is resulting in what he calls “the Splinternet.” “Non-Americans no longer trust the U.S. to put its national interests to one side in the special case of the Internet, nor do they want to have to rely, for their prosperity and even safety, on the altruism and political independence of American technology companies,” Malcomson writes. “Americans, similarly, don’t want to accept that 21st century technological life has to come at the price of total vulnerability to surveillance, nor do they want American technology companies to maintain open global networks at the price of their own personal security.”
As moviegoers throng to the latest Star Wars movie, our Singularity series this week asks how long it will be before R2-D2 and C-3PO are a reality. Fusion this week examines a new Microsoft app that can predict future crimes.
Finally, as the end of the year nears, we publish two photo essays: an array of National Geographic‘s best photos of 2015 and our own compilation of the main stories of the last year in stunning images.
WHO WE ARE
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 World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is Social Media 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).
VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS: Dawn Nakagawa.
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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