1918: THE VIEW FROM 2018

World leaders gathered under gray, rainy skies in Paris this the weekend to commemorate the end of World War I. Many of those in attendance framed their observations about that history in ways that reveal something important about what makes them tick today.


Here is Gabe with a few statements that stood out to us:

“Patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism.” – In the highest profile speech of the celebrations, French President Emmanuel Macron delivered adirect rebuke to the nationalism espoused by President Trump and his admirers in Central and Southern Europe. For Macron, who envisions a Europe ever more deeply integrated, the resurgence of nationalism today recalls the dangers that stalked Europe after 1918. He’s fashioned himself as the antidote.

“It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended.” – After a high-profile absence one day earlier, President Trump praised US veterans on Sunday in a speech that mentioned America’s allies but largely focused on the American soldiers lost during the conflict. The mention of “civilization,” a phrase that’s featured prominently in previous speeches of the US president, paints a picture of a world the remains divided into different camps today on the basis of history.

"It is not possible to claim that the conflict is over." – For Turkish President Erdogan, who was also present in Paris, the ongoing instability in the Middle East is a product of the flawed peace brokered after WWI, in which Western powers carved up the region in unsustainable ways. The lesson Erdogan draws from World War I: the West must stop interfering in Turkey and the Middle East.

“Yet our soldiers fought world over.” – More than 70,000 Indian soldiers died in World War I, pulled by their British colonizers into a conflict a continent away. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commemorated the sacrifice of his countrymen in a “conflict in which India was not directly involved.” His statement and participation in the celebrations in Paris are a reminder of themany non-Europeans who gave their lives in a conflict from which they had little to gain.

We're used to seeing electric, gas and wood-burning ovens, but can you imagine baking pizza in a solar-powered oven? That technology was invented in the latest episode of Funny Applications, where Eni's budding researchers imagine new uses for technology.

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It looks like China's leadership has finally had enough of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

In a speech on Thursday to the national people's congress, a symbolic confab of the country's ruling elite, Premier Li Keqiang announced a new national security law that would outlaw secessionist activity and criminalize foreign influence in Hong Kong. The measure, an explicit response to recent pro-democracy protests there, would also permit mainland China's security agencies to operate openly in the city.

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Indonesia becomes an epicenter: Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, is now considered an epicenter of the pandemic, after it suffered its biggest daily surge in cases Thursday with over 900 new infections. The country of 260 million has the largest outbreak in Southeast Asia, recording about 20,000 cases and 1,300 deaths, though a recent study suggested that as few as 2 percent of the country's coronavirus infections may have been reported. When pressed on why Indonesia is experiencing a surge in cases while the curve appears to be flattening in neighboring countries, Indonesian health authorities blamed the public's flouting of social distancing guidelines. But critics say the government has sent wishy-washy messages on how to stop the disease's spread, as demonstrated by the fact that only four of Indonesia's 34 provinces have applied widespread social-distancing restrictions. Meanwhile, as the country's 225 million Muslims prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadan this weekend, popular markets have been overwhelmed by shoppers buying food and clothing, with little guidance or enforcement of large-scale social distancing measures. Indonesia's public health system is grossly underfunded, and experts warn that given the shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and staff, the situation could deteriorate fast in the coming weeks.

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This is not the 2020 that Vladimir Putin had in mind.

As the year started, Russia's president was crafting plans for changes to the constitution that would permit him to stay in power for (at least) another 16 years. A rubber stamp public referendum was to be held in April. Then, in May, he was to welcome foreign leaders to Moscow for a grand celebration (parades, concerts, fireworks, and a reviewing stand atop Lenin's Mausoleum) marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.

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Have you ever read a major op-ed and thought to yourself, "no! no! no! That's just not right!" Us too. This week, Ian Bremmer is joined by analysts Kelsey Broderick and Jeffrey Wright to take the Red Pen to former World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick's Wall Street Journal op-ed.

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