When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

Is Soft Power Dead?

With an activist Supreme Court creating a gap between democratic rhetoric and reality in the U.S., and Russia and China eager to flex military muscle, the full-force return to hard power looks bound for dominance.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Russia's war in Ukraine rages on, tensions are erupting in the South China Sea and now abortion rights are being stripped away in the U.S.: Looking around the world, we have to ask: what is left of the notion of soft power?

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

How can we talk about the power to convince when the power to coerce is increasingly the norm? And when there is such a gap between rhetoric and reality in the U.S. and in Russia and China, hard power almost seems to have become part of soft power?

“We will lead the world not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Joe Biden said the day after his election. But what kind of example was he talking about? That of the Supreme Court’s judges, whose decision promises a terrible future to women and to all those who still wanted to believe in an enlightened and liberal America?

Watch Video Show less

End Of Roe v. Wade, The World Is Watching

As the Supreme Court decides to overturn the 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights, many fear an imminent threat to abortion rights in the U.S. But in other countries, the global fight for sexual and reproductive rights is going in different directions.

PARIS — Nearly 50 years after it ensured the right to abortion to Americans, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case, meaning that millions of women in the U.S. may lose their constitutional right to abortion.

The groundbreaking decision is likely to set off a range of restrictions on abortion access in multiple states in the U.S., half of which are expected to implement new bans on the procedure. Thirteen have already passed "trigger laws" that will automatically make abortion illegal.

U.S. President Joe Biden called the ruling "a tragic error" and urged individual states to enact laws to allow the procedure.

In a country divided on such a polarizing topic, the decision is likely to cause major shifts in American law and undoubtedly spark outrage among the country’s pro-choice groups. Yet the impact of such a momentous shift, like others in the United States, is also likely to reverberate around the world — and perhaps, eventually, back again in the 50 States.

Keep reading... Show less

Stark World Divisions, As BRICS And EU Meetings Coincide

Russian President Vladimir Putin is being hosted (virtually) by China, along with Brazil, India and South Africa, as Europe is set to offer precious EU candidate status to Ukraine.

The synching of the diplomatic calendar is pure coincidence, but it offers a clear picture of a world starkly divided nearly four months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

China is hosting the 14th BRICS summit alongside the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa to discuss global economic recovery, climate action and public health. The meeting is the clearest opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin since his invasion of Ukraine to demonstrate that he is not isolated diplomatically.

Keep reading... Show less

A Bitter Road Back For Hong Kong Students Arrested During 2019 Protests

Thousands of students and young people were detained during Hong Kong's democracy protests in 2019. Now with criminal records, many are struggling to re-integrating into a changed society

HONG KONG — Shortly after his release from the Detention Center, Ah Tao received a phone call from his secondary school headmaster. The headmaster told the Hong Kong teenager that it might not be a good idea for him to continue his studies, and that there were some barista courses outside school he might as well try.

Tao did not respond to the suggestion, and hung up after a few pleasantries.

Back when he was arrested on the street in 2019, Tao had completed his third year, and the school promised to hold his place. However, they stated that if he committed any offenses again, he could be expelled. Tao was already prepared for such a phone call. At that moment, he felt strongly that he was just a young person who had broken the law, and even his school did not want him anymore.

In 2019, the Hong Kong government proposed an amendment bill on extradition that would allow the transfer of fugitives from between Mainland China and Hong Kong. The bill received widespread criticism, with fears it would hamper political dissent in Hong Kong and led to large-scale protests.

Keep reading... Show less
In The News
Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri and Lisa Berdet

"Catastrophic Destruction” In Ukraine, Japan Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban, HK Restaurant Sinks

👋 Avuxeni!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where “catastrophic destruction” is reported in eastern Ukraine, Japan upholds a same-sex marriage ban and an iconic Hong Kong restaurant is now feeding the fish. Meanwhile, an English Professor reflects in The Conversation on the linguistic implications of the Ukraine war and censorship on speech and silence.

[*Tsonga, South Africa and Mozambique]

Watch Video Show less
In The News
Anna Akage, Meike Eijsberg, Joel Silvestri, Lisa Berdet, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

More Signs It Could Be A Very Long War

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says the Russia-Ukraine war could last "years," and Boris Johnson concurs that signs show it won't be resolved anytime soon.

During an interview with the German newspaper Bild, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said that the war in Ukraine “could take years.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Stoltenberg also used the interview in Germany’s most popular daily to clarify NATO's position in the war: “NATO will continue to support Ukraine in its self-defense, but is not part of the conflict. We are helping the country, but we will not send NATO soldiers to Ukraine.”

Watch Video Show less
In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Cameron Manley, Lila Paulou and Emma Albright

Macron, Scholz, Draghi In Kyiv - EU Membership On The Table

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi made a joint visit to Ukraine on Thursday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the country’s EU membership aspirations and further arms supplies to repel Russia’s invasion.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The trio of European leaders arrived in Kyiv on an overnight train, joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Upon arriving, Macron highlighted the symbolic importance of the trip, stating: “It's an important moment. It's a message of unity we're sending to the Ukrainians, of support, to talk both about the present and the future, since the coming weeks, as we know, will be very difficult.”

Watch Video Show less
Ideas
Andrej Mrevlje

A Slavic Take On The Russian Complex Of Superiority

Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine has turned the world on its head. As shocking as it is, those closer to Russia sense something familiar in the past three months. This personal dispatch is about the Russians and the Slavs (I am the latter).

-Essay-

LJUBLJANA — I don’t have a great relationship with Russia. Growing up in Slovenia, I did not need to learn Russian to grasp the beauty of classic pre-Soviet literature. The translations of Russian masterpieces into my native language have been admirable.

But besides my proxy relation to Russian culture, I had very few run-ins with actual Russians since, to my knowledge, none of them lived in Slovenia. Well, except one: An athletically-built young man with long curly hair. I recall him mingling with the poets and other groups in a bohemian bar in Ljubljana. I forgot his name, but he disappeared from the scene after a few years. There was talk that he might have been a Russian intelligence officer or a drug pusher. But I had no idea. The matter never interested me enough to investigate further.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

During World War II, my parents took part in the resistance war against Nazi occupiers and spoke fluent German. As a consequence, German was the first foreign language I learned. But it was also the language I used the least. In high school, I learned English and French. I felt no attraction and no affinity to Russian, a language that I felt would be easy to grasp, something that, in a way, was too close and familiar.

But at the same time, there was always a great diffidence toward anything Russian. After the dispute between Joseph Stalin and Tito, and Yugoslavia’s exit from the Soviet bloc in 1948, both sides never recovered the comradeship from the revolutionary times of the Third International.

But to my mind, there was more to it.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Dominique Moïsi

Why China Is Still Watching Ukraine So Closely

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the rules of diplomacy. As Russia and China show budding unity, the world's diplomats must look at the effects of Eastern Europe on East Asia — and Taiwan specifically.

-Analysis-

PARIS — A few days ago in Tokyo, during the “Quad” summit (the security group of Japan, Australia, India and the U.S.), President Joe Biden promised to use force if China ever attacked Taiwan. Shortly after, the White House made it clear that nothing had changed in the doctrine of "strategic ambiguity" which was (and remains?) U.S. policy on the question of Taiwan.

Watch Video Show less
Coronavirus
Liang Yue and Yuan Huiyan.

Hong Kong's Strict COVID Rules  Are Sparking An Exodus Of Foreigners

Enduring COVID restrictions are the final straw for many expats in Hong Kong. They're leaving by the thousands, threatening the city's reputation as a financial hub.

HONG KONG — “It's not the policy itself, but the lack of any rationale behind it that's made me choose to leave...” Steven (not his real name), an American senior executive of a strategic consulting firm who had been working in Hong Kong for seven years until April of this year.

More than two years on since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Hong Kong administration has been closely following mainland China's “Dynamic Clearing Policy”. The particularly strict social restrictions, vaccination policy and business operation limits, as well as the two to three weeks of quarantine imposed on arrival in the city, have pushed both local and international business circles to request the Hong Kong government to review the intangible and tangible economic costs behind the COVID-zero strategy.

Watch Video Show less
In The News
Lisa Berdet, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

EU’s Russian Oil Ban, Canada Handgun Ban, Caked Mona Lisa

👋 Xin chào!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where EU leaders agree on a partial embargo on Russian oil, Canada proposes a total freeze on handgun ownership, and the Mona Lisa gets smeared with cream. Meanwhile, Jacques Attali in French daily Les Echos asks: Are we ready for the return of Donald Trump?

[*Vietnamese]

Watch Video Show less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS