What GMF is Reading
A weekly transatlantic reading list from the desks of GMF experts:
Steven Bosacker (Director, GMF Cities – Washington):
New York Times: The World Is Helping Americans Who Don’t Always See It
Hurlburt discusses the “web of international cooperation” that is happening at the state and local levels, a central tenant to the work of GMF Cities. Her reference to “well-connected advisors for international affairs” working in cities caught our attention even more, since they constitute the members of GMF’s new network to be launched later this year. Hurlburt contends they will “point the way toward a new kind of internationalism, in which the high politics and geostrategy of the Cold War are replaced by practical, local-led cooperation.”
Spotting this in a pile of abandoned books in my neighborhood, it grabbed me for a number of reasons: to take me to countries I cannot go at present; to provide an escape from the four walls of daily quarantine here in DC; and maybe for the flashbacks to familiar places from my own around-the-world journey eight years ago, allowing me to relive those quirky moments at motley border crossings and open-air markets. Each chapter is a slightly irreverent but delicious escape.
Sudha David Wilp (Deputy Director, Berlin Office):
Whether Europe must choose between China and the United States is not a new topic. But Mathias Doepfner, CEO of Axel Springer, thinks the pandemic demands an answer to the question now. Although imperfect, he offers compelling arguments for the transatlantic partnership rather than Germany and Europe attempting to forge a middle ground, lest they be reduced to an Asian backwater while comprising values.
Financial Times: Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’
As the pandemic raced around the world at the beginning of last month, novelist Arundhati Roy tells us how the virus has exposed cracks in an India on the rise. But the story is relatable to readers all over the world. She does offer hope that a pandemic gives pause for all of us to re-imagine a new world on the other side of the curve.
Ellison Laskowski (Senior Fellow, Asia Program – Washington):
New York Times: Global Backlash Builds Against China Over Coronavirus
There are signs that China may have overplayed its hand by coupling aid donations with aggressive nationalist rhetoric and demands for expressions of gratitude. I found this piece to be a good overview of China’s strategy to rewrite the global coronavirus narrative, and of a growing backlash against such tactics.
Foreign Affairs: What Kim Wants
This was one of my favorite reads this week as it offered a fascinating look at what makes Kim Jong Un tick. Author Jung Pak unpacks some of the mystery behind the man, and suggests how policymakers might use knowledge of what motivates Kim to change his calculations about nuclear weapons.
Jonathan Katz (Senior Fellow, Frontlines of Democracy Initiative – Washington):
Carnegie Endowment: Polarization and the Pandemic
We are seeing some governments—like Turkey’s President Erdogan and the Poland’s Law and Justice party—trying to seize the moment by exploiting the pandemic for political, personal, and other gains. This new report by Carnegie exposes how the pandemic has affected new and old political fault-lines in 10 case study countries. Given GMF’s long standing focus and support for democracy, good governance, and civil society, information like this is essential not just for myself and others working on these issues, but to anyone who values democracy.
Den of Geeks: AMC's Turn: The Real Story of Capt. Simcoe
Like many seeking a stress reliever these days, I am binge watching AMC’s “Turn” on Netflix. This piece focuses on British officer Captain John Graves Simcoe who plays a starring and menacing role in the show. The series has led me down a rabbit hole, reading about George Washington, Benedict Arnold, Simcoe, and the spy ring based on Long Island—that greatly impacted the outcome of the Revolutionary War and the fate of the United States.
Kristina Kausch (Senior Resident Fellow – Brussels):
Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS): The Covid-Pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa
Contrary to the many hastily scribbled articles on the impact of the coronavirus flooding our screens, this is a nuanced, carefully composed collection of articles on different aspects of the likely impact of the coronavirus on the Middle East and North Africa, including its socio-economic and geopolitical implications.
Although it was pure coincidence that I picked up Anne Frank’s diary (which I had last read in high school) during confinement, it struck me as an incredibly intense personal account of a world of closure, sealed borders, justified paranoia, and a gripping claustrophobia that restrains and strangles people both physically and emotionally.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.