Foreign Policy

Our high weekend reads

Previous cases of European concern – such as the crisis over the fate of the euro area and the refugees – were not a good sign of the continent’s cohesion. In both cases, the member states of the European Union returned to exclusive nationalist impulses and the bloc’s future looked more precarious than ever. The coronavirus pandemic is different, however: miraculously, a public health disaster has transformed the EU from a mere “space” into a meaningful “place”.

Meanwhile, Afghan leaders are angry that international aid to their country depends on fighting corruption, while Western donors’ contractors in Kabul are themselves accused of embezzlement.

And read a quick look at how President-elect Joe Biden’s climate plans can affect the global economy.

Here are Foreign policy‘s top weekend reads.

A Swiss customs officer attaches a chain to a fence after opening the Swiss-French border in Thonex near Ambilly, France on June 14. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

1. Europe needed borders. Coronavirus built it.

After initially causing chaos – and a rise in euroscepticism – across the EU, the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of the common market and revived a once dwindling European identity based on solidarity, writes Caroline de Gruyter.

Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto attend a press conference at the 2020 Afghanistan Donor Conference, hosted by the United Nations in Geneva on November 24. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

2. Afghans under fire for corruption accuse donors of hypocrisy

Andrew Rathmell, a senior NATO official in Kabul, co-founded a now-defunct UK development company that allegedly stiffened subcontractors. Now the West has the gall to ask Afghan leaders to clean up their act, reports Lynne O’Donnell.

An oil pump jack is in operation near Los Angeles on April 21. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images

3. How Biden’s climate plans will shake up global energy markets

Any doubts about the seriousness of Biden’s pledge to tackle climate change have been removed by his selection of former Secretary of State John Kerry as the special international envoy on the climate, writes FP’s Jason Bordoff.

A group of young intellectuals and artists hold lights on their phones as they demonstrate outside the doors of the Ministry of Culture during a protest in Havana early November 28th. Yamil Location / AFP via Getty Images

4. Pandemic crisis drives Cubans to rare, risky protests

November saw one of the largest documented anti-government demonstrations in Cuba since the Maleconazo in 1994. Under the guidance of artists, this was the result of months of economic hardship and a sharp rise in repression – culminating in the illegal arrest and imprisonment of rapper Denis Solís González James Bloodworth writes.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press conference in Jerusalem on November 18.Menahem Kahana / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

5. Pompeo plans parties violating COVID-19 guidelines as fatalities

The U.S. records more than 200,000 coronavirus cases daily, but that doesn’t stop Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from running lavish vacation events that open catering and waiters – most of whom don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance – to potential infections, according to Robbie Gramer FP reports.

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