The Transnational Trolley and Doughnuts in Juarez: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

Rykoff Collection / Corbis / Getty

Is Europe Disintegrating?
Timothy Garton Ash | The New York Review of Books
“The period of European history after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 might be called, in shorthand, ‘post-wall.’ But then we face a further question: Are we still in that period? Or did the post-wall era end during my imagined cryogenic slumber, sometime between the high point of early 2005 and the low of today? Such bookend dates are always contestable, but it seems plausible to suggest that the financial crisis of 2008–2009, which started in the US but rapidly spread to Europe, has initiated a new period characterized by three larger crises: of capitalism, of democracy, and of the project of European integration.”

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The Obama Legacy on Jihadism
Robin Wright | The New Yorker
“One of the most memorable moments of the Obama Presidency was his abrupt appearance on nationwide television, shortly before midnight, on Sunday, May 1, 2011. The press pool, which had been given a ‘lid’ to stand down for the night almost six hours earlier, received an e-mail alert from the White House to get positioned for a statement. Many had to scramble to get ready before President Obama walked down the red carpet to a podium set up in the East Room. ‘Tonight,’ he announced, ‘I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda.’

It would prove to be the Obama Administration’s high point in confronting jihadism. The President’s legacy on extremism will be mixed. He leaves the White House with the threat both broader and more diverse than when he took office. During his eight years, jihadis gained far more turf, more followers, more arms, and more money. They have had a deadlier impact and a bigger theatre of operations than they had in 2009—even though most of the trends were seeded during the Bush Administration. Obama may never fully recover from his description of the Islamic State, in 2014, to David Remnick, as the ‘jayvee team’ involved in ‘various local power struggles.’”

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The Legend of El Paso’s Transnational Streetcar
Kriston Capps | CityLab
“For nearly a century, the international streetcar ferried workers, shoppers, and commuters between El Paso and Juárez. At the height of its service in the 1960s, the line offered more than 500 trips a day. Before the border was fortified by fences and concertina wire, it was notable as the site of the highest-grossing J.C. Penney department store in the U.S.—in El Paso, where Mexican nationals shopped every day. While it may be hard to believe now—what with the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the former Mexican President Vicente Fox squaring off over who exactly will pay for Trump’s impossible border wall—the transnational trolley once unified the conurbation of Paso del Norte.”

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With The Far-Right Rising, Dutch Create Their Own Parties For Immigrants
Lauren Frayer | NPR
“Denk's candidates include a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf, people of Turkish and Moroccan descent and black people like Simons. All of them say they've felt left out of Dutch politics, especially now that the far-right, anti-Muslim leader Geert Wilders is surging in the polls.

‘People of color are not recognized as proper Dutch, and there is where the anger is, from people who are seen as second-class citizens, while they were born here,’ says Sandew Hira, an economist and historian who leads the International Institute for Scientific Research, which studies colonialism and is based in The Hague.”

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Putin and Erdogan’s Marriage of Convenience
Henri J. Barkey | Foreign Policy
“These episodes are emblematic of the changing nature of the Russian-Turkish relationship. Frustrated by the Syrian opposition’s loss of ground against President Bashar al-Assad, and fearing the empowerment of the Syrian Kurds, Erdogan began to tack toward Moscow and away from its Western alliance partners roughly a year after Ankara shot down the Russian warplane. Turkey is now one of the parties in the Syrian cease-fire negotiations, along with Russia and Iran; its equities are the armed Sunni opposition groups that depend on Ankara. By contrast, the United States, Turkey’s traditional ally, was excluded from the negotiations and the pending conference in Astana.

Considering that Moscow and Ankara had been at loggerheads since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, with each supporting opposing factions, how did this new result come about? The answer paradoxically lies more in Erdogan’s pique at the United States than anything Putin may have done.”

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The ‘Krispy Kreme Familia’ and the Black Market Doughnuts of Juarez
Kate Linthicum | Los Angeles Times
”In Juarez, Garcia, 51, and her two sons are the undisputed kings of the Krispy Kreme black market.

Several times a week, one son crosses the border to El Paso and drives to the Krispy Kreme shop there, where the bulk purchase price is about $5 a dozen. He returns to Mexico with around 40 boxes of doughnuts so habit-forming that comedian Chris Rock once suggested they might be laced with crack.

In Juarez, Garcia and another son sell the doughnuts nightly from two locations for $8 a dozen, or a 60% markup.”