A Week Around the World With The Atlantic

The Winter Olympics and the future of German democracy

Cheerleaders of North Korea await the start of the opening ceremony.  (Eric Gaillard / Reuters)

What We’re Writing

The Winter Olympics: The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, kicked off today. Here’s a list of the most promising athletes to watch for as the Games get underway, spanning four continents. The Games carry the heavy burden of the world’s hope that sports diplomacy will lead to peace between North and South Korea. But Krishnadev Calamur asks: Do the Olympics really matter anymore? And Uri Friedman looks at past crises between the U.S. and North Korea, and concludes that history suggests the current crisis is likelier to lead to a compromise than to devolve into fighting.

The future of German democracy: Despite Angela Merkel’s victory in last September’s German election, her party had, until now, failed to make a coalition deal and form a government. In the face of a tense atmosphere in the Bundestag, brought about by the presence of the far-right AfD party, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and her main opposition party, the Social Democrats, came to an agreement on a grand coalition deal this week. But not everyone within the Social Democratic Party agrees that the left should make that deal; the leader of the party’s young socialists wing, Kevin Kühnert, has been lobbying his party to avoid centrism and reconnect with its leftist origins.


Diego Patino

In The Atlantic’s March issue, Benjamin Carlson explains why the Chinese people identify with Donald Trump and why its leaders want to work with him. Read about why Sino-American relations may be getting better, not worse, under the Trump presidency here.


“I think a lot of French people would be surprised to see that it has gotten so much attention here and it’s being copied,” Hudson Institute fellow Benjamin Haddad told Krishnadev Calamur about the Bastille Day parade in France, which Donald Trump has said he wants to copy here in the U.S. Read about the implications of an American military parade here.

“Every Jew who is still alive and comes from Poland could be prosecuted.” Polish scholar Jan T. Gross told Rachel Donadio that Poland’s new Holocaust law could potentially endanger the freedom of speech of those who study and talk about Poland’s role in the Holocaust. Read about the law here.

Our Long Read of the Week

Rachel Donadio, our Paris correspondent, wrote about the investigation into the murder of Malta’s most famous journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, here:

Caruana Galizia was harassed for years. During an election campaign, the governing party had put her face on wordless billboards, along with opposition politicians, marking her as a political enemy. The family home had been set on fire twice. Pet dogs had been found killed. “This didn’t come out of the blue. Her assassination wasn’t some kind of aberration,” Andrew Caruana Galizia, another of her sons and a Maltese diplomat, said at the Council of Europe. “The fact that the people she had implicated in her investigations got away with complete impunity and any kind of institutional response was completely crushed meant that her assassination was not only conceivable, it actually became possible,” he said. “The people she reported on faced no other threat except from her.”

Hers was the fifth death by car bomb in Malta in the past few years, and none of the other cases have been solved. It may take time to solve her murder, but the question is whether Malta’s institutions have the political will to try. The accused, who are charged with detonating the bomb from afar, are most likely foot soldiers in a much bigger game. Malta’s ability to solve Caruana Galizia’s murder is implicitly linked to its ability to investigate the allegations she had been reporting on. For years, she had probed corruption and foot-dragging in the same institutions now charged with investigating her death.

The case points to deeper structural flaws in the rule of law in Malta.

What We’re Reading

The White Darkness, by David Grann, is the interactive tale of Henry Worsley’s journey to trek on foot from one side of Antartica to the other. (Via New Yorker)

The Dog Thief Killings, by Calvin Godfrey, tells the curious story of the thieves who steal dogs in Vietnam for popular consumption. (Via Roads & Kingdoms)

The Underground Punks of Yangon, by Michael Isaac Stein, explores networks of punk bands in the highly controlled Buddhist-majority nation of Burma. (Via Pacific Standard Magazine)