People raise their hands during a mass opposition rally against President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas on Jan. 23. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)
People raise their hands during a mass opposition rally against President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas on Jan. 23. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

5 Top Reads

Our Best Weekend Reads

From turmoil in Venezuela to a meeting of minds in Davos.

On Jan. 23, Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, declared himself the country’s interim president. The Trump administration quickly announced U.S. support for Guaidó, and many thousands of Venezuelans cheered the announcement, which followed months of political and economic uncertainty in the country. But how did we get here?

Start with Foreign Policy global geoeconomics correspondent Keith Johnson’s essential piece on the rise—and tragic fall—of one of world’s richest oil economies.

Then read Christopher Balding, a former associate professor of business and economics at the HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, who offered a primer on how Chinese loans helped prop up the regime of current President Nicolás Maduro in the first place.

And, with problems mounting in the United States’ backyard, Brian Fonseca, the director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, argues that a military coup in Venezuela could be the opportunity Russia and China are looking for to expand their strategic partnerships with nations in the Western Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, many of the world’s top leaders and thinkers convened at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. On Jan. 24, FP Editor in Chief Jonathan Tepperman moderated a timely panel on the future of Venezuela.

Below are five essential Foreign Policy essays and articles that encapsulate the biggest headlines of the week.


Venezuelan National Assembly head Juan Guaidó declares himself the country’s acting president in Caracas on Jan. 23. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Venezuelan Opposition Leader Declares Himself President, With Trump Backing

The White House officially threw its support behind Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader, who declared himself the country’s interim president Wednesday. FP’s Keith Johnson and Robbie Gramer dive into whether or not the country’s military will throw its support behind him or remain with President Nicolás Maduro.


Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 4, 2016. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

2. Europe’s Future Is as China’s Enemy

U.S. President Donald Trump has long threatened to withdraw the United States from NATO. FP’s Stephen M. Walt argues that now is the time for Europe to take sides if it wants a chance at saving the North Atlantic alliance.


Pro-European Union supporters celebrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Jan. 15, after an overwhelming vote against the government’s Brexit deal. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

3. Sorry, Britain, You’re Just Not That Important for Europe

What kind of lasting impact would Brexit have for the future of the continent? Maybe not a lot, Simon Tilford, the deputy research director for global economy and finance at Chatham House, argues.


The U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

4. New Bill Seeks to Energize American Cyberdiplomacy

FP’s Elias Groll and Robbie Gramer report on a new bill being brought forward by the heads of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that seeks to energize U.S. cyberdiplomacy and balance the country’s national security and human rights concerns. If passed, the bill would establish a new Office of International Cyberspace Policy at the State Department and respond to a growing need to establish clear guidelines governing state behavior in cyberspace.


Riccardo Vecchio Imprints illustration for Foreign Policy

5. Springtime for Strongmen

2018 was the year for the advance of the strongman leader, from China’s Xi Jinping to Russian President Vladimir Putin to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The world’s authoritarians are putting order first—and considering liberty later, or never, Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Washington Post contributor, writes for our winter issue.


Foreign Policy’s annual Global Thinkers list, highlighting 2018’s top 100 most influential thinkers and doers, is now live. Follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #FPGlobalThinkers, and read the full list—as well as essays by some of our Global Thinkers—here.


The Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in Washington on Jan. 8 before a hearing for his lawsuit against the government of Iran. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

This week on our First Person podcast, FP Deputy Editor Sarah Wildman talks to Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian about the harrowing 544 days he was held in an Iranian prison.

 Twitter: @adrienneshih