5 Top Reads

Our Top Weekend Reads

EU member states find commonality in crisis, Afghans accuse donor countries of hypocrisy on corruption, and how Biden’s climate plans could shape energy markets.

A Swiss customs officer
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

Previous instances of European anxiety—like the crises over the fate of the eurozone and refugees—didn’t bode well for the cohesion of the continent. In both cases, European Union member states reverted to exclusive, nationalist impulses, and the bloc’s future looked more precarious than ever. But the coronavirus pandemic is different: Miraculously, a public health catastrophe has managed to turn the EU from a mere “space” to a meaningful “place.”

Meanwhile, Afghan leaders are livid that international aid to their country is conditioned on stamping out corruption while Western donors’ contractors in Kabul are themselves accused of embezzlement schemes.

And read a sneak peek of how President-elect Joe Biden’s plans on climate may impact 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 on June 14, 2020 in Thonex near Ambilly, France.

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 Them. 

After initially precipitating chaos—and an uptick in Euroskepticism—across the EU, the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of the common market and revitalized a once waning solidarity-based European identity, Caroline de Gruyter writes.


Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto

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 Nov. 24. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP

2. Afghans, Under Fire for Corruption, Accuse Donors of Hypocrisy

Andrew Rathmell, a top NATO official in Kabul, co-founded a now-defunct U.K. development contractor that allegedly stiffed subcontractors. Now, the West has the gall to demand Afghan leaders clean up their act, Lynne O’Donnell reports.


An oil pumpjack operates near Los Angeles, California on April 21.

An oil pumpjack operates 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 promises to act on climate change were quelled by his selection of former Secretary of State John Kerry to serve as the special international envoy for climate, FP’s Jason Bordoff writes.


A group of young intellectuals and artists protest in Cuba

A group of young intellectuals and artists hold up lights on their mobile phones as they demonstrate at the doors of the Ministry of Culture during a protest in Havana, early on Nov. 28. Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

4. Pandemic Crisis Drives Cubans to Rare, Risky Protest

November saw one of Cuba’s largest documented anti-government demonstrations since the Maleconazo in 1994. Led by artists, it was the result of months of economic hardship and a marked uptick in repression—capped off by the warrantless arrest and imprisonment of rapper Denis Solís González, James Bloodworth writes.


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

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

5. Pompeo Plans Parties Flouting COVID-19 Guidelines as Death Toll Mounts

The United States is seeing daily coronavirus caseloads hit over 200,000, but that isn’t stopping Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from hosting lavish holiday events that expose catering and waitstaff—most of whom don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance—to potential infection, FP’s Robbie Gramer reports.

Allison Meakem is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @allisonmeakem

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