5 Top Reads

Your top five weekly reads of the week.

Our Top Weekend Reads

Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s journey from the Jim Crow South, why global celebrities are taking on Modi, and what the United States shouldn’t do about Myanmar’s coup.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in Washington on Jan. 27. Michael Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

With Linda Thomas-Greenfield set to take center stage at the United Nations, Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer chronicle her journey from the Jim Crow South to the heights of U.S. diplomacy. If confirmed as U.N. ambassador, Thomas-Greenfield will play a key role in repairing relations with Washington’s allies. One of her tactics? “Gumbo diplomacy”—the term she coined to advocate her brand of diplomacy, based on the practice of courting foreign dignitaries over the Cajun dish from her home state of Louisiana.

Meanwhile, Rihanna’s unexpected support for the farmers’ protests in India on Twitter has spurred celebrities worldwide to speak out about New Delhi’s crackdown on dissent. In response, the government’s battle against the protesters and their powerful supporters has taken a more serious turn.

And the foreign-policy experts who are waiting for Beijing to test the new Biden administration may have flawed ideas about the state of relations between the two giants. In short, what analysts see as provocations are just the routine churn of Chinese action.

Here are Foreign Policy’s top weekend reads.


Linda Thomas-Greenfield answers questions during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington on Jan. 27.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield answers questions during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington on Jan. 27. Greg Nash/Getty Images

1. Gumbo Diplomacy Comes to Turtle Bay

If confirmed by the Senate as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield will play a key role in President Joe Biden’s attempts to redirect U.S. foreign policy from his predecessor’s “America first” agenda, Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer write.


Activists of the United Hindu Front hold pictures of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Barbadian singer Rihanna in New Delhi on Feb. 4.

Activists of the United Hindu Front hold pictures of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Barbadian singer Rihanna in New Delhi on Feb. 4.MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images

2. Why Rihanna and Greta Thunberg Are Taking on India’s Modi

Celebrities worldwide, from Rihanna to Greta Thunberg, have spoken out on social media in support of the farmers’ protests in India. Now, the government’s battle against the protesters and their celebrity supporters has escalated, Salil Tripathi writes.


An anti-coup protester holds up a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi in front of the Myanmar embassy on Feb. 4 in Bangkok.

An anti-coup protester holds up a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi in front of the Myanmar embassy on Feb. 4 in Bangkok. Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

3. What America Should—and Shouldn’t—Do About Myanmar’s Coup

Some observers have called the coup in Myanmar “an early test of American moral authority” under the new administration. But only a foreign-policy elite addicted to telling the world what to do would see it this way, Foreign Policy’s Stephen M. Walt writes.


U.S. Navy Lt. Shane Osborn describes the roll of the U.S. electronic surveillance aircraft he was piloting following its encounter with a Chinese fighter plane during a media briefing at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, on April 14, 2001.

U.S. Navy Lt. Shane Osborn describes the roll of the U.S. electronic surveillance aircraft he was piloting following its encounter with a Chinese fighter plane during a media briefing at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, on April 14, 2001. George Lee/AFP via Getty Images

4. Stop Looking for Beijing’s Big Test of the Biden Administration

Analysts and journalists have agonized for months over how the Chinese Communist Party might test the new U.S. administration. But Beijing doesn’t go out of its way to provoke new U.S. leaders, Blake Herzinger writes.


Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses a press conference at the end of a European People’s Party meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels on March 20, 2019.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses a press conference at the end of a European People’s Party meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels on March 20, 2019. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

5. How the European Parliament Entrenched the Region’s Autocrats

The European Parliament’s transnational party infrastructure was meant to usher in an age of true European democracy. Instead, its parties have welcomed undemocratic national figures into their ranks and given them validation, Dalibor Rohac writes.

Chloe Hadavas is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @Hadavas