Flash Points

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The People Behind the Headlines

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British Secretary of State Liz Truss chairs a call with her G-7 counterparts.
British Secretary of State Liz Truss chairs a call with her G-7 counterparts.
British Secretary of State Liz Truss chairs a call with her G-7 counterparts in the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in London on March 31. ROTA/Camera Press/Redux

We often think about political figures in terms of the policies they promote. But diving deeper into their backgrounds can give us a greater sense of what makes them tick—what drives their political ambitions and, by extension, those of the states they influence.

In this edition of Flash Points, we examine the lives and careers of politicians from British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who will likely be the country’s next prime minister, to Pap Ndiaye, France’s first Black education minister, to the far-right firebrands shifting political debates in Turkey and South Africa.—Chloe Hadavas

Liz Truss, True Believer

From Brexit-skeptic to face of the “Global Britain” agenda, the new foreign secretary has always seen politics as philosophy in action, FP’s Amy Mackinnon writes

We often think about political figures in terms of the policies they promote. But diving deeper into their backgrounds can give us a greater sense of what makes them tick—what drives their political ambitions and, by extension, those of the states they influence.

In this edition of Flash Points, we examine the lives and careers of politicians from British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who will likely be the country’s next prime minister, to Pap Ndiaye, France’s first Black education minister, to the far-right firebrands shifting political debates in Turkey and South Africa.—Chloe Hadavas


Elizabeth Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting.
Elizabeth Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting.

Liz Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in London on Sept. 22, 2020.Leon Neal/Getty Images

Liz Truss, True Believer

From Brexit-skeptic to face of the “Global Britain” agenda, the new foreign secretary has always seen politics as philosophy in action, FP’s Amy Mackinnon writes


Closeup photo of Pap Ndiaye
Closeup photo of Pap Ndiaye

French Education and Youth Minister Pap Ndiaye sits for a photo session in Paris on June 9. JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

The Education of Pap Ndiaye

A quiet academic has become a lightning rod in France’s culture wars, J. Alex Tarquinio writes.


Operation Dudula leader Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli
Operation Dudula leader Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli

Operation Dudula leader Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli arrives for the Soweto Revival Launch at Diepkloof Extreme Park in Soweto township in Johannesburg on Feb. 27. PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images

Has South Africa’s Donald Trump Arrived?

The xenophobic firebrand Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli is courting poor Black voters by stoking hatred of foreigners. It’s working, Kate Bartlett writes.


Victory Party Chairman Umit Ozdag speaks to the media during an attempted march in front of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
Victory Party Chairman Umit Ozdag speaks to the media during an attempted march in front of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

Victory Party leader Umit Ozdag speaks to the media during an attempted march in front of the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on May 6. Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Turkey’s Far Right Has Already Won

The anti-immigration firebrand Umit Ozdag might not win a seat in parliament, but he’s shifted the national debate on refugees by vowing to expel them, Idil Karsit writes.


Two men sit together; one holds a gun
Two men sit together; one holds a gun

Hassib Habibi (left) sits with his friend Ali Wardak, an Afghan American businessman from the same province, after meeting with other members of the government and young Afghan businessmen in Kabul on June 6.Ali Latifi for Foreign Policy

Meet the Taliban’s Would-Be Rainmaker

Hassib Habibi carries his convictions as easily as his AK-47. Now he has to resuscitate the Afghan economy, Ali M. Latifi writes.

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