Commentary

The State of the United States

NEW YORK – The US presidential election is still more than half a year away, and it is impossible to know with any certainty who will be nominated to represent the major parties, much less who will be the 45th occupant of the White House. But it is not too soon to assess the mood of the country's more than 320 million inhabitants and what it will mean for the man or woman who ultimately prevails in what must seem to most people around the world to be an endless political soap opera.

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America Returns to Cuba

BEIJING – Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba is the first by a US president since Calvin Coolidge went in 1928. American investors, expat Cubans, tourists, scholars, and scam artists will follow in Obama’s wake. Normalization of the bilateral relationship will pose opportunities and perils for Cuba, and a giant test of maturity for the United States.

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A Quantum of Happiness

DUBAI – I’m delighted to join in the celebration of this year’s International Day of Happiness. But, to be honest, my focus is on the other 364 days of the year. After all, I am in the happiness business.

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How Autopsies Can Save Children’s Lives

SEATTLE – In an age in which data are more plentiful and accessible than ever before, we are accustomed to basing our decisions on as much evidence as we can gather. The more important the decision, the keener we are to ensure that our research is thorough and our information is accurate.

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The New Generation Gap

NEW YORK – Something interesting has emerged in voting patterns on both sides of the Atlantic: Young people are voting in ways that are markedly different from their elders. A great divide appears to have opened up, based not so much on income, education, or gender as on the voters' generation.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and European Growth Statistics

ATHENS – “Greece has at last returned to economic growth.” That was the official European Union storyline at the end of 2014. Alas, Greek voters, unimpressed by this rejoicing, ousted the incumbent government and, in January 2015, voted for a new administration in which I served as finance minister.

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Ensuring Africa’s Continued Rise

LAGOS – Africa’s rise is in danger of faltering. After years during which the continent’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 5%, global uncertainty, depressed commodity prices, and jittery external conditions are threatening to undermine decades of much-needed progress. Ensuring the wealth and wellbeing of the continent’s residents will not be easy; but there is much that policymakers can do to put Africa back on an upward trajectory.

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The World According to Trump

PARIS – The word “trump,” according to the dictionary, is an alteration of the word triumph. And because Donald Trump, the US presidential candidate, appears likely to become the nominee of the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, we owe it to ourselves to ask in what sense and for whom he represents a triumph.

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Defamation and Development in the Arab World

AMMAN – With the violent radicalism and civil wars of the Middle East and North Africa capturing the world’s attention, the region’s grossly distorted legal systems are being given short shrift. Yet problematic laws like those criminalizing defamation, which facilitate political and economic repression, undermine development – and destroy lives.

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The Drug War on Women

NEW YORK – When I was growing up in communist Poland, International Women’s Day was viewed as an opportunity to celebrate women’s contributions and accomplishments. But it was a hollow token. The following day, women went back to their lives of limited opportunity. No one-day holiday can do much to redress generations of discrimination.

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