"It kind of disappeared," said one woman at the end of the World Economic Forum when someone asked what happened to perhaps the greatest issue facing the world today.
The witching hour had come to Davos. Inside the convention center, workmen walked the halls where, earlier in the day, world leaders paraded among their entourages. The guys in overalls were pulling the signs off the walls; they were striking the sets and stages in the conference rooms on Saturday night. This is the way the World Economic Forum ends every year, not with a bang, but a whimper.In other corners of this snow-covered town nestled high in the Swiss Alps, the last of the extravagant networking parties were winding down.
It’s not that the elites in Davos find the war in Syria hard to imagine, it’s that they just have no idea how to end it.
This video did not go viral: A cameraman is filming a little girl on a streetcorner in Aleppo. She is singing a Syrian song about freedom when a mortar shell lands nearby. Suddenly dust, like a fog, obscures everything. As it clears, a man is there on the ground covered in blood. People are running. Even on a laptop you can almost taste the grit in your mouth and breathe the sharp smell of the explosives. It’s at the limit of one's ability to watch, but not so horrible that it should not be watched.
Speaking at Davos, the Israeli Prime Minister tried to sell his country as “what’s right with the Middle East.”
Bibi Netanyahu talked to the World Economic Forum this afternoon like a pitchman on a road show. The prime minister of Israel was selling, selling, selling his country not just as “the start-up nation” but “the innovation nation.” Even its creation was an innovation, he said.And, oh, by the way, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who spoke earlier in the day, simply lied about Iran’s intentions in Syria and its effort to build nukes. Rouhani’s rhetoric was a “change of words with unchanging deeds,” said Netanyahu, and what’s more, many of the Arab governments in the region understand that.
The Iranian president told the assembled leaders what they wanted to hear … almost.
It’s fair to say that despite the turban and robes, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani fits right in at Davos, and his speech to the packed auditorium at the World Economic Forum was tailored to his audience like a form-fitting chador: it revealed the shape of his thinking, but none of the details.His basic message was simple: the world has recognized Iran’s right to have a peaceful nuclear program, including the enrichment of uranium. Because of that, the door is opened to negotiations that will allow Iran not only to rejoin the community of nations, with sanctions lifted, but to become a major player on the regional and world scene.
Even the high and mighty assembling at the Swiss resort recognize, now, that grotesque inequality is the greatest threat to world peace. Their answer: Party on!
Not so long ago and not so very far away, there were people who thought they were masters of the universe. They were very powerful and very rich (and very often both), and each year they got together on a mountaintop in Switzerland to congratulate themselves, network with each other and confer about how best to bring order and prosperity to humankind.From afar, the confab known as the World Economic Forum in Davos looked a little like Asgard, the mythical home of the Norse gods.
Bears were nowhere to be found at Davos, but dark international clouds were swirling, reports Dan Gross.