Editor’s note: Our beloved World Editor Christopher Dickey wrote this ode to The Daily Beast’s coverage and to his network of foreign correspondents just weeks before he suddenly passed away. It exemplifies the best of what he brought to the site, and to journalism, and to all of us, every day.
PARIS—At The Daily Beast we like to say our world news coverage focuses on “dictators, dissidents, and dangerous places,” but when we first came up with that alliterative motto I don’t think any of us imagined we’d see so many reflections of dictatorship, dissent, and danger in the United States.
In fact, international news and U.S. news are perilously intertwined in ways they never have been before, feeding off of each other in a constant rush of events that The Daily Beast is covering around the globe and around the clock.
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One example: Since 2016, Americans have had to think about Russia a lot because Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly has thought a great deal about the U.S. and how he can unravel the fabric of American democracy. Now, thanks in part to him, it’s in tatters: the president of the United States has been impeached for abusing his power while following up on Putin’s conspiracy theories about Ukraine—yet that president remains in office, more divisive than ever.
We can call the ongoing constitutional meltdown the Russian leader’s “mission accomplished,” but we cannot call it a surprise. At every step of the way, including on the front lines of the Ukraine War, Anna Nemtsova, Michael Weiss, Julia Davis, Will Cathcart and others have brought us the story as it developed.
North Korea has managed to carry on a bizarre love-hate relationship with the U.S. president while showing no signs it will surrender nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can threaten every city in the continental United States. Donald Kirk, reporting out of Seoul, has covered every key development in this thermonuclear psychodrama.
Our correspondent in Japan, Jake Adelstein, made his rep writing about the yakuza, which turned out to be a great foundation for his coverage of the Shinzo Abe government and its slide toward authoritarianism.
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Islamic State terrorists have lost their caliphate but metastasized like a cancer, embedding themselves all over the world, and just waiting for their chance to carry out a devastating attack on American soil. Florian Neuhof covered much of the fighting in Syria and Iraq while Anne Speckhard and her team of researchers conducted exhaustive interviews with captured jihadists. Spencer Ackerman, Adam Rawnsley, Rita Katz and others have tracked the continuing spread of terrorist cells and terrorist ideologies, Islamic and otherwise.
The fighting in Syria between the Russian-Iranian-backed Assad regime and Turkish-backed militias has intensified. They now appear headed for an apocalyptic dénouement and Jeremy Hodge is following developments closely.
Afghanistan’s Taliban may be willing to make deals helping U.S. troops leave their country, but only so they can take over again, vitiating completely whatever was achieved in the longest American war. Sami Yousafzai has extraordinary sources among the Taliban themselves.
The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has lost its most famous commander, blown away in Baghdad by American hellfire missiles, but it is calculating more ways to strike back. Nobody believes its commanders were satisfied with brain damage inflicted on more than 60 U.S. soldiers by Iran’s ballistic missiles. In addition to great work by our national security team, including Ackerman and Erin Banco, some of our most interesting coverage from Tehran has come through our partner publication IranWire, edited by Maziar Bahari.
The supposed “deal of the century” offered by the U.S. to Israel’s indicted prime minister makes Washington fully complicit in the denigration of the Palestinians, and opens the door to new violence, while America increasingly relies on Egypt’s dictator and Saudi Arabia’s murderous crown prince as its best buddies in the region. This, even as Saudi cadets training in the United States hatch terrorist conspiracies and kill their classmates. Noga Tarnopolsky, Neri Zilber, the national security team and I have written about all this extensively.
India’s frighteningly intolerant government, although strongly supported by Washington, has taken a very dangerous path in Kashmir, as revealed in an extraordinary series by Matthew Clayfield.
The European Union and NATO, the West’s great alliances, have been undermined repeatedly and aggressively by a hostile White House. Now Great Brexit pretends it can float out into the Atlantic and into the embrace of the United States. Nico Hines, Jamie Ross and royal watcher Tom Sykes follow developments in the sceptered, sundered isle.
On the continent, populist demagoguery is on the rise in many countries, whether at the upper reaches of government, as in Hungary, or on the mutinous streets, as in France. Erin Zaleski, Dana Kennedy, Nadette De Visser, Josephine Hüetlin and I try to keep an eye on all the developments, which are part of a populist and sometimes white supremacist loop feeding and fed by the United States.
Correspondent-at-Large Barbie Latza Nadeau in Rome has reported on the migrant crisis that has affected European life profoundly, plus Italy’s crazy politics and beautiful culture, plus true crime stories all over Europe—and the Vatican, where she has watched closely the hopes, disappointments, and political conspiracies surrounding Pope Francis.
Latin American regimes under pressure from the U.S. administration have resisted Washington, and Venezuela has humiliated it. Annika Henroth reported at the height of tensions there last year and was twice detained, at one point with a gun to her head. Eduard Freisler is on the scene for us now.
The U.S. border, meanwhile, has become a symbol of hollow promises and nauseating human rights abuses, while the drug war in Mexico just gets worse, as reported in vivid detail by Jeremy Kryt and Jason McGahan.
Africa, a continent dubbed full of “shitholes,” has been largely forgotten by Washington, but falls ever more deeply into the cauldron of climate change, which the U.S. administration pretends has nothing to do with human activity.
Philip Obaji Jr. in Nigeria has reported extensively on migrant flows, Boko Haram terror, and vast networks of human trafficking, some of which lead to the United States. Margot Kiser in Kenya writes vividly about wildlife as well as the rising threat of al Shabaab—which sometimes coexist in the same forests near the Somali border. (Three Americans were killed in a Shabaab attack on a secretive Kenyan military installation just last month.)
Yeah. It’s a 24/7 world of trouble, but it can’t be ignored, and it better be understood.
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