What Cities Can Tell Us About Geopolitics

The world’s cities contain innumerable stories—and not just about the people and cultures that formed them. Look to any metropolis, and its history and politics will likely offer unique insights into war, globalization, migration, realpolitik, global wealth, and the travel of ideas.

The world’s cities contain innumerable stories—and not just about the people and cultures that formed them. Look to any metropolis, and its history and politics will likely offer unique insights into war, globalization, migration, realpolitik, global wealth, and the travel of ideas.

The essays in this edition of Flash Points take a close look at five cities—Cannes, Hanover, Hong Kong, Mosul, and Vienna—and what their past and present can reveal about their national governments and the wider world.



A painting shows the buildings lining Old University Square in Vienna. People walk in the foreground.

A painting shows the buildings lining Old University Square in Vienna. People walk in the foreground.

A painting of Old University Square in Vienna by Bernardo Bellotto, known as Canaletto (1721-1780). DeAgostini/Getty Images

The Untold Story of Vienna’s Global Influence

A new book argues the Austrian capital produced the intellectual basis of much of the modern West—for better and sometimes for worse, Emily Schultheis writes.



The International Finance Centre in Hong Kong

The International Finance Centre in Hong Kong

The International Finance Centre towers over Hong Kong’s Central District on July 12, 2009. Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

How to Love Hong Kong Despite Everything

Surviving in the impossible city is still worth the price, Karen Cheung writes.



Stefan Schostock, mayor of the town of Hanover, hands over a present to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at a reception to celebrate his 70th birthday at City Hall on April 7, 2014 in Hanover, Germany.

Stefan Schostock, mayor of the town of Hanover, hands over a present to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at a reception to celebrate his 70th birthday at City Hall on April 7, 2014 in Hanover, Germany.

Stefan Schostock, mayor of the town of Hanover, hands over a present to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at a reception to celebrate his 70th birthday at City Hall on April 7, 2014 in Hanover, Germany. Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

The True Power Center of Germany Isn’t Berlin

If you want to understand German politicians, and their approach to policy, you have to look to a quiet regional capital, Alexander Clarkson writes.


reconstruction builders work to revive Mosul's Old City

reconstruction builders work to revive Mosul’s Old City

Beneath what remains of the 12th-century Al-Hadbaa minaret, reconstruction builders work to revive Mosul’s Old City in Iraq on Feb. 23. ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP via Getty Images

Five Years After Liberation, There Is New Hope Among Mosul’s Ruins

On the anniversary of its liberation from the Islamic State, Iraq’s second city heals its scars, Mina Al-Oraibi writes.


Sunbathers under umbrellas line the beach with sailboats dotting the sea behind them in Cannes, France, on Sept. 1, 1948.

Sunbathers under umbrellas line the beach with sailboats dotting the sea behind them in Cannes, France, on Sept. 1, 1948.

Sunbathers line the beach in Cannes, France, on Sept. 1, 1948. Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How the French Riviera Got Its Glitz

Long before the Cannes Film Festival, a new book shows, the Côte d’Azur built a brand on flaunting affluence, Michele Barbero writes.

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