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Clarin, Dec. 2, 2015

"Father, millionaire* and caring," Argentine daily Clarin joins some North American dailies in giving ample space on the front page Wednesday to news that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced, in the form of an open letter to their newborn daughter Max, that they will donate 99% of their Facebook shares to charity.

The estimated $45 billion donation, pledged over the course of Zuckerberg and his wife's life, will go to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, whose mission is to "join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation," the open letter reads.

*Note: For those wondering why Zuckerberg is referred to by Clarin as a millionaire, it is because formal Spanish does not have a word for billionaire. Anyway ... lots of pesos!

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Geopolitics

Reality Check For The West: Putin Is Neither Weak, Nor Isolated

An effective foreign policy means facing the truth with clear eyes: Ukraine cannot defeat Russia, a country with ten times its firepower. What's more, economic sanctions cannot bring down Vladimir Putin. The West only has one option left.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran earlier this month.

Jacques Schuster

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Let’s get one thing out of the way from the start: the West had no alternative to the policies it adopted towards Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. If the United States and Europe had not used every economic and diplomatic weapon available to them — only stopping short of being drawn into the conflict themselves — Vladimir Putin would have taken such an apathetic response as a sign of weakness. He would have seen it as an invitation to expand his ambitions even further west.

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Germany has an important role to play in the alliances between Western countries. If it had broken ranks and tried to position itself as a mediator between East and West, refusing to supply Ukraine with weapons, that would have had damaging consequences for years to come. Europe would have been confronted once again by a new "German question" and by all the consequent mistrust.

The art of determining foreign policy involves weighing up possibilities and considering subtle differences, constantly asking what would be in a country’s own best interest. Anyone who has given the matter serious thought will conclude that the West’s decisions so far have been correct. They would still be correct if Moscow decided to cut off the continent’s entire gas supply. Germany has survived far worse crises in its history.

Effective foreign policy also means shedding as many illusions as possible. In times of crisis, we are surrounded by comforting myths and it is incredibly tempting to believe them. In Germany, this is making people reluctant to face facts, leading them to adopt a narrow perspective and cling to a misguidedly optimistic view of how easily the war and crisis might be resolved.

We must shake off three dangerous illusions: (1.) Western sanctions will force Russia to back down; (2.) Moscow is isolated from the rest of the world; and (3.) Kyiv will emerge victorious.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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