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Manipulation and violence, animus and hypocrisy: Such is the stuff of politics on almost any given day, in any corner of the world. But, on our best days, politics holds out the possibility of actually making things better and solving our problems. These are not our best days.


In the war-torn country of Colombia, a much-hailed peace settlement to end a half-century of armed conflict was voided by a national referendum 39 days later. Not even the surprise announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is likely to help fix the country's broken politics.


Art is a different story. The Bogota-based newspaper El Espectador describes a major new installation in the capital by famed Colombian artist Doris Salcedo. Her Sumando Ausencias ("Adding Up Absences"), where hundreds of volunteers have written with ash on white sheets the names of some 2,300 victims of civil war, depicts not so much a country that is polarized politically, but simply broken. "Art is not just an instrument for reflecting on reality in times of crisis," writes El Espectador's Arturo Charria, "but also saves and repairs what has become irreparable by other means."


Some might search for answers in another surprising Nobel announcement. Since he was awarded the 2016 Nobel prize in Literature yesterday, Bob Dylan hasn't spoken a word publicly. He did, as is his habit, play a concert last night in the appropriately surreal location of Las Vegas, Nevada. The American troubadour/sphinx, who has written some of the most memorable politically-tinged songs, will certainly not be speaking out (or probably even writing) about what is happening right now to the politics of his country. Here, instead, are just a few words from his 1983 song "Jokerman expand=1]":

You're a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds,

Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister …

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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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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