When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

SPOTLIGHT: HOW TO AVOID A RELIGIOUS WAR

A spate of terror attacks across western Europe continued yesterday as two assailants took hostages in a church in the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, killing an 86-year-old priest and injuring three others. The two men, who declared allegiance to the Islamic State, were shot and killed by local police.


While Catholic nuns and missionaries have been targeted by terror groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda abroad, such brazen attack on Christians in Europe have been extremely rare. The killing of a priest during morning mass in a small town, reportedly forced to his knees by the terrorists, represents an assault on religious freedom and daily life in France, still reeling from the tragedies of Nice and Paris.


Already known for singling out Jews as a specific enemy, ISIS now seems bent on opening a new front in its religious war, instilling a medieval-like fear in churchgoers. Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi called the attack an act of "absurd violence."


Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, urged French Christians to "not lose the sense of their faith." It is an interesting turn of phrase from this leader of the Catholic Church hierarchy in France, in the face of a brutal assassination of his fellow clergy member. By "sense" of their faith, Vingt-Trois explained, he means that the Catholic gospel calls on them to avoid violence as a response. But beyond the Christian "turn-the-other-cheek" teachings, the cardinal also seems to be saying that the only practical (i.e. sensible) way to fight the extremist enemy is by avoiding the trap of religious war that they seek. The French have another term for that: sang-froid. Keep your cool.

Keep reading... Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

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.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ