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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why The Ukraine Arms Race Won't Stop

After Germany and the U.S. finally approved sending heavy combat tanks, Kyiv now eyes fighter jets. Who could ask them to do otherwise? And does the West really have a choice but ensure Russian defeat?

-Analysis-

PARIS — There is a familiar ring as war tensions rise again, followed by the German and American decisions to finally deliver heavy tanks to Ukraine. Since the start of the Russian invasion 11 months ago, each escalation in the type of weapons provided to Kyiv has been preceded by the same reluctance and public contradictions — and ultimately a decision made under pressure.

And this certainly will not be the last time.

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This was what happened at the beginning of the conflict, when Central and Eastern European governments considered transferring Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine; then for long-range artillery and missile launchers — and later, Patriot anti-aircraft batteries.

Each time, a two-fold hesitation: the fear of provoking Moscow and being involved in a wider conflict, and logistical questions.

But at every stage, the argument of Russian reaction has been quickly brushed aside. Even when Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is not "bluffing," or when Dmitry Medvedev, the former president, claims that Patriot deliveries would turn Westerners into "legitimate targets." None of this has happened.

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Shame Of A Nation: History Will Judge Germany For Holding Back Tanks From Ukraine

A retired German general spells out in clear language what the choice is for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and what the long-term consequences of half-hearted support for Kyiv as it battles for survival against the Russian invasion.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — The German television newscaster cheerfully predicted last Friday morning: “Today the German evasive maneuvers are ending...” And yet, the high-level meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group at the Ramstein military base, proved this prophecy completely wrong.

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The burning issue of Germany stalling and blocking the approval of battle tank deliveries to Ukraine continues to burn.

As intense as the international pressure was, Berlin has once again refused to make a commitment. Rhetoric about the difference between what one wants and what one can achieve, the endless counterarguments, the citing of numbers...none of it however, make them any more credible. In reality they are excuses, with which Chancellor Olaf Scholz shirks the responsibility which, after all, the great, prosperous Germany will not be able to escape.

[A Sunday evening comment by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock that Berlin "would not stand in the way" of other countries providing German-made Leopard tanks is only provisional, and still mentions nothing about Germany sending its own tanks.]

The final decisions are ultimately in the hands of Scholz, and one wonders if he is unable to be swayed from an idea he's committed to. Or perhaps he continues to listen to Angela Merkel’s former advisor, General Erich Vad, who said before authorizing the sending of tanks to Kyiv, it would first have to be clear whether the Russian forces should be driven out of Ukraine at all.

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Paris-Berlin, Warsaw-Kyiv: Europe's Balance Of Power Will Never Be The Same

A new future is unfolding in real time, one that leaders in France, Germany and beyond could not have envisioned even a year ago.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Quick question: do you know which country is on its way to having the largest army in Europe? The obvious answer would be France, the Continent's only nuclear power since the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and a military that has been tested in multiple foreign operations in recent years.

But the answer is about to change: if we put aside the nuclear factor, Europe's leading military will soon be that of Poland.

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This is one more direct consequence Russia's invasion of Ukraine: a close neighbor of the conflict zone, Poland is investing massively in its defense. Last year, it concluded a huge arms purchase contract with South Korea: heavy combat tanks (four times more than France), artillery, fighter jets, for 15 billion euros.

Warsaw also signed a contract last month to purchase two observation satellites from France for 500 million euros.

This former country of the Warsaw Pact, today a leading NATO member, intends to be ever more consequential in European affairs. The investments in defense are one way of doing that. Yet this is not the only impact of the war in Ukraine.

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The Protestant Twist To Pope Benedict's Theological Legacy

In his Spiritual Testament, Pope Benedict XVI only cited Protestant theologians – not a single Catholic thinker. Were the Catholics not interesting enough for him? And what do Joseph Ratzinger’s pre-modern understanding of the concept of reason and inaccurate Kant quotes have to do with it?

-Analysis-

MUNICH — Joseph Ratzinger first became known to an educated readership in 1968 when he published Introduction to Christianity. The book was widely read, selling 45,000 copies in its first year of publication.

However, in the small, elite world of German-speaking theology professors, the book came in for heavy criticism. In 1969 Walter Kasper, who was then Professor of Dogmatics at the University of Tübingen, wrote a scathing review in which he accused his colleague of having a false, overly subjective understanding of Christian theology.

Kasper claimed Ratzinger had relied too heavily on the existentialist thought of Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard and interpretations of Kierkegaard’s work by Rudolf Bultmann, a Lutheran theologian and Professor of the New Testament at the University of Marburg. This meant that, according to Kasper, Ratzinger’s work played fast and loose with “the objective ecclesiastical form of the Church within the Christian faith.” In other words, Ratzinger’s “existentialist interpretation” risked “tipping over into a purely spiritualistic understanding of the Church.”

That was serious criticism. Kasper, who decades later moved to Rome when he was made a Cardinal of the Roman Curia and President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was accusing Ratzinger of being too heavily influenced by Protestant thought.

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eyes on the U.S.
Alex Hurst

Greta’s Andrew Tate Takedown Shines Light On Toxic American Males

Greta Thunberg dealt a knock-out blow online to self-proclaimed "misogynist" Andrew Tate. However, taming the spread of toxic masculinity online is not as simple.

-Analysis-

Two rounds, two knockouts in the all-out verbal dustup that saw Greta Thunberg win the year (or at least, the internet) in the final moments of 2022.

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This Happened

This Happened—January 5: The Nazi Party Is Born

The German Workers' Party is founded in 1919, which a little over a year later changed its name to the Nazi Party.

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Society
Elke Hartmann-Wolff

War In The Age Of Tik Tok, A Parental Guide To Your Child's Mental Health

Many children are struggling with what feels like a constant state of crisis. Parents are right to be concerned, but they should not try to shield kids. Instead, it's all about communication.

One afternoon in the Swabian Alps in Germany, Anna Jüttler is driving along with her sons Maris, 10, and Silvan, 8, in the back. They are chatting about school and what they’d like to eat tonight when the news comes on the car radio: Russian attacks continue on Ukraine. The German army is ill-equipped for battle.

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One week later, Jüttler thinks back to that car journey. She looked in the rear-view mirror and saw in her sons’ eyes that “nothing is the same”. Her younger son bombarded her with questions about why the German army didn’t have any “good rockets and planes”. His older brother joined in.

His friend had said there was going to be a Third World War. Was that true? Would there be a nuclear attack?

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Coronavirus
Edda Grabar

Why Long COVID Is Still Such A Mystery To Researchers

Both long and post-COVID are still misunderstood by the general public and the scientific community. This can cause even more suffering for those affected, who already fear their symptoms being dismissed as psychosomatic.

Christoph Kleinschnitz chooses his words very carefully. He knows that he can’t afford to put a foot wrong, otherwise he’s going to cause all sorts of trouble. So his first sentence is unequivocal: “Long COVID and post-COVID both exist. There is no doubt about that.”

Kleinschnitz has good reason to be cautious. The director of neurology at Essen University Hospital recently appeared as an expert in a controversial documentary by doctor and TV presenter Eckart von Hirschhausen, where he pointed out that for some patients who are apparently suffering from long COVID, their symptoms may be intensified – or even fully explained – by psychological causes. Since that appearance, sufferers have branded him a long COVID and post-COVID denier.

Nothing could be further from the truth, says Kleinschnitz. The only thing he questions is the apparent frequency of long COVID and post-COVID cases – and a colleague’s claim to have cured herself with a highly controversial treatment: flushing antibodies, which she believed were causing her symptoms, out of her blood. Depending on the number of treatments required, this can cost up to €10,000.

Kleinschnitz’s appearance in Hirschhausen’s film only lasted two minutes. But it was enough to spark attacks against not only him but also his family.

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Geopolitics
Editorial

Why Olaf Scholz Is Still Not Convincing On Ukraine

Praising the courage of the Ukrainian people, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured Kyiv of Germany's support for “as long as it is needed.” Not nearly enough, according to the country's opposition.

-Analysis-

According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Russian President Vladimir Putin has not achieved any of his goals in Ukraine. “Not a single one of Putin’s plans has worked,” Scholz said in a speech to the German Parliament earlier this month.

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He said Putin had “fundamentally miscalculated” in believing that Russian troops would overrun Ukraine within a few days.

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This Happened

This Happened—December 22:  Bertha Röntgen's Hand Becomes Landmark Of Science

In 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen took the first X-ray ever.

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Work In Progress
Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Emma Albright

Work → In Progress: Time To Change Everything Or Back To Business As Usual?

The world of work is at a crossroads. A new French study published last week shows that in the span of four years, jobs offering remote work have increased tenfold since 2017, as the world grapples with the long-term impact of COVID-19. The profound questioning of the necessity to “go to the office” that the pandemic posed led to teleworking becoming a “new normal” of sorts, with the majority of businesses implementing hybrid models that allow employees to work remotely while still having access to the necessary resources they need to do their jobs ...

… that is, until it was "back to business as usual." But returning to office-based work, as most parts of the world consider the coronavirus crisis more or less a thing of the past, it is becoming apparent to some that things would, and should, never be the same.

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eyes on the U.S.
Alex Hurst

Eyes On U.S. — When African Leaders Go To Washington, China Is In The Room

-Analysis-

Some 100 of the most important political eyes in Africa aren’t turned towards the U.S. this week — they’re in the U.S. For the first time in eight years, the White House is hosting 49 African heads of state and leaders of government (and the Senegalese head of the African Union) for a U.S.-Africa summit. Not invited: any nation that has recently undergone a military putsch, or otherwise not in good standing with the African Union, like Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Sudan.

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