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Kissinger, The European Roots Of Pure American Cynicism

A diplomatic genius for some, a war criminal for others, Henry Kissinger has just turned 100. An opportunity for Dominique Moïsi, who has known him well, to reflect on the German-born U.S. diplomat's roots and driving raison d'être.


PARIS — My first contacts — by letter — with the "diplomat of the century" date back to the autumn of 1971. As a Sachs scholar at Harvard University, my teacher, renowned French philosopher Raymond Aron, had written me a letter of introduction to the man who was then President Richard Nixon's National Security Advisor.

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Purebreds To "Rasse" Theory: A German Critique Of Dog Breeding

Just like ideas about racial theory, the notion of seeking purebred dogs is a relatively recent human invention. This animal eugenics project came from a fantasy of recreating a glorious past and has done irreparable harm to canines.

BERLIN — Some words always seem to find a way to sneak through. We have created a whole raft of embargoes and decrees about the term race: We prefer to say ethnicity, although that isn’t always much better. In Germany, we sometimes use the English word race rather than our mother tongue’s Rasse.

But Rasse crops up in places where English native speakers might not expect to find it. If, on a walk through the woods, the park or around town, a German meets a dog that doesn’t clearly fit into a neat category of Labrador, dachshund or Dalmatian, they forget all their misgivings about the term and may well ask the person holding the lead what race of dog it is.

Although we have turned our back on the shameful racial theories of the 19th and 20th centuries, the idea of an “encyclopedia of purebred dogs” or a dog handler who promises an overview of almost “all breeds” (in German, “all races”) has somehow remained inoffensive.

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Lex Tusk? How Poland’s Controversial "Russian Influence" Law Will Subvert Democracy

The new “lex Tusk” includes language about companies and their management. But is this likely to be a fair investigation into breaking sanctions on Russia, or a political witch-hunt in the business sphere?


WARSAW — Poland’s new Commission for investigating Russian influence, which President Andrzej Duda signed into law on Monday, will be able to summon representatives of any company for inquiry. It has sparked a major controversy in Polish politics, as political opponents of the government warn that the Commission has been given near absolute power to investigate and punish any citizen, business or organization.

And opposition politicians are expected to be high on the list of would-be suspects, starting with Donald Tusk, who is challenging the ruling PiS government to return to the presidency next fall. For that reason, it has been sardonically dubbed: Lex Tusk.

University of Warsaw law professor Michal Romanowski notes that the interests of any firm can be considered favorable to Russia. “These are instruments which the likes of Putin and Orban would not be ashamed of," Romanowski said.

The law on the Commission for examining Russian influences has "atomic" prerogatives sewn into it. Nine members of the Commission with the rank of secretary of state will be able to summon virtually anyone, with the powers of severe punishment.

Under the new law, these Commissioners will become arbiters of nearly absolute power, and will be able to use the resources of nearly any organ of the state, including the secret services, in order to demand access to every available document. They will be able to prosecute people for acts which were not prohibited at the time they were committed.

Their prerogatives are broader than that of the President or the Prime Minister, wider than those of any court. And there is virtually no oversight over their actions.

Nobody can feel safe. This includes companies, their management, lawyers, journalists, and trade unionists.

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Saudi Ambitions: Is MBS A New Nasser For The Middle East?

Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS, is positioning the Saudi kingdom to be a global force of diplomacy in a way that challenges a longstanding alliance with Washington. But does the young prince have a singular vision for the interests of both his nation and the world?


PARIS — In the Lebanese daily L'Orient-le-Jour, which has no particular attachment to the Saudi government, Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's Crown Prince, was recently described as a man "who is taking on an importance that no Arab leader has had since Nasser."

That's right: this is the very same Mohamed bin Salman who had been considered an international pariah for ordering the sordid murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

So what has "MBS," as he calls himself, done to be compared to the greatest Arab nationalist leader of the 20th century, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who died in 1970? The Crown Prince has taken advantage of the shockwaves of the war in Ukraine to emancipate himself from any oversight, and to develop a diplomacy which, it must be admitted, is hard to keep up with.

Saudi Arabia thus embodies those mid-level powers that defy all the codes of international alliances, and do as they please – for better or for worse.

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Pierre Haski

Where Altman Meets Macron: The Quest For AI Alignment, Between Private And Public

The inventor of ChatGPT is in Europe to try to force leaders on the Continent to face hard questions about what artificial intelligence is bringing to our world, whether they like it or not.


PARIS — Six months ago, Sam Altman’s name was only known to a small circle of technophiles. Earlier this week, when he came to France, he was received by President Emmanuel Macron and the Minister of Economy, and he is back in Paris on Friday to make other connections. On his Twitter account, he described his trip as a "World Tour," like a pop star.

Altman is the CEO of OpenAI, the U.S. company that created ChatGPT, the natural language artificial intelligence tool that has literally shaken the world. With 200 million users worldwide in just six months, ChatGPT has broken all sorts of records for the speed of technology adoption.

The world of Tech is prone to trends, and not all of them last. However, to quote Gilles Babinet, co-president of the National Digital Council in France, who has recently published an essay on the history of the internet titled Comment les hippies, Dieu et la science ont inventé Internet ("How the Internet Was Invented by Hippies, God and Science"), we are currently facing an "anthropological break."

In other words, a qualitative leap that will impact all human activities, and even the political organization of our societies — with both positive and negative results.

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Dominique Moïsi

U.S.-China-Global South: The New Geometry Of Our "Tripolar" World

Approaching the world as a simple opposition between East and West falls short. An emerging "tripolar" geopolitics requires we establish new ways of thinking and managing both conflict and opportunity.


PARIS — Has the world become tripolar?

Is there a reformulation of the “classic” confrontation between a Global West and a Global East, happening under the watch of a Global South that does not support Russia's aggression against Ukraine but simultaneously expresses its reservations against the Western world?

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Of course, this new tripolar order is asymmetrical, to say the least. The Global South is infinitely more diverse in its composition than the Global West and East can be. But we can no longer be satisfied with thinking of the world in terms of bipolarity between the U.S. and China. And Europe is far from having become an independent actor within the multipolar world.

In the tripolar world that is revealing itself, each pole obeys its own rules and expresses a specific kind of emotion.

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Ignacio Pereyra

Talking To My Four-Year-Old About Death

As he is faced by questions about death from his 4-year-old son during a family visit to Argentina, Recalculating author Ignacio Pereyra replies honestly. "I can only tell him the truth, at least the little truth that I know..."

BUENOS AIRES — An exchange with my four year old.

— Nacho…

— Yes?

— Am I going to die in Argentina or in Greece ?

— I don’t know… why?

— I want to die in Argentina. Can I?

— Well, I don’t know, it could happen in any country. I just hope it won’t happen for a very long time!

— I want to die in Argentina.

— Why?

— Because I like Argentina.

The talk I had with Lorenzo last week was in gentle tones. It’s something I am not used to with my oldest son, who at four, is usually loud, effusive and extremely expressive when we talk.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Important Stories

The Four Ways Russians Clear Their Conscience About Ukraine

A new report has done a deep dive into the support (or lack of opposition) of ordinary Russians for the so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine. Independent Russian media outlet Important Stories breaks down the findings, which don't necessarily follow the rationale one might imagine.


MOSCOW — Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, one question has been difficult to answer: Is this Putin’s war or Russia’s war?

A recent report called "Resigned to the Inevitable," put together by the independent research group Laboratory of Public Sociology, aims to answer this question by analyzing the idea of Russian "support" for the war. Through interviews with 88 Russians who did not oppose the violence conducted during the fall and winter of 2022, the report reveals that "support" for the “special military operation” often materializes in the form of non-resistance.

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The report also makes clear the four methods Russians use to clear their conscience about the "special operation."

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Pierre Haski

With Putin Shut Out, Xi Makes His Play For Central Asia — And Europe

Five former Soviet states have arrived for a key summit in China, and the absence of Vladimir Putin signals Central Asia's desire to distance itself from Moscow — and China's rising global dominance.


PARIS — They are called the five "Stans"... Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan. They used to be part of the Soviet Union and are today at the center of a strategic zone between Russia and China.

The leaders of the Central Asian countries arrived Thursday in Xi'an, in central China to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping. And there was undeniably someone missing from the picture: Vladimir Putin.

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The Russian leader's absence is highly significant: the "Stans" are getting closer to Beijing in order to put more distance between themselves and Moscow.

We are not talking about a change of direction or a rift, but rather a rebalancing, a new regional order in which the Chinese ascendancy is now an undeniable reality. But an unofficial representative of Beijing admitted it Wednesday in private: this summit between the Central Asian countries and China, without Russia, must not have pleased Putin.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Jan Küveler

"The Idiot Has Started A War" — A Secret Meeting With Exiled Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky

Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Russian author of Metro 2033, is currently standing trial in absentia in Moscow for speaking out against Putin. He has gone into hiding in Europe, where Die Welt has met up with him in a secret location in Berlin.

BERLIN — "It’s happened, the idiot has started a war..."

Founded in 1909 by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballets Russes had been traveling all around Europe to perform. Fokine and Balanchine choreographed pieces for the company, Nijinsky danced for them, Satie composed music, as did Stravinsky – the ballet company performed his masterpiece The Rite of Spring – Cocteau wrote libretti, while Bakst, Matisse and Picasso designed the sets.

It was an explosion of the avant-garde. In 1917 the artists were caught off guard by the October Revolution. They were cut off from returning home. They stayed in Europe, in most cases for the rest of their lives. Diaghilev died in Venice in 1929.

In hindsight, this episode seems like an ominous foreshadowing of the reality facing many Russians today.

In the nondescript lobby of a Berlin hotel, the author Dmitry Glukhovsky reflects on this history as he speaks about his own forced exile in Europe. He is currently on trial in Moscow, accused of “knowingly spreading false information about the Russian army.” The likely sentence will be 15 years in a penal camp.

So he has gone into hiding, and is cautious about meeting strangers. In the lead-up to our meeting, we exchanged messages on an encrypted app.

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Pierre Haski

Pilots First, Then The Planes? The West Looks Ready To Break Major "Taboo" On Ukraine Arms

French President Emmanuel Macron's announcement that France will train Ukrainian pilots appears to pave the way for the delivery of fighter jets to Kyiv. Similar moves are coming from the UK. It's a delicate process to never declare war on Russia, while maximizing Ukraine's ability to repulse the invaders.


PARIS — Another taboo has been broken. France will train Ukrainian fighter pilots, as announced by French President Emmanuel Macron Monday night in his interview on the TF1 television channel. The logical next step is to provide Mirage 2000 aircraft to the Ukrainian air force, but we haven't reached that point yet.

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It is however an important step forward in the commitment to Ukraine, and is in line with the logic of the last few months. It comes in addition to the Caesar guns, light armor, and air defense missile systems that France has already delivered and continues to supply to Ukraine.

Macron denied last night that there was any taboo on supplying aircraft. In fact, at each stage, since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Ukraine's allies have weighed both the needs and capabilities of the Ukrainians, and the possible reaction of the Russians, before taking each new step.

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Greg Raymond

Is Thailand Ready To Be A Bonafide Democracy?

Thai voters spoke in favor of Pita Limjaroenrat's Move Forward party, bringing hopes of in-depth reform of the country's institutions. But that doesn’t guarantee Thailand’s opposition forces will be able to form a government, or that the military will ultimately give way.

The last time voters headed to the polls in Thailand was in 2019, following five years of a repressive military dictatorship. Thai voters spoke nervously of their democratic aspirations and allowed a military-led government into power.

Now, after four years of a functioning parliamentary democracy, Thai voters have roared. With nearly all votes counted in Sunday’s parliamentary election, they have resoundingly rejected the junta and its successor military-proxy parties.

Thailand’s most progressive party, Move Forward, looks set to gain the most seats in the new parliament. Close behind is the more established and similarly liberal Pheu Thai party of the polarising Shinawatra dynasty.

Following them in third place is Bhumjaithai. This rural-based, more traditional party of patronage politics had recently been the previous government’s coalition partner.

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