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Enemies Past And Present? How The NATO Summit Looked In Russia

Look East?
Look East?
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergey Strokanj


MOSCOW — Despite the predictions before this past week's NATO summit of a major split in the alliance, and some awkward moments among its respective leaders, the meeting itself concluded without any real substantive complications. Even traditional anti-globalist clashes we've come to expect from these kinds of gatherings were absent. As for Russia, it turns out, our country was not high on the (public) agenda.

A month before the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron had said the alliance is facing "brain death" — to which alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg replied that NATO is the most successful military alliance in history: "We have just carried out the largest increase in our military capabilities in many years, created the presence of our forces on the eastern borders of NATO. Alliance countries are now increasing defense spending, and we see an increase in the presence of American forces in Europe."

The alliance is falling apart.

At the Summit's conclusion, when Stoltenberg reported on the results, he said nothing about the conflict in Donbass nor anything on Crimea. In speaking about the Russian Federation, he only underlined the need for negotiations on issues related to arms control. As for Ukraine, it didn't even get a mention at the final press conference — which can be counted as at least strange, given that it is the only real live military conflict today in Europe.

In her post-Summit comments, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her priority clear: "We are facing a challenge: Russia. Russia, on the one hand, is known for the measures characterizing it as our enemy, for example, waging a hybrid war; on the other hand, it is our neighbor."

NATO, viewed from Russia? — Photo: White House/ZUMA

Emmanuel Macron called for "rethinking relations with Russia," in particular, to begin a substantive dialogue on arms control. "When the alliance was formed, the answer was simple: Russia, the Soviet Union. But 30 years after the situation has changed. Does everyone at the table consider Russia an enemy? I do not think so."

The "Russian threat" will continue to remain a crucial talking point.

Indeed, the alliance itself was created as a response to the Soviet military threat and now is falling apart as some of its members look to establish friendly relations with Moscow. They prefer not to talk about this out loud, but the idea of ​​collective defense against possible Russian aggression is becoming more and more blurred, turning into some kind of spell-like ritual.

Of course, the "Russian threat" will continue to remain a crucial talking point for NATO members, even if nobody is really scared at all. In its longstanding habit of standing guard against Russia, the alliance increasingly resembles a hunched, elderly gentleman who's come to visit his mistress and forgotten why. And, it seems, he will never remember.

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For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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