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Geopolitics

How Sanctions Can Hit Even Harder: Guidance From A Russian In Kyiv

Europe’s addiction to Russian energy paid for the assault against Ukraine. And in spite of crippling sanctions, it is inadvertently continuing to fund the war by not cutting two major Russian banks from SWIFT.

In Kyiv, currently enduring constant airstrikes, there are not only those who cannot leave but also those who decided to stay. One of them, a hostage of circumstances who decided to remain to witness the events of the defense of Kyiv, is the Russian-Israeli writer and political consultant Michael Sheitelman. Since the beginning of the war, the St. Petersburg native has been recounting how the Ukrainian capital and the entire political and Ukrainian and world community live in light of this war.

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KYIV — While they are destroying cities one by one, we can look at the Russian business people, CEOs and Vladimir Putin allies who have been placed under sanctions — or we can do more useful things with our time.

People ask me: Will people in Russia take to the streets if there is absolutely nothing to eat? I answer that the sanctions and the withdrawal of foreign companies from the market are not intended to reeducate the Russian people.

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Welcome To The End Of Western Dominance

We are no longer in the age of liberal democracy's inevitable triumph. Instead, we are living in a new multipolar world of ideological turbulence in which the West is not the main player.

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — The 75 years that have followed the end of World War II have turned into an epoch of complexity.

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For the West, these were the years of the United States' consolidation as undisputed international leader at Europe's expense. Today, we are witnessing the old powers of the East returning to the fore. There is China, the imperial survivor of the ages, and post-Soviet Russia, divided as always between its east and west, like the two-headed eagle of its emperors.

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Deadly Kazakh Protests, Australia v. Djokovic, Judge Kisses Cop Killer

👋 Hallo!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Kazakhstan police kill dozens of protesters, Australia revokes No-Vax Djokovic’s visa and an Argentine judge gets caught on camera kissing an inmate. We also look at the measures countries around the world are implementing to force the hands of unvaccinated citizens to get the jabs.

[*Flemish]

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Time To Change The Way We Talk About Vaccines

What we got wrong about the vaccines, what we still don’t know…and why we need to keep vaccinating.

-Analysis-

It’s now been little over a year since the news broke that Pfizer and Moderna had developed respective vaccines that were well over 90% effective, and had no serious side effects — and they’d done it in less than one year, breaking all speed records for vaccine development.

Coming in the midst of a dark period of infections rising again around the world, the news was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

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Economy
Luis Rubio

How Mexico Can Exploit The U.S.-China Showdown

If Mexico could forge a clear vision of its business interests, the showdown between the United States and China would present it with some major trading and strategic opportunities.

-Analysis-

MEXICO CITY — New Zealand rugby players famously perform a Maori dance called the Haka before each match. Its gesticulations, grimaces and threatening noises are meant to intimidate adversaries, though most see it as nothing more and nothing less than a celebration of heritage. I wonder if after the Donald Trump presidency and the Afghan débacle, the world will see the United States, the erstwhile leader of the free world, with the same rational distance.

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Russia
Sergey Strokan

Why The UK Is Leading West's 'Propaganda War' Against Russia

London is taking a hardline against Moscow since Trump's departure left Putin increasingly isolated.

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — Seven years after Russia was expelled from the club of Western democracies, the U.K. is calling for another war with Moscow — an information war — creating collective mechanisms to contain the Kremlin's "propaganda and disinformation."

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Sources
Luis Rubio

Post-Trump, Mexico Won't Rush To Reconcile With Washington

Mexican President López Obrador has made it clear that he prefers keeping the United States at arm's length.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — When divorce is not an option, the parties must get on as best they can. That's the logic that Mexico and the United States have long followed over their shared border. And it isn't, as a quick look around the globe reminds us, the worst of arrangements.

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eyes on the U.S.
Juan Manuel Ospina

To Fix The Border, Biden Needs To Look Beyond It

Rather than ratchet up spending on America's already bloated military, the U.S. president should take a broader view of national security and help develop economies elsewhere.

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — Can imperialism appear humanitarian? The short answer, as the United States has demonstrated time and again, starting in the period after World War I, is yes.

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moisi

Dumbing Down Of Diplomatic Language Hides Deeper Conflicts

The usually hushed words of international diplomats is a reflection of our real-time communication age, but also of rising tensions on an unsettled geopolitical chessboard.

PARIS — Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: This was the title of a film by Pedro Almodóvar, released in 1988. In the year 2021, isn't the world of international diplomacy also "on the verge a nervous breakdown?"

The question is worth asking. The new president of the United States nods in agreement when an ABC television journalist asks him if "Putin is a killer." Vladimir Putin, never one to be outdone, responded to Joe Biden's statement by calling back his ambassador to Washington for consultation, adding with a wry sense of humor — as a child would do on a school playground: "It takes one to know one."

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Geopolitics
Alessio Perrone

Lula To Sarkozy To Trump: The Toxic Mix Of Justice And Politics

-Analysis-

It was quite a statement about Brazil's justice system: "I have been the victim of the biggest judicial lie in 500 years," Luiz Inácio da Silva declared last week. But the hyperbole from the former president, better known as Lula, was also very much about politics — considered by many to be the opening salvo in his election campaign next year to return to the presidency.

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eyes on the U.S.
Alasdair S. Roberts

The Fragility Of American Democracy Is Nothing New

For many people, the lesson from the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – and more broadly from the experience of the last four years – is that American democracy has become newly and dangerously fragile.

That conclusion is overstated. In fact, American democracy has always been fragile. And it might be more precise to diagnose the United States as a fragile union rather than a fragile democracy. As President Joe Biden said in his inaugural address, national unity is "that most elusive of things."

Certainly, faith in American democracy has been battered over the last year. Polls show that 1 in 4 Americans do not recognize Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 election. The turn to violence on Capitol Hill was a disturbing attack on an important symbol of U.S. democracy.

But there are four other factors that should be considered to evaluate the true state of the nation. Taking these into account, what emerges is a picture of a country that, despite its long tradition of presenting itself as exceptional, looks a lot like the other struggling democracies of the world.

Democratic fragility is not new

First, fragility is not really new. It's misleading to describe the United States as "the world's oldest democracy," as many observers have recently done. By modern definitions of the concept, the United States has only been a democracy for about 60 years. Despite constitutional guarantees, most Black Americans could not vote in important elections before the 1960s, nor did they have basic civil rights. Like many other countries, the United States is still working to consolidate democratic ideals.

Similarly, the struggle to contain political violence is not new. Washington has certainly seen its share of such violence. Since 1950, there have been multiple bombings and shootings at the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Troops have been deployed to keep order in Washington four times since World War I – during riots and unrest in 1919 and 1968, economic protests in 1932, and again in 2021. The route from the Capitol to the White House passes near the spots where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, James Garfield was fatally shot in 1881, and Harry Truman was attacked in 1950.

Members of the U.S. 3rd Cavalry sent to quell rioting in D.C. on July 21, 1919 — Photo: Patrick Sauer/Smithsonian/CC

Political instability is also a familiar feature of economic downturns. There were similar fears about the end of democracy during the 1970s, when the United States wrestled with inflation and unemployment, and during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Of course, those fears had some justification. Many people wondered whether democratic governments could rise to new challenges. But there is evidence from historical episodes like this that democracies do eventually adapt – indeed, that they are better at adapting than non-democratic systems like the Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1991.

Finally, the debate about American democracy is fixated excessively on politics at the national level. This fixation has been aggravated by the way that the media and internet have developed over the last 30 years. Political debate focuses more and more heavily on Washington. But the American political system also includes 50 state governments and 90,000 local governments. More than half a million people in the United States occupy a popularly elected office. Democratic practices may be imperfect, but they are extensive and not easily undone.

On balance, claims about the fragility of American democracy should be taken seriously, but with a sense of proportion. Events since the November 2020 election have been troubling, but they do not signal an impending collapse of America's democratic experiment.

A crisis of unity

It might be more useful to think of the present crisis in other terms. The real difficulty confronting the country might be a fragile national union, rather than a fragile democracy.

Since the 1990s, the country has seen the emergence of deep fissures between what came to be called "red" and "blue" America – two camps with very different views about national priorities and the role of federal government in particular. The result has been increasing rancor and gridlock in Washington.

Again, this sort of division is not new to American politics. "The United States' did not become established in American speech as a singular rather than a plural noun until after the Civil War. Until the 1950s, it was commonplace to describe the United States as a composite of sections – North, South and West – with distinctive interests and cultures.

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In 1932, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Frederick Jackson Turner compared the United States to Europe, describing it as a "federation of nations' held together through careful diplomacy.

It was only in the 1960s that this view of the United States faded away. Advances in transportation and communications seemed to forge the country into a single economic and cultural unit.

But politicians overestimated this transformation.

Return of old divisions

Since the 1990s, old divisions have re-emerged.

America's current political class has not fully absorbed this reality. Too often, it has taken unity for granted, forgetting the country's long history of sectional conflict. Because they took unity for granted, many new presidents in the modern era were tempted to launch their administrations with ambitious programs that galvanized followers while antagonizing opponents. However, this winner-take-all style may not be well suited to the needs of the present moment. It may aggravate divisions rather than rebuilding unity.

Only 20 years ago, many Americans – buoyed by an economic boom and the collapse of the Soviet Union – were convinced that their model of governance was on the brink of conquering the world. President George W. Bush declared American-style democracy to be the "single sustainable model for national success." By contrast, many people today worry that this model is on the brink of collapse.

The hubris of the early 2000s was misguided, and so is the despair of 2021. Like many other countries, the United States is engaged in a never-ending effort to maintain unity, contain political violence and live up to democratic principles.The Conversation

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Peru
Farid Kahhat

What Joe Biden's Arrival Means For Latin America

The new administration isn't likely to prioritize relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. But after the Trump era, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

-Analysis-

LIMA — The United States is facing its biggest recession since the Great Depression. As I write, the coronavirus pandemic is killing more than 4,000 Americans a day. In foreign policy, the priority for the incoming administration of President Joseph Biden will probably be to repair transatlantic ties in order to forge a united western front against communist China. Latin America, on the other hand, is unlikely to be much of a priority.

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eyes on the U.S.
Alessio Perrone

Behind Biden's Message Of Unity, A Shattered America

MILAN — The first day of Joe Biden's presidency bore clear traces of some of the recent wounds inflicted on the United States. After being sworn in, Biden arrived at the White House protected by thousands of troops and barricades just two weeks since deadly violence engulfed the Capitol.

Thousands of flags stood in for the typical inauguration day crowds to prevent gatherings during the pandemic — and also the possibility of more violence. In his inaugural address, Biden appeared to compare the Trump presidency to a calamity, saying his country needs to "start afresh" and get together like it had after the Civil War, the Great Depression, World Wars, 9/11.

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eyes on the U.S.
Lucie Robequain

Joe Biden Won't Fix The World's Broken Diplomacy By Himself

Democrats who reach the White House do not necessarily play into the hands of Europeans. It is up to them to unify their voice to pass their agendas.

-OpEd-

The inauguration of Joe Biden opens a new chapter in the history of the United States, one filled with hopes that may quickly prove to be excessive. A new "New Deal" promises a shift in public health, diplomacy, and welfare for the American people.

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eyes on the U.S.
Anne Sophie Goninet

The Donald Trump Presidency In 29 Magazine Covers

After four years in office and two months of denying his defeat to Joe Biden, U.S. President Donald Trump bids farewell this week to the White House. Whether this also means a final exit from the world stage remains to be seen — and one way to judge will be whether this is the last we've seen of Trump on covers of major magazines.

Trump has always been obsessed with media in general, and magazine covers in particular. In 2017, TIME had to explicitly refute the president's claim that he had passed on their choice to name him "Person of the Year" for a second year in a row and asked Trump to remove fake covers with his face on display in his golf clubs.

The endless worldwide series of Trump magazine covers is a technicolor reflection of his tumultuous presidency. From his footstomping "America First" stance to his intriguing relationship with Vladimir Putin to the pure "chaos' of his presidency, Trump was both a real threat to democracy and an endless opportunity for any creative magazine team:

2016 ELECTION: TRUMP WINS

Der Spiegel, Germany

The Economist, UK

The New Yorker, U.S.

New Statesman, UK

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Geopolitics
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Contagious Narcissism Began Long Before Trump — Or Twitter

When I was a kid — 12,13 — my dad's shrink friend was a frequent guest in our house. His usual business on these visits was to review for us the degenerating state of the world, and list the ways it all made his profession difficult.

"Wanna catch a glimpse of the future?" he asked during one dinner, raising an eyebrow. "Just visit the waiting room of a psychologist!" Then he raised a finger: "I'll tell you, they're no neurotics left, just narcissists!"

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