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Obama outside the White House.
Obama outside the White House.
Massimo Gramellini

TURIN — The destiny of soon-to-be former President Barack Obama reminds me of history's great love stories. Desire then regret, always longing for something that is never quite fulfilled.

When the 44th President of the United States appeared on the scene he was charismatic, athletic and affable, making history as the first African-American nominee from a major party. It was love at first sight, and the world was so enamored that it wound up giving him the Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up.

Barack Obama was supposed to change the world; instead the world kept changing on its own accord, as if he didn't even exist. Our fascination with Obama and his widely popular First Lady, Michelle, captured our imaginations but failed to defuse racial tensions in the United States. As the American middle class continues its decline, Russia is asserting its military authority and China its economic might.

It would be unfair to say that Obama has been a bad President, though he hasn't proven to be a political mastermind either. Still, he has shown tenacity and extraordinary vision in diplomacy. Despite rising from obscurity to the presidency in four years, Obama struggled to challenge the dominant power of multinational corporations and the financial industry. His failure to keep his campaign promises isn't solely his fault; the blame also lies within America's political system and its failure to govern effectively and redistribute income fairly.

And now, after all the messages of hope and change eight years ago, Barack Obama will leave a peculiar legacy. He leaves behind a Western world that is weaker and poorer than the one he inherited — and will be succeeded by a man the world is certain will make things worse. Barack Obama, the world will miss you.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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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.

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