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Geopolitics

'Red-Letter Day' — Tensions High As Dutch Elections Kick Off

Bertrand Hauger

"GO VOTE (and send us a pic from the voting booth)," reads the front page of the Dutch daily Metroinviting young voters to go to the polls as the country elects a new parliament Wednesday.

As the colorful front page shows, Dutch voters will be using red pencils to tick boxes on old-fashioned paper ballots, a security measure the New York Times calls "a stark response to warnings that outside actors, including Russia, might try to tamper with pivotal elections."

Current PM Mark Rutte's center-right party and Geert Wilders's far-right Party for Freedom lead the race in this general election, the first of three key votes in the eurozone this year. Upcoming contests in France and Germany are also taking shape against a backdrop of rising populism.

In the Netherlands, today's parliamentary elections come amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Turkey. The impasse follows a move by Turkish government officials to campaign in several Dutch cities (to Turkish expatriate voters) for a referendum in Turkey next month that could give more power to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Ideas

"Collateral Benefit": Could Putin's Launching A Failed War Make The World Better?

Consider the inverse of "collateral damage." Envision Russia's defeat and the triumph of a democratic coalition offers reflection on the most weighty sense of costs and benefits.

Photo of a doll representing Russian President Vladimir Putin

Demonstrators holding a doll with a picture of Russian President Putin

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — The concept of collateral damage has developed in the course of so-called "asymmetrical” wars, fought between opponents considered unequal.

The U.S. drone which targeted rebel fighters in Afghanistan, and annihilated an entire family gathered for a wedding, appears to be the perfect example of collateral damage: a doubtful military gain, and a certain political cost. One might also consider the American bombing of Normandy towns around June 6, 1944 as collateral damage.

But is it possible to reverse the expression, and speak of "collateral benefits"? When applied to an armed conflict, the expression may seem shocking.

No one benefits from a war, which leaves in its trace a trail of dead, wounded and displaced people, destroyed cities or children brutally torn from their parents.

And yet the notion of "collateral benefits" is particularly applicable to the war that has been raging in Ukraine for almost a year.

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