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Crowd mourning Rafsanjani in Tehran on Jan. 8
Crowd mourning Rafsanjani in Tehran on Jan. 8
Alidad Vassigh

TEHRAN — When a major political leader dies, the labels and comparisons acquired over a lifetime can tell us much about both the leader and the nation itself. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a veteran of the 1979 Iranian Revolution who later evolved into a reformist, has been called over the years everything, from the "General of Construction," the "Godfather" and Kouseh (Persian for "clean-shaven"). His death Sunday reminds us that the 82 year old was a man of many facets — and that Iran's current wave of reform still hangs very much in the balance.

The current government of President Hassan Rouhani, himself a reformer and a Rafsanjani protégé, declared three days of mourning and announced offices would be shut on Tuesday. Reformist daily, Arman-e Emrooz, hailed Rafsanjani as the "Amir Kabir of his age," comparing him to one of the most popular statesman of 19th-century Iran, who modernized many aspects of public life and government.

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Ideas

Ukraine Has Exposed The Bankruptcy Of Germany's "Never Again" Pacifism

A group of pro-peace German intellectuals published a letter asking the country not to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, but they're missing the point completely. Germany needs to reinvent itself in order to face today's challenges — and threats.

The Bundestag, or German federal government, meets at the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Sascha Lehnartz

-OpEd-

BERLIN — When even the brightest minds — some of whom have shaped the intellectual life of this republic for decades — suddenly seem at a loss, it can mean one of two things. Either the clever minds are not as clever as we were always led to believe. Or the times have changed so brutally that old pieces of wisdom are suddenly no longer valid.

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If you don't want to give up your childhood faith in the Federal Republic of Germany quite yet, you can settle on the second option.

Alexander Kluge, one of Germany's most versatile artists, founded a television production company, proving that there can even be television for intellectuals. Journalist and prominent feminist Alice Schwarzer has done more for the liberation of women in this country than anyone else. Yet Schwarzer and Kluge, along with another two dozen intellectuals, have written an open letter that basically recommends Ukraine to submit to Vladimir Putin for the sake of the authors' peace of mind.

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