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Argentina

Indignados In History: Why The World Is Shaking Like It's 1848

Essay: Perhaps the closest historical comparison with recent worldwide social disaffection and civil unrest is in the lead-up to the mid-19th century revolutions that roiled the globe.

Protests last June in Santiago, Chile (Simenon)
Protests last June in Santiago, Chile (Simenon)
Rodrigo Lara Serrano

BUENOS AIRES -- I have a friend who composes elegant and catchy technopop songs. His band plays in small venues here in Buenos Aires, where he has some fans – but not too many. He has a day job in telemarketing, for which he proudly speaks English with a "mid-Atlantic" accent. His salary allows him a modest pizza-and-Chinese-food lifestyle. To save money he commutes on a used bicycle – he had a new one, but it was stolen. He's affable, polite, an avid reader and, generally speaking, quite content with his life.

But about a year ago I noted a change in our conversations. New words began popping up, like Bilderberg, zeitgeist, indigenous lands, and occupy. He began talking about how the governments of the United States and Europe – and maybe even China too – are part of a secret global brotherhood that, lacking any real sense of democracy, abscond with the savings of other countries and force average citizens to pay for the luxuries of a tiny class of mega-millionaires. These same governments use their military might to seize the world's mineral resources, and poison the middle classes with industrial foods designed to cause harm, all the while ruining the seas and forests.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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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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