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Geopolitics

Obama And Libyan Quicksand: A French Analysis

The U.S. President finds himself trapped in a war he didn't want to fight, with the 2012 elections already on the horizon. A European perspective on fast-moving events in Washington, and beyond.

Obama And Libyan Quicksand: A French Analysis
Laure Mandeville

WASHINGTON - The Commander-in-Chief is under fire. Critics spent the week ganging up against Barack Obama's Libyan strategy. He's accused of getting into a war he says he isn't waging. Of hiding behind a divided coalition that he's incapable of leading. Of pushing America into another military trap while being vague about the operation's goals. Of overstepping his constitutional powers in bypassing Congress. Much of this criticism is exaggerated and contradictory, despite being partially based in fact. But most notable about the hits Obama is taking is that they are bipartisan. Agreement between Republicans and Democrats proves how much Americans are worried about the consequences of an intervention that the country took part in purely for humanitarian reasons, and under heavy pressure from the French and the British.

There is a moral consensus on this approach in a country filled with the remorse of its elite, which stood by during the Rwanda genocide. But this support could falter at the first sign of trouble. Republicans were quick to jump on the opportunity, attacking Obama's multilateral approach, as the President announced an imminent transfer of leadership of operations to NATO. Declaring that the US would be just another partner in the coalition has sparked outrage from those who believe in American exceptionalism.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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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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