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Benedict XVI in a file photo
Benedict XVI in a file photo
Giacomo Galeazzi

VATICAN CITY - Three years ago, on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI's departure for the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, it was the murder of Luigi Padovese, the vicar apostolic of Turkey, which loomed over the trip. This time it is the killing of four U.S. diplomats in Benghazi and the uprising across the region against the controversial film that mocks the prophet Muhammad.

The apostolic trip of Benedict XVI to Lebanon, from Friday until Sunday, comes at a dramatic moment for the entire Middle East. The Pope's words will have a particular weight at a time when pressure from fundamentalists threatens to engulf the region in violence and close the door to democracy.

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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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