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Geopolitics

Warlord-In-Chief: A Portrait Of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe

His political career began as a struggle against racist oppression and continued until achieving his country's independence. But the newly re-elected leader, 89, is epitomized by violence and corruption.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Jean-Philippe Rémy

Has Robert Mugabe ever known peace? At 89 and just re-elected to a new term, his latest fight was with the Zimbabwean opposition, which he crushed on election day July 31. His defeated opponent, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, described the political event as a “sham” marked by ghost votes and lack of ballot access for over one million people. Mugabe, meanwhile, raises his middle finger to Western countries, whose protests and criticisms he is more than happy to ignore.

On a tactical level, it has been a success. If the Movement for Democratic Change, Tsvangirai’s party, asks its militants to stay home to avoid repression while it awaits an appeal of the results, Mugabe will have won the way a civil war is won: without mercy, without any consideration for harm, as if it were a matter of life and death. It was only a presidential election. With Mugabe, it seems, politics is always an extension of war.

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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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