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Geopolitics

Western Civilization In Decline? Not So Fast

Editorial: Three events over the past week – a London wedding, a Vatican mass, and a death in Pakistan -- signal that popular sentiment within the West wants its leaders to defend core values.

Ground Zero, New York City, May 2, 2011 (woongjae)
Ground Zero, New York City, May 2, 2011 (woongjae)
Ivan Rioufol

PARIS -The West is in decline. It doesn't make it true the more you keep repeating it. And this week, three major news events in rapid succession -- the British royal wedding in London, the beatification of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, and the elimination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – combine to show a culture invigorated by popular zeal.

The crowds that turned out for each event are connected. In the United States, people spontaneously filled the streets to praise the free world as the victor against terrorism; in Rome, a million faithful stood firm behind the Church, thought to be moribund in Europe; and in London, two million subjects (and two billion television viewers) applauded timeless rituals. At each event, an affection toward the civilization, memory, and the passing on of tradition was unanimously celebrated.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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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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