News and notes from the world around
By the Cosmopolitan Globalists
Nicolas Tenzer writes about France’s tenure as president of the EU and the opportunity it represents for Macron, France, and Europe—if (and only if) Macron has the vision.
The Kremlin File: The Italian Connection. Monique Camarra and Olga Lautman are joined by Jacopo Iacoboni to discuss Russian operations in Italy and what they say about Putin’s global ambitions.
Vladislav Davidzon announces his forthcoming book, to be published in Spring 2022.
As it happened: European Council summit. Fears of new war in Ukraine and a resurgent coronavirus were front of mind as EU leaders gathered in Brussels.
Russia’s MFA has published an updated draft treaty with the US and NATO on security guarantees. No NATO troops in Eastern Europe save with “occasional” Russian consent; post-Soviet countries cannot join NATO; no large-scale drills. In Russian.
МИД России 🇷🇺 @MID_RF🇷🇺🇺🇸 #РоссияСША #РоссияНАТО 📄Проект Договора между Россией и #США о гарантиях безопасности: https://t.co/x1hSaOeV1M 📄 Проект Соглашения о мерах обеспечения безопасности России и государств-членов #НАТО: https://t.co/sfX6V8pznr https://t.co/HEnlrMUWd7
Dmitri Trenin @DmitriTreninPublication of RUS proposed agreements w/US &NATO on EuroSecurity may suggest that Moscow (rightly) considers their acceptance by West unlikely. This logically means that RUS will have to assure its security single-handedly, most probably by mil-tech means.
Russia-Ukraine crisis: where are Putin’s troops and what are his options? A visual guide to recent troop deployments.
Merkel mark II? Should the world expect four more years of Angela Merkel, “only with less hair”, as the leading broadsheet, Süddeutsche Zeitung, ungenerously predicted of Germany’s shiny domed new chancellor, Olaf Scholz? Scholz’s ability to churn out phrases in any degree of meaninglessness can be breathtaking. He’s not called the Scholzomat for nothing. But there are radical reforms on the new German chancellor’s agenda.
Tories lose North Shropshire seat they’ve held for 200 years. “One more strike and he’s out’, Tory MP says of Boris Johnson.
Kavala, the Ten Ambassadors and Erdoğan’s Orwellian Descent. “By backing down on his vow to expel ten Western ambassadors for calling for the release of jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan averted what threatened to be the most serious diplomatic crisis since his Justice and Development Party first took office in November 2002. But, unless Kavala is soon released, the respite will only be temporary. The crisis and his reaction to it also suggest that Erdoğan genuinely believes his own rhetoric, including the often absurd conspiracy theories he increasingly uses to mask his own policy failures.” (By Gareth Jenkins, who is the best English-language journalist writing about in Turkey—now an uncontested title, very sadly, in the wake of the untimely death of David Barchard. RIP.)
In the next war, America’s homeland will be a target. The US has become accustomed to fighting “over there.” The next enemy may bring the conflict over here.
Economic collapse pushes Afghanistan to brink of famine. “NATO powers face re-engaging with Taliban and unfreezing the financial system or watching millions starve in a famine that the International Crisis Group warns could kill more people than the two decades of fighting that has raged since a US-led coalition first ousted the militants in 2001. Unicef said one million children could die.”
A Malign Embrace: Ebrahim Raisi and Iran. Raisi’s “election marked another nadir in the Islamic Republic’s descent into unrelenting brutality and autocratic control, which is fitting because, in many regards, the story of Raisi’s life is also the story of the Islamic Republic. Understand the former and you understand the latter.” A superb and harrowing essay.
Unprecedented drought pushes Iran’s southeast to brink. A new, grim estimate says Iran's already underdeveloped Sistan-Baluchistan province will have to brace not only for a worsening water crisis but for ripple effects as well, including severe economic and social repercussions.
Iran threatens sanctions against US over treatment of Black Americans. “An Iranian judicial official said the Islamic Republic is concerned about police brutality against Black people in the United States, citing the murder of George Floyd.”
Water-for-energy is better than land-for-peace. A new deal between Israel and Jordan represents a big step forward from the Abraham Accords.
A World Without Trust. The Insidious Cyberthreat. “While the cyberthreat is real and growing, expectations that cyberattacks would create large-scale physical effects akin to those caused by surprise bombings on US soil, or that they would hurtle states into violent conflict, or even that what happened in the domain of cyberspace would define who won or lost on the battlefield haven’t been borne out. In trying to analogize the cyberthreat to the world of physical warfare, policymakers missed the far more insidious danger that cyber-operations pose: how they erode the trust people place in markets, governments, and even national power.”
The West is a victim of its own long peace. “Temporally, we are now almost as far from the second world war as it was from the American Civil War. Few voters in the west have ever seen their domestic politics go catastrophically, life-endangeringly wrong (at least until the Capitol siege of almost a year ago.) Their appetite for political risk is therefore only natural. Consider it the civic version of the rash consumption and investment at the end of a business cycle, when the last crash is too remote to remember.”
Two years since Covid19 emerged, there is still no coordinated global response to the crisis. Instead, governments have adopted a piecemeal approach that pits rich and powerful countries against vulnerable ones. So long as the virus can spread among large parts of the world’s population, it will have ample opportunities to mutate.
Another cool translation trick
This one is amazing, too. Want to watch a video in a foreign language?
Let’s say, for example, that you’re curious about the French presidential election and you want to get a feel for Valérie Pécresse’s style. Here’s her first speech on the campaign trail.
It’s in French. But suppose you don’t speak French. Once, this would have been an obstacle. No longer.
Look at the controls at the bottom right of the video:
Step 1: Go to CC and turn on Subtitles/Closed Captions.
Step 2: Click on the gear to the right of CC. You’ll see this pop-up. Click on the arrow where it says “French (auto-generated.)
You’ll see a pop-up like this:
Click on “Auto-translate.” Then scroll down to your target language—in this case, English.
And le voilà: Not only have all written language barriers collapsed, so have barriers to understanding speech.