Tuesday. 10/5/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Stephen Dalziel

War and peace

Rarely has so much attention been paid by the West to Russia’s Victory Day parade, which took place yesterday in Moscow. With the war in Ukraine grinding on into its third month – and certainly not going according to Vladimir Putin’s original plan – there was much talk as to whether Russia’s president would use the occasion to step up what he calls a “special military operation” by declaring that it is, officially, a “war” and ordering a mass mobilisation of the population.

In the event, while Putin repeated his baseless accusations that the West and Ukraine were to blame for what the Russian army is doing there, he stopped short of upping the ante. For ordinary Russians, Victory Day is a sombre occasion. Rather than celebrate a military achievement, they give thanks to those who laid down their lives for the motherland, remembering the 27 million Soviet citizens who died in what they term the Great Patriotic War. Some even pay tribute to the Western allies who fought alongside the USSR. Indeed, in 1992 Americans and even some Germans took part in the commemoration.

But Putin has turned the day into something that comes close to not only celebrating the memory of those who fought and died between 1941 and 1945 but even glorifying war itself. He might have held off from announcing a general mobilisation yesterday but there’s no guarantee that, as his reckless military operation in Ukraine grinds on and a Russian victory looks less and less likely, he’ll feel that he has no other option but to do just that, thereby creating thousands more future veterans and dead soldiers.

Stephen Dalziel is an expert in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the author of ‘The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire’. Listen to his analysis of Vladimir Putin’s speech on yesterday’s episode of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / South Korea

Southern discomfort

Yoon Suk-yeol (pictured) will be sworn in today as South Korea’s 13th president. The 61-year-old candidate of the conservative People Power Party secured victory by a razor-thin margin in March, defeating the Democratic Party’s Lee Jae-myung by less than a single percentage point. His inauguration ceremony, which will take place outside Seoul’s National Assembly, has attracted criticism for costing about 3.3 billion won (€2.5m), the most expensive in South Korean history. Once in power, Yoon will have his hands full with various domestic challenges, ranging from the effects of the pandemic to rising inflation. But perhaps most pressing is his promise to adopt a harder line towards North Korea. “While former president Moon Jae-in tried to coax Kim Jong-un into giving up his nukes with closer ties, Yoon has stressed that Seoul won’t be playing nice unless Pyongyang makes meaningful progress towards denuclearisation,” James Fretwell, an analyst at NK News, tells The Monocle Minute. It would seem that there will be more sabre-rattling to come on the Korean peninsula this year.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Europe

Unwelcome proposals

The Conference on the Future of Europe, a series of public debates and discussions aiming to find ways to encourage EU citizens to become more involved in policymaking, closed yesterday at the European Parliament (pictured) after presenting 49 proposals to the EC. Among them were goals such as improving migrants’ access to the labour market and implementing a “polluter pays” principle for dealing with environmental waste. While most member states have welcomed the proposals, a significant cohort is unhappy.

A group including Denmark and Bulgaria gathered support for a “non-paper” that slammed the outcome of the initiative, as well as proposals to change EU treaties. “We already have a Europe that works,” the document states. “We do not need to rush into institutional reforms to deliver results.” Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that the motion spells trouble for Brussels policymakers hoping to sell a vision of a more united EU, both inside and outside the bloc.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / Japan

Flying high

Honda might be better known for its cars, motorbikes and outboard engines but the automotive giant is hoping to bolster its aviation credentials with a new transport service. Hondajet is now set to carry businesspeople and tourists to regional Japanese cities that are not well served by other modes of transport.

The first Hondajet took to the skies in 2003 and the company has continued to refine this light, high-performance business plane (pictured), which has excellent fuel efficiency and a spacious interior. While it has been successful in its class overseas, the domestic market has been slower to catch on. Japanese executives favour more low-key travel, sticking with scheduled flights or the ever-reliable Shinkansen. With these new routes, the company is hoping to shift people’s perception of the small jet, showing that it can be both convenient and reasonably priced. Trials take off this year.

Image: Marvel Studios

Cinema / USA

Hit squad

In late April, US film executives announced a renewed commitment to theatrical releases at Cinemacon in Las Vegas. Their optimism has been quickly rewarded. Over the weekend, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (pictured), the latest slog through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, clocked up the year’s biggest US opening, taking $185m (€175m) by the end of Sunday.

With major marquee titles such as Top Gun 2, Jurassic World Dominion and the Toy Story spin-off Lightyear around the corner, 2022 could herald a much-needed recovery for the box office – though the reliance of the industry on sequels, franchises and predictable big hitters could signal problems further down the line. Doctor Strange’s success came at the expense of acclaimed sci-fi indie comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once, whose receipts immediately dropped by almost a third. If survival for the cinema means cleaving ever more closely to blockbusters’ theme-park model, it will be culture’s loss.

Image: Getty Images

Monocle 24 / The Foreign Desk

In sickness and in health

We all suffer from illness but, for world leaders, it can be a major PR challenge. Can one person’s illness change the course of history? Andrew Mueller speaks to Dr Dan Poulter, Alex von Tunzelmann, Lance Price and Leah J Greene.

Monocle Films / London

Yinka Ilori’s 3D-printed basketball court

Designer Yinka Ilori discusses the design inspiration behind his temporary installation in London’s Canary Wharf and the importance of play in adulthood. Hear more on ‘Monocle on Design’ on Monocle 24.

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