LV 133 : Pespective on 2020 | On common goods of humanity | Lognette : Ottoman Libya

Letter from La Vigie of 8 January 2020

French perspective on 2020: strategic regulation in question

The strategic disruption of the planet continues. In 2020, it could become even more geo-economically unstable. For France, which needs to refocus its strategy and rethink its alliances, this is undoubtedly the time to reassess its external commitments, to exercise strategic restraint and to prioritise efforts on public security and cohesion in order to regain room for manoeuvre.

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The common goods of humanity

Beyond geopolitical or economic issues, it is at a time when multilateralism is experiencing its deepest crisis that it is most needed, particularly to guarantee the sustainable management of the common goods that the planet offers us. Whether we are talking about the environment, the sea and the oceans, exo-atmospheric and cybernetic space or the infinitely small human body, the preservation and exploitation of these goods, which are common to all humankind, require the practice of effective multilateralism so that they may benefit the human species in the long term. The different societies and human generations must also agree to listen to each other before engaging in dialogue.

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Lorgnette: Ottoman Libya

The situation in Libya is experiencing a new wave of uncertainty. While the Tripoli government was showing its limits (that of not governing anything, despite official UN recognition), while Misrata’s militias and their affiliates constituted the last square to oppose the Marshall Haftar, who had launched the final push to conquer Tripoli and reunify the country, helped in this by his Egyptian and Emirati godfathers, not to mention a number of mercenaries, President Erdogan announced that he was going to intervene.

Let us recall the long filiation between Misrata and Turkey to understand that Ankara basically wishes to defend its last point of support in the southern Mediterranean. Turkey remains a Mediterranean power and its neo-Ottomanism recalls its past domination. The fact remains that it is well established in Syria, that its supporters of Idlib are little by little driven out by the Russian-Syrian offensive and that there is a plethora of violent Islamists to be recycled. Ankara will officially send regular troops: let’s bet that the main one will be made up of jihadist séides.

Bad news for Libya and the Sahel!

JOCV

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LV 132 : AMR 2019 : Taking stock of the world to come | Europe and the East | Lorgnette: Christmas dream

Letter from La Vigie, dated 25 December 2019

AMR 2019 : Taking stock of the world to come

Our annual aide-memoire to the king takes up the year again : a neighbourhood in crisis, especially in the south, a belt of conflicts beyond, the end of the West and thus of the notion of world order, a pervasive rivalry between the United States and China, the maintenance of cross-cutting issues (nuclear, terrorism, armed crime) and the birth of new ones (awakening peoples), a passive Europe stuck between the EU and NATO, and a France on the verge of the clarifications that we must now pursue and ambition to achieve.

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Europe and the East

The relationship between Europe and the East is largely determined by the relationship between Europe and Russia. While the spectres of the 20th century still poison this relationship today, a reversal of perspectives may lead to a constructive win-win relationship.

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Lorgnette: Christmas dream

The Christmas period is often the occasion of a truce of the confectioners (trêve des confiseurs). This year, the truce will give way to a strike. Let’s make a dream come true: that of a country that would enforce its motto (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité). Freedom in every sense of the word (freedom to move as freedom to strike or to demonstrate, the two having to be reconciled); equality (but, if we have understood correctly, this is the subject of the debate underlying the pension reform); and above all fraternity, which we vowed last January (LV 108).  Now, the peoples who are waking up are all calling for fraternity, under their calls for justice and equity. It is fraternity that binds the community together, makes the other one a fellow human being despite his differences, the equal of a brother with whom we share the desire to live together, in an organized society, to live a community of destiny. This stranger that I meet in the street, beggar or beggar, is also this brother.

Basically, fraternity is a vision, not a demand; a prerequisite, not an objective. In this Christmas season, whether you are with your family or on mission, at home or abroad, we wish you a beautiful and soothing fraternity.

JOCV

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LV 131 : Sahel : just before the rubble | EastMed and gas | Lorgnette : Challenges of DG Defence

Letter from La Vigie dated 11 December 2019

Sahel: just before the rubble

The motives put forward by some (economic interests) or others (fight against terrorism) are struggling to convince of the French strategy in the Sahel. As a result, because we define the enemy poorly, we are stalling, knowing that the authorities in the region do not have the same priorities as France. This addition of misperceptions, false pretenses, miscalculations and misunderstandings hinders many initiatives. It is time to make a real diagnosis and start from the bottom.

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Eastmed (Medor ) and gas

The geopolitics of the eastern Mediterranean is now stimulated by the abundance of natural gas that has recently been found on its seabed. The region’s balances are all the more affected by this as the liquefaction of LNG from this gas now allows its production, diffusion and storage in situ, certainly with heavy investments. This rapid evolution creates a strategic dynamic of competitions, alliances and cooperation that has a strong impact not only on the local residents but also on the region near the Levant and even on the green economy, whose regional situation is changing.

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Lorgnette: challenges for DG Defence

The new European Commission is finally in place and presents its innovations. Among these, a “DG Defence Industry & Space”, named Défis (Defense Industry & Space – Challenges in French) and already named “DG Defence” like the CESDP which was quickly established as a European defence. But collective defence is still NATO for most EU Member States (LV 129), as the President of the Commission pointed out.

The result of the partition of DG Industry, this DG will be a stimulus and an arbiter for the EU’s defence industry. We see it as the spearhead of a reconquest by Europeans of their strategic autonomy, a decisive step on the road to a Security and Defence Union, which is obviously complementary to NATO. With the permanent structured cooperation of the 25/27, the €13 billion FEDEF over 7 years and Galileo, we will thus have a catalogue of structures that will complement the COPS, the EUMS, the EDA and prepare the European army that some see emerging.

To counter the Russian threat and meet the Chinese challenge? We’ll judge on the basis of the evidence. But what has been lacking so far is will and strategy; structures will not replace them.

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 130 : People in motion | Europe-Asia : same equations ? | Lorgnette : pope and nuclear

Letter from La Vigie dated 27 November 2019


People in motion

This autumn saw massive demonstrations all over the world: in Latin America, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. What does this global and simultaneous phenomenon mean when the analysis of each movement suggests contingent and local factors? Despite the differences (purpose, duration, social or political motivation), they share the disappointment with the established powers. Above all, they appear to be a new consequence of globalization, as paradoxical as this conclusion seems.

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Europe-Asia: same equations?

In twenty years, France and Japan have become strategic partners of the 21st century, re-establishing a level of relations that the two countries had not enjoyed since the advent of the Meiji era, contributing to the archipelago’s opening to modernity at the end of the 19th century. Over the course of the 20th century, after having been allies in the first world war, they became allies of the United States after 1945. With different strategic cultures that reflect their distinct histories, their strategic autonomy and their alliance stances towards Washington now have some common points that are interesting to note as we approach the next NATO Summit.

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Lorgnette: Pope and nuclear

Pope Francis’ speech in Nagasaki (here) constitutes a significant reversal of jurisprudence. Indeed, the Catholic Church has never concealed its opposition to nuclear weapons. But after much debate, it had resolved, in France, to accept the principle of deterrence (text of the 1983 Episcopal Conference). Deterrence had been recognized as a necessary evil. But for Pope Francis, it is “perverse”: “International peace and stability are incompatible with any attempt to rely on the fear of mutual destruction or on the threat of total annihilation“. As for nuclear weapons, if their use had always been condemned, the Church said nothing about their possession. Having or manufacturing it is now condemned: “The use of atomic energy for military purposes is now, more than ever, a crime. It is immoral.

The Pope calls for international negotiations, especially around the TPNW (LV 87). It is the only time when morality meets reality. It must be said that today, despite the objectives affirmed by the NPT, we are not moving towards a world without nuclear weapons. On the contrary.

JOCV

 

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La Vigie Nr 129 (Free) : Europe and the North – Dead NATO – Lorgnette : Social and geopolitics

Letter from La Vigie, posted on 13 Novembre 2019 (free reading)

Europe and the North

The margins of Northern Europe are an area that is not well known in France and yet essential for European balance. We analyse the Nordic countries’ tension between Washington and Moscow as they try to maintain a European foothold. This area is of interest to France in the development of its Arctic strategy and towards Russia, but also and above all in the context of its European strategy.

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Dead NATO

President Macron’s interview with The Economist has the merit of saying out loud what was being whispered in small circles: at least the next Alliance summit in London next month will be interesting. These words are thoughtful and not just a short sentence: they are the result of a thoughtful diagnosis of the transatlantic link and Europe’s raison d’être. E. Macron can be blamed for a very French arrogance: but this is perhaps still the French exception, that of saying necessary things even if they seem unpleasant.

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Lorgnette: Social and geopolitics

What does WhatsApp have in common with a metro ticket? Not much: the proposed tax on the former has triggered the largest protest movement in Lebanon in years; the increase in the latter has had the same result in Chile. We have talked a lot about revolts (Algeria, LV 112 and DS 11; Sudan: LV 115 and 123) or social movements (Brazil LV 104; Yellow jackets: LV 106 and 109). Everywhere, demonstrations are mobilizing crowds who no longer have confidence in their governments: in addition to the examples cited, let us mention the cases of Hong Kong, Iraq, Guinea, Ecuador and Catalonia.

There are many reasons for this: the fight against corruption or the rejection of an oppressive system, they all have in common a willingness to be listened and the search for the common good, which the elites in power are accused of not wanting (or being able) to develop.

Let us note a globalization of demonstrations, for various reasons but with mobilizations that are not drying up and that time or repression are having difficulty extinguishing. This is a new factor that cannot be overlooked.

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 128 : Why Indo-Pacific? – Towards calm in the Middle East – The Lorgnette: The inevitable Brexit

Letter from La Vigie dated 30 October 2019

Why Indo-Pacific?

In ten years, the term Indo-Pacific (IP) has almost replaced the term Asia-Pacific. What are the reasons for this change in the geographical framework of the main actors’ foreign policies? As the world’s demographic and economic centre of gravity, will the PI become the next challenge in the confrontation between Beijing and Washington or the area of cooperation, freedom and development from which as many people as possible can benefit? To avoid marginalisation, France and Europe must develop a global and coherent vision of the PI accompanied by projects that will concretely meet the expectations of the different sub-regions.

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Towards calm in the Middle East

The Middle East has long been polarized around the Palestinian question and then the jihadist question. From now on, we are in a new phase, initiated before D. Trump came to power. Whether in Turkey, Syria or even Saudi Arabia, policies are changing and one can imagine a region less conflictual than in recent years.

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The Lorgnette: The inevitable Brexit

Very few are able to follow the detours of Euro-British policy around Brexit. However, let us note several things. 1/ The European strategy of blocking Brexit at all costs has failed. It should be noted that the EU was indeed partly responsible for the blockage. Until recently, there was nothing to negotiate. But in the end, the EU negotiated. 2/ Boris Johnson won his bet, contradicting all speculation. Many expected him to seek only a no-deal, but he managed to negotiate, quickly and skilfully, an agreement that was certainly not perfect, which is the hallmark of all agreements. 3/ The British Parliament played an unpleasant role, between persistent blockage and refusal of dissolution: indeed, another of Cameron’s reforms was to introduce a threshold for dissolution, which blocks the system. 4/ The ultimate blockage implemented against BoJo is intended to counter it, not the agreement, which could lead to a no-deal that we were precisely trying to avoid.

Absurdity is indeed a British trait.

But this should not hinder a Brexit that is now inevitable. The result will then have to be assessed in five years or more.

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 127 : The incredible Mr Trump – Europe, a continent? Lorgnette: Face to face

La Vigie Nr 127 : 16 October 2019

The incredible Mr. Trump

the American political scene has been shaken for several weeks by cases originating in the country’s foreign policy: here the “Ukrainian case”, there the Turkish offensive in northern Syria. Each time, an initiative of President Trump that provokes uproar inside: a procedure of dismissal is thus launched while the Republican Party is deeply moved by the betrayal against the Kurds. No one knows yet whether this is a turning point, but these events demonstrate the deep distrust of the United States, torn between its interests and its values.

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Europe, a continent?

At a time when the future of the European institutions is more uncertain than ever with the looming Brexit crisis, we are wondering what defines Europe’s geopolitical uniqueness. Europe is not the result of chance, it is determined by constants and France is representative of this Continent which transcends the ups and downs of current events.

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The Lorgnette: Face to Face

The face becomes a geopolitical object. Indeed, many contemporary debates raise the question of the visibility of the face. First of all, here is the question of the Islamic veil and in particular the veil hiding the face, the burka. In an open society, can you hide your face on the street? No,” replied the Hong Kong leaders, who are facing massive demonstrations in which opponents of the pro-Chinese government veil their faces in the name of their democratic struggle: can hiding their faces be a sign of oppression, a sign of freedom?

The question is all the more difficult because, beyond this question of public order, there is another question: that of governments’ control over the social life of citizens. This is basically the debate that Mr Cedric O, Secretary of State for Digital Technology, is asking when he says that manufacturers must experiment with facial recognition and that, at the same time, we need safeguards.

Once again, technology appears to be ahead of the law and there are abuses of civil liberties in China that it could allow.

The face is a subject of freedom.

JOCV

La Vigie Nr 126 : Take stock of the situation | Arabian peninsula | Lorgnette : PANG

La Vigie Nr 126 : 2 october 2016

Take stock of the situation

Taking stock of France’s strategic perspectives is a periodic necessity, especially when the scene is lively as it is now. To do this, it is necessary to step back and cross-reference the main lines of force that can be observed. We have identified six of them, which, overlapping each other, provide the framework within which France can act. But is it prepared and willing to do so?

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia is a new country that has long sought to control its neighbourhood, including the Arabian Peninsula. This purpose has been reinforced by the question of political Islam, which has been structural since the founding of the kingdom. A final factor, oil, is added to these determinants. This results in an attitude that is difficult to follow in a highly troubled region.

Lorgnette: PANG

Behind this acronym in the name of petroleum is a formidable mobile war machine capable of influencing the planet’s strategic balances and controlling vast strategic areas to defend our interests and ensure that our views prevail. The PANG is the new generation aircraft carrier. It will enter service in 2040 for 40 years and will serve what is called France’s power projection in the last quarter of the 21st century.

Anticipating the renewal of the CDG AP means both measuring its contribution to the country’s current external action and projecting itself into 2060 to imagine the conflict of the time and face it. Vast challenge, necessary and realistic. No one doubts the strategic centrality of the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean of tomorrow, and the Asia-Pacific region; economic activity will be decisive there and France and its European neighbours will be increasingly concerned. There is no doubt either that we will have to regulate this key maritime space for the development of the planet, we will have to move quickly in combat gear and be able to arbitrate tensions there. Who in Europe will be able to do it? France with its PANG! (To be continued)

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 125 : The growing importance of strategic intelligence | Strategic reliability | Lorgnette : Saudi Arabia is burning

The growing importance of strategic intelligence

Strategic intelligence is an increasingly crucial activity for many organizations facing infobesity. It serves strategic objectives (anticipation, security and mobilization), does not only operate outwards and is not limited to improved documentation: it must take into account the contemporary hostile environment where information is both energy and weapon.

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Strategic reliability

The reliability of a strategy is assessed with several indicators: its ability to manage uncertainty and assess possibilities, its pragmatism and agility in the face of the unexpected, its ability to combine determination and restraint… It is an essential factor in its sustainability and in the consolidation of the country’s security interests.

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Lorgnette: Saudi Arabia is burning

A coordinated attack by air seriously damaged a Saudi oil site on 14 September: it is not known whether they are drones or missiles or where they come from (Yemen, Iraq, Iran?) and who fired them. The reduction in production capacity has led to a surge in oil prices and affected markets. And yet, while the accusations flourished very early on, there was some restraint in Washington and Riyadh . Here, the bogging down in Yemen highlights the war limits of the kingdom, which cannot engage in an open conflict with its Iranian rival. Here, an already open election campaign is preventing President Trump from opening a new front, against the deep desire of his electorate.

Let us move on to the capacity limits of ground-to-air protection (detection and destruction) in the Saudi kingdom or to the surprising technical innovations of an aggressor capable of launching a salvo of devices operating several hundred kilometres away: let us note the boldness of this strategic initiative and its success, as it reveals the military and political limits of the American-Saudi alliance.

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 124 : On the right foot | A fine diplomatic sequence | Lorgnette : Buying Greeenland

On the right foot

Getting off to a good start in terms of security after a tense summer is for France to pay close attention to public security. It then means seeking to redevelop the strategic space of its geopolitical neighbourhood. Finally, it is to free oneself from the traps set by an indiscriminate American administration that blows hot and cold and destabilizes global governance. It should be noted that, pragmatically, expected progress is currently being developed.

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A fine diplomatic sequence

Summits of heads of state are often of little use, other than staging the supposed agreement of the leaders. This is even more true of the G7s, usually. However, the end of the summer saw a fine diplomatic sequence led by President Macron, who succeeded in generating an opening on the Iranian issue and an agreement on the taxation of the GAFAs. This was followed by a speech to the ambassadors that signalled a change of line and certainly a pragmatism that seemed to us to be a good method

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Lorgnette: Buying Greenland

Donald Trump’s summer offer to buy Greenland sparked the eternal flow of sarcasm and caused a diplomatic crisis with Denmark, which remains sovereign on the island. It should be recalled that the idea is not as absurd as it seems (the United States has already bought Louisiana and Alaska and made two proposals to buy Greenland in the past), that America has the Thule base there, that yesterday’s geostrategic interest in the USSR is now being renewed with the increased interest in the Arctic, particularly by China. Finally, it should be noted that geologically, the island is more American than European. Nevertheless, Denmark remains sovereign, there is a status of autonomy (as in the Faroes, whose recent elections highlighted the independence fighters) and this raises the question of all these northern islands (Greenland, Faroe, Spitzberg/Svalbard) but also the place that Europe (not the EU, given Norway’s non-membership) could have on these polar issues. In other words, instead of giggling, take a serious interest. France has apparently an ambassador for the poles: we haven’t heard him on the subject.

JDOK

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La Vigie Nr 123 (double issue) : Lassitude | Miscellaneous | Sudan : end of games | Commanding space | Reading stickers

La VIgie Nr 123 ( 31 JUL 2019)

Strategic fatigue

In the face of approximations and inconsistencies, weariness becomes the strategist’s fatigue. It must recall some obvious facts: the false concept of weapons of mass destruction, which combine special tactical weapons and weapons of strategic superiority in a catch-all; the vicissitudes of arms control; and finally, the strategic confusion of inclusiveness, a new French strategic dogma that mixes everything up without really deciding anything.

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Lorgnette 1: Political Miscellanea

The first half of the year was full of political reflections, those prompted by the Treaty of Versailles or the 75th anniversary of the D-day. We also enjoyed reading the Tocqueville Conversations, which this year dealt with the future of nations and the debates on Brexit and European disorder. As is often the case, it is a question of the past and the future, the contours of which are difficult to define in the present. But if history never repeats itself, it always continues. To ignore it would be a mistake. The nation-state of the 20th century is transformed into a connected state of the 19th century. But then what to keep from the past? What European, Community and strategic achievements should be preserved? What lessons can be learned from missed appointments and peace? The time for the collective heroism of peoples has passed, but their dispersion in singular trajectories will not be progress. In Europe more than elsewhere, inter-state disasters have been experienced. We need different rules of the game on the Eurasian continent to manage our nations, which are being blamed for inclusive globalisation. So instead of claiming innocence, i.e. to a justice without force, let us try to be a little stronger, even at the risk of being a little less just (Pierre Manent).

Sudan: end of game?

The death of the Tunisian president reminds us that popular pressure can change the system. The Algerian victory in football delays the blocking of this pressure. Finally, the agreement in Sudan gives the illusion that the system is changing: it is probably only an illusion, the dual regime put in place probably allowing the extension of the power system.

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Lorgnette 2: Commanding space

France will soon have a military space command: The new space strategy recently presented provides for a real space force (new surveillance satellites, nano-satellites, small reactive launchers, power lasers). Everything would be launched from 2023 (next five-year period). 700 million have been generated on the current LPM, €1.5 billion on the next. The doctrine would be aligned with that of deterrence: active but not offensive and “not first engagement”, in order to protect and defend our space interests. Of course, this will be done in a Europeanised framework (no one notes the German delay in this area). The new space command will be installed in Toulouse while the 2008 Space Operations Act will be reviewed to allow for genuine military specificity.

This new strategy acknowledges the ongoing arms race, driven both by the proliferation of state actors (Japan, China, India) and private actors. Space was placed between deterrence and intelligence: it is now becoming autonomous. The Air Force is in charge of it.

Reading stickers :

Some books we read : Les défis chinois (E. de La Maisonneuve) – La mesure de la force (M. Motte) – Vision(s) du monde (Ch. Grataloup) – La puissance au XXIè siècle (P. Bühler) – L’orthodoxie (N. Kazarian) – L’affolement du monde (Th. Gomart) – L’archipel français (J. Fourquet) – Le désert et la source (R. Cagnat) – La France et l’Otan en Syrie (R. Hureaux) – Les guerriers de l’ombre (JC Notin) – Babel minute zéro (GP Goldstein) – Piège au levant (R. Pietrini) – La bombe d’Alger (M. Bowman) – Les invasions allemandes (N. Isigny).

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 122 : Pariahs and States | Under the thresholds | Lognette : In Kosovo

La Vigie Nr 122 : 17 JUL 2019

Pariahs and States

The current conflicts are often the result of the inability of international society to enable communities to establish themselves as viable and stable states. The reason is to be found in the dislocation of empire systems that leave orphaned peoples, in the inconsistent diversification of international law and in the transformation of international actors. To regulate global tensions, we must offer everyone the perspective of the state they need.

Under the thresholds

The notion of threshold has been well known to strategists since the development of nuclear deterrence. Below the threshold, we would live under the reign of conventional warfare. Yet, in the post-Cold War world, this category struggles to explain all the conflicts we have experienced over the past thirty years and, above all, the latent but intense conflict of the contemporary world. It is therefore necessary to determine a new threshold, well below the nuclear threshold: it allows a better understanding of the conflicts of the moment.

Lorgnette : In Kosovo

There was to be a summit in Paris in early July between Serbia, Kosovo, Germany and France. It was cancelled. The diplomats hoped to resolve a political dispute that had been dragging on for 20 years: the separation of Kosovo from Serbia. There was a conflict, a NATO operation and since then things have calmed down: the time has come for negotiation.

We know the principles, since both Belgrade and Pristina agree to proceed with territorial exchanges. However, this ancestral practice seems extremely complicated to carry out.

The first reason is public opinion, whether Serbian or Kosovian. However, prior media preparation should succeed in overcoming the obstacle. Secondly, the two capitals have recently adopted blocking measures that will have to be lifted to allow discussion: the ultimate firm stance before the negotiation, or lasting stiffening? To see. Finally, Germany is not very much in favour of the principle of land exchange. This is the most embarrassing, because it introduces a principle of the inviolability of borders that is pernicious and counterproductive.

So let’s make way for diplomats….

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JDOK