La Vigie 168 : New develoments in the Middle East | Deterrence reversed | Lorgnette : Rafales in rafales

Letter from La Vigie, 26 May 2021

New developments in the Middle East

The Middle East theatre is changing very quickly. Indeed, Saudi Arabia seems to be conducting a foreign policy reset, resuming its dialogue with Qatar and Syria, deepening its dialogue with Iraq and even opening bridges with Iran. Meanwhile, Joe Biden is cautiously moving forward with his resumption of negotiations with Tehran, while Israel is at a standstill.

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Deterrence reversed

French strategic thinking on nuclear deterrence has traditionally been dominated by an extremely realistic vision. Deterrence from the weak to the strong is effective and obvious. In reality, purely material calculations are not enough to explain the use, but especially the non-use, of the nuclear bomb since 1945. In particular, normative factors such as the “nuclear taboo” must be taken into account: who is really deterred from doing what? The question is more open than it seems.

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Lorgnette: Rafales in Rafales

Dassault has just sold another 30 Rafale fighters to Egypt, as well as a dozen to Croatia, while a forthcoming sale to Indonesia has been announced. This flurry of success is surprising, given the aircraft’s difficult commercial debut. Why is the aircraft selling so well today?

There has been a general upturn in military equipment around the world, especially as many countries need to renew their fleets, which was not the case 20 years ago. The Russian offer is less attractive and many countries have distanced themselves from the United States, following the excesses of D. Trump. Therefore, the European alternative appeals. The Rafale has several advantages: it is more expensive than the Gripen but has far greater capabilities, it was designed to be upgraded regularly and now offers a versatility that the Eurofighter does not.

A national aircraft can therefore find its commercial way and international cooperation is not necessarily an indispensable economic necessity: a reminder at a time of tough negotiations on the SCAF!


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