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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Credit : Fotoblend – Willfried Wende • Pegnitz/Deutschland •

La Vigie Nr 119 : Innovation and prospective | A European army ? | Lorgnette : changing era in Japan

La Vigie, Strategic Letter, Nr 119, 5 June 2019

Innovation and prospective

Innovation and prospective studies are two methods to understand the future. They contribute to the strategy in a different way. They are not exclusively technological, contrary to a common perception. Useful, they must also give way to a change in approach to strategic thinking: an innovation, in essence.

A European army ?

The European army generates interest again even if it remains a tight conjecture between NATO and EU. Despite multiple attempts, it will probably emerge only from a deep reflection on the European geostrategic space. But it could already begin with a local security neighborhood coordination within the flexible framework of a European guard.

Lorgnette : changing era in Japan

A calendar is also a representation of the world. Muslims date their years from the Hegira, the Japanese speak in eras… Thus, Japan has just changed imperial era on the occasion of the advent of the new emperor, Naruhito, who succeeded his father Akihito. The land of the rising sun thus passes from the Heisei era to the Reiwa era, which can be translated as “beautiful harmony”, which is intended to herald a new spring.

However, this change is still a challenge, given Japan’s seemingly unchanging nature. Having become the bridge between the Far East and the West, anchored in the Western camp, downgraded to 3rd world economic power (thanks to China’s rise and 30 years of unfavourable economic conditions), the leading conservatism keeps Japanese society very far from Western standards.

Paradoxically, it is in tune with the new international mood, which is undoubtedly very attentive to the roots to be preserved in the face of the standardization of globalization. This permanence goes hand in hand with advanced technology and a certain market economy. A formula to be observed because it may herald spring.

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 117 : China and the heart of the earth | A look at North Africa | Lorgnette : Spanish elections

La Vigie, Strategic letter, Nr 117 ( 8 MAY 2019)

China and the heart of the earth

China, which is re-emerging, is, in the eyes of the United States, the challenger. Yet, despite its need for revenge on unequal treaties imposed by “barbarians” and felt as a humiliation, it has no desire for power. Certainly, its “Belt and Roads” initiative to refocus across Asia is a major geo-economic ambition: it can be seen as a re-reading of the founders of Anglo-Saxon geopolitics and the intention to control the heartland. This requires us to renew our strategic calculations.

A look at North Africa

North Africa is a strategic area that is poorly identified and agitated by multiple rivalries. In the centre, torn Libya is experiencing a strong east-west push that is having a negative effect on the adjacent Maghreb. France must be careful not to encourage this perverse dynamic and promote an autonomous Maghreb area based on the MENA concept.

Lorgnette: Spanish elections

The Spanish general elections on 28 June did not quite resolve the country’s deep political crisis. Certainly, the Socialist Party comes first and if it allies itself with Podemos (radical left), it arrives at 11 seats of the majority necessary to govern. Faced with it, the Popular Party lost many seats, a loss badly compensated by Vox, a radical right-wing formation born of a split. This right-wing bloc is reportedly supported by the centrist, liberal and anti-independence party, Ciudadanos.

In other words, no “classic” left-wing majority is possible without the support of small parties. The Catalan secessionist parties obtained only 39% of the votes, which puts the independence issue into perspective in a context of electoral mobilization. P. Sanchez, the socialist leader, could rely on the ERC (Catalan left) or on a Basque party and some independents.

Nevertheless, P. Sanchez will not want to launch a referendum on the independence of Catalonia (even if we wait for the regional elections on 26 May to check the intensity of the independence movement, which fell on 28 June, see LV 94). It is to be hoped that the fragile coalition that will be put in place will help to cool the secessionist crisis.

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 113 : The taste of peace | Geo XXI | Lorgnette : Tension in Cashmere

La Vigie nr 113 (13 MAR 19).

The taste of peace

Everyone talks about peace but many are satisfied with the disappearance of the hard war. It is not to see that this pacified world is leaving more and more free for multiple conflicts, a new “war” that goes hand in hand with liberal globalization. Peace is no longer an absolute value and surpasses all others, and therefore the taste for peace withers. Yet, in their demand for security, that is what the peoples demand.

Geo XXI

In a non-compliant and multiple world, the global geostrategy is undergoing a new evolution that must articulate at the beginning of the 21st century heterogeneity and interdependence, the strategic virtualization that digital transformation allows and the geopolitical regionalization that rebalances globalization. To be taken into account by France to take advantage of it.

Lorgnette : Tension in Cashmere

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JDOK

La Vigie n° 97 (20 June 2018) : Kim-Trump : Two winners ? – Governance : towards syncretism – Seen from la Lorgnette : Aquarius

Letter n° 97,  La Vigie, 20th  June 2018 (to read this issue in French, clic here)

Kim-Trump : Two winners ?

The recent Singapore summit between Presidents Kim and Trump resulted in a rather flat and uncompromising statement: yet both protagonists were very satisfied. However, this is not a “win-win” agreement, since basically everyone thinks they have deceived each other. In fact, beyond the nuclear issue (yet nothing less than anodyne), the most interesting lies in the ulterior motives of the two leaders. They did not say a word and no commentator has deciphered their real calculations. They are much more subtle than we think.

Governance : towards syncretism

To save the idea of a minimal governance of the planet, we will have to introduce a dose of diversity in the principles and values that administer it, especially at the regional level because the universal always has a local color. To preserve the gains of the old multilateral structures that are going down (UN, NATO, EU), it will be necessary to focus on identifying the factors of peace and development that they carry. To contribute, France must be out of alignment.

La Lorgnette : Aquarius

 

JDOK

New Silk Roads and Central Asia : Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ( SCO) on the frontline… (E.Dupuy)

The convening of the 17th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO founded 15th January 2001) summit , on the 7th and 8th June 2017, in Astana,  Kazakhstan, was an opportunity to highlight the specificity of the only intergovernmental organisation bringing together 5 of the 6 Central Asian States – ex-soviet republics, (with the exception of Turkmenistan)  and the only one created and de facto “influenced” by Beijing.

Source

(article en français)

Beyond that, it is now the geo-economic interactions and geopolitical convergences between the SCO and China’s “New Silk Roads” (One Belt, One Road, OBOR) project that have to be taken into account to realise how this new “Great Game” will deeply unsettle international relations. Continue reading “New Silk Roads and Central Asia : Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ( SCO) on the frontline… (E.Dupuy)”

N° 80 : Europe, region and unity | The Malian Ordeal | The Chinese CINC

Abstracts of the articles

Europe, region and unity

It is an understatement to say that the Catalan issue has revealed an avalanche of unspoken things and contradictions : Beyond the Spanish situation, it brings us back to the relationship between the Union and the Nation and, more generally speaking, to the link between legality and sovereignty. Catalonia or the egotism of the rich. The Catalan claim should be appreciated for what it is : The will of the rich to isolate themselves from their community of origin and benefit from self-segregation. We can however add history and identity, that makes this issue uncomfortable and remains a source of ambiguity. But let us not be mistaken : It is selfishness of the priviledged that don’t want to for the collective solidarity anymore. In fact they proclaim it openly : « We provide 20% of the Spanish GDP, why should we pay for the rest of the country ? ». This point raises one of the essential roots of national cohesion, that of territorial solidarity. […]

The Malian ordeal

After the thawing of the bipolar order of the cold war, a certain number of States were subjected to strong internal constraints that weakened them nay threatened their very existence ( dissidence, internal conflicts, ethnoreligious conflicts, mafias and latent criminality). But the collapse of some of them would alter the established order of Yalta, or even that of Westphalia. The French armed forces were therefore engaged on the outside, in emergency situations and in support of the endangered States. After the missions in ex-Yugoslavia and in Rwanda in the 1990’s, there were the expeditions in Afghanistan in the 2000’s and then those of Libya, the Ivory Coast, Malia and the CAR.  Not forgetting the incessant maritime battle against piracy and narcos. It was about preserving a certain state of organization of the world founded on the States, basic pawns of the international society, actors of joyful globalization. In the legal framework of the United Nations Security Counsel, military action was lead within coalitions supported more or less directly by the UN, NATO or the EU.

These military actions contrasted with the anterior missions of support and peace driven according to the Agenda for Peace of the UN or the Petersberg Tasks of the EU. They were high intensity combat missions in a Euro-Atlantic collective. This was not the case however in Malia. The Serval operation triggered in the beginning of 2013 showed France was very lonely on the front line. Operation Barkhane that replaced it, and tthe Sahel G5 force that could support it or substitute it remained just as solitary. Notice that there is for France a strong strategic exposure in a Malia whose security and political situation evades them. […]

Lorgnette : The Chinese CINC

JDOK

Crédit : Rob Shenk via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA