LV 244 (free): Extended Mediterranean: Italy’s ambitions beyond Europe | Grand strategy in disarray | Lorgnette: Indian elections

Letter from La Vigie, dated 12th June 2024


Extended Mediterranean: Italy’s ambitions beyond Europe (LV 244) (free)

Since 2022, Italy has decided to adopt a new strategic positioning in an area stretching from the Gulf of Guinea to the north-western Indian Ocean, which it calls the “extended Mediterranean”. This cross-cutting vision, which includes diplomatic and economic as well as military and security aspects, underlines Rome’s ambitions for a southern flank of NATO and the EU that has too often been neglected. In support of this strategy, Italy is also developing a strong naval base, centred on a major upgrade of capabilities and spectacular growth in volumes, making it an essential partner for France, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

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Grand strategy in disarray (LV 244) (free)

Grand strategy remains a demanding discipline, combining diagnosis and decision, thought and action. Since its inception, La Vigie has tirelessly explored this method. We note its structural weakening, which reflects the deterioration of political debate. Yet other countries have succeeded in implementing major strategies. If we leave it to the course of events, we will encounter tragedy. Then perhaps grand strategy will be reborn.

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Lorgnette : Indian elections

The elections that have just taken place in India are full of lessons. Narendra Modi did not achieve the triumph he had hoped for, even though his coalition managed to secure a third term in office. Domestic factors played their part: doubts about the Prime Minister’s ultra-Hindu political project, the tarnished aura of a man from the bottom, economic successes (7% growth) that do not redistribute enough (unemployment remains high), and persistent regional disparities.

However, this will give him a free hand internationally to continue his balancing act (LV 240). It will continue to combine its grand strategy: cooperation with the West, notably within the framework of the Quad (United States, Australia, Japan), while benefiting from the indulgence of the Europeans; cooperation with the BRICS and notably Russia, whose oil feeds its economy; pursuit of economic development in support of a globalisation that brings prosperity; attachment to its neighbours in the Indian Ocean; a marked effort towards Africa; maintenance of a degree of tension with China and Pakistan.

What is most remarkable is the decorrelation between domestic political life and foreign policy.


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LV 240: India at the centre of the power game | War economy | Lorgnette: Junta in trouble

Letter from La Vigie, dated 17 April 2024


India at the centre of the power game

Changes in the strategic context, marked by the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific, are tending to give the Indian Ocean a central role. India, the only credible power in the region, is taking advantage of this to position itself at the barycentre of the power game, between non-alignment and multi-alignment.

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War economy

The war economy has returned to the public discourse in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Yet this concept belongs to historical circumstances (the twentieth century) that are far removed from the country’s current situation. So why are the authorities using this expression?

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Lorgnette: Junta in trouble

The Burmese junta continues to suffer setbacks. The Karen insurgents, who have rallied to the NUG (Government of National Unity), have just taken the town of Myawaddy, the most important crossing point to Thailand. Since the offensive launched last October, the junta’s opponents have scored a series of successes. While the junta retains control of the skies (thanks to Russian support), its troops on the ground are shaky. Defections are multiplying to such an extent that the junta decided in February to resort to conscription, which has exacerbated the population exodus. It is estimated that in the three years since the end of Burma’s democratic spring, the population of 54 million people has been made up of almost 100,000 refugees and 1.6 million displaced persons.

Is this the end? It is too early to say, because for the moment it is mainly the margins of the country that are being taken over by the rebellion, not the ethnic Burmese heartland, which remains under the overall control of the regime. The regime has little support, but many of its neighbours fear, without saying so, a Burmese chaos. China, which is officially silent on the principle of non-interference, is unhappy to see the Burmese alliance unravel: its aim was to develop direct access to the Bay of Bengal.


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La Vigie Nr 194 : India is on its way | Conceptual wavering | Lorgnette : God save the Queen

Letter from La Vigie, dated 8 June 2022

India is on its way

India is attracting little interest, even though its rank among nations is growing steadily. Its strategy remains marked by its cumbersome neighbours (Pakistan, China), but its tradition of non-alignment makes it resistant to American neo-imperial embroilment. This is an opportunity for France, which is in good agreement with this South Asian power, an agreement that goes beyond signed contracts.

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Conceptual wavering

From strategic compass to strategic concept, there is a general wavering as the war in Ukraine seems to be stalling. It is the moment of the first assessments among the Europeans who are divided on the way to go. It is perhaps also the time for France to question its defence posture, to take its time to find out how to integrate the lessons of the strategic surprises coming from Moscow and Kiev.

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Lorgnette: God save the Queen

The Queen of England has just celebrated her jubilee, the 70th anniversary of her reign. The longevity is understandably surprising, but not as surprising as the popular fervour that has surrounded these celebrations. A silent sovereign, the Queen nevertheless won the support of her subjects thanks to her remarkable demeanour and reserve: who was not impressed by her brief three-minute statement at the time of the Covid pandemic, calling on her compatriots to hold on? It was a change from the lengthy speeches made by other leaders.


Yet it is not this exemplary role played by an exceptional personality over these 70 years that counts. It is the tribute to the last human being who came close to the political management of the Second World War. It is true that she had no decision-making power at the time, but she already had the awareness of a national mobilisation to resist the enemy.

This memory is still prominent in contemporary England, which cannot be understood if we ignore the pride of having resisted with sweat, blood and tears. Elizabeth II is also a witness to that moment, to that sacred union of the British people. May God keep you!

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LV 145 : Japan and France: maritime strategies | Army’s strategic vision | Lorgnette: Sino-Indian tensions

Letter from La Vigie Nr 145, dated 24th June 2020

Japan and France: maritime strategies

France and Japan, comparable G7 countries, linked by an exceptional partnership, are similarly confronted with the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis. In search of new levers to revive their economies, they are among the world’s leading oceanic powers and can count on their national maritime strategies to make the most of their assets. The global, bilateral and inter-ministerial maritime dialogue, which opened in Noumea in September 2019, is a pioneering tool enabling them to launch open projects at the scale of the maritime spaces of Europe and the Indo-Pacific, in the service of the reasoned development and preservation of the world ocean.

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Army’s Strategic Vision

The central argument of this reflection is the return to high intensity. It goes without saying that after thirty years of land-based operations of all kinds (peacekeeping, counter-insurgency, etc.) we are seeing a hardening of land-based armed conflicts outside. In order to cope with this, the army will have to be toughened up. It should be noted that this global vision does not cover the national territory.

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Lorgnette: Sino-Indian tensions

China and India clashed on 15 June in a high valley in Ladakh, on the Himalayan borders of the two countries, on the shores of Kashmir, itself the object of friction between India and Pakistan (LV 113). In a valley at more than 4000 m., unarmed border guards clashed with stones and sticks, causing the deaths of about twenty Indians and perhaps forty Chinese. It is believed that the Chinese set up tents in a disputed area. Both countries have since increased their appeasement measures.

Yet the affair is worrying: firstly, because Kashmir is the other explosive region in Central Asia (apart from Afghanistan) that involves three nuclear powers, in a context of state claims (which we note in this issue). But also because China seems to want to apply on the banks of the Galwan River the fait accompli policy it has practised in the South China Sea. The only difference is that here it is challenging not middle powers but India, itself a nationalist, which can use this as a pretext to make up for poor economic results.

This is worrying.


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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.


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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