LV 146 : Maverick states | There is no more West | Lorgnette : Hong-Kong mastered

Letter from La Vigie dated 8 July 2020


Maverick states

The Westphalian international order, which was intended to be egalitarian, has ended up degenerating into the law of the strongest: some States, using leverage, will try to compensate for their weakness by adopting an original model that should guarantee their survival. We shall call them the mavericks’ and here we propose a typology of their strategies.

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There is no more West.

The West was at the same time a civilization, a way of thinking marked by doubt and science, a world domination and a geopolitical device focused on the alliance between Europe and America. But both America and Europe are in deep disarray as the link between the two sides of the Atlantic inexorably unravels. The West is no longer, if not as a remnant of an ancient but already extinct world. Let us become aware of this in order to build a new system.

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Lorgnette: Hong Kong mastered

China finally decided to take over the Hong Kong enclave, despite a special status negotiated in 1997 that was to last fifty years. The “one country, two systems” theory has just been shattered a quarter of a century ahead of schedule.

This decision does not really surprise even if Beijing takes a risk, that of seeing the financial and commercial place that HK was and of tarnishing its image. But the ceaseless demonstrations, at a time when the Chinese power has been stiffening for several years in the face of difficulties, constituted an internal challenge that could not last any longer. Indeed, China is first of all obsessed with maintaining its unity, guaranteed by sustained growth rates that were fading away, a trend that accelerated with the pandemic. The Chinese decision must first be understood along that way. Yet Beijing felt strong enough to challenge the international community, especially the United States.

Beyond that, it reinforces the bad image given by China that has spread throughout the world over the last six months. It seems to ignore it, confident of its power and negligent towards the rest of the world, in line with its ancestral attitude.

Taiwan now remains to be watched.

JOCV

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Friedrich Nerly. 1807-1878. The Piazzetta in the moonlight. The Piazzetta in the moonlight. Cologne. Wallraf Richartz Museum

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.

JOCV

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Photo credit: French Army

LV 135 : Europe and the South | Brexit and the end of EU | Coronavirus : Chinese ?

Letter from La Vigie, dated 5 FEB 2020

Europe and its South

Long regarded as the preserve of southern European countries, the southern Mediterranean shore and its hinterland are now becoming an issue for all European countries, whatever they may be. Only a long-term multilateral strategy will make it possible to resolve the many crises in this region that threaten Europe.

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Brexit and the end of the EU

Brexit thus became law and a country left the European Union for the first time. Admittedly, there are still a few months of negotiations to settle the details of future relations, but the essential points have been said. The EU loses much more than just a 28th of its members: in addition to size (population, GDP) or contribution to the common budget (which will have repercussions on solidarity towards poorer countries, often the latest entrants), it loses a strategic player. While the UK may lose out, the EU sees with its departure the beginning of the end.

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Lorgnette: Coronavirus: Chinese?

The Coronavirus epidemic surprises the observer. As well for its treatment in China, which testifies to the feverishness of the government while the growth rate was ebbing away and that the prior takeover was intended to allow President Xi to better control it. The crisis is generating popular discontent that must be carefully monitored, especially if the power fails to stem the epidemic.

Incidentally, there is a massive movement of quarantines: villages, neighbourhoods, entire cities and even countries, as evidenced by the drastic reduction in relations with China and the closure of borders. We can see here the new phase of globalisation, as we have known it for the last ten years: while trade has increased incredibly (including in diseases), the reaction to the negative effects is closure and local repatriation: here protectionism, there health isolation of a suspect country. The coronavirus is symbolic of geo-economic times and beyond, geopolitical times. Let us hope that this disease is controlled before contaminating everything.

JOCV

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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

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