La Vigie Nr 192 : Intensity, symmetry, threshold, model | Turkish balancing act | Lorgnette: United Ireland ?

Letter from La Vigie dated 11 May 2022

Intensity, symmetry, threshold, model

From a theoretical point of view, what does the war in Ukraine tell us? Many talk about high intensity. It is more a question of symmetry, which leads to threshold effects but also to technological mixes of old weapons and new objects. A fine diagnosis must be made that questions our armed forces model.

To read the article, click here

Turkish balancing act

The Turkish regime is trying by all means to stay in power, but the economy has been cruelly hurting the man in the street for the past year, and the Ukrainian crisis has only reduced the margins of manoeuvre, making the diplomatic position vis-à-vis Russia delicate. As Erdogan strives to improve foreign relations, the only way out should be an increased presence in Libya, where hydrocarbons represent a lifeline for Turkey, away from Russia and Iran.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: United Ireland?

The Brexit (LV 135) has raised the question of the future of the United Kingdom (LV 105) since its adoption. If many thought that the disintegration of the kingdom would come from Scotland (LV 71), the recent elections in Northern Ireland indicate a second possible cause. Indeed, the nationalist party Sinn fein (in favour of reunification with Ireland) won (27 seats out of 90) while its unionist opponent, the DUP, obtained only 25 seats. Sinn fein will therefore form the government, with the DUP appointing a deputy prime minister according to the Good Friday Agreement (1988). Negotiations were going to be tough.

The result of the elections is primarily due to social causes, inflation and the division of the DUP following the Brexit agreements which ratified a complicated agreement for Northern Ireland, a “protocol” governing customs provisions (it provides for free movement with the Republic of Ireland but controls with Great Britain). So it is the European question that is posed to London, once again. The fact remains that this vote opens the way, if things continue, to a referendum for unification in a few years’ time.

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf issue (here), always with your login/password. New readers: read the article by issue, by clicking on each article (€2.5), or subscribe (discovery subscription €17, annual subscription €70, orga. subscription €300 excl. tax): here, the different options.

JOCVP

photo credit : MichaelGubi on VisualHunt

La Vigie Nr 191 : LV 191: Finnish Model | War, Crime and Punishment | Lorgnette: Jacques Perrin

Letter from La Vigie dated April 27th 20221

Finnish Model

The war in Ukraine has prompted interest in Finland: this neighbouring country of Russia first resisted it during a war, preserved its independence throughout the Cold War, developed admirably at the end of the latter, joined the EU and is preparing to join the Alliance. Can this be a model for Ukraine?

To read the article, click here

War, crime and punishment

With varying degrees of success, lawyers have always tried to build a body of law to limit the damage and suffering caused by wars. Can the current complex body of law, although not accepted by all states, be useful in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine?

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: Jacques Perrin

Jacques Perrin was a man of the cinema: one thinks of Cinema Paradiso, the marvellous L’empire du milieu du sud on Indochina and of course Microcosmos. But the strategist will remember above all his military films: 317th Section will remain one of the best war films ever made, which shows the life of a lieutenant at the head of his section in Indochina. L’honneur d’un capitaine shows the same challenges, this time at the level of a unit commander during the Algerian war. Two films made under the direction of Pierre Schoendorffer. La légion saute sur Kolwesi is more anecdotal.

This reality of war, at the level of the man, is obviously fascinating and anyone who has commanded men will find himself in it. The setting of these difficult conflicts deserved something more political: the unforgettable Crabe-tambour, with J. Rochefort and J. Dufilho, will delicately give a glimpse of the political dimensions of the war, never far from the command. Between the carnal and human thickness of the field and the more blind and indifferent objective of politics, it is the whole complex dimension of war that has been rendered.

Thank you, Mr. Perrin, for having shown it so simply. Rest in peace.

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf issue (here), always with your login/password. New readers: read the article by issue, by clicking on each article (€2.5), or subscribe (discovery subscription €17, annual subscription €70, orga. subscription €300 excl. tax): here, the different options.

JOCVP

photo credit : archer10 (Dennis) off on Visualhunt.com

La Vigie Nr 188 : A difficult awakening | Attrition in Ukraine | Lorgnette : Economic backlash

Letter from La Vigie dated 16 March 2022

Difficult awakening from a long strategic sleep

Ukraine is the revelation of the strategic sleep of the Euro-Atlantic world seeing a threat suddenly appearing on its doorstep. The outsourcing of defence, the primacy of economic factors, the prevalence of national interest: these are all reasons for this abstention. Does the EU still have a heart for strategy after years of lethargy?

To read the article, click here

Attrition in Ukraine

The armed conflict in Ukraine is in its third week of fighting. The strategist observes it from multiple angles: first of all, from a military strategy point of view, with several focuses: the course of operations on the ground, aspects of information warfare, the fate of populations or vital infrastructures. He also broadens his view to other aspects, diplomatic or geopolitical, whether they concern Russia, Europe, America or the rest of the world.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: economic backlash

The economic sanctions are already causing a chain reaction that we do not yet fully understand. They are occurring in an economic context that was already convalescing from the pandemic from which we had not yet fully recovered. Now, the sanctions against Russia are hitting us and many countries around the world as a backlash.

First and foremost, the hydrocarbon market (oil and gas) is permanently affected. No supplier can replace Russia in the short or medium term, contrary to what some hope. The decisions taken in favour of electricity and against nuclear power are a clear obstacle here. In addition to this rise in costs, the fall in the euro is aggravating inflation.

The situation for cereals (wheat, maize, sunflower, nitrogen fertilisers) is even more worrying, as the sanctions affect Russia, while Ukraine can no longer export (and will soon be unable to sow). Many countries in Africa and Asia are likely to experience a violent food crisis, not to mention our farmers. It is not only Russia that will be affected by the sanctions.

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf issue (here), always with your login/password. New readers: read the article by issue, by clicking on each article (€2.5), or subscribe (discovery subscription €17, annual subscription €70, orga. subscription €300 excl. tax): here, the different options.

JOCVP

photo credit : snamess on VisualHunt.com

La Vigie Nr 179 : France in 2050 | The American question | Lorgnette : Forgotten Bosnia

Letter from La Vigie dated November 10th 2021

France in 2050

The news is always quick to emphasise the crises of the moment and the seemingly insurmountable challenges: let’s reverse the point of view and consider what assets France has at its disposal to still be what it is in 2050. The picture is less bleak than is often assumed.

To read the article, click here

The American question

Trumpism did not disappear after the last presidential election. Just as the Democrats refused to accept Trump’s victory five years ago, the Republicans refuse to accept Biden’s victory. He was badly elected and is struggling to implement his reforms and to unify the Democrats, divided between radicals and conservatives. A defeat in the next elections (mid-term, presidential 2024) is therefore highly likely. A second Trump presidency would deepen the fragmentation of the country.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: Forgotten Bosnia

Who still remembers Bosnia-Herzegovina? This small country, born in 1995 from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, has never found a political balance. This meeting between a “Muslim-Croat federation” and a “Republika Srpska” has never worked. It is under the supervision of the European Union, which is no longer interested in it. So we see the Serbian leader gradually acting in favour of separation (and eventually the reunion of the Serbian part with Serbia in Belgrade). The population is talking about a possible return to war.

However, this does not worry the international community, especially Europe, which is content with a black hole in the Balkans and has no prospects to offer. The Union is struggling to promote a negotiated solution between Kosovo and Serbia. It is not even certain that a secession of the Bosnian Serb part would be violent. In fact, some may think that this separation is a logical option and that 25 years later, with the help of fatigue, what was considered inadmissible at the time is admitted. But this would open the Pandora’s box of border rectifications in Europe. Which it does not need.

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf issue (here), always with your login/password. New readers: read the article by issue, by clicking on each article (€2.5), or subscribe (discovery subscription €17, annual subscription €70, orga. subscription €300 excl. tax): here, the different options.

JOCV

Photo credit : The White House

La Vigie Nr 166 : The end of the state ? | Strategic posture of Italia | Lorgnette : Chadian domino

Letter La Vigie, dated 28 APRIL 2021

The end of the state?

It seems obvious to us that we live in a state. However, modern state organisation is the result of a long process and the contemporary rule of law is not a constant. Today, states are challenged by various means, which weakens and discredits them. How then can the legitimacy of the state be strengthened?

To read the article, click here

Italy’s strategic posture

Contemporary Italy, heir to three Romas, is fundamentally Mediterranean and existentially European. These determinants do not prevent it from having a very deep alliance with the United States while maintaining a special relationship with Russia. In Europe, it has a complicated relationship with Germany, the result of centuries of experience. With the Brexit causing a reshuffling of European balances, this is a good time for a rapprochement between Paris and Rome, despite recent frictions and provided France forgets its condescension.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: Chadian Domino

The violent death (in troubled circumstances) of Idriss Déby, the Chadian president, constitutes a geopolitical earthquake. It is first and foremost an internal one because, as a good despot, he had not prepared his succession. Without even mentioning the representation of popular aspirations, his system will be difficult to perpetuate and should re-launch rivalries between clans. Let’s remember that the conquest of power has always been done by arms, especially by the northern tribes.

But it is above all the regional balance and the French security apparatus that are weakened. In the military system left in Africa after the Cold War, N’Djamena has always occupied a place of choice thanks to its central position. It has been strengthened more than ever following the troubles in the Sahel-Saharan strip that have followed one another over the past decade, and particularly the intervention in Mali. It should be remembered that the headquarters of Operation Barkhane is located in N’Djamena and that the Chadian troops were the only effective ones in the G5 Sahel on which Paris is basing so much hope. By domino effect, all the countries in the region can now fall. This is bad news.

JOCV

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf issue (here), always with your login/password. New readers: read the article by issue, by clicking on each article (2.5 €), or subscribe (discovery subscription 17 €, annual subscription 70 €, orga. subscription 300 € HT): here, the different formulas.

Crédit photo : pixabay

La Vigie Nr 165 : Global Britain | What alliances for France ? | Lorgnette : Europe on a sofa

Lettre La Vigie, dated 14 APRIL 2021

Global Britain

Three months after the Brexit came into force, the British government published two documents in March to set out the direction and allocate the resources of a cross-departmental strategy integrating security, defence and development policies with the country’s foreign policy. This exercise enabled the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to clarify the meaning to be given to the Global Britain concept, which emerged in the aftermath of the referendum sealing the UK’s departure from the EU in 2016. The knowledge of these documents is essential to appreciate the future of a UK/EU relationship to be built and more particularly that to be developed between France and the United Kingdom, linked by common interests, a bilateral security treaty, an alliance within NATO and which, depending on the field, are allies, partners or rivals.

To read the article, click here

What alliances for France?

The question of alliances is not so much about who to ally with or against, but about what to ally oneself with. It is true that the institutions inherited from the 20th century remain useful for France, whether it be the UN, the Francophonie, the Atlantic Alliance or the European Union. However, none of them responds to the integral strategy needed in the face of a current conflicts below the threshold. These instruments must therefore be supplemented by other alliances, more fleeting and less structured, but still flexible.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: Europe on a sofa

The recent meeting between Turkey and European representatives turned into a farce. At the end of the meeting, the President of the Council, Charles Michel, went to sit in an armchair opposite Erdogan, while the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was left on a sofa.

Commentators were very critical of the Turkish leader, who was suspected of having engineered this bad manners. Then it was Mr Michel who was criticised, accused of machismo. In this case, the fault lies mainly with the EU. Erdogan is accustomed to putting only one chair at his side when he receives a head of state, and he could hardly have put two at the risk of appearing dominated. Moreover, he is currently trying to reconcile himself with the Europeans.

Hierarchically, the President of the Council is above the President of the Commission. One can certainly criticise the European protocol services for not having detected the incident or warned the European leaders. Above all, the Union was wrong to come with two people. It showed its weaknesses and its complicated organisation.

In this case, the Byzantine convolutedness was European, not Turkish.

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf issue (here), always with your login/password. New readers: read the article by issue, by clicking on each article (2.5 €), or subscribe (discovery subscription 17 €, annual subscription 70 €, orga. subscription 300 € HT): here, the different formulas.

photo credit : Bart Heird on Visualhunt.com

LV 163 : The Greek ally | Introduction to multidomain operations | Lorgnette : Senegal in turmoil

Letter from La Vigie, Dated 17 March 2021

The Greek ally

Since last summer’s tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, France has moved closer to Greece. Greece has settled all its differences with its Balkan neighbours. The deep rivalry with Turkey remains, aggravated by the Cyprus question. The rapprochement with France is logical from Athens’ point of view. For Paris, it will be important to ensure that this is not just a diplomatic coup but a lasting alliance.

To read the article, click here

Introduction to multi-domain operations

The synergy of multi-domain military engagements has accelerated since 2014. The development of hybrid strategies, combining military and non-military modes of action, by state and non-state competitors or strategic disruptors, led the United States to structure its approach to multi-domain operations (MDOs) and to solicit its allies. As is the case whenever a new strategic and operational concept emerges, each of them is required to appropriate it before considering a common interoperable and coordinated response. France is preparing for this. The next NATO and EU summits could see the adoption of the first concrete multilateral initiatives.

To read the article click here

Lorgnette: Senegal in turmoil

The events of the last few days in Senegal are worrying. Indeed, the arrest of the main opponent to the government, Ousmane Sonko, triggered a series of bloody riots (a dozen dead, nearly 600 injured). Although the situation has since calmed down, it reveals several trends. First of all, Senegalese democracy, often cited as an example, is not immune to upheaval. We need to remember what happened twenty years ago in Côte d’Ivoire. The president, Macky Sall, remains very ambiguous about a possible third candidacy and has succeeded in eliminating the opposition… except for Ousmane Sonko, who is not from the seraglio. He made a name for himself by coming third in the last presidential election by denouncing corruption but also the French influence.

Now, this anti-French sentiment is spreading throughout the former African pré carré. This is to lend a lot of power to France, but the affair comes at a time when the debate is raging around the Barkhane operation. If minds are focused on the Sahel, it is advisable to remain cautious towards the region’s solid supports. A destabilised Senegal would be very bad news for everyone.

JOCV

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf issue (here), always with your login/password. New readers: read the article by issue, by clicking on each article (2.5 €), or subscribe (discovery subscription 17 €, annual subscription 70 €, orga. subscription 300 € HT): here, the different formulas.

Photo credit : Pixabay

LV 143 : MBS the squanderer | Religion as a strategic factor | Lorgnette : Open skies closing in

Letter from La Vigie n° 143 of 27 May 2020

MBS, the squanderer

Mohamed ben Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and de facto master of the country to an extent unrivalled since his grandfather, founder of the dynasty, exercises power in an authoritarian manner, convinced that the country must be radically reformed. The results are hardly convincing, especially for his calamitous foreign policy, to the extent that he gives the feeling that he has made his country more fragile than prepared for the future.

To read the article, click here.

Religion as a strategic factor

While some considered that the religious fact would become marginal in the 21st century, the importance of religion remains paramount in many countries; it is therefore a strategic factor not to be neglected.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: Open skies closing in

President Trump recently announced that his country will withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty in six months. This follows the withdrawal from the INF Treaty (LV 112) with the same type of argument (it is the Russians’ fault) and the same calculation: to find room for manoeuvre against the Chinese and above all to disengage from any arms control system. For the American President, he belongs to the old and multilateral world that hinders the freedom of the United States (cf. the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, LV 95).

For once, the Europeans are not happy… Eleven countries, including France and especially Germany, officially regret the American decision and declare to remain in the treaty (as does Russia). The Alliance is under strain. Eyes turn to the latest arms control treaty, New Start, which expires in 2021. The Americans would like to include the Chinese who do not see the point.

The Europeans can either preserve the European strategic theatre with local negotiation (assuming Moscow is willing to do so and Washington does not stand in the way), or follow the Americans in a general negotiation with Russians and Chinese, but where they would have little weight.

JOCV

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf number (here), always with your login/password. New reader: read the article in the issue, by clicking on each article (2.5 €), or by subscribing (discovery abo 17 €, annual abo 70 €, orga abo 300 € HT): here, the different formulas.

Photo credit : U.S. Department of State on Visualhunt.com

LV 142 : Europe and Covid | Otherness at its peak | Lorgnette : German Primacy

Letter from La Vigie n° 142 of 13 May 2020

Europe and Covid

Europe is the continent most affected by the pandemic. However, there are many disparities and these are not mainly due to different responses by the authorities. The unanimous trend towards national retrenchment, the weakness of the EU’s response and the unlikely budgetary solidarity can be observed. In fact, the crisis is the end of a long process of division that requires strategic aggiornamento.

To read the article, click here

Otherness at its peak

The global health crisis is causing multiple tensions, both strategic distancing and tactical barrier gestures. The disruption is becoming more pronounced. What could be at stake in this brutal stiffening is the massive rejection of Western hard ways and the expiry of a Euro-Atlantic societal model whose fragility has been shown by the coronacrise. An antagonistic otherness defies the universal claim that governs the world. France must concern itself with a revival of the state of organization of the world to preserve its place in it.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: German primacy

The recent decision of the German Constitutional Court surprised only the idealists. Indeed, by recalling that the ECB had to explain its quantitative easing programme and by considering that it is acting beyond its mandate, the Karlsruhe court reaffirms in law its constant doctrine: in 2009, it had explained (with regard to the Lisbon Treaty) that “The peoples of the European Union, which are constituted in their (respective) Member States, remain the holders of public authority, including the authority of the Union“. In other words, it affirmed the primacy of the German Constitution, including over the European treaties.

This contradicts a common opinion in France, that of the supposed primacy of the European treaties over the French Constitution. Of course, the latter has been extensively modified since its inception and even more so in the last two decades. No “shaking hand” to change it, then. But this French neglect of the law is not “the rule” in Germany, where the rule is held in high esteem.

This is not national egoism: just law. Whose source comes from the sovereign people.

JOCV

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf number (here), always with your login/password. New reader: read the article in the issue, by clicking on each article (2.5 €), or by subscribing (discovery abo 17 €, annual abo 70 €, orga abo 300 € HT): here, the different formulas.

Photo credit: European Commission, here

LV 141 : Europe and its center | Resilience, that magic word | Lorgnette: European disagreements

Letter from La Vigie, 29 April 2020

Europe and its centre

Europe’s centre of gravity, if we refer to a strategic definition, lies in the great European backbone that traditionally ran from London to Milan, via the Rhine. The events of 2020 are changing the situation and brutally highlighting the German question, which will determine the future of Europe. Only a genuine partnership between France and Germany would make it possible to perpetuate a powerful Europe.

To read the article, click here

Resilience, that magic word

The pandemic has prompted many calls for “resilience”. In fact, the French  military operation against Covid-19 has taken on this name. Behind the over-mediatization of the word, let us return to the foundations of what it means. Its introduction into the strategic vocabulary dates back to the White paper of 2008 in a context of the fight against terrorism, unsuited to the current crisis. Above all, resilience is built before the crisis: invoking it when the crisis occurs shows above all that one is powerless in the conduct of the crisis.

To read the article, click here

Lorgnette: European disagreements

The brutality of the pandemic is suddenly putting the European institutional edifice under strain. For more than a month now, in the Union’s area of economic competence, positions have been clashing very hard. In previous crises, the confrontation was “all against one” (Greece in 2012 during the euro crisis, Germany in 2015 during the migration crisis). This time we are witnessing the formation of two camps, fiercely opposed: the frugals (Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland) and the friends of cohesion (Spain, France, Italy).

At stake: the possibility of a common debt, in other words the technical transition to budgetary solidarity, with the richest paying for the least rich. The frugals refuse it, while others (France) see it as a way to progress towards European sovereignty: the “big step” method, so to speak. However, it is likely that the frugals will win because the European political and economic balance suits them. Otherwise, some (Italy) might be tempted to leave the euro. But if there is a transfer, others could leave it: Finland has already communicated to this effect.

This time the crisis is existential.

JOCV

Subscribers: click directly on the links to read online or download the pdf number (here), always with your login/password. New reader: read the article in the issue, by clicking on each article (2.5 €), or by subscribing (discovery abo 17 €, annual abo 70 €, orga abo 300 € HT): here, the different formulas.

Photo credit : Francis =Photography= on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA