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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LV 144 : Getting ahead of the game | Missing : scinetific authority | Bartering in the Sahara

Letter from La Vigie n° 144 of 10 June 2020

Getting ahead of the game

In order for France to cope with the current crisis as the health shock subsides, the strategist recommends that it should give a new, realistic strategic impetus and envisage an ambitious renewal of its national paradigm. These two axes are the keys to a long-term project.

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Missing: scientific authority

The pandemic is not a geopolitical turning point, but it is accelerating underlying trends. Among these, the collapse of the authorities continues. Scientific authority was one of the last remaining. However, the influence of scientists has lost much in the crisis, whether in the analysis of the virus or in the major debates on the different types of treatment for the disease. This does not mean the end of scientific progress, far from it. But the public authority of the word of scientists, thanks to their legitimacy and neutrality, has suffered from the interests they were able to defend. This further weakens the cohesion of societies.

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Lorgnette: Bartering in the Sahara

The death of Abdelmalek Droukdal, an Islamist leader of AQIM in Mali, may be just a tactical success. Perhaps it is also a sign of a broader movement. Indeed, things are moving in Mali as they are in Algeria. In Mali, the last legislative elections have apparently not changed the political balance. However, IBK, the Malian president, has understood that there is a need to move and to do so, to negotiate with both the Tuaregs and the Peuls.

In Algeria, the new President Tebboune has controlled the hirak. He has launched a constitutional amendment that allows Algeria to commit the army across the borders. This does not concern Morocco, but rather the borders to the east, because the situation in Libya is evolving in favour of Turkey’s protégés, which is worrying Algiers.

The south therefore had to be guaranteed. A Droukdal was not only Islamist but Algerian, and he wanted to prevent the subtle bartering in the south. So one can imagine that Algiers let him go, so as to stabilise the Sahara and have a free hand. The fact remains that IBK, the Malian president, has been too late and that large demonstrations are calling for his resignation. Not ideal for negotiating, perhaps enough to finally decide to move.

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 130 : People in motion | Europe-Asia : same equations ? | Lorgnette : pope and nuclear

Letter from La Vigie dated 27 November 2019


People in motion

This autumn saw massive demonstrations all over the world: in Latin America, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. What does this global and simultaneous phenomenon mean when the analysis of each movement suggests contingent and local factors? Despite the differences (purpose, duration, social or political motivation), they share the disappointment with the established powers. Above all, they appear to be a new consequence of globalization, as paradoxical as this conclusion seems.

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Europe-Asia: same equations?

In twenty years, France and Japan have become strategic partners of the 21st century, re-establishing a level of relations that the two countries had not enjoyed since the advent of the Meiji era, contributing to the archipelago’s opening to modernity at the end of the 19th century. Over the course of the 20th century, after having been allies in the first world war, they became allies of the United States after 1945. With different strategic cultures that reflect their distinct histories, their strategic autonomy and their alliance stances towards Washington now have some common points that are interesting to note as we approach the next NATO Summit.

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Lorgnette: Pope and nuclear

Pope Francis’ speech in Nagasaki (here) constitutes a significant reversal of jurisprudence. Indeed, the Catholic Church has never concealed its opposition to nuclear weapons. But after much debate, it had resolved, in France, to accept the principle of deterrence (text of the 1983 Episcopal Conference). Deterrence had been recognized as a necessary evil. But for Pope Francis, it is “perverse”: “International peace and stability are incompatible with any attempt to rely on the fear of mutual destruction or on the threat of total annihilation“. As for nuclear weapons, if their use had always been condemned, the Church said nothing about their possession. Having or manufacturing it is now condemned: “The use of atomic energy for military purposes is now, more than ever, a crime. It is immoral.

The Pope calls for international negotiations, especially around the TPNW (LV 87). It is the only time when morality meets reality. It must be said that today, despite the objectives affirmed by the NPT, we are not moving towards a world without nuclear weapons. On the contrary.

JOCV

 

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La Vigie Nr 121 : There is no cyberwar | Equation of strategy | Lorgnette : Desescalation

La Vigie Nr 121, 3 July 2019

There is no cyberwar

The term cyberwar sounds good and is regularly used by many: Yet it is false, which does not mean that there is no latent cyberconflict marked by opposition by all against all. Moreover, war does not ignore cyberspace because there is on the contrary a lot of cyberspace in the conduct of war and military operations.

Equation of strategy

the Grand strategy is the art of combinations. The equation of the strategy of France is simple to state, mixture of defense of interests, exercise of responsibilities, values assumed, valued assets and compensated weaknesses. In the current strategic slump it is difficult to establish, especially in the presence of a deep European crisis and a breakdown of multilateralism.

Lorgnette : desescalation

Between Iran and the United States, the rag has been burning for weeks and observers are struggling to decipher threatening speeches, avenging invective and provocative statements. It should be noted that the deregulation initiative has come from Washington for the past two years, from a president who has thrown away the Paris Agreement, the Iranian JCPoA, the INF Treaty and any multilateral mechanism that would undermine the position of strength from which he wants to restore the dominance of American interests in the world. It was noted with interest that the European clan had remained united in preserving this agreement with Iran and that it had engaged in resolute resistance to the American position. The West is nothing more than a fiction, interests and methods diverge.
There remain two embarrassed countries that are trying to get in touch with each other with the assets to do so, Japan and France, whose strategic analyses are converging more and more, particularly on maritime issues. At the last G20 meeting, which was quite disappointing, they were also responsible for de-escalating the situation.
De-escalation is the great strategy of which France must be the tireless craftsman in the world (LV 89).

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 118 : France and her new Armée | Trump and the Middle-East | South-African disappointment

La Vigie, Strategic Letter, Nr 118, 22 mai 2019

France and her new Armée

The relationship between France and its armed forces is evolving. A global army emerges, integrated, combatant, jointed, served by an experienced high command supporting a policy whose presidential centralization is constrained to short-term by a short mandate. The preservation of the eco-systems of the various armies is essential to feed this new armée as well as the maintenance of a  strategic military ecosystem to preserve the long-term military posture of France.

Trump and the Middle-East

Some are beating the war drums in Washington against Iran. Does this mean that the conflict is inevitable? Probably not for two reasons: first, D. Trump is not a supporter of military commitments: if he is brutal, he is not a falcon unlike many in the establishment. Basically, he wants to raise the stakes to push the Iranians to negotiate a new agreement in a weak position. Not sure if they will fall into the trap…. Because Trump becomes predictable…

Lorgnette : South-African disappointment

Twenty-five years after the end of Apartheid in 1994, South Africa has seen new elections, marked by an expected but disappointing victory for the ANC, N. Mandela’s heir party. It certainly obtains 57% of the votes (down 4.5%) but it is more a vote of habit than of conviction, still less of results.

The result was greeted by a discreet and silent embarrassment: here is indeed the first power in Africa that is slowly collapsing in all areas, especially economic with an “official” unemployment rate of 28% and a GDP in free fall. The country has not made the necessary investments to maintain its industrial and mining park and security is one of the worst in Africa, a continent that has references in this field.

Certainly, the new leader, C. Ramaphosa, who succeeded Jacob Zuma in 2018 as a matter of urgency, managed to ignore the enormous corruption scandal that affected the latter. The new elite has been more predatory than reformist. The announced land reform is likely to break the last sector still operating a little. Behind the disappointment is the concern. Few say so….

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JDOK

 

La Vigie Nr 116 : Common good and defence | Notre-Dame revelation | Lorgnette : Trump and Mueller

La Vigie Nr 116 (24th April 2016)

Common good and defence

How to define and defend the common good for France in the current emotion? It will be assumed to be the result of an unacceptable common and a shared desirable . There will be concern about a latent distortion between a mobilized population whose frustrations have been expressed by the Yellow Vests and a political elite that wants to value France in its own way in globalization.

Notre-Dame revelation

The Notre-Dame fire immediately shut down all conversations. Suddenly, a “patrimonial emotion” appeared, a collective and first French emotion in the face of an affected heritage. A public good beyond all value, the mutilated cathedral touched the souls of the French because Notre-Dame brought together the opposites, sacred religious and sacred national at the same time. Some official reactions immediately appeared staggered, yet the international surge of compassion reminded us that the world still expects something exceptional from France. This expectation of France is now too often disappointed by uprooted leaders.

Lorgnette : Trump and Mueller

The Mueller report was therefore made public and the opposition to President Trump is very disappointed: there was no collusion or even direct obstruction of justice.

Let us first pay tribute to this American democracy, capable of challenging a president through a public inquiry and at the same time acknowledging, at the end of the day, that there is no fault (even if there are many ambiguities). Not that Trump was perfectly honest, not that there was any confusion, not that the Russians did not want to influence the election: but nothing that goes beyond the limits and practices.

To the great displeasure of the Democrats. Because most of their political discourse over the past two years has been based on the “stolen election”. However, D. Trump won “in the regular” (in the face of a bad campaign by a bad candidate) and above all, it shows a radical evolution already demonstrated by B. Obama: the one that refuses the takeover of an establishment dictating what to say and think but ultimately serving the interests of a few. And so, the aspiration for a real democratic return that had become outdated under the influence of economism (LV 88). Doesn’t the lesson learned also apply to Europe and France!

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 115 : Europe and Fantasy | Free strategic figures | Lorgnette : Demos in Africa

Letter La Vigie Nr 115 (10 April 2019)

Europe and fantasy

French pro-Europeans, including federalists, are sincerely convinced that this option is in the country’s interest. For them, it is a question of taking advantage of Europe as a power multiplier but also of dealing with their inferiority complex towards Germany. The EU would thus be the only way to cope with unbridled globalisation. If it has not been successful so far, it is because we have not gone far enough or hard enough, not because of a mistake in method and strategic calculation. In other words, they are responding to their fear of decline by wanting to base themselves in an EU seen as a “larger France”, which it is clearly not.

Free strategic figures

What is France’s power relationship with its European neighbours, but also with China, Russia and the United States, the strategic triangle that currently dominates the international scene? Can it be satisfied with the European response and hide behind the multilateral method?

Lorgnette: Demonstrations in Africa

Yellow vests inspire people. So here is a wave of peaceful demonstrations that are changing the course of history. The case is obvious in Algeria, where the masses of the people, thrown into the streets, managed to force President Bouteflika’s departure, while waiting for the others to leave. But this is also true in Sudan where, for the past four months and in general inattention, the people have been demonstrating against the regime of Omar al Bashir. Not far away, major demonstrations took place in Mali against President IBK (who was re-elected last year), deploring the ineffectiveness of international forces and the corruption of the system. Finally, in Venezuela, the opponent J. Guaido stands up to President Maduro thanks to his supporters in the street.

It is not said that all these movements succeed in bending the powers that be. Let us simply note their multiplication, in very different societies and with different political systems. And let us remember that similar movements in Eastern Europe had led to the collapse of socialist regimes, transitions to civil rights and thus the end of the Cold War. So we may be facing a deeper movement than we think. To watch out for.

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 112 : From strategic anomalies to anomy | INF : Nuclear before to be European ? | Lorgnette : Algerian demos

La Vigie Nr 112 (27 FEB 2019)

From strategic anomalies to anomy

The military word is struggling to find its place in the current strategic debate. Yet multiple anomalies in general military strategy accumulate : they announce an unacceptable strategic anomy if we are not careful. It is necessary to arouse and mobilize the military expertise to face it.

INF : Nuclear before to be European ?

The American withdrawal from the INF Treaty is a further blow to European security, while the EU is not a party to the Treaty and is very powerless. Beyond that, this decision will revive the arms race, including nuclear arms races. It finally gives the Russians some freedom of manoeuvre without binding the Chinese. Because nuclearly, we are now in a game with several actors: definitively out of the bipolar world of the Cold War.

Lorgnette : Algerian demos

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 109 : A tactical reading of the Yellow vests – A Europe torn apart – Lorgnette : Righteous Canada ?

La Vigie Nr 109 (16 JAN 2019)

A tactical reading of the Yellow vests

The movement of the yellow vests continues. Tactically, it shows the conjunction of digital mobilization and micro-local territorial rooting, moving from social networks to blocking road networks. Faced with the forces of law and order, he shows an extreme fluidity that manifests the opposition of two styles, whether facing the forces of law and order or government communication: it is gas against solid, swarm against stick, humour against austere speech. Faced with this political disruption, the government would be inspired to change its software.

A Europe torn apart

The June European elections will only be a pretext for counting. Yet the political storm has spread across the continent as the EU looks to the future of its collective governance. For lack of sufficient strategic depth, it has lost its initial centrality, its civilizational homogeneity and its utility for the European peoples. This is the next challenge after the Yellow Vests.

Lorgnette : A righteous Canada ?

 

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JDOK

La Vigie Nr 107 (19 DEC 2018) | 2018 : Changing world | 18 month of French foreign policy | Lorgnette : Merry Christmas

Lettre de La Vigie (19 DEC 2018).


2018 :  Changing world

In 2018 we have entered a new strategic era, that of general deregulation. In an intense and disordered strategic flow, the conflictuality of the planet has evolved, the modalities of the exercise of power have been affirmed and diversified, laborious transitions and arbitrations have begun. But still no stable state on the horizon.

France : 18 month of foreign policy

President E. Macron had put two words on his foreign policy agenda: Europe and pragmatism. In the realm of pragmatism, there is a welcome discretion in the Middle East, the lack of purpose in the South, the unconvincing promotion of a major Asian strategy, a misguided American policy. For Europe, despite high ambitions based on old software, the results are very disappointing. The former probably explains the latter.

Lorgnette : Merry Christmas

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JDOK