LV 210: There is no magic weapon | Will the rear end hold ? | Lorgnette : Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Letter from La Vigie, dated 1st FEB 2023

There is no magic weapon

The recent decision by the Europeans and Americans to supply tanks to Ukraine was intended as a show of unity in favour of Kiev. The difficulties in achieving this, and the relief that resulted, show that the issue remains fragile. Above all, it is based on an illusion: that arms alone can change the course of the war, whether by their quality or their quantity. Beyond that, a concern is surreptitiously emerging: is it still about winning or is it now about not losing?

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Will the rear end hold?

If the fortunes of the weapons mainly decide the fate of a war, it is essential to also worry about the rear: if the combatants develop a certain and indispensable self-sufficiency, this is the result of the efforts made by the rear. The war in Ukraine shows us, however, that the notion of the rear is not as simple as one might think, and that the rear can also have a certain geographical depth.

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Lorgnette: Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Recent events in Palestine have once again put the Palestinian question at the heart of the news. While it is likely that everyone will do their best to ignore it, it is important to note that it is still there because no solution has been found. The Abraham Accords promoted by D. Trump explicitly ignored it, organising a peace between Israel and certain Arab countries while agreeing to ignore the Palestinian question. Without going back to the triggering element of this week’s incidents, let us observe that the lukewarmness of international reactions is justified by the assumption that there is a peace process that is taking its course. This is obviously false.

It should be remembered that this is not (despite the use by some of the word terrorism equated with jihadism) a religious issue but a question of national liberation – and therefore of the freedom of peoples to self-determination – and of the political control of a population and of territories by an occupier. This is the original objective of the peace process. That it is obviously not working means that there is no peace. But who draws the conclusions? The EU looks the other way, as it is so quick to agitate for values. It is a sign of its hypocrisy and thus loses its credit.


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Photo credit: UNDP Ukraine on Visualhunt

LV 205: The Polish question | Strategic manoeuvres underway | Lorgnette : An insignificant RNS

Letter from La Vigie dated 23 November 2022

The Polish question

The war in Ukraine validated Poland’s strategic priorities, which for three decades had been warning of the Russian threat. Paradoxically, the war in Ukraine shows the Russian weakness and the solidity of the Alliance: Poland’s strategic situation is reinforced. Is this why one can sense acrimony rising in Warsaw towards Berlin?

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Strategic manoeuvres underway

An update on Russia’s campaign in Ukraine is useful at the start of winter, when some are tempted to make a strategic move to revive the ailing global economy. Firmly supported by the EU, Ukraine is fiercely opposed to it. Already the geostrategic and geo-economic manoeuvres underway prefigure the strategic framework of a “second 21st century”. For France, a healthy wait-and-see attitude would be in order.

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Lorgnette: An insignificant RNS

Since 2012, La Vigie has been sceptical of the White Paper process, often finding it disappointing and wordy. Despite this, it has always welcomed the intellectual effort made to produce an overall strategic analysis, even if the procedure adopted more often than not condemned these works to fail to meet the need, assuming that it is a question of defining a grand strategy and not simply of communicating it. The 2008 review was too long, the 2012 review was repetitive and the 2017 review was incomplete.

The deterioration of the formula continued with this RNS (Revue nationale stratégique: National Strategic Review), prepared in secret, unveiled at the last moment, brief and agreed, the result of administrative work with little scope and above all without any debate. At the very least, the previous exercises gave rise to discussions and if the result was disappointing, everyone had at least reflected and debated.

Here, one wonders whether the exercise was not quickly dismissed. Everyone would have understood a document of expectation that set the limits of the moment, specified its uncertainties, stated its will, and gave guidelines for the present time. The reader finds none of this in the published document.

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photo credit: NATO on Visualhunt

La Vigie Nr 201: Wild geese | What to think of the SCO ? | Lorgnette : Tigray, a forgotten war

Letter from La Vigie dated 28 September 2022

The wild geese

After having had the wind in their sails at the articulation of the XX° and XXI° centuries, private military companies are being singled out because of Wagner’s actions. The latter is however not a singularity but an illustration of what such a company can be. Its use, which reveals the weaknesses of the Russian army, should also raise questions for those who claim to be strategists. Is the development of such companies compatible with a national strategy?

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What about the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has just held its annual summit in Samarkand, and it has received exceptional attention from the Western media, which is on the lookout for the slightest dissension between Russia, China and India in support of Moscow. But the important thing is not there but in the enlargement of the organisation to include Iran and the acceptance of a dozen countries, notably from the Middle East, as observers.

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Lorgnette: Tigray, the forgotten war

Here is a war that has been going on for two years, between a federal state that wants to bring a federated state of 6 million people to heel. There have already been 500,000 victims, aerial bombardments of civilian refuges, countless war crimes (including the use of starvation), drones, clashes between army groups of more than 20 divisions each, a 5-month truce suddenly broken, a backhanded attack by a neighbouring country, the regular use of armed drones.

It’s all happening in September 2022 and no, this is not Ukraine, but the conflict between Tigray and the Ethiopian federal government. So war is not back, it has never left our world, but who cares what happens in the Middle East, Yemen, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa?

Yet the modalities of these wars are not so far removed from what we observe in Ukraine, despite the supposed evidence of “high intensity”, in fact common to all wars. The difference lies not in the armoured-mechanised dimension of one war compared to the other, but in its ultra media coverage.

The emotion in the face of the misfortunes of our fellow human beings should be the same. This is not the case. Wealth is not just about money.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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LV 131 : Sahel : just before the rubble | EastMed and gas | Lorgnette : Challenges of DG Defence

Letter from La Vigie dated 11 December 2019

Sahel: just before the rubble

The motives put forward by some (economic interests) or others (fight against terrorism) are struggling to convince of the French strategy in the Sahel. As a result, because we define the enemy poorly, we are stalling, knowing that the authorities in the region do not have the same priorities as France. This addition of misperceptions, false pretenses, miscalculations and misunderstandings hinders many initiatives. It is time to make a real diagnosis and start from the bottom.

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Eastmed (Medor ) and gas

The geopolitics of the eastern Mediterranean is now stimulated by the abundance of natural gas that has recently been found on its seabed. The region’s balances are all the more affected by this as the liquefaction of LNG from this gas now allows its production, diffusion and storage in situ, certainly with heavy investments. This rapid evolution creates a strategic dynamic of competitions, alliances and cooperation that has a strong impact not only on the local residents but also on the region near the Levant and even on the green economy, whose regional situation is changing.

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Lorgnette: challenges for DG Defence

The new European Commission is finally in place and presents its innovations. Among these, a “DG Defence Industry & Space”, named Défis (Defense Industry & Space – Challenges in French) and already named “DG Defence” like the CESDP which was quickly established as a European defence. But collective defence is still NATO for most EU Member States (LV 129), as the President of the Commission pointed out.

The result of the partition of DG Industry, this DG will be a stimulus and an arbiter for the EU’s defence industry. We see it as the spearhead of a reconquest by Europeans of their strategic autonomy, a decisive step on the road to a Security and Defence Union, which is obviously complementary to NATO. With the permanent structured cooperation of the 25/27, the €13 billion FEDEF over 7 years and Galileo, we will thus have a catalogue of structures that will complement the COPS, the EUMS, the EDA and prepare the European army that some see emerging.

To counter the Russian threat and meet the Chinese challenge? We’ll judge on the basis of the evidence. But what has been lacking so far is will and strategy; structures will not replace them.


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