La Vigie Nr 198 : Rearming Germany | Lorgnette : an end to Al Qaeda | Reading notes

Letter from La Vigie, 3rd August 2022

Rearming Germany

The Federal Chancellor’s intention to make the German army the first in Europe raises historical, material and human challenges for Germany. However, this view is incomplete, because deterrence, the construction of a European army and its articulation with national armies are implicitly included in the German announcement. This should give rise to new strategic considerations.

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Lorgnette: an end to Al Qaeda

On 31 July, an American drone killed Ayman al Zawahiri in Afghanistan. This Egyptian doctor is of interest. As a young man, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and was fascinated by Sayyd Qutb, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was executed by Nasser in 1966 and was a proponent of radical Islam. Thus, Zawahiri made the connection between this radical current stemming from the Brotherhood and what would become Al Qaeda.

At the end of the 1980s, after a few years in prison, he went to Pakistan and joined forces with O. bin Laden, with whom he became his personal physician and founded Al Qaeda. They broke with the Brotherhood and theorised a global Islamic struggle. After bin Laden’s death in 2011, he took over the leadership of the movement even though he lacked the charisma of his predecessor.

The American strike symbolically closes a cycle: that of the misnamed ‘war on terror’ which has influenced all the strategic thinking of the last twenty years. It comes at a time when the Taliban reign in Kabul and the United States is engaged in other challenges: support for Ukraine and confrontation with China. This poor record does not mean that jihadism has succeeded: indeed, it is still with us.

Reading notes

For your holiday reading, we suggest the following books:

  • Le traquenard (Boustani et Seznec)
  • Risques et dérives de la vie religieuse (de Lassus)
  • Le travail invisible (Gomez)
  • Aimer l’armée, une passion à partager (Bentegeat)
  • Traité de stratégie (Coutau-Bégarie)
  • Pourquoi la dissuasion (Roche)
  • La houle s’en allait au levant (Finaz)
  • Opération poker (Maigret)
  • Les voies de la puissance (Ancel)
  • Les guerres de religion (miquel)
  • Les abeilles grises (Kourkov)
  • Un général des généraux (Boucq et Juncker)

To read them, click here

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LV 153 : The strategist’s dilemma | Repression of terrorism | Elections in Bolivia

Letter from La Vigie Nr 153 (28 October 2020)

The strategist’s dilemma

The strategist’s dilemma at the end of this extraordinary year is both to preserve France’s strategic personality and to accept new rules in a complex game to which it does not hold the keys. To do this, one must first try to unclutter its strategic posture from a large number of implicit biases and perverse enrollments that weaken its relevance and often make it illegible.

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Repression of terrorism

Following the last two attacks, we can see that anger is rising in France. Let us note that we are facing a domestic terrorism which is not the fact of all French Muslims, but of only a part of them, supported, moreover, both by tacit internal allies and by external support. From now on, there is no longer any time to avoid this internal conflict. Before talking again (once again) about toughening the laws, the authorities must have authority and firmly apply those that exist in order to reverse the balance of power imposed on us. It is only time.

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Lorgnette: Elections in Bolivia

The recent general elections in Bolivia gave a large majority to the left-wing candidate Luis Arce with 55% of the votes in the first round. This election came after the institutional crisis of 2019, which saw the controversial departure of Evo Morales. Morales had won the first round of the 2019 elections (with 47% of the votes) but there had been a debate about holding a second round. Demonstrations on the one hand, and a council of the Organisation of American States on the other, had prompted the army to abandon Evo Morales, who had had to go into exile.

The party of E. Morales won the elections twice in a row and the accusations of irregularity in 2019 may have been (?) excessive. This puts into perspective the accusations of authoritarianism that flourished at the time. Incidentally, we see that the international community does not always make happy choices in Latin America, whether it be support for Luis Guaidó in Venezuela or opposition to Morales in Bolivia. Like it or not, the left remains well supported there and outside interference can do little in the long run.


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La Vigie Nr 137 : Persistence of Boko Haram | PANG : Oceanic manoeuvre | Lorgnette : Munich security conference

Letter from La Vigie of 4 March 2020

Persistence of Boko Haram

The (low) French attention for Africa is concentrated on the Sahel-Saharan strip because of Operation Barkhane. However, another jihadist insurrection persists around Lake Chad: Boko Haram remains and has mutated profoundly. Faced with this, the countries in the area have taken vigorous initiatives over the past five years that have made it possible to confine the crisis centre. Why not looking at this example rather than persisting in a Sahelian strategy that has no end in sight?

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PANG: Oceanic Manoeuvre

The project for a new-generation aircraft carrier outlined by the Ministry of the Armed Forces to replace the Charles de Gaulle in 2038 is still only an industrial and technological dossier. It will soon be clarified. But it remains to give it a real strategic dimension as the military pivot of a global oceanic maneuvering and action capability by 2060 capable of protecting France’s interests in the world at that time.

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Lorgnette: Munich Conference 2020

The theme of the latest Munich Security Conference was the Weakening of the West or Westlessness (14-16 Feb.). It confirmed the western anomie.

After the interview with The Economist (Transatlantic Relations, LV 129) and the speech of the Military Academy (Deterrence, LV 136), it completed the President’s strategic vision of an unstable world that is changing dangerously. It had reaffirmed the need for an expanded European strategy and sovereignty that went beyond military issues to encompass standards, technology, infrastructure, communications, AI or neighbourhoods. He noted America’s remoteness, Germany’s rejection of power and the divergences between Europeans while the EU is invisible in the management of crises that affect its security and its values. Among the issues debated in Munich, Syria was not on the agenda, while the humanitarian crisis crystallised differences in priorities and competition between powers, recourse to the economy or migrants as political weapons. Let us hope that the emergency meeting of EU EA ministers will be a salutary awakening.


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The Islamic State, anatomy of the new califate (Th. Flichy de La Neuville)

We are pleased to welcome Thomas Flichy de La Neuville, professor at Saint-Cyr, who reviews the ISlamic State :


Is the advent of the Islamic state a surprise? What is the nature of the Islamic state? What are the foundations of the Islamic State? What are the energy challenges of the conflict? What are the differences between ISIS and Al Qaeda? What are the historical roots of the Islamic State? Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the movement? A 2.0 jihadism ?  Is ISIS a fanatical organization? What is the attitude of the population towards the Islamic state? How many fighters? What weapons? What financial sustainability for the Islamic state? Can the coalition defeat the Islamic state ? JDOK

Continue reading “The Islamic State, anatomy of the new califate (Th. Flichy de La Neuville)”