La Vigie Nr 199 : Coming out of the hot summer | Lorgnette: La Vigie’s year in review and entry into the 9th year | Analytical table of La Vigie 2021 -2022 (free reading)

Letter from La Vigie 31st August 2022

Coming out of the hot summer

The world’s affairs have been hot. There was of course the war in Ukraine, from which we are drawing some geopolitical consequences. But the rest of the world has also seen developments. This is an opportunity to take stock of the issues before the start of the new school year.

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Lorgnette: La Vigie’s year in review and entry into the 9th year

You will find attached the analytical table of the issues and posts of La Vigie published in the last year.

We have published 128 texts this year (118 last year), of which 20 were written by external authors (31 last year): Many thanks to our contributors who complement our analyses. We welcome young (and not so young) writers to write two or three page articles. This dynamic allows us to broaden our points of view and allows young or experienced authors to express themselves, thus fulfilling the vocation of La Vigie. Among these 125 texts, we published 58 articles in free reading (46 last year): in addition to the Lorgnettes, various blog articles and the weekly chronicles of the war in Ukraine) as well as two free issues.

Of the 125 texts, 66 dealt with cross-cutting themes, 59 with specific geographical areas. 23 articles dealt with strategy (general, military or environmental), not to mention those dealing with geopolitics or military deterrence. The war in Ukraine itself has given rise to 23 articles (not counting broader posts on its strategic stakes). Let us point out a series on the countries of the Caucasus, another on some Nordic countries. There are also a few more general considerations (environment, religion, culture) and reading notes.

We are entering our ninth year, thanks to our new associate, Philippe Davadie, for allowing a broadening of views. We are looking for a specialist contributor on the air force and space: if you are interested, contact us. More than ever, strategic fluidity is the order of the day and the upcoming economic crisis, American or Chinese uncertainties or French challenges will accentuate the difficult high-level reading of our environment. We will endeavour, more than ever, to present our analyses to you.

Until then, enjoy your reading… and have a good fall!

Analytical table of La Vigie 2021 -2022

Click on the link to get the pdf.

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La Vigie Nr 190 : Western positions | Ukraine between the Atlantic and the Urals | Lorgnette : Various riots

Letter from La Vigie dated 13 April 2022

Western positions

Behind the apparent reunification of the West in response to the conflict in Ukraine, differences are emerging between those who feel they have won in the affair, those who feel they have lost, those who are sticking to their traditional positions and those who are changing very quickly. So the current impression of unity is likely to fade in time.

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Ukraine between the Atlantic and the Urals

Here is an update at D+47 on the genesis, surprise, fog and current strategic dialectic of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is now crystallising over the Donbass and Crimea.

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Lorgnette: various riots

Various riots have taken place in recent days around the world, with worrying motives.

In Sri Lanka, the economic crisis is worsening: it has arisen from the collapse of tourism following the pandemic but also from the drop in remittances from the diaspora. As a result, the supply of medicines was interrupted and the country sank.

In Peru, the sudden increase in fuel prices triggered the clashes that left six people dead. The rejection of a corrupt political power is also to be taken into account and reminds us of what happened in Chile (LV 185). However, the trigger remains the higher price of oil due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Finally, in China, a sudden rise in Covid contamination led the authorities to impose strict confinements, particularly in Shanghai, one of the country’s largest cities. The lack of supply led to surprisingly localized riots.

These examples and their various causes show that the economic situation is fragile after two years of the pandemic and that further shocks, such as sanctions, will likely have political consequences. This is obviously very worrying.

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La Vigie Nr 189 : European strategy in disarray | De-globalisation? | Lorgnette: Spain and Sahara

Letter from La Vigie dated 16 March 2022

European strategy in disarray

The European Union’s new strategic compass claims to be ambitious. In reality, the ambition is not very great and, above all, the needle of the compass is unfortunately stuck: it only points to the West.

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De-globalisation?

The war in Ukraine is having a deleterious effect at the global level: Europe seems to have fallen into the ways of the past, the United States remains ambiguous, the emerging countries look at the crisis with mistrust, while China is benefiting. A de-globalisation is underway which marks the marginalisation of Europe.

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Lorgnette: Spain and Sahara

Spain had remained neutral since it abandoned its settlement in the former Spanish Sahara. Morocco then launched the Green March and conquered the territory, provoking the ire of Algiers. Last week, the Spanish government came out of its reserve and recognised “‘the Moroccan autonomy initiative’ as the most solid basis for ending the dispute, in contrast to the Saharawi demand for a referendum on self-determination.

There are several reasons for this reversal: on the one hand, the migratory pressure in Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves. As long as Madrid wants to keep control of them, it must agree with Rabat to subcontract migration control to it. On the other hand, Spain’s allies (France, Germany, but also the United States) are on this line. Finally, Spain is geographically closer to Morocco than to Algeria, even if the latter provides (used to provide?) gas.)

It is therefore a bold choice made by Madrid, which nevertheless surprises by the timing of its announcement. One last point: Algiers’ anger marks Algeria’s loss of international influence, a process that has been underway for a long time and is still growing.

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La Vigie Nr 187 : East from West | War in Ukraine | Nuclear factor (Free reading)

Letter from La Vigie dated 2 March 2022

East from West

Europe did not define its eastern border because it did not reunify at the end of the Soviet era. Little by little, the new Russia has been sidelined by Europe and the Ukrainian issue has become the cause of Moscow’s recent power grab to demilitarise Kiev. For its part, Kemalist Turkey, which was oriented towards Europe, has given way to a frerist Turkey, which is deployed all over the margins of Europe, Western Asia and Africa. Turkey and Russia are competitors of a European Union that no longer knows how to think about its East, which is also the East of the West.

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War in Ukraine

The war between Russia and Ukraine is attracting a lot of attention. It is appropriate to briefly review its causes, both distant and immediate, and the factors that led V. Putin personally to decide to start it, the goals in the war and the possible aims of the war, and finally the global reactions, both from the Atlantic Alliance and from third countries, especially China.

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Lorgnette: The Nuclear Factor

This crisis obviously has a nuclear dimension. Indeed, the Russian aggression in Ukraine is a conventional war fought in an disymmetric framework (Ukraine cannot win on the ground). It is a change from the asymmetric conflicts we have known for the past two decades, which operated below a certain intensity threshold. In this case, that threshold has been crossed. But it does not only operate in the land, air and sea domains: the other domains of multi-milieu and multi-field operations (M2MC, FR equivalent to MDO) are also open: space, cyber, electromagnetic, cognitive…

In so doing, this conflict raises the question of another threshold, the one that overhangs it and separates it from the nuclear domain. Indeed, physical aggression calls for the mechanics of escalation. This is why V. Putin quickly set this limit by threatening reprisals for any attempt to counter his offensive militarily. The French Foreign Minister replied that the Alliance was also a nuclear alliance. This is a reminder of the rhetoric that defines the grammar of deterrence. It is another sign of a return to a new Cold War in Europe.

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La Vigie Nr 178 : Strategic Identity for France | The German question | Lorgnette : Diplomacy is a combat sport

Letter from La Vigie dated 27 OCtober 2021

Strategic identity of France in 2022

There can be no European autonomy without a prior strategic identity, and no strategic identity without a desire for sovereignty. The time of strategic rivalries is over, it is the time of the 20th century. The time of regulated coexistence could become that of the 21st century. It is up to France to propose in 2022 a European de-alignment and a return to centrality and thus to strategic sovereignty.

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The German question

The German question, born at the beginning of the 19th century, seemed to have been resolved in 1990 with the reunification of the two Germanies. It has simply changed form and one cannot understand the European question without discerning an underlying German question. Its economic power and geographical centrality allow it to exercise a new benign neglect that is not in our interest.

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Lorgnette: Diplomacy is a combat sport

Diplomatic manoeuvres are in fashion. France cannot do without them, either by using them or by paying for them. In the gradation of a diplomatic crisis, the first rung is the summoning of the foreign ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: this was the recent decision of Algeria (September) and Mali (October), following remarks deemed excessive by President Macron.

The next level is a recall for consultation: this was the case with allied countries: Italy in 2019, Turkey in 2020, the United States and Australia this summer. Algeria has just recalled its ambassador following the president’s remarks on the memorial rent. However, the embassy’s services continue to function.

The next step is to dismiss the ambassador. This is what Belarus decided last week and Turkey this weekend. The next decisions are to close the embassy and then to break off diplomatic relations.

It is clear that this autumn is very active and that France is particularly targeted, which is a sign that it is expressing itself at the risk of displeasing.

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La Vigie n° 176 : AUKUS: the irremediable mistrust | Maritime environment: what are the stakes ? | Lorgnette : islamist reflux in the Maghreb

Letter from La Vigie, September 29, 2021

AUKUS: the irremediable defiance

The AUKUS affair is not primarily commercial but fundamentally political. France has not only been fooled but also scorned. This calls into question not only the reliability of our alliances but above all that of the United States whose amateurism is obvious. The consequences are irremediable and France must question many of its certainties, both with regard to the Alliance and above all to the EU. As for the concept of the Indo-Pacific, marked by an obsolete concept of containment of China, it is necessary to quickly move away from it and return to a balanced Asian policy. Finally, be more cunning.

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Maritime environment: what is at stake?

After the “perspectives of the terrestrial environment” for the Army (LV 175), here are the “stakes of the maritime environment” for the French Navy, which finds itself in the wide open spaces of a deployment on the four naval and strategic fronts that fall to it and which require many more resources. An integral maritime strategy for France is emerging as a new ambition for France in the 21st century.

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Lorgnette: Islamist backlash in the Maghreb

The general public does not follow much of what is happening in the Maghreb where, however, significant developments are taking place. For example, in the last Moroccan legislative elections, the local Islamist party (the PJD) largely lost its influence. Whereas yesterday many saw an irremediable progression, here is the sound of its retreat that cannot be attributed to pressure from the Palace alone.

Similarly, the coup de force this summer by Kaïs Saïed (LV 173) marks above all the failure of Ennhadha, the Islamist party that has been part of all governments since the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. Finally, in Algeria, the Islamists are gradually losing their positions and their influence, both with the government and the population.

The Maghreb is thus experiencing a general movement of disaffection towards political Islam. This does not mean that it has disappeared: simply that its dynamic of progress has broken down and that it is considered a marginal option, but certainly no longer inevitable.

However, this does not mean that credible alternatives are emerging. On the contrary, this is a sign of deeply disillusioned populations. This is just as worrying.

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La Vigie nr 174 (free) : Concerns and doubts | Afghanistan : reason to keep | Lorgnette: Year in Review and Year 8 | Table of publications 2020-2021

Letter from La Vigie, September 1, 2021 in free reading

Concerns and doubts

At the end of the summer, a deep inner anxiety is emerging in France. It is due to a new generation, the so-called Millennials, but also to a deep geographical fracture of the territory. The ambient malaise goes beyond the question of the health pass and finally awaits a new, homogeneous and coherent domestic strategy, giving meaning to our national community. Far from the declinism of some or simplistic slogans, France’s assets must be mobilised to rebuild cohesion.

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Afghanistan : reason to keep

The withdrawal from Afghanistan was logical and surprises only the candid. It is part of an American continuity that dates back to Obama. It does not constitute a profound decline of the United States which follows its strategic interests of the moment, as it has always done, which should not surprise Europeans.

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Lorgnette: Year in Review and Year 8

Attached is an analytical table of the issues and posts of La Vigie published in the last year.

We have published 118 texts this year, of which 31 were written by external authors: many thanks to our contributors who complement our analyses. This dynamic allows us to broaden our points of view and allows young or experienced authors to express themselves, thus fulfilling the vocation of La Vigie. In addition, we have published 46 additional articles for free reading (in addition to the Lorgnettes, various blog articles). In total, 71 texts can be read without subscription, even if they do not have the coherence sought by the fortnightly letter.

Of the 118 texts, 58 dealt with cross-cutting themes, 60 with specific geographical areas. 28 articles dealt with strategy (general, military or environmental), not to mention those on geopolitics or military deterrence. Let us point out a series on spatial strategy, thanks in particular to our intern, whom we thank here. There are also a few more general considerations (environment, religion, culture), obituaries and reading notes.

Europe has attracted our particular attention (with a series that will be grouped together in a dossier), as well as Africa (Sahel and Maghreb). Asia and the Middle East follow, while the Americas, the Arctic, Central and South Asia and Russia have received little attention.

We are entering our eighth year. More than ever, strategic fluidity is the order of the day and the upcoming economic crisis, the results of the American election or the beginnings of the French presidential campaign will accentuate the difficult high-level reading of our environment. More than ever, we will endeavour to present our analyses to you. We will soon be announcing some changes.

Until then, enjoy your reading… and have a good summer!

Table of publications 2020-2021

The table of publications published by La Vigie in recent months is attached to this issue. You can consult it by downloading the pdf issue here.

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.

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La Vigie Nr 173 : On the front lines | Lorgnette : Geopolitical trip to MOrocco | Summer reading

Letter from La Vigie, August 4th 2021

On the front lines

While the “summer break” overshadows international news in France, serious business continues to be conducted elsewhere. Here is a series of strategic snapshots of the world’s frictions: Tunisia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Polynesia, Pegasus, Sahel.

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Lorgnette: Geopolitical trip to Morocco

Sea, mountain and desert, Morocco offers multiple faces. A sultanate and then a kingdom with a brilliant history and a rich heritage, it is a country to visit to understand the challenges of the Maghreb and Africa. Discover Morocco next November with Professor Kader Aberrahim and our partners from Conflits and Ictus Voyages. This is La Vigie’s first geopolitical study tour!

During this trip, you will be accompanied by French-speaking guides as well as Kader Abderrahim, professor at Science Po, associate director of research at La Vigie and author at Conflits. He has published Géopolitique du Maroc, which we have reported on (here). Two meetings with Moroccan personalities are planned, in Marrakech and Tangiers, to discuss the major geopolitical issues of the country. In addition to the historical sites of Morocco, a guided tour of Tangier Med, the first port in Africa, is also organised. Information and registration here.

Transport is by coach and overnight stays are in 4-star hotels.

Summer reading

For your summer, we suggest you read: Le versant du soleil (R. Frison-Roche) – It doesn’t take a hero (HN Schwarzkopf) – Unité 8200 (D. Alfon) – Quand la France commence-t-elle? (B. Lançon) – Guerres invisibles (Th. Gomart) – Non-retour (Jusseaume et alii).

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La Vigie Nr 172 : The need for foresight | Spanish restraint | Lorgnette : Olympic Truce

Letter from La Vigie, dated 21th July 2021

The need for foresight

The DNA of the military naturally leads them to foresight and to translate it into action through operational planning procedures. Planning is a virtue and foresight remains more necessary than ever at a time when long-term orientation, a traditionally very Western cultural trait, is being questioned.

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Spanish restraint

Spain is the heir to a long history that began under the Romans, continued through the Visigothic empire before experiencing the long cycle of the Muslim invasion and the Reconquista. At the end of the Middle Ages, a world power was built, combining a European power with the Habsburgs and a colonial power with Latin America. Centuries of long decline and a painful 20th century followed, leaving a democratic Spain in reconstruction, having made a Western choice and more concerned with itself than with its obvious but little used international assets.

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Lorgnette: Olympic Truce

On 23 July the Games of the 32nd Olympiad will open in Tokyo. Restored by Pierre de Coubertin, bringing together every four years the world’s best athletes to compete in a fair joust, celebrating youth, friendship between peoples and the universal values of sport, they usually offer an opportunity for a truce in the development of world tensions and conflicts. This truce should be very brief.

The global politicisation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the virulent rise of nationalist discourses thought to be a thing of the past, the questioning of international law and order, pessimistic editorials heralding the Chaos Games, and the fracturing of most national societies along these lines are among the reasons given. In spite of reinforced health protection measures excluding all spectators from the venues, the Games are expected to attract nearly 4 billion viewers and become the most watched in history. After August 9 and the commemoration of the nuclear holocausts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, regional geopolitics, usually animated during the summer when Europe is on holiday, will resume its rights.

Long live the athletes and long live Olympism!

JOCV

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La Vigie Nr 171 : Providing France with a grand strategy | The games of war and chance | Lorgnette :Iran and negotiations

Letter from La Vigie, dated 7 July 2021

Providing France with a grand strategy

The discontinuity in the global trajectory caused by the pandemic invites France to rethink the strategic framework of its current action; in the absence of sufficient European coherence, it must adopt a long-term national vision and define the axes of a major long-term strategy for which six key factors to be prioritised and combined are proposed to the reader.

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The games of war and chance

Strategy is too serious a matter not to devote all one’s time to it. Games are an abundant means of doing so. In these times when we are constantly being surprised by our environment, it is time to get serious and finally play.

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Lorgnette: Iran and negotiations

In Iran, Ebrahim Raissi was elected President of the Republic on 19 June, after a soft campaign that resulted in a record abstention, a sign of voter disaffection and perhaps the sidelining of all reformist candidates. The press labelled him an ultraconservative. The system probably selected him first for his ability to maintain: he is conservative in the first sense. The fact remains that this impoverished and corrupt country is suffering from the sanctions imposed by D. Trump and that during his campaign, Mr. Raissi constantly affirmed his desire to obtain the lifting of the sanctions.

This is the subject of the Vienna negotiations, which are the focus of the new US president’s attention (LV 168). So we should not be surprised by the latest IAEA report which states that Iran has “begun the necessary steps to produce enriched uranium metal“. This comes as no surprise to anyone, but it is a good way to put pressure on the Iranian authorities to negotiate.

Thus, a new Iranian leadership seems to be in a position to discuss with the new American leadership. Let’s hope that Mr. Raissi’s conservatism will give way to a fine pragmatism to compromise.

JOCV

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