LV 223 : From the Sahel to the Gulf od Guinea | Lorgnette : OSS in Papua | Reading nots

Letter from La Vigie, dated 3 August 2023


From the Sahel to the Gulf of Guinea

In the Sahel, geography, demography, the environment and cultural practices are obvious obstacles to social and economic development. They are rarely diagnosed, and the excess of virtuous rhetoric and the ineffectiveness of our action lead to a rejection of France. Meanwhile, insecurity is spreading towards the Gulf of Guinea.

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Lorgnette: OSS in Papua

Despite the AUKUS slap in the face (LV 176), France was and intended to remain a power in the Asia-Pacific. First stop, N. Modi as guest of honour on 14 July and parade of a Punjabi regiment. Second stage: an ambitious presidential tour to assert France’s presence in Oceania. After the African tours, which confirmed that France was a legacy power with a vague vision of the future (LV 216), New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea would be France’s heralds.

New status for Caledonia, creation of a Pacific Academy, opening of a French embassy in Samoa, commitment to the fight against global warming, establishment of protected areas, Pacific Erasmus, greening of Papuan infrastructures, reiterated refusal of power, departure pilou from Caledonia with dancers wearing the independence flag on their foreheads, departure photo from Papua smelling of neo-colonialism…

57 years after General de Gaulle came to the New Hebrides for the 1st visit of a French president to Papua, China can tremble. OSS 117 is back!
Summer reading notes

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La Vigie Nr 186 : African coups | Torn Georgia | Lorgnette : Indonesian opening

African coups

The recent coups in Mali and Burkina Faso show the disappointment of African elites and populations towards France. This can be explained by a major strategic error, a mixture of good conscience, overuse of the military tool, inappropriate governance manoeuvres and, finally, misunderstood and therefore misimplemented interests. France has disappointed and it is to blame. It must draw the consequences.

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Georgia torn

Georgia is the only country in the Transcaucasus that is open to the West, to the Black Sea, to Europe. The country is haunted by the demons of conflict with separatist provinces and its complicated relationship with Russia. Its attempt at rapprochement with the United States ended in failure, especially militarily, but Georgia has since embarked on a new path towards the European Union. Perhaps this is not a bad idea!

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Lorgnette: Indonesian opening

The recent sale of 42 Rafale fighters to Indonesia is welcome, for obvious industrial reasons. If it is not sure that it favours French defence, it constitutes on the other hand an asset in our foreign policy, in particular in South-East Asia, a more accurate term here than Indo-Pacific. It should also be noted that this sale is accompanied by that of two Scorpene submarines. The AUKUS affront has been repaired (LV 176).

Paradoxically, it may have served its purpose. Indeed, like many countries in the region, Indonesia is careful to maintain a policy of balance between China and the United States, ensuring that it is not too dependent on either. It had been following our strategic and industrial partnership with India with interest, which prompted it to consider our offer carefully. But it is very likely that the Australians’ unilateral decision played a role: by considering that France was not secure enough, Australia proved that, on the contrary, France had a balanced position in the region. This was probably the decisive argument for Jakarta. Thus, in addition to India and Singapore, France obtains a third partner in this South and South-East Asia. Let’s hope it won’t be the last.

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LV 134 : New military strategies | Clever Azerbaijan | Sahel, no Pau

Lettre from La Vigie, dated 22 JAN 2020

New military strategies

Military strategy must articulate both nuclear strategy and the response to asymmetric adversaries. Without dwelling on fashionable concepts (Hybrid Warfare, A2/AD), let us note the return to concerns of high-intensity warfare, which had been forgotten. Opposition between peers or quasi-peers is back on the agenda, without overshadowing other priorities. 2020 is an opportunity to think calmly before the turmoil of the next presidential campaign and the subsequent LPM.

Clever Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is thus on the borders of Europe and Asia, the Russian world and the Middle East, and is of interest to both China and the United States. As a Muslim, Shiite and secular country, it has just presided over the Non-Aligned Movement. Rich in abundant oil, it does not waste this income and succeeds, thanks to skilful diplomacy, in asserting its interests despite the persistent dispute with neighbouring Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. These are all exceptions which would almost be worthy of a model and in any case arouse interest.

Lorgnette: Sahel, no Pau

France convened the leaders of the five G5 Sahel countries at a summit in Pau last week. It asked them, as it were, to confirm their desire to see France intervene in the region, in particular through Operation Barkhane. It was a question of finding political support at a time when the French presence is routinely decried in regional public opinion. In short, to force the said governments to come out of their duplicity. In exchange, France announced the dispatch of 220 additional troops and the refocusing of the operation on the Tri-border region.

220 troops is a 5% reinforcement: no one will believe that this can change the balance of power. As for the concentration on the three borders, it is a change that is at best operative, it certainly has no strategic significance. As for the rest, nothing changes and the stalemate will continue. For the old moons that have been proper and ineffective for decades will continue without changing the political behaviour of the region’s rulers: what if we put them face to face with their responsibilities?


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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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