La Vigie Nr 117 : China and the heart of the earth | A look at North Africa | Lorgnette : Spanish elections

La Vigie, Strategic letter, Nr 117 ( 8 MAY 2019)

China and the heart of the earth

China, which is re-emerging, is, in the eyes of the United States, the challenger. Yet, despite its need for revenge on unequal treaties imposed by “barbarians” and felt as a humiliation, it has no desire for power. Certainly, its “Belt and Roads” initiative to refocus across Asia is a major geo-economic ambition: it can be seen as a re-reading of the founders of Anglo-Saxon geopolitics and the intention to control the heartland. This requires us to renew our strategic calculations.

A look at North Africa

North Africa is a strategic area that is poorly identified and agitated by multiple rivalries. In the centre, torn Libya is experiencing a strong east-west push that is having a negative effect on the adjacent Maghreb. France must be careful not to encourage this perverse dynamic and promote an autonomous Maghreb area based on the MENA concept.

Lorgnette: Spanish elections

The Spanish general elections on 28 June did not quite resolve the country’s deep political crisis. Certainly, the Socialist Party comes first and if it allies itself with Podemos (radical left), it arrives at 11 seats of the majority necessary to govern. Faced with it, the Popular Party lost many seats, a loss badly compensated by Vox, a radical right-wing formation born of a split. This right-wing bloc is reportedly supported by the centrist, liberal and anti-independence party, Ciudadanos.

In other words, no “classic” left-wing majority is possible without the support of small parties. The Catalan secessionist parties obtained only 39% of the votes, which puts the independence issue into perspective in a context of electoral mobilization. P. Sanchez, the socialist leader, could rely on the ERC (Catalan left) or on a Basque party and some independents.

Nevertheless, P. Sanchez will not want to launch a referendum on the independence of Catalonia (even if we wait for the regional elections on 26 May to check the intensity of the independence movement, which fell on 28 June, see LV 94). It is to be hoped that the fragile coalition that will be put in place will help to cool the secessionist crisis.

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La Vigie n° 94 – 9 May 2018 : Regionalisms in Spain – The Vietnamese track – The Libanese democratic challenge

Letter n° 94 – 9th May 2018

Regionalisms in Spain

The self-dissolution of ETA in the Spanish Basque Country does not only mean the end of an armed struggle, but above all it marks the end of an outdated ideology: that of revolutionary independence. It reveals the internal geopolitical balance of Spain, a country that has little known a strong state and which, in favor of democracy in 1975, invented an original way of decentralization that is not a federation. This helps to understand the current tension between Madrid and Catalonia. This does not mean that regional issues are over, in Spain as in Europe, because they are also responses to the furious globalization.

The Vietnamese track

Vietnam suffers the presence of a cumbersome neighbor which he must accomodate since ages. While imitating his politico-economic model, he must be careful not to fall into his orbit. To do this, it deploys a subtle strategy of the right balance and seeks through multiple partnerships the strategic depth it lacks. The strategy of balance that it deploys must enable it to preserve the centrality of the party, to satisfy an expected development and to contain a nationalist public opinion.

Lorgnette : The Libanese democratic challenge

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Indecisive decisions

Observers of international affairs sometimes have trouble understanding the scope of the decisions announced with much communication.

Last week, two examples of these « indecisive decisions » were offered up to us.

A savoir avant de se décider Source

The first is that of Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the Catalan independence movement. After having been constantly maximalist these past five years, always choosing the most radical way, he’s hesitating. While he had just organized a referendum, albeit very controversial and foregoing any democratic guarantees we can expect from any State, be it African or fallen under the watchful eye of the « International Community », here he is balking at the ultimate hurdle. Declaring without really declaring, but declaring Catalan independence and provoking dissatisfaction from everyone, Spaniards and Catalans alike whether they are anti-independence, or fairly to vehemently pro-independence… Mind boggling. In fact, the Spanish PM, Mr Rajoy asked Mr Puigdemont to clarify what he meant by his obtuse declaration…

The second is the declaration of D. Trump voicing all the bad things he had to say about the Iranian nuclear deal, and then in the end asked Congress to seriously think about it even if he thinks they shouldn’t certify the deal. Do you understand ? We don’t. Is he for it ? Against it ? He’s against it, but not enough to it, just enough to not say he’s for it.  So here we have a non-decision that only has disadvantages : It aggravates the Iranians, turns the International Community against him, doesn’t weigh in the balance, leaves it up to Congress…(see Thomas Flichy de La Neuville‘s article).

Many examples of these non-decisive decisions could be given.

They illustrate the contemporary difficulty with doing real politics. The end of ideologies and collective causes prevents the formation of new divides that orders society and incites them to regulate themselves. An impression of disorder and inefficiency then follows due to the gap between a system that is too complex and the peoples aspiration for cut and dry simplicity. Non-completion becomes the norm and clogs up situations in unsatisfactory middle ground.

Deciding ?  An illusion !

 

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