LV 243: Paris-Warsaw: Prelude or waltz? | A funeral dirge for international law | Lorgnette: the meaning of war

Letter from La Vigie, dated 29 May 2024

Paris-Warsaw: Prelude or waltz?

Poland has traditionally had difficulties with its two neighbours, Russia and Germany. The war in Ukraine is reshuffling the cards in its strategic equation and prompting it to take an interest in the new French discourse: is this the prelude to a lasting understanding or just a waltz?

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A funeral dirge for international law

The decision by Karim Khan, the ICC prosecutor, to ask for arrest warrants to be issued for Netanyahu and his defence minister has provoked strong reactions in the United States. Based on morality rather than law, they threaten one of the foundations of the international order, justifying in hindsight all the criticism of a law that would only target countries that are not aligned with the United States. If the threats against the ICC materialise, it could be the death knell of international law.

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Lorgnette: the meaning of war

Soldiers are starting to write: what was still the exception twenty years ago is now becoming commonplace. But let’s take a look at the themes covered in these works: history, ethics or personal accounts, in most cases. In the latter case, the war is described as an experience. The authors show its violence, its injustice and the trauma it caused. France, for example, has been at war for thirty years without realising it, because its soldiers have been under fire (here).

Of course, the reader is left in awe of the examples given, the underlying heroism, and the moral and psychological dimension of war. But they are also bothered by a major omission, that of the political dimension of war. War is not only the work of those who wage it. War has a cause before it has a meaning. It is the work of a society before it is the work of the men who lead it. War is not war because it is an experience, it is war because it is first and foremost a political object. France was not at war because it did not think of itself as being at war. This is, moreover, the criticism we have regularly levelled at recent external operations in which the enemy was not identified.

This confusion remains embarrassing.


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La Vigie Nr 193 : Technologising armies | What is the outcome of the war? | Lorgnette: Taiwan’s defence

Leter from La Vigie, dated 25th May 2022

Technologising armies

The technologisation of modern armies, which is supposed to give them a significant advantage over their enemies, is showing signs of running out of steam with the Ukraine campaign. Already threatened by the asymmetric response of improvised devices, these armies are also facing a strain on their basic components. Supplies and their delivery no longer seem to be secure in a conflict with global repercussions.

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What is the outcome of the war?

Traditionally, wars were concluded with peace treaties because the enemy was not demonised. Since the 20th century, the enemy is often portrayed as an evil that must be annihilated: it therefore seems difficult to deal with him. However, war most often requires an end to be reached, and this is achieved through negotiations: one must know how to end a war.

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Lorgnette: Taiwan’s defence

In response to a question about the US military commitment in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, US President J. Biden said on Monday: “Yes, that is what we are committed to”. This statement is a departure from the usual ambiguity: since the Taiwan Relation Act of 1979, Washington had always left uncertainty as to the nature of its support for Taipei but also its respect for the Chinese doctrine of “one China”.

Is this a new outing to which J. Biden has become accustomed, using words and expressions that are often undiplomatic? In any case, his administration was keen to correct the president’s remarks. Several interpretations are possible: there is a difference of opinion between the President and his administration, or following Ukraine the President wants to assure his allies of the solidity of his support or, even more subtle, to be ambiguous in the exit of ambiguity towards China.

One last hypothesis is not mentioned but is worrying: J. Biden is allowing himself to speak without consulting his entourage, a criticism that was long made of his predecessor. This would be worrying.

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LV 162 : Looking death in the face | France’s neighbourhood | Lorgnette : Biden and the Middle East

Letter from La Vigie, dated 3rd March 2021

Delacroix, Bataille de Nancy, 1834, Musée des Beaux-arts de Nancy, source

Looking death in the face

The doctrine of just war was developed in medieval Europe to regulate the use of legitimate state violence. But who then bears the moral burden of guilt, because “thou shalt not kill”? And how far is our society prepared to accept losses, especially civilian ones, now that war is on our soil (jihadist attacks) and at a time of “war against the coronavirus”?

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Neighbourhoods of France

France’s neighbours are drawing up a strategy that still lacks coherence: if the position towards the United States is asserted, the other Americas are neglected; the North is unthinking, the East centred on a European vision without much room for manoeuvre. As for the South, our position is very disjointed today. Further afield, in our overseas territories, our mechanism should enable us to promote an Indo-Pacific strategy that is original and distinct from that of our allies.

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Lorgnette: Biden and the Middle East

The new US administration has taken initial decisions regarding the Middle East. Thus, J. Biden declared that he wanted to resume the treaty with Iran (JCPOA) by wanting to add the question of ballistic missiles to it. Iran, on the eve of new elections, has not closed the door but remains firm on a strict return to the text signed in 2015. At least discussions are resuming. Without weakness, however: in Syria, strikes were decided against the Syrian Shiite militias after the attack on an American base in Erbil (Iraq).

Simultaneously, a mistrust was displayed towards Saudi Arabia. Washington has reopened an investigation into the assassination of J. Khashoggi (which points to the direct responsibility of MBS) and has declared its declining support for the war in Yemen.

Does this point to a new course? Undoubtedly in the case of Iran, even if it is a question of maintaining a position of strength. For the rest of the region, these initial decisions suggest a more measured and balanced position, both towards Syria and Iraq and towards the Gulf States. Israel is for the moment left a little to one side, as if it were no longer the priority.


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La Vigie Nr 113 : The taste of peace | Geo XXI | Lorgnette : Tension in Cashmere

La Vigie nr 113 (13 MAR 19).

The taste of peace

Everyone talks about peace but many are satisfied with the disappearance of the hard war. It is not to see that this pacified world is leaving more and more free for multiple conflicts, a new “war” that goes hand in hand with liberal globalization. Peace is no longer an absolute value and surpasses all others, and therefore the taste for peace withers. Yet, in their demand for security, that is what the peoples demand.


In a non-compliant and multiple world, the global geostrategy is undergoing a new evolution that must articulate at the beginning of the 21st century heterogeneity and interdependence, the strategic virtualization that digital transformation allows and the geopolitical regionalization that rebalances globalization. To be taken into account by France to take advantage of it.

Lorgnette : Tension in Cashmere

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La Vigie Nr 105 : British isolate | Finishing wars | Lorgnette : Cyberpeace

La Vigie Nr 105, 21 NOV 2018

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British isolate

Maybe the Brexit will take place. First of all, it shows a British representation of the common destiny, ultimately different from Churchill’s usual preference for the open sea. There is a British exceptionalism and above all a pride of English history in the 20th century that largely explains the Brexit decision. It should be noted that this decision raises complicated regional issues (Scotland, Northern Ireland) but that London should find ways to forge fluid alliances, perhaps better suited to the 21st century. The departure of the United Kingdom does not open the door to important developments in terms of European defence and Paris will have an interest in maintaining the “cordial agreement” that succeeded a century ago in bringing the two old nations together.

Finishing wars

Here is a review of some of the recent wars waged by France, whose conclusions have left a deep mark on it or have ended badly for not having been able to establish real lasting peace: the two world wars, the Algerian war, the Cold war, Mali.

Lorgnette : Cyberpeace