LV 225: Ambiant disaster | If there’s only one left, it’s IndoPac | From Korea to Armenia

Letter from La Vigie, dated 20 Sept. 2023

Ambient disaster

The ideologies of the twentieth century, communism and liberalism, have lost their hold on society. For twenty years, the world has witnessed the return of religion as a geopolitical factor, but two catastrophisms – ecological and demographic – have now become replacement ideologies. We need to move beyond them.

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If there’s only one left, it’s IndoPac

For several months, if not years, France’s foreign policy has suffered from a notable lack of clarity in its latest qualification as a “trusted partner power”. Its long-standing partners are taking advantage of this to bully Paris and subject it to historic affronts. Because we have to exist on the international stage, the only thing left is the Indo-Pacific, which we are boosting in the hope that our new partners will have confidence in us.

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Lorgnette: from Korea to Armenia

President Putin welcomed Kim Jong Un, the President of North Korea, with great pomp and ceremony. Kim Jong Un is not accustomed to being received in this way, as his country has opted for long-term strategic isolation. The Korean peninsula is not at peace, since only an armistice was signed in 1953, and since then Pyongyang has maintained a considerable military effort, to the point of developing nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and possibly a missile-launching submarine. The advantage of military dictatorships is that they have stockpiles. Korea is said to be supplying Russia with 10 million shells to maintain its RAPFEU in Ukraine. You have the allies you can get.

That’s what Armenia told itself when, in 2020, it was unable to resist the Azerbaijani offensive. Russia did just enough to prevent things going too far (LV 151, 154 and 184) and moved on. So its troops went to Ukraine and are still there. From then on, the CSTO, which organised the “near abroad”, lost its strength and Armenia announced that it was organising military exercises with the United States. Moscow is no longer able to guarantee wider security and is losing its most traditional supporters. Azerbaijan is taking advantage. Russia is letting it happen…

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LV 213 / Africa farewell ! | New nuclear issues | Lorgnette : Arab-Persian deal

Letter from La Vigie dated 15 March 2023

Africa farewell!

From the Ouagadougou speech in 2017 to the one in Paris in 2023, one constant appears: the non-existence of France’s African policy. Added to this is the delicate relationship that we see in undiplomatic gestures. Faced with this observation, are we condemned to say: Africa farewell?

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New nuclear issues

Obsessed with the war in Ukraine, we fail to see the profound strategic changes that are taking place elsewhere, for example in the nuclear field: the end of the ballistic monopoly, the ambiguity of carriers, aggressive sanctuarisation, the death of arms control, the questioning of non-proliferation are all issues that are retroacting on the European theatre.

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Lorgnette: Arab-Persian deal

The recent announcement of an Iranian-Saudi agreement, concluded under the auspices of China, sounded like a thunderclap. Arabia had been announcing for some time that it wanted to break away from the Quincy Pact (LV 205). It did not sign the Abrahamic agreements between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain and the recent Israeli stiffening should not reassure it. As for Iran, the continuation of uranium enrichment despite sanctions and the JCPOA negotiations, the agreement with Russia and the recent popular discontent favour a change in strategic posture.

The agreement gives the impression of a simple restoration of diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran. It seems to include a security dimension, the implementation of which will be seen in Yemen, where the Saudis seem to be negotiating while the UAE and the Americans are refusing. Basically, Arabia seems to want to diversify its sources of security and no longer relies solely on the United States. Washington, which has lost interest in the Middle East, is thus paying for its abstention and loss of credit. As for China, it has two of the main suppliers of hydrocarbons: that is enough for it.

The puzzle is moving in the region…


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LV 212: Lost illusions | Luxembourg outside the walls | Lorgnette : One year of war

Letter from La Vigie dated 1st March 2023

Lost illusions

France’s foreign policy is facing a field of ruins: all European ambitions are shattered by the realignment caused by the war in Ukraine, our situation in Africa is devastated, our ambitions in the wider world are confused and misunderstood. So this is the perfect time to stop talking out of turn, to reflect and to choose.

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Luxembourg outside the walls

Let’s continue the tour of the French marches by studying its land neighbours, this time the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. How is it that a country with no strategic depth has managed to have the highest gross domestic product per capita in the world and to be a key player in Europe? Thanks to an influence strategy of extraterritoriality.

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Lorgnette: One year of war

The end of February marked one year of war in Ukraine, or more precisely nine if we consider the beginning of the conflict in 2014. But the intensity, the harshness, the length of the fighting and the breadth of the front make it an exceptional war and a mostly industrial war, both classic and contemporary. We have described it at length on our site, whether in our articles or in the weekly situation reports, but also in the book War in Ukraine published in November (here).

But this war can still last. We do not believe in the victory of one of the two, so much so that this term is a misleading word (LV 208). Given the progress made here and there and the tenacity of the parties, this is a war that is not frozen, the outcome of which is still undetermined. The longer the conflict goes on, the less possible it seems that negotiations on an equal footing are possible, as neither of the two belligerents is willing to settle their losses with a bad compromise. The consequences of the war would be long-lasting: a thorn in Europe’s side for decades to come. In addition to the losses, the wounded and the injured, in addition to the massive destruction, it is a European balance that must be rebuilt as quickly as possible.


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La Vigie Nr 165 : Global Britain | What alliances for France ? | Lorgnette : Europe on a sofa

Lettre La Vigie, dated 14 APRIL 2021

Global Britain

Three months after the Brexit came into force, the British government published two documents in March to set out the direction and allocate the resources of a cross-departmental strategy integrating security, defence and development policies with the country’s foreign policy. This exercise enabled the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to clarify the meaning to be given to the Global Britain concept, which emerged in the aftermath of the referendum sealing the UK’s departure from the EU in 2016. The knowledge of these documents is essential to appreciate the future of a UK/EU relationship to be built and more particularly that to be developed between France and the United Kingdom, linked by common interests, a bilateral security treaty, an alliance within NATO and which, depending on the field, are allies, partners or rivals.

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What alliances for France?

The question of alliances is not so much about who to ally with or against, but about what to ally oneself with. It is true that the institutions inherited from the 20th century remain useful for France, whether it be the UN, the Francophonie, the Atlantic Alliance or the European Union. However, none of them responds to the integral strategy needed in the face of a current conflicts below the threshold. These instruments must therefore be supplemented by other alliances, more fleeting and less structured, but still flexible.

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Lorgnette: Europe on a sofa

The recent meeting between Turkey and European representatives turned into a farce. At the end of the meeting, the President of the Council, Charles Michel, went to sit in an armchair opposite Erdogan, while the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was left on a sofa.

Commentators were very critical of the Turkish leader, who was suspected of having engineered this bad manners. Then it was Mr Michel who was criticised, accused of machismo. In this case, the fault lies mainly with the EU. Erdogan is accustomed to putting only one chair at his side when he receives a head of state, and he could hardly have put two at the risk of appearing dominated. Moreover, he is currently trying to reconcile himself with the Europeans.

Hierarchically, the President of the Council is above the President of the Commission. One can certainly criticise the European protocol services for not having detected the incident or warned the European leaders. Above all, the Union was wrong to come with two people. It showed its weaknesses and its complicated organisation.

In this case, the Byzantine convolutedness was European, not Turkish.

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La Vigie n° 155 (FREE) : After Hong Kong, Taiwan ? | The new Macron doctrine | Lorgnette : Russian Sudan

Letter from La Vigie n° 155 of 25 November 2020

After Hong Kong, Taiwan?

After the early abrogation of the Basic Law in Hong Kong and the promulgation of the National Security Law on 1 July 2020, Beijing has weakened its international credibility while sending a clear signal on how to settle international disputes, considered by the Communist Party as Chinese internal affairs. In an unstable strategic context, where relations between China and the United States are bound to be tense, the normalisation of Taiwan’s status is a matter for which the best chancelleries must prepare themselves in a concerted manner, at the risk of finding themselves once again without one.

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The new Macron doctrine

The recent interview given by the President of the Republic on foreign policy constitutes a “Macron doctrine”. The diagnosis is clear and bears witness to a fine evolution. The denunciation of a Washington consensus is lucid, the call for European strategic autonomy is clear, the designation of a Euro-African axis is a priority. Nevertheless, this brilliant discourse may lack pedagogy with our neighbours and partners and hardly conceals the limits of the implementation of this ambition.

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Lorgnette: Russian Sudan

Russia seems to be everywhere. It can be seen in Syria, the Caucasus, Libya, Egypt (LV 99) to mention only the Mediterranean rim. It has just signed an agreement to establish a naval base in Sudan. This shows a “grand strategy” that articulates several elements: firstly, the return to Africa that we have been seeing for many years, with actions in CAR and stronger links with various powers on the continent. Secondly, a stubborn opening towards “hot seas”, in this case the Indian Ocean. When China and Japan set up bases in Djibouti, Moscow moved a little further south, allowing a relay to East Africa and the Indo-Pacific. Finally, let us note the consolidation of a reborn maritime power, further densified by the opening of the northern passage.

From the Sudanese point of view, while the transitional regime saw the departure of Omar el Bechir (see note and LV 123), the opening of the game is obvious: it is a question of finding relays outside the American and Saudi sponsors (even if Khartoum has moved closer to Israel). But it is also a question of weighing up against problematic neighbours (southern Sudan, Egypt, even Ethiopia and Chad).


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Crédit photo : Le grand continent