La Vigie Nr 192 : Intensity, symmetry, threshold, model | Turkish balancing act | Lorgnette: United Ireland ?

Letter from La Vigie dated 11 May 2022

Intensity, symmetry, threshold, model

From a theoretical point of view, what does the war in Ukraine tell us? Many talk about high intensity. It is more a question of symmetry, which leads to threshold effects but also to technological mixes of old weapons and new objects. A fine diagnosis must be made that questions our armed forces model.

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Turkish balancing act

The Turkish regime is trying by all means to stay in power, but the economy has been cruelly hurting the man in the street for the past year, and the Ukrainian crisis has only reduced the margins of manoeuvre, making the diplomatic position vis-à-vis Russia delicate. As Erdogan strives to improve foreign relations, the only way out should be an increased presence in Libya, where hydrocarbons represent a lifeline for Turkey, away from Russia and Iran.

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Lorgnette: United Ireland?

The Brexit (LV 135) has raised the question of the future of the United Kingdom (LV 105) since its adoption. If many thought that the disintegration of the kingdom would come from Scotland (LV 71), the recent elections in Northern Ireland indicate a second possible cause. Indeed, the nationalist party Sinn fein (in favour of reunification with Ireland) won (27 seats out of 90) while its unionist opponent, the DUP, obtained only 25 seats. Sinn fein will therefore form the government, with the DUP appointing a deputy prime minister according to the Good Friday Agreement (1988). Negotiations were going to be tough.

The result of the elections is primarily due to social causes, inflation and the division of the DUP following the Brexit agreements which ratified a complicated agreement for Northern Ireland, a “protocol” governing customs provisions (it provides for free movement with the Republic of Ireland but controls with Great Britain). So it is the European question that is posed to London, once again. The fact remains that this vote opens the way, if things continue, to a referendum for unification in a few years’ time.

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photo credit : MichaelGubi on VisualHunt

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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Crédit photo :Ministère de la défense d’Ukraine

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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LV 163 : The Greek ally | Introduction to multidomain operations | Lorgnette : Senegal in turmoil

Letter from La Vigie, Dated 17 March 2021

The Greek ally

Since last summer’s tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, France has moved closer to Greece. Greece has settled all its differences with its Balkan neighbours. The deep rivalry with Turkey remains, aggravated by the Cyprus question. The rapprochement with France is logical from Athens’ point of view. For Paris, it will be important to ensure that this is not just a diplomatic coup but a lasting alliance.

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Introduction to multi-domain operations

The synergy of multi-domain military engagements has accelerated since 2014. The development of hybrid strategies, combining military and non-military modes of action, by state and non-state competitors or strategic disruptors, led the United States to structure its approach to multi-domain operations (MDOs) and to solicit its allies. As is the case whenever a new strategic and operational concept emerges, each of them is required to appropriate it before considering a common interoperable and coordinated response. France is preparing for this. The next NATO and EU summits could see the adoption of the first concrete multilateral initiatives.

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Lorgnette: Senegal in turmoil

The events of the last few days in Senegal are worrying. Indeed, the arrest of the main opponent to the government, Ousmane Sonko, triggered a series of bloody riots (a dozen dead, nearly 600 injured). Although the situation has since calmed down, it reveals several trends. First of all, Senegalese democracy, often cited as an example, is not immune to upheaval. We need to remember what happened twenty years ago in Côte d’Ivoire. The president, Macky Sall, remains very ambiguous about a possible third candidacy and has succeeded in eliminating the opposition… except for Ousmane Sonko, who is not from the seraglio. He made a name for himself by coming third in the last presidential election by denouncing corruption but also the French influence.

Now, this anti-French sentiment is spreading throughout the former African pré carré. This is to lend a lot of power to France, but the affair comes at a time when the debate is raging around the Barkhane operation. If minds are focused on the Sahel, it is advisable to remain cautious towards the region’s solid supports. A destabilised Senegal would be very bad news for everyone.


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La Vigie n° 156: Dying for Warsaw or for Brussels? What does Erdogan tell us? Lorgnette : presidential race 2022

Letter n° 156 from La Vigie dated 9 December 2020

Dying for Warsaw or for Brussels?

Polish politics are often pointed at and the news about the blocking of the European budget is clearly a crisis. But before judging, wouldn’t it be on our side a lack of understanding of a Poland that is more rational than it seems?

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What does Erdoğan tell us?

R. Erdoğan is today portrayed by some as France’s main adversary. Provocation is an art that must be decoded in order not to fall into its trap. The Turkish leader is a skilful politician who has been in power for more than fifteen years and is now changing his internal base. This motivates a large part of his current foreign policy, whose major point of friction is in the Eastern Mediterranean. A good diagnosis of the situation makes it possible to envisage the strategic direction to be taken.

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Lorgnette: Presidential 2022

Of course, as with every such deadline, the elections of 2022 will not affect our diplomatic activity and our external military actions. Obviously, health, social and economic issues on the one hand, and public order, internal security and domestic terrorism on the other, will be the core of the electoral reactor of 2022. For all that, should we consider that everything has already been said by what has been done and that there will be no external issues to consider for the coming election?

Certainly not. The world is changing so fast today, from Washington to Beijing, from Moscow to Tehran and Ankara (see above), from London to Berlin, from Algiers to Bamako…

La Vigie is preparing to take stock in 2021 of the major issues of France’s security and defence, both internally and externally.

It will examine its diplomatic posture in Europe, the Mediterranean and the world, its military capabilities and operational activities, and its general strategy of presence in the world. This work will provide input for future political projects and will help inform the voters’ judgement in 2022.


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Photo crédit : US Dpt of State

Libya : The first Mission for an EU Battlegroup?

We are pleased to publish an essay by Wolfgang Pusztai, an Austrian security and policy analyst, specialist of Libya.His thoughts are challenging indeed. HAve a good read. La Vigie.

In Libya there is an ongoing civil war since 2011 with different phases of intensity. The prospects for a lasting ceasefire as a precondition for a political solution were never ever bright over the years. An international military mission to ensure compliance would have been technically next to impossible anyway. All this might change now.


The current situation in Libya

Continue reading “Libya : The first Mission for an EU Battlegroup?”