LV 207: 2022: strategic review | Ukraine war: perspectives | Lorgnette: World cup

Letter from La Vigie, dated 21st December

Merry Christmas ! See you in 2023…

2022: strategic review

The past year has seen the collapse of many strategies that lacked depth and were developed at a time when the return of war was not seriously considered. The conflict in Eastern Europe reminds us that strategy is a dialectic of wills using force to resolve their conflict. A revision of strategic thinking is necessary for those who want to remain free.

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Ukraine war: perspectives

The war in Ukraine shows a stabilisation of the fronts, which may not only be due to bad winter weather but also to the exhaustion of the belligerents. Both sides are trying to build up their strength, both in men and in equipment. But despite their declarations, neither can seriously envisage victory. The time for negotiations has come, without promising anything other than a cease-fire.

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Lorgnette: World Cup

The recent World Cup is full of lessons. Let’s start by welcoming Argentina’s victory and France’s improbable but ultimately close-to-success journey. The competition was held in a good atmosphere and the grumblers on both sides were silenced: both the moral teachers who called for a boycott and those who predicted internal dissension after the high-stakes matches, especially against Morocco. Common sense triumphed and a quiet patriotism prevailed.

These sports competitions have a huge virtue: they turn the confrontation and rivalry between nations into a game that is enough to ease most tensions, especially since the opponents are random. A match between the United States and Iran gets attention, but despite the geopolitical background, the confrontation remains benign. Sport makes it possible at little cost (whatever one says about the expenses of the World Cup or the players’ salaries) both to unite nations without pushing them into chauvinistic excesses, and to organise adversities whose outcome is resolved by a simple score.

The pacifying virtue of sport, which distributes happiness and simple emotions.

JOCVP

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LV 206: Back from Singapore | High intensity: taking the high road | Lorgnette: The Kertch bridge

Letter from La Vigie dated 7 December 2022

Back from Singapore

On his return from a visit to Singapore, the strategist was stunned by what he had seen: here was the capital of globalisation, succeeding in physically and culturally reuniting the East and the West, which, according to Kipling, “will never meet“. And yet, Singapore demonstrates the opposite…

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High intensity: taking the high road

The prevailing discourse, especially since the new phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war started on 24 February 2022, insists on the need for the French armed forces to be prepared to be engaged in a ‘high intensity’ war scenario. While leaving the decision to modify the operational contract of our expeditionary armies to the political power, let us lend ourselves to the exercise: inspired by what we can observe in Ukraine, what are the lessons that we must (re)learn to be able to fight such battles?

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Lorgnette: The Kerch Bridge

On the night of 7-8 October, the Ukrainians managed, to the surprise of everyone, to hit the Kerch Bridge, presumably with the help of a naval drone. This was not only a serious blow to Russian logistics but also a deliberate attack on one of the symbols of Crimea’s attachment to Russia.

On 5 December, barely two months later, Vladimir Putin visited the bridge, which he himself had inaugurated on 15 May 2018.

This visit, which few people expected, is rich in lessons. If Putin travels to and from this bridge in person without any problems, it is because he is healthy enough to do so, that he is not afraid to be absent from places of power despite the conspirators, that he manages to move without foreign intelligence anticipating it, that Russian engineering is working hard and that there is no question, despite the withdrawal from Kherson, of abandoning Crimea.

At the same time, the Ukrainians managed to hit two strategic bases 800 km inside Russia. The political stakes are rising on both sides.

This war is far from over.

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JOCVP

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La Vigie Nr 191 : LV 191: Finnish Model | War, Crime and Punishment | Lorgnette: Jacques Perrin

Letter from La Vigie dated April 27th 20221

Finnish Model

The war in Ukraine has prompted interest in Finland: this neighbouring country of Russia first resisted it during a war, preserved its independence throughout the Cold War, developed admirably at the end of the latter, joined the EU and is preparing to join the Alliance. Can this be a model for Ukraine?

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War, crime and punishment

With varying degrees of success, lawyers have always tried to build a body of law to limit the damage and suffering caused by wars. Can the current complex body of law, although not accepted by all states, be useful in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine?

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Lorgnette: Jacques Perrin

Jacques Perrin was a man of the cinema: one thinks of Cinema Paradiso, the marvellous L’empire du milieu du sud on Indochina and of course Microcosmos. But the strategist will remember above all his military films: 317th Section will remain one of the best war films ever made, which shows the life of a lieutenant at the head of his section in Indochina. L’honneur d’un capitaine shows the same challenges, this time at the level of a unit commander during the Algerian war. Two films made under the direction of Pierre Schoendorffer. La légion saute sur Kolwesi is more anecdotal.

This reality of war, at the level of the man, is obviously fascinating and anyone who has commanded men will find himself in it. The setting of these difficult conflicts deserved something more political: the unforgettable Crabe-tambour, with J. Rochefort and J. Dufilho, will delicately give a glimpse of the political dimensions of the war, never far from the command. Between the carnal and human thickness of the field and the more blind and indifferent objective of politics, it is the whole complex dimension of war that has been rendered.

Thank you, Mr. Perrin, for having shown it so simply. Rest in peace.

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JOCVP

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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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JOCVP

Crédit photo :Ministère de la défense d’Ukraine