Friday, June 14, 2013


Presidents Obama and Xi Jinxing met on June 7 and 8 in Sunnylands, Walter Annenberg’s former Nirvana, in Rancho Mirage.  Both leaders looked somewhat relaxed, certainly an improvement over the icy behavior of Hu Jintao.  The question remains if anything was achieved, other than a robotic walk on the grounds.

It is too early to tell, since both leaders found themselves in the middle of rather internal problems.  Xi needs to come to grips with structural problems (aging population, social unrest, a hellish environment and low technical innovation based on theft rather than creativity). Obama has slipped in his second term and has to deal with scandals, which might be his doing…or not. His distant style makes him few friends and disappoints his most ardent supporters. This is remarkable coming from the “man of change” five years ago. Both leaders have plenty on their plates but they also have reasons to deal together with problems such as radical Islam, climate change or rule of law applied to trade and North Korea. Cyber warfare and hacking will not diminish as long as China feels contained rather than welcomed. Strange how both parties refrain from pushing the crisis button too deep in matters such as Tibet, arms sales to Taiwan, China’s blue power or intellectual property rights.

This summit was also unusual at a time when Obama named Ms. Rice as his national security adviser and Ms. Power as his UN Ambassador. Tom Donilon, Ms. Rice's predecessor, will be universally missed. The abrasive, charmless Ms. Rice might have a chilly welcome, but she is supposed to have the ear of the President. In more mundane matters, the absence of Mrs. Obama while Mrs. Xi was present looked like a diplomatic “gaffe” of the first order.

The summit was revealing nevertheless, given the background of contradictory but similar comments about the United States and the Peoples Republic of China. The former is generally considered as losing steam, the latter is seen as an unstoppable force to reckon with. Both narratives are equally flawed and I will elaborate later on.  Lately we have been brainwashed by the Gs, the BRICs, the EU, the Eurozone, the IMF, MERCOSUR and we can go on from Africa to the Middle East. What is happening is the tiptoe advance of a Washington/Beijing partnership wherein common pragmatic interests rest less on moral/historical values (as is the case between the USA and the EU) than on unrelated issues which might require the lukewarm support of the other rather than having to do it alone. This is also the strange sympathy which surfaces now and then and which dates from the days of General Stilwell or General George Marshall. China’s real xenophobia is directed at Japan and the contenders around the South China Sea.

Beijing is only interested in individual countries, such as Germany, Japan, South Korea (de facto client states), and above all the United States. The problems facing China in the short term are enormous indeed and the Pollyanna representation has little to envy in Potemkin’s pre-Houdini tricks. It looks as if people in the government, in finance, and entrepreneurs see the danger of a “bubble” and the almost ancestral fault lines which continue to remain almost part of the Chinese DNA. The younger generations seem to do better but they are more “bought” than “convinced.”

Nevertheless, the major sagas of the two last centuries will have to arrive at some asymmetrical triangulation, both competing and coming together.  No relationship will be harder to steer and more indispensable to make the world of tomorrow function.


Others have done much better in commenting on the diverse events in China which led to the collapse of the Ming, the growth of Manchu power, the Treaty ports, the Muslim revolts, the Korean War, and Tibet.  In contrast, American history has been accentuated by mostly internal collisions, notably the Civil War, the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Mexican War (over a no man’s-land almost). Only Theodore Roosevelt had a rather untypical generalissimo complex, getting countries out of his hat, like rabbits.

The First and Second World Wars were carnage, invented by fools in the first case and by a madman in the latter. Still, the Stalin/Ribbentrop treaty might be considered one of the major abject treaties ever signed.  In comparison, Munich was a trap disguised as a golden cage for foolish birds of paradise.
Post-World War II showed how Stalin became for awhile master of the non-interference in other’s spheres of interest.  He was happy to occupy Central Europe while leaving the west busy reconstructing. I still fail to understand why he let Austria go.

Strangely, “Uncle Joe” had his fans in the West who looked far too long elsewhere while his killing machine got into full-swing.  The Brussels Treaty, NATO, and Churchill's “Iron Curtain" speech put an end to most illusions, and the time of James Bond arrived. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany tried with American help to put their houses in order. This was rendered even more difficult because of decolonization and faraway wars. The Treaty of Rome in 1957 was a watershed and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ended the nightmare of Stalin’s former gulag.

A lot has been written about the demise of the Soviet Union. Lech Walesa, President Ronald Reagan and Pope Jean Paul XXIII all received the “paternity award” for this historical collapse.  Far from me to try to diminish the role those world leaders played.  It is strange that the name of Margaret Thatcher seldom comes up while it was her intuitive understanding of the individual that made her conscious that he might be the future carrier of the sword upon which his empire might fall.  Besides, the Soviet Union’s obsession with everything "macro"led to spending on the inefficient rather than investing in the doable. The infamous Brezhnev/Honecker kiss was the last scene in this hallucinating scenario, drenched in the blood of so many Russians, Hungarians, Czechs and others.

The Chinese, who were given a baby seat at the Cairo Conference, were hence considered among the great (de Gaulle wanted a James Terrell seat). They were cautious enough to get close to the USSR when appropriate and stay far when convenient (the operatic Nixon/Mao meeting). Tienanmen sent the Chinese leadership for cover and, tragically so, for repression. Gorbachev is still considered the undertaker of a system and represents the ultimate taboo for a Chinese apparatus which will avoid a repeat of an identical downfall in China at any cost. It will continue to feed, play on greed, and crush dissent rather than give up on their eau de rose capitalism with Chinese characteristics. In China the Communist Party is more of an occupier than a popular bottom-up movement with some spontaneity.
The Party tries to increase its credibility with references to the past. This covers an arc which stretches from the refined Song Dynasty to the many humiliations inflicted by the Western powers and Japan. All those elements are manipulated following the necessity of the political wind. This process has also more hilarious aspects as when Confucius is buried and un-buried when convenient. Censure is part of life.

It has to be recognized as well that slowly getting this population out of poverty is an extraordinary achievement. China is a gigantic site where the greatest infrastructure in the world rises by the minute. The accumulative wealth creates a cluster which benefits a whole continent. It is actually helping the West from structural depression and its infrastructure projects can be seen in Africa and South America.  The latter are net beneficiaries but are starting to realize that their natural resources might change hands. China’s geographical neighbors know that too well and are relieved that the American shield protects them from the Chinese “colonialist” greed.

Meanwhile, the US all too slowly is getting out of recession and financial apocalypse. The Fed is trying to create a network of central banks to compensate for the weak political structures (first and for all in Europe) and to build a new Dumbarton Oaks in Jackson Hole. The United States and the ECB try to map an exit route tapping in  their financial, often unorthodox engineering, which is leading to a slow recovery.  The British being half in/half out in the EU and are not member of the Eurozone are a strange lot : We will have to see how the Australian Successor of Mr.Irving King of the Bank of England will far. The Peoples Bank of China remains a hybrid.
Meanwhile. on the lower floor, the lesser members of the Eurozone fought it out under the mocking stare of Madame Lagarde who looks more and more as Maggie Smith in Harry Potter. The briljant Mario Draghi starts to loose some of his luster. The Euro will and must survive but got very bruised in the international Ring.
The Americans came out with flying colors…for today. Their infrastructure is becoming so medieval that they will need to find both manpower  and money to finance this urgent facelift. Their untapped wealth in brains, creativity ,technological ‘‘know how’’ is unfortunately  not "labour intensive" enough so that unemployment is there to stay, for an unforeseeable time. Nevertheless their inventiveness is unparalleled .It is equally prey for stalkers, hackers and thievery. Responsible nations should not be the main participants in what is becoming modern piraterie.
The Chinese play a positive role in the Horn of Africa. They should do likewise in the modern chessboard of modern advancement. Their financial reserves (I prefer not to come to close interfering in yhr discussion on the value of the Yan by the way) and progress in manufacturing goods should be respected and not hindered. Silicone Valley should not be interfered with either .Capitalism works when left alone
Sooner or later a balance must be achieved. By the way China is entitled to feel "contained", sometimes unfairly so . France or the UK want to defend their maritime routes, why not China ? Turkey and Greece ,both NATO members disagree over Cyprus; Spain, Argentina, the Unite Kingdom are at loggerheads over mostly piles of rocks,why not China? The HongKong arrangement ,being far from perfect, is working and could pave the way for a Taiwan solution. Asian  is the mother of Chinese jokes but the screamers around the South China sea know when they risk  going too far. The China/Japan tension is far more serious. Nationalism and emotion run deep and both countries are playing with fire. The Korean Peninsula looks somewhat quitter but it is far too early to see any outcome, one way or the other. Kim jong Un is an unpredictable poker player and what is his "marge de manoeuvre"?
Did we witness some G2 in the making ? I doubt it but I admit that there are many problems which push the Chinese and the Americans in a transactional mode : energy , raw materials,climate change, pollution,terrorism (home grown and other ), management of( post ?) Afghanistan, post Dalai Lama Tibet, border (territorial and maritime) disputes (India, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, the Durand line, Pakistan , Middle East,etc ). Mega conferences are for CNN. Bilateral Tete a tete is for resolve. Let us not return to philosophical talk about how the world has shifted. Iraq is old history with long shadows , Afghanistan will be a continuous nightmare almost two years from now. Do not misunderstand me. Our humanitarian responsibility stays but chances are that China might have to carry the bucket. Better foresee than be surprised!
The Unites States are protected by Oceans and reliable buffer Sates North and South.Terrorism will always find a creepy way in.  Radicalized Islam is a creed without borders.The American Society became more messy due to immigration, political gridlock and the growth of the Tea Party.the latter should not be confused by the Palin/Bachmann brand. There is an intellectual/ moral message there that should not be taken lightly, the more so that it could very well derail the Republican Party as we knew it. Over the years George W. Bush became a moderate almost,compared to his fellow Repulicans of today. Clinton is a dinausore. Obama became a slick but unreliable Drone addict.
America remains strong. Despite the pessimistic pundits of the likes of Vali Nasr (Briljant), Fareed Zakaria or,in a different register, Charles Murray, I Don’t believe in the Cassandra’s mantra. I think that Joseph.S Nye Jr who sees America’s future in alignment with other nations and a devolution from the state to non-state actors,has it right.
Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations is pertinent.  It felt also victim –in Fukuyama mode- of a title which became a slogan. Nothing is more perverse today than generalizations . We risk ending up in a 100 years war wherein the purpose gets overtaken by habit. The Arab Spring lost its purpose as  soon as it was born. The Gericault illusion made room for backward ideas,feuds and religious fanaticism from an other area (while we should also bare in mind the Northern Ireland situation next door). The Arabs found themselves the prisoners of the myriad descendants of the Prophet ,who was not a monogamous model ,as we all now. We should reread Fouad Ajami “The Dream Palace of the Arabs “ and shed a tear for what is lost. While in Egypt, under Mubarak’s iron fist ,I seldom met more generous people with a diabolical sense of (political) humor. The humor is hard to find nowadays ( Do Muslim Brothers laugh ?). One is tempted to return to Kennan and let bygones remain bygones until a  Mandela ,Walesa or Aang Sang Suu Kui appear. Such a miraculous event is rare unfortunately since the individual had to make place for the collective and reciting/memorizing have taken over of  individual scrutiny as we know them since the Renaissance.The global world or the bi-polar world have been  replaced by  Neo states, non states, groupings of actors. who walk different paths and obey by non universally agreed agendas. The Middle East is for the time being a corpse ready for the mortuary. Only the vultures are ready to freed on the energy which is in danger of being overtaken by the “ cracking rage” which might make the United States energy independent and OPEC  irrelevant.


Both Presidents Xi and Obama are stuck in a power struggle. The American Congress might look like a vulgar gun fair compared to the Chinese government structure, but the silent corridors of the Standing Committee of the Politburo are as treacherous as a Shakespeare plot. One system is democratic, often mediocre; one is autocratic and perfidious. Both leaders have difficulties in projecting policies to constituents who are far away and have more interplay with their states than with the federal government. In America, Washington is generally disliked; in China, Beijing is often ignored. Hence it is important for the Chinese president and general secretary of the Communist Party also to head the Central Military Commission.

Future wars will be local and high-tech. Mao’s strategy has been overtaken by computers and complex electronics. The Iraq and Afghan blunders have shown the limits of classical warfare which was already in intensive care since Vietnam or Algeria. Today the suicide vests and the rucksacks are the weapons of choice of the enemy.  Normandy looks today like the Bayeux tapestry, a museum piece to valor. The Chinese and the Americans have understood all that and both the PLA and the American army are slowly adapting to this new landscape where borders are irrelevant and wherein Geneva rules look like antiques. The nuclear force is deadly for some, indifferent for the martyrdom hungry Jihadists. The vogue of the Petraeus counterinsurgency theories is already on the wane.  The United States has a serious advantage over China insofar as they do not have to carry the burden of a political department which is, in the PLA, a bureaucracy within a bureaucracy. Americans have the freedom of error which is the precondition for rethinking, reinvention, and recalibration.

Both leaders face identical challenges but contrary to the United States the Chinese prefer chamber music to symphonic. They are uninterested in waging far away wars in countries they discreetly despise. The Han Chinese copies, he is a master of calligraphy, micro-management, born skeptical regarding all there is outside, with the exception of what he can grab. Africa and South America are becoming full of stadiums, schools, and hospitals “made in China” which guarantees the Chinese easy access to what they need, abstaining from political or environmental preconditions. The infamous "banana republics" of the Fifties have changed color and allegiance. The "soft power" which the West has in abundance is underused while the Chinese offer some ersatz instead of the sophisticated wares which sit in our storage rooms.

The battle lies in the ability to create clusters, networks which will become more relevant than yesterday’s states. If we resort to smart power, we might spend less and cover an area of opportunities that is larger than what the outcome of a battle might be. Influence today beats the rifle and sooner rather than later the nuclear option will become the poor man’s diet.  Responsible powers understand that. This is probably one of the reasons why North Korea or Pakistan look the way they look. They have a bomb but no electricity. Iran might end up with a bomb and, as generally happens in those socio- deprived countries, the bomb will have a certified mother and many fathers. Virgins come cheap with the Muslims.

The Chinese have given us a great example of cynical reading, hiding behind their “non interference” credo while indulging in trade, exchanges and exports, if at the other end the retribution is worth the cost of transport or shady infrastructure. China and Bangladesh should figure in the Olympics of labor/mining/construction/natural disasters and other accidents that are forgotten as soon as the rubble is cleared.  Since we speak about human lives one should also speak with respect of Fanon’s "wretched of the earth" who are still with us, hidden behind Bangalore's high-tech or Bombay’s high rises.  We have become used to thinking in terms of “us and the rest.”  What I have seen in Egypt is almost unbearable and one might respectfully ask why nobody questions the Koran’s fatalism while the churches in the West are empty, not out of bad will or lack of willing believers, but because intelligence has come to the conclusion that there was no there there.

America is still, in part, a land of sincere believers. In China belief is more a status symbol: a Louis Vuitton bag with little crosses.  In the end, China and America are more complementary, more alike than they are different. The Chinese dream of Mr. Xi and President’s Reagan “city on the hill” are equally absurd but they make the engine roll and sedate the shopper. The intelligentsia shrinks, the absurd TV shows invade, the news becomes more provincial by the day. Only the weather forecast brings some entertainment.

The cyber domain is a no-win situation. Nobody will be able to dominate it, as one could with the sea or land mass. We will continue to compete as before but we should not let the non-actors in by some backdoor. It is unlikely that they could, but we should not become the unwilling accomplices of their toxic intentions. Here Americans and Chinese have identical interests, instead of opposite. Cyberspace must be regulated and the two major commercial traders of this time should at least find acceptable ways to streamline a code of behavior. All this comes at a rather embarrassing moment for the United  States, when an ex-CIA worker has admitted to disclosing U.S. surveillance. Those WikiLeaks “bis” will present international and domestic political difficulties for the Obama administration’s agenda.
A Sino-US modus vivendi on cyber hacking could lead to other agreements and areas of cooperation:  Chinese investment in the United States and a diversity of American involvements in China such as in urbanization, infrastructure, financial loosening and greater military transparency. The United States can only benefit from China’s rise which, by the way, does not threaten its first-class standing. It  underscores that the US is no longer alone and that the old terminology of 20 years ago belongs definitively to the past. The world has become a multiple of its former self. Who could have predicted that after Mao his successor would enjoy the capitalist lure of Rancho Mirage? We have also Nixon to thank for that. Together with Kissinger he made history for the better while most remember him for having made it for the worse. His journey was far from smooth and the collateral drama could have been avoided maybe, but what is done is done.   Another more personal pivot might as well be in its starting blocks.


After the “glorious” Delors Commission years in Brussels, the Euro appeared to be the coronation, initiating a reign of prosperity, progress and enlargement. Now, not later than June 2013, Jorg Asmussen and Jens Weidmann debated the Euro's future in a German courtroom. The dispute covers in fact the power of the ECB and the right of a government to abstain participation in measures it disagrees with.  Some go so far not longer hiding an agenda which could force Germany to leave the Euro altogether.

We have come a long way from the initial euphoria, asking ourselves now if governments are still able to afford to guarantee their banks. It all started in Ireland and spilled over southwards with no credible solution yet in sight.  With high unemployment, zero growth and a perverse undercurrent of populism, the EU looks bad indeed. Other disturbances are to be expected such as social unrest, the demise of some nation states and the rebirth of ancient prejudice between and inside nations. The Commission has become some invisible wizard, creating absurd decrees about often irrelevant issues while the Council has become a show with few players and a majority of spectators. This is bad news indeed and I do not condone the fatalism which is invading the corridors of European power (?). It has to be hoped that a fast-track negotiation between the United States and the EU about a Free Trade Agreement might alleviate the atmosphere. It has to be hoped that old cows remain in their enclosure where French can still remain some lingua franca for the takers. All this is too important to be derailed at a time when Europe has no other alternative than to race against the clock.

The Chinese look on in disbelief. The Americans try to work through the Central Bankers triumvirate, King, Trichet, Bernanke and it is generally admitted that Bernanke (with the support of Trichet)  stopped the downward spiral, cutting interest rates and easing monetary policy. The creativity of Central Bankers has certainly challenged some more orthodox dogmas.  They were able to shake the inertia and lack of imagination of the gnomes in Brussels.  Only Angela Merkel came out of this saga (which is not finished) as the Prima inter pares. Leaders not longer pay her a call, they come ad limina. The EU has become a German Hinterland, and the old confederate ambition--and the institutions that came with it--look singularly old-fashioned.

The return to an Atlantic commercial/trade bloc might be a game-changer. The US and the EU are each other’s main trading partners. The EU and the United States represent 12% of the world's population but at the same time they account for almost half of global GDP and provide 89% of official development assistance worldwide, but emerging countries still serve as propaganda tools for inter alia China’s generosity.  President George W. Bush, who wouldn’t make it on American Idol, did more for the fight against AIDS in Africa than all his “colleagues” combined!

I see a big bonus in a revamped Atlantic relationship. Trade is essential of course, but other problems remain.  NATO needs a blood transfusion, the EU needs a Dr. Atkins Diet. The ridiculous Bermuda Triangle (Brussels/Luxembourg/Strasbourg) has to be eliminated. Europeans have to get serious about their defense pillar in NATO and their common foreign affairs policy.  The Commission has more commissioners than the United States has secretaries….seeing is believing. The Brussels Babel feeds legions of interpreters(?) while participating in the global deforestation by the absurd multiplication of their paperwork.  It sounds nice to speak about shared values (which exist) but we should also put an end on this Gogol "dead soul’s" charade which gives Brussels the same bad name as Washington, D.C.  Modesty is the tail of the coin.


The Marcel Proust Questionnaire is very revealing and I would like to apologize for this outburst of narcissism:
-What is your most marked characteristic?   Indulgence in melodrama
-What is the quality you most like in a man?  Seduction
-What is the quality you most like in a woman? Flirt
-What do you most value in your friends? A gift to be forgiven
-What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?   A tendency to aggrandize
-What is your favorite occupation?   Understanding subtitles in conversation
-What is your idea of perfect happiness? The knowledge that you have to squeeze it fast before it runs                  out of sap
-What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  Being too late in confiding that I loved
-In which country would you wish to live?  Anywhere there is enough sun, plenty of sensuality and lack of noise
-Who are your favorite writers? Gustave Flaubert, Thomas Mann,  Christopher Hitchens
-Who are your favorite poets?   Emily Dickinson, T.S.Eliot, Walt Whitman
-Who is your favorite hero of fiction?   Hans Castrop 
-Who is your favorite heroine of fiction?  My mother
-Who are your favorite composers?  Eric Satie, Maurice Ravel, Handel, J.S. Bach
-Who are your favorite painters?   Delacroix, Rothko,Vermeer.
-What are your favorite names?   Fabrizio
-What is that you most dislike?   Odors, other than body odor
-Which talent would you most like to have?   Patience
-How would you like to die?   Discreetly
-What is your current state of mind?   Mild
- What is your motto?   Live surprised


Summits come with pitfalls, hype and blindfolded communiques.  Leaders send signals to the media through body language and leaks.  Personal chemistry remains hidden from view. I remain a strong believer in person-to-person diplomacy. I am aware that many bureaucrats think otherwise. There is indeed a case to be made as to see if the events push the leaders or viceversa. There are plenty of examples which show that individuals created the event and situations which indicate that the event swallowed the individual. Personal diplomacy can be tricky. Yalta showed how Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill tricked, lied, betrayed and seduced without a shadow of a sham.  Even the relationship between Roosevelt and Stalin was one of jealous lovers more than one of trusted allies. Hitler, of all men, made women run for cover and men faint.  Krushchuv misread the young Kennedy, Mao got Nixon right.  Margaret Thatcher took stock of Gorbatsjov in an instant. And one can go on…
Diplomacy requires a special talent. That might be why there are more bad than good ones. A diplomat has to be more of a doctor than a historian (that’s why the well-documented fascination with body-like functions?)   I thought I met more skilled, educated, informed diplomats in China than anywhere. The great generation of American aristocratic career diplomats made room for too many presidential campaign contributors, amateurs who needed a number two to teach them table manners. State was approached with awe and is now the butte of mismanagement. Obviously there remains a faction of Academia besides Foggy Bottom. American political science is unparalleled. I wish their leadership were larger.

Notwithstanding all this, the United States will remain Number One but the group of players has become larger. Usually they are an unruly lot.  Exceptionally, as is the case with China, Russia, the EU, Mexico, Japan, Canada or South East Asia, they usually behave like difficult but responsible partners, even when the nays outflank the yeas. China has to face a difficult time ahead and the internal priorities will certainly reduce its external outreach. The Americans for their part have to reign in their more adventurous inroads and concentrate on lands where their support will be welcomed. Unfortunately for the time being, the Arab/Muslim world (Pakistan, Indonesia, north Thailand included) remains hostage to sectarian, tribal, and religious dysfunctions. One has to interact a la carte. After too many repeats, Afghanistan does not need another one. Unfortunately the Talibans will come home to roost and the Al Queda offspring has already marked its territory and is sending his zealots out. The West, Russia and China have common enemies!   A remake of the Triple Entente might not be such a bad idea after all.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Les Missions commerciales Belges se resemblent, se suivent, passent gerealement inappercues  et , en fin de parcours, lassantes. Trop souvent elles corroborent les idees recues, comme si leBelge passait son temps a digerer plutot qu'a creer.En tant qu'Ambassadeur j'ai survecu  plusieurs manifeatations de ce tpe,  qui renvoaient plutot a la pluie q'a une meteo ensoleillee.Il arrivait qu'elles frisaient  le ridicule, comme en Egypte, lorqu'une espece de convention" bidon"etait signee en grande pompe ( projet de navettes genre Disney/ luna parc a Alexandrie avec reconstruction du Phare, idee loufoque  pourtant appuyee par le tres intelligent Elio de Rupo,Ministre du Commerce Exterieur a l'epoque).Je crus rever. Les archeologues Francais , scandalises, qui fouillaient l'ancien Palais de Cleopatre immerge, pensaient que la suggestion faisait partie de la panoplie des blagues dites "belges". Helas dans le plat pays la realite depasse souvent la fiction.

Et pourtant...a Los Angeles,

J'ai pu appercevoir que les violons  etaient accordes et que la nebuleuse absurde/ formule  commerciale belge , pouvait malgre tout collaborer au lieu de saboter. Sans doute eut-il fallu mieux viser  un public Californien qui a le show et le techno bizz dans la peau et qui a du subir d'interminables exercises oratoires (?) vantant la "Grande bouffe" made in Belgium". On a pourtant autre chose a offrir que les pralines et bierres, dans la periferie de Silicon Valley. Le Ministre des Affaires Etrangeres,  Didier Reynders,  l'a bien compris et a parfaitement pris la mesure de son auditoire.
La question qui se pose est "ou allons nous" ? Tot ou tard le Prince succedera a son pere, mais qui relevera le defi  ? Je ne vois que son neveu le Prince Amedeo prendre la releve. Il est indeniable que sans la personne du Prince, ou de son semblable,  ce genre de mission passerait inappercue. Il faut estimer a sa juste valeur le role du Prince qui est essentiel dans les prises de contact qui seraient hors portee sans son engagement. Certes la critique est facile mais en l'occurence elle est deplacee. Philippe de Belgique ne sera jamais un Windsor, mais les Belges ne sont pas des Anglais.
Il existe (encore) en Belgique de part et d'autre un capital de loyaute pragmatique,  majoritaire mais fragilise il est vrai qui doit etre maintenu a tout prix. Les discussions autour du role de la Famille Royale sont normales mais elles ne doivent pas devenir abusives. De meme une revision des responsablites devolues au Chef de l'Etat est legitime pour autant que l'on prenne garde  de ne pas fragiliser des equilibres, qui en Belgique sont aleatoires.
Contrairement a d'autres monarchies, la Famille Royale Belge court le risque de devenir un element de societe gomme, sans visibilite structurelle si elle ne s'insere pas davantage dans le reel. Il faut esperer qu'un nouveau regne, avec un entourage plus en symbiose avec lrs sensiblites actuelles puisse renouer des liens devenus trop distendus avec les priorites, qui preoccupent le citoyen. Le virtuel ne passe plus.
Le monde politique en Belgique a de meme perdu le contact avec l'homme de la rue qui se sent desoriente dans une toile bureaucratique qu'il ne parvient plus a delier. Le Chef de l'Etat represente dans ces conditons un rempart contre l'affaiblissement de l'Executif at du Legislatif. Certains parlent  aussi"republique" et pourquoi pas ? 
Je vois tres bien Hrman De Croo  , les Minitres Mark Eyskens et Armand De Decker ou l'ancien Senateur Roger Lallemand occupant cette charge, mais tout choix, toute alternative risqueraient  d'etre DOA (Death on arrival) , faute de consensus en amont .
 Ce pays a assez frole la catastrophe et a desormais  besoin de convalescence plutout que de" regime change". N'oublions pas que nous portons aussi une responsabilite internationale avec, entre autres , l'UE et l'OTAN. Or les locataires ont tendance a chercher ailleurs s'ils constatent que le rapport cout / benefice leur devient defavorable. Si l' union fait la force, le bancal amene la banqueroute, emportant avec lui tout ce qui peut encore en reduire les effets secondaires destabilisants.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

SYRIA: all is said? nothing is done!.

For two years we have been "voyeurs" of a multiple tragedy in Syria with no end in sight. The Americans--and most of the other "interested" parties--are clueless about sorting the good from the bad. The Europeans might repeat the Bosnian scenario, arming their respective "clients," while the Chinese will hide behind Lao Tzu and the principle of non-intervention (wu wei). The Russians do not want to lose their foothold in the Middle East, even if it comes at a price, aligning themselves with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran. Moscow's arms deliveries are a shot in Assad's arm and one can rightly ask what Israel or the United States got from their recent talks with the Russians. So much for the "reset."

The Syrian catastrophe can no longer be confined.  Jordan, Israel, Turkey and Lebanon are catching the flu.  Assad, contrary to earlier predictions, cannot be ignored.  Only some uprising or military coup could dislodge him. The United States is rightly baffled,  looking into a strategic abyss.  Any hard intervention could lead to a dangerous regional escalation while a selective arming of some rebels might well lead to a new bolder Russian response, not to mention Iran's  "Heidrich," Hassan Nasrallah, whose belligerent talk shouldn't be taken lightly.

Washington and Moscow have agreed to convene a peace conference in Geneva. Such an undertaking might be more difficult than the infamous Paris peace conference about Vietnam, where more time was spent on the format of the table than about parts of Southeast Asia that were burning. The Middle East is in flames as well, and amid the rubble Assad can boost on his new missile defenses and, if pressed, on his stockpiles of chemical weapons. The global diplomatic vacuum is Russia's opportunity for a comeback, since President Sadat expelled them from Egypt. The Americans will be under pressure to increase arms deliveries to the so called moderate Free Syrian Army. Meanwhile, the White House was obliged to make an embarrassing U-turn, letting Assad in, after having stated that his departure was a precondition for talks. I concur with the school of thought which ascertained that Assad  had to be part of any diplomatic solution (if such an outcome is still feasible.)

After all, Ambassador Holbrooke had to swallow Milosevic as well.  Likewise, Mugabe or Omar al-Bashir are not made for the weak at heart, even when The Hague waits for vain. America must remain active if it does not want to be forced out of the game or have to call 911 and end up being forced to support the French or the British, who are so credulous to claim to be able to differentiate the opposite camps who fight each other under Allah's mantle or under some tribal or terrorist umbrella. The West has a humanitarian responsibility first and in doing so it can alleviate the burden on Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.  The latter must be moored in the Western hemisphere, sooner rather than later. The latest unrest could get out of hand and Erdogan should not have to follow the path of Mubarak. Israel wisely abstains from intervening openly. 

Washington should build a coalition (different from the former CENTO) guaranteeing that the Gulf States, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia could act as  stakeholders of regional stability and be supportive of the outlines of a peace process blueprint that was outlined by the Arab League.  In the long run it is not totally Utopian to imagine that such an initiative might later include Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Qatar has to stop playing double agent. The Talibans cannot be ignored. The United States still has the joker, but for how long? China and Russia are closely watching  and are all too ready to fill an eventual void. This is made easier since the Arabs have no qualms to exchange their Koran for a stadium.  Africa and South America already regurgitate hospitals, roads and bridges "made in China."  The American infrastructure is ready for the rust belt and its technological know-how, second to none, is under cyber attack from mostly the Chinese PLA.  Meanwhile, the Chinese president enjoys happy hour with President Obama in, of all places, the Annenberg estate. Isn't that ironic?