Wednesday, May 13, 2015


If Descartes were alive and well in Washington, D.C. today, he might choose the short path to the exit door. The dysfunctional or delusional tidal waves are battering the shores of rationality.

The Democrats in the Senate are blocking the fast-track regarding the Trans-Pacific- Partnership between the United States and 11 nations around the Pacific. The Republicans support it. A compromise will be found shortly( the Democrats will harvest the "currency manipulation" bonus) but meanwhile the false arguments will continue to pile up. The President is confronted by the left wing in his party under the leadership of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who loves to play a B-movie version of Joan of Arc. In reality, the Democrats fear losing the financial support of the unions which oppose free trade. Their mothballed arguments go against any form of contemporary economic/finance/trade thought or of IPR/currency policy accommodation with China (which by the way is no party to the proposed Partnership). The Republicans are delighted to embrace the initiative of the President who finds himself a defendant against his own flock. The minority leader in the Senate looks the part of a genuine Mafia plotter.

The meeting with the Gulf States regional leaders was heralded as a diplomatic coup. Obama had the ambition to bring together a united front on the highest level.  Now it has become a remake of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? ".  Most sent their number two and the absence of the Saudi monarch is seen as a major snub. It has also to be considered that inviting an ailing head of state for a two-day meeting (in "rustic" Camp David) shows little consideration for protocol and "face".  Yet again the NSC shows how "gauche" it can be.

A security treaty (a mini-1955 CENTO, Central Treaty Organization) with the Gulf States is highly unlikely. The sale of top-notch "desired" weaponry is in doubt.  Saudi Arabia and Qatar are not going to change the chosen path in Yemen or Syria. The former will continue to undergo a variety of treatments which divide more than they cure.  Iran will remain the large elephant in the room and this costly Camp David photo-op will be yet another flash in the American diplomatic pan.

As usual, Russia and China will look from afar at how the Americans seem to be everywhere, looking exhausted and achieving little. By the way, it is interesting to follow the Egyptian moves. If not well understood, let alone monitored, one could see a different form of pivot in the region, which might not be to Washington's liking. The American administration is wise to abstain from what the President called "dumb wars". Engaging Iran should not be condemned per se, as long as allies know where the endgame leads. A verifiable agreement might be a positive given, as long as the collateral is being honored and allies are reassured by measurable gestures. As of now, the ambiguities remain and the uncertainties are unanswered. 

It is time for the Syrian debacle (and the metastasizing Libyan situation) to be wheeled into the Emergency Room. Too many vultures feast on this rotten corpse and the prey must finally be taken away from the predators. Only the participation of all can begin to tackle this ever- growing catastrophe. The Paris Vietnam Conference might be an example to follow.

Diplomacy has its idiosyncrasies for sure, but it should not fear unorthodoxy!

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