Tuesday, September 29, 2015


They met...finally.  The two leaders had stated their views beforehand in public. It is hard to believe that their private meeting turned out a "love fest".

Obama laid down the consequences.  Putin cross-examined the causes.  The US President looked into the abyss clinging to the life-vest of generalities.  The Russian leader had already changed the layout of facts on the ground.  The Moscow/Damascus/Tehran axis comes as no surprise. The Iraqi "co-optation" freaked most American pundits out. The US has the largest diplomatic facility world-wide in Baghdad. What for?

Putin is not a cypher.  He is actually highly predictable, since his admitted major goal is to regain the sphere of influence of the former Soviet Union. The American administration's disdain of history has nefarious aftershocks and the lack of familiarity or empathy with the thinking of others has become frightening. The post-Versailles trauma still holds an unpleasant mirror to our face.

From Eastern Europe to the Middle East, from Western Europe to Asia, egos have been bruised by American amateurism and abstract wishful thinking. Hence Putin's paranoia is perceived as the result of US incoherence while it salmost !hould have been, rightly so, considered as a post-Cold war revanchist game-changer. Obama's intentions are often laudable but whenever the distance between "logos" and "praxis" becomes to wide, the perception of reality becomes blurred. Miscalculations are waiting to happen.

The Russian analysis of the global Syrian situation is logical. Identifiable enemies must be crushed, be it with undesirable allies.  There is a Putin world-view. There is no US doctrine at the moment. Obama claims the mantle of climate change, disputed by the Pope, while the geo-political map is on fire. A just cause will soon begin to look trivial in the absence of any form of deterrence to avoid that overall the bad metastasizes into worse.

Meanwhile Crimea is in Putin's pocket and Eastern Ukraine is a "fait accompli " almost !

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


President Obama has a busy week.  Currently he is receiving the Pope.  His Holiness is a strange man. He has an extraordinary skill to adjust the message without actually changing the doctrine of the Church.  He is adulated by the thousands who, in their vast majority, will continue sinning, ignoring, forgetting as before. In the West the Church is as good as dead, while the Asian and Latin American recruits stand against almost all this Pope is supposed to be willing to change. The conservative "backlash" is coming and Pope Francis' populism might have a short life span. President Obama finds himself to be in agreement with some of the Popes's ideas regarding climate change or the excess of capitalism, but like the former he remains often surprisingly low key when the roof is falling in on the world order. Anyway, there is more pomp than substance and Stalin's observation (Where are the Pope's legions?) remains valid. The ephemeral has no lasting standing power. Nevertheless Pope Francis touches hearts and minds and one floating watermark might have an unforeseen impact.

On Friday the President will meet with President Xi Jinping. This "state visit" will not enthrall the masses and the babies will not have to endure random kisses. Some imagine that President Xi is a weakened leader, given China's financial bump in the road. Such an assertive analysis is short-sighted if not intellectually absurd. Besides, it totally ignores the Chinese psyche. Xi's Chinese dream is alive and well and can withstand current and future bumps. The closer China comes to globalization and privatization, the recurrence of financial and economic jolts will happen intermittently. The climb of the stock markets were due for a contraction. The global trade, commodities, energy "waves" do not stop at China's shores. There is a lesson for president Xi to consider insofar as he will have to acknowledge that there is no such thing as an exclusive Chinese way. The interconnections can no longer be ignored and the myth of a purely Confusean society stands in total contradiction with a world wherein the neighbor has become the uninvited guest.  The Chinese should know better, given their record in island grabbing, intellectual property stealing in cyber plundering. If you want to be a club member, you have to respect the club rules. All countries spy but there is something like le mensonge est un hommage que le vice rend a la vertu .  Despite some Cassandras in the United States, China is with us to stay and to grow.

Next week President Putin will address the United Nations in NYC.  His latest "coup" in Syria is masterly.  I bet he sees more of Dr. Kissinger than President Obama does. The policies of the Kremlin are often textbook Kissinger, less concerned with morals than with the projection of power.  Since the Nixon/Reagan years the world has changed and the old triangular 2+1 formula does no longer apply. Now we witness President Putin's belated attempt to revive the old formula since the BRICS approach flopped. He tries now an  alternative route, bringing China into a strategic Castor and Pollux formula, directed against American interests, which are on the defensive on all fronts: Asia, the Middle East and Europe. China will probably hesitate to jeopardize its relationship with the US though, even at a time when the American president is perceived as unwilling to engage outside and as a lame-duck internally.  Hence he is seen as "predictable", which can be the kiss of death for effective leadership. President Putin almost obliges Obama to swallow the bitter pills he is served:  the red line yesterday, the Russian deployment in Syria now, not to mention the coming Ukraine games tomorrow. The American president is prisoner of his psyche and of an entourage which had better remain nameless. He should have a man-to-man talk with Putin. He can afford to have some aplomb!  Will he? After all, the Americans talk for years with Iran, which is arguable, but ignore others, which is remarkable.

What about Europe? Coming above all the dysfunction, the out-of-hand migration wave shows the inept managerial skills of the EU, the structural divisions between member states and the growing gap between citizens and leadership. Mutatis mutandis the same can be said about the American pre-elections which indicate that the political career seems to have become the realm of the losers.  Europe is digging deeper into an existential crisis. When weakness comes with cowardliness, the future looks gloomy indeed. Well, the Pope and the British monarchy are catnip for Chinese tourists. What more can one want? Europeans are made to believe that their pumpkin (seasonal now) is a carriage.  Some "bad"refugees might even bomb it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Parts of the Middle East and Africa empty out while Europe gets filled to the rim.  Europe and the world have seen human displacements before with the consequences thereof in agriculture, science, mobility of labour, industry, trade, culture...  Most of those events were nevertheless geographically confined. The only exception might have been the Balfour Declaration which led to the creation of Israel in the biblical homeland.

Today, part of the Middle East looks like a ship adrift, abandoned by passengers clinging to the nearest viable alternative. They arrive by the thousands in Europe which remains in fact an opportunity rather than a cause. European history, culture, secular values, economy, are generally unknowns to the refugees, who risk all in order to exchange the inferno they know for the fate they ignore.

Europe's welfare system is already strained and will be unable to care for individuals who ignore "birthrate borders" as well.  Besides, the EU is totally unprepared to face a crisis of a magnitude which might well lead to a hard reality check, once the emotions give way to a more rational analysis.

Europe has a moral obligation to intervene in what is a humanitarian issue for now. Germany is right for now.The EU should also be aware of the fact that most refugees will be reluctant to engage in the democratic values which make Europe what it is, a system wherein the separation between state and religion is absolute.

The EU is trying to redistribute or redirect refugees among member states. This is an illusion, since refugees will continue to try to enter their country of choice rather than stay in a place of imposition.  Meanwhile, setting them up in "glorified" Bantoustans (type Banlieu), or with generous families, is a missionary approach doomed to backfire, or worse, by way of an incompatible (given the background) Malthusian sustainable model Utopia.  Better to take the example of Singapore:  do not accumulate, separate.

Many bona fide individuals suffer from past indignities and current trauma. Once "recovered", their DNA will normally take over. The better will pay for the black sheep in their midst and the Europeans will have been the gullible accomplices in worse to come.

All EU interventions should be linked to agreed conditions: the option of return in case the situation in the countries of origin improves;  obligation to seek employment after verifiable identification is secured; respect for existing law and order; "temporary status" for non- political refugees, open to periodic scrutiny, sanctioned in case of non respect of statutory rules of conduct.

Meanwhile, the world and regional powers have to come together in a Geneva-bis conference, encompassing ALL, under the auspices of the 5+1 and the Arab League or the Organisation of Islamic cooperation, so that proper arrangements can be considered even if the outcome or participants are not to everybody's liking.

If nothing is done, the human traffickers will have won, like ISIL does now.  Peace is not for the choosers, it is the work of the doers. One is right to feed the hungry, but to ignore the drought is criminal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


The images coming from the Mediterranean and Europe are hallucinating.  The lack of a common strategy to deal with the refugee crisis is staggering.  In the end, the new generation of "boat people" is penalized twice:  upon departure and upon arrival, looking for freedom and dying in a truck.

Most are bona fide, some are not.  The EU pretends to stand up for certain values but it ends up bowing to parochial self-interest.  It would nevertheless be unfair to underestimate the legal and bureaucratic chaos at hand and it is understandable that EU members on the "front line" expect some form of burden-sharing from member states which are farther away.

The EU commission has suggested some form of Malthusian "redistribution" amongst all member states but the message remains unheated so far. Only Mrs. Merkel has confronted the ugly side of the realty head-on. The stream of refugees creates trauma and spreads xenophobia in mostly Eastern European member states, which resort to intimidation and other measures that sadly remind us of images we want to forget.  The EU seems as if it were remaking an Iron Curtain between its Eastern and Western flanks. Not that the situation in Western Europe is ideal, far from it. The difference being that there are more signs of compassion in the Western half than the brutal rejection in the East.

The EU Commission is ignored and individual states are trying to deal with this human corridor of the "unwanted" in more humane, organised ways, so that political refugees do not have to be further penalized for the sins of the opportunistic, the nefarious or the economic-minded. The summit in Brussels later this month does not look very promising, given the overall negative attitude from countries such as Hungary, Macedonia or the Czech Republic. Greece, Turkey, Spain and Italy need urgent support, supposedly there is still room for solidarity in the EU.

Schengen--the free movement of persons in the EU--is on trial.  The principle must be maintained but the applications might be asymmetrical.  In certain situations a correction could be considered whereby the "automatic" free-pass might be monitored for non-EU citizens who could be asked to provide credentials regarding cause and effect. This would require proper medical, bureaucratic and housing facilities.  Otherwise, the model of the Calais "jungle" will spread and conditions would be created wherein expectations turn into hatred.
One should never be naive, however, and it can be expected that the wretched serve at times as cover for the felons.

The Southern flank of Europe is becoming a season in hell. Europe has to prove that there is an alternative, indeed. If it fails to do so, intelligently, in a verifiable way, it risks taken in what might become a fifth column inst read, seeking revenge by way of Europe's demise. At times morals should overtake expedience. If the body of the drowned child washing ashore in Bodrum does not break open hearts and minds (which have already preferred to ignore the deaths of hundreds), we have entered the ice age of civilization! At the other hand this tragedy should not hide the contradictions which come with individuals who are diffrently programmed! The clash of civilizations knocks at the gates.