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!

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