Tuesday, November 24, 2015


It is becoming more difficult by the hour to come to terms with the accumulative contradictory challenges the world needs to face.  We find ourselves also in some vacuum of leadership.
Churchill, de Gaulle, Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush (after 9/11) were able to anchor their most felt convictions in the minds and hearts of their constituents. Sometimes this reciprocal "contract" lasted, other times it ended up broken. While it lasted it rested on conviction, given that at times it started with some form of rite of passage, as was the case with de Gaulle's famous "Je Vous ai compris".  The point is that great statesmen have been able to process their own beliefs in a larger consensus. They did not need reinforcement or flattery. Suffice that they were the owners of their personal judgement and that they had the gift of "persuasion".

After watching the press conference of Presidents Obama and Hollande today, one can rightly end up being perplexed. The American president filibustered and his French counterpart sounded more pathetic than existential.  Obama looks as entitled to the perks of the presidency as he remains reluctant to admit blunders after his infamous red line. The French show guts but are realistic enough to realize that the American side remains a Platonic partner. They stand mostly alone, while the EU is becoming farcical.

True, it is hard to come by great leadership anywhere. Putin is manipulative, Xi Jinping is Sino-selfish and the rest are corralled into the climate change enclosure.  ISIL meanwhile is a sophisticated multinational of "desperados" which runs away with headlines, prime-time news, random killings under the umbrella of the euphemisms dear to this White House. Radical Islam is the enemy and no band-aid can cover up the horror its stands for.  Likewise, the Arab "allies" have to be notified that modernity is not something to be lived in London or New York alone and that pluralism has to become a "home product".  It is too easy to be nouveau riche   outside while perpetuating the "stone age" inside.

Hollande is now touring Berlin and Moscow. In Brussels, NATO (after the Russian/Turkey "incident") and the EU+Turkey will convene. In the absence of any form of leadership and because of the continuation of asymmetric alliances of convenience, the air strikes will continue for some unforeseeable time.  So will ISIL...while Syria looks more and more like warfare with mirrors.  Iraq became George W. Bush's graveyard.  Syria looks like it is waiting for the Obama administration's demise.

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