Saturday, May 27, 2017


Trump's entourage presented his first foray abroad as some sort of Parsifal act, mostly intended to pay his respect to the three monotheistic faiths of the book. Other religions will have to wait. 

The first leg of this "royal progress" was to his liking.  The decor looked like an aggrandizement of his Trump Tower birdcage. The Saudis flattered him ad nauseam. The next stop in Israel got somewhat lost in a forced sitcom menage imagery wherein the two "first" couples played the happy fools. The encounter with President Abbas was scripted, as expected. After that, everything went downhill:  polite in the Vatican, rude in Brussels and tone-deaf in Taormina's G7, where most of the same European leaders were forced to endure yet again Trump's "simplified" worldview.

Meanwhile in Washington no day goes by without yet another layer of the Russian connection being uncovered, compromising the president's entourage and family.  Normally American presidents try to capitalize on their "wins" abroad. Undoubtedly Trump will try to present his Riyadh arms deal as his Golden Palm. On the negative, he left close allies disgruntled, the Montenegro P.M. shoved for "lese-president", and major issues (NATO, EU, trade, climate, to name a few) on life-support.  The former existing chemistry between the US and Western Europeans is gone. He must be relieved to leave the perceived European snubs and return to the alternative, albeit unpleasant, facts at home. The EU or NATO members will neither forget or forgive that this disliked US president chose to lecture them while he lavished praise on Israelis and, most of all, the Saudis, who received a blank check. In reality, real issues remained unattended. The American amateurish delegation was too happy to get high on the scent of Saudi rosewater rather than to get serious on issues like Ukraine, climate, and globalization.  The G7 was an appropriate finale for this surreal trip, a "bummer ", leaving Trump isolated, as deserved.

The president remains basically an inflated car dealer, a lazy usurper who does not try to reach to the level of the historical, cultural dimension of his position. His closest confidants are his invasive family without a pedigree. This unsophisticated administration baffles and alarms. There is no grace in the moral or intellectual make-up. Every leak is an SOS. Whatever the leaks, the turn-arounds, or the clear voice of Sally Yates might uncover, it is highly doubtful that this unhinged president will ever repent. His Russian "Overtures" will keep coming, even at the price of all the rest turning topsy-turvy. The latest revelation regarding his son-in-law Jared Kushner is an undesirable welcome mat for Trumps's homecoming.  Unfortunately, personalities with few ideas often stick to them. Their insecurity is the counterpart of their stubbornness.


Friday, May 19, 2017


The world order is being remodeled under our eyes. It is generally admitted that the pendulum is being redirected towards Asia. This is a fact, easy to ascertain. This needs also to take into account that Asia, as Europe before, is diverse in many aspects. Some conflicts are hard to manage (China/India, India/Pakistan), others are hidden (the Mekong dispute).  A few are historical by nature (the feuds between China and South Korea with Japan), one is structural (the Korean peninsula). Furthermore, the socio-economic inequalities between states are abundant.

Nevertheless, Asia accelerates and upgrades its capacity for branding sophisticated goods and for spreading soft-power on all fronts. Japan, China, India and the former Asian "tigers" are formidable indicators for the quantitative and qualitative changes which have occurred in the last years. Now China comes up with global initiatives which enhance its strategic range.

Russia assumes, for now, the role of cynical voyeur. It is reclaiming former zones of influence East and West. It plays both its European and Asian credentials, sizing opportunities when they appear. It intends to push the EU back and tries to erode the credibility of NATO. It plays the Eurasian card with China when convenient, and upgrades its role in Antarctica (tomorrow's economic challenge).

This starts to look like a remake, on a global scale, of yesterday's classic balance- of-power games. After the inglorious end of the Soviet Union, some spoke about "the end of history". Today we see that history has been reprogrammed and that the former idees de grandeur from a few have been taken hostage by new players who do not feel bound by precedence. The rise of China is the most spectacular correction of the past trajectory. Not only was China able to lift its weight and multiple strengths in all fields, it is reclaiming and projecting the "Chinese dream" inside and abroad. 

All these changes result in part from mostly American "reluctance". President Obama managed a difficult equilibrium (with uneven results) between an agenda for the  good and an abhorrence of the muddle. His "strategic patience" has been criticized, sometimes rightly so, but his foreign policy now looks more commendable with every passing day.  His successor's mendacious, false statements alienate America's allies and end up playing in the hands of mostly the Chinese President Xi, who has the luxury to appear as the antithesis of Trump, as a steady, reliable statesman. Putin, the third man, is too happy playing the part of the Cheshire cat, purring while Trump keeps adding gaffes to lies, on a daily basis.

If Trump were only hurting himself, one could wait for the democratic process to bring an end to this insufferable, confused man/child's usurpation. More serious is that the United States are suffering a loss of prestige and influence worldwide. Other actors are too happy to show off their  better mature behavior score, which sets them apart from this "American psycho" in free-fall. 

The United States have been taken hostage by a syndicate. The Trump administration often looks clueless in foreign affairs. Abandoning the Trans pacific partnership is a major diplomatic blunder This uninformed president (prisoner of his short attention span) might well send the world into a tailspin (by pure incompetence), or arrive at some band-aid formula (by sheer luck) for a Middle East "deal". Anything is possible...but one should not expect this president to understand Dr. Kissinger's Westphalian system.

At the end of the day one can see an existential fight between two opposing camps. One dares to meet the challenges of climate change, bias, trade, gender equality, health disruptions, good governance. The other prefers walls, retreat, denial. Unfortunately Trump chose for the latter, setting the clock of shared progress back for now ...and this unfortunate choice will have much larger consequences than the "Russian file".

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Since "brevity is the soul of wit", I will quote Shakespeare further ... "It smells to heaven"....

Sunday, May 14, 2017


America is exhausted. Since this loud, intruding, egomaniac president is becoming an unavoidable curse, the country tries to cope but cannot. No day, no hour passes without this "deranged persona" asking for attention, revenge or worship...usually coming from himself anyway.  Trump has a short memory cycle, which exclusively evolves around his piques, resentment or vanity. He is totally indifferent to cause and only looks for effect. He is indifferent to history or precedent and is therefore prone to accumulate diplomatic and other gaffes, without the shadow of remorse or embarrassment.

The dismissed FBI director James Comey might have been an overabundant victim in this White House remake of Agatha Christie's "and then there were none". The accumulation of bad manners, murky circumstance and immature lies is becoming too much of a liability in this case, even for Trump's inner circle, taken hostage by this cynical, ungracious Don. 

The comedians have found in Trump the ultimate laughing stock. This president is to politics what Jeff Koons is to art dealers, a dubious commodity for clueless, rich buyers who are the clients for the latest Philippe Starck bathtub. It is all about "looking as" rather than "being as". Nobody would be surprised to see a Trump image sold as art, like Koons' dog, Cicciolina or Michael Jackson with the monkey.  Exaggeration and aggrandizement are this president's hallmarks. He is too intellectually lazy to question what he perceives as fitting or as his due.

In this end-of-Weimar-feeling descent, America acts and looks like a loser.   It is not by propping up Dr. Kissinger for a White House photo-op that it is going to correct perceptions.  For who wants to follow the Chinese moves worldwide the Trump "deconstructive"  impulse ( Bannon made ?) in contrast  looks ominous. It is not too early to start thinking of impeachment. There are abundant reasons, since the Trump Syndicate mixes profit with greed.  Besides, if the top of this lousy administration wages a war against justice, press and science (to mention a few) he needs to face the music. The justified fear of what might come next (a Mike Pence presidency) should not deter from tackling the current danger first.

Friday, May 12, 2017


The circumstances surrounding the firing of the FBI director are dubious. The successive versions have in common that the last always contradicts the previous one(s). The follow-up is even more absurd since the president's henchmen and women are never on the same page and act cluelessly. 

The lies keep piling up. The more Trump speaks out, the more he wounds himself...and others. The Comey dismissal comes right out of a European '30s- playbook. The only truth is that anyone who comes too close to the Russia "connection" receives a death warrant.

Comey was sacked because he knew too much. The FBI inquiry might have climbed the ladder (Page, Stone, Manafort, Flynn) and might have arrived at findings too close for comfort.  As usual, Trump took action in a state of rage rather than reason.  This pathological president returned to his former business histrionics to bluff his way out.

Trump is starting his first foreign trip at a time where his credibility lies in the gutter.  One has to crouch to pick up the pieces.  The White House is in panic mode and the president is mostly left to his own devices, a recipe for disaster. That Trump found time to see the Russian foreign minister and to give him the first-class treatment, reserved for heads of state, speaks for itself.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


President Trump fired the FBI director James B. Comey. The manner in which this was done reminds me of Ian Kershaw's writing on the "abrupt" in European '30s history. Few people will regret Comey's dismissal after his indefensible actions regarding Act I and Act II in the saga of Secretary Clinton's emails last year.  By the way, the Trump administration, and in first place the Department of Justice, now refer to this former absurd episode as as the reason for having taken such high drama action. One could argue that Comey's "yesterday's sin" should not be allowed to erase his "today's virtue".

Trump can never address any issue--from the trivial to the important--without putting himself at the center. His sickly narcissism has invaded his brain and acts as some incurable paranoia that leaves him vulnerable to flattery and sycophancy. Hence, in his letter of dismissal, he could not resist taking about himself.

Under Comey, the Russian inquiry was a wide-open counter-intelligence operation, not limited to the usual suspects: Flynn, Manafort, Page, Stone and...   Accordingly, the White House's decision looks more like an interference in a criminal matter. Every one who came too close to the Russian trail was dismissed, the former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates in the first place.

Trump met with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov,today (May 10, 2017) . The dark cloud that hung over this White House has been taken care of, for now. The president, having cleared both the Russians and himself, might hope for clearer skies, until...  In the short term he and Russia got a pass, whatever the former collateral damage done to the Clinton campaign might have been. The administration got a good return for its belated clairvoyance. This little Watergate will pass too. After all, fake news and alternative facts are Trump's writing on the wall (his trademark).

Sunday, May 7, 2017


La France a donne raison a la Raison. Elle a aussi corrige la recente trajectoire dangereuse du projet Europeen. L'eclatante victoire d'Emmanuel Macron prouve que le message negatif du camps populiste ne doit pas etre considere comme une fatalite. 

Il ne sera pas facile de traduire un mouvement en gouvernement, ni un raz-le-bol en programme. En France comme au sein de l'Union europeenne l'opinion entend voir les donnees politiques et economiques reamorcees et exige de pouvoir encaisser le dividende d'un choix existentiel. Les ombres de Trump et de Putin ont pese sur ces elections mais elles  n'ont pas reussi a deloger l'intelligence. Encore faut-il que le changement structurel suive et qu'un gouvernement non redevable au "traditionnel" rende a la France sa valeur ajoutee "entiere".

Marine La Pen etait une candidate moins redoutable que fondamentalement infrequentable. Cette "Trump du pauvre" considerait que la provocation est programme, que l'offense permanente est une strategie et que le rejet de la difference est un imperatif categorique. Elle a reussi a activer des frustrations reelles sans suggerer une therapie credible. Son electorat etait perdant et trompe d'avance.

Le commentaire d'Edouard Louis sur l'etat des lieux en France est tout a fait pertinent. Il est aussi revelateur d'un  demi echec de societe qui pouvait apparaitre comme irremediable. Le nouveau president sera immediatement confronte au concret et aux non-generalites. Etant une personnalite consideree comme politiquement "apatride", il beneficie d' une large marge de manoeuvre . A contrario il n'a pas l'appui d'un fief ou parti plus structures.

A travers cette campagne electorale deplaisante le president Francois Hollande a fait preuve d'une classe morale certaine qui fait oublier en partie la desapprobation d'hier.


Emmanuel Macron will be the next French president. Not only did he win, his victory felt like a plebiscite.

Marine Le Pen suffered the blow of a growing backlash in Europe against everything which might have a Trump connotation. The voters are turned off by the American president's overhaul of all enlightened policies. The unabashed, abrasive campaign of Le Pen was an "Imitation of Life", Trump-style. Now, Macron needs to come up with concrete proposals both for France and for the EU. France became Europe's savior, but this added-value comes with responsibility.  Like candidate John F. Kennedy then, this French president-elect appeals more to emotion than to substance. His youth and style are in sharp contrast with the corporatism of the usual political establishment in Europe.  Today he is "politically stateless" but he will need to root his "movement" around measurable priorities for the future. 

Europe and the Western global architecture have received a boost. Probably Trump's lack of empathy with continental European values (besieged by populist outsiders in the Czech Republic, Serbia, Latvia, Poland and Croatia) will only grow.  Consequently, the former added- value of the American experiment, which is sabotaged by this Republican (mostly old white avatars) administration is on life-support. A vacuum is being created and the EU had better come up with a creative strategy before Trump and Putin fill the gap with some sloppy deal, favored by this intellectually deficient American president.

The French have voted "intelligent", so few do nowadays, and they are entitled to reap the dividend and again become Germany's unequivocal partner.  Chancellor Merkel will be the first to favor closure to end the current European gloomy outlook, after the Brexit shock. The momentum should not be lost, since Russia will meddle (as it did during the French campaign). The necessary adjustments of world order can not be handed over to a tandem of a cynical, cunning Russian and a clueless American. The reinforced Franco-German think-tank has to intervene.

Le Pen's defeat allows the French patient to recover. It would be suicidal if France's close European partners would not seize this moment for a dramatic reversal of mood, fortune and vision in the EU. The new French president carries the hopes of many. Like President Kennedy he will certainly find out that eloquence and action make often for a difficult match. Macron's victory is less a cause for celebration than a reason for geopolitical reassessments.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Many hoped that the orange "fireball" might consider becoming less of a firebrand after his 100 days of chaos.   But no, in full Max Weber (Trump might not know who he is)-mood our charismatic president does not give his followers any respite. After having fed them "raw meat" in his 100-day victory rally ("Lock her up!" was the background sound), he has already come up with a "guess who's coming to dinner" (lovely Kim Jong Un and Duterte), found time to make some sort of publicity spot, sugarcoats his Trumpcare (even Socrates would skip drinking from this poisoned chalice), and "tax reform" (one page, large letter type). 

There is nothing wrong per se in meeting one's nemesis. It has been done many times, often with good results--Nixon in China, the Oslo deal--sometimes with none (almost)--Carter/Assad senior in Geneva. All those encounters were the result of skilled, tedious, patient diplomatic inroads. Trump is just a mad hatter with no chorus line since the State Department is a "gutted relic" under an accidental, almost invisible, Texas import.

It is hopeless. There is no way out of the reach of this deranged, cluttered arrested brain, this vice-president (with "mother"), and the unattractive, mostly men in some remake of Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.  Major structural innovations are avoided by sticking with the hard-core base, and by ignoring the skeptics who might otherwise only weaken the monolithic hardcore.

The Democrats look absolutely pathetic, being leaderless and devoid of a "bite". The Republicans were saved by a caveman, the Democrats look doomed for now because of their better intentions!   How ironic!

Does anyone has still time to notice the Syrian genocide ? After Aylan and Omran we have an other "poster child" of this tragedy. His name is Hadiel...his fame will pass...he carries the embarassing tragedy of too many to last or to figure in a White House or other "brief".