Monday, July 31, 2017


Certaines grandes actrices du cinema francais se sont approprie des mots, des accents, des rythmes. Moreau etait la maitresse de l'accent grave. Meme dans Jules et Jim elle reussit d'emblee a entrer dans la melancolie, en amont.

Cette femme, hors systeme, hors normes, semblait a la fois avoir ete intellectuellement partout sans avoir ete vue nulle part. L'economie de son propos finit par l'aggrandir .

Elle etait de ceux et de celles qui font que l'on finit par les aimer  alors meme qu'ils semblent decourager l'approche. Curieusement cette Francaise ne se serait jamais sentie etrangere dans un roman d'Henry James. C'est tout son genie.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


50 years ago the United States was the rage in Europe.  Le defi americain and Le fou d'Amerique ruled the best-seller list. After the fall of the Berlin wall, some thought that history had reached its end point and that there was no alternative for the American model, which was both desirable and unavoidable. This pensee unique started to be weakened under Presidents Reagan and Bush I, prolonged under President Clinton, on life support under President Bush II, given a new lifespan under President Obama,  and is now in the Emergency room with "president" Trump.

Confronted with the vulgar, dumb histrionics of this administration, Europeans find it impossible to look up, respect or trust the US, the former indispensable ally. While common defense and security are still given a reluctant chance of survival, all political, diplomatic, moral and cultural issues are becoming issues of self-preservation, wherein Western Europeans feel obliged to follow their own path.  Eastern Europeans remain closer (for now) to the noise which comes out of this White House. America is not in decline however. The other emerging power centers do not diminish its role but, under the current political circumstances, they contribute to expose the rogue nature of its current almost Mafioso US leadership. Hence, the Unite States pay the price for their own misguided choice.

Enough has been said and written about the paranoid nature of the US president. It is surprising that given Trump's past business, personal and other dealings he was still considered for the presidency. He appeals to the frustrations of a base who considers him like some Robin Hood and remains indifferent to his many transgressions. Europeans for their part have come to the conclusion that this persona is unfit to lead, to be trusted or respected.

Europeans should beware of becoming anti-American. They should keep their distance on most matters pertaining to trade, environment, human rights, even geopolitics whenever the US chooses to follow some crooked nationalistic Bannon-type path. The unwillingness to consider others as stakeholders in a changing political order is myopic. By contrast, Europe is not a crusader, neither is it the defender of a Judeo-Christian supremacy. Western Europe stands for a secular, inclusive message and does not share the fundamental pessimism of the current US administration, which is setting the clock back to a form of "continental blockade". Palmerston said that countries have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. There was a time when Europe and the United States saw eye to eye on this premise, for now this is a thing of the past. Interests do no longer coalesce. Friendship has became a cold medium.

Elections have consequences. They have to be handled with the uttermost care, otherwise one gets stuck with historical disasters, type Brexit or Trump. The UK has to deal with the consequences, like the Americans alone have to manage their choice for the absurd. At a time when the EU is doing better, there is no need to let the American chaos halt the European improvement. The Russian chess player, the Chinese first power-in-waiting and the American mad hatter have their hands full. This leaves plenty of space for the Merkel/Macron team to come up with a new charter for Europe. America can wait. This is not a divorce, but a separation. Fareed Zakaria wrote about the post-American world. He was right describing the melting ice which leaves former partners more on their own. He was too trusting in suggesting that this drift could be managed. True, there was no Trump then.



Wednesday, July 26, 2017


In commenting on current events in the United States, one tends to self-censor him or herself because the trends ,for all to observe, recall very unpleasant precedents in history.  Since the president never stays shy of lies and insults of an unreliable pattern, there is no longer need for critical restraint. The dismantling of constitutional rules, the vicious personal attacks, the "me versus the rest" mantra, come straight out of a fascist handbook of the 1930s.

On all occasions Trump continues his phony war against any person or issue which happen to cross his "progress".  He creates chaos inside the US and undermines America's standing in the world, alienating former allies, and cajoling strong men (preferring not to notice how condescendingly they treat him). For sure, his cabinet will not last under its current form while the vacant gaps in the administration are there to stay, until...? The new communication wizard Anthony Scaramucci (a mini Trump) fell out of a Godfather II movie, busy preordaining the executions to come. The new spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders is already losing her cool over her boss' decision to bare transgender persons from the military. This unexpected bombshell, which surprises everybody, sends the country back to the pre-Stonewall dark ages. Trump's base was again fed red meat.

This hard core base loves what they see and hear. The humiliation of East and West Coast "elites" is a gift for the "deplorables", who enjoy the daily slaughter preordained by the White House. The majority of Americans, who disagree with this induced moral coma, seem unable for now to agree on a strategy. The former political chess game has been dislodged in favor of some form of lucha libera. Bluff has overtaken ideas. 

Policy should not become hostage to tweets. It is, however, normal that Trump favors this infantile way of communication which spares the user from having to familiarize himself with history or etiquette.   Since so few words are available in a tweet, one can ascertain without proof, review without reason and impose without motive. This formula is becoming the cornerstone of the Trump era and is the preferred lingua franca of this most uncultured group of individuals. I wonder how Steven Miller and Steve Bannon, who claim the intellectual mantle of this administration, can communicate with this president. He read the "Polish" speech obediently, while is Warshaw.  Did he realize that in doing so in Poland he became the front man for a pessimistic judeo-christian crusade against all, the EU in the first place?

Trump's America no longer has a staying influence in affairs which pertain to inclusion, pluri-culturalism or immigration. The forays into foreign affairs lack both legitimacy and historicity. The (overly) nuanced approach of Obama was thrown under the bus and replaced by arbitrary and always reversible whims. There is neither doctrine, nor a well-thought policy construction (the pivot to Asia).  This might lead to a "lose/lose" situation wherein the United States ends up with no durable allies and only gets opportunistic partners in exchange. The "strong leaders" whom Trump seems to be enamored of are far too busy protecting their own interests to enter into a systemic relationship with these United States. The loathing for America in parts of the world where there is freedom of expression--mostly, but not exclusively Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, Australia--grows by the day.  In case Mexico were to vote for Manuel Lopez Obrador as president, the Trump administration (if it lasts) would have a hardcore leftist on its southern border, with unforeseeable consequences.

There is a lot of talk about the possible outcome of the Russian probe. It is hard to read the tea leaves since Robert Mueller, in charge of the inquest, is discreet. He already stands accused of waging a hit job against Trump, who might do the unthinkable if feeling cornered. The attorney general, his former first ally, works likewise under some form of permanent death warrant. 

The United States pay the consequences of a Faustian pact imposed by some and executed by a minority president. One can rightly condemn the guilty casualness of a man who plays with power as if it were a rattle, but one should also start thinking about ways to bring this dangerous farce to an end, with impeachment if needed. Looking at the sloppy ways of this shapeless administration, it is doubtful that there was a "determined" collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. This would have required a savoir faire which is totally absent among the known suspects, who look more like a gang of crooks and common criminals than conspirators. The Trump/Kushner syndicate is nothing more than a coterie of dealers in real estate and connections which better remain in hiding, nothing more. It is nevertheless undeniable that there were contacts back and forth and that Trump was too eager to smear the Clinton camp with anything that could be found, given or "constructed". There will be enough reasons to impeach, even if the Russian angle is more a liaison than a marriage.

Did anybody watch the health care vaudeville in the US Senate?  I wonder what to retain? The harsh words of Senator McCain or the cynicism of majority leader McConnell (a mean Kermit) who obliged a convalescing McCain to help save a pre-repeal of the Affordable Care Act. This maneuver was doomed to end in free   Le president est nu.

Friday, July 21, 2017


The president is on a kind of "love tour".  Since he returned from Paris, he has President Macron on his mind. He becomes (almost) lyrical when describing their mutual infatuation.  Listening to him, he and the French president hadn't enough hands to feel each other's closeness. Macron and Trump vie for Trump's attention.  Back home the president got rid of the "non sexy" Sean Spicer and replaced him with the "plain" Sarah Huckabee Sanders (tel pere, telle fille). She will be supervised by the new communication czar Anthony Scaramucci. He spent his first public appearance playing the part of Trump's "sweet prince", lost in repetitive love sonnets addressed at the Clockwork Orange president. This unusual trans- border, transgender global love fest is the more remarkable since this administration is generally driven by mutual contempt and rage against the outside world. Scaramucci, who was the Trump Tower bouncer-in-chief, is known for his past leanings to the Democrats, his (erased) criticisms of Trump and his uneven success on Wall Street.

While the Republicans seem to be unable to agree on anything, this week of love might be a cover for worse things to come. Actually it feels like a possible return to a Bad Wiessee scenario. The attorney general was thrown under the bus and Robert Mueller, special investigator of the Russian imbroglio, was put on notice. All this creates a climate of suspicion before Paul Manafort and Trump, Jr. testify under oath next Wednesday about last year's ever numerically expanding meeting with several attendants of Russian origin or with Russian connections in Trump Tower.

The president's New York Times interview showed again that he only reacts to visual sensors. He is hooked to TV and media. He goes by appearance and if the chemistry is not there (Chancellor Merkel) he sulks. He doesn't read and is not interested in precedent or history. In the same vein, every function he attends becomes a Rotary where one exchanges business cards and/or networks. As in Hamburg, when bored he ignores the people seated next to him and heads for the more interesting other, with a frontal attack and no consideration of others. After he was humiliated by then-President Obama at the Correspondents Dinner in Washington, he swore never to be a captive again.

At the end of this Friday, reality comes back with a vengeance. The petty accountants in the White House will attempt yet again to falsify numbers and facts, trying to hide the sinkhole wherein bad intentions find an inglorious end. The president is already consulting how to pardon the ones who came too close to the throne, in exchange for their silence.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Florence Nightingale was not a Republican. Trump was going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something "terrific, beautiful". The first thing President Clockwork Orange did was to crow after the House passed some hybrid health-care bill that no one understood. Nevertheless, Republican House members were bused to the White House Rose Garden to celebrate what few had even read and what even fewer understood. That all-male chorus, guided by the House speaker, looked slightly demented, like a group of old besotted pom-pom men in free-fall. The president, who has no sense of loyalty or follow-up, decreed a few days later that this heralded health Magna Carta was "mean."  So much for Trump's logic.

The second act in the Senate was equally surreal. A small coterie of Republicans (all male) under the enlightened stewardship of Mitch McConnell (Obamas's bete noire) tried various avenues: repeal and replace, repeal. They all misfired, while the GOP started to freak-out while witnessing how unpopular this epublican assault on hard won entitlements was becoming. The hate for all things Obama blinded them to what was happening, even in their safe God- and gun-abiding reservations. Hence, the Affordable Care Act remains, for the time being, the law of the land.  This fiasco is a loss of face and risks having negative consequences on the other Republican priority:  tax reform.  It also lays bare the divisions in a party wherein half stands for better and for worse with the president, and half is connected to the emergency phone number.

The Democrats are now invited to come in and to look into a bi-partisan effort. The Dems are themselves divided in two camps, one being willing to consider co-operating, the other preferring a hard opposition. It would be wise to choose for opposition on an issue which is so "existential". Obama won a battle against all odds and did not receive any support from the Republicans.  It is "pay back" time! It also becomes urgent that the Democrats stand firm on ideological ground and, in given time, with a leadership that acts, sounds, and looks future-oriented. The Schumer/Pelosi partnership has been a highly effective team but it is time for change, the more so that the battles in 2020 and 2022 will be merciless. This unusual president needs to be countered by unusual argument so that his absolute disdain for truth and lack of political and diplomatic finesse are unmasked. The future for the Democrats lies with the likes of Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. 

The Russian imbroglio gets thicker with every day that passes. Even if the final explanation were benign, the lack of flair, dignity and fair-play would be enough to disqualify the Trump label, which is becoming toxic. Chris Mathews compares the Trumps with the Romanovs.  I see more a Mubarak & sons comparison. At the end of the day this administration is basically un-American, tone-deaf and devoid of scruples. Worse, in the persona of Trump (the same goes for his family), there is some recall of ostentatious bluff, Kardashian-like. It is hard to imagine this man in a 9/11 or Sandy Hook aftermath which brought out the best in Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, and their families.

In the short-term a trade war will probably be activated and most gearshifts will be revisited so that the culture war can be reset on higher priority. The opposition will grow, thanks to the increased involvement of women (Republican and Democrat alike) who are rebelling against this "country for old men". The Trump base (35%) looks solid for now but this former "Brexit camp" had better watch what is going on in the United Kingdom as a result of a misguided vote. The view is not rosy. The so-called "deplorables" are already the involuntary accomplices of their own "extinction" due to a Trump's calculus. They better wake up and regroup before time runs out of options.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Liu Xiabo, Nobel Prize, activist, political prisoner, died in a Beijing hospital in what feels like a sequel to a Solzhenitsyn story. 

His death is an indicator of the tectonic changes which have occurred since the Tienanmen tragedy in 1989, when he sided with the students. The start-up China then has become a world power since.  Hence, most of the obituaries have avoided mentioning the massacre. They have preferred to focus on his wife, Liu Xia, ignoring an event which continues to haunt the current Chinese leadership, which wants the Chinese dream not to be overtaken by this past nightmare.

The "lite reaction" in the West is also an indicator of the opportunistic amnesia which has overtaken most forms of moral indignation. China's international reputation will hardly suffer.  Chinese government censors and overall indifference took care of the aftermath. Nevertheless, Liu Xia's empty chair in Oslo is a "virus" that no Chinese censor will be able to get rid of. He existentially hacked cyberspace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Trump looks more and more like some "Queens version" of Laocoon who, together with his two sons, was attacked by snakes sent by the gods as punishment for his transgressions. This parallel is unfair to Laocoon, who would never have gotten as low as the current White House modus operandi. With the latest emails from Trump's elder son, the bad news twister gained even more strength. Compared to this "Ems Dispatch" the Clinton emails look more and more like the tidbits they were from the start.  The naked, irrefutable, mendacious kowtowing to Russia is an embarrassment for the Republicans. The United States are now seen as being dragged down in a Camora saga. Trump is toxic and all who in the past and now came close to him get burned.

The White House is on virtual lock-down, with press briefings reduced to audio, and a couple of Fox News losers obliged to avoid hard questions. The panic is such that Trump's entourage briefly unhooked Pat Robertson (for the fascist/ evangelical consumers) from his respirator to praise Trump's achievements in the G-20 .

We knew that this presidential election led to a risky outcome. Now we see that the tale which was initiated on January 20th is becoming a nightmare. It has been called a coup, but it feels more like a robbery. The entourage of the president is his willing accomplice in murky deals, corruption and fake news, which all come to light thanks to the press. Given what is known now about the Trump & Co. the power grab is becoming perilous. With Steve Bannon being for now the captain of this nightmare, a self-fulfilling prophecy comes to mind: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods."

Now the president is going to Paris. Unlike what happened in Poland, nobody will be bused in to applaud the "clockwork orange" president. In France, as in Western Europe, Trump will find himself on hostile ground.  Lately, some countries do not repeat historical mistakes of the kind the United States and the United Kingdom made.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


In the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, the world leaders present acted as could have been expected. So did Trump, unfortunately. All his moves were directed at his 35 % hardcore base at home. Even in the most international of settings he is only preoccupied by looking at his rear-view mirror. Hence the agenda becomes irrelevant and only his own narrow preoccupations count. Far from home he was able to alienate American Intelligence and renew his attacks against Podesta, of all people.

He gave Putin a pass. At the same time he was played, tricked. He might have come to some form of "understanding" with President Xi. Otherwise, he chose to distance himself from the 19 "others" in all matters of trade and climate change. Never have the United States been so isolated in matters pertaining to a "shared" world order. If the American footprint was often criticized for being too large, the absence thereof creates a dangerous void which is an open invitation for others to come in. Trump chose again to be the "ugly American", adding to the feeling of distrust which has overtaken most of Europe.

His earlier stay in Warsaw was an indication of his support for another pariah state ruled by nationalism and xenophobia. His lament about Western civilization gave here and there the right the wrong place.

Its is becoming obvious that this Republican administration has been taken over by amateurs who have little love for the workings of diplomacy. It oversees a horizontal deconstruction inside and toward the world. Deregulation is a cause which does not differentiate between issues or international commitments. It is a strategy which is supposed to favor the "America First" call in all matters. Hence, the permanent warfare against the philosophical bedrock of the former agreed world order under mostly American stewardship. The Atlantic political and economic priorities are being overtaken by a short-sighted mindset wherein trade wars, protectionism and a blatant antipathy versus classical "ideas" rule.

Merkel's communique could only foresee the divide in a G-20 becoming a G-19. There are more sighs in there than high notes. Trump is on his way back home. Probably he will read the last Enquirer or watch Fox News on his way. Kissinger's "World Order" will not figure among its favorites. One might even argue that he gave the former world order the kiss of death. Another "mission accomplished" in the American crown.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


The Korean Rubik cube is a challenge with, in the short term, no positive outcome in view. The earlier ICBM stunt only confirms the usual pattern of Pyongyang's behavior in the conduct of foreign affairs. There is a temptation to run ahead of the consequences of this incremental routine, while it might be wiser not to be fooled by what one sees in the convex mirror which is being presented.

Many corrective and coercive avenues have been tried and they all have failed. Nevertheless, one should reject over-reacting or actively pursuing largely unachievable military options 

The only way out is to revisit the diplomatic option. It has been tried before but it needs to be reinstated, in a different form. It may sound bizarre, but after "discreet" soundings, an offer might be made to open talks in the North Korean capital, stressing the break with the past. With all parties present and under scrutiny of the media, this formula would have the advantage to let some air in Pyongyang and in the Hermit Kingdom as a whole. It would put pressure on a regime which usually gets its way because there is a lack of onlookers. North Korea could still refuse to host talks in its capital but it would be obliged to own that decision.  China and Russia, together with the US, need to be more closely involved in laying a diplomatic trap. South Korea and Japan must likewise be seen, on equal footing with the "larger"partners. The goal is to make North Korea look and feel "small" and wake up.

Kim Jong Un cannot be allowed to get away with any deal which would add credence to accepting a denuclearizing of the Korean peninsula in exchange for the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea. The nuclear and ICBM issues have to be decoupled, for now, from the US military component behind the Korean demilitarized zone.  The North would love nothing more than to swallow the South by stealth or by any other means. Instead, a peace treaty might be considered to replace the 1953 armistice. The Sunshine policies of South Korea's former president Kim Dee-Jung could likewise be resumed, if North Korea's military-first policy (Songun) is rolled back.

The measures and sanctions under discussion in the Security Council are unhelpful insofar as they will discourage parties with some influence to give in to American pressure. China's reserve is understandable. An implosion of North Korea would send an unforeseeable number of refugees into China and create a destabilization which here and elsewhere constitutes a nightmare for the Chinese imperative of order at any price. The Korean situation asks for sophisticated diplomacy and is adverse to primitive tweeting.

Kim Jong-un and his entourage have benefited too long from inhabiting a glass house. Diplomacy must break the windows first, without loss of face for the culprit and all benefice for the people. Holding multi-party talks for all to see on his territory might appeal to Kim's ego and at the same time oblige him to allow some real communication with the world, and give the North Koreans an opportunity to wake up from their comatose existence.

It is risky but doing nothing or overdoing is worse.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


One needs to make an effort, hour by hour, to get rid of Trump intruding and tweeting, even on Independence Day. With some effort and denial one can find a window and breath.

This July 4th creates an opportunity to revisit all that is exemplary in the American "story" and to skip for a moment the fake news and the vulgar noise which have trapped brains and souls since January 20th. It is time to rediscover what America still stands for, be it in the arts, science, literature, political science and humanity. 

The respite is brief, given the etat de siege, but it is imperative not to let those ugly, long days into night overtake the primal optimism of the alternative. It will take time, maybe four years (and more), to return to the vision of Kennedy, Johnson and Obama, but only believing can shorten the current time in hell.

The opposition to incipience will need more than the current Democratic outcry, which is semi-inept. The brutal Republican Goliath can only be outsmarted by a "new found" David. There is of yet no leader, man or woman, in sight who can turn the tide and call the Republican bluff. A new opposition had better look ahead and further than the confines of the Democratic machine, which has lost touch with a mood that needs to be rescued from rage and despair.  

Let us learn how to celebrate again !

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Trump cannot stop. Today he had his little Reichstag moment, going mano a mano against the press and streaming his home video for his believers. For their Fourth of July, the Americans have to swallow the vulgar, pathological and nefarious outbursts of this undisciplined persona entrusted with the nuclear codes. He might even be more tempted to launch a strike than the North Koreans.

The liar-in-chief is meeting Putin this week. Remember how Nixon prepared his meeting with Mao, while very familiar with world affairs? He talked to every sinologue under the sun, Andre Malraux included. This president instead prefers tweeting his rage and further weakening America's standing in the world, which feels and looks like a sinking ship. Of course there is a collusion between Trump and Russia. All his actions make Putin's job an easy one. 

The American accidental president is in full attack mode against the press, while the Russian interference gets a free pass. This scenario is getting vicious and dangerous. Trump is becoming the most vilified US president in Europe and the first arsonist in the US, protected by sycophants and by all that lives in the alt-right swamp.

It can be expected that the Europeans will start to doubt America's sanity for now and opt for a European type of isolationism. Since the UK, America's air carrier controlling Europe, is no longer a vital player, the Franco-German double alliance has a free hand in steering the EU. This might lead to a freeze in the relationship with the US as long as Trump keeps creating havoc urbi et orbi.  Compared to his American counter part, Putin starts to look like the more rational antagonist, with whom arrangements might be considered. The German chancellor might well be tempted to return to some form of Ostpolitik. The danger today is that the revulsion toward Trump might tempt the Europeans to venture into some form of Finlandisation, which might be difficult to reverse once Trump is gone.

It is sad that on this Fourth of July one has to witness how America's founding principles are being trashed by an unfrequentable parvenu. This permanent coup d'etat (the "alternative" mantra) is being waged against the creative, democratic values which made this country a magnet for talent. Today it risks becoming every body's nightmare, firstly for the majority of Americans who feel duped, lied to and manipulated by a crook. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017


Il est difficile, voir meme impossible de parler de Simone Veil et d'omettre l'epithete "Madame".

Cette grande personnalite n'avait nul besoin d'extrapoler un passe, elle l'assumait.  Survivante d'Auschwitz-Birkenau et de Bergen-Belsen elle recusa toute forme du singulier, l'holocauste etant un pluriel tragique. 

Elle fit voter la loi legalisant l'avortement (sous conditions) en France. Elle fut attaquee vicieusement pour son attitude. Elle resta elle-meme, sure de sa conviction, certaine dans son rejet de l'amalgame avortement = meurtre.

Elue presidente du parlement europeen, elle se rendit compte que ce premier pas n'etait qu'un petit pas. Neanmoins elle pensa , a juste titre, que Strasbourg etait un passage essentiel pour arrimer l'Europe a la paix, a la prosperite et a la liberte .

Tout cela semble loin deja. Magre la saison europeenne en enfer cela ne doit jamais etre considere hors d'atteinte.