Monday, October 30, 2017


La Catalogne pose plusieurs problemes. Il est difficile de se faire une opinion sur la credibilite quantitative et qualitative du camps independantiste. La personnalite de Carles Puigdemont est ambigue. Enfin, le soutien populaire reste sujet a caution. La Catalogne est divisee.

Le probleme est plus vaste. La regionalisation est desormais un fait acquis en Europe. Au demeurant elle reflete des realites socio-economiques qui sont souvent transfrontalieres. Le Nord Pas de Calais et la Flandre Orientale sont un exemple type de realites que les frontieres n'arrivent pas a arreter. L'Union Europeenne a par ailleurs encourage ce genre de cooperation spontanee qui defie desormais les reflexes nationalistes ou protectionistes. Les etats ont pris acte et ont accorde une large marge de manoevre aux regions, type Ecosse, Flandre, Italie du Nord, Catalogne etc. Cette modulation doit etre bien geree pour qu'elle ne remette pas en question des equilibres parfois difficilement acquis. 

Relativiser l'existence des etats est perilleux. Il ne faut pas repeter des scenarios pervers du type Ukraine ou Georgie. Les accords d'Helsinki ont dailleurs propose des gardes-fou qu'il est bon de maintenir. Dans la regionalisation il ya assez de place pour permettre a des modeles federaux ou confederaux de trouver des ajustements innovateurs qui ne remettent pas en question des realites qui constituent la base de l'Union Europenne. Le divorce a l'amiable intervenu en Tchecoslovaquie est difficilement transferable a des situations hybrides. En plus une "independance" de la Catalogne ne conduirait pas a ouvrir l'UE a un nouvel etat, comme si de rien n'etait !

La sagesse demande que les membres de l'UE e se montrent circonspects et qu'ils ne posent pas des gestes inconsideres. L'Espagne est encore maitresse chez elle, quitte a trouver des solutions et arrangements pour sortir de la crise. Il ne faut pas que l'ambiguite qui prevaut en Catalogne se mette en travers d'une solution de la crise qui deviendrait difficile a gerer si l'independance voulue par plusieurs venait a compromettre la solution attendue par tous. 

On ne refait pas les cartes et frontieres avec un pourcentage. Carles Puigdemont joue avec le feu.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Since the early days of the Trump presidency, it was clear that something was getting dark in the Atlantic partnership. The reluctance of the new American president to endorse NATO's Article 5 was an early warning of worse to come. Indeed, if misgivings on military burden-sharing were to be expected, the growing gap on more existential issues and free-trade is becoming a fault line which is grows larger by the day.

The behavior of this president is intolerable inside the US and outside. The insults, the lies, the pathological behavior pile up, while the democratic clout of the West is getting fragmented at an alarming pace. The UK is becoming an is land again. The Eastern flank of the EU is following a populist model. The original EU Six have no other alternative, after the German elections, but to follow the French intellectual leadership. In all those cases and scenarios, including the Eastern European ones, the United States has become the outsider, And it is becoming marginal in other parts of the world which it is increasingly alienating. There is a difference between making noise and making policy.

It is also sad to see the liberal ideas, which Europe and America shared, under siege because the follies of one. The former proximity in the arts, literature, the value system is gone. A reciprocal disaffection is actually unfair since in the US the opposition against this president is larger than his boisterous support. Unfortunately, the brutality of this permanent coup is creating some sort of stage fright which leaves the more civilized alternative on the defensive. In the original European Six there is so much repulsion versus Trump that the good is thrown out with the bad.

At times one has to take a difficult stand.  Now that a civilized inter-Atlantic discourse is becoming impossible, it is better to opt out and to go for distance. Some lonely political voices and most respected commentators in the US are speaking out against this worsening of this almost Brechtian scenario. Europe, however, had better awaken and take stock from all that separates it now from its former grand ally. The French proposals for a more existential EU are on target, a change from the old bureaucratic pattern. The clumsy politics in Washington have to be fought with better, inclusive, democratic ideas in Europe. When things got bad on the old continent, Europeans found refuge and support in America. Now, yet again in a new reversal, Americans have to find solace in Europe, which should not disappoint them!

The current American "fall" is not a Camus repeat. It is not existential. It is just plain sordid. The elections were not won, they were stolen. The virus needs to be isolated.  Experience teaches that it can be dangerous to board a ship which looks ominous and that to risk otherwise can have unpleasant consequences. Hybrids seldom respond well to appeasement. On the contrary, they become even more untrustworthy and reckless. Trump is no Minotaur: no head of a bull on a man's body.   He is just plain bullish.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Napoleon's and others' prophecies look almost pathetic when confronted with China's strides in the recent years. Past projections were daring in view of the times in which they were made but even the wildest outcomes imagined could never have foreseen what is happening today. Only the Kuomintang left-overs, Gordon Chang and Fox News, continue to feed the denial of facts (again). In recent years China was able to synchronize political, strategic, economic and military progress. President Xi Jinping has followed a binary path, making the Communist Party fashionable again and returning to the majesty of the Middle Kingdom. Chairman Mao himself followed many imperial precedents despite the terrible mistakes made in the name of some Hegelian dialectic. 

The Chinese economy is slowly finding an equilibrium, mostly in the eastern part. Xinjiang, Gansu and Qinghai continue to lag behind. Besides, the minorities who live in those regions remain largely impervious to what they perceive as a Han Chinese "heavy hand". Beijing has not been able to rally Uigurs, Mongols and Tibetans.  Elsewhere, the proximity of Guangxi, the poorest province, with Guangdong, the richest, is yet another example of regional inequalities which are becoming structural. The Chinese leadership is monitoring these situations and an ambitious policy to boost internal consumption, investment and infrastructure is under way. Some problems however are socio-cultural.  Beijing hides, too often, an iron fist in its velvet glove.

Trump gave China an unexpected gift in ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiated by President Obama. In doing so, he gave China carte blanche and sent negative signals to the US traditional allies in Asia who are arriving at the logical conclusion that it might be wiser to appease the neighbor next door than to please the unreliable partner far away. China can now pursue an unhindered policy of benign hegemony in Southeast Asia.  Tokyo and Seoul continue to play the American card for reason of self-protection rather than for love. Some argue that India will be a counterweight to China but such an outcome appears to be far- fetched, despite Secretary of State Tillerson's "enthusiasm".  President Xi has  also transformed the PLA into a formidable military force, and its sea power into a blue water navy able to patrol at large, as Admiral Zheng He did during the Ming dynasty.  Yet again, President Xi refers to history for matching purpose with fact.

After Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, many observers became pessimistic about the future. So were many residents. Beijing was too smart to walk into the trap of gross interference in the affairs of the new SAR (Special Administrative Region). The Chinese respected the letter of the basic law while being "creative" with the spirit thereof. China has become more like Hong Kong, while the latter is becoming more like China. They form one country with a few manageable  tensions since both are fairing well after the warm-up of the mariage de raison. The Han Chinese of the diaspora in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia created an economic success model that became an inspiration for the mainland reform-minded Communists. Besides, they poured know-how and money into China directly or via Hong Kong.

President Xi belongs to the party's "nomenclature". He is also a man who knows his history and is all too familiar with the humiliations, occupations, and treaty ports of the past. The Middle Kingdom must receive again what it considers to be its rank and its due. The Communist Party is considered to be perfect link between a prestigious past and a promising future. In the past, President Nixon's acquiescence of the Shanghai Communique was considered a win for China. Today this would be considered insufficient.  Besides, an American president might feel snubbed, as was the case with President Obama. After all, America is in retreat. China is tomorrow's superpower. Too bad that the range of an ambition, which is impressive, is still stained by the induced Tienanmen amnesia which remains unforgivable. The Chinese dream needs to come clean !

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Les Etats Unis ont represente longtemps un reve. Non que y tout y etait parfait, loin de la, mais parce que tout apparaissait perfectible. Le prix considerable a payer pour cette vision positive etait justifiable eu egard au resultat probable. Obama etait  le symbole par excellence d'un elan qui semblait pouvoir mettre un terme, une fois pour toutes , a la traversee du desert des erreurs du passe. Ce "reve interrompu" est vevenu cauchemar.

Aujourd'hui la nouvelle admimistration americaine semble avant tout preoccupee de revenir sur les avances ulterieures. Le president a un comportement qui ressort a la pathologie, et  ses proches ont des mines de "bourgeois de Calais".

Dans les reations internationales le "Rien ne va plus" occulte tout le reste. En politique interieure Trump entend defaire les accoplissements d'Obama dans des domaines aussi divers que la sante,  l'environnement,  la justice et l'education. Elu par une base electorale ou l'extreme droite domine, il entend maintenir ce fonds de caisse, fut-ce sur le dos du progres. Tout se passe sur fond de chaos.

Aucun jour ne passe sans que Trump n'intervienne. Il poursuit ainsi une strategie d'occupation des medias qu'il accuse neanmoins d'etre porteuses de fausses nouvelles. Cette confrontation permanente, en direct, conduit a une guerre globale contre l'alternative liberale et au demantelement de la globalisation, consideree comme elitiste. Celle-ci doit ceder la place a un nationalime hybride  qui prone le protectionisme et un repli sur soi dans les domaines de la culture, de la sociologie et du commerce.

Le discours economique est domine par les idees de l'economiste Arthur Laffer., d'apres lequel la reduction par paliers de l'impot fint par accroitre le revenu de l'etat. Cette theorie fort contestee est defendue par les Republicains mais ne convainc guerre d'autres economistes qui accusent cette proposition de ne beneficier qu'aux grosses fortunes. Les tentatives anterieures de recourir a cette theorie ont toutes echoue.

D'aucuns ont pense qu'Obama avait reussi a tourner la page du racisme . Il n'en est rien. Le resultat des elections demontre que l'Amerique cotiere et urbaine a vote democrate tandis que le Sud redevient un bastion republicain. Les quelques etats du milieu ou Trump l'a emporte ne sont pas indicatifs d'un chagement structurel. Cette division couvre tous les aspects de la vie des citoyens, en ce qu'elle les divise sur base de convictions religieuses et morales. Le Sud fait marche arriere, l'autre moitie continue sur une trajectoire liberale et laique. 

Autant Obama a essaye de promouvoir un dialogue existentiel ou dominaient histoire et culture, Trump est le premier president a-culture, a- histoire.  Il ne cherche pas a convaincre, il impose. Steve Bannon son maitre a penser (?) represente une pensee franchement raciste  dans laquelle l'element fasciste predomine.  Il a repris sa liberte apres un court temps comme conseiller et stratege de Trump.  il est devenu le porte drapeau de l'Alt Right qui reunit marginaux, Nazis, intellectuels, abonnes aux "gun shows" et... personnes de bonne foi, qui, a tort ou a raison se sentent brimes et snobbes par NY et par la Californie, par les gays et les universites Ivy League, bref par L'Establishment. Ils accusent l'ordre international cree apres la seconde guerre mondiale d'etre une machine infernale opposee a leurs valeurs.

Ce provincialisme se retrouve partout, en priorite dans la montee de cette extreme droite conservatrice et xenophobe. Il a trouve en Trump le porte parole qui remet l'Amerique a l'heure de Dieu, de la famille et des idees "recues". Il s'en suit un etat de guerre civile qui ranime les frontieres et les ideologies de la guerre civile. Le nord et le Sud, la ville et la campagne, la religion et la laicite s'opposent. Le recent scandale Hollywoodien est manipule et conduit a un exorcisme generalise.

En conclusion la manoeuvre est double. Apres avoir demonte les engagements exterieurs passes - Climat, UNESCO, TPP, Nafta, accord Iranien, Cuba, entre autres- Trump essaye de saper les avances acquises a l'interieur - soins de sante pour tous, environnement, neutralite dans les domaines de la religion ou de la morale, egalite des droits pour tous, non discrinination-. Certains avancent qu'il risque d'etre confronte a une levee de boucliers. A court terme cela est peu probable. Ses troupes d'assault constituent un noyaux dur, resistant.L' opposition pourtant plus nombreuse souffre d'un scepticisme inne et d'une division permanente. Le president qui a la maitrise du savoir faire mediathique n'a pas d'adversaire a sa taille.

Les rammifications de cet etat de choses sont nombreuses. La solidarite Atlantique sort affaiblie. Brexit est un avatar de Trump et le scenario a repetition dans l'ancien groupe de Visigrad fait des emules (Autriche, difficultes de Merkel).Dans le monde la Chine sera bientot la premiere puissance. L'epee de Damocle Nord Coreenne inquiete d'autant plus que Trump est un protagoniste mal programme. Le retrait Americain partout  cree un espace que d'autres vont occuper.

L'Amerique est desormais la mal aimee en raison de son choix de president. En elisant Trump (Non majoritaire) elle a envoye l'incendiaire au feu.En realite les Etats Unis ont ete confrontes avec une contradiction fondamentale des leur creation. Les Fondateurs qui se reclamaient des idees de "lumiere" gardaient leur esclaves et cette situation ne disparut qu'avec Lincoln et attend toujours d'etre effacee dans les faits . Jefferson proclamait l'egalite sans l'appliquer en demeure. Cette contradiction est un mutant que l'on passe de generation a generation. Il arrive que le temoin passe arrive, comme aujourd'hui , que le temoin casse.


Friday, October 13, 2017


Trump has been called very unflattering names lately, often by persons who are supposed to be friendly. The many leaks show that loyalty is not set in stone. Lately he has multiplied measures often suggested to him by sycophants who consider him to be a messenger for their own agenda. The man is too limited to be able to digest or understand strategy or historical relevance, so everything has to be presented to him under the guise of yet another step in dismantling the Obama legacy.  His Pavlovian hatred for his predecessor grows by the day since the nostalgia for "Paradise Lost" endures (read Ta-Nehisi Coates). Republicans were supposed to be in favor of a largely benign, slimmed state. Americans are getting a status of subordination instead, a Hobbesian Leviathan-type of model based on permanent deception.

After having thrown his infamous rolls of paper towels to Puerto Ricans, who have learned that "We the People" does not apply to "brown" Americans, he has now vented his anger at the Iran deal. Here again he is the paper tiger par excellence, dressing up his antipathy in the clothes of  political argument which convinces nobody and isolates the US again from its European allies. This deal was far from perfect but if a similar agreement could be considered with North Korea, it would be seen as a major coup. The situations are not the same but the goal of non-proliferation is an equalizer. The president who is close to illiterate has no time for culture, history, self-esteem (other than his own) and only ends up awakening the formerly mothballed "Ugly American" narrative.

Trump is going to Asia, another continent which he might "entertain" like Pinkerton, the arch American villain in Madame Butterfly. At least he might find in the Philippine president a soul mate. The serious countries on the agenda will look upon this intruder with disbelief.  It will be interesting to watch his body language (generously said) in case he goes to the DMZ between North and South Korea. The emperor of Japan will have taken a Valium for sure.

In the wave of unflattering rumors and leaks the President attacks the Affordable Care Act, environmental friendly regulations, reproductive rights, transsexuals,  "thinking" Republicans, UNESCO, NAFTA, and one can go on. His base of fools (30%) is loving it, until the sober awakening arrives. Some day they will realize that they were tricked into the coal illusion and let pass the clean jobs that might have been created by the "New Economy". Robots will rule elsewhere while many Americans will choke and be deprived of elementary healthcare. This cabinet of high fliers (no irony intended) follows the follies of the frog which wanted to be as big as the ox (La Fontaine). 

Unfortunately, America is the victim of this permanent deconstruction. Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America has been dislodged in favor of the NRA's guns in America. The existential presidency of Obama was replaced by a nefarious syndicate. It is often argued that Steve Bannon is the architect of this permanent chaos, but one can argue that the nexus of incompetence and arrogance does not need a house pseudo-intellectual. The mutual, reciprocal greed and hatred have already created a brew which is making most Americans sick and depressed.  Jeff Sessions is a Mickey Mouse with rabies. Rex Tillerson weighs more pounds than talent.  Steve Mnuchin and Stephen Miller look as if they walked out of Cabaret...and one can go on.

The optimists think that this will pass and that the Russian probe might finally arrive at some form of reversal of fortunes. Others remain skeptical, also given the Republicans penchant for denial. The Democrats act too often like lemmings walking off the cliff. Trump is an efficient actor who is able to galvanize his hard- core followers with his attacks on the press, the swamp, Obama. The alternative world of fake news, outrageous lies and generalizations creates an eclipse with staying-power. Contempt, under this current populist rule, is a weapon for the elites.  It doesn't win elections!

Friday, October 6, 2017


The American president was yet again on his "matinee performer" best. In front of the journalists who covered an event in the White House honoring the military creme de la creme, he uttered the now famous, disjointed "calm before the storm" words.  Journalists and pundits are now busy trying to find a meaning in those words. Trump achieved his usual objective:  deflecting.  By doing so he covered up the war waged against the pro-choice camp, his vulgar performance in Puerto Rico, the gun overdose in the USA, the "dossier" in the Russian probe, the cold (?) war with his secretary of State, King Salman's visit to Moscow--considered as a snub-- or the upcoming, in sophism's disguise ,"major" moves regarding Iran, and maybe North Korea.

After eight months, Trump is still able to cheat, lie (a record), and get away with farcical moves that are made to unsettle and derange. This president is not about a learning curve, he is all about deceit disguised as "mad man theory". The wrong and the very wrong are being played in equal numbers but meanwhile, behind the smokescreen, the progress made in the last eight years is being starved to death. As in Rome, this circus is not an innocent passe temps. The various secretaries who are supposed to deal with justice, health, environment, education, energy, housing have only one objective: dismantling the achievements of the Obama administration. Racial tensions have returned with a vengeance and the culture war opposes red against blue, believer against secular, South against North, rural against urban, conservative against liberal. The president/arsonist-in-chief drops a torch wherever he goes.

The prejudice against culture, history, and diplomacy is casting a shadow over America's former added-value.  65% of Americans (latest poll) disagree with Trump over this well-organized, extended Kristallnacht, which goes on and on. The available time is being taken hostage by alternative facts that keep the media busy and distracted at random and ad nauseam. This strategy has found in Rupert Murdoch its Beaverbrook, and in Fox News and the usual ultra-right radio spinners, the spokespersons for an alternative world. Trump likes to tweet.   He could add:  Le bluff c'est moi.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Since the publication of Secretary Clinton's book about the last presidential election, the comments multiply. Her analysis is pertinent, lucid and not defensive, while she lays the blame mostly in the former FBI director's court.  As usual, she is informed, somewhat didactic and impressive. Paradoxically those same qualities might help understanding how she lost. She ran on a number of priorities which were rationally presented and explained and for which she suggested a given therapy. Her approach was one of a designer of several road maps. She (and others) forgot that those Michelin maps are boring (unless they figure in Houellebecq's La carte et le territoire ). Trump & Co. understood that America had entered the culture war, that the North/South divide was still raw, that the Obama years had enraged white frustration in the rust and religious belts and that the urban/liberal tide could be stopped.

In reality, the United States is now giving proof that the divisions run deep and that the eight Obama years have been undergone rather than enjoyed by conservatives who felt that power and culture had been stolen from under their feet. Trump switched on a backlash, which was not grounded in legitimate demands but in a Leitmotiv of reclaiming, taking back, turning back and reversal of principle rather than correction of achievement.

It is impossible now to value any argument or event per se. Everything is dragged through the murky mass of nativism and populism. The Puerto Rico disaster or the Las Vegas shooting end up playing a secondary role versus the label they are given by persistent, perverse stealth. The victims are now moved like pawns on the chessboard of the culture wars. Cries for help have become seditious. Spilled blood has to make room for the Second Amendment hysteria. In the world at large, the image of post-Obama America is one of denial, tariffs and incompetence. The clumsiness and parody in foreign affairs would be a matter of ridicule if it were not that serious.

In recent months books, plays, commentary, creativity have proven that real moral and intellectual opposition do exist and that on the Right, too, outrage and disgust are alive. Unfortunately the culture war is driven by the 35% who have no inclination for introspection or for a comparative mindset. This "born under Saturn" (Shakespeare) gun and Bible tribe has found in a con man (in mayor Bloomberg's words) its prophet. The usual Rhine maidens (Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham) and Peter Lorre-like (the two Steves--Bannon and Miller--and syndicate of corrupts) who surround their inflated hero might end up choking him under the pillowcase of their fake news.

It looks sometimes as if the time for being polite is running out. It certainly feels as if those current Hamlet Democrats must finally choose to "be", clean house, send "thank you notes" (deserved) and come out with more dare than caution, more aggression than sheepishness, more leading than following.