Monday, December 30, 2019


Year's end leads to the usual cortege of banalities and predictions.  2019 is already buried under the usual prayers and thoughts. Some risk a form of intellectual steeple chase about the deeper meaning of the past months. It would make more sense to recognize that a page was turned. 

Some are tempted to blame Trump for the bonfire which engulfs the world. This is giving to much credit to an individual who is the anti- intellectual per se. His impulses are not unique, they just receive more attention since what happens in America is magnified and ends up affecting the world at large. There is a new brand of leaders who share his approach but do not receive the "credit". This new Internationale shares the same diffuse paranoia of "one against the rest."  Modi's policies might look different but they obey to the same impulses of Trump's ghostwriters (the two Steves--Bannon and Miller). The same goes for Italy's Matteo Salvini. Boris Johnson is more ambiguous and actually more sophisticated than the sum of his histrionics.

Basically, we have entered the age of a-morality. There is no longer a pole star which presides, repairs, attracts or frightens. Nowadays anything goes as long as the stock market grows. It is becoming out of fashion to question the meaning of the ruling economical choice, wherein few benefit while the majority is stuck in stagnation. Everything now is based on "feeling good" on the back of reality. All is linked to a rush and a high with zero connection to measurable progress.

North Korea became a feel-good country, since it provided Trump with a "decor."  Merkel's Germany doesn't pass the feel-good test, since the Chancellor refuses to play the dupe. Macron tried at first to enter in the charade of Beauty and the Beast, but gave up when he smelled the coffee.

Next year will be the age of the rat.  How appropriate. This other new age ahead of us will be strife with petty but important battles between selfish interest rather than ideology. It is all about tariffs, Huawei's 5G offerings or Putin's charm offensives by way of oil. Nobody talks that much about human rights anymore. After all, Trump indulges in karaoke with the boss of Manila.

Europe's claim to moral leadership had better get ready for a hard-landing after Poland and Hungary reset the democratic clock into reverse. China is implementing its own version of the Monroe Doctrine in the South China Sea and is projecting more booby-trapped soft-power by the day. Mentioning the treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang is considered almost gauche when compared to the "benefits" of China's Belt Road initiative. The alternative to every fact wins. Kellyanne Conway is the ringleader of this fake spectacle.

The world has entered a new Ice Age wherein leaders take heart in each other's compliments. They feel good among look- alikes and act-alikes. This new era is "over-personalized." It might not outlive its leaders. They will fail because sooner or later they will be found out. The proof will be in the pudding they fabricate. The customer will be repelled both by this deception and inversion of expectations.  Even the confetti will feel like acid rain.  Bonne annee!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


Some thought that the Kulturkampf was a thing of the past. Too many happenings everywhere show for all who want to see that this optimistic allegation is false. It is not just the Western world which feels trapped in a self-made permanent settling of scores. The former "exotic" utopia, far from Cartesian thought, of the likes of Walter Spies, Gustave Flaubert, Paul Gauguin, Lawrence of Arabia or Victor Segalen, look almost out of place now.  Edward Said saw it coming!

One is too self-absorbed to pay attention to the aberrations that are currently sending Aladdin crashing. The exoticism, which allowed the West to idealize for a while the "otherness", is no longer.  Today, Jerome's "the snake charmer" might as well carry a Kalashnikov. The cultural landscape of yesterday's far abroad has become a battlefield wherein dreams meet their Waterloo.

The language of culture got lost in the chaos of mistaken identification. The travel culture became just another fast food phenomenon. The female explorers (Gertrude Bell, Hester Stanhope) of yesterday's  wonders do not stand a chance today. Now, Christiane Amanpour needs body-guards... 

The "exotic" was often a colonial byproduct and was corrected later on: "decolonized". Still, the old pathetic fantasy looks quaint when compared with the turmoil which is currently setting the world on the path of deconstruction.

In Western Europe the vicious short-circuits are generally hidden from view, compared to i.a. the United States, Brazil and the former Mittel EuropaNevertheless, the fracture in society is real. The ultra-right no longer hides a racist, bigoted agenda. Accepted norms and values are under attack. The railings are being dismantled while civil society is being assaulted through a strategy of occupation of all the intermediary stops (justice, health care...) which were supposed to protect civil liberties.

Both the suicidal choices in the West and the illusion of Arab and other "springs" led to the post hurricane landscape of today. With the exception of some pockets of change for the better, the former Bandung group is no longer. Europe and the Western Hemisphere (with the exception of Canada) can hardly maintain the past success story of the late-20th Century. Today Russia and China upstart their "revenge", while the West blinks and most of the rest sinks.

Mythologies became a fake currency that buys time and only delays bankruptcy. Benign exoticism was replaced by politically more correct diversity. Yesterday's pearl fishers of Massenet muted into today's guerrillas. The former idealization of Castro and Mandela looks almost out of place in a world, orphaned of idealism.

One can still be mesmerized by Angkor Vat ...after surviving the assault of cars, traffic and hotels for all tastes. One can still be impressed by New York's hauteur or Paris' elegance if one can abstract the homeless or the yellow jackets. Still, the French and the Canadians have leaders one might envy. The EU could still regain momentum.

Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations is all too right. The Balkanisation of the world is an agreed conclusion because of the collision between cultural tectonic plates. More attention should be given to the cracks which appear inside the various factions that are no longer monolithic. In tragedy yesterday, parents have devoured their children.  In life today, the terrorist is no longer the frightening, forbidden often foreign or alien recognizable other. He is the neighbor next door, the white supremacist who shops at Walmart and is a climate change denier.

After the decolonization fiasco, the second Iraq war laid bare the cynicism and corruption of an arrogant super power which is no longer able or willing to assume its historical responsibility. Around the widening black hole, spectators watch how towers collapse and how everything turns into rags. They don't realize that they might be the next in line.

Saturday, December 14, 2019


Boris Johnson scored a great victory in the United Kingdom. Labour lost, deservedly. This Conservative wave should not hide the reality of the permanence of the many unsolved problems which besiege the UK. The Brexit issue remains a Gordian knot and the country's divisions stand in stark contrast with the P.M.'s wishful "hit and run" strategy.

Voters everywhere are exasperated. They seem anxious to turn the repetitive pages they are served. They vote more out of "lassitude", to get over it, than out of conviction. They just want a bad dream to go away.  Johnson, Trump, Orban, Netanjahu, i.a. share a common denominator. They are farceurs, matinee idols with a measured lifespan.

Public opinion is as unreliable as the competing political  programs in play. Mood swings are molded by innuendos and social media. Hence the rise of the comedian, the jester, the consultant of appearances. The political map no longer belongs to the statesman/woman, if he or she forgoes the thrill of the cheap shot or the demagogy of the jab. Johnson, who is a product of the elite schools and the establishment, did not hesitate to play I Love Lucy slapstick, which he handled with brio. The Trump guidebook to hearts and minds (of some) can make all the difference. Truth has been sent to the emergency room.

The coherence of message from former days will have to wait for a "come back". Even the impeachment debate in Congress falls victim to the tactics of the Republicans who resort to any form of derision and trivialization to deflect, deny or come up with a headline for Fox prime time. This reductive tactic works. It pushes the voter to forgo reality for ersatz, to abdicate intellectual or moral conviction ... Je vote donc j'oublie. Primal and tribal instincts beat choice. He or she who addresses the gut, wins.

This ruling disenchantment is dangerous since it has become an equalizer between opposite poles and ends up favoring rush over rationality. Between conviction and its alternative, the former wins as long as the story provides some form of euphoria for the masses.  From the rallies in the 1930's in Germany to the Trump meetings now, the technique doesn't change.

Trump descending his gilded escalator in his tower did not waste time, breaking all the rules of civility, letting the rot corrupt the political discourse. The gold was just mold, painted over.  He spoke about "American carnage" in his inaugural.  He implements it with relish.

Roland Barthes writes somewhere: "Tout d'un coup, il m'est devenu indifferent de ne pas etre moderne "...the message is clear.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Oswald Spengler's Der Untergang des Abendlandes should be the right best-seller fitting Europe's gloom. The Americans for their part are retrieving Mister Rogers from their former innocent TV days, when kids went to school, dads to work and housewives did their hair. Tom Hanks wears the iconic zip-up sweater with brio.  To each his own. Europeans look for metaphysics to dress up their losses. Americans go back to some form of kitchen-cookie tales to still their panic. 

There the Brexit advances but there is no Siegfried in sight. Here the anticipation of four more years of Trump is creating a type of Angst that is out of Mr. Rogers' hands.

Indeed, the West as a whole watches the train of progress and harmony pass by. Chris Patten wrote that the Americans and British were cousins and strangers. Yesterday's British might as well forget the latter and retain the former. As much as Brexit deepened the English Channel, it also enlarged the span of the Atlantic. A bilateral trade deal with the US will be a band-aid, nothing else.

Europe compensates its irrelevance by some form of sexiness. Unfortunately it is becoming hard to rediscover allure or magic when the cruise ships invade St. Marks Place or The Game of Thrones junkies take over Dubrovnik. The same goes for America. Broadway, the former toast of creativity, is overrun by the cabbies of Andrew Lloyd Weber Cats. The hordes wearing MAGA and other caps have replaced the sophisticated theater-goers of better days. This is not an attack against democracy. It is a reaction against capitalism cheating, selling cat food for delicatessen and fooling the common man.

In France, President Macron does not try to cheat or to fool. He might be defeated in the end. In America the Trump/Barnum machine is successfully distracting observation by a variety of tricks which camouflage the dismantling of democracy inside and the murky deals outside. The way this White House & Co. deal with impeachment is brillant by the way, right out of a Bertolt Brecht playbook. 

It looks as if two great women might be at the helm in the EU and the US.  Ursula von der Leyen awaits a formidable  challenge. Nancy Pelosi should be the "Person of the Year" in American politics. The country relies on her. Without her , the Democrats would just be a pathetic flock. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


The NATO meeting looks like some other Gunpowder plot with Trump in the role of Guy Fawkes. It makes Hitler's Munich moment look almost benign. It would be interesting to guess what the ugly American might have said to Prince Charles. After all, he has good tips regarding Jeffrey Epstein.

More seriously, this London "happy birthday party" is a disaster. It is especially a bad omen if this American season in hell might be prolonged by four more years of outrage and dismemberment. The spat between Presidents Trump and Macron has laid bare fundamental political differences, which can always be expected--be it in a minor tone--but it also revealed mutual loathing.

Yesterday's alliance is no longer.  If re-elected, Trump might well choose to leave it. The man is totally devoid of moral and philosophical fibre. As others before him dealt with ideas, he sits deep in the mortar of his cheap construction empire, indulging in his nouveau riche illusions of grandeur.

Unfortunately, the acceleration of the Western sunset benefits only Putin. The mystery of his hold over Trump remains unanswered. While the Russian is a sophisticated observer of the cyclones which affect balance of power and history, the American is a clueless psychopath. Hence his inability to strike a "normal" conversation which might navigate abstraction or ideas.  He needs triggers in order to engage. They are not hard to find for the ones who seek a quick response to their calculated and calibrated indulgence. 

European traditional partners are used to the former level  playing field and are not tempted to lower the mutually agreed standards of yesterday. The second Iraq war continues to be an existential and strategic mistake which is hard to forgive. The current piling up of transgressions and affronts only reopens old wounds and prejudices. Unfortunately this is not a Jane Austin novel.  There is nowhere in these United States a Darcy to be seen.  Accordingly, it will only get worse.

Trump and Putin might as well have their little Yalta. After all, the United Kingdom chose the role of an island over the responsibility of a player. On the continent President Macron might feel that intelligence can be a solitary hazard. I hope that the ones who fear the "four more years" prediction might be proven wrong, but the prevailing American Zeitgeist is one wherein short-term parochial egoism trumps every other uplifting ambition.

The new pharaonic NATO building in Brussels might as well consider the EU as its next tenant,  in case.   Keep it in mind.

Monday, December 2, 2019


L'OTAN fete ses 70 ans. L'alliance, articulee autour d'un concept de solidarite devient de jour en jour plus affaire de transaction. Du concept a l'origine il reste peu. Trump a vide l'alliance de toute consideration philosophique ou morale. Il la remplace par un autre quid pro quo (dont il a le secret) ,base sur un troc securite contre contribution financiere. Le burden sharing a toujours fait l'objet de discusions au sein de l'alliance, mais il n'a jamais ete utilise comme moyen de pression / chantage, comme cela est devenu le cas aujourd'hui. Le president Macron a accuse l'alliance de s'etre egaree dans un etat comateux. Il n'a pas tort, mais les alternatives font defaut. 

L'Europe n'a pas la volonte politique de se doter d'une dimension militaire credible. Ses ambitions n'emeuvent personne. Il faudra encaisser d'autres mavaises humeurs du president americain ne fut ce que pour tranquiliser les etats Baltes trop proches de la "zone d'influence" russe. 

Ce sommet risque de n'etre qu'un  marche deguise ou l'autant sera plus important que l'OTAN.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Les pays qui font la une ne manquent pas d'issues. Au demeurant, ceux dont on parle moins ont leur propre lot d'indignites. Ce qui fait defaut, c'est la porte de sortie qui n'est a la portee de personne.

Tous partagent des situations qui, a des titres divers, semblent les ralentir, voire meme les bloquer. Ne parlons plus des Etats-Unis qui ont conclu un pacte d'acier avec Trump. Malgre tous les avatars et l'accumulation du sordide ce president reussit jusqu'a present a tirer son epingle du jeu. On peut meme envisager qu'une lignee dynastique de "presidents fous" prend forme et que d'autres Trump essayeront de continuer la saga du Godfather. Les Americains commencent a etre fascines par ce scenario delirant, qui s'insere a la perfection dans "l'esthetique" Marvel.

Ailleurs les telescopages se multiplient. Le Moyen Orient, l'Union Europeene - en premier lieu des etats membres, comme la France et l'Allemagne -, la Federation Russe, la Chine, l'Inde, l'Amerique latine, meme l'Australie sont incapables d'affronter des obstacles politique, economique, hybride. L'amelioration attendue apres la chute de l'empire Sovietique  semble avoir fait demi-tour. Voila qu'on ressort les problemes d'antan, moins par ambition de les resoudre que par une sorte de laxisme blase. Hong Kong, le Cachemire et l' Ukraine sont en realite des colis pieges laisses aux frontieres . L'Irak et l'Iran restent l'envers et l'endroit d'un pari perdu. Israel et l'Union Europeenne vivent mal un different qui risque de les priver, l'un et l'autre , d'un allie existentiel.

Or, tandis que les Etats Unis perdent leur credibilite et que les Europeens sont tous a leurs " Jeux interdits", d'autres attendent leur moment. Washington fait la demonstration quotidienne d'une incurie anti historique. Cela n'echappe pas a  l'attention d'autres qui accusent reception de la carte blanche recue, avec un RSVP cote bureau ovale comme bonus. Les Kurdes peuvent toujours attendre.

L'on sait que Poutine considere que la fin de l'empire sovietique represente une catastrophe existentielle. Il faut d'ailleurs reconnaitre qu'en l'absence de l' "autre", de l'ennemi quantifiable et qualifie, l'Occident s'est retrouve depouille de scenario. Les Etats-Unis ont senti moins le besoin d'avoir une premiere ligne de defense ou un article 5 (OTAN) qu'ils avaient pourtant fort apprecie apres le 9/11. La nouvelle Russie continue sa politique d'agressions multi-formes, aidee en cela par une Chine complaisante, occupee a developper sa route de la soie (qui trompe).

La Chine surtout commence a s'approprier la soft power qui etait hier encore le fleuron de l'arsenal diplomatique occidental. Certains, en Afrique surtout, commencent a se rendre compte que la frequentation du Dragon coute cher, mais partout ailleurs l'interet l'emporte. Si Hong Kong derape, Pekin payera le prix lourd. Apres Tien an Men, on a pu voir a quelle vitesse l'oubli rattrape la condamnation. Hong Kong reste un seuil plus formidable car il implique des interets financiers colossaux. Taiwan suit de pres cette saga d"Un pays, deux systemes".

Il est certain que plusieurs, si pas toutes les  parties, cherchent une porte de sortie. Le temps est un allie peu fiable. Encore faut-il compter avec un monde en deconstruction permanente. L'Amerique, grand architecte apres la deuxieme guerre mondiale, est redevenue une puissance qui prefere etre embrassee par les Oceans plutot que par les alliances. Cela laisse le champs libre aux derapages ailleurs qui se multiplient. Ils risquent a terme d'etre geres par des alliances / satrapies opportunistes, ad hoc, qui beneficient du chaos.  Ainsi il s'en va du fameux plan de paix de Trump pour le Moyen Orient comme des hirondelles chez Roland Dubillard ...naif.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


The tearing-down of the Berlin Wall was the result of both the collapse of the East German gulag and of a Kafka-like bureaucratic misunderstanding by the East German official who misspoke, and by doing so opened the floodgates.

In 1992 Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man, in which he stated that history and the Hegelian model might finally have arrived at the end of the marathon.

Gorbachev was considered in the West as a Russian Marcus Aurelius who was lauded for having recognized that the Soviet Empire was a failed project, whose days were counted. While President George H. W. Bush, P.M. Margaret Thatcher and Chancellor Helmut Kohl were sophisticated enough not to humiliate the Russian leader, others were less subtle and found a way to traumatize the Russian pride and psyche.

Today's commemoration of the Berlin saga feels more like a revision than a confirmation.

Indeed yesterday's Utopian projection has evolved into a dystopian situation. The unipolar world is no longer a sustainable assertion. The pax americana is a thing of the past. Putin's Russia proves that skills speak louder than clout. The EU looks more like Eurasia's archipelago than like a force to reckon with. Trump proves again the destructive force of the psychopath in power.

This very "debauched" landscape is in need of urgent repair.  While China and Russia have smart personalities (if disagreeable) at the helm, the US is stuck with a hell-bent president (who might "overstay"). In the West the situation is getting worse because it is losing the moral and intellectual ability to conceive otherwise. If one loses the grasp of diversity one risks ending up in the dead end where Trump's America now finds itself. It has neither allies or shared values. It only frequents opportunistic abettors, by choice .

After the collapse of the Soviet monolith, it felt as if we might have entered a new era of philosophical leaders, less inclined to follow Fukuyama's hasty conclusion than to reconsider the harmonium of a revisited "Concert of nations and cultures". No need to return to the Congress of Vienna or Versailles deceptions. The inclusive curiosity, acceptance of the "bend", of the romanticized "other", became the more desirable options for all to experience. Optimism was in the air.  It was alas short lived.

Even in Germany, the post-Berlin magnum opus is considered today as an almost-failed experiment. The former East Germans still remain "there" and in Eastern Europe more unpleasant occupants inhabit the splendors which were expecting more enlightened occupants.  Did such existential changes have to lead to such mediocre todays?

Europe has gravitasAmerica has mass (unevenly distributed). The old continent always needed the federateur emachinaAmerica was willing to provide one. Now that Europe is in need as never before, America choses to taste its own home brew of slow-death elixir. The odd couple has become an old couple from hell.  One partner choses to stray (Erdogan in the White House next week), the other sulks (Macron). The divorce papers are ready and there is no pre- nuptial. This is going to be ugly.  Tragically, it is hard to find a successor to the Marshalls, JFKs or Kellys. The Democratic contenders are stuck in the web of internal policies, while the GOP has become frankly an ersatz of European 1936 Zeitgeist. Macron is right when he argues that Europe needs to count more on its own means and ways. He should also suggest measures which might alleviate the real existential split which is growing between the Western and Eastern parts. This movie, in perverse progress, needs a scenarist before it flops.

Chancellor Angela Merkel looked subdued in Berlin yesterday. After all, born in then-East Germany, she knows more than most about how dreams can turn into nightmares.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


Thomas Piketty resumed the heart of the economical Western hangover in his iconic formula r>g:  the return on capital outpaces the growth rate of the economy. Tax breaks only exacerbate a structural malfunction, wherein money coagulates rather than spreads.  Trickle down policies--the Laffer mirage--have been proven wrong. Revenues might grow until a certain point but they create a glut for the few and seldom, even indirectly, benefit the many. 

The current American administration praises an economic boom which indeed looks good on paper. Since President Obama's intervention, Wall Street continues to climb and the wealthy in the first place count their blessings. The majority of Americans however don't see any silver-lining in the overall picture. Health care, education, environment do not receive the attention of this tone deaf government. Yesterday's better functioning institutions (to a certain extent) no longer convince. In Ralph Emerson's words: "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man."  Under Presidents Kennedy, Johnson or Obama, inequality was receding, albeit in an incomplete, slow pace. Today the split between the rich and the "others" is growing at too fast a pace and it is metastasizing. 

Admittedly, for the same reasons, the West as a whole is not immune from doubt and tensions. The clash is a cultural one, if under culture one also understands a more sociological reality. The rise of white suprematism is an all together complex, paradoxical phenomenon. Stoked by policies of the "rulers" and by latent  insecurities, it affects mostly the white middle class and blue collars. Their frustration, legitimate or not, is weaponized against immigrants, minorities,  the long-term incarcerated, as long as they fit in the "others" category. This malaise is orchestrated by a cabal which feeds red meat to the beast.

Some Democrats, with good intentions, suggest an American social counter-reformation, rooted in some hybrid socialist codex. Most of their proposals would not score with Karl Marx!  Their references to the Scandinavian model are misguided since the social consensus in Western Europe is the result of a larger political agreement which occupies a space separated from the classical political dispute.  Health care, education, gender equality are considered in terms of solidarity, which bypasses the usual political dialectic. Soon the climate and environment will likewise figure in the rank of agreed European society commandments. There is a tradition of social dialogue (found in the ILO) so that workers, employers and governments work out mutually agreed formulas for wages and growth. The formula does not always work out (the yellow jackets) but capitalism gets a breathing space to auto-correct.

In America, the torched-earth proposals by Senator Sanders or House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez send us back to the minutemen of the Sixties. Senator Warren's health care plan, thought over in a haste, is another white elephant, carrying with it taxation and the loss of existing health care. Hitting business and the wealthy is a dangerous, divisive path. She also risks further alienating a large segment of duped Americans who want to defend their Jimmy Stewart mythology of "cookies USA", which is adverse to abstract mega plans wherein federal spending rules.

Republican and other defenders of the American model stand just for a set of of rules made for the members of a club, closed to most. It is neither a doctrine nor an experiment. It is a benign Ponzi scheme, which is the opposite of the EU's social engineering. The Hamilton days or FDR experiments are things of the past. 

Elsewhere in the world there is no communism left. Republicans fight windmills for their own benefit alone. There is no clash of ideas here. There only remains a cynical adjustment between economic ambition and political opportunism. Socialists are hard to find anywhere. It would be ironic if they were to pop up in, of all places, the USA.

We don't need Orwell, we need Keynes. It is Halloween and the voters prefer to grab sweets rather than scares. America needs to address too many  (Call me by your name ?!) to indulge in home made derailments!  Senator Warren & Co. had better let the better candidate against Trump take over.  The problem is to find him or her, fast...crossroads don't wait.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Legitimate empires seldom fall under foreign pressure alone. They usually collapse because of their own home-grown failures. Rome, China, the Inca and Aztec realms or British power, for instance, fell more under the weight of their own aberrations than under the onslaught of a qualitative alternative. Today's America is not under direct attack. It is not hiding in some territorial panic room. It is comfortable in its own habitat but it fails to pay enough attention to the cracks in  the walls and ceilings, since the maintenance rests in the hands of a sociopath.

Trump is starting to unleash rants, purges and his brand of culture wars, which are making a hard landing in the middle of American institutions. He is trying to remake them in his own image (imagine?).  If he is re-elected, the decor and the script will be ready for a second act furioso and renewed carpet bombing.   Already, his current cabinet acts and moves like a Praetorian guard. The next team might look more like the cast of Goodfellas, enjoying their happy hour.

The death of Elijah Cummings, Democrat House member and civil rights symbol, under these el Greco ominous skies should  awaken the dormant better angels. The doors of the White House did not open to let the air in.

The Democrats continue on their road to "political spam". The Speaker tries to maintain decorum and gravitasSome Democrat contenders already look like "death on arrival". While the "socialists" should be on Trump's payroll, the moderates start to act desperate, as if they were considering packing, out of sheer ennui.  Too much is being said about America's sunset. True, after Trump lauded his achievements in the Syrian imbroglio, one is entitled to question the delirium which seems to have taken hold of this swollen brain.  After all, the Middle East starts to look like Putin's mare nostrum. The US raid which led to the death of al Baghdadi might change the conversation for awhile but it leaves the geopolitics unchanged. Trump's effusive thanks, mostly to Russia and Turkey, speak for themselves. Plus ca change...

 It will take a long time to clean up the mess since the internal "occupation strategy" of the administration is marginalizing the moral and sophisticated fiber in all sectors. It will demand effort and brains to roll back this "Berlin: 1945 landscape".

One has to admit that Trump has managed to rule and to shift the rules in such a way that the ones who dare to oppose him  look irrelevant, small. The brutal force of his personality outweighs any legitimate, sophisticated counter-argument. There is no match for his Sumo body-language, which creates a frenzy in his base. This phenomenon will occupy writers and sociologists for years to come. He killed the traditional Republicans and dwarfed the Democrats. Every opposition is countered on the spot by a tactic not seen since Stalin and by the abject complicity of the 1%.  Unfortunately, this poisonous political dividend internally (based on an enormous budget fraud) is financed by overall losses externally. America becomes dispensable because of the wrong choices made. It seeks now to protect the oil in Syria. This is the latest existential decision made, a choice between humanism and materialism. Trump's America has chosen to show its real face, again. Not a pretty view!

Friday, October 18, 2019


Americans have seldom been praised for their familiarity with foreign languages. Now they have a president who is clueless regarding any form of language skill, including his own.

He has now appropriated the "quid pro quo" hit and as usual claims this was all his doing, like everything else under the sinking American sun. In reality his only inroads into the far abroad vocabulary are incursions in mafia slang or gutter insult.  But this being Trump's territory, the "Quid pro Quo" has  displaced (for how long?) the "No collusion".  Anyway, the vocabulary in the corridors of power is sloppy. 

The vice- president and the secretary of State brought their roadshow to Ankara. After a painful meeting with the Turkish president they claimed that a cease-fire was agreed upon. Such a construction is sophisticated and is supported by a set of internationally recognized rules, unknown maybe to this clueless duo. Hence the Turkish side corrected them and referred to a 'Pause", limited in time.  Nevertheless Trump claimed yet another diplomatic coup, worthy of the Brest-Litovsk  paix/bombe surprise between Germany and Russia in 1918.

There is more to come. The Pollyannas do not want to recognize the writing on the wall... Belshazzar did. True, Pollyanna's creator, Eleanor Porter, was American too, and better stay forgotten.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019


In yet again an other impulsive, uninformed moment Trump destroyed years of American achievements. The famous Arabists in the State Department are a thing of the past.  Kissinger's painful shuttle diplomacy is being displaced by the vulgar doings of Pompeo, salesman for god and Trump. Other unsavory characters complete a nightmarish tableau. In the end America looks both incompetent and clueless. 

Turkey is supposed to be a NATO partner. The alliance which looked already like a loveless marriage did not need both an unreliable steward at the helm and a Judas in its midst. The American vice-president is leaving on a mission, to do what? Indeed, this B-movie has neither the actors nor the plot to sustain it.

All this comes together with the Brexit farce, for which there is no good outcome, whatever the compromise this week might look like.

The fact is that the United States is for unforeseeable time an embarrassment led by an accident of historical dimension. The expertise was cleared in favor of corruption. As a result the West is losing its critical mass and soft-power. Populism is being accused of a lot, but it is too easy to hide plain stupidity under some theoretical fallacy. One has to face the painful reality of a Western world hijacked by third parties for sure, but mostly suffering from wounds that are self-inflicted.The expected outrage is on vacation. The timid, non-intellectual, morally blurred observations heard here and there lack any form of gravitas.

Since the West choses the way of induced coma, other players pile up the gains. Russia and China will soon be joined by India, Japan, and others who will find their way in a world of artificial intelligence and links (see the Chinese Belt and Road worldwide ambition) that "consider" Europe as a terminal and the US as quantite negligeable, almost. Trump's killing of Obama's Asia First strategy is yet again a form of suicide by ignorance.

There is wisdom to be found in reluctance. There is an added value to be won in multi-lateralism. Europe no longer considers Trump's America as a partner with whom values and interests--geopolitical or cultural-can be shared. The bilateral relationship of yesterday sits on ice. Iraq was almost a breaking point but the problem was therapeutically saved by contrition. Here and now the problem has metastasized and Europeans have to look for a modus vivendi at their Eastern, Western and Southern borders. They had better monitor what happens at their Northern borders likewise. Blackmailed by trade wars, immigration waves and agression by stealth, they find themselves in a non-enviable position, alone, without Big Brother.

Trump is the cause of this macro-disruption worldwide. It is time to call the evil by its name. If the Americans were to give him four more years, they would confirm all the many (unfair) prejudices that rule in their disfavor. Trump mentioned Normandy, he had better take a walk on Omaha Beach and reflect on what America then fought for. If he were to understand, he might still be saved.  Unfortunately the chances are nihil.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


The president gives himself the medal of genius...meanwhile he sent the Kurds to hell, got himself entangled in a phone call with his Turkish counter part, and exaggerates lies and betrayals even further.

His latest moves go back to Hitler's personal tactics.  After keeping him waiting, Hitler received the Czech state President Emil Hacha who fainted after the Furher's tirade and had to be revived by an injection of Hitler's personal physician. The Windsors, Mitford, Horthy and other sympathizers got the red carpet treatment. True they fell for him and had not to be converted.

Trump's tetes a tetes follow the same pattern. He hardly knows whom he is talking with, shows sloppy interest and kills the allotted time with the American press which shouts questions with total disregard for the guest who looks generally bomb- shelled.  What happens under four eyes is too frightening to imagine.

Now Trump who finds arguments in some underworld argues that there were no Kurds to be seen in Normandy and that for now they can be left to fight for their "land". He forgets that the Americans were always late to board the train of history and that the takers then where the "custodians" of the players today.  But history and manners are to Trump what genuine warmth was for Hitler (notwithstanding a soft-spot for Wagner).

The president pretends to be sickened by America's wars and the bill that comes with them. Indeed he needs to concentrate on the new American civil war, his lawyers and his base which needs to sell its soybeans and coal.  No doubt he will bring a new crusade to the fly-over country and feed the deplorable cultural (?) war and bible class (ironic, coming from a clueless, religion-matters ignorant). Already his electoral winning map is made up and he might yet again win against odds and decency. 

Some pathetic lonely voices in the Republican ranks cannot compensate for the dereliction of the GOP. That Trey Gowdy, infamous since the Benghazi hearings, had to be rescued from oblivion to help manage Trump's dirty tricks speaks for the downward spiral of this administration.  It shows too that the Giuliani spectacle might have met its inglorious end. The Democrats soldier on:  some are smart but came too early, others are enduring but came too late.

Few in NATO or in Ukraine will rejoice...with a ally like Trump better have a more reliable insurance.Alas, poor Yorick !

Monday, October 7, 2019


One can bet on the sad fact that Trump never reads anything regarding situations he has to deal with internationally. He doesn't know if Irbil stands for a capital or for hair-gel. Edward Said, or for that matter any book which might help him in understanding, are unknowns in this White House. Besides, his last press conference with the president of Finland also laid bare his lack of tact and manners in a world where those added values still count. For all to see, the Finish recoiled from the touch of his American "counterpart".

Now he has taken everybody by surprise by throwing the Kurds under the bus. The former fought America's wars by proxy, in Iraq and against ISIS. Now that Trump lives under the illusion that ISIS is defeated and that Iraq is another avatar of history, he decamps, giving Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia a free-hand. His threats against Turkey amount to another hollow bullhorn menace, which even Melania doesn't take seriously.

Some Republicans suddenly are seeing the writing on the wall.  The military/diplomatic establishment in Washington, already shaken by the avalanche of gaffes and lies, woke up finally to the new world order, wherein America got the "self-portrait film" it deserves:  Joker. This millennium death wish, inhabited by a "cackle", reminds all of this president's daily vulgar shouts on the south lawn.

The Kurd death sentence is a form of genocide by absentia. Normally such a drastic policy reversal should result through consultations with Congress, allies and warnings to foes. Reference was made to a prior phone conversation (again) with the Turkish president, one of Trump's favorite playmates (with Duterte, Kim, Putin, Bolsonaro & Co). Everybody knows by now that the telephone is to Trump what a match is to an arsonist.

How much has America to swallow before it finally chokes ? It might be of their own doing, but this minority president (by popular vote) has to finally be stopped and disposed of, one way or another. The Democrats continue their absurdist game of  Agatha Christie's 10 Little Niggers. At least with her there were none at the end.  Here they overstay and underwhelm. The president runs the show, not because he is good at it but because democracy in America is becoming a thing of the past. 35% of American voters can make the electoral college tumble and give the Joker again four more years.

Monday, September 30, 2019


Greta Thunberg, climate activist and nightmarish adolescent came to New York.  She saw, listened and spoke out, but, unlike Caesar, she did not win. The usual applause and the pledges heard in the UN were more deja vu than game-changers. Too bad, because the danger is real. Alas, too many announcements about announcements are unconvincing carbon dioxide stoppers. 

Separate initiatives like the one coming from Michael Bloomberg might bring a sense of needed reality in the over- idealist vocabulary. The projections for the years to come are frightening indeed. The oceans which are already clogged with unfriendly rebut might strike back sooner than we think.

The Trump administration is at war with conservation, nature and clean air. Others like i.a. Brazil, Indonesia, large parts of Africa, are equally climate-indifferent or climate shy (EU). The "active" polluters feel emboldened since the "passive" polluters hide behind measures that are platonic, mostly symbolic (the war against plastic straws) or without sanction. 

The Paris Agreement was a modest step in a shared ambition and concern. Trump couldn't get rid of it it but by withdrawing.  He weakened it enough to be able to go on his killing spree in the United States, where he tries to push for energy and coal to roam unhindered! He has set once again an example made in hell.

Greta's outburst was kind of pathetic. That it was heard by millions all over the world proves nevertheless that she is right! I hope she doesn't get a Nobel accolade which only will end up making the exceptional banal. 

Friday, September 27, 2019


After the lies and the corruption were laid bare for all to see in this president's conducting "diplomacy", the full range of the White House's dirty tricks is now being activated.

The whistle-blower and Representative Adam Schiff are on Trump's hit list. The former is named a "spy" while the latter  is enjoined to resign. The House speaker might as well hide to stay alive. 

The Democratic leadership for once is trying to set a tone of some dignity, rooted in governance and precedent, going back to the Founders. Trump chooses yet again the gutter over breed, destroying chances for a more dignified, chastened outcome (which is still possible under the safeguards in the existing impeachment proposal). 

The American political debacle, which alienates former allies and placates autocrats of all creeds, is entering a phase of overdrive. 

Trump is to the United States what Pinochet was to Chile. The denial of truth is no longer some form of nervous disorder. It is a strategy of a few, who are dismantling the fabric of democracy for the benefit of a ruling mafia which seeks material gain during the allotted time of "occupation". This mafia net is supported by an international coterie of equally unsavory leaders outside, and by a Christian jihad inside.

Pinochet used similar stepping-stones to slowly reverse diversity, generosity, and correct governance. At the end,the pockets of resistance proved to be stronger than the evil who had stormed the La Moneda presidential Palace in Santiago. Pinochet was another gift of the US to the world.

We are not there yet in this troubling America. Unfortunately, especially for democracies worldwide, the flavor of the "made in the USA" has become debased. It will be hard to change course in the short-term. The Republicans have become a rat pack of Brownshirts and the Democrats are having a hard time corralling their better intentions in a mobilizing alternative.

Did one ever think one had to feel sorry, not for what the Americans do to others (Vietnam, Iraq...) but for what they have brought on themselves?  Spengler's assertion applies to the USA now, with the greetings of Donald J. Trump. The asphalt civilization is a hard-sell.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


The House Speaker finally gave in and spoke out in favor of impeachment. The fury in the ranks of Democrats could no longer be ignored. Public opinion remains divided but largely stuck in shared disbelief, given the antics of a president who cannot stick to a single, convincing line of defense.

One should beware of underestimating Trump. When cornered, he counter attacks and his bite can match his bark. For now the Republicans stick with their leader. The Democrats are still in need of some discipline and of a more coherent, structured procedural game-plan than the unconvincing approach suggested by Mrs. Pelosi. This upcoming royal battle should be a confrontation and not a melee

The future is risky and unpredictable. This outcome remains politically risky and fraught with "unknowns". The usual sloppy Democratic approach does not bode that well for the "containment" of more undesirable opportunistic side-shows. At the end of the day there was no other alternative. Doing nothing would only have increased the disgust and depression which prevail now. So, impeachment became an outcome imposed rather than a rational, informed option of choice.

The Ukraine dossier is a difficult one. It shouldn't become a trap. The story feels like an Eric Ambler scenario. The main players look often more tired and old than pepped up. The moment is somber. This storm might bring to life King Lear's more desperate undoing. The speaker is obviously aware of her role in history and sets a tone which is right in format. The Democrats have to live up to a higher call and not indulge in their usual moral confusion.

Trump was never a man of "destiny". Now that he is wounded the Democrats need to prepare for what is coming and what will be ugly. America will be confronted on a daily basis with dirt, tweets, personal an election year! The system will be under attack on all sides. Trump pays the price for having sold for too long his weaponized souffle for the real thing. After this three year non-stop moral aggression, the body of politics will fight back, finally. The confrontation needs actors who can live up to their task. For now, I don't see any. This play might be a bummer for all, an outcome to avoid.

Alain Locke said that the "American temperament is of all temperaments the least reflective and knows itself so ill ". Sounds today like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


If the EU looks blase, the US feels "exhausted/exhausting".

It seems as if the horizontal breakdowns of political mores and behavior are in free-fall, presided over by a president who is breaking the morale of the whole country. His occupation of the media by sheer strategy or by leaking successive scandals does not leave any room for decompression. After almost three years of this descent into chaos, the TV series, the shared vocabulary, the arts are all infected by this Trump plague which covers now the remains of the "normal heart" under the ashes of bad intentions. One can no longer see or represent Macbeth or Julius Caesar without Trump as understudy. Shakespeare deserves better.

Europeans, rightly so, are asking if it might not be better to distance themselves from such a lying, untrustworthy "partner".  Putin's breaking of the rules is another perverse way of recognizing their legitimacy. Trump tramps on them like some beast out of a Marvel script. The president-elect of the EU spoke out in favor of the need to defend European values. She is right, since these were the core of the Atlantic shared DNA. The former was attractive for so long, for so many, because it was open to "otherness" which was often slow to catch on but never lost its appeal.  The United States became in a fortnight a model scorned, distrusted and, in the end, a self-defeating aberration for now. No one Republican isn't somewhere a "client" of the Trump Syndicate.  No one Democrat looks in the short term to be able to smash the statue of the gold-plated traitor/idol to pieces. The polls are not good for the president but the mano-a-mano is a sport he excels in and wherein no Coubertin or Queensberry rules apply. Only Senator Warren gives the impression to be a match...almost. She has the intellectual drive and stamina, driven by sincerity and decency. She is not (yet) an international known commodity, but better to choose a newcomer than trust a swindler .

Other countries have lost empires, their soul, their self-esteem but here we witness the first post "artificial intelligence" suicide en direct.  Even Nero would stop playing the harp if confronted with the magnitude of the catastrophe he unleashed. Other countries recovered, regretted, changed course. This one now sticks with the curse over the remedy. The elections in 2020 will be a guaranteed horror show. Trump might lose, but win or lose, America will for a long time have lost the often hapless but universally envied dream of the past.  Another unknown is to try predicting what Trump might do if he loses. His surprises never end and there are not enough Chinese cookies to hold the answer for what comes after November 2020.

Monday, September 9, 2019


Who ever invented this town by the way ?

It is hopeless trying to avoid here the topics which occupy the talk in New York. But there are differences. The main one being that while the Republicans in the US follow Trump like sheep suffering from dementia, Europeans seem to wake up to the danger of complacency regarding their ill chosen leaders.

The British P.M. is making such a mess of his Grand Brexit plan that he might as well start to consider changing his suit for an inmate uniform. Unlike their American counterparts, the Conservatives start to wave the flag of "enough". Besides,  Brexit has become so toxic that the EU members which considered a similar outcome have given up on the idea. 

Italy is getting back to normal, almost. King Putin received a black eye of sorts. Nevertheless he remains, albeit reluctantly, admired for his skills. Trump (the Weatherman made in USA) remains derided and mostly despised. The EU awaits the new Commission  under the leadership of president elect Ursula Von Der Leyen. The expectations run high. So are the challenges : immigration, ECB, climate change/environment, foreign policy challenges in the near and far abroad.

The general mood within the EU feels nevertheless cynical,  given that the global conversation is overshadowed by malfunctions, even in the most solid appearing countries (China). President Macron is probably the only inspiring leader now but the autumn leaves in France might be less harmless than the ones in the song.

Brussels may be the right place for hosting the EU after all. It is equally opaque and shapeless. It needs a mayor as much as Europe needs creative leadership. The new woman -steel and charm- at the helm of the EU might just be the persona needed for Europe. Brussels can wait ... plus ca change...this is still Belgium after all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Biarritz can be a little spooky, with Napoleon III's ghost playing phantom of the Second Empire opera. Count on President Macron to light it up.

The G7 meeting was a Blitz wherein French panache took over from the American president's usual rants, which start to test everybody's endurance. Trump's pack of lies and mistakes did not find an audience there.  Leaders were too happy to let France take the lead. The two scrooges--the US and Brazil-- didn't find any fans. America's empty chair during the enlarged climate change meeting was another indication of political impotence. That the French got the Iranian foreign minister to stop by for a bilateral "happy hour" was a diplomatic coup, obliging the Trump entourage to hide for cover.

Nevertheless the next G7 in 2020 will take place in the United States and promises to be of a different nature, a recipe of sound and fury. Trump, in appropriate Mobutu fashion, will open his hotel (with a price tag) and Putin will almost certainly figure on the guest list. Since the Russians will intervene in the US presidential elections, it is only normal that the Kremlin landlord will make sure that everything goes to his plan.

More seriously the Biarritz meeting made clear that the Trump brand doesn't sell anymore. The Americans finally start to wake up to the nightmare they endure non-stop.  The world is no longer amused and intrigued by this accidental aberration. This dysfunctional administration is stuck in the many wars and tweets which are supposed to be the little red vade mecum opus of the Trumpian thought. What follows is a matinee farce. Meanwhile serious world leaders are getting used to disguising their lack of interest in America's wanderings under the cover of flattery. The closer the US elections become, the crazier the White House will act. The most bizarre initiatives and moves will befall the spectators, like algorithms from Marvel.

Europe now has a major opportunity under a new Commission and with a creative policy-making machine, freed from Washington's shackles. It would nevertheless be self-defeating to go on a war path with Washington--this, too, will pass. Meanwhile interests will diverge. The EU might push even harder in situations wherein multilateral sophistication can be more in demand than unilateral whims: Korea, Kashmir, Iran, Ukraine, trade, WTO, climate, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Helsinki Final Act, human rights. Europe does not intend to be the final power broker.  Its hard-power is too negligible almost, but its soft-power (avec l'accent francais) can open doors and minds. Besides, there will be no deluge after Trump, just a long convalescence.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019


The first symptoms of the president's bizarre mental shock waves don't date from yesterday. In his Trump Tower days, he showed already his unbalanced self.  Now the "non-stop talk show" in the White House feels totally off the rails. To insult Denmark, to disparage American Jews, to bring the G8 back to life, and to take the NRA for a pas de deux in one single day might figure in the Guinness Book of Broken Dreams.

Not long ago other mistakes (grammar, data) added salt to the main course of thousand and one lies. Fatigue and blase attitudes became a sort of Maginot Line which protected Americans from total depression. Now this line of defense, together with Trump's wall, have disappeared in some Remembrance of Truth Lost.

Soon America might arrive at a Richard III finale without a kingdom and without a horse. The situation is dire indeed. The allies sulk, the rivals cannot believe their luck in having this fool for "partner", the economy might just tank and the promised miracle infrastructure is just another promise thrown under the bus.  The Democrats vie for being "first in the class" while they should go to Gladiator class and learn how to get the best of the Beast.

The meeting between Presidents Macron and Putin in a setting made for To Catch a Thief  looked enchanted...what a contrast in being able to remain polite in disagreement and civil in choice of words and style. Trump will end up having only Boris Johnson as buddy. They seem made for each other, and for a remake of Dumb and Dumber.

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Les immeubles peuvent s'effondrer . Les pays aussi. Ensuite il arrive que les uns et les autres se reconstruisent. Entre-temps le trou noir qu'ils ont cree se remplit de dechets et de rebut.

L'Amerique aujourd'hui vit un cauchemar sorti d'un roman qui aurait pu etre inspire par un geant illisible comme Melville. Autour d'une creature pathologique les murs s'affaissent, un a un, comme des falaises . Le decisions suspectent  en amont creent des crises previsibles en aval. Les premieres sont souvent le fruit de l'intemperance ou de l'improvisation. Les dernieres sont difficiles a gerer. En tout cas, les oscillations deviennent des secousses.

On assiste en direct aux convulsions de feu le reve americain, a son agonie. Le mepris a remplace le chagrin, les recents fiascos detronent les succes passes et les fautes couvrent desormais le chemin des avancees.

Laisse entre les mains d'une personnalite de plus en plus infrequentable  -avec son entourage opportuniste- le pays n'est plus a prendre, il est a ramasser. En realite les Etats-Unis sont devenus le fief d'entrepreneurs des pompes funebres. Dans presque tous les domaines, les progres d'hier sont demanteles, qu'il s'agisse du climat, de l'environnement,de l' energie, de la societe pluraliste, de l' immigration eclairee, de la justice, ou de l'habitat. Le Sud redevient presque une copie conforme de l'Afrique du Sud du temps de l'Apartheid. Les religions  apocalyptiques se multiplient. Deja le nombre d'armes a depasse celui des habitants.  Au Texas on exhibe son fusil comme un diplome qui ouvre les portes. La verite est remplacee par l'alternative, tandis que les nouvelles trafiquees occupent les media (avec le soutien actif de la Russie). L'ancienne premiere puissance a range ses principes dans le vestiaire de l'histoire. Les oubliettes affichent "complet".

Cette mauvaise saison en enfer risque de durer si Trump emporte les prochaines presidentielles. Cela est possible puisqu'il suffit d'avoir le soutien du college electoral, a defaut de majorite. Bel exemple de democratie! Il est vrai que les Democrates ne brillent ni par leurs idees, ni par leurs candidats. Les plus credibles d'un changement intelligent peuvent difficilement rassembler la masse critique qui leur est necessaire.

Les defis sont nombreux. A l'exterieur le sabordage de l'accord avec l'Iran et du TPP (Trans Pafic Patnership) laissent les USA isoles. Il est a prevoir que le nouveau P.M. Britannique quittera a son tour l'accord avec l'Iran pour recevoir en retour un accord commercial bilateral avec Trump (pour qui tout est sujet a trasaction).  Deja on voit combien l'evolution a Hong Kong est banalisee par l'administration americaine, comme si les accords souscrits par la Chine n'etaient en realite qu' intentions et voeux pieux. Sous Trump Washington  n'a pas hesite une seule fois a decevoir ses allies, a fermer les yeux devant les ecarts de ses presumes "favoris" et a se delester de toute ambition morale. Entre les voltes-face et entrechats ce sont les sautes d'humeur de Trump qui determinent desormais l'avenir des Etats Unis.

Ce president presente, altere, ment, trompe, comme il respire. Entre accusations gratuites, arrangements envisages et perfidies a repetition, le Moyen Orient attend, l'economie se fragilise et les alliances declinent. L'Amerique promise lors de l'investiture du president a une grande revision attend toujours l'infrastructure promise, la reconciliation annoncee et la Renaissance promise. Or on vit dans un stand de tir et dans une polarisation qui s'aggrave de jour en jour.

L'Amerique majoritaire se rend compte qu'elle aura difficile a gagner la "coupe" qu'elle merite. Les des sont fausses. La Californie qui est a elle seule, une des grandes puissances mondiales, a deux senateurs comme les Dakotas (ou il n'y a pas un chat) qui comptent egalement chacun deux elus au Senat. La strategie republicaine se concentre sur quelques etats miteux qui font la difference, a defaut de la majorite. A cela s'ajoute un element capital : la guerre larvee entre villes et campagne, entre laicite et religion. Or Trump beneficie de l'appui des "Evangelicals" pour avoir choisi les rives du Jourdain avec Netanyahu comme passeur ou comme acolyte. Pendant ce temps les intellectuels qui n'y croient plus boudent et se jettent en masse sur leur Xanax pour se calmer.

Garcia Lorca vivant aurait sans doute ecrit un poeme "La mort de la verite". Une cabale de souffleurs, type Stephen Miller et Kellyanne Conway, prescrivent un scenario que les adeptes de la mort de la nature, du beau et de l'emotion mettent en pratique. Fox news s'applique a euthanasier le vrai, tandis que Trump propage ses tweets comme un gaz asphixiant.  Ses tweets apres les dernieres fusillades a Dayton et El Paso meritent la palme d'or de l'ignoble.

Michel Houellebecq recommanderait un comprime de Serotonine pour "passer le temps mechant". Aux Etats-Unis, la vie normale n'est plus a la portee de tout le monde.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


The current events in Hong Kong have a lot in common with the mood which preceded the Tienanmen protests (15 April/4 June, 1989). But, there is one major difference insofar as the Chinese leadership is not split now like it was then, between Premier Li Peng and Zhao Ziyang, general secretary of the Party. President Xi Jinping has no rivals in personalities or ideas.

It is doubtful that today's young protesters in Hong Kong are all that familiar with the many caveats of Hong Kong's handover to China. On June 30 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region, governed by the Basic Law. The "One country, two systems" is supposed to remain unchallenged until 1 July, 2047. The Joint Declaration between Beijing and London left the Chinese with the keys but also guaranteed -in principle- Beijing's "better behavior". In fact the territory came to resemble a treaty port of an earlier era. This illusion did not last long. While China is smart enough not to jeopardize Hong Kong's immense added financial and economic values, it is committed not to give the Noble House's pluralistic laissez faire a free pass.

Today's unrest comes at a most difficult moment. The protesters' concerns might end up being ignored because Beijing's weight in world affairs has become too resolute to be challenged. The American administration will prefer not to add to the bilateral problems it has with China. Trump who neither smokes nor drinks alcohol is in equal terms a human rights abstainer. Maduro & Co. only wait for the moment China crushes the kids in Hong Kong, while America looks elsewhere.

One must hope that the sober minds will prevail in Hong Kong. After all, the political values benefit from the economic multiplicative. One must avoid at all cost arriving at "One country, two pressures"--one from the Middle Kingdom, the other from the business community in Hong Kong which does not intend to compromise a modus vivendi which is not ideal but manageable. Hong Kong will never be Monaco and is, in fact,  better, more interesting than the Mediterranean dorm for the old, the rich and the dubious. Too some extent the Pearl River Delta has become more Hong Kong than not.  Whatever the Chinese want Shanghai to be, it will never become the Twin City in the middle. 

Hong Kong is the sum of luck, money and location. The Chinese are masters of that game. The young are right to stick to the spirit of past arrangements but since nobody will come to the rescue, it is wise to choose caution over encouragement. Mrs. Thatcher knew what was winnable or not. Conversely she acted wisely. If we are with the women and men in the streets who fight for the continuity of their rights, we must ask them to reclaim their future rather than the airport.

A third party is watching : Taiwan.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


The gun violence in the United States is relentless. The moral abdication is structural. Republicans are on the payroll of the National Rifle Association. Some Democrats are too. When they try to come up with a clear condemnation, they mostly triangulate. The Second Amendment curse (like the electoral college) is exchanging the moral currency for Bitcoin profit.

Trump reluctantly read the words of others from a teleprompter and his "intervention" might as well have been written by Stephen Miller--all about anything, but guns! Some Democrats and commentators rose to the occasion but few were able to rise to the emotion. 

For almost three years now, racism and radical conservatism roam free. After a brief lull, from the Bush years to Obama, a foul headwind is again covering the land. The Trump rallies are a frightening spectacle, a Mad Max-type of ritual wherein adepts of a weird cult can spew freely their beans and ketchup bile under the baton of the president. 

In their latest debate, most Democrats looked like exhausted baby-boomers. Uninspired, they found nothing better to say than to go after Obama, accused by stealth of having been too soft, too aloof, while he has an approval rate among Democrats of 90%. The younger set--O'Rourke, Buttigieg--showed skill in holding on to the high ground. In this turmoil, Biden looked dignified, but almost too polite, for the occasion.

Someone said that the current depression in America is produced by the fact that Trump is a "phenomenon" without antecedent, and with no foreseeable successor. He has been linked to mad Roman emperors and to Europe-made arch-villains. In fact he is totally home-grown, like corn flakes on steroids. America was always better at making fads rather than styles. This current craze will end but the negative over- achievements will be hard to roll back. Not that they are sophisticated, on the contrary. They are fed by short-term gain: money, prejudice, ersatz salvation! This president spoke in his inaugural of the American disaster, and he intends to remain the preacher and the owner of the perverse instincts unleashed.

Fatal mistakes or rage could plunge this failing superpower abroad in a miserable landscape on life-support. The moral, intelligent majority stays home and prefers to watch Tarantino on Netflix, rather than to be confronted by it, live. Broadway used to belong to a sophisticated mindset. It is now overtaken by a Moulin Rouge collage without any merit. The current overproduction of great fiction results from an intellectual greenhouse effect. Many Americans prefer now to read in some form of seclusion, home or on a tablet, because, if unprotected by fiction, they might experience that in a fortnight the Soweto police dogs took over their neighborhood.

Friday, July 26, 2019


The Democrats hoped that Robert Mueller's testimony last Wednesday would be a bang which might have left the Republicans K.O. In reality his comments were devastating for Trump indeed, but the absence of emotion killed any form of outrage and drama. Mueller, by temperament or deliberate choice, preferred the role of accountant rather than the part of accuser.

It was also noticeable that not a single Republican contested any of Mueller's findings. They ignored rather than engaged. The hydrogen bomb in the White House must feel relieved that the former damage done was not revived and that the Special Prosecutor's halting presentation spoke more of old age than of legal vigor.  In situations as these any faux pas or hesitation  is weaponized.

The Democrats missed a chance. They might try again (Don McGahn, the Kushner duet) but the Republican Stahlhelme should not be underestimated. If the Democrats fight a messy, often incoherent battle for principle, the Republicans follow a disciplined path for gain. Material considerations make for better cement than lofty indignation.

To impeach or not to is now the Democrats' difficult choice,  rendered even more hazardous since the outcome is certain. Under the current circumstances impeachment is dead on arrival. The added value might nevertheless be that the Republicans would be obliged to address the real issue rather than wasting time in mostly gratuitous personal attacks on the four Democratic congresswomen, defined as "the squad". They are loud but certainly not without merit or cause. Mostly they should be seen less as "the quatuor from hell"--as described by the Republicans--and more as individual defenders of rational recrimination.

The Democrats had better rally soon around a candidate and quit this shadow boxing among themselves, which only fires up Trump's glee. Such a candidate should possess Warren's mind, Harris' punch and Buttigieg's self-control...Hard to find.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Prof. Samuel Huntington wrote one of the most (alas) prophetic books of the last century:  The Clash of Civilizations. This brilliant projection into the looking-glass suggested the difficult reconfiguration of the familiar world order.  His premonition that "cultural" communities were going to replace former post- Cold War blocs has been confirmed by facts, for all to see. Maybe he did not foresee to what extent those agonizing blocs were also going to fray themselves from the inside, adding  home-grown existential fatigue to the external hybrids that are laying siege.

America's benevolent hegemony (Francis Fukuyama) is no longer.  Yesterday's "grand idea" is now downgraded to a "country", like any other almost, but becoming less desirable by the hour. Its attractive drive has been neutralized by an indigenous right-wing coup, that favors a self-centered, dystopian and basically pessimistic algorithm.  Places other than the US do not fare much better, if the rise of neo- Colbertism and of a nefarious populism is taken into consideration. Indeed, places, countries, no-man's lands, institutions, which were deemed "flood free" are now at the mercy of rising waters. America is no longer at the crossroads, as Francis Fukuyama suggested. It is in free-fall since the 2016 takeover.  Europe and the Middle East do not fare better but are mere nuisances. They follow "band aid" policies, which hide, delay and seldom solve. Europe is no longer a project, it is a repair shop. The Bandung spirit was swapped in favor of the short-term interests of ersatz dictators.  Butchery by proxy, often done in the name of "the One who has 99 names," spreads from Manila to Khartoum. Hence the threat is two-fold, on one hand, tension resulting from painful reconfigurations, on the other, insecurity because of the rift of national consensus.

If the West has lost a higher purpose, the former G77 has lost its cohesion and its claim for a higher "reboot". In between, the Chinese and the Russians follow a strict path of cultural (and strategic) recuperation, which appeals in the West to the Steve Bannon (Le philosophe ringard ) strand of thought. He is able to infiltrate and corrupt thought and means of many who, posing as disenchanted elites, never got over the Obama years, accused of having waged a war against the Commandments of white Western thought. Bannon is no Sartre or Marcuse. Nor is he a charlatan. He remains an American "salesman", unloved but driven. He is indifferent to the "pursuit of happiness" and chooses a place where he does not have to compete with the allure of comity. He respects everything about pluralism other than its uses (paraphrasing Amor Towles.)

Great events lead often to major contributions in the world of creativity. They echo, correct, lament, confirm the strength of the anti-cyclones. Today the shock between negatives does not warrant an easy peak in macro creativity. No Tolstoy or Victor Hugo  appears who could suggest a codex that might arrive at a reckoning of sorts. Maybe painters like Richter and Basquiat come close to understanding the current zero-sum game. No Spielberg will touch the competing requiems of the current days.

The Arabian face-lift dislodged the "spring." The Tour de France totally marginalized the EU makings in Brussels. Boris Johnson puts on his make-up for his Mad Jester entree on the world stage...  Is that where we have ended up?

Still numerous books are published, the French don't have enough cafes to seat their competing philosophes,  the airport-like craze for neurotic architectural reference, dear to Arab and other high-fliers (good for the Jean Nouvel ateliers) flourishes. The new soulless Manhattan Hudson Yards made sur mesure for the rich and for Asian shoppers are bringing China's "new look" to the neighborhood. One used to say:  "This will pass ". Will it? The future shouldn't belong to the handbag.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


Trump is the new Apartheid Hendrik Verwoerd. By attacking the four female members of the House of Representatives--with the right ideas and "the wrong color"--he materialized another sustainable electoral move, making the Democratic Party look like having been taken hostage by a radical fringe.

The strategy now for Nancy Pelosi is to find and consolidate some breathing space for the party as a whole.  Trump has stolen this parenthesis from under her watch. His campaign is already playing the nationalistic card, while the Democrats are pressed to look like the adults in the room.  

True, the majority of Americans are fed up with Trump's non- stop scandals and with the doings of his Cosa Nostra family. Not a day passes without a video, a connection, a corruption, an insult to grammar, to minds and to manners, but many Americans have stopped paying attention since the known presidential daily entertainment has anesthetized them. Chances are that in 2020, a majority will yet again vote against the president but that the constitutional American hocus pocus will deliver the Electoral College in his column. He will come up with every trick to control the news cycle.  We might even see him, more likely in Teheran than in New York (where he is loathed). Everything for a vote...

America is not going to pieces. Yet, given that Trump has set alight the racist brush fire, there is a feeling of an ominous Apartheid-like climate in parts of the country. The same police dogs, not seen since Soweto or Jim Crow, are back. Yes, immigration is a problem. Deportation is not a new phenomenon. What has changed is that the socio-economic problem of yesterday has morphed into a "white purge". This White (!) House has never been whiter. 

It is time to face the music. Notre Dame will rise from the ashes faster than America ever can. The cathedral withstood the onslaught. Before the judiciary, the environment, the psyche  recover in these wounded United States, there will be need for healing first, and much therapy after. 

The Republicans are gone by now. The Epstein/Trump partying in Mar-a-Lago was an indication of the upcoming legions of the vulgar and the rotten. Trump will be a footnote for bad nouveau riche Lebensraum.  Kellyanne might find a remake as Cruella de Ville.  Nosferatu/Miller will be shunned by all. What's next? What about Melania?  She may end up thrown under a bus like her predecessors, but this other immigrant (and her parents) will still do better than the ones who have to hide or run for their lives at the Southern border.

In the future another Lincoln will rise, but America's standing in the world is so low that a Hercullean force will be needed to lift it.

Thursday, July 4, 2019


The EU nouveau est arriveIt could have been more glamorous, but this new team might actually work out well, because of the lack of colliding stars. Madame Lagarde, who is the only heavy weight, is in Frankfurt and will avoid the infamous Brussels turf wars.  The new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, if confirmed, represents a welcome change after Juncker, Joe Biden's twin. Charles Michel can become a creative power-player as president of the European Council. He must try to coral the populist fringe though. After all he was able as prime minister to make Belgium almost function, so  there is hope!

This latest EU episode marks the beginning of the end of Merkel's rule and of the Franco-German leadership, as we knew it. The new Commission must manage the post-Brexit "mourning" period. The departure of the United Kingdom will have unforeseeable consequences on both sides of the Channel. The contradictory situations created cannot be allowed to overtake lasting common interests. Charles Michel will need patience and creative talent to face the negative headwinds coming mostly from Italy and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, the visceral antipathy versus Trump cannot be allowed to mortgage the alliance with the United States. Russia must be engaged, mostly to neutralize the incestuous double-talk in the Visegrad group. 

The EU was supposed to be more than an economic pool of goods, talent and financial might. It is still a project and an ambition which are now mostly steered by the intellectual force of President Macron. He has a far-reaching political/strategic view on world affairs and of the role of the EU therein. One should hope that Germany could still subscribe to a renewed shared-power with France. Certain Gaullist ideas might even resurface. In the past, one might have been too hasty in condemning the plan Fouchet or in denigrating de Gaulle's misgivings regarding London's intentions. After all, he alone was right about China, Vietnam, Algeria. Impossible men (de Gaulle, FDR, Churchill, Keynes, Mandela, Nehru, Tito, Chou en Lai, inter alia) are entitled to magnanimous hearings.

Brussels is too pedestrian to host men or women with unusual abilities. Baudelaire was merciless and even the Brontes couldn't take it too long. Nevertheless Brussels is there to stay, faute de mieux. The EU is a very big organism in a very small, cluttered capital. It feels sometimes as if the Belgian "proximity" might become contagious and that the Berlaymont absurdity is only rivaled by the Palais de Justice, so cynically described by W. G. Sebald. 

Ursula van der Leyen will need a big broom. Since she was German minister of defense she must be familiar with Clausewitz. In these current times of fragmentation he might be better reading than Robert Schuman, alas. Other newcomers  like Robert Menasses's Die Haupstadt could suggest a road map of sorts. Indeed in Brussels, no one can hear you scream (Danish TV series Borgen).

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


Vlaams Minister President Liesbeth Homans (Cruella Deville) noemde de Belgische vlag een "vod". Dat is haar recht. Haar woordkeuze past bij haar soort "humor" en look (?) .In haar persoon zendt een brok Vlaanderen  zijn "selfie" uit. Gelukkig is er de rest.

Dat de koning deze grove politica hoffelijk heeft ontvangen spreekt voor zijn uithoudingsvermogen.


The border pas de deux between the North Korean and American leaders was Mack Sennett-like. The two have similar bodies, share extravagant hair styles and gaits. They might even go to the same tailor. The young, shrewd one plays Antinous to this vain Hadrian made in the USA, who acted smitten and oblivious of where he was and clueless regarding the meaning of Panmujom. He counted on his usual "charm,"  breaking all normal diplomatic etiquette and again pimping his daughter to play the Mata Hari part in this "comedy of errors", coming after her "performance" in the G-20.

In his unfortunate pattern of behavior, Trump continues to look for takers among the same coterie of authoritarians who haunt today's Cote d'Azur, Panama City or NYC real estate. Has one ever noticed a single intellectual or career diplomat in the president's entourage? True, the owner of a massage parlor found her way (and her customers) in Mar-a-Lago.  There is room for progress after all.

I wish the opposition of the decent Americans would wake up to the scandal of the immigration "summer camps"in the new American Mondo Cane reality show.  Some Democrats like Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris give all hope that the torch is not extinct. For sure there are Republicans who have a conscience, if only they had a voice.

The Korean intermezzo is just the beginning.  As the elections come closer, the more the White House unpredictable yo-yo will become the norm. The coming 4th of July celebration will set the tone of things to come--more Mussolini than Washington. Flaubert argued that universal suffrage was as stupid as divine right, even if somewhat less odious. He might be proven right again in 2020 if one wins because too many prefer not to show up.

Sunday, June 30, 2019


The debates between the Democrats were long, repetitive and mostly boring. Too much has been said about about Kamala Harris "performing" and about Joe Biden "under performing". Senators Warren, Booker and Sanders confirmed that they were smart but did not show that they were "dating material". This debate had a traffic jam air. 

The current accelerated American downfall was mostly ignored as if the candidates were dealing with a case of flu, while the patient is actually terminal (Foreign Affairs July/August 2019). The only candidate who made a lasting impression was Pete Buttigieg. His demeanor, his intellectual control were impressive.

Trump's latest bombe surprise with Kim Jong-un was yet again a master stroke, showing the distance he favors between his whims of power and serious diplomacy. He is not interested in the world or , for that matter, in a concert of nations and cultures. He intrudes, breaks and never cleans up. NATO, WTO, TPP are all in need of repair. His attention span being what it is, he prefers the matinee reality show (a genre in which he excels) rather than indulging in policy making (which is alien to his temperament). Nevertheless his few steps on North Korean ground resonate already ! He steals yet gain the show, leaving the Democrats, packed in a bus to nowhere, livid.

American hooliganism is the trademark of this administration. The former soft-power which was envied and copied is no longer.  Under Trump, the base will assemble cars nobody wants, make foodstuffs nobody cares about and merchandise medication nobody can afford. At the same time, Asia is outsmarting America everywhere. In Europe Trump might find in Boris Johnson a fellow wrecker of better manners and uxorious discretion.

Nothing lasts forever, but the United States should beware of four more years if they still have the intention to try reversing a total meltdown. The Democrats play with smart ideas, but they look totally devoid of a strategy, being too busy booby-trapping each other. Some candidates are too old, some are supposed to be too young and the middle ground is as inspiring as a window display of a dry cleaner. JFK and Obama were considered too young then, so is Pete Buttigieg today. Better risk betting on a star rather than losing with recycled scrap. 

America is in free-fall. Large parts of the world might follow suit. Trump America is despised by its reluctant allies. It only scores with its cynical competitors who have found in this pathological persona the accomplice of a lifetime.

Europe finds itself in a non-enviable position. The EU will have to deal with a UK that might well fall apart. Russia has received a free-pass to meddle; Merkel is on the way out; Macron is probably the best choice for safeguarding some form of creative coherence but the Francophobia is stubborn.

Buttigieg is cognizant of the world and of the fatal former  illusion of the end of history. He knows which windows are still open and is all too aware that the innovation comes mostly from the East, while the middle Atlantic is in need of emergency repair. He might be the miracle worker, if not now, then in 2024. He and Macron could be the Castor and Pollux of a renewed alliance. How aged the ideas of the others would look like can dream.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


Le paradoxe veut que les livres dont on parle le plus sont presque toujours ceux que l'on lit le moins. Pourtant ils restent ancres, familiers, presents . Macbeth ou Madame Bovary sont comme des relations proches, mais a longue distance . 

Les reliures sont souvent des caveaux ou Proust, Balzac, Shakespeare et Russes de tout genre restent ensevelis sans autopsie. Flaubert n'a jamais dit " Madame Bovary, c'est moi " ; tout le monde se reclame de" l'etre ou ne pas etre " sans jamais avoir avoir approche Hamlet. 

On peut se  poser la question de savoir si l'addiction a la tablette est encore reversible. Pourquoi le serait-elle ? Au demeurant elle sera bientot rattrapee par un nouveau gadget qui, mine de rien, reinventera la regle du jeu.

On est de toute facon entre dans un nouveau cycle ou l'image est trafiquee et ou l'histoire est amendee. Meme les nouvelles sont desormais manipulees. Les gens ont une faculte d'absorption perverse quasi illimitee. Les humanites d'hier reposent dans un cenotaphe, ou l'on enterre des morts dont on a oublie qu'ils ont vecu.

Certes il y aura toujours Shakespeare. A Stratford les "croyants"  continuent a essayer de pieger l'auteur, en vain. Il beneficie de toute facon d'un bail emphyteotique dans Wikipedia...

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


President Obama was spotted in Provence and Italy. It confirms he has "taste".

Nevertheless...America today needs consoling and reassuring. Nobody is better suited than the former president to reach out. Unfortunately he appears to be out of reach lately, while the country finds itself in a collective meltdown. He alone is suited to convey the message that the current American occultation can be rolled back.

In the absence of a leader of the opposition, Americans need at least to hope that their choice is more than just a raffle between the same old candidates and pretenders who might be ahead of their time.

People in search of reassurance might feel lost, seeing the former president in a too-gilded distance, while the country is in free-fall. They want their stolen emotions returned--the image of Aylan Kurdi, drowned in the Mediterranean, was traumatizing. Now we come face to face with the deaths of Oscar and Valeria in the Rio Grande, next door.   Help us out!


New York City can feel crass, hopelessly divided between race  and location. It also can be exhilarating, creative, fun. Sometimes it gives in to its better angels, as during the 9/11 tragedy or for the MeToo movement. This week, 50 years after Stonewall, the city looks ready to own its gay "Selma moment". Many bridges were crossed in 50 years, but many remain blocked all over America.

Grievances and indignation do not need to pile up. They are  also separated by their upstream history and diverse gravity. They might eventually come together historically, but such occurrences are the exception.

Gay Pride has become a shared, consensual event. In Manhattan today, the town appears to have been taken over by "rainbow fever." The LGBTQ community co-owns many levels and niches of society in NYC. The visibility has become a given, the often economic and creative cloud a political "entry pass". Fortunately, maturity also comes with a sense of  contemporary civility and inclusion. Yesterday's extravaganza warfare is no longer needed to get attention. Nor should it be deprecated. It is "history". Today is an other story, which appeals to a variety of participants...less colorful but rooted in a "past Bonfires age.

There is a need for another "rainbow" which appeals to all persons and all genders. A large coalition is coming together, in opposition to the populist, bigoted agenda of Trump & Co.. After World War II Americans flocked to Paris, where intellectual and sexual freedom ruled the streets. Today many of yesterday's European avenues risk being closed. Every person who searches for freedom had better start closer to home now, reclaiming the rights that could be stolen in plain view. The agenda of Gay Pride needs to be revisited. It must go further than just the "close abroad".  Climate, social engineering, health care, immigration, gun control, require a mobilization of all. AIDS is partially cured at the scandalous price of thousands of lives, lost in misery and ostracism. Should one push the repeat button and give the scorched-earth policies of the populist mafiosi another lethal free reign? There is a time when legitimate separate grievances and agendas must merge. Stonewall remains relevant but the delta of demands must reclaim a "shared" riverbed. It is time to forego the costume once and for ever and go for the mind and soul. 

"Gradualism"is no virtue here.

Sunday, June 23, 2019


Before taking the escalator and the USA down, Trump was a fixture in local tabloids and on a TV reality show. His persona veered between that of a playboy for Page Six and a louche boss who had to contend with the seedy side of Atlantic City (there is no other).

Arriving at the White House like a mad croupier, he must have asked himself how to continue on his path to diplomatic jeopardy. He could have gathered seasoned diplomats around him and gone for a retreat at Monticello. Instead he chose to visit the home of Andrew Jackson. Besides that empty gesture (he knew nothing of his unloved predecessor other than what Steve Bannon had suggested to him for a photo-op), that most uncharismatic president now has his portrait in the president's Oval Office (which now looks like some executive Hilton suite).

After two years of turmoil, Trump's "thinking" has become clear. Everything is entertainment, is done for bluff, noise, repetitive added value.  His Saudi visit was a remake of Aladdin, his North Korea idyll followed in the steps of A Star is Born, Europe is a never-ending Who's Afraid of..., China is a sequel to Pearl Buck: The 'Rare' Earth.  Israel--with Bibi and all the Trumps--is The Trapp Family 5, Iran is Bond without Ursula...and one can go on.

To take Trump seriously is to confuse sequel and consequence. The former is for the "base", the latter is for the "concerned". In a derelict landscape of allies snubbed, values overturned and given words broken Godzilla roams alone, driven by the sole need to stick to prime time. The more serious-minded beasts talk among themselves meanwhile, out of view.

This American summer risks being most unpleasant because the one who sets the tone and the agenda is only driven by his own scent. America and the world have become special effects for his own adornment.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


The past foreign policy of the United States can be resumed in a pursuit for order. American leadership was uneven, imposed  or ambivalent, moralistic or cynical, but never questioned--that is--until now. The Westphalian system has fallen out of grace. The obsession regarding the menace of an entente between Moscow and Beijing, which had to be avoided at any price, looks almost parochial in the mindset of the current administration. The traditional modern diplomatic vernacular, starting with Stanley Hoffmann and defined by Dr. Henry Kissinger, is no longer. 

It is certainly not necessary to cling to the past, given that under the veneer of often brilliant abstractions, colossal blunders were made. On the other hand the world doesn't deserve to be hit by the brutality of the Trump meteorite. Not only is the "Never the USA against 2" buried under the Putin/ Xi Jinping bromance, but the intermediaries--alliances and multilateral organizations--which were created to monitor or avoid major dislocations are being mothballed. Hence, tensions flare up with no alarm bells around which might otherwise have controled the spread of the damage. Disruption becomes the new normal.

Unfortunately, the consequences of the American "chaos theory" are creating new imbalances which only multiply populism and favor a visceral, anti-intellectual behavior. The Trump presidency is the ultimate party-crasher, disdaining experience and history. It is undermining America's role in the world because it has neither script nor story and ends up aggravating the negatives. One can only be unorthodox as long as one has the savoir-faire to do so.

It is becoming clear that the Americans start to wake up to their sudden isolation in the world. Trump is blamed and is also suspected of creating artificial distractions just to deflect from his pathological behavior. He might overplay his bluff but we are not there yet. He has proven to be a ruthless carpet-bomber.

The Democrats often appear too timid, messy and pusillanimous.  Pete Buttigieg (too controlled?) is probably the smartest candidate, with Kamala Harris (too pugnacious?) . Both look more like comets who enlighten the sky, compared to the meteorite who risks crashing down over their head.

Trump will stop at nothing. He will attempt to steal the elections again through gerrymandering, voter suppression and the census machine. There are no Republicans left. The party is his. If needed, he will likewise storm the international scene to create the surprise du chef .  If the cook is Trump, skip dinner !

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Le deces de ce grand Ministre d'Etat me rend triste.

Je l'ai rencontre plusieurs fois dans mes anciennes fonctions. C'etait un plaisir de pouvoir recevoir une personnalite politique belge qui avait autant d'aisance sociale et intellectuelle. Au demerant sa femme etait a la hauteur d'une complicite en partage, extraordinaire. Ces dernieres annees il a du faire face a la rumeur et a l'accusation. Il a choisi d'affronter  cette "maree basse" avec stoicisme.

Armand De Decker appartenait a une classe en voie de disparition, cultivee, ironique, genereuse.

La Belgique se vide ! Rien que pour le plaisir de le voir  presider l'auguste assemblee de jadis, il eut fallu garder le Senat.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


Trump finally got the state visit to the United Kingdom he craved. The British P.M., on her political deathbed, stood by her previous promise of pomp and pageantry. 

While Trump made an uneven effort of self-control, he could not help looking like the nouveau riche he always is. The crass will always trump the class. That is his destiny. Even when scripted, he cannot hide being lost in a vernacular when it is not his own, devoid of insults and Trumpian neologisms.

Faux pas there were a few, ignored thanks to the nonchalance which is the trademark of the Royals.

All the Trump children, with the exception of Melania's offspring, were there, forming a human shield around the "godfather", dressed up in Barnum's coattails.

The zingers were muted both ways.

In France, Trump found some pebbles on Omaha Beach to throw at Nancy Pelosi who seems to be appearing in his nightmares as some other devil wearing Prada. Few paid attention but the "end of the affair" between Trump and President Macron was for all to see.

In The King and I, the governess ended up taking the lead. In this The Queen and I, the invested ruler took the measure of the deceiver. 

In France the president found some peebles on Omaha beach to throw atn