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.