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.