Monday, June 21, 2021


The meeting between Presidents Putin and Biden in Geneva looked somewhat dim. Some observers expected a new Tilsit or some major gaffe like the one of Trump's performance in Helsinki. Here, the atmosphere was business-like and polite. Nothing substantial transpired but both presidents alluded to eras of cooperation, but also red lines. They seemed eager not to let equiviocation undermine some degree of qualitative understanding.

The possible added-value of such a low-key summit cannot be underestimated. America must indicate in not unclear terms what it stands for again and how it can be a predictable partner in world governance.  After Trump & Co., the bonds of trust need to be reactivated. For sure, Putin will have appreciated to hear from his American counterpart what the US strategic parameters are. 

It is important that a similar meeting might be considered with President Xi. It has to be made clear that the former Kissinger approach of trying to divide Russia and China is no longer a sustainable policy. In the new world order there is now a fluidity which will lead to the rise of diverse, evolving partnerships. One should hope that the EU or NATO will not be totally unprepared to face new challenges and hybrid situations that were absent at the time of their creation.

A measured return to a more globalised vision should not hide the fact that the former main players are back en force.  Covid-19 will be remembered in history books for many reasons. Not only is it still an electro-shock for known former behavior, it showed in a merciless way the limits of globalisation, which fell victim to instinct and survival of the fittest and the richest. Hence, the grand players will have to be very cautious in relaunching a ship if it cannot stand rough seas.

Many countries must arrive at a therapy for their own ills before they atempt to clime the peaks. Russia, China, the US need to restore the equilibrium in their own midst. Even President Biden cannot count on his own flock. The ennemy within might be more lethal than the unfriendly others elsewhere. Russia and China alike hide the rot behind grand performance, for show. The EU looks like the Vatican, all verbiage and few followers.

Biden and Putin gave the impression to have arrived at some form of cool estimation that sobriety is not a bad thing. Leaders might have to realize that the company of unsavoury characters is not only costly but that it might be counter- indicated in the end. What is there to gain in Pyongyang, Caracas or Damascus? They might also make an effort to consider inroads in climate, the dangerous lure of the Antarctic, other pandemics ahead, hunger,  deforestation, the absurdity of space exploration versus the necessity of earth reparation.

Geneva has been the theatre of many strange encounters in politics, science and literature. Let us hope that its reputed calming effect might endure.

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