Friday, August 27, 2021


Yesterday's mayhem in Kabul did not come as a total surprise. The trap was laid for all to see. In deceitful calm or in chaos, terrorists thrive. 

Probably the Talibans are more shellshocked than the Americans. Both claimed control of sorts and seemed to obey a baffling mutually agreed understanding of laissez faire in the zones under their fragile control.

In this pair both are duped. It would be a supreme irony if both turned together against a third unknown (yet) party.  It happened before when the Americans armed the Mujadideen against the Russian occupation (remember Zbigniew Brzezinski at the Kyber Pass?). Cynicism is not in President Biden's DNA but desperate times make strange bedfellows and history is full of outre couplings.

The Ring of Evil goes from West Africa to Afghnaistan.  It looks like a ragtag but it is well organized with its interconnected communication and service apparatus. It tends to come out in given places and on given times when the logistics look advantageous. Kabul was not to be missed. The West is humiliated and the Talibans got a warning.

It is important that the West sticks together and avoids the blame game at all costs. The evildoers might even have achieved an undesirable outcome, obliging Russia and China i.a. to become more pro-active.

The EU should not play the "distant aloof partner" role and should openly support the American president and not give in to its more primitive anti-Americanism, which should remain burried forever. In private, questions should have been raised earlier when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ruled the lies. The public comments heard now in Brussels, NATO and the EU are mystifying... (a suivre).

Thursday, August 26, 2021

FUBAR - Fouled up beyond all recognition.

Leaving Afghanistan is the right decision. Unfortunately, too many collateral questions remain unsolved and the signs are ominous.

Once the Americans (and others) leave, the fate of too many who want to get out could easily end up in tragedy.

Meanwile the airport remains a target for ISIS, while the US looks unprepared or unwilling to leave the airport's perimeter.

The question remains if the US and Western Embassies were able to desactivate and destroy sensitive material.  If the precedent of the whereabouts of the military soft- and hardware that fell into the hands of the Talibans teaches a lesson, it is not a pretty one.

That the head of the CIA met with the Taliban in Kabul without obtaining any concession, is indicative of the unease in Washington and of the resolution of the new masters of Kabul.

Indications are clear that the Taliban will not roll back their core ideology. Nevertheless they will be obliged to enter into some form of sophisticated commerce with the world. Their spokesperson Mohammed Suhail Shaheen acts already as if he were running for a Pulitzer.

The EU/US short-lived romance is back in the Emergency Room.

The Trump-era Doha talks and the roles of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassdor Khalilzad are shrouded in mystery and need clarification.  This lamentable event will have consequences, some foreseeable, some unknown yet.

America has suffered a breakdown. To be right regarding the decision made in principle doesn't suffice if the consequences are out of control. Actually Afganistan looks like a replay of so many European colonial misfires, when the illusion of some "westernized" veneer couldn't hide that most people didn't give a damn.

Imagine the mood in least the Uyghurs may benefit from a warming up between Beijing and Kabul.  Pakistan was essential in the evacuation. It will be interesting to find out what the baksheesh will be.

Voltaire remains as relevant as ever:  Quel livre immense on composerait de tous les faits qu'on a crus, et dont il fallait douter.

Thursday, August 19, 2021


It is too early to arrive at an assessment of the causes that led to the collapse of the ante Taliban. We are even clueless regarding the post take-over yet. One thing is clear, the new rulers learned to "spin" if not to govern (yet) but the sheep skin shoudn't fool anyone.

While most comments deride America, President Biden is right to stick to his guns. This war became totally absurd given that it no longer received the support of the majority of people it pretended to protect. The Kabul clique, installed by countless American administrations, became an affront to sober, informed governance. Some well meaning NGOs and a handful of "intellectuals" tried to boost the little social progress made, but in the end the Sharia law remained in the DNA, stronger than the billboards avertising Western consumer goods reserved for the few.

The new cycle in Kabul must run its course. The continuity of war would have further delayed and, worse, derailed any long-term chance of improvement! By staying, America would have smeared its already tarnished image even further. No later than last year Trump was ready to host the Talibans in Camp David and was negociating with them in the luxury of Doha. 

Criticism of the US is warranted, regarding the intelligence and the various contingencies that were considered and readied on stand-by. The West in general first must now support the Afghans who were employed as fixers, interpreters, etc.  with a safe exit and possible legal status. The Talibans cannot be trusted on their word or generous intentions.

It is impossible to predict what the return of the Talibans will mean for the Afghans and for the region.  A lot is at stake: human rights, geopolitics, drug trade, terrorism. Everybody saw it coming but nobody expected an investment of 20 years occupation (?) to crash at such a speed, from within. 

People who overstay their time end up boring their host. The NATO forces ended up looking like clunky props in the wrong play. They had a lot of hard- and software but no history books. All American presidents since George W. Bush got trapped in the deceiving Afghan looking-glass. It befell President Biden to have the guts to put an end to this travesty which brought honor to none and misery to many. The take-over is not finished and one better readies for unpleasant "man" made (after all they are Talibans) turbulence and mayhem. Old timers like Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah might be willing to give the Talibans cover.

The Talibans must come clear on many issues: women and minorities, rule of law, international relations. It is naive to expect any qualitative movement in the areas of religion, governance, education, or nation rebuilding.

The West will then have to decide how to proceed. It must find a way to help the few who supported pluralism and carefully engage with the many who could never be engaged in the democratic process. There remains Al Qaeda. The Talbans will encounter pockets of resistance (Jalalabad) and despair that might interfere with the projection of a "soft landing" as performed by the new rulers in Kabul.

The Talibans should not condescend to the thousands who want to leave. The images coming out of the Kabul airport hell are an indication of the worst intentions of the "new Kabul" and of the ineffectiveness of the West, which should be better at proving that its commitment holds consequences. China and Taiwan are certainly watching how all this unfolds.

Sunday, August 15, 2021


Afghanistan, where empires come to die, was the wrong war, or better the other wrong war, after Iraq. President George W. Bush made a perverse calculus and his successors only let the initial error metastastasize. It was to be expected that after 9/11 (a mostly Saudi "enterprise", by the way ) the US had to find Bin Laden. President Obama finally got him. He should have packed then.

Now the world is witnessing a remake of Saigon. The difference being that the Vietcong knew about progress while the Talibans are impervious to change, now. Observers thought that Afghanistan was a failed state anyway, held together by an unconvincing American and NATO footprint. At the end of the day the Afghan army is AWOL and the costly American armements are for grabs, yet again. The Pentagon looks like a house of fools ruled by the unadept.

For the Americans, this unfolding unglorious ending is an embarassing moment, partially of their own making. They listened to a few enlightened Afghans who were totally unrepresentative of a population that remains stuck in yesterday. The few emancipated women and other intellectuals became the predictable CNN props, no one in Kabul and in the heartland really cared about.

Last century Fukuyama could still say with impunity that history had arrived at an end point and that America alone would determine the world's future. Today the world has evolved into a multipolar poker game wherein the Americans no longer have the wining hand.  They will have to accept that some do not want to be in their sphere of  influence. Countries became disenchanted or just uninterested in the former American dream. It will be better if the US gives up on their need to be liked and accept to become unum inter pares.

The Afghan tragedy will have consequences. Disbelief in American savoir faire, which grew since Trump's grotesque tenure, will increase. The humanitarian crisis might be catastrophic...but not for the many Afghans who felt snubbed or forgotten by the Kabul "elites" or just ignored by the Washington clueless chorus around Rumsfeld & Co.  Pakistan is yet again a joker in this new geo-political game. China observes and Iran must decide how its interests are best served. The EU has become mere a "voyeur" again in a world which is getting used to living without Europe.

Western hubris got a slap in the face. President Biden is right to let this charade  end. Some consider his new "hands off" policy a blunder. The fact remains that this war was costly and only benefited a too often totally corrupt group of profiteurs in Kabul. For most Afghans this ending will often be unconsequential. TheTalibans might even be better at governance, as understood by the people who lived under the rule of a puppet apparatus with little legitimity. 

Democracy is a slow learning process. If it is just imposed on a "take it or leave it rollcall",  it will fail. The Chinese know patience and are masters of the slow movement. One might wonder how they will act, but if the past holds a lesson, it looks as if they alone might be a match for this new assymetric challenge at their borders. Russia knows all too well the cost of its own Afghan mistake to come close to the furnace again.  Nevertheless it will take notice of NATO's unrelability when it is considering further steps in Eastern Europe. The Baltic states and Ukraine might get scared.  America needs to face the brutal reality of no longer being the unipolar pole star.  Wherever it turns there are others already, be it on land, in space, in the Antarctic, who are marking their own territorial claims. 

What must Dr. Kissinger think?

Monday, August 9, 2021


De Olympische spelen geven altijd aanleiding tot grote teleurstelling of tot een over het paard getilde euforie. Niettegenstaande de enge atmosfeer bracht Tokyo toch nog een vleugje plezier.

Belgie deet het niet slecht. De driekleur was er opnieuw bij. Geen hanen of leeuwen ...

Helaas was er het onsmakelijk post mortem  van VRT journalist Eddy Demarez over de Belgian Cats. Zijn homofoob commentaar toont vooral aan dat we niet verder moeten kijken dan bij ons om attent te blijven over het rechts ultra gedachtengoed dat ook hier aangroeit. Gelukkig hebben de basketbalsters met klasse en ongelooof gereageerd op de praat van die Neanderthaler. Proficiat,Dames !

Monday, August 2, 2021


La "grille" de la Belgique etait une verticale Nord / Sud. Il a fallu qu'une Excellence socialiste wallone decida de "corriger" cela en faisant construire l'autoroute de Wallonie qui est une balafre Ouest / Est, qui  a fige une partie du Sud belge dans un sous developpement permanent, bon pour un scenario des freres Dardenne...

Plusieurs pays en Europe souffrent du desenchantement post charbonnier mais le corrigent. La Wallonie reste largement victime d' un marasme de corruption, d'assistanse suspecte et d'infrastructure tiers mondiste. Seuls un changement de mentalites ou des "start ups" courageux peuvent corriger cela. Il y a des exemples. Au demeurant certains efforts, comme a Charleroi, commencent a refigurer les donnees.

Les inondations en Belgique ont mis a jour  des deficiences inpardonables du systeme, aggravees par le modele impose par les poliques. Los Angeles, plus grand que la Belgique a un maire ! Les Etats-Unis ont une administration pluri-disciplinaire (FEMA) qu peut intervenir immediatement et efficacement (bien qu'il y a eu des derives impardonnables, comme lors des inondations a la Nouvelle Orleans). En Wallonie on ne voit que des sinistres stresses, secourus tant bien que mal par des volontaires incredules. Le gouvernement wallon (tout comme ses homologues flamand et bruxellois) est l'autre histoire belge qui fait le tour du monde.

Pepinster est devenu le symbole de tout  ce qui ne va pas. Les habitants se sentent abandonnes . Rien de concret ne vient apporter un espoir quantitatf, voir meme qualitatif. Les assureurs font ce qu'ils font de mieux, assomer les victimes avec des demandes d'autant plus sottes que dans ce coin maudit le gaz, l'electricite ou l' internet font defaut.

Il faut envigager la creation immediate d'un mechanisme compact, non politique,  muscle, compose de de professionnels, ainsi  que des moyens pour encourager un reflexe d'ecoute creative. L'armee etait mobilisee pour chercher un seul fugitif. Ici elle est quasiment absente! la region a besoin d' une vision pour reconstruire (comme le feraient les Neerlandais) , pour recharger les batteries endormies et pour preparer un projet regional wallon 2025, avec un concours d'idees, aussi internationales.

Le guignol triste de responsables a bout, de sinistres hallucines et de secouristes et benevoles armes de moyens appartenant au siecle passe ne fait que prolonger l'agoisse de personnes a qui l'on promet la soupe, un balais et le containeur.....bel avenir !

Oui, il faut enqueter vite, intervenir de facon contemporaine (de grace arretons le style miserabiliste RTL), interroger des archtectes, sociologues, specialistes de la reconversion.... on attend le Premier Ministre et le Secreataire d'Etat Dermine. Pepinster, Trooz etc. meritent mieux qu'une aumone, des excuses et de l'espoir concret !

Reste l'Autoroute de Wallonie....pourquoi ne pas envisager une alternative verte ? Soyez novateurs... pour une fois!