Sunday, March 27, 2022


The American president came, saw, and didn't win.

The Europeans remain a family, divided by necessity and opportunism. The German/French duumvirat shows metal fatigue and the East/West urgency in the EU is not synchronized.

Biden performed well, in a Harry Truman mode, more convinced than convincing. His rage versus Putin is both genuine and warranted. Nevertheless one should beware of rhetorical overblow if there might be still a glimmer of diplomatic solution, despite the indiscriminate horror that befalls Ukraine. There remains that the war crimes dimension will survive the outcome. If the Serbians made it to Rambouillet and Dayton, the so-called peace arrangement did not shield them from having to pay for their sins.

The Ukrainian president is lragically frustrated in not getting the no-fly zone and the planes he needs. The dilemma for NATO is one of a Greek tragedy, "ignoring" for the sake of "survival". Putin is not a Bluff personality, neither does he belong to the "quality oriented". While Stalin, or even Hitler and Mao, could occasionally charm,  the Russian Federation president can only bite. He has his Ivan the Terrible's frustration rooted  in the downfall of the Soviet Union, but remains unable to find it in himself to turn the page, the tone, the purpose. He has the same hate as Hiler had towards the Versailles treaty.

Biden will find little appreciation at home after having been confronted with tepid sympathy in Europe. His unscripted gaffes are his worse enemy.

History is often written by the victors. President Zelensky is the moral victor and might end up surprising unsuspecting others.  Anyway he is  the only leader who doesn't need fact checks.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


This personality was a giant amongt her pairs.

She was obviously a remarquable American Secretary of State. She was also mindfull of history's fault lines and scars. After all, she inherited them in her soul and memory.

Probably she was uniquely gifted in an ability not to let history - she knew too well- overtake the opportunity for  a change of  minds (and hearts), for the better.

Her great generation of internationalists is shrinking, alas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


In the Ukraine nightmare nobody looks great but one: the Ukranian president.

The West fell victim to its self-imposed limits of what it can do militarily. It is also unable to manage its need for oil, so it continues to finance its nemesis. The harmonious façade seen in NATO or the EU shouldn't fool anybody but it could have been worse. 

Putin is the loser. His Blitzkrieg is failing. His claims regarding who the Ukranians are, or where there hearts lie, are proven false. His army looks like the tribe of forgotten beggars many Russians are under the rule of this despot. The fake news out of Moscow has become hard to swallow even for a tribe of vodka addicts. If this ground war were too last too long there might well be a coup in the air. The Kremlin starts to look more like Hitler's unfriendly bunker than the seat of power grounded in history.

Nobody knows what the future might evolve into. Maybe one should feel reassured that China is, with some reluctance, part of the game. It would be surprising if President Xi would let Putin do the irrepearable. The Russian president's entourage, who famously prefer Western delights over local fare, might also overdose on lies and scorched earth.

This tragedy also has surreal consequences in the West.  Suddenly Ukraine is rediscovered and its historic clashes with the Muscovites revisited. President Zelensky is by now, together with President Macron, the most respected public figures in the West. It becomes harder by the day not to give in to the demands of a man who took command of his own epic. The meetings in Brussels this week will look pale, timid and old in comparaison

Unfortunately the West lost the escalation card in this lethal game. The turf is Putin's only and nobody is willing to test how far he might go if he feels cornered.  For the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, the World War III option is not a figure of speech. Putin is re-Stalinizing Russia and imagining the rebirth of the USSR. This illusion of grandeur will probably come to an unglorious end but there will be damage, on all sides. It will be the tale of the Pariah and the hero, but at the end, Europe will be a changed continent, in need of therapy.

Monday, March 14, 2022


Paris is a city of clichés. We have seen it all, revisited the sites and returned home with some form of hangover. The French spirit does not have the witty, perverse undercurrent of Anglo-Saxon humor. It is self-conscious and at times heavy.

For the visitor who has seen it all, there is now the restored Bourse de Commerce which houses the Pinault Collection. The Japanese architect Tadao Ando filled the existing round space with a concrete cylinder which imposes upon the visitor a kind of eerie feeling which can be found in a number of protestant churches, devoid of any ornament.

The setting is spectacular,  but user unfriendly. It is a French given that unlike the grandeur found elsewhere, there is a seriousness which overrules any attempt for some form of levity. People walk in this bunker-like atmosphere where, unlike in the Guggenheim in New York, every ray of "entertainment" is dead upon arrival. At the end of the day the experience feels more like a walk in some vanity project, yet another narcisstic journey with no soul. The myth of Narcissus is no laughing matter either.

Sunday, March 13, 2022


The slaughter in Ukraine intensifies. Hybrid Russian warfare looks increasingly unavoidable. The apprehension in the EU is growing. The "escalation scale" is in the hands of Putin, who doesn't have to deal with public opinion or the loss of life. People in the West look on, increasingly angry, failing to understand why too little is done to end the madness. The geo-political constraints feel unconvincing.  The alternative, entering into a larger conflict, remains nevertheless to be avoided.

The EU summit in Versailles did not go as smoothly as was portrayed. The member states in the east fear, rightly so, that the present containment may not hold. They expect that Putin might consider reaching further, until the remaining smaller leftovers from the Soviet Union could be "swallowed". The Baltics still live with the hope that the NATO deterrent will suffice to protect them. 

The resistance in Ukraine is formidable. It shatters all Putin's pretense. The Ukranian president must feel bitter, being reduced to be hostage to a war that is uncalled for. He reminds all of President Allende in Santiago, supported by his people, but victim of a death foreboden. Zelinsky is already the hero in this century of broken dreams.

The world has come a long way from "the end of history". This sad remake of a  Grozny-type of slaughter on a country, which was part of the Slav community, is an existential catastrophe.   The West may decide on further sanctions but the Putin entourage can rest assured that compensation and bonuses are coming. The West has no other option than to re-arm, re-prioritize, and revisit foes and allies to make sure that all sources of energy become available. If Russia can destroy Ukraine--a cultural "little Russia"--with impunity, the West needs to solidify its independence by prioritizing its own needs, without taboos. President Macron is certainly the providential man for the EU, be it with misgivings in certain member states which resent his Realpolitik.  President Biden doesn't have it in him to transfer hope and charisma. Nevertheless the world should count its blessings to have rid itself from Trump and to be able to count on a successor who is informed, but not  always convincing.

Putin is showing some discursive symptoms but is smart enough to know where the borders between horror and Armageddon lie. It is hard to predict the outcome of this perverse conflict. What will Ukraine become? Its long, often sad history deserves a better ending than a long journey in the hell of street battles and sabotage. 

If a status of total neutrality is the answer, so be it, on condition that it is guaranteed by more, than an unreliable Russia. The West must also be given a certified opportunity to play a major role in reconstruction and socio-economic recovery. It would indeed be irresponsible to ask the arsonist to extinguish the fire. A recovery can only result from a gathering of interested parties, without territorial pre-conditions. The omen does not feel that great. After all, past major peace conferences ended up being the foreboders of a preordained death.

Meanwhile the West had better watch its steps and be aware that Putin's fake infiltrators/commandos could enter the scene. This operation remains what it was from the start: a (former) KGB affair.

Thursday, March 3, 2022


Ce qui se passe en Ukraine défie l'endurance morale. Les clichés , l'indifférence blasée, l'ennui , ne résistent pas au bruit du glas en Ukraine.

La diplomatie a été prise de court. Confrontés aux tabous, inhérents à une situation géo-politique complexe, la majorité des indignés veut intervenir mais ne le peut pas ce qui laisse aux casseurs le champs libre ( à peu près) . On peut d'ailleurs se poser la question pourquoi l'aide à l'Ukraine en matériel militaire reste aussi timide. Certes il y a les impératifs de l'OTAN et les hésitations, au demeurant légitimes, des états membres, soucieux d'éviter que le conflit ne s'étende, mais les interrogations demeurent.

Poutine est probablement ébranlé par l'accumulation d'évènements assymétriques qui présentent pour lui un cauchemar logistique ainsi qu'une perte de prestige. Il était insupportable hier. Il est infréquentable aujourd'hui. Le déroulement de cette tragédie rappelle  certaines personnalités et des événements qui ont conduit à la deuxième guerre mondiale. Le moindre faux calcul pourrair d'ailleurs conduire à un conflit plus large, dans lequel les paramètres actuellement"endurés" perdraient toute légitimité.

Beaucoup se félicitent de voir l'OTAN et l'UE plus agressifs, ou mieus plus assertifs. Pourtant le président ukrainien est le seul à pouvoir revendiquer l'Histoire. Si l'Ukraine a un visage, c'est désormais le sien.

Il est important que l'UE reste unie. Joseph Borrell, resprésentant pour les relations extérieures ne fait pas le poids. Louis Michel est trop gaffeur. Reste la Présidence tournante, occupée ce semestre par le président français. Sans doute essayera-t-il, en tant que bon cartésien, à faire prévaloir la raison. Il reste impossible de prédire s'il pourra trouver un terrain d'arrangement avec Poutine, qui n'est pas un fan de Descartes.

La Russie gagnera sans doute  la bataille mais elle perdra la guerre :

- Poutine ne s'est pas rendu compte de ce que la vaste majorité des Ukrainiains n'était pas Russophiles, au contraire. Il a aussi sous-estimé le ressort de l'Occident ainsi que l'effet de la condamnation émotionnelle dans le monde. Le vote intervenu à l'Assemblée Générale des Nations unies est un camouflet. La Chine qui comptabilise tout doit se demander s'il ne faudrait pas se distancier de la" folie à deux " célébrée avant le Jeux Olympiques d'hiver.

- Plusieurs questions demeurent. Les armements rappellent davantage la seconde guerre mondiale que les technologies militaires aujourd'hui. Devant les interminables colonnes de chars, l'absence de drones Ukrainiens qui pourraient créer le désordre et ralentir l'avancée russe reste inexplicable. Encore faut-il observer que chez l'envahisseur le moral, l'approvisionnenent, le soutien logistique semblent faire défaut . Seules les troupes ou bandes, du type mercenaire, apparaissent comme le véritable fer de lance de l'étau russe.

- Le président Ukrainien a galvanisé son pays. Zelensky est déjà un nom dans l'histoire. Il est tragique de le voir frapper aux portes, qui resteront fermées aussi longtemps que Poutine ne commette pas un nouveau mauvais calcul. Il est d'ailleurs impératif que les Occidentaux fassent l'impossible pour éviter qu'un scenario Berlin 1945 ne se répète . Les conséquences humaines doivent  adressées solidairement, en premier lieu par l'UE.

- A La Haye la cellule qui abritait Milosevich est libre. De toute façon Poutine n'est pas à l'abri de sa propre opinion publique qui se tient informée ailleurs. Elle risque de subir de plein fouet les effets des sanctions occidentales. Si les oligarques lèvent l'ancre dans les marinas ou ils ne sont plus les bienvenus, l'homme de la rue russe payera l'ardoise. La folie militaire en dit long sur l'équilibre moral d'un président qui doit désormais etre considéré comme un patient. Sa déjà célèbre longue table blanche plante le décor pour soins intensifs.