Monday, April 25, 2022


President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected with a large majority. Marine Le Pen's score remains impressive. The abstentions piled up.

If victory was convincing, governing will be hard. Most of the votes from other corners, mostly the Left, will prefer to return to their natural habitat rather than to become part of the Macron constituency. It is doubtful that Macron will be able to return to his current overwhelming majority. 

The president benefited from the European chaos which is creating havoc everywhere, besides stoking a hellfire in Ukraine. Since Putin's motives and end- game remain off limits, it is hard to come up with a definitive counter-alternative. The West does a lot to support the Ukrainians but too many, elsewhere, hesitate to take a stand. Many African and Asian countries keep their guilty distance, while China becomes de facto a partner in Putin's crimes. 

It is impossible to foresee the multiple consequences ahead. Nothing will be spared from the insanity which looks unstoppable, like a nightmarish progress in a Bosch painting. When confronted by this degree of horror today in Europe, one cannot stop feeling guilty about other slaughters far away, the difference being that unlike here and now, nuclear powers were not involved.

The West is confronted by war. The challenge reaches further into the democratic raison d'etre of an Atlantic world, based on the rule of law. The West doesn't claim ownership of anything but it is the steward of a process of improvement, paid for by far too many former mistakes. It learned from them, while others keep repeating them.

Obviously one will have to engage with Russia again. The same occured with Germany after World War II. Then and now war crimes are the realm of Justice and the Hague today in the right forum for atonement. Ukraine is entitled to find justice, reparation and freedom of choice. Russia must purge itself from the madness which belies its claim to culture and respect. 

President Macron is now the primus inter pares in Europe. Putin must understand that this "elected" French president in not some Belarus clone, but a man who received a trust and a mandate, unlike the trolls in the Russian court. In retrospect one might be relieved that the German/French axis is, for the time being, a thing of the past. Former Chancellor Angela Merkel was a formidable leader but might have also fallen victim to her addiction to Russian gaszqaq2 and to Putin's bouquet. 

The bet is that Macron will be the better leader, and player, but do not underestimate the obstinate force of the brutal manipulator, sitting poker-faced, hallucinogenic, at his white table. Overstretch is his motto.

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