Sunday, July 30, 2023


Tom Lanoye est un écrivain hors-pair en Belgique. Son dernier roman "De Draaischijf " mériterait davantage d'attention partout s'il était moins ancré- codé, naturaliste, à l'intérieur de paramètres souvent étroits - comme Hugo Claus-.

Il a aussi fallu du temps pour que le roman fraçais redevienne à nouveau universel (Emmanuel Carrere). Lanoye a tout pour se sortir de la référence intime et pour se pacer parmis de grands écrivains comme Jonathan Franken ou Richard Ford.

Il a écrit son "J'accuse" dans De Morgen ( 29/07 2023). Ce réquisitoire contre la falsification érigée comme système, en premier lieu en Flandre, est cinglant.

Lanoye arrive à la croisée de tous les dangers. Les équilibres  restant dans le monde sont menacés. La remise en question des certitudes ou mieux des habitudes crée un malaise qu'aucune thérapie n'est en mesure d'alléger. 

La Belgique est immobilisée entre deux paramètres, la bourgeoisie provinciale et les contestataires sans terre. Restent quelques cairvoyants, en premier lieu dans le monde artistique. Les Flamands ont pitié des Wallons et ces derniers se regardent hébétés dans le miroir pour crétins RTL.

Tom Lanoye serait tragique s'il était isolé. Il ne l'est pas et s'il devait se présenter au suffrage unviversel refédéralisé il ferait un malheur. 

A l'exception des diverses gauches, les Belges n'ont pas de répondants. Ils risquent de voter avec  Magritte "Ceci n'est pas la Belgique" et le résultat du scrutin nihiliste aura le mème look désuet et hyper-local qui fait fureur dans les gouvernements flamand et wallon.

En Belgique le débat autour de la globalisation n'existe pas parce que celle c-ci n'est jamais arrivée. Il appatient à quelques prophètes type Tom Lannoye, David Van Reybroeck, Bart Van Loo, Alain Gerlache, Lukas Dhont, les freres Dardenne de faire le constat.

 Ils doivent se trouver bien seuls.

Thursday, July 27, 2023


As a newborn, Israel did not receive the warm welcome it might have been entitled to. After the horror of the Shoah, the Jews wanted a land to call home. Unfortunately the circumstances and history did not work in favor of this new country, which was resented by some and unloved by most.

These unbecoming beginnings did not stop the Israelis from creating the ultimate miracle in the most inauspicious circumstances. In a fortnight the country reinvented itself into a military, economical, technological, and creative powerhouse. It won the wars and the minds but too seldom did it win the hearts.

Its early leaders were visionaries. Thanks to the foresight of President Sadat and the input of America Israel found a footing internationally. Its Palestinian cardinal sin became almost curable despite the PLO's earlier aberrations and the Arab's "nonchalance" regarding the two-state solution.

The better mood from Oslo was short-lived. The various personalities who had found some inroads into a hopeless situation disappeared or ran out of creative ideas. Sadat and Rabin paid for their audacity. Then came Netanjahu, formidable personality, who was never able to forgive the killing of his brother Yonatan who led the rescue operation of the hostages in Entebbe in 1976 at the hand of a joint Baader Meinhof /Palestinian terror group operation.

The American Secretary of State James Baker could not stomach Netanjahu's arrogance then and the normal ties between Israel and the West never recovered from mutual suspicion and prejudice. 

The current political turmoil in Israel and the growing influence of the settlers and the religious orthodox right who became Netanjahu's hard-core supporters have further corroded the natural flow of shared interests between the democratic West and Tel Aviv.

One should beware of too hasty judgements. Actually, the tremendous protests in defense of the independence of the Israeli Supreme Court are a vital sign that democracy stays alive and well. This is not Hungary after all.  It is important to remain a reliable ally in such times (which remind us of January 6 in Washington D.C., by the way.) The outcome of this major crisis is hard to predict. It is essential, however, that the position towards the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary therein be made clear by the EU (an uphill battle).

All had better return to their sketchbooks and finally work out once and forever a two-state solution (for which various models exist by the way, but torpedoed by Arafat in the (in-)famous Camp David meeting in 2000.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2023


The disappearing act of China's foreign minister Qin Gang and his replacement (for now) by Wang Yi are shrouded in the usual deferential self-possession, a trademark of Chinese might.

Both excel in diplomatic skills, but Wang Xi is a more traditional, experienced representative of the aloof style which prevails in the entourage of President Xi . 

Observers will guess for the reasons, and the Chinese will stick to the talking points that are coming from higher up.

Qin Gang was unusual insofar as he looked more relaxed and approachable. His tenure as the PRC's ambassador in Washington might have loosened his strict adherence to Chinese cosmology. Nevertheless, under the more relaxed façade there was always a temperament of steel.

The power games in Beijing lack the often vulgar proximity of the political vaudeville that plays out in the Western democracies. Therefore they become the stuff high-brow comments and projections are made of.

Monday, July 24, 2023


The EU anti-trust chief, Margarethe Vestager, intended to nominate the US economist Fiona Scott Morton to a high rank position in the Commission. This choice of a stellar Yale economist had it all going until the French, acting French yet again, opposed the choice of a non-European.

President Emmanuel Macron is rumored to have vetoed this candidate, arguing that a European national was required. This is disappointing coming from a man who has often avoided the traps of French petulance. However he has lately spoken more often of European sovereignty, suggesting an increased overall autonomy regarding the United States. Such talk already sends  shivers in the Baltics and most Europeans. Break the American umbrella and you get stuck with the Parapluies de Cherbourg. Merci...

France has periodic seizures of self-augmentation--nouveaux philosophes, nouvelle cuisine, nouveau roman, nouvelle vague, economistes de saison, etc.--which can be forgiven. However, if the EU is no longer allowed to attract diverse talent, it will hasten its demise as a drydock for bureaucrats. America works because it attracts. Others often repel. The EU had better beware of the mal français, here and now.

Sunday, July 23, 2023


Two countries have an existential bound with the West: Israel and Ukraine. Time is running out with the former and running short with the latter.

The protest against Netanjahu shows that the democratic dialectic is still alive in Tel Aviv but it remains that there is also something rotten in the country.

In a future that becomes more uncertain--presidential elections in the US, "fatigue" in the West, Russian intentions towards Georgia, Moldova, etc--Kiev races against time and winter. 

There are no easy choices for either.

The Jewish intelligencia in America starts to question Israel's moves regarding its (uneven) democratic framework, or the Palestinians. The streets in Tel Aviv  are packed with protesters who do not want to stay idle when their core values are being sold out. Even The New York Times is running out of patience.

Ukraine gets undiminished but nevertheless calibrated support, mostly from the Biden administration, which will enter the pre-election nightmare this coming winter. The EU fears more a possible change of administration in Washington than the Americans do. Under a Republican leadership, China, NATO, trade, Russia i.a. would all arrive in a correction course.

Time is running short. Israel must return to its former age of (partial, disputable) innocence. The Ukranian drama cannot continue for much longer. Time is Putin's ally and Zelensky's foe. Around this stalemate a lot is happening, out of view but on the mind of some. China, the BRICS, freelancers like Turkey today, France tomorrow, might make inroads into this hardly confined hell, with unpredictable consequences.

Dr. Kissinger was in Beijing. He can hardly be considered a professor of morals, but his more creative approach to power and influence remains undiminished. He will have found in President Xi an acute listener. Some hope he might also remind the Israelis of the value of this two-state approach in the heydays of his unsurpassed shuttle diplomacy.

There is little time left before one country sells out its soul while the other might lose the war.

Saturday, July 22, 2023


La célébration de la fête nationale en Belgique revêt toujours un aspect ambigu. Les Belges restent prioritairement introvertis, hésitant entre indifférence et respect. Il est pourtant indéniable que le Roi et la Reine bénéficient d'un coéfficient "sympathie", mais ils semblent encore trop souvent coincés entre des considérations contradictoires, distants ou, au contraire, approchables ou décontractés.

La Belgique est un pays complexe, difficile à naviguer. Le Roi Philippe et la Reine Mathilde ont à leur actif un parcours sans fautes réelles. Sans doute s'entourent-ils d'une discrétion que d'aucuns trouvent exagérée. On voudrait les voir là ou ils aiment se retrouver plutôt que là ou ils sont attendus. Ne bénéficiciant pas d'un système dans lequel le respect rituel prédomine toute autre considération, comme en Angleterre, ils sont par définition plus opaques. Dans ces conditions, l'opinion publique reste aussi plus réservée. La monarchie doit se débarasser une fois pour toutes des sous-titres catholiques ou du look Natan dépassé.

En tout état de cause la fête nationale est infiniment plus attrayante que les lugubres fêtes que Flamands et Wallons s'offrent chaque année dans une indifférence générale. Si le 21 juillet manque parfois de cohérence, les célébrations régionales sont franchement insupportables.

Dans ce pays-chantier permanent, le Roi représente une garantie de contrôle de soi et de sérieux. Dans d'autres pays et de situations, des alternatives pourraient être envisagées. En Belgique, aujourd'huic, celà n'est pas possible. Sans doute peut-on considérer d'autres modèles de gouvernance mais le risque de créer des "colonies" gouvernées par des partis politiques au Nord et au Sud est trop grand. Et Bruxelles dans ce "pataquès" ?

Les apprenti-sorciers qui sont devenus les "parrains" du gouvernement fédéral représentent un réel danger pour le fonctionnement transparent de la démocratie. Sans doute jean-Luc Dehaene a été le dernier Premier Ministre en Belgique. Il était aussi le dernier véritable Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, ayant confié ce portefeuille à l'inexistant et oublié Eric Derycke. Depuis, les présidents de parti ont effectué un coup d'état permanent sur le dos du bon fonctionnement des institutions. Plus rien ne se passe sans l'assentiment de Georges-Louis Bouchez ou Paul Magnette.

Dans ce scénario le Roi Philippe bénéficie de la discrétion de l'influence. Il a certainement été à bonne école, après qur l'Ambassadeur Frans Van Daele ait enfin remplacé Jacques Van Ypersele de Strihou, le grand inquisiteur. Le Palais a cessé d'être l'Escurial et les Belges apprécient. Le pays a beson d'assurances en amont de la présidence de l'UE et de son bicentenaire en 2030. L'actuel Premier Ministre Alexander De Croo a le profil mais encore faut-il lui donner les moyens. Les baronies n'hésiteront pas à préférer la permanence du médiocre à l'émergence du meilleur.

Thursday, July 13, 2023


The NATO Summit in Vilnius was the usual mix of capital letters and small print. Sweden got in, Turkey acted cool, Hungary behaved and the chorus line followed the script.

The Ukrainian president was like the star who was tipped for the Oscar but who had to return home without the price.

The commitment of President Biden was genuine. His restraint was equally warranted. President Zelensky must feel frustrated but NATO has no other alternative but needing to tiptoe in between too many unknowns.  Nobody fathoms what is really going on in Moscow. Putin's world is as familiar as Mars. 

Many NATO members have misgivings regarding the future. They also fear the outcome of the American presidential elections next year. Accordingly, some hesitate to overcommit, while others want to speed up decisions while the current administration is the ultimate guarantor.  Biden will not give in to pressure, rightly so.

The waiting game is the shared unpleasant scenario that both the West and Putin have to endure. Ukraine pays the price for this imposed Realpolitik.

Putin is Russian after all, a multiplier of arrogance and envy. In Russian culture the romantic shares the house with the demonic, which makes for a permanent tension and susceptibility.

Contrary to the normal times in the past, the West can no longer seduce or reason the mostly Southern hemisphere. Yesterday's BRICS have turned into today's bricks, which multiply before our eyes.  Rather than side with one or the other, they prefer now to sit on the sidelines. For Putin and Xi they are eye candy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

11 Juli

 Het is weer zo ver...

De Vlaamse nationale dag ging opnieuw aan onverschillig Brussel (hoofdstad van Vlaanderen) voorbij , zoals gebruikelijk. De "opvoering" in het Brussels stadhuis was een "non event".

Ten tijde van Gaston Geens zat er nog pit in. Nu wordt het ongenietbaar.

De Standaard melde dat de "Vlaming" Rémy Bonny, Directeur van Forbidden Colours, in Tbilisi door de overheid werd lastig gevallen ivm. een Gay Pride initiatief. Men kan zich terecht de vraag stellen wat de beweegredenen zijn om een Belg te  herleiden tot een Vlaming, des te meer wanneer de diplomatie misschien moet worden opgeroepen om een landgenoot de bijstand te verlenen waarop hij recht heeft...Of denkt de Standaard dat Liesbeth Homans misschien moest ingrijpen ?

Ondertussen klonk de Vlaamse Leeuw opnieuw in het Brussels stadhuis (terecht) , gezongen door "the usual suspects"(jammer). Bij Demir, Weyts §Co is het nederlands een aanvalswapen, geen verleiding...............

Thursday, July 6, 2023


Old grievances need alleviation, not aggravation.

The circumstances in which Israel came to fruition as a state were far from ideal. The consequences for the Palestinians continue to be awful. 

The Jews' claim for land had legitimate merit. The sorrow of the Palestinians was equally justified. The Jews got their country, the Palestinians lost their land.

Israel became a laboratory for success and a nation-building experiment. It had a sterling political elite which had the foresight to support the Oslo Agreements. The Palestinians felt confident that a two-state arrangement was in the making. 

Now it looks as if yesterday's shimmer of hope lies buried under resentment. Israel, under the current leadership, appears to be impervious to moderation. The Palestinian authority is mere a corpse. Stuck in between the hell of Gaza and the Israeli fortress, the Palestinians in the meagre parcels under their pseudo control might become impossible to manage. The mix of frustration and self-hatred is lethal.

There was a time, 40 years ago, when they were talking. The MENA formula worked, even while Israel had no other diplomatic relations than with Egypt. The United States was a trusted intermediary and the EU and the Quartet helped to build both infrastructure for the Palestinians and trust for all.

We need an urgent change of actors. Netanyahu is too concerned with his political survival and Abbas has lost his legitimacy. In this void extremes thrive. The former American arbiter has lost the appetite for another shuttle or round, under the current circumstances, and the EU is too absorbed with the Ukrainian tragedy next door. The Arabs only care about the riches.

The current stalemate is bad of course. Hamas or Hezbollah in Lebanon might unleash yet again their nihilistic agendas and push Israel into a repeat of a Sharon sledgehammer intervention. 

The more liberal elites in Tel Aviv have to be saved from the indignities of free-lance terrorists who have no other agenda than hatred. The demented Jewish settlers have to bear the consequences of their encroachment. Only a change of leaders can bring some solace but neither side looks ready to clear a house that, on both sides, holds more rubbish than great expectations.