Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Russia has a long tradition of often boring novels. Neither does it excel in "qualitative" easing of tensions. The history is mostly unpleasant, packed with paranoia and an occasional short-lived pause. Most democratic-inclined leaders--with the exception of George W. Bush--were sceptic of Moscow's praise and all too mindful of its threats.

Since his accession to power, Putin's early reserve has totally disappeared. The world is confronted with his brand of pure political and military brutalism.  The EU is rightly worried, as the nefarious free-lancers applaud, the Chinese watch and in America, the Republicans keep betraying what is left of self-respect .

Europeans must quit their usual "wait and see" posture, since a war is no longer speculation but a conceivability. There is no excuse for countries not to spend at least 2% of their GDP on NATO defense. This ratio is already too timid. It is nevertheless an unwelcome development to have to revisit the war and peace balance that is tilting in the wrong direction.

Obviously all this occurs also in the shadow of Trump and in the midst of conflicts that multiply like cancer cells. NATO has to review its forward strategy and its role in a ever wider spread of hybrid strategic situations. Europeans "own" this war on their territory and it is time to get ready rather than complain. The widow of Navalny gives Europeans a perfect example of strength under stress. The "performance" of the Belgian Michel/Lahbib duo (EU rotating presidency befalls her) is even more pathetic than usual.

Europeans can no longer avoid assuming cost, investment and strategy. Size no longer functions as an alibi for doing too little.

The West finds itself in a most uncomfortable situation. A  change of personnel in Washington would further undermine former trust and shared values. The Republicans have become a diaspora of the uninformed and the unloved. This toxic mix is as unpredictable as it is lethal. Crimes multiply. Punishment cannot be allowed to take a break .

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