Syria, U.S.A, France: a football is a game of two halves

The two last weeks look like a geopolitical spiral to anybody following the situation about Syria. On one day France and the U.S.A were ready to get rid of the Syrian regime, to punish it. On the following day, the fleets were already sailing to the Middle East. War was imminent.

Then, Russia offered to open negotiations aiming at dismantling the Syrian chemical stockpiles. Tri-lateral negotiations took place from 12th to 14th September, reaching an agreement avoiding the bombing of the Syrian governmental facilities, command posts and units.

This high-speed diplomatic flurry seems quite blurring: the Syrian regime was to be punished, everybody was waiting for the shelling of Damascus by U.S warships and French aircraft, and all of a sudden, all those threats became apparently nothing but a damp squib.

An explanation seems to be necessary.


USA, France and Syria: a war without pay-off

In the very next days, the U.S.A along with France will decide, whether they will fire their cruise missiles against Syria. As usual those great democracies put forward morale and human rights. Which is normal, as they each claim having a universal responsibility.
However, a basic principal of war is the payoff rule: how much will my country get back against the human, financial and political cost of a war ? The present situation in Syria is far from giving a clear and simple answer, for the following reasons:


Gas attack in Damascus: the low proficiency of state public relations services and mass media

Usually I prefer taking time for thinking, reading and analyzing documents before writing any post.
Regarding the infamous gas attack of 21. August in Damascus, I start being fed up by the lack of proficiency of the governmental public relations services and of the mass media. Therefore I will stick to the news in this post.

Firstly, I would like to clearly state that I don't negate that a gas attack has taken place on 21. August. I don't negate that hundreds of people have been killed. My only concern is the weakness of the arguments displayed to the citizens of our democracies so that they properly understand what has taken place and can then support their respective governments. This is how war becomes legitimate: when a democratic Nation unanimously decides to back its government when it has to enforce peace wherever it is.
Today, my only concern is the respect for the citizen.


Politics: the gap between official statements and reality- Analysis of a meeting between Hitler and C.G.E. Mannerheim.

A Finnish friend of mine forwarded me yesterday a recording of a conversation between Adolf Hitler and Marshall Mannerheim, taped on 4th June 1942 at the occasion of Mannerheim's birthday.
Here is the link to the recording: (Yle).

Although the sound is rather poor and difficult to understand for non-native speakers, following points can be underlined:
-A first part is composed of the official statement of both Hitler and Mannerheim, who both promise backing each other in their war against the Soviet Union.
-A second part is Hitler's monolog on WWII and many considerations, which show, beyond some strategic analysis, the importance of a sound and accurate intelligence and preparation for war.


Iranian Military Capabilities: intoxication as a way of life

For many years, Iran has been depicted as a major threat against its neighbours, Israel, and the rest of the world. Undoubtedly this country can inflict severe damages via its subsidiaries, as the Hezbollah in Lebanon. As well, this country is certainly able to launch some ballistic missiles or pay for terrorist movements.

However nobody could reasonably think that they are able of producing any high-tech armament, despite all their claims. As a consequence, their capability to destabilize the region should not be overestimated, or more precisely be wrongly assessed. Iran as an asymmetric threat: of course. Iran as a symmetric threat: certainly not.

As an illustration, I propose you to have a look on their latest so-called 'stealth UAV', named 'Hemaseh', described in most media with words directly copied-pasted from the Iranian press statement.
Let us analyze the official pictures of this unmanned aerial vehicle.


Hägar the Horrible: soldier's code of honor

In an old issue of German Armed Forces weekly newspaper, I could read this funny cartoon of Hägar the Horrible:
Lucky Eddie: "Hägar, the guys would like to change our motto from: "Victory or Death", to "Victory, or, if things don't happen that well to us, let us disappear" (with the meaning of taking the French leave).


Expeditionary Wars: what Legitimacy? The unstated reasons for war.

As a follow-on of my previous post dedicated to the legitimacy of expeditionary wars (here), today I will tackle the left top part of the graph, where cynicism is at the top of the considerations.

For an easier reading, here is a reduced copy of the afore mentioned graph:


Expeditionary wars: what legitimacy?

After my previous post dedicated to failing, or failed states, I got a reply leaving me in a bad mood, as I was reminded that France's duty was to intervene in Mali at least to rescue its citizens living there (they are said to be around 5,000) and if deemed necessary to protect its national interests. That's right. In my attempt to explain the vacuity of supporting failed/failing states I could have been more accurate.

Well, Let us look a little bit more closely at the reasons for which a democracy may decide to deploy troops in a third country. You will read here below a graph, which still can be improved as this is just a prototype. This graph encompasses two different axis and a green triangle:
The vertical axis depicts the degree of cynicism having lead to the dcision to launch an operation;
The horizontal axis, on the contrary, shows how much universalism can weigh in the balance;
The triangle represents the area in which a good communication policy can drive the support of the public opinion in a democratic country.


Kings of War: The red-line of chemical weapons and Syria.

I am just copying this link of Kings of War blog.
You are advised to read this cold-blooded assessment of entering the Syrian conflict.
The red-line of chemical weapons and Syria.


The vain support to failing states, going back to Clausewitz

Some days ago I had the opportunity to attend  to a colloquium dealing with European Defence. At this occasion, I decided to cross the Rhine (peacefully) and went to Strasbourg.  
One lecture was dedicated to Mali and the three military operation taking place over there. The speaker, Mr Dupuy, chairman of a French think tank named "IPSE" (no website available), although talentuous, was facing all the contradictions of current operations in Mali, explaining that the French commitment was absolutely needed although disrupting the terrorists would not solve the problem, if they were to be disrupted. Those explanations seem to have left a large part of the audience skeptical about the French goals in Mali and the final end state.


About Maps and Wars

As some European countries have decided to commit a little bit more assets in support of the French Armed Forces in Mali, time has come to have a closer look at the operations map. A long time ago, General De Gaulle wrote, that Geography drives the history of a country. Well, let's have a look at the operations map of this region of the world. 

Why should we have a look at maps? Indeed, having still in mind some pieces of History, I perfectly remember those pictures of field officers first looking at a map before deciding of the scheme of maneuver they would decide of, in order to disrupt the enemy units. This is exactly what the French Armed Forces are remarkably doing in the mountains up there, in Northern Mali.

However, among the scarce news broadcasted by the French MOD, I couldn't find anyone giving me a clue of the area in which their infantrymen are operating. 

What could I do?


The Last Moonshiners of European Defence, or how solitary military operations will very soon belong to history

Drifting on the web is one of my favorite games. Today, I would like to deal with those I would like to name the last Moonshiners of European Defence.
How is it the hell possible to draw a parallel between the late Popcorn Sutton, a renowned Appalachian moonshiner, and European powers?
Let me tell you!
First of all, as less than a quarter of my readers are Americans, here are some details on the Appalachian moonshiners. Those guys have been illegally making liquor for generations and belong to the American traditions. One of them, a iconic figure was named John 'Popcorn' Sutton, and he will be at the centre of this post. In the documentary that you can see here below, this 62 years old man, riding an Ford-T pick-up states:
'This is the last dam run of likker I'm ever gonna make'.


Eurocorps and other multinational Headquarters are not planned to deploy in Mali

On a pretty regular basis I can read on the requests leading to this humble blog (I claim the word 'humble', when I compare the content of this blog to the ones listed in the blogroll), that some people had typed 'Eurocorps' and 'Mali' as keywords. My conclusion is that some pedagogy on European Defence is still needed. Therefore this article will be useless for those who are skilled in defence matters and is intended to the newcomers.

Well, let us start from the very beginning: there are three types of multinational operational headquarters. As the French operation in Mali is of land-centric type, i.e involving mainly land forces, let us focus on land headquarters.


Some Reasons for which France will remain alone in Mali

Now that French Army has reached a deserved initial military success in Mali, time has come to look forward and check whether its allies will at last decide to join and support France in its efforts to expel islamists from this country (as far as I could understood it seems to be the final objective).

For fun, I will not make use of a traditional strategic analysis, but I will try to make use of Mr Ben Polak's lectures at Yale, available on the Internet (here). Being an absolute math-, eco- and calculus-phobic I will try my best.


France in Mali: a military success and a strategic dead end

Usually I am a great fan of O. Kempf, the author of Egea, the must among the blogs dedicated to strategic studies, at least in French language. However, some days ago I was surprised by one of his articles, titled: "Mali, les permanences géopolitiques s'imposent...", that could be translated as: Mali, the standing geopolitical rules still prevail...".

What does then O. Kempf deal with?


Mali: Is European Union to be ashamed?

Some days after France decided to deploy its troops in Mali, a quick look at the blogs and media dealing with defence and strategy let me deduce that, once again, Europe was sentenced to whatever you want for having been unable to react on time to counter the islamist threat coming from the Sahara.

Let us get deeper into the funniest critic I could read. I mean the lack of support by our main allies.
Indeed, that's a fact: neither the UK, nor Germany, even less Spain and Italy or Poland provided troops to reinforce the French ones. The only significant support they decided to offer, beyond the usual political backing, are transport aircraft, like C-17 by the UK and the USA, Transall by Germany and C-130 by Belgium, for instance. I was even told that this support was constrained by many caveats or even by the price!


Gangnam Style & European Defence: world's centre of gravity is shifting

Today, while speaking about our respective blogs, my daughter suggested me something foolish: draw a link between European Defence and Gangnam Style.
First assumption: Psy, the singer has never heard about European Defence. O.K, this is an easy statement. But it deserves being done, as a matter of principle.


Europe, Desperatly Looking for a Strong German Military Leadership

Quite provoking, isn't it? Despite the title, I do not believe that any political leader or chief of defence will dare express such a statement. However ''the times they are a changin'! "and the German military leadership could constitute the next political challenge for European Defence.


Maritime Security : between fierce competition and legal maze

Some days ago I read a post able to raise my curisosity and bring me back to this blog.

On a French Blog titled 'Lignes de Défense', the author wrote a short article dedicated to the fierce competition in the field of maritime security. A French company, named 'Triskel Security Services' (I would bet that they find their origin and are operated by former French Navy commandos), had lost some important contracts, being ousted by low cost competitors, for some based in Sri Lanka.


Looking back at Libya whilst thinking of Syria

On "Kings of War", Rob Dover has published a short analysis of Syrian military capabilities, thus demonstrating that one should not compare the situation with Libya.
You can read below:
 ,Looking back at Libya whilst thinking of Syria.