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En Irak, émergence d'un pouvoir autoritaire à dominante chiite

Le Monde Diplomatique - Mon, 27/01/2020 - 17:00
Tandis que les Etats-Unis poursuivent le retrait de leurs troupes, les élections législatives de ce mois-ci devraient, selon Washington, assurer le retour à une certaine normalité. Pourtant, les tensions persistent, et le scrutin confirmera l'instauration d'un pouvoir corrompu et autoritaire. / (...) / , , , , , , , , - 2010/03

Venezuela’s Problem Isn’t Socialism

Foreign Affairs - Mon, 27/01/2020 - 06:00

In the last three years, tragic scenes of poverty and mayhem have dominated the coverage of Venezuela, a nation that used to be one of the wealthiest and most democratic countries in South America. Venezuela has become both a byword for failure and, curiously, something of an ideological hot potato, a rhetorical device dropped into political conversations around the world.

[Lea la versión de este artículo en español este lunes.] 

In election campaigns from Brazil to Mexico, Italy to the United States, politicians invoke Venezuela as a cautionary tale of the dangers of socialism. Left-wing candidates from Jeremy Corbyn, in the United Kingdom, to Pablo Iglesias, in Spain, find themselves accused of sympathizing with socialist Chavismo—and suffer real political damage from the association with Venezuela’s rulers. The charge, endlessly repeated, is that Venezuela’s failure is the failure of an ideology; socialism is to blame, and if you make the wrong choice at the ballot box, the chaos of Venezuela could come to your doorstep, too.

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Ce que la génétique doit à l'eugénisme

Le Monde Diplomatique - Sat, 25/01/2020 - 19:58
Les fondements d'une science de l'hérédité humaine ont été établis par un cousin de Charles Darwin, Francis Galton (1822-1911), dans l'Angleterre de la seconde moitié du XIXe siècle. Mathématicien raté mais scientifique touche-à-tout, Galton sera un pionnier dans la mesure statistique de l'hérédité. Il (...) / , , , , , , - 2009/06

Why America Must Lead Again

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 23/01/2020 - 06:00

By nearly every measure, the credibility and influence of the United States in the world have diminished since President Barack Obama and I left office on January 20, 2017. President Donald Trump has belittled, undermined, and in some cases abandoned U.S. allies and partners. He has turned on our own intelligence professionals, diplomats, and troops. He has emboldened our adversaries and squandered our leverage to contend with national security challenges from North Korea to Iran, from Syria to Afghanistan to Venezuela, with practically nothing to show for it. He has launched ill-advised trade wars, against the United States’ friends and foes alike, that are hurting the American middle class. He has abdicated American leadership in mobilizing collective action to meet new threats, especially those unique to this century. Most profoundly, he has turned away from the democratic values that give strength to our nation and unify us as a people.

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Water Conflict in Africa: the Largest Hydroelectric Power Station Is the Bone of Contention Between Ethiopia and Egypt

Foreign Policy Blogs - Wed, 22/01/2020 - 18:13

Ethiopia has been building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile River since 2011. During this period relations between Egypt and Ethiopia became strained with mutual threats and accusations. Moreover, there is a risk of water conflict in Africa, which would completely destabilize East Africa.

After construction, GERD will be the largest hydroelectric power station in Africa with a capacity of 6000 MW. The dam will have a height of 145 m and long of 1 708 m. Private and government bonds are the main funding source for the project in order to eliminate pressure on Ethiopia.

During this time, there were 4 rounds of negotiations and several expert groups. The sides exchanged loud statements from time to time. For example, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said at the meeting of the UN General Assembly, that he would “never” allow Ethiopia to impose a “de facto situation” by filling the dam without an agreement. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali also did not stay away and emphasized that no force could stop Ethiopia from building a dam and if there were a need to go to war, Ethiopia could get millions readied. So, the threat of real water conflict in Africa still exists. 

But in the last days, some positive changes emerged in this context.

The last round of talks took place on January 13-15 in Washington, DC, by the medium of the United States and the World Bank. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have reached an initial agreement on the Renaissance Dam.

The countries should now agree on the final text of the document. The main agreement will be signed on January 28-29, when the three countries will meet again in the US capital.

The parties agreed that filling of the GERD will take place during the wet season (July-August). The initial filling stage of the GERD will provide for the rapid achievement of a level of 595 meters above sea level. A special mechanism will be developed for further filling stages.

But the agreement does not contain a regulation on the main contradiction – the speed of filling. Ethiopia wants to do this in 6 years, while Egypt insists on a longer term – 10 years.

The dam’s reservoir will hold up to 74 billion cubic meters of water and during filling the water flow in the river will be reduced by 25%. The longer period of the filling – the lesser the impact on the flow.

The Nile River has been a controversy in the region for a long time.

It is the most important natural resource for at least 10 countries (with the White and Blue Nile): Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The first agreements on water politics in the Nile basin appeared in the late nineteenth century. But in this context, the most important is the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between Sudan and Egypt. It shared the entire annual Nile flow between Sudan and Egypt – 18.5 and 55.5 billion cubic meters respectively. And this agreement ignored the rights of the rest of the countries to the waters of the Nile.

The Nile is important for Egypt in regard to transport, irrigation and fishing. The Nile covers 90% of Egypt’s water needs, and the Blue Nile formed 60% of the Nile’s flow, on which Ethiopia builds the dam. In addition, Egypt has its own Aswan dam on this river.

According to the UN report from 2015, Egypt will have faced up to a serious shortage of water by 2025. Therefore, taking the necessary measures for the country as soon as possible is one of the most important tasks.

For Ethiopia, the benefits from GERD are obvious: electricity for rural areas and industrial development. Only 44% of Ethiopia’s population has access to electricity. In addition, the dam will enable Ethiopia to become the largest exporter of electricity in the region together with already-existing Ethiopian projects in this area.

But the question of the water conflict in Africa also lays in the regional role of both countries.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seeks, through various regional initiatives, strengthening of Egypt’s role on the African continent (el-Sisi is the President of the African Union now). For Ethiopia, regional leadership is a long-standing dream. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali makes significant efforts to achieve this dream, held up as “the most active diplomat in the region”.

In current circumstances, Egypt is unlikely to turn the negotiations into a favorable path for it. Sudan, Egypt’s longtime ally, is on the side of Ethiopia. As after a trilateral meeting in March 2012, Sudan declared support of GERD.

For Sudan, the dam is the possibility of cheap electricity and way to regulate the flow of water, which often leads to devastating floods. Therefore, Egypt lacks regional support, and its negotiating position is weak.

As of now, the dam is about ready by 80%. The point is whether Ethiopia will keep its promises on the distribution of water during a drought.

Despite the negotiations lasts, the hope for compromise remains. Ethiopia is most likely to follow its previous negotiating strategy, and Egypt will be forced to agree on a compromise because of the weak position.

The post Water Conflict in Africa: the Largest Hydroelectric Power Station Is the Bone of Contention Between Ethiopia and Egypt appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Foreign Affairs Quiz

Foreign Policy Blogs - Tue, 21/01/2020 - 18:24


The post Foreign Affairs Quiz appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

The Looming Tax War

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 17/01/2020 - 06:00

While the trade war between China and the United States has hogged headlines and driven market anxieties over the past year, an equally large threat to the global economy has gotten little attention: a looming tax war. Since the early twentieth century, countries have largely agreed on how to tax income earned by multinational corporations that conduct business across borders. But this long-standing regime is coming apart, imperiling the broader international economic order.

The current system, established through decades of practice and convention, provides a basis for determining which country can tax income earned in one jurisdiction by a business that resides in another. The regime rests on the norms set in domestic tax laws as well as a patchwork of almost 4,000 bilateral treaties. For decades, the system was stable and functional enough that no one other than international tax lawyers even talked about it.

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Iran Pins Region’s Bloody Protests on West and Israel

Foreign Policy Blogs - Thu, 16/01/2020 - 21:20

Iranian leaders have long boasted that they have taken control of four Arab capitals — Baghdad, Syria, Beirut, and Yemen — simultaneously threatening Israel’s security.

Beirut recently began to rise up in mass popular protests against the “regime” and “corruption.” It is no secret to anyone that the “regime” in Lebanon is now fully controlled by Iranian proxy Hezbollah. For the first time in the history of Lebanon, the state is experiencing a revolution from its far north to its far south, in all regions and within all sects — even within the Shi’ite community and the Hezbollah public.

In Iraq, a protest movement started in October, leading to the deaths of more than 319 people, most of them demonstrators, and the injuring of more than 15,000 according to an official toll. It began with calls for an end to corruption and unemployment, but it developed into a demand for the resignation of the government and a reform of the political system.

In Iran, anti-regime protests started in small towns before continuing on to major cities nationwide, despite severe repression and the growing number of casualties.

It was remarkable that nine offices of Iranian officials, including representatives of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, were burned down in the provinces. These offices were seen by the protesters as symbols of the repressive regime and the headquarters of clerics overseeing the implementation of the regime’s policies while looting the people’s money freely.

The anger broke out in Iran after Tehran announced fuel rationing and a gasoline price hike of 50%. But protesters soon were chanting “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to Khamenei,” denouncing Iran’s president and supreme leader; they also chanted “Death to the dictator.”

Amnesty International said in late November that Iranian security forces had killed 106 protesters in just four days, most of them from Ahvaz and Kurdish provinces. Iranian activists said at the time that the death toll had risen to more than 200.

Iran has been monitoring the demonstrations in all these countries closely since their beginning. The state considers them a conspiracy, with Iranian officials accusing Iran’s enemies of being behind the unrest. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote on his official Twitter account: “#Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together… Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective.”

Later Khmanenei added: ”I recommend those who care in Iraq and Lebanon remedy the insecurity and turmoil created in their countries by the U.S., the Zionist regime, some western countries, and the money of some reactionary countries.”

Iran’s leaders have claimed that there is an “enemy conspiracy,” and that the protests were part of a “plot” by Tehran’s foreign foes — Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States.

“Our people have been victorious,” President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting on November 20, claiming that the “armed anarchists” who took to the streets across Iran were few in number.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah warned of “civil war” as a possible consequence of the demonstrations spreading throughout the country, expressing his organization’s rejection of the anti-corruption protests.

Nasrallah added in a televised speech: “We do not accept the fall of the government, we do not accept the call for the resignation of the government, nor do we accept the holding of early parliamentary elections.” He also claimed the West and Saudi Arabia were behind the protests.

Fearing the reduction of its influence in Iraq, Iran is intervening to mobilize a brutal response, and according to Iraqi officials, Iran has instructed its militias to assign snipers to shoot at street demonstrators.

Iranian officials and agencies have specifically accused the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel of mobilizing the demonstrations in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.

Meanwhile government officials in Iraq say Iran pressured the weak Iraqi prime minister not to step down, persuading him that the protests were a foreign conspiracy primarily aimed at harming the Iraq-Iran relationship until there were so many deaths that he considered stepping down. Eventually the pressure from the protests did in fact reach the point that he tendered his resignation.

Iran’s steps underscore the existence of an Iranian plan to stop the popular uprising in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon by insinuating the involvement of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states such as the U.A.E., in addition to non-Arab countries like the U.S., U.K., and Israel in the protest movement. In this way, Iran is seeking to internationalize the unrest.

Regarding the protests in Iraq, Iranian affiliated news agencies have claimed Saudi Arabia is arranging meetings with symbols of the Iraqi opposition abroad. Iran’s Council of Experts stated that the protesters in Iraq were trained “in camps especially in America and Saudi Arabia.” One of the council’s members, Abbas Kaabi, said: “The enemies of the Iraqi and Iranian people — Britain, America, and the Saudis — have been planning for more than a year to provoke unrest and temptation to change the loyalty of the resistance in Iraq for the benefit of America and Saudi Arabia.”

In the same context of Iran accusing the Saudis of directing the Iraqi protest movement, a rumor emerged about a meeting in Amman between the Saudi ambassador in Jordan and Raghad Saddam Hussein, the daughter of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The rumor was picked up by a group of news sites affiliated with the Iranian agenda.

Iranian propaganda has also sought to spread rumors about the involvement of some big names and symbols of Iraq, including the head of the movement against Iranian expansion Abdul Razzaq Shammari. The Iranian intelligence has resorted to promoting its claims through its media trumpets, pointing out that there are official Saudi tendencies seeking to establish a special conference to discuss the future of governance in Iraq, and that this conference will involve several important Iraqi figures.

According to a source in the U.A.E., Shammari has stressed that since the beginning of the protests in October, Tehran has reported schemes and conspiracies in order to abort the popular uprisings. He pointed out that he communicated with figures close to Raghad Saddam and she denied meeting with the Saudi ambassador to Jordan.

After being briefed on the Iranian plot, Shammari also contacted some of the figures whom Tehran has claimed were contacted by Saudi Arabia to form a political project uniting the Sunnis in Iraq by holding a conference bringing together prominent Iraqi figures.

Ironically, among the names of those allegedly invited to the conference are a number of deceased figures; the most prominent of them is the late Saif al-Mashhadani, who died four years ago.

In addition, the Iranian assault on the popular movement has sought to focus on mentioning ex-dictator Hussein’s Baathist party in Iraq and connecting them to the demonstrations. This is in order to intimidate Iraqi Shi’ite demonstrators and to portray the uprisings as belonging to the “banned” Baath party, which is unanimously opposed in Iraq.

Shammari added: “The Iranian regime claimed through its accounts and media sites and social media accounts that Saudi Arabia is seeking to prepare for a conference aimed at organizing a special project for the Sunnis in Iraq to kidnap the demand of the street. Also part of Iran’s plot is to intimidate protestors by warning of infiltration by organizations such as ISIS; especially after it emerged that many of its leaders are Baathists.”

Iran has not only attempted to implicate Saudi Arabia in the protest movement of the Iraqi street; it has also tried to implicate the Baathists, and this is intentional because most of the Iraqi people are concerned about the Baathists.

Tehran’s efforts to stop the current uprisings in Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran are similar to what it did when it stopped the popular movement in Iraq in 2013, under the pretext of standing up to ISIS. Now the pretext being used is to stand up to Western proxies and Saudi Arabia.

The post Iran Pins Region’s Bloody Protests on West and Israel appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Op-Ed: Standing in solidarity with Bangladeshi anti-rape protesters

Foreign Policy Blogs - Tue, 14/01/2020 - 22:21

Al Jazeera recently reported that a group of Bangladeshi demonstrators are protesting against the recent rape of a student at Dhaka University, one of the most prominent schools within the South Asian country.   According to the report, the demonstrators are demanding justice, something which does not happen enough within the country due to the country’s antiquated rape laws.  Shahela, a demonstrator, declared, “Rape is an unforgivable offense.  In Bangladesh, the punishment for rape is very slow.”  It is time for this to change and we in the international community should stand in solidarity with the protesters. 

According to Voice of America, over 1,000 people have been protesting against Bangladesh’s rape culture and the recent rape of this Bangladeshi student in particular.  The student was walking home from a friend’s home when she was grabbed from behind, gagged, attacked and raped.  She is now hospitalized.  Deutche Welle reported that the protesters are demanding: “No more rape.  We want justice.  We want a higher punishment.”      

In recent times, Bangladesh’s rape culture has only gotten worse and this student at Dhaka University is far from the only victim.  The Dhaka Tribune reported that Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a Bangladeshi human rights organization, reported that the number of rapes doubled within Bangladesh over the past year.  The Dhaka Tribune reported that a total of 1,413 women were either gang-raped or subjected to rape in Bangladesh in 2019.  Dozens of them were killed afterwards and 10 others committed suicide following the rape.

According to the report, the number of rape victims was 732 in 2018 and 818 in 2017.   ASK claims that the number of rape victims in Bangladesh is actually much higher but many victims refrain from reporting such incidents to the police due to the fact that they don’t believe the authorities will grant them justice.   According to the Dhaka Tribune, only 3% of rapists are actually convicted in Bangladesh, even though Bangladeshi law stipulates that rapists are supposed to get a death penalty.  

Farah Kabir, the country director of the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Service Trust, proclaimed: “Civil society organizations must advocate for the reform of rape laws, particularly to broaden the definition of rape. Is it acceptable for an aspiring middle income country and ‘Digital Bangladesh’ to still be bound by colonial era laws dating back to 1855? Rape is rape whether it occurs in the public or private sphere and we call for criminalizing marital rape, especially because we live in a country where the vast majority of women face intimate partner violence from their husbands. If we cannot guarantee basic protection of the 51% of the population who are women, then who are these laws serving and what purpose are they fulfilling? Reform to rape laws we have seen thus far have resulted from the continued advocacy of civil society and there is a need for this movement to continue until rape laws are reformed to ensure gender equality.”

Former Bangladeshi Justice Minister A.F.M Abdur Raham concurred, “The definition of rape is yet to be updated, despite the enactment or amendment of special laws in 1995, 2000 and 2003. My experience in applying the Acid Control Act of 2002 and Acid Crime Prevention Act of 2002 over the years has led me to believe that there could be instructive lessons here for reform of rape laws, in terms of careful drafting and coordination of medical and psycho-social responses with legal responses. Action is necessary to reduce the incidence of rape, to focus on prevention and to ensure justice for victims. It is unfortunate, but whenever there is a discussion on amending any law, the lawmakers and parliamentary representatives think about increasing punishment rather than ensuring justice and prevention of rape incidents. The laws need to be amended but at the same time, we need to work harder to stop such incidents, including taking initiatives to build greater social morality in people.”

In order to demonstrate their solidarity with the Bangladeshi anti-rape protesters, the international community should demand that the Bangladeshi government form an independent commission of inquiry in order to investigate the lack of justice for rape victims within the country and should update Bangladeshi rape laws so that they are in accordance with acceptable international standards and norms.  What is the purpose of having a law stating rapists must get the death penalty if only 3% of rapists are actually convicted and thus face justice?  Indeed, it would be better to live in a society that merely imprisons rapists yet ensures that the vast majority of rapists are locked up behind bars rather than roaming around the streets, continuously terrorizing women and girls.   The international silence over Bangladesh’s rape culture should end now.  After all, Me Too is not an exclusively American movement.  It should be internationalized and include every nation across the planet.  

The post Op-Ed: Standing in solidarity with Bangladeshi anti-rape protesters appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Foreign Policy Quiz

Foreign Policy Blogs - Mon, 13/01/2020 - 20:49


The post Foreign Policy Quiz appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

What It’s Like Being a Second Generation Refugee

Foreign Policy Blogs - Fri, 10/01/2020 - 18:38

My earliest memories of Israel go back to the October 1973 war, a child, I already “knew” Israel is an invader in what was a sleepy part of planet earth. Despite radio and tv stations everywhere claiming Arab victories,  even then I knew this was fake news, kids know liars from their intonation.

It’s hard to imagine Israel was only 25 years old. Looking back, Lebanon’s media coverage of the war(s), and the coverage of the concept of Israel proper, was probably the least fictional compared to other Arab outlets boasting about victories.

Even then, I don’t think I ever sensed real hope for a return to Yaffa from anyone. My father never looked back, the trauma must have been too painful, everyone in his family admitted to themselves they will never return, not a word uttered about going back, not at home, not in family gatherings, not on TV, the goal had moved to recovering the West Bank and Sinai. The shame was overwhelming hence the denial. The photo of the Bauhaus style family house in Jaffa’s Ajami district that my grandmother kept in her bedside table is engraved in my memory still.

For most people, life went on, everyone I knew was employed and making ends meet, Lebanon welcomed and offered a good start to many migrants. Entrusted with liberating Palestinian lands, the PLO and its factions looked nothing like the humans I knew, they carved a persona associated with Nasser, the Soviet Union, Guevara and other bullies this teenager saw through his Catholic school educated eyes. They wanted a people that look like them, rather than the other way round, refugees don’t have the luxury to elect their leaders after all.

As time went by, the Qadiya, (the Palestinian Cause) took center stage with all despots, destroying Israel was a rallying tool used from Baghdad to Algiers and even Tehran to rally and pacify masses, these despots hijacked, confiscated and traded the Qadiya. When Sadat surprised the world with his courageous visit to the Knesset in Jerusalem, there was hope of recovering the West Bank, Jerusalem and even the Golan Heights, there was hope for peace, I heard adults whispering about driving back to Jaffa, retracing the short trip many Palestinians took to Beirut after the Deir Yassine massacre. Shamir and Sharon aborted all hope, cementing a relationship of hate and domination, soon after, in 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, seeing Israeli soldiers parading in Beirut was nauseating, as a teenager, my relationship with Israel was minted. “I am moving on with my life, not looking back, I will build a new life turning my back to the Mediterranean’s eastern shore”, a feeling millions in the region have experienced as they were forced to seek refuge in safer lands. The ideas of the right of return or fair compensation never crossed my mind, I had the luxury to be able to say: The land and the right of return are non-negotiable.

Fast forward 36 years, on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (the Palestinian catastrophe), my father surprised me when he spoke on the right of return for the first time, in a few well-chosen words, he set my compass straight: The right of return is sacred, Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian people, Israel is an invader, anything less than a one state solution is unacceptable.

Not one day goes by for him without a thought set in Jaffa. How can we, refugees, skip a day of yearning to return when we read and see daily trespasses onto a dehumanized people stripped of their dignity by tourists from around the world who are invited to settle and expel the indigenous inhabitants, that is how we Palestinian refugees see it. Injustice and the pain of exodus have an inextinguishable flame it seems, and the flame is alive with my children, third generation refugees, born less than a mile from where the Balfour Declaration is saved.

Many moderate Palestinians paid too high a cost for speaking up on the issue, on one side the establishments (with an s for we have two competing Palestinian authorities mired in problems on both sides of the 48 Palestine) fear their grip on the Qadiya is weakening, attacks come from every side of the spectrum. Remaining committed to a return to Palestine is not an easy choice for the next generations, surely the refusal to naturalize Palestinians wherever they are in the Arab countries has kept that flame burning bright.

The idea of peaceful coexistence has proven an illusion until now, but we must be ready to return, accept a one state solution, and we must start planning now; Before long, Israel will celebrate 100 years of occupation, will it be able to maintain apartheid state practices? Until a fair one state solution is accepted by Palestinians, the injustice and dehumanization Israel is committing on a daily basis against Palestinians living under occupation or as refugees will continue to haunt Jewish people in Israel and beyond.


The post What It’s Like Being a Second Generation Refugee appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Elections in Ireland by April 24?

Foreign Policy Blogs - Thu, 09/01/2020 - 18:13

Seamless border at risk:  on the left, County Armagh, NI, UK; on the right, County Louth, Republic of Ireland (Google Maps)

The timing of elections in Ireland could be decided in early January

The leaders of Ireland’s main political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, will meet in early January to decide the date of general elections. Although not required until spring 2021, snap elections could take place in January or February or closer to Easter, perhaps April 24.

Leo Varadkar‘s Fine Gael party has led the government for nine years. It has come under domestic pressure on issues like housing, health care, and the divergent paths of the economy in different regions. Ireland’s larger question is on the Brexit negotiations and managing the new border between it and the UK.

Trouble at Home

Adversaries gathered on RTE Radio 1 to debate the issues. Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne described the choice in the upcoming election between the “current, tired government and a gaggle of independents” and a “very progressive centrist government” of Fianna Fáil, Labor, Greens, and possibly Social Democrats. Pressed whether such a coalition would be viable, Byrne argued it would be “stronger and more stable” than the current government.

Byrne promised major investment in public services.  Key issues are health and housing, along with transportation, education, mental health, and the rural communities.

Fine Gael’s Catherine Noone defended the government, explaining that unemployment of 4.8 percent is historically low and that affordable housing units are being built. But independent senator Alice Mary Higgins emphasized that economic fortunes vary between the more prosperous “Dublin bubble” and the smaller towns.  Young adults are leaving rural areas, facing half-shuttered main streets and unemployment exceeding 20 and sometimes 30 percent.

Higgins said the 2020s need to be a “decade of action” on climate change, sustainable development, and a stronger role for government with insurance, housing, and energy. She and Sinn Fein senator Paul Gavan warn against the idea that the choice is between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. In their judgment the two parties are similarly tied to the vested interests of industry. The Irish election may shape up like a presidential election between two candidates, Varadkar and Fianna Fáil’s Micheal Martin, instead of among a variety of parties.

Brexit: What’s Next?

International pressures loom over these domestic issues – above all, Brexit. Varadkar will travel in January to the World Economic Forum in Davos and in March to Boston and Washington. During February and March, the EU will be determining its Brexit positions, in preparation for the EU summit in Brussels on 26-27 March.

University of Pennsylvania’s Brendan O’Leary has raised some of these questions from short-term and long-term perspectives. He discussed at American University in Washington that “Brexit” had always been a misnomer. It wasn’t the large island of Britain that was to leave the EU, but the whole of the United Kingdom – “UKexit”. But the prospect of reintroducing a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland threatens the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (aka Belfast Agreement) and raises fears of a return to the violence of the past. Proposals now put that border between Northern Ireland and Britain instead, creating a new problem for the UK. Meanwhile, the Good Friday Agreement ensures that citizens of Northern Ireland – but not of England or Scotland – will remain citizens of the European Union.

The withdrawal agreement and the terms of a future relationship – and even a timeline for deciding them – have yet to be fully determined. UK prime minister Boris Johnson has a new parliamentary majority to support him. But an agreement of anything more than just trade would require unanimity from EU members. Ominously for Johnson, long-term questions about the future of Northern Ireland and Scotland leaving the UK lie just over the horizon.

The post Elections in Ireland by April 24? appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Operation Vengeance

Foreign Policy Blogs - Wed, 08/01/2020 - 21:06
The U.S. Assassinated the Japanese Admiral Who Planned Pearl Harbor by Shooting Him Down

With the current escalation of tensions between the US and its Allies in the Middle East against Iran and its proxy forces in the region, there have been questions around the legitimacy of actions taken by both sides. With escalating actions against US and Western interests in the Persian Gulf and a final act against the US Embassy in Baghdad, an act that mirrored the actions against US diplomats during the Revolution in Iran and in Libya, the US responded with force.

It is a clear violation of International Law to deny protection to foreign embassies, and it is a more severe violation to take physical action against any foreign embassy or its officials. This standard was reached by the international community so that diplomacy could be commenced without the fear of physical reprisals against members of foreign dignitaries attempting to negotiate peace or de-escalate conflict. The standard under international law is that a foreign embassy is considered a part of that country, and entering or invading it is tantamount to entering their soil. Part of this law is that the host nation must also defend the embassy and their staff against any threats of violence. Without these rules, international diplomacy would suffer greatly. Every country in the world complies by these rules, and it is extremely rare that a country would opt to challenge this status quo under international law.

Another question of international law is whether or not the violence taken against citizen protesters in Iran and Iraq that challenges Iran’s government and their proxy forces is in itself illegal under international law. The death of protesters lead to the removal of Iraq’s Prime Minister and President recently in response to Iran’s role in Iraq. Approximately 1500 protesters in Iran have been murdered recently as well. Those victims in both countries should be immediately considered in any response and dialogue if there is a discussion of the current tensions between the governments in conflict. If they are not respected, then any claim of actions under international law should be measured against illegal actions against innocent protesters.

The response and death of a foreign General operating in a military mission on foreign soil has taken place in the past, it was called Operation Vengeance. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was shot down during the Solomon Islands campaign during the Second World War after American intelligence discovered that he would be flying over a combat zone during the campaign. His transport bomber was shot down by American planes and he was killed. It was taken as a response to his role in planning attacks on the United States, mainly Pearl Harbor. While the question of proportional response is currently in debate over recent actions in Iraq, there was a clear mandate for American forces to kill one of Japan’s most important commanders, an individual that had cost so many American and Allied lives. This also gave a boost to American morale, as well as enabled for a tactically better position for US forces in the campaign in the Pacific.

When operating in a military capacity on foreign soil, the risk of loss is real and is common in conflict zones. Power plays a great role in International Law, with the acceptance of a legal norm that one who asks for protection under International Law must have clean hands, meaning that you cannot ask the law for protection while violating that same law. Diplomacy must be paramount of course, and it is why dialogue and resisting threats against consular officials must be respected under International Law. Without these age old norms established between nations in conflict in the past, the world would become a much more precarious and dangerous place.

The post Operation Vengeance appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

2019 Review: Main Political Events in Africa

Foreign Policy Blogs - Tue, 07/01/2020 - 16:00

Africa welcomed 2019 with reports about the coup in Gabon and ushered it out with elections in Guinea-Bissau. In the meantime, there have been enough challenges since January 2019. In order to analyze the main political events in Africa, they are divided into 5 categories: political situation and elections, security background, peace initiatives, regional integration and international cooperation.

The political situation.
  1. Uprisings in Algeria and Sudan.

In Algeria, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned on April 2, 2019, after months of mass protests. He had held office as the president for 20 years. But the protests are still ongoing; activists demand a full political reboot of the country.

In Sudan, mass protests began in December 2018. On April 11, 2019, Bashir was ousted in a military coup d’état. On August 17, the military administration and leaders of the Sudanese civil opposition signed an agreement and formed a sovereign council to govern the country.

  1. Ethnic crisis in Ethiopia.

Against the background of the transition to liberal democracy, Abiy Ahmed Ali’s government has to find a solution for ethnic tensions in Ethiopia. These tensions spiraled into a coup attempt (in Amhara region on the night of June 22), periodical manifestations (in October 2019) and regional referendum (Sidama people voted for their own region in November).

  1. The escalation of the political situation in Guinea.

In mid-October 2019, protests began in Guinea against the decision of President Alpha Conde. His second term ends next year. But his opponents say the president wants to make amendments to Constitution, which will allow him to run for a third term in 2020. Protests take place every week as opposition forces urge people to manifest until the president gives up his intentions.

  1. Nigeria – Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election in February (56%). His opponent, Atiku Abubakar, intended to challenge the election, but the court rejected his petition.
  2. South Africa – In May, 57.5% of people voted in favor of the African National Congress (ANC) in the general election, Cyril Ramaphosa became the president.
  3. Botswana – The Botswana Democratic Party achieved a majority of seats in the National Assembly and Mokgweetsi Masisi became the president.
  4. Tunisia – The presidential election was held in September. Kais Saied beat off Nabil Karoui (76.9%). Significantly, Said was not among the predicted favorites of the presidential race.
  5. Mauritania – Mohamed Ould Ghazouani has achieved victory, he is nominee and successor of the previous head of state Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. The protests burnt out in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou, people demanded to challenge the elections. Meanwhile, Ghazouani took an oath as president.

Security background.
  1. Ongoing conflicts.

Conflicts still run in Nigeria (Boko Haram), DRC, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Libya, Somalia, CAR. Certainly, such factors as bad governance, competition for natural resources, ethnic heterogeneity, lack of political will complicate the solution.

  1. Protests in South Africa.

On September 1, riots and robberies broke out in Johannesburg and the protesters burned foreign-owned stores. In response, Nigerians began smashing South African shops in at least three states in Nigeria. Also, Kenya, the African Union Commission, Ethiopia, Zambia, Botswana condemned the attacks.

  1. Military operation in the Sahel.

In November, France launched the military operation Bourgou 4 in Burkina Faso. France carries out the operation in the area of three borders between Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Moreover, France has already deployed 4,500 militants in the Sahel region.

  1. Kremlin’s hand in Africa.

In June, the Guardian received secret documents, which cast light upon Russian influence in Africa. Military company The Wagner Group under the leadership of Yevgeny Prigozhin operated in the CAR, Sudan, Madagascar, Libya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, South Sudan, Chad, Zambia, and DRC. Moreover, secret documents indicate that Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Libya and Ethiopia are countries for further possible “cooperation”.

Peace initiatives.
  1. Peace between Rwanda and Uganda.

Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) signed a peace agreement in the capital of Angola to end diplomatic feuds.

The relations between the two neighboring countries had been strained over the past three years for a variety of reasons. Among them are interference in internal affairs, support for opposition forces within the neighboring country.

The feud between Uganda and Rwanda diminished regional capacity to deal with other crises in the Great Lakes region. In addition, the crisis also brought economic losses: limited movement across the Uganda-Rwanda border reduced trade within EAC.

  1. Peace in Mozambique.

On August 1, political forces FRELIMO and RENAMO signed a peace agreement to solve the conflict, which had been lasting since the Cold War. The agreement enabled the election, which took place on October 15.

So, FRELIMO won the elections and Filipe Nucie would be the president for next term. However, RENAMO is contesting the election results.

  1. Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon.

In early October, the country hosted a “National Dialogue” aimed at ending the Anglophone Crisis. The agreements on special status for two English-speaking regions, the election of local governors, and the return of the previous name of the country are among Dialogue’s results. In December, Cameroon passed a law on the special status of these provinces, enabling them to develop their own education and justice policies.

Regional integration.
  1. Free trade zone.

In July African states signed the agreement for creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). The FTA will become effective on May 1, 2020, with headquarter in Accra, Ghana.

The agreement provides a single trade market and movement of capital and people. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member states of the African Union.

  1. The new currency for ECOWAS.

From 2020, 8 members of  ECOWAS will use new currency – “ECO” (like Euro for the EU) instead of the franc. The change applies to Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo in the first turn and then will target all other members of ECOWAS.

There are many obstacles approaching implementing the decision, but countries won’t be required to keep half of their foreign exchange reserves in the French Treasury. In addition, France’s influence on the currency management bodies of the countries will also be minimized.

International cooperation.
  1. Forum in Russia.

On October 23-24, the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum took place in Sochi. The participants signed more than 50 deals, at a total value of more than 800 billion rubles. Moreover, African countries received 300 cooperation offers in different fields.

The event was a signal of Russia’s willingness to participate actively in the “battle for Africa”. Although the focus was on economic cooperation, the Forum became an instrument to promote the main goal of Russia in Africa. It’s political influence through the control over natural resources and military support.

  1. The awarding the Nobel Peace Prize 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali.

His major achievement is solving the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea, which has destabilized the region for 20 years. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries. 

In short, 2019 was full of challenges for Africa. However, some of the above-mentioned main political events in Africa can be estimated as positive steps towards the continent’s peaceful growth.

But the key issue is the effectiveness of these initiatives. Some of these events, for example, the peace efforts in Mozambique and Cameroon, the new currency and the African Free Trade Area, have already faced several obstacles. The basic prerequisite for overcoming these obstacles is the political will of the leaders. A clear demonstration of this is the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which has ended the 20-year conflict.

The post 2019 Review: Main Political Events in Africa appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Foreign Affairs Quiz

Foreign Policy Blogs - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 21:59

The post Foreign Affairs Quiz appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Géopolitique des îles

Politique étrangère (IFRI) - Fri, 03/01/2020 - 09:00

Cette recension a été publiée dans le numéro d’hiver de Politique étrangère
(n° 4/2019)
. François Gaulme propose une analyse de l’ouvrage de Marie Redon, Géopolitique des îles. Des îles rêvées aux îles mondialisées
(Le Cavalier bleu, 2019, 176 pages).

Avec ses références et sa bibliographie réduites à leur plus simple expression, ce petit livre s’adresse à un large public. C’est en soi une excellente initiative, car il aborde un sujet qui ne cesse de prendre de l’importance, bien qu’il demeure peu connu et soit rarement traité.

Le titre du livre, dans sa version abrégée, ne traduit qu’imparfaitement son objet. Marie Redon module son analyse entre des considérations « géopolitiques » au sens des organisations internationales, et des enjeux mondiaux et des développements personnels plus flous, dans un large chapitre sur la « spectacularisation de l’île ». Celui-ci, dans des réflexions d’ordres culturel, sociétal et philosophique, aborde, pêle-mêle, l’imaginaire des îles (tropicales ou non) dans le monde occidental, le phénomène économique des croisières, et le souvenir historique des « Frères de la côte » du temps des pirates des Caraïbes…

On se perd dans ce dédale, alors que le premier chapitre, non moins copieux et bien plus précisément documenté, se concentrait très justement sur le contexte international de multiplication des États souverains depuis la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, relevant qu’entre 1965 et 1985, une vingtaine d’États insulaires ont fait leur entrée à l’Organisation des Nations unies.

Ce chapitre aborde ensuite les questions extrêmement complexes liées au droit de la mer et à la question des zones économiques exclusives. Il s’agit là de préoccupations très actuelles et qui demeurent en pleine évolution, alors que le pillage des ressources océaniques n’a fait que se développer depuis des décennies.

Certaines « petites économies insulaires » – pour employer l’expression technique les concernant dans les organisations multilatérales – en sont réduites à devenir des paradis fiscaux, ou des relais privilégiés du trafic de drogue, dans un monde globalisé. Il est dommage que ces deux derniers problèmes ne soient abordés qu’à la fin du livre. L’auteur les a coupés d’une analyse encore rapide mais déterminante, et placée tout naturellement en tête d’ouvrage, du statut particulier des États ou territoires insulaires de toutes sortes et de l’évolution du droit international. Ils en sont séparés maladroitement par les réflexions philosophiques évoquées plus haut, comme celle sur l’île « lieu commun » de la pensée occidentale.

En dépit de son réel mérite pour attirer l’attention du public sur les questions insulaires en général, le défaut de ce livre est en fin de compte l’absence de tentative d’un classement ordonné des problématiques concrètes des situations de toutes ces îles : elles n’ont en fait que peu en commun, entre les plus grandes du monde – Groenland, Nouvelle-Guinée… – et les petits atolls du Pacifique. Leur localisation, leur degré d’exposition au changement climatique rendent aussi très variables les enjeux auxquels elles sont confrontées. L’insularité ne suffit pas comme telle à les rassembler dans une problématique commune.

Le dernier chapitre du livre, qui énumère, sur le thème des flux migratoires, les situations respectives de la Caraïbe, de Chypre, de Mayotte et de Nauru (dans le Pacifique), montre que cette préoccupation classificatoire n’est pas entièrement absente, mais qu’elle n’est pas assez généralisée pour produire une vision moins abstraite et purement transversale de la place de l’insularité dans les relations internationales.

François Gaulme

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Daniel Jouanneau, Dictionnaire amoureux de la diplomatie

Publié dans IFRI, Politique étrangère, vol. 84, n° 4, hiver 2019-20
La collection des Dictionnaires amoureux est connue, et l’exercice consistant à en présenter un volume consacré à la diplomatie était une gageure. C’est à cette tâche difficile que s’est attelé Daniel Jouanneau, diplomate chevronné : entre autres fonctions, il fut ambassadeur au Mozambique (1990-1993), au Liban (1997-2000), au Canada (2004-2008) et au Pakistan (2008-2011). L’ouvrage, imposant comme le veut le genre (plus de 900 pages), est un hommage appuyé au métier de diplomate, à la carrière de ceux qui ont fait les grandes heures de la diplomatie. Il fait office de livre d’histoire, en nous rappelant ce que fut l’action extérieure des plus grands (Richelieu, Mazarin, Disraeli, Guizot, Bismark, Metternich…). Il nous rappelle les morceaux d’anthologie et le parcours professionnel des diplomates écrivains (Saint-John Perse, Jean Giraudoux ou Paul Morand, mais aussi Beaumarchais ou Chateaubriand). Il nous fait redécouvrir des personnages moins étudiés (Gromyko, Pechkoff…).
Il fait également – partiellement au moins – office de mémoires pour l’auteur, qui s’y exprime à la première personne et nous livre ses impressions, ses anecdotes, avec des développements appréciables sur les pays qu’il a connus : ainsi une surprenante entrée « Lesotho » s’immisce-t-elle entre Alexis Léger (Saint-John Perse) et Ferdinand de Lesseps. Des portraits issus de souvenirs personnels parsèment les lignes de ce Dictionnaire, contribuant, avec le reste, à redire que la diplomatie est une affaire d’êtres humains, d’interactions entre des caractères.
Il ne s’agit pas ici d’une analyse de politique étrangère, et l’on perçoit à quel point ce terme de « politique étrangère » (qui renvoie à la formulation de la grande stratégie), ne se confond pas avec celui de diplomatie, qui implique davantage l’exécution de cette dernière. On n’y trouvera donc pas d’entrées relatives à des épisodes de l’histoire, sinon à travers les parcours de ceux qui en furent les animateurs, ou à l’exception de quelques tournants historiques structurants (comme le Congrès de Vienne). On trouvera plutôt un hymne aux lieux de la diplomatie, avec des pages remarquables, et effectivement « amoureuses », sur les implantations diplomatiques françaises les plus exceptionnelles (comme le Palais Farnèse à Rome ou la Résidence des Pins à Beyrouth). 

Lire la suite dans Politique étrangère, vol. 84, n° 4, hiver 2019-20

Foreign Affairs Quiz

Foreign Policy Blogs - Thu, 02/01/2020 - 21:41

The post Foreign Affairs Quiz appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Politique étrangère vous souhaite une bonne année !

Politique étrangère (IFRI) - Wed, 01/01/2020 - 10:00

>>> Pour vous abonner aux 4 numéros de l’année 2020, cliquez ici ! <<<

Bilan géopolitique de l'année 2019

Publié dans : L'Opinion

L’air du large«Rétrospective 2019: étranges défaites avant travaux?» La chronique de Frédéric CharillonFrédéric Charillon 25 décembre 2019 à 11h00« Si les démocrates ont mal géré les derniers mois, semblant sur la défensive ou même sur le repli, si les “hommes forts” en ont profité pour diffuser largement une image flatteuse d’eux-mêmes comme véritables et nouveaux maîtres du monde, les jeux ne sont pas faits »
En cette année 2019, la démocratie a globalement reculé dans son exercice du pouvoir, tandis que les régimes autoritaires avançaient de moins en moins masqués, ne cachant plus leur ambition de remodeler les règles du jeu international pour y imposer un ordre souverainiste et illibéral. Dans la rue toutefois, la résistance s’organise. Dans l’attente d’un soutien européen qui ne vient toujours pas, dans l’espoir de recevoir l’appui d’une Amérique devenue bien incohérente, la foule, surtout au Sud, s’oppose seule, bien seule, aux despotes, à leur arbitraire, à leurs caprices, à leur volonté de toute puissance. Si les démocrates ont mal géré les derniers mois, semblant sur la défensive ou même sur le repli, si les « hommes forts ​» en ont profité pour diffuser largement une image flatteuse d’eux-mêmes comme véritables et nouveaux maîtres du monde, les jeux ne sont pas faits.Démocraties en miettesL’Amérique déchirée par les rodomontades du président le plus clivant de la période contemporaine, qui se fracture sur plusieurs fronts (riches-pauvres, démocrates-républicains, millennials-baby-boomers…), perd pied en politique étrangère. Et quand les Etats-Unis vont mal, le monde occidental ne va pas bien non plus. Donald Trump est sous le coup d’une procédure de destitution qui déstabilise l’édifice. Ses attaques contre la presse et l’opposition (notamment des opposantes priées de « retourner d’où elles viennent ») minent le pays. A l’extérieur, ses coups de menton n’ont rien donné : on attend toujours les résultats du dialogue avec la Corée mais l’Iran s’enferme à nouveau, la guerre commerciale avec la Chine nuit à la confiance des marchés, les alliés doutent, le fiasco syrien reste dans les esprits, ses affinités avec les leaders les plus brutaux inquiètent et son retrait de multiples cadres multilatéraux (accords de paix, traités interrégionaux, climat…) laisse un vide dangereux.L’allié traditionnel britannique, empêtré dans le Brexit jusqu’en ce mois de décembre, n’avait pas la tête à reprendre le flambeau, ce dont il n’a d’ailleurs pas les moyens. l’Allemagne reste sur sa ligne prudente et sa chancelière est occupée à tenir sa coalition pour arriver, peut-être, jusqu’au bout de sa fin de règne annoncée. La France d’Emmanuel Macron tente, comme souvent sous la Ve République, de profiter des désordres américains pour donner de la voix, mais le discours ne suffit pas, et de Gilets jaunes en grèves multiples, les hivers sont décidément difficiles. Ailleurs dans l’Occident démocratique on est soit trop petit pour peser, soit tenté par les sirènes illibérales. Ces dernières ne chantent pas qu’à l’Est : sur les réseaux sociaux français, des universitaires vantent les résultats économiques de Trump ou de Poutine. On lit des comparaisons entre les torts du système chinois et ceux du système français (comme, jadis, Ségolène Royale trouvait la justice chinoise efficace).Il est confondant de voir, dans les grands rendez-vous internationaux sur la sécurité, à quel point l’efficacité a changé de campLes populistes osent tout, c’est même à ça qu’on les reconnaîtLe club autoritaire populiste, dans ce contexte, croit son heure venue. Moscou développe sans complexe sa critique d’une démocratie libérale « dépassée ​» et dresse le bilan pitoyable de trois décennies de domination américaine. Avec une efficacité incontestable, la Chine reprend la rhétorique de la « ​democrazy ​», dénonçant le culte démocrate libéral auprès de pays du Sud séduits par le discours alternatif de Pékin sur la « connectivité » (c’est-à-dire la promotion des nouvelles routes de la soie chinoises), et promeut ses propres partenariats, ses banques d’investissements, sa nouvelle « bonne ​» gouvernance. Il est confondant de voir, dans les grands rendez-vous internationaux sur la sécurité (notamment organisés par les think tanks), à quel point l’efficacité a changé de camp : le discours russe ou chinois, autrefois trop rigide, gauche et mal à l’aise dans ce type d’enceinte, fait mouche désormais. Tandis que les PowerPoint américains apparaissent loin des réalités, trop vides et trop attendus pour séduire au-delà d’un public convenu, plus soucieux du politiquement correct que du stratégiquement efficace. Sur cette toile de fond, il est plus facile à Bolsonaro de dire à un journaliste qu’il a « une tête d’homosexuel », ou à Erdogan, de menacer l’Europe.Si l’on fait le bilan de l’année, les démocrates ont donc reculé sur beaucoup de fronts, comme dans une défaite intellectuelle que rien ne laissait prévoir voici une décennie. Distancés sur le terrain des idées, et même dans la maîtrise technique d’instruments qu’ils avaient pourtant créés (les réseaux sociaux, les rendez-vous internationaux de type « track 2 »…), ils finissent par subir des revers graves sur le terrain géopolitique le plus concret : Ukraine, Syrie, Afghanistan, mer de Chine du Sud…Si l’on fait le bilan de l’année, les démocrates ont reculé sur beaucoup de fronts, comme dans une défaite intellectuelle que rien ne laissait prévoir voici une décennie ; distancés sur le terrain des idées et dans la maîtrise technique d’instruments qu’ils avaient pourtant créésRésistances populaires, résistance de la démocratie ?
Lire la suite dans L'Opinion