French President Emmanuel Macron was all pumped up – in his element at the French embassy in Washington, DC, on Thursday. Surrounded by an adoring crowd of citizens that had twice elected him president, he was embarking on what he hoped to be a triumphant state visit to President Joe Biden. But towering over these accomplishments was a singular recognition announced the very morning of his arrival.
The baguette – France’s national dish – had just been added by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to its list of “intangible cultural heritage of humanity”. For the French, however, it is far from intangible.… Seguir leyendo »
A truce now in the war in Ukraine would essentially spell victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nine months in, Russian hopes of a swift seizure have been well and truly dashed, its army largely on the defensive across more than 600 miles of battle lines strung along the eastern and southern reaches of Ukraine.
Indeed a truce or negotiations may be the only path to victory possible at this moment for the Russian leader; his manpower exhausted and weapons supplies dwindling.
At the same time, there is a flagging will of the West that could prove equally toxic for Ukraine – and that Putin is almost certainly counting on.… Seguir leyendo »
Each day, it would seem, Russian President Vladimir Putin has become ever more adept at creating more victims and new enemies – solidifying, even enlarging, the ranks of those arrayed against him, and strengthening the resolve of those he would seek to conquer. At home and abroad, there seems to be no limit to Putin’s appetite to wreak mayhem in pursuit of an ever more elusive victory.
The first missile to have landed in Poland – a NATO member – on Tuesday may well have been a Ukrainian anti-aircraft rocket intercepting an incoming Russian missile a short distance from one of Ukraine’s largest cities, Lviv, as suspected by Polish and NATO leaders.… Seguir leyendo »
On newspaper stands across the French capital and online, the early results of America’s national elections were quite evident Wednesday morning.
The world – or at least the slice of it that continues to embrace the political system called democracy – has breathed a tentative sigh of relief.
While some key results may remain unresolved for some days, with the red wave reduced to a stream, America appears to have rejected the sharp turn toward the right that has marked so many other national elections this year.
Or as France’s leading newspaper Le Monde put the uncertainty over Congress: “A bad surprise for Republicans”.… Seguir leyendo »
Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing his best to achieve two immediate objectives. The goal of the West must be to stop him.
First, he’s seeking to distract his nation from the blindingly obvious, namely that he is losing badly on the battlefield and utterly failing to achieve even the vastly scaled back objectives of his invasion.
Second and simultaneously, Putin is playing desperately for time – hoping the political clock and the onset of winter in Europe will sap the will and energies of the Western powers that have all but eviscerated his military-industrial machine and destroyed the armed might of Russia.… Seguir leyendo »
In so many ways, the world we know today would not be the same without Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the former Soviet Union who died at the age of 91 on Tuesday.
It is not impossible to think that communism might still reign in the eastern half of Europe. The Soviet Union might have been held together as a single, deeply troubled, increasingly impoverished nation, rather than today's 15 more-or-less sovereign states. The Kremlin could quite possibly still be locked in an increasingly dangerous nuclear arms race with Washington.
But Gorbachev set the stage for a dramatic change of direction for the two superpowers of the day, one that might never have taken place without so many elements of his rich and textured life converging during his six years in power.… Seguir leyendo »
Though Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson and the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar are long-ago history, France and the United Kingdom are apparently still doing battle. In fact, Boris Johnson's likely successor as UK prime minister and assorted French politicos have recently been exchanging shots.
While Russia is launching accelerating salvos at neighboring Ukraine, even threatening nuclear Armageddon, it seems the UK and France -- both NATO members -- have somehow still not managed to patch things up.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is in the middle of a bitter intra-party battle against Rishi Sunak for leadership of the ruling Conservative party, was recently asked whether French President Emmanuel Macron is "friend or foe?"… Seguir leyendo »
Russia is threatening to throw serious sand in the gears of the Iran nuclear talks that had seemed poised to come to a successful conclusion this week. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his negotiators are now talking about walking from any agreement unless the West agrees it can be exempted from any restrictions on business dealings with Iran.
The West and Iran must stare Putin down and prepare to implement the pact forthwith even without Russia. This is a tailor-made chance for the world to demonstrate graphically just how utterly irrelevant Putin's toxic ambitions have rendered Russia -- by removing him and his country from the community of civilized nations.… Seguir leyendo »
Now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has embarked on his crusade to eradicate a neighboring democracy and subdue its proud and fearless people, the goal of the rest of the democratic world should be to make him feel the full pain of this miscalculated endeavor.
It's unclear whether Putin has an exit strategy. It is time for the West to force one upon him, tightening the screws on all Russian banks, airspace and the cushy foreign assets of its oligarchs.
Lessons can be learned from other drawn-out conflicts of recent history. It is precisely a lack of exit strategy that got the United States and the Soviet Union into such a bind in Afghanistan and, an even more appropriate analogy, that led America into a draining, decade-long war in Iraq.… Seguir leyendo »
As France gears up for a presidential campaign amid a savage fifth coronavirus wave sweeping the country, for the first time in the nation's history, female candidates occupy three of the principal axes of the political spectrum and may hold the key to the nation's future.
Far-right perennial Marine Le Pen, Socialist Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo and conservative governor of the Paris region Valérie Pécresse each pose a unique challenge to the incumbent, President Emmanuel Macron. For the moment though, he has still not officially declared his candidacy, and Macron remains the favorite to clinch a second and final five-year term.… Seguir leyendo »
With Iran on the cusp of building a deliverable nuclear weapon and with a growing perception that the United States may no longer be the staunch and reliable ally that many, especially in Europe and the Middle East, had long welcomed, the beginning of a realignment of traditional allies is beginning to take shape.
Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron paid a whirlwind visit to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In the UAE, he came away with a $19 billion order for 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 military helicopters.
No such luck for the United States, after the UAE last week suspended its separate sale for $23 billion worth of weapons.… Seguir leyendo »
The warning was hardly veiled. Vladimir Chizhov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's tough-minded representative to the European Union, recently said that if Europe wants to resolve any future issues with its supply of natural gas quickly, treating Russia as a "partner," not an "adversary," will help.
It's not the first signal that Russia is prepared to hold Europe hostage to natural gas prices, which are escalating dramatically. But with Europe currently facing an energy crunch, the context and timing are significant -- on both sides of the Atlantic. It's quite clear that both Washington and Brussels need to mind what's on the mind of Chizhov -- and especially Putin.… Seguir leyendo »
The immediate diplomatic crisis between the United States and France may have been declared over after a 30-minute phone call between Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron Wednesday. But I'm far from convinced that the brief conversation, along with an anodyne press release, has resolved a host of differences on China -- one of the most substantive and profound issues between France and the US.
The saga erupted last week after Australia announced it would withdraw from a multi-billion dollar defense deal to acquire conventional submarines from France and work instead with the US and United Kingdom to obtain nuclear-powered ones.… Seguir leyendo »
At our first meal in Paris, at a charming outdoor table on the Boulevard Saint-Germain the waiter immediately asked for our "pass sanitaire," or health pass, an app showing proof of either vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test or of past infection. Using a tablet, he scanned the QR codes on our iPhones, verified we were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and promptly delivered the food we'd ordered at the counter inside, where everyone -- guests and staff -- was masked.
On Sunday, at the European Cup 3 X 3 basketball finals, each of us had our passes scanned before we were allowed to enter an outdoor arena at the base of the Trocadero.… Seguir leyendo »
France's president, Emmanuel Macron, is betting his political future on a nationwide Covid health pass. Approaching the launch of his campaign for re-election to a second five-year term next April, Macron went on nationwide television on the eve of France's national holiday of Bastille Day with a series of some of the world's most stringent anti-pandemic edicts -- an effort to stifle the surging Delta variant, he said, and fend off a fourth Covid wave.
Seemingly prepared to take hard and politically polarizing choices, Macron announced Monday that all health care workers — in hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, even home-care nurses — must be fully inoculated against Covid or, quite simply, they won't be paid after September 15.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, Russian forces spied the British destroyer HMS Defender on routine patrol in the Black Sea. Specifically, a part of the Black Sea that's very sensitive to Russia: inside the territorial waters of Crimea. That's what Putin calls Russian territory, and much of the world still thinks belongs to the sovereign -- and pro-Western -- nation of Ukraine.
Matters got a bit sticky when the Defender crossed into Crimea's territorial waters. The Russian military says it fired warning shots across the bow, and then 11 minutes later, two Su-24M bombers dropped bombs in the path of the ship. No damage was done.… Seguir leyendo »
Perhaps now that Iran has chosen to install a new, ultra-conservative judiciary chief as its next president, it's time the world, but especially the United States, needs to adopt a new approach to dealing with this determinedly anti-American government. Global heads of state must pay attention to what Iranian leaders do, not what they say.
Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi has a record of human rights abuses and seems poised to steer the country toward an increasingly combative foreign policy while instilling fear among much of its own population. Now, let's see how he may implement this before jumping to irrevocable conclusions or actions of our own.… Seguir leyendo »
The list of candidates for the June 18 Iranian presidential election is out, and it's worse than anyone hoping for a moderate leader could have imagined. The top candidate is the chief justice of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, a thorough hard-liner and the favorite of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Khamenei, who oversees the Guardian Council that approves the candidate list, is not leaving this critical election to chance. Last time, the supreme leader's willingness to admit moderates -- at least in Iranian terms -- to the list of candidates led to Raisi's 2017 defeat at the hands of Hassan Rouhani, the two-term incumbent who is not eligible to stand for reelection.… Seguir leyendo »
The Biden administration has pledged to pursue "calibrated" diplomacy to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to halt his mad dash toward a deliverable nuclear weapon. But that is a vain hope. Instead, the world and especially the United States must find a way to live with a North Korea armed with The Bomb. And keep Kim from using -- or selling -- it.
Discussions with a number of individuals who have dealt with the North Korean government or monitored the actions of its ruling family have convinced me that no Kim -- neither Kim Jong Un, nor his father nor his grandfather -- ever has or will give up a quest for a deliverable nuclear weapon.… Seguir leyendo »
With America joining the renewed talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear agreement shunned by Donald Trump, the United States has taken a giant step back into the global community of nations. Sadly, we are now reduced to playing a sharply weakened hand.
It will take some deft management and out-of-the-box thinking on the part of America and Iran to snatch success from the jaws of what could still be catastrophic failure. And it is on the cusp of just such failure where the world is now suspended -- with the clock ticking loudly.
At the end of the first day of the Vienna meetings on Tuesday, the chief Iranian representative, Abbas Araqchi, told Press TV of Tehran that talks "are on the right track", but added that Iran still expected the US to lift all sanctions before Iran would agree to resume compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the 2015 agreement.… Seguir leyendo »