December 2008 - n° 714
Physical, cultural, social and economic frontiers are losing their significance. Beyond the reach of laws and controls, crime, the prime activity functioning according to the rules of the purest liberalism, has become globalised. So, crime finds a secure place in the ever-wider gaps in the ‘war on terror’; the hybridisation of crime and terrorism progresses; fragile states multiply at the gates of, and sometimes within, the European Union. After discussing the long-term global crisis in strategic thinking itself, the report to the President of the Republic by the commission on strategic problems proposes new avenues to revive French (and doubtless European) strategic thought. The application of decisions taken on this by the President will aim at adapting and harmonising the existing tools (IHEDN, CHEAr, INHES and IERSE) while giving the wider academic world the resources to get the most from its leading researchers. All of which will be brought together by the new Higher Council for Training and Strategic Research (CSFRS).
The harsh reality of the world and the difficulties we have in dealing with it drive us to one simple conclusion: we have to get out thinking straight. We have reached the limits of the technical effectiveness of our military power, and now have great difficulty in getting it to produce the desired political results. So we must reinvigorate our strategic thinking, because only reflection will allow us to escape the impasse we are in, and restore its utility to armed force in global crisis resolution. And we must renew the vigour of strategic reflection in France, together with the tools for enhancing it.
Noting the lack of imagination in recent strategic analyses, in particular the White Paper on defence and national security, the author recommends that effort should be focused on the intersection of geopolitics and criminality. Read more
It is often forgotten that all financial crises have a criminal dimension. Only yesteryear, in the 1980s and 1990s, the savings and loan banking failures in the United States and the bursting of the real estate bubble in Japan revealed the major role played by organised crime in these crises. So why should the subprime crisis be free from significant criminal involvement?
Cyberspace, this new battlefield that is the terrain of digital attacks, is a source of both fascination and fantasy. The identity of the authors of such attacks and the human and material resources available to states to defend against and respond to them raise many questions. All the actors involved—the State, businesses and private individuals—seem far from aware of the seriousness of the threat.
Three iconoclastic questions are raised by books published in France recently. Is management little more than illusion? (Jean-Michel Théron, Le pouvoir magique. Les techniques du chamanisme managerial). Is the West still capable of winning wars? (Arnaud de La Grange and Jean-Marc Balencie, Les guerres bâtardes; Vincent Desportes, La guerre probable, Penser autrement). And isn’t the ‘war on terror’ a dangerous delusion? (Christian Choquet, Le terrorisme n’est pas la guerre).
The creation of a Defence and National Security Council (CDSN) as announced in the White Paper signals the first recognition of national security, a concept that has previously figured rarely in French law, and notes the interpenetration of the notions of internal and external security. This new concept must cover defence policy, and internal and civil security policy. In any event, it sheds some long-awaited legal light on the question of responsibilities in defence matters.