Interview with Pascal Boniface
Renowned geopolitologist and prolific author of specialized works, deciphering with clairvoyance, probity, and often against the grain of the dominant doxa, the balance of power which governs a complex and tumultuous world, where a new multipolar world emerges, irresistibly, we no longer present Pascal Boniface.
On the occasion of the publication of his last two books, as edifying as they are fascinating – “War in Ukraine, the geopolitical shock wave» (Armand Colin, August 2023) and “Pascal Boniface, Tommy, Géostratégix 2: The major challenges of the contemporary world (Dunod, September 27, 2023)» – the director of the prestigious Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS) sheds his light on burning current issues.
A wise expert on geopolitics, its realities, its antagonisms, its intricacies and its challenges, on a world scene which is anything but a long, quiet river, Pascal Boniface, this brilliant pamphleteer in his spare time, who courageously demystified “Les Intellectuels faussaires” in 2011 (the BHL, Finkielkraut, Fourest, Encel, Val, Sifaoui and others…), agreed to answer Oumma’s questions.
Among the geopolitical and diplomatic consequences of the war in Ukraine, is not one of the most striking the way in which this conflict is perceived outside the West? A conflict which testifies to a “de-Westernization of the world”, says former ambassador Michel Duclos.
Hubert Védrine and I have been talking about the end of the monopoly of power in the Western world for a very long time. The Americans’ great mistake was to believe that the world had become unipolar after the disappearance of the Soviet Union. They did not realize that globalization would give rise to a phenomenon of emergence of countries of the South. What we see about the war in Ukraine is a deepening divide the West versus the restthe war is existential and central on the Western side.
For non-Western countries, it is a European war for which they are not responsible, but for which they bear the consequences (inflation, economic crisis) despite themselves. Although the majority of them condemn Russian aggression at the UN, they do not want to take sanctions against it and believe they do not have to obey Western countries.
They also note that Westerners’ evocation of universal principles has variable geometry. We welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms, we reject those who come from the South. We are intransigent on the acquisition of territories by force carried out by Russia, we remain silent when it is carried out by Israel.
At the end of my book on the war in Ukraine, War in Ukraine, the geopolitical shock wave (Armand Colin, August 2023), I publish two G7 press releases concerning the war in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When we reverse the terms used, the result is striking.
The BRICS, which met in Johannesburg (South Africa) from August 22 to 24, expanded by welcoming six new countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. In your opinion, can the BRICS really act as a counterweight to the current world order?
The BRICS are on the rise. Before the French Ambassadors, on August 30, Emmanuel Macron declared: “there are dozens of requests for membership in the BRICS, there are none in the G20. »
The BRICS have become a bit like the anti-G7. They refuse a world dominated by the West. They also and above all refuse to allow the dollar, the American national currency, to serve as a currency for international trade with all the weight that this can give to the United States.
The BRICS are not an alliance, they have different political systems, strategic positions, but by uniting, they weigh more against Western countries. It’s a club, they develop their economic exchanges in their national currency. Some are in a position of confrontation with the United States. Others want to maintain relations with Westerners, but by being treated as partners, not as auxiliaries.
The Oslo Accords sealed between Israel and Palestine celebrated their thirtieth anniversary, and it is clear that they ended in a bitter failure. A cruel disillusionment, to the point that the Palestinian historian Elias Sambar, who participated in their negotiations, affirmed in an interview with Le Monde that “ The current Israeli government is playing the disaster card “. In the same interview, he expressed his fears regarding a new expulsion of the Arab population from Israel and the West Bank. Do you share this concern?
The Oslo Accords are dead and, let’s be clear, so is the two-state solution. There is great hypocrisy on the part of Western countries who say they are pursuing this objective, even though they know very well that it is no longer achievable, largely because they never wanted to exert the slightest pressure on Israel. .
Rabin’s assassins are in power in Israel and are making an openly racist speech that heralds catastrophe. Western countries pretend to be offended, but take no concrete decisions. Most Arab countries do the same. The corrupt Palestinian Authority clings to its privileges and also has a very heavy responsibility.
The military regimes of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, resulting from recent coups and fundamentally hostile to France, signed a defensive alliance charter. Do these various putsches mark a decline in France’s influence in the Sahel and more broadly in Africa?
There is an obvious decline in France. In this region there are several factors. The troops of a foreign country, even if they are welcomed as troops of liberation, very quickly appear as troops of occupation. We should not have stayed so long in Mali, especially being linked to a regime increasingly rejected by the population, due to its corruption.
Military coups overthrew democracies, but people did not see what democracy brought them. The concept of war against terrorism in the region has led to the security aspect being made the main focus of our relationship with these countries. There were also contradictions in appealing to young people and relying on corrupt and without legitimacy hereditary regimes, condemning the coup in Mali and approving it in Chad. And then, in a globalized world, our domestic political debates are listened to elsewhere. The anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim diatribes, so present in our public debate, irremediably tarnish the image of France abroad.
The last question concerns relations between Algeria and Morocco. The two neighboring countries are at odds in particular over the thorny issue of Western Sahara. In your opinion, in the balance of power that has arisen, is there a geopolitical and geostrategic balance between the two countries, or has one country taken precedence over the other?
The Abraham Accords were a game changer. They have strengthened Morocco, now with very clear support from the United States and Israel. Algeria, for its part, benefits from the increase in energy prices, but is still in difficulty domestically.
Algeria is bringing together the Palestinian and Sahrawi causes to present itself as the champion of the right of peoples to self-determination. Morocco has consolidated its positions in Africa since its return to the African Union. Morocco is, however, worried about the current and future excesses of the Israeli government, which would make its relationship with Tel Aviv delicate.
Comments collected by the Oumma editorial staff
War in Ukraine, the geopolitical shock wave (Armand Colin, August 2023) and Pascal Boniface, Tommy, Géostratégix 2: The major challenges of the contemporary world, (Dunod, September 27, 2023), two works that we particularly recommend.