Arnaud Bertrand Profile picture
Jun 13 24 tweets 8 min read Read on X
These have undoubtedly been the wildest 72 hours in French politics in my lifetime. Pretty incredible stuff.

A 🧵
So after losing big time in the EU elections to Le Pen's Rassemblement National (RN), Macron decided to dissolve the National Assembly, calling the French to elect new MPs on the 30th of June 👇
This started what can only be called a movement of total panic throughout the French political class, because parties only have until this weekend to present candidates, and therefore decide on a strategy, who to ally with, etc.
The left got their shit together fairly fast, almost immediately announcing the creation of a "Popular Front" that gathers all the left-wing parties 👇
Hilariously, Raphael Glucksmann, the head candidate of the Socialist Party for the EU elections, tried to prevent the alliance by going on TV to list some ridiculous pre-conditions for it, but literally no-one listened to him and they went forward with it.
Many memes on Glucksmann effectively putsching himself out of the French left (he was never actually on the left anyhow)...
It's on the right that things really started to go wild after Éric Ciotti, the president of Les Républicains, the party of Chirac and Sarkozy, announced that they would do an alliance with Le Pen
Almost immediately top officials in his own party started saying that Ciotti was speaking in his own name only and said he needed to resign from the party's presidency.
Ciotti reacted by literally shutting down party headquarters to prevent his destitution. This is Aurélien Pradié, a Républicain MP in front of the closed doors of the headquarters saying they'll get emergency services to break open the door for them 😅
So many memes around this on French twitter 😅
Finally, the general secretary of the party @AnnieGenevard, who had spare keys, got to the party headquarters and managed to open the doors.
The "political desk" ("bureau politique") of Les Républicains announces that they've met, decided to fire Ciotti as President of the party and that he is not a member of Les Républicains anymore.
Ciotti begs to differ and says that the meeting that fired him didn't conform with the rules of the party so he in fact "is and remains president of [the party]"...
The infighting in Les Républicains continues, it's still completely unclear who actually manages the party at this stage and whether they'll ally with Le Pen. Ciotti claims that 80 Républicain MPs are with him and ready to campaign under Le Pen's banner...
One thing is sure though, Ciotti still controls Les Républicains' twitter account: "The President of the Républicains is and will remain Éric Ciotti."
He also has the Vice-President of the party @GuilhemCarayon on his side: "With Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella, we share 90-95% of the same ideas."

All in all, the party seems extremely divided and is imploding in real time...
Further right, things are pretty wild too. Marion Maréchal (granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen who had joined Zemmour instead of her family), announces on live TV that she wants to ally with the RN, next to a Zemmour whom apparently hadn't been consulted.
Later that day, Marion Maréchal announces that she met with the RN and heavily hints that the condition they set for an alliance is to get rid of Zemmour... Bear in mind that the party Reconquête that Maréchal and Zemmour are part of was founded by Zemmour
Zemmour goes on TV and calls Marion Maréchal's behavior "the world record of betrayals" and says she's surrounded by a team of "betrayal professionals"
Zemmour decided to not to go for an alliance and to present his own candidates. Marion Maréchal calls it "a triple mistake" and calls on everyone to vote for those candidates that did ally with the RN.

In short Reconquête just imploded...
Meanwhile Macron shoots at the newly formed "Popular Front", essentially saying that those who join it are antisemites🤦 Because LFI (Mélenchon's party) campaigned a lot for Palestinians so obviously that makes them and everyone with them antisemites...
In other wild news, Alain Finkielkraut, one of France's foremost Jewish intellectuals says he might be "obliged" to vote for Le Pen in order "to block antisemitism".

As a reminder Le Pen's party was co-founded by Pierre Bousquet, a former Waffen-SS... Image
There you go, 72 hours in France's political life... And that's not even half of it!

No doubt that this circus show will continue for the next 2 weeks until the elections. It's widely entertaining but obviously shows just how dysfunctional and lost France is right now...
Interesting late addition to the thread on what voters actually want.

Huge majority of voters on the left favorable to the "popular front" alliance (97% of LFI voters want it, as well as 86% of Socialist voters and 77% of Greens)

Les Républicains voters about half split on an alliance with Le Pen (53% agree so presumably 47% disagree).

Overwhelming support among Zemmour voters for an alliance with Le Pen (89% want it) so it looks like Marion Maréchal represents voters' will more than Zemmour with her move.Image

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More from @RnaudBertrand

Jul 8
That's incredible: Baidu last year set up a driverless taxi service in Wuhan and a few other places called "Carrot Run" (萝卜快跑), and the experiment is proving super popular with already 6 million rides completed with a fleet of just 1,000 cars.

The main reason is cost: without a driver and able to operate 24/7, it costs only 1/3rd of the price of a taxi or Uber. The cost paid by users is between RMB0.5 to RMB1.0 per km ($0.07 to $0.14) which is INSANELY cheap. With such a service, a drive between Boston and NYC (348 km) would set you back between $24 and $48, in your own private taxi!

Another added benefit is that they've set up the cars so that customers can sing karaoke or watch movies in the back (something you can't exactly do in a typical Uber). And safety-wise it's also proving much better than human drivers with no major accident in 100 million kilometers travelled.

So obviously a better experience from a consumer standpoint and it'll doubtlessly become the norm in a few years. Which of course raises questions with regards to jobs: millions if not tens of millions of people in China live off driving (taxis, delivery, etc.) so we're looking at quite a disruption if all those jobs get replaced by AI. And at the pace at which China moves, it's going to happen sooner rather than later.

More details 👇 In Wuhan they're allowed to cover 40% of the city
Read 4 tweets
Jun 29
The most important event in the world yesterday wasn't the disastrous presidential debate in the US, but it was the 70th anniversary of the 5 Principles of Peaceful Coexistence happening in Beijing.

I was lucky enough to be attending in person.

A 🧵
First of all, what are the 5 principles of peaceful coexistence, and why do they matter?

The principles were first proposed by China for the purpose of the 1954 Sino-Indian Agreement, also called the Panchsheel Agreement.

They are:
1) mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty,
2) mutual non aggression,
3) mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs,
4) equality and co-operation for mutual benefit
5) peaceful co-existence
Read 22 tweets
Jun 21
Whenever I want to be reminded of what a wise politician sounds like, I listen to George Yeo, the former Foreign Minister of Singapore (he was Singaporean cabinet minister during 21 years!).

A small 🧵 with video extracts from a talk he made at @AsiaSocietyNY recently.

Here he explains why it's "troubling" that the US keeps making the remark that they won't become number 2, "because it suggests that the US will do everything it can to prevent China from being number 1".

All the more troubling because:
- "China is prepared to accept the US for what it is"
- "It is completely unrealistic" for the US to think it can "change China". He sees US aspirations to change China as "hope built on an illusion [which] can only lead to one outcome: to tragedy".
- "China doesn't want to be number one politically, [...] it doesn't want to take on the burden of being the global hegemon, the global policeman". So "in a multipolar world, the US can still be Primus Inter Pares, first among equals, because of the English languages, because of standards, because the US itself is a metasystem."
Here Yeo relates a powerful anecdote where the Secretary to Pope John Paul II wrote in a speech: "despite our diversity, we are one".

The Pope asked to replace the word "despite" with "because". Yeo interpreted it as meaning: "we are one only because we respect that each of us is unique, that each culture is unique, that each country is unique. If we want as a condition of the relationship that the other person should be like us, that's not a relationship, that's a dictatorship."
Yeo makes the point that today liberalism "has become doctrinaire, has become ideological", and that we need to recover the original liberal idea "of accepting differences and finding commonalities in our differences".
Read 5 tweets
Jun 14
The Economist: "China has become a scientific superpower"

Rare for me - maybe even unprecedented - to praise the Economist but this might be the seminal article on the current status of China's scientific might.

Let's take a look 🧵…
Firstly, surprising that The Economist would publish this, given how much they've pushed the "China collapse" narrative over the years, and how negative they've always been about the country.

Maybe they figured that at some point they could only get away with so much... Image
So what proves that China has now become the world's foremost scientific power?

Firstly, China has now overtaken both the US and entire EU in number of high-impact scientific papers produced each year, including in the Nature Index which is virtually impossible to game. Image
Read 12 tweets
May 24
This FT article by former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy @ElbridgeColby is insane, it puts us straight back to the 19th century.

He literally proposes a plan for continued Western domination of the world that would involve a war on 2 fronts against both China and Russia. He writes that the US should focus all its military might on Asia to ensure it has primacy there over China, and fight a war for that purpose if need be, and Europe should rearm in a massive way to face Russia. As he explains it, poor little America doesn't have enough resources for global domination on its own anymore, which is why it needs help by rearming Europe so they can share the burden.

That's it, that's the gist of the article.

Which makes the "America must face reality" title for the piece deeply ironic and cynical: what "reality" are we talking about here? Because I think that over 90% of the planet wouldn't quite agree that this way of seeing the world is "facing reality". Quite the contrary, they'd argue it's holding on to a deeply troubling imperialist and supremacist vision of the world that has historically caused untold suffering...

It gets better. Why should the US, and not China, be the dominant power in China's region, you ask? Because see, America can't afford a "potentially hostile power dominating the most important industrialised region of the world" (actual quote from the article).

It doesn't matter apparently that Asia is "the most important industrialised region of the world" in huge parts THANKS TO CHINA! 🤦 In other words it's akin to saying "thanks guys for building such a vibrant economy in this place, we'll take it from here..."

Another hilarious yet deeply depressing part of the article is when he describes China as "doing almost everything consistent with preparing for a war with America". Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, this is China "facing the reality" that it's surrounded by US military bases and facing an America that keeps repeating its primary goal is to contain them and building multiple military alliances with their neighbors for that very purpose? Isn't it in the realm of possibilities that it might have something to do with that? And that as such the solution isn't upping the ante with yet more military buildup around China? How would the US react if China were to somehow decide that the US couldn't be the dominant player in America and were to progressively encircle the place militarily, making military alliances with Mexico and Canada: wouldn't it "do almost everything consistent with preparing for a war with China"?

Anyhow, conclusion: I feel like eating crazy pills when reading articles like this. But I, and the world at large, need to "face the reality" that this is America today: a power dominated by an extremely aggressive imperialist ideology. And we shouldn't resign ourselves to this, we need to do our outmost to call it out and stop this insanity before it's too late and they trigger the devastating world war they're actively preparing…
Colby says I "caricature" his article without being specific how, so it's hard to reply...

I invite everyone to read the article and judge for themselves.
Sorry but that's patently untrue.

Based on your article, and your book Strategy of Denial, which I read in details, under the guise of "balance of power", you actually argue for US primacy in Asia, which means you don't even want a balance of power in China's own region, let alone the world...

In your book you describe "hegemony" as "a state exercising authority over other states and extracting benefits from them but without the responsibilities or risks of direct control" and you say that the US's principal objective should be to deny China the possibility of becoming a regional hegemon in Asia, and that the US should mount an "anti-hegemonic coalition" for that purpose. Fair summary, right?

But, ironically that anti-hegemonic coalition you envisage would of course be US-dominated and principally serve US interests because the very purpose of its existence would be to fulfill what you yourself describe as America's foremost strategic objective. Which means that as such it involves the US "exercising authority over other states and extracting benefits from them".

QED: you want the US to have the hegemonic power in Asia that you say you want to prevent China from having...

You will also note, by the way, that there is only one country between China and the US that's actively putting together military alliances against the other in Asia. And it's not China... So it's a bit rich to accuse them of seeking hegemony and say you're the good guys merely seeking "balance of power".
Read 4 tweets
May 15
Georgia seems to be the latest battleground between the "rules-based order" and international law.

The Georgian parliament passed a “foreign agents” bill whereby media or civil society groups in Georgia that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad will have to register as “organisations serving the interests of a foreign power”.

Which should be entirely uncontroversial as it is completely in line with the UN Charter - the bedrock of international law - which prohibits foreign meddling into other countries' internal affairs.

Yet the US state department has called the bill “Kremlin-inspired”, said it violated "EU norms" and made all kinds of threats against Georgia over it. For instance US assistant secretary of state Jim O’Brien warned that the US was prepared to sanction Georgian government ministers and officials over it: “If the law advances against EU norms and there is an erosion of democracy and violence against peaceful demonstrators, we will see restrictions from the United States. There will be financial and/or travel restrictions specifically on those responsible and their families.”

The European Commission on Tuesday also said that the new law would undermine Georgia’s application to join the European Union: “EU member countries are very clear that if this law is adopted it will be a serious obstacle for Georgia in its European perspective”.

It's absolutely insane, yet sadly unsurprising. Just as we're seeing in Gaza, countries that make up the "rules-based order" now systematically put themselves in direct opposition to international law if it conflicts with their hegemonic designs, and won't hesitate to crush entire countries - or support genocide - for that purpose. We purportedly support "democracy" but insist that we dictate from abroad the internal politics of other countries as demonstrated by our extreme reaction against this law aimed to prevent foreign meddling.

We need to face reality: we - the West - are under the stranglehold of an extremely aggressive expansionist ideology that is in complete contradiction with the values we claim to support. And when a society has such dramatic internal contradictions, history tells us it doesn't exactly bode well for the…
It's even more hypocrite than this: the US has a very similar law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), that's essentially the same thing as this bill they call "Kremlin-inspired" when Georgia does it...
This tweet by Jake Sullivan perfectly encapsulates the situation 👇

"Georgian Parliamentarians face a critical choice - whether to support the Georgian people’s EuroAtlantic aspirations or pass a Kremlin-style foreign agents' law that runs counter to democratic values."

The famous "democratic value" of letting foreign powers meddle in your democratic process...
Read 5 tweets

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