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How to fail an operation in five lessons

Sports course in the Alps (© NGV / Bruxelles2)

(BRUXELLES2) You have just received a charge that puts you off and you have no desire to take it on. You don't know what to do... Ask Me Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice-President of the European Commission. She's the expert on the subject. One only has to see how the first mission of the PeSDC, the only one that it managed to set up in 18 months of mandate, is taking on water...

1) Above all, do not react independently. Wait as much as possible. The dead are piling up, the demand for Europe is being felt... Turn a deaf ear. And arrange for someone else to do the job. There are always good souls ready to act on all fronts, you just have to let them do it: at NATO, the military, at OCHA the humanitarian, at the UN the political and at the States the rest. And if the situation becomes too urgent, put it under the pile of the less urgent file... for the archives for example.

2) Make other appointments, travel the world. There are so many problems to solve elsewhere...

3) When the situation becomes desperate, initiate "prudent planning". And above all, don't deviate from the rule: no untimely action, no unnecessary acceleration...

4) When the time for careful planning seems a bit over, move on to the decisive phase, write a draft decision but take care to introduce into it a sine qua non condition for triggering action. Don't take something too improbable: "when man walks on Mars", it would be seen that... you don't want to do anything. But the result should be the same.

5) Then wait quietly, explaining that there is no point in getting ready since you still haven't received the green light from the right person. If not, always have a statement ready: an outright condemnation of the violence, with an ounce of compassion for the victims, too, would be welcome.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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