History Strikes Back

History Strikes Back: How States, Nations, and Conflicts Are Shaping the 21st Century

Hubert Védrine
Translated by Philip H. Gordon
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 143
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  • Book Info
    History Strikes Back
    Book Description:

    This translation of the French bestsellerContinuer l'Histoirebrings the powerful, articulate message of Hubert Védrine to an even wider audience. With the astute analysis and acerbic wit for which he is famous, the former French foreign minister offers an overview of world politics since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Critical of both the United States and Europe, he calls for a return to a more realist foreign policy, rejecting the ideological notions of recent years. In story Strikes Back: How States, Nations, and Conflicts Are Shaping the 21st Century, ,Védrine takes issue with idealists who believe that states are no longer necessary and that globalization and free markets will automatically make a better world for all. Far from having ended, history continues to present major challenges. When the Eastern bloc collapsed, the West was quick to believe that it had won the battle of history and that its values would prevail everywhere. The ensuing years have belied that faith, however. In dealing with a newly multipolar world, Americans have been too bellicose and Europeans naïve. Védrine shows why Westerners need to discard the illusions that have guided their international relations for more than twenty years. He presents a realistic vision for building a better world and spells out what Europeans expect from the U.S. administration to come. The United States and Europe must partner for a new form of "smart Realpolitik" to guide their relations with emerging powers, manage globalization, and deal with environmental challenges.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0181-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Madeleine K. Albright

    In 1999 NATO blocked Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Miloševiç’s brutal attempt to expel much of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population from its homeland. The decision to intervene was made without explicit authorization from the UN Security Council and was condemned by critics as a violation of Yugoslav sovereignty. Because NATO acts by consensus, this humanitarian action could not have taken place without the support of French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine, and yet endorsing it ran contrary to some of Védrine’s strongest instincts. As a supporter of international law, Védrine was hesitant to undermine the prestige of the Security Council, which in this...

  4. CHAPTER ONE The West in Disarray
    (pp. 1-30)

    When the cold war came to an end, many in the West assumed they were the winners, the new Masters of the Universe. That’s why they are now so disoriented by a world that is turning out to be very different from the one they expected.

    In the early 1990s, after undeniable success in a forty-five-yearlong struggle against the Soviet Union, Westerners became intoxicated with their victory. In the United States, the mood was one of unabated triumphalism. President George H. W. Bush talked about creating a “new world order” that would last for decades and serve the interests of...

  5. CHAPTER TWO How to Build a Better World
    (pp. 31-58)

    Deploring political naïveté does not mean abandoning the goal of building a better world. On the contrary, it’s a necessary step toward that goal.

    Ideally, the world would follow the guidelines outlined in so many UN and Group of 8 (G-8) communiqués. Human rights would be respected, and men and women everywhere would find personal fulfillment. Everyone would belong to a single community where no one faced discrimination or mistreatment. People would join together to face common challenges like ending poverty, solving global warming, improving human health, ending shortages of clean air and water, preventing pandemic disease, managing migration, preventing...

  6. CHAPTER THREE A Europe That Knows What It Is and What It Wants
    (pp. 59-82)

    For decades now, Henry Kissinger’s famous quip about there being no single phone number for Europe has been a convenient reference point for gloating Americans and regretful Europeans alike. Europeans could often have responded by pointing out that the United States has itself often been divided among three or four competing centers of power, but that would have been facile. In any case we might as well just admit it: there will be no “United States of Europe.” There will be no Philadelphia-style constitutional convention, no equivalent of George Washington talking about how Europeans are “all alike” in a farewell...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR France in a Globalized World
    (pp. 83-108)

    What about France? Instead of leading the process of European transformation that the world so badly needs, France has been going through a period of deeper and more insidious doubt than usual. Its loss of confidence has, in turn, contributed to Europe’s own introversion. The essential question is whether this is just a passing phase or something more enduring.

    I am not comparing the current malaise to France’s colossal loss of self-confidence following the disaster of 1940. I believe this new uncertainty results from the evolving state of the world. France has been struggling to adapt to this evolution. In...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Conclusion: From Unrealpolitik to Smart Realpolitik
    (pp. 109-124)

    For some time after its victory in the cold war, the West thought that it alone was in charge of world affairs, the sole arbiter of good and evil. Now, more than twenty years later, it must understand that it no longer has a monopoly on history or power. Despite having promoted universal values and the rules of the free market, other world powers—which the West does not control and which have not forgotten the Western domination of the past 500 years—are on the rise. Aided by the very globalization desired by the West, they are emerging or...

  9. Index
    (pp. 125-144)