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Interview: former French diplomat Hubert Védrine on China and a West 'in disarray'

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The second question is globalization and its meaning. In my view, globalization is both extraordinary on an economic level -- but also extraordinarily violent on “identity” and the politics that flow from that. On this, I don’t share Thomas Friedman’s point of view.

Q: What are the main differences here between US and Europe?

A: American policy has gone through different moments and trends. Robert Kagan’s view in “The Return of History” is a caricature, but not entirely wrong. The US has retained a culture of power and force. They are not deluded idealists, whereas, since World War II, Europeans cultivated an illusion of becoming a great Switzerland. The Europeans have hope in a post-historic, post-traumatic, post-identity world -- a great international community. It would be possible if there were 6.5 billion Europeans on the planet! That’s why I think America’s attitude is in general more realistic, even though sometimes, the US uses force badly.

Q. You sound like Europe is in denial.

A: Partly. The European states have all pursued nationalistic, colonial policies and used force in the past. They now nurture the illusion that these policies are over for everyone. The fall of the [Berlin] wall gave way to absurd interpretations. The US thought it had won, history was over since there were no disagreements any longer. The European had a Kantian interpretation. Even now, the Europeans have a hard time getting back into the strategic debate. My view is a minority one here. When I was foreign minister, I told my socialist friends that we were not an international community yet, and power struggles still existed. They told me I was a cynic. I’m more comfortable with the American debate. I’m interested in what Kissinger, Scowcroft, Fukuyama, and what some neocons say. They are relevant, whereas the European thinking is sometimes irrelevant. With Americans, even when we disagree, we know what the discussion is about. European speeches, especially those of the commission, the parliament or other European institutions, sometimes make you wonder what world they are living in.

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