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

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Those who think that the West remains at the center of everything and is still able to prevail by force are wrong. Of course, in the end, our ideas still prevail, as Fareed Zakaria points out in his book, “The Post-American World.” Western ideas will become everyone’s ideas. These ideas, like the market economy, are now used against us by players like China. Likewise, our idea of democracy will gradually prevail everywhere, which does not mean the rest of the world will align with us. India’s attitude in the WTO is proof of that. They can now say ‘No’ to us. So, the West’s main concern is to manage the global evolution from global domination to relative leadership. To achieve that, we must be both very intelligent, and coordinate, especially Europe and the US.

Q. How do you appraise the different US and European approaches?

A. The US is not accepting the idea of relative leadership. Managing change will first require coordination. Then it will require Europeans to get back into strategic analysis. Let us suppose for a moment that these ideal conditions are fulfilled. In that situation, there are cases in which the US has a greater interest in taking sides with an emerging country than with Europe. At Copenhagen, there was an agreement between the US and China to hold things back. It was a one-off, defensive agreement. In the build-up to Copenhagen, [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy tried a deal with Brazil on climate change in order to pressure Obama. But it didn’t work. Obama’s margin of maneuver is too small in the US Senate.

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