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

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It is true that China was more comfortable with Bush. So were many countries: the Iranian regime, Chinese and Russian nationalists, the Likud in Israel, the Poles. With China, we must combine partnership, cooperation, deterrence, and power struggle. Achieving that requires cooperation and coordination between Europe, the US, Japan, India, etc. That is, not to create a conflict with China -- but to reinforce elements in China in favor of cooperation with us.

Q: During US elections, Obama read Zakaria’s book, which you wrote the introduction to in the French edition. McCain was reading Kagan. Are we in a post-American world?

A: The content of Zakaria is somewhat different than the title. Zakaria talks of a post-monopolistic world, but he thinks the US will retain its lead. I coined the word ‘hyperpower’ in 1998. In French, there is no pejorative dimension to the word; it is purely descriptive. I still think that the US remains the greatest power of all time, even though China may outgrow the US in statistical terms one day.

Q. Middle East problems seem always with us. Does Europe still have a say there?

A: The question of the Near East remains of paramount importance. In this respect, I completely disagree with the American and Israeli right. The Israeli/Palestinian question has huge repercussions on the Muslim world and constitutes a permanent argument for terrorists all over the world. That is why our strategic, vital interest requires us to solve the issue.

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