Vedrine's world: the outlook of nations around the globe.

AuthorClemenceau, Francois
PositionVERBATIM - Atlas du Monde Global - Book review

Atlas du Monde Global [Atlas of the Globalized World]

By Pascal Boniface et Hubert Vedrine

Armand Colin/Fayard, 2008, 125 pages [French]

This new atlas of commentary and illustrated maps is designed to provide fresh perspectives enabling readers to discern the real world we live in. [English version: History Strikes Back: How States, Nations, and Conflicts are Shaping the 21st Century, Brookings Institution Press. November 2008.] The authors are a team that combines a practitioner's long experience and a researcher's academic analysis. Hubert Vedrine served as a key presidential diplomatic councilor and as French foreign minister in successive Socialist governments, and Pascal Boniface heads a strategic think tank in Paris. Their key lesson, they explain in their preface, is to "warn readers without alarming them" that they need to move to a new vision of the planet that escapes the "narrowly Western or European world vision which continues to blind so many people from seeing a fair interpretation and analysis of world events."

Both authors share a trait: they are staunch believers in political realism in diplomacy. They are wary of the excesses of all kinds that distort too much of the conventional wisdom in the media, the voluntary sector of non-governmental organizations and do-gooders in the development community. So their book should be understood as a corrective to bad assumptions based on the status-quo and wishful thinking.

Expanding and updating this fresh perspective, Pascal Boniface, who heads the International Research and Strategy Institute in Paris, has produced a new map of the global mindset.

The book provides an opportunity for Vedrine to look again at the word he coined for the United States--"hyperpower." The term remains valid, according to the former minister, who says it is descriptive and not necessarily pejorative. The United States, he believes, "will remain the dominant world power--and indeed it should, in the best interest of us all" if the U.S. regains leadership of the sort that it has often demonstrated in the past.

Vedrine and Boniface concur with the conventional wisdom in France that we have entered the era of a "multipolar world." They say that the facts provide substantiating evidence for the reality of this new paradigm which French President Jacques Chirac cites so often. But that is only a starting point, they say, explaining that the important thing is to work out how these various economic and...

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