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History Strikes Back

How States, Nations, and Conflicts Are Shaping the 21st Century

By Hubert Vedrine. translated by Philip H. Gordon. foreword by Madeleine K. Albright.

Publication Year: 2008

This translation of the French bestseller Continuer l’Histoire brings 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.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press


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Table of Contents

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p. v

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pp. vii-xii

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. ...

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1. The West in Disarray

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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. ...

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2. How to Build a Better World

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pp. 31-58

Ideally, the world would follow the guidelines outlined in so many UN and Group of 8 (G-8) communiqu

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3. A Europe That Knows What It Is and What It Wants

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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 ...

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4. France in a Globalized World

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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. ...

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5. Conclusion: From Unrealpolitik to Smart Realpolitik

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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, ...


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pp. 125-143

E-ISBN-13: 9780815701811
E-ISBN-10: 0815701810
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815789840
Print-ISBN-10: 081578984X

Page Count: 159
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 567901431
MUSE Marc Record: Download for History Strikes Back

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