Friday, June 13, 2008
Interview with Hubert Vedrine
The last installment of the French strategic posture review series is up over at WPR. It's the full text of my interview with former French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine:
WPR: A quick question, off topic. Do you have any observations about the American presidential race?
Vedrine: I think that Bush's departure is going to provoke a huge relief around the world (except maybe in Israel, or in two or three other countries, and even there, I'm not sure). That it's going to create very high expectations with regard to the new president, expectations that will be strong if it's McCain, very strong if it's Hillary Clinton, and giant if it's Obama. Because there's a sort of Obama effect that I explain by the fact that the President of the United States is a little bit the President of the world. More than the Secretary General of the United Nations, in any case. And Obama is a personality who can give the impression that he understands the outside world. That's never happened before. Clinton managed to do it through his intelligence, but Obama gives the impression that he can do so by the path he's taken. So it's not the fact that he's black, that doesn't matter, either negatively or positively. It's the fact of his mixed background, in and of itself. That's an idea that could have an absolutely enormous impact in a large part of the world. And afterwards, there will obviously be a shock, and the higher the expectations, the bigger the shock will be. Because the President of the United States is, after all, the President of the United States. He's not the President of Brazil, or of China. But it could create an absolutely amazing moment.
The rest has to do with Sarkozy's foreign policy, the emerging world order, and France's place in it. Vedrine is a fascinating and gifted thinker, and one of the foreign policy world's "eminences grises". Definitely give it a look.