Top French diplomat: the ‘Western moment’ is over
Gérard Araud says that we have entered a multipolar world
The “Western moment is over” and the world is becoming increasingly multipolar, according to one of France’s most senior former diplomats. Gérard Araud, ambassador to Washington until 2019, spoke to UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers, and pointed to an ever-more unstable global dynamic, in which the US is no longer capable of ensuring peace.
On the “new world order”:
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“After 1945, the world was dominated by two superpowers, the US and the USSR […] After the collapse of the communist bloc, there was only one superpower. It was what I call the ‘Western moment’, when the United States was dominating this order. Now it’s over, not because of the decline of the US or the decline of the West, but because of rebalancing. China is back; India and Russia are defending their own interests; and the West has to adjust to this new reality.”
On anti-Chinese hysteria:
“What the Americans need is a mixture of containment and engagement […] There is an anti-Chinese hysteria in the US, which makes it very difficult for any American president to genuinely engage with the Chinese […] I do believe that the US will remain the main power for the coming decades but it’s obvious that Europe, because of its demography and other problems, has shown its relative weakness, since it has not been able to defend its own territory without the support and leadership of the US.”
On ideological divisions over the Ukraine war:
“Since the beginning of the war we have had two Western camps. On one side you have Eastern European countries supported by the UK, which believe that only a decisive victory for Ukraine can be the reasonable outcome of the war. On the other side, I would say that France, the US, Germany and some other countries think that a decisive victory is impossible, that the most likely scenario now is a long war. And that a long war is a very, very negative outcome for Ukraine […] For the US, this war is a distraction. For them, what matters is China. And so they have been, in a sense, dragged into the conflict by Russian aggression, but they want to get out of it as soon as possible.”
On how Europe defends itself:
“The French have been a Cassandra in Europe for the last few decades. We have been advocating European defence, to no avail. The result is a bit pathetic. The European Union has some military capability but it is very limited because, in a sense, everybody is answering, ‘We have Nato and the American leadership; the Americans are doing the job’ […] The strategic autonomy of Europe and European defence is less than ever on the agenda. As long as the US commitment remains credible, the European countries are going to answer to the French, ‘No, thank you: we don’t want any European defence decoupled from the US.'”
On why Ukraine can’t win decisively:
“Even if the Ukrainians are able to retake Crimea and the Donbas, the war won’t be over, because the Russians will go on. There is no credible scenario where the Ukrainians may finish this war through a decisive victory with the Russians surrendering […] Even if Biden is re-elected, I don’t see the US pouring another $50 billion into the defence of Ukraine.”
“Sanctions have become a policy by default. You don’t really want to fight, but you have to show that you are doing something. After this war, we should, frankly, have an analysis of the use and effectiveness of sanctions.”
On Donald Trump’s foreign policy record:
“The criticism of Trump by the Washington bubble, the think-tankers and so on, was really extreme. Trump had good intuitions [on foreign policy]. When he said, ‘Why should we defend Montenegro? Because Montenegro is a member of Nato?’, from an American point of view it’s a very good question […] The problem is that he has these intuitions but doesn’t build on that. He doesn’t know what bureaucracy is; he doesn’t know about diplomatic engineering.”
“For the US, this war is a distraction. For them, what matters is China. And so they have been, in a sense, dragged into the conflict by Russian aggression, but they want to get out of it as soon as possible.”
I understand that China is a bigger concern for the US, and that Russia invaded Ukraine hence forcing the US, and other countries, to take a position on that invasion. Surely, though, it’s inaccurate to state that the US wants to get out of Ukraine asap?
The US is resisting all attempts at negotiation and is extending the war in various ways. I’m not trying to start an argument over what is the best response to the Ukraine war, but the US is in no sense trying to bring this conflict to a conclusion.
I’m always curious about ex-diplomat’s motives when they take a public position on current affairs. Are they simply contributing to the debate, or expressing sincerely-held views they couldn’t express while serving as diplomats, or are they speaking with the tacit approval, and perhaps encouragement, of their government? Of course, Mr. Araud is also promoting his book (which is fair enough).
The neocons want the war to continue for as long as possible, they also know well that the Ukraine has no chance of winning, Biden has no problem with any of this, but there is an election on the way. So Biden needs to decide if its a good idea to own the war
I would guess it is more military industrial complex income that is driving the war.
For the NeoCons China is vastly more important.. they were very happy to weaken Russia as an ally of China before going after the big prize but the weakening seems to have backfired or boomeranged.. now it looks more like Russia is weakening the US at the behest of China..
These arguments about a nefarious military industrial complex (that only exists in the US and nowhere else) and plots that always backfire, seem pretty dubious and indeed tiresome to me.
The politicians make the decisions, yes like everyone they have their ideology, and unfortunately for much of the left liberal side, these are heavily on the liberal evangelical side
Biden’s administration does not seem to be in charge of a well thought through response. It seems like a Noddy car veering all over the shop.
Put up some facts to back up that opinion then. Because it looks to me like they’ve been quite consistent and gradual in their response.
When the miltary colleges write this up for student case studies when it’s all over (and they will), it won’t be the US or Ukraine that are under the microscope for being all over the place and flat out useless.
18 hours on and still no facts offered ! Enough said …
Listen, I have a more rich and rewarding life than merely sitting crouching over a keyboard. If I never come back to someone who does, then I will still consider myself to have won the argument.
In this instance I’ll throw you a bone and explain that having a president with dementia who prints endless money and throws it in various sized tranches at another country, is not a considered strategic response.
Leslie – you know how Generals always fight the previous war over, to the great harm of their solders?
This is a First – the opposite, haha… But then with an Admiral in Drag and the top General seeing ‘White Rage everywhere and pushing gender confusion and CRT – this is a special case of stupidity unseen in history.
The modern USA Generals are being led around by a bunch of Gen X, postmodernist, gender confused techies instead of real Fighting Soldiers. They are trying to fight the future war. They thought drones, guided missiles flying bombs and satellite intel and Russia ground forces were done – – BUT:
Instead it is the last war all over again. The Russians were right – it is a war of artillery fought at 30+ miles where these modern things are out of range to return fire at the massed Russian artillery. The Ukrainians have a load of drones that cannot make it 30 miles across no-mans-land – and are in the meat grinder of Russian Artillery. Russia has the industry to produce unlimited ammo – more that the entire West who make pointless Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups – which hyper-sonic missiles have made obsolete – but then have no artillery – which it turns out is same as WWII – is the main weapon to win. Ukraine loses 7 to every 1 Russian because our cross-dressing 4 Stars were trying to fight the war of the future instead of the war of the present – haha, what idiots.
That sounds a bit more plausible to me.. I think if they put their minds to it the Russians could go all the way to the Dnipro river in a week using an American style carpet bombing / scorched earth policy but depleting Ukr forces and NATO weapons and ammunition with the possibility of humiliating the US is too tempting for the Russo-China alliance.
haha Leslie – – ”Awaiting for approval”
The is a world of difference between posturing and political reality.. the US does not want it to look like yet another humiliation (like Iraq and Afghanistan), hence the posturing. For the US to threaten China (its no.1 target by a mile) it cannot look weak, indecisive, short of weapons and ammunition or it will be a mouse that roars at the Chinese dragon in 2026 +/- a year or so..
FFS – frothing at the mouth warmonger likes the war but plays it cool, plays it controlled opposition…..
Minute 19:11 ‘Hopefully Biden is re-elected’ That is after saying USA is realistic on this war – FFS – Biden – OKs giving them F-16s’ Just today gave them $3 Billion! After $113 (++) Billion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Biden will keep the fight going till almost every man is dead or disabled – and no one knows why. Boris is more bloody lusting than a Vampire in his drive to kill the last Ukrainian.
This war is 100% False Flag for some weird reason – it is a Proxy WWIII paid for, managed by, and driven by Biden, and then 100% pushed by MSM and the Social Media and Internet Oligarchs. Then wile Biden was VP under Obama – this war was begun being staged!
2008 – began the arming, training – 2014 colour revolution – Warmonger put in power in Ukraine to push for NATO and EU although Russia was adamant Ukraine MUST be Neutral – Billions and Billions of $$ Spent arming and training a Ukrainian Army to fight Russia for a decade – this war has been brewing under Biden’s side for 1.5 decades.Biden pushed for the NATO and EU thing too. from then on Donbas is attacked, 14,000 Russian civilians killed by Ukraine – this gets Russia very angry. Meanwhile the Crimea…
Biden’s camp engineered this war – he got this war, he poured in 120 $ Billion of which half is likely corruption, both to buy Ukrainian Oligarchs, half to buy American politicos and power people. Then FTX – Ukraine has always been the Clinton, Obama, Biden Piggy Bank – because it is the Most Corrupt Place On Earth – which for the Biden Crime Family is just wonderful – it is Nirvana for them….(or there are skeletons in closets)
USA per person DGP $75,000
They have education, industry, resources – but make 1/3 what Bulgarians make because the country is 100% corrupt and all wealth is stolen. Biden loves this kind of place. The poorest place on the Eurasian continent. But they had a heck of a military from $$$$ and training they got from somewhere – wonder where, wonder why…
Anyway – what a load of nonsense. This war is 110% EVIL
PEACE NOW. Every death, every bit of harm – achieved nothing but harm. Evil War – Iraq on Steroids. Then the Sanctions! The West pays Ukraine, then Buys Russian resources so pays for both sides. Meanwhile Germany and the EU and UK are becoming bankrupted – haha, wild sanctions – 99% of the harm they do is to the one imposing them – and the BRICKS++++++ 83 Nations joining, haha – well sanctioned Biden….
Ukraine had 38 Million before the war, now 18 Million and the ones who left say they are not coming back. (anyway – Blackrock and Vanguard now own Ukraine, Biden gave it to them) (Macgregor on youtube) So Ukraine is utterly destroyed – for NO Reason! Peace Now.
Want to know what the USA citizen thinks of this war? Watch Rumble and ‘Salty Cracker’. His standard words are F**k Ukraine. This war is only popular with the Progressive Left and the Lizards. Everyone else knows it is pure Evil.
I stopped watching this Haw-Haw dude….
I’m guess there’s a fair helping of truth mixed into that rant.. but it’s well justified.. yes, PEACE NOW!
One might almost suspect that the French don’t want Ukraine to win. They had a nice line of business selling arms equipment and components to Russia before 2022 (and that despite the sanctions sicne 2014). And they likely don’t want Ukraine in the EU diluting their influence.
The French elite are compulsively anti-American. No surprise he’s coming out with nonsense – talking up the scenario he wants to happen. But not the one that will.
The idea that Eastern Europe will trust the French over the US for their defence is simply ludicrous.
Perhaps we will see a US,UK,EE alliance with France leading WE army? With Italy, Spain etc lining up with a resurgent Germany? ..especially after NATO breaks up?
More delusional fantasies. NATO’s still going strong.
As soon as he said he wants Biden to win in 24, he lost any moral authority he may have possessed.
Be fair! Choosing between senility and lunacy is always going to be a tough call!
I am being fair, and rational.
It’s the French being pragmatic and Britain being ideological.
No. The other way around.
Bit of both maybe.. then there’s also being cynical, duplicitous, posturing and virtue signalling!!
Agreed SGJ. And until how the new Multi Polar World is going to operate gets clearer to us all, being flexible and pragmatic makes a lot more sense than being fixed and ideological.
If outright victory is unlikely for either side, it might be worth asking what is now to be gained that is worth the cost. Ukraine is a sure loser: huge numbers of dead, and huge damage. In their best outcome, Russia will gain only a little, and might even lose a little. The US is wasting money, damaging the world economies with sanctions, and driving Russia and China together, a formidable future power likely to be unfriendly.
The final acts of a dying empire are often strange, counterproductive even.. a kind of ritual suicide, in this case, Samson style! Brace for the nukes is my advice!
The only thing you’re missing is that the dying empire is Russia (which really did have an empire) and not the US (which never did).
The 19th century was an era of multipolarity, but also of free trade – in some readings, there was more international trade before WW I than today. International trade does not require a hegemon.
It does if you want top dig to make the bulk of the profits…
On new world order & China – yep we’re in Cold War 2. Containment characterised CW1 and to some degree it’ll be the same endeavour, but with more engagement too as China economy much stronger than USSR ever was. But West also much more aware the CCP is not benign and in it’s current guise an existential threat it’s not exactly hidden.
Europe waking up late to China, but China also needs Europe. 480million market and much still China needs.
Ukraine – they get one shot this summer to move where an eventual 38th parallel equivalent may be established. That may require NATO guarantees. One suspects all recognise this but can’t say it yet.
European defence – it’s already been moved by Ukraine, and the potential for a 2nd Trump Presidency (quite possible) will force it.
Trump 2 – many neutral nations are watching whether the West has the staying power and the West knows that. Putin is just desperately hoping Agent Orange rides to rescue in early 25. Trump himself would/should have learnt some lessons grasping how the Totalitarians have studied him, played to his ego and his belief he can do personal deals, and then laugh him behind his back. We may see, but suspect a difference between campaign and administration if it comes to it.
The other game-changer not mentioned it seems – Taiwanese elections in 7mths time. That’s a proper fork in the path coming. Xi will wait and calculate if he needs to move or just wait for Trump to remove support for Taiwan.
..and some truth in that lot too I’ll warrant.. as we say in Irish:
Feichimís (we’ll see) ..pronounced f**k-i-meesh btw..
The disjunct is to identify power with the projection of power. Projection is not a necessary corollary of power, it is perfectly possible to be powerful without the will or need to project power. It makes for a stable environment, and is a lot cheaper.
What do you suppose is the cost of maintaining 800 foreign military bases around the world? ..on top of a military budget >countries 2-10 combined!
Ukraine has won the non nuclear war but Russia can destroy it in 15 minutes with nuclear weapons. American nuclear umbrella has always been a bluff.as S Korea and Japan will learn. When Putin calls the bluff all non nuclear powers will rush to go nuclear but it will be too late and the world will be at the mercy of the most powerful sociopathic rulers.
With 100,000 dead on each side and many towns and cities reduced to dust you might think this was bad enough.
But this is Ukraine. The bloodiest field in Europe during the last century. Of the 50 million dead in Europe during WW2 10 million, say, perished in Ukraine and Western Russia. Without the use of nuclear arms many, many more will die in this killing zone unless the war is stopped. Criminal interference to stir the pot in this region (or in the Baltics, or in ex Yugoslavia). Russia has been a bad neighbour for centuries, what’s new. But what interest have the d##n Americans in this part of the world? Or our devoted, doglike selves?
It will turn out to have been better if the war had been ended by the botched attempt on Kiev.
All that remains is more death and destruction. Victory is a mirage.
The US ‘ensuring peace’ isn’t exactly true is it! They’re behind nearly every conflict since WW2 and they invaded many countries before.
The quicker they’re the ones humiliated in Ukraine, bankrupt and start behaving themselves the safer the world will be. Maybe London will get the message as well, they won’t be so quick to antagonize the likes of Russia and China again when they haven’t anyone behind them.
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