Many French intellectuals see their country as leading the challenge to US power. Few are as outspoken as Emmanuel Todd, the author of "Après l'Empire," a bestseller prophesying the decline of America.by prospect / June 20, 2003 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2003 issue of Prospect Magazine
MM: You predicted the fall of the Soviet Union 25 years ago. Now you speak of the fall of the US, which has just won the war in Iraq. How come?
ET: The war against Iraq was a military absurdity. The US won a victory over a country with a barefoot army which had been bled dry. It demonstrated its military omnipotence in Iraq in order to hide its economic weaknesses. True rivalry will no longer be settled using military force. The real counterbalance to the US is found in Europe, Russia, China and Japan. The main battlefield will be the economic sector.
MM: Isn’t that anti-American wishful thinking?
ET: Actually, I like the US a great deal. Until recently, it was the most important factor in maintaining international order. But now it is a factor for instability. The industrial core of the US has been hollowed out. The American trade deficit amounts to $435bn a year. The country needs $1.5bn a day in foreign capital. The US is no longer self-sufficient. Europe, with its strength in exports, is.
MM: But the US is the undisputed global power.
ET: The US was the undisputed victor of the 20th century. Now it has difficulty in recognising its own dependence. Hitherto, the Europeans envied the US its standard of living and technological power. This generated a certain modesty. Nowadays the US leads only in military terms. In most spheres the Europeans have overtaken it.
MM: But Europe has been torn apart politically.
ET: Europe’s strength is based on economic integration, which is independent of political decisions. Whether governments in eastern Europe like it or not, they are economically tied to Europe and Russia. The only things they can get from America are weapons; America cannot export anything else. The US has created dissidents in “new” Europe, but the latter still depend on “old” Europe and Russia. Turkey realised this and has kept its distance from the US.
MM: But Europe isn’t a cash re…