French Ambassador to the US Visits GW

Gérard Araud said US-France relations need to be rebuilt with a new world order in mind.

French Ambassador to the US Gérard Araud
French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud spoke Thursday at the Elliott School about U.S.-French relations. (Photo courtesy of the Elliott School)
December 03, 2018

By Tatyana Hopkins

The world’s power has become more shared than it has been in previous decades as its largely West-led liberal international order begins to break down, said Gérard Araud, French ambassador to the United States, while speaking at the George Washington University.

The liberal international order organizes contemporary international relations around several guiding principles such as open markets, mutual institutions and liberal democracy, Mr. Araud said. 

“Let’s be frank,” Mr. Araud said, “[a liberal order] means a Western order.”

 He said after the the collapse of the Soviet Union, international relations had a moment of “Western triumph,” but, now, that “brief” moment in history is over. 

“Now you have China, Russia, India and other countries on that list of power,” he said. “Of course, seen from the side of the United States, the [international relations] situation has worsened but…the world is simply more balanced.”

Mr. Araud spoke Thursday at the Elliott School of International Affairs about current events in France and Europe and the state of France’s relationship with the United States. The event was hosted by the school’s Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES).

Mr. Araud said given the redistribution of global power, the United States and France should reevaluate their relationship with one another.

He said the relationship between the two nations is currently based on military alliances formed to defeat the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but in the absence of a major global military threat they should rebuild their relationship on a new basis.

“Everybody considers that a trans-Atlantic relationship is a given,” Mr. Araud said. “We have to invent a new trans-Atlantic agenda. If we don’t do it, basically, we are doomed to struggle…and the winner, in a sense, will be China.”

He said this is the first time in his career that he has seen the French and American political climates be so aligned.

“When people are asking me questions about the American political life, my answer is always that they’re not so different [from France],” he said.

He noted tension among voters and issues with immigration and national borders as issues the two countries share, but said they should collaborate on issues that extend beyond national borders.

“There are a lot of issues which are right now on the table and will need us to work together,” Mr. Araud said.

Among the issues he said the two countries share “common values and common interests” were matters of privacy in cyberspace and the development of a tax model for technology companies that avoid taxes under traditional models based on brick and motor space and cybersecurity. He also mentioned environmental issues.

Though President Donald Trump has denied climate change and made the United States the only country to reject the Paris Agreement when he withdrew the country from the voluntary pact aimed at curbing global temperature rise, Mr. Araud said the countries can still work together.

“Let's not talk about climate change,” he said. “We can talk about biodiversity. We can talk about protection of the oceans.”

Mr. Araud said regardless of the world’s leaders, “imagination and creativity” can be used to address the most pressing international issues.

In his introductory remarks, Peter Rollberg, IERES director, said the institute has continuously developed relations with France through its faculty and staff, research and hosting of French leaders and scholars. 

“These connections are really organic and really a part of our identity as an institute,” Dr. Rollberg said.

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