Throughout his distinguished career, Hoffmann has remained intellectually and personally bound to both America and France. In this engaging little book, he brings his accumulated wisdom and cosmopolitan sensibilities to bear on the current crisis in U.S.-European relations. The book, taking the form of an extended interview conducted by the French scholar Frédéric Bozo, is full of insights--and worries. They begin with a detailed discussion of the diplomatic missteps leading up to the Iraq war, then pull back and ponder the longer-term historical shifts that are unsettling transatlantic relations. Hoffmann's thesis is that today's transatlantic discord is different from past conflicts in the West--the crucial difference being the "philosophy" of the Bush administration regarding how to exercise power and treat disagreements among allies, and the lack of awareness in Europe of the depth of these shifts. Hoffmann notes that French leaders thought that their opposition to an Iraq war would be similar to their dissent on Vietnam, not realizing that Iraq was not seen in Washington as just another "out of area" adventure. His larger message is unmistakable: allies cannot be "treated as tins of polish for American boots" but must be partners in building a less unruly world.
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