Courtesy Reuters

War...a Change

In This Review

The Rosy Future of War

By Philippe Delmas
The Free Press, 1997
256 pp. $23.00

Philippe Delmas seeks to persuade us that there will be no New World Order, if that means a world without war. He believes that the future will bring wars in profusion, largely because the world places false hopes in the concept of legal order, which he holds to be no substitute for the strength of traditional states. Currently a counselor at the French finance ministry and formerly an analyst at the Quai d'Orsay, France's foreign ministry, Delmas is equally pessimistic about the prospects for peace through economic integration, which he sees as a source of, rather than a cure for, material rivalries.

What follows is a brisk Anglo-Saxon summary of an extremely French book. To say that Monsieur Delmas has a capacity to infuriate a pragmatic Englishman is to put the case mildly. For page after page, his prose recalls to me those unbearable afternoons of philo in the lycee where I had been sent to learn French in 1951 -- to an English mind, a farrago of wordplay, hollow conceptualization, and false antitheses. For instance, "The political map of the world was frozen so that the entire planet would not freeze in a nuclear winter." It may sound better in French -- reading along, I kept on catching myself guessing at the original -- but "la carte politique du monde se congelait à fin que la planète entière ne soit pas gelée par un hiver nucléaire" is not a particularly arresting thought even in retranslation. If he means that the Cold War kept the lid on regional conflicts between the superpowers' client states, why doesn't he say so?

There is much more, and much worse. The book reads in part like Giscard d'Estaing in a post-presidential mood -- lofty, know-it-all, and world-weary -- and in part like long extracts from an Economist regional survey, full of declining GNPs, rising birthrates, unauthorized technology transfers, and multinational corporate dealings with weak governments. The author is particularly keen on multinationals, as

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