Jacques Andréani

America and Us Publication date : October 1, 2000

Discussions about the U.S. tend to be heated, often giving rise to predictions concerning its imminent triumph or speculations about its decline. America is the object of fear, hatred, and dreams. Americans themselves swing between pride in their successes and irrational fears when confronted with domestic problems and threats from abroad. In France, most people grit their teeth when America is evoked, while a few, who consider themselves enlightened, let themselves be dazzled. What are the United States’ real strengths and weaknesses in political, economic, social, racial, cultural and religious terms? Jacques Andréani has held a privileged position as an observer. In America and Us, he first describes America’s specific characteristics and then reviews the profound changes that have occurred since the ’60s, covering the period from the civil rights movement and the revolt of American youth, to the conservatism of the Reagan years, and up to the emergence of today’s new technologies. Have these changes weakened or strengthened social cohesion and equilibrium? The present situation would seem to warrant a pessimistic reply: the gap between rich and poor is wider than ever, human relations seemed to be entirely ruled by economic liberalism, ethnic communities are increasingly ghettoised, religious fundamentalism is on the rise, the family is disintegrating, and political life has become intellectually impoverished. Will America be able to recover its traditional optimism? What will be the dreams of the future? Besides their traditional concern with material progress, have Americans lost all other ideals? The aim of this book is to free us of the unchanging, banal discussions surrounding the “American model” and to take us beyond the old Franco-American misunderstandings.

Jacques Andréani was France’s ambassador to the United States from 1989 to 1995. A diplomat and graduate of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, he was the principal private secretary in Roland Dumas’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.