Pierre Grosser

A Pact With the Devil? The Challenges of Contemporary Diplomacy Publication date : October 10, 2013

Pierre Grosser is an expert in the history of international relations and in the post-Cold War period. He teaches at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques and was formerly a research director at the Diplomatic Institute of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2001-2009). He has an agrégation and a doctorate in history and is the author of numerous works, the latest of which, 1989, l’année où le monde a basculé (Perrin, 2009), was awarded the Prix Ambassadeurs, in 2010. His other works include Les Temps de la guerre froide (Complexe, 1995) and Pourquoi la seconde guerre mondiale (Complexe, 1999).

Ever since the 1938 Munich Agreement, cries of “Munich” and “appeasement” have been bandied about as insults. And French Fourth-Republic parliamentarians were no exception. For them, accepting German rearmament within the European Defence Community was regarded as a new Munich, tantamount to making a pact with Hitler. Envisaging discussions with Ho Chi Minh was equivalent to renouncing Indochina and clearing the way for Moscow — that other post-war scarecrow. In 2012, the iconic “bad guy” is undoubtedly the Iranian President Ahmandinejad.
What purpose do such “devils” serve in the theatre of international relations? Are they simply obligatory rhetorical figures, aimed at the domestic audience? Or do they have other uses? Can’t we think of geopolitics in other terms nowadays?
In this essay, which delves into psychology and politics as well as history, Pierre Grosser offers a fascinating reflection on how we represent the enemy and of how we manipulate that representation. The criminalisation of war and our opponents is a phenomenon that developed in the twentieth century, and specifically in the 1930s. And the result has been to reduce the range of available strategies, to diminish the resources of governments and diplomacy. This book reminds us, on the contrary, of the complexity of available choices and restores meaning to political action.

• By offering new insights into current events, this book incites us to think differently about the post-9/11 world, the war in Libya, humanitarian interventions and the notion of a “just” war.
• A truly global history of the twentieth-century.