Pierre Mélandri, Justin Vaïsse

The Middle Kingdom The United States and the World Since the End of the Cold War Publication date : April 1, 2001

“To offer an overall view of U.S. foreign policy since the collapse of the Berlin Wall: such was our ambition, and we were fully aware how difficult the task ahead would be, even before we embarked upon it. We have not ceased to face it in the process of writing this book. Ten years may not seem sufficient to give one the historical perspective from which to measure the impact on the United States and international relations of the disappearance of the Soviet Union. From an intellectual point of view, the challenge lies in finding order in diversity and profusion. The United States is a world power in every sense, lying at the centre of a multitude of governmental and non-governmental international ties. As such, the U.S. defies analysis and exhausts the narrator. Nonetheless, we felt it was necessary to offer an initial summary of recent actions by the United States on the international stage. No one would deny the central role played by the U.S. More than any other nation, it has shaped the world we live in and will continue to do so for several years to come. For this reason, it is essential to judge its actions abroad in a manner that is as free of clichés as it can. Our goal was to present the reader with as complete a picture as possible of U.S. presence in the world, without neglecting any episode or omitting any angle that could be insightful. [The book] deals with to two successive periods. The first is the post-cold war era covering the years 1989-1995, which saw the collapse of the Soviet empire, the redrawing of national borders and the resulting power adjustments. This era was characterised by uncertainty and by caution on the part of the main players, as well as by disappointed hopes. Then came the period that we are still living in, characterised by American pre-eminence in most regional issues and in all major international problems — the era of the ‘Middle Kingdom’. Above all, we will show what is misleading about the image of the United States as a ‘superpower’. Besides a few isolated displays of power, the United States has made frequent shows of weakness, revealing inadequate means, contradictions and incoherence. This is the reality that we have tried to restore.”
Pierre Mélandri and Justin Vaïsse

Justin Vaïse, a historian, teaches at the Institut d’Études Politiques, in Paris. He is also a researcher at Washington’s Brookings Institution.

Pierre Mélandri teaches at the University of Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle. He is the author of Reagn: Une Biographie Totale, published by Robert Laffont, and La Politique Extérieure Américaine de 1945 à Nos Jours, published by Publications Universitaires de France.