Moon of Alabama (MoA)
The French Le Figaro has an interview with the well known anthropologist Emmanuel Todd.
Emmanuel Todd: «La Troisième Guerre mondiale a commencé»
“The third world war has began” is his new thesis. Todd is quite famous for correctly predicting the devolution of the Soviet Union long before it happened. He was quite alone at that time.
I once had a piece on Todd’s later predictions for the U.S. and Europe which still seems spot on. I also quoted him in a piece on social decline as a national security issue.
Unfortunately the Figaro piece is paywalled. But Arnaud Bertrand has done us the favor of translating the gist. Here is his slightly edited thread:
Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand – 15:42 UTC · Jan 13, 2023
Emmanuel Todd, one of the greatest French intellectuals today, claims that the “Third World War has started.”
Small 🧵 translating the most important points in this fascinating interview.
He says “it’s obvious that the conflict, which started as a limited territorial war and is escalating to a global economic confrontation between the whole of the West on the one hand and Russia and China on the other hand, has become a world war.”
He believes that “Putin made a big mistake early on, which is [that] on the eve of the war [everyone saw Ukraine] not as a fledgling democracy, but as a society in decay and a “failed state” in the making. […] I think the Kremlin’s calculation was that this decaying society would crumble at the first shock. But what we have discovered, on the contrary, is that a society in decomposition, if it is fed by external financial and military resources, can find in war a new type of balance, and even a horizon, a hope.”
He says he agrees with Mearsheimer’s analysis of the conflict: “Mearsheimer tells us that Ukraine, whose army had been overtaken by NATO soldiers (American, British and Polish) since at least 2014, was therefore a de facto member of the NATO, and that the Russians had announced that they would never tolerate Ukraine in NATO. From their point of view, the Russians are therefore in a war that is defensive and preventive. Mearsheimer added that we would have no reason to rejoice in the eventual difficulties of the Russians because since this is an existential question for them, the harder it would be, the harder they would strike. The analysis seems to hold true.”
He however has some criticism for Mearsheimer:
“Mearsheimer, like a good American, overestimates his country. He considers that, if for the Russians the war in Ukraine is existential, for the Americans it is basically only one ‘game’ of power among others. After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, what’s one more debacle? The basic axiom of American geopolitics is: ‘We can do whatever we want because we are sheltered, far away, between two oceans, nothing will ever happen to us’. Nothing would be existential for America.
Insufficient analysis which today leads Biden to proceed mindlessly. America is fragile. The resistance of the Russian economy is pushing the American imperial system towards the precipice. No one had expected that the Russian economy would hold up against the ‘economic power’ of NATO. I believe that the Russians themselves did not anticipate it.