Former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur is manning the ramparts of the embattled Western front to preserve the ideals of human rights, civil liberties and free markets that he fears are under assault around the world.
Mr. Balladur, in a bold new book, is calling on Europe, the United States and Canada to form a new union to promote those values, warning that a failure to protect them will lead to a further decline of Western civilization.
"The United States needs to recognize the fact that they are not anymore the superpower of the world, as they used to be when the [Soviet Union] collapsed," he said at Washington's National Press Club last week.
Our correspondent Anne-Laure Buffard reported that Mr. Balladur noted that even Western population is threatened. By 2040, he said, Europeans and Americans and Canadians of European descent could comprise only one-tenth of the world's population.
The military resurgence of Russia, the economic power of China and the continued instability in the Middle East combine to weaken the international influence of the United States and Europe, he said.
"We could either resign ourselves to it," he said of the decline of Western civilization, "or associate ourselves more closely to deal with it."
He envisions a new trans-Atlantic union that would bring political leaders together every six months to discuss common threats and common solutions.
"Do the Europeans have a better ally than the Americans? The answer is 'no,'" he said. "Do the Americans have a better ally than the Europeans? Again, the answer is 'no.'"
At a dinner at the residence of French Ambassador Pierre Vimont, Mr. Balladur expanded on his theory, Barbara Slavin, The Washington Times' assistant managing editor for foreign and national security news, reported.
He urged the European Union to establish a five-year presidency in order for the leader to develop strong relations with the U.S. president, who can serve two four-year terms. The EU presidency currently rotates every six months among its 27 member nations.
The 79-year-old politician, who served as prime minister from 1993 to 1995, is considered a mentor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In his book, "For a Union of the West," due out soon in English, Mr. Balladur warned of the consequences of inaction.
"Today, the West is divided and, at the same time, facing competition," he wrote. "It is proving incapable of organizing itself to face this ordeal, while its power and influence are under attack in every area.
"History is beginning to be made without the West; perhaps one day, [history] will be made against it."
British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald applauded this year's class of Marshall scholars Monday, as the American college students prepared to leave for Britain to attend two years of university studies.
"These extraordinarily talented students will join the ranks of other Marshall scholars before them who have excelled in all walks of life and are vital to maintaining the strong relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States," he told the 40 students who received the scholarships.
The program, created by the British Parliament, was named for Gen. George C. Marshall, who served as Army chief of staff during World War II and as secretary of state and defense after the war. As secretary of state, Gen. Marshall devised the Marshall Plan to reconstruct postwar Europe.
The students also met with Rep. John M. Spratt Jr., South Carolina Democrat, who attended Oxford University as a Marshall scholar in 1966.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.