chapter  14
15 Pages

America, France and the Algerian War: the Forgotten Conflict over a ‘Clash of Civilizations’

While it has never been easy to prove the utility of historical scholarship to the foreign policy-making community, it is particularly difficult in the aftermath of the Cold War. Most analysts now accept Zbigniew Brzezinski’s judgment that ‘discontinuity is the central reality of our contemporary history.. .51 William Zartman, of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, would sooner consult scripture than history. He writes that ‘it is enough to read the newspapers these days to realize that the earth is without form and void, and darkness is upon the face of the deep’.2 His colleagues feel that they have been cast into darkness because no theory of international relations anticipated the end of the Cold War - indeed, few even asked how it might end. The earth appears ‘without form and void’ because none of the old theories now seems to apply.3 As if to certify that we are writing on a tabula rasa, the US Library of Congress has assigned an entirely new call number to books such as Brzezinski’s and Zartman’s: ‘D 860’. It is is now rapidly filling with dozens of other works classified as the ‘political and diplomatic history of Europe and the world post-1989’.