French historian Emmanuel Todd says that the West is now in an existential conflict.

The third world war has already started, according to one of France’s leading intellectuals, Emmanuel Todd. Speaking to Le Figaro last week, the anthropologist and historian claimed that, contrary to the prevailing idea that Russia has more to lose than its liberal opponents, the West, too, has entered into an “existential” conflict.

“It’s obvious that the [Ukraine] conflict, which started as a limited territorial war and escalated 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,” Todd told the French newspaper. He acknowledged that Vladimir Putin had made a miscalculation at the beginning of the conflict, assuming that Ukraine would roll over at the first sign of aggression, but made clear that Russia has itself exceeded expectations, including those of its own people, who “did not anticipate” that they would be able to withstand economic pressure from NATO.

Todd, who has in the past been critical of the western international order, wrote a book called After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order more than 20 years ago. During the interview, he expanded on his thesis, saying that “the resistance of the Russian economy [to sanctions] is pushing the American imperial system towards the precipice.” He added that, if Russia “managed to exhaust the European economy, while maintaining Chinese backing, American monetary and financial controls of the world would collapse, and with them the possibility for the United States to fund their huge trade deficit for nothing.”

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