|The Post-American World
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"This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else." So begins Fareed Zakaria's important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the "rise of the rest"a??the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many othersa??as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.
Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria: Author One-to-One
Fareed Zakaria: Your book is about two things, the climate crisis and also about an American crisis. Why do you link the two? Continue reading the Q&A between Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria
Thomas Friedman: You're absolutely right--it is about two things. The book says, America has a problem and the world has a problem. The world's problem is that it's getting hot, flat and crowded and that convergence--that perfect storm--is driving a lot of negative trends. America's problem is that we've lost our way--we've lost our groove as a country. And the basic argument of the book is that we can solve our problem by taking the lead in solving the world's problem.
Zakaria: Explain what you mean by "hot, flat and crowded."
Friedman: There is a convergence of basically three large forces: one is global warming, which has been going on at a very slow pace since the industrial revolution; the second--what I call the flattening of the world--is a metaphor for the rise of middle-class citizens, from China to India to Brazil to Russia to Eastern Europe, who are beginning to consume like Americans. That's a blessing in so many ways--it's a blessing for global stability and for global growth. But it has enormous resource complications, if all these people--whom you've written about in your book, The Post American World--begin to consume like Americans. And lastly, global population growth simply refers to the steady growth of population in general, but at the same time the growth of more and more people able to live this middle-class lifestyle. Between now and 2020, the world's going to add another billion people. And their resource demands--at every level--are going to be enormous. I tell the story in the book how, if we give each one of the next billion people on the planet just one sixty-watt incandescent light bulb, what it will mean: the answer is that it will require about 20 new 500-megawatt coal-burning power plants. That's so they can each turn on just one light bulb!
Zakaria: In my book I talk about the "rise of the rest" and about the reality of how this rise of new powerful economic nations is completely changing the way the world works. Most everyone's efforts have been devoted to Kyoto-like solutions, with the idea of getting western countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. But I grew to realize that the West was a sideshow. India and China will build hundreds of coal-fire power plants in the next ten years and the combined carbon dioxide emissions of those new plants alone are five times larger than the savings mandated by the Kyoto accords. What do you do with the Indias and Chinas of the world?
Friedman: I think there are two approaches. There has to be more understanding of the basic unfairness they feel. They feel like we sat down, had the hors d'oeuvres, ate the entr??e, pretty much finished off the dessert, invited them for tea and coffee and then said, "Let's split the bill." So I understand the big sense of unfairness--they feel that now that they have a chance to grow and reach with large numbers a whole new standard of living, we're basically telling them, "Your growth, and all the emissions it would add, is threatening the world's climate." At the same time, what I say to them--what I said to young Chinese most recently when I was just in China is this: Every time I come to China, young Chinese say to me, "Mr. Friedman, your country grew dirty for 150 years. Now it's our turn." And I say to them, "Yes, you're absolutely right, it's your turn. Grow as dirty as you want. Take your time. Because I think we probably just need about five years to invent all the new clean power technologies you're going to need as you choke to death, and we're going to come and sell them to you. And we're going to clean your clock in the next great global industry. So please, take your time. If you want to give us a five-year lead in the next great global industry, I will take five. If you want to give us ten, that would be even better. In other words, I know this is unfair, but I am here to tell you that in a world that's hot, flat and crowded, ET--energy technology--is going to be as big an industry as IT--information technology. Maybe even bigger. And who claims that industry--whose country and whose companies dominate that industry--I think is going to enjoy more national security, more economic security, more economic growth, a healthier population, and greater global respect, for that matter, as well. So you can sit back and say, it's not fair that we have to compete in this new industry, that we should get to grow dirty for a while, or you can do what you did in telecommunications, and that is try to leap-frog us. And that's really what I'm saying to them: this is a great economic opportunity. The game is still open. I want my country to win it--I'm not sure it will.
Zakaria: I'm struck by the point you make about energy technology. In my book I'm pretty optimistic about the United States. But the one area where I'm worried is actually ET. We do fantastically in biotech, we're doing fantastically in nanotechnology. But none of these new technologies have the kind of system-wide effect that information technology did. Energy does. If you want to find the next technological revolution you need to find an industry that transforms everything you do. Biotechnology affects one critical aspect of your day-to-day life, health, but not all of it. But energy--the consumption of energy--affects every human activity in the modern world. Now, my fear is that, of all the industries in the future, that's the one where we're not ahead of the pack. Are we going to run second in this race?
Friedman: Well, I want to ask you that, Fareed. Why do you think we haven't led this industry, which itself has huge technological implications? We have all the secret sauce, all the technological prowess, to lead this industry. Why do you think this is the one area--and it's enormous, it's actually going to dwarf all the others--where we haven't been at the real cutting edge?
“Zakaria . . . may have more intellectual range and insights than any other public thinker in the West.” —Boston Sunday Globe “This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s blockbusting bestseller on the United States in the twenty-first century. How can Americans understand this rapidly changing international climate, and how might the nation continue to thrive in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.
- Great to understand present and future
Journalist Fareed Zakaria talk us about a new world, where China and India - alongside with other developing countries like Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and the Russia itself - take a more and more expressive social, economic and political place, sharing with USA. The pros and cons of everyone. People, culture, history.
That's a book Barak Obama himself had betwen hands. I recommend! ...more info
- Not just a political book
My major is in health science, but to study about world affairs is my passion, if you are someone close to my interest, this is one of the best book. the author is assumed one of the most intelligent person on the earth in International affairs, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohanji and Condlina Rise used to take this guy's openion for international affairs, Being a comon man of India,I invite and offer Mr F.Z. as India's international affair minister.
- Essential reading for the 21st century with a world view
Fareed Zakaria is the Editor of the International section of Newsweek . He has a wonderful new show on CNN on Sunday morning with world leaders and current topics. His being born in India gives him a unique vie of the world.
His book is based on the premise that the United States was so tied up with Iraq and Afghanistan that it failed to take notice of the movements of other nations - economic, political etc. Accordingly many nations moved ahead while we failed to take notice. My book club and I regard this book as essential reading for the 21st century....more info
- Some interesting points but overall not much substance
The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria is one of three books I have read recently in order to gain a better understanding of the changes occurring in the world today. By far the best is James Kynge's China Shakes the World. Kynge, a former bureau chief for the Financial Times in China, has lived there since 1982, is fluent in Mandarin and well connected. This is the ONE book to read on China. The Elephant and the Dragon, Robyn Meredith's examination of India and China, is also worthwhile, although somewhat superficial. Meredith, a foreign correspondent for Forbes magazine, gets the big picture right, but is a poor writer and lacks an insiders perspective on these two countries. Zakaria's book is the most ambitious, seeking to cover not just the "big two" but the entire non-American world. He fails for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that 240 pages is not nearly enough to cover such a grand topic (Actually the book is shorter since Zakaria uses a large type and line spacing compared to the other works--30 lines per page versus 33 and nine versus 10 words per line on average compared to Mederith's book) Zakaria is the editor of Newsweek International and as such is as much concerned with political as well as economic issues, thus making his book more subjective than the other two.
The book is described as "The rise of the rest," implying that it is concerned with the rest of the world. But in fact, after a short introductory chapter, there is a chapter on China, one on India, two on the United States...and that's all. Further, Zakaria tries to use numbers to make his points sometimes without effect. For example, in making a claim for the superiority of the American system of higher education as an asset for America he states on page 91, "In India, universities graduate between 35 and 50 Ph.D.s in computer science each year; in America, the figure is 1,000." However, a few pages later (page 198) he notes that foreign students account for "65% of the doctorates in computer science." Maybe they get the degree from an American university, but increasingly Chinese, Indian and other foreign students are taking those degrees back to their native country and using that knowledge to compete more effectively against the U.S. He also writes on page 200 that, "Harvard University's Richard Cooper even argues that the American savings rate is miscalculated, painting an inaccurate picture of massive credit card debt and unaffordable mortgages." Well, we all know how that one turned out! To be fair, Zakaria does admit that America has problems, but he downplays them so much that his whole argument seems specious. Zakaria also makes dubious statements such as, "the United States has better relations with almost all the major powers than they have with each other." France? Russia? In fact outside of the British "lapdogs" America's relations with the other major powers reached rock bottom under Bush over the Iraq War.
But there is value in reading Zakaria's book. For one, he makes points that are generally not realized by most people. To illustrate, he points out that World War II was largely fought and won by the Russians (but it was the Americans and British who claimed the credit). For example at the time the Allies were liberating Sicily from 55,000 Germans, Russia was engaged in the battle of Krusk, the largest battle in history in which some1.5 million Germans and Russians fought. Yet this battle is largely unknown to Westerners. This Western slighting may help to explain Russia's now assertive behavior which demands respect and recognition.
Zakaria also points out that the present time is one of the most peaceful in human history and at the same time one where economic development has grown at an unprecedented pace. Technical advances make it possible for any negative event to get instantaneous and expansive world coverage. Thus a terrorist attack in which a relatively small number of people are killed receives extensive coverage, whereas in the past mass murder such as in Cambodia and the Congo received scant attention. Moreover, while most people are aware of the economic progress made by China, the "Asian Tigers," and more recently, India, Zakaria shows that economies have taken off all over the world--in South America and even Africa. For example, between 1990 and 2007 the global economy grew from $22.8 trillion to $53.3 trillion and global trade increased by 133 percent. Two additional important points are that the U.S. system of education stresses creativity, problem solving and teamwork as compared to rote learning that is prevalent in Asia and other parts of the world and that there is far more conflict in the current U.S. political system as compared to the recent past, less willingness to compromise.
Zakaria's book is also far more politically oriented than the other two. For example his chapter on China stresses the political implications behind China's efforts at international trade. For example, he mentions that China's economic policies toward Africa are affected by the fact that six African countries still recognize Taiwan--and China has its eyes on all that Africa oil. South Africa, for one, switched to support the One China policy as a result of an infusion of aid from China.
At the end Zakaria makes a number of obvious and simplistic suggestions for America's future--have priorities, build broad rules, not narrow interests, be Bismark, not Britain, etc. Finally it is his rah rah America attitude that puts me off. This country has real problems that need hard answers, not a cheerleader. But as Zakaria himself acknowledges, "I came to America as a young man, fell in love with the country, and built a life and family here. Good for him, but such a person is hardly capable of making the kind of hard-nosed, objective assessment of what the world is like today and what America needs to do in response..
- A great book and, what's more, an important book
This one should be read by every thinking American. Zakaria's main point is that we in the US are not doing so badly after all, but that we need to watch our backs. Education at the university level is what we do better than any nation in the world, and we need to remember that in a time when education in general, and higher education specifically, are under attack from the right wing. Learning is always a good thing, but cramming for useless tests is not the way to teach children to think critically. No child left behind has been a disaster for our country, and we as a nation need to reward good teachers without overloading them with exams and lists of to-do projects.
Overall, a great book by Fareed Zakaria. Can't be recommended strongly enough. Not a tough or long read by any stretch, so anyone interested in the US should read this one....more info
- Clear Minded and Fair
I have been following this Yale graduates writing and speaking for about 10 years now. Clear minded, fair and very Bombay!
His new book the Post-American World has an interesting thesis about how the rest of the world particularly India and China are making giant strides. He is the counterpart to Thomas Friedman. And this thesis coming from someone of Indian origin adds a flavor to the thesis that is unique and interesting.
He is maturing with time. He also needs to get out of the North East corridor mentality. You know - those wine-sipping, latte drinking, tree hugging, Volvo driving, turnpike cruising, New Jersey hating, liberal, Manhattan pundits! (Only kidding!)
- Post American World
Fareed Zakari's book provides a good balance to Thomas Friedman's book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded" in the challenges that the United States faces in a multipolar world. The rise of China and India as major players in the World economic system and the use of resources from other country's to support this development poses new opportunities for the U.S., while at the same time presenting challenges the world economic/political system developed at the end of World War 2. Zakari presents an excellent overview of the different pathways taken by China and India in assuming this new role as global players. The current economic downturn started in the U.S., but quickly spread to the rest of the developed and non-developed world, showing how interconnected our global economic system is. One source of this problem is the imbalance between consumption in the U.S. and Western Europe and the high savings rates in Asian countries, which is exacerbated by the trade imbalances resulting from shipping petroleum resources from the mideast to other parts of the globe.
Friedman's book has much more data and has a more detailed discussion of many of these issues than Zakari's book which is a much easier read. Friedman spends more time discussing the global warming implications in a world where the internet makes it possible to compete in the knowledge-based economy of the future from anywhere in the world. Zakari fouses more on the cultural characteristics and political systems that are responsible for global socioeconomic competition in the emerging new world order. Both authors agree that if the U.S. adapts rather than resists these trend, we have the ability to continue being major players politically and economically. The challenge for our country is to rise above bipartisan political bickering and self interest by different stakeholders to move into this multipolar world of the future. Both authors feel that our innovative private sector with proper public incentives/tax policies can be successful in this transition....more info
- Worthwhile reading
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's eye opening to the big picture of events that have brought us to where we a re today. It helps you see that world history of the last 100 or so years is not always as we've been told....more info
- Common Sense About The Future
A fascinating, quick read which argues that America must ready itself for no longer being the dominant player in world affairs - not because of American decline, but due to the inevitable rise of the rest fo the world. He argues persuasively that not only will this happen, but it is already well on its way to being a reality. To me, it seems an obvious argument, but many do not seem to think so. Zakaria brings in the facts to buttress his observations and instincts, and puts it all together in a coherent, well reasoned presentation.
The one drawback is also a strength. He does not delve as deeply into many matters as I would like, but this is so the whole argument can proceed forward mroe quickly and gracefully. The book is aimed more at the casual (but intelligent) reader, rather than the world scholar....more info
- Should be required reading for the Obama administration
Zakaria's book is a very thoughtful, well researched, historically accurate look at how America has responded to internal affairs and world affairs. With an understanding of our own history, it is possible to see a path for America that can move the world.
Zakaria chooses language that is very clear. This is a very readable book.
It should be required reading for every member of the Obama administration at every level....more info
- World from different perspective
Zakaria sees world from broader perspective than many of us. He was born in India, now he lives in the US. This gives him two different reference points, enriches his view of history and current politics.
I myself was born in Poland and live in the US. It also gives me a different perspective. I changed the world views from when I lived in Poland and when we was under the influence of Soviet empire. We never believed that Soviet Union would be gone in our lifetime.
The British empire that embraced a quarter of the world was not a part of my world.
Zakaria is critical to the current American politics of Bush administration but he is gentle in his critique. He goes beyond eight years of current administration. His conclusion is optimistic. The US may remain the most dominant country in the world but it has to be more aware of the world around it.
I liked a book. I wish the author was giving more examples also from my part of the world (Soviet domination). I did not like a comparison of Bismarck policies (good, according to the author), to the British policies. Bismarck's Prussia is a symbol of blind discipline and cult of militarism. I wish, the author could incorporate the current economical crisis in the book also. This could change a bit the whole perspective.
- A lucid explication of a complex, global idea
An intelligent book that looks at trends in globalization, modernization of developing countries, and what it all means to the United States. Zakaria is clearly adept at gathering, processing, and synthesizing vast and seemingly unrelated bodies of information about a subject. I guess that is what makes him such a talented reporter.
At any rate, if you're interested in the significance of China's and India's growth, the ramifications of the communications boom, or how rising and current national powers will interact and relate as power continues to diffuse, you should read this book. I find it fascinating to learn about the interplay of countries and how they affect one another. Questions surrounding modernization - what does it mean, why does it happen, how does it happen, and is it a good thing - have popped in my head from time to time. This book does a superb job of educating me and addressing my curiosity....more info
- Excellent analysis
This is a very different book that looks at the political and economic issues facing the twenty first century. If England dominated the world for over two centuries, clearly America had proved to the world's only superpower at the beginning of the twenty first century, especially after the collapse and disintegration of the USSR. Zakaria closely examines the phenomenon of this global giant, its political behavior, economic policies and what it needs to do to retain its rightful place in the coming decades.
One of the most remarkable changes that have happened in the last twenty five years is the rapid economic growth of China and India. These two countries that account for a third of the world's population have finally woken up from their slumber and are catching up fast for lost time.
China's strategy of a (manufactured products) exports led economy, coupled with huge FDI inflows, massive investments in infrastructure are well known. However China still does not have a free economy in the true sense, and continues to be dominated by huge state owned enterprises. Democracy, human rights and independent judiciary have taken a back seat, in terms of priorities.
India on the other hand has leapfrogged into a services led economy, though having started the process of economic liberalization much later than China in 1991. India can boast of being the largest democracy in the world with an independent judiciary and excellent banking system, but does not score well on Infrastructure, bureaucracy and speed of execution.
Given the rapid economic growth rates exceeding 9 %, the two countries have a massive impact on the global consumption of commodities, especially the scarce ones like oil. It is unimaginable to think of a situation if the per capita ownership of cars in India and China would match even a third of America's. Both these countries are making rapid strides in increasing the quality of affordable higher education, especially technical education, thereby increasing the stock of technical expertise to engineer further growth.
Soon the center of gravity of the global economy will shift to Asia, and that America should take note to prepare itself to participate in this new paradigm, is an important theme in this book.
On every count, America is compared with England of the nineteenth century, when the "sun never set over the British Empire". Britain failed to maintain its empire due to economic issues. This book argues that the American economy is strong enough, but its fundamental weakness lies in handling international politics.
I have the following as take away from this well written book:
- Excellent analysis of the rise of America as a global power and what it should do to maintain its position and improve its reputation and respect in the international community
- The role that India and China should play in the twenty first century
- A fair and unbiased view of globalization, and the shift in economic power towards China and India
There are many books on China and India as major emerging economies. There are several others on Globalization, American economy and foreign policy. This book is a rare combination of several dimensions in looking at the twenty first century, and what America should do to continue to be the engine of global prosperity and peace.
- The Post American World
This is a very thought provoking book that helps explain American's down turn while offering suggestions how American can still come out ahead in the changing world....more info
- Guidebook for 21st Century World
Excellent analysis of the early 21st Century, absent a political agenda, told in compelling yet plain language. The US may or may not emerge from it's current troubles (this was written before the 2008 election and he says it could go either way) but our relative influence is destined to decrease for one simple reason (two, actually): With over 2 billion people between China and India, and sustained economic growth larger than that of any current economic powers, simple math says that increased buying power will give these two countries a greater say in the shaping of the 21st Century World. Zakaria says the decline of relative US influence over world events is inevitable but need not scare the US. Great book....more info
- Can Washington adjust to a world it no longer dominates?
The Whig interpretation of history dies hard. Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World marks its latest come-back. For Zakaria, globalization provides the engine of Progress. Broad in scope and graced with sprightly prose and a deep affection for his adopted country, his book, nonetheless, is infused with a benign economic determinism that glosses over the precarious nature of the new world order.
"The rise of the rest" rather than America's decline comprises Zakaria's theme. A few statistics tell the story. In 2006-2007, 124 countries, 30 of them in Africa, grew over 4%. People living on $1/day dropped from 40% to 18% between 1981 and 2004 and should reach 12% by 2015. China has raised 400 million people out of poverty; overall, poverty has declined in countries containing 80% of the world's population. While America remains a superpower, power has ebbed away to other countries and non-state actors. What, the author asks, will it be like to live in this new, post-American order?
Contrary to a false sense of catastrophe purveyed by the mass media, the world is not really a dangerous place in Zakaria's roseate view. He affirms, however, that he doesn't think "war has become obsolete or any such foolishness." America's relative slippage in the global economy needn't be harmful if we adapt, and if in deterring "rogue actors" we learn to win other nations' cooperation through compromise and accommodation. Zakaria expresses the dubious premise of his book in his assertion, "Across the world, economics is trumping politics," although he hedges his bet by conceding "this may not last (and has not historically)." Of course, that it may not last and never has is the crux of the matter.
Zakaria maintains that the global problems confronting us - the price of oil and commodities and raw materials, resource exhaustion, environmental degradation, climate change - are those of success, not failure; yet he acknowledges that states are less willing to cooperate, due to a nationalist resurgence and desire for respect commensurate with their newly found economic success (viz., China). Brief consideration of the severe stresses generated by the global economy illustrates its fragile, perilous structure.
Stresses of Globalization
Globalization has alleviated much human misery, but it has spawned forces of instability - financial crises, interruption of vital supplies (e.g., oil), trade wars, and violent business cycles - threatening everyone's well-being and holding the potential for major conflict. As Robert Samuelson observes, the emergence of economic interdependence and political nationalism forms a "combustible combination." The old global economy had few power centers (the United States, Europe, Japan), was defined mainly by trade, and was committed to the dollar as the central currency. Above all, the glue holding it together was shared democratic values and alliances. Today's global economy has multiple power centers (including China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia), is defined as well by finance, and is exploring currency alternatives to the dollar. Most critically, today's economic power centers represent disparate, conflicting political principles.
Moreover, present patterns - rapid technological diffusion, extensive environmental damage, vast inequality of income between and within countries - breed conditions for global instability and conflict. Significant regions of the world - Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, parts of the Andean and Central American highlands - have experienced increasing poverty in recent years, possibly leading to war, disease, mass migration, illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and increased environmental degradation. The scramble for diminishing hydrocarbons by new regional powers such as Brazil, China, and India could trigger regional or global conflict. Water disputes in South Asia, the Mideast, and Nile basin, together with disagreements over management of the global commons, could spark conflict. Finally, as Jorgen Moller warns, without new forms of international governance to redress global environmental pollution (a negligible prospect in this nationalistic world), dreams of earthly progress may come to an ugly Malthusian end.3
Zakaria's economic Whiggery shapes his assessment of China, "the challenger" in the new global order. Despite remarkable economic growth and massive social change, China too confronts the problems of globalization and nationalism. An insular Party faces the daunting task of controlling centrifugal economic and political forces; however, Zakaria believes robust economic growth will remain a prophylactic against regime collapse, even venturing to predict gradual evolution to some kind of "mixed regime" with a degree of popular participation coexisting alongside authoritarian rule. The author holds an unshakable faith that a market economy and middle class society lead to liberal democracy in the long run. That run could prove to be very long, indeed.
Will China's rise remain peaceful? Zakaria acknowledges a new pride of power in the younger generation, yet expects Beijing's commercially-driven foreign policy of non-interference and non-confrontation to continue, with Washington and Beijing seeking accommodation out of mutual economic dependence. China needs the U.S. market for its goods; the United States needs China to finance its debt - globalization's version of MAD in the Cold War! He judges the United States ill-prepared to counter China's "asymmetric" strategy of using its economic clout and political skill to acquire greater international influence and marginalize Washington in Asia.
Zakaria's sanguine view of China's evolution into a "mixed regime" pays scant attention to political culture. A market economy does not necessarily foster all good political things. Liberal democracy took root in the Anglo-American world centuries before the advent of a free market. Anyone interested in the prospects for liberal government in the developing world should examine the remarkable story of Singapore's development. Singapore's visionary founder, Lee Kuan Yew, transformed a backwater entrepot into a dynamic modern state. Lee's judicious admixture of Confucian values and enlightened despotism to the British colonial legacy that was bequeathed to him, with its rule of law, underlay Singapore's unique development. Lee understood the primacy of political culture that requires generations to nourish. He writes:
History teaches us that liberal democracy needs economic development, literacy, a growing middle class, and political institutions that support free speech and human rights. It needs a civic society resting on shared values that make people with different and conflicting views willing to cooperate with each other.
Lee points out that China's 4,000-year history was marked by dynastic rulers, interspersed with anarchy, foreign conquerors, warlords, and dictators. "The Chinese people had never experienced a government based on counting heads instead of chopping off heads." The massive repression imposed by Chinese authorities in preparation for the Olympics exposes the charade of China's posing as a "normal country" and "harmonious society" deserving the trust and respect of the international community. Speaking to foreign reporters in Beijing, President Hu Jintao declared that the Party intends to continue economic and political reforms. China will not adopt Western political practices, he added, but "continue expanding socialist democracy and developing a state of socialist rule of law."
Controversy over Tibet and the Olympic Games have also stirred Chinese xenophobia, particularly among young people, which combines with China's looming demographic crisis to make problematic China's continued peaceful rise. Global demographic trends, instead of heralding peace and prosperity, pose the risk of chaotic state collapse and neo-authoritarian reaction in developing countries. As a result of its 1979 one-child policy, China is now rapidly aging and faces a massive age wave cresting in the 2020s, just as it becomes a middle-income country. The social and economic stresses unleashed by this premature aging threaten the pillars of the current regime's legitimacy: social stability and rapidly rising living standards.
Added to these pressures is a stark gender imbalance resulting from sex-selective abortions favoring boys over girls. After 30 years of population control China now has the largest gender imbalance in the world, with 37 million more men than women and nearly 20% more newborn boys than girls. China's "testosterone problem" - tens of millions of single, young men with surging testosterone making them prone to violence and aggression - will create a social volatility that could lead to civil unrest or a government stratagem to channel the energies of unencumbered, excess males into military adventures. Recently, China's state-controlled media fanned the flames of nationalism and xenophobia, exploiting young peoples' resentment across the country to launch large demonstrations against the West because of its sympathy for Tibetan monks and Chinese dissidents.
Zakaria describes India as "the ally" and new national star. For the past 15 years India has been second only to China as the fastest growing country in the world. Unlike China, however, India's consumer-driven growth is the product of a vibrant private sector endowed with rich entrepreneurial and managerial talent. The author is grateful for the British colonial bequest of the English language, familiarizing Indians with Western business practices, and institutions such as courts, universities, and administrative agencies. India's case resembles Hong Kong's, where every civic feature Hong Kongers boast of - the rule of law, individual liberties and representative institutions, a thriving market, an honest and efficient civil service - derives from its British colonial legacy.
Nevertheless, serious problems beset India. It has diverged from its own past and other Asian countries, claims Zakaria, by becoming a boisterous democracy: "It is a noisy democracy that has finally empowered its people economically." India's paradox is that its vigorous society is saddled with a feeble political system. Zakaria acknowledges India's chronic problems: pervasive corruption, substandard social welfare, official corruption and incompetence, ethnic divisions impeding coherent national policies.
The recent confidence vote saving the U.S. civilian nuclear deal displayed India's political dysfunction. Members of Parliament threw money on the floor, charging the ruling Congress Party bribed them. Corruption runs rampant in government. Nearly a quarter of Parliament members face criminal charges, including human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, even rape and murder, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, a New Delhi watchdog group. Bribery has stymied efforts to repair a decaying infrastructure and feed a country with more malnourished children than any other in the world. Politicians have allegedly siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars from a $2 billion program to feed schoolchildren. According to Transparency International India, poor citizens have paid some $206 million for government services. L. K. Advani, leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said of the confidence vote: "The whole thing is so scandalous. It reeks of muck. The scam will affect India's robust image as a democracy."
India, like much of the developing world, has the formal mechanisms of popular government, but the challenge has always been the formation of decent, stable, effective self-government; and historical candor, if not political correctness, compels recognition that this has occurred in only a small sliver of human experience, the Anglo-American community.
What does the future hold for America? Britain's empire declined from systemic economic weakness, Zakaria maintains, whereas the threat to America today is political. America's economic problems - wasteful spending and inadequate savings, Social Security and health care, immigration, energy - stem from the partisan political paralysis in Washington, making it impossible to build broad coalitions to solve complex issues. A dynamic U.S. society and economy can adapt to global power shifts. Can Washington adjust to a world it no longer dominates?
The irresistible "rise of the rest" to power could be beneficial, if America redefines its purpose. After all, "the world is moving our way!" But what if it's not? The sunny determinism of globalization leads Zakaria to suppose that it will inevitably bring all desirable political goods in its wake, such as decent self-government and human rights. Writing after the collapse of the Doha trade round, Zakaria faulted the West for failing sufficiently to integrate rising powers like China and India into the new international order. Unless that happens, he warns, the new world might just turn out like the old nineteenth century world of economic globalization, political nationalism, and war.
That history may be just one damn thing after another is the theme of Robert Kagan's The Return of History and the End of Dreams. Readers will find of interest Kagan's contrasting vision that instead of a pacific global convergence, the normal world of great power struggle, a conflict between liberalism and autocracy, and a violent clash with radical Islam (discounted by Zakaria) have ushered in a new "age of divergence." As of this writing, Russia's naked invasion of the sovereign state of Georgia, precipitated by controversy over the province of South Ossetia, signals the rude return of history. This assault, Kagan points out, starkly demonstrates the perdurance of virulent nationalism and the use of military power to achieve military objectives. Someone neglected to tell Premier Putin that in the new global order economics trumps politics.
Foreign Policy Guidelines
Zakaria offers practical guidelines for American foreign policy in the new global era. With the world divided into many competing centers of power, the United States should eschew a traditional balance of power strategy, adopting a Bismarckian role of global "honest broker," that forges closer relations with all major parties than any of them has with each other. As the pivot of the international system, America stands to gain leverage with all parties through a process of consultation, cooperation, and compromise. Dividing the world into opposing camps, as Kagan's "concert of democracies" does, would create a destabilizing, self-fulfilling prophecy. This is consistent with Zakaria's exhortation to set priorities and accept trade-offs. If, for instance, proliferation and terrorism pose the gravest threats, then Russia's cooperation is needed with Iran, as is China's with North Korea.
The United States needs to order a la carte, finding new forms of cooperation for different problems - for example, enlisting corporations and NGOs in addressing climate change. Policymakers must think asymmetrically. Regarding Africa, Zakaria considers the new military command of AFRICOM mismatched for the task of nation-building; instead, we should rely on the Foreign Service and civilian assistance teams, even using private sector help. This approach finds support in the fresh thinking of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Speaking to the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, Gates warned against the "creeping militarization" of U.S. foreign policy, urging that the military play a supporting role to the State Department's lead in U.S. engagement abroad. "We cannot kill or capture our way to victory" in the campaign against terrorism, Gates stated, arguing that military action must be subordinate to adequately funded and staffed civilian agencies.
Zakaria emphasizes the importance of "soft power," of the need for international support and cooperation and the example of "who we are" as a nation. The new "National Defense Strategy" issued by Secretary Gates recognizes the role of "soft power," but realistically couples it with military assets as well, particularly a mastery of irregular warfare, in the long struggle against violent extremism. "Hard power," years of clandestine intelligence assistance and training of Columbia's army by U.S. Special Forces, not "soft power," made possible the dramatic rescue of FARC hostages in the Columbian jungle. The same old world we're fated to live in will not dispense with the need for TR's maxim, "speak softly and carry a big stick."
- post american world
most interesting book to be read this year. now am reading andrew jackson then lincoln. all responders have been super about maintaiing the quality of the books...more info
- Excellent book, small point out
I really enjoyed this book, Farid Zakaria is a marvelous writer and narrator.
However, I just wanted to point out a small item in the book.
Fareed has mentioned that 0 was discovered in Saudi Arabia which is incorrect.
Actually, 0 was discovered by Aryabhatt in India.
- Very insightful
The author provided the perfect summary for this book: it's not about the decline of America as much as it is about the rise of the rest (the "Third World" or "Global South" or "Developing World" or whatever the PC term is this week. It was a very insightful book which (mostly) avoided the trap of cleometrics. It does, however, highlight my need for a better understanding of macroeconomics.
While consistently pro-American in his presentation, the author makes it pretty clear that the U.S. is slipping and will continue to do so in relation to the other rising powers of the world. If present trends continue, the days of a unipolar world may be coming to an end relatively soon. (I suppose that would be good or bad depending on your politics...)
Anyway, TPAW was insightful, interesting, and moves quickly. Yes, it is somewhat both broad and shallow but I don't think it was intended to be a heavy, analytical study.
Highly recommended....more info
- Well Written If a Bit Recursive
The Post-American World starts off almost apologetically explaining it's title. "Post-American", the author Fareed Zakaria explains, doesn't mean a world where America is a non-power, so much as it is one of many. Fareed coins this concept "The Rise of the Rest", a playful twist on the common "Rise of the West".
This term is made even more ironic by the fact that what the author is really describing is the Rise of the East, namely India and China. In term...more The Post-American World starts off almost apologetically explaining it's title. "Post-American", the author Fareed Zakaria explains, doesn't mean a world where America is a non-power, so much as it is one of many. Fareed coins this concept "The Rise of the Rest", a playful twist on the common "Rise of the West".
This term is made even more ironic by the fact that what the author is really describing is the Rise of the East, namely India and China. In terms of this book, "the Rest" exclusively applies to them, which may not be true in reality given the increasing wealth of Russia and other parts of Asia and Africa, but it does make for an interesting premise from which to argue.
Mr. Zakaria does so quite well, delving deeply into what makes India and China interesting examples of success achieved through hybrid American capitalist models. He goes so far as to describe China's power during the Dark Ages in Europe and the Hinduism religion as lenses through which we can understand that American culture and power are being redefined by populations more ancient and more populous than American itself.
The whole argument - pursued by the author across possibly more pages than necessary - does come off convincingly, but lacks much of the statistical data and balanced insight similar authors like Thomas Friedman provide...more info
- Thoughtful Read
This book is a thoughtful rendering of how America's place in the world (economically and militarily) is changing. The book doesn't contain any blockbuster type headlines but reads like the author talks on his new CNN program. I learned a great deal about the differences between India and China's economies. Worthwhile read....more info
- This is a highly informative source for coming to terms with the positive changes that globalization could and is bringing.
Fareed Zakaria has really given a great deal of thought to globalization and its larger meaning, and it is obvious for almost all to see. His thoughts on how the U.S., India, China, and Russia should interact are spot on. His use of statistics is pretty much a welcomed blessing because it helps remove many of the doubts that critics can present upon hearing his core idea. It flies starkly in the face of the notion that U.S. power is diminishing due to globalization. This nation according to Zakaria is as strong/relevant as it ever been, meaning that we ultimately decide what our nation's fate will be. A must read for those of us that are not buying the Lou Dobbs, O' Reilly xenophobic non-sense!! ...more info
- Post American World
This book was in great condition. It was received with all pages and cover in prime condition. The book itself was a good read, this company did a good job delivering on time, it was a good buy. ...more info
- Very Thought Provoking yet Soooo Dry
I couldn't do it! I could not finish this book! Reading this book was like sitting through the longest politcal geography lecture of my life. Perhaps I will pick it back up again in a few months time, because to be fair, the discussion points are VERY thought provoking. But right now, I've been trying to get through it for about 5 months and I am putting up the white flag. You're a smart one, Mr. Zakaria. But, MY GOD, you are dry as hell.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Suggested With: Coffee, espresso, aderol, etc....more info
- The Post- American World
This book should open the eyes of anyone who thinks that America is the greatest. We are told this by reporters and politicians every day, but when you read this book, by a very intelligent writer, you learn that there are other countries out there that are about to take first place away from us. I thought for years after traveling to many countries that we were losing our dominent place. After reading this book, I think more people will conclude that we can't brag about how great we are anymore. Fareed Zakaria is brilliant. ...more info
- Insightful Look at American's Place in a Changing World
In our turbulent world, it is tempting to view America as surrounded by enemies intent on our destruction. Everywhere we look, we can see signs of American influence waning. Often--and especially in a time of economic turmoil--our mounting troubles can seem insurmountable. But sometimes merely looking at the world through a different lens can help us gain some perspective. And if that lens is held by one of today's most perceptive observers of the world scene, it might even help us all take a deep breath and relax.
In The Post-American World, best-selling author Fareed Zakaria takes a look at America's place in the world and explains why we have reason to be optimistic. Zakaria, who was born in India, came to this country as an awkward and naive eighteen-year old in the depths of the recession of the early 1980s. What he found then--and what he still sees all around us today--is a vibrant and expansive country, open to fresh ideas and eager to show the world what it has to offer. What has changed in today's world, he explains, in not America: rather, it is the merely rest of the world, racing to catch up with us. And while this new era--where American ideas and aspirations have inspired the world to follow us into the future--may pose unique challenges, they need not be as frightening as the pessimists and nay-sayers make them out to be. In his view, the key to understanding our changing world is to realize that America is not really lagging behind; rather, it is the rest of the world that is rising. And if we are tempted to respond by retreating--withdrawing into Fortress America, secure in our belief in our own superiority--then we are playing a game that has failed other civilizations in the past, and would likely surrender our leadership for the future.
Among the cautionary tales the author cites from history is the example of China, another great country that once stood at the pinnacle of greatness. Nearly a century before Columbus, in the early 1400s, a series of expeditions set forth from China, with several hundred vessels, each larger than an Spanish galleon, carrying thousands of men. They sailed eastern shores, down coast of Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean, impressing they met with majesty and might of Chinese civilization, and returning with treasures including precious stones, exotic plants and animals. Yet by the middle of the century, all this stopped: a new emperor had come to power--one who viewed these excursions as needless and expensive extravagances of little use to China. Before the end of the next century, building similar ships was forbidden on pain of death, and vast tracts of forests were burned to make similar ventures impossible in the future. And so China, convinced of its own superiority, turned firmly away from outside contact to withdraw within itself...and before long, the rest of the world had passed the stagnating Chinese culture in all manner of accomplishments. It has taken them six centuries of struggling to approach the pinnacle again; and now, having learned the lesson of history, they seem determined not to repeat the mistake.
Today, though we are beset by dangers on many sides, Zakaria reminds us that we often fail to appreciate just how lucky we are to live in an age of plenty and an era of discovery and adventure. Now that America has led the way, the rest of the world is racing to catch up to us. But, he cautions, we should not treat their efforts with suspicion or disdain, but we should embrace the future envisioned by our own ideals--for it is those very ideals that have long inspired the world.
Foremost among our many resources are the American culture and people. Both are filled with resilience and optimism. The American spirit of innovation derives from the openness of our culture, and our embrace of the off-beat and heretical--as well as the welcome we have shown to the best and the brightest from around the world. And despite the imperfections of our much-derided educational system, the author demonstrates that most of our problems stem from disparities within our own country: there is, the author notes, a greater disparity between students from our typical, middle-class schools and those from poverty-stricken, inner-city schools than there is between our best, and the best from the rest of the world. And while we bemoan our own lagging test scores, others are actually coming to the US to learn our techniques. And what impresses them most are the things we take for granted: the willingness of our students to challenge teachers; their courage to speak out in class; and their ability to be creative in applying what's taught to their everyday lives. While the rest of the world may beat us at teaching their students to take standardized tests, our system seems to excel at producing people who can be innovative, willing to challenge convention. Our culture seems drawn to the heretical and oddball; and since our schools don't quite squash this out of our students as well as some countries do, these same oddballs help keep our culture fresh.
Comparing us to the British Empire in its heyday, Zakaria notes that Britain, though blessed with gifted statesmen, was saddled with a dysfunctional economic and cultural system that stifled creative impulses of British society. In many ways America's challenge is just the reverse: we have a vibrant, dynamic culture that remains the envy of the world--but one that is saddled with a political system that often seems more intent on gaining temporary partisan advantage than moving the country forward. And where our culture benefits from the influx of immigrants--bringing energy, ambition, and new ideas along with them--we often mistake the challenges they bring as well for danger, rather than viewing them for what they are and have always been: a priceless source of renewal.
Insightful and well-written, filled with a global perspective often lacking in today's commentators, The Post-American World offers hope as well as perspective. It is written not in the lofty tones of academics, but with a precision born of thought and deep understanding. Those interested in understanding America's place in the world--past, present, and future--would do well to read it carefully. The world, after all, needs an America--embodying the free spirit and sense of adventure we have always taken for granted. That is, the author concludes, this country's real role in the world--and the reason that most people across the Earth still look to the United States with good will. It would be a pity if, through misguided attempts to hold back the future, we squandered the America we have...and forced the world to go looking for a new one.
- Insightful and interesting
In this fairly concise book, Mr. Zakaria presents a brief history of the Western World's rise, compares China and India, elaborates key elements of the American strength, and reaches the conclusion that the US must adjust to the rise of the rest and draw a new blueprint for its global strategy and national development.
Mr. Zakaria has not provided us a totally new idea. However, based on well-organized historical and contemporary facts, he raises clear-cut points in a frank and thought-provoking way, and makes this book not an abstract political thesis but a fun to read.
- Should be required reading for the Obama administration
Zakaria describes the 21st century world in which other countries, especially China and India, are growing extremely rapidly economically and politically so that the US can no longer claim the clear-cut leadership it enjoyed in the late 20th century.
He wraps up the book with a set of recommendations for "American Purpose":
+ Choose - Don't push regime change AND denuclearization - leaving leaders in countries like Iran with an inevitable decisions
+ Build broad rules, not narrow interests - don't make exceptions about democracies in Saudi Arabia, but give China a hard time about Taiwan or Darfur
+ Build strong relationships with all major powers - leverage our immigrant base and American culture to make the US everyone's best friend
+ Legitimacy is power - Don't be unitlateral when inappropriate. Use the UN, NATO, OAS, or build the right organization so that the world can rebuild its respect for America
Excellent job by Zakaria of showing exactly where we are on the world map today and where we could and should be headed. Scary but also exciting view of our current world standing. There is hope....more info
- An excellent perspective on the new world order
"Post-American World", the title in itself incites curiosity. From the cover it seems that the author is writing about American downfall, that it has reached its apogee and we are now witnessing its decline. I, on the other hand, found this book to be one of optimism and what America still has a lot to look forward to. The author is talking less about the fall of America but rather about the rise of India, China and other nation-states in the world, creating a new world where unilateralism or bilateralism will no longer work, and multilateralism will be the new order.
The author strategically presents his arguments in well divided chapters. The beginning presents the arguments for the changing world. For the last twenty years, ever since the fall of Russia, America has been the sole power in the world. It showed its muscles in the early 90s with the six day gulf war or the war in Bosnia, but it did not really show unilateral might until it invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq under the Bush regime. America, in the new world, failed miserably at creating a lasting coalition for these wars. It is not because America has become weak, but because the other countries have become stronger. Kowtowing America is not the only path to success. Some other simple examples that he gives are that tallest building, largest mall, largest casinos, beautiful bridges and highways, which were all hallmarks of the American economy, are now all outside America in countries Dubai, China or Singapore. Immigrants, long considered the backbone of the US economy have started spreading all over the world, with huge numbers moving to Canada, Australia, and UK. Each of these countries has created their skilled immigrant visa program attracting talent from all over the world. In essence, other countries are catching up now. Ironically, America has been the role model for the success of all these countries. Economically, socially and politically, these countries have followed the model created by America. In that regard America, must be given due recognition.
In the successive chapters, Mr. Zakaria aligns China as the new global competitor and India as the new ally. China has been growing 5% or more for the last thirty years. It has lifted almost four hundred million people out of poverty in the last 30 years. It has moved with inexplicable speed and efficiency to create state of the art infrastructure and an environment where the economy can flourish. In the past, norm has been that the greater the size of the population the stronger the country is. The Romans, Greeks or Arabs all conquered large swaths of lands as a sign of strength. However that trend changed with colonialism, where 40 million people in England were controlling almost half the population of the world. It then changed to imperialism, of America, whereby 5 percent population of the world, was controlling or using up to 40 percent of the resources in the world. It seems that the trend might change again. Strength may once again be exerted through size of the country. The huge markets of China and India will be focus of this century. These are the unexplored masses. The consumers have yet to assert their demands. Mr. Zakaria, considers China a competitor and India an ally purely on cultural basis. For India, he uses language one of the main reasons. A large percentage of Indians are fluent in English and thus can interact with the Americans on a personal basis. Also, the large numbers of Indians residing in America have created a favorable image of America in the minds of Indians. In case of China, a language barrier continues to exist. Americans are unable to understand China. And given the global aspirations of China, Americans are skeptical of them. However, that has not prevented almost every fortune 500 to open offices in China. Given the current environment, there is no such model of friend / foe being applied to these three countries. Alliances are struck on issues rather than on ideology. US provided India with nuclear reactors whereas US companies, like GE or Wal-Mart, are active in China and have large factories and stores there as well. In my opinion, the alliances are going to be struck on issues rather than ideological nationalistic issues.
In the final chapters of the book the author delineates a role for America in this new multilateral world. That America should stop acting as the enforcer and start acting as the broker. It should not impose its ideology on nations, but provide support to democratic forces in these nations. It argues that America must redefine itself and a large part of that change will come from the change in Washington. Unfortunately this book was written before Obama's election, so he could not discuss that impact. It shows a picture of America that is strong at its grassroots level. The infrastructure, the technology and the intellect of the American people are far superior to any other nation in the world and it will continue to be so. But America needs to redefine itself to the world, especially to the Muslim world.
- Repetitive, but provides reader with good picture of evolving global economy
Even though this book is around 200 pages, about halfway through you can see his points being continually repeated. There's some good perspective provided when he compares and contrasts the various major economies such as the US, India, China, and the UK. He also provides many recommendations to improve conditions, relations, and uses good examples from the past to illustrate these points and suggestions. However, many of these suggestions are political and theoretical in nature so I'm hesitant about their feasibility and I have a tough time buying into them. I would prefer more economic analysis over the political commentary and analysis, hence the three out of five stars. ...more info
- Worth Reading
Interesting, insightfully and clever. Just a must read for everyone who needs a global "out of the box" perspective about the new balances at stake in a global economy. ...more info
- The Post American World
Insightful and very well written. It should be required reading for any American; it helps us understand that we are part of the world, not the center of it....more info
- Very Interesting and Insightful Analysis
I purchased this book because I enjoy Mr. Zakaria's GPS show on CNN very much and because it sounded like an interesting book. I was not at all disappointed. One thing that I especially liked is that Zakaria does not show off his intelligence or erudition in a self-serving way like some other authors writing about politics and economics do. Instead of making himself a focal point of his book or creating neologisms that would only demonstrate his cleverness, Zakaria lets his facts, figures, and analysis speak for themselves. Overall, this is an excellent book that is well worth reading.
Zakaria offers insightful analysis of the economic and political dynamics which are shaping the world we live in and will determine the relative strength of America, China, India, Europe, and other regions and countries in the future. Zakaria's accounts of China, India, and America are very interesting. Those who watch or read a lot of news might already be aware of some of the main trends he focuses on, but I think most readers will learn things they did not know and will find food for thought in Zakaria's interpretation of the underlying facts. Additionally, Zakaria provides interesting analysis of the rise and fall of the world's last super-power before America, Great Britain, shining useful light on America's current situation.
Zakaria also provides an interesting and surprisingly optimistic analysis of America's economic competitiveness. For instance, he points out that our university system is still one of the strongest in the world and that the raw statistics about the number of students getting degrees in science and engineering in various countries can be misleading; in particular, he points out that many graduates in other countries attend 2-3 year programs or inferior schools that don't compete with the best American universities. He also points out that America's public education system (in affluent suburbs at least) produces students who score well on standardized international tests but also learn to think for themselves instead of merely regurgitating facts; these students become workers more likely to think of innovative technologies, services, and ways of running businesses.
I am generally quite pessimistic about America's long-term economic prospects. I worry that we will not be able to prosper unless we revitalize our manufacturing sector. While Zakaria points out that America is leading the world in key emerging technologies like nanotechnology and biotechnology, I worry that these industries will not create enough American jobs to replace all the manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the past few decades. Even so, I found Zakaria's view of America interesting and somewhat reassuring even if not fully convincing.
Postscript: If you are interested in international affairs and enjoy hearing a variety of thoughtful views, then I encourage you to watch the "Fareed Zakaria GPS" show Sundays on CNN. This is the only weekly news show that I watch every week. Instead of inviting politicians who just cling to their party lines or ideologies, Zakaria invites a variety of guests including academic scholars and world leaders. Zakaria is a thoughtful interviewer and usually manages to assemble panels capable of civil and thoughtful discourse....more info
- Totally misleading! The Shack is no Shaq!
What a horrible book! I was under the impression this was a biography about Shaquille O'Neil, who will go down as one of the greatest centers of all time! From his time with the Orlando Magic through his current team, the Phoenix Suns, he continues to dominate.
Luke Anderson, aka El Luke A...more info
- The Rise of the Rest . . .
There are few commentators, "speaking heads," who I respect more than Fareed Zakaria. Most have little of value to add to the so called "news" of the day and ask what seems to me to be pretty inane questions much of the time. Zakaria digs in; and this book is no exception to his professional pursuit of a new view.
What I liked most about the book was Zakaria's point that the decline of America, while being exacerbated by some of our choices, is more a result of "the rise of the others." This is not a gloom and doom portrayal of a superpower gone amok as much as it is an explanation of why the rest of the world will be soon getting its chance at growth. While growth of the global economy is not entirely a zero sum game, surely the industrialized nations will need to share the wealth with the up-and-coming nations.
Of course China is a huge economy with which the rest of the global economy must come to grips. America, as always, is dazzled by size and China therefore holds a particular fascination for us. For now, the mutual needs of each country have led to a wise collaboration. Yet, we cannot forget the "old ally," India.
Many visitors consider India to be "not very pretty." Much of the infrastructure of the country is dilapidated and in dire need of attention. India (much like Portugal and Greece) has a GDP Profile comprising 50% service revenues, 25% manufacturing revenues and 25% agricultural revenues. While India is moving forward to address the infrastructure issues, they will hopefully not fall prey to the illusion of its impact on GDP. It may look good for visitors, but it doesn't necessarily add to the GDP and may well add to the overall cost of providing services.
America may still be the world's only superpower for some time to come. It should aggressively plan for the day when the economic power passes to one or several of the main players in the global economy. Meanwhile, we should put our economic house in order and reign in spending beyond our means. We must pay attention to education and raising the next generation of innovators to provide the grist for the global manufacturing mill. We must maintain then extend our lead in being the world's invention machine.
This is a well thought out presentation in clear and concise prose that will be very valuable to anyone dealing in the new global economy. I guess these days, that's just about everyone....more info
I really enjoyed this book, and it should be required reading for ALL our elected officials. I did find it a bit boring at times, perhaps that is because I am a Thomas Friedman junkie.
The World Is Flat
The Lexus and the Olive Tree [Revised Edition]: Understanding Globalization...more info
- Brilliant and Well-Articulated
Without re-hashing much of what has already been said in these reviews, suffice to say that conservatives will have some issues (rather predictable) with this and cite reasons in the quality of Zakaria's argument.
Overall, this is an extremely relevant book especially in the midst of the economic crisis where America's (non-military) place in the world is in flux....more info
- Fascinating Look at the World Today
Very interesting. Provides a good overview of the economic/political/social conditions of China and India as they catch up to/surpass the US on a number of indicators. Does a great job putting a lot of the statistics that are thrown around about China into perspective, as well as pointing out often overlooked nuances in the data. One example I found interesting was that although Chinese school test scores are on average much higher than US students, if you compare only upper income US area schools, the scores are comparable. Zakaria argues it isn't that US education is in disarray, it is that for certain, generally impoverished areas, it is. An intelligent, calm, and thoughtful exploration of the possible end of US dominance, without an anti-US slant. Highly recommended....more info
- The Post American
Very, very interesting. I especially learned that the UN is still working as though it was in 1946. Japan and Germany are not part of the UN!!!!!! That was OK many years ago, but now they are powerful countries that have no voice. This doesn't make sense. Bring the UN up to date....more info
- The esult of an over-taxing/regulating government
This book doesn't mean to be a depiction of what happens in an over-regulated, over-taxed society, but that is what it is. The rise of Dubai is from oil, when oil runs out, what happens to Dubai?
The Chinese pursue a low tax and regulation policy of business and it thrives. In the US we over tax and over regulate and intend to make that look mild under the current administration. This book chronicles the result of the egomaniac nature of our ruling elite. Malaise and a government that cannot even bother to read a bill that spends nearly $800 billion dollars. Fiat currency that will destroy the dollar and this may be a deliberate intent. Is there any wonder why we are in decline?...more info
- A short review of the world
If this book created any controversy, it was likely due to the title. For some, the idea of a "Post-American World" means the decline of the United States, with other nations supplanting it as the most powerful international entity. Zakaria's view of a post-American world, however, is much more optimistic. The "post-American" part of his argument does not foretell the decline of America, but the rising of the others. This may mean greater relative power for nations like China and India, but Zakaria is careful to note just how far ahead the United States lies in prosperity and military strength.
In the end, this book is not an obituary for the U.S. as a declining superpower; it is a celebration of the whole world improving under American leadership. Zakaria lauds the international economic development that pulls more and more people out of extreme poverty every year. He also lays out ideas to allow America to continue as a world leader from our current precarious status.
Zakaria's arguments are compelling, and he backs many of them with quoted statistics. Nonetheless, this book is clearly not a comprehensive account of the state of the world. Instead, this is a broad outline of how far the world has come in the past decades, and a brief discussion of what should and may happen in the future. For a quick geopolitical read, it is informative and clear. The book can only scratch the surface, however, of the complex issues discussed. Definitely worth a read if you're tired of all of the doomsday predictions so fashionable in discussions of international politics.
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