Book Description "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?
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?
Continue reading the Q&A between Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria
“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.
A good read that could be better I think the title should have been "rising of the others" rather than the post American world. I believe the title was deceptive since it doesn't not start from the fall of the American empire nor it plan counter measuring this "assumed" fall. Mr. Zakaria simply projects the advance of china in the medium term running existing economic data and underestimates India as a rival to America, which I agree too.
If you are a fan of graphs and statistics you won't find any, simply because the author does not provide theories, he just explains whom the rivals would be and how they manage this upcoming confrontation till now.
I gave 4 stars because the style is simple and elegant, and took me only 7 days to read; besides it intelligently connects current relationships between focused players and logically illustrates the backgrounds of their behavior.
Possibly the Finest Primer on World Affairs in Print Rarely does a book manage to cover the sweeping landscape of world affairs so lucidly and deftly. Mr. Zacharia does just that, and in a thoughtful, even-handed manner seldom found in this era of the cultural wars. Were I to teach a survey course in modern world history, diplomacy, international affairs, political science, or intercultural communication, I would immediately make this book a required text. Unlike his sometime mentor Samuel Huntington, his account avoids the binary thinking that marks so much comparative study; it is also nuanced far more than one might expect from such a small volume.
Zakaria comes across as a realist, but with a humanitarian bent, in keeping with the growing concern for human rights in shaping state policy. Although of Indian ancestry and heritage, he is able to rise above cultural chauvanism. As a sinologist, for instance, I greatly appreciated his chapter on China, which is in the main dead on the mark. I especially appreciate his willingness to delve into Confucian influences on the Western Enlightment, which is usually overlooked in studies of East-West relations. He also avoids the tendency of Western observers to paint the Chinese government as a fuming dragon bent on empire and instead delineates rather neatly the quandries Beijing confronts in its drive to modernize and strengthen its regional alliances. He also makes it evident that Chinese leaders are nothing if not pragmatic and, despite their convenient oversight of human rights abuses in their newfound allies, are very much of the mindset of leaving well enough alone, a kind of present day Prime Directive reminiscent of the original Star Trek series, albeit more expedient than ethical. But there is nothing alien or sinister in what the author depicts in terms of the manifold challenges confronting Beijing. That he is able to describe these challenges without resorting to hyperbole and alarmist rhetoric is to his great credit.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Extremely well-written and non-ideological in its outlook, this book ably juxtaposes complicated historical ideas and social sea changes with a far wider range than the typical journalistic tract of today, Zacharia has given us an account that is likely to become a classic in the field, and deservedly so....more info
The Post American World I respect Fareed Zakaria as one of the most intelligent men in America. He brings a world view of politics and economics and doesn't get swayed by any group or organization. He's fair and thoughtful and has the kind of life experiences and connections to see America through unbiased eyes. We are lucky to have this intelligent American with such a broad background to help us see our own country in a more realistic light....more info
Another Apologist for Empire I'll say at the outset that I like Fareed Zakaria. He's articulate, reasonable, moderate, and optimistic. And he is the successor to George Kennan and Zbigniew Brzezinski in the role of theorist for US corporate imperialism. I will not be surprised if he gets an appointment in the upcoming Obama administration as, for example, Assistant Deputy Director of strategic Analysis for the State Department.
Zakaria takes it as an obvious given that the era of US hegemony is drawing to a close. The US will be overtaken as the world's largest market by 2040, according to Goldman Sachs (and we have no reason in this case to believe that they are wrong), and we have already lost our position as the leader in technology and manufacturing. But, don't worry, the US still has a role to play, and can even thrive in the new multipolar world; we just have to make some 'adjustments'.
Zakaria claims that the US has been a liberalizing and modernizing force, striving always to bring the virtues of democracy and liberal market economies to the world. And this is where the fundamental flaws in Zakaria's analysis are most obvious. Zakaria continues the western intellectual tradition of portraying history as the interplay of nations, ignoring the class structure within those nations. To claim that the US strives for democracy is contradicted by the facts - in fact there is a high correlation between US support for foreign states and the incidence of human rights violations in those states. Iran 1954, Chile 1973, Nicaragua 1935, 1950s, and 1980s, South Vietnam in the 1960s, Guatemala and Honduras in the 1980s, ongoing support for Saudi Arabia, financial and military support for Saddam Hussein throughout the 1980s, the propaganda attacks on Venezuela today - all these are the counter-examples that Zakaria passes silently by. The theory that the US now and in the past has worked for democracy is simply false. An alternative theory, that the US government works at all times and in all ways to advance the interests of US corporations (and now international corporations) fits the facts much more closely and without the obvious and embarrassing counter-examples.
Trade policy, the tail that wags the foreign policy dog, is equally poorly treated by Zakaria's flawed theory of history. He claims, apparently without irony, that the US has worked tirelessly to teach developing countries the virtues of 'free trade'. But to sustain this argument one must ignore the fact that 'free trade' for the US has always meant that developing countries must give up their indigenous farming and industry in order to form a cadre of virtual slave labor for whatever enterprise is desired by US corporations, whether that enterprise is industrial or agricultural in nature. And, of course, it means that whatever natural resources the developing country has must belong to those US corporations. Any country that sees such an arrangement as unjust, Venezuela for example, is attacked bitterly by intellectuals like Zakaria. Nowhere does Zakaria admit the possibility that US trade agreements are not in the interest of US workers or of workers in the other countries. He can't admit this possibility because class plays no part in his analysis or in his thinking.
Sadly, as likable as Zakaria is, he has written a worthless book, another in a long line of theoretical tracts by ruling class intellectuals. If you want to understand the world in a more consistent way, in a way more consistent with reality, read Chomsky.
"...in the long run, the battle of ideas is close to EVERYTHING." The above quote (with emphasis in the original) is part of the concluding arguments from Fareed Zakaria's book which focuses on the dynamic shifts in the distribution of power on a global basis. It is an essential statement, and he supports his contentions with the pitiful sums that are devoted to America's efforts to promote its ideals as opposed to the truly mind-boggling sums that are thrown at military hardware. If the ratio of those expenditures was reduced, the "post" part of the title might be a bit longer in coming.
Zakaria is an immigrant to America from India, and as such, has a broader global perspective than most Americans. He understands the American outlook of the proverbial "Joe Six-Pack", and also understands the outlook of many citizens in other countries. Early in the book he emphasizes that much of the economic progress made in the last two decades is due to the state of peace reigning in the world --at some level this is counterintuitive since, as he says, "A cottage industry of scaremongers has flourished in the West--especially in the United States--since 9/11."(p14) Based upon this peace, and wiser leadership in other countries, Zakaria states that numerous other countries are becoming much more prosperous, and although the book focuses on China and India, he also cites Russia, Brazil and South Africa. China is now the "workshop of the world," making most of what Wal-Mart sells. India is specializing in providing the "services" part of the equation. (yes, the dreaded tele-marketers, as well as the software programmers.)
Zakaria provides numerous anecdotes and examples of a global perspective, and how America is often out of step with other countries. For example, standard American historians, such as Stephen Ambrose and Ken Burns demote Russia to a minor role in the Second World War, but it was on the Eastern Front that the true "War of the Century" was fought, with the Russians taking 20 million dead. America is the only country in the world to issue a "report card" on others, yet is not introspective enough to do one on itself. America's "go it alone" approach is underscored on page 206, where Zakaria says that in addition to America, only Liberia and Myanmar are not on the metric system, and the only other country in the world that has not signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child is Somalia. In the tradition of numerous other Indians, on nuclear non-proliferation, he rightly condemns America's "do what I say, not what I do," approach. (p 241). And he underscores the irony of Dick Cheney quoting our adversary's in terms of guidance for our own actions. (p 250).
I found numerous other original points worthwhile in terms of the global perspective: on the "what-might-have-beens" of history, he discusses how the Chinese Admiral, Zheng He had more, and larger ships that explored the oceans prior to 1492, but that the Chinese authorities eventually banned large-scale ocean exploration. He points out that numerous non-American leaders, such as Nehru and Nasser liked the West, and sought to emulate many of its characteristics. Another salient point is the belief in God, which is high in the West, but the same concept is not held in China and India. All these issues are important for the oft-too-insular Americans to comprehend in considering our upcoming position in the world.
But like other reviewers, including "Laughingbird," I found Zakaria too optimistic, and like a newly converted zealot, not willing to criticize some of the central tenets of his "American faith." Far too much emphasis is placed on the quantitative number, "GNP," but not on its quality. Growth in population is often considered positive and desirable, and, perhaps naturally given his personal history, immigration is viewed positively, without consideration for the offsetting costs to both countries involved in the transaction. He also sees economic activity through the "competitive" paradigm, as though putting bread on one's table is analogous to a football game. He acknowledges that Americans are borrowing 80% of the world's savings, and using it for consumption, but he does so as an afterthought. An entire chapter should be devoted to the ramifications if those savings were no longer available to borrow.
In particular, I found his comfortable "MAD" analogy concerning the Chinese-American relationship false. Specifically on p 124 he says: "The Chinese-American economic relationship is one of mutual dependence. China needs the American market to sell its goods; the United States needs China to finance its debt--it's globalization's equivalent of the nuclear age's Mutual Assured Destruction." But surely China will grow tired of the "free trade" that involves them working hard to provide real goods only to receive paper promissory notes in return from a generally ungrateful America. They could suddenly stop buying our T-bills, and divert their resources, energy, and now know-how to improving their domestic market. And then where would America be, with its own industrial capacity and know-how gutted? No military action need be taken on their part, and all those fears from the `50's and `60's of "Red China" would come true.
As to his son, Omar, who was concerned about his father writing a book about the future, all so soon the economic events may be proving Omar right. Zakaria deserves kudos for his numerous vignettes that can improve an American's global perspective, but in terms of the competition for ideas, which is paramount, he needs to do a "retake" on the facile and rosy economic concepts.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
An exaggerated version of the Indian rise After being raised in the South East Asia, and spent 25 yrs of my life time, I somehow believe that Mr Zakaria may have interpreted and expressed the facts about Indian rise way to extreme. India is by no mean even a candidate to be even considered a players in the power arena. Comparing Hindu religion to Christianity is way out of line.Yes Indian IT organization may have excelled in every aspect, but that too at the expense of US organizations. The rise of Indian IT is directly linked with the rise of modernization of the American IT infrastructure. Hence forth a severe decline of the American IT infrastructure and spending cut would potentially collapse the Indian IT infrastructure, hence their economy . I think this book a is a good bed time story unfortunately
The Post-American World Sophisticated and well-written, Zakaria is linking American's events, history, and doctrines to support his projection of where America is heading in globalization and world powers. He brings to the table a wealth of knowledge and experience. I highly recommend this book as a must read to challenge and provoke those who question the future of American. A very thought provoking, intelligent read. ...more info
Very good book. Only someone who think outside the box can write book like this. I strongly recomend that book....more info
A Moment Comes RAJESH C. OZA, ANUPAMA R. OZA, and SIDDHARTHA R. OZA
"Growth takes place whenever a challenge evokes a successful response that, in turn, evokes a further and different challenge. We have not found any intrinsic reason why this process should not repeat itself indefinitely, even though a majority of civilizations have failed, as a matter of historical fact."--Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History
This piece--co-authored by a middle-aged father, his recently-graduated-from-college daughter, and his college-going son--is a collective engagement with Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World. The father is anxious about how effectively Americans are utilizing the advantage of world-class universities; the daughter is seeking to address the inequity of unequal access to higher education; and the son is optimistic about his fellow students' prospects in a greener post-American world.
The Post-American World opens with Toynbee's observation that while decline is not inevitable, new and different challenges require new and different responses. Zakaria, like Parag Khanna (whose Second World is also reviewed on Amazon) looks back to Toynbee while looking to the future. But the similarity between the two authors and their worldviews seemingly ends with Toynbee. Unlike Khanna, who coolly suggests that America is in decline, China is ascendant, and the rest of the world is on the sidelines, Zakaria strikes a more balanced and optimistic note.
Like an engaging and enlightening five-paragraph column for Newsweek International, The Post-American World is highly accessible. After the opening chapter concisely introduces an argument for "the rise of the rest," the next two chapters disabuse the notion that the world is a very dangerous place: "It feels like a very dangerous world.
But it isn't. Your chances of dying as a consequence of organized violence of any kind are getting lower and lower." However, this more peaceful world is no longer the economic or cultural domain of a Western system driven by an American engine. Reflecting this shift, Zakaria focuses the middle two chapters of his book on China as a "challenger" to the United States and India as a potential "ally."
But a post-American world does not mean a world without America. Nor does it necessarily mean an anti-American world. It merely means the end of the current unipolar global order. As such, Zakaria closes his book with an exploration of American power in the multipolar world and with an exhortation for greater clarity of American purpose.
Zakaria's honest and hopeful argument finds agreement with daughter and son: "America is a large and diverse country with a real inequality problem. This will, over time, translate into a competitiveness problem, because if we cannot educate and train a third of the working population to compete in a knowledge economy, it will drag down the country. But we do know what works ... Other educational systems teach you to take tests; the American system teaches you to think."
The opening epigram is echoed in the book's first sentence: "This is a book not about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else."
As powerfully demonstrated in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, China is a big part of Zakaria's "everyone else" (though, curiously, Europe is nearly invisible in the book). A few facts about China give both Sinophiles and Sinophobes pause: "it is the world's largest country, fastest-growing major economy, largest manufacturer, second-largest consumer, largest saver, and (almost certainly) second-largest military spender."
Zakaria neither underestimates America's ability to be an exception to Toynbee's historical rule of preeminent civilizations failing, nor does he relegate India to history's dustbin of third-world status. While acknowledging that in dealing with China, the world (and more specifically America) is presented with new challenges "for which it is largely unprepared," Zakaria doesn't trade in tired lessons from the last century. Instead he recognizes that the world has moved beyond Cold War dynamics that required nations to take sides or be cast aside as pariah, non-aligned states.
Zakaria is brilliant in considering lessons of history while contemplating sophisticated possibilities of the present and future. Indeed, he suggests that India and China have moved closer, not only in terms of trade, but also by a shared stage of development that values peace and stability rather than a foreign policy based on isolation and belligerence. But this India is different from the 20th century India which maintained neutrality between the United States and the Soviet Union, while aligning itself with the losing side of the Cold War. This is an India which "is poised to become a great power at last. And at the center of its new role is a much closer relationship with the United States of America ... Indians understand America. It is a noisy, open society with a chaotic democratic system, like theirs. Its capitalism looks distinctly like America's free-for-all." Because the strength of its society overshadows the strength of its state, India can look to America for parallels to its own growth in hard and soft power.
The father finds much to agree with Zakaria, especially that "the base of American power--a vibrant American society--[is] its greatest strength and its weakness." He believes that countries like India and China are bringing new and different responses that are not always comprehensible to those who grew up believing in a Pax Americana and proclaiming American-English as a de facto global lingua franca. And while the citizens of these countries often do speak English, they are also fluent in one or more of the 6,911 other languages spoken in the world. And the peace they seek is a local one that may or may not depend on American might.
While Indians might look to leverage similarities with American society, some dispassionate scholars and highly anxious citizens on both sides of the Atlantic consider parallels between the United States of the 21st century and the United Kingdom of the 20th century. Many Americans bemoan the apparent downward trajectory of their country. "The analogy is obvious; the United States is Britain, the Iraq War is the Boer War--and, by extension, America's future looks bleak ... The familiar theme of imperial decline is playing itself out one more time. History is happening again."
But Zakaria believes that Britain's challenge was economic and America's is political; and while British economics were irreversible, American politics are not. He borrows a jauntily named economic concept called the "smiley curve" from James Fallows to dissect the argument that America is declining. Simply put, American companies outsource the low-margin manufacturing at the base of the curve, while defending strong positions in design and marketing at the highly profitable top tips of the U-shaped smile. And Zakaria believes that the best socio-political defense of this economic fort is higher education, "America's best industry."
The father hopes that readers of The Post-American World appreciate what Kishore Mahbubani, formerly Singapore's foreign secretary and ambassador to the United Nations, has to say about diplomatic dialogue: "There are two sets of conversations, one with Americans in the room and one without." If those of us making our lives in the United States remain in Mahbubani's cocoon, we will miss out on the world's new moment, a moment presaged by another statesman of Indian origin, Jawaharlal Nehru: "A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."
From India Currents. Having graduated from Northwestern University, Anupama is committed to Teach for America. Entering his second year at Stanford University, Siddhartha is studying Earth Systems and Public Policy. Reading books and writing reviews, Rajesh is focused (with his wife, Mangla) on the other "r": raising children....more info
Undoing of the United States by the United States The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria is a timely and useful book but the author avoids looking at the causes behind the Rise of the Rest at America's expense. The United States wanted to have too many things in too short a time in the misplaced hope that with its robust and colossal economic, military, political, intellectual might, and vast'intelligence' network, it would always remain an indispensable nation, particularly in the post cold war ambience. In the process, a whole two decades from the end of the cold war was wasted in failed policies and in turning a blind eye to the realities of international history and politics that has characterized all precusrsor great powers in history.
The rise of the rest has rather proved to be a zero-sum game for the United States because the traditional US economic policies of grabbing global markets from a geographically and culturally disadvantaged situation unravelled with the change of international order from protectionism to globalization. My book 'Tracing the Eagle's Orbit' throroughly lays bare the US situation in a lucid way.
However, Dr. Zakaria's suggestion to adjust to the needs of a changing world is at odds with American perception that America can't withstand a situation it can't bear. This book has quite a few illuminating suggestions and is indeed objective and that is why I would recommend the readers to read it.
Author of 'Tracing the Eagle's Orbit: Illuminating Insights into Major US Foreign Policies since Independence.' ...more info
Interesting but.... The historical and current events perspective on India and China are very interesting. However, Zakaria seems to be in love with capitalism as the solution for the world. I realize that he did not have a crystal ball when writing the book; however, the current economic situation calls into question the value of capitalism as practiced by the U.S. and imitated by China and India. Yes, this emphasis has helped to raise the economies of these international giants, but as I read the book, I kept feeling that too rosy a picture was being painted about the benefits of pure capitalism and the pursuit of "things." Another reviewer wrote that the book's optimism rang false in this regard, and I agree with this. I would give the book only 3 stars, except that I thought the author included a lot of interesting historical and foreign affairs content that made the book worth reading....more info
A must read for the current times I read with interest this morning a article in the Wall Street Journal where Senior White House military officials believe that engaging in some level of discussion with the Taliban could help stabilize Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. This is a major policy shift and one that is in line with my most recent reading by Fareed Zakaria titled the Post-American World. The book is full of opinion backed up with some facts and figures. His insight and cultural understanding provides and excellent addition to Globalization 50+ years from now.
The push of technology and economics is driving the world to integrate to engage in the opportunity of globalization at the same time globalization is driving immense cultural change and power shifts. The US has enjoyed since the fall of the Soviet Union a position in history that is unparalleled in growth, prosperity and influence. What may be seen as the dividend of wealth for those that understand the ideology of the free market and the value of democracy, will need to evolve into a world of where power and influence is brokered and earned not an inherited right.
Zakaria asserts that what we are seeing is not the fall of the US, but the rise of the rest. He asserts that the same way that Britain gave way to the US and joined the new team, the new world order which is underway requires the US to embrace its evolving role in this order. Power is shifting from Nation/States (only 100 years old) to powerful MNC's, NGO's, PetroCartels, and Drug Cartels.
The case for pessimism is strong in today's media. We are transfixed to violence around the world, transfixed to changes in the economy via Wall Street Week. Media brings violence close. Our need to know has collapsed to minutes and our ability to control world events that affect our lives is seemingly less and less. But let's look at the data and take another perspective. Over the last two decades through globalization two billion people have now come into the global marketplace. The global economy has grown from $23 Trillion to $53 Trillion. Emerging Markets represent half of the total growth. This growth has taken the form not only of exports (low cost labor) but also of internal consumption made possible through globalization.
Collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 80's confirmed to the world one path. This is free markets, free capital flows, supported by open governments and democracy. This leads to the flow of goods, mobile through large logistic chains, mobile capital, and then finally mobile labor. The three main forces of globalization are therefore Politics, Economics, and Technology.
US is the last super power. 5% the world's population has produced 25% of the worlds output more or less for the last 125 years. While emerging markets are ascending, you can look at the GDP data from 1980 to 2005. China has grown from 2% of WW GDP to 5%. This is the only developing geography to grow faster that the WW average or the US average. The growth WW was 6% and China's 10%. So on this pace change will take some time.
The growth in Global Awareness and attitudes is not balanced in the various elements of the US society. Global Awareness is coming from the exposure that US MNC's have to those areas of the globe that are growing. Growing as a result of the 2 billion people now accessing the global market place made possible through globalization. Universities are embracing globalization with globally diverse faculty and students and researchers. While these elements embrace globalization the mainstream remains suspicious of the benefits. Pew Global Attitudes Survey on Free Trade. The US opinion of support is dead last of the 17 countries surveyed.
The pace of economic and technological change is evolving into a more Western World. The example he raises is of Japanese students who no longer understand or take interest in the traditional Japanese society. This is something that is evident to any foreigner visiting Tokyo. As a result of these changes, one quarter of the world now speaks some English. English is the predominant language of the connected world. 80% of all digital information is stored in English. Over time economic and technological change creates wealth. Combine this with individual opportunity and this fundamentally changes society.
Interestingly, where you sit in this connected world often effects how you see the world. While what we see is filtered through the media - electronic information flows have allowed us to see the ways that others see the world. Interestingly too - is the creation of news, movies, and print media all made easier and more available though the electronic world. The shift in the world to be more global in nature is now meeting with a strengthening of local ties. This shift is worldview is more about power, than culture, more about wealth and poverty than about "being on the right side". This power is becoming diffused over time.
Zakaria goes into more depth in defining the growth of China and India as clear examples of the development of the rest. Much of this is a repeat of the readings by Friedman, Stiglitz, Wolf and others. But he carries a unique perspective being an immigrant from India and writing with Newsweek on the International economy...more info
The Post American World Reviewed By Stephen J. Hage SteveH9697@aol.com
In this book Fareed Zakaria paints crystalline images that reveal not only how the world is changing but also why.
For decades, after World War II, the United States enjoyed political, economic, ideological and social hegemony on a global scale. And, for the most part, even though a hegemon, it was viewed as benevolent.
Today, there is much talk and hand wringing about declining American prestige and power in most if not all of the areas mentioned above. Viewed through that particular lens, the situation is dire and spiraling quickly downward. Fareed Zakaria sees the situation differently. What he sees happening is "The Rise of the Rest." He makes his point by asking to consider this:
"Look around. The tallest building in the world is now in Taipei, and it will soon be overtaken by one being built in Dubai. The world's richest man is Mexican, and its largest publicly traded corporation is Chinese. The world's biggest plane is built in Russia and Ukraine, its leading refinery is under construction in India, and its largest factories are all in China. By many measures, London is becoming the leading financial center and the United Arab Emirates is home to the most richly endowed investment fund. Once quintessentially American icons have been appropriated by foreigners."
All this is from pages 2 and 3 of chapter 1. And while, in isolation, the quote appears blatantly alarmist rest assured that is not Zakaria's objective. He writes instead about American power and purpose by highlighting America's path, during the rise of the Western World, from the fifteenth century through the beginning of the twenty first; and he does this from the perspective of someone who emigrated here from India and became an American.
Zakaria's signal strength is his ability to write in a manner that mirrors what he sounds like when he speaks. Since I watch him regularly on his television series Fareed Zakaria GPS (Global Public Square), on CNN, as I read the book I constantly heard his voice in my mind. It was a pleasant experience. His formidable brilliance shines bright on every page and his thesis, instead of being alarmist is uplifting and inspirational. It's an easy read that deals with large and important issues.
This book is a MUST READ for anyone interested in what's happening in the world and in, not only how America fits but what it must do and why, as history proceeds apace.
Vacuous and misguided Views like this book's depend on materialistic assumptions. If leadership and influence do not revolve around how much stuff you make and buy (the world as a big strip mall), it falls apart.
China, Brazil, Russia, India are one-trick ponies. Cheap labor or energy reserves. No one looks to them for leadership; they produce no ideas and inspire nothing but consumption and criminality (Russia). Their cultures are based on systematically defective understandings of reality, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, or Hinduism, that will profoundly limit them.
China will revolve around the same oriental despotism they have practiced for thousands of years. The mindset created by their cultural assumptions prevents them from offering anything meaningful to the world but cheap labor (for a time). China can only think about and take care of China.
The success of the west is based on a specific set of beliefs: that the world can be understood and is worth understanding (leading to science), that humans were made in the spiritual image of God, thus have intrinsic worth (human rights), but voluntarily corupted themselves (requiring representative, decentralized government).
Non-western countries do not have a culture that supports such beliefs. Thus they can lead only to human-centered responses; despotism, cronyism, organized crime with a veneer of jingling cash registers until it fails.
Problems in the west similarly stem from the decline in Christian culture among the ruling elite, now most advanced in Europe. Watch how long cash registers can keep a "post-American" world happy.
I have lots of Chinese junk I bought that seemed important and worthwhile at the time but is just sitting there, representing wasted effort on my part and those who made it.
Turning to the "noble savage" of the third world for insight is a reflection of an inner desolation and confusion due to losing the way from the reality of the path of Christ....more info
Common Sense There are some good points made by Fareed about globalization, about American supremacy and the rise of the rest. I must say though that Fareed can put you to sleep with his endless monotone narrative. At times I really had to force myself to stay awake to listen to what he was saying....more info
The Post-American World In this book, Fareed Zakaria envisions an America not in decline but accommodating itself to the rise in economic and political power of the rest of the world, particularly China and India. He believes that America is not in danger of losing its importance in the world so long as it seeks to forge multilateral relationships with other rising powers. He believes America must choose its issues and then abide by established international treaties and agreements, must seek to think creatively and choose options other than military ones in addressing international problems, must try to operate asymmetrically, that is, recognize that it is one superpower among many emerging powers and must forge alliances as problems arise and not conduct itself hegemonically, that is, as the only force to be reckoned with economically and militarily. Zakaria spends time reassuring American readers that the American economy is not in fact in a period of decline but in a period of historically expected contraction, not unlike Britain's in the 20th century. He emphasizes America's ingenuity, its superior educational system, its attractiveness to immigrants seeking better lives for themselves and their families. He regards as its biggest strength America's openness to other people, cultures, and innovations, even while its government remains mired in unilateral political thinking. Throughout, the explanations and arguments are clear and easy to follow, even if many of the ideas give you pause. For instance, in describing China's or India's rise, he gives too little attention to the huge losses of life that these countries were/are willing to absorb in their quests for economic growth. He gives too little attention to the hardships people in this country face with job and housing losses and credit crises. He praises democracy but spends a lot of time describing how it doesn't work well in the new world (although he doesn't endorse totalitarian forms of government).
He makes the interesting point that, unlike America and Britain, China and India have no cultural tradition of proselytizing - their religions do not place this idea at their center and therefore they do not have the imperialistic need to convert the rest of the world to their way of life. Although I am not sure how true this is, since both countries continue to wage ongoing wars with former and current territories and religious and ethnic minorities, it is a useful insight allowing for a more open approach when engaged in diplomacy or negotiation with either power.
I was left thinking that something is missing though. The world seems to me to be in constant crisis and the reassuring tone of this book strikes me as false. I would be interested in a response to it, along the lines of The Shock Doctrine. Nevertheless I am glad for a book that is something other than a shrill denunciation of the new world order.
The Post American World The Post-American World
I got a great price and excellent service on the delivery of this book. Zakaria's book is very provocative, and challenges most of the assumptions we have inherited about America from our parents. He gives us a sypathetic look at America from a world that is moving beyond the cold war, in many places faster than we are. ...more info
The Post American World It is uncanny how accurate Zakaria is in his assesment of the current relative financial positions of the world's major economic powers in light of the world financial meltdown. THE POST-AMERICAN WORLD is an eye-opening informational treasure. Most Americans see the interaction of America with the rest of the world through special lenses. This book reveals the lenses used by the other contries seeing America's actions as they are affected. The idea of sitting down at the table with another country as opposed to putting them in their place is an idea we all need in the worst way to learn. This book makes that position tenable. ...more info
A non-spastic view of America's future Zakaria presents an excellent, balanced view of the future of American unipolarity and the impact of the Big Two - China and India, on America's future. Instead of doomsday predictions and worry about how China and India will take over, he presents a pragmatic view of how these and other countries are rising - not that America is necessarily failing.
Zakaria also outlines a realistic roadmap for how America can avoid continuing as an international pariah and retain its influence, by realizing it is the most powerful part of a multipolar system, but the other parts add up to far more than its power. His repeated statements of how we live in fear rather than pride strike a powerful chord and should make all Americans focus on what we've done right rather than what we are told to fear....more info
American Purpose This is an excellent book with a few very minor flaws, but if a reader had only time for a quick read he/she would do well to turn to the chapter called "American Purpose" and read Zakaria's six simple guidelines for what operating in the "new world" would look like. He suggests that America:
2. Build broad rules, not narrow interests.
3. Be Bismarck not Britain.
4. Order a la carte.
5. Think asymmetrically; and realize
6. Legitimacy is power.
His explanation of each of these guidelines is thought provoking.
The greatest weakness of the book comes in the final pages as he uses his own experience of coming to America in 1982 to convince the reader that 'openness' may be America's greatest strength. I was not convinced.
Our US Presidential candidates should take time to read this important analysis of America's flawed foreign policy and economic weaknesses. They and their Vice Presidential candidates would do well to consider how they intend to face the challenges and lead America back to a position of strength as a reliable and legitimate world power.
It is a pity that this book was not available as a text book for Ms. Condoleezza Rice, whose foreign policy and State Department seem to have been diametrically opposed to every reasonable position advocated by Zakaria in his excellent book.
Comfort for the Worried, and Worries for the Comfortable This book is helpful to Americans too worried about an impending collapse of all we hold dear, and to those too certain that we can continue bestriding the world like a Colossus.
The key point of the work: there is unlikely to be a Fall of the West and there is certain to be a Rise of the Rest. Our nation need neither rot nor shrivel, but our relative advantage over others disappears as they catch up in science, the economy, and so on. While we can screw ourselves up by wasting our time and treasure trying to hold on to other people's stuff, we can avoid this temptation, and remain not only absolutely well off, but secure by means of learning to Play Well With Others.
Some few may mourn laying down what Kipling called "The White Man's Burden" but what of it? Our most important values do not depend on being masters; to the contrary, sharing our world with our co-inhabitants is a necessary part of liberty, democracy and every other value of our Founders.
Fakaria may or may not be correct in detail. His chapters on the history of the West, and on the likely near futures of India and China are fact-intensive; some will prefer a different selection of facts. He's surely a tad too enthusiastic about the export of American jobs to my taste. Still, he's got a rational point of view and most Americans will find enough surprising material on all three subjects to alert one to the need to learn more.
Moreover, the overall concepts are clear: because the advantages earned or taken by the West through science and military technology will come to an end, we need to ensure that this does not mean "The End" for what we hold dear. In the last two chapters, Fakaria argues strongly that the wisest course is simply to promote our values broadly and sincerely; America's values are popular everywhere except with the thugs who rule countries where the rulers are hated. Citing fact after fact, he shows that America is trusted where we play the honest broker, cajoling perhaps but not forcing; this trust itself is a prize beyond all others.
This point bears repeating. The fear, paranoia and violence promoted by some who claim to be American patriots is counter-productive. The Rest is catching up to the West and America can not thrive by cowering in fear and lashing out in panic. The courage to be open will let us lead in a world of equals.
In perhaps the funniest line in the book, Zakaria cites a 2007 interview in which Dick Cheney grumbled that during the Cold War, the Soviet Union was feared but not the USA.
"Yes," writes Zakaria, "the Soviet Union was feared by its allies, whereas the United States was loved, or at least liked.
The big picture For those who also read Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, this book by Fareed Zakaria is a nice extension of the general arguments made there. The difference is that Friedman has a penance for the small and anecdotic, and basically describes the process of economic globalization. Zarakia, on the other hand, takes the economic argumentation as a given as he writes a book on foreign policy, power and politics. Thereby he firmly concentrates on the Biggest Picture Possible; we are talking about global power, after all.
The book is very readable and Zakaria's optimistic tone on the state of - well, mankind - is refreshing and timely. In trying to paint the big picture, Zarakia consciously chooses to ignore or actively dismiss many hypes of our current age. This is notable in his anti-alarmist tone on issues such as the American educational decline (on which he corrects the likes of Friedman, who is definitely one of the alarmists on this issue), or when it comes to perceived threats of terrorism and Islamism.
His focus on the big picture is both the strong point and the Achilles heel of this book. For example, when dismissing the threat of Islam extremism, he simply assumes it will pass (or at least not have a great influence), as totalitarian Islamic ideology is inherently unattractive to most people. This is undoubtedly true on a global scale, but of course the reality in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi-Arabia, or even in `free' countries like Morocco, Egypt or Iraq, can be a different one. But as these powers are not the ones who are really shaping the world (the US, China and India are), Zakaria simply dismisses the topic as completely irrelevant in the Greater Scheme of Things.
Now that may be a bit too easy for some, and it borders on a politically correct wishful thinking. The alarmist view on Islamism might have been overexposed in recent years and some threats well exaggerated, but the careless dismissal of any medium to long-term effects it will have on world politics may be equally unrealistic.
The second place where the argument of Mr. Zakaria seems to be a product as much of wishful thinking as of thorough analysis, is when he deals with his native country of India. He talks of a 'special bond' of the US and India, and explains it by the similarities of the two countries as large, noisy and diverse democracies. But of course there are many countries with a similar profile who maintain excellent relations with the US as well. I can understand that as an Indian living in the US, you might come to confuse the close ties between your two countries as a "special bond". As a Dutch man living in India (and before, in the US and Brazil), I find it easy to experience the "special bond" between The Netherlands and those other countries. A little more factual analysis in arguing what makes India such a "special ally" to the US, would have been in place. It would have made this book not only quite readable, but also a bit more credible than it already is....more info
The Post-American World Zakaria is one the top political scientists writing about the world today. This book provides a history of how China, Europe, America and other countries emerged, where they are now, and a likely scenario of where they might be in the next 20-30 years. A must read for those interested in world economics and power. ...more info
Great Insight into the future This book is detailed and provides real world examples for the arguments/predictions it presents. I is a book for these times. I really enjoyed this book and will purchase from this author again....more info
Interesting and well written The Post-American World makes a compelling case explaining how and why the world order is changing. The strongest arguments are the ones that rest on demographic analysis which make the case for the rise of India and China appear, understandably, inevitable....more info
A must read for anyone interested in US foreign policy and current affairs! Unlike what the title may imply, this is not a book about America's collapse. Instead Fareed Zakaria presents a very balanced view of how the world is becoming multipolar with the rise of China, India, and other emerging nations and contrasts it with the post-coldwar world where America was the only superpower. Mr.Zakaria skillfully blends history and current affairs to make projections about future. The author also presents several ideas on what America should be focusing on from economical, political, and ideological perspectives so it can prosper in this multipolar world. A must read for anyone interested in US foreign policy and current affairs!...more info
I liked it I thought it was insightful, with a lot of historical context. If you're interested in the politics of the world, and why countries act the way that they do, you won't be disappointed. I think the overall theme is that the other countries are going to catch up, relatively, to the US and the US has a lot of responsibility to lead this world. We'll see how it goes......more info
Lies and Untruths I decided to read "The Post American World," by Fareed Zakaria, after seeing a picture of then US Presidential candidate Barak Obama carrying the book in his hand as he deboarded a plane while on the campaign trail. I was curious to see what this presidential candidate was reading, and why he would read a book that would be predicting the decline of America, the country he wanted to head up.
After completing the book, I concluded that the book is full of outright lies and untruths, and that is putting it mildly. Here are a few examples.
For one, the author claims that Al Quada is merely a "communication company," as they just put out videos and no longer conduct terrorist attacks. He downplays 9/11, stating that the few terrorist attacks actually conducted by Al Quada only inflicted a "low number of casualties," (page 10). I guess the 3000 victims of 9/11 is low number. At least the author believes it is a low number.
The author also stated that the US economy recovered quickly, within two months after 9/11. Perhaps the author is unaware of the massive bailouts and the two stimulus packages by both Bush and Obama.
The author also states that there have been no terrorist attacks since 9/11. Again, he is either unaware or has forgotten about Madrid in 2004, London in July 2005, the Bali nightclub in 2002, the Mariott hotel in Jakarta in 2003, Spain 2004 and the attack in Brittain in 2005.
Page 31 contains missinformation regarding the polar caps melting. He also incorrectly refers to Singapore as a country on page 102. I believe Singapore is a city, not a country. I could go on and on regarding the lies and untruths, but I believe you get the point.
The most outlandish assumption made by the book is that the US will no longer be a dominant force in world politics, being replaced by India and China. India? With it's delapidated airports, crumbling roads, vast slums and impoverished villages. The India with containing several Nigerias within it? India, with 300 million people living on less than one dollar per day? India, home to 40% of the world's poor and the country with the second highest population of HIV-positive people? That India is going to the the country to take over the world? Huh? India, whose population goes down to a river to bathe? Yea, right, they are going to take over the world. Give me a break!
All you need to know about the author's agenda is that he is from India. That is why he proposes that India will take over the world.
The book is a joke; an agenda pushed forward hoping people like Obama will buy into it. Don't!
Save your money. If want want a good laugh, read the book, but check it out from the library. ...more info
Insightful. Zakaria is very persuasive. A great overview of where we are headed. I think every American should read this book. It is not about how America is "doomed," rather it is about the inter-relations betweens global powers in the near future.
One particular aspect of the book spoke powerfully to me. Zakaria writes that one of America's greatest weaknesses is the prevailing cultural attitude that "America is the best" and therefore has nothing to learn from other cultures/societies. Many Americans act as if the rest of the world needs to learn from America, that there's nothing that Americans could learn from other countries, since they're not as "advanced" as we are. (false!) This ignorance is our greatest fault. We need to open our minds to the rest of the world. If we do not become more globally-aware, then we will be rather unpleasantly surprised in the near future with the rise of other global powers.
Zakaria is very convincing. I enjoyed this book. It's a good read. ...more info
Refreshingly Hopeful The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria
As an American who has traveled overseas for nearly 18 years, I have observed the world's changing view of my country. In the 90's, Until recently, I was greeted with joy at being an American, now I am tempted to hide my nationality or change my accent. Americans are now looked down upon. Zakaria's book was a refreshing look at this situation which I have personally experienced. I found the book refreshingly more positive on the future than the current glut of doom and gloom, end of America books. At the same time, there is a real and candid look at the issues America faces in order to remain relevant. The alternative is go the way of the British Empire. Zakaria offers the unique perspective of being an immigrant himself and now a well informed political newsman. He does well to not try to place the blame on any one administration, but follow the slow change that has occurred throughout the years. He compares the US to the rising giants of India and China, showing America is not as far behind as the media may say. In this, Fareed offers hope that we are not so far gone as to not catch up, yet the realism that unless things change, we will lose our voice in the global conversation. This is the most enjoyable book I have read in awhile. ...more info
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
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
excellent 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
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.
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