Bone’n Up…

Now I read a broad spectrum of stuff, and don’t want to be judged by it.  Let’s hope the president is reading this particular book to find out what the other side is thinking, or the perspective of an American Muslim, not to help him with his own planning….  Remember, POST-American means AFTER America.  The book he’s reading is The Post American World, written by a Muslim.  FYI, I bit my tongue and didn’t say “another Muslim.”













Synopsis (thanks to Wikipedia)

The content is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter introduces the thesis of the book: that a ‘post-American’ world order is emerging in which the United States of America will continue to be the most powerful nation but its relative power will be diminished. He believes that there have been three power shifts in the last 500 years: a shift of power to the West during the Renaissance, a shift of power to the US making it a superpower, and now a shift to several surging countries, especially China and India, and to non-governmental organizations. Zakaria believes that international organizations are not adapting well to emerging challenges and that there is too much focus on problems arising from potential market failures or general crises (e.g. terrorism) at the expense of focus on problems stemming from success (e.g. development causing environmental degradation, or rising demand creating high commodity prices).

The second and third chapters examine factors that led to the current power balance. Power shifted to the West because it fostered trade with foreign peoples and developed superior labour productivity per capita. Power shifted to the US because of its strong democracy and capitalist market. Zakaria argues that the success of the US in promoting free market capitalism and globalization has led to power being dispersed to several other countries. Economies have been surging for decades, in part due to large new players entering the global market place. He compares this era’s economic growth to the economic surges of the 1890s and the 1950s which also saw new players become global powers. At the same time, Zakaria sees attitudes in the US becoming insular and distrustful of foreigners.

The fourth chapter focuses on ChinaIts strategy of small, gradual reforms have allowed it to quietly modernize. It has become the second most powerful nation, but still unlikely to match the US for decades to come. China’s strengths include a philosophy that reflects Confucian ideals of practicality, ethics and rationalism. Its non-combative foreign policy is more appealing, most notably in Africa, over interventionist Western-style policy that demands reforms in other countries. China’s weakness, though, is a fear of social unrest.

The fifth chapter focuses on India. Contrasted to China, India has a bottom-up democratic political system constantly subject to social unrest but which only results in few politicians losing an election. Its political system is characterized by strong regionalism — often placing high priority on regional interests rather than national. Zakaria lists India’s advantages: independent courts that enforce contracts, private property rights, rule of law, an established private sector, and many business savvy English-speaking people.

The sixth chapter compares the American rise to superpower status and its use of power. He draws parallels between the British Empire in the 1890s and starting the Boer War with the US in the 2000s and starting the Iraq War. The difference between them is that the British had unsurpassed political power but lost its economic dominance, whereas the US, in the 2000s, had huge economic power but faltering political influence. Zakaria defends the US from indicators that suggest American decline but warns that internal partisan politics, domestic ideological attack groups, special interest power, and a sensationalistic media are weakening the federal government’s ability to adapt to new global realities.

The final chapter outlines how the US has used its power and provides six guidelines for the US to follow in the ‘post-American world’ envisioned by Zakaria.


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