In his new book, “The Post-American World,” Mr. Zakaria writes that America remains a politico-military superpower, but “in every other dimension ”” industrial, financial, educational, social, cultural ”” the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from American dominance.” With the rise of China, India and other emerging markets, with economic growth sweeping much of the planet, and the world becoming increasingly decentralized and interconnected, he contends, “we are moving into a post-American world, one defined and directed from many places and by many people.”
For that matter, Mr. Zakaria argues that we are now in the midst of the third great tectonic power shift to occur over the last 500 years: the first was the rise of the West, which produced “modernity as we know it: science and technology, commerce and capitalism, the agricultural and industrial revolutions”; the second was the rise of the United States in the 20th century; and the third is what he calls “the rise of the rest,” with China and India “becoming bigger players in their neighborhoods and beyond,” Russia becoming more aggressive, and Europe acting with “immense strength and purpose” on matters of trade and economics.
Many of this volume’s more acute arguments echo those that have been made by other analysts and writers, most notably, the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman on globalization, and Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, on America’s growing isolation in an increasingly adversarial world. But Mr. Zakaria uses his wide-ranging fluency in economics, foreign policy and cultural politics to give the lay reader a lucid picture of a globalized world (and America’s role in it) that is changing at light speed, even as he provides a host of historical analogies to examine the possible fallout of these changes.
The irony of the “rise of the rest,” Mr. Zakaria notes, is that it is largely a result of American ideas and actions: “For 60 years, American politicians and diplomats have traveled around the world pushing countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. We have urged peoples in distant lands to take up the challenge of competing in the global economy, freeing up their currencies, and developing new industries. We counseled them to be unafraid of change and learn the secrets of our success. And it worked: the natives have gotten good at capitalism.”
Read it all.