on August 8, 2015
In this book Zakaria shows an immense grasp of the world situation; it isn't that America's power and influence are diminishing, only that the rest of the world's is getting bigger.
He is a frequent commentator on the CNN news TV channel, which I stopped watching in favor of the Fox News Channel when Zakaria stated his political support for president Barack Obama, not understanding why he believes a black president for America is more important than a Moslem Prime Minister for India.
His news about how the non-western world has economically and politically prospered during the economic downturn of 2008 is most interesting.
But I think the book explains even more. Obama's father was a Kenyan socialist, hostile to both Britain, the former colonial power in his homeland, and to America.
Zakaria was a born Indian, and has similar feeling about Britain for the same reason.
This may well explain their political similarities, though this present book is indeed very cerebral and informative. He saves his main condemnation for America's Republicans. Like Jorge Ramos, he doesn't use words like "racism" and "greed", but he blames the "stupid" Republicans for the paranoia and refusal to compromise. But as someone once said, "It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future and things that haven't happened yet".
In my opinion, though, Jared Diamond's book, "Guns, Germs and Steel", gives an even better explantion as to why Europe rose above the "rest", economically, politically, and militarily.
on April 4, 2011
This is another book that reviews recent economic and social trends and their implications for future. Concentrates on the effects of globalization and the rise of states empowered by advance in communications and transportation: China, Brazil, Turkey, and India. The thesis is that the current supremacy will wane as it waned for Great Britain. However, the decline will not be a fall due to the loss of colonies but a dilution due the increase economic power of other states. This rests on the common belief that globalization increase the wealth of the world, or the pie gets bigger, rather than economic power is a zero-sum game. The US will continue to be important but will not have the dominance it has now. It will be a big fish but not the only big fish. The author's premise is that the China and India will continue to grow and be able to get their 1 billion people into the economy game and will be the leaders due to sheer size of their populations.
on September 20, 2008
So the world is changing and all nations and non-governmental organizations will have new roles to play in the future. Don't we already know that? Isn't that why we take gambles every week in picking up books like this one that, outwardly, appear to offer some enrichment in our understanding? Zakaria, the master of assertions, outdoes himself in this work. He commonly asserts as facts statements of HIS opinion that are questionable. No need to itemize them. Open the book to any page and there'll be 1 or 2. When Zakaria has taken the time to "document" some of his opinions, he uses sources that, when researched, certainly seem unqualified to this reader. Example given: Steven Pinker, a psychologist whose work has been in the area of speech and language, is cited as a reference for the history of world peace. (??) And the list goes on.
Zakaria, never one to sell himself short, tells us in the book's "Acknowledgments" that it is the outgrowth of "...much travel, reading and reflection...". What a worldly guy! I personally think Mr. Zakaria would have better served his prospective readers by taking a few trips to his local library before trying to approach his subject. I, for one, don't frankly care what his personal experiences have been. Given his "Newsweek" mindset, there is no way his experiences are likely to mean the same thing to me as they did to him.
When I want to learn about a topic as important as the world's future, I'd like to get a broad spectrum of perspectives and then let the author, if he/she chooses to do so, take me down whatever narrow path he wants me to follow.
I understand that my comments are mine only. Potential readers of this book likewise need to understand that, given the lack of scholarly work applied to this book, it is also the opinion of only one person also--the author's.
on July 20, 2010
I did not purchase this book; rather it was given to me by a financial advisor who wanted my business.
I recommend that you do not purchase this book. It gives a faulty description of recent international developments.
I agree with Zakaia's underlying premise that US economic and military dominance is slowly declining. However, his analysis of China and her challenges are wanting. He is a journalist who is untrained in international finance, international relations, and statistics. His description of China is very similar to incorrect views about Japan in the 1980's when Japan was viewed as the "bogey man." Therefore, his predictions of increasing Chinese dominance could be equally erroneous.
His prescriptions are both naive and politically inviable. For example, he calls for "a more organic international system in which problems are addressed through a variety of structures and solutions can create its own kind of layered stability." This betrays an ignorance of the key constraints of international governance.
His analysis displays economic illiteracy. His justification for his over reliance on the use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to make comparisons across countries show an ignorance on what GDP measures and how it is derived. Because of this, he ends up making incorrect conclusions.
An aside: I chose not use this financial advisor's services.
on December 31, 2013
I attempted to read this book for extra credit in an international business class. Unfortunately, Zakaria's conclusions are heavily colored by his personal and political views. He simply could not offer objective reasoning long enough to hold my interest. I don't mind if you disagree with me but I will not listen while you insist that your own preconceived notions should also be my preconceived notions.
on June 9, 2009
This book is a good read, especially informative on India and China. However the author comes across as living in a business bubble, disconnected from the fundamental realities of the 21st century. These realities are resource depletion and environmental degradation, e.g., peak oil and global warming. His capitalist triumphalism is the mindset that is driving human civilization toward "ecological overshoot and collapse". He needs to read Jared Diamond on "Collapse - How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed", not the business press.
Case in point. The two things that Zakaria sees as solving the world's problems are economic growth and population growth. Yet these are precisely the things that are depleting our resources and degrading our environment. Denial won't stop nature. Either we achieve peacefully a radical reduction in population and use of material resources, or the four horsemen of the Apocalypse will be hard on our heals, and soon. The global run-up of oil and food prices in early 2008, and the subsequent financial crisis, are but a taste of what is to come.
Because of Zakaria's blinders, he's puzzled that a majority of Americans are not as enthusiastic about free trade and globalization as he is. But this is not at all surprising when you consider that US national wealth has more than doubled since 1980, yet the median wage has actually declined slightly.
This is not only proof that economic growth is not a universal good, even in purely economic terms, but it also explains why the expropriation of all that new wealth by the super wealthy is viewed by many working people as a kind of class warfare of the rich against the poor and much of the middle class. Cheaper electronic goods have not made up for the drastic reduction in the ability of the majority to pay for many basic needs, such as education and health care.
We are at the cusp of a paradigm shift, one that requires that economics rediscover its forgotten roots in the natural world. Wake up Mr. Zakaria. Even the miracle economies of India and China are destined to "hit the wall".
Zakaria quickly grabs readers' attention by pointing out that the tallest building, largest publicly traded corporation, biggest planes under construction, leading refinery, largest factories, most richly endowed investment fund, largest casino, largest Ferris wheel, movie industry, and shopping mall are no longer American.
He also provides useful perspective with which to view Islamic terrorists - Islam is fractured into numerous groups with a mostly local focus, and nowhere near the scale of impact reached by Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. Meanwhile, killing civilians has sharply reduced support for Al Qaeda. Further, Muslims constitute only 3% of Europe's population and will probably plateau at 5-8%. Finally, statistics on terrorism attacks include those killed in Iraq; excluding those, terrorism activity is markedly down, as well as Islamic support for such.
What has brought the "rise of the rest?" Zakaria identifies the fall of the U.S.S.R. and its centralized economy, control of hyperinflation (largely thanks to cheap alternatives in India and China), and new technology (cell phones, large ships, the Internet). Goldman, Sachs predicts that China, India, Brazil, Russia, and Mexico will outproduce the Western G-7 by 2040.
Zakaria then goes on with an overview of China and India, and then on to the U.S., where he grossly oversimplifies the impact of globalization. He finds comfort for the U.S. by pointing out that most profits come from development, finance, and marketing - not manufacturing. Unfortunately, the Chinese and others are well aware of this and can be expected to make significant inroads in these areas. Nanotech is envisioned as a future major source of strength for our economy - yet, he fails to also envision China, etc., moving into these areas, or wonder how many people a U.S. nanotechnology field could absorb (not that many).
Another contribution is Zakaria's pointing out that statistics comparing the number of Asian and American engineering graduates are grossly misleading. A large proportion of the Asian graduates are from technical schools (eg. mechanics), and the education of the rest does not hold up to those from good American schools. Again, however, Zakaria is too optimistic about how long it will take Asia to correct this. As for our disappointing comparative high-school test scores, Zakaria alleges these are due to poor minority results; other writers, however, challenge this conclusion with data.
Finally, Zakaria identifies America's failure to fund health care through government sources as another significant problem, and our dysfunctional political system as another major concern.
My major concern is that Zakaria does not address the most important long-term implication of globalization for the U.S. - a severe decline in our standard of living.
on September 21, 2008
The most telling passage in this highly readable book is that over the last 60 years America has succeeded only too well in its historic and laudable mission of globalizing the world. But if we don't act with a sense of urgency now, the author is afraid that future historians may be forced into writing that, in the process of globalizing the world America forgot to globalize itself.
As others have pointed out, the world is flat, and has gone from being a stable pedestal breakfast table to an unbalanced banquet table with atleast four legs. In this new world, America is faced with sharing the stage with the other partners at the table and must continue to provide leadership as we head into the 21st century. Perhaps Audrey Hepburn said it best when she quipped that the best way to remain thin is to share your food with those who need it more. It applies as much to the other, major emerging powers as it does to America with their respective core competencies.
But the time to act is now and the book has many constructive suggestions which the new framework can draw upon to help the country compete more effectively in this new global economy.
A good optimistic read for anyone who was beginning to doubt that the future would not be what it used to be.
on May 22, 2008
The strongest objection I have about Zakaria's observations is this. The rest of the world emulating USA and its capitalist society doesn't necessarily mean it is all good. The rush to create wealth at the cost of millions of people, environment, social and human values is not a good scenario for the world. The scenario is that USA is exported blue collar jobs (manufacturing), now it is exporting white collar (service sector) jobs. Neither the government, nor the society leaders are thinking in terms of how these millions of people are going survive losing their livelihood? Sure, bio-technology, hi-tech, space industries will continue to be the leading industries of this country. Do we realize how much actual employment these industries are going to generate for a huge country like USA? We are automating as much as we can. We are sending away jobs. Sadly, the corporations are only interested in numbers and the govt. is interested in GDP. How about the millions of people? This is what the rest of the world is trying to emulate. Create wealth for a small segment of the population; increase GDP, defense budget, # of corporations, and highways. Not the real people. Because, for the govt. and corporations, when they look at macro level, individuals are like dots. They do not matter.
on May 6, 2014
I did not have the chance to read the first edition of Fareed Zakaria’s “Post American World,” but I feel privileged to have read the revised second edition.
The irony he emphasizes so uncompromisingly—indeed, he has made it the theme of book—is that the problems facing the United States today are the result of nations around the globe responding to America exhorting them to join the global economic community…to follow our example and open up their markets, consider the benefits of free trade and expand their industrial base. But as they have at last taken up our challenge, the U.S. has moved away from these principles that once guided our country through its remarkably swift rise to a position of world leadership in almost every meaningful category.
Sadly, that leadership has collapsed in all but the military arena. Our politics are fragmented, bringing legislative action in Washington to a disastrous halt. We have soured on free trade and managed to botch our immigration system. Our leadership in manufacturing and in hi-tech development has been compromised by the rise of competitors around the globe. We have replaced leadership with arrogance, and become quite insular. One of the outstanding quotations in the book states, “Just as the world is opening up, America is closing down.”
Zakaria ends the book with a number of prescriptions to bring back the U.S. to its former status as a superpower. But he cautions that the role at this time will be very different from that of the traditional superpower. While it still retains the prominence to be able to “set agendas, define issues and mobilize coalitions,” the U.S. can no longer follow a top-down approach. It must instead rely on compromise, reasoning and cooperation.
This is a very worthy book for every caring American to absorb. With its emphasis on our foreign relationships, it is an excellent complement to the discussions of America’s domestic plight by distinguished writers like Hedrick Smith, George Packard, Michael Grunwald and Kevin Phillips that I have been privileged to read and review on Amazon.