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The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East Hardcover – January 23, 2008
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"[Mahbubani] makes powerful arguments that will be at the center of global politics and economics well into this century." -- Newsweek International, February 23, 2008
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All that having been said, the world tends to want to move to greater openness in government, more citizen input into their respective lives, and greater economic achievements--all areas that have been cultivated in the USA and European Union. To me this is the greatest challenge in the conclusions in "The New Asian Hemisphere." I concur that we need to respect others more fully and try to understand the benefits in knowledge and culture that the rest of the world brings. While we are in a period where particularly the USA has many nay-sayers in the world, much of the world wants to be like us, particularly in having a voice in their governments, personal freedoms, and improved economic prosperity.
It's a complicated world, making the writing and reading of "The New Asian Hemisphere" a challenge. While some conclusions in the book are overly simplistic, in my opinion, I acknowledge that drawing any meaningful conclusions in a written document are a challenge.
"We live in the time of greatest change ever seen in history. This clock of history will not stop just because the American political system is paralyzed. Indeed, it may move even faster."
It is no longer new that China and India has been rising regardless of the US and EU's economic conditions as evidenced by their steady growth during global financial crisis. According to IMF's World Economic Outlook in April 2009, China and India would grow by 6.5% and 4.5%, respectively in 2009 when the US and the Euro Area suffers from the negative growth. It is remarkable since it proved its strength against so-called coupling view of their dependence on the US and Western Europe.
Considering their proportion of 16.2% in 2008 over World economy, which is larger than combined portion of four Euro area countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain), I think it is obvious that they should have more voice in international organizations like UNSC, IMF & IBRD, etc while shrinking Europe in terms of economic size should recede as recent G20 summit suggested. Moreover, I agree with the author's view of western incomepentence in managing international order, specifically on foreign aid. Hypocracy dominates here. They announced many committments on global issues, which have not fulfilled and even the multilateral institutions like World Bank did not look really caring about the poor. Why? The governance matters. I expect that once the new voice comes in the governance of the int'l organizations, the thinking and behaviour inside those organizations will start to change: from rhetoric to results.
Mahbubani’s use of an old Arab proverb in which anyone who talks about what will happen in the future is a liar even if he thinks he is telling the truth, seems appropriate for this review: while one can analyze and make very educated guesses about what the future holds, no one really knows what will happen. One of Mahbubani’s arguments is that the West will not admit to its own cultural dominance, but neither will it allow other countries to share in its power, and this does a lot to remove the legitimacy of the West as a leader, and will eventually cause a cultural backlash. The immense Western influence on the world, he declares will be reversed soon, and the East will resume its rightful place in the world. The main reason given is the Eastern culture of inclusiveness, adding that the West would do well to learn from the East in this respect.
Mahbubani’s assertion that the West needs to cease to focus on its role as preservers of Western culture, and to focus on the new global culture seems both unrealistic, and as though, if followed, it would cause the end of the delightful distinctions between all cultures, instead of diversifying the globe. His suggestion that the West put a large amount of effort into re-educating its people seems unrealistic. On the whole, Mahbubani appears to have a very set idea of exactly what a ‘good country’ looks in this new global age, and he is both trying to make the West fit inside a box of his own making, and make the West admit that they will never be good enough because he sees the culture of the West as naturally inferior to that of Asia. To say that one culture is naturally inferior to another because it is reluctant to lose itself in a fit of extreme open-mindedness does not really make sense. Additionally, Mahbubani asserts that the world is deeply ensconced in Western culture and writes about the need to gradually remove each of the layers of Western influence. While it is true that the world is currently enveloped in Western influence and that not all of that influence is good, it does not necessarily follow that all of the Western influences must be removed: that idea is just as disrespectful to the West as any of the instances when the West ignored the many excellent things about the culture of the East.
On the whole, I wish that I did not have to buy this book as I did not like it much at all.
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Author: Kishore Mahbubani
As this book is written in English, I feel free to...Read more
Thank You very much. From Bo-Woong CHANG.