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The Post-American World: Release 2.0 Hardcover – May 31, 2011
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In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together authors Fareed Zakaria and Ian Bremmer and asked them to interview each other.
Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, the world's leading global political risk research and consulting firm. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and other publications, and his books include Every Nation for Itself, The End of the Free Market, and The J Curve. Read on to see Ian Bremmer's questions for Fareed Zakaria, or turn the tables to see what Zakaria asked Bremmer.
Ian Bremmer: You made clear from the opening sentence of The Post-American World that you do not believe that America faces some kind of inevitable, irreversible decline. But how can U.S. policymakers ensure that the rise of the rest actually strengthens the United States?
Fareed Zakaria: If more countries thrive in the existing global system, it means a larger world economy--more consumers and producers, investors and inventors. That’s great for America. As Europe boomed after World War II, America boomed with it. The rise of Japan and Korea and Taiwan has not meant the decline of America. But the key has been that we have to be able to adjust and adapt. The US economy was enormously productive in the 1950s and 1960s--leading the world in almost every way, from technology to infrastructure to mass education. Our problem is that we no longer lead the world on many of these dimensions-- think of infrastructure or K-12 education--and the rest of the world has been hard at work catching up. So, the fault lies not in our competitors but in ourselves. The good news is, if we can rectify these mistakes, we should still do well in the emerging world.
Bremmer: Given everything that has happened since 2008--the financial market meltdown, the Eurozone crisis, the Arab Spring--have you become more confident or less that the United States can successfully transition from its previous role as global hegemon to a new role as the most powerful among other powerful countries?
Zakaria: There are two distinct (though related) challenges for Washington in a Post-American World. The first is economic, which I outline above. The second is political. Here the structural challenge might seem daunting. Political power is not like economic power. In economics, others can grow and that can be good for you--win, win. In politics, power is relative. As China and India and Brazil and Turkey all prosper and gain strength and confidence, whose dominant influence are they cutting into? The U.S. But even here, the picture is actually quite hopeful for America. The truth is, only America has power along all dimensions – economic, military, political, cultural. And that gives it great strength, particularly as an agenda-setter. Also, the rise of these other countries creates uncertainty and anxiety in the international system. If the United States plays its cards well, it can be the crucial stabilizing force in the system. You can see that dynamic at work in Asia where China’s rise has unsettled many Asian countries and they look to America to play a stabilizing role. It’s a new diplomatic challenge for America, to be more of a catalyst and broker than hegemon and arbiter. It emphasizes brains more than brawn. Let’s hope we’re up to it.
Bremmer: How can policymakers overcome the polarization of American politics to get this right?
Zakaria: That’s the trillion-dollar question. America’s economy and society remain dynamic. It’s political system is broken. First, recognize the problem. Stop mouthing slogans about how we have the world’s greatest democracy. Our system is now highly dysfunctional and corrupt. We need to fix it.
Bremmer: Among rising states, which do you think have the most staying power and why? Will some of the rest be left behind?
Zakaria: China is in a league apart from every other rising power. It has the scale--in terms of sheer numbers--to have a huge global impact. It is also run by a competent elite, technocrats who plan for the long term and are moving China up the value chain. They are making huge investments in education and infrastructure, which will pay off over the long run. I agree with you that China continues to have a long-term political challenge, how to combine a vigorous and open economy with a closed and bureaucratic political system. But so far they have managed to balance it--I think they will need to make much larger political changes in the next decade than they have in the last decade.
Bremmer: How well do you think America is responding to China’s continued rise?
Zakaria: American business has been responding well to China’s rise, helping it but also benefitting from it. American society is more closed and parochial than American business and so there has been little contact, which is a pity because we can always learn from others. Washington, at a foreign policy level, has actually done quite well in its handling of China. It has encouraged the integration of China into the global economy, it has tried to get China to be more rule-based and more committed to producing (rather than consuming) global public goods. And it has carefully and systematically shored up its alliances with key Asian countries, from India to Japan to South Korea to Australia, which is an important hedge against Chinese expansion. All in all, a solid performance.
Bremmer: You devote a chapter to India’s growing prominence. Are you optimistic that India’s government will help spur the country toward the next stage of its economic development? Or is this still a country where progress will come mainly in spite of government?
Zakaria: China grows because of its government, and India grows in spite of its government. I don’t expect much improvement in India’s public policy. The infrastructure will continue to lag, the education system will be poor, the government will keep doling out subsidies, and tax and regulatory policy will be uncompetitive. But Indian businesses are world class. They manage under very difficult conditions to perform amazingly well. They manage capital efficiently, understand global markets and brands, and have high quality management. India has good demographics, with lots of young consumers. India’s story is a bottom-up story, rather than China’s top-down story. But don’t kid yourself. Ultimately, you need good government policy to go to the next stage. Unless there is massive and intelligent investment in human and physical capital, India will lag behind China substantially. Whether in India or America, bad government will be a huge limiting factor on a country’s success, no matter how dynamic the society and the economy.Photo of Ian Bremmer © Marc Bryan Brown --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The principal weakness of the book is a product of its brevity: the author paints in broad strokes, providing a sweeping assessment of the dynamic changes that have unfolded on the world scene over the past twenty-five years. This invariably results in some over-generalizations and assessments that are not sufficiently nuanced. For example, in responding to concerns about China's growing power and influence, he quotes several Chinese officials who repeatedly reassure the listener that, notwithstanding its recent advances, China still lags behind the United States in so many areas; consequently, it poses no real threat to America or its neighbors. Instead of taking these sentiments at face value, Mr. Zakaria should remember, as Margaret Macmillan astutely noted in her recent book, "Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World," that the Chinese are the past masters at using self-effacement to lure their adversaries into a state of complacency.
The greatest strengths of the book are explaining to the reader how much the world has changed over the past 25 years (did you know that China now exports more goods and services in a single day than it did in all of 1978?), while illuminating the course corrections the United States needs to make so that it can continue to influence the evolution of globalization.Read more ›
"The Post-American World" is the insightful book about world affairs and America's role. The author makes compelling arguments that it is the "rise of the rest" and not America's decline at the heart of this global era. This 336-page book is composed of the following seven chapters: 1. The Rise of the Rest, 2. The Cup Runneth Over, 3. A Non-Western World? 4. The Challenger, 5. The Ally, 6. American Power and 7. American Purpose.
1. Well-written and well-researched book.
2. Accessible book for the masses.
3. A fascinating topic in the hands of a master.
4. An even-handed book. Mr. Zakaria is fair.
5. Engaging prose that offers countless anecdotes and interesting facts.
6. A lot of misconceptions put to rest: "Poverty is falling in countries housing 80 percent of the world's population". "War and organized violence have declined dramatically over the last two decades".
7. Economics in an enlightening manner, "It was not the Great Depression that brought the Nazis to power in Germany but rather hyperinflation, which destroyed the middle class by making its savings worthless".
8. The three forces that impact the global international environment: politics, economics, and technology.
9. The impact of global growth on natural resources and the environment.
10. Fascinating facts throughout the book,"from 2003 to 2020, the number of vehicles in China will rise from 26 million to 120 million". Wow.
11. Does a great job of explaining the various challenges facing the planet.
12. What the global economy has turned into...
13. National debt at the heart of our problem. $14 trillion...
14. Interesting history.
15. How our world is shrinking.Read more ›
Zakaria's last book was about "The Future of Freedom," a study of liberalism and democracy. This new one--which is even better, I think--is about the shape of the emerging international system. It's called "The Post-American World," but a better title would have been the one he gives his first chapter, "The Rise of the Rest." That's because Zakaria's central thesis is that the world is changing, but the change is largely for the better and caused by the benign development of other power centers, not some collapse or decline of the United States. The biggest challenge for America, he argues, is not terrorism or nuclear proliferation or a rising China, but rather our own ability to adapt successfully to the new environment. He favors confidence and openness rather than insecurity and barriers, and makes a convincing case.
The book has chapters on each of the major international players, and they're really well done: amazingly, he manages to paint a full portrait of, say, China or India that is intelligent, succinct, subtle, and comprehensive all at once. If you want to get a flavor of what the book has to offer, there's an article based on it in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, and there should be another one coming out in Newsweek too, apparently. The man might be a superachieving bigshot, but he sure can write--each page is lively and interesting.
So forget the angry neocons, the wild-eyed optimists, the gloom-and-doom pessimists, and the glib amateurs who don't really know anything. Read this instead, and get insight into what's actually going in the world and what should be done about it. Plus, there's just a ton of fun little nuggets you'll be itching to drop in every conversation you have about anything related.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book really helped me get a better understanding of global world we live todayPublished 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
An extension of his previous work, this book focuses more tightly on the relationship of the US with China and India. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jon W.
More Americans should read this rather than listen to the dribble from our PoliticiansPublished 2 months ago by John D. Markson
America is big, powerful and changes the world. Not everything that America does is great, but the rest of the world is trying to follow and be successful... Read more
This book is a provocative book, but a "good" read. I would like to see an updated version (3. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dave
Interesting, I ordered it because I saw Obama photographed with it. It wasn't an endorsement photo. I want to know what goes through his mind, but I can't trust his words to tell... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Josh