Author: Fareed Zakaria
Exclusively for Independent Skies Magazine
“A good read combining a deep understanding of economics, history, foreign policy and global security, “The Post-American World” offers rich resources and ideas to have a grasp on the mechanics of international affairs today, allowing the casual reader to reflect on today’s politics, how they are shaped, and what is the likely outcome they can offer given the many political orientation world powers, and especially the US, decide to follow.” Mohammed.
In today’s world, the understanding of politics and global affair is not a luxury, or a rare piece of commodity only few can afford. In an interconnected and globalized world, politics, economics, wars and environment boil down to a single and unified understanding, a one bloc of policy and decision making that cannot allow partial understanding or limited expertise. Globalization has not hit only cultural bridging and interfaith dialogue, it has brought together international affairs to a world platform where everyone has a word to say and a policy to influence. Centuries ago, the Brits dominated, decades ago the Americans monopolized and today it is impossible to claim that one superpower is directing the show given the numerous new players who emerged recently.
From the BRICS to ASEAN, the trends and patterns of world governance are unfolding away from a western monopoly, getting more diluted in an eastern emerging bloc driven forward by China, the new booming economy that supports world finance as of today. What seems as an observation, an educated guess or a speculative assertion is highly detailed in Fareed Zakaria’s book “The Post-American World”, an illuminating piece of writing that is redefining our understanding of international affairs and foreign policy. As plain observers, watching the rise of the Chinese economic dragon, marveling at the booming Brazilian or Indian finance, looking up to Singapore stock market performance or hailing South Korean breaching of new untapped markets is nothing but a piece of news which hardly adds to our everyday life routine, yet on a bigger scale, it is easy to notice how are these turn of events affecting global dynamics on levels never seen before.
From an economic perspective, Fareed Zakaria points out in his book that the economic performances we are witnessing are a sign that the world economy is still on track despite the current financial hardships across the Eurozone and elsewhere. The beauty of a global booming economy, or as Fareed Zakaria puts it rightly, the growing economic pie, is that in the absence of monopoly, the financial system can cope with centralized or limited economic downfalls thanks to the performances of nations in other parts of the world. As the pie grows bigger, everyone’s share increases while at the same time small bites from it hardly affect the whole cake.
In this regard, Fareed Zakaria advocates for a multifaceted economy because it is not a harmful source of competition and international cross hostility, but rather a global motivator for better performances and mutual collaborations. “We are now living through the third great power shift of the modern era. It could be called “the rise of the rest” … Over the past few decades, countries all over the world have been experiencing rates of economic growth that were once unthinkable.” (The Post-American World) As unexpected as it may have seemed decades ago, what is saving western economy are not western allies and western factories, it is Chinese lenders who buy bonds and debts from the EU and the US in a symbiosis no economist could believe possible between presumably communists and capitalists. In such business, everyone is making profit, from the usual overspending American consumer to the Chinese official who salivates at the prospect of holding the US government tightly in its debt grip.
It might contrast sharply with what we are served everyday on TV stations, yet the recurrent bad news about rising unemployment and rising prices are all but objective in projecting the state of world economy. The news usually tend to dramatize the world for us in an attempt to draw wider audiences, that is why we hardly hear about the millions of people lifted out of poverty in China or India, or the booming businesses in Africa. We tend to hear about the decline in western performances, yet our news channels disregard the rise of socio-economic standards elsewhere.
This is where the importance of the “Post-American World” resides: It is a lens to asses how does the world perform in a global scale, allowing us to think about western shrinking influence in the world stage all while bringing closer the image of a eastern economic, cultural and political renaissance in the 21st century. This book differs from mainstream publications because of what Fareed Zakaria designed it to be: “This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else.” (The Post-American World) The world economy is surging as healthy as ever, but what the consequences of such performance are is where Fareed Zakaria tries to move the discussion in his book due to the critical aspect it upholds. In theoretical and purely statistical terms, everyone is set to win from a powerful Chinese economy due to the interconnectivity which taints world finance, yet politics are in times such as these not movable by statistics, but rather by emotions, nationalism and narrow political games and gains.
Fareed Zakaria in his book “Post-American World” attempts to clarify the collateral damages of economic power redistribution. As world economies gain more financial independence if not leadership, their trade relations with western and American blocs become more even, with no on way flow of decisions and power. The shy China of yesterday is now a US debt master who can negotiate in equal terms with US corporates and state officials, with what that induces from downpours on bilateral cooperation in the field of politics, defense and foreign policy. It is crucial for nations to advance their economic interests through all possible ways, sometimes using aggressive policies to counter isolationism or hostile competition, these state behaviors sometimes taking the shape of political disputes and proxy conflicts.
It is of the utmost necessity to avoid direct confrontation as Fareed Zakaria advocates, instead establishing a more disparate distribution of power and accepting compromises as the only way to achieve a win-win situation for the world players. The world where the US is the only source of legislation and is the only approving office is gone, what is then needed is to live with this new situation without much nationalistic nostalgia for the glorious past days. In that sense Fareed Zakaria aligns himself with the democrat political thought, assuring that a foreign policy based on cooperation and mutual respect is the only way forward for the USA to take advantage from the rise of the rest, a rise Fareed claims inevitable and irreversible. Building partnerships, according to Fareed Zakaria, should shape the future of US politics and foreign policy; a partnership he sees not only restricted to trade, instead it should encompass matters of global relevance such as terrorism and global security.
This line of argument is not a mere set of assumptions, for the book “Post American World” sets a historical understanding of cyclic power rise and decline. From the ancient Chinese dynasty to the example of the British Empire, Fareed Zakaria points to the fact that the opposition of glorious empire to new rising world players usually leads the first to concede to the latter its assets and strategic interests. America ought not to oppose the rise of the BRICS or ASEAN blocs, instead moving towards bridging the divide between world powers and establishing a network of cooperation where the US doesn’t rule but influences greatly the income of any debate or decision making. A good read combining a deep understanding of economics, history, foreign policy and global security, “The Post-American World” offers rich resources and ideas to have a grasp on the mechanics of international affairs today, allowing the casual reader to reflect on today’s politics, how they are shaped, and what is the likely outcome they can offer given the many political orientation world powers, and especially the US, decide to follow.
Strongly Recommended By Mohamed Amine Belarbi