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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Post-American World

In one of the more hyped books of the political science literature, Fareed Zakaria, explains The Post-American World, which were to follow the United States unipolar moment during the late 20th/early 21st century. For Zakaria this is not so much due to "the decline of America but rather about the rise of the everyone else." The economic success and increasing geopolitical importance of "the rest," the non-Western world, has been "most visible in Asia but it is no longer confined to it" with the rest of the BRICs but also large parts of Africa having made tremendous progress.

Zakaria goes then on to detail to some extent the rise of China and India contrasting their respective economic and political (dis)advantages - democratic governance vs efficient decision-making to sum it up really concisely. His final chapter then deals with the US again and effectively proposes policy but also cultural or societal changes that would help the country, which for the coming decades undoubtedly will remain the major player in a multipolarizing world, adapt to its relative decline in a constructive manner as the UK did in the early 20th century.

While I am very much in agreement with most of what Zakaria puts forward in his book, which I am wary to truly consider part of the political science canon, his argument feels slightly redundant or rather commonplace in today's world. He wrote it in 2007/2008, so maybe he was more of an outlier at the time, yet arguably his stance and book has only become such a modern, classic of political commentary literature because of the American insularity that he decries himself. Essentially, knowledge of other languages, other cultures, other political system, other economic success stories in the US remains astonishingly limited - or is belittled in any case. Movements in the tectonic plates of global power politics are noticed slower than in the US as they are in culturally more internationally aware and open societies. The Post-American World provides little added-value to the politically- and economically-informed reader of news and - non-scientific - analysis.

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