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The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

By Robert | Books | January 27, 2010 |

By Robert | Books | January 27, 2010 |

I understand that Non-Fiction is a very broad market with lots of competition. Bookstores can fill an entire display table with the month’s new releases on current politics, World War II, or scintillating new biographies of Baroque musicians. It becomes essential to nail a great title that stands out amongst the clutter. The Post-American World is a great title, but it’s also my biggest issue with Fareed Zakaria’s excellent book. It’s misleading at best, attention/anger baiting at worst. The title would imply that Zakaria believes America no longer has power in the world or will no longer exists. Thankfully, that’s not his argument at all.

Zakaria provides a thoughtful, well-researched look into what he refers to as “the rise of the rest.” This means that many other nations that previously struggled to establish themselves in significant political, economical, and social ways on the international scene have not only gained a foothold, but are rapidly expanding in ways that starts to quickly shift the balance of power in the world. Zakaria basically argues that globalization, that four letter political word that has traditionally been viewed as a destructive failure, has finally started to come around to the original goals. We, as a nation, can no longer survive doing the same kind of politics and economics we have used for the past sixty years to be a dominant force in the world. It has become essential to begin collaborating with other nations on international policies or risk being left behind.

For some odd reason, compromise scares many Americans. It’s almost like revealing a sign of weakness to say we might need help once in a while. Zakaria argues that this attitude can be very damaging. He predicts that the US will face more and more opposition in international relations if the country continues to act alone on international matters. It was one thing when many of the nations America worked on were newly established after long colonial periods or post-war establishment; it’s quite another when the nations have clout in international politics and have established their own political and economic culture. What was previously viewed as helpful is becoming increasingly viewed as hostile.

Zakaria spends much of the book discussing rising superpowers like India and China, comparing their achievements to US achievements on superficial levels before exploring how and why they’ve achieved the growth they have, what they’ve learned from America, and where they can possibly go in the future.

If you want an interesting read on how the world’s political climate is changing, I doubt you can do much better in an easily approachable text than Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Robert’s reviews, check out his blog, Sketchy Details.

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