New Zakaria

On why the US needs to surrender its fear of the post 9/11 world and regain its stature.

To recover its place in the world, the United States should first recover its confidence. It remains the world’s only superpower, the only big country with a total portfolio of military, economic and political dominance. Most major states are either well disposed toward it or, at worst, neutral. The challenges America confronts come from small, faceless terrorist organizations and a few rogue nations. This is not to minimize the challenges. Today’s asymmetries of power mean that small groups can do big damage. But it is to put things in perspective. When President Bush speaks of Iran’s nuclear program as the road to World War III, one wonders if he has noticed that Iran’s total GDP is just one sixty-eighth that of the United States, or that its military spending is less than 1 percent of the Pentagon’s.

The real challenges that the United States faces come not from globalization’s losers but from its winners, not from yesterday’s bombs but from tomorrow’s factories. The crucial project for the next president will be to change the basic focus of U.S. foreign policy, away from the Middle East and toward the Far East. When the history of these times is written, surely the great trend that will dominate the accounts, far larger than the war in Lebanon or the tensions over Iran, will be the rise of China and India and how they reshaped the world.

The call to shifting to the Far East/Southeast Asia is the central point.  But not just there (though Rice has missed the ASEAN meeting 3 years running unbelievably….she gets paid to do that?) but the rise of Brazil & Chile in South America, rising GDP in sub-Saharan Africa (via Chinese investment).

The 21st century is the Asian Century.  The century where Asia, having spent the 20th throwing off the shackles of European colonialism, comes into its own.  The new prime minister of Australia Kevin Rudd symbolizes this trend (speaks fluent Mandarin).   There are petrolist states (Russia, Venezuela, Sudan) that are highly problematic as well as the problems of environmental degradation.  And of course state-less trans-national terrorist outfits.

Paranoia is the not the proper response to such a situation.

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Published in: on December 14, 2007 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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