The Post American World

I’m not a fan of book titles that begin with the word The.  A postmodern trick often helpful is to pluralize thereby neutralizing the definitive for all timenesss of THE, e.g. The Post-American Worlds.

Also of course the book is not about a literal post-American world.  Like some Vonnegut novel where someone deploys a neutron bomb that destroys all of and only American plus all Americans not in America at the time of the drop.

Nor is it some Alex Jones argument about how some North American Union is going to take over the US.  [Incidentally if such does occur and the global elite do create that giant superhighway and heard us all into giant ghettos I want a better named currency of my oppression that an f’in amero).

It’s not even an argument that the US is in decline per se, but rather that others (esp. China and India) are rising plus the increased economic power of the EU.  Russia with gas and oil in the mix as well.

It should really be titled The Post-Unipolar Hegemonic American Worlds. Sounds much more exciting yes? It’s a good plane read.  Finished it from Houston to Vancouver (along with seeing Definitely, Maybe which was a decent flick).

It’s interesting that Obama again signaled his interest in a George HW Bush-like foreign policy.   Maybe he sees himself like HW transitioning from to the Post American World (a la Bush and the Cold War world).  Don’t know.  Or he sees the increased need for diplomacy, fox-ness, and nimble maneuverability in this world.

The book is worth the read and I think is fundamentally correct.  Even if he got where’s the world’s largest casino is at wrong.

It’s obviously a wide-angle lens and isn’t as much detail on more national economic policy say–e.g. the intricacies of the centrist versus from left-wing economists in the Democratic Party and the latter having more energy and momentum in the current economic mess. More on that in a separate post.

But the key definition for why Post American is that it’s more clear what we are leaving (Pax Americana) then it is where we are heading.  When that becomes more clear (whenever that occurs) someone will have to come up with a new name.

The best criticism as I said before is probably Thomas PM Barnett’s, which is that the book could use more in the way of policy and politics (how to convince) for US strategy in this new reality.  There is some but it could definitely be filled out.  Barnett’s book is aiming to do that.

Unless of course John Robb is right and the whole nation-state order is going to collapse via open source insurgencies (military and financial), black swans (probably environmental in nature), and cascading crashes.   In that case, it won’t be a Post American World it’ll be a Post-Everybody World (aka Everybody minus a Milita is F—ed) Think now about how you want yours to look and who is going to be in it.  Just to be clear (if it sounds like I’m being too cute by half) I actually have moments of not being able to sleep at night thinking he could very well be right.

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  1. […] This morning I finished the unabridged audio edition of The Post American World, written and read by Fareed Zakaria. No review of this book should begin wtithout noting that it is misnamed. Zakaria argues that American hegemony, agenda-setting, and dominance in nearly every field of power will continue for the forseeable future. Likewise, the title of Chapter 1 (which appears to have been an alternative working title), “The Rise of the Rest,” is also misnamed: Zakaria focuses on the United States, India, and China. So think of this book as The Rise of a World Dominated by India, China, and especially the United States, the The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Results Section, or, as one blogger suggests, even The Post-Unipolar Hegemonic American Worlds. […]


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