Reviewed by Charles Gati who is teaching at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Published by Book World,Washington Post on Sunday,March 23, 2008. I am greatly impressed by such a penetrating and scholarly assessment.
"To most Americans, small is not beautiful. We like being Number One. We take pride in a military that is second to none. We boast that Wall Street drives the world's financial markets (even if it's downward); that American scientists win more Nobel Prizes than anyone else; that our universities draw scholars and students from around the globe; that our symphony orchestras match Europe's best; and of course, that Hollywood films suspend disbelief everywhere." Such line of reasoning is very true from my own observations for decades as a graduate student in USA since 1947.
The India-born author Parag Khanna says yes and yes. In this fact-filled volume full of pithy observations and summaries, he identifies three relativeely equal centers of influence: Washington, Brussels, and Beijing. He is not the first to argue that the European Union and China have become our competitors for global influence. I agree with the reviewer's analysis in toto. In Central Asia, his interlocutors see Chinese influence on the rise; in Central and Eastern Europe, they see the growing power of the European Union. "Strong arms and strongmen cannot mask America's relative decline," Khanna argues, since they are the chief symbols of it. In addition to stressing that American power has declined, Khanna also says we're not very smart at using the power we still have. China impresses the second world with its astonishing economic progress and political fortitude. The European Union impresses with its ability to build consensus among both its members and its eager applicants. While the anti-Americanism he observes is therefore real enough, it is arguably more a reaction to the Bush administration's foreign policy and we-know-everything-better-than-anyone-else mindset than to the reality and promise of America.
In "Second Chance" Zbigniew Brzezinski's insightful study published last year, the former national security adviser suggested that the United States could bounce back and regain lost ground if new leaders emerge who are mature enough to accept global diversity, and who treat foreign friends with circumspection and adversaries with a modicum of tolerance. If this were to happen in the next few years, Khanna's book would become obsolete. If it does not happen, the book will be among those that warned, correctly, of the ending of the American era.
My comment: Such review of the reviewer appears to be in the same visible spotlight from the speeches by a Presidential candidate and I would expect to see peace and economic development of nations after the change of American leadership without any conflict for the well-being of humankind in the 21st century.
Francis Shieh a.k.a. Xie Shihao,a reader of Book World with interest in globalization of economics. Thanks very much. March 22, 2008.