Monday, February 11, 2008

Eastern promises

The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East (Book)
By Kishore Mahbubani

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony (Essay)
by Parag Khanna in the NYT

Is India a superpower or will it become one, along with China, as America's status wanes in the coming time?

While some have no doubts about it, others are not very sure.

Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore's and one of Asia's best-known diplomats (dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore), argues in his new book, “The New Asian Hemisphere” that China and India (with Japan) will emerge (are already emerging) as the new superpowers and America needs to cede power to these Asian giants through sensible steps such as: "Chinese and Indian membership of the G8; an end to American and European hogging of the top jobs at the IMF and the World Bank; reform of the UN Security Council to give permanent, veto-holding status to more Asian countries."

The problem, however, is that, argues Mahbubani, the West (America and western Europe, plus Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and, more controversially, Japan)—has become so used to dominating and controlling the world to serve its own interests that it has ceased to recognise even that it does so. “If you deny you are in power, you cannot cede power,” he argues.

The Economist, in its review of the book, says that "Mr Mahbubani's Asian triumphalism is as futile and unconvincing as the Western triumphalism he deplores." It finds a lot of issues with Mahbubani's arguments. Here's more.

Now the other view.

Just a few days ago, I had read this seminal essay by Parag Khanna in the NYT in which he argues that India won't be a superpower in the new world order (Waving Goodbye to Hegemony):

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

I am sure the arguments are not over yet, and in time, the speculations will be out of the way if India joins an expanded G8 or the UN's security council as a veto-power-wielding permanent member.

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