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The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One Worldby Kishore Mahbubani
Synopses & Reviews
Globalization began in earnest in the 1990s with the end of the Cold War. It accelerated dramatically when China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Buy the time of the financial crisis of 2010 the world looked for financial stability not to the US or Europe but to China, which by then owned most of those countries' debt. It has been a remarkable, and remarkably quick transformation.
But global politics has not followed global economics. Global political structures seem to belong to the 1950s, an era in which Western dominance was presumed and Asia almost entirely absent. The US and Europe have a majority of votes at the International Monetary Fund, which is how a disgraced French president of the fund was succeeded not by a Mexican or Indonesian, but by a compatriot Frenchwoman. The President of the World Bank is traditionally an American. Why? In G8, and even G20 meetings, the West usually has a majority of voting members. Why?
Mahbubani shows that in global institution after global institution power is skewed in favor of the West, and argues that it is no longer just or sustainable. Moreover, he sees the main risks to the globe in the twenty-first century in the unresolved contradictions between the need for a one-world view and the ever more local, and locally shrill politics of national self-interest. There are the grounds for disunity, incomprehension and even disaster.
"The world is coming together with a reconfiguration of power that the West should accommodate, according to this optimistic but unfocused overview of international relations. Mahbubani (The New Asian Hemisphere), Singapore's former U.N. ambassador, surveys hopeful statistics on global peace and prosperity, showing that wars are growing less frequent while poverty worldwide is declining and trade, education, tourism, and the middle class are swelling. That 'new global civilization,' he contends, creates new problems: global warming; alienation in the Muslim world; anxieties over China's influence; most of all, the West's continuing disproportionate power over international institutions and failure to adjust self-interested policies — he's especially critical of American food aid and monetary policy — to global needs. The author's calls for a 'Theory of One World' and a 'global ethic' are nebulous (we need a treaty on the atmosphere, he argues, because 'without oxygen we are doomed'); his specific proposals are rather U.N.-centered, including calls to hike Western funding of U.N. programs and open the Security Council to rising powers in the developing world. Mahbubani's interpretation of shifting global realities is canny and cogent, though hardly original, but his ideas for reform are too vague or small-bore to have much impact. Agent: Janklow & Nesbit." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An influential policy thinker and "muse of the Asian Century"* illuminates the contours of our new global civilization, and shows why power must shift to reflect the new reality
In this visionary roadmap to the twenty-first-century, Kishore Mahbubani prescribes solutions for improving global institutional order. He diagnoses seven geopolitical fault lines most in need of serious reform. But his message remains optimistic: despite the archaic geopolitical contours that try to shackle us today, our world has seen more positive change in the past thirty years than in the previous three hundred.
The twenty-first century has seen a rise in the global middle class that brings an unprecedented convergence of interests and perceptions, cultures and values. Kishore Mahbubani is optimistic. We are creating a new global civilization. Eighty-eight percent of the world's population outside the West is rising to Western living standards, and sharing Western aspirations. Yet Mahbubani, one of the most perceptive global commentators, also warns that a new global order needs new policies and attitudes.
Policymakers all over the world must change their preconceptions and accept that we live in one world. National interests must be balanced with global interests. Power must be shared. The U.S. and Europe must cede some power. China and India, Africa and the Islamic world must be integrated. Mahbubani urges that only through these actions can we create a world that converges benignly. This timely book explains how to move forward and confront many pressing global challenges.
About the Author
Kishore Mahbubani is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. With the Singapore Foreign Service from 1971 to 2004, he had postings in Cambodia (where he served during the war in 1973-74), Malaysia, Washington DC and New York, where he served two stints as Singapores Ambassador to the UN and as President of the UN Security Council in January 2001 and May 2002. He serves on Boards and Councils of several institutions in Singapore, Europe and North America, including the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Council, the Asia Society's International Council, the Yale President's Council on International Activities (PCIA), and the Singapore-China Foundation - Scholarship Committee.articles have appeared in a wide range of journals and newspapers, including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Washington Quarterly, Survival, American Interest, the National Interest, Time, Newsweek and New York Times. He has also been profiled in the Economist and in Time Magazine. Prof Mahbubani was also listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy in November 2011.
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