From Fareed Zakaria to Mitt Romney: “Today, we are in a different era”

February 4, 2012

From Fareed Zakaria to Mitt Romney: “Today, we are in a different era”

DEAR Mitt Romney,

Congratulations on Florida. Now that you are again the front-runner, and your campaign focus is returning to President Barack Obama, I’d like to call attention to a line you have used repeatedly: “This is a president who fundamentally believes that this next century is the post-American century.” I leave it to the president to describe what he believes, but as the author of the book The Post-American World, let me make sure you know what exactly you are attacking.

“This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else,” I note at the very outset. I am optimistic about America, convinced that it can prosper in this new world and remain the most powerful country on the planet. But I argue that the age of American unipolarity — which began with the collapse of the Soviet Union — has ended. For a quarter-century after the collapse of communism, the United States dominated the world with no real political or economic competitors. Its ideas and its model — the Washington consensus — became received wisdom everywhere.

Today, we are in a different era. In 1990, China represented two per cent of global gross domestic product. It has quadrupled, to eight per cent, and is rising. By most estimates, China’s economy will become the world’s largest between 2016 and 2018.

This is not simply an economic story. China’s military capacity and reach are expanding. Since 2008, Chinese naval fleets have escorted more than 4,300 ships through the Gulf of Aden. Beijing’s defence spending is likely to surpass America’s by 2025. For its foreign policy activism, look on any continent: a gleaming new African Union headquarters was unveiled in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week. The US$200 million-plus (RM602 million) complex was financed by China and inaugurated by a high-ranking Politburo member, who arrived with a cheque for US$94 million.

It is not just China that is rising. Emerging powers on every continent have achieved political stability and economic growth and are becoming active on the global stage.

Twenty years ago, Turkey was a fragile democracy, dominated by its army, with a weak economy repeatedly in need of Western bailouts. Today, Turkey has a trillion-dollar economy that grew 6.6 per cent last year. Since April 2009, Turkey has created 3.4 million jobs — more than the European Union, Russia and South Africa put together. That might explain Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s confidence and his country’s energetic foreign policy.

Look in this hemisphere. In 1990, Brazil was emerging from decades of dictatorship and was wracked by inflation rates that reached 3,000 per cent. Its president was impeached in 1992. Today, the country is a stable democracy, steadily growing with foreign-exchange reserves of US$350 billion. Its foreign policy has become extremely active.

President Dilma Rousseff  is in Cuba this week, “marking Brazil’s highest-profile bid to transform its growing economic might into diplomatic leadership in Latin America”, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. “Brazil’s state development bank is financing a US$680 million rehabilitation of Cuba’s port at Mariel.”

For three decades, India was unable to get any Western country to accept its status as a nuclear power. But as its economy boomed and Asia became the new cockpit of global affairs, the mood shifted. Over the past five years, the United States, France, Britain and others have made a massive exception for New Delhi’s nuclear programme and have assiduously courted India as a new ally.

I could go on. This is a new world, very different from the America-centric one we got used to over the last generation. Obama has succeeded in preserving and even enhancing US influence in this world precisely because he has recognised these new forces at work. He has travelled to the emerging nations and spoken admiringly of their rise. He replaced the old Western club and made the Group of 20 the central decision-making forum for global economic affairs. By emphasising multilateral organisations, alliance structures and international legitimacy, he got results. It was Chinese and Russian cooperation that produced tougher sanctions against Iran. It was the Arab League’s formal request last year that made Western intervention in Libya uncontroversial.

By and large, Mr Romney, you have ridiculed this approach to foreign policy, arguing that you would instead expand the military, act unilaterally and talk unapologetically. That might appeal to Republican primary voters, but chest-thumping triumphalism won’t help you secure America’s interests or ideals in a world populated by powerful new players.

You can call this new century whatever you like, but it won’t change reality. After all, just because we call it the World Series doesn’t make it one.

Read more: The World Has Changed, Mr Romney

31 thoughts on “From Fareed Zakaria to Mitt Romney: “Today, we are in a different era”

  1. The core of the world is going to get crowded. Maybe to crowded for the Americans who have been at the core influencing everything on the periphery.

    As China enters the core, interactions between the America and the periphery will reduce, because China has become another option for the periphery.

    This happens because some countries at the periphery do not have the resources to deal with both. They must choose one that suits their needs. Just remember, three quarters of the world’s population live in Asia.

    The United States managed to knock out the former Soviet Union from the a core two decades ago. Its replacement, Russia has chosen for now to remain in the periphery, mostly interacting with China.

    Since both the US and China are going to influence world policies, they should be behave like good neighbours. But can their political processes allow this to happen?

    For years, China has been the US’s bogeyman for almost all their ailments. What would it take for the US to turn to Chinese and welcome the Chinese in the new neighbourhood of powerful nations?

    Humility and kindness. Do the American politicians condone these values?

  2. Fareed Zakaria. I simply love his guy. Writes well, knows his substance and top it all, he speaks to the blond hair blue eyed Yanks what they should know about the rest of the world.

    I am an ardent fan of his GPS programme on CNN.

    I can’t think of any Malaysian intellectual who can come close to even 10 feet from where he stands.

  3. Romney’s typical American mindset is aptly stated in the last line of the the article. It’s not uncommon to meet Americans who feels that the USA is the centre of the universe.

    By and large, America has arguably the best system that promotes behaviours that leads to prosperity but as the whole world opens up its global influence will surely be clipped especially when talking about regional alliance.

    Just like a major suppliers market share will shrink when competitors start flooding the market.

    Romney, like any typical politician campaigning will play to the gallery. A leader of this century need humility and a pragmatic mind. Nations can no longer be bullied by gun boat diplomacy. Even economic sanctions has limited effectiveness.

    If Romney claims that Obama’s policies are damaging America his rhetoric does not help either. In fact, he could possibly alienate those who might be keen to have closer rapport with them.

    Just like in business, in the final analysis, its a game of numbers. Economics will dictate political direction. In 50 years, Asia will be a very big market in itself though the purchasing power will not be as high as the OECD. So Asia, especially China and India will be very hard for America to ignore.

  4. Mitt Romney wants to continue George W Bush’s legacy so as to be seen different in terms of policy to Obama.

    But Americans are a funny lot. Despite their self-acclaim of being independently minded and self-pride of knowing what they are doing, they are all suckers to lobby groups especially the Pro Israel and Jewish lobby groups. Within domestic politics of US, Americans are a bunch of cowards. They know the lobby groups are destroying America, yet they prefer to look at somewhere else to massage their egos.

    They are the clapping public to the rhetoric of the Pro-Israeli politicians against Iran yet they lose their marbles against the tinpot dictatorship of North Korea simply because China is North Korea’s godfather.

  5. The United States will change only when its citizens wake up to a fact that has been all too well known by the rest of the world but one that has not been allowed to percolate down io its own people…That their country would do better if it minded its own business and let the rest of the world get on with theirs.

    In this respect the current financial crisis facing so many ordinary citizens of the US may be just the impetus to finally make them realise that what their country’s financial moguls have unleashed on them is what their military madmen have been unleashing the world over these past decades

    Will Romney be that person to make the difference?… I very much doubt it. The only candidate who comes near to common sense( in Foreign Policy at least) is Ron Paul … and look how far behind he is…

  6. Over the decades i have noticed that Presidential hopefuls in America , always say something while campaigning but do something else when in position or power.

    Obama has been no different . He gave, not only Americans hope but people the world over were hopeful that this breath of fresh air , as represented by Obama and his call for ” change ” , would augur well for the world – especially for the Palestinians . It was this HOPE that gave Obama the Nobel peace prize , even before the deeds were delivered.

    However, to date the Palestinians remain in the same quandry and Obama does not seem to be any better then any of the previous American presidents.

    So may i ask Mitt Romney who .. ?

  7. “By and large, Mr Romney, you have ridiculed this approach to foreign policy, arguing that you would instead expand the military, act unilaterally and talk unapologetically. That might appeal to Republican primary voters, but chest-thumping triumphalism won’t help you secure America’s interests or ideals in a world populated by powerful new players.”

    Amen to that!

    He is forever saying he would reduce spending and create jobs and yet he wants to retain troops overseas, not de-escalate the war in Aghanistan etc and continue to act as the world’s policeman and increase defence budget. This guy would say anything to rile up the base of his party. He has some tough measures to take against China, he says. It is as if China would take it lying down. Guess what would happen to the US dollar if China floods the market with its massive holdings of US dollars and its dollar denominated Treasury Bills? This is the same guy who earns US$57,000 a day in interest and not have to work a day for the rest of his life. He wants to be US President.

    Gimme a break !

  8. ARMs you are right-many Americans think that they are at the centre of the universe. When you live in America you will feel it. Almost nothing about the outside world is heard or seen in the media. Even CNN there is different. Americans display an extremely high level of social capital. This forges unity, collaboration and self help. While social is good, it also creates a sense of cliquishness, a sense of being unique and perhaps superior. So Mitt Romney is plugging into the country’s psyche. If it wasn’t Romney it might work again. But Romney’s problem is that he is a Mormon. And Mormons value system, good values I concede, are stuck in the late 19th century. Which is why he is unable to understand the 21st century, let alone the Post American century. So we most likely won’t see a President Romney. But someone else who peddles American exceptionalism might.

  9. Yeah, and the Mormons worship an Angel called Moroni.
    Right now, who knows what the “Center” of US is at?
    Mitt is talking about American exceptionalism, when the reality is that each and every American owe hard cash to the rest of the world. He will be a disaster for every decent, knowledgeable and hard-working American. But then Fortress America beckons, as the last refuge of tyrants.

  10. “Who is Fareed Zakaria?”

    Indian Muslim Centrist-Liberal diaspora American (New York); with a PhD in Political Science from Yale. Incisive and brilliant commentator of the State of the World from the American perspective, and achor for CNN’s GPS program. Obama Husseinite.

  11. Yes .. Fareed Zakaria can be termed brilliant > he used to be a columnist with Newsweek magazine too.

    Like to imagine this muslim in a debate with the Taliban like muslims or the so called Mufti’s of this world, like the Harussani chap. What we will see is two minds belonging to the Muslim world, but which will be poles apart, otherwise. One ( Fareed ) would represent the liberal , progressive and forward looking muslim and the other ( Harussani, Hassan Ali , etc.,) would represent the backward muslim who would not even allow a female Muslim a drivers licence for fear she may lose her virginity in the car she drives!

    And all this, while we live in an enviroment where even the hymen can be ” rebuilt ” or restored via cosmetic surgery. Whew … talk about ” kehilangan tamadun “!

  12. Americans have become rude to the office of the President ever since President Obama assumed that post. The citizens of the US have to do some soul searching before they vote in the next Presidential Eelections As they use to say during the apartheid era, once you go black you do not want to go back.

  13. Looks like if ever Mitt Romney who is a mormon becomes the next President, he will want to retain Exclusivity….much like the religious bigots in our homeland, Malaysia….
    Being a Moron will not help US to maintain its hegemony in world Politics, and/or its Diplomatic prowess, too risky….

  14. One ( Fareed ) would represent the liberal , progressive and forward looking muslim and the other ( Harussani, Hassan Ali , etc.,) would represent the backward muslim who would not even allow a female Muslim a drivers licence for fear she may lose her virginity in the car she drives!

    peach ann nation

    LOL. Good one. See the massive extremes the moslems are about yet their very Koran ( which they profess to believe commands moderate, middle path)

  15. Ron Paul, Isa? You can’t be serious.RP is a big joke. My own view is that the Republicans are still suffering from the GWBush hangover with too much Jack Daniels. America can no longer be the Policeman of the world. It is back to multi-polar world like it or not. Obama has positioned himself well with a good foreign policy record. Collaboration and cooperation, not domination, is the new geo-political imperative.

    Yes, Frank, Fareed Zakaria is a class of his own. In our region, the only political analyst who can be considered his intellectual peer is the Dean, LKY School of Public Policy at NUS, Prof. Kishore Mahbubani.–Din Merican

  16. ” Once you go black you do not want to go back”.

    Anonnymous – February 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Oh yeah?! Now where did I hear that before? My Indian friend back in Malaysia puts it in equally colorful terms. He says that is why Chinese gals do not want to let go of their Indian lawyer boyfriends. Could there be a parallel here?? Have Chinese guys lost their mojo?

  17. “Have Chinese guys lost their mojo?”

    Nah, being ethnocentric – they don’t wanna have anything to do with ‘tainted’ goods. Funny thing, is that a quite few don’t mind being circumcised and carry a non-ancestral Semitic surname, if business is the name of the game..

  18. Or maybe that’s Najib’s way of dividing the races. There is nothing like a bit of racial profiling and making Malaysians labels themselves as being big and small, long and short.

  19. As for Mitt Romney, he is a Mormon. It all started when one Joseph Smith had a vision in upstate New York in the 1800s. And now this Mitt Romney has a vision for America. You fill in the rest.

  20. Mitt Romney as a Mormon believes all people are spirit-children of God and believes in living prophets and apostles and that God speaks to them in their prayers. He is here to help establish the city of Zion and is now ready to take over from the so-called ‘Annointed One’. Once you go black you don’t want to go back? He doesn’t think so.

  21. Dato : Ron Paul a joke> Far too harsh a view. If only one of his views (on Foreign Policy) could be set in motion, the US would be on its way to some respect in the world.

    That Ron Paul does not enjoy the following he deserves only shows the stranglehold of the current shady establishment. But the OCCUPY movement has lit a tiny flame of hope… remains to be seen if this will turn into a vehicle for change and reform.

  22. Right wing conservatives among Republicans find it hard to support the position advocated by Ron Paul on US foreign policies He should stand as an Independent. But Isa Mantegi who argues against change in his home country Malaysia, seems to have found common ground with a radical Ron Paul who advocates change in the extreme. Something doesn’t click here.

  23. Mr Bean, yours @ 10.20pm, seriously….i did not know that !. If that be the case, may be he considers himself an ‘apostle’ too, as one of the modern-day divine messenger of sorts…

    But Mount Zion, that’s a bit ‘suspicious’ ….? That we all know is the Highest seat of power for world Domination – indeed the highest Bigotry –
    The insidious thing is that they believe in world domination by Military Conquest & might – not through pure Altruistic Knowledge !

    If it happens that he becomes ‘President” God help America……good-bye America….Long Live America & by extension the World….

  24. All political candidates campaign on the audacity of hope ad and end up becoming a prisioner of interest groups. Well we may say that that is the way it is and things will not change. But that too is wrong. As far as elections in a democratic society is concerned there will be no fair and free elections until and unless the Election Commission enforces the cap on campaign finacing. The rules to date have been bent in faouvr of the incumbent and this is why once governments come into power thay finds ways and means to remain in that position for ever. And like everthing else in the area of governance it has gone on steroids

    That is why transparancy and the freedom of the individual is so important to build a society that is balanced free and fair. The constitution and the laws of the land are there. It is the task of individuals in position of power to live by those laws. Yes we must be idealist because if you aim for 100% at least you may avhieve75%- and frankly 75% is not too bad.

    Scarlet.p I am afraid that you are off the mark.

  25. You are quite right MR.BEAN… about change. But one is a change for the better (which is what Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy ideas will mean) while here at home I oppose it because I fear that with an opposition as unprepared as PR is, it might mean a change for the worse.

    I cannot see any “clicking” business here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.