U.S. role in world affairs, pt. 1: Zakaria’s Post-American World

Meg was home unexpectedly this weekend.  It gave us the opportunity to chat
about many of our favorite topics.  We talked about what it means that the
U.S. is pulling our troops out of Iraq.  How does this impact our image
with friendly and not so friendly governments?  We talked about what it is
that makes us unique.  We talked about our court system, our educational
system, our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  All of these are subjects we
want to talk about in our blog. But as I was struggling with how to share
our ideas, I was reminded of a book I consider to be worth reading.  It is
Fareed Zakaria’s book titled Post-American World, written in 2008.  While
focused on the period before President Obama took office, it remains relevant
today.

In his book, Zakaria talks about the changing role of the United States in
light of the “Rise of the Rest,” particularly resulting from the explosion
of prosperity in China and India.  He describes this “rise” as the most recent power shift of the modern history. First, it was the rise of the west (Western Europe), then the rise of the United States. Now, it’s the rise of the rest of the world, something he describes as leading us to the Post-American World. He talks about our strengths and
challenges as we face this change.  He discusses the rich
contributions from our immigrant populations, particularly in terms of our
technological development, and our related continued leadership in various
areas of technology.  He addresses our role in diplomacy, and notes the
importance of compromise, strategic relationships and innovation.

A significant challenge to which he repeatedly returns is his concern that
we have what he refers to as dysfunctional politics, something that prevents us from
forming clear solutions to our internal economic and various other challenges.

Zakaria doesn’t have all the answers, and you certainly may not agree
with many of his opinions, but it is hard to read his book without grasping
some sense of the challenges we face as a nation in this ever-changing
world.

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