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In this eloquent and searching portrait of today’s transforming global order, Mahbubani argues that the world is only a few steps away from a global governance system that will unite regions, civilizations, and great powers.
The West is not welcoming Asia's progress, and its short-term interests in preserving its privileged position in various global institutions are trumping its long-term interests in creating a more just and stable world order. The West has gone from being the world's problem solver to being its single biggest liability.
The United States has done much to enable China's recent growth, but it has also sent mixed signals that have unnerved Beijing. More consistent engagement is in order, because the course of the twenty-first century will be determined by the relationship between the world's greatest power and the world's greatest emerging power.
The Asia-Pacific will be the main theater of global action in the coming century. If the region is to keep advancing while avoiding Europe's twentieth-century derangements, its key players must together forge a consensus on their future. If the Pacific century is to be pacific and prosperous, the countries of the region must build on common points to lay the groundwork for a community.
Western thinkers assume that the rise of East Asian powers will inevitably result in conflict and that these nations will become more like Western societies. Neither is likely. East Asia's nations have emerged from colonial obscurity to center stage. They will not succumb to ruinous wars. The difficulty that Western minds face in grasping the ascent of East Asia comes from the unprecedented nature of this phenomenon: a fusion of Western and East Asian cultures in the Asia-pacific region.
To the newly advancing Asian world, the West's huffing and puffing about democracy sounds like the swan song of a sinking civilization.
In the five years since Vietnam invaded Kampuchea to depose Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and install its own client regime, the situation in Kampuchea has settled into what is widely viewed as a long-term stalemate. Despite strong international condemnation, and ongoing guerrilla resistance from the Khmer Rouge and other nationalist groups, Vietnam has retained close control over Kampuchea through its puppet leader, Heng Samrin, and has shown little apparent interest in either a military withdrawal or a political compromise settlement. U.N. and other efforts to initiate peace talks have been fruitless, and the prospect of a long-term Vietnamese occupation has seemed virtually unavoidable.