Courtesy Reuters

As the specter of communism fades, some warn of a new East-West confrontation. The remarkable rise of East Asia in recent decades, they say, has been fostered by a civilization very different from the West's, and this poses dangers for international relations. Such thinking, however, is based on Kiplingesque assumptions about an Asian civilization whose existence it fails to demonstrate. At no time in history has an Asian or Eastern civilization arisen over and above the many national and ethnic civilizations and cultures found in that vast region.

Much writing from the West on the purported divide is economically or

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