Mahbubani, a retired Singaporean diplomat, has long been one of the keenest observers of Asia and the West. In this tour d'horizon, he argues that today's great question is whether the West will accommodate itself to the rise of Asia -- and that there are reasons to worry that it will not. China, India, and the other fast-growing countries of the East, Mahbubani believes, will overtake the West precisely because they have finally embraced the "pillars of Western wisdom" -- open polities, free markets, and the rule of law. In other words, it is the success and spread of Western ideas and practices -- not their failure -- that is undermining the West's power. What troubles Mahbubani is the seeming unwillingness of Western states to give up global domination and share power gracefully. As he sees it, U.S. and European leaders simply cannot quite believe that world order could improve in the absence of the West's supremacy. The result is a growing rift between a self-centered West and the rest of humanity, which no longer sees the Euro-Atlantic world as the custodian of global civilization. Mahbubani provides a compelling case for a Western strategy of power sharing with Asia. He is less convincing, however, in arguing that Asia will be more competent and enlightened in its stewardship of the world.
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