As the Financial Times’ chief foreign affairs commentator, Rachman has frequent access to global elites. Drawing on numerous interviews and reporting trips, he has put together a striking portrait of a weakening and confused West and a rising but troubled Asia. The power shift is the culmination of a long historical process that will not be derailed even if China suffers a temporary economic or political setback. This has led many analysts to argue that the United States must either yield primacy to China or fight a war that at most could delay the shift but not reverse it. Rachman’s view is more nuanced. Unlike the Western powers, which are united by common values, he argues, the Eastern ones are culturally fractured and rife with strategic mistrust, especially of China. Moreover, financial systems and other features of the international order will remain “wired” through the West so long as rising Asian powers fail to provide reliable rule of law. If Washington can skillfully manage its relations with China—by no means a sure thing—the United States will not have to match China’s GDP or fleet size to maintain a strong position in Asia. Informed on history and up to date, the book is a sprightly, pointed primer on world affairs.
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