Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Joseph Nye's top 5 books on global power

Joseph S Nye Jr. is Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, and former Dean of the Kennedy School. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council and Deputy Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology. His books on international relations include Soft Power, The Power Game, The Powers to Lead, and The Future of Power.

One book from his dialogue about books on global power with Anna Blundy at The Browser:
The Post-American World: And the Rise of the Rest
by Fareed Zakaria

Zakaria is one of the best American commentators on world politics and foreign policy. He has the unique perspective of having been born in India and then doing his graduate degree in the US. He’s a keen observer of the US but with a great knowledge of the rest of the world. Zakaria looks at the issue of whether the US is in decline, and decides that the problem with the term “decline” is that if it means absolute decline, like ancient Rome, then it’s not a very good description of what’s happening in the US – the US is not like Rome, which was an agrarian economy. What the US is facing is not absolute decline but relative decline, in that the gap between the US and other countries is diminishing with the rise of China, India, Brazil and others. Zakaria chose a happy term which is better than relative decline – “the rise of the rest”.

I think that is a good description of what’s going on. You’re seeing, particularly in Asia, a return to normal. Normal was the period before the industrial revolution when Asia represented half the world’s population and half the world’s product. That declined dramatically because of the industrial revolution in North America, Britain and Europe. So by 1900, Asia produced only 20% of the world’s product. What we’re seeing now, in this century, is the return of Asia to normal proportions where it will represent half the world’s product and half the world’s population. This started with Japan and went on through South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia; it is now focused very much on China, but has an increasing emphasis on India as it approaches a 9% growth rate. I think Zakaria is quite accurate in his description of what is going on.
Read about another book on Nye's list.

Writers Read: Joseph S. Nye.

--Marshal Zeringue