Book summary courtesy of the Progressive Women’s Alliance.
The Post-American World
, by Fareed Zakaria, W.W. Norton & Company, 2008, 2009
Preface to the Paperback Edition
p. xv The world economy had become the equivalent of a race car – expensive, with incredible range,
and capable of performing at breathtaking speed. For the last decade everyone rode it and experienced
the adrenaline rush and the highs. There was only one problem: it turned out that nobody really knew how
to drive a car like this one. p. xxi The current economic upheaval will only hasten the move to a post-
American world. If the Iraq War and George W. Bush’s foreign policy had the effect of delegitimizing
America’s military-political power in the eyes of the world, the financial crisis has had the effect of
delegitimizing America’s economic power.
p. xxix The management of U.S. political and military power remains the single most important task for
global stability. The United States must provide rules, institutions, and services that help solve the world’s
major problems, while giving other countries – crucially the emerging powers – a stake in the system.
Chapter 1 – The Rise of the Rest
p. 4 The emerging international system is likely to be quite different from those that have preceded it. One
hundred years ago, there was a multipolar order run by a collection of European governments, with
constantly shifting alliances, rivalries, miscalculations, and wars. Then came the bipolar duopoly of the
Cold War, more stable in many ways, but with the superpowers reacting and overreacting to each other’s
every move. Since 1991, we have lived under an American imperium, a unique, unipolar world in which
the open global economy has expanded and accelerated dramatically. This expansion is now driving the
next change in the nature of the international order.
At the politico-military level, we remain in a single-superpower world. But in every other dimension –
industrial, financial, educational, social, cultural – the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from
American dominance. That does not mean we are entering an anti-American world. But we are moving
, one defined and directed from many places and by many people.
Chapter 2 – The Cup Runneth Over
p. 36 We still think of a world in which a rising power must choose between two stark options: integrate
into the Western order, or reject it, becoming a rogue nation and facing the penalties of excommunication.
In fact, rising powers appear to be following a third way: entering the Western order but doing so on their
own terms – thus reshaping the system itself…. [I]n a world where everyone feels empowered, countries
can choose to bypass this Western “center” entirely and forge their own ties with one another.
p. 48 The irony is that the rise of the rest is a consequence of American ideas and actions. For sixty