Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Five 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:
Rivals: How the power struggle between China, India and Japan will shape our next decade
by Bill Emmott

That brings us to Bill Emmott’s book.

Yes, Rivals. Emmott notes that as we look at the rise of China, and the question of whether China will present the kind of challenge to the US that Athens did to Sparta or Germany did to Britain in the 20th century, we have to ask whether fear of the rise of China in the US will create that kind of reaction in the 21st century.

And what does he conclude?

He says that if you look more carefully, you see that Asia has its own internal balance of power. Asia is not just one country. As China’s power grows, the Japanese, Indians, not to mention the Vietnamese, South Koreans and so on become worried and ask themselves – how can we balance that power? That makes them actually welcome America’s presence, so you find that the situation in East Asia is an internal balance of power which may play to America’s favour. For example, these countries want an American alliance or close relationship. If one took an analogy, Mexico might be looking for a Chinese alliance to balance American power in North America. That means the US does not have to be so fearful. Are we about to fall into Thucydides’s trap of creating a great conflagration out of unnecessary fear of a rising power? No. For one thing, the historical analogy of Britain, Germany and World War II doesn’t fit East Asia because Germany had passed Britain by 1900 whereas China is not going to pass the US in terms of overall power for decades.

But who in the US is actually afraid of China? Presumably ordinary Americans aren’t wandering around afraid of being outdone by China?

Well, there is a growing concern about China in the US. In the last election campaign in 2010, several hundred million dollars were spent on advertisements which dramatised the rise of China. There is one that portrays a set of Chinese leaders and generals sitting around 10 years from now saying: “Look how foolish the Americans were to let us get ahead like this.”

That must be Republican!

They’re sometimes Republican but they can also include Democrats who are worried about the loss of jobs, and the trade unions who feel jobs are being stolen.
Read about the other books on Nye's list.

The Page 99 Test: Bill Emmott's Rivals.

--Marshal Zeringue