Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Post American World Fareed Zakaria

Geopolitics and the future of America. Copyright 2008, or just before Great Depression II started. It's well written, reads smoothly, and contains this newsie's advice to US citizens. He speaks of "the rise of the rest", by which lots of countries that were either bombed flat or still medieval at the end of WWII have rebuilt or modernized and now offer real competition to the US. He speaks fondly of his native India's economic growth since abandoning Nehru's quasi socialism in the late 1980's. He assesses the strengths and competitive advantages of America and finds them strong. The US economy is still the largest in the world, US popular culture is compelling. Unfortunately he doesn't talk about the strength of the US economy after the onset of Great Depression II, because the book went to press before the crash. He doesn't see the crash coming or even talk much about weaknesses that were obvious to more real world oriented papers like the Wall St Journal.
He talks about a dysfunctional US political process, by which I think he means that democrats didn't have the votes to push thru their pet projects. Now that they do have all the votes they need, will the country improve or will the democrats drive the country off a cliff? He also describes the US federal government as "weak", a surprising description now with Uncle owning banks and car companies, and running up a $1.5 trillion deficit in the first half of 2009.
Zacharia's prescriptions for US revival are pretty general and could have served as Obama speeches, heavy on motherhood and apple pie, short on specifics. His hindsight is fairly good but his foresight is no better than mine.
Worth a read, but it's a read once kind of book.

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