May 7, NY Times

What a difference five years — and one war — make!

In a 2003 article in Newsweek, written on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Fareed Zakaria — a columnist for the magazine and the editor of its international edition — wrote: “It is now clear that the current era can really have only one name, the unipolar world — an age with only one global power. America’s position today is unprecedented.” He went on to declare that “American dominance is not simply military. The U.S. economy is as large as the next three — Japan, Germany and Britain — put together,” adding that “it is more dynamic economically, more youthful demographically and more flexible culturally than any other part of the world.” What worries people around the world above all else, he wrote, “is living in a world shaped and dominated by one country — the United States.”

In his new book, “The Post-American World,” Mr. Zakaria writes that America remains a politico-military superpower, but “in every other dimension — industrial, financial, educational, social, cultural — the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from American dominance.” With the rise of China, India and other emerging markets, with economic growth sweeping much of the planet, and the world becoming increasingly decentralized and interconnected, he contends, “we are moving into a post-American world, one defined and directed from many places and by many people.”

For that matter, Mr. Zakaria argues that we are now in the midst of the third great tectonic power shift to occur over the last 500 years: the first was the rise of the West, which produced “modernity as we know it: science and technology, commerce and capitalism, the agricultural and industrial revolutions”; the second was the rise of the United States in the 20th century; and the third is what he calls “the rise of the rest,” with China and India “becoming bigger players in their neighborhoods and beyond,” Russia becoming more aggressive, and Europe acting with “immense strength and purpose” on matters of trade and economics.

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photo by NY Times