These developments illustrate the central point of Fareed Zakaria’s illuminating and timely new book The Post-American World. Over the past couple of decades, a global transformation has seen countless countries experience remarkable economic growth. While the US will remain an economic power, the days of American economic preeminence, which characterized the 20th century, are over. According to Zakaria, this points not to the decline of the US, but to “the rise of the rest.”
Zakaria writes that the global economic explosion is a consequence of political change (the fall of the Soviet state discredited central planning); the free movement of capital around the world (the daily flow of trillions of dollars lubricates the global economy); and the communications revolution (the Internet and cellphones have transformed business by driving down costs and increasing efficiency).
The rise of India and China
In presenting this story, Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and an astute analyst of US foreign policy, looks closely at economic developments in China and India, and assesses how the spread of global wealth will affect the US.
With annual economic growth averaging 9 percent for the past 30 years, China has emerged as a global economic powerhouse. In 1978, the country made 200 air conditioners; in 2005, it made 48 million. It produces two-thirds of the world’s photocopiers, microwave ovens, and shoes, and now exports as much each day as it did in all of 1978.