College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

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The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

Post American World The Post-American World

by Fareed Zakaria, Norton, 2008

Reviewed by Dave Mason

Newsweek editor and columnist Fareed Zakaria has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking book about America's relative decline in the world, and "the rise of the rest"-especially China and India. These emerging powers are following a "third way," not always the path or model of the United States, and in the process reshaping the international system. They are gaining regional and global influence not with military muscle or political power, but by the force of example, and by sheer economic bulk. Meanwhile, much of the world is moving "from anger to indifference" about the United States-from anti-Americanism to "post-Americanism."

Zakaria compares this global shift to previous epochal changes, with the rise of the Western world, and the rise of the U.S. He sees the main challenge for the U.S. to get beyond our "dysfunctional" political system that has us debating trivia instead of coming to terms with globalization and a more diffuse international system that requires consultation, cooperation and compromise.

Curiously, though, he still refers to the U.S. as "the single superpower" in a unipolar world, and sees U.S. continued strength based on the dynamism of the U.S. economy. Recent events, however, suggest that even the vaunted U.S. economy may be pretty "dysfunctional." The trends Zakaria describes may be faster and more dramatic than he expected.

- David S. Mason is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Butler University and the author of a new book, The End of the American Century.