The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World

Overview

The twenty-first century has seen a rise in the global middle class that brings an unprecedented convergence of interests and perceptions, cultures and values. Kishore Mahbubani is optimistic. We are creating a new global civilization. Eighty-eight percent of the world's population outside the West is rising to Western living standards, and sharing Western aspirations. Yet Mahbubani, one of the most perceptive global commentators, also warns that a new global order needs new ...

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The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World

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Overview

The twenty-first century has seen a rise in the global middle class that brings an unprecedented convergence of interests and perceptions, cultures and values. Kishore Mahbubani is optimistic. We are creating a new global civilization. Eighty-eight percent of the world's population outside the West is rising to Western living standards, and sharing Western aspirations. Yet Mahbubani, one of the most perceptive global commentators, also warns that a new global order needs new policies and attitudes.

Policymakers all over the world must change their preconceptions and accept that we live in one world. National interests must be balanced with global interests. Power must be shared. The U.S. and Europe must cede some power. China and India, Africa and the Islamic world must be integrated. Mahbubani urges that only through these actions can we create a world that converges benignly. This timely book explains how to move forward and confront many pressing global challenges.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The world is coming together with a reconfiguration of power that the West should accommodate, according to this optimistic but unfocused overview of international relations. Mahbubani (The New Asian Hemisphere), Singapore’s former U.N. ambassador, surveys hopeful statistics on global peace and prosperity, showing that wars are growing less frequent while poverty worldwide is declining and trade, education, tourism, and the middle class are swelling. That “new global civilization,” he contends, creates new problems: global warming; alienation in the Muslim world; anxieties over China’s influence; most of all, the West’s continuing disproportionate power over international institutions and failure to adjust self-interested policies—he’s especially critical of American food aid and monetary policy—to global needs. The author’s calls for a “Theory of One World” and a “global ethic” are nebulous (we need a treaty on the atmosphere, he argues, because “without oxygen we are doomed”); his specific proposals are rather U.N.-centered, including calls to hike Western funding of U.N. programs and open the Security Council to rising powers in the developing world. Mahbubani’s interpretation of shifting global realities is canny and cogent, though hardly original, but his ideas for reform are too vague or small-bore to have much impact. Agent: Janklow & Nesbit. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World
"Kishore Mahbubani has done it again. He has written a book that is provocative, engaging, and always intelligent. He brings a crucial perspective to bear on global affairs, rooted in the rise of Asia but with an understanding of Europe and America as well. Rudyard Kipling said, ‘East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.’ But they do in this book."

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General
“In exploring the tensions that arise as our global community draws ever closer together, Kishore Mahbubani provides a compelling reminder that humanity is strongest when we work together for the benefit of all.”

Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business and Co-founder and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics
“While I remain pessimistic for the global economy in the near-term, I share Kishore Mahbubani’s long-term optimism for our world, including the emerging powers like China and India. The world order must now reinvent itself to accommodate these powers. Mahbubani’s timely and brilliant book explains well both the challenges to our global order and the wise solutions that are at hand. We can create a better world. Mahbubani’s book explains how. I strongly commend it.”

Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School

“Most of the great errors in foreign policy and diplomacy come from a failure to understand the perspective of other nations.  And this is a besetting problem for superpowers like the United States.  That is why whether they like it or not, whether they agree or disagree, it so important that Western and especially American policymakers read this important book presenting a perspective on the global trends that is very different from their own.”

Joseph S. Nye, Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University, and author of
The Future of Power
“Kishore Mahbubani is a thoughtful critic of the West and this book is full of provocations; some right, some wrong, but never boring. Above all, he seeks ways to reconcile the 12 per cent of the world’s population who live in the West with the vast majority who do not. The result is a good and important read.”

Raghuram Rajan, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School
“Few today know Asia as well as Kishore Mahbubani, and even fewer combine it with a deep understanding of the West’s strengths and frailties. In The Great Convergence, Mahbubani offers a balanced but profoundly disturbing analysis of the political challenges that face our modern, increasingly interdependent, world. His proposals on how to fix the outdated system of global governance are both refreshingly novel and eminently practical.  A truly stimulating read!”

Pascal Lamy, Director-General, World Trade Organization

"Thought provoking, sharp and full of wisdom as usual, this new book by Kishore Mahbubani not only offers in-depth analysis of world challenges today, but also offered fresh ideas on how to improve global order for the 21st century. A must read for those who are interested in power politics and the future of global governance."
Christian Science Monitor
“A world adrift desperately needs global thinkers, most of all from Asia. Kishore Mahbubani fits the bill with this signal work at this critical time.”

Foreign Affairs
“[An] eloquent and searching portrait of today’s transforming global order.”

Financial Times
“[Mahbubani’s] thesis is a welcome counterweight to the more familiar gloom of political scientists. The book is rich in insight into the hurdles and pitfalls that stand in the way of international co-operation. It takes a hard-headed look at the dynamics of China’s rise: the threat of conflict with a US reinvented as a Pacific power, the dangerous tensions between China and India, and the west’s troubled relationship with Islam among them. But the central argument is compelling…. What is clear, though, is that west and east have still to grasp the paradox deftly illuminated by Mahbubani’s call for global governance. To retain real sovereignty over their national affairs, leaders will have to share it internationally.”

Wall Street Journal
“We all know how dismal the state of the world can often seem. We can be grateful, then, for Kishore Mahbubani's The Great Convergence, a sweeping survey that proves to be, in large measure, a counterweight to global gloom and doom. Mr. Mahbubani is a big-picture writer and thinker, a Thomas Friedman with a strong Asian perspective.… [He] has good questions for Americans.”

Kirkus Reviews
A manifesto for multilateralism, one-worldism, social justice and all the other things that haunt tea party nightmares. The nation-state, writes Singaporean scholar/diplomat Mahbubani (Beyond the Age of Innocence, 2005), is an artifact of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. Most of us may think of it as the natural order, but he argues, "it is hard to believe that a human construct invented more than three hundred fifty years ago can serve humanity when everything has changed so totally." Indeed: Think of what has changed in just the last couple of decades, with China poised to become the world's largest economy within this decade and the United States turned from the world's sole superpower to a declining polity crumbling from economic weakness and imperial overreach. For all the "clash of civilizations" that defines the modern era, Mahbubani urges, things aren't necessarily all that bad out there; Saudi Arabia may repress women, but it's also built "the world's newest and largest scientific university." China has risen as a power in part because of American generosity but also because America "was so supremely self-confident that it would always remain number one." The trick now, writes the author, is to shed ideas of supremacy. There are some obvious platitudes attendant in such a rosy view, among them this: "The whole world would be better off if the 7 billion citizens of planet earth became more and more aware of the global impact of their activities." Well, yes, but for all the fuzziness, Mahbubani offers practical steps, including a recomposition of the U.N. Security Council to encourage one-worldism. Just the thing to give your black helicopter–fearing uncle--or maybe not. An interesting exercise in geopolitical wonkiness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610393690
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 613,951
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Kishore Mahbubani is a writer, professor, and a former Singaporean diplomat who served twice as ambassador to the UN. Currently, he is the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore. A prolific writer, he has published three books and numerous articles in leading global journals and newspapers, like Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Financial Times. Foreign Policy listed him as one of the top 100 global thinkers in 2005, 2010, and 2011.
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