Not really. Just kidding. I think Zakaria is a bright, thoughtful fellow, he is much more knowledgeable about many things than I am, and I am one of his biggest fans.
I just needed a controversial post title to grab your attention.
Per the assigned book review for this quarter, I generally see that students like, in general agree with and find comfort in the overall theme and premise of his book, The Post American World. No problem there.
I am sometimes surprised by how his arguments also sometimes seem to be given a free pass and the benefit of the doubt. On this note, see, for example, this WSJ article, Multilateralism Cuts Both Ways.
Said article, in my view, highlights one of the main weaknesses with the Zakaria and his argument for us “all to just get along.” This article is right to point out, and it is perfectly fair to highlight, that now that Bush and Cheney are gone, the rest of the world don’t have their softball easy targets and big bad bogeymen to attack and use to criticize America for their own unwillingness to “man-up” on difficult geopolitical problems and challenges, and they will now have to get in the game and put their money and own budgets where their mouth is.
Relatedly, see this WSJ article, Auction Bidder Protests Looting by Refusing to Pay, about a Chinese art collector who was the successful bidder on some Chinese art at a Christie’s art sale in France, but then refused to pay because he wanted to kill the buy-sell process as an act of political protest. While some would say this is admirable, for me, it highlights a facet of China’s growing (understandable) patriotism and confidence (this also relates to some of our other predepature readings). But more importantly for the purposes of this post, it also highlights China’s ongoing national schizophrenia and paranoia. To wit, one day the CCP and a percentage of its Chinese citizens may claim to be victims of past historical and colonial injustices (for those familiar with recent Chinese history you know the various historical events to which I refer) and they want some form of payback or recognition for those past wrongs, and then the next day they want respect but don’t want to be held to the same international and rule of law standards that the rest of us big boys have to play by (e.g., China had its day in court on the pieces of art at issue and lost).
The argument being that if one wants to be a true global power that is given respect and accolades, said country can’t have it both ways. This too, in my view, is where Zakaria’s books falls short — it does not take this flip flopping by other countries into account (e.g., France, anyone?). He only focuses on the flip-flopping of the USA.
And again, for the record, I really am a Zakaria fan. He is a very sharp dude and from what I hear, an even nicer person.