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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Author Kupchan disagrees with those believing democracy, capitalism, and nationalism will ensure that the West will continue to dominate the world. He believes this century will not 'belong' to America, China, Asia, the West, or anyone else.
His book begins by recounting the West's ascent to global preeminence between 1500 and 1800. The initial main driver was a product of its political weakness that allowed socioeconomic ferment in Europe. Merchants, intellectuals, and serfs challenged the monarchy, aristocracy, and the church. The Reformation set the stage for intellectual advances by exposing religion to rational inquiry. The growing costs of the modern state (eg. often involved in wars between one faction/nation and another) also forced monarchs to share power in order for the citizens to accept these new costs. Another benefit of the rising middle class was that it provided the economic and intellectual foundations for the Industrial Revolution, and that in turn helped bring improved education, conscription, etc.
More rigid hierarchical orders in the Ottoman Empire, India, China, and Japan held back their transformation. Self-imposed isolation in China and Japan also held those nations back. During the 18th century the development of ocean-going vessels with heavy guns enabled Europe to dominate. The eventual spread of the West's founding ideas was largely a product of its material dominance, not the universal appeal of those ideas. The fall of the Soviet Union also helped.
WWII brought an end to Europe's run as the globe's center of gravity - they'd been devastated by the war and U.S. forced decolonization. American believed they could use their power to order the world toward democratic capitalism - eg. Germany and Japan.
China's economy will pass America's within the current decade, possibly sooner, while Islam is now strengthening its hold on politics in many areas. Neither share Western values. In 2010, four of the top five economies were part of the West; by 2050 only the U.S. will be part of the group, and about half the size of China's economy. In 1978, 12% of all PhDs awarded in the U.S. went to foreign students; by 2008 this had risen to 33%, with 60% in engineering and 48% in the sciences. China now leads the world in steel production, as does Asia in shipbuilding. Kupchan still sees America's Navy as a formidable force, but he doesn't consider new asymmetric warfare capabilities such as supersonic missiles, cheap high-speed torpedo boats, etc. Support for scientific research has recently lured back some 200,000 scientists trained abroad.
Today's rising powers are each following unique paths toward modernity based on their own political, demographic, and socioeconomic conditions. China and Russia have communitarian and paternalistic cultures that sharply contrast with the West. China's traders, artisans, and professionals no longer need to escape the state to realize their potential - its government works to help them and includes them within the CCP - thus co-opting them into supporting the state. About 40% of college professors and administrators belong to the CCP (and China is doubling that sector), over 1/3 of entrepreneurs have become party members, the CCP appoints about 80% of SOE managers (create 40% of its GDP).
Kupchan sees regulated markets and planned economies as having advantages over Western alternatives in today's fast-evolving world; this was demonstrated by China's far better performance in the Great Recession created in the U.S. China was helped by its high savings rate, central planning, and large surpluses. The West was hobbled by an inadequate regulatory framework, vested interests, polarized/disaffected voters, and the influence of political donations in the U.S.
Deng Xiaoping: "The Western style of checks and balances must never be practiced. Efficiency must be guaranteed.' Mao's rule had brought ideological excesses and a cult of personality. Since then, however, China's government is no longer on an ideological crusade - it is pragmatic and shrewd with a remarkable record of leadership competence.
China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Turkey frequently break with America's leadership. Less than one-fourth of Russians believe their nation needs Western-style government - their experiences during the 1990s led many to equate democracy with corruption, chaos, and economic decline.
About two-thirds of Egypt's population want civil law to strictly adhere to the Koran. The Arab Spring is expanding Islam's influence on government.
India's growth rates have been only about half China's. Kupchan sees that as due to its democratic institutions being even more unwieldy by its ethnic and linguistic diversity. Resource allocation depends less on efficiency than spreading benefits over competing constituencies.
I particularly liked the author's point about the U.S. needing to moderate its 'marketing' of democracy. He says that we should evaluate other nations on whether they have responsible governance, not liberal democracy. ('Responsible governance' was defined as being dedicated to improving the lives of its citizens and enabling them to pursue their aspirations.) Other nations' have differing values and backgrounds - much of Asia, as well as Russia, value a more communitarian and authoritative government. Moving too fast towards democracy can produce civil war, economic disaster (eg. Russia). Foreign policy should be evaluated via whether the nation safeguards the welfare of its citizens and refrains from compromising the security of other states - eg. aggression, exporting WMD, sponsoring terrorism.