Zakaria: A Post-American world in progress
December 29th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

Zakaria: A Post-American world in progress

By Fareed Zakaria

The past year has been filled with tumultuous events - the Arab Spring, the euro-zone crisis. But the most striking trend of 2011, one that will persist in 2012, was one that got little notice: the emerging powers that weren’t.

By now everyone knows that a new and rising group of nations, including China, India, Brazil and Russia, are reshaping the globe. Yet if 2011 demonstrated anything, it was the inability of these countries to have much influence beyond their borders. They continue to grow their economies, but they all face internal and external challenges that make them less interested and less capable of exercising power on an international or even regional scale.

Let’s start with China. Chinese growth continues to be robust, though clearly the government is worried about the inflationary effects of the massive stimulus program it implemented after the financial crisis, which has created a boom-bust cycle and inflationary pressures across the country. The regime, however, is expert at dealing with economic challenges; political ones are harder.

China faces a transfer of power in 2012 that is unprecedented. About 70% of the country’s senior leadership - the top 200 or so members of the Central Committee - will be replaced by autumn. The new leaders - Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang - are the first generation that was not personally blessed and selected by Deng Xiaoping, the architect of modern China. Perhaps as a result, we are beginning to see factions develop within the Chinese Communist Party along regional, functional and ideological lines.

The change comes at a delicate moment. Beijing’s foreign policy assertiveness over the past two years on the South China Sea and related territorial issues has provoked other Asian powers to stand up to China, band together more closely and ask openly for American involvement in the Pacific. The result is that Beijing is now quieter on the regional stage. Global leadership is unthinkable. No Chinese leader today has the authority or the inclination to make big, bold decisions that would involve, say, shoring up the euro or initiating a new East-West climate compact.

Read my full article over at TIME Magazine.


soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. José Henrique

    Zakaria, this article is too boring. I´d like to see more polemical and biased articles, such as that one you wrote about CELAC.

    For instance, why don´t you write about:

    1) ghost cities in China
    2) Greeks sleeping on the streets
    3) Portugueses running away to Brazil
    4) Hugo Chavez´s conspiracy theories
    5) Republicans saying that Obama is the anti-christ
    6) Haitians refugees starving at the Brazilian frontier
    7) 2012: the end of the world economy?

    December 29, 2011 at 11:38 am | Reply
    • José Henrique

      8) CORINTHIANS IS NOT BIGGER THAN CNN!!

      December 29, 2011 at 11:40 am | Reply
      • amato

        He is.

        December 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  2. amato

    "China faces a transfer of power in 2012 that is unprecedented. About 70% of the country’s senior leadership – the top 200 or so members of the Central Committee – will be replaced by autumn"
    Chinese democracy makes sense.

    December 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • José Henrique

      China is a dictatorship. But CNN never talks about that because the chinese government sponsors this channel.

      December 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
      • freedom

        Zakaria has discussed the nature of the Chinese government a good bit on his program, especially government censorship of free speech. Zakaria interviewed the Chinese premire , who acknowledged the problem and suggested the government might lighten up their censorship. The following program, Zakaria reported that his interview was censored in China.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
      • James

        dude, everyone on this planet knows that China is a dictatorship....

        January 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • vokoyo

      當我們看中國的外交,卻發現她很多時會在違背自身價值觀和利益的情況下,向各國妥協。可見中國外交的失敗。

      中國所實行的睦鄰政策,可說是徹底的失敗。中國現在的領導人奉行鄧小平那套所謂的「韜光養晦」政策。但其實,這只是一種逃避挑戰的鴕鳥政策。當今中國所面臨的惡劣國際環境,則決定了這種鴕鳥政策必然失敗。

      在這種鴕鳥政策主導下,中國外交不僅畏首畏尾,更胸無大志,既沒有系統的外交戰略,也沒有長遠的外交目標。這種頭痛醫頭、腳痛醫腳式的外交政策,直接導致中國外交在面對各種挑釁時束手無策,盡顯軟弱之態,面對大好機遇時,也因毫無戰略準備而無所作為。

      對印度對日本甚至是越南,中國都是畏首畏尾,一昧退讓,實行韜光養晦。本來,鄧小平的韜光養晦,是指平時積蓄力量,關鍵時刻果斷出手,是一種積極進取的外交思維。但現在,卻成了一種鴕鳥政策,令人無奈。

      其實,按照中國現在的實力,根本不用如此讓步,中國對東南亞國家,對日本,甚至是越南,都讓得太多。完全顯示不到大國風範,畏首畏尾的外交政策,只會令中國人蒙羞!

      至於對印度和越南的外交處理手法,中國簡直令人覺得恥辱。情況就好像當年清政府打贏法國,但仍然賠償法國一樣。令人覺得是絕大的恥辱。

      中國在和俄羅斯,印度,日本,越南等周遍強國的政治經濟往來中,沒有佔到多少便宜,也沒有讓這些列強放棄對中國崛起的偏見和敵視,自身利益不斷被侵占,不能不說中國的外交政策有很大缺陷,這是中國國家佈局計劃和外交政策慘敗的最佳體現。

      中國常常想成為一等一的大國,但他的外交卻事事以懦弱的方式勉強了事,實在不能給人任何強國的風範。

      December 30, 2011 at 7:35 am | Reply
      • José Henrique

        Felizmente, a diplomacia chinesa não está agindo como a diplomacia americana. Os chineses dominam pela economia, e não por imposições militares.

        January 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
      • James

        法轮功,闭嘴!

        January 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
      • José Henrique

        Não sou da Falun Gong. Mas se estivesse na China, apoiaria a liberdade religiosa. Governo não é religião!!

        January 9, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  3. Hahahahahahaha

    I think we just have a chink in our economy. Hahahahahahaha.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  4. rob

    your name sounds like diarrhea (zakaria), ******* change it to adam or steve.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
    • Heny, E

      Show some respect

      December 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Reply
    • Dubba Dubba Doo Hick

      @Rob: Hey Rob, just go rob your mother, sister, or something.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Fareed, you said the year 2011 saw "the inability of these countries to have much influence beyond their borders". If their growth is not just a flash in the pan, in a decade or two, they will be notable global players.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  6. R. Dickerson

    The future of many so called 3rd World countries will be greatly influenced by whether thy chose Nationalism or Tribalism.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Reply
    • Rich

      ...or join the globalist movement.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  7. Oliver Hilsenrath

    What a shame that smart people are sooo boring. You end up listening to only the stupid because at least they keep you awake...

    December 29, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  8. Rz

    Collectively, how we live and what we do as individuals can have far greater impacts than many can readily see or even imagine. Reality can be wonderful in one moment, but then horrific in the next. This is a proven historical fact that is applicable to individuals, leaders, governments and countries alike. Technology and breakthroughs are typically double edged swords which can be used to both better our world, or to help destroy it. Historically, we have always done both.
    Going forward will likely be the same, but just appear different.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:43 am | Reply
  9. That'snottrue:[

    Once AGAIN! Focus on your own problems please... your predictions are always wrong anyways, China & the US functions differently, while the US like to mess with the Eurozone & the Middle East, China rarely ventures out....so your last sentence sir, is pure nonsense....don't you have enough money to travel? To see what's going on and then write about it...geez! =.=

    December 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  10. Eric Hendrickson

    I admire the people who serve others who are less fortunate and The truth seekers and the people who are fair and just and the people who admit there mistakes and learn from them.
    And how the hell is GW 2 on the list who is so arrogant and disrespectful and stupid to hire his dads buddy Rumsfeild who seems to have been buds Bin laden and Saddam and is a member of the Skull and Bones secret society
    And check out my picture of JFK I posted on FB on christmas who vowed to expose a secret plot 7 days before he was killed in texas

    We are all citizens of Earth this land is your land this land our land this land was made for you and me and we need to leave it a better place for our children and no child should suffer WAKE up America Big oil big pharma is taking our freedom away
    and we need a http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150438558760942&set=a.469813215941.261399.175868780941&type=1&ref=nf

    And I would like to give special thanks To Dr Stanley Krippner who I admire and honor he took the time to when no one else would And gave such a wonderful Review and pay homage to author Dr. Eugene Seaich my grandpa who spent his life loving caring for his wife having the terrible disease Multiple Scleroses http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46127654150

    January 2, 2012 at 5:21 am | Reply
  11. Eric Hendrickson

    We are all citizens of Earth this land is your land this land our land this land was made for you and me and we need to leave it a better place for our children and no child should suffer WAKE up America Big oil big pharma is taking our freedom away

    And I would like to give special thanks To Dr Stanley Krippner who I admire and honor he took the time to when no one else would And gave such a wonderful Review and pay homage to author Dr. Eugene Seaich my grandpa who spent his life loving caring for his wife having the terrible disease Multiple Scleroses http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46127654150

    January 2, 2012 at 5:23 am | Reply
  12. Jason

    The rest of the world is moving on while the USA is stuck in preventative wars of aggression, and sticking to a suicidal economic policy.

    So policing the world and having thousands of nukes makes you feel warm and fuzzy..

    $800+ billion spent in Iraq
    4,500 American lives
    100,000+ American casualties
    30,000 Iraqi lives
    300,000 Iraqi casualties
    350 Journalists killed
    450 Academics killed
    1 military-related suicide every 36 hours
    20+ Veteran suicides per day

    Our recent withdrawl from Iraq has revealed PTSD of epidemic proportions. Suicide rates will only go up. They need our help NOW. Our friends and family didn't volunteer for these illegal wars. Ron Paul has more donations from military personnel than all the other candidates do combined. If this isn't a cry for help, I don't know what is.

    Next up:
    Iran
    Pakistan
    Libya
    ..

    January 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply

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