Something like the "bipolar hegemony" of Great Britain and Russia after 1815 (though other players like Austria, Prussia, and France mattered) could be reconstituted, with the US and China substituting for Great Britain and Russia. This seems to be Henry Kissinger's ultimate dream - a dream that one can glimpse in his latest book, Germanically entitled World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History.
Is it time to recognize a Chinese equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine in East Asia--accepting that China is now the pre-eminent regional power? There are essential caveats to such a dramatic policy shift. At a minimum, Beijing would need to embrace not only the original logic of the Monroe Doctrine, but also the so-called Roosevelt Corollary. The latter, adopted during Theodore Roosevelt's administration, promised Britain and the other European powers that the United States would maintain order in the Western Hemisphere and discipline irresponsible governments in the region - especially North Korea.
The West does indeed face a high risk of becoming overstretched. But what is the alternative, other than accelerating chaos, mushrooming security risks and serial humanitarian disasters? For the West, this dilemma cannot be avoided. Today's accumulating crises, accompanied by America's strategic fatigue, are forcing Europe to define what role it will play in the future of Western -- and global -- stability. If the U.S. can no longer bear the burden of Pax Americana, Europe must do more for collective security.
Over the centuries, a rich China invariably brought prosperity to all of East and Southeast Asia. Therefore, while Asian countries might value the U.S. as a friend, no one wants China as an enemy. There is a spot that is sweet for everyone. If the U.S. moves closer to China and to other countries of Asia, all will benefit. If the U.S., in response to China's rise, moves too close to some as a move against others, everyone is caught in a lose-lose situation.
Unlike the Cold War period -- in which the Soviet Union was isolated from the global economy -- commercial interests and trade secrets underpin the intrinsically entangled Sino-American economic relations. The higgledy-piggledy distinction between national security and corporate interests is hardly convincing to the Chinese, especially when the US revolving doors conveniently inhabit the space between government service and corporations during both Democratic and Republican administrations. Just like the Sino-American relations in commercial intercourse, economics triumphs over ideology in the partisan world of American politics. On China's side, its intertwined national and economic interests are enshrined in the peculiar institution of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
As governing systems, both China's autocracy and America's democracy are facing crisis. In many ways, their crises are the mirror image of each other -- and so are the solutions. To fix itself, China needs more re-politicization -- robust popular feedback and accountability to aerate its hidebound mandarinate. American democracy needs more de-politicization --stronger meritocratic, non-partisan and deliberative practices and institutions -- to escape its capture by the populist, short-term horizon of voters, organized special interests and the paralyzing gridlock of its adversarial political parties. Our two political cultures are as distinct as our economies are intertwined. Yet both have much to learn from each other's strengths as well as weaknesses. In short, China needs to lighten up; America needs to tighten up.
Currently, India's labor laws only apply the 20 to 25 million workers in what is called the "organized sector," which includes registered corporations and businesses. New higher minimum wages must also be made to apply to the other 175 million workers who work in the unorganized or unincorporated sector, as farm hands, pushcart vendors, construction workers, private security guards, household help, drivers, shoe shiners, waiters, shop help etc. Currently, this is not happening.