While the media touted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit as a sign of Africa's "rising" and its soon-to-be key role on the world stage, the truth is quite the opposite. African leaders' love for summitry isn't a sign of a rising continent, but rather, a sign of confusion, weakness and lack of direction.
We have not yet seen any renewed attempt to re-establish the "Quadrilateral Security Dialogue," comprising Japan, Australia, the U.S., and India, which conducted joint military exercises in 2007 and was seen by China as a hostile containment enterprise. But it is not hard to imagine that this is still very much on Abe's wish list. The dangers should not be exaggerated. But, with strategic competition between the U.S. and China as delicately poised as it is, and with the economic interests of Australia, Japan, and many others in the region bound up just as intensely with China as their security interests are with the U.S., rocking the boat carries serious risks.
In the face of such promises and threats, it makes no sense to be optimistic or pessimistic: We are not spectators of the world in motion, but players. Only spectators may be content with being optimistic or pessimistic. As for players, they are neither the one nor the other at all times. They play.
BUDAPEST - When it comes to geopolitics, there is always a market for gloom. Business has been booming in this respect lately, with The Economist, Foreign Affairs, and many less exalted journals full of claims that the global order is crumbling, America's ability (and willingness) to save it is in terminal decline, and the prospect of avoiding major conflict in the decade ahead is illusory. Plenty of recent events -- along with the ghosts of 1914 and 1939 -- have boosted the reputations, royalties, and revenues of today's doomsayers. There is Russia's adventurism in Ukraine; China's territorial assertiveness -- and Japan's new push-back nationalism -- in East Asia; continuing catastrophe in Syria and disarray in the wider Middle East; the resurgence of atrocity crimes in South Sudan, Nigeria, and elsewhere in Africa; and anxiety about renewed communal strife in India after Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi's stunning election victory. But, though global political conditions are hardly as good as they could be -- they never are -- there are plenty of grounds for thinking that they are not nearly as bad as so many are claiming. Here are the five most important reasons not to lose as much sleep as some pundits say you should.
Misguided nationalism is rearing its ugly head in some instances. The political dynamics of the region is shaking the geopolitical plate from under the surface. Dr. Kissinger once said, "history knows no resting places and plateaus." To me, history knows no end. Here in Northeast Asia, it is returning with a vengeance.
Politicians like to talk about the U.S. being the envy of the world. No one likes to admit that power still has its limits. It just seems to go against the American grain. When people talk about a weak president, perhaps the next step shouldn't be to look at his personality, but the position of the country.