Seventy years after the end of World War II, Manabu Sato (Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo) believes Japan stands at a critical juncture. "One path," he explains, "is that of a nation that does not wage War; the other, a nation that wages War." Professor Sato and Professor Nakano join me to discuss the issues.
It is not apparent that policymakers in either the U.S. or China yet seem persuaded that accommodation is necessary. Both seem to underestimate the resolve of the other and hope that they can secure all they want because the other will back down to avoid confrontation. This is how Asia today most resembles Europe in 1914.
This moment demands a fresh interrogation of what theologian Reinhold Neibuhr euphemistically called "the highly contingent achievements of the west," and closer attention to the varied histories of the non-west. Instead, the most common response to the present crisis has been despair over western "weakness" -- and much acrimony over what Barack Obama, president of the "sole superpower" and the "indispensable nation" should have done to fix it.
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.
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.
While elements of the old liberal order will survive, they will have to accommodate new actors and approaches that do not play to America's commands and preferences. The multiplex cinema is an apt analogy for today's post-American world. Several movies are running in different theaters within a single complex. Hollywood style includes thrillers and Westerns with violence, crime, ruggedness and heroism as prominent themes. Bollywood fare offers passion, tragedy, song and dance. Kung fu films produced in Hong Kong and Taiwan play next to patriotic and propaganda films from communist China. No single director or producer would monopolize the audience's attention or loyalty for long. The audience has a choice of shows.
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.