Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"The Post-American World" by Fareed Zakaria

This marks my 400th blog post.  I have to give a shout out to a blogger I read and was inspired by before I became an expat.  Once while reading his blog, he remarked that he had reached 400 posts. I had no way of knowing how easy or hard that was at the time. Now I do and I salute Al Tischler, formerly of Radio Free Europe, for all of his hard work on the blog he wrote while his family was in Prague called Tischlers In Prague.  I loved reading his family's adventures and couldn't wait to get to get to the Czech Republic as I planned from America. Al, it is a pleasure to catch up with you!

Now that I'm an expat, I see things that worry me about the future of America.   A recent book published in the last few years with the title "The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest" by Fareed Zakaria zeros in on that concern with a title that makes it sound like America zenith has past.  I love watching Fareed Zakaria's show 'Global Public Square' on CNN and wanted to hear what this cerebral immigrant had to say about the American future. 

Fareed Zakaria is well-known now to American television audiences, but it is important to remember what a breakthrough broadcasting success he was when he started his international affairs show. For most of us Americans he was the most prominent Muslim-American we had ever seen on television. Indeed, friends have suggested he could be our first Muslim-American Secretary of State.

I appreciated that his was the first Sunday talk show to consistently, week-after-week, bring an international panel of guests on his show to discuss how issues looked from abroad. Utilizing intellect and charm, he led Americans in considering and valuing viewpoints from non-Americans at a time when America was scared, hunkered down, and lashing out in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat," helped me understand the economic impact of globalization, Zakaria's "The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest" soothed me as an American and made me comfortable with the political impact of globalization (despite its alarming title). As nations become "more like America" and compete with us using the same level of democracy and capitalistic meritocracy that made America such a success, it could be easy for Americans to fear the future and the world more. Zakaria suggests that if we stay true to democratic values and don't fight the reality of the rise of the rest, America has enough advantages with our superb ability to assimilate immigrants, our unrivaled institutions of higher education, and our storied ability to turn research into actual products to compete just fine against nations with larger populations.

Our role will be to lead politically and economically by example, coordinate nations in a multi-polar world as George H.W. Bush did so well in the first Gulf War, and thrive with our friends not just by ourselves.  A new edition of the book, "The Post-American World 2.0" has been released as of May 2011.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New York Times asks its readers "Why Do We Travel?"

 Village leader at his traditional house in Harran, Turkey.

 Recently the New York Times, inspired by travel writer Paul Theroux, asked its readers "Why Do We Travel?" Entries poured in and the finalists have been named. I don't envy the judges.  I can't decide which one I would choose for the winner: either the essay about Rome or about Turkey.  Do you have a clear favorite? Which essay would you choose as the best explanation of "Why We Travel." To read the final three entries, click on my title.
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