In Kishore Mahbubani’s timely polemic, he argues passionately that the West can no longer presume to impose its ideology on the world, and crucially, that it must stop seeking to intervene, politically and militarily, in the affairs of other nations. He examines the West’s greatest follies of recent times: the humiliation of Russia at the end of the Cold War, which led to the rise of Putin, and the invasion of Iraq after 9/11, which destabilised the Middle East. Yet, he argues, essential to future world peace are the Western constructs of democracy and reason, which it must continue to promote, by diplomacy rather than force, via multilateral institutions of global governance such as the UN. Only by recognising its changing status, and seeking to influence rather than dominate, he warns, can the West continue to play a key geopolitical role.
Reviews of this book
“Kishore Mahbubani might well be the most intelligent, friendly and doggedly persistent critic of the West. In this brief book, he delivers some of his trademark analysis and pungent observations. We should all think of it as the cold shower that is urgently needed to revive the West” — Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World
“A powerful, disputatious book. It’s not comfortable reading, and it wasn’t meant to be” — Paul Kennedy, Director of International Security Studies and Professor of History at Yale University
The world’s largest continent stretches from Japan and Indonesia across central Asia to the Arab world. It is the spiritual focus of such great religions as Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism and home to nearly 60 percent of the earth’s population. Asia’s economies are poised to surpass those of Europe and North America within the next fifty years, and yet Westerners have done little to adjust their attitudes in light of present-day realities. In order to avoid a “clash of civilizations,” Mahbubani believes that a great deal of self-reflection will be required by all concerned. His analysis of the past and his predictions for the future are a wake-up call to Asians and Westerners alike.
Read a Salon.com interview with the author about this book.
Selected for Young Presidents’ Organization Fellows Book List on Amazon.com.
Reviews of this book
“If you are looking for insight into how others perceive us – and the events of September 11 underscore that need – then I know of no better guide than Kishore Mahbubani. His collection of lively essays will both inform and challenge your thinking.” — Paul A. Volcker
“Mahbubani writes with a diplomat’s charm, gleefully untangling political knots into simple threads. This book has a special force because it comes from a man who is a prototype 21st century leader…” — Joshua Cooper Ramo, Time Magazine
“Kishore Mahbubani’s essays have always been among the most thoughtful and provocative distillations. They are invaluable in considering foreign policy, relations among civilizations and the panoply of issues called Asian values. In prose both sinewy and attractive, he has the great facility of making ideas come to life and setting them against each other as actors in an intellectual drama. Simply essential reading.” — Greg Sheridan, foreign editor, The Australian
The twenty-first century has seen a rise in the global middle class that brings an unprecedented convergence of interests and perceptions, cultures and values. Kishore Mahbubani is optimistic. We are creating a new global civilization. Eighty-eight percent of the world’s population outside the West is rising to Western living standards, and sharing Western aspirations. Yet Mahbubani, one of the most perceptive global commentators, also warns that a new global order needs new policies and attitudes.
Policymakers all over the world must change their preconceptions and accept that we live in one world. National interests must be balanced with global interests. Power must be shared. The U.S. and Europe must cede some power. China and India, Africa and the Islamic world must be integrated. Mahbubani urges that only through these actions can we create a world that converges benignly. This timely book explains how to move forward and confront many pressing global challenges.
“Charles Dickens famously wrote that it was the best of times and the worst of times. Many in the West today believe these are the worst of times. Yet, in many ways, these are the best of times for the West and the Rest.
Global poverty is disappearing. The global middle class is booming. Inter-state wars have become a sunset industry. Never has so large a percentage of the world’s population been as well-educated and well-travelled as it is today. We are becoming more integrated and interconnected. The potential for a peaceful new global civilization is evolving before our eyes almost unnoticed.
Yet challenges remain. Seven major geopolitical fault lines have to be resolved. Institutions of global governance need serious reform. The IMF and the World Bank cannot remain in western pockets. The UN Security Council must reflect contemporary great power configurations. The world order has to be reconstructed. And it can be done.
Kishore Mahbubani’s book could not be more timely. He masterfully describes how our world has seen more positive change in the past 30 years than the past 300 years. By prescribing brilliant and pragmatic solutions for improving our global order – including a 7-7-7 formula that can finally break the logjam in the UN Security Council – Mahbubani maps a road away from the geopolitical contours of the nineteenth century that have shackled us, and identifies the defining condition of our era: the great convergence.”
Many Americans know in their heart of hearts that something has gone wrong in America ‘s relations with the world. But they don’t quite know why. Or what triggered this. A thought-provoking and deeply insightful book, Beyond the Age of Innocence explains the complex story of America and the world, and the seismic shifts that have taken place, unnoticed by many Americans.
The curious paradox is that America has done more than any other country to change the world. Yet Americans are among the least prepared to cope with the world they have changed. Without intending to, America has entered the lives of most people on Earth. By sharing the American dream globally, America has sprinkled the stardust of hope into billions of eyes. By refusing to make the mistakes of European colonists, it has liberated hundreds of millions, accumulating huge reservoirs of good will. Tragically, when the Cold War ended, America did a U-turn, walked away from the world, displayed indifference to the plight of others and unwittingly alienated huge populations. A majority of the 1.2 billion Muslims are clearly angry with America. Many cheer Osama. Similarly, America has been imprudent in its dealings with the 1.2 billion Chinese. Reservoirs of good will have been replaced with reservoirs of anger and resentment.
But all is not lost. There is hope. Kishore Mahbubani is an old friend of America. Growing up in Singapore , on the other side of the world, his life has been powerfully influenced by the American era. In this urgently needed book, he sets out to explain both the global enchantment and disenchantment with America and what America can still do to save the situation. American power remains the single most powerful force on the globe. Wisely used and administered, it can both make the world a better place and protect America ‘s long-term interests.
There is an accumulated pool of wisdom within the American body politic that has enabled America to become the most successful society in the history of man. This wisdom has been little tapped in recent years. The founding fathers wisely believed that America should show a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. This book explains how this can be done today.
Selected as a Foreign Policy Association Editor’s Pick
Reviews of this book
“Sometimes it takes a foreigner to see a country whole. Kishore Mahbubani is a Singaporean who has lived in and loves America. In this elegant book he describes his hopes and fears about the country and the new world it finds itself in. It is a remarkable exercise in both realism and idealism. America needs more friends like him and the world needs more minds like his.” — Fareed Zakaria, author of The Future of Freedom.
“Kishore Mahbubani adores the Unites States and explains why the rest of the world does not. With the calm wisdom of an honest and perceptive diplomat, he summons the better angels of our nature in order to save America from itself. Everyone who is puzzled by the global distrust of God’s own country should read Beyond the Age of Innocence.” — Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
“This is a lovely book, very personal and very reflective, a piece by someone who knows and loves America and, yet, given his cosmopolitan background, is able to see this country from without as well as from within. It is also a cautionary tale, and one that the American leadership should take into account. Kishore Mahbubani rightly warns the United States that it cannot walk alone, but will best fulfill its purposes when it strides out hand-in-hand with nations and international organizations that share the same vision. This is a plea for cultural understanding, for reasoned leadership and, above all, for intelligence. It would be good to heed such pleas.” — Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
“Kishore Mahbubani provides an absorbing, eloquent, and insightful perspective, enriched with personal reminiscences, on the impact, good and bad, of American power on the world. His book is a must read for Americans especially but also for others who want to know what America has to do to promote a world that will be a better place not only for Americans but also for everyone else.” — Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations and Who Are We
“This shrewd book by Kishore Mahbubani, a premier international diplomat, feels like a farewell letter telling American friends that their country generally means well, but has little idea of its impact on peoples’ lives around the world, often affecting foreign lives more than their own governments and often unintentionally doing great harm. He reminds us that our best asset is the American dream, the dream of possibilities and success, that still makes others want to be us. He tells Americans how to get along better with the world, without pandering.” — Les Gelb, Former President of the Council of Foreign Relations
“Cogent, constructive criticism and practical, well-timed advice from a friend-Americans can’t ask more than that from Kishore Mahbubani. He’s a child of globalization, a highly-esteemed and straight-talking scholar, a long-time and insightful resident of the U.S., and a powerful writer. All those qualities are evident in this critique of the style and substance of American foreign policy.” — Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution
“Beyond the Age of Innocence is both a disturbing and challenging book. Kishore Mahbubani asks a question of enormous significance for the decades ahead: can America which has contributed, by force of ideas more than military might, so much to the welfare of mankind in its first 200 years avoid the hubris and arrogance that has, in the end, brought down empires in the past? He plainly wants to believe the United States can restore the sense of constructive leadership the world so sorely needs. At the same time, he leaves no doubt that this will require a sensitivity to global interests which will not come easily.” — Paul Volcker, Professor Emeritus of International Economic Policy at Princeton University
“With this book, Kishore Mahbubani establishes himself as the best interpreter of the world to Americans — and of Americans to the world.” — John Lewis Gaddis, Robert A. Lovett Professor of History, Yale University
the relevance of an Asian policy school
what will make the LKY School’s curriculum “one of the most innovative”
what sets global policy studies apart from all other academic disciplines
why executive education at the LKY School is one of the largest in the world
why the LKY School is the third best-endowed policy school in the world
a view of high-profile participating “student officials”
Introduction: Inspiring Leaders, Improving Lives (118 KB)
Chapter 1: Reflections of a Founding Dean (412 KB)
Introduction: Inspiring Leaders, Improving Lives (Stavros N Yiannouka)
Reflections of a Founding Dean (Kishore Mahbubani)
Building a World-Class School of Public Policy (Stavros N Yiannouka)
The Three Enigmas of Professional Policy Education (Scott A Fritzen)
Richness, Rigour and Relevance: Creating a Strong and Vibrant Research Community at a New School of Public Policy (Astrid S Tuminez)
A “Singapore School” of Public Policy (Kenneth Paul Tan)
Conclusion: Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead (Scott A Fritzen)
Appendix A: Global Public Policy as a Field of Study: A View from Asia (Kanti Bajpai, Scott A Fritzen and Kishore Mahbubani)
Appendix B: A Sampling of Research Projects and Milestones
Readership: Academics, policy makers, LKY School students, alumni and faculty, and anyone interested in the development and management of universities and other institutions of higher education.
This book assesses the varying interests of China and India in economics, environment, energy, and water and addresses the possibility of cooperation in these domains. Containing analyses by leading authorities on China and India, it analyses the nature of existing and emerging conflict, describes the extent of cooperation, and suggests possibilities for collaboration in the future. While it is often suggested that conflict between the giants of Asia is the norm, there are a number of opportunities for cooperation in trade, international and regional financial institutions, renewable energy development and climate change, and shared rivers.
This book will be of interest to researchers in the fields of Asian Studies, International Relations, and Asian Politics.
Introduction: The Long Peace, New Areas of Competition, and Opportunities for Cooperation in China-India Relations Kanti Bajpai, Huang Jing, and Kishore Mahbubani Part I: Economics 1. Convergence and Divergence in Development – An Indian Perspective Prem Shankar Jha 2. Towards Greater Financial Cooperation – A Chinese Perspective Zhao Gancheng 3. Bilateral Trade and Global Economy – An Indian Perspective Sanjaya Baru 4. Competitive Cooperation in Trade – A Chinese Perspective Hu Shisheng Part II: Environment and Energy 5. Working Together Towards an Ecologically Civilised World – A Chinese Perspective Pan Jiahua 6. Cooperation on Climate Change Mitigation – An Indian Perspective Arabinda Mishra and Neha Pahuja 7. Sino-Indian Interactions in Energy in the 2000s – A Chinese Perspective Zha Daojiong 8. What Scope for Resource Cooperation? – An Indian Perspective Arunabha Ghosh Part III: Water 9. Towards Riparian Rationality – An Indian Perspective Uttam Kumar Sinha 10. ARiver Flows Through It – A Chinese Perspective Selina Ho Conclusion: Ways Forward for China-India Cooperation Kanti Bajpai, Huang Jing, and Kishore Mahbubani
About the Editors
Kanti Bajpai is Wilmar Professor of Asian Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Huang Jing is Lee Foundation Professor on US–China Relations and Director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Kishore Mahbubani is Dean and Professor of Practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
About the Series
Routledge Contemporary Asia Series
The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of contemporary Asia.
Asian Studies (General)
South Asian Studies
India (studies of)
South Asian Politics
Politics & International Relations
South Asian Politics
Military & Strategic Studies
Security Studies – Military & Strategic
In an era of growing economic pessimism, where many young people believe that their lives will get worse in coming decades, Southeast Asia bubbles with optimism. In an era where many thinkers predict rising geopolitical competition and tension, ASEAN regularly brings together all the world’s great powers.
Stories of peace are told less frequently than stories of conflict and war. ASEAN’s imperfections make better headlines than its achievements. But in the hands of Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng, the good news story is also a provocation and a challenge to the rest of the world.
George Yeo”ASEAN was born in Bangkok. Thailand can take great pride in the fact that this Thai baby has emerged as a world success story. Indeed, many significant ASEAN initiatives were initiated by Thailand, including AFTA and ASEM. Kishore and Jeffery have done the world a huge favour in documenting this exceptional success story, and in making proposals to strengthen ASEAN further. This is a must-read for all who have interest in ASEAN affairs.”
Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand
“A powerful and passionate account of how, against all odds, ASEAN transformed the region and why Asia and the world need it even more today.”
“Kishore and I have written that the world is coming together in a Fusion of Civilisations. This book documents beautifully how ASEAN has achieved this fusion. The ASEAN story is hugely instructive and this book tells it very well.”
“This book on ASEAN explains well how the pragmatic Indonesian philosophy of musyawarah and mufakat has been critical for ASEAN’s success. Indonesian leadership has led to the creation and development of one of the world’s most successful regional organizations, which has fundamentally transformed he geopolitics and geoeconomics of Southeast Asia. As ASEAN begins a new, possibly perilous, journey into the next fifty years, we should read this book as an indispensable guide to ASEAN’s future. We cannot take our success for granted. We have to work even harder to strengthen and, if necessary, reinvent ASEAN. This book explains how.”
Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – Sixth President of Indonesia
“Over the years, Kishore Mahbubani has been as eloquent and visionary as he has tireless in championing Asia’s growing role in world affairs. In this impressive volume, Mahbubani tells the story of Southeast Asia’s ascent and the often underappreciated role of ASEAN as a regional provider of peace and stability. As the book makes clear, it is an unfinished story – ASEAN is uniquely situated to work with regional and global great powers in the search for common ground, but ASEAN is also vulnerable to neglect and decline. In the end, Mahbubani offers a powerful argument for a new era of ASEAN leadership.”
G. John Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
Kishore Mahbubani is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and author of The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East.
Jeffery Sng is a writer and former diplomat based in Bangkok, and co-author of A History of the Thai-Chinese.
Publication Year: 2017
286 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-981-4722-49-0 Casebound
ASEAN: Different, yet alike
“The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace” by Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng – Asian Review of Books
Now we’re 50 – Mekong Review
The Price of Peace in ASEAN – Straits Times
Review: The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst For Peace
Why China and the US cannot afford to ignore Asean
Why India is important for Asean (Book Review)
Asians have finally understood, absorbed, and implemented Western best practices in many areas: from free-market economics to modern science and technology, from meritocracy to rule of law. They have also become innovative in their own way, creating new patterns of cooperation not seen in the West.
Will the West resist the rise of Asia? The good news is that Asia wants to replicate, not dominate, the West. For a happy outcome to emerge, the West must gracefully give up its domination of global institutions, from the IMF to the World Bank, from the G7 to the UN Security Council.
History teaches that tensions and conflicts are more likely when new powers emerge. This, too, may happen. But they can be avoided if the world accepts the key principles for a new global partnership spelled out in The New Asian Hemisphere.
The need to develop a better understanding of our world has never been greater. We are now entering one of the most plastic moments of world history. The decisions we make today could influence the course of the twenty-first century. But it is clear that the worldviews of the leading Western minds are trapped in the previous centuries. These minds cannot even conceive of the possibility that they may have to change these worldviews to understand the new world. Unless they do, we could make disastrous decisions.
The best illustration of a disastrous decision is the decision by the U.S. and UK to invade Iraq in March 2003. The Americans and British had benign intentions: to free the Iraqi people from despotic rule and to rid the world of a dangerous man, Saddam Hussein. Neither Bush nor Blair had malevolent intentions. Yet, the mental maps that they brought to understand Iraq were mired in one cultural context: the Western mindset. Many Americans actually believed that invading American troops would be welcomed with petals thrown on the streets by happy Iraqis. The idea that any Islamic country would welcome western military boots on its soil defies belief. The invasion and especially the occupation of Iraq will go down as one of the most botched operations in human history. Yet even if it had been well-executed, it was doomed to failure. In 1920, as secretary for war and air, Winston Churchill could use poison gas to quell the rebellion of Kurds and Arabs in British-occupied Iraq. He said, “I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.” If Blair had tried the same in 2005, he would have been crucified. The world has moved on from this era. Sadly, Western mindsets have not moved on.
A Note from Kishore Mahbubani
For over two decades, I have lived the life of a nomadic intellectual, absorbing ideas at great intellectual watering holes, like Davos and Aspen, Ditchley and Pocantico. Initially, I was overwhelmed by the confidence and energy of Western intellectuals. They had sharp minds, always producing new insights as they spoke.
It has come as a huge personal shock for me to see this same group of Western intellectuals now becoming totally blind to emerging new realities. At a time of rapid change, these Western minds remain complacent and smug. I tried to puncture this smugness in my speeches and columns. Sadly, I failed. They could not see that we are moving from a monocivilizational world to a multi-civilizational world.
These failures taught me a lesson. The only way to persuade the West of the need to change mindsets was to try and develop an alternative weltanschauung. That is the ambitious goal of this book. If we do not wake the West up from its intellectual complacency, we are headed for trouble.
There is logic behind this, as we cannot predict the future. We can, however, prepare for the future by telling stories about what the future could be like.
Besides his substantive introduction, this book offers some of Kishore’s best essays on Singapore, taken from his Think-Tank and Opinion columns in The Straits Times, as well as contributions to Guardian News, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, World Economic Forum’s Forum News Daily, and the “Innovations for Successful Societies” Oral History Project of Princeton University.
“The title ‘Can Singapore Survive?’ is provocative. Kishore is often provocative which is why he is worth reading and listening to, even if one does not always agree with him. The vulnerability of Singapore is not a new theme; Lee Kuan Yew spoke of it constantly. For Lee Kuan Yew, the response is leadership, tough leadership. If that is lost, all is lost. Despite his seeming pessimism, Kishore is in fact more optimistic. Underlying his questions and his doubts, one can detect a certain faith in ordinary Singaporeans beyond the politics. Despite the title, this collection of essays gives a hopeful view of Singapore’s future.”
Chairman, Kerry Logistics and former Singapore Foreign Minister
“Kishore Mahbubani is one of Singapore’s most original thinkers. He loves Singapore and his thoughts on our future deserve our careful consideration.”
Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore
“In a long and illustrious career, Kishore Mahbubani has written many books and essays and given many speeches. This new and eclectic collection of his speeches, essays and interviews over the years, accompanied by an intriguing introduction about the perennial existential question facing Singapore, is a timely contribution to all the literature commemorating Singapore’s 50th anniversary.”
Ho Kwon Ping
Executive Chairman, Banyan Tree Holdings and Chairman, Singapore Management University