The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World

Kishore Mahbubani, Author
Kishore Mahbubani. PublicAffairs, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61039-033-0
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
The world is coming together with a reconfiguration of power that the West should accommodate, according to this optimistic but unfocused overview of international relations. Mahbubani (The New Asian Hemisphere), Singapore’s former U.N. ambassador, surveys hopeful statistics on global peace and prosperity, showing that wars are growing less frequent while poverty worldwide is declining and trade, education, tourism, and the middle class are swelling. That “new global civilization,” he contends, creates new problems: global warming; alienation in the Muslim world; anxieties over China’s influence; most of all, the West’s continuing disproportionate power over international institutions and failure to adjust self-interested policies—he’s especially critical of American food aid and monetary policy—to global needs. The author’s calls for a “Theory of One World” and a “global ethic” are nebulous (we need a treaty on the atmosphere, he argues, because “without oxygen we are doomed”); his specific proposals are rather U.N.-centered, including calls to hike Western funding of U.N. programs and open the Security Council to rising powers in the developing world. Mahbubani’s interpretation of shifting global realities is canny and cogent, though hardly original, but his ideas for reform are too vague or small-bore to have much impact. Agent: Janklow & Nesbit. (Feb.)