"The Rise of the Rest"

I'm about a third of the way through Fareed Zakaria's new book, The Post-American World. From what I've read so far, I strongly recommend it. His central argument is that we live in an era in which we are witnessing what he calls "the rise of the rest." The rest, of course, being the people in developing nations throughout the world, particularly China and India. There are many arguments in here that will be familiar to those who've read Rob Shapiro's excellent new book, Futurecast, and it is well-written, persuasive, and most importantly to me, optimistic about the moment in history we are in.

On Monday, Zakaria penned a must-read op-ed in The Washington Post, in which he echoed a main theme from the book - that by historical standards, the threat of Islamic terrorism is a modest one, that humankind is going through one of its most peaceful and prosperous periods in its history, and there is a growing body of evidence indicating that terrorism is actually on the decline across the world.

One of the great responsibilities of the next President will be to create a more accurate assessment of the threats to our way of life than what has been offered by the Bush Administration. It is my strong opinion that while the next Administration will still rank terrorism as a great threat to global stability and our own national security, issues like nuclear proliferation, climate change, high energy and commodity prices, the rise of petro-dictators, the ongoing challenge for China to manage its historic growth while eventually modernizing its political system, extreme global poverty, the ability for failed and fragile states to export chaos, disease and other maladies in our very interconnected world, and the struggle of workers with 20th century skills to succed in a 21st century global economy will begin to take their place right next to terror as important modern challenges to be tackled, and potential threats to be minimized.

In my mind, it will be essential that the next President reject the politics of fear practiced by the current Administration, and replace it with a shrewd, effective and compelling politics of possibility - one that recognizes both the challenges, but also the very real and very exciting opportunities for America and "the rest" that this new and dynamic century offers.

Zakaria is beginning to map out a strategic world view for America in the post-Bush era, a very much needed service, and one he is doing very well. I look forward to reading more and reporting in along the way.