If you draw a circle around China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Japan you have defined where about 3.8 billion of the Earth’s 7.2 billion people live. This amounts to almost 53% of the human race living in an area smaller than the United States and Canada combined. Obviously this fact has momentous implications for not only us but the rest of our world as well.
China and the Far East was the most advanced part of our planet for many centuries prior to the rise of Europe. China, Korea and Japan possessed weaponry far in advance of anything in Europe. In fact, China was on the cusp of launching the industrial revolution 500 years ahead of Europe, but instead, it turned inward, stopped contact with foreigners, and stopped innovating because they decided they represented perfection and nothing but crude barbarians existed beyond their borders and shores. It has taken more than a hundred years to awaken the giant and get it back on its feet. Now China is poised to assume a leading position of mankind once more. Not everyone is excited at the prospect.
Over the past 40 or more years we’ve watched as first Japan and then South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Brunei joined the rich nations while China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and others rush to join them. China, India, Brazil and a united Europe are among the nations/political entities poised to become global leaders in the 21st century. Whether or not we, the United States, remain a global leader depends on whether we continue our present course of near wholesale denial of reality and self-destruction.
One historical lesson regarding nations in decline is their tendency to try and hold on to past glory by failing to be flexible and adaptable in meeting new challenges. If we continue to try and solve problems by looking at the world through a Post World War II-Cold War lens, trying to manipulate the global economy for our benefit, attempting to impose our will on others using the one thing nations in decline still possess-military prowess, we will find ourselves alone and we will fail. We already exhibit significant symptoms of this disease, which is often fatal, but it need not be. It only requires us to be and do the things that made us great in the first place. We need to abandon our adolescent fascination with war, militarism and empire and direct our focus to be the same creative, industrious, adaptable, and flexible people we were, are and have always been, ready to borrow and use ideas of others that are better than our own, and believe in a prosperous and just future for all.