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A Sensible Tale of Three Powers

This Brave New World: India, China and the United States by Anja Manuel, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016; pp xi + 349, $27.00/699.

 

In 2005, Robert Zoellick, then a senior official at the United States (US) Department of State, publicly called upon China to become a “responsible stakeholder.” This famous exhortation was made at the near zenith of US power in the post-Cold War era. The blowback from Iraq and Afghanistan had not become fully apparent. Neither had the boom in the global economy shown any signs of dissipating. In short, America could imagine a world where the socialisation of rising powers of Asia into a system would be little more than rearranging the furniture around.

In her previous avatar, Anja Manuel served at the Department of State during those heady years (2005–07) and the liberal world order ideas espoused by Zoellick must have resonated with her. For her thesis is precisely this: China and India, despite their political contrasts and power differentials, should be seen more as contributors to the global order and less as chess pieces where one or both are employed in a strategy to manage the power shifts underway. Manuel rejects the idea that the “international system cannot shift peacefully to accommodate new large powers” (p 8). She instead is of the opinion that “we must stop our hand-wringing about China and seek instead to forge harmonious relationships with both giants” (p 3), and “we must coax each giant, through patient interaction and cooperation, to accept a responsible international role” (p 9).

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Updated On : 25th Mar, 2019

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