Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

Still Ours To Lead

Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension between Rivalry and Restraint
by Bruce JonesJones - Still Ours

This is the best book I’ve read in the last 12 months on the changing geopolitics of Asia. Of course take that judgement with care, as the judgements of this book are perhaps also the closest to my own. Namely, that while there is a ‘rise of the rest, relative decline of the US’, the most important factors for understanding the liklihood of war and peace are far more structural.

Most importantly, i’ve been awaiting a text which engages with the vast imbalance of power towards the US thanks to its alliances and partnerships with more than 90% of the most powerful and significant countries. This one fact seems to me the most ignored yet vital issue. Yet since it has not yet even entered mainstream analysis(except at the most superficial level), it seems even more remote policy discussions.

Taking the Asia-Pacific as a focus, Bruce Jones brings a nice mix of personal insight (from his role as a negotiator on behalf of the us) and enough distance to be critical of recent administrations. He also has a reasonable turn of phrase and ability to weave good metaphors into his text. For example, on the role and importance of allies and partners, Jones compares the West/China debate to a US style electoral college map. Considering solid, leaning and swing states, Jones shows clearly that this is still the West’s race to lose. Only western error, not Chinese ingenuity will fundamentally change the current position.

Let’s hope more people read this (despite the title being rather misleading, this is not another ‘boosterism’ book) and begin to think seriously about US policy in Asia. Strongly recommended.

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