Over the last decade, the center of world power has been quietly shifting from Europe to Asia. With oil reserves of several billion barrels, an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and several centuries' worth of competing territorial claims, the South China Sea in particular is a simmering pot of potential conflict. The underreported military buildup in the area where the Western Pacific meets the Indian Ocean means that it will likely be a hinge point for global war and peace for the foreseeable future.
In Asia's Cauldron, Robert D. Kaplan offers up a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the 21st century, and their implications for global peace and stability.
To understand the future of conflict in East Asia, Kaplan argues, one must understand the goals and motivations of its leaders and its people. Part travelogue, part geopolitical primer, Asia's Cauldron takes us on a journey through the region's boom cities and ramshackle slums: From Vietnam, where the superfueled capitalism of the erstwhile colonial capital, Saigon, inspires the geostrategic pretensions of the official seat of government in Hanoi, to Malaysia, where a unique mix of authoritarian Islam and Western-style consumerism creates quite possibly the ultimate postmodern society; and from Singapore, whose "benevolent autocracy" helped foster an economic miracle, to the Philippines, where a different brand of authoritarianism under Ferdinand Marcos led not to economic growth but to decades of corruption and crime.
At a time when every day's news seems to contain some new story - large or small - that directly relates to conflicts over the South China Sea, Asia's Cauldron is an indispensable guide to a corner of the globe that will affect all of our lives for years to come.
"A riveting, multitextured look at an underexamined region of the world and, perhaps, at the 'anxious, complicated world' of the future." (Booklist)
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Biggest Challenge for US in Next 50 Years
This is a really well written and presented analysis of the very complex topic of the strategic challenge to US power posed by the South China Sea and the countries which surround it. Informed by a large number of in-person interviews with strategic participants it is one of the very few "current affairs" type books that is a truly absorbing read.
The discussions of the roles of Lee Kuan Yu and Chiang Kai Shek in creating the current East Asia. Both descriptions were very insightful and informative.
This is the first one. It is excellent even at 1.25x.
"The Coming Storm"
Would really love to meet Mr. Kaplan in person some day. He bring deep historical knowledge to current affairs. Really wonderful book!
Not exactly general interest reading
- John S.