Tag Archives: Fareed Zakaria

Breitbart’s Reviewer of “America 3.0” didn’t read the book!

America 3.0, which I previously reviewed, is something of a hit. The authors have appeared on the radio (Mark Bernier, Bob Dutko, Chuck Morse, Nick Reed, Mike Rosen, Bruce Wolf), public speaking (University of Chicago, Western Conservative Summit), and TV (Lou Dobbs).

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The book had good pre-publication publicity too, with an impressive list of folks willing to lend their credibility to it (the foreword was by Glen Reynolds, with Jonah Goldberg and John O’Sullivan providing “blurbs”) for the book.

And reviews have been good — everything from my post to Michael Barone‘s review in the Washington Examiner to the 16 5-star Amazon reviews.

All of which makes Brietbart’s “review” inexplicable. Not just that it was a negative review — someone is free to dislike a book of course — but the Breitbart reviewer did not read the book. I can’t be too shocked at Breitbart — after all CNN’s Fareed Zakaria used a ghost-writer who was also a plagiarist — but it’s deeply disappointing.

Boo for Breitbart. Raise your standard. Actually read the books you review.

Co-authors James C. Bennet and Michael Lotus have issued a statement on this. Breitbart should take down the fake “reiew” and issue an apology.

Seriously impressed with CNN

CNN has been firing on all cylinders recently. While MSNBC openly joins the Commitee to Re-Elect the President 2012 and FoxNews descends into incoherence, the Cable News Network has been acting with remarkably responsibility.

Just today, CNN aired a version of IOUSA, with commentary. IOUSA is a scare-the-hell-out-of-America documentary about long-term debts and obligations. It’s something that one might have heard coming out of the Republican Party circa 1994. Brilliant, and I especially liked how the commentary implied that programs like mandatory savings programs and and cutting future social security payments are the logical complemen to the Obama stimulus package.

Further, I saw that CNN will be airing Fareed Zakaria GPS twice on Sundays, over the noon-hour (as it has been doing) and again in the early evening. Fareed is the smartest person on CNN, and on Sunday talk generally, and his show typically is half-an-hour of divergent (but not left-right) perspectives, followed by a half-hour interview.

I am seriously impressed with CNN.

Obama, a Fool or a Naif on Foreign Policy

Those who remember 2000 remember George Bush’s quixotic pursuit of “human dignity,” whil Gore talked about “human rights.” The reason was that Bush wanted a non-interventionist foreign policy that would let us stay home. “Human rights” is associated with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, and implies obligations. “Human Dignity” is a squishy concept that means nothing, so the Bush 2000 campaign embraced it.

So does the Bush ’08 campaign, incarnated in the form of Barack Obama:

Obama never uses the soaring language of Bush’s freedom agenda, preferring instead to talk about enhancing people’s economic prospects, civil society and—his key word—”dignity.” He rejects Bush’s obsession with elections and political rights, and argues that people’s aspirations are broader and more basic—including food, shelter, jobs. “Once these aspirations are met,” he told The New York Times’s James Traub, “it opens up space for the kind of democratic regimes we want.” This is a view of democratic development that is slow, organic and incremental, usually held by conservatives.

Fareed Zakaria’s latest piece,which includes that piece of Bush IIIism from Barack Obama, is disturbing reading. Either Obama is a fool or a naif, or Zakaria is complicit in deceiving the American people.

I think all three are true.

  • Obama would be a fool if he actualyl believed in “realism,” an economics-ignorant school of foreign policy which is concerned with questions such as how to balance against Germany, what we should do when France begins mining our harbors, etc.
  • Obama is a naif if he supports “realism” because Daily Kos thinks its cool.
  • Zakaria is deceiving the American people if he believes that Obama believes something else — for instance, if he believes in Functionalism or Idealism — and is calling that Realism because Daily Kos thinks its cool.

Obama is so unsure of what he believes with regards to foreign polic that Obama has hired 300 people to tell him what to think. This is a typical mistake of naifs who know they are naive: they think knowledge is like a bucket of water, so the more you have in one room, the more you have. It’s the fallacy of the mythical man month, a concept I expect Obama has never heard about.

Update: Tom is impressed, but does not say why.

The Post-Zakaria World

As I noted in my review, Fareed Zakaria is generally a good writer, generally derivative of Tom Friedman. Too bad he’s a shill for Obama.

The latest howler (Zakaria’s book has the unfortunate habit of getting increasingly ridiculous the more one learns) is that, in spite of Bush being the most pro-India President in United States history, he squandered political good will in India.

Of courese given Bush’s high approval rating in India, perhaps Zakaria is holding Bush to an unspecified and impossible to reach standard?

s for the nuclear deal, Indians’ blithe faith in its chances may stem from something else altogether. The Pew Research Centre found that Mr Bush’s approval rating in India was “still astonishingly high” at 55%. In fact, Indians were the only people sampled who rated Mr Bush more highly than they did Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. So, perhaps they know something the rest of us don’t

Zakaria’s book can do some real good if it flatters an American left that’s in love with Obama, derisive towards Bush, and against American power, into supporting globalization.

But as a reporter of facts or trends, you just as well watch the Discovery Channel.

Review of “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria

This morning I finished the unabridged audio edition of The Post American World, written and read by Fareed Zakaria. No review of this book should begin wtithout noting that it is misnamed. Zakaria argues that American hegemony, agenda-setting, and dominance in nearly every field of power will continue for the forseeable future. Likewise, the title of Chapter 1 (which appears to have been an alternative working title), “The Rise of the Rest,” is also misnamed: Zakaria focuses on the United States, India, and China. So think of this book as The Rise of a World Dominated by India, China, and especially the United States, the The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Results Section, or, as one blogger suggests, even The Post-Unipolar Hegemonic American Worlds.

It’s a pretty good book.

World does a lot of things right. The starting position, opportunities, and risks for the United States, China, and India are outlined in some detail. China’s good governance, India’s low starting point, and the United States economy and culture are all world-conquering strengths. Likewise, Zakaria describes familiar themes in new ways. The law U.S. savings rate (0%) is discussed as the low household U.S. Savings right… if you factor in private savings held by corporations, the savings rate is at historical levels. Likewise, national healthcare is implied to be a solution to U.S. fear of globalization: in no other major economy does losing a job mean losing your health.

Some things are gotten wrong, as well. These may be classified as (a) brute facts or (b) fashionable biases. The brute facts can be embarrasing to listen to, and the National Review (apparently angered by his title) has been calling him out on them. From implied American decline to the Ferris wheel index, some of Zakaria’s claims are either pulled out of the air or deceptively stated.

Even worse is where Zakaria tries to fit into polite liberal society. Some of the errors here are all the more galling, as a simple email to his Harvard classmate may have resolved them. Zakaria attacks AFRICOM (the Pentagon’s new policy in no longer trying to run itself in Africa as it does in Europe) as a typical military-heavy response, when AFRICOM famously has never fired a shot. Similarly, Zakaria appears to criticize U.S. policy that promises retaliation in response to terrorist attacks, by asking if we would bomb London if the next terror attack is carried out by British muslims. It’s been five years since the Core/Gap divide was talkeda bout in Esquire and twelve yars since Zones of Peace, Zones of Turmail, but Zakaria acts as if the entire world could be consiered functioning.

In the end, this review is mixed. Perhaps this is not surprising. I was inspired to buy the book after reading Razib’s review over at gnxp. Some of the paragraph headings Razib’s review insighttflly highlight other problems with the book: The Post-American World is anchored by a series of extended essays which pass themselves off as chapters tied together only loosely by the theme of the book., Unfortunately it is here during these “close up” chapters of China & India that Zakaria also feels the need to make up “facts” and engage in some rather wild speculation about cultural differences which I believe warrant skepticism, and perhaps even dismissal, and The treatment of Hinduism was just plain sloppy, and if the author of some of the passages in this book had been a white man he would be accused of crass cultural imperialism. Still, Razbi’s gnxp review also summarizes the strengths of the book better than I am able to do:

It seems fair to say that only a multidisciplinary tapestry which weaves together historical, economic and social aspects, placed in a broader temporal and spatial framework, could add value to the knowledge base of an American target audience in regards to their own country. And so with the description and prediction out of the way Zakaria closes with prescription. Much of this seems common sense, but its validity is by necessity filtered through your norms. So I’ll just list them out and leave you to find out what he means by each….

1) Choose
2) Build broad rules, not narrow interests
3) Be Bismarck not Britain
4) Order à la carte
5) Think asymmetrically
6) Legitimacy is power

So buy it. It’s half a step better than The Man Who Loved China., and half a step worse than The World is Flat. You’ll learn more about globalization from Fareed Zakaria’s The Post American-World. But by the time he criticzes Obama for not sufficiently demonstrating to a backwards American electorate how much better he is than all the other candidates of both parties, you will know what you’ve gotten yourself into.