From the White House to the New York Times op-ed page, Fareed Zakaria says, politicians have been describing globalization as an irreversible process of Americanization destined to bring the world closer together. But Zakaria, managing editor of Foreign Affairs -- the premier journal of the U.S. foreign policy establishment -- insists that that conventional wisdom is flat-out wrong. Before a crowd of about 100 students last night in Logan Hall, Zakaria lectured on the politics and culture of globalization. In defiance of popular sentiment, the youthful scholar-journalist tried to impress on the audience his belief that American domination will not last forever. "It is worth remembering that while you hear the idea that the world is totally different from anything in the past, that is not necessarily the case," Zakaria said. "I do believe that Americanization will fail." Over the last decade, globalization has become the popular -- but often misunderstood -- buzzword for the spread of American economic and cultural norms through the Internet and lightning-fast capital markets. Zakaria hoped to set the record straight by emphasizing that politics still matter in a world preoccupied with the Internet Revolution. "If you have a big political crisis," he said, citing for example a Chinese invasion of Taiwan that would destabilize the world economy, "all the economics in the world can't save it." Eschewing the microphone at the front of the lecture hall -- "Sometimes you just have to go with the Old Economy," he quipped -- Zakaria walked a fine line in his analysis. While saying that no one would be able to challenge U.S. military and economic strength for decades, he stressed that we are not witnessing any permanent change in the international system. "Beyond a very superficial level, it's not clear that this is as profound as anyone makes it out to be," he said, pointing to "the virus of MTV" and the Coca-Cola brand name as the best -- but nevertheless weak -- examples of globalization. "At the end of this phase, Thailand will still look like Thailand. It won't look like Kansas." Those in attendance were appreciative of Zakaria's contrarian perspective on the state of global affairs. "These are the types of issues [that are] discussed ad nauseam," College sophomore Hanny Hindi said. "I thought it was interesting to hear a fresh perspective." In 1993, Zakaria, then 28, became the youngest managing editor in the history of Foreign Affairs. He is a contributing editor to Newsweek and has taught at Harvard and Columbia universities. Calling him "the most important foreign-policy adviser of his generation," Esquire magazine named him one of the 21 most important people of the 21st century. Zakaria, a native of Bombay, India, and a graduate of Yale and Harvard universities, took questions for about an hour after his speech. Though several students prodded him to name a country he thought could challenge the U.S. in the future, he said he was unable to think of one, and added that China, Russia and the European Union were all unfit for the task. But Zakaria insisted that the U.S. would not remain on top in perpetuity. "If Rome and Sparta died," he asked, invoking French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "can any republic last forever?"Comments powered by Disqus
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