fiannaFailMan writes "This is the kind of work that makes a body wish President Bush would read books. The author's point is that diplomacy is America's strength, and it should be used first with force held as a last resort, especially in a world where the US is not the only superpower anymore due to the growing influence of countries in the developing world.
'The Rise of the Rest' is what Mr Zakaria uses to refer to the economic and political growth in developing countries, principally (but not limited to) India and China. Globalization and the opening of international trade has generated great improvements in living standards lifting many millions of people out of poverty across the globe. India and China have been most noticeable because of their sheer size, accounting for over a sixth of the human race between them. India's and China's stories are, of course, slightly different. China has a lot of advantages (from their government's point of view) in that they can ride roughshod over the wishes of its people in the interests of achieving economic goals, whereas in democratic countries such as the UK, people have more freedom to object to development that will adversely affect their standard of living or property values. A proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport meets many obstacles in the form of objections from local residents, whereas in China it's possible for the government to just build an entire airport and sweep anyone out of the way who gets in it. India also has similar checks and balances as Western countries in that great public works projects are subject to objection from local people, and so their growth isn't quite at the same breathtaking pace as China's, but it is still impressive nonetheless.
However strong their performance on the economic stage, it will be a long time before China or India reach the same levels of domination as the US has today. Nor do they seem to want to. China certainly has no interest in becoming the world's policeman. Ending centuries of self-imposed isolation, China's main interest for now is in securing its own borders, reining in runaway regions, and protecting its own interests. Similarly, India is more interested in continuing to build its own prosperity than imposing its own democratic values on the rest of the world. The USA is likely to remain the only major power wishing to export its values as well as its goods.
While international political structures are useful, some of them, like the UN Security Council, are hopelessly out of date. Japan and Germany are among the world's biggest economic powers but still don't have permanent seats on the council just because they were on the losing side in the second world war. Nevertheless, the USA remains the power that people go to in search of a diplomatic solution to international disputes, and that is likely to remain the case for quite some time.
Zakaria goes on to discuss the complexities of nuclear proliferation and to make suggestions on how to deal with this and other problems. The Iraq war is touched upon, remarking on how it is sign of America's unchecked power that it was able to launch an unprovoked war on Iraq and dupe other countries into helping it. The author approves of the end result of ousting of Saddam Hussein, but disapproves of the botched post-invasion occupation and the sheer incompetence of it.
The overall tone is non-partisan and contains none of the childish and heated conservative/liberal bombast that pollutes so much of the bookshelves these days. This writer doesn't fall neatly into the liberal/conservative pigeonholes that some commentators seem determined to push everyone into. The facts are there, the bibliography is extensive, and the case is made very well. If only work of this caliber were more widely read."