The Financial Times Foreign Affairs chief Gideon Rachman published “Easternization: Asia’s rise and America’s decline from Obama to Trump and beyond”. I have not read the book but this interview gives the gist of the argument. It is not new, it strengthens the message around a trend that many have documented. What was interesting to me was Jessica Mathews saying that she was not convinced because (i) global leadership takes more than global economic (and even military) power; (ii) China has to balance between global, regional and national hot issues; and (iii) there are other forces in “the East”, such as the rise of India, that are still looking West. And what was equally interesting was to read, in parallel, Danny Quah’s (Eastern?) perspective. In “Can Asia lead the world?”, Quah agrees that it takes more than a growing economic, military and population footprint to lead globally. He argues that Asia’s leadership strategy should focus on soft power and that its driving values could be different from liberal democracy. Ultimately, he says that Asia will only be able to lead if it has a story. For him, that vision does not exist, yet.
Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson’s “Writing that works” is the book I recommended when a colleague asked me for guidance on improving writing skills. I love that book. It identifies the most common writing weaknesses and gives specific tips that you can use to practice, practice, and practice until you get it right. I don’t, so I go back to it regularly and am never disappointed. They give guidance on how to write memos that get things done, plans that make things happen, proposals that sell ideas, and resumes that get interviews. It is a good way to spend 11 dollars. At one point, I also had Josh Bernoff’s “10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them” pasted on the wall next to my desk so that I could check it from time to time. I should put it back.
My graph of the week is from NYU Center on International Cooperation’s Global Peace Operational Review which, among other things, tracks the new Secretary-General (SG)’s senior appointments (USG and ASG) throughout the system by gender and nationality. 17 male vs 14 female so far in 2017. That’s for his new appointees. Overall, at this level, the situation today is 71% male vs 29% female. Not great. The SG committed to reaching parity at senior level by 2021 and across the system before 2030 and he asked his Gender Parity Task Force to come up with a plan to get there. Let’s watch and see.
My quote this week is from 80-year old Nobel Prize Daniel Kahneman: “There are studies showing that when you present evidence to people they get very polarized even if they are highly educated. They find ways to interpret the evidence in conflicting ways. Our mind is constructed so that in many situations where we have beliefs and we have facts, the beliefs come first. That’s what makes people incapable of being convinced by evidence. So education by itself is not going to change the culture. Changing critical thinking through education is very slow and I’m not very optimistic about it.”