Today I read an article from the Washington Post titled “So Far, It Just Isn’t Looking Like Asia’s Century,” and to be blunt, it was a bunch of generic bullshit slapped together. Joshua Kurlantzick, apparently a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy, presents the argument that this is not “Asia’s century.” The problem I have with the argument is the author’s evidence to back up his statement, and to be blunt, he makes himself look like a ignorant fool. And I’m being kind here.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Asia over the past decade, as an expat and a traveler. From where I stand, the place is a geopolitical mess. Hogtied by nationalism and narrow self-interest, the countries of the East won’t be banding together to replace the West as the seat of global power — at least not anytime soon.
Wow, a whole decade in that country called Asia! He must know everything to know about Asia! Narrow self interest? You mean like Russia invading Georgia? Like America invading Iraq? Come on Mr. Kurlantzick, you cant deal in generalities here, I’m not as smart as you! Give me specifics!
Specific Evidence 1:
Of course, an Asian version of the European Union isn’t out of reach, as many Asian leaders know. But today, the continent battles a kind of split personality. On the one hand, many cultural, economic and political trends suggest that Asian nations are becoming more integrated than ever before. But on the other, a virulent nationalism is spreading in the region, one that feeds on reinterpreted — or even imaginary — history to gin up hatred and push small-minded agendas.
Reinterpreted or even imaginary history to gin up hatred and push small-minded agendas?
Yup, America would never pass nationalistic legislation based on imaginary thoughts to hinder foreigners. Europe would never do anything like that either. Only Asian countries do that.
Specific Evidence 2:
Elites in Asia clearly understand the benefits of integration, and businesses and officials together are promoting the trend … With the expansion of satellite television, Asian airlines and regional hiring by Asian conglomerates, businesspeople watch the same news, cool their heels together in a slew of space-age international airports and mingle at cocktail parties and pan-Asian business summits … At summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), I’ve seen packs of diplomats gathered at bars swapping stories in fluent English about their hijinks during graduate school at Johns Hopkins University.
“Elites?” So according to the author to be considered an Asian “Elite” you must:
a) Speak fluent English
b) Posses a western education
c) Attend cocktail parties at pan-Asian business summits.
…take notes, all you non-Asian elites.
Specific Evidence 3:
… most of the region’s multilateral institutions do little more than meet for the sake of meeting. In Cambodia and Laos, local officials and fishermen despair that dams built by China on the upper portion of the Mekong River are blocking water flow — and ravaging fishing in the southern stretch of that river that snakes through their countries. “But when we … try to bring this up at ASEAN meetings,” Sokhem Pech, a leading Cambodian Mekong expert, told me, “no one even wants to talk about it.” The committee officially monitoring the Mekong, which doesn’t include China, is so feeble that it rarely speaks out on the issue.
“…most of the region’s multilateral institutions do little more than meet for the sake of meeting.” For a second there, I thought the author was going to talk about the United Nations. Sorry, because everyone knows only Asian multilateral institutions have no power; no one would ever defy the United Nations, never.
Specific Evidence 4:
This sort of nationalism isn’t the stuff of a few firebrands. Across the continent, populist politicians have scrubbed school textbooks, whether to minimize Japan’s atrocities in South Korea and China during World War II or to erase the memory of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia — perhaps because Prime Minister Hun Sen was an officer in the genocidal regime before he turned against it.
GASP! Scrubbed school textbooks! In America there is no such thing! We learn about how our country committed genocide against Native Americans, murdered hundreds upon thousand of Filipinos during the Spanish-American war, and the fact the Thomas Jefferson plagiarized John Locke and only changed “the right to own property” to the “pursuit of happiness” because Americans couldn’t have slaves thinking that it is their right as humans to own property. Us Americans learn all the bad stuff our country has done in all of our textbooks.
Specific Evidence 5:
Traveling to Cambodia, I meet teenagers who know practically nothing about what happened in their country in the 1970s. China, too, has whitewashed the memory of the Tiananmen Square crackdown of June 4, 1989. When a “Frontline” documentary crew went to Beijing University a few years ago and showed students the iconic 1989 photograph of the man who stopped a tank in its tracks, no one recognized it.
Stupid, ignorant Asians. Ask any teenager in America, they know everything to know about the extensive activism that happened in the 1970s in our country. And every student would know exactly what is going on in this picture:
I mean come on, every American student knows this iconic photograph on the Kent State shootings.
Specific Evidence 6:
Politicians aren’t the only ones embracing nationalism. In 2002, when Thailand was still recovering from its financial meltdown, government-backed filmmakers produced “The Legend of Suriyothai” to restore their country’s wounded pride. One of the most expensive pictures in Thai history, it told the story of an ancient Thai queen who died fighting Burmese invaders — and compounded Thais’ hostility toward Burma, their neighbor to the west
Propaganda through film? Somebody needs to tell Hollywood about that great idea!
Specific Evidence 6:
The Internet has further empowered Asian nationalists, allowing them to air their vitriol unchecked.
I don’t know about Asia, but in America, the blogosphere is a place of articulate conversation and insightful dialog where there are no name calling, cursing, or inappropriate content that steers toward hateful exchanges.
Specific Evidence 7:
Whenever I visit Asia, I meet young people who detest neighbors they barely know. “The Thais, all they care about is money. Nothing else,” one Burmese acquaintance told me in Rangoon, despite the fact that he’d never actually been to Thailand. In one study taken last year by a leading Japanese nongovernmental organization, two-thirds of the Chinese polled said they had either a “very bad” or “relatively bad” impression of Japan.
We would never stereotype anyone without getting to know them first; Blacks & whites, Latino and Asians, Muslims and Christian all get to know each other personally before coming to any sort of conclusions here.
I have come to the conclusion that this guy that wrote this is a complete buffoon.
Asia has problems that they share with the rest of the world — racism, elitism and ignorance exist in Asia too, surprise surprise. People in Asia have trouble getting along with each other, but that is not a quality specific to Asians but of ALL HUMANITY. All this article does is add to the stereotype of elitist WASP views of Asian peoples.
On a side note: I have never, EVER read a article by a supposed “expat” of an Asian country that had any insight free of stereotypes and cultural judgment. People who call themselves “Expats” are just laying down the foundation to excuse their racist and ignorant views.