News Year 2009: The End of the American Era and the Beginning of Asia’s Century  
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The end of the year 2009 and the first decade of the 21st century show that America’s status as the only superpower of the world has ended and the era of the western domination of the world has also ended. China has clearly emerged as an economic superpower and the manufacturing center of the world. Whereas the western economies took a big beating because of the recession, the Chinese economy grew by more than 9% in the year 2009.
If we consider the most important happenings of the decade, then the 9/11 attacks on America stand out to be the most widely accepted important event of the decade. Many people believe that the rise of China is also one of the most important events of the decade. The election of a black man as President of America was also one of the most significant developments of the decade, but unfortunately, in the year 2009, it appears that a majority of white Americans are having difficulty accepting a black person as the leader of their country. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also very important happenings. Similarly, the war in Pakistan against terrorism along with the war in Afghanistan is probably going to be the deciding war of the era. The outcome of the war will do the same thing to America and the west what it did for the Soviet Union.

The fastest bullet train between Hong Kong and Beijing did the same thing for China in 2009 what the Beijing Olympics did in 2008. These are the biggest symbols of the rising power of China and the declining influence of the West. Michael Jackson’s death and Tiger Woods’ fall from grace were clear messages that in the American capitalist system, instability and uncertainty can affect the highest achievers, particularly if they are minorities. Nobody in this system can feel safe, stable, or secure. Many people feel that people in the third world countries are unsafe, unstable, and insecure and one of the incentives for migration from the third world countries to the western countries is that people feel that they are safer, more stable, and more secure in the western countries. However, this is an illusion. While it may be true that physically, you may be at less risk, but overall, you become more unstable and more insecure. The capitalist system disintegrates the family structure.

The family plays a big role in making an individual stable and secure. The capitalist system breeds insecurity because of its belief that if people feel secure, then they become complacent and lose the urge to be more productive. Therefore, the feeling of insecurity makes them more productive.

The recession did not affect India as badly as it affected the western countries and the Indian economy grew more than 6%. India gained more status in the world in the year 2009. Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to America showed that even though nothing much substantial was achieved, yet the way he was received clearly showed the enhanced status of India in the world. However, India has not clearly chosen sides between the East and the West. Japan, on the other hand, under the leadership of Yukio Hatoyama, seems clearly tilting to the East. After being elected as Prime Minister of Japan, Hatoyama has advanced the concept of an East Asian community on the pattern of the European Union. Hatoyama has made history by publicly stating his objective to expel all American troops from Japan.

England continues to decline. The French and German economies were already larger than the British economy. But in the year 2009, even the Italian economy surpassed England, pushing the British economy into the fourth place in Europe and the eighth place in the world. Russia’s influence, under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, in Europe and the world continues to grow. America has decided to retract the decision to install a new missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia perceived this system to be directed against it and strongly objected.

America was unable to change the outcome of the Presidential election in Iran. The Iranian government continues to maintain anti-American and anti-Israeli policies. At this point, the pro-Western opposition in Iran seems to be risking strong retaliation, including a risk of massacre. This may be a reversal of the roles; in Indonesia and Chile, the pro-American forces massacred the leftist and patriotic forces.

Cuba and Venezuela are firmly uniting to counter the American influence in Latin America. Hugo Chavez has emerged as the strongest and most vocal opponent of the American policies. Even Mexico seems to be challenging America and the religious right by becoming the first Latin American nation to legalize gay marriage.

Africa’s relation with China continues to become closer. China is helping Africa to get rid of the traditional western hold on its economy. In spite of some regional conflicts, overall, Africa is moving towards greater unity and is asserting independence from the west.

Australia has made significant change from John Howard’s pro-American, anti-third world, and overtly racist policies. Kevin Rudd, the new Prime Minister, continues to cement closer relations with China and the East. His fluency in Mandarin (Chinese language) and his college degree in Chinese studies are helping Australia to move closer to China.

The Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark could not achieve much and was unable to narrow the differences between the developing and the developed countries. It has been clearly established that global warming is the result of increased human activity, while the population of the world continues to increase. The main reason for the uncontrolled growth of the population is the capitalist system itself because it looks at people as if they were a commodity which can be exploited to maximize profits. One can only hope that the fall of the western capitalist system will lead to an alternate model of development, which will be based upon the collective wisdom of mankind and will include the wisdom of the East, which has been ignored in the last two centuries.

Dr. Sawraj Singh is Chairman of Washington State Network For Human Rights, and Chairman of Central Washington Coalition For Social Justice.

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