Kishore Mahbubani: How do you account for the rise of ethno-nationalism?
Kishore Mahbubani was appointed Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on 16 August 2004 after having served 33 years in the Singapore Foreign Service (with postings in Cambodia, Malaysia, Washington DC and twice as Ambassador to the UN, during which he also served as President of the Security Council). He was the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry from 1993-1998.
He is the author of Can Asians Think? published in Singapore, Canada, US, Mexico, India and People’s Republic of China and of Beyond The Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World. His new book entitled The New Asian Hemisphere: the Irresistible Shift of Gobal Power to the East was published in New York in February 2008. He was also listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines in September 2005.
Question: How do you account for the rise of ethno-nationalism?
Kishore Mahbubani: : Well, actually what you do see in Asia is that the economic development is leading to a diminution of the traditional tensions within Asian countries. I mean one thing that people haven’t noticed is that all the three biggest wars since World War II are fought in East Asia, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Sino Vietnamese War, and hundreds of thousands of people died. Today the guns are completely silent in East Asia, and the silence of the guns is not an accident. The silence of the guns is a result of a very carefully thought out decision by all the leaders saying “hey, this is our moment to make it, let us focus on economic development and let us not get this distracted by war and conflict.” Now the Asians haven’t had--even though they have achieve zero wars within any two nation states-- have not reached the highest level of human civilization, which is what the European union has achieved where in Europe you don’t just have zero wars, you have zero prospect of war and that is an incredible civilizational achievement. But I think that is the direction of the Asians want to go to also, they want to replicate Europe also in that area.
When looking at Asia, Mahbubani thinks its important to distinguish between inter and intrastate tensions.
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