Kishore Mahbubani: What does Asia not understand about the West?
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: What does Asia not understand about the West?
Kishore Mahbubani: : Well I think, the one of the paradox is about the times we live in by the way is that the best educated societies and the best informed societies in terms of the flows of information are the West, but the West lives in a cocoon. There is an incestuous dialogue that takes place among Western intellectuals. They talk to each other, reinforce each other's notions and they think that their view of the world is real view of the world, but it represents the perception of 12% of the world's population. The 88% who live outside the West have a much better understanding of the realities of the world than the West does, and this is one of the great paradoxes of our time. The people outside the West understand clearly what the strengths and weaknesses of Western societies are. The good that Western societies are doing and the harm that Western societies are doing: all that is also very well known in the rest of the world. So, I think this is the paradox that we face, that the West which is suppose to be representing the most open society, is the most open civilization, is progressively becoming closed-minded and its approach to rest of the world.
Why is the West becoming the most close-minded corner of the world, Mahbubani wonders?