Kishore Mahbubani: Would the world be a better place if Asians were ruling the world?
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.
Kishore Mahbubani: I think the world would be much better if you had a two-way street of ideas, instead of a one-way street of ideas. The world would be much better if the westerners stop talking down to the rest of the world and began listening to the rest of the world. And you know on human rights issues, let me just mention a very important fact. I am a astonished that American intellectuals continue to pass judgment on the human rights standards of other countries, when the rest of the world looks at America and says “hey! the two great leaps forward in human rights was, number one, the abolishing of slavery.” Today fortunately none of us believe is going to come back again and the second thing was the abolishing of torture. and everyone thought that torture was history, it is going to be history. Guess what? The world’s greatest defender of human rights reintroduces torture and Amnesty International says that Guantanamo is the gulag of our times. Now, if Guantanamo is the gulag of our times, how can the State Department issue reports on the human rights situation of other countries without saying upfront “we are the United States, we believe in the practice of torture, this what a human rights stands for. Now, we tell you what your standards are." Now, there is absolutely no intellectual honesty in these kinds of areas, and the rest of the world is becoming much more intelligent. It can see through these double standards a thousand miles away and so you have this bizarre situation, where the western intellectuals assume the world hasn’t changed, continue to talk down to the rest of the world and having no impact.
Recorded on: 2/28/08
The U.S. has squandered its intellectual honesty, Mahbubani says.
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