CAMBRIDGE – Asia’s return to the center of world affairs is the great power shift of the twenty-first century. In 1750, Asia had roughly three-fifths of the world’s population and accounted for three-fifths of global output. By 1900, after the Industrial Revolution in Europe and America, Asia’s share of global output had shrunk to one-fifth. By 2050, Asia will be well on its way back to where it was 300 years earlier.
But, rather than keeping an eye on that ball, the United States wasted the first decade of this century mired in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it in a recent speech, American foreign policy will “pivot” toward East Asia.