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Can the East Save the West?

Asia’s emergence as the world’s geopolitical and economic center has lent global prestige to a new paradigm for achieving sustainable growth alongside social solidarity. With many other countries already studying the Asian playbook, the United States and Europe could benefit from doing the same.

SINGAPORE – The past two decades have been either the best of times or the worst of times, depending on where you are sitting. Just when the global East was converging economically with the West, the two regions began to diverge psychologically. While America and Europe turned inward, toward pessimism and despair, Asia embraced globalization with growing confidence and optimism.

At the same time, Asians devised a new set of principles to govern the majority of the world’s population, and their models are spreading faster than Western-style democracy and development paradigms. As the world undergoes a rebalancing of power, the most important feature of the change is not economic or geopolitical, but intellectual. The years between the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and US President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 will be remembered as a historical rupture. The post-war decades of Western political and economic dominance are already behind us.

For Western elites and citizens alike, the future is now in doubt. Public disillusionment with prevailing political, economic, and social systems reflects a variety of factors. The disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struck a blow to Western global leadership. The 2008 global financial crisis exposed a deep disconnect between the Wall Street and the real economy. The failure to integrate Russia and Turkey into the West took the wind out of the sails of post-Cold War democratization. And democracy itself has now been hijacked by populists like Trump.

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