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The Decline of the West, Again

In the last century, not a decade has gone by without some proclamation of the West’s demise. But one thing sets today’s warnings apart: in the economically successful countries of Asia, the world now has a clear alternative to Western-style liberal democracy.

BERLIN – These are challenging and unsettling times for the West. The combination of resurgent nationalism and geopolitical uncertainty feels less like a temporary disruption and more like a fundamental transformation – one that may well spell the end of the era of Western global dominance.

As the sun sets in the West, many argue, it is rising in Asia. Indeed, the question no longer seems to be whether Asia will supplant the West as the world’s dominant region, but rather when that will happen – and how smoothly.

This shift lies at the heart of four recent books. Despite their very different perspectives, each – by Humboldt University of Berlin historian Heinrich August Winkler, former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, the conservative-minded commentator Jonah Goldberg, and the Singaporean diplomat-turned-academic Kishore Mahbuhani – shares the fundamental view that the global balance of power is moving inexorably toward Asia.

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