Words of Wisdom from East Asia

For words of wisdom about America’s proper place in a better future world, listen to Singapore’s former Prime Minister and elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew, speaking at a recent conference in Japan.┬áLee takes the long-term view, and advises his listeners that as China grows to its full potential, no combination of its neighbors will be strong enough to provide a balance without the USA. He is not talking about a military balance here, he cites America’s strong economy and record for innovation as well as the fact the the whole international community speaks English (and Chinese is a devilish hard language to learn).

What a wonderful vision of a future in which our country is wanted in the rest of the world, not for our bombs and aircraft carriers, but for our economic strength and our capacity for innovation! Wanted, not resented or barely tolerated. Important, not because we have the world’s most powerful military establishment, and sell guns to our friends, but because we can provide a balancing and stabilizing presence when regional problems threaten to get out of hand. And we’re easy to talk to, because we all speak English, more or less.

We have a great future in a world community that can be a lot more peaceful and productive than the present one, if we can just get over our hangups about world government and helicopters swooping in with people in blue hats taking our guns away. And Lee’s vision is also the answer to those who believe that the only option we have to our present role as world policeman is withdrawal into an isolationist shell. There is a middle way, and while Lee isn’t telling us how to get there, he is telling us what to expect if we find it.

The text of the report, that caused me this unaccustomed moment of pleasure when contemplating my country’s future can, be found at:


CSC 5/30/11

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1 Response to Words of Wisdom from East Asia

  1. zhonggou says:

    Very interesting post. Being a British-educated Singaporean of Chinese descent, Lee Kuan Yew do have credibility to discuss about a “new world order” with 2 superpowers China and America as leaders.
    China with its pride and sometimes arrogance steemed from the fact that it has been cultural, technological and economical center before European colonialism is increasingly a threat to the stability of Asia. And America with its advanced militarism, weaponry and economy offers Asia Pacific countries a way to balance Beijing influence
    However, I think you’ve got some delusions here.
    The future will not be like a wealthier and more influencing China with America still being the center of the world and symbol of the free world, of the true values that Westerners believe they represent.
    And to say the fact that Americans speak the lingua-franca makes it more easily accesible is just plain idiotic. In terms of soft power, China is incomparable to U.S. However, the shift in power and influence doesnt stop here.
    China is winning Africa, Latin America due to a patriotic approach and colonist mind-set of the West with those charity organizations paying the officials enormous salaries and leaving the Africans a few pennies and the media misrepresenting the continent in a hopeless, hellish image. Earn the stand in those rich natural resource regions and hugely potential markets or you’ll lose it. Change your attitude before they find China a safer and more respectful one to deal with.
    Lee Kuan Yew says once China opens its door, it’ll never close.
    I don’t believe in the superiority of any cultures or societies or neither am I a pro-CCP. But I do expect the coming century of China after the century of humiliation, not the spread of Communism or Red China with its lack of human rights respect, corruption and cheating practices it’s encouraging, but the splendid reshining of Chinese civilization and values

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