I need a summary of Fareed Zakaria's “The Rise of the Rest.”

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this essay, written in 2008, Zakaria argues that the world is entering what he calls the "third great power shift in modern history." The first was the rise of the Western world, the second was the rise of the United States. Present global developments, which see American cultural and economic hegemony challenged in every corner of the world, are the third stage, which he calls "the rise of the rest." Americans are concerned about this development. They see enormous economic growth in places like China, India, and others, much of which they perceive as a direct threat to the United States and its people. But Zakaria's central argument is that Americans need not perceive events that way, because contrary to narratives peddled by politicians and the media, the "rise of the rest" does not necessarily entail the decline of the United States. Nor does it mean the world is falling apart, Zakaria argues: 

It is the result of a series of positive trends that have been progressing over the last 20 years, trends that have created an international climate of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

Acknowledging that this view is different than the images of violence and disorder that take center stage in American news broadcasts, Zakaria cites statistics that show that the world is (was) experiencing a period of relative peace, and that this period of peace is still the result of American military might. He acknowledges that achieving global consensus on pressing issues (climate change, trade agreements, and so on) is now very difficult, but points out that the emerging economies around the world have created a huge demand for American industries such as nanotechnology, engineering, and other fields. In short, Zakaria's essay (again, it was published in 2008) argues that the United States in is better off than portrayed in the media.

rogal eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fareed Zakaria’s essay dissects polls that showed, at the time, a general feeling of dissatisfaction among Americans with their country’s growth. He tries to look at factors that address this discontentment beyond the obvious, such as the financial recession or growing unemployment trends within the country. He identifies one reason as the threat posed by other emerging economies that are competitively edging America out of its traditional hold on industries as diverse as entertainment, trade, and even architecture. He notes the steady redistribution of power among the countries of the world on all fronts except for the military or political level, where America still retains dominance. He observes that most Americans are disturbed by this redistribution of power and fear that the rest of the world is overtaking them. However, he argues that these events work to the benefit of Americans and the world at large by creating a stable environment where peace and prosperity can reign.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What Zakaria is saying in this essay is that we are wrong when we worry about the United States falling behind in the competition for power (economic, social and political).  He says that we are not falling behind.  Instead, he says, the rest of the world is catching up.  And this is, he says, a good thing.

We have worked hard to create a world with free societies where people could have economic opportunity.  Now these societies are starting to exist all over the place.  We should be happy.

He says that the rise of these places can be really good for the US because we are an open and flexible society.  Immigrants can come here and help our economy (as in the example of engineers).  We can sell our knowledge and innovative abilities to these rising countries.

In other words, this is not a zero sum game.  The rise of the rest will help us too.