On the world maps common in America, the Western Hemisphere lies front and center, while the Indian Ocean region all but disappears. This convention reveals the geopolitical focus of the now-departed twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century that focus will fundamentally change. In this pivotal examination of the countries known as “Monsoon Asia”—which include India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Burma, Oman, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Tanzania—bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan shows how crucial this dynamic area has become to American power. It is here that the fight for democracy, energy independence, and religious freedom will be lost or won, and it is here that American foreign policy must concentrate if the United States is to remain relevant in an ever-changing world. From the Horn of Africa to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, Kaplan exposes the effects of population growth, climate change, and extremist politics on this unstable region, demonstrating why Americans can no longer afford to ignore this important area of the world.
Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts), correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, inculcates a paradigm shift when he suggests that the site of 21st-century geopolitical significance will be the Indian Ocean, not the northern Atlantic. The major powers of the future India and China fringe the ocean along with a host of other players "the emerging and volatile democracies of East Africa," Indonesia, Oman, "anarchic" Somalia, placid Singapore, and Burma. These sea trade routes have historically borne commerce, colonialism, and faith, and Kaplan examines the nexuses of power, goods, and ideologies making their way across those waters today. Even if the writing on culture especially India's can devolve into clich , the book's political and economic focus and forecasts are smart and brim with aper us on the intersection of power, politics, and resource consumption (especially water), and give full weight to the impact of colonialism. An ambitious and prescient study equally at ease analyzing the work of the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, the finer points of the Indian state of Gujarat's flirtation with fascism, and the economic impact of the Asian tsunami on Indonesia.