In tranquil times or troubled times reflective persons have asked why our world is where it is today. E. H. Carr wrote about the troubled years between the two world wars. The years of the Soviet–American confrontation, made frightfully deadly by the possession of nuclear weapons by the two antagonists, prompted many scholars and statesmen to think of the different kinds of world order that could spare humanity a nuclear holocaust.
Democracy has spread spontaneously and swiftly in an area of the world generally thought to be immune to political changes: West Asia and North Africa (WANA). An incident of common occurrence in Third World countries—a policeman extorting money from a fruit vendor—sparked this surge for democracy, which spread rapidly from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea in some two months. On December 17, 2010, a fruit vendor, Mohammed Razzack, set himself on fire to protest against a policeman extorting money from him.
Right away I plead guilty to Amitabh Mattoo's charge that I am not sufficiently sensitive to the critique of interdependence. In writing this article, I had in my mind the influential columnists on strategic affairs who talk often persistently, loudly and incoherently, that we are a ‘balancer’ between China and America. What this balance is and how a six-power global balance (US, Europe, Japan, China, India and Russia) has emerged is not explained with any consistency and coherence by these columnists. But they are influential opinion-makers and also decision-makers.
Lawrence Summers, United States President Barack Obama's chief economic advisor and formerly secretary of treasury in the second term of the Clinton administration, once said that there was a ‘balance of financial terror’ between the US and its financial creditors, primarily China and Japan. Today, China, holding some $800 billion in US treasury bonds and some $2 trillion worth of currency reserves wields financial terror against the US.