Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 11/2014

Can America Rebuild the Crumbling State of U.S.-Asia Relations?

Kishore Mahbubani

March 2005

Weatherhead East Asian Institute


Ambassador Mahbubani’s address looked at previous American actions that built “reservoirs of good will” that ultimately assisted America in its ideological victory in the Cold War, especially in Asia: its sharing of the “American dream” with the world; its openness to foreign students; the international order built by the United States after 1945; and, finally, the stabilizing effects of its military presence in East Asia. However, the end of the Cold War has brought changes, and the gulf between America’s self-perception and the way it is seen in the Islamic world, and China in particular, demonstrate the dwindling of those good will reservoirs. Ambassador Mahbubani warned that in a shrinking world, America’s power is increasingly perceived with hostility. To counter misperceptions of America’s role in the world, he called on the United States to enable China’s peaceful emergence as an economic power; help establish a “success story” in the Islamic world, as postwar Japan was in Asia; redouble its commitment to the multilateral order it created in 1945; evaluate better the unintended consequences of its domestic policies; and rethink its restrictive visa policy so that immigrant success stories in America will continue to inspire people abroad.