I met Fareed Zakaria at a conference in Toronto in 2009 where he was promoting his book, Post-American World and he discussed why it is critical that Americans look beyond their borders. In an year’s span, several things have happened. The rest of the world has progressed in leaps and bounds while Americans have been hit hard by petty politics, mortgage fraud and rampant unemployment. In his latest article for Time, Zakaria clearly points out that the best way for America to get out of this mess is to invest heavily in research & development and create jobs that could be exported to the rest of the world.
Zakaria has a valid argument in seeking larger investments in R&D but he misses an important point. We are living in an agile world where speed and dexterity matter more and it’s not just Americans who are involved in cutting edge research. New, emerging economies are moving at a quick pace and educated, determined individuals are aspiring to make things happen. There is a renewed sense of confidence in India, Brazil and China and in coming years this confidence will be the biggest threat for America.