tv Book Discussion on Asias Cauldron CSPAN April 5, 2014 11:00pm-11:58pm EDT
our current framework. so do you get rid of these numbers? they offer a pattern as to what's going on in the world but a much looser one and a much less easy one but we have massive information a big data world that her fingertips so we can use constructively if we allow ourselves to. >> host: numbers number seems to be the bottom line. thank you so much for being with us today. >> guest: thank you so much. thanks. ..
>> [inaudible conversations] good eating. as the chief executive officer for a new american security center it is my honor and privilege to welcome you here tonight for the book launch of robert kaplan newest book "asia's cauldron." before going on i ask everybody to turn off your electronic devices that they are silent we don't want them to disturb the rest of
the evening. bob kaplan is one of the most recognized and respected american journalists. currently the national correspondent for the of the antic magazine and also a senior fellow at the board policy research institute and an adjunct senior fellow for the center for the american security. he first hit the scene in a big way with his publication in the coming anarchy in 1994. i was talking to him just before the event kicked off and he spoke to the leadership of the department of defense when they asked for the update of the similar article. that article has been widely cited a and debated that highlighted the re-emergence of the historical tensions and geographical tensions that were suspended during the cold war. he has authored numerous
books with my personal favorite of revenge of geography. his work has been featured in numerous publications including the "washington post", the new york times, the new republic, foreign affairs he and the "wall street journal." bob's work is always very well written, insightful and provocative. it is extremely bold though and respected inside national policy circles and has been a consultant for special operations forces, u.s. and sea and air force in his brief to presidents, lectured at military were colleges said national security agency the pentagon's joint staff and cia also lectured at universities and business forms pbs, npr, c-span and fox.
he was a visiting professor at the united states naval academy where he taught a course called future jury challenges and then secretary gates promoted him to the federal abies three committee to the united states department of defense and served two years. his writings have garnered him a lot of praise a 2001 recipient of the award for excellence of the international reporting and the state department's distinguished public service award. kaplan is called one of the widely read authors rare company. and perhaps this explains why in 2011 foreign policy magazine named him as one of the top global when hundred thinkers.
we could fill a room like this any night to just come tell us what you are thinking that we are specially privileged to hear him talk with his new thoughts "asia's cauldron". this book is extremely timely turning its gaze in development of the far western pacific. widow reserves of several billion barrels estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and several centuries worth of competing claims the south china sea in particular is a simmering pots of potential conflict. "asia's cauldron" has a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the south china sea bringing in the region of the 21st century and the implications for global peace and security.
to help tease out those thoughts we're lucky to have steve who is here with us tonight as one of the current host of the morning edition of npr with his co-host rainier took over morning edition in 2004 and has been there ever since. he was the chair's rotation correspondent and host of weekend all things considered. since joining the morning edition he has hosted the program new orleans, orleans, detroit, cairo and toronto establishing himself as a thoughtful commentator on a wide variety of issues investigated iraqi police and the author of the instant city which is published in 2011 by penguin press also britain for many publications including "the
new york times", the "washington post" and "wall street journal." steve's work has also garnered praise. 2006 he received the kennedy journalism award over the oil complex in nigeria. ladies and gentleman please to agree to welcome bob and steve for our event tonight. [applause] >> eight you very much and for the invitation that to say because fill a room just by what this man is thinking somebody sent me an e-mail that he has a book would you like to talk? and congratulations on the book. it is compelling. i bled to begin because we're talking about the geographic space it is hard to keep that in our head. give us the mental map. to talk about the culture in
the south china sea define the edges. what are we talking about? >> the south china sea is the middle your role of the 21st century like central and eastern europe where the center of geopolitical conflict in the 20th-century think of the south china sea as that for the 21st century. it is surrounded by the country's insult philippines, vietnam, the strait of malacca, tie one -- tie one which is the court in the bottle. it is the size of the greater caribbean and just as it is called the american mystery and i called the south china sea that asia mediterranean in terms of the neutrality to asia the south china sea is the anti-chamber to the indian ocean which is the world's
global energy interstate all the oil and natural gas from the the least comes by supertanker across the indian ocean to the straits of malacca a hint comes up with through the south china sea to the burgeoning middle class of japan, south korea and the emerging middle class of china. it is not just oil tankers. it handles much of the commercial traffic in the world because if so world has an economic geographic organizing principle it is the asia-pacific with two of the three largest economies. china and japan and south korea gets all of their goods, energy, cargo from the south china agassi.
is the asia persian gulf. but where it is only important for all real or energy the south china sea is important for energy transport for an oil and natural gas under the seabed and also for all the commercial cargo traffic. >> you already said a couple of provocative things you compare the central -- the china sea with the disputes over borders and in nationalism led to the tuberose catastrophic wars in the history of civilization. are you worried as nations conflict over control? >> the south china sea and the east china sea are both complex will not lead to the world war i style
cataclysms. it was about tanks, trenches , the things like that and they went on for years and tell it involved 70 million soldiers and innocent civilians. south china sea is to postmodernism in the sense warships, nuclear submarines , a fifth generation fighter jets, a tribal warfare, ballistic missiles. >> host: why am i not reassured? [laughter] >> guest: the south china sea is a maritime climate where central europe was over and climate. where armies came into contact with a lot of civilians killed back and forth. so as anxious more complicated world but not
necessary military so with very few civilians involved so over geographical features better bare rocks. >> had to explore these features? >> what i find as i get older you cannot go to a country wants. the first time you get impressions so then you are there there are more impressions underneath that are more long-lasting even the foreigners who know who live there would no. i went back to the philippines for four long visits. i went to vietnam several times. taiwan.
the odd reason that people know very little about. malaysia we think of the airplane that went down that nobody can locate and that malaysian airlines did not handle it will. so it is one of the most repressive countries in the world and has gone from backbreaking poverty and violence and ethnic strife between ethnic indian and muslims' hand over the past one-third of the century is a prosperous information economy with great infrastructure a beautiful highways of great bus system, airports the rather than rights there is the negotiated tension.
>> it reminds people of the race. >> malaysia is the heart of the of world. the funnel of civilization because where else do you find an ethnic chinese population a large indian population and a large muslim population? they're all in one country. with the great ports of melaka that is malaysia. the portuguese settlement. the questions about malaysia better very uncomfortable is malaysia made all these strides had enough there to -- authoritarian with nasty edges and injured 6% growth
rate over 20 years and is very detailed and with the information in the economy but he instituted a form of what we would call affirmative action. he sought weber not as well educated as the chinese and indians and said we need to promote the local population it is not 80 or 90 percent muslim where you could say it is a muslim country but it is 60%. that makes it very different in unique in the overall. those uncomfortable questions have to do with race at the same time there is no violence where
malaysia will make the transition with the same party has been in power to where the opposition takes power. that is the malaysian story in a nutshell. has thus chinese nationalism than the filipinos because they are so enmeshed with their own tensions that they don't have the psychological space to focus like the vietnamese to against the chinese with the south china sea or the filipinos. >> that you mentioned these ethnicities that there were a historical movements of people that were not that familiar to people of the street but you feel are significant. when i think how you travel.
why is it with strategic issues you visit historic sites? >> because history does not begin in a place the did you arrive there. you are writing at the 23rd chapter of history to make is that the american way to assume that it did not begin? >>. [laughter] the only way to have any prospective or context for what you are seeing and hearing is to everything that has gone on in the place before you get there to put into perspective. you can only do that through reading and reading. visiting historical sites and interviewing historians and philosophers not just to the policy people or the politicians because they
will just tell you about now. you have to have a perspective on everything before now to know what might happen after now. >> to the outsiders not fully understand the situation? denied the insider knows all the details to trip you up on this little mistake that is why you have fact checkers. sometimes the outsider can see things. that they are not able to see so much. >> host: let's talk strategy you said the china caribbean with its relationship to the united states. >> when i eighth spoke to a senior chinese colonel, several of them
talking about the aggressive stance in the south china sea base said we are doing nothing different in the south china sea the you americans did not do in the greater caribbean in the early 20th century. why should we be different? what to the west do in 30 seconds? upon unsettling the continental land mass of america, the united states tried to extend its control to the blue water adjacent the gulf of mexico and the caribbean. it is not true the western hemisphere is divided between north and south america but north and south of the amazon jungle because that is in terms of where people live in those
countries around the caribbean. once the united states got dominance, it got strategic control of the hemisphere. that allowed it to affect the balance of power and that was the story of the 20th century. the monroe doctrine was not about taking up the europeans. they had already left. it was about keeping them out while cooperating with britain over the slave trade, combating the slave trade and at the same time moving closer to europe and every other spear once the caribbean was settled. >> host: you even say specifically at of the caribbean that is what it was about. >> the chinese say you americans come from half a world away. that makes you hegemonic but we're just spreading our benevolence with our
continental control into the blue national soil. the blue water of the south china sea. they want to the dominance that we had in the caribbean they instituted the cow's tongue where they claim control most of the south china sea. but the vietnamese do not agree at all. the filipinos do not agree at all. malaysia had some problems. taiwan basically agrees with china but it is not china because we are the real china essentials the. [laughter] this puts the united states air force and navy in a
difficult position because it is the united states air and sea power e essentially betting is mature in the west has to not allow china to undermine the sovereignty of all these countries. at the same time not let the nationalism of the philippines or be a non or the united states with vietnam. >> host: they say there is nothing wrong or aggressive it is the same as the americans did. but american dominance led to a huge role in the world. should united states be concerned about a larger chinese rule of the south china sea? >> they see it as on locking the door to break out the
first into the wider pacific and allowing them to envelop to make the engine run around sovereignty without having to conquer taiwan. >> host: to surround it? >> by more and more trade and air connections and ballistic missiles focused at the same time. and at the same time the south china sea it is the antechamber to the indian ocean and china is helping to finance deep water ports as the commercial empire. the indian ocean covers the sahara desert to the archipelago. if base day dominant it unlocks the world to them most of the maritime eastern hemisphere in the way the caribbean
and lock the world for the united states. >> so you may say if that is what china once does that bother or threaten us? >> this is how 1.in the book. the united states always needs of balance of power in the asia-pacific it cannot have going into the future decades the dominance it exercised in the post-world war two decade. because there was no chinese navy to speak of, japan was quasi pacifistic and malaysia was tied up in internal wars. the philippines was internally focused on the muslim guerrillas. that has changed. we it on and malaysia are building significant navy's more so than and up past in japan is moving out and
china assets -- since the nineties is emerging as a great air and sea power. there will be a more complex, multi polar the tariff arrangement as opposed to the very simplistic polar of the dominance that we had in previous decades. there will be a shift. a matter of a favorable balance of power we cannot freeze the chinese out. >> host: what are the assets they have? summer allies to use the united states are not unfriendly. >> not just south china sea but all east asia is a part of the of world were hard military power is will come to. where the u.s. does not have to apologize it does not have a bad connotation like the middle east or even
until recently post national europeans. the japanese want us and our ships there. the vietnamese the former enemy are refurbishing the naval station tour in more u.s. warships because they don't love us but they see us as very useful as a counterbalance to the chinese power. >> host: one little speck on the map it would hardly appear there but hundreds of not thousands of islands in the south china sea. most are uninhabited. all of them are disputed nearly. of philippine ship that has been grounded on one with a handful of troops there and china has been making it difficult to resupply that ship. it is the sign of a
philippine sovereignty over a worthless piece of rock. or not so worthless. wetter the kinds of things that could be a flash point? >> i explained how they see it. the philippines is a very poor country not like the asian tiger economy. it is growing but this is only recently very poor and overcrowded and there is a lot of oil and natural gas. it feels that china tries to seize the wealth as a natural resources to help lift the philippines out of profit -- poverty. so they are strongly nationalistic. in 1982 the philippines kicked the united states out
of the naval station, a clark air field, and when the chinese started to build up their sea and air power going on 20 years almost almost, now the philippines wants the united states back. maybe not in that form opposition of the post cold war decade but they want to see more warship visits, more troops there but like the u.s. to intervene to put pressure but the u.s. is walking a tightrope with the the crisis of the kind that you point out. the bilateral relationship between the u.s. and china is so massively important that we cannot get into a military incident with china because of something like this.
and very abruptly it's happened and it appears the united states, being a distant anyway dealing with a complicated relationship with a very important country that it also a nuclear power, can't do anything about it. it is possible we could wake up and find out that china has seized some chunk of territory it seizes vital to its interests, and the united states again can't do anything about it? >> it's possible but here's what could likely happen. you could have -- the chinese would probably never send uniformed troops on these disputed islands. what would likely do is land fishermen, civilians, and claim that they're exercising their fishing rights but claiming sovereignty at the same time. >> fishing with missiles,
perhaps. >> the chinese have an interesting naval strategy. when we think of navies we think of gray warships. the chinese use their coast guard and their fishing vessels as part of an organic, continuum of naval power, from a small fishing boat up to a nuclear powered sub -- submarine so they pushed the philippines around with their coast and it makes is harder for the u.s. to respond because you're supposed to respond in kind. but we don't have coast guard there. so it's a nonmilitary -- also serves to humiliate the filipinos because the chinese are saying we don't even need our warships to get our way with you. a danger is that the u.s. is not likely to get into a conflict with china over the philippines, but japan is another matter. here we go the east china sea. japan is a serious treaty ally. japan hosts u.s. warships,
even -- it's going to be hosting a u.s., i think, nuclear powered aircraft carrier. japan has four times as many major warships on the high seas than the british royal navy at the moment. so japan is a serious military power. and were japan to get into some sort of shooting incident with china, that would raise the danger of dragging the u.s. in. because we -- we're bound by treaty to help defend japan. >> i want to did one more quick question before i go to the audience and it's this. you have compared the south china sea to the caribbean. you have given us a historical analysis that when the united states came to dominate the caribbean, it was springboard for a leading role in the world. if china were to succeed in dominating the south china sea, would china then go on to
dominate the world? >> i don't think so. if it could dominate the south china sea, number of other things would be happening as well. they would essentially neutralize taiwan. taiwan is a de facto independent country. those words de facto could change. china would also become a two-ocean navy. over the western pacific and the indian ocean. that would give china tremendous influence in what i call the navigable southern rimland of our asia, stretching from the horn of africa to the sea of japan. but it would not allow china to dominate as the eastern hemisphere to the stenthe u.s. has traditionally dominated the western hemisphere. you also have russia and we could go on for an hour about the strategic competition between russia or china. between russia and china, and
you also have powers in the middle east like iran, saudi arabia, and others. the eastern hemsster -- hemisphere is a much more complex issue. >> i appreciate the complexity. let me turn to your questions now and invite them. i guess i'll call on people. is there a microphone -- there's a microphone that will come to you. this gentleman right here, who is holding up his hand. you, sir. just wait for the microphone. if you could stand up and say your name so we can good it to know each other. >> i'm michael, and the question i'm asking is, the last time the u.s. had a big rebalanced strategy in the late 40's and 50s didn't involve a lot of institutional changes for the federal government and the defense establishment in general. are there institutional changes that are necessary to facilitate the rebound eurasian and what are they? >> here's the difficulty. we want to pivot to asia if the
middle east allows. but the middle east doesn't often allow. the same might be said about europe. the u.s. is a global power. it just is. it's such a global power that it can only be compared not to other nation states throughout history, but to other empires throughout history. it's just -- it's the only useful means of historical comparison that we have. but it's not a question -- it's not a question of re-organizing bureaucracies, though the procurement process needs a lot of help, because just of the expense of warships. i think the new gerald r. ford class of air craft carrier 12 billion without anything on it, or sumwalt class destroyer, -- a lot of work to be done there.
i think we have this illusion we're in a globalized world but that may be true at a top cream of the crop global elite level, but never have we needed more area expertise, inside the bureaucracy as we need now. people who are expert in local national cultures. >> that leads to a great followup. i in the best and the brightest that's a anywhere -- from the vietnam war. how well do you think the united states inside the government understands the region you're talking about. >> after 9/11, of course, there was a lot of emphasis on building up arab speakers, persian speakers and others. the united states has an advantage in the asia pacific. we fought half of world war ii there, one theater of world war
ii. we fought two great wars there, cora and vietnam -- korea and vietnam. we have been essentially other colonial power in the philippines from 1899 right up through the early decades of the 20th century, with a strong relationship with the philippines ever since. so there's a tremendous institutional basis for area expertise and friendships with the asia pacific that we don't have quite with other parts of the world. >> okay. yes, ma'am, right here in front, second row. please stay your name and where you're from. go ahead and stand up. >> thank you for the opportunity. my name is jeanine and i'm a vietnamese american. i like to first make a few clarification and then ask the question. >> if we can just be as brief as possible go ahead.
>> yes. >> ask a question. >> it's okay. >> i'm a vietnamese american. i came here in 1975. before then the vietnamese in the south fought with the u.s. and the whole world to fight against the communists. so the vietnamese then and the vietnamese now, with value the u.s. and the universal values which is human rights, liberty, and justice for all. that's one. you said vietnam doesn't -- the vietnamese communist maybe but the vietnamese in the south and who fought against the communityize we have the value. secondly in 1974, china did invade vietnam. they invaded the south. this happened, and happened repeated live men times since, and in 2009 with a fishing vessel.
my question to you is, your title, the end of a stable pacific. i would like to ask you, and the policymakers here, we trying our best to avoid it, and i believe that the u.s. has a role in it. the u.s. is the leaders of the world. how do we avoid the end of stable pacific so that come back to the institutional, how do we -- >> okay. >> -- form a new centrality where china can sit down and have a code of conduct with us and where would the u.s. come in as leader. >> i understand your question. yes, it's true that the chinese did take the parasols and this is -- the dispute between china and vietnam in the south china sea is probably the strongest of
the disputes in the south china see. vietnam is i think one drove 12th or 13th largest countries in the world in population. the whole western coastline of the south china sea. it's a potential maritime turkey that is a potential middle level power. and it is true that the chinese -- the vietnamese government wants to use the united states, to balance it against china, whereas wherever i've trailed through vietnam i never met such prosch american friendly people. really. that's true. the united states in terms of keeping the pacific stable. what it's all about is we have to be very clear. we have to keep up a very strong air naval presence. it's fine to encourage our allies to do more. but when our allies do more, and they themselves have conflicts
with other countries in the region, it can lead to unstable. so, yes, we want the japanese to do more. but if the japanese build up their military and keep building and building, it becomes a problem, because -- the japanese are -- for historical reasons are not well-trusted in south korea and elsewhere, and yet the japanese have an existential problem with china. so the u.s. has to maintain a strong air naval presence to keep the peace, as it were. people sale we can just drastically reduce our ships and planes. if we do that, the pacific is not going to be very stable, and the chance of war breaking out, or a conflict breaking out in the south china sea, and in the east china sea goes up
immeasurably. >> way to the back. anybody toward the back? 're all just that quiet in the back? that's remarkable. how about this gentleman over here. just go -- the microphone is coming. in. >> thank you. ken meier. that's a possibility, remote at present, maybe not so remote, that a canal will be built across the is muss of something or other in southern thailand. how likely is that and if it happened how would it change the geopolitical situation in the south china sea. >> the isthmus of craw. a more difficult engineering project than the panama canal because of the temperature -- e
terrain. there's been studies done to create deep water ports where you -- it would be connected by pipeline and rail. in other words, what this is all about is bringing the indian ocean and the south china sea together. the bay of bengal together with the south china sea, the indian ocean with the pacific, and that's to take advantage of growing merchant traffic, growing energy transfers, where so much is now dependent on the strait of malacca. it's no wider now than it was 500 years ago. and that creates a real dilemma for china, which is -- and for japan and south korea as well. they're all just too dependent on thing narrow strait which is narrower in terms of what is navigable inside the waterway so
they need alternative paths, and the isthmus of craw could be one. >> this woman right here in the third row in the blue. >> thank you very much. i am a general -- from -- you just alludeed to taiwan. it's a de facto independent country and it could change and the chinese government is very determined to take back taiwan. so, do you think -- we are seeing now increasing economic integration between taiwan the mainland, and very real possibility that taiwan could in effect de facto become part of the great china and lose its independence. if that happens, what do you think will change the balance of power in south china sea? >> yes. a number of things could happen. china is -- i think there are
270 commercial flights a week between the chinese main lean and taiwan. also 1500 or so ballistic missiles focused from china on taiwan. and this is to say -- this is to say nothing about the chinese warships in the south china sea which essentially abut ts tie taiwan. but at the same time the longer taiwan can hold out -- this is what taiwanese tell me, what i report to in the book -- the longer they hold out the more china itself can change. remember, we have been used to a static china, with just eight, nine percent economic growth rates every year for the last 25 or 30 years. this economic boom engine with a predictable authoritarian leadership of collegial faceless
noncharismatic men who retire at 65, and that leads to policy that's been very predictable even at china's arrival. now that economic engine is running into the ground a bit. you can't just go on growing like that forever. china needs a host of reforms, economic rebalancing. that's going to lead to social stresses, economic stresses, political stresses. the new chinese president seems to be carving out more of his own personality, which is different from the previous faceless leaders that we have had in the past. so the future chinese leadership may be his predictable than that in the past, and if china goes through social and economic and political upheaval of some sort, it may have problems with i minority borderland of the turkey, muslim, tibetans in the south. et cetera. so, that china itself may
decentralize, which would mean the china that eventually is drawing closer and closer to taiwan may not be as dangerous for taiwan as the country in the past. one of the things -- i throw out an idea in the book that i think will generate a lot of discussion, i hope. everyone thinks most important person in -- the most important chinese person in the -- in the last 110 years has been pooh-pooh -- mao. and it may be chiang kai-shek. chiang kai-shek was enlightened author tareanism, at least in his later years, and turned taiwan into the model democracy it is today. even as china itselfs -- you know, mao is still revered as a
nationalist figure now. but if china goes through a political upheaval, that may change as well. the historical reckoning for mao is till in the future, and it at the end of the day from a philosophical point of view, chiang kai-shek may win the argument. >> okay. we have time for a couple more questions. how about this gentleman right here in the sweater. >> i'm rob garrett. john hopkins. your travel and discussion with chinese leaders what is your sense whoever hat control of the southeasts china policy, the government or the energy consortiums? is it possible the tail is wagging the dog in southeast asia? >> first of all, even within the chinese people's liberation army navy, there are differences of opinion. there are some -- it's naval voices in china that argue for
more conciliatory policy in the south china sea. remember, china is not as totalitarian as it was under mao, when it was totalitarian, only a few men controlled everything, including the military. but as that system dose from totalitarianism to a more traditional authoritarianism, different power centers emerge, including the military. so the military is very -- is more and more politically powerful and the military has interests in promoting a very nationalist policy in the south china sea. one thing to keep in mind is that if we're only up to elites, it might be easier for the chinese regime to have a more conciliatory policy in the south china sea to compromise on the nine dash line as it were. but it's not only up to the
elites. china may not be a democracy but public opinion matters a lot to the leadership, and the public opinion is very nationalist. and so as one official told me in beijing, he said, we can see a compromise in the future in the south china sea but the problem is selling it domestically. the -- what is the political strategy for selling that domestically? >> did they create that, their own problem, because the state media created that feeling that was a nationallallistic line that had been drawn in the sea? >> partly the case. they created this whole issue, but the issue also rose organically because of just the growth of the navy and air force there. and their ballistic -- they have just -- they're so much more powerful now than they were in, say, 19193. it's a different world -- 1993.
it's a different world. >> really nobody in the back that is not too shy to pose a question? there's not. so we'll continue in the front. there's a gentleman here. go ahead. >> i'm an associate with the balfour center. in both the south china sea and asia pacific more generally is there a way -- do you have litmus test to disrain shirts between policies that china would be pursuing it if wanted to exercise dominance in the asia pacific? china likes to say we're just doing what we have -- we have a growing economy, a growing conception of our national interests and we're just doing what any other great power in our situation would do. it there a way to distinguish between policies that anyone else would take versus those if it really wants to dominates the south pacific. >> look at the united states between the end of the civil war and theout break of world war i.
the united states had economic growth rates for most of that period extremely -- near double digits, almost every year. there was some hiccups here and there. the united states settled the continent, brutally, perhaps, but did. so what did the united states do? it built a great navy and it dug the panama canal. and it became a great power. and why did that happen? because as the united states -- after the civil war and the north and south united, the united states developed a great economy, and therefore it developed trading interests around the world it didn't have before, and so it needed a great military in order to defend those trading interests. you could say more or less china has been following a similar path. the yale professor, paul bracken, likes to say that capitalist prosperity, if it goes on and on, leads to
military acquisitions. you know, you have a capitalist economy that is a success for 30 years, on and on, it's going to start building a big military. that's what history shows us. so there's nothing rogue about what china has been doing in the larger historical sense. it's not threatening to destroy any nation or wipe any nation off the face of the earth, or anything. it's emerging as a natural new great power. the problem that history shows us is one of the reasons people love the status quo, even if the status quo is unfair, is that it is stable, and so if the status quo goes on you're less likely to have military conflict. but with china's natural evolution after two centuries of decline and division, is it's changing the status quo.
and it's leading to a change in the status quo in japan, from a quasi-pacifist nation to more of a normal nationalist nation. so, here there and everywhere in asia, the status quo is changing. now, the status quo may be unfair and may be it needs to change in some higher moral sense, but it also makeses much more unstable. >> we have time for one more question. finally somebody in the back. way to go. you get our last question. >> hi. tom callahan. tell us about your prologue. why do we need to pay attention to ancient empires when we think about these issues in the cauldron. >> we shall enat the beginning. >> in the book begins with a travel description of the rooms in central vietnam of an -- the ruins in central vietnam of an indian, what kaymer but indian
civilization in the middle ages of chompa, a great seafaring civilization, and it starts that way because i want to remind the reader that all -- everything i write is mere period piece. china is on the move at the time i write and therefore it has to be the center of the book i write. however, in the past, india -- indian civilization exercised tremendous influence in sog southeast asia, which is why the french called it indo-china. that is really the proper term, and so what i'm saying to the reader is, the past was very different, which means the future could be very different, too. the future could see a weakened china, china in tremendous economic disarray, with a
strengthening japan, strengthening india, a much more complex power relationship. so that i'm reminding the reader i'm very cautious about everything i'm going to write henceforth, to keep in mine this history of southeast asia. >> please join me in thanking robert kaplan. congratulations on the book. [applause] >> mr. kaplan will be here signing books. you can throw another question at him. just buy the book. >> i'd like to thank steve for being a wonderful moderator. >> thank you very much. >> thank you all for coming tonight and as steve said, bob has agreed to stay here for 30 minutes in the back, so if anybody would like to ask him to sign your book, i'm sure he will be happy to do. t