Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fareed Zakaria and the Red Sox

What do Fareed Zakaria and the Red Sox have in common? Well absolutely nothing as far as I know. (However, Zakaria did get his Ph.D. from Harvard, so he may have gone to games while in Boston. But he has settled in New York City with his family, so who knows if he's a fan.) Anyhow, I've been meaning to write a couple posts this week, but haven't gotten around to them until now. So why not lump them into one post? There's no rules in the blogosphere, right?

First, the Sox. I took the afternoon off on Wednesday to head up to Baltimore for the second of a two game series against the Orioles. Start time - a bizarre 3:05. These trips to Baltimore when the Sox are in town have become an annual tradition, and given the fact that seeing the team play in Fenway is about as difficult as winning Powerball, it's best to see them on the road. Looking at the number of Sox fans that show up in Camden Yards (aka "Fenway South"), proves many others have the same idea. The Orioles fans are never pleased to watch the sea of red and blue enter their home turf, though. And this time I did see a few fans get into a scuffle. Something about someone pouring beer on another guy. At 6 dollars a bottle, that's just bad economics in my opinion.

The game was good for six innings until middle relief came in and blew it with a grand slam by Jay Payton (a former Sox himself). But Manny did make a great play in the outfield - and high-fived a fan after making the catch - before turning a double play. (Can this at least put to rest all the critcism of his fielding skills?) So it was a small victory on an otherwise medicore performance overall by the team. But there is no question that the Sox are in a major slump going into this weekend's interleague play against the Brewers. Still, I'm looking forward to heading up to Baltimore again for the weekend series at the end of May.

Now on to Zakaria. I went to Brookings on Thursday to cover the discussion of his new book The Post-American World. I haven't yet gotten to reading it yet, but given the huge media coverage of it (book reviews, TV appearances, and a cover story in Newsweek), I feel I've gotten a pretty good feel for the thesis. Which in a nutshell is this: A post-American world doesn't mean the tragic decline of the United States, but rather the rise of other powers in the world such as China, India, and Brazil, creating more centers of power than ever before. The US will still dominate the scene militarily, but in terms of economic and cultural influences, the rest of the world is catching up.

It is an optimistic thesis, and a nice departure from all the doom and gloom talk we constantly hear from the pundits. But is it right? I'm in no position to say, but given the current economic woes in this country, the influence of sub-national groups throughout the world, and an over-stretched American military, it will be interesting to see if Zakaria's thesis plays out. In some ways I hope so, because it would mean a new era of cooperation and intergration in which many nations are at the table benefiting from the global system. And this time around, more powers may actually mean cooperation, not conflict. Now that would be refreshing...


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