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Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific

Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific [Kindle Edition]

Robert D. Kaplan
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“This is the latest in a series of insightful books . . . in which Robert D. Kaplan . . . tries to explain how geography determines destiny—and what we should be doing about it. Asia’s Cauldron is a short book with a powerful thesis, and it stands out for its clarity and good sense from the great mass of Western writing on what Chinese politicians have taken to calling their ‘peaceful development.’ If you are doing business in China, traveling in Southeast Asia or just obsessing about geopolitics, you will want to read it. . . . Throughout the book, Kaplan tempers hard-nose geopolitics with an engaging mix of history and travelogue.”The New York Times Book Review
“Kaplan has established himself as one of our most consequential geopolitical thinkers. . . . [Asia’s Cauldron] is part treatise on geopolitics, part travel narrative. Indeed, he writes in the tradition of the great travel writers.”The Weekly Standard
“Kaplan’s fascinating book is a welcome challenge to the pessimists who see only trouble in China’s rise and the hawks who view it as malign.”The Economist
“Muscular, deeply knowledgeable . . . Kaplan is an ultra-realist [who] takes a non-moralistic stance on questions of power and diplomacy.”Financial Times
“A riveting, multitextured look at an underexamined region of the world and, perhaps, at the ‘anxious, complicated world’ of the future.”—Booklist

“Part travelogue, part history, and part geostrategic analysis, Asia’s Cauldron sets some lofty goals for itself and largely succeeds in presenting a holistic look at the competing diplomatic and economic interests of the nations along the South China Sea. . . . This volume is an excellent primer to the conflicting ambitions, fears, and futures of the nations bordering this vital sea-lane, which will remain one of the most dangerous flashpoints of the coming decade.”New York Journal of Books
“In reminding Americans that their age of ‘simple dominance’ must pass, [Kaplan] avoids joining those groping in the dark and almost takes the detached stance of a historian of coming decades, describing how that future Asia came to be. This acceptance of Asia’s complexity and the limits of influence that any outside power has may well be the most valuable lesson.”National Review

Asia’s Cauldron is a perfect summation of the present turbulent moment in history, when the World War II security structure is beginning a rapid transformation. Kaplan engages the striking possibilities of where the current confrontation between China and Japan could lead, and underscores the point that this is a lot more significant than a simple border dispute.”—Paul Bracken, Yale University, author of The Second Nuclear Age
“Master global strategist Robert D. Kaplan turns his gaze to the bubbling heat of the South China Sea in his latest tour de force. Asia’s Cauldron deconstructs the extreme volatility of this enormous, dangerous, and vital maritime space. By thoughtfully pulling apart the complex tangle of argument and accusation among the nations of the region, he helps provide a well-charted course for the United States in this most turbulent geopolitical zone of the twenty-first-century.”Admiral James Stavridis, United States Navy (Ret.), dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 2009–2013
“Robert D. Kaplan has done it again: he has written an engaging—but disturbing—book about an area of the world that to most Americans is a distant rimland. Yet in an era of emerging Sino-American competition, the larger Southeast Asian region could well become the explosive cynosure of new great-power rivalries. Asia’s Cauldron is a wonderful and captivating guide that illumines the myriad colliding forces that will shape the future of the Indo-Pacific.”—Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


From Robert D. Kaplan, named one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, comes a penetrating look at the volatile region that will dominate the future of geopolitical conflict.
Over the last decade, the center of world power has been quietly shifting from Europe to Asia. With oil reserves of several billion barrels, an estimated nine hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and several centuries’ worth of competing territorial claims, the South China Sea in particular is a simmering pot of potential conflict. The underreported military buildup in the area where the Western Pacific meets the Indian Ocean means that it will likely be a hinge point for global war and peace for the foreseeable future.
In Asia’s Cauldron, Robert D. Kaplan offers up a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and their implications for global peace and stability. One of the world’s most perceptive foreign policy experts, Kaplan interprets America’s interests in Asia in the context of an increasingly assertive China. He explains how the region’s unique geography fosters the growth of navies but also impedes aggression. And he draws a striking parallel between China’s quest for hegemony in the South China Sea and the United States’ imperial adventure in the Caribbean more than a century ago.
To understand the future of conflict in East Asia, Kaplan argues, one must understand the goals and motivations of its leaders and its people. Part travelogue, part geopolitical primer, Asia’s Cauldron takes us on a journey through the region’s boom cities and ramshackle slums: from Vietnam, where the superfueled capitalism of the erstwhile colonial capital, Saigon, inspires the geostrategic pretensions of the official seat of government in Hanoi, to Malaysia, where a unique mix of authoritarian Islam and Western-style consumerism creates quite possibly the ultimate postmodern society; and from Singapore, whose “benevolent autocracy” helped foster an economic miracle, to the Philippines, where a different brand of authoritarianism under Ferdinand Marcos led not to economic growth but to decades of corruption and crime.
At a time when every day’s news seems to contain some new story—large or small—that directly relates to conflicts over the South China Sea, Asia’s Cauldron is an indispensable guide to a corner of the globe that will affect all of our lives for years to come.

Praise for Asia’s Cauldron
Asia’s Cauldron is a short book with a powerful thesis, and it stands out for its clarity and good sense. . . . If you are doing business in China, traveling in Southeast Asia or just obsessing about geopolitics, you will want to read it.”The New York Times Book Review

“Kaplan has established himself as one of our most consequential geopolitical thinkers. . . . [Asia’s Cauldron] is part treatise on geopolitics, part travel narrative. Indeed, he writes in the tradition of the great travel writers.”The Weekly Standard
“Kaplan’s fascinating book is a welcome challenge to the pessimists who see only trouble in China’s rise and the hawks who view it as malign.”The Economist
“Muscular, deeply knowledgeable . . . Kaplan is an ultra-realist [who] takes a non-moralistic stance on questions of power and diplomacy.”Financial Times

From the Hardcover edition.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 3203 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 256 Seiten
  • Verlag: Random House (25. März 2014)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #71.985 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen
5.0 von 5 Sternen
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Prior to this one have red the author's "Monsoon" which I have equally enjoyed. Having extensively travelled and partially lived in the region I would 100% concur with the analysis provided in this book. Apart of being very informative it is extraordinary well written and easy to read.
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1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Conindrum the South China Sea 6. Juli 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Worth reading if you are trying to understand what is going on in the South China sea, and how it is likely to evolve.
Kaplan sketches the historical backrop underlines the difference to situation leading up to the outbreak of WW1 and WW11 in Europe
(a maritime rather than land based geography, which hinders the movement of armies, and would slow the action down) ,
and finally re-iterates the importance of oil.His view China flexing its muscles with time working in its favour, leaning on its weaker neighbours in this conflict, witht ideally "no gunshot". However we are still left with the nagging doubt as to the reaction of Vietnam,
Japan, U.S.A, and the danger of escalation from an incident.PGL
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  88 Rezensionen
53 von 59 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An introduction to the next crisis in Asia 27. März 2014
Von Enjolras - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
The South China Sea is easily becoming the most important foreign policy issue in the Asia-Pacific region. With impeccable timing, Robert Kaplan’s new book, Asia’s Cauldron, attempts to illuminate the main actors in the dispute.

The book seems written for readers with some knowledge of Asia and foreign policy issues. This is both a strength and weakness of the book. The book is very accessible and Kaplan writes clearly enough for readers with only minimal knowledge to step right in. In some ways, the book could serve as an introduction to the countries surrounding the South China Sea. As somebody who teaches about U.S. foreign policy in Asia, I could easily imagine using chapters from this book on my syllabus in future years.

Kaplan provides a compelling chef’s tour of the South China Sea. He has a knack for drawing out the essential political and cultural characteristics of each country without veering into essentialism. I found his chapter on Malaysia – ironically, one of the less consequential disputants in the region – to be particularly insightful in its ability to unpack the potential contradictions in Malaysian modernity and Malay Islam. I found the discussion of each government’s attitude towards military power to be particularly illuminating. Kaplan seems able to obtain honest insights from key policymakers about their country’s relationship with China and the U.S.

On the other hand, the book does not go into sufficient detail for Asia specialists (I am probably in the latter camp) or those who have studied the South China Sea for years. There is surprisingly little discussion about the territorial claims themselves – if anything, the book focuses on the disputants, not the disputes. He skims over important aspects of the issue, such as ASEAN’s role (or lack thereof). While he does include anecdotes about the state of military and naval forces in each country, analysts will likely long for more rigorous detail. Kaplan does not end the book with grand foreign policy proposals for the Obama administration or State Department. I think this partly reflects his admirable humility, but also left me wondering how the U.S. should proceed in the future (especially because one of the disputants, the Philippines, is a treaty ally).

I certainly do not mean this to be a criticism of Asia’s Cauldron, but rather to suggest that the book will likely suit generalist readers more than Asia scholars. It provides invaluable insights into the countries along the South China Sea. Policy wonks, however, will probably want to supplement this book with a report from Brookings or other think tanks.
12 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen China's Claim to the South China Sea, and It's Obstacles to that Goal, Especially the U.S. 30. April 2014
Von Alastair Browne - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
It's ironic that I write this review on the day that the U.S. and the Philippines agrees to a new military alliance, where the U.S. sends rotating troops and navy ships to perform maneuvers and reconnaissance. The U.S. now has similar treaties with Australia and Singapore. I've also been reading recent articles on why the U.S. is making military commitments, to counter China, with Obama stating that "China isn't the focus."
This book explains what this situation is all about, the situation of each country on the South China Sea, and why China is so hostile to all this. Note that China is building up their military, not their army, but their navy, and to a slightly lesser degree, their air force.
The American press pictures China as the hostile power here, but when you look at it, China feels they have a rightful claim to the South China Sea, just as the U.S. has a claim on the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and Europe having a claim on the Mediterranean, except that the U.S. does not violate the territorial waters off of other countries in the Gulf or the Caribbean.
With China now being a major economic power, and they do do business with India, Africa, and the Middle East,the South China Sea provides major passage between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and, like the United States, China intends to become a two ocean country. This sea also has a lot of valuable natural resources, starting with oil and natural gas, not to mention rich fishing grounds, and China is going to want all that wealth. With a population of 1.3 billion people, they are going to need it.
Another little known fact is that China does not go by the Law of the Sea treaty, with a claim 200 miles of the continental shelf off its coast only, with all other international borders respected. China want all of the sea. The U.S., from their point of view, has no right to it because they are a country 7000 miles away, with no claim whatsoever. China, having a history of being colonized, and humiliated by other world powers, in coming into its own, and what they claim, they will have. That's the way they see it. Are they really the villains?
Other countries around the sea do see China as a threat, and China's claims are intruding on their own territories on the sea, with Chinese coast guard vessels driving off fishing boats and other vessels, laying claim to small islands other countries also claim (the Spratleys, the Parcels, etc.).
Because of this, these countries, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam (yes, Vietnam), Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia are all drawing up treaties with the U.S., allowing them to either establish naval bases or at least allow our navy ships to dock at their ports. Many of these countries and also establishing posts of their own in the sea to counteract China.
This is where the situations stands today.
Robert Kaplan has visited these countries, studied their cultures, and history, and gives a clear understanding of why these countries, and China, have the points of view that they do. In order to stabilize that part of the world, the U.S. Navy, and Air Force, has to be there to protect these countries and allow freedom for their ships, merchant and military, to sail where needed. China needs the freedom to said on the South China Sea, through the Straits of Malacca, to the Indian Ocean and beyond to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
What is especially interesting is the question on Taiwan. China may want it back, and they are very stubborn about this, but Taiwan's coast is almost impossible for ships to land in invade, and the Taiwanese themselves are armed to the teeth.
Vietnam, in spite of our war with them (they call it the American War), has invited the U.S. Navy back to Cam Rahn Bay for ships to dock. They have a sense of superiority because they won the war against us, but that is fading into history.
Malaysia is an interesting case because, although Muslim, that also have a Chinese and Indian population, and they all get along quite well.
All these countries and cultures are described in great detail, and gives us a point of view that Americans do not have.
One reason why this book is accurate because after I have finished reading it, I read in the newspapers how U.S. Air Force reconnaissance planes constantly flies over the South China Sea to spy on the Chinese and test their reaction. It is only a matter of time before the Chinese navy and air forces catches up with us.
Also given are scenarios of China should their economy begin to fail. How likely that is remains to be seen.
When you read the newspapers about the present situation in the South China Sea, I strongly recommend that you pick up this book for a clear point of view, and how China and Southeast Asia sees it.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Thought provoking analysis of potential future conflict 1. Mai 2014
Von jem - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Kaplan writes for readers interested in issues that may influence US foreign policy years, or even decades into the future. He introduces us to developing nations surrounding the South China Sea and their relationship with their dominant neighbor, China.

Admittedly, the South China Sea is not on the radar of most Americans who might even have difficulty pinpointing it on a world map.. He contends with convincing evidence that it is a naval crossroads as significant to the 21st century as the dominance of the greater Caribbean was to America's evolution as a world power or the Mediterranean was to Europe and the Middle East.

His extensive research and personal experience in these countries offers surprising portraits of countries from Vietnam to Phillipines. His rational, even-handed analysis of expanding Chinese military expenditures and territorial claims provides challenging food for thought. His dramatic contrast between the setting for conferring with worldly Chinese academics who send their children to college in the US and Communist leaders reiterating geography of the Middle Kingdom compresses into a paragraph what others require entire books to convey. We may read in the news about the Obama administration's pivot to Asia, but it is Kaplan who explains the situation that creates the need for more US focus on the Pacific.

This is a thought provoking book that depending on your experience will be very enlightening or challenge your Asian perspective. I highly recommend it.
11 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Another worthwhile book by Kaplan about an important and emerging part of the world 10. April 2014
Von Narut Ujnat - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
I must admit a fondness for reading books by Robert Kaplan (as well as his articles) because he brings some things to the table I always appreciate. First off, he brings a good eye to important details to the story he is covering, whether in Europe, Third-world nations I will probably never visit (or really want to for that matter if I have other choices) and places where the story is hidden. Second, Kaplan brings a historical perspective to the events he is discussing and this always captures my interest. Third, he often discusses events in terms of strategy, not just as interesting anecdotes to fill a book - there is a thesis he supports with the narrative as is here in this book. To wit, China is emerging as a burgeoning power in its backyard and other nations in SE Asia don't necessarily like this development.

Here, Kaplan writes another great book on Asian happenings and specifically events in Southeast Asia. Kaplan's thesis is essentially that the American Century in the Pacific is being challenged by a rising China, and the growing counter-weight that China's growth with the other nations in the South China sea arrayed to blunt this rise in power. First off, I love reading through the book because it gives a nice view of the world in which so few Americans (specifically) are even knowledgeable about). Second, the book describes a growing China in terms that are important and not often realized by the kumbaya cheerleaders for China on one hand, and the 'China is the most evil power on earth' crowd on the other hand. Like much of foreign policy discussions, the truth lies in a more cynical and nuanced middle that is achingly realistic about power and foreign policy.

China is certainly a rising power and Kaplan illustrates why throughout the book. I loved his description of how the various nations in SE Asia are being altered both by China's rise in raw economic power and a rise in military power and assertiveness. Kaplan describes this very neatly as China's 'Monroe Doctrine' moment (my words not his) in terms of how a rising nation located in the heart of the South China Sea is beginning to become more assertive in limiting other powerful nations (read the United States Navy) from operating with the relative impunity for much of the last 1/2 century (even withstanding the Soviet blue water navy which beyond submarines was fairly innocuous in projecting power in this region). The United States is not so much being outmatched as it is, in Kaplan's opinion, being out-muscled in an area that is 1/2 a world away for the US Navy, but is China's backyard. This mere fact gives China the kind of opportunity to power its neighbors like the US did in the 19th Century in Latin America and the Caribbean. The main question in reading this book is will the United States have the will and economic wherewithal to maintain a strong presence in the South China Sea. And as Kaplan writes about, this is not because the neighbors to China are not interested in having the US Navy in the area; in fact, the various nations want to encourage American ties, if not formally, then certainly informally. What emerges in the book is the importance of the projection of power of the military as an outgrowth of economic power. This is not because the military will be used in a likely military encounter, but rather because the ability to project military power (and particularly in a naval arena like the South China Sea) enables for unfettered trade beneficial to the military that is being projected.

While the book certainly highlights the many ways China's rising military is being able to assert power around the South China Sea, what also emerges is how China's nominally Communist government is projecting economic power to various states by enabling the use of raw resources, the dumping of goods in such a manner as to significantly hurt local business, and a overall strategy enabling China's absolute rise in a coherent manner. While we Americans see this strategy in shopping at various places around the country, no where is this development more stark than in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, amongst others.

I have greatly enjoyed Kaplan's latest books, such as Monsoon and the Revenge of Geography for the experience of having a nice guided tour of the emerging world. This book is certainly no exception. I do wish that these book would provide more maps and graphics. I would think that the target reader for this book would be those readers with a working knowledge of the geography of the area, a working knowledge of the history of the various nations in the South China Sea (though Kaplan certainly explains how certain historical aspects impact the present) and, naturally, an interest in foreign affairs. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this very good book.
17 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An introduction to geopolitical conflict in an area generally neglected by Western media 28. März 2014
Von Shalom Freedman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Reading daily headlines and news stories in the major newspapers one would have no real idea of the characters of the states and the general situation in Southeast Asia. Robert Kaplan in this work provides a kind of primer to countries most of us know little about, places like Malaysia, Singapore, India, China, Phillipines, Japan the Koreas.He reveals the distinctive characte of each of these societies.He outlines the situation today wherein a growing China is making its military presence greater in the South China Sea. It raises the question of the U.S. role in this situation and its defense for traditional friends like Japan.It in a sense acknowledges the Chinese claim for pre-eminence. Kaplan who has traveled and written about many different remote regions of the world provides a great deal of information about places most in the West knows little about. He makes historical contrasts as for instance between the land- based European conflicts of the twentieth century and the prospected sea-based conflict of the twentieth century. All in all I suspect the book will provide a kind of education for the non-experts a lively and complicated introduction to an area of the world of growing importance to humanity.
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