Zakaria, Fareed 1964–
Zakaria, Fareed 1964–
PERSONAL: Born January 20, 1964, in Bombay, Maharashtra, India; son of Rafiq Ahmed (a government official and historian) and Fatma Rafiq (a journalist and editor) Zakaria; married Paula Henley Throckmorton, April 5, 1997; children: one son, one daughter. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1986; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1993.
CAREER: Writer, political scientist, journalist, and editor. New Republic, former reporter and researcher, beginning 1987; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, executive coordinator of project for changing security environment at the Olin Institute, 1991–92; Foreign Affairs, New York, NY, managing editor, 1993–2000; Newsweek International, New York, NY, editor, 2000–. Foreign Exchange (television program), PBS, host. Department of Political Science, Columbia University, New York, NY, adjunct professor, 1997. Regular guest on television programs such as Charlie Rose and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Member of board of the Trilateral Commission, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Council of Foreign Relations. Member, International Institute of Strategic Studies.
MEMBER: Century Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Harvard-MacArthur fellow, Harvard University, 1989–91; John M. Olin fellow, Harvard University, 1991–92; Overseas Press Club Award, Overseas Press Club of America, 1998, and one other time, for Newsweek reporting teams; Deadline Club award, for columns and books.
(Editor, with James F. Hoge Jr.) The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1997.
From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1998.
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2003, reprinted with new afterword, 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Interest, Foreign Affairs, International Security, Washington Post, New Yorker, and New Republic, and to Web site Slate.com. Author of regular column for Newsweek. Contributing editor, Newsweek, 1996–2000. Author's works have been translated into eighteen languages.
SIDELIGHTS: Through his writings, research, and teaching, Fareed Zakaria has made an impact in the field of political science and foreign policy. A graduate of both Yale and Harvard, Zakaria has utilized the knowledge that he has gained by writing extensively on the subject of international affairs. Articles authored by Zakaria often appear in distinguished publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New Republic, the New York Times, and Foreign Affairs. Zakaria's journalistic writing has also led to the publication of a number of books. In 1997 he teamed up with Foreign Affairs editor James F. Hoge Jr. to edit The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World, a book of forty-two essays taken from the archives of the magazine. A year later Zakaria authored From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role, which concerns the United States' rise to world-power status.
In The American Encounter Zakaria and Hoge wanted to show how the United States' role in international politics has evolved since World War I. What is unique about the book is the accuracy of some of the essayists' revelations and claims. The writers whose essays are reprinted in the collection did not have the safety net of a historian, since the events which they were writing about were either yet to happen or were happening as they wrote. Among the more outstanding and prophetic essays included are George Kennan's famous "X" article, which spelled out the policy of containment that the United States employed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War; Karl Kautsky's condemnation of the 1918 Treaty of Versailles for what he believed was "bringing again to life the ideas of armed opposition and revenge"; and Arnold Toynbee's 1939 warning that France and England had given Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler a "free hand in Central and Western Europe."
The essays included in The American Encounter are listed in chronological order with a brief introduction before each section. They are mostly written by intellectuals, academics, and political officials and reflect no single political slant. Each decade, from the 1920s to the 1990s, is represented by a selection of the most pertinent essays published during each ten-year span. Powerful and influential writers such as William Buckley, Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, Margaret Mead, Nikolai Bukharin, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Victor Chernov, Clark Clifford, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., H.G. Wells, and Henry L. Stimson are represented in the book. As an introduction, Zakaria and Hoge employ an essay written by Elihu Root. The American Encounter also includes a final section containing recent essays written during the 1990s in which the theories of the writers have yet to withstand the test of time. One of the claims presented predicts that the increase in technology will weaken and ultimately ruin the sovereignty of nation states. It is yet to be seen whether these essays, written by Samuel P. Huntington, Warren Zimmerman, Paul Krugman, and Jessica T. Mathews, will be as prophetic as the others included in the collection.
Several critics found The American Encounter to be an admirable project, but they questioned whether its appeal might confine itself to a limited and educated audience. A contributor for Publishers Weekly observed that much of the writing is "dense and occasionally arcane prose." Library Journal contributor Tricia Gray felt the book is best suited for academics and some of the larger public libraries, while Booklist reviewer Mary Carrol recommended the book for public display, noting: "Even libraries with a full run of Foreign Affairs on the shelf may want this collection."
In From Wealth to Power Zakaria examines the tendency of wealthy nations to turn their influence outward and become strong and influential international powers. In his analysis, the author indicates that the rise of new powers is one of the greatest impetuses for world instability. For evidence to his claims, Zakaria includes a case study of the United States' puzzling rise to world power. What makes the United States example so unusual, according to Zakaria, is that the country was a wealthy nation long before it became a strong state with international strength. His main argument is that, in the case of the United States, there needed to be more of an impetus than just wealth to impel it to enter the international power structure. In looking at America, the author concentrates on the latter period of the nineteenth century, when the country had become the wealthiest nation in the world, yet possessed military, diplomatic, and political apparatuses that made it an insignificant player on the world stage. Historically, this development runs counter to the normal course of events for wealthy nations, which often tended to expand their influence over the rest of the world.
In contrast, Zakaria points to Germany, whose rapid economic growth led to a thirst for international power and was a direct cause of World War I. However, the author states that with the United States, it was not the growing wealth that led to its superpower status; rather, it was the central government's ability to tap into that wealth and use it to strengthen the federal state. "State power is that portion of national power the government can extract for its purposes," Zakaria writes in his book. According to Zakaria, America's national government had little power to do so. To prove this, he shows that after 1865, America considered expanding its sphere of influence in places like Canada, Iceland, and the Dominican Republic. However, because the executive branch of the federal government lacked the power that Congress and the individual states possessed, it was often too difficult to mobilize the country around central issues such as expansion of U.S. influence in foreign policy. This changed with the beginning of the Spanish-American War, which triggered expansionist feelings in the U.S. government. Soon, the United States was acquiring lands outside of its own borders in places like Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Also, the rise of industrialization created large cities, huge companies, and a big labor movement, all of which shifted the distribution of power in the political system. U.S. presidents were now backed by public opinion, which gave them the power to be confident enough to make decisions that began to influence international politics. As this process took place, the power of the federal government as a whole increased. As a result, the United States has become one of the world's powerful countries.
Critical response to From Wealth to Power was favorable. Walter A. McDougall, writing in the New York Times Book Review, found that Zakaria's "conclusions are both provocative and full of implications for the world today." McDougall went on to state that the book conveys "important lessons for our post-cold-war world." Calling the book "concise and insightful," Wall Street Journal writer Aaron L. Friedberg felt that Zakaria "persuasively illustrates" his arguments.
Reviewers have consistently praised Zakaria's role as an observer and critic of American foreign policy, placing him within the intellectual mainstream of American government and international politics. Joseph R. Cerami, writing in Parameters, remarked that "Fareed Zakaria is an important and usually critical observer of the current Administration's foreign policy," concluding that "in short, Zakaria's ideas and insights matter." With The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Zakaria applies his critical prowess to the subject of democracy, concluding that there is too much of it in the world. The book "is not an attack on democracy, but on its over-extension," commented a reviewer in the Economist. Zakaria makes a distinction between democracy and liberty, and notes that without liberty and the possession of certain rights—such as freedom of speech, religion, property, and assembly—democracy cannot exist. Underpinning his position with a thorough history of political and democratic theory, Zakaria argues that "the rise of ever more democratic means of governance in the public and private spheres has been detrimental to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness across the globe," commented William Ruger in First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life.
Zakaria states that American elections, the hallmark of democracy, have been subverted by special interest groups, lobbyists, polls, and hefty campaign contributions. Elections are supposed to represent the will of the majority, but if interest groups have too much influence on government, elections will reflect those interests instead. Democratic elections can also impose a majority's will on a country, even when the outcome of the elections is a detriment. "Zakaria points out that many despots came to power through democratic means, often with large majorities," noted K.H. von Kaufmann in Futures. In Zakaria's view, elections serve "not a guarantee of liberty but rather as a legitimization of tyranny," commented Bryce Christensen in Booklist. Democracy, Zakaria maintains, does not always bring results that are beneficial to the general population. "Greater voter representation in government can lead to intolerance of other people's liberty and rights," observed von Kaufmann. To combat this state of affairs, Zakaria endorses returning to or implementing a more republican, or mixed, form of government; creating more neutral, illiberal governing bodies and institutions such as the World Trade Organization; and "the delegation of significant authority to political actors so as to insulate them from the 'intense pressures of democracy,'" Ruger stated. "It is possible that many of those who find Zakarai's analysis troubling will agree that in some measure it is at least realistic," remarked Robert Kagan in the New Republic.
"The Future of Freedom is a significant book that provides a sound foundation for balanced political thinking," Cerami asserted. "Though it does not offer an abundance of fresh insights, the book is still an important contribution—as much for its timing as for its message," stated a reviewer in the Yale Law Journal. Similarly, Ruger declared it "an important book." Randall Schweller, writing for the American Political Science Review, called the book "a rich historical work of significant theoretical importance to the field of international relations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Zakaria, Fareed, The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Zakaria, Fareed, From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1998.
American Political Science Review, June, 1999, Randall Schweller, review of From Wealth to Power, p. 497.
Booklist, October 15, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of The American Encounter, p. 365; March 15, 2003, Bryce Christensen, review of The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, p. 1260.
Economist, March 8, 2003, "The Wilder Shores of Liberty: Democracy and Freedom," review of The Future of Freedom.
First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, November, 2003, William Ruger, "Too Much Democracy?," review of The Future of Freedom, p. 63.
Foreign Affairs, March-April, 1998, David C. Hendrickson, review of The American Encounter, p. 152.
Futures, June, 2004, K.H. von Kaufmann, review of The Future of Freedom, p. 623.
International Herald Tribune, April 23, 2003, Robert D. Kaplan, review of The Future of Freedom.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of The Future of Freedom, p. 221.
Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Tricia Gray, review of The American Encounter, p. 76.
National Interest, summer, 2003, Thomas Carothers, "Zakaria's Complaint," review of The Future of Freedom, p. 137.
National Review, June 2, 2003, Adam Garfinkle, "Fit for Export?," review of The Future of Freedom.
New Republic, July 7, 2003, Robert Kagan, "The Ungreat Washed: Why Democracy Must Remain America's Goal Abroad," review of The Future of Freedom, p. 27.
New York Times, April 13, 2003, Niall Ferguson, "Overdoing Democracy," review of The Future of Freedom, Section 7, p. 9.
New York Times Book Review, May 3, 1998, Walter A. McDougall, review of From Wealth to Power, p. 25.
Parameters, winter, 2003, Joseph R. Cerami, review of The Future of Freedom, p. 150.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27, 2003, Don Simpson, review of The Future of Freedom.
Political Science Quarterly, spring, 1999, Peter Trubowitz, review of From Wealth to Power, p. 153.
Publishers Weekly, September 15, 1997, review of The American Encounter, p. 63; February 3, 2003, review of The Future of Freedom, p. 63.
Village Voice, August 16, 2005, Joy Press, "The Interpreter," profile of Fareed Zakaria.
Wall Street Journal, May 13, 1998, Aaron L. Friedberg, review of From Wealth to Power, p. A20.
Yale Law Journal, June, 2003, review of The Future of Freedom, p. 2599.
Council on Foreign Relations Web site, http://www.foreignrelations.org/ (September 11, 1998), information on Fareed Zakaria.
Fareed Zakaria Home Page, http://www.fareedzakaria.com (February 15, 2006).
New York Online, http://www.newyorkmetro.com/ (February 15, 2006), Marion Maneker, "Man of the World," profile of Fareed Zakaria.
Washington Post Writers Group Web site, http://www.postwritersgroup.com/ (February 15, 2006), biography of Fareed Zakaria.