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The East Moves West: India, China, and Asia's Growing Presence in the Middle East

The East Moves West: India, China, and Asia's Growing Presence in the Middle East

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During a period when established Western economies are treading water at best, industry and development are exploding in China and India. The world's two most populous nations are the biggest reasons for Asia's growing footprint on other global regions. The impact of that footprint is especially important in the Middle East, given that region's role as an economic and geopolitical linchpin. In The East Moves West, Geoffrey Kemp details the growing interdependence of the Middle East and Asia and projects the likely ramifications of this evolving relationship. Geoffrey Kemp, a veteran analyst of global security and political economy, compares and contrasts Indian and Chinese involvement in the Middle East, stressing an embedded historical dimension that gives India substantially more familiarity and interest in the region. Does the emergence of these Asian giants with their increasingly huge need for energy strengthen the case for cooperative security, particularly in the maritime arena? After all, safe open sea lanes remain an essential component of mutually beneficial intercontinental trade, making India and China increasingly dependent on safe passage of oil tankers. Or will we see reversion to more traditional competition and even conflict, given that the major Asian powers themselves have so many unresolved problems and that U.S. presence in the area may be on the decline? In many ways, the growing Asian presence in the Middle East comes as a breath of fresh air in comparison to the bitter historic legacies of European dominance and the contemporary antagonism toward America's hegemonic role. The major Asian players in the Middle East feel no guilt about the past, and they have no emotional stake in the Arab-Israeli conflict. On the one hand, this means they approach the region's many unresolved conflicts with what some would argue is a cynical, laissez-faire attitude. On the other, it means that they have refrained from interfering directly in Middle East politics and therefore enjoy good relations with most states. It is unclear how long they can sustain this hands off approach if, by virtue of their economic dominance and their own strategic stakes in the region, they get drawn into the messiness of Middle East politics at a time when the United States becomes disillusioned by the burdens of hegemony. —Geoffrey Kemp in The East Moves West.