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Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World

Graham Allison
Robert D. Blackwill
with Ali Wyne
Foreword by Henry A. Kissinger
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Lee Kuan Yew
    Book Description:

    When Lee Kuan Yew speaks, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, and CEOs listen. Lee, the founding father of modern Singapore and its prime minister from 1959 to 1990, has honed his wisdom during more than fifty years on the world stage. Almost single-handedly responsible for transforming Singapore into a Western-style economic success, he offers a unique perspective on the geopolitics of East and West. American presidents from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama have welcomed him to the White House; British prime ministers from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair have recognized his wisdom; and business leaders from Rupert Murdoch to Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, have praised his accomplishments. This book gathers key insights from interviews, speeches, and Lee's voluminous published writings and presents them in an engaging question and answer format. Lee offers his assessment of China's future, asserting, among other things, that "China will want to share this century as co-equals with the U.S." He affirms the United States' position as the world's sole superpower but expresses dismay at the vagaries of its political system. He offers strategic advice for dealing with China and goes on to discuss India's future, Islamic terrorism, economic growth, geopolitics and globalization, and democracy. Lee does not pull his punches, offering his unvarnished opinions on multiculturalism, the welfare state, education, and the free market. This little book belongs on the reading list of every world leader -- including the one who takes the oath of office on January 20, 2013.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31273-8
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Henry A. Kissinger

    I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier and its guiding spirit ever since. As to the ancient argument—whether individuals shape events or are their register—there can be no doubt about the answer with regard to Lee Kuan Yew, a man of unmatched intelligence and judgment.

    By far the smallest country in Southeast Asia, Singapore seemed destined to become a client state of more powerful neighbors, if indeed it could preserve its independence at all. Lee thought otherwise....

  4. Who Is Lee Kuan Yew?
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. When Lee Kuan Yew Talks, Who Listens?
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  7. CHAPTER 1 The Future of China
    (pp. 1-18)

    Are Chinese leaders serious about displacing the United States as the number 1 power in Asia? In the world? What does number 1 mean? How will China’s behavior toward other countries change if China becomes the dominant Asian power? What is China’s strategy for becoming number 1? What are the major hurdles in executing that strategy? How much urgency do China’s leaders feel about achieving primacy in their region and beyond? How do China’s leaders see the U.S. role in Asia changing as China becomes number 1? Is the double-digit growth that China has maintained over three decades likely to...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Future of the United States
    (pp. 19-36)

    Is the United States in systemic decline? What are America’s primary strengths? What worries you about the U.S. government? What worries you about U.S. culture? Does effective governance require “guardians”? Is the United States at risk of becoming European? What does the U.S. need to do to maintain global primacy? In this chapter, Lee Kuan Yew draws on his long experience with the United States to offer perceptive and provocative answers to these questions.

    Absolutely not. The U.S. is going through a bumpy patch with its debt and deficits, but I have no doubt that America will not be reduced...

  9. CHAPTER 3 The Future of U.S.-China Relations
    (pp. 37-50)

    How likely is a major confrontation between the United States and China? What role should the balance of power play in America’s strategy for addressing the rise of China? How should U.S. policies and actions adjust to deal with the rise of China? What policies and actions should the United States avoid in dealing with the rise of China? Can U.S. policies and actions significantly influence China’s trajectory and behavior as it emerges as a great power? How should Chinese policies and actions adjust to establish a sustained cooperative relationship with the United States? Managing a changing relationship with China...

  10. CHAPTER 4 The Future of India
    (pp. 51-66)

    Will India rise to become a great power, and if so, on what timeline? What constraints does India’s system of democratic governance impose on its long-term prospects? What constraints does India’s culture impose on its long-term prospects? What are India’s current economic strengths? What are India’s long-term economic challenges and likely performance? What are India’s economic prospects relative to China’s in the next decade? How significant for the rest of Asia is India’s democratic model, especially in contrast to China’s authoritarian model? Can India serve in Asia as a strategic counterweight to China? What is the forecast for U.S.-India relations?...

  11. CHAPTER 5 The Future of Islamic Extremism
    (pp. 67-80)

    What threat does Islamic extremism pose to the West? What are the roots of Islamic extremism? What role does Islam itself play in fueling Islamic extremism? What are the key objectives of Islamic extremists? How likely are Islamic extremists to achieve those objectives? What factors will affect the future of Islamic extremism? What role do moderate Muslims play in fighting Islamic extremism? How long will Islamic extremism pose a threat to global security? Lee Kuan Yew’s answers to these questions reflect the fact that Singapore’s neighbors are Muslim countries and that Singapore has been a potential target of terrorist attacks....

  12. CHAPTER 6 The Future of National Economic Growth
    (pp. 81-94)

    What are the lessons of Singapore’s rise from the third world to the first world in one generation? What are the chief drivers of national growth and competitiveness? What role do more intangible factors such as values play in driving growth and competitiveness? What core competencies should today’s worker possess? Lee Kuan Yew’s insightful answers to these questions draw on his remarkable experience in taking Singapore from the third world to the first world in a few decades.

    My definition of a Singaporean … is that we accept that whoever joins us is part of us. And that is an...

  13. CHAPTER 7 The Future of Geopolitics and Globalization
    (pp. 95-110)

    What are some of the biggest problems that the world faces over the next decade? What are Russia’s long-term prospects? Will Brazil, Russia, India, and China—the so-called BRIC countries—gain influence as a bloc over time? What lessons have you learned from the global financial crisis? What opportunities and challenges does globalization present? What must individuals, companies, and countries do to succeed in a globalizing world? Is globalization reversible? This chapter offers Lee Kuan Yew’s direct and penetrating answers to these questions.

    First, there is the eurozone. If the Greek debt crisis is not handled properly, it will affect...

  14. CHAPTER 8 The Future of Democracy
    (pp. 111-126)

    What is the role of government? What is the role of a leader? How responsive should a leader be to popular opinion? What are the requirements for democracy? What are the risks of democracy? What is the proper balance between law and order? What is the proper balance between competitiveness and equality? In the following answers, Lee Kuan Yew presents the essence of his political philosophy as well as practical lessons from his leadership of Singapore.

    Only an efficient and effective government can provide the framework in which peoples can fulfill their needs. People cannot satisfy their fundamental needs by...

  15. CHAPTER 9 How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks
    (pp. 127-150)

    What are your most fundamental strategic principles? How do you approach strategic thinking and policymaking? What personal and professional experiences have shaped that approach? What strategic paradigms have shaped that approach? What role should history play in strategic thinking and policymaking? What role should clarity play in strategic thinking and policymaking? How has your view of why societies progress affected your strategic thinking? How has your view of why societies stagnate or regress affected your strategic thinking? What qualities define a successful leader? What are the most common public policy mistakes that leaders make? Which leaders do you admire and...

  16. CHAPTER 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 151-158)

    As Washington policymakers, foreign policy experts, business leaders, and informed citizens finish reading this brief volume, we are confident that they will do so with a clearer vision of the complexities and challenges that America will face in the next decade and beyond. As the title of the book suggests, Lee Kuan Yew has given the next president and the rest of us a reliable compass with which to navigate that world. Here, we conclude with a few of the strategic insights that we find most instructive from this quiet, articulate, supremely confident, yet remarkably modest man from whom we...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 159-186)
  18. Belfer Center Studies in International Security
    (pp. 187-190)
  19. About the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
    (pp. 191-192)