How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a Pacific New World Order
Foreword by Professor Jack Goldstone
School of Public Policy
George Mason University
A “Pacific” New World Order
The United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China as a world power and that, in fact, it is in the United States’ interest that China continues on the path of success, because we believe that a peaceful and stable and prosperous China is not only good for Chinese but also good for the world and for the United States. President BARACK OBAMA, Sunnylands at Rancho Mirage, California on June 8, 2013
No international relationship is more important to the future of the world—to the prospects for lasting peace and economic prosperity—than that between the United States and China. The United States has been the world’s greatest economic and military power for the last sixty years. But China filled that role for several hundred years prior to the eighteenth century, and is now aiming to recapture its historical supremacy in the economic, cultural, and technological realms.
Many scholars have attempted to shed light on this relationship, whether from the perspective of great-power rivalry, or China’s recent economic progress, or American decline. Yet none of these approaches fully captures the history and cultural identity of these two nations, or their long relationship.
Patrick Mendis, an award-winning public servant and acclaimed author, was born in Sri Lanka, where Chinese and Western influences have met since the sixteenth century. Educated in the British and American systems, he has served the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in various agencies of the U.S. government. From his early youth, living in a UNESCO World Heritage Site in his native land, he has risen to become a commissioner of the United States National Commission for UNESCO—an appointment made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the White House. Mendis has also taught at several major universities in the United States and China, and traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. With this rich diversity of experiences, he is ideally situated to bring a fresh perspective to this pivotal relationship, capable of looking at two countries as both an insider and an outsider.
THE VISION THING
Mendis takes us deeply into the roots of Chinese and American cultures. America considers itself an exceptional nation in world history; but so too do the Chinese. America is built on a vision, on an “American Dream” of equality, freedom, and growing prosperity for all. China is also built on a vision, or rather a blend of two visions: the Confucian ideal of a harmonious society ruled by virtue, and the Communist ideal of a vanguard party that leads China into the modern industrialized world. Mendis illustrates how the American and Chinese visions powerfully shape both foreign and domestic policy; indeed they shape the way each nation sees itself and its relation to others.
The United States has offered its vision to the world as the “Washington Consensus” based on free markets and liberal politics. China too has offered its vision globally, as a “Beijing Consensus,” in which strong central government, development planning, and an emphasis on a stable and orderly society are more important than democratic freedoms.
In which direction will the world turn? Mendis asserts that China will have to move toward embracing the American dream—because that is what the Chinese people are coming to demand. Quoting Thomas Jefferson, Mendis observes that “Human nature is the same on every side of the Atlantic [and the Pacific] and will be alike influenced by the same causes.” Noting that people everywhere, once they have a basic level of security, want accountable government and personal freedom, Mendis boldly predicts that “sooner or later, if left unaddressed, this natural human tendency will undermine the entire CPC [Communist Party of China] pyramid like a chamber of magma lying beneath a mammoth volcano.”
In my view, it is also an economic imperative for China to undergo political change. If China is to move to the next stage of economic development, it will need to reward creativity, originality, and innovation. Yet it is difficult, if not impossible, to reward these qualities in the context of tight central controls on information and communication. Innovative thinking emerges more easily and naturally in a free and open society.
Nonetheless, even if China develops western-style democracy, it will be a democracy with distinctive Chinese characteristics—what Mendis cleverly describes as “rewriting the American Dream in Chinese characters.” Moreover, the translation will not come all at once, as at present America and China are in competition everywhere—geopolitically, economically, and ideologically. Beijing is investing heavily in Africa, south Asia, Latin America, and even in America’s own backyard in the Caribbean. Mendis views this as the subtle application of a Monroe Doctrine-like approach by China. At the same time, America has declared a “pivot to Asia,” strengthening its commitment and cooperation with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, building ties to new (Vietnam) and old (the Philippines) allies in the region, and seeking to play a strategic role in managing conflicts in the South China Sea and throughout the western Pacific.
A BUDDHIST CONNECTION
Mendis illustrates an interesting development in his native Sri Lanka. In the days of Imperial China, Sri Lanka was famed as the “crown jewel” in the Chinese string of pearls naval strategy to secure China’s access to the Indian Ocean. It was a port of special interest to the Ming Admiral Zheng He, an imperial envoy to this Buddhist nation during his voyages across the Indian Ocean between 1405 and 1433. Although after World War II, Sri Lanka was a pro-American parliamentary democracy, the Buddhist country is now a satellite state for Beijing with increasing infrastructure investment, economic interest, and Chinese access to Colombo harbor and the newly-built Hambantota deep-water seaport. Mendis reveals China’s innocuous Buddhist diplomacy, harking back to the religious ties that had linked both countries for millennia, as a shrewd strategy in the region to counter the maritime interests of India and the United States.
Although China professes to be pursuing a “Peaceful Rise,” China’s pursuit of its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean, Africa, and the South China Sea, and its ethos of historical supremacy and Confucian superiority, are fanning the flames of nationalism and creating risks of conflicts abroad. Yet drawing on his longer-term historical perspective, Mendis is optimistic that China and America will avoid overt conflict. Instead, he foresees a “Peaceful War” of ideas and positional maneuvering between these great powers. Mendis describes this possible scenario as “the presence of force without war.” Somewhat like the Cold War, it will involve competition for global influence between major powers; but unlike America and the Soviet Union in the Cold War, China and the U.S. will remain major trading partners for their mutual economic prosperity. The Chinese and American people, too, will continue to trade in ideas, practices, and knowledge. Mendis, for example, predicts that Chinese students in American colleges and universities (over 723,000 enrolled in the 2010-2011 academic year) will return to China as “missiles of freedom” from liberal U.S. institutions. This is a distinctive feature of Sino-American relations, quite different from the Soviet era.
Moreover, given the demographic issues facing China (an aging and shrinking labor force) and the fiscal issues facing the U.S. (the need to bring down a massive level of government debt), both countries will benefit from cooperation and seeking win-win solutions. Mendis explains that the potential for a “social cliff” in China and a “fiscal cliff” in America will inevitably force both nations to find creative solutions for their domestic challenges as a prime national security issue.
A “PACIFIC” DREAM
Using the past as a prism to see into the future, Mendis traces the history of U.S.-Chinese relations back to colonial America, and lays out America’s long-standing love affair with China and things Chinese. His research shows that the relationship between these two countries has always been important and evolving for mutual benefit. Mendis notes the risks involved when American belief in its own manifest destiny confronts a China whose “Chinese Dream” is to again be the world’s dominant nation. Nonetheless, Mendis argues that their “Peaceful War” will lead to the birth of a new “Pacific” New World Order, in which both countries cooperate for the sake of trade, economic growth, and regional stability.
I know of no better guide to the multi-faceted relationship between America and China, and its likely evolution in the coming decades, than this book. The author takes the reader on wonderfully rich voyages, back and forth over the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the South China Sea—and across time. Throughout, Mendis is a superbly engaging, erudite, and thoughtful guide.
At a time when both America and China are engulfed in anxiety about the relations between themselves and among their allies, Patrick Mendis offers a much needed and timely antidote to prevailing pessimism. I genuinely hope that leaders on both sides of the Pacific will read and pay attention to the innovative and inspiring ideas in this book; they point the way to a better future for all of us.
Professor Jack A. Goldstone
Virginia E. and John T. Hazel, Jr. Professor of Public Policy
George Mason University
The Secret Destiny of the American Empire
Foreword by Professor Stephen Joel Trachtenberg
Trachtenberg School of Public Policy
George Washington University
A visitor to the National Archives may stop to notice a wise figure in seated contemplation at the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, inscribed with the message: “Study the Past.” By carefully examining the influence of Freemasonry on the Founding Fathers, Commercial Providence provides valuable insights for the student of history and the modern political leader alike. It takes the reader on an intellectual and reflective journey to understand the mindsets of the Founding Fathers through little-known linkages between the Pilgrims, Enlightenment philosophers, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, and the Federalists.
Out of many points of historical curiosity, Commercial Providence creates one vision of America’s founding history. Author Patrick Mendis argues that the American experiment has, since the founding, been grounded in a universal concept of global unity through trade and commerce. Mendis connects American’s esoteric history to this founding conviction through a careful study of the Constitution, the Masonic ideas represented in American symbols, and the structural design of the nation’s capital. Freemasonry is cast as the invisible high priest in American history, guiding the Founding Fathers at every turn.
History reveals that real world problems are not bound by academic disciplines or formal occupations. Author Patrick Mendis brings an unbounded career and a unique background to his investigation. He was born in Sri Lanka, came to the United States as an AFS exchange student, was adopted by Minnesotans when the civil war erupted in Sri Lanka in 1983, and is now a naturalized American citizen. Through a career spanning academe, government, and the private sector, Mendis has been exposed to an eclectic group of world leaders and scholars. His distinctly American experience adds insight to his perceptive analysis; this book is a testament to what he represents as an American.
Mendis presents an optimistic view of the American experiment and a useful framework for leaders in contemporary crisis situations. His treatise reveals themes of freedom, universal order, and unity in diversity. Unlike Dan Brown in the Lost Symbol, Patrick Mendis has a serious scholarly purpose as he explores the ancient symbols impressed in the architecture of the American capital city: through extensive research, he illuminates the shared belief among many Founding Fathers that the birth of a new nation was a providential act.
By examining the meanings of Masonic symbols and beliefs, Commercial Providence explores the roots of the Founders’ belief in universal and democratic values. The heart of his theory is that the Founding Fathers believed trade and commerce, rather than religion, to be the most effective tools of statecraft and fonts of national unity. Mendis argues that Constitutional architects established a “wall of separation,” as Jefferson described the concept, between church and state to protect the fledgling nation from Old World religious strife, tyranny, and persecution. He extends these beliefs and applies them to modern domestic and foreign policy, maintaining that departure from this founding vision will create domestic religious factions and worsen international tensions.
Reflecting American abolitionist Wendell Phillips’s assertion that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” Mendis counsels vigilance to the founding wisdom that prescribes trade with all nations and entanglements with none. He concludes that our governing principles were born with conviction, and that without such convictions American policy may spawn dictators and religious zealots to oppose those policies around the world. As a champion of freedom in the world, America stands for none of these fundamentalist endgames.
Thomas Paine could have been describing the first decade of the 21st century when he discussed “the times that try men’s souls.” In truth, American history is replete with trying times. Through depression, war, and civil upheaval, America has been resilient, undergirded by vigilance to her strong constitutional institutions and founding principles. Our enduring American identity rests upon the foundation of shared convictions and shared history. Aspiring leaders, students of history, and visitors to the nation’s capital alike will find Commercial Providence an intriguing look at the origins of our American identity, seen through the eyes of the Founding Fathers and the Masonic Architect of the Universe.
Professor Stephen Joel Trachtenberg
President Emeritus and University Professor of Public Service
Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration
George Washington University
TRADE for PEACE
How the DNA of America, Freemasonry, and Providence Created a New World Order with Nobody in Charge
Foreword by Professor J. Brian Atwood
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
In 1949, Harlan Cleveland, a leading Marshall Planner, coined a phrase, “revolution of rising expectations,” to describe the demand side of international development after World War II. Prior to his involvement with the Marshall Plan for European recovery, Cleveland—a Princeton graduate and a Rhodes Scholar—served as director of the China Aid Program, managing U.S. aid in eight East Asian countries. A practitioner, philosopher, and academic leader (he was dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, founding dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and president of the University of Hawaii), Harlan Cleveland captured the primary challenge for American leadership in the post-war period. The best reflection of that was President Harry Truman’s Point Four Program and his commitment to the world’s poorer nations.
In Safire’s Political Dictionary, William Safire credits Harlan Cleveland for his original thinking on the nature of post-War socioeconomic development in Europe and Asia. Safire defines Cleveland’s “revolution” in broader terms: “unrest caused by extravagant promises; or, the constructive desire for change based on an optimistic view of society’s future; or, the increased demand for a high standard of living that comes when the media bring evidence of others’ affluence into poor people’s homes. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, who worked closely with then Assistant Secretary of State Harlan Cleveland under President John Kennedy, spoke frequently about America’s role in responding to the revolution of rising expectations.
Since I joined the Foreign Service forty years ago—spending most of my professional life in international development, trade and foreign affairs—I have appreciated our nation’s need for more cooperation and partnership to deal with growing global problems. While serving as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Chairman of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, I saw the need for a culture of proactive diplomacy, strong interagency coordination to prevent crises, and sound long-term international development investments to address the developing world’s growing expectations. In an increasingly interdependent world, it was clear we needed every instrument—the United Nations in particular—to prevent further violence and terrorism. A strategy of prevention requires a combination of public diplomacy, development assistance, and deterrence. We created the United Nations and the Bretton Woods Institutions: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the regional development banks. Even these political, development, and financial institutions could not prevent the recurrence of violent conflict. Cleveland would say that the world is a better place because of the development investments we made through bilateral and multilateral institutions, but, as he would acknowledge, the debate goes on. Recently, two books have captured the attention of realists and idealists: The White Man’s Burden by former World Bank economist, William Easterly, and The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. Cleveland would come down on Sach’s side of the debate as he was the optimist, but he would not have ignored Easterly’s critique.
Cleveland had, for many years, called for American leadership to translate global interdependence into an agenda for action to solve international problems. To manage interdependence effectively, he advocated that following the League of Nations and the UN, we should have a “third try” in creating a new world order. Cleveland had always maintained that advanced technology, American leadership, and global partnership would make the “third try” the most effective yet in dealing with “rising expectations,” and global challenges. He knew that, in a world of global communication, the American dream would be unevenly desirable.
Patrick Mendis, an award-winning alumnus of the Humphrey Institute and a protégé of Harlan Cleveland during his tenure as dean, describes the “third try” and the concept of rising expectations through a unique dimension of American history. His journey is a relevant one, from a mud house with water buffalos in Sri Lanka to working with the United Nations, the World Bank, and the U.S. Government. Mendis’ personal experiences give him a unique perspective on America’s mission in the world.
We share the experience of having been exchange students as part of the AFS Intercultural Program. I now chair the Board of Trustees of this organization started by World War II ambulance drivers. Today, it is a partnership of some 60 countries with over 13,000 student participants. More than 325,000 individuals and an equal number of host families have had the AFS experience. I was an exchange student in Luxembourg, while Mendis came to Minnesota to attend high school in 1978. He met his American wife, a former AFS exchange student from Minnesota to Japan, at a Humphrey Institute workshop taught by Harlan Cleveland. At his graduation ceremony in 1986, he received the first Hubert Humphrey Award for Outstanding Leadership. Dean Cleveland said at the time:
He was born in Sri Lanka, and had his early education there; he is now a U.S. citizen. In Sri Lanka, Patrick achieved First Class Honors on his business administration degree in a British system that is typically stingy with Firsts. His language skills, as well as his cross-cultural understanding, were honed by an experience of living and going to school in northern Minnesota, living with a family and in a community for which he retains both love and loyalty.
A frequent visitor to the Humphrey Institute (he considers Minnesota his “home”); Patrick Mendis and I have discussed the relationship between the Founders’ vision and the values that are reflected in American foreign policy. Learning of his work with Senator Rudy Boschwitz, I once told him that there is a piece of unfinished business in our Constitutional design: the Constitution does not permit people like Rudy Boschwitz, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, and Arnold Schwarzenegger the opportunity to run for the presidency because of their foreign birth. Patrick Mendis falls into the same category. He may not aspire to run for president, but his writings leave no doubt that he is a very proud American who has internalized the Founders’ vision.
In this book, Mendis advances the notion that the “third try” is already underway in the form of the World Trade Organization (WTO)—a rule-based global trading system. He traces the origins of the international organization to the “commerce clause” of the U.S. Constitution. He cites the Federalist Papers and other writings of the Founding Fathers to show that the United States was conceived with “commercial providence,” a phrase found in George Washington’s “Providential Agency.” In addition, Mendis quotes Thomas Paine, who also predicted that “trade will always be a protection.” In his book, he puts forward a pertinent question:
Is the unparalleled economic prosperity of the American people, who represent only five percent of the world population but actually consume twenty-five percent of global resources, associated with divine intervention, or commercial providence?
Mendis argues that Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments paved the way for Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson to postulate their realist and idealist worldviews. These two contradictory traditions are reflected in the realist orientation of Jamestown’s colonists and the spiritually-inspired idealists who settled in Plymouth. Mendis maintains that the duality of American character and its embodiment, which he calls “Mercurial personality,” is appropriate for dealing with the revolution of rising expectations.
Observing his mentor’s seven attitudes of leadership, Mendis confirms “the feeling that crises are normal, tensions can be promising, and complexity is fun.” Like Cleveland, Mendis believes that our Madisonian system of checks-and-balances is meant to generate creative tensions, which produce innovation and tolerance, both are attributes in a competitive globalized world.
Despite the philosophical tensions between Jefferson and Hamilton, George Washington kept the republic unified. Mendis believes that the rule-based WTO is an extension of America’s democratic and republican ideals – the “third try” to create a new world order. This book asserts that the Founding Fathers’ “global project” is still an unfinished work (as is the WTO’s Doha Round and its Development Agenda).
This highly readable synthesis, whose main theme derives from the Constitution’s preface, pleads for a rethinking of the American role in global leadership. For those who are interested in American foreign and trade policies, this work connects the dots from the Founding Fathers’ global vision to the global marketplace within which America competes today.
Professor J. Brian Atwood
Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
HUMAN SIDE OF GLOBALIZATION (3rd edition)
Foreword by Sir Arthur C. Clarke
King’s College, London
For a few days after the devastating Asian Tsunami 2004, the whole world became one big, concerned Global Family. The year 2005 dawned with people everywhere closely following the unfolding tragedy and humanitarian emergency via satellite television and on the web. As the grim images from Aceh, Chennai, Galle, Penang and elsewhere replaced the traditional scenes of New Year celebrations, I realized that it will soon be 60 years since I invented the communications satellite (in Wireless World, October 1945 – I still think it was a good idea).
Having thus made my small contribution to accelerate globalization, I remain deeply interested in understanding globalization’s implications and nuances for different cultures and societies. Glocalization: The Human Side of Globalization as If the Washington Consensus Mattered is one man’s attempt to make sense of this increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.
The author, Dr Patrick Mendis, is an American academic and diplomat originally from Sri Lanka – my adopted country for half a century. In fact, we share a lot more than just our passion for Sri Lanka. He and I are both Fellows of the World Academy of Art and Science – I first got to know Patrick when he visited me with his American mentor, Ambassador Harlan Cleveland, who was President of the Academy for several years.
Patrick originally wrote these essays based on his experiences and impressions while being a visiting professor of economics and public policy during the 2004 spring voyage of the Semester at Sea program at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two decades ago, I had great fun lecturing on board the Semester at Sea program when the ship used to call over at Colombo. (It’s time for the good ship to return!). For many years, I also served on the advisory board of the Institute for Shipboard Education that manages the Semester at Sea.
In these essays, Patrick combines field research, interviews and public policy discussions carried out in over a dozen countries, where the ship called over during its voyage round the world. This book is ample evidence that the author is at home in the United States, Sri Lanka, and in many other lands. His multi-faceted career – working with governmental bodies, universities, volunteer organizations and international institutions – is reflected here as he integrates his Sri Lankan and American values into these essays.
Patrick provides an interdisciplinary analysis to a set of controversial but important global issues. His views on President Fidel Castro are an indication that Patrick would like to see a democratic and open Cuban society. He explores the structured poverty in the favelas of Brazil and racial division on HIV/AIDS in South Africa. He equally questions the traditional values of Africa’s female genital mutilation and raises the broader question: values or virtues? Patrick sees different paths of globalization in India and China.
In Cambodia, he attempts to understand the root causes of the “Asian genocide” that was one of the worst in the violence-ridden twentieth century. Visiting a Nike shoe factory in Vietnam, he links their controversial working and environmental conditions to the U.S. Constitution that was invoked to find collaborative solutions to developing world problems. His cultural analysis – on Confucian values in rapidly westernizing South Korea and the modernization of Buddhist teachings in the rapidly changing Japan – raises a wide range of paradoxical questions of globalization.
These essays make a strong case that that we all have similar human aspirations, even when they are shaped by different cultural, social, and political factors. Globalization is no longer a choice but an imperative for nations. But let’s not despair – by adopting the path of cautious engagement, we can still retain our individuality. As Gandhi famously remarked, we must keep the doors and windows of our house open for cultures of other lands to come in from all directions. We just need to be strong enough not to be blown off our feet.
For the discerning reader, this book provides a quick guide to some complex issues of globalization and global interdependence. May it inspire more people – especially more Americans – to travel beyond their shores to get to know other people and cultures.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Fellow – King’s College, London
Colombo, Sri Lanka
HUMAN ENVIRONMENT AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION
The Case Study of Sri Lanka and Other Tea Producing Countries
Foreword by Ambassador Harlan Cleveland
World Academy of Art and Science
Practitioners in the field of economic development are increasingly being aware of the need for interdisciplinary analysis of policy issues. This book is an illustration of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the century-old tea industry in Sri Lanka.
The study skillfully weaves together different dimensions of the inland’s tea industry such as modern land use pattern, human environment, economies of scale, and policy issues such as the trade-off between economic efficiency and social equity. The study adds an important dimension to the olicy debate of the relationships between farm size and productivity by including much overlooked environmental factors. This study does beyond the call for a sustainable development strategy by urging for policies that help integrate Sri Lanka’s ethnically diverse population. At the same time, this study also addresses important meso-economic issues such as land segmentation, crop diversification, and issues of privatization.
In many ways, the tea industry in Sri Lanka is an integral part of global economic restructuring that is occurring, thus making it is a worthwhile focus and deserving of scholarly attention.
Ambassador Harlan Cleveland
Founding Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
President, World Academy of Art and Science