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  • The East Moves West: India, China, and Asia's Growing Presence in the Middle East
  • Steve A. Yetiv (bio)
The East Moves West: India, China, and Asia's Growing Presence in the Middle East, by Geoffrey Kemp. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2010. 305 pages. $29.95. [End Page 170]

This book is effective in explaining the growing links between Asia and the Middle East, focusing on India and China, with some analysis of Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, and other states. While it examines energy, it does not neglect other factors, including immigrant labor, investment, and tourism. In addition, it examines issues that are shaped by and that affect relations between Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, including terrorism, extremism, nuclear proliferation, military competition, and energy security.

The book is timely. China and India are experiencing significant growth which has increased their demand for energy and has made the Persian Gulf increasingly important to them. Their rising involvement in the region has changed them and the region. While other scholars have examined China's rise in the Middle East, Kemp examines this development in greater detail, adding other Asian states to the mix as well. His work effectively details the growing Asia-Middle East interdependence and compares and contrasts Indian and Chinese regional involvement. Kemp expresses doubt that economic links between Asia and the Middle East can prevent future conflicts, though he sees benefits to these links.

China and India, Kemp argues, are not politically motivated. They are not choosing sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict, do not prefer Iran or Iraq, and are not promoting ideology. They have refrained from interfering directly in regional politics, which has facilitated their relations with most states, albeit their growing ties may yet embroil them in regional conflicts.

The book also examines how the Middle East-China-American triangle impacts various issue areas. For example, Kemp explains how China's need for oil has made it, along with India and Japan, less likely to support the use of force against Iran's nuclear program.

The book offers a microcosm view of a much broader issue: the rise of China and India in the face of American quasi-hegemony. Global security may well hinge in part on how these shifting dynamics play themselves out and are handled by these three powers. Ultimately, Kemp believes that the rise of Asian states will not erode but will diminish the US position. Thus, if the 20th century saw the rise of the United States as the dominant outside power in the region, the 21st century will see a reverse of this trend.

Several actions could have strengthened the book somewhat. First, Kemp ignored some of the scholarly literature on China and the Middle East. This literature is now somewhat developed and would have enhanced the book. Second, the work is heavy on facts and data; it sometimes reads like a series of country briefs. The book would have benefited from more analysis, especially of what the rise of China and India mean for regional dynamics, and American relations in the region and at the global level.

Third, at times the book dealt quickly with key relations, such as those between China and Saudi Arabia. That can be a drawback of a sweeping study. Since Saudi Arabia is key to the Persian Gulf and global energy question, greater attention to such crucial relations would have been positive.

Fourth, some strong statements deserved greater support. For instance, Kemp argues that the modernization plans of the Indian and Chinese navies could lead to a multipolar balance of power in the Indian Ocean over the longer run. That may be possible, but it is doubtful enough to require more buttressing on Kemp's part.

Overall, Kemp offers an effective and broad survey of the Asian-Middle East-America nexus which covers new ground [End Page 171] and offers a wealth of information, data, and analysis. His book should benefit area specialists and policymakers who seek to understand the Asian role in the Middle East and dynamics between rising powers and the quasi-hegemon.

Steve A. Yetiv

Steve A. Yetiv, University Professor of Political Science, Old...


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