The unusual two-hundred-year period of Western domination of world history is coming to an end. Today we are seeing the return of the rest, especially Asia. So far, the United States is retreating into unilateralism. The EU is confused, occasionally supporting the United States, occasionally demurring. One great gift of Western civilization to the world has been the art of reasoning. From the days of Plato and Aristotle, we know that good cogent arguments eventually triumph. Sadly, as I discovered in my ten years as Singapore’s Ambassador to the UN, the Western powers preferred arm-twisting smaller countries as it was more efficient. This era of arm-twisting is coming to an end as well. But the West should not despair; logical and reasonable arguments can carry more sway. Since the United States, especially under Donald Trump, remains allergic to multilateralism, the EU, an inherently multilateral body, should step in and champion multilateralism. It should revive the UN General Assembly and deploy its full powers of persuasion. As a student of Western philosophy, I deployed Western logical reasoning often in the UN. And it often worked. And I was puzzled that so few Western Ambassadors dived into their own philosophical heritage to use it. I suppose there is only one caveat to using reason. Reasoning is a double-edged sword. If the rest deploy better arguments, the West must relearn the art of listening and adjusting its behavior. In short, the revival of diplomacy based on deploying the art of persuasion will help to create a more harmonious and cooperative global community, but it will require the active reasoning, listening, and adjusting of Western powers.


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pp. 19-29
Launched on MUSE
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