Book review XI: Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan
Goodreads on the book:
In Asia’s Cauldron, Robert D. Kaplan offers up a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and their implications for global peace and stability. One of the world’s most perceptive foreign policy experts, Kaplan interprets America’s interests in Asia in the context of an increasingly assertive China. He explains how the region’s unique geography fosters the growth of navies but also impedes aggression. And he draws a striking parallel between China’s quest for hegemony in the South China Sea and the United States’ imperial adventure in the Caribbean more than a century ago...........
The book has been divided into several chapters each of which is devoted to countries with stakes in the South China Sea. Stakes are not quite the same for each states: While the One is in the search for upper hand in the balance of power in the region against USA, some others need the control of energy resources. Well, the book could be written by subject instead of country but devoting the chapters to different countries makes it more interesting for ordinary readers who has interest in one of those countries.
Having visited most of the countries with borders to the Sea, I share most of his opinions and perceptions. Yet, I could see lots of people living in those countries and arguing quite the opposite point of views. Well, this could be taken as a strength for the book.
Only distraction, at least for me, is references to Aristotales and some other prominent figures of political philosophy. Somehow I feel like they are rather artificial. Furthermore, it would have been great to have a chapter at the very beginning devoted to the Convention on the Law of Sea and the terms like territorial sea, EEZ, rights of archipelagic states, continental self or strait with political, military and economic implications. Again with the same style that the writer has used in the whole book. Well, you can't expect everyone to know what those terms refer to and sometimes it is not easy to have a clear idea of who has more legitimate claims in the Area.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and recommend it to those who are interested in the area, those who want to study the topic.