Weiming Future History

Danny Quah
Mar 2023

Weiming Lake  

A dozen years ago we three taught Summer School together in Beijing, and spent many evenings by Weiming Lake arguing, where --- among other things --- Arne and Mick would try to convince me that the world's shifting economic centre of gravity was going to prove more interesting to international relations scholars than to economists.

With Mick Cox, LSE Marshall Hall, Tue 28 Feb 2023  

(Since economic models (1) don't reason in terms of a three-dimensional planetary geography; (2) have East and West in them but could "without loss of generality" be re-labelled Regions A and B; and (3) don't make sense of phrasings like The American Century, there was no ready set of hypotheses against which my center of gravity calculations could gain traction. So that contention of relative interest became the first of many arguments I would lose to my two LSE former colleagues.)

With Arne Westad, LKYSPP, Fri 24 Mar 2023  

But then was 2011, fully seven years before the US National Defense Strategy became one of Great Power Competition, turning focus away from war on Islamic terrorism. What sense did it make, I had argued, for the US to turn away from focusing on those in the world angry with it for its having sent drones to kill and bomb their relations, to instead making enemies of people who only admired it and wanted their economic life to be mostly just what America itself promised? (Because the US wanted "all of life" not just "economic life", and "mostly" wasn't enough, only "completely" would do?)

DQ WECG 2010  

And how did anyone foresee that Great Power Competition would be the right mental setting, because the people in each Great Power would eventually find themselves facing their own political leadership darkly growing each day ever more insecure about open conversation?

Now, with the three of us dispersed across New Haven, London, and Singapore, it's a lot harder to meet up.