On world maps common in America, the Indian Ocean all but disappears. The Western Hemisphere lies front and center: North America is prominently flanked by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, while the Indian Ocean region is relegated to the edges, split up along the outer reaches of the map. This mapping convention reveals the geopolitical focus of the now departed twentieth century, for it was in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters that the great wars of that century were fought. Thus, many Americans are barely aware of the Indian Ocean at all.
But in the twenty-first century, bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan argues that this will fundamentally change. In MONSOON: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (A Random House Hardcover, On Sale: October 19, 2010), a pivotal examination of the Indian Ocean region and the countries known as “Monsoon Asia,” Kaplan deftly shows how crucial this dynamic area has become to American power in the twenty-first century. Like the monsoon itself, a cyclical weather system that can be both destructive and essential for growth and prosperity, the rise of these countries (including India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Burma, Oman, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Tanzania) represents a shift in the global balance that cannot be ignored. The Indian Ocean area will be the true nexus of world power and conflict in the coming years. It is here that the fight for democracy, energy independence, and religious freedom will be lost or won, and where American foreign policy must concentrate, if American power is to remain relevant in an ever-changing world.