Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific

Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific

  • April 6, 2014
Robert D. Kaplan

Chief Geopolitical Analyst for Stratfor

Marina Kats and Ronald J. Naples, Partnership Chairs 


Robert Kaplan

on his latest book:

Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific


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Robert KaplanOver the last decade, the center of world power has been quietly shifting from Europe to Asia. With oil reserves of several billion barrels, an estimated nine hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and several centuries’ worth of competing territorial claims, the South China Sea in particular is a simmering pot of potential conflict. The under-reported military buildup in the area where the Western Pacific meets the Indian Ocean means that it will likely be a hinge point for global war and peace for the foreseeable future. In Asia’s Cauldron, Robert 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. Interpreting 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. Part travelogue, part geopolitical primer, Asia’s Cauldron takes us on a journey through the region’s boom cities and ramshackle slums. At a time when every day’s news seems to contain some new story that directly relates to conflicts over the South China Sea, this is an indispensable guide to a corner of the globe that will affect all of our lives for years to come.

A long-time friend of FPRI, Robert Kaplan is chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, a private intelligence firm. He is the author of fifteen books on foreign affairs and travel, including The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us about Coming Conflicts; Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power; and Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History. He has been a foreign correspondent for The Atlnatic for nearly three decades. In 2011 and 2012, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers.

From 2009 to 2011, Kaplan served on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, appointed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Since 2008 he has been a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.  From 2006 to 2008 he was the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis. He currently serves on FPRI’s Board of Advisors.

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