That piece shares something quite significant with his latest, and that is a consciousness of the follies of empire.
Though I think his book The Future of Freedom is perhaps a bit too sunny (I actually published a review of it in The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies), and Zakaria positions himself somewhere to the right of where I place myself politically, I like the drift of his thought.
In this case, I also appreciate the literary reference -- Somerset Maugham's criticism of Henry James:
In his novel "Cakes and Ale," Somerset Maugham derided the celebrated American expatriate Henry James for focusing his writings on upper-class life in Europe in the early 20th century. Maugham complained that James had "turned his back on one of the great events of the world's history, the rise of the United States, in order to report tittle-tattle at tea parties in English country houses."
The analogy is not exact. The war on terror is crucial, winning in Iraq is necessary, Middle East peace is important. But I wonder whether as we furiously debate these matters in America, we resemble Englishmen in the waning days of the British Empire. They vigorously debated the political and military situation in remote areas, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan (some things don't change). They tried mightily, and at great cost, to stabilize disorderly parts of the globe. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the United States of America was building its vast economic, technological and cultural might, which would soon dominate the world.
Then again, this is a piece about America's obliviousness to the rise of Asia. And he has a point that the reduction of all foreign policy issues to Iraq is turning us all into Cyclopeans; we fail to see the substantive structural and attitudinal shift that is to accompany the incipient rise of the Asian economies.
But is Asia-->America today analogous to America-->Europe a century ago? I'm not sure I believe it.