In other words, "Alternative Europe" was a winning strategy for us. But that strategy is mostly played out. Europe today is rich, peaceful, and liberal, with higher economic mobility and ultra-low fertility. The United States still needs people -- to start new companies, to keep our pension systems funded, and to keep our domestic market large in order to attract investment. But we're not going to get our new people from Europe.
For the last few decades, we've been importing our new population from Mexico, but that too looks to be at an end. Net immigration from Mexico has fallen to zero, thanks in large part to a healthy Mexican economy (good), lower Mexican fertility (good), the housing bust (bad), and nativist sentiment against "illegal" immigrants in states like Arizona (very, very bad).
America's birth rate is not as low as Europe, but we still need immigrants to ensure a healthily expanding labor pool. Where are we going to get our new Americans? Asia and Africa. Asia is especially important, and encouraging large-scale immigration from Asia will have benefits far beyond the simple economics of immigration. The United States' geopolitical strategy for the emerging Asian Century must be to position ourselves as the Alternative Asia, the way we were once the Alternative Europe.
East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia together have over half the world's population, but Asians make up only 5% of the United States. If our ethnic makeup was a portfolio of stocks, we would be severely underweight Asia.
Asia is important not just because it is huge, but because it is growing rapidly. Trade with these countries will be incredibly important to the American economy this century. One way to facilitate trade and investment is ethnic ties -- witness the way the Chinese diaspora has invested in China, or the way Indian-American entrepreneurs have forged links between Silicon Valley and India. We need much more of this.
Geopolitics, too, will be centered on Asia. Already, conflicts over the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and Central Asia fill the news. The United States could be involved in stabilizing these conflicts and making sure they don't disrupt the global economy. In the 20th Century, we stabilized Asia through overwhelming military force, but this is no longer possible or desirable; instead, many believe, the U.S. should be an "offshore balancer," helping to mediate disputes and organize coalitions of Asian nations to keep the peace. But in order to do this we need to build credibility and trust with the nations of Asia, and having large Asian populations in our own country seems like a good way to do this. Allowing young, disaffected Asians to migrate here should also reduce the domestic pressures that fuel unrest and conflict.
Furthermore, I believe that the cultural benefits of Asian immigration will be just as big as the economic and political benefits. Adding diversity to our melting pot will speed up America's inevitable and necessary transition from a "nation of all European races" to a "nation of all races." The sooner that happens -- the sooner people realize that America's multi-racialization is a done deal -- the quicker our political debate can shed its current ethnic overtones and go back to being about the issues.