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28 January, 2008

The shape of things to come: an Indian American's book

The following is a message reeived from Sreenath Sreenivasan of Columbia University Journalism School on Sunday:

Today's New York Times Magazine has a provocative cover image and essay by Parag Khanna, a SAJA lister and senior fellow at the New America Foundation (headed by Steve Coll, former WashPost managing editor and South Asia expert).

"Who Shrank the Superpower" says: Just a few years ago, America's hold on global power seemed unshakeable. But a lot has changed while we've been Iraq - and the next president is going to be dealing with not only triumphant China and a retooled Europe but also the quiet rise of a "second world." [Am trying to recall the last South Asian byline on the cover of this magazine - anyone know?, please)

The essay is adapted from Khanna's book, "The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order," to be published by Random House in March. Read it at and post your comments at

Khanna is director of the New America Foundation's Global Governance Initiative, leading "an effort to find innovative strategies for governmental, corporate, and civil society collaboration to resolve pressing global problems and redefine diplomacy for the 21st century."

Other details from his bio: Parag Khanna is an expert on geopolitics, global governance, and Asian and European affairs, and was most recently the Global Governance Fellow at The Brookings Institution. He has worked at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, where he specialized in scenario and risk planning, and at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he conducted research on terrorism and conflict resolution. He holds bachelors and masters degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and is completing his PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He speaks German, Hindi, French, Spanish, and basic Arabic. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Harper's Magazine, Policy Review, Foreign Policy, Prospect (U.K.), Slate, and Survival (U.K.), and he has been featured on CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera International, National Public Radio, and Doordarshan.

Some highlights that have South Asia connections in Khanna's piece, which opens with a future scenario: It is 2016, and the Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama administration is nearing the end of its second term. America has pulled out of Iraq but has about 20,000 troops in the independent state of Kurdistan, as well as warships anchored at Bahrain and an Air Force presence in Qatar. Afghanistan is stable; Iran is nuclear. China has absorbed Taiwan and is steadily increasing its naval presence around the Pacific Rim and, from the Pakistani port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. The European Union has expanded to well over 30 members and has secure oil and gas flows from North Africa, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as substantial nuclear energy. America's standing in the world remains in steady decline.

This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules - their own rules - without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

Read the rest of the highlights, see a photo of Khanna, his contact info and post your comments - at

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