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Parag Khanna: "Europe's Influence Grows at America's Expense"

The short-lived age of US hegemony is over, with no hope of return.  Instead of comfortable primacy, the United States will struggle as one of three global superpowers.

This is the 21st century described by Parag Khanna in an essay published in New York Times Magazine, titled “Waving Goodbye to Hegemony” (HT: David Vickrey).  Khanna, a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, bases the essay on his new book, “The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order,” to be published by Random House in March (the book is already the second bestseller at Amazon).  Here is Khanna’s line of argument:

1) US hegemony is gone, for good:
Indeed, improvements to America’s image may or may not occur [with a new US president], but either way, they mean little.  America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order. That new global order has arrived, and there is precious little Clinton or McCain or Obama could do to resist its growth.
2) The 21st century will be run by the Big Three: the US, EU, and China:
This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; 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.
3) The countries who determine the new balance of power will be the ones Khanna refers to as “second world,” “swing states," and “prizes” interchangeably:
Lying alongside and between the Big Three, second-world countries are the swing states that will determine which of the superpowers has the upper hand for the next generation of geopolitics.
Khanna’s thesis is sure to stir quite a bit of debate.  Perhaps the biggest question is the most fundamental: has Khanna accurately identified the 21st century superpowers? Matt Dupuis speculates at Foreign Policy Watch:
He does overstate the case of the EU as a unitary actor a bit and neglects the extent to which US favor and leadership is still sought. And interestingly, he all but downplays the significance of India in a new world.  But on the regional integration breaking ground in Southeast and East Asia and continuing in Europe (that more or less sidesteps the US) and the gradual irrelevance of the post-WWII order, the impact of this is well developed in the piece.
True, the EU has not been an impressive unitary actor. Its ability to do so depends largely on whether or not it consolidates and streamlines its foreign policy decision-making process… ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would be a positive step in this regard.

Interestingly, Khanna does not think the EU needs military power to be a global player on par with the US:
It may comfort American conservatives to point out that Europe still lacks a common army; the only problem is that it doesn’t really need one… Europe’s influence grows at America’s expense. While America fumbles at nation-building, Europe spends its money and political capital on locking peripheral countries into its orbit.
There are a couple problems with Khanna’s view of transatlantic relations: 

First, fumbling at nation building is just as much a European activity as it is an American one.  Several European countries are involved in or are leading major nation building projects – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, etc.  If anything, a more powerful and centralized EU would benefit the United States because it could contribute more effectively to these operations.  Instead, the US is working with a hodge-podge of allies, each with varying levels of commitment and each demanding their own say at the table.  What a pain.

Furthermore, Europe “locking peripheral countries into its orbit” does not hurt the United States.  If anything, the higher human rights and rule of law standards required to join the EU makes these countries more stable, and therefore better strategic and economic partners for the United States. 

Overall, Khanna has described a zero-sum relationship between the United States and Europe that is overstated.

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Don S on :

"Waving Goodbye to Hegenomy." The problem with the essay begins with the title. Who says that the US his or was a hegenomy? Well, it was a favorite gibe of the propogandists of the USSR and the Chinese Communists were particularly fond of the term, as were the communists (and some socialists) in Western Europe. But the US never saw itself as a hegenomist & still doesn't. No, when an essay uses this term it's a dead giveaway that a major purpose of the author is propoganda, not truth. Ok, for purposes of discussion let's say that the author dodn't actually use that unfortunate word. What he meant is that the US is now and is going to be less powerful that it has been since the fall of the Berlin Wall & the dissolution of the USSR created a power vacuuum in Europe and Central Asia. China is rising. The author regards this as a unique insight? China's rise has been obvious for more than 2 decades, and China's problems almost as obvious for almost as long. China is and will continue to be a major player, at least until the time when it's internal political contradictions force a major internal conflict. China is an oligarchy, with even fewer democratic institutions than Kaiserine Germany had a century ago. Germany eventually flagged because of political constradictions; China may do so also. Or it may not; it's not the purpose of this dicaussion to debate the possible weaknesses in the Chinese body politic. But the author 'proves' his thesis by discussing the weaknesses of the US at length without noting the weaknesses of it's putative competitors; this is fallacious logic. Similarly the EU also has it's weaknesses, although not remotely the same weaknesses as China has. Let's look at the center of Europe; Paris and London. I think if we drilled down in two locations in Paris and compared conditions between 1980 and 2008 in these places the results might be illuminating. In the Marais (4th arrondissiment in Central Paris). In 1980 it was gentrifying, but the market in Les Halles was still in full and odiferous operation. So there were still quite a few poor people in the Marais in 1980. Not so today; the Marais has completed it's gentirification and is one of the richer areas in Paris outside of the 8th, 16th, and 17th arrondissiments. Now let's look at the Paris suburb of St. Denis. St. Denis has traditionally been a gritty industrial suburb and a centre of the French Comminist Party. Bu in 2008 it is not that any more. Poor people have lived in St Denis forever. They still do, but many of them cannot be considered working-class any more - because there are no jobs for them. St. Denis has been a centre of radicalism and still is. But the radicalism has changed - having gone from communist to Islamism. Go to the centre of Paris and 'Europe' will seem rich and vital - never more so. Go to St Denis and it will seem more alienated than anytime since the 40's, I think. One could find such contrasts in almost any large city in France, the UK, Italy, or Nederlands. These are the countries I know the best - I shan't make such claims about Germany or the Nordic countries. This isn't to say that one won't find such places in the US or in China - you will in both places. The income differential may be even sharper in both places, particularly China. But the alienation takes a different form. Neither the US or China cut off the poor from the working parts of society the way many Europeans localities seem to do.

David on :

"Neither the US or China cut off the poor from the working parts of society the way many Europeans localities seem to do." Don, I guess you haven't visited New Orleans recently.

Pat Patterson on :

I would hazard a guess and suggest David has not visited New Orleans lately either or else he would have noticed that there was a 25% increase in per capita income ($30,952) between pre and post Katrina. And with the pace of construction most of that money has gone to the lower half of the median with regards to income. And since when is it the reponsibility of the federal government to make sure that an individual city has a succesful economy. Unless there is a secret amendment to the Constitution concerning income redistribution. But since the state of Louisiana is now led by the nation's first Indian-American and Republican governor and its local sticky-fingered Democratic congressman has been succeeded by a Republican maybe NO can put away those t-shirts that say, "Louisiana, 3rd World and Damn Proud of It."

David on :

As a matter of fact I HAVE visited NoLa in the past year, as well as Camden, NJ and Oakland, CA. I also canvassed trailer parks in New Hampshire for Senator Obama; it was eye-opening. Anyone in America who doesn't see that there is a huge population of citizens who have been left behind in America in the globalized economy is willfully blind. Katrina exposed the problem for the world to see. And since Katrina? Neglect. There is an incredible amount of pain out there; and it's getting worse.

Don S on :

"Don, I guess you haven't visited New Orleans recently." No I haven't. But I have lived in many places in the US, including the NY metropolitan area and DC as well as places like Kansas City, Milwaukee, Durham, NC, Dallas, etc etc etc. Been around a bit, enough to know that stories written by 'journalists' and published by editors living in DC/Manhattan don't always do the best job of describing what is going on in the country as a whole. I moved from the NYC area to Durham. New York had a homeless problem at the time, Durham basically didn't. The difference was that you couldn't find a 1-bedroom apartment in NY for less than about $700 a month for love or money, whereas in Durham they were available for less than $200 a month at the time, which was circa 1989 or so. In NY was the poor were priced out of the housing market. In Durham they weren't. Causes we can debate. Some would say rent control, but I heard a rumor that the 'welfare program' in a number of towns in the area was a bus ticket to New York. So perhaps it was some of both. I'll admit that not everywhere in France is like the suburbs of Paris, but from what I've seen and read every large industrial city (Paris, Lille, Rouen, Toulouse, Strasborg, Marseilles, Bordeaux, etc) has a suburb problem. That is not the case in the US, however.

Don S on :

David, I lived near Washington DC for a time & saw the problem there. Georgetown was the domain of the rich and most of the rest of the city was either challenged (at best) although the areas close to Capitol Hill was gentrifying even then (but still dangerous). I think New Orleans and DC shared similar problems before Katrina - large parts of both cities are largely cut off from economic activity which are taken for granted in most other parts of the US. Though I cannot claim to be an expert about New Orleans, the problems in DC are clearly visible. The transport infrastructure through the poorest parts of DC is crumbling, ill-designed, altogether horrendous. This probably discourages business formation or deployment in that part of the city, which means that the people in the area have to travel elsewhere for jobs on the (not to great) public transport system. The Metro is designed to transport beaurecrats from Maryland and Northern Virginia to the cneter of DC, but doesn't make it easy for low-skill workers from eastern DC to potential jobs in Maryland or Northern Virginia.

nomad/franchie on :

yeah, Don S, you haven't visiting Paris or St denis either :lol: I guess your résumé for EU, is comparable to Khanna as far as the 3 major poles, at least for the capital of France My son lives in the 17e and works in St Denis ; there are works in the suburbs that need competences, that haven't got the idle immigrant youth ; so long they don't want to take the lower jobs, and live under wealthfares that give them the equal money as if they would work, they'll be unemployed ; I agree Paris center is becoming a kind of museum city, kind of still life there, that a mixed population would disturb well, one doesn't need to write a book to see that geopolitics are exchanging their axes though ; we are and remain part of the western world, same basic culture !

Don S on :

"yeah, Don S, you haven't visiting Paris or St denis either :lol:" Well franchie - I have visited Paris on numerous occasions, but you are correct about St Denis - I've only been through it it on a bus. I intend to see the cathedral there one day however. "there are works in the suburbs that need competences, that haven't got the idle immigrant youth ; so long they don't want to take the lower jobs, and live under wealthfares that give them the equal money as if they would work, they'll be unemployed ;" Hmm, this reads remarkably like things I used to write (and believe) about the underclass in the US. I don't believe this any more about the US underclass - or rather I don't believe that it is anything like a complete analysis of the problem facing the US underclass. The French underclass may be completely different; somehow I doubt it. ;) Today I see the problem in larger terms. The US (and perhaps France?) offer menial jobs to members of the underclass - but this is not enough - we must find way(s) to offer hope - ladders out of the ghetto/banilieu for members of the underclass. I see stratification in the US, the formation of social classes in a country which once prided itself on being 'classless'. I think France faces a similar problem. "libertie, Egalite, Fraternitie" - remember?

Nanne on :

My first impression is that Parag Khanna both overstates the importance of the 'second world' and underestimates its ability to organise, possibly in cooperation with the third world. See: non-aligned movement. On the other hand, Europe's influence can come at America's expense, when the EU keeps on developing its own foreign policy. The level of complementarity depends upon the congruence in policy, which, again depends upon congruence in values and interests. And those may be growing apart. His overall piece assumes segmentation, which is a false approach. The Europeans are already working in that direction, as is China. I think the US should resist it. Push for global solutions, deal with issues in a global setting. Not this co-construction of different regions. Definitely not a Pentagonisation of the State Department. Khanna's thinking has too much realism, in the international relations sense of focusing only on states and their intentions. Context matters a lot more than Khanna assumes. To get some context in, this [url=http://www.shell.com/home/content/aboutshell-en/our_strategy/shell_global_scenarios/two_energy_futures/two_energy_futures_25012008.html]Shell briefing[/url] by CEO Jeroen van der Veer on energy scenarios is interesting.

Patrick Burbine on :

Preface: As a student at Tulane University, I lived in New Orleans from August 2004 - December 2007, interrupted by breaks and of course, Hurricane (What a b1+ch) Katrina. I've never had the luxury of going to Europe, and hope to correct that one day. First, the U.S. as a hegemon was not a myth. During the cold war, the U.S. was an economic and military regional hegemon. Remember the Marshall Plan: beyond strategic brilliance, only a hegemon could realistically put that offer on the table. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. became a global hegemon. I'm not entirely sure how one could argue otherwise. The U.S. did not necessarily use its hegemonic status to manifest one-sided agreements between nations that lopsidedly benefited itself, but this a fortunate result of a lesson learned from the interim period between the First and Second World Wars: long term system-stability is a superior choice to short-term personal gain. Second, I'd like to place a disclaimer on Pat Patterson's observation that : “there was a 25% increase in per capita income ($30,952) between pre and post Katrina.” Be careful when using statistics, friend. When there is such a drastic increase that defies logic, it would behoove us all to ask why. In the case of New Orleans, this is a simple matter of there being less poor people, not more income. The fact of the matter is that the poorest of New Orleans have yet to return to the city. The reason is that they simply cannot afford to re-relocate themselves. New Orleans is in a tough spot right now. It is recovering, but not nearly fast enough, and the federal government could be doing far more than it is. That aside, I find it curious that Don's argument is that Europe is in greater danger than the United States, due to the fact that it alienates its poor to a greater extent than the US. While there are many who would agree with Don that the EU is at risk of relative economic decline, the reason most often quoted is their substantial government support for the working class. The short explanation is a matter of comparative advantage: goods and services are economically protected because otherwise, resources would naturally gravitate towards endeavors in which the nation does have a comparative advantage. In theory, when a nation works to its comparative advantage, it is the most efficient and economically prosperous. But with transitions of economy come periods of unemployment. In other words, the nation becomes wealthier, but in a top-heavy manner. Europe has a reputation for actively working against such lassiez faire economics by protecting its working class, and many scholars consequently are wary that the EU might not be able to keep up with other nations that are more suited for a globalized world. Finally, I believe Nanne may be correct that “Europe's influence can come at America's expense,” and is equally wise to note: “The level of complementarity depends upon the congruence in policy.” I do part ways, however, when she expresses the belief that “[strategic interests] may be growing apart.” I believe they are not, and that Europe poses no real threat to US foreign policy. I believe the two entities are mutually self interested, and will work together, be it intentionally or inadvertently. I have more thoughts, but this comment has gone on long enough. Check patrickburbine.blogspot.com in the next day or so for other related thoughts, not necessarily constructive to this conversation.

Kyle Atwell on :

Hey Patrick: Thank you for the first-time comment on AR. Hope you will hang around! "During the cold war, the U.S. was an economic and military regional hegemon." I'm not sure I buy this. To me, hegemon carries the connotation of being a sole global superpower with vast more power than any other country. This was what Parag was talking about too, considering he spoke int he context of China and the EU threatening US hegemony. During the Cold War there was Russia. "Regional hegemon"... that is just like saying a regional power. If that is the case, you could call several states around the globe regional hegemons. "I believe Nanne may be correct that “Europe's influence can come at America's expense”... I believe... that Europe poses no real threat to US foreign policy. I believe the two entities are mutually self interested, and will work together, be it intentionally or inadvertently." This is contradictory. If Europe's influence and power in the world rises, but it shares the same policy objectives and values with the US, then why would a stronger Europe hurt the US? To give a not-so-hypothetical example... a stronger Europe means that an EU force can maintain thousands of peacekeepers in the Balkans allowing the US to focus on other global threats... how does this hurt the US?

joe on :

How novel. A leftist writer working for a leftish organization publishing an article about the decline of America in a leftish newspaper… Amazing stuff. One can only hope the EU will form a common army. The sooner the better. Maybe the US in decline can help this along by withdrawing all security guarantees it has made to Europe.

Nanne on :

The New America Foundation is quite centrist, actually. It's only on the left insofar as the right has become a lot more extreme and reality-impaired over the past 7 years. But Parag Khanna's article is based on a - barely enlightened - realist perspective, which used to be the sensible, mainstream perspective on the right as well as among more conservative thinkers on the left. Before 9-11 'changed everything'.

John in Michigan, USA on :

This seems little more than fantasy porn for American Euro-wonks. Kudos to Kyle for hinting at this, far, far more delicately than I have. Let me add a few thoughts. Interesting that the author barely mentions global warming, and then only to say it is "unmanageable by a single authority" and suggesting issues like it are "for the Big Three to sort out among themselves" He doesn't tell us how it was solved, or even [b]if[/b] it was solved. So much for the standard narrative, "but for the US, we would have action on global warming". Indeed, in 2016 we're still worried about securing oil, so I guess we're still dependent on it: "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." What does it mean that we don't see the Middle East, a major supplier to today's Europe, in that list? Are we supposed to think that, in spite of absorbing all those new countries, and bringing them up to Western European standards of living, Europe is somehow using [b]less[/b] oil? And has made up the difference using nuclear energy? Seriously? Europe's oil supplies are secure, and yet later we read: "It may comfort American conservatives to point out that Europe still lacks a common army; the only problem is that it doesn’t really need one. Europeans use intelligence and the police to apprehend radical Islamists, social policy to try to integrate restive Muslim populations and economic strength to incorporate the former Soviet Union and gradually subdue Russia." What exactly secures the European oil supply? Strongly worded resolutions? Some sort of lightly-armed 'oil police'? The author talks about a "Greater Chinese Co-Prosperity Sphere". Seriously? The fascist dream of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but it's OK because the Chinese control it? I suspect that absent the Pacific Pax Americana, those would rapidly revert to the fighting words they have traditionally been in Asia. Asia's current peace is admirable, but the many Asian killing fields of the 60's, particularly Mao's "giant step back", have not been forgotten. We read that: "...small Asian nation-states should be balancing against the rising China, but increasingly they rally toward it out of Asian cultural pride and an understanding of the historical-cultural reality of Chinese dominance. And in the former Soviet Central Asian countries — the so-called Stans — China is the new heavyweight player, its manifest destiny pushing its Han pioneers westward while pulling defunct microstates like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as oil-rich Kazakhstan, into its orbit" "Manifest destiny"? "Han pioneers"? Has the author forgotten that, historically, these have been code words for ethnic cleansing? I could go on...but I think my point is made...this article is some bizarre form of feel-good fiction. The author spends too much time 'concept-dropping' (it is like name-dropping), without thinking about what these concepts really mean.

franchie on :

Don, how comes that your comment wasn't on this morning ? I just can see it from afternoon . I Like what you wrote in a previous post about the beauty of life from a bus perspective :lol: I used to know someone who shared the same scholarship background, funny, about the same staying places too, but with a different pseudo (on the marines blog) we must find way(s) to offer hope - ladders out of the ghetto/banilieu for members of the underclass. I see stratification in the US, the formation of social classes in a country which once prided itself on being 'classless'. I think France faces a similar problem. "libertie, Egalite, Fraternitie" - remember yeah, right ! you had the "far-west" exploration and exploitation that kept minds busy and hopful we had wars, colony conquests, that resolved the underclass problem : they were forced to enrole, wether on ships, wether as hussard

Don S on :

"I Like what you wrote in a previous post about the beauty of life from a bus perspective :lol: " Some of my best work (buff nails). ;) I enjoyed writing it. It took me a while - and multiple visits to some of the best art galleries and museums in Europe - to develop that perspective. Rodin is particularly excellent showing beauty from the nominally ugly, Rembrandt also. Also Tolouse-Lautrec, Manet, and Van Gogh. "libertie, Egalite, Fraternitie" Hmmm. I think the middle and upper classes do well for themselves on all three counts, but not so well for the underclasses I fear, The middle classes move heaven and earth to provide advantages for their less-talented offspring - which also has the effect of keeping the lower orders in their place - under the bootheel! And not merely the evil right-wing MBAtype middle class, but also the righteous, virtuous college perfessur middle classes - they do it too. I'm sure our friends David and SC could provide examples.... I certainly can think of a few managers in my line of work! In theory we have Libertie - I wonder whether the negro males of Washington DC would agree? Perhaps not. And perhaps there are people like that in France? Egalite? I think non. In either the US or France. Fraternitie? Hmm. Let me put it this way: I've come to hate the words "them" and "they". Usage: ""They" don't deserve .... - because "they" have filthy dirty habits and refuse to accept .... like good Americans/Frenchmen should". Not much 'Fraternite' in that, is there?!!! ;) A first step might be to mentally substiture 'we' for 'they', something I am trying to do.

Kyle Atwell on :

Don, I am right with you about the fall of classless society in the US (if it ever really was classless). Most of my friends at Yale, Stanford and Harvard had at least one relative go there in the past; had an expensive private high school education; or their parents won a Nobel prize -- those are pretty limiting admittance guidelines. Whenever I hang out with my Stanford friends (I am currently living in the town next door), I often find myself conversing with an ex-Secretary of Defense, famous intellectual (recently Thomas Friedman), or this week, the Director of NASA Ames... DEFINITELY not opportunities I experienced at my public university alma mater. Nicholas Kristof's NYT op-ed discusses another aspect of our stratified society "The Dynastic Question". http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/opinion/31kristof.html?em&ex=1202014800&en=1488d0256e3e34f7&ei=5087%0A He makes an interesting observation: "Yet I can’t find any example of even the most rinky-dink “democracy” confining power continuously for seven terms over 28 years to four people from two families. (And that’s not counting George H.W. Bush’s eight years as vice president.)" Given the nature of networking, I seriously doubt such stratification will ever disappear. There will never be a classless society, and we will never make a society where class doesn't impact your future. However, we can make (sustain) one where the bottom rung has at least some chance to celebrity, even if they have to work ten times harder than Jenna Bush or Chelsea Clinton.

Don S on :

"I am right with you about the fall of classless society in the US (if it ever really was classless)" Kyle, I think that US society was even more class-based than it is now at one time, but Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln finished that off for a time. You mention Roosevelt but he was followed by Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Kenndedy came from a rich if not precisely upper class family, but was followed by LBJ who was the father of a failure. Nixon & Reagan came from humble roots. But that's just the Presidents. I'm very disturbed by the move to dynastism in American politics. The need for new blood is the single most compelling reason why McCain or Obama should be elected. We don't need any Bush or Clinton to apply for another generation at least. We've had experience of dynasts before; I'm afraid the arguments for John Quincy Adama, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush aren't compelling. But the formation of classes occurs at a lower level and using mechanisms such as offering athletic scholarships for 'upper-class' sports, sports like Lacrosse, ice hockey, and field hockey at elite universities in lieu of academic scholarships offers strictly on academic merit. Even such academic scholarships as are offered tend to take heavy account of 'activities' rather than scholarship, which offer ways for middle class scions to 'game' the system to the expense of the working classes. In theory affirmative action offers a leavening, but it's in theory rather than in practice; how many 'ghetto youth' will you find admitted to Stanford. Not many - they simply don't have access the schools which would give them the quals. No, it's middle-class black youth who benefit from affirmative action - class again.

Pamela on :

I read this Sunday morning and just roared. This guy has apparently been channeling Mark Leonard's "Why the EU Will Rule the 21st Century". Some of the more amusing turns of phrase: "Activists in the Middle East want parliamentary democracy like Europe’s, not American-style presidential strongman rule.". America has a presidential strongman rule? Please don't anyone tell Hugo Chavez. "More broadly, America controls legacy institutions few seem to want — like the International Monetary Fund". Every keptocracy in world is all of a sudden going to start turning down free money that never has to be accounted for? In that case, we'll be waving bye to the U.N. any day now. "When Tata of India is vying to buy Jaguar, you know the landscape of power has changed." Um, no actually, you don't. "Third, deploy the marchmen. Europe is boosting its common diplomatic corps, while China is deploying retired civil servants, prison laborers and Chinese teachers " Prison laborers? What are they, ambulatory organ donors? But this is what absolutely convinced me the man has absolutely no clue. "Geographically, Brazil is nearly as close to Europe as to America and is as keen to build cars and airplanes for Europe as it is to export soy to the U.S. ". This will come as no surprise to Joerg (waves to Joerg!), but I follow global agriculture markets for a living - and for pleasure. One cannot understand history or current events, or glean the future without understanding the role of agriculture, a detail Khanna, in all his sneering erudition has managed to ignore. The global soybean players are the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and China, in that order. Brazil is not going to be increasing soy exports because it using it for biofuels. http://www.worldenergy.net/public_information/show_news.php?nid=112 Khanna is missing a huge factor that is playing out RIGHT NOW. Food and water. There isn't enough, it's becoming costlier, and it isn't going to get better. How many of you are aware that on January 15, there were 10,000 people striking in the streets of Jakarta because of rising soy prices? How many of you are aware that river levels in major arteries world-wide are falling precipitously, e.g., the Colorado, Yangtze, etc. Additionally, in China, about 110 of 170 major cities are short potable water. These are just the most obvious examples I've been working recently that are part of a global crunch that is going to be stunning. Additionally, keep your eye on coal. There's a serious global crunch. Australia couldn't meet it's export contracts (flooding in the mines apparently). That's part of China's problem today. That snow storm hitting it has increased demand for power and China literally cannot meet the demand. But Japan is the big coal importer. It's utility company imported more than twice the amount of coal in January than it did in December. The price has skyrocketed, which will make steel more expensive so good luck buying a new Japanese car. Before I go, I just can't resist. "I’ve spent the past two years traveling in some 40 countries " Really? That's one hell of a carbon footprint you've got there Mr. Khanna. I hope you contributed your part to solving global warming by sending a check to Al Gore to buy the requisite carbon offsets.

Nanne on :

Thanks for adding some more context, Pamela. I think we agree that Khanna does not appreciate its importance. On the other hand, I agree with Joerg and think you and the other commentors are getting this piece wrong. It's a realist perspective on a multipolar world, written from an American point of view. Mark Leonard does not seem to [i]have[/i] a coherent theoretical framework for international relations in the first place, and writes from a European point of view. It's one thing to state that the EU will rule the 21st century (it will not, it does not have a coherent foreign policy and does not know how to do diplomacy, yet). It's another thing to state that the EU will get more influence. That seems to be a reasonable expectation. But Khanna's piece is not primarily about the EU, that's just what Kyle Atwell lifted out of it and what seems to make people feel it's written for Euro-wonks, or whatever.

Pamela on :

Hi Nanne! A pleasure to meet you again. It's late here and I've much to do but one thing in your post I think is critical to challenge. " It's a realist perspective on a multipolar world, written from an American point of view." I got the 'American point of view' spin, loud and clear. But I have no idea how it can be justified. "Activists in the Middle East want parliamentary democracy like Europe’s, not American-style presidential strongman rule.". 'Presidential strongman rule' is not an American POV, I don't care how you cut it. The writer didn't qualify the statement with something like "what they view to be American-style presidential strongman rule", he stated it as a fact. If you want to talk about strongman rule, against which Middle East activists want to offer in opposition parliamentary democracy , perhaps the writer might want to comment on King Abdullah, who, faced down by international condemnation, had to pardon a woman who was raped, and sentenced to hundredes of lashes and then more lashes after she complained and god only knows what her lawyer is going through. Am I seriously to believe that this argument is something "Americans need to hear" and that it is from "an American perspective"? Do you begin to understand my problem with the whole premise of this piece? It ignores what cannot be ignored. And then there is this minor issue: "Third, deploy the marchmen. Europe is boosting its common diplomatic corps, while China is deploying retired civil servants, prison laborers and Chinese teachers " Again I say PRISON LABORERS??? Did you even catch that? I don't know this man - I hope I never do - but someone who considers Chinese prison laborers as 'marchmen' is not someone I would ever give any authority to influence my thinking about global politics. What I tried to point out with a bit of sarcastic humor in my previous post, I must now state without equivocation: This man disgusts me. Joerg, go tell Dr. Cline she can piss up a rope.

Nanne on :

Pamela, The piece overall deals with the loss of empire and how to react to that. That's an American point of view. I see no advice in the piece on how Europe should deal with the gaps left when the US disengages from its military empire, only on what the US should do to adjust to new realities. The line on European style parliamentary democracy versus American strongman presidential rule is presumably meant to channel Middle East sentiments. It's quite ignorant of Europe as well, at least France and the UK also have a large amount of power concentration in the President / Prime Minister (and less checks and balances on that than the US has most of the time). The Chinese prison laborers line -- I don't know how to interpret it. Not sure what he exactly means by that. Presumably he's working about the Chinese who work in sweatshops in the west to for instance make Italian clothing and leather shoes? I don't really see how these would be spreading Chinese values and winning loyalty... If he's talking about prison laborers in China, well, that's just absurd. I don't know if there are many of those (the US has more prisoners than China, relatively speaking), and I don't see what they would have to do with anything.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Nanne, "The Chinese prison laborers line -- I don't know how to interpret it." You are in dire need of an education about the situation in China. The Chinese system of Reeducation through labor (laodong jiaoyang) has roots in the treatment of Chinese peasants throught history, and took its current form under Mao. It's tainted (literally and morally) goods are exported around the world, not just America, but it long predates globalization, and it is the same system that is responsible for much of China's non-export domestic industries. The way it works is, the Party needs to build a road, or a building, or maybe a factory won a particularly large order and needs extra manpower. A crackdown is announced on whatever vice suits the moment: prostitution, drugs, religion, unregistered occupants of a house, unregistered farm animals, etc. Although there is a criminal justice system in China, the violators do not enter it. Instead, they are given administrative punishment. Of course, the whole country is a prison for those without connections or wealth, so why should the state bother with the expense of imprisonment? Hence the number of people in official prisons stays low. The number of people caught up in the crack-down, and the length of their re-education process, has a remarkable relationship with the amount of labor needed to build the road, or building, or fill that big order. Officially, China has a modicum workers rights, health and safety standards, and environmental controls. These are applied inconsistently, to formal businesses (which tend to be the foreign-owned or -operated ones). They are hardly ever applied to the re-education camps, since they are camps, not factories or businesses, and the people laboring there are students, not workers...see how it works? When the project is complete, these workers may be downsized without worrying about unemployment insurance or unions; after all, they are not being fired, they are being set free, having been re-educated! If this sounds Orwellian, it is. If you won't take my word for it, start with [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reeducation_through_labor]Wikipedia [/url] or Google "China Re-education through Labour".

Pamela on :

Thank you. It never even occured to me that the details of this would have to be made explicit to anyone in the West who had given a modicum of attention. So let me use this opportunity to pile on. One of two things is true. 1. Khannah knows this as thinks it's ok. 2. Khannah doesn't know this. In the first case, he's morally compromised. In the second case, he's too ignorant to be given any credence, and he's still morally compromised.

Nanne on :

John, this is interesting (and abhorrent). If the wiki is correct 300,000 people are in it, which is a lot, but not for China. Some other sites I found claim that the total runs up to 850,000. China's official prison population is 1.5 million (a few years ago). So that would make an impact. Still don't see how these prison laborers would fit into Khanna's argument. I'm not defending him there, just saying that it makes no sense.

Pamela on :

"The piece overall deals with the loss of empire and how to react to that. That's an American point of view. I see no advice in the piece on how Europe should deal with the gaps left when the US disengages from its military empire, only on what the US should do to adjust to new realities." Nanne, the United States has never been an Empire, military or otherwise. The UK was. Germany tried to be. If the U.S. had ever had any aspirations toward empire, the EU would be a distant phantasmagorical memory. That premise is not an American POV. Period. That we still have troops in Germany is not indicative of American 'empire' but of Russia's aspirations - or if you prefer, the EMPIRE previously known as the USSR. The reason you don't see any advice on how Europe should deal with the gap when the U.S. disengages militarily is that the whole premise of the article is that everyone will be singing kumbayah while the U.S. licks it wounds because it's no longer the world's biggest swinging dick. What's to advise?

Don S on :

"Khanna is missing a huge factor that is playing out RIGHT NOW. Food and water. There isn't enough, it's becoming costlier, and it isn't going to get better." Hmmm, well. The good old law of 'supply and demand' will help bail us out - if we let it! Better farming methods, genetic engineering, etc will gradually increase yields.Switch to a more vegetarian diet. It's cheaper & better for you. I;ve done it - not out of virtue but because I simply can't eat meat in the quantities I once did. A few ounces a day do me now. Water? Well can't we make better use of the freshwater we have? Or invent some kind of filter which filters out the salt from seawater? Possibly float icebergs up from Antartica? Lot's of things could be possible, but perhaps the most important is to cease using water stupidly. We don't need to water our lawns all summer long - how about a rock garden out back instead? And we don't need to put rice paddies into dry areas like the Central Valley of California, do we?

Pamela on :

Don, here's an article that might interest you. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120165424414527037.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries "Mr. Atkin cites a United Nations forecast that, by 2030, food production will have to have increase 50%, partly to feed a bigger world population and partly to supply the richer, more varied diets demanded by the newly affluent of the developing world. "Agriculture can respond to this," he says. "Absolutely it can respond to this." He also says: "Organic farming is not the solution." Technology is."

Kyle Atwell on :

Don, "The good old law of 'supply and demand' will help bail us out - if we let it! Better farming methods, genetic engineering, etc will gradually increase yields.Switch to a more vegetarian diet. It's cheaper & better for you. I;ve done it - not out of virtue but because I simply can't eat meat in the quantities I once did." That's nice that you switched to a more healthy and cheap vegetarian diet. Me personally, don't think I could ever give up meat. A large part of picking a career in transatlantic relations has to do with beer and sausage... Europeans specialities and sources of great happiness for me. However, if I am correct, I suspect the big problems regarding water and food are not in the ability for wealthy countries to adapt (for example, California will come up with a non-violent solution to its water crisis)-- but rather those regions that already are having trouble affording food and getting access to potable water (like the one's eating dirt cookies!). While in wealthy countries we may be able to increase supply, I suspect in other countries we will see the problem of resource constraints addressed by a decrease in demand, Malthusian-style: "The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world." -- quotes courtesy of Wikipedia

Don S on :

I'm not a vegetarian, Kyle, not, not, not. Rather I eat less meat than I used to, whether beef, chicken, game, or fish. Probably 3-6 ounces a day. I use it as flavoring for the vegetable, egg, and dairy products which form the bulk of my diet now.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt" [url]http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hcJ474CjaJGOUznskl4ZgTHdpxUAD8UFQVR00[/url]

franchie on :

uh, I would add Goya in your mind musuem, even a few german painters that I used to know the name, Otto dix, (can I get some help for the others :lol:) well liberty egality fraternity, I am afraid that are only chimeric concepts on a relative perspective ; as far as a political ideal, it only works in corporations, ; and yes, the underclass will remain the "parias" if they don't make the effort to get a life : "aides-toi, le ciel t'aidera", that what we were told as youngs, now I am afraid that the new preachers are teaching that god is owing them the right to live without effort. Well, I am not that able to talk philosophy here, though that was my high school degree :lol:

Don S on :

Goya, yes. Saw the exhibit at the Prado, and that was the weirdest thing. Started out like Fragonard, ended like Edvard Munch! Also Picasso and many others. But I tend to favor art I can understand. The surrealists had their moments but normally they're too weird for my taste. Caravaggio is one of my favorites because of his use of light to show emotion. I think he was the only major Italian after Michelangelo or Titian who was worth a curse, at least until the modern era. I looked up Dix hom I had never heard of before. Interesting.

franchie on :

I give you more home work about german painting : Max Beckman, Kirchner, were also of the same "vein" as O. Dix, pre WWII painters Sygmar Polke, A R Penk, Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Gerad Richter, post WWII painters, that are very famous and copied in art schools my favorite though is Richter ; if your in Germany, you should try to see them in many big city museums Well Carravagio is quite "strong", I like better Titian, I had the opportunity to visit the "Farnese collection" in Münschen a decade ago, I find him the greatest painter with the spanish Velasquez, they were very modern in the "touch", but you can discern that only near the very paintings. Michaelangelo was more a drawer, I guess because he was also a sculptor. Bettter leave the subject there, we are monopolising the space :lol:

Anonymous on :

"well liberty egality fraternity, I am afraid that are only chimeric concepts on a relative perspective ; " Have you been reading too much Derrida, franchie? I doubt that Danton, Desmoulins, or Robespierre understood it from a relative perspective! Nor did Zola. "yes, the underclass will remain the "parias" if they don't make the effort to get a life : "aides-toi, le ciel t'aidera"," Yes and no. It's clear that people must make their best efforts, but the society must make available the tools to enable the underclass to rise in the name of social justice. As a practical matter I find that top universities in the US are not very available to people from the US underclass; how available are Les Polytechniques to the French underclass? Not very I have heard. Both systems purport to be strictly egalitarian & perhaps actually believed it at one time. But children of the middle classes have most overpowering advantages over the chidren of the poor. 'Merit' can be manufactured - and is. At one time in the US we had schools in the ghetto which were good enough to prepare poor students for admission to Harvard. Not many, but we also had universities of high quality which offered admission to the working classes - City College of New York is the most famous example. But the good schools have closed or been watered down - so has City College. I suspect something similar has occurred in France from what I read. It's not that muslims don't make it into ENA - some do. But it's rare, non? "that what we were told as youngs, now I am afraid that the new preachers are teaching that god is owing them the right to live without effort." Some are - it's a fitting creed for the welfare state. But it offeres little hope for the ambitious, who fall into despair. "Once upon a time there was a bright boy named Mohammed Atta.....".

franchie on :

Have you been reading too much Derrida, franchie? I doubt that Danton, Desmoulins, or Robespierre understood it from a relative perspective! Nor did Zola. No, I am afraid, but I read that your fellows philosophers told he was boring :lol: I guess Danton, Desmoulins, Robespierre had not my relative perspective, but of the enlightened century one, that I can't find anymore today as far as the opportunity to our "underclass" people to reach a high level in education, they have the opportunities, as our education system is nearly free for the universities, plus money helps, but I am also aware that their environnement is not very favorable, they must have a double vonlonty to success ; and of course, polytechniques are for the top elite, difficult for our surburbans to reach the level ; HEC, ENA are lowering their level of recruitment, so that a banlieusard can also get into. yeah, your also right in your conclusion, that's an effort that our society has to make : open the future for the ones of good will ; I guess there is a hope, Sarko shows the invisibles in his government, that's a start ; sure the Chirac generation was busy to keep their places

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

In response to the above comments that said argued in the direction of "This would be a great book for Europeans, because it is what they want to hear." I attended this EARLY BIRD panel discussion: [url]http://en.dgap.org/dgap/events/1dcc8190199aa64c81911dcbf7bf795ba1456bf56bf.html[/url] The actual State of the Union address was pretty much ignored. Dr. Crane said that Parag Khanna's essay is widely discussed in the US and it is very interesting and important. When I asked her afterwards, if she agrees with his essay, she said that the essay (and the book) were written for an American audience. And that it is important for Americans to hear this argument. And that Europeans are right to be skeptical about EU power in the future, but that Americans need to be made aware of those other actors, who are increasingly powerful etc.

joe on :

Jorg, Widely discussed? By whom? The readers of the NYT and this blog? Oh and the centerists ?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

She did not say. There are however quite a few blog posts on Parag Khanna's essay. Then again, everything is relative. Britney Spears' is a more popular topic, obviously.

Kyle Atwell on :

I think the fact that this book is #2 on Amazon, only behind "The World is Flat", is a good indication of the type of attention it is getting, even before it is out in print!

Pat Patterson on :

That #2 ranking is in the International/Relations category which seems to be overrun with a rogues gallery of America can't do anything right true believers. It appears that being #2 on this list means being the best center in the 5'2" and under boys basketball league. As far as an economic reorder goes isn't only natural that countries that were either devestated in World War II or have decided that maybe the vanguard of the proletariat were wrong would acquire market share. It seems that the world is reorienting itself to a more balanced sharing of the economic pie. But until there is a corresponding increase in military spending these new powers will remain like remora getting a free ride on a restless shark.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"Overrun" is an exaggeration IMHO. #3 is Steyn's America alone. And then there are Albright, Yergin, Kissinger, Jervis and a bunch of other PoliSci classics. It seems the college sales are responsible for this ranking. Do people read any non-fiction books after college? :-) Perhaps not. And they apparently have no clue what a library is: [url]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2305/2227185021_32663bf7fa_o.png[/url] BTW Khanna's book is currently #395 in Books overall. That's not bad, considering the tons of Harry Potters and self-help books.

Don S on :

Hmmm, this reminds me of one of my favorite books, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" by Yale academic Paul Kennedy. It was published in 1989 at a time when the concensus of the chattering classes seemed to be that the US was Doomed, Doomed! and that we were all destined to study Japanese? Remember? Or are you too young? The Kennedy book was one of the all time best sellers in the field of current affairs, and Khanna seems to have followed in it's tradition. I have to note that Kennedy's thesis that the US was suffering from 'Imperial overstretch' because it was spending 6% of GDP on the military (while Japan was spending less than 1% presumably) did not mean after all that the US was in terminal decline and Japan would bestride the world like a colossus - or at least not yet. Kennedy was honest enough to provide some actual figures (or his best estimate) for military powers in the past. He notably dwelt on Spain but his estimate was that Spain was spending as much as 30% of GDP on the military during the latter years of the 30 years war. The UK was spending about 10% on the military during the Dreadnought race with Germany, I think. I'm fond of the Kennedy book not because it was an accurate prediction of current affairs but because it was one of the better books of popular history I have read. It caused me to learn things I had not know and consider thought which I had not had, and I thought the author wrote with honest purpose and presented data which argued against his thesis as well as data supporting it. This is rare enough to be cherished. I hope the Khanna book is similar in argument and purpose to Kennedy's tome, but I saw nothing in his essay which would lead me to believe it. Khanna seemed to focus on the factors hurting the US without going into the restraints on Chinese or European power in his essay. Which doesn't bode well for the book.

ADMIN on :

Please note that by default the comments in this blog are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest comments and responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear, which enable you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.

Wang on :

(Comment removed)

John in Michigan, USA on :

I guess this is the new spam - a robot, or a robotic person, that posts the same text everywhere.

Pat Patterson on :

The second because the source is real and has his own web site. More than a little hubris is involved when the writer quotes himself as if he heard something brilliant.

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