Parag Khanna discussed emerging models of global governance and how the world because of them is beginning to resemble a new Middle Ages.
The New America Foundation's Parag Khanna, a David Rubenstein Distinguished Visitor at the Academy, delivered a talk on November 12 on the “future of diplomacy,” or “How to Run the World.” Beginning with Babylonian trade routes and moving to the proliferation of international NGOs over the past decade, Khanna traced the outline of a new world of emerging diplomacy. As non-state actors – private corporations, influential individuals, foundations, NGOs – reach into the world, they bring with them their own foreign policies. Those policies and motives intermingle – and sometimes conflict – with existing state actors.
These developments have come on the heels of a reconstructed post-Cold War order and the simultaneous rise of “second world” nations. These energy- and resource-rich second-tier countries, once allies of the Soviet Union in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America are having a significant impact on the balance of global power, as Khanna argued in his book The Second World. Now, as increasing numbers of countries go nuclear, military might plays less of a role in this balancing. Instead, large powers are developing non-military means to win allies and influence, and so, for Khanna, the twenty-first century battle for influence and determination will take place in the geopolitical marketplace.
Khanna argues that this situation of multiple international actors operating on a variety of levels and across fields has the world looking less like the tense but solid multipolarity of the nineteenth century and more like the fiefdoms of the Middle Ages. This is the kind of world that is evolving, he says, and it brings its own set of criteria for relations between state and non-state actors: inclusiveness, accountability, and legitimacy. And all of them, he argues, are based not upon the legitimacy of legal constructs, but upon action and results.
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