Christian Long

Parag Khanna: Maps the Future of Countries

In TED Talks on May 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Reflection by KRISTEN K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Parag Khanna:  Maps the Future of Countries

Parag Khanna’s geopolitical prediction focuses on spheres of influence with lines that are not clear cut but more fluid. This fluidity is reminiscient of imperial and colonial times. The main difference, however, is that world powers are not using violence to conquer.

China, for example, is using economic dependence of other southeastern Asian nations on China to form better relations. In effect, China is buying rather than fighting for support. In addition to economic dependency, Asiatic nations are getting ethnically Chinese exported into their nation to teach Chinese culture and language. The exported Chinese are also getting married to locals. All this is increasing Chinese pride outside of China.

China is also championing its neighboring nations by signing treaties and forming alliances that state that should the United States attack, these nations must simply stand by regardless of whether they are allied with the United States or not.

In the Middle East, Khanna predicts that rather than demographic, economic, and diplomatic measures, the oil pipelines will determine the future of the area. He believes that Kurdistan will finally reach its 3000-year-old goal of being independent. This dispute will not cause any disruption in the global economy nor will the Kurds become violent to their neighbors, however, because according to Khanna, the way the pipelines run Kurdistan must maintain friendly relations with the very country it is trying to extract itself from to maintain its oil industry.

Khanna’s solution for the conflict in Palestine is somewhat Utopian, however. The idea that a railway connecting the two disassociated areas would solve the Israli/Plastinian dispute is simple yet it solely addresses Palestine’s goal to be geographically connected and doesn’t exactly give Israel any benefits.

Khanna’s main point towards the end of his talk focuses on infrastructure and how the Middle East would be peaceful if it was the focus rather than political borders. While this could have some truth in it, I hardly think that infrastructure could eliminate borders entirely as Khanna suggests it could.

Overall, while Parag Khanna has valuable ideas and viable options in some cases of conflict, in other cases his suggestions seem Utopian and as if they would only theoretically solve century-old conflicts. While modern solutions can be useful, tradition often can withstand or even immobilize modern movements, even if the goal of tradition is to continue a feud while the goal of evolution is to end it.


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