Dr. Parag Khanna (r) and moderator Dr. Rafiq Dossani
Dr. Parag Khanna, an author, global strategist, and thought leader, gave his unique takes on Asia’s role in geopolitics at a breakfast event with the Council. Always important to hear a unique take on global affairs, Dr. Khanna’s optimism about political and economic cooperation between Asia, North America, and Europe is a departure from the more hawkish takes we typically hear. He believes that we are beginning to live in a multi-polar world, a world that, as Asia rises, the United States and Europe will remain major players in.
“We are conditioned into a mindset that the world needs a sole superpower,” according to Dr. Khanna. He assures us that this is a false choice, especially when we begin to understand how Asia behaves in geopolitics; even within Asia, China is not the sole power – Iran, India, Japan, Saudia Arabia, and South Korea all have a huge influence across the continent. In that same breath, Dr. Khanna implores us to remember that Turkey, Russia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific are all Asian countries as well.
Interested in systems theory, Dr. Khanna also notes that Asian countries have built networks with one another far more than they have with the rest of the world. Even through ideological differences and historical conflicts, economic integration between Asian countries continues.
Dr. Khanna also made sure to point out where he believes the United States is mistaken or misguided in its views of Asian geopolitics. For example, he mentions that the United States seems to believe that China’s Belt and Road Initiative will “collapse under its own weight” and says that is a blasé attitude for Washington to take. Additionally, he believes that the United States is giving the North Korea nuclear threat too much relevance, saying that the Japanese and South Koreans aren’t nearly as worried about it as we are. Instead, Dr. Khanna wants the United States to instead focus more on issues that could be much more dangerous, namely the Japan-China rivalry, rising tensions in the South China Sea, and Taiwan.
Dr. Parag Khanna is Founder and Managing Partner of FutureMap, a data driven strategic advisory firm. His new book “THE FUTURE IS ASIAN: Commerce, Conflict, and Culture in the 21st Century,” is out now.
He is based in Singapore.