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July 31st, 2008, 23:04
Walp, I finished Parag Khanna's _The Second World._ It was quite interesting reading, although it was as much a polemical pamphlet as serious analysis.

These are the main theses he argues:

(1) Empire is the natural order of the world.
(2) Currently there are three empires in the world: China, the EU, and the USA:
(3) China and the EU are on the way up, and the USA is on the way down.
(3b) This is because China builds infrastructure, the EU builds institutions, and the USA builds military bases, at a time when military dominance matters much less than economic or institutional influence. There are also important differences in diplomatic style and substance: Europe strives for consensus, China goes for consultancy, and the USA builds coalitions; the European and Chinese foreign services are also more professional, more culturally sensitive, and think longer-term than the American one.
(4) Between the empires lie a belt of second-world countries, whose success depends on how well they manage to either play the empires against each other, or exploit their client status with one of the empires. They are characterized by poor governance, unstable governments, big income disparities, overspending on the military but underspending on infrastructure, significant natural resources, and an economy split between a dynamic, globalized minority and a stagnant, poor majority. These second-world countries include the former Soviet Union, India, South America, the Greater Middle East, and Indo-China. They constitute the playing field that determines which of the three empires are the winners and which the losers. (Sub-Saharan Africa is Third World — too weak to fend for itself, and locked into perpetual exploitation by the empires and their proxies.)
(5) China, currently a second-world empire, is on its way up to first-world status, while the USA is on its way down to second-world status.
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