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The Future Is Asian: An Interview With Parag Khanna


The future is Asian” according to geopolitical strategist Parag Khanna. In his new book, Khanna argues that we are witnessing a tectonic shift in global power. If the 19th century belonged to Europe, and the 20th century to the United States, then the 21st century now belongs to Asia.

Beyond the era of Western hegemony, Asia is returning to the patterns of commerce and cultural exchange that thrived long before European colonialism and American predominance. Even as the United States sits on the sidelines in this new phase of globalization, Asia’s growing heft is reordering the world economy. China has taken the lead in Asia, Africa and Latin America through its Belt and Road Initiative, but according to Khanna, China will not dominate Asia or the world. While China is a major player in a broad Asian system, it is simply a feature of a highly prosperous Asian supercontinent now resurfacing on the world stage.

1. In your new book, you suggest that the 21st century belongs to Asia. Could you say something about your motivation for writing the book. How do you see the role Asia will play in the global economy?

Living in Asia, I wanted to write about what I was witnessing. I felt that discussions tended to conflate Asia’s growing predominance with China. I wanted to help better articulate the rise of the “Asian system”— and this is really the central theme of the book. In the context of international relations theory, the term “system” has as a very specific definition. It refers to a set of countries or units that have more to do with each other than they do with countries and systems outside of their region. Much as the European Union is a system, we are seeing the rise of a broad Asian system that stretches from the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea to Japan, and from Russia down to Australia.

Since the end of the Cold War, Asia has spent the last 30 years stitching itself back together in ways that vaguely resemble the Asian systems of the past. For some 500 years, colonialism and the Cold War have divided and fragmented Asia. But now this continental system is being resurrected. I wanted to write one of the first books to capture the rebirth of this great Asian system in a way that isn’t premised only around China. China is certainly one of the most important features of this system, but it’s not the only feature.

2. How would you characterize Asia’s growing influence? Is the Asian system now equal to the West in terms of global influence? Could the Asian system eventually surpass the United States and Europe altogether?

It depends on how you measure power and influence. I mean, in some respects I could have called the book “The Present is Asian” because we live in an Asian world, demographically speaking. More than half the world’s population lives in Asia and that’s always going to be true. If you measure power in terms of economics, then Asia’s economic system is already larger than the European or the North American systems in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. So in many ways the present is Asian, not just the future.

But it’s not really about rise and decline. We live in an unprecedented multipolar era in which there are already multiple systems and geographies of power. It’s not zero-sum.

3. Imagine you were an advisor to the President of the United States. How would you advise US leadership in strategically engaging with a rising Asia?

Well, the punchline of my last book, Connectographywas that you can’t compete if you’re not connected. The US will need to be present in Asia—economically, diplomatically, if it wants to have any influence. I’ve urged that the US rejoin the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations and even consider partnering in some way with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the Europeans are doing. Unlike the Europeans who have developed partnership agreements with China and other countries to promote their own companies in the infrastructure space, the US is basically sitting things out. It’s essentially saying, I’m taking my ball and going home. But it’s important to remember that if you’re not there, nobody misses you. US absence just means more opportunities for everyone else.

4. Prospects for sustaining global competitiveness now seem directly tied to the industrialization of artificial intelligence (AI). What do you think about the possibilities of using AI to inform technocratic systems even if they are not necessarily democratic?

Well, sure. I wrote my book Technocracy in America about this phenomenon. You know, there’s democracy and then there’s data, and both are equally important in achieving good governance. Democracy matters because of input legitimacy. You want the voice of the people to be heard and to play a central role in determining the policies of government. But you also need data because lots of people don’t vote. And lots of information is not available to the public through discourse. So feedback loops of all kinds are important: whether it’s voter sentiment or it’s public data collected through various means. Data is necessary for governments to determine policies and to determine solutions based on all the contradictory viewpoints that decision-makers face.

Good governance requires learning through case studies, learning across countries, learning through small local experiments, and through rapid feedback loops; all of that involves harnessing data in new ways. So I’m a very, very, very big believer that good governance hinges— not just on our democratic decision-making— but on data-driven systems for steering policy in the right direction.

I should add that much of the concern about the use of AI and Big Data is rooted in new challenges democracies face with regard to human rights and democratic governance. This is a very real concern. But it extends beyond Western democracies. Of course, we should always remember that there’s more people living in democracies in Asia than there are in the rest of the world put together. Asia is not China and the Asian system is by no means monolithic. In the next 6 months, about 1.8 billion people in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand will be engaged in elections. Asia’s democracies are learning from us and they are learning from each other. Hopefully, as these democracies adapt to technologies like AI and machine learning, we in the West will learn from them as well.


19 Comments on "The Future Is Asian: An Interview With Parag Khanna"

  1. makati1 on Thu, 31st Jan 2019 6:03 pm 

    Not an article some here want to see or discuss. The World Island is mostly Asian. The cultures of the East are thousands of years old, not hundreds like most of the West.

    Note that the author actually lives in Asia, the area he talks about. He is not some Westerner who has a very warped view thanks to Western propaganda.

    “… the US is basically sitting things out. It’s essentially saying, I’m taking my ball and going home. But it’s important to remember that if you’re not there, nobody misses you. US absence just means more opportunities for everyone else.” The US is isolating itself from the world more so every day.

    “…we should always remember that there’s more people living in democracies in Asia than there are in the rest of the world put together. Asia is not China and the Asian system is by no means monolithic. In the next 6 months, about 1.8 billion people in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand will be engaged in elections.” The Philippines is more democratic and free than the US by far. It is still a democracy, not a plutocracy*.

    *A plutocracy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income.” WIKI A perfect picture of the US today.

    I now live in a democracy here in the Philippines. I enjoy more freedoms than my US friends and family. I live in a growing economy, not a contracting Western one, covered by lies. I watch the US disintegrate and, knowing I cannot change it, resign myself to the fact that my kids and grands will have it harder than I did. That’s life.

    Chance of birth. We could have all been born in Nigeria or Syria, or 1914 Serbia. All chance, not choice. But living outside the US is still a possible choice. Think about your choices and act on them before it is too late.

  2. Davy on Thu, 31st Jan 2019 6:06 pm 

    Yea, future of overshoot. It will not be long before energy, food, and water turn Asia upside down. This is true everywhere but Asia is where the biggest examples of all that is bad with overpopulation and consumption meet. The Asian economies are just now stalling. This is the beginning of the end game process.

  3. Sissyfuss on Thu, 31st Jan 2019 6:19 pm 

    Forbes sees everything in dollar signs. Soon you’ll be able to sign up for their 6th Mass Extinction checking account.

  4. makati1 on Thu, 31st Jan 2019 7:21 pm 

    Davy has to stuff some of his sinophobic bullshit into the conversation, as usual. No facts to back it up. Just innuendos. Asia is growing.

    The US is dying. The freak show in DC is full of delusional psychopaths that need to be put down before they do something really stupid like start a nuclear war with their “mini-nukes” and “exceptional” bullshit.

  5. Anonymouse on Thu, 31st Jan 2019 7:39 pm 

    The turd has a warped, extremist, agenda to promote. And besides, its as not as if he anything better to do with his time, like, ‘farm’, or…..anything else.

  6. Duncan Idaho on Thu, 31st Jan 2019 7:52 pm 

    to sign up for their 6th Mass Extinction checking account.

    As a former resident, most are totally screwed.
    But that is not a exception.

  7. Chrome Mags on Thu, 31st Jan 2019 11:00 pm 

    Even though I live in the US it’s about time some other country, like China, took the reigns. Any country that reaches the point in which it is so unbelievably lazy and fat, blames in shape Hispanics for taking their jobs, needs to take a back seat.

    Wealthy powerful politicians decided some time ago to offshore manuf. of products (made mostly in China) for the benefit of a few (e.g. Walmart family owned business), and ignore the plight of their own people, that I welcome China as the new kid on the block.

    Any country that gets too big for it’s britches, with the arrogance to casually invade other countries as a police dog, it’s time for that country to step down.

    If voters rights are what McConnell calls a greed grab, then this country has outlived it’s usefulness at the top. Let’s let China step up to the plate now.

  8. Davy on Fri, 1st Feb 2019 5:19 am 

    Where is “the east is rising and the west falling” makato? What about the “golden decade” clogged? You guys see these numbers?

    “Yuan Plunges After China Caixin PMI Tumbles To 3 Year Low; Biggest Drop On Record”

    “Italy slides into recession, darkening outlook for Europe”

  9. Davy on Fri, 1st Feb 2019 5:24 am 

    Here is a Chinese export on the rise:

    “Here’s how hard China’s slowdown could hit global economic growth”

    “The Chinese slowdown could have serious negative consequences for world growth if it intensifies. Our model simulations suggest that world growth could slow to a decade low of 2.3% in 2019 if Chinese growth slows sharply and could drop below 2% in the event of a combined slowdown in China and the U.S.,” wrote Adam Slater and John Payne in a Tuesday note”

  10. JuanP on Fri, 1st Feb 2019 6:39 am 

    “Nations should explore better system to break US hegemony ”

  11. JuanP on Fri, 1st Feb 2019 6:41 am 

    “Time for China-India relations to abandon Western paradigm”

  12. JuanP on Fri, 1st Feb 2019 6:43 am 

    “China gears up for financial opening as markets mature”

  13. JuanP on Fri, 1st Feb 2019 6:55 am 

    “Better IPR protection, business climate for foreign firms”

    China is making a big push to protect intellectual property rights, which makes a lot of sense at this stage in their development. The US complaints and trade war has allowed the Chinese government to push hard on this issue. Previous attempts to do this faced very strong popular resistance, but now increasedpatriotism is countering popular resistance and making things easier for the government to implement drastic measures and apply heavy penalties. The Chinese government has a serious interest in regulating the black markets to increas tax revenues and fight crime and corruption, too. The US trade war has allowed the Chinese government to put forward a large number of unpopular measures with little popular resistance.

    I really admire the way countries like Russia and China have reacted to the US illegal sanctions, financial attacks, and trade war, Russia in particular, but the Chinese are being very smart, too. Most Americans don’t understand these countries. Witness Davy as a perfect example.

  14. Theedrich on Fri, 1st Feb 2019 6:22 pm 

    The mulattoizing U.S. is corrupt and absurd.  Virtually every government department and every talking media head blathers propaganda made to persuade the ignorant, the unschooled and the lower intellects as well as the lemming-like university professors.  The military and intelligence services claim that their main attraction to smart candidates is that of “patriotism.”  Of course, they are really making a call for more recruits to White genosuicidism.  “Offer up your life so that Negroes and muds in general can take over your country and extinguish you and your species.”

    Interestingly, the Chinese, who put the highest premium on educated intelligence and have a severe meritocracy, besides adopting intellectual property (“IP”) from the West, are using the same techniques the U.S. has used to become a superpower:  pushing into countries and seas where they see an interest, and developing extremely advanced weapons.  Interestingly, the deadly neurotoxin fentanyl is produced mainly in China, whose leaders claim they have no control over the drug even though vast amounts are shipped thence to this country through Mexico.  The Democrats claim that to stop the invasion of Spics hiding the narcotics smugglers would be “immoral.”  So the Chinks win.

    Abroad, the U.S. is using various false-flag operations in Allahland to justify military operations there.  It is also supplying the rioters in Venezuela with lots of money to help them with regime change.  Never mind that the Venezuelan stupidoes voted for the dictatorship in the first place.  It is pure accident, of course, that Venezuela has huge deposits of oil.

    In eastern Europe, Yankeeland has moved all kinds of military equipment, including missiles, right up to Russia’s borders, then claimed that Russia’s development of missile systems to defend against that encroachment is “cheating” on a former anti-missile treaty which will now be abrogated by the U.S.

    Domestically, the oligarchs (i.e., Sörös and gigabuck allies) are mainly concerned with extracting every last dollar out of ordinary American citizens.  Meanwhile the nation no longer produces sufficient numbers of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) professionals needed to run its advanced economy and military.  Its dependence on these areas has made it inextricably dependent on China and other Asiatic lands.  One can say that, if North and South Korea ever united, the resulting unified nation would in short order eclipse the U.S. in these areas and make it into a STEM backwater engulfed by 85-IQ Negroes, parasitic illegal Spics and drug-addled Whites, and subordinate to very high-IQ Mongoloids.

    In short, the United States is obviously in terminal decline, led by termites, traitors and Jews.  After murdering the cream of Europe in two World Wars and now endorsing contempt for the White race in general, it is headed for the trash heap of history.  The centers of its largest cities are already trash heaps, and virtually every family in the country has been in some way affected by the narcotics epidemic.  The sickness is grave.  In another decade, the U.S. will be on its deathbed.  Good riddance.

  15. Cloggie on Sat, 2nd Feb 2019 12:05 am 

    “Meanwhile the nation no longer produces sufficient numbers of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) professionals needed to run its advanced economy and military. ”

    “Bombshell report finds some F35 fighter jets will only fly for a QUARTER of their expected life because of ‘major structural issues’”

  16. makati1 on Sat, 2nd Feb 2019 1:04 am 

    Amen, Theedrich.

  17. Cloggie on Sat, 2nd Feb 2019 2:47 am 

    Author Parag Khanna, Indian-American:

    It is telling that Forbes publishes such an article.

    A lot of what he says rings true.

    Yes, the 15-19th century were European…

    …the 20th century American and I have no doubt that in the coming decade China is going to replace America as the new geopolitical #1:

    In 1934, the Anglo-Zionist American deep state enabled their Trojan Horse, Winston Churchill (WC), to set up Europe for war, for kosher interests only. As of 1933 there was an understanding in place that both kosher-run entities USA and USSR would be on the same side in case of a global conflict, a conflict both Stalin and Roosevelt and their stooge WC would do anything to bring it about, in order to destroy the European world and their empires (including the British, feeble protest after the war by WC were to no avail). In October 1939, one month into the Phoney War, WC addressed the British public with the mysterious sentence:

    “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

    Well, Russia may have been a mystery for the British and Chamberlain, but absolutely not for WC himself, who had been plotting with the Jewish-Soviet ambassador to the UK Maisky to bring about the anti-white Grand Alliance USA-UK-USSR:

    By 1945, the Jews owned the white race, well the western part of it, as after the war Joe Stalin opted out of the WW2-coalition, betrayed global jewish comminism and went for national-bolshevism and began to throw the jews out and the Cold War came about (if you touch jews, you touch America).

    So far history. Yes China is going to be the next #1 and that mega-event will dictate everything else in geopolitics. America may have destroyed Europe in 1945, we do not need to destroy it back, because, conveniently, America is destroying itself. The (((American))) idea was to create one giant race-mixed Babylon, as an oligarch-invented template for the rest of the world to follow (hi George!), but the rest of the world isn’t a “nation-of-immigrants”, running low on identity fuel, but instead is solidly “racist” (a word used very early on, around 1930, by the jewish communist monster and butcher of Russia, Leon Trotsky). The US deep state knows that by now, has publicly admitted defeat…

    …and now desperately tries to at least hold on to the kosher-dominated heartland USA. With a little luck even that will fail, the joint will fall apart and Europe will merely have to pick up the useful pieces.

    The only white country with serious leadership, I mean Russia, has long recognized the new geopolitical reality and despite the fact that the West has pushed Russia in the arms of China, in the longer term Russia aspires to become a member of the European club, not on American terms, but on greater European terms:

    So yes, China is going to be the next #1 and for the first time in history white civilization will have to act from a defensive position rather than offensive. But if we get our white act together and Europe + Russia emerges from the western ruble as a unified block, with some balkanized Anglo hinterlands added to the mix, as well as Japan, we can contain China and still remain the premier civilization on earth.

  18. Davy on Sat, 2nd Feb 2019 5:13 am 

    “Bombshell report finds some F35 fighter jets will only fly for a QUARTER of their expected life because of ‘major structural issues’”
    Clogged did you read the report or did you just read the headlines? The oldest F35 and the one that is the most complicated because it hovers is the one. Not the exaggeration you intent to paint by the comment.

    “A Pentagon report is warning that the U.S. Marine Corps’ oldest F-35B Joint Strike Fighters could remain airworthy for just over a quarter of their expected lifespan due to ‘serious structural problems’.”

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