How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance Hardcover – Jan 11 2011
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Praise for Parag Khanna’s How to Run the World
“"The world has money, talent, technology, food, fuel, entrepreneurs, and do-gooders in spades, but we lack solidarity to bring it all together. Parag Khanna’s How to Run the World tackles our spiraling complexity head-on yet paints a hopeful picture of how our scary, turbulent, and unpredictable new Middle Ages can be turned into another Renaissance if we harness the power of today’s governments, multinational firms, NGOs, philanthropists, celebrities, entrepreneurs, innovators, and communities of the faithful to create new models of good governance. It is their solidarity that will secure our future. This book is a fresh, bold, provocative—and, most important, realistic—guide to getting us there."
--Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools
“By exhorting leaders to make use of new, open technologies that encourage more diverse and dynamic marketplaces, Parag Khanna makes a powerful argument: the world can become smarter than the sum of its parts. We need to pay attention to his ideas.” —Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google
"Parag Khanna has vision."—Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"The term 'sweeping' hardly does justice to the ambition of Indian-born Parag Khanna... Makes the pulse race." —The Economist
"At a time when the lines between government and business are blurring and most pundits are quick to color them over with the promise of technology, Khanna has given us an important guide that will help us run the world into the future."—Forbes
"New America Foundation senior research fellow Khanna (The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order, 2008) calls for a new “mega-diplomacy” to solve problems in a period of global uncertainty. Diplomats have long negotiated how to run the world, writes the author. In ancient Sumerian city-states, they channeled the messages of deities among kings. In modern times, they have divvied up the globe after major wars. With no single power in control, today’s “fractured, fragmented, ungovernable” post–Cold War world demands a new kind of diplomacy based on coalitions of governments, corporations and civic actors. Empowered by the information revolution, writes Khanna, public and private partners can collaborate efficiently across national borders to meet such 21st-century challenges as terrorism, the AIDS epidemic and climate change. Key practitioners of this new diplomacy include the entrepreneurs, academics, activists, celebrities and others who have worked in unusual and collaborative ways to achieve such goals as a landmine ban, debt relief and the International Criminal Court. They range from Bill and Melinda Gates to luminaries like Bono and Angelina Jolie—all individuals with resources and influence—and include NGOs like the Open Society Institute, which shapes important global questions; the World Economic Forum, “archetype of the new diplomacy,” which brings diverse players together on equal footing at annual summits; and the Clinton Global Initiative, which fosters cross-sector partnerships among leaders in politics, business and civil society. Khanna suggests ways in which the new diplomacy can help spur fresh approaches in problem areas—encouraging greater intelligence cooperation on terrorism among countries, giving Somali fishermen incentives to not engage in piracy (such as new boats to boost their catch) and convincing regimes in Iran and North Korea that they don’t need nuclear programs. In the environmental arena, meaningful public-private initiatives spurred by the new diplomacy can have far more impact than international agreements, he writes. For a model of mega-diplomacy, the author points to Europe, where members of the borderless European Union are experimenting and cooperating to meet shared challenges. A valuable contribution to the global-governance debate. "
“Khanna writes clearly, with conviction and charm, and his neomedieval metaphor is intriguing.”—Publishers Weekly
“Sweeping, fascinating, provocative—and some may find it irritating. Call it what you will, but you must read it. There’s no book like it.” —John G. Ruggie, Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
“In this provocative book, Parag Khanna turns on its head much of the assumed reality of 21st century power... Who now has the responsibility? Parag Khanna goes a long way to suggesting answers that many will find uncomfortable.”
—Nik Gowing, Main Presenter, BBC World News
“Today’s crises from financial instability to natural disasters require solutions that bold but also pragmatic. In How to Run the World, Parag Khanna delivers both. G-20 leaders and corporate executives need to urgently read this book and learn how to really move beyond business as usual."—Dr. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
Praise for Parag Khanna’s The Second World
“A fascinating, colorful, and always intelligent tour through a new world.”—Fareed Zakaria
“A savvy, streetwise primer on dozens of individual countries that adds up to a coherent theory of global politics.”—Robert D. Kaplan
“Confident in his predictions and bold in his recommendations . . . Khanna’s book is written with ambition, scope, and verve that sets it apart from the usual foreign policy tome.”—Andrei Cherny, The New York Sun
“A panoramic overview that boldly addresses the dilemmas of the world that our next president will confront.”—Zbigniew Brzezinski
“Khanna is something of a foreign policy whiz kid.”—Raymond Bonner, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] sweeping, often audacious survey of contemporary geopolitics . . . moves at lightning speed.”—William Grimes, The New York Times
About the Author
Parag Khanna directs the Global Governance Initiative in the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation. Author of the previous international bestseller The Second World, he was picked as one of Esquire’s Most Influential People of the Twenty-first Century and featured on Wired’s Smart List. He has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution and researched at the Council on Foreign Relations. During 2007, he was a senior geopolitical adviser to U.S. Special Operations Command. He has written for major global publications such as The New York Times and Financial Times and appears regularly on CNN, BBC, and other television media around the world. He has traveled in nearly one hundred countries and has been named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.See all Product Description
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However, apart from this, the rest 4/5ths of the book is over-optimistic praise of the actions of said players, at the expense of nation-states with some ideas that contradict each other and present the author's shallow understanding of history or economics mixed in with hopes and dreams of some globalist institutions and think-tanks.
Let me start with his metaphor of "the next Renaissance". His comparison of a current world to a medieval one is not really valid. For one, the trade and importance of non-state players did not start in Renaissance, like he claims. In the Antiquity Romans created a tremendous empire based on the flow of goods from one end of Europe to another, and their sophistication of banking, commerce and politics was really impressive (including financial crises as well). It survived during the Middle Ages, especially in Italy. Medieval world was also no more fragmented than Renaissance one, or than it is now. Renaissance did not end indented servitude, slavery, or other woes of the world.
Second, the economy based on credit is seemingly reaching its final capacity. To advocate the fact that bank can issue any amount of credit it wants, just making sure that it is securitized, is a folly which lies at the roots of present financial crisis. If an underwriter of a security does not have enough money to cover the losses if the credit is not paid, then the whole security is worthless and no rating agency is going to change that. The risk does not disappear, just because you think you transferred it to somebody else. This is a major flaw in the thinking that is presented in this book. Considering noticeable trends of some important players to come back to a currency that is in some way asset-based, the author's ideas seem to be a little out-of-sync with reality.
Third, singing the glory of NGOs, corporations and "philanthropists" is unfortunately possible only by picking and choosing from their actions, and is an excellent study for confirmation bias. For every example of good deeds done, there is a counter-example of the harm done either intentionally or not. To present the issue otherwise is a fallacy. To advocate that they would bring the Utopian New World Order if they were not hindered by nation-states, is a folly.
Fourth, some of the recipes to remake the world presented in the second part are really astounding. Advocating assassination of government leaders hardly seems to me as an example of "diplomacy" in any way. It is also very easy to divide countries that are thousands of miles away, because it seems the right thing to do advised by a few selected experts.
After reading the first part it almost looks as if the good ideas (decentralization of power, initiatives that come from bottom-up instead of top-down) were really a bait and switch for presenting another Utopian vision of the world, which is not a result of proposed changes, just a place where the power was transferred to other big players.
All this also suffers from the one-sided look at human nature, without any serious consideration of the dark side - the thirst for power, the love of money, fraud (praising Khaddaffi's Sovereign Fund in the light of recent events in Libya is really a good illustration of author's bias), racial and ethnic hatred, and all other things that also make us human.
Overall the book is shallow, optimistic, and misleading. It might be important to read it to know that there are people who think this way, and who also have important voice in current world of politics, but apart from that - reader beware.
I gave the author's first book, The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century, a five star leaning toward six review. This book is carried from a high four to a low five because of the concluding insights, but it also disappoints in relation to both the contributing experiences (as recounted in the Acknowledgments), and the broader literature that is not evident in this book, very possibly because of page limits set by the publisher. For more, see my Worth A Look: Book Review Lists (Positive) and also Worth A Look: Book Review Lists (Negative) at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog. Indeed, the author's work, his professional network, and his multi-cultural insights are a perfect complement to my own--he knows much that I do not know, and vice versa. The index is mediocre--that is on the publisher, not the author, and I suspect that other publisher constraints kept this book from being all that the author would normally have offered. The publisher has also been remiss in not offering "Look Inside the Book" details to Amazon, a free service.
The author's focus is on the failure of state-based diplomacy and the emergence as well as the need for more mega-diplomacy, which he quite ably defined as a constantly shifting mélange of hybrid relationships that full integrate nations, states, businesses, and non-governmental organizations--what they know, what they can share, and what they can do TOGETHER. Although the author is clearly a strong proponent of public-private partnerships, this is an area where others have done more nuanced work, generally limited to one sector. Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems, and Paul Hertzog's work (Panarchy.com) are where we are all headed. On a second reading I picked up an easy to miss and rather startling emphasis, not fully developed, on the need to re-map colonial territories to diminish incentives for the military-industrial complex while boosting cross-border economic collaboration. The author sees, better than most, the harm done by artificial boundaries inconsistent with natural and tribal boundaries.
Hence, the author gets very high marks from me for seeing that political autonomy is the key to a prosperous world at peace, particularly in the context of the author's brilliant but all too brief concluding comments on the urgency of achieving information sharing with integrity across hybrid networks. It is here that I feel his book is a perfect complement to my own (or vice versa), INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty. I urge one and all to consult the Wikipedia page on Secession--there are over 5,000 secession movements around the world, a good 50 of them in the USA, and all a validation of the erudite and extraordinary book by Professor Philip Allott of Cambridge, The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State.
The author gets very high marks from me for recognizing that governments are obstacles to health and efficiency; that failed states are a form of entropy, and that dictators are a core evil undermining the future of humanity. However, he also gets very low marks for being unwilling to focus on the blunt truth: corruption in all its forms is the Satan that curses us all, and the US Congress and two-party tyranny legalizing white collar crime and financial speculation ruinous of the global economy--and the US Government being "best pals" with 42 of the 44 dictators and overly influenced by Israeli Zionists (as opposed to Ha'aretz Jews of intelligence with strong ethical foundations)--are the primary source of global instability. [For a structured listing of books by others see my Negative book list.]
The author also focuses on the importance of mega-cities, and while not his central thrust, I find this part of the book compelling. Forty-one cities are two thirds of the global economy, and fewer than fifty cities cause most of the greenhouse gas output. What this really means to me is that the first "Smart City" could become a model for global revitalization. Although Singapore can make a claim (I gave the National Computer Board there the concept in 1994, a year prior to the publication of "Creating a Smart Nation: Strategy, Policy, Intelligence, and Information," in Government Information Quarterly 13/2) I personally would like to see a major US city "get it" in partnership with a much-expanded version of IBM's Smart Cities project. In combination with a national government that finally leverages a Strategic Analytic Model to eradicate poverty and the other nine high-level threats to humanity as identified and prioritized by the United Nations High Level Panel in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility--Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, by creating information sharing models that reveal the trust cost of every product and service and consequently harmonize both consumer power (buycotts, as Jim Turner calls them) and how the eight tribes of intelligence approach every problem, we could within 20 years create a prosperous world at peace. Below is a superb quote buried in a note--the author has much more to offer in the future on this important topic.
QUOTE: "According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, smart countries promote government efficiency, make starting businesses quick and cheap, expand education at all levels, invest in innovation, steadily open their economies, improve public health, and guarantee political and social rights. Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, and Singapore are at the top of the list, while the Central African Republic, Mali, Zambia, and Yemen round out the bottom." 
This book would have been much stronger--and a certain 6 (my own rank, 10% of the books I review achieve that status)--if the author had spent more time studying both the obstacles to information sharing among the varied forms of organization and network, while also suggesting novel scalable approaches. He does recognize the importance of information sharing and sense-making. Written before the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and now China and Wisconsin, the author is proven prescient, but he could have done more with this.
Before ending with a small selection of quotes (quite a few more are in my worksheet for this book, with a link to that worksheet embedded in my copy of the review at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog), I want to itemize some principles the author mentions across the book that resonated very strongly with me.
+ Pillars of the next renaissance are intellectual humanism, the rediscovery of ancient wisdom, and the rise of vernaculars. The next Renaissance is about universal liberation through exponentially expanding and voluntary interconnections.
+ To manage collective space across communities, three principles (inclusiveness, decentralization, mutual accountability).
+ Seven core principles: Proactive, ends in mind, delegate trust to regional experts, win-win mind-set, understand others first, synergize, network.
QUOTE: "In 2008, twenty five years of poverty reduction efforts were wiped away through food and fuel price hikes." 
QUOTE: "We should think in terms of technology rather than technocracy to get the world's poorest the basics they need." 
QUOTE: "All grand global schemes miss the point that representation--democratic or otherwise--is not enough to satisfy out visceral need to be in control of our own affairs. Today, for the first time, the underrepresented and disenfranchises have access to information, communication, money, and the tools of violent revolution to demand and effect real change, not just variations of the status quo." 
QUOTE: "If a new global social contract is to emerge, it will be as a result of the communities of the world--whether nations, corporations, or faiths--sharing knowledge and cooperating, but also learning to respect one another's power and values. As they practice mega-diplomacy, they leverage each other's resources and hold one another accountable. In a world in which every player has a role in global policy, the only principle that can reliably guide us is pragmatism; learning from experience and applying its lessons. The dot-gov, dot-com, and dot-org worlds are converging toward such pragmatism." 
I collect English-speaking minds. His mind is easily in my top 100, and especially gifted in its multicultural understanding. He is too easy on both Wall Street and the ideologically-driven largely corrupt decisions of the US Government with respect to protecting both white collar criminals and dictators; I am sympathetic, he was labeled "unhinged" in his first book by those who are in denial over the high crimes associated with US Government protection and legalization of US capitalism as a predator as well as US Government systemic nurturing of dictators while paying lip service to human rights. In a separate conversation I learn that he is truly focused on systemic corruption and on bureaucratic inertia as a form of systemic corruption. I do not credit Transparency International as much as he does, nor is the UN proving effective with its first hybrid, the International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), whose first Commissioner, and first Chief Security Officer, were astonishingly corrupt in their own practices, something I experienced personally, along with gross negligence on the part of the US officials in charge of DSS, DPA, and the US Embassy in Guatemala. Corruption is indeed pervasive. To understand my holistic appreciation of corruption, see my commentary, Reflections on Integrity, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, and links below.
I respect this author, and look forward to his next book.
Corruption and Anti-Corruption: An Applied Philosophical Approach
Overcoming Corruption: The Essentials
Anti-corruption: Webster's Timeline History, 1954 - 2007
Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure
The Rise of Global Civil Society: Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up
So Mr. Khanna thinks that people can press a button and take the world to a new renaissance. Never mind that the last renaissance took centuries of human experience, intellectual debates, wars, revolutions and most important of all the appearance of new technologies that changed the modes of production and ultimately dislodged the prevailing socio-economic construct of Europe before the year 1500.
But hey, what would you know, Mr. Khanna offers us a manual, a knows-it-all book of revelations. In 210 pages, the world we live in can be transformed from what Khanna calls a neo-medieval state into a state of renaissance. What does the world need for such transformation to happen, other than reading Khanna's gem? The answer is simply to change the style of the world's diplomats!
Khanna's incoherent ideas swing back and forth. One time he is analyzing the world. Another time he addresses the reader (you) or the youth at large. He encourages them to endorse the change that he "charts." All of a sudden, the book becomes a political pamphlet addressing the new generation.
And since my area of specialty is the Middle East, I was curious to read his take about the region, or what he calls "facts on the ground." Despite his command of "basic" Arabic as per his website's CV, Khanna suddenly becomes an expert on the Middle East. The problem there, according to Khanna, is the map drawn by colonial powers in the second decade of the twentieth century. To rectify ages of conflict is easy, just redraw these borders along oil pipelines!
Generations of religious wars, ethnic divides, the fight over natural resources and inherited social prejudices, the patriarchal nature of society, the abundance of natural resources that have facilitated the rise of patronage networks and clientelist states are all absent from Khanna's analysis. In the Middle East, just fix the region's map and all will be well.
From his website, it looks like Parag Khanna commands a successful PR. He's been honored in many prestigious places while his book has won the recognition of some important people. But when it comes to Khana's intellectual powers, these seem to pale if compared to his PR stunts. Khanna seem to have an intermittent knowledge of the debates over the points that he discusses. His arguments come out of nowhere, and argue nothing.
His book is a waste of time and money!