The Foreign Service Journal, September 2011

New Diplomacy for New Diplomats How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance Parag Khanna, Random House, 2011, $26, hardcover, 256 pages. R EVIEWED BY K EITH M INES In a 2009 survey of contemporary foreign policy thinkers conducted by the Council on Emerging National Security Affairs, Parag Khanna placed second to Francis Fukuyama as a po- tential new “Mr. X” for his original thinking in The Second World: Em- pires and Influence in the New Global Order. That book asserted that the emerg- ing multipolar world — one of intense competition by China, the United States and the European Union for the resources and allegiance of key Second World countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Central and East Asia — would best be managed through an active division of labor by that Big Three. Khanna’s new offering, How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance , goes in a differ- ent direction by laying out a new ar- chitecture, or rather a non-architect- ure, for managing global challenges. His one-word answer for how to run the world is diplomacy, albeit a kind of “megadiplomacy” that is not where most of us spend our time. His worldview sees us in the midst of a kind of new Middle Ages, with rising powers, multinational corpora- tions, powerful families, humanitari- ans, religious radicals, universities and mercenaries all part of the landscape. Success in this new world order de- pends on forming coalitions that can quickly move global resources to solve local problems with new technologies. Bottom-up except for certain high- level facilitation, the approach stresses information and empowerment over conventional development, and is less concerned with democracy than ac- countability and effectiveness. Rather than new organizations, Khanna calls for “new diplomats”: celebrities like Bono, stateless states- men like George Soros, nongovern- mental organization leaders and public-private sector changemakers. These would work alongside tradi- tional practitioners who have been empowered and trained to carry out their work very differently — though the author is skeptical that many of them can make that transition. Khanna’s world could be what in- ternational affairs will look like when Generation Y wrests control from the baby boomers. His system is not a rigid panoply of nation-states but a network of resilient, yet flexible, sys- tems. It is an autopoietic world — self-regulating and re-creating. Generation Yers, he believes, intu- itively work this way, treating diplomacy not as vertical and hierarchical but as a distributed network in which individual participants are connected without a center. As such, they are primed for the demands of megadiplomacy. The problem, of course, is that while Generation Y FSOs may come in wired this way, we quickly crush those traits out of them with the demands of contact work and the layered structure of reporting — if entry-level officers are allowed to do any contact work or reporting, that is. Reading Khanna’s work is a bit like reading a novel: it requires a willing suspension of disbelief. He some I particularly encourage entry-level FSOs to read this book and start practicing what Khanna calls megadiplomacy. S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 43 B OOKS