Thursday, January 31, 2008

A World of Change

Jeff Mischkinsky drew my attention to this interesting article by Parag Khanna that appeared in the New York Times recently. Parag deals with the geopolitical and economic developments that are unfolding before our eyes: specifically how the world is transitioning from US-based unilateral order toward a multi-lateral world dominated not only by the US but also by China and Europe. There is much to disagree with in the details, but the central point is an important one. There is a changing reality that Americans in particular need to come to terms with quickly.

Parag talks a lot about the "second world": countries that aren't really emerging in the sense in which the term used to be used. They have in many ways arrived and they are building important alliances with the major global powers. Of continuing interest to me is the innovative thinking that is happening in these countries; thinking to which we in the US should be paying close attention.

A few examples: the recent announcement that Israel is jointly working with Shai Agassi's new organization and Renault-Nissan to move the entire country to oil-independence. And we have seen similar bold thinking before: Brazil has been steadily moving toward energy independence for some time. This is incredibly exciting stuff. Here we have small and so-called "developing" countries leading the way to the future. Brazil, by the way, is trying to tackle issues around development and income inequality by pushing very significant investments in education.

It's very hard to say what the world will be like a decade or more from now. One thing is almost certain: the world will be a smaller place; hopefully, a better one as well.

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