India doesnt count yet

Updated: Apr 27 2008, 06:31am hrs
US a second world nation The thought may be radical to most, but thats exactly what Parag Khanna, fellow at New America Foundation argues in The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order, saying the 21st century will be dominated by three first-world superpowers: the United States, China and the European Union. And they will compete for resources in nations in east Europe, Latin America and West Asia countries of the second world. Suman Tarafdar tries to figure out where the world is headed.

Why do you see the US becoming a second world state Where did it fail to read the geopolitical mutiny

The US did fail to read the ways in which pivotal second world states such as Iran and Venezuela could stand up to the US and sustain their defiance, not to mention the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Americas imperial overstretch is palpable in its economy that has been weakened by the war and exposed other domestic vulnerabilities such as a crumbling infrastructure, declining health and education standards, and deep political divisions. Those latter factors are hallmarks of second world countries.

The deep differences in interests among the big three make forging a culture of peace difficult, yet the three are also bound to each other by economic ties. Where does the resolution lie

A culture of peace can have several sources, such as mutual economic dependence in investment and trade, and also the reality of nuclear deterrence. It could be that rather than defining their interests in divergent terms such as in the pursuit of exclusive access to oil and gas resources powerful states such as China, India and America could focus on expanding supply through joint exploration and development. One sees this happening already between Japan, China, and Korea in the waters between them. Also, there are issues such as terrorism and climate that affect all powers as well, and need to be addressed jointly.

What about Chindia Where will India be in future

A lot less is being written about Chindia today than a while back as people wake up to the massive edge that China has built up globally in its strategic and economic leverage. There are two issues: where does India stand in the international hierarchy At present it is very low: India represents under 2% of the global economy and is not a major diplomatic player yet. The other issue is how quickly does India address its internal challenges of poverty, environment, health, corruption, etc to be on a coherent, sustainable path towards greatness and respectiability India should focus on the latter in order to achieve the former this is what China has done since the 1970s.

Is central Asia going to be the determinant of how power equations are going to be structured in the new century

Central Asia is one of the critical second world regions I focus on. It has the second largest oil reserves, particularly in the Caspian Sea region, and is the strategic crossroads of East and West. It is where Russias influence may gradually decline as Chinas grows China borders more of the post-Soviet Stans than Russia does and has advanced rapidly in building road, rail, pipeline, and trade linkages across these countries to reach Iran and the Persian Gulf. It is also the region where the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) westward towards Iran (including Afghanistan and Pakistan) overlaps nervously with the eastward expanding missions of NATO. So Central Asia is very much where we see a new round of the historic Great Game being played out.

The Second World. Given that the geopolitical groupings indicated by this name have changed over the past few centuries, how do you use the label How long do you see the countries you have labeled second world continuing to be so

The second world did indeed refer to the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. Today I use it to refer to countries which are socio-economically speaking both first and third world at the same time modern, developed, globalised, but also backward and underdeveloped. This tension within countries has become a defining trait of the globalisation era and one that is likely to continue for decades, challenging second world countries ability to stay unified and whole. There is no one answer as to which will make it through towards the first world and which will fall into the third that is the challenge of governance. Some countries are doing well like Chile and Kazakhstan and Malaysia, while others such as Egypt and Indonesia I am less optimistic about.