January 10, 2019
In “The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century,” Parag Khanna discusses the changing power dynamic that is resulting from the US-China trade war
The Middle East should consider moving away from post-colonial borders and define itself as West Asia, says Khanna
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf must consider themselves part of Asia, and leaders in the region must understand that their countries’ economies are a vital link in the Silk Road if they are to be major players on the global stage, a world-renowned author told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
In his soon-to-be-released book “The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century,” Parag Khanna, a leading geopolitical expert, discusses the changing power dynamic that is resulting from the US-China trade war, and writes about how an “irreversibly Asianized” world is seeing its center of gravity shift eastward.
He said leaders must embrace the inevitable Asian future — a megaregion home to more than half of humanity that is coming together and reshaping the entire planet in the process.
Those who are used to an “America First” dynamic need to prepare for a world that is now “Asia First,” and embrace the new Asian system taking shape, he added.
That megaregion, he said, is “much bigger than China.” It is a multi-civilizational order spanning Saudi Arabia to Japan and Russia to Australia, linking 5 billion people and two-thirds of the world’s megacities, six of the 10 largest banks, eight of the10 largest armies, five nuclear powers, and massive technological innovation through trade, finance and infrastructure networks that together represent 40 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), he added.
Khanna, a global strategy advisor and founder of FutureMap, a data and scenario-based strategic advisory firm, said the Gulf countries are “a pillar in the global strategic order,” and the Western link in the multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which connects regions across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa by land and sea.
Asia, he said, is more significant than China alone as economic powers have gravitated toward each other.
The BRI — potentially the largest ever infrastructure project, with close to $1 trillion being invested across the globe — should be embraced as it connects East Asia to the West, and the Middle East should consider moving away from post-colonial borders and define itself as West Asia, he added.
“Most of the Arab world is, of course, West Asia,” said Khanna. “It’s not the Middle East. There’s no such thing as the Middle East.”
The Middle East is not a “legitimate geographical term,” but merely “a frame of reference for explaining the distance from Britain, the Middle East and the Far East,” he added.
“Because the world no longer revolves around the British empire, this term is no longer useful,” he said.