A DIFFERENT LENS….I’ve been meaning to recommend Parag Khanna’s cover story in the New York Times Magazine this week, but I’m only now getting around to it. Here’s the thesis of the piece:

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

The more we appreciate the differences among the American, European and Chinese worldviews, the more we will see the planetary stakes of the new global game.

I’m still digesting the whole thing and may have more to say about it later. But even though I don’t necessarily agree with everything Khanna says, it’s a useful article if only because it’s so rare to see foreign policy pieces in the mainstream media that aren’t almost completely America-centric. Whatever else he does, Khanna helps readers see geopolitics through a lens that’s partly American, partly European, partly Chinese, and partly everyone else. That makes it worth a read.

And on an offbeat note, I’m amused to see that the phrase “third world” has now lost its original meaning so completely that Khanna uses “second world” to refer to any country that’s poorer than France but richer than Bangladesh. I wonder if this will catch on?

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