In This Review

How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance
How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance
By Parag Khanna
Random House, 2011, 272 pp

In Khanna's vision, the world is not becoming multipolar so much as it is becoming fractured and ungovernable. In this new age of chaotic transnational struggles, governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and corporations will all compete on a sprawling multidimensional playing field. Seeking to emphasize the revolutionary character of this global change, Khanna rolls out a long list of evocative terms -- "fragmented world," "hyper-complex ecosystem," "post-industrial age," "islands of governance," "world of complexes," "neo-medieval world," and "post-modern Middle Ages." Since no superpower or group of states is in control, Khanna argues, the United Nations and other traditional institutions are outdated, and the world can be governed only by "mega-diplomacy." It is not entirely clear what this is, but apparently it entails new combinations of actors working together to coordinate actions and policies. The book provides journalistic portraits of various global trouble spots -- failed states, terrorist enclaves, disputed territories -- and the various states and international groups that have intervened. It also offers impressionistic renderings of modern-day world politics. What is missing is a worked-out theory of international order and change and a coherent account of the rise and fall of the modern state.