Twenty-first century winners aren’t those with the biggest armies, but the countries, regions or cities whose infrastructure makes them most connected to the rest of the world. This is a good thing, apparently, because it spreads wealth and creates stability. Certainly, in regions of tension increased connectivity appears to have played a key role in suppressing violence.
Crucially, there is a very brief early section where Khanna acknowledges the environmental damage that all this hyper connectivity enacts on the planet. ‘Supply chains are also how the market rapes the world,’ he states. ‘They are the conduit for plundering the world’s rain forests and pumping emissions into the atmosphere.’ He concludes, therefore, that ‘the fate of human society is inextricably linked with how we manage our supply chains’. However, it’s over 300 pages before the environment gets another mention, and even then only in terms of managing scarce resources and dealing with rising sea levels. The link between these global problems and the increased human activity he has been advocating remains ironically unconnected. While he does make interesting points about global trade routes, the rise of Special Economic Zones, and the free movement of people, this environmental blind spot does somewhat undermine the rest.
Khanna’s vision of a politically borderless world is highly impressive, and his writing sharp and persuasive. But without acknowledgement of the environmental consequences that this network of infrastructure projects has on the physical world, his arguments feel incomplete.
This review was published in the July 2016 edition of Geographical Magazine