Given his expertise in global affairs, it seems fitting that Parag Khanna’s internationalism can be traced back to his childhood. Born in Kanpur, India, Khanna split time growing up between India and the UAE, later on moving to New York City where he completed the first three years of high school. For his last year, he studied in Germany on an exchange program before enrolling in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1996.
Khanna’s trajectory to the top was evident shortly after the completion of his undergraduate degree as he took up a position with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), assisting Colonel Stanley McChrystal as a Research Associate. Two years with the CFR were followed by more moving around as Khanna began working for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland. While with the WEF he “specialized in scenario and risk planning”. Although he left his position with the organization in 2002, Khanna still stayed involved with the WEF as he next served as the Brooking Institution’s Global Governance Fellow, a role that entailed managing WEF’s Global Governance Initiative.
Despite Khanna’s young age, the White House clearly took notice of his prominence as he was brought on as “a senior geopolitical advisor to United States Special Operations Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan” in 2007.
Taking stock of Parag Khanna’s early career makes it easy to see how he has become one of the leading minds in international affairs before the age of 40. From roles on esteemed think tanks to vital analytical positions with the US government, Khanna has always been sharpening his worldview, a habit he attributes to Professor Charles Pirtle of Georgetown, a figure Khanna credits as being the inspiration behind “Everything I have written since 1999”.
As his brilliance had largely been employed throughout the early and mid-2000s, Khanna decided to strike out on his own and begin making his own unique intellectual contributions to the field. Since 2008, he has been prolific, publishing 4 books, each one grappling with cross-sections of governance, geopolitics, technology, trade, and civil society.
Intricately exploring the connections between power dynamics, global order, and international business, Khanna’s first piece, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order, is an international best-seller and “eloquently warns of the risks of imperial overstretch combined with declining economic dominance and deteriorating quality of life”. He followed this up with continued profundity in his second, third, and fourth books as his reputation as a leader of geopolitical analysis grew.
One of his most prominent ideas, connectography, has become the center of much political discussion. Khanna argues that rather than “geography and politics creating separate nations, the new mapping is connectivity” and by optimizing our investment in “highways, railways, pipelines, electricity grids, and internet cables”, progress on mitigating inequality and empowering people will be much more forthcoming. This concept has put Khanna at the forefront of political debate as he has become a key player in driving discussion about the future of international relations and how to navigate them. Many of his ideas will be outlined in his upcoming books.
Parag Khanna has already accomplished an extraordinary amount and he could seemingly retire right now knowing full well that his legacy has been secured. But that’s not who Parag Khanna is— from his time at university to the early days of his career, it was clear that Khanna was intellectually ahead of the curve; it is only fitting that he is continuing this trend into his forties as he continues to push the limits of our current understanding of the world, introducing new ideas and perspectives along the way.
“About- Long Bio.” Parag Khanna. 2016. Web. <http://www.paragkhanna.com>.
“Books.” Parag Khanna. 2016. Web. <www.paragkhanna.com>.
Donahue, Jeffrey. “Ten Questions with Global Strategist Parag Khanna (F’99, MA’05) ” Georgetown Alumni Online. Web. <http://alumni.georgetown.edu/magazine/alumni-stories/connectography-parag-khanna>.
“A Maker of Maps for the Modern World ” OZY. April 5, 2016. Web. <http://www.ozy.com/pov/a-maker-of-maps-for-the-modern-world/68885>.
“Parag Khanna.” The Globalist. Web. <https://www.theglobalist.com/contributors/parag-khanna/>.