21st-Century Statecraft: Reconciling Power, Justice and Meta-Geopolitical Interests

By Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan

A fresh approach to statecraft informed by contemporary geopolitical pressures.

ISBN: 9780718895747


From civilisational frontier risks associated with new challenges like disruptive technologies, to the shifting nature of great-power conflicts and subversion, the 21st century requires a new approach to statecraft. In 21st-Century Statecraft, Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan proposes five innovative statecraft concepts. He makes the case for a new method of geopolitical analysis called ‘meta-geopolitics’, and for ‘dignity-based governance’. He shows how, in an interdependent and interconnected world, traditional thinking must move beyond zero-sum games and focus on ‘multi-sum and symbiotic realist’ interstate relations. This requires a new paradigm of global security premised on five dimensions of security, and a new concept of power, ‘just power’, which highlights the centrality of justice to state interests. These concepts enable states to balance competing interests and work towards what the author calls ‘reconciliation statecraft’. Throughout, Professor Al-Rodhan brings his philosophical and neuroscientific expertise to bear, providing a practical model for conducting statecraft in a sustainable way.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 612

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Trade Information LGENPOD

About the Author

Professor Nayef R. F. Al-Rodhan is a Neuroscientist, Philosopher and Geostrategist. He was educated at the Mayo Clinic, Yale University and Harvard University, and is now an Honorary Fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford, Senior Fellow and Head of the Geopolitics and Global Futures Programme at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, and a member of the Council on Frontier Risks at the World Economic Forum (WEF). He is a Prize winning scholar, and was voted amongst the top 30 most influential neuroscientists in the world. He has written 22 books and 250 articles.


List of Figures and Tables

1. Statecraft in the Twenty-First Century: In Search of a New Paradigm
2. Traditional Approaches to Statecraft
3. Rethinking Geopolitics
4. Meta-Geopolitics and the Seven Dimensions of State Power
5. Statecraft and Neurophilosophy
6. Just Power
7. The Concept of Reconciliation Statecraft
8. Case Studies: Geopolitical Realities and Dilemmas of Twenty-seven Selected States
9. Case Studies: Geostrategic Imperatives and Future Trajectories of Twenty-seven Selected States
10. The Tripwire Pivotal Corridor and its Geopolitical Significance
11. The Future State of the World and the Way Forward

Appendix: Understanding the Conflict betwen Russia and Ukraine



Endorsements and Reviews

Al-Rodhan (Oxford Univ., UK) aspires to be a peacemaker and settle the ongoing battle between those who view the nation-state as the foundation of international relations and those who see the nation-state disappearing amid the relentless pressure of globalization. He uses various labels to describe this new synthesizing approach. The one that caught this reviewer’s eye was described at length in Chapter 5, “Dignity-Based Governance.” Al-Rodhan rightly appreciates that most, if not all, humans seek dignity. Further, he correctly understands that nation-states are institutional vehicles that protect and advance the dignity of their citizens. However, the book starts to go off track by arguing that the quest for dignity is grounded in neuroscience. Al-Rodhan’s attempt to craft a “neurophilosophy” that state leaders can use is less than convincing. Readers may applaud the effort to forge a new synthesis, but results-oriented state leaders will be left scratching their heads over how to use neurophilosophy as the new form of statecraft. The 27 case studies toward the end of the book do little to help. Neither nation-state realists nor globalists will abandon their entrenched positions for this approach.J. A. Stever, emeritus, University of Cincinnati, CHOICE, April 2023

In a world of accelerating global crises this volume offers a comprehensive attempt to update and extend geopolitical theorizing. Its innovative ideas of symbiotic realism and sustainable national security add essential new concepts to help tease out the complexities of international politics. Essential reading for students of our global predicament.
Professor Simon Dalby, author of Anthropocene Geopolitics

The reheating of European conflicts and great-power rivalries combined with the meteoric rise of disruptive technologies reminds us that a new, inter-disciplinary approach to statecraft is long overdue. 21st-Century Statecraft presents a sobering analysis of the challenges faced by modern statesmanship that is in tune with the times. With insightful pointers and a glimmer of hope, Professor Al-Rodhan’s thrilling examination of the transformation of state power over the last two decades, is required reading for students and practitioners of diplomacy, power, and justice.
Emmanuel Dupuy, President of l’Institut Prospective et Sécurité en Europe

This is the ultimate geopolitics reader. At a moment in which great power competition has once again taken front seat in global debates, Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan has relaunched a fresh edition of this modern classic of international relations theory. An invaluable resource to both scholars and the interested public, this volume will help you understand states’ complex interests, dilemmas, trade-offs, systemic competition and potential cooperation. Writing in a highly accessible style and drawing from an impressive breadth of expertise, Al-Rodhan manages to explain the core elements of global geopolitics in a dense yet gripping fashion. Illustrating solid theoretical background with many practical examples, Al-Rodhan suggests a paradigm shift in how we understand and conduct contemporary statecraft to find sustainable, ethical solutions to the multi-layered challenges of our time. If you read only one book about geopolitics, it should be this one.
Kristina Kausch, Senior Resident Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Praise for the original edition:

This book provides a carefully crafted description of how the international system is being transformed and defines the challenges facing contemporary statecraft in handling that transformation. Nayef Al-Rodhan has undertaken this enormous task by defining the concept of meta-geopolitics and addressing potential future problems while making full use of the analytical tools that he has developed. It is a unique and intellectually courageous undertaking that will help us gain deeper insights into the many dimensions of current and future security challenges.
Ambassador Rolf Ekéus, Chairman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Stockholm, Sweden

This book offers a refreshing and ambitious re-examination of the nature of statecraft and geopolitics and contains a number of relevant concepts that can be translated into brand-new research and ambitious policy goals. Building on a number of his previous concepts, the author continues a remarkable endeavour aimed at updating and adapting traditional geopolitical perceptions. Step by step, brick after brick, the author is clearly building a major comprehensive contribution to strategic thinking and diplomacy.
Professor François Géré, Director of Research at Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle and President of the French Institute for Strategic Analysis (IFAS)