Cleo Paskal

Associate Fellow, Chatham House, London
Adjunct Faculty, Manipal University, India


In this Special Issues episode of the ACUNS Podcast series, award-winning writer and geopolitical expert, Cleo Paskal, joins co-host Andrew Koltun. Paskal discusses the influences and legacies of Robert Kaplan’s widely-read 1994 article, “The Coming Anarchy”. Specifically, Cleo examines the ways in which Kaplan’s ideas and images of African politics and society affected media approaches to understanding and reporting foreign policy issues afterwards, long after its publication. She also discusses a recent television show, Jonah From Tonga, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC). Paskal expresses strong criticisms of this controversial show, which she describes as an example of “Australia’s establishment racism”; she provides insight into the depth of the production’s inappropriate nature and failed satire; and remaining on the subject of how and why “ideas matter”, she addresses the potential implications of the show both for Tongans around the world, and at a national and international level within the dimension of Australian foreign relations and regional cooperation.

Additional Resources
Robert Kaplan, “The Coming Anarchy“, The Atlantic
Robert Kaplan, “Why So Much Anarchy?“, A 20 year reflection by Kaplan on “The Coming Anarchy”
20 Years after The Coming Anarchy: Assessing the Legacy of Robert Kaplan’s 1994 Analysis
Will HBO Give Platform to Racist Australian Brownface ‘Mockumentary’?, Huffington Post
Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map (Macmillan, 2010)

About Cleo Paskal
Cleo Paskal is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, (aka Royal Institute of International Affairs), Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Geopolitics, Manipal University, India and Adjunct Professor of Global Change, School of Communication and Management Studies, Kochi, India. Her book, Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) won a US$5000 Awards of Merit in the 2010 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment awards as well as the 2010 Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction. Paskal is a geopolitical expert who specializes in the confluence of the “three geos” (the geopolitical, geoeconomic, and geophysical). This includes the geopolitical, security, and economic implications of environmental change (including climate change), as well as Arctic and Pacific security. She has guest lectured at many universities including Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. Cleo Paskal is an award-winning writer who has contributed to, among many others, The Economist, Macleans, The Times, Globe and Mail, The Independent, Canadian Geographic, and the Sunday Times. She has hosted BBC radio shows and wrote and Emmy-winning documentary TV series.


Recorded September 2014