Beginning of June I bought at Schiphol airport the book “The Next 100 Years; A Forecast for the 21st Century”, by George Friedman (author of “America’s Secret War”). I receive sometimes at the job reports and articles by Stratfor, the intelligence and forecasting firm that George Friedman founded. This was one of the reasons that raised my attention, the other were the headlines that could be read in the front page “2020: China Fragments”, “2050: Global war”…
Friedman’s book tells us that when thinking about geopolitics we should be aware of:
- Experience tells us that we should expect the unexpected.
- We should not be confused by passing chaos and cyclical crisis.
- Humans and countries are not that free when taking decisions, but they see limited their options by several constrains. He goes looking for such constrains.
If he had written the book in 1900 he would have pinpointed the following three things as defining for the century:
- Collapse of European Imperial System
- Quadrupling of World’s population
- Revolution in transportation & communications.
Now, at the beginning of the XXI century he guesses the three defining issues will be:
- The rise of American power
- The end of the population explosion
- The development of technologies to deal with a declining population.
You may wonder “the rise of American power?”, yes he makes the case that North American power has just started and it’s here to last: technology, economic power, control of the World’s seas (US Navy), military power, access to both Atlantic and Pacific oceans…
As he says, the USA “had the ultimate aim of preventing any major power in Eurasia. The paradox, however, is as follows: the goal of these interventions was never to achieve something –whatever the political rhetoric might have said- but to prevent something. [...] Its goal was not to stabilize but to destabilize. [...] The USA has no interest in winning a war outright.”
With this in mind, he explores what may happen in the next hundred years: Russia trying to reassert itself, China fragmenting, Poland, Turkey & Japan as rising powers, some of them starting a global war, space-based power generation, Mexico challenging the US…