Mike Kueber's Blog

May 5, 2010

The Next 100 Years, a forecast for the 21st century

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 6:51 pm

Most of us non-visionaries are not inclined to look into the future, and this trait often results in us taking the wrong trail.  The Next 100 Years, a forecast for the 21st century, by George Friedman, is a brilliant look into America’s future and should be required reading for all of our politicians in Washington.  

In order of importance, I believe the following are the major insights from this book:

  1. Wars are inevitable for the foreseeable future.  Although there is a strong desire and motivation to end wars – just as there is a strong desire and motivation to end the downturn phase in an economic cycle – there are fundamental reasons why wars (or economic downturns) will not disappear.  Wars are inevitable for the foreseeable future because some people are always going to be dissatisfied with their government and will desire a different government.  Dissatisfaction can arise from a countless variety of circumstances.  My three favorites: (a) “The grass is always greener on the other side”; (b) one segment of the governed shares a greater connection with a neighboring government – e.g., the Catholics in Northern Ireland or the Hindu in Pakistan; or (c) one part of a country is treated like a colony by the central government – e.g., colonial America, the Confederate states, or the Asian territories in the former Soviet Union.
  2. The next 100 years will be dominated, more than ever, by America because there is not a viable rival.
  3. America’s five geo-strategic goals are: (a) the complete domination of North America by the U.S. Army; (b) The elimination of any threat to the U.S. by any power in the Western Hemisphere (a viable rival would need access to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans); (c) complete control of maritime approaches to the U.S. by the U.S. Navy (this precludes the possibility of any invasion); (d) complete domination of the world’s oceans (and therefore control over the international trading system); and (e) the prevention of any other nation from challenging U.S. global naval power.
  4. America’s Navy is critical in securing three of America’s geo-strategic goals.  (Despite this importance, Secretary of Defense Gates recently announced that he planned to shift future defense spending away from the navy and toward counter-insurgency operations.  I wonder if Gates has read this book?)
  5. Europe became the center of the planet in the 1500s, not because its civilization was the most advanced, but because of its location and reliance on trade.  (This conclusion is not inconsistent with “A Patriot’s History of the United States,” which suggests that Western Civilization became the most advanced because it was more open to the outside world.)
  6. Cultures live in three successive stages – barbarism (those who believe their customs are the laws of nature), civilization (those who believe there are truths and that their culture approximates those truths, while holding their mind open to the possibility that they are mistaken), and decadence (those who cynically believe that nothing is better than anything else).  (I think we have a long way to go before we achieve civilization.)
  7. There is no population problem.  In fact, there will be a problem with too little population growth to support an aging population.  The declining rate of population growth will intensify the expanding roles played by women in the world.  Women will not longer be limited to their traditional, conservative roles.
  8. Geopolitics does not take the individual leader very seriously.  Leaders don’t have much latitude regarding their actions.  (The differences between Bush and Obama don’t seem to affect geo-politics.)
  9. The U.S.-Jihadist war is already ending and the U.S. won by preventing the formation of a unified Islamic world.  As the Islamic jihadists fade from importance in the next few years, it will be replaced by five possible fault lines: (a) Pacific Basin (China and Japan), (b) Eurasia, (c) Europe, (e) Islamic world (again), or (e) Mexico. 
  10. The 2020s will focus on China and Russia.  China is unlikely to become a threat to the U.S. because it has too many problems associated with its diverse interior.  In fact, Japan will be tempted to encroach on the eastern seaboard, technologically advanced part of China.  In the next decade, Russia will probably try to regain some of its recent losses in Europe and Asia, and despite some short-term successes, it will ultimately lose because it has even less economic wherewithal now.  (This is significant for those who currently fear China.)
  11. The 2030s will focus on a worldwide labor shortage caused by declining birthrates.  This shortage will cause severe economic problems, and the worldwide response will be to open doors to massive immigration.  (This is a major paradigm shift.)
  12. The 2040s will be a prelude to war, as a new world will emerge.  Japan, Poland, and Turkey will emerge as major players.
  13. A world war will occur in the 2050s, with Japan launching a sneak attack and being joined by Turkey and Germany.  Poland will remain neutral until it is invaded by Germany and Turkey.  The U.S. will survive the attack on its space-based weapons and will ultimately vanquish the Axis of Evil.  (Deja vu.)
  14. The 2060s will be America’s Golden Decade.  (Too bad I will probably miss this decade.)
  15. The 2080s will see the U.S. having major difficulties with Mexico, which is not only a world-class economy, but also the homeland to millions of immigrants who dominate the American Southwest.  (We probably should keep this in mind as we develop comprehensive immigration reform.)

3 Comments »

  1. I was interested by how little the book referenced the impact of terrorism in the world. It makes sense though. Terrorism’s biggest impact is the fear it brings the public. On the global scale it really has little impact on the rise and fall of nations. It would be nice if the terrorist groups would figure it out and realize that for all of their efforts they won’t change anything in the long run.

    Comment by Bobby Kueber — May 11, 2010 @ 3:08 am | Reply

  2. […] readers of this blog may recall, I previously reviewed George Friedman’s 2010 classic, The Next 100 Years, and The Next Decade is an obvious attempt to […]

    Pingback by Sunday Book Review #39 – The Next Decade by George Friedman « Mike Kueber's Blog — July 18, 2011 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

  3. […] matter – futurist George Friedman does not agree that individuals do matter.  A few years ago, I wrote about Friedman’s book titled The Next 100 Years, and in that book he argued that geopolitics does not take the individual […]

    Pingback by Sunday Book Review #117 – If Kennedy Lived by Jeff Greenfield | Mike Kueber's Blog — December 21, 2013 @ 1:55 am | Reply


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