New World Powers: George Friedman, ‘The Next 100 Years’

By | February 5, 2009

New World Powers: George Friedman, 'The Next 100 Years'

FORGET THE CHINESE LESSONS. Instead, you’d better start brushing up on your Polish.

In George Friedman’s “The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century” (Doubleday), the author predicts that Poland along with Turkey, Japan and Mexico, will become new world powers by the end of this century. We won’t be worrying ourselves over Russia or China, because those countries will have experienced a breakdown of power, much like the first collapse of communism. And the war against militant Islamists that has been the primary focus of our country for the past eight years? It’ll become a distant memory.

All this may seem outlandish, especially in the current climate of a reawakened Russia, the economic boom in China, and a military campaign that has spiraled out of control with no clear end in sight. But the author is no kook.

George Friedman has had a long career in political theory — he taught political science for more than 20 years, has briefed the armed services on national defense issues, and founded the private global intelligence company Stratfor, consultants to a number of Fortune 500 companies and foreign governments, which has been referred to as “the Shadow CIA.”

In his 2004 book, “American’s Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between America and Its Enemies” (Doubleday), Friedman took a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what led up to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S.-led war on terror, our relationship with countries in the Middle East, and provided insights into political and military strategies that no one had before. His revelations were well received and established Friedman as the go-to guy for political analysis. It’s with this kind of background that Friedman can theorize that the “U.S. doesn’t need to win wars. It needs simply to disrupt things so the other side can’t build up sufficient strength to challenge it.”

Friedman’s strength lies in his ability to join the dots, which gives his predictions some heft no matter how crazy they might sound. Because, as he writes in “100 Years“: “… I suspect that the world we are living in today would have seemed far-fetched to someone living at the beginning of the twentieth century.”

So, apart from emerging new powers and the collapse of China and Russia, what else can we expect from the next century?

Friedman predicts that the world’s falling population figures and longer life expectancy are going to mean fiscal chaos for those of us born between 1970 and 1990. It could also mean that our country will be engaged in a fight to attract a declining global labor force. We are turning immigrants away from our borders but 20 years from now, Friedman says, we will be offering incentives such as a streamlined visa program and even bonuses to anyone who will come to work in the U.S.

Which brings up Friedman’s other big threat to U.S. interests — that of Mexico. Friedman asserts that by 2080, Mexico, because of its proximity to the U.S, and because a large part of our labor force will be settled from there, will become a threat to our national interests which will lead, he says, to “a serious confrontation between the United States and an increasingly powerful and assertive Mexico.” …

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