June 25, 2012

A review of 'The Next 100 Years'

With his book ‘The Next 100 Years’ George Friedman wants to convince us that we must expect unexpected. The book is about geopolitics and the events that will shape the 21st century. To prove that relaying on common sense is wrong when we are guessing world’s future, he looks back in history, where unpredictable events changed geopolitics. The book must be exceptionally interesting for those who would like to know what makes nations go to wars, but at the same time it will be probably most disappointing for all those who hope for a future without bloodshed and poverty.

American age 
According to Friedman the fears of declining United States are like a passing clouds as in reality U.S. is emerging as a centre of gravity of the global system. Just 4 percent of the world’s population is the producer of 26 percent of world’s goods and services. It is the largest energy producer and has large land per person. However, for the author, the main element of U.S success is its military power, especially its navy. Who controls worlds seas dominates world and currently, as stated by Friedman, no other country has a navy like U.S. That can easily bare the cost of controlling an adjacent body of waters.

War against a super power 
But what about the challenges, such as U.S. engagement in wars? For instance, forces which U.S built against USSR in Afghanistan have turned against their creator once the Russian army was defeated. The result of the confrontation is that rebel forces are repressed. “Anger does not make history. Power does.” Though America hardly won anything, it did achieve its strategic goal: to engage and destabilize its enemy for a long time. Events that are defining moments for some nations have been just temporary and not as critical incidents for the global power.

Population, computers, and culture wars 
Technology will tremble old institutions and give rise to new social conflicts. But saying ‘nay’ to the U.S. technology is like ignoring modern economy.

The new fault lines 
George Friedman mentions the most unstable spots in the world:
  • Pacific Basin 
  • Eurasia 
  • Ultimate framework of Europe 
  • Islamic world 
  • US-Mexico relations 
Later Friedman discusses all fault lines in depth. While most nations are unable to resolve problems and are drowning, U.S. is capable of overcoming all its hurdles. He sees Chine falling apart. For Russia he prognoses that its military will collapse once more shortly after 2020. While Friedman brings arguments to support his vision, sometimes conclusions just feel like wishful thinking. However, the book is extremely valuable to understand the world politics and it shades some light on the past and current events. Why does Georgia strive to be part of NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and why is Russia so resistant? What did hold USSR together and why restoring its lost spares of influences is vital for Russia’s survival. What are all the world’s conflicts and wars really about?

A new world emerges 
In future Friedman sees new countries emerging, who might challenge the U.S. itself. Those are: Poland, Japan and Turkey. Although in past strong navel was key element of military success, in future it will be stars who will decide countries fates … not in a traditional, but in a different way. From stars will be controlled unman air crafts that can hit any target on the planet quicker than it was ever possible. Even though protected and empowered by the U.S. The national interests of emerging countries might be treated by the interests of their protector. To defend themselves they will need to do something. However, according to Friedman any fights and coalitions against the U.S. will be defeated and will have to bare harsh consequences. There will come the ‘Golden Decade’ of the U.S.A. and will continue until 2080. Later on Mexico will start emerging as a potential new global power.

The author doesn’t mention fresh water problem and other complications that could hold world back from reaching the stars. Will civilization keep moving forward leaving people (within or outside the borders) in disasters behind? Another interesting issue is that world will have one super power. As this is unprecedented, no one can really say how it will differ from the multi polar world of the past balancing the competition among global powers.

Strangely no importance is given to Canada. Regarding the Caucasus region, one can read between the lines that whatever the cause of its nations, their fight can only change whose spare of influence the region is. Caucasus is groped with the Balkans, and Arab world as region of never ending rivals and conflicts. As such, our battlefields serve as stimulants in bigger games on the world stage. While no one has unlimited power, and we are certainly not claiming globe’s gravity, we have an ability to decide who we are. Changing attitudes towards each other can reshape everything. Peaceful Caucasus is possible, when there’s determination and believe. And let’s keep in mind the words of Alan Kay that the way to predict the future is to invent it.


  1. Ketevan NatsvlichviliDecember 05, 2012

    Great summary, i feel like i have read the book. I cant stop reading your blog by the way, off to the next post :)


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