The Future According to George Friedman

What do kielbasa, baklava, sashimi, and enchiladas all have in common? Someday they may be more synonymous with wealth and power than a cheeseburger if the future pans out the way George Friedman expects it to. Friedman, founder and director of Stratfor, a private intelligence consultancy, predicts in his latest book, The Next 100 Years, that Poland, Turkey, Japan, and Mexico will become the major players by the end of the century. This list will surprise many for the countries that it excludes. Namely, what happened to China and Russia? You’ll have to read the book for complete details (on sale starting today), but according to reviews, internal struggles will rip these current heavyweights apart. This is not much of a stretch, though, as many analysts have been prognosticating that China and Russia will face demographic and environmental problems down the line that will challenge their national governments, to say the least. Still, this version of the future looks much different from the BRIC one we’ve been warned about for so long. Other predictions include:

  • Longer life expectancies will burden the generation born between 1970 and 1990 as governments are unable to make good on entitlement payments. This isn’t new news either, but my generation may be digging deeper into its pockets than originally thought as a result of the economic crisis.
  • There will be a serious confrontation between Mexico and the US over labor and immigration by the end of the century. This contrasts sharply with a recent report released by the Joint Forces Command that warns of a possible “rapid and sudden collapse” of the country, placing it on par with Pakistan in terms of stability.
  • War between Japan, Turkey, and the US…in space.  I have no response.

While his book will certainly stretch our imaginations, Friedman still argues that the US will continue to play an important role in the global arena. Not everyone agrees with him, however, and there are many soothsayers that offer differing visions of the future. A few weeks ago, Russian academic Igor Panarian, warned that the US will fall apart in 2010. Yes, utter chaos, next year. The United States will be divided into different spheres of influence, the argument goes, with Russia reclaiming Alaska, as the country is driven apart by mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation. It is impossible to say which version of events will play out, and the likely answer is neither, but pick up a copy of Friedman’s book for yourself and see what he has to say. And you may just want to play it safe and take some polka lessons.

I'd stake my reputation on

I'd stake my reputation on Panarian's predictions not coming true. I mean he didn't even get our regional breakdowns right. He should do some homework before he writes his dystopia.

I could believe most of the predictions as reasonably possible if not likely. But the Turkey-Japan is just, odd. It's the sort of thing that gets headlines but also the sort of thing that causes me to figure out which books not to buy.