Week 2: The Next 100 Years by George Friedman

I first read The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century about 3 or 4 years ago while I was on a conspiracy-theory kick.

The book was written by George Friedman, who is the CEO of Stratfor, a private  geopolitical intelligence and consulting firm. According to Wikipedia, the company says it helps clients to identify opportunities, make strategic decisions, and manage political and security risks. Prior to his time at Stratfor, Friedman spent almost twenty years in academia, teaching political science at Dickinson College. During this time, he also regularly briefed senior commanders in the armed services as well as the Office of Net Assessments, SHAPE Technical Center, the U.S. Army War College, National Defense University and the RAND Corporation, on security and national defense matters. The biographical blurb of Friedman in the book makes oblique mention to his tenure as an analyst for the U.S. government.

I thought The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century was interesting when I first read it, and I strongly remembered a few things from it, principally that the constellation of powerful countries changes over time. For most of the past 150 years, Britain and the Anglosphere has been a dominant power block, while the influence of once-powerful France, Japan, Russia, and Germany have been on the decline. Well, that is only our short memory. What about when the Dutch ruled the seas? Or the Swedes ruled Northern Europe? Those days are slightly further afield from our current perspective, but nonetheless, these events occurred. These events shaped our current world.

The book makes some seemingly-strange forecasts, but the one that stuck with me is that Turkey would become a superpower in the 21st century. As recent events unfold, that memory nagged me enough to re-read this sharp and intelligent book.

The original review of the book from The New Statesman does a much better job than I at summating the rise of Turkey:

Turkey is now the world’s 17th-largest economy and the largest Islamic economy. Its military is the most capable in the region and is also probably the strongest in Europe, apart from the British armed forces. Its influence is already felt in the Caucasus, the Balkans, central Asia and the Arab world. Most important, it is historically the leader in the Muslim world, and its bridge to the rest of the world. Over the centuries, when the Muslim world has been united, this has happened under Turkish power; the past century has been the aberration. If Russia weakens, Turkey emerges as the dominant power in the region, including the eastern Mediterranean; Turkey is an established naval power. It has also been historically pragmatic in its foreign policies.

Perhaps even more revelatory is an updated shortlist of Statfor’s most recent predictions: at Business Insider. Get your copy of The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century at your local library!