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The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

3.8 79
by George Friedman

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China fragments, a new Cold War with Russia, Mexcio challenges U.S., the new great powers Turkey, Poland and JapanThe Next 100 Years is a fascinating, eye-opening and often shocking look at what lies ahead for the U.S. and the world from one of our most incisive futurists.
In his thought-provoking new book, George Friedman,


China fragments, a new Cold War with Russia, Mexcio challenges U.S., the new great powers Turkey, Poland and JapanThe Next 100 Years is a fascinating, eye-opening and often shocking look at what lies ahead for the U.S. and the world from one of our most incisive futurists.
In his thought-provoking new book, George Friedman, founder of STRATFOR—the preeminent private intelligence and forecasting firm—focuses on what he knows best, the future. Positing that civilization is at the dawn of a new era, he offers a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century all based on his own thorough analysis and research. For example, The U.S.-Jihadist war will be replaced by a new cold war with Russia; China’s role as a world power will diminish; Mexico will become an important force on the geopolitical stage; and new technologies and cultural trends will radically alter the way we live (and fight wars). Riveting reading from first to last, The Next 100 Years is a fascinating exploration of what the future holds for all of us.

For continual, updated analysis and supplemental material, go to www.Stratfor.com

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Expect the unexpected. . . . He can see without the crystal ball.”—Newsweek

Barron’s consistently has found Stratfor’s insights informative and largely on the money—as has the company’s large client base, which ranges from corporations to media outlets and government agencies.”—Barron’s

“There is a temptation, when you are around George Friedman, to treat him like a Magic 8-Ball.”—New York Times Magazine

"Predictions have made George Friedman a hot property these days." —The Wall Street Journal

Publishers Weekly

With a unique combination of cold-eyed realism and boldly confident fortune-telling, Friedman (America's Secret War) offers a global tour of war and peace in the upcoming century. The author asserts that "the United States' power is so extraordinarily overwhelming" that it will dominate the coming century, brushing aside Islamic terrorist threats now, overcoming a resurgent Russia in the 2010s and '20s and eventually gaining influence over space-based missile systems that Friedman names "battle stars." Friedman is the founder of Stratfor, an independent geopolitical forecasting company, and his authoritative-sounding predictions are based on such factors as natural resources and population cycles. While these concrete measures lend his short-term forecasts credence, the later years of Friedman's 100-year cycle will provoke some serious eyebrow raising. The armed border clashes between Mexico and the United States in the 2080s seem relatively plausible, but the space war pitting Japan and Turkey against the United States and allies, prognosticated to begin precisely on Thanksgiving Day 2050, reads as fantastic (and terrifying) science fiction. Whether all of the visions in Friedman's crystal ball actually materialize, they certainly make for engrossing entertainment. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Futurologist Friedman (America's Secret War, 2004, etc.) entertainingly explains how America will bestride the world during this century. Prophecy, whether by astrologers, science-fiction writers or geopoliticians, has a dismal track record, but readers will enjoy this steady stream of clever historical analogies, economic analyses and startling demographic data. He dismisses America's obsession with the war on terrorism. Al-Qaeda, he explains, aims to recreate a united, Ottoman-like Islamic empire. To thwart this, the United States has merely to sustain the present disunity of Muslim nations. Win or lose, when we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan over the next decade, the region will remain satisfyingly chaotic, and America can turn its attention elsewhere. There will be plenty to occupy us. Our leading economic rival, China, will implode, its dazzling growth ending in a crash just as Japan's did in the 1990s. But while Japan's stable society has endured during nearly 20 years of economic depression, China's rigid leadership and fractious regionalism cannot tolerate such stress, and the nation will fragment. A reviving Russia will try to reestablish defensible borders in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, but shrinking population and reliance on natural resources for wealth doom it to failure and collapse. Japan, Turkey and Poland will fill the vacuum. For these predictions, Friedman relies heavily on a trend that will jolt most readers. The population explosion is ending, he writes; after 2050 advanced nations will need massive immigration to fill jobs and support their aging citizenry. This will provide another boost for America, which has always been friendlier to immigrants thanEurope or Japan. Also, Mexico will become a great power. Few readers will buy all the prognostications, but most will agree that the author makes a reasonable case, backed with vast knowledge of geopolitics delivered in accessible prose. Agent: Jim Hornfischer/Hornfischer Literary Management

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt


The Dawn of the American Age

There is a deep-seated belief in America that the United States is approaching the eve of its destruction. Read letters to the editor, peruse the Web, and listen to public discourse. Disastrous wars, uncontrolled deficits, high gasoline prices, shootings at universities, corruption in business and government, and an endless litany of other shortcomings—all of them quite real—create a sense that the American dream has been shattered and that America is past its prime. If that doesn't convince you, listen to Europeans. They will assure you that America's best day is behind it.
The odd thing is that all of this foreboding was present during the presidency of Richard Nixon, together with many of the same issues. There is a continual fear that American power and prosperity are illusory, and that disaster is just around the corner. The sense transcends ideology. Environmentalists and Christian conservatives are both delivering the same message. Unless we repent of our ways, we will pay the price—and it may be too late already.
It's interesting to note that the nation that believes in its manifest destiny has not only a sense of impending disaster but a nagging feeling that the country simply isn't what it used to be. We have a deep sense of nostalgia for the 1950s as a "simpler" time. This is quite a strange belief. With the Korean War and McCarthy at one end, Little Rock in the middle, and Sputnik and Berlin at the other end, and the very real threat of nuclear war throughout, the 1950s was actually a time of intense anxiety and foreboding. A widely read book published in the 1950s was entitled The Age of Anxiety. In the 1950s, they looked back nostalgically at an earlier America, just as we look back nostalgically at the 1950s.
American culture is the manic combination of exultant hubris and profound gloom. The net result is a sense of confidence constantly undermined by the fear that we may be drowned by melting ice caps caused by global warming or smitten dead by a wrathful God for gay marriage, both outcomes being our personal responsibility. American mood swings make it hard to develop a real sense of the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. But the fact is that the United States is stunningly powerful. It may be that it is heading for a catastrophe, but it is hard to see one when you look at the basic facts.
Let's consider some illuminating figures. Americans constitute about 4 percent of the world's population but produce about 26 percent of all goods and services. In 2007 U.S. gross domestic product was about $14 trillion, compared to the world's GDP of $54 trillion—about 26 percent of the world's economic activity takes place in the United States. The next largest economy in the world is Japan's, with a GDP of about $4.4 trillion—about a third the size of ours. The American economy is so huge that it is larger than the economies of the next four countries combined: Japan, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom.
Many people point at the declining auto and steel industries, which a generation ago were the mainstays of the American economy, as examples of a current deindustrialization of the United States. Certainly, a lot of industry has moved overseas. That has left the United States with industrial production of only $2.8 trillion (in 2006): the largest in the world, more than twice the size of the next largest industrial power, Japan, and larger than Japan's and China's industries combined.
There is talk of oil shortages, which certainly seem to exist and will undoubtedly increase. However, it is important to realize that the United States produced 8.3 million barrels of oil every day in 2006. Compare that with 9.7 million for Russia and 10.7 million for Saudi Arabia. U.S. oil production is 85 percent that of Saudi Arabia. The United States produces more oil than Iran, Kuwait, or the United Arab Emirates. Imports of oil into the country are vast, but given its industrial production, that's understandable. Comparing natural gas production in 2006, Russia was in first place with 22.4 trillion cubic feet and the United States was second with 18.7 trillion cubic feet. U.S. natural gas production is greater than that of the next five producers combined. In other words, although there is great concern that the United States is wholly dependent on foreign energy, it is actually one of the world's largest energy producers.
Given the vast size of the American economy, it is interesting to note that the United States is still underpopulated by global standards. Measured in inhabitants per square kilometer, the world's average population density is 49. Japan's is 338, Germany's is 230, and America's is only 31. If we exclude Alaska, which is largely uninhabitable, U.S. population density rises to 34. Compared to Japan or Germany, or the rest of Europe, the United States is hugely underpopulated. Even when we simply compare population in proportion to arable land—land that is suitable for agriculture—America has five times as much land per person as Asia, almost twice as much as Europe, and three times as much as the global average. An economy consists of land, labor, and capital. In the case of the United States, these numbers show that the nation can still grow—it has plenty of room to increase all three.
There are many answers to the question of why the U.S. economy is so powerful, but the simplest answer is military power. The United States completely dominates a continent that is invulnerable to invasion and occupation and in which its military overwhelms those of its neighbors. Virtually every other industrial power in the world has experienced devastating warfare in the twentieth century. The United States waged war, but America itself never experienced it. Military power and geographical reality created an economic reality. Other countries have lost time recovering from wars. The United States has not. It has actually grown because of them.
Consider this simple fact that I'll be returning to many times. The United States Navy controls all of the oceans of the world. Whether it's a junk in the South China Sea, a dhow off the African coast, a tanker in the Persian Gulf, or a cabin cruiser in the Caribbean, every ship in the world moves under the eyes of American satellites in space and its movement is guaranteed—or denied—at will by the U.S. Navy. The combined naval force of the rest of the world doesn't come close to equaling that of the U.S. Navy.
This has never happened before in human history, even with Britain. There have been regionally dominant navies, but never one that was globally and overwhelmingly dominant. This has meant that the United States could invade other countries—but never be invaded. It has meant that in the final analysis the United States controls international trade. It has become the foundation of American security and American wealth. Control of the seas emerged after World War II, solidified during the final phase of the European Age, and is now the flip side of American economic power, the basis of its military power.
Whatever passing problems exist for the United States, the most important factor in world affairs is the tremendous imbalance of economic, military, and political power. Any attempt to forecast the twenty-first century that does not begin with the recognition of the extraordinary nature of American power is out of touch with reality. But I am making a broader, more unexpected claim, too: the United States is only at the beginning of its power. The twenty-first century will be the American century.
That assertion rests on a deeper point. For the past five hundred years, the global system has rested on the power of Atlantic Europe, the European countries that bordered on the Atlantic Ocean: Portugal, Spain, France, England, and to a lesser extent the Netherlands. These countries transformed the world, creating the first global political and economic system in human history. As we know, European power collapsed during the twentieth century, along with the European empires. This created a vacuum that was filled by the United States, the dominant power in North America, and the only great power bordering both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. North America has assumed the place that Europe occupied for five hundred years, between Columbus's voyage in 1492 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It has become the center of gravity of the international system.
Why? In order to understand the twenty-first century, it is important to understand the fundamental structural shifts that took place late in the twentieth century, setting the stage for a new century that will be radically different in form and substance, just as the United States is so different from Europe. My argument is not only that something extraordinary has happened but that the United States has had very little choice in it. This isn't about policy. It is about the way in which impersonal geopolitical forces work.


Until the fifteenth century, humans lived in self-enclosed, sequestered worlds. Humanity did not know itself as consisting of a single fabric. The Chinese didn't know of the Aztecs, and the Mayas didn't know of the Zulus. The Europeans may have heard of the Japanese, but they didn't really know them—and they certainly didn't interact with them. The Tower of Babel had done more than make it impossible for people to speak to each other. It made civilizations oblivious to each other.
Europeans living on the eastern rim of the Atlantic Ocean shattered the barriers between these sequestered regions and turned the world into a single entity in which all of the parts interacted with each other. What happened to Australian aborigines was intimately connected to the British relationship with Ireland and the need to find penal colonies for British prisoners overseas. What happened to Inca kings was tied to the relationship between Spain and Portugal. The imperialism of Atlantic Europe created a single world.
Atlantic Europe became the center of gravity of the global system (see map, page 20). What happened in Europe defined much of what happened elsewhere in the world. Other nations and regions did everything with one eye on Europe. From the sixteenth to the twentieth century hardly any part of the world escaped European influence and power. Everything, for good or evil, revolved around it. And the pivot of Europe was the North Atlantic. Whoever controlled that stretch of water controlled the highway to the world.
Europe was neither the most civilized nor the most advanced region in the world. So what made it the center? Europe really was a technical and intellectual backwater in the fifteenth century as opposed to China or the Islamic world. Why these small, out-of-the-way countries? And why did they begin their domination then and not five hundred years before or five hundred years later?
European power was about two things: money and geography. Europe depended on imports from Asia, particularly India. Pepper, for example, was not simply a cooking spice but also a meat preservative; its importation was a critical part of the European economy. Asia was filled with luxury goods that Europe needed, and would pay for, and historically Asian imports would come overland along the famous Silk Road and other routes until reaching the Mediterranean. The rise of Turkey—about which much more will be heard in the twenty-first century—closed these routes and increased the cost of imports.
European traders were desperate to find a way around the Turks. Spaniards and Portuguese—the Iberians—chose the nonmilitary alternative: they sought another route to India. The Iberians knew of only one route to India that avoided Turkey, down the length of the African coast and up into the Indian Ocean. They theorized about another route, assuming that the world was round, a route that would take them to India by going west.
This was a unique moment. At other points in history Atlantic Europe would have only fallen even deeper into backwardness and poverty. But the economic pain was real and the Turks were very dangerous, so there was pressure to do something. It was also a crucial psychological moment. The Spaniards, having just expelled the Muslims from Spain, were at the height of their barbaric hubris. Finally, the means for carrying out such exploration was at hand as well. Technology existed that, if properly used, might provide a solution to the Turkey problem.
The Iberians had a ship, the caravel, that could handle deep-sea voyages. They had an array of navigational devices, from the compass to the astrolabe. Finally they had guns, particularly cannons. All of these might have been borrowed from other cultures, but the Iberians integrated them into an effective economic and military system. They could now sail to distant places. When they arrived they were able to fight—and win. People who heard a cannon fire and saw a building explode tended to be more flexible in negotiations. When the Iberians reached their destinations, they could kick in the door and take over. Over the next several centuries, European ships, guns, and money dominated the world and created the first global system, the European Age.
Here is the irony: Europe dominated the world, but it failed to dominate itself. For five hundred years Europe tore itself apart in civil wars, and as a result there was never a European empire—there was instead a British empire, a Spanish empire, a French empire, a Portuguese empire, and so on. The European nations exhausted themselves in endless wars with each other while they invaded, subjugated, and eventually ruled much of the world.
There were many reasons for the inability of the Europeans to unite, but in the end it came down to a simple feature of geography: the English Channel. First the Spanish, then the French, and finally the Germans managed to dominate the European continent, but none of them could cross the Channel. Because no one could defeat Britain, conqueror after conqueror failed to hold Europe as a whole. Periods of peace were simply temporary truces. Europe was exhausted by the advent of World War I, in which over ten million men died—a good part of a generation. The European economy was shattered, and European confidence broken. Europe emerged as a demographic, economic, and cultural shadow of its former self. And then things got even worse.

Meet the Author

GEORGE FRIEDMAN is founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures, which specializes in geopolitical forecasting. Prior to this Friedman was chairman of the global intelligence company Stratfor, which he founded in 1996. Friedman is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Next Decade and The Next 100 Years. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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Next 100 Years 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
doctordaxx2004 More than 1 year ago
I'm a futurist at heart. But I'm also a realist- and one thing I like best about this book is that it provides a good introduction to geopolitics for the layman. But, for those of us who like geopolitics, Friedman has given good rationales for the future direction of empires and hegemonies without going "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" crazy (I'm a fan of both!) In this book, America doesn't always win; other countries don't always lose; the concept of physical, cultural, economical and spiritual borders are addressed in addition to national borders; and, most importantly, it teaches lessons of the past and the patterns that modern-day empires (both new and successor states) follow because of what has been done by their predecessors centuries and decades before. If you like to have intellectual arguments about relevant things, including resource scarcity and relevant, realistic advances in technology to address those issues of scarcity, this is a nice book for you, too!
christophius1 More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent read for anyone interested in history, politics, geography, or international relations. George Friedman uses his position at the head of a think-tank directly involved in these matters to extrapolate past history into the future. Some of his ideas seem extraordinary, but as he points out so well, so many events of past history couldn't have been easily predicted or considered likely either...
jbWI More than 1 year ago
For many years, as a subscriber to the Stratfor Reports, I have been familiar with, and an admirer of, the work of George Friedman. In his book, The Next 100 years, Friedman applies years of experience and expertise in the field of strategic forecasting to a compelling and provocative series of predictions of the economic and political landscape developing during this century. Friedman reaches finite conclusions. However, he does so after building a substantial and believable case for each of them. Undoubtedly, many governments and powerful players read the Stratfor Reports and I am sure they will likewise read Friedman's book - -to the likely dismay, disbelief and anger to some - - to the delight and acceptance of others. I'm sorry that I won't be around to appreciate the longer term accuracy of Friedman's predictions. I'll be quite interested in as much of it as I am able to experience. And, I predict that it will be plenty accurate, notwithstanding Friedmans lack of any need to hedge or hide behind ambiguity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book The Next 100 Years by George Friedman is a very interesting and possibly accurate take on what will happen during the 21st century. Most of the predictions are based either politically or militarily. For example, Friedman predicts there will be another United States and Russian cold war during the 2030's, and that Mexico will confront the U.S. in a ground based war by 2100, the end of the century. But, apart from war there are predictions of population and technology, including most energy sources coming from space based systems. Personally, I felt like this book was a very interesting read, even when it wasn't too exciting. I believe that whether or not Friedman's predictions become true or not, his analysis of the past and the way he explains his thought process in coming to his conclusions was very well done, and can definitely make anyone see his predictions as at least somewhat possible. I enjoyed the way that each chapter was kind of broken down into a decade, or a very major event during the 21st century, and that each chapter's predictions led to the next chapter's predictions. The only dislike I had for this book was that it could be somewhat dull at times, although it is probably much more in depth and analytical than similar books, which is needed to provide a base for hypotheses made in this book. I think anyone who is optimistic about and interested in the future, and enjoys learning about the past should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The use of oil, the next world war, the next economy crisis, the research of weapons.All of these are analyzed and explained in the book The next 100 years: A forecast to the 21st century. George Friedman has done excellent predictions full with reasoning and made assumptions step by step from the present world 10 years by 10 years to the future. From The economical surge of China, to Japan and Turkey challenging the United States for global power, then to the technological use of outer space weapons, these predictions from the book were all based from the present day, and then gradually expanding towards the future. In the book, common sense is being thoroughly explained through facts, and estimations analyzed through events. George Friedman has presented each nation with its own interests for the next 100 years and has brought the movements of countries to a whole new level. I was most impressed by the analyzing of the technology what each nation will be focusing on, the most significant ones being "battle star" and the use of energy. In the last 10 years of the book, the author has already pictured a totally different looking earth, so technology advanced that Science Fiction books for once came to truth. The only suggestion I have about the book is that George Friedman could have focused more on the happenings in Africa, which has barely appeared in the book. I believe that the concept of this book is so powerful and logical, that it will be continued to pass on as a guidebook for all of humanity for the next 100 years. Or until the next book comes out.
EdwinV1230 More than 1 year ago
George Friedman has stated his case very well. Given all the advantages and privileges that the United States has earned for herself as the only superpower on earth at the dawn of this new century - be it geographical, economical, technological or political - I cannot help but agree: the 21st century will indeed be marked in history as the American Age. This, however, appears to be a matter of common sense that Friedman does not want us to rely on. The only difference is that of his use of common sense - he combines it with his amazing familiarity with how nations behave at the macro level, which for me is very impressive. So much so that I was compelled to make a major adjustment on how I personally look at the subject at hand. My only complaint is his apparent unwillingness to come face to face with another issue - an issue that may not be as gigantic as geopolitics but would nonetheless result in a massive socio-cultural distintegration, albeit gradual, if consistently ignored. I speak here of the spiritual, moral and intellectual foundation that made Western civilization probably the most enduring civilization in human history, which, little by little, is being abandoned by America. I just can't imagine the implications it may bring should it continue in the next 100 years. Regardless of my disagreement, I still find in Friedman a genius who, I believe, will be be remembered 100 years from now, as we remember Nietzche who predicted that the 20th century would be the bloodiest century in history 100 years before it came to pass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most books I pick up in this genre are 500+ pages and you have to know your world history to have any chance of getting through it. This was more my style - smooth read, good transitions, enough detail to understand without getting too dense. Enjoy.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
In this bold, lively and entertaining book, political strategy researcher and analyst George Friedman makes highly specific predications about the 21st century. His discussion of the globe's changing face educates readers about the forces shaping international politics. Friedman is committed to a wide geopolitical perspective, and his predictions rest on broad, detailed historical knowledge. Even if you think some predictions are farfetched (or too specific for such long time frames), the parallels he draws between what happened historically and what he believes will happen in the future are quite educational. getAbstract recommends Friedman's book to professionals involved in international business or long-term strategic planning, and to any reader interested in pragmatic, interesting and, of course, theoretical, assertions about the future.
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