48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Next 100 Years, The (Export Trade Edition) (Paperback)
Friedman totally misses the point by contradicting his own opening statements about "identifying long-term underlying trends". He bases the whole book on misguided assumptions and geo-politics. Alvin Toffler pointed out 20 years ago that geo-politics is on the way out...
The real "long-term underlying trends" are not about "dominating sea-trade"! And they are not about waging wars. Friedman thinks that "unconventional wars" are about shooting it out in spaceships. That is "Flash Gordon thinking", not forecasting...
Unconventional wars are actually about guerilla warfare, terrorism, inciting civil unrest, hacking computers. Looking into the next 100 years, the real questions are about how will countries try to exert influence over one another? How will economic disputes be resolved? Will missile threats be replaced by cyber-threats? Or by an attack on a country's currency? What about biological threats, like spreading H1N1 virus?
Friedman assumes that history will repeat itself in the same way. Big mistake. History sometimes repeats itself (not as often as people are led to think), but always in a different shape or form. Japan will not go to war against the US. Poland will not spark another war in Europe. Turkey will not try to re-enact the Otoman Empire. These are all ridiculous forecasts based on 19th Century assumptions.
A forecast of the next 100 years should challenge us to think about what kind of political issues will be relevant. For instance:
1. Will we move from a "bi-polar" world (20th Century US capitalism versus Russian communism) towards a truly multi-lateral world in which five blocks will have almost equal economic power, without clear dominance of one over the others? (US, Europe, China, India, South America?).
2. How will the US adapt to a world in which its share of world GDP will be 15% or less, the equivalent of other blocks?
3. How will education change, from the present mass-production format which was modeled on 19th century production plants, to formats based on universal access through the internet? How will that impact the way we think and act?
4. How will the decrease in religious participation influence ideologies and politics?
5. What about the increase in immigration and race-mixing? How will a mixed-race US and a mixed-race Europe interact with each other and with China?
6. If water will be "the new oil", how will that affect the role of water-rich countries like Canada, Russia and Brazil? Will water-deprived countries (like the Arab states in the Middle East) move from being overly wealthy to becoming totally poor?
7. Nation-states were created in the late 19th century and are decreasing in importance (see the fragmentation of the USSR and the consolidation of Europe into one economic entity). Will the US disappear into North America, while the UK, France & Germany disappear into Europe?
8. Will we have a single world currency, replacing the out-dated US dollar, British pound, and Euro?
It turns out that Friedman does not address any of these issues, but limits his "vision" to looking to the rear-view mirror. It is important to understand history in order to look towards the future, but Friedman does not understand history: he merely recites and repeats it, rather than interpreting and re-creating it.
The book is a fine example of how NOT to do a forecasting exercise: it is both narrow-minded and short-sighted. A big disappointment.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jan 2011 19:11:27 GMT
S. Carpenter says:
Flash Gordon did not come to mind when I read this book. Turkey will become the center of Moslim influence around the Med. It will not occur via the use of force, but as a natural process. Turkey's move northwards will also take place, probably, peacefully but with planning. Russia will seek to use its western border areas as a means of weakening its bordering states, as it is now doing in the Ukraine, Georgia, and Baltics,etc. Poland will find itself in a difficult situation. Germany (especially) and France are now calling the shots in the EC, with other EU countries following along. Communications will be critical for any nation seeking to project or maintain its own physical security. There is no mixed race in Europe or in the US. The races remain separate. In itself, this will create stresses. Naturally the US will undergo a major shift inits approach to the world as it becomes a smaller part of the total (GNP). Five equal power blocks will certainly result in armed conflicts. Five very unequal power blocks would make me feel safer. Some of the reviewer's comments will be more important than others over time. I certainly agree with Friedman's forecast re. China, and he will be proved right or wrong within a few short years. I have found this book to be extremely interesting and well thought out. That doesnt mean that he will be right on all points, but I suspect that his "narrow minded and short-sighted thinking" will be seen to have called the major events of the next 10-20 years correctly, and they will, in turn, influence the following years. Stay tuned.
Posted on 3 Mar 2014 20:56:07 GMT
Mr. M. Wheatley says:
He doesn't look quite so far off the mark now, does he? History has a habit of repeating itself, especially when some regional powers still haven't evolved beyond historical paranoias. With NATO moving ever closer to Russia's borders, it is hardly surprising that Russia wants to recreate a buffer and retain access to the Atlantic. With the mini-revolution in Ukraine creating political instability, as well installing a pro-EU and Western leaning leadership (not forgetting with some quite nationalistic influences), Russia feared losing favourable access to the Black Sea and influence in one of it's buffer nations, as well as perceiving a threat from growing fascism in Eastern Europe. It's actions are therefore hardly surprising. It doesn't want a conflict or war any more than the West does, but it also fears being overrun from it's Western borders.
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2014 13:54:06 GMT
F. L. P. Souza says:
I agree that Russia's actions are not surprising. As for Friedman's predictions, time will tell. He predicted there would be friction along Russia's borders, and I never disagreed with that. He predicted that the Russian military will collapse again by 2020, something I do not dispute, either. My disagreement begins with his prediction that China will fragment by 2020, and it continues when he predicts a Mexican-American war, plus a war with Poland, Turkey, Japan, etc.
Friction along borders is one thing, I find that plausible. I do not (want to) believe in all-out war involving the US. I still miss an analysis by any author looking at other ways of influence, other than traditional warfare.
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