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on 29 August 2017
This is an outstanding book. Friedman starts from the viewpoint of the US and its need to maintain balances of power around the globe. It is now 7 years since the book was published and prospective readers might be excused for wondering why they should read it now. After all, we now know most of what has been happening during the decade! True, and on some of it, Friedman has been pretty spot on while on other areas he has not been so close. Where the book really excels is in its rapid summaries of the historical background to the different areas of the world. Bearing in mind that this is consciously a very US-based view of the world, you get a wonderful broad sweep of the histories, the strategies and the power plays going on in the world, most of which are still absolutely relevant even though the detail of how this is playing out may have changed in places. Friedman has also written another book called "The Next 100 Years", which is probably even more thought-provoking. Read both!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 March 2013
I must confess to not having read George Friedman before taking this volume into hand. He certainly is an engaging and crystal clear writer. His understanding of international relationships is second to none that I have read. I highly recommend this book. However I do have a few reservations that I want to express.

Let's begin with his analysis of what he calls "the unintended empire." That would be the United States circa the second millennium of the present era. I like the way he insists on using the term "empire" even though George W. Bush and his neoconservative cohorts had to give it up because of its toxic connotations. Yes, America the Beautiful is an empire, and yes it was largely unintentional. Our empire is supported not by the direct spoils of war as was the Roman Empire, but by our ability to benefit from global resources through trade and technological advantage. Our military might is a mailed fist behind our back of course; but we maintain the empire mainly through the use of what political scientists call "soft power." Regardless of the value of the spoils of empire, the American Empire is an expensive one to maintain, and in some quarters the perception is that the balance sheet is out of whack.

Now let us move on to Friedman's justification for the actions of the Bush administration in its effort to deal with the threat to our glorious (well, not so glorious) empire posed by the events of 9/11/2001. Friedman speaking frankly as Machiavelli (indeed Friedman seems delighted to do a modern dress Machiavelli impersonation) sees all actions by nation states as serving their unique national interests. All events on the international stage are rationally arrived at by nation states based on this singular criterion. Thus, Friedman argues (p. 67) that North Korea, fearing that the collapse of the Soviet Union "would lead to its own collapse...launched a nuclear weapons program" and "made statements that appeared quite mad." "The North Koreans were so successful that they had the great powers negotiating to entice them to negotiate. It was an extraordinary performance."

However, (1) the leadership of North Korea is quite mad (witness what it does to its people) and (2) its utterances were not the result of some extraordinary psychological ploy that the great powers fell for; in fact the reason that the United States and others have treaded so softly and carefully with North Korea is that its leadership is indeed capable of frighteningly crazy behaviors most specifically the utter destruction of Seoul, South Korea. The fact of the matter is that North Korea holds Seoul in hostage and has for literally generations.

Next let's move to Friedman's interpretation of Bush's reasons for invading Iraq. He writes (p. 62): "The Bush administration tried to craft a strategy that forced the Saudis and Pakistanis to be more aggressive in intelligence gathering and sharing and that placed the United States in a dominate position in the Middle East, from which it could project power." He immediately adds, "These were the underlying reasons for the invasion of Iraq."

What? Bush invaded Iraq to get the Saudis and Pakistanis to help with intelligence gathering and sharing? Now that' what you call EXPENSIVE intelligence, and is about as farfetched a rationale as I've heard. No, the reasons that Bush invaded Iraq were several, including a deluded attempt to protect American oil interests in the region; to be a wartime president for the 2004 elections (or a president who had just won a war); to go one up on his dad who George W. believed should have overthrown Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War; to allow the US military to test its abilities and its weapons, etc. Friedman even goes so far as to argue that although at the time of the invasion of Iraq Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were far from friends, they could become allies in the future and therefore that could serve as a rationale for the invasion.

What Friedman has done here and what he does throughout the book is interpret events in ways that are consistent with his overall message which is one of amoral, rational and Machiavellian nation states acting in accordance with their individual national interests when in fact the actual heads of states and their advisors who do the actual acting often behave in irrational and self-defeating ways, which is what happened to the US during the George W. Bush administration--which is something that Friedman freely acknowledges elsewhere in the book, especially in Chapter 5 appropriately entitled "The Terrorist Trap." Friedman points out that by waging a misdirected and unwinnable war against "a type of warfare" this became a trap that Bush fell into and one that Friedman is warning Obama not to fall into.

Incidentally, part of what Friedman is about in this book is to give advice from his Machiavellian stage to President Obama and presidents (or princes!) to come and/or to their advisors. In this self-appointed capacity I think George Friedman is eminently qualified as long as one balances his "real politic" view of presidential options and strategies with the realities of each individual situation. Basically what Friedman is saying is that regardless of what a nation state does we must infer that it is acting rationally in its own interests and that presidents must realize that they have to lie to their constituencies and be prepared to do brutal and even horrendous things in the pursuit of the national interest, and in fact any other behavior is dereliction of duty.

As for the rest of the book it is also very interesting, and I wish I had the space to go into it. Bottom line: worth reading and thinking about.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"
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on 14 August 2011
Oh my. I believe that the some of the people rating this book are either bankers (who haven't come up with a good reason for the world being so difficult to get back on track) or Just Don't Get It.

I agree that Friedman's latest book is not totally necesssary, and that is simply because he did such a good job in the "The Next 100 Years", but his book is worth 5 stars if the reader has not read the previous book. I notice that critics like to insert many micro-criticisms of his (and probably other) books. But geopolitics is not an exact "measure me" science. In addition, Friedman is not obliged to enter footnotes, etc, because he is extremely good in his own right and does not have to beggar "facts" from others. If "others" were so smart and experienced, we would not be (world-wide) in the mess we are in. The USA is most certainly going to come out of the doldrums. China will most certainly run into massive problems. It doesn't take a high intellect to see that. His outline concerning Russia is quite interesting, as are his comments re. Poland, Turkey and South Korea.

No, I feel that this is a book that one can critise if one is filled with "feelings" as opposed to "information". Friedman states things clearly. Go into your own depth if you have doubts. Read up on what Germany has been doing during the last two years. Redad up on recent NATO decisions. I think "footnotes" are (in this case) certainly not needed.
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on 22 March 2011
"The Next Decade" is intended as an essay from the American perspective on the relations of certain conceptual categories: the Empire, the Republic and the exercise of Power in the next ten years. And it is a very personal essay in which there are no academic references, no footnotes, no bibliography and no biography of the author are provided, in short even less information than there was in his previous best seller "The Next 100 Years".

From the cover we see that the author is founder of Stratfor and this is the main guarantee to the claims in the book. In my opinion this is a questionable guarantee. One issue is to be knowledgeable about what is happening in the world, which is what Stratfor does, and quite another for the essay to have solid arguments, which in my opinion it has not, at least not at the level of its pretentious goals.

The science fiction stories of the previous book were excusable for the American reader because they gave assurance of America's imperial dominance in this century. In this new book there are no such stories because the horizon is closer. But as in the previous book the unintended Empire is assured, but now the author fears (does he really?) that the rise of this global Empire will damage the Republic.

The author affirms in the introduction: "the next decade must be one in which the USA moves from willful ignorance of reality to its acceptance". He could have applied that to himself, as he remains an advocate of a notoriously simplistic interpretation of the "realist" theory of international relations, and shouldn't blame this questionable approach to the "spirit" of this decade. The author thinks that the existence of the American Empire is unquestionable; the problem is in the acceptance of this fact by American voters and their President, the new Emperor. But obviously the word that the President should never use is "Empire" (p.24). So why write this book in which this term is used countless times at all? From my European perspective, I recommended forgetting about this book.
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on 26 June 2015
I liked the book. It actually doesn't say much about the next decade, but talks a lot about history and how we got to where we are.
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on 8 December 2014
I bought this book after reading " the next 100 years " and I was not disappointed .
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on 21 October 2014
Everyone needs to read this book!
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on 24 October 2016
Good condition.
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