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

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

Started reading: 29th November 2010
Finished reading: 8th December 2010

Review

Rating: 7

This is an interesting, and very audacious book. In it, George Friedman offers a prophecy for what the next 100 years will look like. But rather than rely on religious mysticism and “magical” foresight to inform his predictions, he instead looks at the world through the rational lens of the geopolitics, demographic trends, and nation-state self-interest.

Regardless of the crystal ball, however, the book is very far reaching. Friedman predicts that American power is just beginning, that we will have another world war against Japan (with Turkey as an ally), and that Mexico may be the most powerful nation in the world by 2100. And though these predictions might seem audacious, they are backed up by a superbly logical train of thought.

The only problem with the book is that it tries to do something impossible. Trying to predict the course of human history over the next 100 years is likely impossible, not because there aren’t common themes of human development, but that the course of destiny so often pivots on small points. For example, consider how medicine was changed by the discovery of antibiotics (somewhat by accident), or how the internet has allowed for communities to self-organize and form across national lines. Both of these developments have brought change at least on the order of that caused by World Wars and great political grand-strategy. It is likely that the next century will have similar accidents and serendipitous events, and their consequences are close to predict.

Regardless, though, the book is fascinating, and the predictions are all plausible. Moreover, it serves as an interesting primer to the world of national strategy, interest, and foreign affairs of our age. This can be valuable as you try to understand the issues that nations consistently wrangle over, and why governments fail to take “obvious courses of action.”