The next 100 years in geopolitical affairs

George Friedman — founder & CEO of the geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor — has a new book coming out Jan. 27: “The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century.” Now Friedman acknowledges that forecasting 100 years into the future may seem audacious, “but, as I hope you will see, it is a rational, feasible process, and it is hardly frivolous.”

“In this book, I am trying to transmit a sense of the future. I will, of course, get many details wrong. But The Next 100 Yearsthe goal is to identify the major tendencies — geopolitical, technological, demographic, cultural, military — in their broadest sense, and to define the major events that might take place.”

I stumbled across this news at “John Mauldin’s Outside the Box” blog. Maudlin hints that the book can be hard to believe in places, but ultimately he calls it fascinating and thought-provoking.  “George’s strength is his ability to take geopolitical patterns and use them to forecast future events, sometimes with startling and counter-intuitive results,” Maudlin says.

For example, Maudlin notes that Friedman’s book forecasts the following:

  • By the middle of this century, Poland and Turkey will be major international players
  • Russia will be a regional power — after emerging from a second cold war
  • Space-based solar power will completely change the global energy dynamic
  • The border areas between the U.S. and Mexico are going to be in play again
  • Shrinking labor pools will cause countries to compete for immigrants rather than fighting to keep them out

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Related: Anticipating wild cards in world affairs
Twitter: RT @mitchbetts Preview of George Friedman’s new book “The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century.” http://bit.ly/c8QX

The president-elect will face big problems, threats

It’ll be a short honeymoon. The next U.S. president will face high expectations (which may be impossible to fulfill), a recessionary economy and huge budget deficits. And that’s just domestically. Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, gave a speech this week that lays out the broader threats. As The Washington Post reported:

The next U.S. president will govern in an era of increasing international instability, including a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the near future, long-term prospects of regional conflicts and diminished U.S. dominance across the globe, the nation’s top intelligence officer said Thursday.

Competition for energy, water and food will drive conflicts between nations to a degree not seen in decades, and climate change and global economic upheaval will amplify the effects, [McConnell said].

“After the new president-elect’s excitement subsides after winning the election, it is going to be dampened somewhat when he begins to focus on the realities of the myriad of changes and challenges,” he said.

Of course, besides the predictable conflicts and threats, “there is always surprise,” McConnell said. (Futurists call ’em wild cards.)

Continue reading “The president-elect will face big problems, threats”

Anticipating wild cards in world affairs

An article in the latest The Futurist magazine (January-February 2008) summarizes an essay by Peter Schwartz & Doug Randall about wild cards in world affairs. (For futurists, a wild card is something that was thought to be a low-probability, but high-impact, event. Example: the collapse of the Soviet Union.) Some of the “strategic surprises” they see on the horizon that world leaders need to contemplate:

“The warning signs are there if one’s eyes are open to them,” Schwartz & Randall write. “The world’s business and government leaders will be immeasurably better off if they carefully consider how these scenarios could come to pass and act today to create maneuvering room for the radically different world that these game-changing events could create.”

The Futurist summarized “Ahead of the Curve: Anticipating Strategic Surprise,” by Peter Schwartz & Doug Randall, an essay in Blindside: How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics, edited by Francis Fukuyama (Brookings Institution, 2007).

Continue reading “Anticipating wild cards in world affairs”

Intelligence Briefs

An eclectic collection of discoveries & developments:

Bloom Energy is developing a solid-oxide fuel cell that it believes could generate more than enough electricity to power a house. — The New York Times (8 September 2007)

There’s talk of breaking up the country of Belgium into two or three mini-states. — The Economist (6 September 2007)

A Michigan auto dealer is selling a miniature Chinese electric “neighborhood vehicle.” The FlyBo starts at $10,000 and goes up to 70 miles before needing a recharge. Plug it into any ordinary household electrical outlet for two hours, and it’s ready again to cruise along at 25 mph. — The Saginaw (Michigan) News (7 September 2007)

Russia and China are expected to develop aerospace capabilities to compete with the current Airbus/Boeing duopoly for commercial jets — perhaps in the next decade. The CEO of Russia’s United Aircraft says Russian companies aim to build planes worth $250 billion from 2007 to 2025. — GE Commercial Finance industry newsletter

Slowear, a collection of men’s luxury clothing that promises to be fashionable for years, is challenging the notion of fast fashion. — Iconoculture Inc.

Development and environmental change are now altering the physical aspect of the world so fast that maps must be redrawn frequently, according to an atlas publisher. For example, a new atlas shows the dramatic shrinkage of two of the world’s biggest inland water bodies, the Aral Sea in central Asia and Lake Chad in Africa. — The Independent (3 September 2007)

The next-generation shopping cart is emerging from MarkitCart in Australia. It’s colorful, plastic, safer for children, and (most importantly) has easier-to-control wheels. It can also be plastered with advertising. — Springwise.com