Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Book Review: The Next 100 Years

It’s been a while since I read a good book on geopolitics. Tom Friedman, my favorite writer and the leading geopolitical thinker of our times, disappointed me with his last two books. The brilliant author of ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ and ‘Lexus to Olive Tree’, gave in to his marketing impulses and dished out obvious banalities of our times on topics such as Globalization, outsourcing, Bengalore, India and software industry. The excessive focus on India and software industry smacked of the same marketing opportunism that made Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai, Miss Universe and Miss World in the same year.

Fareed Zakaria, the other popular geopolitical thinker, is good, but not yet great. In his book, “Post American World”, he writes on the same topic and makes the same arguments about the rise of India, China and other BRICs countries that ordinary people like you and I can make.

So, with that as my mindset, when I picked up this book by George Freidman, I was really excited. The book opens all its cards in the very beginning. For a change, the author is not arguing that it’s going to be a century or China or India. He lays out his arguments very clearly and makes the case why the world would remain American centric for the rest of this century. You would say, ‘Okay so, what’s new about that?’, ‘Why write a book about that?’. Well, I had the same reaction and the author raises the same point. Then as if to make the book more interesting, he throws up new challengers that are likely to emerge such as Turkey, Japan and Mexico and introduces Poland as another likely world power in 21st century.

By now, you must have guesses; yes there is a world war three scenario in the book. An American centric book by an American writer about 21st century and there is no world war three, how is that possible.  So, no prize for guessing that one.  And also, no prize for guessing that Turkey is the one opposing America, having emerged as the new leader of the Islamic world, in the scenario laid out by the writer. However, it did take me some adjusting to understand other players such as Japan and Poland in world war three and which side they would come out on. But the writer does a decent job of making his case.

And then, the world war three happens and the writer cannot resist his temptation to describe a war scenario. That’s when the book descends into Science Fiction and that too straight from Star Wars. Basically, having made the case for a super powerful America and the huge gap between US and the rest of the world powers, the writer can’t figure out how and why the smaller powers would dare to challenge the only super power. And, the writer borrows straight from Star Wars. Yes, there is a battle star and once you strike the battle star, it is possible to challenge the empire. If it sounds ridiculous and farce in the review, it’s much worse in the book. The writer acknowledges that the inaccuracy of predictions increases by huge margin and goes right back to making that mistake.

Minus the science fiction, the book is a great read and does throw some nice curves at you. The rise of Mexico and the population imbalance as the basis for it is well thought out and well explained. Many people foresee a sense of natural justice in California being flooded my Mexicans, but the author extrapolates on it and builds a well thought out confrontation between US and Mexico towards the end of century.