The Magazine

Crystal Ballplay

When a futurist looks to the future, anything is possible and war is imminent.

Jul 20, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 41 • By DAVID AIKMAN
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In Friedman's view, however, the 21st century equivalent of sea power will be space power, in which the United States will have preeminence, but not overwhelming dominance. In a segment that does resemble science fiction, Friedman posits a world war in the middle of this century between the United States and its allies Poland, Britain, and China and an opposing adversarial coalition of Turkey and Japan, along with reluctant ally Germany. Only America's superb industrial power will enable the nation to recover from its losses and defeat the Turkish-Japanese coalition. When victory finally comes, moreover, the United States will wisely not insist on unconditional surrender but merely the limiting of the enemy coalition's ability to expand its sphere of influence!

In this engrossing, extended rumination on the future of geopolitics, there are some interesting predictions, and some that seem surprising. Mexico, Friedman believes, will have an economy among the top 10 of the world in 2100 and will want to reclaim the territories that it lost to the young United States. Friedman wholly dismisses the possibility that China will emerge as a superpower: Internal economic and political forces, he says, will cause China to fragment. Russia will also go into decline as the expansion of Eastern European powers like Poland effectively moves the Russian border further east. Then a renascent Turkey will make its move into the Caucasus and Central Asia.

There are some curious omissions. Friedman nowhere allows for the possible triumph, regionally or nationally, of some new political ideology such as fascism or communism. He brusquely dismisses the notion that Islamo-
fascism has any more life in it. He pays no attention at all to the possibility that Europe may become Islamicized by the end of the current century.

To be sure, Friedman is modest enough to admit that, in many details, he will probably be wrong. But of course, he has every reason to be modest: His 1991 bestseller was entitled The Coming War With Japan.

David Aikman is the author, most recently, of The Delusion of Disbelief: Why the New Atheism is a Threat to Your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.