The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century
by George Friedman predict
(Doubleday, 253 pages, $25.95)

In 2050, says intelligence expert George Friedman, Japan will choose Thanksgiving Day to launch a sneak attack on crucial U.S. military installations. But the resulting “world war” won’t be much to worry about. Along with its strongest ally, Greater Poland, the U.S. will be riding high in the arena of geopolitics. Osama bin Laden will be a distant memory. China will once more be a fragmented giant. America’s domination of the world’s oceans will remain unchallenged, and its space-based network of command platforms and weaponized satellites will be robust enough that Turkey will be made to feel sorry for throwing its weight behind Japan. Japan, in turn, will be sorry it ever dreamed that victory could be achieved by mounting its attack from the dark side of the moon.

It’s not easy to know what to make of Friedman’s prognostications, said Harry Thomas in the San Antonio Express-News. The founder of Stratfor, a private intelligence agency based in Austin, Friedman freely acknowledges in his new best-seller that the more one predicts details, “the more likely one is to be wrong.” But international businesses and government agencies pay the former political science professor handsomely for his advice because he grounds his counter­intuitive predictions in deep geo­political ­knowledge. Not all of his prophecies are unexpected, said Ewa Beaujon in The Washington Post’s Express. It’s easy to understand his belief that the U.S. will remain the world’s leading superpower throughout this century. Our economic, geographic, and military advantages are substantial, and Friedman believes we can overcome the problem of an aging population by offering generous incentives to potential immigrants.

Harder to accept is Friedman’s vision of how the century ends, said James G. Neuger in Heavy immigration, the author says, will eventually spark war with a rising Mexico over control of the American Southwest. Which nation wins that war, he says, “is a question that will have to wait until the 22nd century.” All such speculations might merely be good fun if Friedman didn’t have so many powerful people in his reading audience, said Jonathan Liu in The New York Observer. If enough of those readers take this “terrifically entertaining” book seriously, the odds will become higher that “50,000 Americans might just die fighting a world war against Turkey in 2050.”