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The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World Paperback – January 10, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Whereas Friedman's last book, The Next 100 Years, focused on "the impersonal forces that shape history in the long run," now the geopolitical intelligence expert examines the impact of current decision making, especially of the United States government, on the world. Friedman suggests that problems currently affecting us significantly may not actually matter in the long run. He compares the position of the United States today to that of Britain in 1910, and argues that the U.S. is an "unintended empire" and that its president is a "global emperor," in part due to the size of the country's economy. Throughout, Friedman argues for an end to the reluctance, as he sees it, to entangle the country in global affairs. He examines the past strategies of Presidents Bush and Clinton and stresses what President Obama and his successor must do about terrorism and technology to foster relations with the Middle East, Europe, the Western Pacific, Latin America, Africa, Israel, Iran, and Russia. When it comes to Bush and Obama he doesn't play favorites, criticizing their policies and comparing them with presidents who possessed more Machiavellian attributes, in his view. While his ideas are well-researched and compelling, Friedman makes the occasional leap that casual readers might find confusing.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A must-read.” —The Washington Times
“Delivered in an engaging style and with no little dramatic flourish . . . [The Next Decade should] find a wide and receptive popular audience.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Friedman . . . has the unusual ability to view events through the eyes of not only American but also foreign leaders.” —New York Observer
“There is a temptation, when you are around George Friedman, to treat him like a Magic 8-Ball.” —The New York Times Magazine
“Considering how right [Friedman]’s been over the years, he’s worth listening to.” —San Antonio Express-News
“Predictions have made George Friedman a hot property these days.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Well-researched and compelling.” —Publishers Weekly
“Expect the unexpected. . . . He can see without the crystal ball.” —Newsweek
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He advises him to search for a balance of power in the world, playing off major forces against each other so none will rise to become a threat: India and Pakistan, Japan and China, to name two examples.
He advises less support for Israel because they are strong enough to stand on their own; He thinks South Korea bears keeping good relations to balance between China and Japan. He also sees a missed opportunity to hedge in Russia permanently and to keep them from becoming a threat to us again. Africa should be no concern to us, and neither should Venezuela.
I'm not sure I agree with is amoral approach to politics, but he does make a good case for Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan being able to use Machiavelli's philosophy to get the U.S. through some difficult times. He's looking for a great president. I'm not sure President Obama is that man, but Friedman has been encouraged by Obama's change in policy--to waiting and watching and letting our allies handle the problems in Syria, and now Mali.
However, the book doesn’t spend enough time explaining the impact of empire on the republic as it claims to do. Most of the book is about American empire rather about the republic. For those who want to know more about the republic, I recommend books by Robert D. Kaplan, especially ‘Empire Wilderness’ and ‘Earning the Rockies’.
Also,the book seems to sugarcoat all the debt-funded shenanigans of US foreign policy establishment and the military as ‘strategic imperatives’ instead of distinguishing between true imperatives and those motivated by pure greed of American military-industrial complex as well as its multinational corporations. For understanding that dark side of American empire, I recommend the books by John Perkins.
Overall, this is a good book that’s well researched and written in simple style, but in my opinion, it’s neither unbiased nor complete. Hence, the four stars.
Using a little diplomatic influence, special opportunities (e.g. allowing Japan to trade through American patrolled seas), and a lot of economy building cash, other nations can be pretty easily influenced to do the bidding of the American Empire. And I'm not using that phrase completely in jest. Friedman's main point in the book is that, whether it is admitted to or not, the US is a world empire. With 25% of the world's business transactions being with or for the US and with nearly every merchant sea lane in the world controlled by the US, el mundo pretty much has to cow tow to whatever the whim of the Empire is that year. Maybe it's Boca Burgers the one year and Twinkies the next (you would have thought it would be the opposite...), but economies around the world shift at this change in pleasantries (or in the case of Boca Burgers self-flagellation).
In keeping this need for balance, within and without the country, the book explains why politicians are forced to lie about their agendas and make big issues out of something they know will never change (and only would change to the detriment of a very balanced equation).
If you like political science, then this will be an easy and interesting read, but if you are like 99.9% of the rest of the population (by which I mean, you just read p.o.l.i.t.i.c.a.... zzz...zzz...zzz), then just turn around and walk away slowly. I liked it, though. At some point I plan on picking up Friedman's less specific book about the world in the next century.
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