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The Next Decade

Cover of The Next Decade

The Next Decade

Where We've Been . . . and Where We're Going
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The author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Next 100 Years now focuses his geopolitical forecasting acumen on the next decade and the imminent events and challenges that will test America...
The author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Next 100 Years now focuses his geopolitical forecasting acumen on the next decade and the imminent events and challenges that will test America...
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  • The author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Next 100 Years now focuses his geopolitical forecasting acumen on the next decade and the imminent events and challenges that will test America and the world, specifically addressing the skills that will be required by the decade's leaders.

    The next ten years will be a time of massive transition. The wars in the Islamic world will be subsiding, and terrorism will become something we learn to live with. China will be encountering its crisis. We will be moving from a time when financial crises dominate the world to a time when labor shortages will begin to dominate. The new century will be taking shape in the next decade.

    In The Next Decade, George Friedman offers readers a pro­vocative and endlessly fascinating prognosis for the immedi­ate future. Using Machiavelli's The Prince as a model, Friedman focuses on the world's leaders--particularly the American president--and with his trusted geopolitical insight analyzes the complex chess game they will all have to play. The book also asks how to be a good president in a decade of extraordinary challenge, and puts the world's leaders under a microscope to explain how they will arrive at the decisions they will make--and the consequences these actions will have for us all.

    From the Hardcover edition.

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    INTRODUCTION

    Rebalancing America

    A century is about events. A decade is about people. I wrote The Next 100 Years to explore the impersonal forces that shape history in the long run, but human beings don't live in the long run. We live in the much shorter span in which our lives are shaped not so much by vast historical trends but by the specific decisions of specific individuals.

    This book is about the short run of the next ten years: the specific realities to be faced, the specific decisions to be made, and the likely consequences of those decisions. Most people think that the longer the time frame, the more unpredictable the future. I take the opposite view. Individual actions are the hardest thing to predict. In the course of a century, so many individual decisions are made that no single one of them is ever critical. Each decision is lost in the torrent of judgments that make up a century. But in the shorter time frame of a decade, individual decisions made by individual people, particularly those with political power, can matter enormously. What I wrote in The Next 100 Years is the frame for understanding this decade. But it is only the frame.

    Forecasting a century is the art of recognizing the impossible, then eliminating from consideration all the events that, at least logically, aren't going to happen. The reason is, as Sherlock Holmes put it, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

    It is always possible that a leader will do something unexpectedly foolish or brilliant, which is why forecasting is best left to the long run, the span over which individual decisions don't carry so much weight. But having forecast for the long run, you can reel back your scenario and try to see how it plays out in, say, a decade. What makes this time frame interesting is that it is sufficiently long for the larger, impersonal forces to be at play but short enough for the individual decisions of individual leaders to skew outcomes that otherwise might seem inevitable. A decade is the point at which history and statesmanship meet, and a span in which policies still matter.

    I am not normally someone who gets involved in policy debates-- I'm more interested in what will happen than in what I want to see happen. But within the span of a decade, events that may not matter in the long run may still affect us personally and deeply. They also can have real meaning in defining which path we take into the future. This book is therefore both a forecast and a discussion of the policies that ought to be followed.

    We begin with the United States for the same reason that a study of 1910 would have to begin with Britain. Whatever the future might hold, the global system today pivots around the United States, just as Britain was the pivotal point in the years leading up to World War I. In The Next 100 Years, I wrote about the long-term power of the United States. In this book, I have to write about American weaknesses, which, I think, are not problems in the long run; time will take care of most of these. But because you and I don't live in the long run, for us these problems are very real. Most are rooted in structural imbalances that require solutions. Some are problems of leadership, because, as I said at the outset, a decade is about people.

    This discussion of problems and people is particularly urgent at this introduction moment. In the first decade after the United States became the sole global power, the world was, compared to other eras, relatively tranquil. In terms of genuine security issues for the United States, Baghdad and the Balkans were...

About the Author-
  • GEORGE FRIEDMAN is the founder and CEO of Stratfor, the world's leading publisher of global geopolitical intelligence. He is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestselling The Next 100 Years. He has appeared on all the major television networks and has been featured in several national publications.

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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