Saturday, 16 May 2009

Is the future in front or behind us? Thoughts on George Freidman - Stratfor

The future - where are you?
The title question, is the future in front of us, or behind us sounds daft. But is it? We are used to the idea it is in front of us. However, here is Aotearoa, Maori people would have no difficulty in answering the opposite - it's behind us - because we have our back to the future as we contemplate the immediate and deep past.

I like that. It appeals to the my inner historian. It reminds me of that lovely question and answer What was the effect of the French Revolution? Answer, too early to tell?

These thoughts came easily as I wait for the beginning of the next session at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century
George Friedman is billed as "a renowned expert in geopolitics and forecasting, and the author of several books including The Future of War and America’s Secret War and most recently, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century"

He also has his own private global intelligence firm STRATFOR which predicts the future, by, we are told, drawing on history and geopolitical patterns dating back hundreds of years.

So what does he predict? Among his options are, a natural population decline, solar energy directed from huge panels rigged up beyond the earth’s atmosphere, and that America will continue to be the dominant power in the world.

He was billed to explain why he thought this.

Did he succeed?
Not for me. Basically I watched him deliver all of the above as a series of facts, and in a tone of such certainty that was impressive in itself. Trouble is, although he might do this in his book, he didn't offer a shred of justification.

I also found his dismissal of China as a potential rival to USA hegemony totally mystifying. He also managed to ignore the possible impact on our future by other countries like India, Brazil etc with effortless ease - by way of the simple expedient of not mentioning them.

Leighton Smith
He did impress me in one regard - and in the process achieved the near impossible - he made Leighton Smith, his brother in-law, interviewer on stage, and local talk back host, look like a wilting liberal.


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